30 minutes or less: The rise of the ‘didn’t-have-time-to-dine’ culture

• Three in five UK workers are given less than an hour for their lunch break

• 68% of people don’t take the full amount of time allocated

• Two in three admit that they don’t actually eat at lunch


How long do you give your staff for their lunch breaks? If it’s under one hour you are in fact part of the majority, according to our latest research.

We surveyed 1,000 UK workers to find out how they really spend their lunchtimes. We found that not only are 62% of UK employees given less than an hour for their lunch breaks, they also spend less of that time actually eating.

What’s more, when they do take a break, over two thirds elect to take less time than their employer provides.

So, why are workers still finding it so difficult to separate themselves from their desks?


Appetite for career advancement?

It may be that this less regimented approach is symptomatic of the hard working mindset of UK staff: we’ve already seen that more people are working overtime due to increasing workload demands. Are employees similarly skipping on their sandwiches, not out of choice, but out of necessity to get the job done? And is their appetite for career advancement outweighing their hunger for a hearty midday meal?

With 66% of workers taking their own lunch into the office, this would certainly seem to be the case. Instead of going out to a gastropub or grabbing lunch on the go, perhaps the happy medium for many is, simply ‘bringing-your-own’.

It’s well-known that the DIY approach is also a great way to save cash. Whilst some opt to splash the cash on a £25+ lunch week, the majority (61%) spend less than a tenner: the equivalent of saving £780 over the course of a year.


No time to dine?

But what about those who choose not to eat at all? Only one in three indicated that they actually eat on their lunch break. Other popular activities included reading news or personal interest articles, socialising with colleagues or going to the gym.

So maybe the ‘didn’t-have-time-to-dine’ culture has as much to do with our own personal downtime as it does with our working lives and office environments. With less than one precious hour to spend on our interests, food may simply come out as the lowest priority, with many preferring to catch up on the latest drama-on-demand on their desktops than making the effort to eat lunch.


No such thing as a free lunch?

However, despite the lack of importance placed on lunchtimes, almost half of UK workers acknowledged that a free or subsidised lunch may influence their decision to change jobs.

Food for thought for some employers perhaps…