Thursday, September 21, 2023

The key to workplace productivity isn’t late nights, it’s lunch

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Shreya Christina
Shreya has been with for 3 years, writing copy for client websites, blog posts, EDMs and other mediums to engage readers and encourage action. By collaborating with clients, our SEO manager and the wider team, Shreya seeks to understand an audience before creating memorable, persuasive copy.

Dilip Rao is the CEO and co-founder of Share bitethe leading food benefits platform designed for the modern workforce.

Look in just about any office of corporate America at 8 p.m. and you’re likely to see the same scene: employees working late into the night, trying to finish the day’s work or get ahead of tomorrow’s work. I started my financial services career at the height of the Great Recession, it’s a story I know all too well. Navigating a fast-paced environment amidst market instability is neither easy nor comfortable.

Responsibility is placed on employees to meet higher expectations with fewer resources and deal with increasing work-life stress while ensuring their output does not decline. For years, corporate America has decided that enduring late nights is the way to succeed. But in reality, burning midnight oil is more likely to leave you burned out than cheerful, inspired, and ready to tackle another full day.

New research shows that the key to optimizing a business’s operation isn’t working by the light of the full moon, but refueling during the nighttime hours using lunch. Encouraging employees to take a break and enjoy a midday meal can make office professionals more productive, energized and creative – we found this in the study we mention below. Cultivating a culture that nurtures its employees can make an entire company stronger.

As leaders, one of the most impactful business initiatives we can lead is to build a culture that encourages employees to take lunch breaks. Because food doesn’t just fill stomachs, it can fuel entire organizations.

Set a good example by normalizing taking a lunch break.

A recent survey of 500 office professionals conducted by Sharebite, powered by Wakefield Research, found that 97% say taking a lunch break improves their working day. However, work culture seems to get in the way of the feel-good benefits of a midday meal. Especially in North America, hard work is synonymous with almost constant activity.

Forty-three percent of those surveyed say they are too busy and forget to eat, while 39% skip lunch to get their work done as quickly as possible. While it is common and even tacitly encouraged, it is misguided to work over lunch in the name of productivity. Neither party is served well when business needs take precedence over the most basic human needs. A 2019 study by the National Institute of Health found that poor food choices lead to poorer mental and physical well-being.

Leaders need to lead by example to create an atmosphere where employees feel empowered to move away from their spreadsheets to eat. When executives make a lunch break a priority, it emphasizes that eating lunch isn’t slacking, on the contrary, it leads to success.

Employee engagement is everyone’s business.

Keeping employees fully engaged and their burnout at bay is perhaps the biggest challenge employers face today. The recipe for reliably inspiring employees and elevating an entire organization can be literal.

Research shows that what we eat directly affects brain function. The Sharebite survey found that 64% of employees report that a meal at work gives them the energy they need to continue their day, and 51% of employees agree that lunch breaks help them focus on concentrate on work and be more productive. In addition, 28% of employees report that taking a lunch break makes them more creative.

The data is clear: the multisensory, enriching experience of eating a meal enriches our senses and energizes us to take on new tasks. However, many employees are unaware of the fact that eating lunch is key to boosting creativity and productivity in the workplace. Like all great recipes, this one deserves to be shared – whet employees’ appetites by spreading interesting articles and studies about the brain-boosting power of lunch breaks.

Put the needs of your people first.

Eating at the office plays an essential dual purpose. Employees are not just looking for better benefits, they crave a deeper sense of belonging in the workplace.

Many of us who entered the workforce before the pandemic largely took the opportunity to build personal relationships (and communities) with our colleagues for granted. People who have joined the workforce in the past three years crave opportunities to have the same sense of belonging and camaraderie. A lunch break provides a chance to fulfill and boost the experience of turning businesses into communities. Who get involved social eating report feeling more emotionally and socially supported by their colleagues. Not only do these bonds make us happier and healthier, they also make us better at our jobs.

Going to the office used to be a mainstay of the daily routine, but now it’s an event for many of us. Food gives us something to gather around us. Set specific lunch hours for different teams to take advantage of lunchtime’s unique ability to transform co-worker relationships into priceless friendships.

Long live working lunch.

Fourteen percent of those surveyed for the Sharebite study said they skip lunch because of a lack of convenient or accessible meal options for lunch. Prioritize flexibility when looking for the right food benefits platform for your business. Technology-enabled options should make it easy for employees to order exactly what they want and easily integrate lunch into their schedule, no matter where they work.

A culture that emphasizes the importance of refueling during the day and signals to employees that their well-being is a top priority can be a multiplier for employee engagement, productivity and loyalty. Given the uncertain economic environment, it is clear that teams in different companies can learn how to do more with less; however, business leaders should not lose sight of investing in employees by providing flexibility and a sense of choice as these can be crucial determinants of resilience. Business Council is the leading growth and networking organization for entrepreneurs and leaders. Am I eligible?


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