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The importance of lunch time

In a survey conducted by the National Charity Partnership, it was found that less than a third of UK workers take proper lunch breaks – a break that involved going outdoors for a walk or taking time away from their desks.

The main reasons for this were found to be ‘having too much work’, ‘stress levels’ and the ‘workplace culture’. Interestingly, it is women who are less likely to leave their desks – with just 15% taking a lunch break compared to 35% of men.

Oldrids & Downtown, retailers of dinner sets, give an insight into the current workplace culture and how to improve lunch time habits at work:

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The legal obligations of employers

There are existing rules and regulations that ensure workers are able to take appropriate break times. Workers who are over the age of 18 are entitled to rest breaks (i.e lunch), daily rest (11 hours between working days) and weekly breaks (either 24 hours uninterrupted break each week or 48 hours uninterrupted work each fortnight).

In terms of lunch times, employers must provide workers with one 20-minute break during a working day of 6 hours or more. Employees should take breaks in the middle of the day too and be allowed to spend their break away from their desks.

How does a lunch break affect an employee?

‘Happier and more positive’ is how 90% of workers who took a lunch break said they felt afterwards. The reasons for this could be:

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.

Lunch breaks and productivity

10 million days are lost a year to work-related stress. Therefore, anything employers can do to improve their workers’ well-being will be beneficial to the company as a whole.

It is also understood that lunch breaks increase the productivity of workers too – more so if short breaks are included as an addition and employees enjoy a nutritious meal.

Encouraging lunch breaks

To encourage staff to take a lunch break, there is a variety of things that employers can do…

  • 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 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.

Sources

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