The Sad Desk Lunch

Sad Desk Lunch Sandwiches beside a laptop

The Sad Desk Lunch – 4 Reasons to Ban it from Workplaces.

Dalhousie University conducted a study earlier this year that showed almost 40% of Canadians eat lunch at their desks. And furthermore, they made this alarming statement.  To take the time to go eat any meal at work is slowly becoming a luxury”. If this is a typical scene within the cubicles of your office then something is not quite right.  Those employees might not exactly be dedicated and hard working.  Likely, this group of workers are stressed out, unhealthy and unproductive.  And that is not good for any organization. There are many good reasons for banning the Sad Desk Lunch from your workplace. Here are our top four.

1.  Distracted Eating Habits.

By eating in front of a computer your mind focuses on the task in front of your eyes, not on the food. Even if you are simply checking Facebook and not working, your brain does not get a break. You will be quite unaware of the food in front of you. You will neither notice it’s taste nor the texture. More importantly, your brain will not process feelings of satiety, the opposite stimulus of hunger. Achieving satiety is necessary for maintaining a healthy weight.  And distracted eating directly leads to over-eating and an unhealthy weight gain.  Your Sad Desk Lunch is not a good habit at all.

2.  Physical Inactivity.

If you have a desk job, lunch hour is precisely when your brain requires a break and your body needs movement.  You likely need more physical assertion than getting up and walking to pick up lunch.  However, even that small change in scenery provides both your brain and your body with the resets they require half way through your workday.  Getting up and away from your desk recharges your mood and reduces your stress levels for a more productive afternoon.

Canadian adults are sedentary for most of their waking hours.  Digital media has resulted in couch-based leisure activities. Even our children engage in less movement than their counterparts from a generation ago. Professionals have well documented the negative health effects of physical inactivity.  So why let the Sad Desk Lunch contribute to this at your office?

3.  Social Isolation.

There is something to be said about camaraderie at work.  If you like your colleagues you will enjoy your job much more. Lunch hour is the perfect time to socialize and solidify these workplace relationships.  Eating at your desk alone in front of a computer sends out all the wrong signals.  Not only will you isolate yourself socially, you also run the risk of being perceived as the loner and not a team player.

4.  Employee Mental Health.

The Sad Desk Lunch is a sure sign of the pressure employees are under these days. The need to prove their worth, the competitive nature of the job market and the drive to retain jobs at any cost is causing employees to abandon age old habits of consuming three square meals a day.

A stressed out workforce can lead to employee absenteeism, reduced productivity, arguing and bickering and ultimately, a toxic workplace. Insurance companies will attest to anxiety and depression as the leading cause for Short Term Disability Claims.  Employee mental health is a very expensive matter to ignore.  At the least, any concerned employer can ensure the staff are nourished adequately to get through the workday.  If there was any reason for banning the Sad Desk Lunch from your workplace, this one is it.

We are in the business of coaching individuals in their career transitions.  During the early exploratory interview, we ask what type of work culture they aspire for.  The top answer we receive does not surprise us at all.  Almost always, our clients verbalize the desire to work at a place where employers care about the health and well being of their employees.

It is shortsighted to assume that employees working through their lunch hour are hardworking and dedicated.  If the Sad Desk Lunch is a common scene in the aisles and cubicles at your office, perhaps it is time to take a good hard look at what is going on.  And most of all, you should be very concerned if your employees believe a lunch break is a luxury.


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