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Do you feel guilty about going on your lunch break?

Then you aren’t alone. According to a new survey, increasing numbers of bosses are “guilt tripping” their staff over taking exercise and lunch breaks. This is resulting in one in three people now skipping meals at work, and one in five feeling guilty for taking time to exercise.
The survey of more than 1,000 office workers and carried out on behalf of the health and education charity Central YMCA, also revealed that one in five workers are made to feel guilty by their boss for taking time off to make a doctor’s appointment or to receive medical treatment.

More harm than good

However this heavy handed approach is having a detrimental affect on both employees’ health and productivity.
In 2009, almost 10 million working days were lost to work related stress, depression and anxiety, and it’s widely accepted that the more unhealthy an employee is, the more likely they are to have regular absences.
Therefore it goes without saying that denying workers the opportunity to get themselves away from their desk to get something healthy for lunch and sample the staff cafe catering, or to get some fresh air and exercise could not just hamper their mood and morale, but could in the long term create health issues and absenteeism.

A new approach?

Tackling this ongoing issue, Central YMCA ran a pilot scheme with 17 companies in Central London with the intention of promoting physical activity in the workplace. The project believed common perceptions about the workplace being a barrier to health and fitness could be challenged and turned around, and new healthy choices and options introduced.
The scheme has reported to have been a resounding success with increased physical activity, psychological well-being and physical health displayed amongst employees. This has resulted in increased positivity, alertness and a greater focus in the workplace.

As awareness of this pilot scheme and other similar projects grow, it can hopefully only be a matter of time before attitudes towards lunch and exercise breaks change and both employers and employees alike welcome the lunch break…

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Photo Credit: Taiyofi @ Flickr

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