Eating Lunch With Co-Workers: How it Can Boost Morale
Boosting morale in a workplace where people are worried or disillusioned is not easy. It will require social machinery. C.N. Parkinson wrote that one of the most reliable ways to assess the state of a business was to investigate the office cafeteria. Parkinson suggested that it was only necessary to see the cafeteria, and see who ate together, to form an opinion of the place. In Parkinson’s view, if management never entered the place, or ate away from the staff, there was an obvious social gap. If the cafeteria was a horrible, dilapidated place, the business was suffering from serious neglect. If people were sitting on their own, isolated, the social structure of the workplace was a mess.
Low morale has many causes, but sheer neglect of the interests of staff is among the main offenders. The unstated element here is that real managers pay attention to the state of their workplaces and their staff. Failure to do so is pure incompetence, inexcusable for those who’ve had modern management training. Few modern managers would be unaware of the condition of a business with broken down amenities and a workforce which is avoiding each other. Nor would they tolerate it.
How does eating lunch with co-workers work as a morale raiser?
Parkinson’s observations were right in one very important way: The lack of shared space with management and other staff, and dysfunctional social machinery really meant a “Them and Us” social structure. Management was viewed as aloof, disinterested, and not paying the slightest attention to the realities of the workplace. People who isolate themselves in the workplace usually do so as a defensive move.
If you eat and socialize with your co-workers, you’re making a positive statement. You’re also in a position to talk about situations in the workplace. Social interactions are the working processes of any work environment. If they don’t work, neither does the workplace.
If you’re a senior manager, or have some direct inputs into workplace conditions, you may be pleasantly surprised by the positive reaction. The contact sends a signal to staff, which is, you’re approachable and involved. You may also feel a need to check out the workplace conditions in detail, which will assist you in getting an accurate understanding of the workplace.
Creating a natural social environment in the workplace
The many barriers which a dysfunctional workplace creates have to be broken down, to achieve any sort of functionality. There are many ways of doing this:
- Social clubs
- Interest groups
- Social events
Studies have shown consistently that raising morale does a lot of good in any workplace. It raises productivity almost instantly, sometimes drastically. Absenteeism disappears, with high morale. Good employers attract the best people. Stress reduces proportionately to improvements in morale.