Is your lunch break as beneficial to your career as it could be? A survey from temporary staffing firm Accountemps shows almost half (49 per cent) of accounting and finance professionals polled usually eat lunch by themselves. However, about the same number of respondents, 46 per cent, said they’d prefer to enjoy a meal with co-workers.
Eating alone at your desk may not be the best way to spend that time. Read on for tips on how you can use your lunch hour to advance your career as well as your personal health.
Have lunch with one or more colleagues
Your accounting and finance career is about more than simply doing your job well. To get ahead in your field, you need to have solid work relationships. An easy way to develop workplace friendships is to share meals with colleagues whenever you can. Doing so can go a long way in strengthening camaraderie and encouraging collaboration. A lunch break is an ideal opportunity to get to know your co-workers better — and have them get to know you.
Share meals with colleagues from other departments
When was the last time you had lunch with someone from sales, marketing or IT? Spending time with non-finance employees can be enormously helpful to your accounting career. When you socialise with those outside your regular circle, you break down silos and improve cross-departmental collaboration.
It’s also helpful for exposing you to other perspectives and even broadening your skill set. For example, you might pick up a few tips on navigating new software from a colleague in IT, or learn about upcoming company-wide initiatives from a marketing specialist.
Get up and out
This is important both physically and mentally. A sedentary lifestyle is linked with obesity and other serious health concerns. What’s more, being chained to your desk all day, even voluntarily, can lead to discontentment with your job. Any type of movement is good for body and mind:
- Buy a prepared salad from a supermarket and eat it at a nearby park.
- Head to the corner pub or café with work friends.
- After eating at your desk or in the break room, take a brisk walk around the block.
- One in three respondents in the Accountemps survey said they spend their lunch break running errands. This is a good way to add movement to your day, as well as check a few items off your personal to-do list — a double win.
Go to the gym
Exercise during your lunch break? Great idea! According to the survey, this is the activity with the largest difference between what respondents do and what they would like to do. A happy, healthy accountant is a successful accountant. To make sure you get a good workout, time your meal so you’re not uncomfortably full when doing stomach crunches or downward dogs.
Take a break from the computer screen
Nearly 30 per cent of accounting and finance professionals surveyed said they enjoy checking their personal email on their lunch break, while other respondents use the time to peruse the Internet (24 per cent) or get caught up on social media (15 per cent). However, it’s important to take regular breaks from staring at computer or phone screens. If you don’t, you could suffer from eyestrain, dry eyes, blurred vision and headaches.
Invest in your career advancement
Your lunch break may last only 30 or 60 minutes, but that’s enough time to inject novelty into your day. To avoid feeling like you’re falling into a rut at your job, make time to try or do something new. Perhaps acquire a new skill that would help you advance in your accounting and finance job, such as learning a new language or reading a book on strengthening your leadership prowess. Or, if you have trouble with stress, you could take a weekly class on meditation and mindfulness.
No matter how heavy your workload, your lunch break should be just that — a break. Catch up with your colleagues, hit the treadmill or run a few personal errands. Whatever you do, do it away from your desk to give your mind a chance to recharge and refresh. Your career will benefit when you use your daily lunch break wisely.
This article is provided courtesy of Robert Half, parent company of Accountemps, Robert Half Finance & Accounting and Robert Half Management Resources. Robert Half is the world’s first and largest specialised staffing firm placing accounting and finance professionals on a temporary, full-time and project basis. For career and management advice, follow our blog at blog.roberthalf.com.