By Alex Kristall

In a world marked by rapid technological advancements, shifting demographics, and unforeseen global events, businesses must stay ahead of the curve to ensure a resilient and adaptive work environment. 

Food matters to employees, and it is underrated by employers to improve satisfaction levels and performance. In today’s world of hybrid working, gathering with work colleagues over a meal is more important than ever. We crave human connection. Eating alone in front of the laptop simply doesn’t cut the mustard.

It’s no secret that nutritious food makes us feel good. In every possible way. It encourages human engagement, nurtures the soul, improves physical health, gives us energy, and enhances our mood. In short, food is the fuel that helps us to thrive.

So, what is the link between food and a successful workforce? Through Sodexo UK and Ireland’s recent survey, we uncover what fuels a workforce for success.

Food fuels performance

A career in hospitality has taught me that workplaces are about people. Giving people the resources and space they need to thrive not only improves satisfaction rates, but it also plays a key role in recruitment, retention and performance.

Alongside pay and perks, workplace satisfaction and wellbeing play a big part in performance, and companies need to carefully consider what makes their employees tick. It’s here that the impact of quality catering services is huge; an enriching food experience not only fuels productivity, it creates a welcoming work environment for employees to engage with one another, share ideas and boost morale. It’s a hearty serving of happiness on a plate.

Eating experiences elevate employee health

Mental and physical health issues are on the rise in the workforce. When it comes to the importance of food in workforce health, 97% of employees surveyed said that taking a lunch break improves their workday, while 64% said that a meal at work gives them the energy to continue their day.

It’s clear to see that good nutrition is a cornerstone of employee health and its positive impact extends far beyond the workplace. When access to nourishing food is prioritised, employees experience improved physical health, increased energy levels and reduced sick leave. Employers have a responsibility to help employees reach their potential and they need to lead the way in creating a culture of good nutrition.

Good food increases employee satisfaction

Among the respondents to Sodexo’s survey, 28% reported feeling disengaged with their work and wanting to quit, while 43% can be seen as ‘quietly dissatisfied.’

These levels of dissatisfaction are alarming, and action needs to be taken by employers if they want to retain their staff. Wellness perks alone are no longer enough; the wider issues of pay, financial resilience and employee experience also need careful consideration.

Sitting around a table together over a great meal will improve morale and job satisfaction, and consequently lead to higher retention rates and enhanced productivity.

Getting people back to the office and connecting

The survey found that 58% of respondents work in a hybrid pattern. Employees like remote working because it saves them time and money, enables better work-life balance, and gives them space to focus.

Yet, data suggests that more than two days of remote working is taking its toll on employee engagement. So how do we incentivise them into the office? Socialising with colleagues, free or subsidised food, a comfortable working environment and a subsidised commute were rated as the top four motivations.

With a tempting food offering on tap, employees will be more inclined to venture into work and will head home happier and healthier once their days is done.

Food is the way forward

The powerful influence of food on the workforce is clear to see. If we nourish employees with good food experiences that are seasonable, sustainable, and served in inviting, social spaces, they’re much more likely to thrive.

As we look ahead for ways to improve satisfaction, wellbeing, retention, and performance in the workplace, it’s time to shift our focus to food as an essential ingredient in the recipe for success.

About the author

Alex Kristall is the Managing Director of The Good Eating Company. Alex’s career in the food service industry spans over 20 years covering sales, retail, corporate contracts, events and heritage locations. People and the planet are at the heart of Alex’s leadership, mirroring the values of The Good Eating Company. Alex joined Sodexo (GEC parent company) in March 2022 as managing director for Corporate Services and during her role, successfully developed Sodexo’s presence in London and the South-East, retaining and winning clients. Alex’s passion for the industry, combined with her excellent leadership skills, sees The Good Eating Company enter a new and exciting chapter with much opportunity. 

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