Food for thought: Lunch matters

How your employees feel about their meal break reflects on your company culture and business performance

It’s easy to chuck the meal break as more suited for the pre-mechanisation era — when workers needed to replenish physically from their labour-intensive jobs. Today, with machines doing most of the heavy lifting, there floats the notion that less rest is needed since most of the work is done with little to no physical exertion.

 

But we also know there’s been endless research and publications that prove this wrong. Most recently, the digital diagnosis from CSIRO’s Workplace Safety Futures and Deloitte Human Capital Trends reported on how the hyper-connected workplace is affecting productivity, resulting in time away from family, as well as an increase in chronic illness among Australians.

 

For most startups, getting the business to take off is hard enough. Harder still is instilling the culture you wish to practice, since company culture evolves and may mean something different for everyone. But if you agree that culture eats strategy for breakfast, then what’s for lunch really matters.

Is a meal break required? Yes and no.

In Australia, many entitlements are insisted upon under the National Employment Standards, but a meal break is not one of them. The requirement provisioned by Modern Awards is a 30-minute unpaid meal break for employees who work more than five hours in a day. In a survey of 500 Australians, this proves prevalent among almost half of the respondents, whilst only 1 in 10 employees gets to enjoy a full hour of respite. 

Are you allowing work to eat your employees’ lunch?

When it comes to how the meal break is spent, the modus operandi for 18 percent of respondents is to eat at their desks or workstations. Sixteen percent opt for the office break room to enjoy their midday nourishment, and 1 in 10 uses this time to socialise with colleagues.

 

One in 10 employees feels the need to work through lunch because of peer pressure, they feel guilty if they don’t or they are doing so to impress the boss. In other words, the assumption of those employees who choose to work through lunch is that it’s an expected practice at their workplace.

 

So how is employee satisfaction? Look in the break room.

Anthropologist Krystal D’Costa believes that the employees’ perception of their lunch break and the office break room can be a gauge for company performance and morale. She observes when things are going well (the kitchen is full and lively) and when things aren’t looking ripper (the break room is quiet and sullen). She recognises there can be other variables on how employees choose to spend their lunch break, but ultimately, what this break looks like is significant. It shows if employees feel empowered to take the break they need and deserve, if they feel connected to their co-workers and whether their employer encourages this kind of socialisation and reprieve.

 

Working smart is not working hard

When Liv Hambrett listened to her friend voicing frustration amidst planning her move back to Australia from Hong Kong, one detail stood out more than others. The moving company the friend was dealing with told her to call back because they were on a lunch break. A global business popping the ‘closed’ sign on the door for lunch? How dare they!

 

As a fellow Australian who’s been living and working in Europe since 2010, it took awhile for Liv to get used to the laidback lifestyle, compared to home, when she first arrived. But when she honed in on some stats, she found how the most productive and wealthiest countries in the world also worked the fewest hours.

 

Failure to lunch? It’s on the employer.

The Federal Magistrates Court of Australia ruled to penalise a South Australian hotel for breaching the applicable Award’s meal breaks clause, following a Fair Work Commission investigation. The FWO acknowledged the employer’s decision to forgo its casual employees’ half-hour break entitlement because the employees themselves preferred to work straight through their shift and not stay the additional 30 minutes. But the FWO reiterated that was not a “good reason for employers to ignore the Legislative provisions”. As an employer, you are ultimately responsible for your employees’ well-being.

 

Want culture? Do lunch.

A meal is often used to celebrate and mark milestones. Nothing signifies unity and connectivity more than breaking bread together. Creating a lunch culture at work can be as simple as designating a space, allowing storage for food (and we don’t mean an esky!) or incentivising with company-wide meals when goals are met. And if it’s time to redefine your company mission or vision, perhaps you should first look at how your employees are spending their meal breaks and see if a lunch manifesto is needed. You’d be surprised at the return on investment on retention, productivity and engagement.

About the Author

Prior to becoming a global copywriter for TSheets by QuickBooks, a time tracking and scheduling solution for small businesses, Dottie Chong spent 15 years in marketing communications and content management focussed on driving engagement and brand affinity.

Do you sell out of sizes too quickly?

In this blog, I am going to talk about how you can learn the tricks of savvy eCommerce stores, and get some tricks for size analysis and how to determine the life of a product.

I love to shop. It’s in my DNA, I like the frill of the chase. The feeling of getting a bargain, the feeling of winning, of saving money, or of getting something unique. I like to abandon my cart with new eCommerce websites that I find, to see if they retarget me & offer me a discount to make my purchase. Another thing I enjoy is predicting when something will go on sale. My strategy for this is to review the availability of sizes, then to check if there is an abundance of the same thing in the rest of the market. I’m usually pretty good at determining if it’s going to go on sale or not, I am also freakishly patient at shopping, so will happily wait. I have been known to wait for 12 months for a product to drop to my price range. My favourite stores are the ones that can beat me on my strategy. The ones that have managed to balance their risky fashion purchases vs. their core everyday purchases. The ones that I know I will have to buy at full price because I can tell that the products they have brought will sell out in 1 day, 1 week, 1 month; whatever the life of product they have decided. That smart buying makes it tough for me. But it also drives demand, and for me, respect. In order to keep these savvy shoppers, you need to understand the life of products that you stock. Is a product going to last the test of a trend? Is a trend going to be done in a month, or is it more sustainable? You need to know how to pick it. Sites like WGSN, Refinery29, High Snobiety are great for inspiration & details on trend.

As a professional working in inventory management the number one complaints that I hear, is that my clients are selling out of certain sizes too quickly, and they are left with broken inventory or random sizes. As a former Merchandise Planner, Buyer and Merchandiser, key to my success were optimizing the size curve for the buyer. You’ll never get this 100% accurate, as you don’t have a crystal ball. But you can get this to around 90 – 95% accuracy by using historical data & learning when and why to look at the data at these points.

My first tip is to look at the history of a product at around 60 – 70% sell through. Look for the balance by size in the sell-through; i.e. are they all at a similar sell-through rate? If the answer is no – read on. If you have an average rate of 70% sell through, but you have some sizes at 40% i.e. too low, or some sizes at 90%+ i.e. too high.

Look at the below example of the buy:

All sizes were bought quite flat; assuming that they would sell at the same rate.

But as you can see; in this case, Large was the key size, but was only the second highest buy-in units.

So the sales rate of sale differed to the buy curve, you can also see that the liquidation or sell through varied by size:

The large size picked up sales of nearly 10% more than the buy, therefore this will sell out much faster than the other sizes & eventually lead to broken inventory and disappointed customers.

I would, therefore, review these factors – Liquidation and the actual sales curve to get the below buy curve for future buys:

I calculated this =((Ordered Stock * % Sales)*Liq %), I would then look at this and decide if I was happy with such a heavy weighting in favour of the size large, and what this would mean for units ordered. I would also review other factors historically, such as colour. Darker base colours might be preferable in larger sizes, whereas lighter colour bases could be preferable in smaller sizes. Data is your friend when making these choices or decisions. Also reviewing promotions that you had during any of the sales periods, that could have falsified data, or if you sell via multiple channels such as Amazon, Shopify and a Bricks & Mortar store, were any of them over or understocked. Factors to the sales are your friend when making decisions.

You need to have a good look at multiple SKUs or styles to make the call. Eventually, you’ll be able to rely more on gut feel, combined with sales history to make an informed decision. It’s also not a bad thing to seek outside help in making decisions on inventory. Remember that people make complete careers out of inventory management.  Speaking of which; I now run a Retail Consulting business, I specialize in Inventory Management and OTB – or Open to Buy maximization. Helping businesses to get the most out of their stock to maximize sales.

This Post was written buy Zoey Hopkins, you can find Zoey’s site and contact details here

Zoey Help!

If your vision is authentic, it resonates

In this Guest Post, Emily Haydon founder of The Talent Connective shares some honest insights gained since launching her recruitment business.

I never believed I had an entrepreneurial gene. But life can change a person’s drivers. And at some point, my desire to create something outweighed my fear 1000 to 1.

I now believe, if your vision comes from a place of authenticity & you’re truly adding value, it resonates.  You seem to find yourself in alignment with your ideal customer, and people will rise to support you.

Starting a business has been the most humbling experience of my career.

It’s meant stripping away some of the facades we can often tell ourselves are important, like portfolio size, title, company perks, and really stripping back to what’s important at the core.  For me this is:

 

Creation and an unyielding need to build something from a place of authenticity

Contribution, legacy, meaning. It took me years to work out how to combine my career with social contribution. Now that I’ve done it I genuinely believe any product or service model could be structured as social enterprise.

Time – only through this exercise have I truly learned the meaning of work life integration.  Mumpreneuring through school holidays just turned all of my corporate conditioning on time management on it’s head. But I wouldn’t change it.

Challenge. Big goals move mountains. And the road ahead is very, very exciting.

 

Brisbane is undoubtedly a city with a big heart for supporting start-ups.  I also think this overwhelmingly positive response so early on comes from there being a driver within us all to contribute to something bigger than ourselves. Social entrepreneurialism gives people an option to do that through their business purchasing decisions and change the lives of communities everywhere.

 

Emily Haydon is the Founder of The Talent Connective, Digital Talent Acquisition in Brisbane that supports micro-finance loans and financial literacy courses in India, Africa and Bangladesh.