At lunch, during the work day, many of us have different options for what we can do. Some people regularly bring lunch from home every day. Other people might work someplace with a cafeteria on premises, and might go that route occasionally. Still others might go out to eat once in a while. Clearly, there are many different ways that we can handle lunch during the work week, and many combinations of how our weeks might look in that regard.
With respect to the latter option – going out to eat – we might also have a variety of options from which to choose. One of these options is fast food. However, in recent years, I haven’t seen as many coworkers eating fast food at lunch – or, at least, making it known that they eat it. It leads me to ask the question: has fast food for lunch become socially unacceptable, and something to avoid for your career?
It might sound silly, but in the workplace, perceptions often matter more than reality. While people are generally entrusted with responsibilities based on qualifications and past performance, one’s image at work can matter – even if it shouldn’t. In a white collar, corporate setting, multimillion dollar decisions are being made all the time. Would you think more favorably about the guy or gal who brings a healthy lunch to work every day or buys a salad from a quick casual place, or the person who regularly dines on an unhealthy value meal of a burger, fries, and soda from the local fast food joint.
Keep in mind, I’m not saying it’s fair, and it’s not necessarily how I view things. However, people can be fickle, and personal impressions do have an impact for better or worse.
I liken this to how smoking was once viewed in society. Supposedly, news broadcasts way back in the past had cigarette smoke swirling about, as a fairly decent percentage of the overall population smoked. It wasn’t unusual or a big deal. I vividly recall years of going to restaurants that offered both smoking and non-smoking sections. Smoking even happened on airplanes!
Now, smoking doesn’t happen on the news, or in restaurants where I live, and certainly not on airplanes. People don’t smoke in the office, at work. While it isn’t fair to judge the character of a smoker vs. a non-smoker, in the professional world it’s simply not socially acceptable. Smoking is simply not a part of the workday.
Keep in mind I’m not equating smoking to eating fast food, just thinking about perceptions of social acceptabilty. I wonder if this concept is starting to apply to fast food lunches? Maybe it’s a stretch, but I just don’t see people eating these lunches, or talking about how much they like fast food. They may eat it otherwise, but it seems to be less accepted.
So as funny as it might seem that flaunting an affinity for fast food lunches might be bad for your career – and your finances – well, it just might be. Not to mention the health impact, which in the long run hurts our finances too!
My Questions for You
What do you usually do for lunch during the work day?
Do you notice people eating less fast food these days, or being less anxious to admit to it, with co-workers?
Do you think that fast food for lunch during the work day has become less socially acceptable, and something that can be detrimental to how one is perceived?