There’s no question that healthy breaks are a good idea. Research shows that they increase focus, boost creativity, and improve memory, just to name a few of the benefits.
But here’s the thing: sometimes just remembering to take breaks is a struggle. And as the boss, it’s your job to not only remember to take breaks yourself – but to ensure that your whole team is having some downtime here and there.
Luckily, there’s help. Here are six ways to encourage healthy break activities among your team.
Make an activity kit
It’s a lot easier to get people excited about an impromptu game of frisbee if you have…a frisbee. Keep a stash of healthy break accoutrements on hand: balls, games, toys, music, Lego, instruments – anything that well help your team unwind for a few minutes.
Be sure to lead by example: once a day, make a point to grab something from the kit – and a few employees – for a quick mid-day break. And remember to replenish as needed, getting feedback from your team, of course.
Set up an activity in a conspicuous place
If you put a healthy break activity in a high-traffic area (rather than tucked away in a break room), you’ll get more interest from the team. For example, set up an ongoing project, like a whiteboard mural or a Post-It art wall, in a busy hallway. Whenever employees walk by, they’ll be enticed to take a quick break and add a little doodle or two.
Schedule email prompts
If you need a weekly reminder to implement some new activities, try Take Your Break, an initiative of the Great-West Life Centre for Mental Health in the Workplace. It sends email subscribers weekly ideas for healthy breaks at work – everything from breathing exercises to mini putting with paper cups. Managers can lead their team in the activities, or employees can sign up for the emails individually.
“Take Your Break activities are focused on helping to improve the mental health of employees, including those who may experience depression, anxiety-related disorders or excessive stress at work,” the site explains. “You may not wish to do every activity, so choose those that are a good fit for you in your workplace. You may be amazed at the positive results that can be achieved by investing just a few minutes each day.”
There’s been some pushback against certain types of workplace trackers, and how they infringe on worker’s rights. However, fitness trackers and other wearables like the Fitbit can be a great way to gently remind employees to get moving on a regular basis.
This type of initiative includes the upfront cost of the wearables, but it’s important to look at them as an investment. They improve your team’s overall wellness, which in turn boosts productivity and reduces dependency on company health insurance.
An auditory prompt is a great way to encourage the team to do a quick stretch, grab a glass of water, or just take a break. If you routinely play music throughout the office, schedule a certain song or audio file to play once each afternoon. If you don’t have a sound system, have the managers play the music from their computers or through wireless Bluetooth speakers. It may seem a little forced at first, but it could end up becoming a fun office-wide daily ritual.
Plan off-site meetings (and skip the cab)
If you’re really having trouble getting your team away from their desks, try moving a meeting or two each week to a nearby coffee shop (or, if the weather allows, park) – and, it goes without saying, walk there.
A change of scenery can do wonders for your employees’ lagging energy and motivation: plus, you’re sneaking in a bit of physical activity at the same time. Just be sure to address any mobility issues among your team to ensure you’re not excluding anyone.
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