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On Jun 24 2019 / by Wyoming Paul

Why team lunches are amazing for your business

In the workplace, lunch can solve so much more than hunger pangs. Sitting down to eat as a team can lead to improved staff satisfaction, collaboration, retention, and trust - benefits that many companies spend a huge amount of time and resource trying to boost. But why put your efforts into a team bonding retreat or a forced dance class when you can bond over something that we do everyday? Plus, if you have a couple of underused parking bays, you could share them on Parkable and easily cover the lunch costs.

Staff Satisfaction

Having food available at work gives a big boost to staff happiness.

  • While 56% of people are happy with their job, the number of people in the happy bracket increases 11% when employers provide free food.
  • Plus, 60% of employees say having snacks at work would make them feel more “valued and appreciated”, with 40% saying this would also reduce stress.

And as we’ve written about previously, having satisfied staff is not only a great result in itself - it also improves work ethic, productivity, customer service, company revenue, and retention.

Team Building

Eating together is a great way to strengthen social bonds, build trust, and improve collaboration.

“Eating together is a more intimate act than looking over an Excel spreadsheet together. That intimacy spills back over into work."
- Kevin Kniffin, Economics Professor, Cornell University

Shared lunches allow people who don’t usually work together to mingle, form friendships, and brainstorm. They can also make the leaders in your business more accessible, and ease the normal barriers of company hierarchy. Plus, it’s a great, social way to integrate new staff into the business.

Retention and Attracting Talent

One of the reasons that people stay in their job is that they love the people they work with. If you foster friendships and networking, you’re likely to increase your staff retention, too. Plus, 45% of people say their decision to accept a job offer would be strongly influenced by free office lunches.

By posting about team lunches on your company’s social media, you’ll also show prospective employees that your business is a great place to work, add to your brand, and impress prospective and existing customers.

How to start dream team lunches

So that covers ‘why’, and now we get into ‘how’. To start your team’s perfect shared lunch, you’ll need to consider what suits your business, including how much you want to spend. Regardless of your budget, there are a few things that you’ll want to do:

  • Schedule your lunches on the same day and time each week, so people will remember and have the comfort of consistency.
  • Find out what eating preferences and allergies people have - you don’t want to serve satay chicken to a room full of vegetarians with peanut allergies.

Keep in mind that finding the dream team lunch can take a bit of trial and error. We can speak from experience here - when Parkable began twice-weekly shared lunches, we had some tiny teething problems. The system involved a cash collection jar, a handwritten list to make sure everyone was contributing, a bucket of shopping receipts, and not enough crock pots for 25 people (amusingly low-tech issues for a tech startup). One year on, and we’ve got a much smoother system running.

Shared lunch at Parkable HQ

Here’s what we did (the minimal budget option) and some other options for bigger budgets:

The minimal budget team lunch

Many smaller businesses and startups won’t have the budget floating around for a free team lunch every week, so the best option is to get everyone involved in providing food. At Parkable, we coaxed our office into biweekly shared lunches through this tantalising statement: you can have free lunches twice a week, all year round. The hitch: once every two months, you and a partner will have to provide lunch for the whole office.

Yes, it’s time and effort for the pair cooking, but with two months between each cooking round, you get plenty of sit-back-and-eat time. Our lunches also let us express our environmental values: the meals are often vegetarian (and always have a veggie option), and one of our motivations was to reduce the kind of plastic waste that’s often hard to avoid with individually-bought meals.

Of course, there are plenty of other ways to do this, including potluck lunches, or simply asking everyone to bring or buy their own food and then eat it together.

Bigger-budgeted team lunches

If you want to foot the lunch bill and offer free meals for your staff, this is where Parkable can help. Even if your business only has one or two underused parking bays, by signing them up on Parkable you could earn enough to pay for a monthly staff lunch - and if you have a few more bays available, you could easily cover a weekly meal for everyone. You can find out more about hosting with Parkable here.

Whether your office is close to a restaurant where you want to make a weekly booking, or you prefer meals being brought to you, both New Zealand and Australia have no shortage when it comes to great options.

In New Zealand:

  • Eat My Lunch has boomed, offering lunch delivery to offices - and with every meal purchased, lunch is given to a child who would otherwise go without. You can set up a lunch subscription with them, so each week lunch is delivered to as many people as you want, as many days a week as you choose.
  • Another option is Produce Pronto, which also delivers fruit boxes and milk to offices.

In Australia:

  • In Brisbane, you can check out this Urban List collection of the best healthy lunch delivery options.
  • For Sydney and Melbourne, Two Good Co. is a lunch delivery service that serves meals in a reusable glass jar, and gives an identical meal to a women’s refuge whenever a lunch is purchased.
  • Goldilocks Lunchbox also produces gorgeous lunch boxes and other treats, with delivery in Melbourne.

For us, shared lunches have been a huge success. There’s no ongoing cost for the business, but even if there was, it would be worth it to eat delicious, healthy food together as a team, form awesome friendships, and make everyone’s day that much better.

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