Extended lunch breaks

Q: One of my employees has recently been pushing the boundaries with his lunch break. This week alone he has been late back from lunch twice and I am worried it will continue. I have tried to address it by making a comment or joke each time it occurs, but he doesn’t seem to be getting my hints. How can I manage this better to stop him taking extended lunch breaks?

A: It can be uncomfortable managing undesirable behaviours of our employees, particularly in a small business where everyone works so closely together. Unfortunately the reality is though, if the situation isn’t addressed it may be interpreted as the employer condoning a flexible approach to lunch breaks and other employees may follow suit.

I read a great quote today; you can be comfortable or courageous, not both. Being comfortable is continuing to drop hints to the employee in the hope he will one day see the light and show some respect. Being courageous is tackling the issue head on so he understands that the behaviour will no longer be accepted by you.

If you are ready to tackle the issue, set up an informal one on one meeting with your employee with the aim of having an open and honest discussion about his lunch breaks. Explain to your employee why you are meeting together. I.e. to discuss some instances where you noticed he was late back from his lunch break. Don’t be afraid to be specific and to explain to the employee how the behaviour is impacting the business. Make sure you also give your employee some air time to explain their side of the story, even if you don’t agree with their justification. Before you finish the discussion, reiterate your expectation in relation to lunch breaks and that you expect to see immediate improvement.

In most cases, this gentle and informal approach should see your employee’s behaviour improve. Should the extended lunch breaks continue, we recommend you seek assistance from a HR specialist such as Industryus HR, who can provide advice on how to commence a more formal approach. Call us on 07 5655 4047 or visit industryus.com.au.

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