No lunch for you!

Posted by Charles Middleton on 08/01/2018

Are you afraid to take a lunch break because your boss may judge you? A recent study finds there's truth in that.

Twenty-two percent of bosses believe employees who take regular lunch breaks aren't as hardworking, while 34 percent of managers take regular lunch breaks into account on employee evaluations.

That's according to survey of 1,600 workers across the U.S. and Canada conducted in December by Tork, which is a brand of Essity, a Philadelphia-based consumer tissue and global hygiene product company.

Thirty-eight percent of survey respondents felt they weren't encouraged to take lunches, while 20 percent and 13 percent, respectively, worried their bosses or co-workers would judge them for taking regular lunches.

My friends on Facebook had, well a smorgasbord, to say about the study results.

Shreveport tourism pro said my headline should be, “Study finds up to 34 percent of bosses are jerks.”

Meanwhile, a high school friend who's an aircraft technician at Tinker Air Force Base in a way confirmed the findings. It's not lunch, but Tinker workers are given three hours a week for fitness, and supervisors hate it when they take the time, my friend said.

“If you take it, they consider you as lazy and not an dedicated employee,“ he said. “But it's a government benefit and if you don't take it, it's your fault for not taking advantage of the benefit.”

Human resources consultants agree it's actually bad business to deny workers lunch breaks.

“It's time for managers to change their way of thinking, step up and start encouraging people to take their lunch breaks every day," said Rob Wilson, president of Chicago-based Employco USA human resources outsourcing firm.

“Don't think of it as losing money,” Wilson said, "but rather a way to improve your bottom line and retain your staff. A happy, rested employee is an employee who is going to give 100 percent and be a credit to your company.”

Quality vs. quantity

Mike Crandall, principal and owner of Sandler Training of Oklahoma, said organizations too often focus on time worked versus the work done during the time.

Crandall blames this on two phenomena: Senior leadership demands too much or creates environments that workers try to mimic. “Most leaders don't even realize, without help, what's going on,” he said.

Crandall said he recently found a new job for a man whose former employer had an unwritten expectation for employees to work 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., and eat lunch at their desks.

Though he easily completed his work in less time, employees still focused on why he and others were so late to work or left too early, Crandall said.

“This employee loved his job and his co-workers,” he said, “however, he couldn't stand this part of the culture and chose to look for a new opportunity and leave the company.”

Almost 90 percent of employees say that a lunch break makes them feel refreshed and ready to return to work with a clear mind, analysts with the Tork study found.

Shawnee school librarian Shelley Wall said lunch breaks are her “quiet time to regroup.” Most days, she eats her lunch, and reads The Oklahoman, in the school library, she said.

Meanwhile, Chelsea Ratterman, marketing coordinator at the University of Central Oklahoma, regularly lunches with many of her co-workers.

“I think that may be something that belongs in the public-sector mentality,” Ratterman said. “The environment, especially at a university, is of collaboration and teamwork, and having a good relationship with the people in your office and department can grow with simple things like a lunch outing together.”

Written by Paula Burkes and published by The Oklahoman, August 1, 2018