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One-Third of Employees Lunch at Their Desk

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One-Third of Employees Lunch at Their Desk

PHILADELPHIA, PA - August 30, 2011 – One-third of employees have lunch at their desk each day, according to a survey by Right Management, workforce consulting experts within ManpowerGroup. But another one-third takes no lunch, or only occasionally.

During July and August Right Management polled 751 North American workers via an online poll and asked:

Do you regularly take a break for lunch?

  • Yes, almost always 35%
  • Yes, but usually stay at my desk 34%
  • Only from time to time 15%
  • Seldom, if ever 16%

“Lunch patterns allow us to infer a few things about the North American workplace… and one thing that we already know is that the pressure for productivity and performance can be relentless,” said Michael Haid, Senior Vice President Talent Management at Right Management. “This pressure is showing up in various ways like our finding that one in three employees are very likely now in the habit of taking lunch but at their computers and phones and with supervisors and colleagues. So whether it’s a true break is open to question. Then there are 31% who take a lunch break seldom or just once in a while. Only a minority of employees, it seems, take time away from their desk…and even some of them probably go to a workplace lunchroom. One has to wonder how many workers actually leave the workplace and get a chance to clear their heads…and what the downstream toll of lack of true breaks and downtime might be for employee well-being and overall organizational performance.”

The workplace culture or management’s example might make workers feel compelled to stay at their desks, observed Haid. “Employees may feel they have to apologize for stepping out, but in the long run this kind of company culture does not help improve performance or engagement.”

“Sure, workers may feel devoted to their work, which is fine, but given the level of stress in today’s workplace I wonder is the reluctance to take a break is an expression of devotion or a negative consequence of the unrelenting pressure some organizations are exerting on their workforces to get more done with fewer resources,” said Haid. “Taking time away from one’s desk for lunch would help reduce tension and boost energy…but our research results might lead us to ask…is that still a real option for people now?”

“We’ve certainly come a long way from the three-martini lunch of a generation ago,” said Haid. “But we have to ask if we’ve gone too far in the other direction.”

About Right Management
Right Management is the global leader in talent and career management workforce solutions. As the workforce consulting experts within ManpowerGroup, the firm designs and delivers solutions to align talent strategy with business strategy. Expertise spans Talent Assessment, Leader Development, Organizational Effectiveness, Employee Engagement, and Workforce Transition and Outplacement. With offices in over 50 countries, Right Management partners with companies of all sizes – including more than 80% of the Fortune 500 – to help grow and engage their talent, increase productivity and optimize business performance.

Media Contact: Shari Fryer,, 970-846-6607