Thinking about providing free food at work? That’s a great idea. Food-based benefits are increasingly common in corporate America. While some companies choose to stock their office pantries with snacks, others go straight to offering free lunch for employees.

Here are six reasons why it’s a great idea to treat your team to a free lunch.

1. Boost employee morale

Low morale costs businesses in the U.S. a staggering $350 billion each year. Low productivity can leave organizations looking for ways to improve their team’s spirit. But some businesses are using free food at work to turn that around. A Seamless survey found that 60% of employees surveyed equated company-provided food with feeling more valued and appreciated. A free lunch for employees once or twice a week can go a long way towards improving the morale of employees.

Look at the definition of morale — Morale is the general mood of a person and whether they are confident, motivated and willing to perform tasks.— and it’s easy to see how food could play a crucial role. Gathering your office or team together once or twice a week for a meal could allow you to slowly build a rapport with employees you might not even have had the chance to meet.

2. Increase employee retention

A recent survey found that 74% of disengaged workers were looking for new employment opportunities. It’s burdensome to recruit and onboard new employees, so finding ways to improve employee retention is important.

Adding free lunch for employees to your weekly roster of office activities can help boost engagement. Employees feel more appreciated, they have more opportunities to connect with coworkers, and ideally, they become more satisfied with their jobs. Something as simple as lunch offered on Mondays to kickstart the week could make a difference in employee retention.

3. Ease the back-to-office transition

It’s been more than two years since the COVID-19 pandemic caused shutdowns across the United States. Millions of office workers were instantly thrust into work-from-home models, and nearly 60% of those who work in jobs that can be mainly done from home are still doing their jobs remotely.

Those who are being asked to transition back to their desks might have trouble making the change. Employers are asking those employees to sacrifice some of the flexibility and autonomy they’ve grown to know and love. Free lunch for employees can be an effective form of compensation — yes, you have to commute, but at least you won’t have to worry about lunch. It’s a perk that also gives employees time to reconnect with fellow co-workers and meet new hires while enjoying a nice meal from a local restaurant.

Free lunches are just one of the ways organizations are welcoming employees back to the office. Consider adding some decorations to the lunchroom, including an additional gift alongside lunch, or using the group mealtime to encourage feedback about the transition itself.

4. Attract top talent

Many companies are struggling to find qualified candidates, leaving job openings vacant. Part of the problem lies in how companies are differentiating themselves from the competition and ensuring not just their job listings, but their overall company culture and benefits are as attractive as possible.

In a survey from December 2020, a staggering 48% of employees indicated that free food as a perk would be a deciding factor in choosing a new job. This indicates free food may become more of a rule than an exception. Companies that choose to offer free lunch at work may find they’re more attractive to job hunters, while those who decide against it could very well lose applicants to the competition.

5. Reinforce your company culture

Company culture is a blanket term that encompasses the company’s missions, objectives, expectations, and core values, including things like policies on vacation, employee benefits, and how employees are rewarded for a job well done.

Making free food at work part of your company culture is a very visible and memorable way to reinforce core values. It shows you care about the well-being and satisfaction of your employees. By supplying free food, you’re proving you want your team to be nourished. You’re not leaving them to their own devices, you’re giving them high-quality food brought in on your own dime, likely from a local place you appreciate yourself.

6. Enable employee bonding

Lunchtime isn’t just about sustenance. Plan things right and the free food you give your team can also be an opportunity for everything from bonding to education. Here are a few examples:

  • Committing to a full day of team-building exercises isn’t always attainable, but combining a free lunch with 60 minutes of team bonding is much more achievable. This could be as simple as breaking off into small teams to complete a puzzle or brain teaser, or you could run a quick trivia game with questions about the company or a new product.
  • Turn free lunches into a company celebration. You might honor all the employees who have birthdays that month during this free lunch time period, for example. Feel free to give a special lunchtime nod to an employee who might be celebrating an anniversary or use a moment to introduce new employees while everyone is gathered around.
  • Use free lunches as one of the peripheral perks when building a corporate mentorship program. Mentors and mentees can meet over lunch and discuss everything from networking tips to suggestions for conflict resolution.
  • Giving your team lunch may not seem like a big deal, but sometimes small gestures have the biggest impact. A free lunch is a simple  way to show employees your gratitude as it lets them know that you appreciate their hard work.

Ready to see how free food at work can help your company thrive? Grubhub can help. Use your Grubhub Corporate Account to treat employees to a free lunch. Contact us for more information.