The lunch aromas start floating through the air around 11:30am. Leftover chicken parmesan, homemade soup, and something from that small bakery around the corner. Mmmmm. Your employee, lets call her Rebecca, hears her stomach growling and heads to the lunchroom fridge in search of the perogies that she packed earlier that morning. Panic starts to set in when she realizes that they are not the top shelf where she left them. Feeling a rage of hanger burning inside of her, she systematically scans what each of her colleagues in the room is eating, removing suspects from the list at the sight of their egg salad or sushi.
Now Rebecca stands in front of you, hangry and distraught. You are sick and tired of hearing this complaint; who takes other people’s lunches anyways? Since you are not allowed to bait and trap the thief with a lunch contaminated with e-coli, what do you do?
What a Company Can Do To Prevent Lunch Theft
One of the obvious and easiest things to do is to post a sign in the lunchroom reminding employees to be respectful of their colleagues food and only eat what they have brought into work. You can also send out a gentle reminder to employees by email.
Sometimes fridges are cleaned out on a regular basis for health and safety purposes. If this is the case in your workplace, make sure that a sign is posted to remind employees as this may be the explanation behind the disappearing leftovers.
If possible, locate the lunch room in a place where it is clearly visible to the public. If that is not possible, locate the fridges in a public area so that lunch bags are less likely to grow legs under the watchful eyes of the office.
What Employees Can Do To Protect Their Lunches
The common lunch bandit is opportunistic and probably driven by the growlings of their stomach. There are a couple of other things that you can encourage employees to do to protect their lunches:
- Bring a “de-constructed” lunch to work; lunch thieves don’t want to go to all the work of assembling their lunch. If you bring the components of your sandwich to work and then assemble it yourself, you are less likely to be targeted.
- Use a lunch bag that is opaque. Lunch thieves are more likely to see something they like in the fridge and grab it rather than rummage through everyone’s lunch bags.
- Steer clear of pre-packaged grab and go food, they are easier for the lunch bandit to grab and go (plus those foods are usually not good for us anyways, right?!)
- Tell employees to clearly label their food. There are a lot of similar rubbermaid containers out there, labeling can help avoid any cases of mistaken identity. Additionally, someone is less likely to steal your lunch if that means eating stew out of a thermos clearly labelled Rebecca when their name is Frank.
- Take your uneaten food home at the end of the day. Food left in the fridge overnight is an easy target for those who are working late, hungry, in an empty office.
- Keep your lunch at your desk or locked in your locker if you have one.
And if all else fails, pack a lunch that no one else wants to eat. Tofurky is likely to go untouched.
Are the Perogies Still Missing?
If you need help managing the politics of your lunchroom bandit, contact us to help you!