Everyone is nervous when starting a new job. They are also excited, energized and want to make a great first impression. The first few weeks at a job are critical because this is when you start setting work habits that will follow you throughout your career. It’s important to make sure those habits are healthy and sustainable. Here are three of the biggest mistakes that new employees can make.
1. Skipping lunch. There is a learning curve for every new job or position. It may take you longer to complete your duties until you get the hang of it. That doesn’t mean you should skip lunch or eat at your desk to catch up, get ahead or prove your dedication. This is an unhealthy habit. Unfortunately, it seems to be the new status quo for many Americans. Fewer than 20% of American workers regularly take a lunch break, 39% of workers eat lunch at their desk and 28% of workers hardly ever leave for lunch, according to a survey by Right Management.
There are many reasons why taking a lunch break is not only healthy but good for business too. Here are just a few examples of why it’s so important to step away and take a lunch break.
Healthier eating habits. Employees who skip lunch or eat at their desk often hit up the vending machine or a fast food restaurant for a quick snack or meal. Whereas, people who leave for lunch usually plan ahead and eat more healthy—whether that is meeting friends or colleagues at a restaurant or packing food from home for a picnic outside. You should leave the office; eat meals that include whole-grains, nuts, fruits and vegetables; drink plenty water and skip sugar-laden treats or drinks.
Fewer joint and muscle aches. Sitting all day is not good for your body. It puts a lot of pressure on your spine, which can lead to injuries such as a herniated disk, lower back pain and poor posture. Sitting for long periods of time and staring at a computer screen can also lead to knee pain, muscle weakness and damage the muscles and joints in your neck. Your lunch break is a great time to stretch your arms, legs and back. It’s also the perfect opportunity to take a walk or head to the gym for exercise.
Increased productivity. Taking a break, clearing your head and getting some fresh air can actually increase your productivity. More than 85% of employees claimed that taking regular breaks during the day would make them more productive, according to a 2014 study from Staples. For that break to be effective, however, employees should completely disconnect from work including computers, email and phones. Recentevidence suggests that taking breaks improves focus, which can help executives concentrate and improve decision-making skills. Bottom line: Take your lunch break. Your brain and body needs it.
Better work-life balance. Your lunch break is the perfect time to do something that you enjoy such as visiting your baby at daycare or doing a little shopping. It’s also your chance to run a quick errand, make a personal call or log onto your favorite social media channel. Some executives use their lunch break to relax, read or even take a quick nap and recharge. Just don’t forget to eat. Most people find that they are re-energized after taking a lunch break and ready to tackle the rest of their workday.
Improved business relationships. Lunch breaks are a great opportunity to bond with new co-workers and stay connected to old colleagues. If you are the new kid on the block and you are invited to lunch, say yes. The conversation may even provide inspiration or spark a new creative idea.
2. Working late. Your mind and body need downtime. Working an eight-hour day and then staying late at the office or coming home and working two to three more hours is a dangerous pattern to start. Studies have found that working late at the office can increase your chances of heart disease and stroke. It can also set unrealistic job performance expectations. If you stay up late to get a three-day project finished in two days, you are setting unrealistic expectations on how long these projects should take to complete. You run the risk of those timelines becoming your new norm, which may not be sustainable in the long run. You may be new to the job and looking to prove yourself, but starting your career by working late every night, will put you on the fast track to burning out not moving up.A better strategy is to enter a new job and observe the culture and work flow. Find out the typical office hours your colleagues keep and adopt similar hours. If you are worried about getting finished with work on time, come in a few minutes early and stay a few minutes late. Don’t stay hours late or bring your work home. This does not mean you can’t occasionally work extra hours to get a project done on time. It just means that you shouldn’t make it your daily work routine.