Coffee shops and workplace rules make the packet of sandwiches a thing of the past
The home-made packed lunch is becoming a thing of the past with fewer than one in twenty workers bringing their own lunch to work.
A national health and safety law consultancy has found that the convenience of ready-made sandwiches as well as office rules about eating at desks mean that fewer employees than ever are bothering to bring their own food to work with them.
According to the Protecting.co.uk company, this means that employees are turning to unhealthy snack foods, or are missing out on a midday meal altogether, resulting in health and productivity issues that could hit company turnover.
“It’s well known that worker productivity is linked to both decent breakfasts and lunches,” says Protecting.co.uk spokesperson Mark Hall, “And it appears that thanks to so-called convenience foods, fewer employees are eating properly.”
According to a survey of more than 300 workers
• Only 5% brought in a packed lunch from home
• 14% used the staff canteen
• 13% went to a fast food establishment
• 16% bought sandwiches from a shop
• 9% have a pub lunch
• 22% eat sweets and crisps from the vending machine
• 21% don’t have lunch at all
“The number of people who have a proper meal during their working day is depressingly low,” says Hall, “And we’re shocked at the number of folk who go without something to eat at all.”
“The sight of the workplace lunchbox is becoming increasingly rare.”
Protecting.co.uk found a number of reasons why employees weren’t bringing in their own lunches, and in the majority, it boiled down to one single factor: Convenience.
“I’m too tired to make sandwiches for work in the evening,” office worker Felicity told us. “I can pick up the meal deal at the garage on the way in, so why bother?”
“Sandwiches? Too much like hard work. Who’s got time for that?,” said Gary, who works as a security guard.
Anwar, who works for an insurance company, said: “There’s a ban on eating at our desks, so I can’t be bothered. I just get a bar of something and a packet of crisps out of the vending machine.”
Colleagues Brian and Gregg told Protecting: “We’ve got a pub next door. Who needs sandwiches when you’ve got a pint and a bowl of cheesy nachos?”
However, Alex said he brought in sandwiches as part of a packed lunch because “Our canteen’s too expensive and they serve everything deep-fried with chips. I think I’m the winner, here.”
Protecting.co.uk says the number of people eating unhealthily – buying only sweets and fast food – should be a concern to employers. Particularly concerning are the numbers not eating at all so they can work through their lunch break.
“We don’t have to be Jamie Oliver to point out that junk food leads to all kinds of illnesses in the long run,” says Hall. “While companies can’t press their workers into what kind of lunch they eat, they could try out a healthy eating campaign to encourage better nutrition.”
It’s something that could pay off with healthier workers, fewer sick days and better productivity, particularly in the post-lunch slump when the usual suspects return from their liquid lunch at the pub, Protecting.co.uk says.
“To go without lunch, or to fill yourself with junk food shouldn’t be an option in a healthy workplace,” Mark Hall says.
“It’s time the lunchbox made a comeback. Make the effort, you’ll be pleasantly surprised.”