This just in: When workers chat in the hall or take snack breaks or wander outside for five minutes, they’re not procrastinating. They’re boosting their productivity.
This is the incredibly practical finding of a new pair of studies in the Journal of Applied Psychology, which show that micro-breaks—short, often impromptu rests—help workers maintain their energy levels throughout the day, leading to higher work engagement.
Researchers followed workers in the United States and South Korea, and found that employees take micro-breaks more frequently on days when they arrive on the job fatigued—and that those micro-breaks help them maintain their energy levels.
“A five-minute break can be golden if you take it at the right time,” says coauthor Sophia Cho, an assistant professor of psychology at North Carolina State University. “Our study shows that it is in a company’s best interest to give employees autonomy in terms of taking micro-breaks—it helps employees effectively manage their energy and engage in their work throughout the day.”