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Should a Business Buy Lunch For Its Employees?

Are work meals better for company morale and overall satisfaction, or are they a waste of time and resources? There has been a surge in companies offering added benefits such as free snacks and lunches to entice new employees into the workplace.

The trend began with investment bankers in the 1980s and 1990s, where employees would be rewarded for staying past their regular 9-5 schedules. If you stayed longer you could enjoy a free delivery meal and a free ride home. The same idea is at work today with companies adding snacks, meals, and other extraneous perks. If you work in a modern office and one of the perks isn’t a fully stocked fridge full of La Croix, you might want to start looking elsewhere for employment.

So why is food such a great draw for prospective employees? Those not in favor of the employee perk movement think that it may just be a huge waste of money. Others in favor of the movement believe that it inspires workers to stay at work longer, perform better, and boost bonding efforts. It’s a low-cost method of keeping people happy and an employer can happily save on taxes by deducting the meals it provides for their respective employees. Let’s break these down individually to see why the act of buying lunch for employees would actually be a smart business move for many companies.

1. It entices people to stay at work longer
Providing food at the office keeps people working at their desks and away from walking out to take a coffee or lunch break. There is no need to leave the office if what you need is in the building you’re in. Since many employees are usually paid a salary and not an hourly stipend, there is no method of “clocking out” for lunch.

A company essentially pays its employees to take lunch when they are on salary, therefore there is actually a saving when the employee does not break for lunch. Leaving the office to grab coffee could turn out to be a long trek that wouldn’t necessarily benefit the company. Providing snacks and beverages allows people to work at their best while keeping them inside the office. Since the human body does require calories to function optimally, people need nourishment to work at their highest potential. It is almost expected that an employer would provide the food that their employees need for top performance. This is especially important in work environments that are extremely competitive. If the competition can beat you by seconds, then you need your workers (well-fed) on the job at every second.

2. It’s a popular perk among employees
When searching for a job most people are not considering the snack options at the company they’re applying to, although it is a bonus. However, if you ask the actual employees if they do value this service provided to them by their employers, they will rank it as one of their favorite benefits. It is a favorite workplace perk that tops their list alongside huge benefits like medical coverage. Depending on where your workplace is located, it is important to provide quality food and coffee to your staff. An employee might decide to forgo their mid-afternoon coffee since it’s too far away and then fall behind on their assignments as a result of the 3:00 slump. Instead, providing snacks and (good) coffee can keep employees happy, productive, and inside the confines of the office.

Another thing to consider is that many employees nowadays will review their company on sites like Glassdoor.com and mention these perks in their reviews. When prospective employees are weighing their options for a company, it is more likely that they will lean towards a company that has a high employee rating. A business whose employees appreciate working for them will reap these benefits, and from the next superior class of workers who are hired.

Business People Having Meal Together
Source: Stockphoto.com O#20443 – ID#100024462035

3. It doesn’t cost the employer much money
When the numbers are broken down, it has been revealed that providing food for your employees is actually a money-saving tool. There are other luxury perks that might not save companies money such as providing access to a professional masseuse during business hours and providing a deluxe gym with amazing amenities, however, Goldfish snack packs, fresh fruit, and granola bars can do just as good of a job. While luxury perks are great, there have been companies known to provide them and eventually have to take them away to reduce costs. With food, there are only benefits associated. It goes back to the previous discussion made on behalf of employees who are not paid hourly. In these cases, therefore, it is a more cost-effective business method to keep employees inside the workplace. If you can entice your staff into coming in early to eat breakfast and staying later to have dinner, you have essentially saved money on their time.

4. You get a tax break
Providing employees with meals/ snacks can be a tax benefit! For both parties, technically. The business gets to claim the food as an expense on their taxes and the employees get to enjoy food tax-free. The facts are that a business can claim a 100% tax deduction on meals provided if they follow two rules: the meals must be provided for on the business premises and it should be at the employer’s convenience. “Premise” means the meals should take place on your property and must be provided during “office hours.” Convenience is slightly more complicated but still very easy to adhere to. Employees must still be available for emergency calls. That is why you will always find a cafeteria in a hospital; doctors and nurses must be able to return to work at a moment’s notice.

Businesses that are busy during normal lunch hours can also benefit from the tax break. Banks and restaurants get much of their business while people are on break from their offices. You will often find that some restaurants provide a “family meal” for their employees and banks would need to provide substantial food on-premise since employees would be needed far more during the hours of 11 am-2 pm.

Providing meals, or even just snacks or coffee is a great way to encourage employees to work later and work during lunch hours. But it’s not just about making employees work more; it is also about making them feel more appreciated at their place of business. Small things like stocking their favorite diet soda can go a long way for company morale. Are you considering providing lunch, snacks, or other food items regularly for your employees?