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Schmoozing on breaks may help workers perform, study finds

From the Newsday files, workers at GSE Dynamics,

From the Newsday files, workers at GSE Dynamics, Inc. of Hauppauge around the company water cooler in 2004. They are John Sicignano, Ayube Hussein, Daniel Shybunko, Rich Esposito, Anne Shybunko and Tim Austin. Photo Credit: David L. Pokress

If bosses want to get more out of their employees, they may want to consider encouraging more socializing during sanctioned work breaks.

Doing personal errands or rushing for the coffee pot, smoking lounge or vending machines did NOT increase work engagement and improved performance (as perceived by the worker.)

But frequent social interaction on breaks did.

That’s according to research by Sherilyn Romanik at the Center for Behavioral Health Research and Services at the University of Alaska Anchorage and Ann Huffman, Northern Arizona University.

Of the 98 employees in the research sample, 43 percent said they took breaks with others, with close to half of them saying they discussed an equal mix of work and nonwork issues. And 47 percent said they always or usually received social and emotional support during such respites.

Still, bosses do have to watch out for those 10-minute breaks that stretch into 13 minutes or the person taking an “unofficial walk to the coffee machine who’s delayed at someone’s desk to talk about the weekend,” says Jeffrey Schlossberg, partner and chair of the employment law group at Ruskin Moscou Faltischek, P.C., Uniondale.

So, while employees can benefit from positive schmoozing, there is that too-much-of-a-good-thing syndrome.

Photo: From the Newsday files, workers at GSE Dynamics of Hauppauge around the company water cooler in 2004. They are, from left, John Sicignano, Ayube Hussein, Daniel Shybunko, Rich Esposito, Anne Shybunko and Tim Austin.

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