It’s well established that playtime for children leads to better brain development, but did you know adults need breaks for their own improved cognitive function and well-being? Believe it or not, recess for adults is incredibly valuable, in terms of both individual health and workplace performance. Our modern environment has made it very difficult to unplug. It can be a real challenge to take even a few moments away from work, let alone the constant stream of social media and news updates. That’s why planned recess for adults can be such an important release valve. Check out these strategies for creating a more balanced, recess-enhanced office culture that recharges employees, improving their productivity and healthiness.
Recess for Adults Starts with Lunch Outside the Office This is perhaps the simplest way of rejuvenating employees. Researchers have found that workers who ate their lunches outside ranked higher in overall happiness than those who ate at their desks. The study applied a happiness index score (calculated using results from psychological tests and self-evaluation) to the various outside locations where employees had lunch. Those workers who ate at the beach experienced the biggest increase in happiness, followed by those eating lunch in a public green space or park, eating at home with loved ones, and eating at a restaurant. By contrast, workers who ate lunch at their desks were found to have the lowest levels of happiness. Considering how often people stay tethered to their cubicles, this is an issue. A survey conducted by Right Management found that fewer than half of employees take lunch away from their desks, while 14 percent of respondents reported taking almost no lunch breaks at all. Michael Haid, the firm’s Senior Vice President for Talent Management, warns that too many companies are creating cultures where employees feel uneasy spending even half an hour away from their desks for lunch.
Skipping Lunch Breaks is Bad for Everyone Such pressure does not help employee well-being, nor does it benefit the company’s bottom line. Research shows that forcing the brain to work without rest is detrimental to overall creativity and performance, and it harms long-term health. This kind of work strategy elevates the risks of burnout and fatigue, with workers’ enthusiasm and engagement steadily decreasing over time. Employers who cultivate a culture of wellness, from encouraging adequate lunch breaks to implementing preventative care programs, decrease their overall overhead in terms of employee medical costs and absenteeism. Such a culture also boosts productivity levels over time.
Recess for Adults: Breaking Beyond Lunch There are any number of great ideas that fall under the umbrella of “recess for adults.” For instance, while many employees may schedule exercise or yoga routines for before or after work, allowing them to break up the day with a midday session could do wonders for overall energy levels and productivity. Other activities, such as puzzles or reading, keep the brain active while giving it a respite from job-related tasks. Recess could mean something as simple as going for a short walk or listening to music. It could also be a group activity with co-workers, such as sports or team-building games. There’s a huge range of options. What’s most important is to make sure employees have the opportunity to take some kind of mental and/or physical “recess” from their daily routine so that their focus remains high.
Recess for Adults is Productive Science shows us that incorporating playfulness and rest into the workplace leads to more adaptable, innovative, and creative workers. Playfully enriched work environments positively impact and shape the cerebral cortex, which is the part of the brain where the most complex and powerful cognitive processing occurs. The National Institute for Play offers consulting for corporations looking to revamp their operations into more enriched environments. The NIFP approach to cultivating more play-informed work cultures uses data to design enrichment programs best suited to a company’s specific needs. The benefits of recess for adults include breaking up outdated or ineffective cognitive patterns, increasing creativity and creative problem-solving skills, and stress reduction. It elevates cognitive function while improving community connections and team building in the workplace. In a variety of ways, recess for adults can be a major advantage for any company and its workforce.