I’m sure we’ve all experienced that member of staff, who comes in at 8.59am, switches on their computer, and logs in dead on 9.00am. All good so far? Then they go off to the kitchen, say good morning and have a good natter with all their colleagues whilst they make a hot drink and put an instant porridge pot breakfast in the microwave, warm up a bacon sandwich, or make a round of toast.
Then they come into the office with hot, smelly food – back to their desk and begin to slurp and chomp their way through their breakfast. Besides dropping crumbs in to the computer keyboard or dripping splodges of porridge onto the floor, they then proceed to leave all their dirty pots and cutlery in the sink for someone else to clean and put away.
What Can I Do About It?
It’s irritating and frustrating, so the question we get asked is Can I Ban Staff From Eating Breakfast at Work? The Answer is yes, of course you can. Not only is this phenomenon eating into your work time, their behaviour can cause resentment amongst your more conscientious employees, who perhaps may begin to follow their actions and start bringing their own breakfasts into to work.
The first thing to do, is call the offender into a meeting. Explain that breakfasts at the desk and during paid working time is unacceptable and that you will be monitoring their behaviour from now on. Document the conversation, including their responses. If they continue to take unauthorised breaks, begin disciplinary proceedings.
Other Options and Ideas.
Working in an office can be tiring and stressful so employees often like to snack throughout the day to pick themselves up. In addition, many eat lunch at their desks on a regular basis because they think they’re just too busy to take a proper break. As a workplace culture, you may wish to introduce a blanket ban on eating at desks altogether to help with the problem.
In addition to hygiene related issues, damage to company property and maintaining a clean and comfortable working environment for everyone, there are other reasons why you might want to impose a no eating at desks policy. It can help avoid unprofessionalism on the telephone and it encourages staff to take a break, which is important as sitting in the same position without taking regular breaks can cause muscular and skeletal problems.
Circulating a Food Policy can impose a blanket ban on staff eating food at their desks or whilst walking around the workplace; this includes both hot and cold food and encompasses all snack food. If employees need to eat during the day, they should use designated areas, such as canteen or kitchen facilities. Make clear that whilst light snacks may be consumed in reasonable amounts during the working day, main meals should be confined to proper break or lunch times.
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Metis HR is a professional HR Consultancy based in the North West of England supporting clients across the country. We specialise in providing outsourced HR services to small and medium-sized businesses. Call us now on 01706 565332 to discuss how we may help you.