There is a new trend flocking the workplace….failing to take your lunch break during the day. A survey by Bupa revealed the worrying statistic that two-thirds of workers were unable to take a break for lunch for the minimum legal requirement of 20 minutes for people working six or more hours. 28% even confessed to not having a minute to themselves during the work day.
work is taking over our lunch!
It seems as though work is encroaching on our much-needed break time with 43% of the 2000 survey respondents stating they had too much work on to allow themselves to take a break. Alarmingly, 31% end up eating their lunch at their desk. But if we’re using our lunch to work, we’re more productive and less stressed, right? No – the result of skipping lunch has detrimental effects.
The survey results revealed that worrying 30% of workers said skipping lunch makes them physically ill in the afternoon. Furthermore, 40% said it dampens their productivity and 52% claim it puts them in a bad mood. Taking a break renews our cognitive capacity. This which ensures that we can continue to work at a high productivity level throughout the rest of the day. If a growing proportion of the workforce is feeling this negative impact on their productivity levels, then this will affect the wider business performance. In 2011, Bupa found that the drop in productivity resulting from failure to take your lunch break was losing UK companies up to £50million per day!
the benefits of taking your lunch break
Not only is taking regular breaks important for our productivity levels but it also important for our health. Sir Cary Cooper, Professor of Organisational Psychology and Health at Lancaster University Management School, commented for Stylist Magazine. He states that during the summer we should get outside the office and enjoy the sunshine. This helps to release hormones such as serotonin for boosting our happiness levels!
Taking a break from work also allows us to socialise and interact with colleagues; an important part of team building and making the workplace more enjoyable. It may come as a shock to some, but a 2008 study by Massachusetts Institute of Technology found that taking a part of your day to interact with your team and engage in workplace chatter or socialising during breaks, actually boosts productivity overall!
Managers this is where you can step in and lead by example. A quarter of respondents from the survey stated they felt pressured to work throughout their lunch when they saw their boss doing so. Sir Cary Cooper, Professor of Organisational Psychology and Health at Lancaster University Management School, adds to this, showing concern for the growing underlying assumption that you are not committed to your job if you take a lunch break.
make your lunch productive
It is time for employees to take back their owed lunch break and use it to their advantage. If you take an hour lunch break every day during the working week this equates to 240 hours a year! Encourage your employees to take their lunch break and support them to not get distracted in checking their work emails or answering work calls during their break, and suggest activities they could do at this time. For example, using the lunch break to learn a language, read a book they have delayed starting due to having no time to read or working on a new personal project. Stylist Magazine have started the ‘Reclaim your Lunch Break’ campaign and provide some more top accomplishments you could get involved in during your lunch break! Share the ways you like to spend your lunch break in the comments below!