I’ve been guilty of it myself. I’ve witnessed umpteen clients do it (or at least tell me they’ve done it). I haven’t yet suggested it to a client, and I’m pretty sure I never will. But I’ve been aware of it, at times, when they’ve done it, and I haven’t called them on it.

We’re all eating lunch at our desks.

As shared in this recent Fortune.com article, “Why you really should go out for lunch today,” well over half of white-collar workers eat at their desk while working. And it’s hurting us.

A recent study from The Energy Project and Harvard Business Review found that “white-collar employees who step away from their desks a few times during the workday, especially at lunchtime, report feeling 40{97a243e3a9bf65ebe8495286bde36d0e09bf6d11d39083dafa2fdcd77d523a68} more engaged in their work and 40{97a243e3a9bf65ebe8495286bde36d0e09bf6d11d39083dafa2fdcd77d523a68} more creative than people who spend their lunch hours grinding away. They’re also 81{97a243e3a9bf65ebe8495286bde36d0e09bf6d11d39083dafa2fdcd77d523a68} more likely to say they plan to stay with their current employer.”

And yet many of us are not taking those breaks. Moreover, as leaders, when we don’t take breaks, we subtly encourage our employees to not take breaks either. We model behavior that disengages our best employees, and potentially drives them away.

Even if we suggest that they step away, which apparently only 17{97a243e3a9bf65ebe8495286bde36d0e09bf6d11d39083dafa2fdcd77d523a68} of us do, if we don’t step away, the people who work for us won’t either. They hear what we say, and watch what we do, and learn what’s really important to us.

So, how do we stop this harmful pattern? It’s really quite simple. We just stop it. We stop grabbing lunch and bringing it back to our desk. If we do grab a quick lunch (or brownbag it), we find a communal place to eat and talk to people. We pick a day a week where we actually make plans to eat with someone – perhaps someone we’ve just met or want to know better. Or someone we’re having a difficult time getting along with – maybe “breaking bread” will help us find ways to work together. Maybe we’ll share a few laughs, or ideas.

According to the study, we’ll most likely find ourselves with more energy and enthusiasm to dive back into our day, as well as employees who are following our lead, and therefore having more to give – more ideas, more eagerness, more passion, more zeal, zing, pep and maybe even pizzazz.

Let’s stop this damaging trend now. Let’s go out to lunch.

Who can you have lunch with today? What can you possibly learn?
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If you enjoyed this post, you can read more like it in our book, The Power of Thoughtful Leadership: 101 Minutes To Being the Leader You Want To Be, available on Amazon.

For support in getting away from your desk and going out for lunch, contact Lisa at lkohn@chatsworthconsulting.com.

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