retain millennial workers

How to retain millennial workers with a simple lunch break

There’s one easy way to help retain your millennial workers in this tight labor market: let them each lunch.

Recent research shows that while 90% of employees say that the ability to take a lunch break is critical to their decision to accept a job, only 37% of millennials feel empowered to take time for a midday meal. Given the pressure to be productive, 25% are convinced that their bosses won’t think they’re hard workers if they take time at lunch – and they also fear that judgment from co-workers, much more so than do baby boomers.

Do you really encourage your employees to take a lunch break?

get this infographic PDFThe saddest fact is that they may have a point. When asked if their employees feel free to take lunch, nearly 90% of employers say yes, and even more claim that they encourage employees to do so. Their workforce, however, isn’t so sure; only 62% say they feel encouraged to take time for a sandwich or a walk outside.

This not only impacts a worker’s happiness; it also undermines their engagement at work. Employees who take at least a 30-minute lunch break every day have higher scores on a variety of engagement metrics, from job satisfaction to likelihood of remaining with a company. In other words, they stay fresh, they stay focused, they stay productive…and they just plain stay.

Ways to take back lunch

Managers may encourage, or even tell, workers to take lunch – but there are more persuasive and productive ways to actually get them in the habit. One idea should encourage folks to get out of the office and to a restaurant – step out of office to get a break, enjoy a change of scenery, a good meal at a restaurant, socialize with a friend or co-worker – take that new employee to lunch.

1. Lunch-and-listen with the boss
Show is better than tell when it comes to convincing nervous employees that you won’t think less of them for clearing their heads and filling their stomachs. Host periodic “Lunch and Listen” sessions, where you buy the lunch for a team or department, with no particular agenda except to enjoy good conversation, and a chance to get the boss’ ear. (And lunch doesn’t have to be fancy – free is enough.)

2. Lunch contests
It often takes getting out of the office to get the full benefit of a lunch break, so consider incenting a good stroll outdoors. One way is to run a monthly “photo scavenger hunt.” Simply pick a theme – interesting birds, neon signs, cool cars, whatever fits your environment and company personality – and challenge people to come up with the most examples in a given week or month. Everybody enjoys a little exercise, all should benefit from the creative challenge, and the winner gets a reward in the form of a gift certificate…to eat out.

National Take Back the Lunch Break Day

The need for lunch breaks is so great that there’s now even an official “national day” dedicated to encouraging workers to enjoy a midday break. Anyone can join the movement just by going out to lunch and sharing a selfie with their meal, tagging it #TakeBackLunch. Visit Tork to learn more about the campaign and to take the pledge to take back your lunch break. Restaurants can help; spread the word by taking advantage of a free kit created just for that purpose.

With each employee turnover costing an average of $15,000, it’s imperative that employers start doing more to retain workers – and there’s no better time to start that effort than at lunch.

Visit The National Take Back the Lunch Break Day page.

Tork: National Take Back the Lunch Break campaign
National Day Calendar: National Day Calendar
HR Drive: Turnover Costs Employers
SHRM: 2017 Talent Acquisition Benchmarking Report