When considering ways to bring a team together, to bond over a common interest, I doubt that food would be your initial thought. Well, it most certainly should be. Countless studies have shown that staff dinners have a positive effect on teamwork and job satisfaction. Having a team lunch can be used as a great way to reward and recognise your employees. However, it is important to recognise that staff meals can be much more than a one-off treat.
At Ovation Incentives, we have over 20 years' worth of experience and expertise in employee rewards and recognition. During this time, we have been helping some of the world's largest companies improve their workplace culture and help them to get the best from their employees. Are you looking for an easy way to improve communication, engage your employees and boost their productivity? Read on and we’ll highlight the many benefits of staff meals and why you should make this a regular occurrence in your work calendar.
Benefits of Employees Eating Together
Eating together, it almost sounds too simple. However, creating a space where employees can come away from their desks and get to know their workmates in an informal setting is paramount to improving your teamwork culture. Shared lunch times can encourage social bonds in the workplace by simply getting to know each other better and feeling more comfortable around each other.
Great for Team Building
Stepping away from the desk with your fellow colleagues automatically changes the topic of conversation, allowing employees to get to know each other on a more personal level. Chatting about families, hobbies and personal interests and goals further strengthens these social connections. As a result, these social interactions bring the team closer together. Staff dinners can be great team building exercises, with the best part about them being you don’t even know you are doing it.
Using staff meals as a social event for your team can also provide transparency between employees and management. You may wish to use the social time to gain vital insight and feedback from your team or to communicate exciting changes and upcoming events in the work calendar. However, it is important to keep these employee meals relaxed and not focussed on work. With employee benefits taking centre stage in job satisfaction, you may wish to promote your weekly team lunches on social media. Sharing photos of your team lunch can give a boost to your company’s reputation to external audiences – allowing you to shout about your positive company culture.
Unites Staff from Different Departments
Getting people to sit around a table to enjoy delicious food can mean that employees from different departments are rubbing shoulders who in any other scenario, might not have done so. These staff dinners can act as great opportunities for internal networking, creating social bonds that stretch across different areas of the business. In the long-term, these strong working relationships improve communications and mutual support within your business.
Engages New Employees
Do you have new employees that have joined the business during the past 2 years? Owing to remote working, it is common for new starters who joined the business throughout the coronavirus pandemic to have not yet met their colleagues in person. Staff dinners can be an easy and more relaxed way to introduce new employees to the team, making them feel more at home by eating together and bonding with their new workmates. The idea of “putting a face to the name” can be very powerful and ensures that your new employees feel part of and welcomed into their new work “family”.
Boosts Motivation and Productivity
It is widely known that taking regular breaks from work improves your health, reduces stress, and boosts performance and creativity. Despite this, it has become increasingly common for many employees to opt for a lunch break sat at their desk whilst dipping into their inbox. Some even forget to take a break at all. As a result, anxiety and stress may start to increase, leading to employee burnout. According to a Gallup survey, 76% of employees experience burnout at least sometimes, with 28% experiencing it always or very often. Team lunches are a great way to combat this dangerous habit of working through lunch breaks.
Take some of the largest and most successful companies in the world such as Apple, Google, and Microsoft. Pre-pandemic, their canteens, often seating 3,000 + employees in one sitting, offered daily free meals to their employees. Why do you think this was the case? When of course these companies had the technology to implement remote working well before it became so commonplace for everyone in 2020. Having this time away from their desks, to socialise and connect with colleagues boosts motivation and productivity in the long-term.
Staff Dinners Demonstrate Appreciation
As the last two years have been tough on many employees and businesses, it has never been more important to show your appreciation to your staff and recognise their hard work and resilience. Employee dinners can be an excellent way to show how much your employees are appreciated. Free food is such a simple and thoughtful way to say thank you and will result in an instant mood boost.
It is important to remember that employees may have specific dietary requirements and preferences when providing staff with food. You may wish to consider vegetarian, vegan and even cultural and religious appropriate options when planning or outsourcing your staff lunch. Remember that one of the key goals of your staff meal is to ensure that the whole team feels included and recognised as an individual, and yes, this can start with a vegan falafel wrap!
Boost your office culture
As most employees have embraced working from home since the start of the pandemic, it has been tricky for many businesses to coax their employees back into the office. To do this effectively, all staff returning to the office should be actively encouraged and supported. Hosting weekly staff lunches can be the key to reinvigorating your office culture and getting attendance back to a good level. By communicating to your employees that a free staff meal will be offered on specific days, your desk space is sure to fill up. After all, who doesn’t love a free meal!
If you are worried about catering for large groups of employees in one place – don’t be! You can be as flexible as you want to be with staff lunches. With hybrid working being classed as the future of work and with many employees still working from home – gifting meal vouchers to your employees is a great way to include them and ensures they also feel appreciated. Ovation Incentives offer digital gift cards for many popular food delivery companies such as Just Eat, Deliveroo and UberEats. These digital gift cards are easy to budget for and are a quick and simple gift for your WFH staff.
Dinner with the Boss
Within many organisations there is often a strong corporate hierarchy, where leadership teams and the boss can seem disconnected from their employees. A dinner with the boss can be used as a special reward for employees, for an individual member of staff or a small team. Socialising with the boss outside of a corporate setting can help to break down barriers often found in the office, allowing employees to get to know their boss on a more personal level and as a result, builds trust throughout all levels of the company.
The Next Steps
In this guide, we have outlined the wide range of benefits associated with employees eating together and how you can make this work for your business. To find out how we can help you incorporate staff dinners and other positive changes into your business, please contact us or book a demo for our range of employee rewards and engagement solutions.