Don’t punish your lone rangers

Question:

Once a month, we provide everyone in our office lunch. Even though it’s only sandwiches, pizza or Chinese, it’s expensive to feed 18 people. In return for the lunches, we expect our employees to hang out in the conference room eating and socializing.

Every month, it’s the same 10 or 11 employees who hang around talking; the others stop by, collect their food and return to their desks or take their plates with them in their cars as they run errands. It wouldn’t be so bad if the employees who went back to their desks worked, but they don’t. They get on the internet and surf through their lunch hour.

This frustrates us as we intend for these team lunches to be a reward and a team-building experience. How do we make it clear that we expect everyone to remain in the conference room while they eat?

Answer:

Although some employees view socializing with co-workers as a perk, other employees don’t.

If you want everyone to remain in the conference room, you need to clarify that you expect this or somehow engage those who exit after grabbing their food. In some organizations, managers create this level of engagement by inviting those intending to exit with a warm, “Hey, sit with me and have a conversation.” Other companies offer “lunch and learn” trainings.

© Dr. Lynne Curry is author of ”Beating the Workplace Bully” and ”Solutions” as well as owner of the management/HR consulting/training firm The Growth Company Inc. Follow her on Twitter @lynnecury10 or at www.bullywhisperer.com

 

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