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The Benefits of Employee Meal Programs

benefits of an employee meal program

The employee experience is vital in the modern workplace, and employers are constantly looking for creative ways to engage employees and meet their needs. One of the simplest and most cost-effective ways to boost employee satisfaction involves providing free meals. A massive 97% of employees claim that taking a lunch break improves their workday, and almost one-third say meal benefits would motivate them to go into the office more often. 

With 20% of employees ranking free lunches above other perks, understanding the benefits of free food at work is essential for developing a happy and productive company culture. 

Why Do Companies Provide Food for Employees?

In today's workspace, a salary is only one small part of the overall experience. People want to feel part of a team, and 79% of employees would rather stay at a job where they feel valued, even if it means earning less. 

One of the best ways to show people you value them is to provide meals and snacks. Doing so shows your team you care about their health and financial wellness. With caterers offering innovative workplace solutions, your business can enjoy the many benefits without the hassle.

Explore some of the main benefits of providing free meals to employees. 

Attract Top Talent

Attracting top talent is competitive, and businesses often try to outdo each other via perks and incentives. With 64% of workers more likely to consider a new company if they offer free meals, it's something to consider when you want to attract talent. Setting up a meal program makes you more attractive to employees. 

Elevate Company Culture

When your employees eat together, they can socialize, strategize and share goals, creating a sense of teamwork and collaboration. Social interactions bring teams closer together, making work more pleasant and promoting your shared organizational goals. Free food tells your employees you care about them and promotes a culture of collaboration. 

You can foster a strong company culture beyond daily meals. Consider weekly or monthly themed events to reward your team for a job well done and boost morale across your organization. 

Boost Employee Satisfaction and Retention

Retaining top talent is a critical element of any business. Replacing an employee can cost up to $10,000, and keeping your team happy and connected is essential to enrich the overall employee experience. Providing meals shows that you're serious about creating a positive workplace environment. 

Free meals also make work more satisfying. Almost 30% of employees say they enjoy their work more when their employer provides lunch. In addition, 65% of workers maintain that free meals motivate them to stay with their current company. 

Support Employee Health and Wellness

Employee health and wellness are among the most important considerations for any employer. Employees who take mandated breaks to eat during workdays often have a better work-life balance. 

As an employer, you can use your employee meal benefits to support your team's healthy eating habits. Studies show that workplace nutrition intervention betters workers' diets and physical activity, decreasing the risk factors for cardiovascular disease and other illnesses. When people are unhealthy, it impedes their productivity. In the long term, providing free meals to employees can boost efficiency and lower absenteeism. It can even lower employee health care costs. 

Reduce Employee Burnout

It only takes a short time for hunger to impact productivity. A healthy lunch supports your employees, and 64% say a meal at work gives them the energy they need to continue their day. 

Increase Efficiency and Productivity

Employees save time when they have the option of eating in the office. Many companies see an incredible return on investment from their food programs in increased productivity alone — employees who do not eat lunch often experience reduced efficiency and work quality. Plus, skipping a meal puts many in a bad mood. 

With 51% of employees claiming a lunch break helps them focus and stay productive and 28% reporting it makes them more creative, healthy lunch options are essential to produce dopamine, aiding learning, memory, attention and motivation. 

Save Money

An employee meal program is an affordable benefit for your business. Investing in your team's health and your business's overall culture makes sense when you weigh the cost of your meal program against the potential billions of dollars in losses associated with absenteeism and lost productivity. 

Tips for Creating an Employee Meal Program

Launching an employee meal program can transform your daily operations and create a happy, healthy and productive team. Before you can reap these benefits, you need to set up a structure. The following tips can help you get started.

1. Ask Your Employees

Integrating a company-wide project means you need to get your employees on board. Reach out to them and find out how many would participate in daily meals, snacks or beverages. Send out a short survey so you know how much food you will need to get the program off the ground. Have a sign-up sheet ready for new hires, and give employees who weren't interested the option to change their minds. 

2. Calculate the Cost

You can create a budget once you know how many people will participate. Meal prices will vary depending on your location, so it's best to contact a company that provides the workplace solutions you need for a quote. They can advise you on what to order to stick within your budget. 

3. Consider Allergies and Restrictions

Your employee meal plan must be inclusive. You should have vegan and vegetarian options and should also remember religious dietary restrictions. Ask your employees about any dietary restrictions when you survey them and provide this information to your catering company so they can provide an accurate idea of the cost. 

4. Remember Your Remote Workforce

Free food may incentivize some employees to come to the office more. Ensure you include those in different locations with an equivalent, like a weekly meal voucher or lunch stipend. 

5. Keep Things Convenient

Your meal program should be quick and easy for employees to use. Working with a reliable catering company can streamline the process for your team, ensuring they can focus less on the logistics and more on enjoying the food. 

catering company for meal programs

6. Focus on Variety

In addition to all of the other benefits, a meal program is an opportunity to use your imagination. Work with your catering company to create healthy and exciting options that keep your employees interested. 

7. Gather Feedback

Ask your employees for feedback so you can continue evolving your program in line with their preferences. Encourage them to be open and honest so you can keep improving. 

8. Make It Fun

Your team will appreciate your efforts even more when you make lunchtime fun. Incorporate themed events where they can try new cuisines or celebrate different holidays throughout the year. 

9. Find the Best Workplace Solutions

Take the pressure off your internal team and let the professionals create a seamless process. Work with a catering service that understands the importance of your meal program and will partner with you to achieve your goals. 

Launch Your Employee Meal Program With Food For Thought

Employee Meal Program With Food For Thought

The right meal program can transform your office, supporting a happy and productive workforce. With the right catering partner, you can give your team the perks they deserve without splitting your focus. Food For Thought has been providing superior catering services for over 40 years, and our vast experience has made us one of the leading catering companies in Chicago. 

We understand the necessity of building a happy and engaged team. Our innovative workplace catering solutions let you take care of business as usual while we handle the rest. Contact us to learn more about elevating your company catering today. 


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