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20th June 2023

Research finds average UK lunch break lasts just 33 minutes

Written by: Edward Waddell
UK employers who encourage their teams to take longer, better quality and more frequent breaks could hold the key to unlocking productivity, improving employee wellbeing and enticing more people back to work according to new research.

The new research from Compass Group and Mintel analysed insights from 35,000 workers across 26 countries. The length of time workers spend on their main lunch break varies considerably from 54 minutes in China to 33 minutes in the UK and just 22 minutes in Poland.  

UK employees working five days a week were found to skip one lunch break per week, while nearly half (48%) of UK workers eat their lunch alone. Almost three-quarters of UK workers (73%) said taking a lunch break makes them more productive. Eating and drinking during a break is the top priority for every age group, especially UK Gen X and Baby Boomers.

In workplaces with an advanced food offering 70% of workers choose to eat lunch with colleagues and only 23% eat by themselves. When no food and drink facilities are provided just 38% interact with colleagues during their main break nearly while nearly half (48%) choose to eat alone.

Morag Freathy, managing director of Eurest, said: “With productivity a key challenge facing businesses today, enabling employees to take time out of their working day to relax and recharge with colleagues can make a huge difference. Though it seems counterintuitive, high-quality breaks are a win-win for employees and employers alike, proven to enhance workers’ productivity, collaboration and mental health. 

“Taking a lunch break is no longer a routine event at a set time of day. With the rise of flexible working, UK employees now expect to refuel however and whenever suits them best. They want convenient and good quality food and drink to recharge and provide an energy boost, comfortable places to sit, network and socialise with colleagues, and a workplace culture where breaks are encouraged, not frowned upon.”