Let’s break down the anatomy of a Smoke Break:
Step 1: Gathering of smoke related materials to go on break (20-30 seconds)
Step 2: Decision to go on break commando, or alert smoke friend you’re going on break (10-45 seconds)
Step 3: Travel time to proper Smoke Break destination (1-2 minutes)
Step 4: Consuming cancer stick (3-4 minutes) – which includes conversation with cancer buddies
Step 5: Travel time back to work area (1-2 minutes)
Step 6: Settling back in to get on task (1 -2 minutes)
Total estimated Smoke Break time: 10 minutes
Multiply Smoke Break time by 6 = 1 hour per day for Smoking, that you’re paying for. 5 hours per week. Let’s say 49 weeks per year. Average wage $20/hr = $4,900 you are paying someone in your environment to Smoke. (FYI – this does not include the cost of your insurance going up as well for poor health)
Just so we are clear – I add this into our Total Compensation Statements for our Smokers! It’s a great benefit – I list it under “Recess”.
So, not to make my non-smoking employees upset by this total disregard for company resources – I let each non-smoking employee have an hour of ‘recess’ each day! What is ‘recess’ – it’s when you see Janie over by someones cube talking about Dancing with Stars for 20 minutes – that’s 20 minutes of ‘recess’! Now, if Janie is a smoker – and she’s taking ‘recess’ on top of her smoking break – Janie gets fired. Janie is using her ‘recess’ to smoke – she doesn’t get additional ‘recess’.
Sounds crazy right?
Here’s what I know – every single one of your non-smoking employees – looks at this situation, exactly like I describe it above – but maybe in less colorful terms. “Why does Janie get to take an hour of her day off to smoke, and get paid, while I continue to sit here an work?” Why do we as leaders and HR Pros allow this to happen? We don’t legally have to allow people to take a smoking break – heck – we can fire them for taking a smoking break. Would you allow an employee to take an hour out of their day to play with a loaded gun in the parking lot? Why not? What’s the difference?
As a leader and HR Pro I know smoking is bad. I know it costs me the health of my employees, increases in health insurances and that my non-smoking employees hate that I allow this. So, why do I allow it? You’re going to love this answer! Because – ‘we always have’. That’s why. And it’s stupid.
So, do you allow Smoke Breaks? Why? (and please don’t comment about ‘life choices’)