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The Importance of Meal Breaks in Leadership
Regular, generous meal breaks allow leaders and employees to wind down, refresh their minds, and connect socially. The benefits of such breaks are far-reaching. Meal breaks improve job satisfaction, employee performance, and creativity. Leaders should go on visible lunch breaks to inspire employees to do the same.
The COVID-19 pandemic has made it clear to employers and leadership coaching specialists that the physical and mental well-being of employees should be a top priority for every organization. Healthy, happy employees are engaged, motivated, and well-aligned with the goals and purposes of the organization.
Meal breaks give employees the opportunity to engage in scheduled eating and to socialize. It lets them unwind, build connections, and retain their physical and mental well-being. Intelligent leaders should never forgo the advantages generous meal breaks provide them and employees.
Generous meal breaks carry many benefits for employees and organizations.
The Benefits of Scheduled Eating at Work
Scheduled eating can help digestive health and stave off heart disease, diabetes, high cholesterol, and obesity. It’s one of the cornerstones of a healthy lifestyle. In the context of work, it entails a series of indirect advantages that benefit employees, organizations, and leaders.
- Job satisfaction. The chance to get up from the desk, take a short walk, and socialize with co-workers is a strong contributor to mental health. It also impacts job satisfaction, prevents absenteeism, and builds positive attitudes toward work. The fact that employers provide such lunch breaks proves to employees their organizations value them and will invest in their well-being.
- Better employee performance. We have known about the performance benefits of work breaks forever. On the one hand, common sense supports the idea. On the other, we have research backing these claims. The times employers invest in lunch breaks yield obvious returns in the improved productivity of the refreshed minds of the employees.
- Better social connections. Meal breaks allow employees to rub shoulders, talk, and build connections. Meaningful connections among co-workers set the stage for better team morale, more effective cooperation, and better productivity.
- Improved creativity. Innovative ideas take root in fresh minds. By allowing employees to refresh their minds, meal breaks improve creativity and innovation.
From a business coaching perspective, hour-long meal breaks facilitate sustainability and long-term productivity.
How Leadership Coaching Can Help Leaders Realize the Benefits of Meal Breaks
Executive coaching can help leaders recognize the benefits of meal breaks and develop ways to incorporate them into healthy organizational cultures. Here are some methods executive coaching professionals have developed for leaders struggling to come to grips with the time-wise investments lunch breaks require.
Going on Break with Employees
Leaders lead by example. The most straightforward action a leader can take to encourage meal breaks is to take lunch visibly. Seeing a leader engage in this activity gives employees the psychological safety they need to go on meal breaks without fearing repercussions.
In a remote work environment, leaders can leave notifications for the rest of the team when they go out for lunch and do the same when they return.
Meal breaks are outstanding team-building opportunities.
Easing Up on Meetings Around Mid-Day
Back-to-back meetings are time-consuming and exhausting for many participants. Companies that hold meetings around mid-day rob their employees of opportunities to take lunch. Many skip meal breaks to be on hand and active during meetings.
In addition to freeing up the schedule for a lunch break, leaders can reach out and let everyone know they’re not available for meetings during mid-day hours.
Business coaching specialists understand good employee morale and productivity have costs. Lightening up on meetings during the middle part of the day is part of those costs, but it’s an investment worth making.
Introducing Lunchtime Networking
Some leaders and employees need to find additional value in meal breaks to take them. Informal, lunch-based, networking events allow leaders to connect and build valuable relationships.
Stopping for a meal break is a great way to avoid burnout for those who work for themselves. Though it may seem inconvenient in the heat of the moment, a meal break is a gift that keeps giving to organizations and individuals.