I used to be part of the 70% of employees who failed to take a lunch break. I believed that by not having a lunch break, I could demonstrate to the people I was managing that I was far too busy for the triviality of lunch.
But by skipping lunch, the impact on mine and other workers’ productivity levels is significant. Almost half of the people surveyed (48%) felt that their productivity levels plummeted around 3pm due to the lack of fuel from a decent lunch. This dip resulted in them losing 40 minutes of their day as their brain slowed down and they struggled to concentrate fully.
What is stopping us taking lunch?
So why do employees skip lunch? Over a third of people surveyed (34%) said that had experienced pressure from managers to work through their lunch hour, whilst half felt that the size of their workload prevented them from taking a break.
Bupa Clinical Director of Occupational Health, Dr. Jenny Leeser, said: “In challenging economic times, the UK work force is in overdrive and the lunch break is falling by the wayside. Instead of taking a break to refuel, workers are using props including chocolates and sweets and caffeinated drinks to get them through the day.”
“In fact, a fifth (21 per cent) consume five caffeinated drinks a day. Having large amounts of caffeine on a daily basis can lead to insomnia and dehydration.”
Dr Leeser continued: “Taking an entire hour for lunch can often be difficult, and is not necessarily the best way to keep productivity levels up. Best practice is for employees to take breaks -often in the form of a change of activity- at regular intervals throughout the day to help stay alert and focused.”
Why lunch is vital for the second half of the day
For some, a lunch break is also a time to not only mentally and physically recharge, but also to connect with colleagues.
Try and get away from the desk, remembering that your keyboard harbours more bacteria than a toilet seat, and either get out or move internally to a communal eating place if you have one.
Eating with a colleague will give you a chance to have a chat about things unrelated to work, or to get something off your chest that may have been stressing you out.
Someone I worked with, whose name I’ll protect, said that having a lunch break was a sign of weakness, and that you didn’t have a large enough workload. What a load of twoddle. For me, taking a lunch break is the complete opposite and an indication that somebody is in control of their time management.
Taking a lunch break means that the brain is nourished with the food, water and oxygen it needs and this increase in energy levels will lead to a much more productive afternoon.
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