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Aimee MacDonald

Mars Drinks UK

Trade Marketing Executive

Read more about Aimee MacDonald

A day in the life of…an HR professional


Twenty years ago, most office workers arrived for work for 9am, took an hour’s break for lunch and clocked off at five.

Fast forward two decades, and the average UK worker now spends an extra 73 minutes at work and takes 31 minutes and 29 seconds less time for lunch – and HR professionals are no exception. 
Our survey in November last year found that, on average, UK HR staff sit down at their desks at 8.07am, after an average commute of 30 minutes and 55 seconds. For the majority (47.65%), that means spending half an hour in the car, although about a fifth hop onto a bus or take a brisk walk to the office instead.
On arriving, the next step is to have a chat with a colleague for 10 minutes or so before the average HR worker will grab their first hot drink at 8.17am.
The majority of the rest of their day is spent sitting at their desk, making and receiving about 45 ‘phone calls, dealing with around 62 emails and consuming three hot drinks, before heading home at 5.05pm.
Luckily however, in job satisfaction terms, some 59.07% of HR staff say that they are happy in their work compared with the UK average of 54%.
Pause, reflect, relax
But given all the stresses and strains of modern working life, do people ever get time to pause, reflect and refuel during the day?
One of the biggest changes in modern office life is how and where we spend our lunch hour. Our survey found that the average HR worker takes a lunch break of less than half an hour these days (28 minutes and 59 seconds, to be precise).
The majority don’t even venture away from their desks (55.03%), but instead regularly tuck into a packed lunch that they have brought from home (44.97%).
Nonetheless, just under 80% are happy to splash out on buying lunch at least some of the time, with HR personnel spending an average of £3.50 on food compared to the more typical £3.29 spent by workers in other functions.
The most popular choice is heading to the supermarket for convenience foods, sushi or meal deals (30.87%), although grabbing a hot dish like chilli, curry or pasta also has its appeal (10.74%). A further 22.15% choose to go to the on-site canteen, while 10.07% head to their local café.
As the number of workers eating at their desk increases, however, it is important that employers act to encourage people to take a proper break that will leave them rested and productive.
An easy way to do this is to provide a comfortable break-out area to draw employees away from their desks, and give them a relaxing space in which they can have a snack, a hot drink and a catch-up with colleagues.
Break-out areas
But as employers continue to feel the financial pinch, many are cutting back on perks, and often – despite recognising that such cut backs can damage staff morale, on-site catering and hot drinks machines are among the first to go.
Because on-site catering facilities tend to be underused, however, employers could look at cost-effective alternatives such as converting canteen space into a soft seating area and providing self-service food machines, fruit bowls and hot drinks.
Over the past 20 years, working hours have not only got longer but working patterns have become increasingly fluid as more and more businesses operate on an international basis.
New technologies have encouraged fresh modes of operating ranging from hot-desking and flexi-time to home-working, all of which can help to improve work/life balance but also fragment the workforce.  
Looking to the future, offices could well become 24-hour working environments that see colleagues spending less and less time together as they arrive at different hours of the day and night and spend varying amounts of time within the office itself.
But again, in this kind of environment, break-out areas could come into there own by providing staff with an area in which they can get together, socialise and relax.

Aimee MacDonald is a trade marketing executive at Mars Drinks UK.

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Aimee MacDonald

Trade Marketing Executive

Read more from Aimee MacDonald

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