Helen Green

Why taking a lunch break is important for employee health

How do you spend your lunch hour? Or perhaps, given the results of a recent Glassdoor survey, I should be asking whether you have a lunch hour at all?

70% of those polled take less than an hour for lunch, with the average across the survey being just 31 minutes. And with 23% commenting that they spent their lunch hour sitting at their desk to catch up on work with a further 48% either browsing the internet or catching up on social media, that’s a significant proportion of the workforce who aren’t taking the breaks where they can refresh eyes, mind and body.

It isn’t just desk workers who aren’t taking the time to step back from their work. Recently, The BMJ launched a campaign which called for culture change in hospitals with a view to ensuring that doctors and other healthcare professionals received adequate breaks, in particular to enable them to re-hydrate and eat properly. In particular, the campaign highlighted the fact that “even small deficits of water in the human body impede physical performance and lead to worsening dehydration, causing headaches, sleepiness, impatience, and apathy.”

Taking regular breaks away from screens and staying hydrated not only brings health benefits, it also helps to ensure that your people can stay focused across the working day.

How do you spend your lunch hour? Perhaps it’s time to think again.

Do you encourage your team to take their lunch breaks? Being pro-active and recognising if employees aren’t taking their time off helps combat burn out in the long-term, and creates a happier, healthier workforce.