After six decades, the KitKat chocolate bar is updating its marketing tagline from “Have a break—have a KitKat” to “Make the most of your break.”
Perhaps modern employers need to refresh their views on the value of workplace breaks and vacation time as well. Even Fredrick Taylor, the inventor of scientific management theory during the 1800s Industrial Revolution, realized the value of taking breaks in the workplace. His famous pig iron experiment showed that if workers were given more frequent breaks, they could move up to 47 tons of iron a day—compared to moving only 12 tons of iron a day, without breaks, which is almost a 300% increase in organizational output. Taking breaks in most workplaces, however, is not an accepted practice. Research posted in a Forbes article illustrated that taking breaks is frowned upon by employers:
- 38% of employees don’t feel encouraged to take a lunch break.
- 22% of North American bosses say that employees who take a regular lunch break are less hardworking.
This is unfortunate, as we have known since the 1800s, from scientific management, that breaks actually increase productivity. Current research by Tork reinforces the idea of employee productivity and engagement being improved on by taking breaks. Tork’s research shows that “employees who take a lunch break on a daily basis feel more valued by their employer, and 81% of employees who take a daily lunch break hav[e] a strong desire to be an active member in their company.”
Now let’s consider the most beneficial workplace break of them all: vacation time. Employers are not respecting this workplace break either. CBC reports only a dismal 33% of employees take their full annual vacation allotment.
It is time for employees to stand up and take the advice of KitKat: “Make the most of your break.” It is time for employers to wake up and realize workplace burnout is real, and they should support their employees in taking regular breaks, from lunches to vacations. How do we really want to spend the rest of our lives—working in an economy, or living in a society with an economy?
Research the average amount of paid leave days employees receive in Europe compared to employees in North America. Develop a persuasive argument that could be presented to a VP of HR, asserting that there is value in providing more paid leave days per year to North American employees. Use this link to start your research.