Saturday, December 8, 2007

Lunch is for wimps?

The lunch hour used to be just that, a full 60 minutes of personal time spent having lunch or relaxing, alone or with colleagues. Rejuvenated workers would then return to their desk full of zeal, enthusiasm and energy. However in an increasingly demanding workplace the lunch hour has been the first casualty of this war against personal time.

The traditional hour long lunch is fast disappearing, in the United States research undertaken by office furniture manufacturer Steelcase showed that this “hour” currently stands at an average of 31 minutes, with 55% of workers taking less than half an hour break every day. On top of this 67% of adults named the lunch hour “the biggest myth of office life” in a recent survey by food chain KFC.

Although heavily associated with American corporate culture the erosion of the lunch hour has spread across the Atlantic with British workers take a daily average of 19 minutes break, with their Irish neighbours boasting a relatively high 35 minute “hour”.
Most would assume that employers are the sole force driving the lunch hour to extinction, and although the “unspoken rules” of a given company may dictate that a 60 minute lunch break is a workplace faux pas, it is interesting to note that as unlikely as it seems the lunch hour is also under attack from employees.

In an increasingly competitive workplace employees often engage in a “race to the bottom” of sorts, holding the belief that staying desk bound and “dining al desko” will give them an advantage over their colleagues and prove their worth to the powers that be. This belief was confirmed by UK based Hays recruitment who found 41% of workers believe that “taking less than their allocated lunch break shows increased commitment to their employer”.

Those who skip lunch tend to claim this leads to greater productivity throughout the day, however skipping lunch can have detrimental effects on both the quality of work and more importantly an individual’s wellbeing. With blood sugar levels dropping a fall in concentration is inevitable, and sitting behind a computer for a 12 hours at a time can lead to stress and burn-out, which in client-centric roles becomes very important seeing as “burned-out workers don’t treat customers the way they need to be treated.” warns workplace psychologist Bev Smallwood.

‘I joke sometimes that smokers are the healthiest people in the workplace these days, because they get outside,’ says Deborah Brown-Volkman, adding that “sunshine is good for the mind body and soul”, moreover it is beneficial for out waistlines, getting outside for a brisk walk could contribute significantly to the advised 30 minutes of daily physical activity that is so often neglected.

The assault on the traditional lunch break is set to continue and while experts might advise you that skipping lunch is detrimental to performance and health it seems some will be determined to perpetuate the mantra of Gordan Gecko in that “Lunch is for Wimps”.

1 comment:

Phil said...

Hello, interesting blog, found it searhcing for Lunch is for wimps, which is infact what we have called our new blog. Seems you have the upperhand in the serps mind, not that it matters of course. Anyway thought id say hi, maybe hook up alittle linksy loo??