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Recess is BACK!

March 7, 2016

Young man throwing a frisbee diskSitting at my desk with mounds of paperwork, hundreds of emails to pour through, a presentation to fine-tune, and a meeting to prepare for…it’s only 10am and the workday has just begun.  My boss stops at my desk and says it’s time to play! You want me to stop working and do WHAT? Yes. You heard correctly. Recess is back and we want you to add more play to your work day.


Evidence suggests these recess breaks improve productivity, creativity, social skills and problem solving. Companies are finding that success at work doesn’t depend on the amount of time individual’s work; it depends upon the quality of their work. And the quality of their work is highly dependent on their well-being. “Giving employees the opportunity to replenish themselves through play is one of the best things you can do for your culture of health and productivity,” says Wendy Pernerewski, CEO and founder of Employee Health Management. “Employees typically won’t take it upon themselves to take a recess break but if the company sets the time aside for activity, employees love it.” Here are the benefits to playing at work:

  • keeps you functional when under stress
  • refreshes your mind and body
  • encourages teamwork
  • helps you see problems in new ways
  • triggers creativity and innovation
  • increases energy and prevents burnout


Recess breaks could be as simple as standing and stretching, shooting hoops or going for a quick walk with a co-worker. You can break up a long meeting with a quick round of Charades or Pictionary. Some companies have created a “Recess Center” where employees can choose from Ping Pong, Foosball, Hulu Hoops, Jump Ropes, Board Games, Stationary Bikes & Frisbees.  You can also find yoga mats, stretching charts, coloring books and music for more quiet play. Encourage an open door policy for employees to utilize these resources. To introduce the idea to your employees, have a party or hula hoop tournament to layout the benefits as well as the recess guidelines.


A lot of little breaks go a long way. “Microbreaks” are between 30 seconds to 5 minutes.  Just one of these improves mental acuity by an average of 13%. This is enough time to stand and stretch, do some squats or lunges, or dance to one of your favorite songs. Regularly scheduled 10-15 minute breaks should be approved, and even encouraged, by the workplace to keep employees happy, healthy and productive. Of course, telling your employees to go take a recess will elicit a few giggles but eventually they will see the positive health benefits of taking a quick break to play.


Dianna Christinat

Assistant Personal Lines Manager


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