Hard-working employees who skip lunch breaks can benefit employers in the meantime, but could come back to haunt them in the long run.
While it’s common for many employees to work through lunch, a recent study by Tork highlights the importance of employees taking lunch breaks away from their desks.
When workers quickly shovel food down, all while not taking their eyes off their work, it’s only a matter of time until the burnout sets in. When this behavior goes on long enough, productivity takes a huge hit. And the study found it was up to employers and managers to break the habit.
About 20% of workers said they don’t take lunch breaks because they’re worried their bosses will think less of them. And it turns out this fear is valid: 22% of bosses think employees who take regular lunches aren’t hardworking.
Thirteen percent of workers who skip lunch don’t want to be judged by co-workers, and 38% simply don’t feel encouraged by their companies to take lunch breaks.
The lack of encouragement is unfortunate, since the study reported 90% of employees feel refreshed and ready to get back to work after a proper lunch break. Not only that, but 81% of employees who take regular lunches have the desire to be an active member of their company. Additional benefits include mental health boosts and increased creativity.
Changing company culture
It can be tricky to change the “breaks are for slackers” mentality, but Tork has a few suggestions for adjusting company culture:
- Redesign break rooms. Having at least one designated break room lets employees know there’s somewhere to go when they need some time away from their desks. Adding comfortable furniture and a designated eating area is even better.
- Start break incentives. Nothing will encourage people to take breaks more than an incentive program. Having employees track their breaks, then rewarding them for taking time away will ensure everyone gets the message.
- Communicate the benefits of breaks. A lot of people might not be aware that skipping lunch is causing extra stress. Put up some flyers or have a meeting about all the benefits of stepping away from time to time.
- Lead by example. The most effective way to encourage breaks is to take some yourself. Once employees see managers stepping away from their desks, they’ll instantly get the message that breaks are OK.