The Hidden Morale Booster…Food in the Workplace

Want to boost employee morale?  Don’t overlook an easy and relatively inexpensive way to make an impression on your workforce.  Smart companies utilize “little things”, like providing food and refreshments to employees during working hours in a great environment like the company cafeteria.  This creates an ideal social platform on which to build a cohesive and “happy workplace”.  There are several good reasons I recommend doing this.

It allows employees to grab lunch at work without having to leave the building. This saves time, keeps people focused on the task at hand and causes the level of productivity to rise.

David Weekley homes equips their cafeteria with fresh fruit, healthy food and snacks so when employees need a break, they can simply walk downstairs and grab a bite to eat.  Their employees identified this practice as a great perk when they voted their company as one of the Houston “Top 150 Workplaces” list.  

Fresh food

Fresh foods and a great lunch space create a productive workspace and encourage employees to eat healthy.

It’s a great way for employees on breaks to mingle with coworkers to get to know each other better.

Southwest Airlines (consistently on Forbe’s Top Employers list) contracts a vendor to run their multi-station in-house cafeteria.  Prices for food are kept at a minimum.   It’s a nice way for new hires to mingle with coworkers, employees to schedule “working meetings” and for executives to interact with employees.  Snack rooms with vending machines equipped with tables and chairs afford similar opportunities.

It allows companies to “reward” hard workers during peak workload times.  

Briggs & Veselka leaders provide refreshments and food to their hard-working CPA’s during the crunch of tax season.  They set up buffets in their kitchen area and invite all employees to partake.  Often the leaders will actually serve the food.  This helps relieve stress and lets employees know the company is appreciative of the extra time they are spending at work.  You can find pictures of their “fun” meals on their Facebook page.

It’s a great way to say thank you, not only to employees, but customers as well.

Christian Brothers Automotive uses food and refreshments as a way to recognize company milestones.  They leverage the initiative to include customers and vendors.  A food event allows them to visit with their employees and customers in a more informal setting

Creative Use for Refreshments

As the former VP of HR of a small commuter airline, I challenged all departments to a contest.  Our training rooms needed decorating, but we had no budget for it.  So we had each department adopt a training room.  The “catch” was they had to raise their own money to buy the supplies.  For the next six weeks we had employees pushing carts of root beer floats, home made baked goods and breakfast tacos through the company selling tasty treats to coworkers.

Healthy options

Healthy options and a happy place to have lunch can motivate your employees during the day.

The employees benefitted from this fun “break” as the carts rolled into their departments, and the needed money was raised for the project. At the end of the six weeks we had spectacularly decorated training rooms and a much more cohesive workgroup.  (To offset the caloric intake, some groups also raised money by offering exercise classes during lunch and just after work.)

Don’t overlook the value of offering healthy snacks to your employees.

Healthier snacks lead to healthier employees, lower health costs, higher productivity and less absenteeism.

Food is not the only thing smart companies can do to build a culture of fun and appreciation, but it can be one of the most overlooked.   Starting with those “little things” is a good way to show your employees that you care.

Next post: “Lessons in Leadership”.  Until then, check out our website for more articles like Lorraine’s and information on how to purchase this book.
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