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If Your Employees Are Not Taking Lunch You’re Losing Out

Lunch breaks play an important role in building a healthy, collaborative workplace
September 7th, 2017

Imagine this – You just sent out an email to your employees with new policies. Some of the policies include:

  1. Free lunch will be given to employees when they make time to join a cross-function team lunch.
  2. Employees will receive free snacks and coffee while they host a team brainstorming session.
  3. Employees will receive up to $100 in reimbursement for purchasing fruits, vegetables, nuts and other healthy snacks outlined in an updated employee handbook.

How cool would that be? Well, it’s not just a dream.

In fact, numerous organizations already have these kinds of workplace perks and policies. Some organizations even provide a fully stocked kitchen for employees to eat three meals a day.

One example of an organization that provides food perks is Zappos, the online shoe retailer. They offer employees free grilled cheese and fruit any time of day, as well as delicious meals under five dollars. Workers can also enjoy a trail mix bar, snack machines with healthy options, and a rooftop coffee shop. Providing these amenities on-site still allows employees to get the break they need, but it also saves them time since they’re not venturing out of the office.

Another example comes from Summit Consulting LLC. They spend about $650 per employee each year to have snacks delivered to the office every two weeks. Their staff provides feedback, so management can determine if the food selection is what their employees want. At one point, the employee surveys showed that the company needed to buy more fresh food and non-packed items. By providing healthy snacks for employees, Summit Consulting is helping employees make healthy eating easier.

These are some extraordinary examples of companies that go above and beyond to help employees manage their eating habits. However, we understand offering these kinds of perks is not an option for every business.

The costs can be high when providing meals and snacks for employees.

But, don’t worry, there are ways to promote healthy eating and snacks, while also creating a collaborative environment, that won’t break your bank.

 The 3 reasons your employees need to take lunch or have lunch options provided

1. Eating lunch enhances collaboration, creativity, and productivity 

More than 60% of working Americans eat lunch at their desks, and 55% eat lunch alone.And while we all want to utilize every minute of our day being productive, we need to accept two things:

  1. We are most productive throughout our days when we take short breaks
  2. Sharing your work and the projects you’re working on with others can stimulate new ideas, collaboration, and your next breakthrough

Whether it’s around a table in your break room or outside your office, everyone needs to take time to relax and focus on something other than work during their day. Why not do this over the lunch hour?

In reality, lunch is about the function it serves, not the meal itself. It brings teams together, gets people moving, and gives employees a chance to take a break from their screens and tasks.

Team lunches ensure each person is doing just that, taking a break from their work. The truth is it’s more than a break. Making time for lunch can boost productivity and creativity, and it enhances concentration.2-3  

Employees who embrace their lunch breaks are not just refueling. They’re truly making the workplace more collaborative, more productive, and more creative.

2. Positive workplace interactions take place over lunch

If you want to encourage both healthy eating and collaboration, then consider establishing soft policies (policies that may not be written down, but are highly encouraged) that entice employees and get them excited to have team lunches.

Team lunches are a great way to bring people together from different functions. They help build relationships between colleagues, foster positive interactions and build trust.

Those who say they have a space that helps them connect with coworkers are 1.5 times more likely to be engaged.4

Eating with team members is also great for new hires. It gives them an opportunity to introduce themselves and find out more about the people they are working with.

Devoting space, time, and resources to communal eating can even improve cooperation and help establish the ‘family bonding’ that typically happens over meals.

3. You can save money by providing on-site lunches, snacks, and healthy beverages

Organizations can save money by offering on-site meals and snack options. The cost of an average meal is less than what most salaried employees make per hour.

Think about it this way, employees who take an offsite lunch are likely going to take a full hour to eat and return to the office. Those who eat lunch on-site are likely to take a shorter lunch by 30 minutes.

One study found providing lunches for employees had an ROI of up to 150%.5  On-site lunch options, and even free lunch, makes more sense for employees who earn more. Time is money, and so is increased productivity, collaboration, and performance.

If these aren’t enough reasons to strongly encourage your employees to take lunch or for you to start providing some food options at your workplace then maybe these last few stats will change your mind.

54% of employees say they are more likely to stay with a company that provides lunch options

60% of employees say they would be happier if lunch was provided as a perk

70% of employees are more likely to recommend an organization when they’re offered some kind of food5

Remember, these days it’s about the overall employee experience that increases employee engagement. Food perks can be part of that experience!


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  1. Finke, B. (2016). Failure to lunch. New York Times. Retrieved from
  2. Oppezzo, M. and Schwartz, L. (2014). Give your ideas some legs: the positive effect of walking on creative thinking. American Psychological Association. Retrieved from
  3. Jabr, F. (2013). Why your brain needs more downtime. Scientific American. Retrieved from
  4. Harvard Business Review (2014). Workspaces that move people. Harvard Business School Publishing. Retrieved from
  5. My Eat Club. (2014). Food at work - why every company should provide lunch. Eat Club. Retrieved from
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