Through the right food perks, offices can increase employee engagement, happiness, and productivity
When you think about the best benefits of your current job, what makes the list?
Companies have always provided perks to recruit and appeal to the most sought-after talent. However, in recent years, with a more competitive market, lots of once-rare office perks have become more commonplace. Additionally, a changing workforce consisting of more millennials values different perks than their older peers.
Are office snacks really that important to employees?
For a surprisingly large number of people, office food and/or beverages are becoming recognized as a job perk, especially within the generation of millennials. More than half of people (66%) who say their office has free food or beverages report being “extremely or very happy with their current job”. 4 in 10 workers are “jealous of friends who work for companies offering free food/snack options”. According to the Society for Human Resource Management, only about 32% of companies offer free snacks and beverages to their employees, and 12% offer a cafeteria that’s at least partially subsidized by the company.
Does food have an impact on employees’ work?
Worldwide, only about 13% of employees are engaged at work. Employee engagement is necessary for high-productivity workplaces, and one recent estimate suggested that disengagement “in professional life not only impacted a company’s performance but also cost the U.S. $450 billion to $550 billion per year”. Happiness and productivity were recently linked, researchers found “that happiness gives people the drive to work harder and increases their productivity by 12 percent.” Because happiness levels rise in workers with access to food, productivity levels also rise.
Are there negatives to offering free food at the office?
Free food options can get costly for employers, with some companies reportedly spending up to $150 million per year on free food for employees. Many companies are unable to afford this budget. Another negative impact for employers is that employees are less likely to leave the office for lunch, and a lunch break has proven to be beneficial to employee engagement. When employees do not take adequate breaks, “employee productivity, mental well-being, and overall work performance begin to suffer”. According to a recent Tork survey, nearly 90% of North American employees say that “taking a lunch break helps them feel refreshed and ready to get back to work”.
While there are drawbacks for employers to provide free food, there are also drawbacks for employees. One report noted that people snack on things when they’re procrastinating or when they’re talking to other people, without even realizing it. Free office food promoted this absentminded eating, which can lead to employee weight gain and/or obesity, especially when working a desk job. The majority of free office food options are items like sodas, sandwiches, and cookies, which tend to be high in sugars, refined grains, and salt. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, office snacking can add up to 1,300 calories per week to the average person’s diet.
What about vending machines?
Vending machines have been considered a convenient and low-cost method of delivering food and drink. There are an estimated 4.64 million vending machines in the United States, and about 55% are located in an office or manufacturing building. While this may seem like a viable option for some employers, this can also contribute to employee obesity due to the variety of unhealthy options often sold in these machines.
Furthermore, vending machines are generally no match for modern technology: A growing number of national and local food sources are making their products available for online ordering and delivery. The convenience of online ordering has begun to rival the convenience of vending machines, especially for the millennial generation who values healthy fast food options more than their older peers.
What’s the future of office food?
Due to the changing importance of certain work perks and changing workforce, offices are seeking new, innovative office food options to increase employee engagement. While millennials value convenience and healthy food options, these aspects of online ordering have come to rival the standard office vending machine. Furthermore, employers who provide a standard vending machine or free food service can be contributing to employee obesity.
LeanBox is a groundbreaker in the new world of office food options. Instead of old-school, outdated vending machines, LeanBox provides state-of-the-art, healthy, catered vending options available in-office. LeanBox saves employers from the costs associated with providing free food, and employees the high costs associated with dining out every day while keeping them happy, healthy, and engaged. LeanBox machines are regularly stocked and maintained, and offer a variety of healthy, convenient snacks, as well as more substantial options for office meals like lunch breaks. Employees are able to use a convenient app to interact with the machine and purchase their food, as well as make requests for certain items on restock. LeanBox is office food for a new generation.