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SME bosses are creating a negative lunchtime culture

If you're not in the habit of making the most of your lunchtime, then maybe it's time you start doing so now. The benefits are worth it.
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In a previous article we took a look at research emphasising the famous term “leading by example”. Certain behaviour is contagious, it found, with staff often copying routines from colleagues and employers. And one more habit can be added to that list: whether or not you take a lunchtime break.

It seems staff mostly eat infront of their screens, rarely to leave their desks. This is because, according to Paymentsense, 47 per cent of employers never leave the office. Some 49 per cent don’t use half of the time alloted to lunch, while eight per cent work through lunchtime without pause.

Guy Moreve, head of marketing at Paymentsense, explained: “Many time-poor bosses view lunchbreaks as an extravagance they can’t afford. Not having enough time is often cited by those running SMEs as a major challenge, so it’s understandable lunchtime get overlooked.

“We know from working with 50,000 UK SMEs just how committed business leaders are, and although hard work is clearly a significant factor in a successful enterprise, it’s crucial that regular daily breaks are encouraged to maintain productivity and wellbeing.”

Because while you might think you are staying busy and , it can limit the time you have to step back and look at the bigger picture.

This point was echoed by Helen Bailey, founder of Aviatrix, who deemed not taking lunch to be a bad habit, not to mention “a serious mistake”.

She said: “It is limiting for your business – taking you away from strategic, unburdened, creative thinking. We all know that giving the brain a periodic rest is good for us but, as in so many areas, we don’t do what we know is good for us and others.”

When you look at it that way, more worrying is the fact that many expect staff to do the same.

According to 36 per cent of workers, bosses don’t encourage them to take a break for lunch. And even if they do, 12 per cent believe they would be judged for it.

Independent business coach Rachel Gilmore claims employers are thus failing to take something into account: “If a boss doesn’t encourage you to go to lunch it is a symbol that employees are not valued in the workplace. If employees are not valued then they don’t speak up and their ideas are not heard.

“They are also more likely to leave, so the SME will experience higher turnover of staff or increased absence through stress; both come at a cost to the organisation. Perhaps the real cost is an inability to realise potential, for the individuals and the company.”

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Shané Schutte

Shané Schutte is a senior reporter at Real Business, with a particular specialism in employment and business law, human resources, information technology and sales/marketing.

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