While many companies are cutting back on expenses, providing catered meals such as breakfast or lunch and snacks in the workplace is considered a good investment for myriad reasons and considered a valuable perk to employees. According to career site Glassdoor, more than half — 57% — of all workers say that perks and benefits are among the top things they consider when deciding whether to accept a job. And it’s not just companies in New York, San Francisco, and Silicon Valley who are offering free food, it’s embraced by companies across the U.S.
Catered meals offer healthy eating, camaraderie, financial savings and time savings and therefore many companies are embracing the positive aspects of providing meals for employees. Additionally, many companies are offering snacks with a recent survey showing that drinks such as La Croix, specialty regional coffee, Kombucha, and Honest Teas rank as the top non-alcoholic beverages. Free snacks run the gamut from fresh fruit and protein bars to animal crackers, Cheez-its, and Fruit by the Foot!
Healthy Catered Meals
Research continually tells us that healthy employees perform better. And of course by eating healthy meals, employees’ overall health improves. When providing meals and snacks, consideration should be given to offering choices and working with a catering company that offers special meals such as gluten free, low carb, vegetarian, vegan or any other special dietary meals. A Gallup Poll estimated that sick employees cost businesses in the United States over $153 billion annually in lost productivity so it behooves companies to assist employees in staying as healthy as possible.
In a survey of employees at the Silicon Valley company, Survey Monkey, employees ranked food in the top 5 of what is most meaningful to them along with medical benefits and work flexibility. The younger generation is often lured to employment with benefits and perks. Companies in particular, who have expectations of long work hours are inclined to offer such perks.
Camaraderie Among Employees
It’s a known fact that eating together is a bonding experience. A catered meal doesn’t necessarily have to be a working business lunch. It can simply serve as a social time for employees to share a meal, get to know one another, share stories, etc. For those employees who typically eat their meals at their desk, it’s a good departure from that habit if encouraged by managers or HR professionals to step away and take a meal break. In a more formal environment of having employees dine together, it’s a great opportunity to encourage employees from different divisions in large companies who wouldn’t normally interact with one another to sit together.
Catered Meals Help Employees Save Money
Even bringing breakfast or lunch to work instead of dining out, is a cost to employees and a time commitment to prepare the meals. And going out to lunch or purchasing food for a mid-afternoon snack is certainly a big expense. Employees are grateful for catered meals and free snacks as a cost savings to them. As mentioned earlier, free meals and snacks is ranked food in the top 5 of what is most meaningful to them in the work place. Often, free will sway a potential employee in the decision whether or not to accept employment.
Catered Meals Save Valuable Time
The amount of time it takes to go out to lunch is significant. A good portion of lunch breaks is spent traveling to and from the restaurant and waiting for the meal regardless whether it’s counter pick-up or sit-down. This can become a source of stress for the employee and lost of a productive employee’s time for the employer. Providing a catered meal reduces the amount of stress and the employees have time to relax and enjoy a meal.
If you currently are not offering meals at your business, we suggest implementing the program with one or two a month (perhaps one breakfast and one lunch) and increasing the frequency slightly each month. Analyze the benefits after three months. Assess whether you are meeting the dietary needs of employees, work with your caterer to provide the most healthy, affordable meals and ultimately enjoy the benefits of a happier, healthier workplace . . . . for you and your employees!