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