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Employees feel too guilty to take breaks



Uncover and learn about complex HR innovation tools and strategies at Accelerate HR from Thailand's largest employers including Agoda, DKSH, Fonterra, FWD, Kasikornbank, Minor Food, Nissan Motor and more.
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Every boss loves a hard-working employee, but what would you do if you found out hard work is precisely the reason for your staff’s lack of productivity?

A recent survey conducted by Staples revealed more than a quarter of workers don’t take a break other than lunch, despite 66% of them working for more than eight hours a day.

At first glance, perhaps such a statistic impresses you. In light of news that employees are increasingly considering their work as “just a job”, such dedicated focus might indicate strong commitment levels towards companies and bosses.

But things become worrying when we consider that these long hours actually contribute to employee stress, fatigue and lower productivity levels.

Having spent long uninterrupted hours at work myself in an ambitious drive to finish all my tasks for the day (and maybe some for tomorrow), I understand the zest to keep clicking away at work.

But that satisfaction pales in comparison to the burnout I feel the next day when I enter the office and stare at the renewed list of tasks on my desk.

But what’s interesting is precisely my inability to change these work practices, despite knowing I might have to face these consequences the next day.

The hard-working employees polled by Staples, too, highlighted they are aware of the health risks such long, uninterrupted working hours pose.  The report included that employers and employees acknowledge the importance of breaks – in fact, 86% of employees said taking a break would make them more productive.

They also said regular breaks would probably improve their work (59%), personal happiness (43%) and health (37%).

“Guilt” was cited as one of the main reasons for such behaviour, with one in five employees saying they felt too guilty to take a break.

Granted, this survey was conducted across US and Canada, but with employees in Singapore being known to clock in the second longest working hours in the world while becoming increasingly stressed, it is not completely foolhardy to assume this might be a phenomenon occurring closer to home as well.

Working in two of the most stressed industries – event production and journalism – I can relate to dealing with high amounts work-related stress on a day-to-day basis.

But that’s precisely what has motivated me to keep myself well-energised throughout the day.

Telling myself that my health will deteriorate if I don’t take care of myself during work hours has helped me get myself to leave my desk for a few minutes, a couple of times a day, outside of my lunch break.

It also helps significantly that my bosses also believe in striking a balance between working hard and relaxing.

Additionally, taking good breaks helps. Encouraging employees to physically step away from desks and work-related equipment aids workers in detaching mentally, in order to restore the energy it takes to work productively.

Ultimately, I think this will go a long way in improving employee well-being and productivity.

Image: Shutterstock



Human Resources Online is heading to Bangkok with the Accelerate HR conference on November 26-27.
HR leaders from Agoda, DKSH, Fonterra, FWD, Kasikornbank, Minor Food, Nissan Motor and more have already confirmed to speak.
Bring your team for additional group discounts.

 
Akankasha Dewan

Human Resources Magazine Singapore
With a passion for the written word, and a deep interest in the wide-ranging secrets of the HR industry, Akankasha spends her time writing and conversing about the people dimension of the corporate world. She also fights criticisms against Fifty Shades of Grey by night.

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