Recess comes to the workplace

October 8, 2011


Take a Break to Increase Productivity – 09-19-2011

September 19, 2011

A survey from Harris Interactive found that recess was key to improving workplace health and productivity, and re-energizing employees.

The survey was sponsored by Keen, the footwear brand which earlier this year launched Keen’s Recess Revolution tour, a series of events designed to inspire adults to “reclaim playtime and take much-needed 10-minute breaks from the daily office grind by escaping to the outdoors.” With a pop-up playground featuring tetherball courts, Frisbee, hula hoops and more, the tour has made stops in Denver, Minneapolis, Portland and San Francisco. The survey was released on September 14 on World Recess Day, a day-long outdoor event held by Keen in Washington D.C.

The Survey on Workplace Recess, conducted during August 2011 and involving 1,099 adults employed full-time, revealed:

  • More than half (53 percent) agreed that a 10-minute “recess” outdoor break initiated at their workplace every day would make them a healthier, happier or more productive employee;
  • Forty-one percent felt outdoor breaks would help them deal with stress at work;
  • Forty-four percent indicated that they would participate in recess if it were offered at their workplace, with the greatest interest among women (53 percent) and Millennials (51 percent).

At the same time, more than 70 percent said they’ve never participated in a paid recess-type break outside of lunchtime. Seventy-eight percent (78 percent) felt that certain factors would need to be in place for recess to be a part of the workday, including encouragement from top management (39 percent), participation from their boss and/or colleagues (25 percent), a designated time of day for recess to avoid scheduling conflicts (35 percent), and recess becoming part of the company culture (33 percent).

Dr. Toni Yancey, author of Instant Recess: Building a Fit Nation 10 Minutes at a Time and co-director of the Center for Health Equity and professor of health services at UCLA, said in a statement that short activity breaks would aid in reducing obesity rates and sick days while lifting employees’ mood and subsequently improving productivity

“If employers offered and encouraged a paid activity break during the day, it would offer a real return on investment for them — delivering $1.50 – $2.00 for every dollar spent implementing the program, according to our estimates,” said Dr. Yancey.

Added James Curleigh, Keen’s CEO, “I hope that the idea of workplace recess will catch on with companies that aspire to be great places to work, ultimately making recess as common as casual Friday.”

Discussion questions:  What do you think of the proposed benefits and feasibility of scheduled short activity breaks for retail store and headquarters employees?

My post:

There are physical and psychological benefits to a well designed “recess” strategy. The key is infusing a bit of fun into the sameness of most retail workdays, whether in the office or on the sales floor. The Pike’s Place Fish guys are a well-used example of this done right, but there are many others out there. It is difficult to schedule in today’s lean staffing store environment, but worth the effort. Especially when the boss plays too. It can be as simple as a 15 minute fast-paced walk outside to a green area to enjoy a coffee and a chat, or a little more planned, such as a once or twice monthly walk to an ice cream place as a reward. Don’t make it too structured, or you’ll lose the ‘fun’ element. This can be a big part of an ongoing and authentic engagement strategy.

Mike Osorio, your Dare to be Contagious! ™ strategist

What do you think?  Please add your comments and add to the discussion!

Go to the full discussion at  Take a Break to Increase Productivity


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