- Food at work is a key factor for employee satisfaction
- The health and wellbeing of your staff is important to your organisation
- How employers can harness the power of food at work
If you work full time, you probably consume at least one meal a day at the office or during work hours.
That meal is much more than fuel. According to a recent Leesman Index study, the quality and variety of food at work as well as the areas where food is consumed are top priorities for employees: “Tea, coffee and other refreshment facilities” was voted as the most important feature for workplace satisfaction by 82% of employees while “Restaurant and canteen” was considered top priority by 74%.
For employees, excellent food service is key for their happiness at work, and employers should take food at work very seriously because a happy workforce guarantees a real return on investment. But if food has the power to boost employee satisfaction, how can employers harness such power?
Here are a few things to consider when you provide food for your staff.
Respect identities and choices.
In the age of the conscious eater, more and more people require a personalised diet, they want to know the provenance of the food they eat and expect their company not to waste food; sometimes their choices are strictly personal, other times, they are dictated by religious beliefs or health requirements.
One way or another, people want to be in control of what they eat, and this is causing huge shifts in eating habits. Food in the workplace offers a unique opportunity to enhance employee satisfaction by meeting all the demands of an increasingly diverse workforce, and this can be a powerful message telling employees that their company respects their identity and choices.
Encourage connections, break routine and teach new skills.
80% of innovations come from face to face interactions. A food break should offer a chance to walk away from your desk, break your daily routine, socialise and make new connections, therefore it is important for companies to design their eating spaces to favour social interaction and support healthy choices.
But, along with providing healthy choices, and state-of-the-art eating spaces, food at work can serve another important purpose: teaching cooking skills that can be used outside the office. For employees, this is a fun way to socialise and learn skills that will improve their food awareness and their health; for employers, it is another way to show they care for their workforce. The “Teaching Kitchens” initiative, for example, is the perfect way to boost employee morale, team spirit and engagement.
Improve health and productivity while cutting costs.
Inadequate consumption of nutritious food at work has been tied to difficulty concentrating and making decisions, fatigue, sickness and low morale. From an employer’s perspective, the benefits of a healthy workforce are clear: healthy staff are more productive and take less time off sick. When millions of working days are lost to sickness absence worldwide every year, this is a thought worth considering.
As we said in the beginning, food at work is much more than fuel: it is an important aspect of organizational culture, it creates and nurtures a happy workforce, it attracts the best talent and proves to the wider community that the health and wellbeing of staff is important to your organisation.