Lunch breaks are not only a mandatory requirement in the workplace, but breaks additionally provide employees with the time needed to refuel and recharge enough to carry on with the rest of their work day with energy and drive. With that in mind, are your people using their office lunch hour effectively?

Although we know that eating lunch at your desk is a bad idea, employees still default to having their midday meals at their workspaces. Looking at the habits of how Canadian workers spend their time during their lunch breaks, a new survey conducted by OfficeTeam found nearly half (49%) of employees use their time surfing the web or browsing social media, followed by 45% of employees that socialize with their co-workers. The study also found that 38% of respondents stay at their desks to catch up on personal emails and calls, while one third (32%) continue to do work.

Koula Vasilopoulos, a district president for OfficeTeam, emphasizes the importance of an effective lunch hour at the office: “Even on the busiest days, it’s important for professionals to maximize the time they’re given for lunch and try to step away from their desks to refresh and refocus for the afternoon. Rather than defaulting to cell phones or other screen time for company, using a midday break to connect with colleagues can help cultivate a greater feeling of camaraderie and overall happiness at work.”

From team bonding to mental health and wellness improvements, there are many benefits to maximizing lunch breaks with your people in the workplace. Here are some ideas for making lunch hour a power hour for increased employee and team engagement.

Bring people together with food

The value of encouraging healthy eating in the workplace is not to be underestimated – especially when it comes to the potential for team building and team bonding. At Rise, we organize monthly potlucks, in which people pitch in to bring in food to be shared amongst the entire team. Sometimes our potlucks are designed in accordance to themes (such as Taco Tuesday) and other times, we’ll invite people to bring in whatever food they would like to contribute. Our monthly potlucks bring our people together to enjoy their lunches together and gives everyone a chance to try new dishes, desserts, and cuisines (as well, it’s a grand opportunity to appreciate homemade creations from the Masterchefs within our midst). 

Workplace wellness challenges

Workplace wellness challenges can do wonders in building an office environment that promotes teamwork, health, and fitness. This concept can easily be incorporated through lunchtime activities at the office. At Rise, we ran a healthy eating challenge to encourage team members to choose to eat local BC produce and goods, which had positive impacts on our people’s nutritional intake as well as knowledge and awareness. On the fitness side, we’ve been known to spontaneously gather people together for planking and stretching challenges. It’s a nice way to get your employees away from their desks to do something active, and makes for some great laughs as well.

Challenging yet fun activities

In an effort to engage our employees via their brain power, we began hosting a weekly trivia challenge during lunch hour. It’s a way to test our team’s industry knowledge as well as introduce them to new information and concepts that will serve as important and useful takeaways for their work. We also make sure to throw in some pop culture and general knowledge questions into the mix as well for added variety.

Lunch and learns

To add to our culture of learning and development, we invite thought leaders from the community, as well as our own in-house experts, to share their knowledge on subjects of interests to our team members. In the past, we’ve had invigorating discussions with health practitioners and financial planners, and our own team members have passed on everything from social media best practices to Excel spreadsheet tips and tricks.

Over to you

In utilizing lunch breaks to maximize employee engagement, the importance of health and wellness within your company culture can become a regular practice that your people can benefit from throughout their journey within your organization.

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