#HR Trends and Insights

Meal Benefits, a Win for Employees and Employers Alike

February 13, 2024

The benefits of providing a meal program are ongoing, cumulative, and compounding.

Good nutrition positively impacts employee health, drives productivity in the workplace, and shows you care for the overall health and well-being of your workforce, boosting morale.

Implementing a workplace meal program like Edenred’s Ticket Restaurant doesn’t have to be difficult or time-consuming, and it can be tailored to the specific needs of your business and your team, with positive results rippling throughout an entire organization.

How Do Workplace Meal Programs Impact Employee Health?

Healthy employees are happy employees. When companies create a food program for their workforce, they’re giving them access to a nutritious, viable option for the mid-day meal. This can have a significant impact on wellness, extending across the board into mind, body, soul, and the business itself.

1. They Benefit the Body

When a body doesn’t get the nutrients it needs, it starts to shut down, go slower, and be less efficient, resulting in lost productivity.

Not to mention, some people do get hangry.

a. Boosts Mood and Reduces Stress

According to the Harvard School of Public Health, “a balanced diet can support a healthy immune system and the repair of damaged cells. It provides the extra energy needed to cope with stressful events.”

Continuously turning to fast food at lunchtime has known health risks, and those risks affect both physical health and mental health.

Providing your team with an easily accessible, nutritious option shows you value your employees’ health on all levels, making stress management easier.

b. Eating Healthy Snacks Boosts Productivity

How does eating healthy improve productivity? Nutrients in healthy foods are known toimprove brain function.

Eating a nutrient-rich lunch or snack enhances cognitive function and improves focus.This makes it easier to surmount the challenges faced at work, allowing employees to work smarter and faster.

c. Eating Nutritious Foods Is Better for Overall Health

Does your company provide health education? Part of that process can be helping your workforce eat more nutritiously.

Healthcare costs decrease when your team eats better, and access to better lunches boosts overall mental and physical well-being.

d. Increased Energy Levels

Various types of food get converted into energy for the body at different rates:

  • Simple sugars provide a quick lift, followed by a heavy crash, leaving energy levels low.
  • Foods that contain healthy unsaturated fats and whole grains supply sustained levels of energy that can be drawn on throughout the day.

Harvard Health Publishing advises to “eat a balanced diet that includes a variety of unrefined carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, with an emphasis on vegetables, whole grains, and healthy oils. In addition, eating certain types of foods in particular amounts can help prevent fatigue.”

It doesn’t take much to feed the brain.

Something as simple as a piece of fruit or some nuts can suffice for a positive recharge, so keep them on offer in the workplace.

2. Meal Programs Benefit the Business

The total cost of installing a lunch program pales in comparison to the overarching benefits on a company’s bottom line and the well-being of its workforce.

a. Enhanced Team Building

Connecting with coworkers over a mealbonds your team. It gives them time to connect on a human level, to interact socially, and to get to know one another.

Lunch gives them the ideal opportunity to discuss interests beyond the office walls, even if it’s still in the cafeteria.

Businesses that provide a subsidized or free lunch can help the employees in their organization bond during the mid-day meal.

You can create a community; these moments away from the desk eating together are a game changer.

b. Boosts Employee Morale

Well-being at work is significant to both employers and employees alike and providing lunch and snacks can do amazing things for the level of employee morale.

Something as simple as a free lunch helps develop a sense of community at the office, shows you care for their overall wellness, and leaves them feeling valued.

That feeling can pervade into their mental health, and how a worker discerns their value as part of the whole organization.

c. Improved Retention Rates

High turnover costs a business money. Several studies have shown employees are far more likely to consider a new employer if free meals are offered.

As for those already in your organization, the knowledge that a healthy lunch is provided can serve to create a feeling of care for their well-being.

d. Decreases Medical Costs

The direct costs of implementing a program pale in comparison to the countless benefits your organization will reap.

Harvard research found for every $1.00 spent on helping workers remain productive and healthy, medical costs declined by more than $3.00, and bolstering a healthier lifestyle in the workforce provided a 300% return on investment.

3. They Benefit the Mind

If you choose to provide employees with lunch, it can have repercussions on the mental state of your entire workforce, from general mood to the ability to remember.

a. Improved Cognitive Function

If businesses take on the responsibility of providing nutritious lunch options for their workforce, that more salubrious type of diet can raise the levels of BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor), “a key molecule involved in plastic changes related to memory and learning.”

This heightened level of BDNF improves neurogenesis in the hippocampus whichincreases a person’s ability to learn and remember, improves mood and attention span, and has a positive effect on a person’s mental health.

b. Fosters a Positive Work Culture

Ensuring your employees feel valued is one of the best ways to foster a positive work culture.

They need to feel they matter, their voices matter, and their health and well-being matter. One way to improve employee health is to make sure they have access to a nutritious lunch.

The convenience of a program keeps them focused and productive, and the act of eating together cements them as a team, building bonds not easily broken.

4. Meal Programs Benefit the Soul

In a world where workers are constantly tethered to cell phones, debt has become a form of slavery, and antidepressants are so commonly used to meet unending pressures of production, it’s more important than ever to provide additional resources and other facilities to improve employee health.

By providing health benefits that support the mental health and well-being as well as the physical health of the individual employee, nurturing the soul of your workforce is as easy as adding in a meal plan.

a. Increased Job Satisfaction

A Gallup State of the Global Workplace poll showed 60%of people have reported feeling emotionally detached at work while 19%say they are abjectly miserable.

Mental well-being in the workplace is something companies can improve by offering things as simple as a free meal.

Gallup reported organizations with engaged workers have a 23% higher profitcompared to organizations with unhappy employees.

The money lost due to actively disengaged employees comes to upwards of $7.8 trillion annually in lost productivity.

Employee surveys of job satisfaction on job performance showed workers who are satisfied with their jobs are far more engaged and motivated. Happy employees are also far more likely to stay with your company.

b. Builds Employee Relationships

What to eat is the ultimate neutral conversational item. Everyone eats. Everyone has an opinion. Nobody is excluded from joining in the discussion.

Chatting about what they want to eat or are eating allows your team adequate space and time to focus on something that isn’t work, providing a daily bonding moment.

How Easy Is It to Implement a Meal Program?

To make it easy to reap the benefits of including a meal program as part of an employee’s benefits package, Edenredhas launched Ticket Restaurant, the most popular meal perk in more than 35 countries.

Funded monthly in the amount of your choice, this benefit offers employees the convenience of aPrepaid Card to use for their meal allowance.

Promoting employees’ health through better nutrition, this benefit can be used to pay for meals during working hours at local eateries, restaurants, grocery stores, and through meal-delivery apps.

Ticket Restaurant has features that serve both employees and the companies they work for:

  • Easy online administration with a customized, secure platform automatically displays balances.
  • Targeted spending ensures employees are using the card to pay for meals.

Edenred is Here to Help

There are numerous reasons for companies to offer a meal allowance, and benefits for the employees as well as the organization.

It can reduce employee turnover, be a great motivator for your team to return to the office, increase productivity, and support mental and physical wellness.

A meal allowance is a cost-effective way to save a company money, increase employee productivity, and reduce burnout.

Ready to see what a meal program for your organization entails?

Book a meeting with Edenred to learn more!

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