Tuesday 30 November
27 hours of sun this summer heats up employees’ productivity
Summer starts tomorrow and with it most New Zealand employees will enjoy 27 hours of sun by taking a break away from the
office at lunch time each day. But more than just enjoying the summer heat, these breaks will help improve employees’
productivity. This is the finding of a survey by specialist recruiter Hays, which asked over 500 New Zealand employees
about the effect of lunch breaks and annual leave on productivity.
The Hays survey found that the average designated lunch break is 45 minutes with employees generally taking 60% of this
time. One in five employees take all their allocated lunch break while a similar amount take one quarter or less.
Over half of all respondents eat lunch at their desk rather than leaving their office, and in a revealing trend 41% said
it shows increased commitment to their employer to take less than their allocated break.
Yet three quarters of all employees surveyed said their productivity benefits from taking a break away from the office
at lunch time and a similar number said it would be further enhanced if they were able to choose their own break times.
“While productivity is a complex issue, these results do show that taking a break away from the office at lunch, whether
for 5 minutes or your full entitlement, improves employees’ productivity,” said Jason Walker, General Manager of Hays
New Zealand. “With business activity currently high, the tendency can be for employees to decide to work through lunch,
yet even taking a short break will help improve productivity, effectiveness and efficiency.”
The survey also looked at annual leave and found that over half of all respondents do not take their full annual leave
entitlements. Yet one in three said their productivity is affected by not taking all their leave. Over two thirds said
productivity is compromised when they can not take leave when needed, but over half said there are restrictions on when
annual leave can be taken.
“There are times, such as peak workloads and end of month or end of year requirements, when annual leave may not be
available and full breaks may not be taken,” said Jason. “However generally speaking, taking a lunch break and taking
regular annual leave can lead to not just lower productivity, but decreased stress and absenteeism. Breaks help to
create a productive, healthy and safe working environment.”
The survey also found that productivity is generally highest in the morning and that it begins to fall after 7 hours. If
working in excess of 8 hours per day, 41% of respondents said they start making errors. One in three said overtime makes
them work harder but not smarter.