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Maybe it’s because I’m writing this article close to lunchtime, but there’s nothing quite like a delicious and healthy lunch break to get ourselves reenergized, refocused, and reinvigorated for the remainder of the workday that awaits us.

However, Tork’s “Take Back the Lunch Break” survey has recently found that employees feel as though their reputations are tarnished by opting to take frequent lunch breaks. According to the results:

  • 22% of managers in North America say that employees who take regular lunch breaks are “less hardworking.”
  • Almost 20% of employees in North America worry that their managers won’t consider them “hardworking” if they take regular lunch breaks and 13% “worry” that their coworkers “will judge them.”
  • 38% of employees report that “they don’t feel encouraged” to take lunch breaks

The results of this survey are alarming because they hint at a far larger problem – employers simply aren’t aware of the benefits of taking lunch breaks to begin with. So, before I head out to Chipotle to order my steak burrito, here are five reasons why you should be encouraging your employees to take longer lunch breaks.

1. Long lunches bond coworkers

The New York Times reported that 62% of professionals say they typically eat lunch at their desks. Instead of being forced to gobble down some leftovers while sitting in their isolated workstations, employees should have the opportunity to plan out a proper lunch with their coworkers. In doing so, lunch breaks can turn into team bonding events where employees take the time to get to know one another on a more personal level. Eating with someone from another department, or simply grabbing a cup of coffee with them, is a way of breaking down the silos that exist in an office.

2. Long lunches help employees achieve work-life balance

How exactly, you might ask? Well, not everyone uses their lunch breaks to eat. Employees with kids might opt to use their breaks as an opportunity to pick their kids up from school. Others might use the time to see the dentist, use the gym, or even meditate. By giving employees a longer lunch break, you’re also giving them the opportunity to strike a better work-life balance during the actual work day.

3. Long lunches encourage healthier eating habits

It’s no surprise that if your employees are in dire need of a quick lunch fix, the first things they turn to are fast-food burgers, ramen, and microwavable food. Oh, yea – and pizza, how could I ever forget about pizza. Despite how appetizing these guilty pleasures may be, these foods aren’t exactly what anyone would consider a healthy meal. Making a habit out of eating these types of junk foods can eventually take a toll on your employees’ physical and mental well-being.

Instead, give employees enough time to go out and eat a healthy meal, or to cook one if there’s a kitchen at your company’s office. Numerous studies, such as one by British Journal of Health Psychology, have found that the types of foods we eat affect our day-to-day experiences. The more fruits and vegetables in our daily diet, the happier, more engaged, and more creative we find ourselves. But let’s be real, you don’t need a study to realize just how much more awesome you feel after an eating healthy meal compared to after munching on a couple of donuts as your so-called, “lunch.”

4. Long lunches won’t hurt

Many managers are so fixated on running a tight ship that they never actually take the time to weigh out the pros and cons of giving their employees more time to chow. If they ever did, they’d realize that there aren’t any negatives at all. Sure, employees spend 15 to 30 more minutes eating their lunches while on company time, but that’s a small price to pay compared to the extra boost in productivity, engagement, work accuracy, and creativity that comes with a long, healthy, uninterrupted lunch break.

With that being said, I’m off to enjoy my lunch!

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