It doesn’t take a PhD in economics to know that saving money and increasing efficiency are the best ways to keep your business booming. However, it’s tough for an office manager to keep the company’s budget in check, but still make employees feel cared for. Luckily, there’s new research that can help prioritize where you should (and possibly shouldn’t) spend money on employee perks.
Unsurprisingly, study after study has found that workplace efficiency and employee happiness are directly linked and can benefit each other greatly. One of the perks that best bridges efficiency and happiness is an office meal plan. As a catering company, we love bringing offices together over food, but there are also proven monetary benefits to this type of investment.
The average salary in the San Francisco-San Mateo county is close to $70,000. Adding recruiting and training costs, employment taxes, employee benefits and basic equipment could end up costing around $90,000 on top of the employee’s base salary. So it may seem like investing more funds for a meal plan is too big of an expense. But this is where research in workplace efficiency lends a clue into how free food can actually reduce the costs.
The Benefits of Eating Together
In an interview with Business News Daily, Professor Kevin Kniffin at Cornell’s School of Applied Economics and Management said, “From an evolutionary anthropology perspective, eating together has a long, primal tradition as a kind of social glue…That seems to continue in today’s workplaces.” In this way, bringing employees together around food increases happiness, improves employee bonding, and actually directly increases employee productivity. Snacknation reported that 67% of full-time employees with access to free food are “extremely” or “very” happy at their current job. On top of that, the study shows that companies with happy employees outperform their competition by 20%, and that happy employees are 12% more productive than unhappy ones. So free food = happy, productive employees!
But maybe someone in your organization wants more value than just happiness – we know your CFO is always looking at the bottom line. Highfive, a productivity software company, did a numerical analysis on the value of a free lunch based on a $70,000 salary. The average time of an out of the office lunch is about 1 hour, compared to half an hour for on-site lunches. So with catered lunches ranging between $13-15, that means companies can save $2.50-$4.50 per employee each day by providing catered meals. Even your finance guy can’t argue with that.
Science Also Backs Free Office Meals
If these statistics are not enough to persuade you, consider some of the science behind food-related productivity.
An article in Harvard Business Weekly explains how the food we eat, converted into glucose, provides energy that our brain needs to stay alert and focused. Lower glucose levels throughout the day render our attention spans short and fleeting, and explains why it’s so hard to focus on an empty stomach. Providing office meals helps employees worry less about what they have to eat and more about getting their tasks accomplished and making the most out of their workday.
So, on an economic, social, and scientific basis, providing food for employees is simply one of the best ways to boost the productivity and morale of an office. If you’re looking for a way to cheer up the team while encouraging your employees to be happy, productive, and healthy, consider adding an office meal plan to your list of employee benefits and you’re bound to see profits skyrocket.