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Q.
My booth staffers want a special schedule for smoke breaks during the show. How do I address this fairly without cheating those who don't smoke?

A.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, roughly 15.5 percent of adults smoke, which means that smoking is still a workplace issue to navigate. On the one hand, you want to address your employees' various needs on the job. On the other, you don't want to alienate any workers who don't smoke and who might resent what they perceive as special privileges granted to those who do.

The best approach may be one that sets several general break times that can be used for anything from smoking to snacking to snoozing. First, introduce the topic to your staff before the show by saying you recognize everyone's need for a hiatus, including smokers. Second, establish the number of breaks your crew can take. If it's possible, I suggest offering your booth staffers a generous number of them so that the smokers don't feel they have to give up eating lunch, running errands, or checking email in order to get their nicotine fix.

Third, set down the times at which staffers can take their breaks, and establish how long those interludes can be so that everyone is clear on how much time they're allotted. Using this method offers autonomy to all of your staffers, who can then decide how they want to spend that free time, whether it's simply stepping out or lighting up for a few minutes. E



Dan Lumpkin, organizational psychologist, is the president of management-consulting company Lumpkin & Associates in Fairhope, AL. Need answers? Email your career-related questions to askdan@exhibitormagazine.com.
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