In the era of hybrid work models, the significance of communal meals with colleagues has become more pronounced than ever. The longing for human connection makes eating alone in front of a laptop increasingly unpalatable. The impact of nutritious food on overall well-being is evident, as it fosters human interaction, nourishes the soul, enhances physical health, provides energy, and uplifts mood. Essentially, food acts as the fuel that enables us to thrive.
Sodexo UK and Ireland conducted a survey involving 3,000 working adults in the UK, revealing a direct correlation between food and employee satisfaction, health, and productivity. These findings offer valuable insights into how businesses in the modern world can cultivate a successful workforce. The key takeaways are outlined below.
The post-pandemic work environment has undergone significant changes, with many employees now spending only 2-3 days a week on-site.
However, the office atmosphere often lacks energy, leading to diminished motivation levels. Simultaneously, the cost of living crisis has driven up food expenses at home, impacting access to nutritious meals and consequently affecting employee well-being.
To thrive in this new working world, businesses must delve into the core drivers of employee engagement and productivity. Understanding what brings satisfaction and happiness to the workforce is crucial.
Food as a Performance Enhancer
Drawing from experiences in the hospitality industry, it is clear that workplaces revolve around people. Providing resources and spaces for employees to thrive not only boosts satisfaction rates but also plays a pivotal role in recruitment, retention, and performance. Quality catering services contribute significantly to a positive work environment, fostering engagement, idea-sharing, and boosted morale.
Maxwell Mckenzie, Director of Food and Operations at The Good Eating Company, emphasises the importance of offering access to high-quality, freshly prepared, balanced, and well-sourced meals to improve satisfaction levels and performance.
Elevating Employee Health Through Eating Expz
Mental and physical health issues are on the rise in the workforce. Sodexo’s research indicates that only a small minority reported ‘very good’ mental and physical health, while 1 in 5 rated it as ‘poor.’ The survey also highlights that 97% of employees believe taking a lunch break improves their workday, and 64% claim that a meal at work provides the energy to continue their day.
Prioritising access to nourishing food not only positively impacts physical health and energy levels but also reduces sick leave. Employers have a responsibility to cultivate a culture of good nutrition to help employees reach their full potential.
The Link Between Food and Employee Satisfaction
There is a clear relationship between satisfaction with food at work and mental and physical well-being. Dissatisfaction levels, as revealed in the survey, are alarming, with 28% feeling disengaged and wanting to quit, and 43% quietly dissatisfied. Serious mental and physical health concerns were noted among Gen Z respondents.
Employers must take action to address these dissatisfaction levels, considering not only wellness perks but also broader issues such as pay, financial resilience, and overall employee experience. Investing in good food for employees can significantly enhance overall workplace satisfaction, creating a positive and enjoyable environment.
Connecting Through Communal Meals
The survey found that 58% of respondents work in a hybrid pattern, and remote working is favoured for its time and cost-saving benefits.
However, more than two days of remote work seem to negatively impact employee engagement. Incentives to return to the office include socialising with colleagues, free or subsidised food, a comfortable working environment, and subsidised commutes.
The importance of food in motivating employees to work on-site should not be underestimated. A tempting food offering can entice employees back to the office, contributing to a happier and healthier work environment.
Food as the Way Forward
The survey underscores the powerful influence of food on the workforce. Nourishing employees with quality food experiences in inviting, social spaces contributes to their overall well-being and likelihood of thriving. As businesses seek ways to improve satisfaction, well-being, retention, and performance, it is time to recognise food as an essential ingredient in the recipe for success.