In a world where most workers are increasingly worried about their jobs, taking lunch has become something of a “lost art.” The reason I bring up this issue is that when asked, many of my salaried co-workers will tell you that they either eat at their desk or skip the whole activity altogether.
Why do I worry about lunch? Why should anyone care if you stop during the day and actually eat something that will increase your blood sugar level? The answer is simple. Way down deep, human beings are still large animals. They need to eat to survive. Have you ever seen a lion before it eats the zebra on the Discovery Channel? What about your dog or cat if you forget to feed them?
My point here is that humans, just like other animals, can get very “cranky” if we are not fed at regular intervals. This means that right before that very important phone call around 3 p.m., you might not be at your best since you only had a sports bar at 10 a.m. You have also not taken any time to rest and are probably just running on adrenalin (not the optimal way to put your best foot forward). Don’t be surprised if you feel like yelling at the new guy in your office for forgetting to change the paper in the copy machine.
Besides the whole food aspect, there is a cultural issue that needs to be addressed. It is perceived that the employee who puts his (or her) “nose to the grindstone” and never leaves the desk is someone we admire. This behavior has become a badge of honor. We feel people will talk about us and say, “boy, Joe is really a hard worker, he never leaves his desk.” What people really should be saying is, “Joe is not very good at time management because he cannot even figure out how to take a decent break during the day.”
I would rather work with people who know how to control the day, rather than have the day control them. Taking lunch is an important part of the day. No one said it has to be a full hour, but there should always be some time in the day when a person can go out and stretch her legs, smell the air and grab a bite to eat. Without this simple pleasure, we can become grumpy and less focused on the task at hand. Skipping lunch should not be a badge of honor, it should be outlawed.
Traci Montgomery has over 20 years experience in the human resources and management field. She has held HR executive positions at Coventry Health Care, Owens Healthcare, PacifiCare of California and Anaheim Memorial Medical Center. Traci holds a Masters Degree in Clinical Psychology from Pepperdine University and a certificate as a senior human resources profession (SPHR) from the Society for Human Resources Management. She is currently an independent HR Consultant and owner of TMHR Human Resources Consulting Service. For more information about TMHR and what services they offer, visit their website at www.tmhr.info or you can email Traci directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.