Addressing Excessive Workday Breaks

Posted by Andrew on January 20, 2020

Employees need breaks to re-energize and remain engaged with their work. Slogging through the workday without pausing to eat and take a mental break can lead to burnout and hinder productivity. However, employees who take excessively long breaks create problems as well. When an employee leaves for lunch and returns well after they’re due back, they can hold up projects or spread the behavior to other staff members.

If an employer suspects or notices staff members stretching their lunch break, they can take the following steps to rectify it and prevent further instances of it in the future.

  1. Outline clear policies. Many company handbooks discuss major attendance issues like how to request sick leave, how the employer handles tardiness, and so on. However, taking excessive breaks doesn’t always make the cut. While employees should know they can’t extend their lunch hours, providing clear, direct rules can resolve any confusion.
  2. Keep records. Having proof of break abuse can assist in facilitating a productive conversation with the offending employee. Making accusations without evidence of any rule-breaking can cause employees to become defensive.
  3. Find out the cause of the behavior. It’s rare that an employee is slacking off for the fun of it. If employers notice employees suddenly taking longer breaks, they should look for the root cause. Problems such as bullying, feeling unchallenged, or issues at home can leave an employee feeling fatigued and disengaged with their work.
  4. Establish a strategy. After addressing the problem, employers need to develop a clear plan of action for the employee while offering support if necessary. Simply telling an employee to stop taking long breaks doesn’t address what’s causing the behavior in the first place.
  5. Avoid micromanaging breaks. It’s not worth raising a fuss over employees that are only a couple of minutes late from their lunch, particularly if it’s not a frequent occurrence. The best way to know if extended breaks are becoming a problem in the office is to keep track of them with an absence management system.

Taking long breaks can lead to additional unwanted attendance issues. Arriving late, leaving early, and long breaks can all culminate in a rampant absenteeism problem. Contact the experts at Actec to learn more about our absence reporting solution.