Double the ‘F’ Words: Free Food Ranked as the Top 3 Office Perks

Gym memberships, ping pong tables, office puppies, laundry services, unlimited vacation days, free beer, catered lunches – and trust me I did not make this one up – the opportunity for female employees to freeze their eggs. As the idea of office perks becomes more acknowledged in the corporate world, many large tech companies like Apple and Facebook are getting creative with their fancy benefits as well. Millennials especially are attracted to these “gimmicks” when applying to jobs. As data shows, over 70% of workers agreed that fringe benefits would be a key consideration in evaluating future jobs.

Don’t Forget the Fundamentals

Subjects on work perks aren’t always discussed in a good light, however. Some believe that businesses use them as traps only to lure candidates in, or to cover up their lack of company culture. The basic promises of a positive environment, work-life balance, and a trusting leader are still fundamental to every employee. In other words, having free food in the office won’t matter much if they’re working twelve hours a day.

The Power of ‘Happy Meals’

While office perks in general are optional, and people nowadays are putting more emphasis on intrinsic rewards and less on physical benefits, “free food” in particular is surprisingly high on the scale for improving employee experience, according to the following statistics:

  • 90% of employers said office meals and snacks helped employees build stronger relationships. (ZeroCater, 2018)
  • 60% of employees ranked office food as the top 3 office perks. (ZeroCater, 2018)
  • 79% of employees viewed free meals as a way for new staff to meet their colleagues. (ZeroCater, 2018)
  • 67% of employees who work in offices that provide free food said they were very happy at work. (USA Today, 2015)
  • 48% of millennials said they could be lured to a new job that offered better perks, including free snacks. (CactusSoft, 2017)

The key to employee happiness might just be that simple. You’ve probably seen people turn down offers to a gym membership or a game session. But the likelihood of someone saying no to free food is comparatively low. On that note, bringing your staff cookies as an act of appreciation might be a good start to keep them engaged.

Leverage the Values of Free Food

Any successful business investment relies on a good strategy – food freebies is no exception. In addition to helping companies improve job satisfaction and create a sense of “fun” in their culture, free food is an inexpensive and brilliant way to build brand personality and diversity within a workplace. Here’s how.

  • Brand personality: Align your food options with your company’s vision or mission. Wellness industries, for example, can offer their employees plant-based meals or healthier snacks to reflect and emphasize the organization’s core beliefs.
  • Diversity: Celebrate your employees’ cultural backgrounds by encouraging the team to try different cuisines and food. Use it to create conversation and build relationships between members.

As they say, it’s the little things that make a big difference. Now excuse me while I go grab my free burrito from the office pantry. Maybe after all, there is such a thing as a free lunch in this world.