Increasingly, employees have started utilizing food as an incentive in the workplace. Providing employees with complimentary meals and snacks can be beneficial in a number of ways.
When employees grab lunch from an off-site vendor, this can “easily consume 30-60 minutes of time out of the office,” says David Lewis, President and CEO of Operations Inc, a Human Resources Outsourcing and Consulting firm.
By providing food and drink on the job, “you limit the time otherwise taken traveling to and from a cafeteria or local store for refreshments,” Lewis said.
Logically, it would seem beneficial for employees too, saving them money and valuable time, thus improving productivity.
But that box of jelly donuts left in the break room every morning, the countless candy dishes full of sweets sprinkled throughout the the office, or that catered lunch full of delicious grease and malnutrients will all actually do more harm than good.
“All those carbs and sugar you find in the junky stuff actually hurts productivity, given the effects they have on those who consume it,” Lewis said.
And while providing healthier complimentary food to employees is a costly endeavor, recent studies have shown that a healthy workforce is a more efficient workforce, providing a potential 150 percent return-on-investment.
Not only can this investment improve employee productivity, it can also brighten office morale, with 60 percent of the study’s respondents reporting they would be happier with provided lunch.
“By providing nutritious and diet-friendly choices vs. cookies, cake, and candy, businesses are showing staff they care about their people’s health and promote healthy eating,” Lewis said.
Lewis says it can prove advantageous in other areas of business as well.
“Wellness initiatives are selfish endeavors for any employer looking to manage medical inflation, as well as simple things like absenteeism. A healthier workforce is less expensive to insure, as well as one that is absent less often,” Lewis said.
It can serve as a tool of retention, as well as a tactic to attract new hires.
Studies show that 54 percent of individuals would likely stay with a company if food is offered as an employee perk.
If and when businesses make the switch to nutritious, complimentary food options, they would be in good company.
From Fortune 500 companies to small, local businesses, striving for healthier ideals in the workplace is a trending pursuit among smart employers.
According to a recent study by Greatist, organizations ranked the healthiest companies to work for in America are going far beyond the complimentary sack lunch with incentives like: “alternative health insurance, fully stocked kitchens, free mental health counseling, domestic partner benefits, on-site fitness centers, unlimited vacation days, Ping-Pong tournaments, regular happy hours,” public transit spending accounts, and company gardens.
These leaders of the pack include Kaiser Permanente, Microsoft, Google, General Mills, Hallmark, Jet Blue, Twitter, and Hallmark, just to name a few.
Now it may be a financial stretch to immediately toss a daily operating superfood buffet into the break room or hand out free fitness memberships for the whole family. But by simply providing a bowl of apples instead of sweets, or a weekly employee jog around the parking lot, the road to a healthier work environment can be traveled with small, but meaningful steps toward improvement.
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