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Millennials can’t get a (lunch) break

Is it time to #takebacklunch?

Millennial workers long to take lunch breaks, but fret over what bosses and coworkers will think if they make a habit of it, recently released study results show.

A survey by napkin maker Tork found Millennials are almost three times more likely than Baby Boomers to think coworkers will negatively judge them for taking a lunch break. 

Of the 1,600 American and Canadian workers surveyed, 62 percent of Millennials would like a longer or more regular lunch break; among boomers, 46 percent felt that way. 

Close to 45 percent of Millennials strongly agreed they look forward to taking a lunch break, compared to 36 percent of Gen X workers.

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And 16 percent of Millennials even said they’d take a 10 percent pay cut so they could take a break for lunch each day. That’s almost double the percentage of Gen X workers and more than three times the percentage of Baby Boomers who’d take the trade-off.

“We understand that today’s employees — especially Millennials — often find it difficult to take a lunch break due to workplace demands and even a perceived stigma around leaving the office for lunch,” Don Lewis, president of professional hygiene at Essity, which owns Tork, said in a news release.

It could be a problem Millennials bring upon themselves, per Food & Wine. One in four Millennials worry their bosses won’t see them as hard workers if they take lunch breaks. But more than 30 percent of Millennial bosses see workers who take regular lunch breaks as less hardworking, while only 15 percent of Gen X bosses hold that view, per survey results. 

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Eating at your desk, often perceived as being efficient or dedicated, has become common in the corporate world. But getting up and eating lunch elsewhere is recommended for a number of reasons. It can be a needed break from all the sitting we do, our germ-filled keyboards and desk spaces aren’t the most hygienic place to eat, and there are benefits to the socialization and mental break lunch time offers.

Tork notes Millennials are now the largest generation among American workers, and some have said hustle culture and a slave-to-work mindset has peaked with this generation. 

With that, the company is pushing for change by partnering with “The Today Show” nutrition expert Joy Bauer and promoting the hashtag #takebacklunch. But as The Takeout notes, it might be tough to change the habits of a generation of workers who’ve grown up with smartphones and have trouble checking out of work mode, even for a meal.