British workers are short-changing themselves by an estimated 19 million hours of break* each working day by not claiming their full lunch hours, according to new research from GalaBingo.com. Looking into the nation’s lunchtime habits, the study also revealed that one in five (22%) take less than 10 minutes for lunch, while 10% of Brits never take time for a proper break, opting to eat lunch at their desks every day instead.
It is a legal entitlement that all employees who work over six hours get at least 20 minutes of uninterrupted break every day, though many jobs offer a standard lunch hour. Despite this, the poll found that nine out of ten (87%) of working Brits do not take their full lunch break.
Of those surveyed, only 13% said they take the majority of their lunch hour (50 minutes or more) away from their desks, while two thirds (65%) of workers take less than 30 minutes.
The average break length is 25 minutes and, assuming a standard lunch hour, this means that the UK’s 32.4 million workers collectively miss out on 18,899,417 hours of lunch each working day.
Altogether, it seems that we are a nation who take the majority of our lunchtimes ‘al desko’ rather than al fresco. But with working through breaks this widespread, what benefits are Brits missing out on?
Joe Gaunt, CEO and founder of corporate wellbeing organisation, Hero, explains:
“Taking breaks from work is vital for your wellbeing and can boost your creativity, performance, concentration and health. Studies show that even something as simple as going for a short walk improves your mood, releases pressure and counters the side effects of the enforced immobility that results from spending hours stuck behind a desk.
“Similarly, spending your break with friends and co-workers in a social environment can erase any negative side effects of a stressful and busy morning. When you socialise with colleagues and friends, your mind is said to benefit from the equivalent of a relaxing bath or shower; rinsing away all the negative impurities the morning might have delivered.”
Of course, different industries have different demands on time, so who is most likely to skip lunch? The survey revealed that lawyers are the professionals least likely to take a full lunch break, opting instead to work through it.
On the other hand, those in engineering and manufacturing are most likely to escape their desk for a sandwich or soup; a huge 96% said that they always take some time away from their workspaces at lunch.
Commenting on the research, Karina Adrian, Head of Brand Acquisition at GalaBingo.com said,
“It’s a shame so many Brits feel they have too much work on to take a break from their desk! Food is definitely one of life’s greatest pleasures, and taking time away to really savour your lunch, catch up with friends or simply get some fresh air can add a little bit of happiness into your day.” .