Koreans no longer want to have lunch with their colleagues, according to a report published last month.
According to a report by the Korea Institute of Public Administration on the values and organizational innovation of civil servants by generation, generation MZ — Korean term for millennials and generation Z, or people born approximately between 1981 and 2012, have negative opinions about having lunch with their colleagues.
This finding was made in a study conducted between May and June last year among 1021 civil servants of different age groups working in central administrative bodies.
The data also showed that the younger generation, especially Gen Z, reacted more negatively to communal lunches than the older generation. Senior civil servants have opted for lunch alone, as many believe their colleagues might find it burdensome to eat with them.
In addition, younger and older generations prefer “hoesik” (company dinner), or formal employee meetings, to take place at lunchtime rather than in the evening. On a five-point ordinal scale allowing participants to rank their opinions, 4.17 members of the MZ generation answered “yes” when asked if they preferred to have lunch together, while this figure was 3, 8 for the older generation.
A hoesik usually consists of dinner, alcohol, and sometimes a night out at a karaoke bar, which Koreans generally view as an additional work obligation.
The study also showed that participants of all ages want to switch to working from home, as social norms have changed during the pandemic, with the MZ generation responding that a flexible work environment is at the top of their concerns.
While a growing number of young Koreans prefer to eat alone at work, the report describes the MZ generation as those who prioritize individual interests over those of the company, explaining that they are advocating for changes on the workplace. She also suggests that workplaces put measures in place that actually respect personal values at work.