Top Reasons to Provide a Catered Lunch for Your Employees

IMG_3047I know what you’re thinking! With the economy as bad as it is you’re probably asking yourself, “It’s an employer’s market, so why would I spend the extra money to give my employees a free lunch when I can pocket it instead?” and you know, you wouldn’t be wrong in thinking that. But you may also be costing yourself money in ways unseen.

Give a Boost to Employee Morale

When employee’s love their job and morale is high, employees feel the most loyal to the company they work for. This means the grass doesn’t look quite as green on the other side of the fence, and they stop looking for a job with better benefits or higher pay. This results in a lower turnover of your core workforce. When employees are good at what they do, they make you money, when they’re not, they cost you. If providing lunch everyday can boost employee morale and build company loyalty it may end up saving you money in the long run.

I know from personal experience the impact that free lunch has on employee morale. In 2004 I began working for a large corporate bank. One of the few perks of this job was the fully staffed, free kitchen on the first floor. A benefit of working for the bank full time was the fact that they gave us vouchers for free meals that we could use whenever we wanted. The free meals helped save me money by offsetting my daily expenses, but they also saved me time in the mornings. It usually took me about 20 minutes to prepare a lunch so the free lunch at work allowed me an extra 20 minutes to catch up on the news or sleep in every morning.

Flash forward to 2007 when I was hired by the prestigious Seattle Tennis Club. Although my work there wasn’t food related one of the perks they offered was free lunch or dinner for all employees working eight hours or more per day. Since my shifts were ten hours I was able to eat a wonderful, fully catered meal twice per week. The food they served us was the same food they served in the restaurant which was as expensive as $40 per plate!

Something I noticed during my time at both of these companies was how much more appreciated I felt working for them because they offered free food. I also noticed that interaction between other employees as well as managers was easier to come by during these free meals since everyone generally took lunch at the same time. I think that free meals are a completely affordable benefit most businesses could offer their employees. Not only does it raise morale it also encourages employees to feel connected to other employees through meal time conversation that otherwise wouldn’t take place.

Increase Workforce Health

It’s common knowledge that healthy employees cost you less. Whether it’s in less missed work days, better productivity, or lower costs for health insurance; everyone wins when employees stay healthy. So what does workforce health have to do with providing a free lunch for your employees? Everything!

When you decide to offer your employees a free lunch you get to determine, to an extent, what they eat for at least one meal five days per week. While this won’t make a drastic impact in their overall health it’s definitely a good place to start. Some people have never given the food they eat much thought, they simply shovel down whatever tastes good and in the process, sacrifice their health one meal at a time. If you provide a great tasting, health conscious lunch every day those same employees may begin to eat the same way at home.

Help Keep Employees Working

Providing a quality lunch everyday can keep employees on the clock through the lunch hour. While it’s certainly a good idea to take breaks, finding creative ways to keep employees working (without making them feel slighted) can result in less expense and higher profits for your business. This is especially true for salaried employees who are paid the same regardless of how many hours they work for.

Your Turn

Have you ever had an employer provide meals for you? What was your reaction?

A self-professed foodie, Richard Bracke loves to dine at new restaurants and try out new food combinations in attempt to be constantly refining his tastes and palate. Richard currently blogs and writes for EZ Cater who specialize in a wide variety of options for your local catering and lunch catering needs.

Editor’s Note: If you want to learn other ways to make your employees happier and more engaged, register for the Let the Employee Love Shine through this Valentines Day! (free one hour webinar) There are limited spots, so I would suggest signing up as soon as you can.

Comments

  1. Hi Karl,

    I’m glad to see you write a post like this. I think this is a great example of “charity (or in this case, social responsibility) starts at home. Employees are one of the most important stakeholder groups in a business, so it’s wise to show them they are appreciated (beyond just the pay cheque.)

    Even smaller companies can find a way to show employees they are valued and make employees’ lives a bit easier, especially if there are no kitchen facilities and no restaurants or cafes nearby. Smaller companies may not be able to manage a catered lunch every day, but even if they can only budget for a catered lunch once every couple of weeks, it would make a difference to employees, especially if they supplemented it with free refreshments and healthy snacks on a regular basis.

    Here’s a suggestion for doubling good karma points: Find a caterer that is run by a social enterprise committed to offering training and employment opportunities to individuals who face barriers to employment. Working with a local, social enterprise is a great way to give back to the community, support other local businesses, and contribute to a more robust local economy.

    • Karl Staib - The Work Happy Guy says:

      Hi Sue, I agree. Some companies might not have a budget to provide meals everyday, but they can do it on Fridays or even once a month. They could even create a potluck that allows everyone to chip in. They key component is to create a caring atmosphere and encourages employees to gather and connect.

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