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Working Through Lunch Is Fine as Long as It Is Your Choice, Study Finds

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Researchers at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management report that workers who participate in relaxing activities during lunch breaks – importantly, those freely chosen by the employees – lead to the least amount of reported fatigue at the end of the day.

The study, which will appear in the Academy of Management Journal, concludes that employees who choose to work through lunch exhibit no more stress than those who socialize with workmates if they would rather not.

The ability to relieve stress during breaks plays a key role in maximizing productivity in the remainder of the day, the study shows. Getting work done during lunch resulted in employees appearing more tired later in the day, but the effect was less obvious when the individuals felt it was their decision to do so.

Interestingly, socializing during lunch also produced fatigue later in the day if the workers did not feel they had the freedom to decide whether they wanted to socialize or with whom they socialized. Conversations about work and in an atmosphere where employees feel they have to watch what they say make lunch a stressful period, the researchers concluded.

In addition, organizations that fail to provide opportunities for employees to recover from work during the day risk lower employee effectiveness and productivity, leading to burnout, absenteeism and higher turnover rates.

For more information about relieving stress in the workplace, please call Chad Clippard, business liaison, at 573-331-3019.