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How to Establish Break Room Policies


How Important Are Breaks?

Motivation in the workplace can be diverse. In today’s ever-changing business environment, motivation can make the difference in retaining highly skilled workers or losing them to competitors. A growing body of research warns that employee burn out causes higher stress levels and lower productivity.  The first step to preventing burn out is to incorporate scheduled breaks for employees throughout the workday. These breaks give them periodic rewards to look forward to and provide incremental productivity goals on a daily basis.

Policies That Will Maintain Office Harmony

Providing employees with a break room – a designated area apart from the usual work traffic – is a simple, cost effective way to increase employee motivation and productivity. When employees don’t have to leave the premises to de-stress, the incidence of tardiness decreases and the culture of the organization becomes one of inclusiveness. General rules of employees picking up after themselves should be in place, but daily tasks such as garbage collection and running the dishwasher should be outsourced in larger organizations or assigned to each employee on a weekly or monthly schedule for smaller organizations. Get buy-in from the staff by involving them in these decision making policies.  Organizational research in participative management have shown that including employees in the decision making process can motivate them in every position within the organization.

How to Implement Policies

Presenting the break room as part of a team reward will motivate employees to maintain this area as a haven from the hustle and bustle of the work area. In Arzola’s (2000) analogy of work teams to sports teams, his methods for making a good team great could be applied: Every player feels valued, is allowed to take chances, knows what to expect, and is given the tools to succeed. If guidelines and policies are in place, employees can expect the reward to stop if accountability is not met. Managers must keep their fingers on the pulse of their workforce to know what motivates them most, adapt motivational strategies to meet their needs, and keep the organization’s goals aligned with individual goals. Keeping employees motivated will keep them happy and productive, giving organizations a competitive edge in today’s tight job market.



Arzola, G.
Making a good team great.
Across the Board, 37(9), 44-47

Cole, J.
De-stressing the workplace
HR Focus, 76(10), 1-3

Deming, W. E., & Walton, M
The Deming Management Method
Cambridge, MA: Perigee.

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