Sponsored by Epicurean Group
Getting employees back to the office will take creative effort.
Research is conflicting. Some studies report employees favor working from home - others say not so fast. Top CEO’s call it an “aberration” to correct ASAP. Jamie Dimon (JPMorgan Chase) describes it this way; “Remote work doesn’t work for those who want to hustle. It doesn’t work for spontaneous idea generation. It doesn’t work for culture.”
Workplace problem-solver Envoy surveyed 800 company leaders in April 2022 to find out what incentives and changes are being tested to encourage a return to the office. They found:
- 88% of companies are using incentives to get their workers back on site.
- 61% of businesses are making changes to the physical workplace.
Incentives that connect office culture to employee values rated high in studies because they naturally strengthen participation. And as workers increasingly value personal wellbeing within their work environment, one solution consistently rises to the top. Look no farther than your food service program.
Onsite food programs have been proven to help with employee engagement and retention. Wages are key but not the only important factor. 80% of employees say they would keep a job with good benefits rather than take one that offered more pay and no benefits. The quality and variety of food offered at work is often listed as a significant factor in accepting a job or staying there.
Here are ways your food service program can help with office return:
Food Service Saves Time and Money
With inflation and the cost of living on the rise, providing ways for employees to save money is in everyone’s best interest. Employees have less incentive to work from the office if returning creates additional costs from transportation and meals. Free food works. Let the word get out among the ranks - if you feed them, they will come.
Food programs also save employees time while increasing company productivity. An onsite café or catered lunch can save 30-60 minutes per week per employee, according to a 2014 Willis Towers Watson study. For a professional making $100K per year, this translates to $1,250-$2,500 in added annual productivity for the company.
Opportunities to Connect
Global architecture and design company Gensler surveyed employees on what they miss most about being away from the office. The answer? Interacting with fellow colleagues.
Food programs create impromptu gatherings; opportunities to bond and build relationships. Employees who bring lunch to work often eat at their desk. Providing food motivates workers to get up and socialize.
When employees start enjoying your in-person events and delicious meals they’ll tell others. So publicize efforts with gusto! FOMO (fear of missing out) is real- it draws in people to participate.
Positive Experiences Support Engagement
New incentives and changes are really about creating positive experiences for employees says McKinsey and Company. Their research reveals positive employee experiences have 16 times the engagement level as negative ones, making employees eight times more likely to want to engage. Nothing says positive experience like a delicious, home-cooked meal that people share together.
Food Program part of an Integrated Wellness Program
Wellness is in! There’s a push to know more about nutrition, healthy living and eating. Consider your food program as part of company wellness to create larger meaning and motivation for employees. Eaters enjoy the story behind their food, especially Millennials and Gen Z. Make your food program stand out by promoting how it supports both people and the planet.
Specialty and Variety is Key
Everyone enjoys new experiences and food service can be a hub for fun. Work with your provider on unique events and activities, things employees want to take part in. Celebratory theme days, pizza parties, Meatless Monday, happy hours, tasting programs, farm-to-table meals, ice cream socials, all add buzz around the virtual water cooler. Specialty menu items like house-smoked meats, cured lox and fresh baked buns create allure. If seasonal drinks or an interesting program are offered at days end, employees might come into the office that day. Have fun! And ask your provider what special events, menus and ideas they’re planning to engage a returning workforce.
Bottom line: Wellbeing and a nourishing environment are recruitment tools and food service is a key to success. When employees feel cared for and connected, they’ll be more motivated to return.