According to Kevin Kniffin, a professor at Cornell University, "Eating together is a more intimate act than looking over an Excel spreadsheet together. That intimacy spills back over into work."
Companies across the world are going to extraordinary lengths to build and strengthen bonds between employer and employee. Attention is being paid to making the workforce happy and as comfortable as possible.
In some places, corporations are lavishing employees with extravagant perks in an effort to gain a competitive advantage. It has become common to have gaming and meditation rooms in the workplace, while others are planning adventurous outings and parties for employees.
The motivation to foster a more creative and fun workplace is predicated on the belief that such practices will help enhance productivity, and in turn, will bring a high return on investment (ROI).
But according to research out of Cornell University, expensive office set-ups and a slew of team-building initiatives aren't the only way to build bonds and create meaningful interactions. Instead, one of the most effective ways to boost employee performance is also the simplest. According to Professor Kevin Kniffin and his team at Cornell University, the provision of complimentary meals is the most accessible and affordable way to improve employees' productivity and morale, while enriching company culture overall.
Many of us forget just how intimate and special a shared meal can be. Sitting down at a table together to eat provides individuals with countless opportunities to connect. Stories can be told, experiences can be shared, and friendships can be deepened.
Beyond that, taking time to truly enjoy a meal with colleagues and friends allows for a break from work — which helps to re-energise and re-invigorate employees. In fact, most employees feel appreciated when their employers provide them with regular meal breaks and allow them access to a meal plan.
Complimentary high-quality meals provide employees with the assurance that higher-ups not only value the work being done but also care about the wellness and health of the workforce.
Lack of access to nutritious food, good snacks, and energising beverages can have an immense effect on the way people work. According to several types of research, food being available on-site makes it possible for employees to spend less time organising meals, and instead allows them to focus more on their projects.
It has also been observed that workers who bring their own food tend to skip meals due to work, which ultimately has a negative impact on the overall level of productivity office-wide. Moreover, employees who bring meals from home tend to eat alone at their desks which limits socialisation, and in turn can result in isolation from team members and colleagues.
According to research conducted at Harvard University, medical costs decrease by approximately $3.27 for every $1.00 spent on wellness programmes by helping workers to stay healthy and productive. Moreover, boosting healthy lifestyles across the workforce provides about a 300% ROI. This is a massive return on investment and as such, is something that cannot be overlooked.
When providing complimentary meals, companies need to remember that high-quality meals bring about the aforementioned benefits. Low-quality meals lacking in nutrition are therefore likely to decrease productivity and lower morale.
Food fuels us, and what we eat affects our daily activities. Food directly impacts our cognitive performance; thus, low investment in lunch can be the ultimate productivity and mood killer. Beyond productivity and morale, putting together a diverse spread of food items and snacks can help to bring a diverse workforce together, lessening the gap between employees of different backgrounds.
Providing complimentary high-quality meal plans to employees is not the typical practice for most companies nationwide. This mindset needs to change as the country continues to progress and move forward. Every business and culture is different, but everyone needs to eat.
To provide high-quality meal plans to employees, companies do not have to go for extravagant arrangements like hiring chefs. Instead, companies can turn to catering services and online food delivery platforms. Through such platforms, business management can decide what types of food they want, varied menus, and frequency of the meals.
Hiring a catering company will also support the employers to handle everything, including managing the budgets properly. Moreover, these dining services tend to provide corporate discounts to organisations on their meal plans, creating a positive impact on the budget.
These dining services will support employers in handling daily office meals and make it easier for the management team to organise meetings, parties, corporate events, and everyday snack arrangements. These types of services also provide excellent visibility of expenses, helping employers maintain complete control of the budget and their investment.
It has become crucial for companies to invest in employees, especially if they want to hire young people and keep them satisfied. Young professionals like to balance culture and work while emphasising ethical and sustainable practices.
This generation already knows that the best employers will always care about their employees' health and satisfaction. So, to get ahead of the competition and hire top talents, start investing in a sustainable and effective meal programme/caterer, and watch the business grow with each passing meal!
Syed Fayad Munaim is the Head of Corporate Sales, foodpanda Bangladesh. He can be reached at [email protected].
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of The Business Standard.