Skip to main content
Join Now

< Back to All

Are you ready to “take back your lunch”?

August 23, 2012

Article courtesy of SBAM Approved Partner ASE

By George Brown

Maybe you know someone who needs to take back their lunch.

LiveScience Senior Writer Stephanie Pappas posed this question in a recent article:  When was the last time you left your desk and took a real lunch break? According to studies conducted over the past two years, you may find the results and the trends surprising. Or maybe not.

There was a time in our history when employees had to fight for the meal and break policies most of us now take for granted. Or as the case might be, don’t take at all.

A survey released in 2010 by CareerBuilder found that 18 percent of workers report always eating at their desks and 16 percent said they skip lunch in favor of work. A third of employees said they take lunch but spend less than 30 minutes eating.

Moving forward, another survey conducted in July and August of 2011 by Right Management came up with similar results. The company polled 751 North American workers via an online poll and asked, “Do you regularly take a break for lunch?” One-third (35 percent) said “Yes, almost always”; one-third (34 percent) said “Yes, but usually stay at my desk”; and one-third said either “Only from time to time” (15 percent) or “Seldom, if ever” (16 percent).

Skipped lunch breaks are a growing trend, said Danielle Hartmann, the director for corporate partnerships at Boston College’s Center for Work & Family.  “I think the expectation is that more people are expected to work more with less, workloads have been exceptionally high and people don’t feel like they can take the time to eat.”

“Many of the organizations have been downsized, and as a result, folks have significantly more responsibility,” said Ron Sims, a vice president at Right Management. “They don’t want to be seen as somebody who is not fully contributing.”

That is an urge that might seem productive but actually burns you in the long run, said Nancy Rothbard, a professor of management at the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. “There is support for this idea that taking these breaks can actually help you do better and focus better on your work and have new ideas.”

Not surprisingly, several companies have started encouraging employees to hit the dining hall or the fitness center during lunch hour as a way to promote health and creativity.

These initiatives are sorely needed, according to Mr. Sims. Employees in North America are less engaged in their work than they have been in years, according to other Right Management surveys, he said. While an engaged employee is willing to go the extra mile, Sims said, disengaged employees are just trying to get through the day.

Energy expert Tony Schwartz, author of The Way We’re Working Isn’t Working, encourages workers to take back their lunch.  His web site The Energy Project has solutions, tools and tips for fueling a fully engaged workforce.

Share On: