Promoting collaboration at work is a hot button issue for managers across industries. Similarly, companies spend a lot of time and money trying to increase employee satisfaction and improve retention. By offering employees free lunch at work, companies can address all of those major issues while saving money. Sound too good to be true? Here’s why it’s not!
Team Lunch Provides Opportunity for Team Bonding
Eating as a team may help coworkers building camaraderie and foster deeper work relationships. This, in turn, can boost productivity. According to a 2015 study in the journal Human Performance, firefighters who eat together perform better together in their life-or-death line of work than those who don’t. “From an evolutionary anthropology perspective, eating together has a long, primal tradition as a kind of social glue,” says Kevin Kniffin, one of the study’s authors and a visiting assistant professor in Cornell’s Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management. “That seems to continue in today’s workplaces.”
Your employees need to eat whether or not you take advantage of that time to improve how they work together. “When you see the lengths businesses go in order to kick-start cross-departmental collaboration, or the need for ‘skip-level meetings’ for executives to talk to frontline employees, it’s hard not to get very animated when explaining they could have all these initiatives taking place in an event that happens naturally every day — rather than through time-consuming meetings, presentations and emails” says Michael Dean, marketing manager at Peakon.
Forced team building, like day-long corporate retreats to complete rope courses together or fall backwards into each other’s arms, are expensive and not effective enough to justify the cost in time and money. Providing in-office lunches to your employees encourages more organic team building by creating a pleasant environment in which socializing and building relationships feels natural.
Feeding Your Employees Improves Employee Satisfaction
According to a 2015 study of 1,000 full-time office workers, while 56% of all employees surveyed were “happy” or “very happy” with their current job, that number jumped to 67% among employees who had access to free food at work. Free food at work was most important to millennial workers, a growing demographic in today’s workforce.
Offering your employees free meals also shows your employees that you value them. “It shows a personal investment and that need to make sure that they’re happy here and they have everything they need to do a good job,” Danielle Mahoney, director of human resources at Appeagle, says of the company’s choice to offer free meals to its employees.
While some employers are put off by the upfront cost of offering meals, having happy, productive employees more than makes up for that investment. “Employers sometimes focus on the cost of things too much”, says Sandi Mann, senior psychology lecturer at the University of Central Lancashire, “when the really important thing is staff feel they are acknowledged and praised when they do good work.” Even beyond that longer term benefit, providing your employees with free lunches can actually save you money in the short term, too.
Buying Your Employees Lunch Can Save Your Company Money
A study by Highfive found that the average cost savings of providing free lunch at work is $2.50-$4.50 per employee. The average time time for an off-site lunch is one hour, versus only thirty minutes for an onsite meal. Assuming an average hourly wage of $35.00 and an average lunch price of $13.00-$15.00, it is cheaper to give your employees a free lunch than it is to leave them to fend for themselves. In addition to those savings, providing lunch can also come with tax benefits for your company. You save twice!
…But Your Employees Need to Want To Eat the Lunch
You won’t get any of the above benefits if no one wants to eat the food you’re providing. “Company lunches will fail if they’re not eaten by everyone” says Dean. “If you’re providing the right food this shouldn’t be a problem, but the moment managers stop participating or employees start routinely missing your lunches then the benefits begin to erode.” Luckily, Forkable is here to make sure every lunch is a hit.
At Forkable, our lunch bot reviews each of your employees’ specific preferences and dietary restrictions to pick meals they’ll love. If they’re in the mood for something else, there’s always the option to switch out the recommended meal for something else!