What Do You Do at Lunchtime?
People Management recently reported that only 30% of UK workers take proper lunch breaks, with nearly a quarter of people working through their typical lunch break and a further 46% spending it on the internet.
Reasons for Working Through Lunch
A survey of 2,000 UK adults found that office workers are reluctant to take a break from their desks at lunchtime, they blamed:
• Heavy workloads (32 %)
• Workplace culture (14 %)
• Stress (13 %)
9 in 10 questioned reported feeling healthier and more positive when they went outside, yet 52% of those questioned said they never leave the office for lunch, and 24% said they regularly work through.
The survey was commissioned by the National Charity Partnership, a collaboration between Diabetes UK, the British Heart Foundation (BHF) and Tesco. They are encouraging workers to use its free online motivational tool to get active to help protect their wellbeing.
Creating a Positive Culture
Employers can help greatly by encouraging people to take their lunch breaks. Some organisations have a culture of busy-ness, a belief that if I am sat at my desk I am being productive, yet research shows that if we take short breaks regularly we can be far more productive, while reducing stress and improving our physical health.
Lead by Example
Managers need to set the scene by taking a break and encouraging everyone to take lunch away from their desk. Employers could create walking challenges to bring some fun around the idea of staying active at work and set individual and team goals.
Charlotte Cross, Director of the Better Health at Work Alliance said this was “another form of presenteeism. Conversely, encouraging healthy activity and nutritious eating is a proven quick win that boosts performance.” She went on to add “With ‘sitting as the new smoking’ and around of third of UK adults on track to be obese within nine years, improving lunch break habits shouldn’t be overlooked.”
There are many ways to improve health and wellbeing at work, surely encouraging people to take a break at lunchtime is one of the easiest, all round quick wins to improve health, reduce fatigue and increase productivity.