Dear Aunty B,
I followed your breakfast debate last week, and all of today’s feedback, with interest. My problem isn’t just breakfast. In fact I would be quite happy if my staff came to work and ate breakfast at breakfast time.
I have young staff who eat meals all day. They might eat breakfast in the middle of the morning and lunch at 4pm. The other day one of my sales staff brought a bowl of cereal to a 3pm meeting and washed it down with a can of coke!
I find it very unprofessional but didn’t say anything because my staff work very hard and often work quite long hours.
So is it fair to ask them to eat breakfast at breakfast and lunch at lunch? How would I stop them using the office as an all-day cafeteria? And what will happen when they rule the world? Will set times for meals disappear altogether? Or will they grow up?
Maybe as you suggest there are greater trends at work. As demographer and social researcher Bernard Salt points out, adolescence is being extended well into the late 20s. And this is obviously what we are copping at the office: Teenagers at the later stages of their 20s who like to sleep in as late as possible before rushing to the office, and then, with internal clocks out of whack, eat meals at odd hours.
We are probably also copping the first generation of kids who are the product of two working parents – there is no mum or dad home to yell at them to get up, eat breakfast and stack the dishwasher before midday. So why expect their behaviour to change when they come to work?
Well it won’t, unless you do what generations have done before you. If it is a problem, set a few rules.
Breakfast must be eaten before 9am and lunch before 2.30pm.
So to answer all your questions; yes, it’s fair that staff have breakfast at breakfast time – set some rules and stop the all-day cafeteria and yes, they’ll grow up! As soon as Gen-Ys become parents and are up at 5.30 in the morning with squalling infants, they don’t wait until 11am for breakfast!
Your Aunty B.
Kate Morris at Adore Beauty writes: I read your column most days, and have been reading the recent “meals at work” rants with some amusement. If staff are in all other ways working hard and performing well, what does it matter where and when they eat their meals? Peeved in Perth even says that his/her “staff work very hard and often work quite long hours“ – why does it matter then if they take their meal breaks at “odd” times?
We have a workplace full of Gen-Ys, all lovely people and highly motivated. My two best-performing staff eat their breakfast at work. Frankly I don’t care what they eat or when they eat it, so long as they do a good job.