Are co-workers swiping your food?

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Nothing can encapsulate the disappointment of opening the work fridge and finding an empty lunchbox.

Maybe it was just leftovers, or maybe it was something special you looked forward to all morning. Regardless, it was yours. Sometimes not even labeling your lunch can protect it from being pilfered.

What kind of sociopath would have the audacity to take a colleague’s lunch?

To get to the bottom of the sandwich swiping (and office food culture in general), Zippia.com surveyed over 1,000 American workers. The results? Your seemingly normal coworker at the desk next to you might be perfectly comfortable taking a bite out of your lunch.

About one-third of co-workers nationwide have admitted to swiping foo.

Drinks are a common culprit: With respondents citing missing sodas, special coffees, Red Bulls, juices and other drinks being nicked particularly often.

Alaska is the state with the most food theft in the workplace. Florida weighed at a better than 28 percent rate.

No one surveyed in six states (Minnesota, Mississippi, North Dakota, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Vermont) would admit to taking food from work.

Be careful where you put your food: Food on the counter and candy bowls are almost universally seen as up for grabs.

Guard your pizza: 16 percent of workers believe no permission is needed to take a pizza slice.

As astonishing 6 percent will take food right from a coworker’s lunch box.

Food in the workplace is becoming more common both as a perk and as part of employee engagement. Judging from the amount of workers willing to take food without permission, food is in hot demand.

A survey showed 44 percent of workplaces only provide food on special occasions, such as holiday parties. Another 17 percent never or “almost never” food.

While the majority of workplaces are not providing food regularly, 39 percent provide a meaningful food contribution on a regular basis- including snacks, drinks, and occasional meals.

Just under half of workers “love” employer-provided food, to the extent it influences their job choices. Another 45 percent still enjoy food perks, while not being a deciding factor.

Only 7 percent say food isn’t a perk they want in the workplace.

Depending on the size of your company, chances are a dirty rotten lunch thief lurks amongst your seemingly normal enough colleagues.

So write your name carefully on your lunch, it might deter a less bold swiper. If that doesn’t work, you can always try a passive-aggressive post-it.

Of course, there’s a chance you yourself have tasted the forbidden G0-Gurt or Lean Cuisine of another. Be warned, even if not confronted, your coworkers might suspect (and resent) your nefarious behavior.

Not only could you find yourself the target of that justified hanger, but you also risk termination or official warnings that could jeopardize your career trajectory.

Zippia.com, a career resource website, conducted a study of 1,322 American workers to better understand food theft in the workplace, as well as their current work benefits involving food. All workers were recruited through Amazon’s Mechanical Turk. Each worker was asked, in addition to demographic questions, the same series of related questions.

This article originally appeared on The Star: Are co-workers swiping your food?

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