A few years back, I met up with crew of 5 employees working in a remote area at the place where they were eating lunch. As we arrived, I asked the employees how far away the work site was from the restaurant, and the response was “1 hour. This is the closest place to where we’re working.” As we’re walking towards the restaurant, I’m getting a vibe from the guys that this isn’t the first time they’ve eaten at this restaurant. As I do the math in my head on 5 employees riding an hour each way plus 30 minutes to eat, plus smoke breaks, I’m reasonably disturbed by the number. On top of that, there’s no telling what they were putting on their time sheets.
• A lunch break includes the drive to and from the location, the time to eat, plus coinciding smoke breaks.
• Whatever’s written on the spraysheet needs to reflect how long was actually taken for lunch. If it took 30 minutes round trip to get to a place and 15 minutes to eat, the employee needs to write down 45 minutes.
• If the drive to lunch is excessive, other plans need to be made.
• Supervisors can take the employees lunch – If the crews are working out of town in a remote area and you’re going to visit them anyways, why not pick up some food and visit the crews prior to lunch time.
• Suggest places for crews to eat near the job site – If you know the area around the job site well, suggest places nearby that are fast for the employees to eat at.
• Suggest employees show up to the job site with lunch – Whether it’s having employees pack a lunch prior to leaving their house or having them grab sandwiches to pack in a cooler.
• Assign one employee to go get lunch while the others continue working – Not all employees have to pile into 2-3 different vehicles and ride off to lunch. If one employee is assigned to take everyone’s orders and go pick them up, everyone else can continue working until their food arrives at the job site.
• In the end, just like managing overtime, we need to manage employee lunches. To put it in perspective, in one day, if 240 employees took a 45 minute lunch but only wrote 30 minutes, it would cost our company 60 hours unbilled time.