#HR Trends and Insights

Inflation is hurting lunchtime traditions

May 19, 2022

The pandemic forced people from social settings in the office to isolation and video calls. Employees couldn’t socialize as they did before, including the always popular lunch meal.

Now that people are returning to the office, the lunch traditional break is back. However, that doesn’t mean co-workers are catching up over lunch at their favorite restaurant. It turns out that not all employees can afford it because inflation is driving up the cost of lunch meals.

But this has opened an opportunity for companies, especially those who want to have an engaged workforce. Employers are stepping in and making moves that will go a long way to impress their employees.

Inflation means higher food prices too

It’s easy to see why meals are so expensive. According to USDA Economic Research Service, the price of “food-away-from-home” will increase 5.5-6.5 percent in 2022. Bank of America predicted that the price of food would increase 9 percent from last year. All this comes in the context of the overall annual inflation rate, which rose to 8.5 percent in March 2022, the highest since December 1981.

Lunch-specific data shows how rapidly the price of a lunch meal is increasing. Research by Square found that lunch items are increasing in cost faster than the average price of all food from March 1, 2020 until March 1, 2022. Square found that the price of wraps is 13 percent more, and a sandwich has increased 14 percent on average, for example.

These increasing lunch costs are causing many companies to rethink their employee food plan and how people on their teams will interact with each other.

Restaurants are no different. As inflation hammers the overall economy, restaurants are stuck between their food and other costs and what the public can afford to pay for a meal. Menu costs are often a reflection of general market prices. For example, when the price of food ingredients, rent, or wages go up, restaurants must make up for this extra cost through their meal prices to stay afloat. Inflation forces fast food companies and restaurants to cut portion sizes and raise their prices.

So, this is where companies can step in. As inflation makes the price of lunch too expensive for some employees, companies can roll out meal benefit plans to help their workers eat.

Why add this expense?

There are a lot of good reasons for companies to offer meal benefits, including:

1 – Meals foster a positive workplace culture

Work can be overwhelming sometimes. Having a space where workers can interact outside of work will go a long way in relieving work stress.

Depending on the industry and job profile, employees sometimes have to deal with demanding clients. A lunch or dinner meal allows them to share their challenges and get valuable tips from colleagues in a relaxed environment.

2 – Workers missed socializing during Covid

According to a Human Resource Management survey, 76 percent of people said they missed the time eating and socializing with their fellow workers during Covid.

3 – Productivity increases

Whether it’s the food or the company, your employees should become more productive thanks to eating out. A Door Dash survey found that 75 percent of people said they were more productive thanks to food rewards from their employer.

4 – Promotes engagement

A GrubHub survey reported that 57 percent of employees felt more appreciated because their company offered a meal benefit for them. Workers who feel valued by their company are more likely to become engaged employees.

5 – Better nutrition

Meal benefits can also help employees get the nutrition they need. Employees who eat healthy will have fewer sick days, more energy and productivity, and better mental clarity on the job.

Ticket Restaurant has the solution for companies

Companies shouldn’t let high food prices rob their employees of socializing and relaxation time together. Meal benefit plans for employees are a great benefit to offer during this time of high inflation and some uneasiness with some employees leaving their companies.

Edenred’s Ticket Restaurant offers meal plans that give employees several different meal options while giving employers complete control over the program. 

Here’s how it works. Employees get a prepaid Mastercard that the company funds every month with a meal allowance. The card can be used during working hours to purchase meals for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Employees can use their cards at restaurants, grocery stores, or delivery services.

With Ticket Restaurant, your employees can go back to socializing over meals thanks to the stipend you provide instead of worrying about higher food costs. You can ensure your employees have the best experience and are truly satisfied. Your business can benefit from having loyal and productive engaged employees.

Ready to help your employees eat during this time of high inflation? Schedule a meeting today to learn more about Ticket Restaurant.

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