When Your Employees Take Too Long on Their Breaks

Here is a management puzzle for you: what do you do when you notice that your employees are taking too long on their breaks?

The classic management model says, “these employees are slackers, they are wasting company time and they need to be disciplined.” To that I ask, “does that create the kind or work environment you want to create?” The reality is that this lowers respect for management, builds resentment on both sides, gives lower management tasks which makes them feel like micro-managers and a long list of repercussions which lower moral.

To be clear, I am talking about jobs where your breaks are a set length determined and managed by your managers.

Here is the alternative: talk to your employees about what is going on instead of punishing them. This builds respect and respect is conducive to right action. You might find out that breaks may not be at optimal times, employees are being overworked, there is some environmental factor out of employee control or any number or reasons. Some of these can easily be solved and some of these are solved by people being able to talk about them so they feel heard and don’t need to be passive aggressive.

I use this as an example that the way to manage is not to force people to do what you think they should be doing. It needs to be a dialogue.

Note: this is also seen in design thinking where the way to solve problems is to ask the world – do research and talk to people.

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