What started as a trend in the early adopter technology space is now going mainstream with companies that offer free meals and snacks to their employees.
And these aren't just any foods. Very possibly thanks to Millennial’s who are driving the organic and healthy food movement, employees at companies across the country now have access to fresh, organic and gourmet meals while at the office.
From free daily breakfast at Dropbox to Google’s cafeterias that are stocked with organic, healthy meals prepared by award-winning chefs, eating well at work is more than just making sure your employees stomach’s are full. Here are some of the biggest benefits to providing your employees with food perks.
As in most cultures and social circles, breaking bread around the table is a way to build strong bonds with those around it. In the office, being able to quickly build these bonds with colleagues through communal meals means teams work together more effectively and efficiently together. By encouraging these communal eating times, employers can also be sure that their employees are able to take a break away from their screens throughout the day which has been shown to boost productivity and employee focus.
Fewer Sick Days
Eating well is one of the easiest ways to improve overall health but it can also help employees fend off seasonal illnesses such as a cold or flu. A study conducted by the School of Psychology at Cardiff University found a correlation between study participants who skipped breakfast and an increased likelihood that they would develop at least one illness over a 10 week period. While it’s not a surefire way to prevent employee absences, providing a nutritious breakfast for employees can definitely help to reduce absenteeism, which can help to keep costs down for employers.
Probably the most studied statistic when it comes to food in the workplace, especially breakfast, is its effect on employees' productivity! The Harvard Business Review released in 2014 an interesting article by Ron Friedman called "What you eat affects your productivity". Truth is, people who enjoy a daily breakfast will be more focused, happier with what they are working on and more productive overall. Eating a balanced breakfast also leads to healthier employees and according to a 2012 study by Brigham Young University, the Health Enhancement Research Organization (HERO) and the Center for Health Research at Healthways, healthier employees are proven to be more productive and mentally present throughout their workday.
Well fed employees, equals happy employees, and happy employees are less likely to leave. They're also more likely to spread the good word about your company to other potential employees. Especially within a competitive job market, being able to not only keep current employees but also easily attract new ones can save employers some serious cash by bringing down the costs of acquisition and new employee training.
Return on Investment
Then comes the hard math. While most employers won't want to admit this, they've all done some serious number crunching when it comes to providing perks such as free meals to their employees and what type of return they get on this investment. While there are many factors that contribute to this ROI number, several of which have been mentioned above, at the end of the day the costs to provide healthy meals and snacks for employees is still much lower when compared to the overall investment employers make into their employees. By making this comparatively small investment, companies can significantly reduce costs in several other areas making this an investment that pays off.
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