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Mid-Morning May Be Best Time for Workday Break

Longer breaks, frequent short breaks linked to more resource recovery than infrequent short breaks

FRIDAY, Sept. 18, 2015 (HealthDay News) — Choosing preferred activities for a work break and taking a break earlier in the shift are linked to more resource recovery after a break, according to a study published online Aug. 10 in the Journal of Applied Psychology.

Emily M. Hunter, Ph.D., and Cindy Wu, Ph.D., from Baylor University in Waco, Texas, examined the characteristics of employee workday breaks with 95 employees across five workdays. They further investigated resources as a mediator between break characteristics and well-being.

The researchers found that there was more resource recovery after the break for break activities that were preferred and earlier in the work shift, based on multilevel analysis. Resources were found to mediate the influence of preferred break activities and time of break on health symptoms. Recovery of resources was found to benefit person-level outcomes (emotional exhaustion, job satisfaction, and organizational citizenship behavior). There was an interaction between break length and number of breaks per day, with longer breaks and frequent short breaks correlating with more resources than infrequent short breaks.

“Our results suggest that computer workers can reap the most benefits from their workday breaks if they engage in break activities that they prefer and if they pay attention to the timing of their breaks,” the authors write. “We also found preliminary evidence that break length and number of breaks per day together are important for recovering resources.”

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