In this article, the UK’s top-rated company formation agent – 1st Formations, look at the reasons why business owners should ensure their employees take advantage of their lunch breaks.
Different lunch routines can cause disharmony
You can’t force employees to take lunch breaks. If people wish to work through it, that’s their decision. And this is just what people are doing, with recent research indicating that when an individual works five a week, they regularly skip one lunch break per week.
The problem with letting this habit become prominent in your business is that working through lunch breaks becomes part of a company’s culture, and those employees who do wish to take advantage of the break may feel that they can’t.
This can lead to friction within your team. One set of employees feel that they are being made to look bad as they want to take a full break, and the other group are questioning why they are working harder than the group who want to have lunch.
If you take a hands-off approach to the problem and not mention it all, employees will immediately assume that you side with the people who do not take lunch, because of course – the business owner will want more work to get done. This can lead to employees resenting you.
Employment law in the UK states that most employees who work more than 6 hours a day are entitled to one full 20-minute break per shift (most businesses will go above this by allowing 1 hour for lunch). Encourage team unity by proactively ensuring all team members take their full lunch break.
You can do this by being clear in your stance (lunch breaks should be taken!) through your employee handbook, intranet system if you have one, and if you’re feeling particularly hands-on – actively walking around your workspace instructing people to take their break.
A good lunch breaks boosts energy levels
If an employee is skipping their lunch breaks, they may also be missing out on lunch altogether – something that’s detrimental to their energy levels and overall productivity. If food has been brought in, it’s likely to be a meal that’s quick and convenient (and quite possibly unhealthy), and can be eaten with minimal fuss from their desk.
In comparison, an employee who values their lunch break is more likely to have prepared something nutritious and set aside the necessary time to eat this in a relaxed environment away from their workspace. Or, if they do intend to step outside of the office and buy their lunch, they have more time to make smarter choices about what they do eat.
As a business owner, you can take steps to ensure your team eat healthily by providing complimentary lunch on a dedicated day each week – also a good team-building exercise – and by partnering up with local (healthy) cafes and restaurants to arrange staff discounts.
You should also consider banning eating from desks, which is a sneaky way to ensure people do take their break and will also cut down on messy and offensively smelly lunches (microwaved fish, anyone?).
A time to exercise
As well as an opportunity to eat a nutritious lunch, by taking their full break, an employee has the chance to get some fresh air and do some exercise. Something that is remarkably beneficial to both physical and mental well-being.
Employees who sit in front of their desks all day are more prone to stress and other health-related issues, such as eye strain. By encouraging your team members to get some fresh air and burn some calories during their lunch break with a brisk walk, going for a run, or maybe even a quick gym session, you are helping them improve their health, and somewhat cynically, reducing the likelihood of them having to take time off due to sickness.
You may even want to take this a step further and introduce a running or walking club, or perhaps even a corporate gym membership at a gym close enough to enable employees to pop in on lunch breaks.
A fresh perspective
Sometimes the process of stepping away from a piece of work for a short period of time, such as on a lunch break, can be advantageous.
This can be particularly useful when dealing with challenging tasks. Perhaps an employee has hit a hurdle on a creative project, is dealing with a customer issue that has no obvious resolution or is struggling to get their head around a report – just by placing themselves in a new environment, the employee may have a flash of inspiration that gives the solution to their problem.
In hindsight, it may have seemed obvious, but it needed a change in location to provide a change in mindset.
An opportunity for team bonding
Despite being near each other for a significant period, the amount of ‘off’ time that your employees get to spend together is very limited, especially in busier businesses where there’s no let-up. By motivating your team to step away from their desks for an hour each day, you’re playing an important role in fostering a positive company culture.
The lunch break represents a valuable chance for team members to get together with their colleagues and relax. Without this, the only real opportunity for team bonding is during working hours (when we’re sure you’d rather they be focusing on work), at the end of the working day, and at dedicated team events.
You can’t tell team members what to do on their lunch breaks, but you can make sure they take one – which increases the odds of team togetherness.
Thanks for reading
So, there you have it, 5 reasons why you should encourage your employees to take their lunch breaks. So, next time you see an employee sitting at their desk, wolfing down a sandwich – tell them to take a genuine break. In the long term, they will feel the benefit and so will your business.
Company Formation agent 1st Formations have helped register more than 1 million UK limited companies. They are the UK’s premier company formation agent and are the ideal jumping-off point for anyone wanting to take the plunge and start their own business. Take a look at their different company formation packages now, prices start from only £12.99.