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Smokers And Non-Smokers Divided on Work-breaks

Smokers And Non-Smokers Divided Over Effect Of Smoking Breaks At Work

More than half of non-smokers say smokers less productive

Global recruitment agency, Kelly Services is urging New Zealand employers to establish policies to deflect tension between smokers and non-smokers in the workplace.

It follows a survey by Kelly Services which found most non-smokers upset at the amount of time wasted by their smoking colleagues, claiming they are less productive.

The survey of more than 900 workers in New Zealand found that the workplace ‘smoko’ has the potential to create serious divisions between smokers and non-smokers.

It found that 12 per cent of workers admitted taking time out for smoking breaks while at work.

Of those who did smoke at work, 85 per cent took smoking breaks 1-3 times a day. A further 13 per cent went 4-6 times a day, and 2 per cent took smoking breaks more than six times a day.

The survey shows the amount of time smokers spend indulging their habit causes tension among non-smoking workmates who believe smokers are less productive.

More than half (55 per cent) of the non-smokers believe smoking breaks result in greatly decreased or decreased productivity.

Kelly Services Regional Manager John Phipps said the findings show how much of an issue the workplace smoko has become.

“It’s clear the issue of smoking breaks causes friction amongst non-smoking workers who resent the amount of time their colleagues spend out of the immediate workplace.

“Some organisations have started to limit the number of smoking breaks in an effort to address this problem.

“On the other hand, some smokers argue that a break actually makes them more productive and provides informal networking opportunities where information is exchanged and ideas discussed.

“It is clear that there is no single ‘correct’ policy that will suit all workplaces.

“Employers need to take into consideration that there may be a group of people within the company who feel disenfranchised over workplace smoking.

“This should be kept in mind as new policies are developed,” said Mr Phipps.

Amongst smokers, more than a third (36 per cent) think smoking breaks actually increase their productivity, and a further 58 per cent believe it doesn’t affect their output either way.

Many workers were clearly unhappy about their colleagues spending time away for a quick puff.

Asked how they felt about their colleagues spending time on smoking breaks, almost half (49 per cent) of non-smokers said they were either very unhappy or unhappy.

Mr Phipps said health and legal issues, which have seen smoking banned from most workplaces, were likely to escalate making life even harder for workplace smokers.

‘The evidence of lost productivity is always going to focus the minds of employers.

“Some have started taking active steps to discourage smokers from congregating in outdoor areas such as entrances and car parks.

“In white collar positions in particular, some smokers do feel that they are the victims of prejudice in hiring and promotion,” he said.

Overall 13 per cent of women smoke at work compared to 11 per cent of men.

Smoking is lower among accounting/finance (7 per cent), general administration (8 per cent) and HR (9 per cent), and higher among sales and customer service (14 per cent) and marketing/advertising (16 per cent).

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