Have you ever eaten lunch at your desk? If you are like many people, this may be a daily occurrence. Perhaps you feel pressured to keep working, or you want to work through lunch so that you can head out early to beat the traffic.
In a recent survey with a client, when we asked the question “How do you typically spend your lunch break?” nearly half of the respondents said they eat lunch at their desk or they eat alone, but not at their desk. Our client’s employees aren’t the only one’s eating at their desks. As many as 62% of Americans are eating lunch at their desk and half of Americans eat lunch alone. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that 40% of adults Americans report feeling lonely.
Unfortunately, these desktop diners (along with a crumb-filled keyboard) are missing out on a wonderful wellbeing benefit – social connections. Social connections and relationships are core to who we are as human beings. We are meant to be social.
Fostering social connection at work has many benefits, including:
- Wellbeing is contagious. Harvard researcher Nicholas Christakis summarized research on connections influence wellbeing, “People are embedded in social networks and the health and wellbeing of one person affects the health and wellbeing of others…”
- Reduces stress. According to the American Psychological Association, individuals with strong support networks reported less stress. Emotional support is an important protective factor for dealing with life’s difficulties.
- Improves relationships. Long-term relationships are often formed at work. Gallup research about ‘best friends at work’ shows that ‘When strong engagement is felt in a workgroup, employees believe that their coworkers will help them during times of stress and challenge.”
Time to dust the crumbs off your desk and keyboard, and invite a colleague or two to go to lunch. The connections you deepen will improve your outlook and your day.