15 Apr Empower Denver to Take a Lunch Break
When was the last time you enjoyed either a quite lunch on your own at a nearby park or had a relaxing meal with colleagues or friends during the workday lunch hour? If it wasn’t recently, you aren’t alone. National Public Radio (NPR) reports that the American lunch break is disappearing.
Research suggests that the internal need to be available to employers and co-workers 24-7 is a key reason why only 1 in 5 Americans are leaving the office for a midday meal. With the traditional 9-5 workday fading away and many Denver employees working longer and more varied hours, the idea of the traditional lunch break needs to be redesigned. But isn’t this dedication to one’s career good for business?
No. Recent studies suggest that the opposite may be true. Staying longer at your desk, without a break, may decrease productivity and hurt the bottom line. Kimberly Elsbach, workplace psychology professor at the University of California, Davis Graduate School of Management explains,
we know that creativity and innovation happen when people change their environment, and especially when they expose themselves to a nature-like environment…so staying inside in the same location, is really detrimental to creative thinking. It’s also detrimental to doing the rumination that’s needed for ideas to percolate and gestate and allow a person to arrive at an ‘aha’ moment.
Studies also suggest that taking time off in the middle of the day whether to eat, walk or take a coffee break with co-workers creates not only a culture of community within the workplace but also happier more productive employees.
Not sure what to do with this information? Here are a couple of suggestions to encourage your Denver employees to take that break:
Breaks in a Community Setting
In her NPR interview, Elsbach recommended that employers set up an online forum that encourages employees to participate in a variety of activities during the lunch hour. For example, Elsbach suggested that one might say, “these are the different activities we’re doing. There’s one group that’s going to meet and eat sack lunch outside. There’s another group that’s going to go for a walk around the local environment. There’s another group that’s going to go to a favorite restaurant.”
Because you’ve organized a community around the activities, everyone participating becomes part of a group. For this to work though, you need to get the top managers to participate too and take time off in the middle of the day to eat lunch, to go for a walk, or to have a coffee break. They need to be included in the community and model that behavior for the rest of the workforce.
Rejuvenate your Break Room
Although a walk outside can be beneficial, too much of a good thing can turn into a bad thing especially when a short break becomes an extended time away from the office. To create a sense of community and a pleasant place to go when getting away from the office isn’t ideal, create a better break space. Add games such as ping pong, foosball, or pinball, and comfortable lounges to your office break room to create a relaxing space. Offer quality coffee service (a highly-perceived benefit for an affordable price), and healthy snacks and beverages in your vending machines. For an extra bonus, consider offering vending options for free or at a reduced cost. And if possible, bring some of the outdoors inside with potted plants, big windows, or natural scenery wall murals.
Regardless of how you encourage your employees to get away from their desks, it’s important that you do it. Whether it’s lunch out, a walk around the block, or a foosball tournament in your break room, your Denver employees will appreciate it. To learn more about redoing your break room or about adding coffee, traditional or free vend services for your employees, contact PGi Services at 800.580.7266.