2016 reports suggest that close to one third of UK workers do not take proper lunch breaks at work.
In a survey of 1,700 workers conducted by the National Charity Partnership, 70% of workers admitted to spending their lunch at their desks working (24%) or using the internet (46%).
Women are most likely to miss their lunchtime too — just 15% take a lunch break outside the office compared with 35% of men – and those over the age of 24.
But what motivates British workers to do so? Over one third of people cited ‘having too much work’, one in eight said ‘stress levels’ and one in eight put it down to the ‘workplace culture’, whilst others said they ‘can’t be bothered’ or ‘prefer the internet to the outdoors’.
Here, retailer of dinner sets Oldrids & Downtown, explains why getting away from your desk and enjoying a spot of lunch is so important:
Over 18s in employment are legally entitled to breaks. This includes rest breaks (lunch breaks, for example), daily rest (11 hours between working days) and weekly breaks (either 24 hours uninterrupted break each week, or 48 hours uninterrupted work each fortnight).
Employees should receive a 20-minute break during any working day that is six hours or longer. Employers should take breaks in the middle of the day, and also be allowed to spend their break away from their workstation.
Benefits of lunch breaks
There are clear benefits of taking lunch breaks, as a National Charity Partnership survey shows. 90% of workers who take a proper lunch break felt ‘happier and more positive’ as a result. So why is that? It could be because:
- You can get things done. Taking a proper lunch will allow you to catch up on life administration or run some errands, giving you more time in the evening to relax.
- You can take in something tasty. Your lunch break gives you a brilliant opportunity to take in essential nutrients to keep you going for the rest of the day.
- You can sneak in some exercise. People with an hour-long lunch have time on their side to sneak in a lunchtime workout during their lunch, but even with the minimum 20 mins you can take a stroll, up your step count and have some fresh air.
Employers can benefit too
Close to 10 million working days are lost each year as a result of work-related stress. It’s clearly important for employers to minimise this downtime by encouraging wellbeing at work.
Lunch breaks have been found to boost employee productivity – especially when taken alongside short breaks. This is strengthened further when accompanied by a nutritious lunch, which will give workers the right nutrients and fuel for the rest of the day.
Encouraging lunch breaks at work
It’s beneficial for employers to encourage staff members to take some lunchtime. However, breaking the desk dining habit can be tough — here are some tips:
- Lead by example. If your employees see you working through lunch, they may feel like this is expected of them too.
- Create a workplace environment that encourages employees to take breaks.
- Designate a space in your workplace – such as a kitchen or dining room – that employees can go to to get away from their desks.
- Supply healthy snacks to encourage a culture of healthy eating to accompany a healthier attitude to taking breaks.
- Provide distractions from phones and screens. If you have room in your designated break space, include light reading materials (magazines and newspapers) and other forms of entertainment, so workers can relax free from screens in a dedicated environment.
- Encourage additional breaks. There are stressful moments in everyone’s jobs, so make it clear to employees that if they need to take an extra break for some fresh air, they can – and that their lunchbreak will be unaffected.