Emerging research suggests employers may want to consider letting employees take short breaks to play on their smartphones.
Investigators from Kansas State University found that allowing employees to take smartphone microbreaks may be a benefit rather than a disruption for businesses. Microbreaks are non-work-related behaviors during working hours.
Sooyeol Kim, a doctoral student in psychological sciences, studied 72 full-time workers from various industries. He discovered that employees only spend an average of 22 minutes out of an eight-hour workday playing on their smartphones.
He also found that employees who take smartphone breaks throughout the day are happier at the end of the workday.
“A smartphone microbreak can be beneficial for both the employee and the organization,” Kim said.
“For example, if I would play a game for an hour during my working hours, it would definitely hurt my work performance. But if I take short breaks of one or two minutes throughout the day, it could provide me with refreshment to do my job.”
To study smartphone usage, Kim and collaborators developed an application that the 72 study participants installed on their smartphones. The app privately and securely measured the employees’ smartphone usage during work hours.
The app also divided the employees’ smartphone usage into categories such as entertainment, which included games such as “Angry Birds” or “Candy Crush,” or social media like Facebook and Twitter.
At the end of each workday, the participants recorded their perceived well-being.
“By interacting with friends or family members through a smartphone or by playing a short game, we found that employees can recover from some of their stress to refresh their minds and take a break,” Kim said.
“Taking a break throughout the workday is important because it is difficult — and nearly impossible — for an employee to concentrate for eight straight hours a day without a break,” Kim said.
Smartphone microbreaks are similar to other microbreaks throughout the workday: chatting with coworkers, walking around the hallway, or getting a cup of coffee. Such breaks are important because they can help employees cope with the demands of the workplace.
“These days, people struggle with a lot of different types of stressors, such as work demands, time scheduling, family issues, or personal life issues,” Kim said.
“We need to understand how we can help people recover and cope with stressors. Smartphones might help and that is really important not only for individuals, but for an organization, too.”
Source: Kansas State University