U.S. Workers Not Taking Breaks Is Bad For Vending

June 4, 2015

Currently, most U.S. workers don’t take breaks, especially lunch breaks. Somewhere around 20 percent actually step away from their desk to eat. Whether this is a personal choice, or subliminal messaging from a manager who wants ‘noses to the grindstone,’ it is detrimental to productivity. As vending, office coffee service and micro market operators, productivity and break taking are very important to the bottom line. If employees aren’t productive, the company isn’t as profitable and the location starts cutting benefits like OCS, or even wages and workers. Employees worry about their jobs, and stop spending on what they perceive as non-essentials, like snacks and goods in the breakroom. Possibly, employees stop taking breaks altogether to appear more hardworking. No breaks, mean fewer (or no) purchases at the vending machine or micro market (as well as the lower productivity mentioned previously).

Start selling breaks

I propose there is a way to turn this around that will benefit everyone. While operators can’t tell locations how to run their businesses, they can tout the benefits of a breakroom and employee breaks. Fast Company published an article in September of last year, which discussed studies done about productivity and breaks. It was found that highly productive employees took a 17-minute break every 52 minutes. Those breaks were away from the computer, somewhere else, doing something else. There are numerous articles about productivity and being effective at your job by leaving the desk and socializing, from Slate to Fox News. Slate focuses on why every workplace should have a cafeteria and includes some interesting statistics about the effectiveness of a proper lunch. While the article makes the case for shared cafeterias in small offices, micro markets or a well-designed breakroom would also fit the bill. It has to be a place that employees want to come, to socialize in. And the offerings have to be tailored to the location. That will produce the energizing eating experience that workers need.

Fox News covered eating lunch from the angle of affecting your mental state. Based on research done with physicians, missing lunch or eating a small, unhealthy snack made people irritable, easily annoyed and emotionally drained. They didn’t perform as well. Nutritious foods and drinks at regular intervals, however, kept moods elevated, heads clear and led to better performance.

More opportunities

In our next issue of Automatic Merchandiser, Managing Editor Adrienne Zimmer asks an Alabama operator the why and how of offering breakroom design services to locations. This should help other operators get inspired to sell enhanced breakroom experiences that will benefit the location as well. However, don’t wait. Operators have the experience and knowledge of what a good breakroom looks like and what product to offer. Incorporate this knowledge into a sales program and educate locations. In the end, being a full-service operator is an evolving role that should now include being a breakroom expert.