During the working week, lunch breaks are a saving grace. They break up the long days and give you a chance to get your energy back for the afternoon, although the amount of people not utilising them is becoming worryingly high.

Most employees will take their lunch break in one of four ways: either eating at their desk or outside their office, doing so by themselves or with their colleagues. These all have their share of strengths (and occasionally their downsides), but it’s the companies whose staff enjoy lunch together that reap the most benefits.

Having a communal lunch break – either in or out of the office – is effective at improving the bond between colleagues and promotes communication among staff. Even in very social offices where chatter is fairly constant, spending a set time at lunch with the people you work with can do wonders for your relationships. That goes double for when the boss is involved.

Having family-style meals together can make the team feel more like a solid unit all striving for the same goal – albeit with different jobs – rather than a group of individuals all working in the same building. Due to the varying nature of work in a company, the opportunity for conversation during the day may be limited to those in the same part of the office, meaning some people’s paths never cross. These lunch breaks can help to bridge those gaps between colleagues.

Bas Kohnke, CEO of performance management software company Impraise, commended this style of lunch break by saying that “we’ve found [it] has a great effect on maintaining open communication as we grow, ensuring that people never feel divided, even if we’re working on different things”.

He also told how two employees are randomly chosen every day to be in charge of lunch for the day, from buying the groceries to cleaning up afterwards.

“These people are always selected from different teams and include everyone from the CEO to the newest intern. It’s a great way to mix it up and make sure people from different parts of the company also have some one-on-one time together.”

These company lunch breaks don’t have to be an everyday occurrence, but having them on a weekly basis can be important way to improve retention and reduce employee turnover because people feel they have more of a reason to stay with the company. When colleagues form strong friendships with one another, no-one wants to leave and feel like they’re alone in a new place of work.

They can also act as a good incentive for performing well and completing an important piece of work, because who doesn’t love free food? Having everyone around to celebrate someone’s achievement definitely strengthens the bond in the office and motivates employees to keep up the good work because they enjoy being recognised in this way.

Furthermore, eating together is an effective way of helping new staff to become immersed in the company and feel like they’re part of the team, especially around the boss. Employers will never be as approachable as other colleagues because they’re the difference between keeping and losing a job, but most of them don’t want to be seen as the scary figure in charge that people are afraid to be themselves around. Having a family-style lunch break on a regular occasion can give employers the opportunity to show that they’re just another member of staff and make employees feel more at ease around their boss. Plus, having stronger relations between employers and staff definitely has its own uses.

“Coming together for lunch takes down any feeling of corporate barriers that may arise,” Bob Armour of tech company Jellyvision says conclusively.

How effective these lunch breaks are is often dependent on the size of the company. For start-ups with a very small number of employees, daily meals together can be good for strengthening the small team. The bigger the company gets, the easier it is for them to provide the lunch for free as a weekly incentive, and the bigger an impact it has as a reward system.

Whatever way it’s utilised, so long as it’s in place then it doesn’t matter.  Eating lunch together can only do your company good, whether it’s every day or every month.


James Darvill

James is a passionate scriptwriter and reluctant poet with a talent for the dystopian. When he’s not staying up late watching the Simpsons he’s beating the world at Mario Kart, always with a glass of wine in hand.
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