Vacations and naps may seem to be the very definition of “counter-productive”. Being away from a computer or mobile phone when your work is all there seems to make this perspective valid. But, do you know that taking a break from work can actually make you more refreshed and productive when you return? Whether it’s a noontime snooze or a week off, you need to consider taking a break once you feel that your work performance is declining. Here’s why.
Signs That You Need to Take a Break
There are several signs of work-related stress: lack of appetite, bad mood when you arrive at work or return home, sleep deprivation, and being irritable with coworkers or family members are all symptoms that your mind and body are screaming, ‘enough.’ Be it a short day off or a long one, taking a break is a helpful tool for many employees in overcoming work-related stress. Your employer, your coworkers, and your inner self will all appreciate the self-care approach that comes with taking a vacation.
According to research published in Psychology Today, the ‘think-work’ activates the prefrontal cortex (PFC), or thinking area of the brain. When performing a goal-oriented activity that needs concentration, the PFC keeps you on track. The PFC is also in charge of logical reasoning, executive functioning, and applying willpower to control impulses. Now that you know that your brain has done so much, you really need to start considering giving it the break it deserves.
Consider Short Break First
Not everyone finds it easy to file for a few days off to go on a ‘healing’ vacation and if you belong to those who hesitate about taking long breaks, then consider a short break first. If you feel like you are very lacking in spirit, waking up in the morning everyday for work, then you can resume your sleep bit by bit in the office. The way to do this is to take 20-30 minutes of a power nap. Assuming that you work 8 hours a day, it is doable to have one or two power naps every day, such as an hour before and after a lunch break. However, do not exceed 30 minutes; because napping longer than half an hour usually results in a 90 minutes cycle of sleep. Moreover, try not to nap after 3 p.m. since it will mess with your capacity to sleep at night. Now, where can you sleep at work? You can do this by finding a quiet area, such as a break room, an unoccupied conference room, or even your own cubicle, and taking a brief 30-minute nap.
Read Also: The Link Between Quality Sleep and Enhanced Productivity
HR Manager’s Role in Encouraging Long Break
“Work-life balance” has been a buzzword among professionals, and yet many still worry that they will be perceived as less dedicated if they take time off. According to an Oxford Economics study, it is revealed that 42% of employees do not use all their paid time off, albeit vacation time has been shown to reduce stress and lead to better health, productivity, and motivation. When short breaks no longer work to keep you engaged at work, then it is time to consider longer breaks.
In encouraging employees to take a break, specifically the longer one, the HR manager plays an important role; promoting employees to use their annual leave. For every quarter going, check on those who have not used even a day of their annual leave rights and kindly ask them their reason. If it is not because of their plan to take longer days off soon consecutively, try to encourage them to take a day or two off every quarter. This will stop them from feeling guilty about taking a break from work. If your company has a policy where unused annual leave days can be converted into cash incentives, consider revising this rule. If you want a better work-life balance for your employees, days off should mean days off and not easily replaced by money.
As an HR manager, you need to stop asking too much about their reasons or where they will go if your employees are filing for a few days off that will deduct their annual leave. There are employees who feel annoyed when the HR manager asks too much about why they take some days off. This will discourage employees from filing for annual leave later on, fearing that they will be seen as lazy or undedicated employees. After all, annual leave is their right, right?
In the end, if you think you are being more productive by eating lunch at your desk or skipping vacation time, think again. Taking breaks can help you live a more balanced life, so instead of thinking of them as guilty indulgences, see them for what they truly are: productivity aids.
Read Also: The Guide to: Should You Take a Sabbatical Leave?