Millennials pine for lunch breaks

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Photo: Milkos (iStock)

Can you miss something that was never yours in the first place? This isn’t the opening to my terrible romance novel; it’s a question related to lunch breaks. A new survey commissioned by napkin company Tork found Millennials feel much less comfortable than other generations in taking lunch breaks, but that Millennials also yearn for them more than other generations. Just how badly do they want lunch breaks? 16% of Millennials would take a 10% pay cut so they could take a lunch break every day, which is double the percentage of Gen X workers.

As a Millennial myself, I’ve never worked in an office where I took regular lunch breaks. They weren’t ever prohibited, but when you see that the corporate culture involves everyone eating burritos hunched over keyboards, well, it’s bold to be the person who leaves to eat sushi for an hour every day.


According to a press release, the survey of 1,600 North American residents revealed Millennials—the largest generation in the American labor force—are afraid of being perceived as lazier by their bosses and coworkers if they take a lunch break. They’re three times more likely than Baby Boomers, for example, to think they’ll be perceived negatively by coworkers for taking regular lunch breaks. But Millennials themselves may be partially to blame for the stigma: 31% of Millennials bosses say workers who take regular lunch breaks are less hard-working than those who don’t. Only 15% of Gen X bosses said the same.

The survey was part of a campaign to “take back the lunch break,” presumably selling more napkins in the process. But it’s wishful thinking to assume a cute hashtag will change workplace attitudes among a generation that’s perpetually tethered to smartphones and has no concept of work-life divide. Call me cynical, but 30 minutes to grab a food-court salad isn’t going to fix what’s been dubbed “The Burnout Generation.”