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Timing is everything.


With Annual Enrollment this is especially true—since this is the time of year when employees sign up for the benefits that they and their family members rely on for the year to come. 

Not only is timing critical for the employees completing enrollment, but it’s also key for your HR professionals who have their noses to the proverbial grindstone during this season, which is the busiest of the HR calendar.

Timing during AE doesn’t just mean deadlines or particular milestones. During this stressful period, it’s important to make sure your HR staff has the ability to take breaks, so they can rest, recharge, and be highly engaged when they’re back on the job. This will help them be the resource your employees need when questions about benefits and the enrollment process inevitably come up.

How can you make sure your HR pros get the breaks they need? Bestselling author Daniel Pink has researched the science behind taking breaks and what is truly restorative for our minds and bodies. At the recent Philadelphia Society of People and Strategy Leadership Forum, he shared five tips about the “right kinds of breaks,” which you can use to ensure your HR staff make the most of their time away from their desks:

  1. Something beats nothing. Simply put, any break is better than no break at all. Tasks can pile up and unexpected events always happen during AE, but making sure that HR pros take breaks, no matter how busy the day gets, is the first step to preventing burnout. Use calendar holds for members of your HR staff so that they’re reminded of when it’s their turn to go on break. This also ensures that when one or two people are on break, there are enough people to handle the workload during that period.
  2. Moving beats stationary. A break doesn’t have to mean plopping down on a couch or chair. Getting moving helps release stress and boosts the endorphins that make us feel better. Even a short jaunt around the office is a great way to maximize one’s break so that it’s truly restorative.
  3. Social beats solo. It can be hard to have multiple staff members on break at the same time, but if you have the capacity, have your HR staff take breaks in small groups. Being able to chat, laugh, and socialize makes a break more restorative than sitting alone and thinking about the next task at hand. If your HR department is small and it’s not possible to have more than one person on break at a time, encourage your employees to visit the break room or the lunch room so they can socialize with other colleagues and get their mind off their workload.
  4. Outside beats inside. There is nothing like fresh air to make you feel restored. Do you have a walking path around your building? Maybe an outdoor courtyard where employees can gather? Suggest that your HR pros step outside at least once a day, weather permitting, and get a literal breath of fresh air.
  5. Fully detached beats semi-detached. This can be the most challenging of all. With our mobile devices, we’re constantly connected to emails, texts, and more, but a break isn’t really a break if you’re catching up on emails. Emphasize the importance of detaching from work tasks for the duration of the break so that your HR pros don’t feel guilty if they leave their cell phone behind while they take a stroll or grab coffee with a colleague. When they return from their break, they’ll be more focused and engaged for the work ahead of them.

Want to learn more about thriving during AE instead of just surviving? Check out our guide with easy actionable items to inspire your team to have a successful AE with zero drama. 

Read the Guide

View all Posts by Rae Shanahan