South Koreans don’t enjoy lunch with co-workers: Report

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SEOUL – South Korean public employees of all ages have a low preference for eating lunch with their teammates, a report showed on Sunday.

According to a report by the Korea Institute of Public Administration on the values and organisational innovation of public servants per generation, both the MZ Generation – a Korean term referring to millennials and Generation Z, or those roughly born from 1981 to 2012 – and older generations have negative views about eating lunch with co-workers.

The finding came to light in research conducted between May and June last year based on 1,021 public servants of different age groups working in central administrative agencies.

The data showed that the younger generation, especially Gen Z, responded more negatively to communal lunches than the older generation.

Senior public servants opted to have lunch alone because many of them think that their co-workers might find it burdensome to eat with them.

Furthermore, both the younger and older generations preferred having “hoesik”, or official employee get-togethers, during lunchtime rather than at night.

Based on a five-point ordinal scale allowing participants to rank their opinions, 4.17 of the MZ Generation answered “yes” when asked if they prefer lunch gatherings, while it was 3.8 for the older generation.

A hoesik generally consists of dinner, alcohol and occasionally a trip to a karaoke bar, which South Koreans typically think of as an extra work obligation.

The study showed that participants of all ages want to shift to remote work as social norms have changed in the office during the pandemic, with the MZ Generation responding that a flexible work environment is at the top of their minds.

As a growing number of younger South Koreans prefer eating alone at work, the report described the MZ Generation as those who prioritise individual interests over their organisation, explaining that they are pushing for changes in the workplace.

It also suggested that workplaces set up measures that effectively respect personal values at work. THE KOREA HERALD/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

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