#HR Trends and Insights

Offer meal benefits to attract, retain, and engage with your employees

March 02, 2023

“Is there free food?”

We've all done it. It's a motivator for getting people to do something. As it turns out, 77% of people consider food an essential part of a social experience.

But what if we told you the same applies to the workplace?

Employers have been racking their brains trying to figure out how to make their happy and productive.

A free lunch can help with that and there's some good, hard data to back this up.

  • According to a study by Wakefield Research, nearly one in three office professionals say that would entice them to go to the office more often.
  • And 61% of employees say they'd consider switching to a company that offers free meals.

Why does this work? It's likely having a lot to do with convenience. People get busy and are reluctant to get up and take the time to make that sandwich or warm up that soup.

But give your employees a choice of three local eateries, an $18 stipend, and a way to get it delivered to their desk, they'll take you up on it.

  • In fact, 50% of employees surveyed said they'd take you up on a free meal over other benefits.

The benefits of offering a daily meal stipend goes way beyond that

Eating regular, healthy meals has been shown to have a significant impact on productivity and .

According to a study published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, workers who eat healthily throughout the day are 25% more likely to have higher job performance.

Another study from the American Journal of Health Promotion found that employees who ate healthy food regularly were more likely to report higher job satisfaction and a better overall mood.

The earlier referenced Wakefield Research study found that 97% of office professionals say taking a lunch break improves their workday.

Eating lunch gives employees more energy, puts them in a better mood, gives their brain a needed break, and helps them focus when they eventually went back to their desk.

If you're looking to fill up those seats, get your people back into a “collaboration” atmosphere, improve their productivity, and job satisfaction, a daily meal stipend is the way to go.

But what's a reasonable daily meal stipend? Most of the data for “fast food” is pointing to around $10 to $15 a day. But seeing as how fast food offers less nutrition and is known to be heavy, you may want to shoot a bit higher. Say, $18 to $20 a day.

If you're wondering what employees are looking for in a lunch stipend program, we've got you covered

  • Make it to order. You may want to add food orders to your employee portal. If they can order with a few clicks, they will be more likely to use the benefit.
  • Make it available all day. Don't limit it to 12 to 2pm. A lot of distracting stuff can happen during the day, make it easy for your employees to order when they have time for a break.
  • Give them choices, but don't go crazy. Some companies have a rotating roster of local eateries, but instead of offering all 20 choices every day, they only give you access to three choices a day. This is great because “decision fatigue” is a real challenge, especially if you're already hungry.

Starting your own program

Implementing a meal stipend program may seem kind of daunting, but it doesn't have to be. Edenred can help you customize, implement, and run a successful meal stipend program.

Offering a daily meal stipend will help your company stand out in a competitive job market. With the shift in employee expectations, and the desire to experience “quality of life”, it's important to have a perk that will attract the talent you're looking for.

And, as you've seen, with the high value that employees place on meal benefits, a daily meal stipend can make a big difference in that decision-making process. If you want them to show up, just answer the question: “Is there free food?”

We can help make this happen for you. Schedule a meeting with us today so we can discuss all your options with you.

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