People & Human Resources

Why do my staff eat breakfast at work? It’s driving me crazy!

Aunty B /

Dear Aunty B,

I assume you are a woman of my vintage and will share my sentiments on the vexing question of where one should eat your breakfast.

I have had my bowl of muesli, marmalade toast with tea at my kitchen table, so I arrive at work ready for work. But my staff arrive at work so they can eat breakfast. I might well be in the middle of talking to one of them only to be told they have to go and get their breakfast!

It feels like I am on some kind of extended school camp nightmare as they slurp their bowls of cereal (none of them hold their spoon the right way) and spread toast crumbs down their keyboards.

Then of course they leave their dirty milk-encrusted bowls in the kitchen sink to become microcosms of bacteria.

Why the hell can’t they eat breakfast at home? Can I ban breakfast at work?

Grumpy Old Boss,

Brisbane

 

Dear Grumpy,

I am in your camp on this. Why the hell indeed can’t they eat breakfast at home? The answer is simple. They don’t want to sit opposite their baby boomer parents at the breakfast table and be told the correct way to hold their spoon.

(For the millionth time; I mean how hard is it to cup the spoon underneath? I blame those terrible breakfast ads with those chirpy children who grasp their spoons over the top like Jungle Boy about to club a rabbit for his lunch for influencing a whole generation.)

Look, this is a question that is vexing employers around the nation. It is a huge extra cost that bosses are now being asked to bear. First there is the preparation time. That can take a good 10 minutes because of course they have to discuss the footy tipping competition. Then there is the eating time. Then the cost, and time, of paying someone to clean up after them. Throw in the cost of milk, the arguments over who buys the milk and cleans up the kitchen, and the cost of replacing keyboards because of toast crumbs, and you have a huge time-wasting, expensive exercise.

Might I also suggest there is a hidden cost of which you might not be aware. Now I am no scientist, but it takes at least 30 minutes for the sugar, carbohydrate or whatever to hit their brains after they eat breakfast. How productive are they then for the first hour at work???

So what do I suggest? You need to start an “EAT YOUR BREAKFAST AT HOME” movement.

Think big. This could sweep the world, as bosses quite frankly are plagued with this problem from Cape Town to Chicago. Start a petition (we’ll think about who to send it to later).

Second, call early morning meetings that last until lunch time while pretending the dishwasher is broken, the fridge is on the blink and the toaster has blown up (they’ve probably been worked to death).

Third, when you recruit, ask the following questions:

What time do you eat breakfast every morning?

  • Do you eat breakfast at home or in your place of work?
  • Are you a neat, fast eater that cleans after him or herself or are you a pig?
  • How do you hold your spoon? (Have a spoon handy so they can demonstrate.)
  • Are you a foul grump until half an hour after you eat breakfast?

As far as I know, these questions have not been outlawed yet.

Alternatively you could suggest the interview meeting for 8.30am and then ask in a very innocent way if they have had breakfast. Take their answers into account when ascertaining their suitability.

OK Grumpy, I hope that helps.

I for one look forward to signing that petition.

Your Aunty B

This article first appeared on August 8, 2008. Aunty B is on holiday, relaxing with a piña colada on a tropical island far, far away.

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Aunty B

I’m SmartCompany’s resident Agony Aunt. Have a problem to solve? Just ask. @IamAuntyB #AuntyB

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