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Promotion Seekers Starving Their Way to the Top

Aug 13, 2008
A report published by Chiumento - a leading UK human resources company - has shown that the number of UK employees taking a regular lunch break away from their desk has significantly diminished as worries over job security has grown.

The research indicated that only 16 percent of employees regularly take a full hour on at least three occasions in working week. The announcement will be seen by many as a clear indication that the modern day employee faces further unnecessary stress at a time when finances and expenditure are limited by the credit crunch.

The fact that employees are feeling the need to work through their lunch, take lunch at their desks or disappear for little more than ten minutes should be of concern to both employees and employers alike. Of course, some employers will be more than happy that their workers are putting in additional time at no extra cost, but the effects of not taking sufficient breaks can be the root of problems relating to the quality of work performed.

On the part of the employee, the opinion seems to be that should they take a break - which is legally theirs to enjoy - they will be seen in a less favourable light to their peers. In turn, this leads to the feeling that any possibility of promotion dissipates while the potential for dismissal increases.

Quite frankly, no employer can promote or dismiss on this basis, not least since the alternative is for staff to work additional five hours a week unpaid. Do some basic maths and that is 20 hours a month, or 240 hours a year. In this worse case scenario, even those working on minimum wage will be losing out on over GBP1,300 annually! Ok, this may not be the most accurate or scientific of calculations, but the principal is the same.

What should be asked by the employer, however, is why their staff feel the need to work through. Are they perhaps incapable of performing the necessary tasks required in the time available? Should this be the case, then perhaps staff training issues need to be addressed or, more distressingly, more competent and capable workers need to be obtained.

Another potential cause may perhaps be the fact the workload put upon them is too significant to be successfully maintained during standard working hours. Once again, these issues should be addressed in relation to staff capability and staff numbers.

A third possibility may be the fact that staff members are wasting time during the standard working day and are having to use their lunch hour to catch-up with work that should have already been completed.

It should be the responsibility of employers, therefore, to encourage their members of staff to take a prolonged break from work during the middle of the day. Enabling staff to enjoy the time that is rightfully theirs, free from any unnecessary worry, will make for a happier workforce. And, as the age-old cliche goes, a happy workforce is a productive workforce.

Should the powers that be not encourage a daily lunch break for their staff, they will eventually be the ones to suffer. The standard of work and the health of the employee are at risk. In the best interests of the business and the worker, therefore, the needs for sufficient break are paramount.

Accordingly, having reached the end of this article, I hope you all join me in taking a well-deserved lunch break!
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