Do you take a regular lunch break away from your desk?
In a survey of 1000 people half of them claimed they were too busy to take a break for lunch. However, Emma Donaldson-Fielder, a chartered occupational psychologist advises that working through your lunch can be counter-productive. “As a general rule, taking at least 30 minutes away from your desk will help you be more effective in the afternoon,” she says. “A break is an opportunity to relax and think of something other than work.”
In the survey, half of those who skipped lunch breaks said that they felt irritable, stressed and ineffective all afternoon as their energy flagged. The conclusion is that businesses could be losing millions of pounds in lost productivity because their workforce is burning out.
Additionally, we could be unwittingly damaging our emotional life and our health. “We’re working so much on computers that we’re not having eyeball-to-eyeball contact with colleagues,” says Cary Cooper, professor of organisational psychology and health at Lancaster University. “Lunch breaks are an opportunity to talk to colleagues, build teamwork and create a synergy for generating ideas, and this is even more vital in a recession when fewer people are having to do more work. As it is, we’re emailing people who sit five desks down from us and we’re scared to leave the office for an hour because we know there will be 20 emails awaiting us on our return.”
UNISON takes workplace stress seriously and taking a break at lunch time is one way we can reduce our stress levels. Please answer this short survey https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/PTV7WPF so that we can get a picture of what is happening at SHU (it should take no more than a few minutes).
This week is dyslexia awareness week which is a good time to mention that I am working with a small group of mostly union colleagues trying to gain a better understanding of dyslexia in the workplace here at SHU. We know there are clear support strategies for students particularly focussed on certain tasks like essay writing, but I am not sure that there is much information about supporting staff.
The generic HR reports suggest that the number of staff declared as dyslexic are very low. However as union reps we occasionally do come across cases where support is needed.
To build a better understanding of what is going on out there we would be particularly interested in hearing of positive examples of support that have occurred. But any experiences would be of interest.
If you are willing to share this information with us then please e-mail: Ian Chesters I.Chesters@shu.ac.uk or you can ring x6060.
(We will of course take any references to individuals or teams out of any examples we use).
Please support the 50 workers at Care UK Doncaster who have been on strike for over 81 days since February 2014, making it the longest NHS related dispute in the history of the NHS. It was late last year that Care UK announced that they wished to change the terms and conditions of those employees who transferred to them from the NHS when Care UK won the Supported Living Contract. In some cases the changes mean a cut of 50% to take home pay. It is clear that the employer intends to de-skill and dumb down the skill base enjoyed by the current staff and replace them with minimum wage carers, thereby reducing the quality of the service provided. Strikers continue to travel the country making their case and raising the issue at all levels. Leverage pressure is being put on Bridgepoint the parent company via pension funds in the UK and USA. But the strikers need financial support and solidarity to keep up the fight. Please send donations and messages of support to the Care UK Strikers at:
UNISON Doncaster, District & Bassetlaw Health Branch