The Impact of Lunch and Break Skipping
This column is for those of you who work eight or more hours a day, without a break. Once you finish reading, give a copy to your boss.
In an ideal world, you would show up to work once you had eaten a good breakfast. After the first two hours, your boss would give you a 15-minute break so you could relax a little and maybe enjoy a snack of veggies for an energy boost.
Two more hours pass and you would clock out to spend some time de-stressing while enjoying a healthy and leisurely lunch. Then two more hours later you would take another 15-minute break to have one more healthy snack. Maybe a piece of fruit or a handful of nuts.
In today's workplace a job like that is practically an endangered species. Who has the time to take a lunch? Who's going to answer the phones, help the customers or deal with the clients if you're on a break?
Stop for a minute and think about how you feel when you get hungry. Your stomach starts to rumble a little. You get light headed and perhaps a little shaky. Without food your thoughts tend to wander. It becomes increasingly hard to concentrate or pay attention to what's happening around you. As your blood sugar drops, you start making mistakes and get irritable. If you've got a physical job, you start to slow down and your body gets weaker.
Why it's Important
Now imagine those things are happening and you're a nurse working in the emergency room... or you're the captain of a dive boat responsible for watching over people swimming in the ocean... or maybe you're a waiter taking an order from a customer who's telling you they're deathly allergic to peanuts.
One mistake and you've just put someone's life at risk, or worse. But that's not all. When people don't eat or take enough breaks during long shifts, they get injured at work more frequently. They drink more, smoke more, get sick more and tend to binge eat more often, leading to greater levels of obesity.
It doesn't have to be that way. Scheduled breaks and time for lunch aren't just good for the customer, they're also good for YOU and your COMPANY. Here's why.
Researcher Anders Ericsson found that great performers typically focus for about 90 minutes at a time. After that, they take a break to refuel and recuperate. With those breaks, they tend to get more high quality work done, in a shorter period of time.
In a Gallup Poll taken on August 21, 2008, they found that 77% of workers who responded were dissasatified in some way with stress at their work. Taking time out during a break lowers stress and leads to happier people... and happiness matters.
In a 2008 Towers Perrin Global Workforce Study of 90,000 employees across 18 countries, they found that companies with engaged (happy) employees had a 19% year-to-year increase in operating income and a 28% growth in earnings per share. A full 90% of their employees had no plans to leave.
Companies with employees on the lowest levels of satisfaction showed an 11% drop in earnings and a dismal 32% year-to-year decline in operating income. Half the employees who worked for those companies had plans to leave within the year.
It's time to take a look at your workplace. If you're not allowing at least a 30 minute break for lunch, you're expecting employees to give 100% while they're hungry, irritable, lacking focus and stressed out.
Large organizations can arrange for schedules that overlap to cover breaks and mealtimes. If you're a small company, allow your employees to bring their lunch and give them a few minutes to escape, eat and relax. You may have to work a little harder for those few minutes, but the person that comes back will have more energy, a better attitude and a fresh perspective.
Breaks and lunch. Two things you can do today for healthier, happier and more productive (profitable!) employees.
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CAUTION: Check with your doctor before
beginning any diet or exercise program.