Praise for One Hour Lunch Breaks

Thank you to the employers who still give one hour lunch breaks to their employees. It may be a rarity, but it is like a gift.

I consider myself fortunate to have had some really cool jobs over the years. Every single one of them brought unique experiences, growth opportunities and interesting people, including coworkers and supervisors that I liked. I have been glad for their willingness to give me a chance.
Through my working life so far, one thing that stands out as a clear memory is the duration of allotted lunch breaks.

Consider this scenario: You work for a large retailer and you just clocked out for your lunch break. You have thirty minutes and the clock is ticking. Assuming that you don’t get stopped by a chatty someone that you know, you are already racing to make it back to your work on time. Hopefully you can warm your meal and shovel it in fast enough…


Can you eat a full meal in thirty minutes?
Be honest. If you are the type who boasts that you can, I will give you the benefit of the doubt. However, my counterpoint is that if you managed to eat it in thirty minutes, it was not comfortable, and the purpose of your lunch break was futile.

Thirty minutes is not enough time to eat adequate lunch during an eight hour work day. That is, of course unless you order fast food. Perhaps that is the point of this shortsighted policymaking. A growing number of people now care about their health and take the time to prepare and bring a nutritious meal for lunch. A one hour lunch not only provides enough time to eat a life-giving meal, but also time to disconnect and recharge for a bit. This is essential for an eight hour work day. Are you kidding me!? How is there any question? In the U.S., rates of heart disease, stress, diabetes, medication and obesity are through the roof. As discussed in my recent memoir The Irony of the Well, I discuss the structure of societies. The current structure of American society is not currently set up for healthy food choices, or for the prevention of these illnesses. In fact, the opposite is true because industry currently runs the day.

Just like the basic layout of most cities is designed around the automobile and not pedestrians, half hour lunches are designed with little in mind but our all-too-familiar quick pace with convenience as the top priority. This very pace is also another stressor; you see the cycle. You see the reason that fast food is currently the only option. This model is based on the assumption that a person will run to grab a bite at the closest drive-in, or even more likely bring a microwave dinner; (both severely lacking in healthy options, and those that are, are expensive). How is one supposed to eat a hot meal in a half hour?? This is hardly enough time for the food to cool after being warmed!

While there are much bigger issues concerning health than allotted lunch time at work, (diet and exercise are the most influential components of a healthy lifestyle), the little things do add up to further declines or improvements in health outcomes. As critical as I have been of giant corporations, this is one area where some large retailers demonstrate clarity, consistency and generosity in providing one hour lunches during a full eight hour day. It is more effective in the long run since workers that make their health a priority use fewer sick days, and are less expensive on an already struggling Healthcare (sick care) system.

I believe healthy choices and adequate recharge time make a big difference in increasing productivity, work eithic and, whether your crew is large or small, even boosting company morale. I know I’m not the only one who has noticed this.

See we’re funny here in America; even here in Utah we need to get over our workahol; it was always there for us. Now it’s time to ditch that guff. It’s an outmoded mindset that now needs to go away.

More one hour eating, time to relax and disconnect in the workplace please.

-Owen

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