HR Strange But True!
October 20, 2011

Want to increase attendance, wellness, and productivity—and reenergize your employees? Get them throwing a Frisbee, whirling a Hula Hoop, playing Simon Says, and doing other school-yard activities you enjoyed as a kid by instituting “recess” time at work!

So says KEEN, Inc., which maintains that letting employees take short 10-minute activity breaks every day isn’t just a good idea, it should be workplace policy—especially if you have a workforce that usually spends most of its time sitting. And if the breaks can be outdoors, so much the better.

James Curleigh, CEO and CRO (chief recess officer) at KEEN, recalls recess from childhood: "Remember when recess was the best part of your day? It's time to bring that fun time back! Working adults deserve a break from the daily grind to get outside, breathe the fresh air, and play!" Curleigh believes "instituting short recess breaks is a simple, commonsense approach for our workforce to reenergize while working, improve health and productivity, and promote a positive work environment for all."

A video shows how a simple game of Simon Says generates a lot of stretching and aerobic movement in a short period while generating fun, relaxation, and camaraderie at the same time. Add some music for even more enjoyment—and maybe a school bell to call employees back to their cubes!

"Workplace recess can benefit both employers and employees by helping to get people moving who spend so much time sitting and attached to their electronics, at a time when obesity rates continue to grow," said Dr. Toni Yancey of UCLA, who developed the program for KEEN. "Through workplace studies I've conducted with my team, the results clearly demonstrate that short activity breaks during the day are beneficial for one's physical and mental health, improving productivity and aiding in arresting weight gain."

The company has even designed an all-inclusive, downloadable “Instant Recess” Toolkit for employers that includes presentations, posters, kickoff ideas, “hall passes,” and even a “manager reality check.”

The “recesses” are actually paid daily activity breaks, but according to a KEEN press release, the return on investment for the cost of the breaks would actually deliver $1.50 to $2 for every dollar spent.

But would your employees participate? A recent survey for KEEN found that more than half (53 percent) of respondents who are employed full-time indicated that if their workplace had 10-minute outdoor "recess" breaks every day, it would make them healthier, happier, or more productive employees. In addition, 44 percent of full-time employed adults indicated that they would participate in recess if it were offered at their workplace, with the greatest interest among women (53 percent) and Millennials (51 percent).



Occasionally, we’ll hear a workplace story that’s more suited for a playground than an office. Do you have a strange but true tale?

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