The lunch break is the traditional time for employees to unwind. Employees are encouraged to spend some time away from their desks to eat, socialise with colleagues or sneak in a little wellbeing practice to refresh themselves, ready for the afternoon ahead.
However, it seems that many workers just aren’t feeling the benefits – with 24% willing to swap breaks for higher pay, and 40% wishing they could have reduced working hours so that they could come into work late or leave early, according to research from Glassdoor.
Some employees reported feeling pressure to cut their lunch breaks short. One in four people (25%) said that they would cut their lunch break short out of fear of falling behind in their work. A fifth (18%) reported that they sometimes feel that they have to work through their lunch break because everyone else at work does.
As a result, Glassdoor found the average UK lunchbreak is just 31 minutes long.
“The lunch hour is becoming a thing of the past and fewer people have the time or the inclination to take a long lunch break anymore,” said John Lamphiere, EMEA Managing Director at Glassdoor.
“Many employees grab half an hour and they use that time to work, shop, go online, play games, run errands or exercise. Eating lunch is squeezed in there somewhere.”
Despite this, few firms seem to be willing to allow their employees a choice of when and how they use their lunch breaks. Just under one in three people (31%) said that their company is very flexible and happy for them to take a break when they need to, and only 16% reported that they have total autonomy over how long they take for lunch and when they take it.
Lamphiere suggested that employers can tap into the desire for flexibility by having an adjustable policy when it comes to taking breaks and general working hours. “Every employee is different, but if someone wants to work through lunch to leave early on occasion, then managers can generate a lot of goodwill by being open to these types of requests,” he added.
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