Does it Pay to Feed Your Employees?

Does it pay to feed your employees? The short answer is yes. However, if you’re like most business leaders, you’re probably going to need a bit more convincing to see the very real connection between food and your bottom line.

First, let’s take a look at what’s keeping business leaders awake at night. The March 2018 CFO Global Business Outlook survey conducted by Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business uncovered the two most pressing concerns in the C-suite: first, the difficulty of attracting and retaining qualified employees, and second, the cost of benefits.

It makes sense that those two issues are competing for the top slot in the minds of executives. You can’t attract and retain top talent if you don’t offer appealing benefits—and, there’s an expense associated with offering benefits. But one way these two concerns can be reconciled is by looking at benefits as a valuable investment rather than a cost to be incurred or managed.

Feeding your employees is one of those investments that pays dividends. So, it stands to reason that offering your employees a daily lunch is a decision that everyone can feel good about. Here’s just a few reasons why:

Food Helps Attract Top Talent

You can thank the likes of Google, Twitter, Facebook, and Uber for making Lunch as a Benefit (LaaB) such a popular perk. Their lavish employee lunch programs have raised expectations. If you haven’t already experienced this, you can expect candidates to start asking about the food your company offers.

Because 45 percent of job seekers report that the availability of free lunches would strongly influence their decision, it’s time for you to think seriously about feeding your employees. Depending on your industry, it could be your lunch program that sets you apart from the other companies competing for the attention of that key employee.

Food Helps Retain Top Talent

We wanted to find out just how much offering lunch as a benefit improves employee happiness and loyalty, since those two factors relate directly to a company’s ability to retain top talent. So, we asked for input from 1,050 professionals at companies with fewer than 1,000 employees. To ensure that we got the broadest perspective possible, we sought out job titles that ranged from intern to CEO, and we surveyed a range of industries, including technology, finance, and logistics.

What we found was important, but not very surprising. People like food—and, yes, food makes people better, happier employees. Right off the bat, 60 percent of respondents told us that they would be happier if lunch was provided as a perk. Additionally, if lunch was provided as a perk, 54 percent of employees would be more likely to stay with the company, and 70 percent would be more likely to recommend the company as a great place to work.

The payoff here is clear. Well-fed employees are loyal employees. And, anytime you can retain an employee instead of paying the high cost of replacing them, you’ve received a return on your investment.

Food Helps Drive Collaboration

There was a time when achieving collaboration between coworkers and teams meant tearing down cubical walls to create open spaces. Today, one of the best ways to drive collaboration is to put food on the table. Food naturally pulls people away from their desks and out of their silos. It’s a social lubricant that inspires and nurtures conversations that would have never taken place without the lure of free food.

So, where’s the payoff? Collaboration improves interoffice communications, inspires creative thinking and innovation, increases the speed and effectiveness of decision-making, and facilitates trust throughout an organization. All of these things have a positive impact on the bottom line.

So, Lunch Has a Big Payoff

Food is more than sustenance. When provided as a benefit, it helps companies attract and retain talent while also providing endless opportunities to collaborate. It’s easy to doubt the value of feeding employees when the impact on the bottom line hasn’t been evaluated. But hopefully now that you see the connection, you can help build a strong business case for bringing a Lunch as a Benefit into your office.