Ensuring adequate recovery at and after work
Recovery serves to restore depleted resources of physical and mental energy. It is essential to reduce the negative effects of heavy workloads.
Recovery serves to restore depleted resources of physical and mental energy. It can take place at work (e.g. during rest breaks) and after work (e.g. off-job time in the evenings or on days off). Rest breaks are work interruptions of various lengths during which employees are able to recover. A mandatory rest break is required after six hours of working time at the latest (Section 4 Working Time Act [Arbeitszeitgesetz, ArbZG]). Other types of rest break include short breaks or screen breaks. In order to allow longer recovery phases, an uninterrupted rest period of at least 11 hours is also prescribed after work ends (Section 5 ArbZG).
Recovery is essential to reduce the negative consequences of heavy workloads. This is becoming ever more important in our fast-moving, digitalised world of work with its growing mental demands. However, 28% of employees report frequently skipping mandatory rest breaks (Working Time Report [Arbeitszeitreport], 2018), 18% report shortened rest periods, 12% report frequently being contacted from work during private time, 22% report not being able to switch off from work, and almost half report frequent fatigue, tiredness, and exhaustion (Stress Report [Stressreport], 2020).
It must be ensured that employees have sufficient rest breaks and that they actually take them. In addition, both break times and rest periods should be clearly demarcated from work, for example by setting and communicating appropriate rules. Since psychological detachment plays such a central role in recovery, interruptions to these recovery phases should be avoided so that people are able to distance themselves mentally from work.