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Employees are still skipping lunch despite working from home, new Tork survey finds

06/11/2021

Despite 91% of people surveyed working just as much, if not more, during the COVID-19 pandemic, a majority of workers are still skipping their lunch break. A recent survey by Tork shows taking a lunch break, particularly with takeout, has positive effects on employee happiness, engagement, and productivity – and helps support local restaurants.

COVID-19 has drastically changed the workplace: 68% of people who had been working in an office or other in-person environment pre-pandemic are now working full-time from home. But despite being closer to their own kitchens, workers are still not finding the time for a lunch break. 
 
According to a new survey by Tork®, an Essity brand and a global leader in workplace hygiene, nearly 40 percent (39%) of people say they only occasionally, rarely or never take breaks during the workday. In fact, nearly a quarter (22%) of people feel guilty or judged when they step away from work midday. This is despite the fact that 91% of people report working just as much – if not more – than prior to the pandemic and 94% of employees acknowledge they’re happier when they’re able to take a break. 
 
As the boundaries between home and work life have blurred over the past year, a lunch break to refuel and recharge is more important than ever. However, not everyone feels equally empowered to do so. Through its survey, Tork found that women are over twice as likely (67%) not to take a break than men (33%). And when women do take a break, they are more likely to spend the time doing household chores (22% versus 14%). 
 
The Tork Take Back the Lunch Break campaign began in 2018 to raise awareness about the positive effects of taking a lunch break on workers’ wellbeing. This year, as many restaurants rebuild their business following the pandemic’s devastating effects on the industry, Tork is continuing this important initiative by encouraging people to “Take a Break with Takeout,” which benefits both employees and restaurants. The Tork survey found that even as in-person dining returns, ordering takeout provides a lift to both workers and restaurants – 52% of respondents reported feeling less stress knowing they didn’t have to cook or clean, and 44% said it felt good to support local small businesses.
 
“This has been a year of change and disruption, but one bad habit that has remained constant is the lack of a meaningful lunch break,” said Penni Tsavaris, Brand Communications Manager, Professional Hygiene at Essity. “For years, we’ve called employees to take back the lunch break because we know they are happier and more productive when they step away from work midday. Now, on National Take Back the Lunch Break Day, which falls on June 18 this year, when people take a break with takeout, they are also supporting restaurants and local economies during a critical period of recovery.”
 
Both employees – and their bosses - have a lot to gain by taking a lunch break. This year’s survey uncovered that:
  • 94% of employees feel happier when they can take a lunch break during the workday. 
  • 94% of employees agree that taking a break gives them a chance to take a step back and get a fresh perspective. 
  • 91% of employees and 93% of bosses agree or strongly agree that taking a break is an important part of maintaining their mental focus. 
  • 88% of employees and 91% of bosses say they return to work feeling refreshed and reenergized after taking a break.
  • More than 9 in 10 employees say they are more likely to stay at a company where bosses encourage their employees to take a break. 
 
Tork remains committed to helping workers take back their lunch break, as well as supporting local businesses as the restaurant industry recovers. Between now and June 18, Tork is asking people to spread the word on social media about the benefits of taking a break for a chance to win lunch on Tork. By taking a photo of their lunch break, sharing how they feel when they step away for a meal midday and using the hashtag #BreakWithTakeout, diners will be entered into the Tork Take a Break with Takeout contest for a chance to win one of nine gift cards valued at $50 for their next lunch. Terms and Conditions apply.
 
To help restaurants boost their business during this period of recovery, Tork is launching an operator contest. Through the contest, restaurants have an opportunity to enter and win $1,000 towards free lunches for their diners. To learn more about the operator contest, visit Torkusa.com/BreakWithTakeout.
 
Contact: Weber Shandwick, Tork_NA_TBTLB@corp.ipgnetwork.com
 
About Tork®
The Tork brand offers professional hygiene products and services to customers worldwide ranging from restaurants and healthcare facilities to offices, schools and industries. Our products include dispensers, paper towels, toilet tissue, soap, napkins, wipers, but also software solutions for data-driven cleaning. Through expertise in hygiene, functional design and sustainability, Tork has become a market leader that supports customers to think ahead so they’re always ready for business. Tork is a global brand of Essity, and a committed partner to customers in over 110 countries. To keep up with the latest Tork news and innovations, please visit www.torkusa.com.
 
About Essity
Essity is a leading global hygiene and health company. We are dedicated to improving well-being through our products and services. Sales are conducted in approximately 150 countries under the leading global brands TENA and Tork, and other strong brands, such as JOBST, Leukoplast, Libero, Libresse, Lotus, Nosotras, Saba, Tempo, Vinda and Zewa. Essity has about 46,000 employees. Net sales in 2020 amounted to approximately $13.3 billion. The company's headquarters is located in Stockholm, Sweden, and Essity is listed on Nasdaq Stockholm. Essity breaks barriers to well-being and contributes to a healthy, sustainable and circular society. More information at www.essity.com.

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