A recent study, comparing 30 years of research, looks at how effective 10-minute microbreaks could be in helping to promote positive workplace wellbeing.

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Scientists at Romania’s West University of Timișoara (WUT) have examined data from 22 studies over the past 30 years to determine whether the type of activity a person engages in throughout their work day can affect their overall mood and outlook on their job role. 

So, what is a microbreak? - Microbreaks are short, voluntary, and impromptu respites in the work day. Microbreaks include discretionary activities which could include having a snack, chatting with a colleague, stretching, or going for a short walk - known for helping tackle burnout throughout the day. 

Burnout is a serious issue and a widespread concern that is brought up when workplace wellbeing is discussed with employees. More and more businesses are now taking steps to implement wellbeing practices, in order to avoid burnout, and other negative feelings caused by the workplace - including financial stress, workplace bullying, and other mental health problems that make their way to work with people. 

Mental health struggles are inevitable at some point for everyone, whether its caused by grief, relationships, finances, or a diagnosed illness - and it is the responsibility of the workplace to ensure that individuals are supported, understood, and feel that they have a safe space where these issues can be nurtured whilst at work - and research has found one way this can be done is through the encouragement of microbreaks. 

Research on microbreaks by WUT discovered that, when it came to assessing whether microbreaks have a positive or negative effect on an individual’s mood, it is the activity engaged in during that break that plays an important role. 

For example, many participants said that physical breaks had a noticeable effect on their day. “Physical activities such as stretching and exercise were associated with increased positive emotions and decreased fatigue”.

However, if the microbreak activity involved helping a colleague or something else work-related, it led to more negative emotions, decreased wellbeing and worse sleep quality.

Overall, the data supports the role of microbreaks in improving the wellbeing of workers and reducing fatigue. With today’s employees experiencing burnout, long hours and ever-increasing workloads, microbreaks could offer a way to improve happiness - even if employees don’t choose to take these breaks throughout the day, encouraging people to take a short break when needed can make a huge difference. 

So, let your employees go and grab a coffee, let them have a mid-day chat - as it could increase their overall productivity, and benefit your business in return! 

Read the full research article here.