Ask almost any working millennial about their work break, and you’ll probably hear half of them say, “Oh, I just eat at my desk.” Which means they chow down for 15 minutes, maybe pop out for a quick coffee, and come right back. In many offices, the general atmosphere of work-work-work keeps people shackled to their desks, and it’s kind of sad if you think about!
Workweeks are already too long, considering the long hours and the longer commutes. We let our work lives bleed into our everyday lives — especially since less of us have kids to get back home to, when compared to our parents’ generation. There’s no separation.
A brand new survey commissioned by a napkin company, Tork, found that millennials straight-up feel bad taking lunch breaks. But the most painful finding is that they desperately WANT lunch breaks. In fact, they want lunch breaks so badly that 16% of millennials said they’d take a 10% pay cut so they could get outside, take a deep breath, and a eat a dang sandwich away from their desks.
So, what’s an employee to do? When you see everyone else eating at their desk, how do you take a stand? When the culture isn’t exactly great about promoting a work-life balance, it can feel like you’ve done something wrong just by taking 30 minutes or an hour to eat your lunch like a civilized human being.
And if you’re working a 9-5 (more like 8-6, amiright?), you’re legally allowed to take that break!
The survey found that the millennials were afraid of being seen as lazy if they took a break. Part of the problem is that employers did admit to thinking their employees were lazy for taking a lunch break. Bonkers. Ironically, all the evidence points to increased productivity, better stamina, and better mental health if people were allowed to take breaks:
Last year, Tork created the National Take Back the Lunch Break Day, which falls on the third Friday in June. This year, it happens on June 21st. The idea? Post a pic of your lunch break and hashtag, #takebacklunch.
As Joy Bauer, who partnered with Tork, says, “Taking a regular lunch break can have a huge positive impact on your health and wellbeing!”
While this hashtag sounds like a great idea, it’s not going to reroute the uber-capitalist thinking of millions of people.
Generations of people attribute working oneself to the bone to personal value — as if taking 45 minutes to eat lunch is going to somehow diminish your worth as a human being! (And they say millennials are lazy. Ha!)
While millennials certainly have it hard here, it seems the work-yourself-to-the-bone culture is pretty common. Just look at Australia. They’re working overtime — billions of hours of it — without pay.
And the same goes for the United Kingdom. This is bad: “In today’s frantic and pressure-filled workplace, 68% of those surveyed justified skipping lunch, saying they had too much to do or an unexpected task to handle.”