Does this surprise you? A recent survey by Right Management found that less than 20 percent of Americans regularly leave their desk for a midday meal. That means only one in every five workers are actually getting a break during their workday, despite what labor laws require.
Does that sound similar to what you’re doing in your company? If so, it might be time to consider how long your lunch breaks really should be and what you’re doing to encourage your employees to get the mental breaks they need throughout the day.
Working lunches have become more popular. Not only do they make employees look more productive because they never stop to take a break, but they also feel more productive. This is probably the reason for their heightened popularity.
If your company culture hails working lunches as productive, chances are your team isn’t taking a midday break either. This could be costly in the long run stealing from the work/life balance your team needs to feel motivated and fulfilled.
Quick and Messy Lunches
Perhaps you schedule lunches for your employees, but you only give them a half hour or less to chow down before they’re expected to be back at work. These are known as quick and messy lunches.
Although these aren’t the traditional three-martini lunch breaks of olden days, they can still have a restorative effect. Even a 15-20 minute break is proven to keep concentration levels higher throughout the day. This is enough time to allow your brain to recuperate from the demands of the job.
An Hour to Rest
Traditionally, lunch breaks are an hour long (sometimes longer). This long of a lunch break can be beneficial depending on how it’s spent. If your employee is using their lunch breaks to get caught up on email (regardless of whether or not she’s in the office), the lunch break isn’t going to restore her brain power. If she’s using the lunch break to get in a quick workout, doze off for a short power nap, or soak up some Vitamin D in the sunshine, it will leave her feeling refreshed.
If you’re offering an hour lunch break, encourage your employees to fully unplug, go outside, or at least go to a new location.
Scheduling Your Lunch Breaks
It’s pretty clear that not offering a lunch break isn’t ideal for many reasons. Specifically, it leads to a lack of productivity, despite its outward appearance.
Whether you offer a quick and messy lunch break, or you give your employees a full midday break to get out of the office, you’ll need to put these breaks on the schedule to ensure they’re heeded. When you encourage your team to unplug during their lunch break, you need to let everyone else know not to try to reach out and bother them during this restorative period.
By putting lunch breaks on the company-wide online scheduling app, you can clearly communicate that those periods are intended for a full pause from work. This will help prevent employees from falling into the trap of trying to continue working during what’s supposed to be time away to clear their mind.
What’s Right for Your Company’s Culture?
So, which is the right length of lunch break for you? The choice is yours. But if you’re planning on offering some sort of a break away from the daily grind, it’s important you schedule it so everyone can take a full step away guilt-free.
Author Profile Jon Forknell is the Vice President and General Manager of Atlas Business Solutions, Inc., a software marketing company specializing in employee scheduling software, including ScheduleBase employee scheduling software, and other business software solutions. In the past, Jon has been recognized by the U.S. Small Business Administration as a SBA Young Entrepreneur of the Year. Atlas Business Solutions was named as one of Software Magazine’s Top 500 Software Companies in 2004 through 2007 and again in 2010, 2013 and 2014.