Comparing Relaxation Versus Mastery Microbreak Activity: A Within-Task Recovery Perspective
Recovery from work is generally thought to occur outside of the workplace. However, employees may also have the opportunity to recover within the work day via microbreaks during demanding work tasks. Two major strategies for mitigating fatigue include psychological detachment (i.e., mentally disengaging) and replenishing motivational incentives via positive affect. This study examined whether 40-s “microbreaks” improve work recovery and to what extent different microbreak content (mastery vs. relaxation activities) boost performance. Using an experimental study, we randomly assigned individuals to receive a relaxation microbreak (n = 59), a mastery microbreak (n = 68), or no break (n = 72) in the middle of a monotonous work task and assessed work performance. Microbreaks improved task performance and within-task recovery, but only for psychological detachment (not positive affect). Mastery breaks also resulted in more psychological detachment than relaxation breaks, but this increased detachment did not explain performance differences between break types. These results build on existing recovery theories by further demonstrating within-task recovery and provide practical implications for organizations to consider the importance of microbreaks.
Conlin, A., Hu, X., & Barber, L. (2021). Comparing Relaxation Versus Mastery Microbreak Activity: A Within-Task Recovery Perspective. Psychological Reports, 124 (1), 248-265. https://doi.org/10.1177/0033294119900347