Lunchtime habits are often cultural. While Americans are proud of their work ethic and tend to stereotype European workers for their long dining habits, this culture shock goes both ways. For example, German office workers are aghast at how few Americans can have a sit-down cafeteria meal at exactly noon like they enjoy in Germany.
America’s crazy executive lunches of the ’50s and ’60s have largely been traded out for solitary dining experiences that often have employees dining with one hand and operating their mouse with the other. As to why this is “normal,” only 20% of employers provide cafeterias for their employees and only 15% provide subsidized meals for their employees. This sad situation of work always being the top priority has been most sharply typified by the “Sad Desk Lunch” meme.
The good news is that this trend is changing. Re-adding cafeterias and improving break rooms has been a continuing effort of modern office designers for years. These new approaches result in offices with large open spaces, communal work areas and eye-catching visuals. All these features improve employees’ moods and brighten the company’s look. Provided below are four examples of ways to make employees enjoy their lunchtime while upping productivity.
Keep Employees “On Campus” So They Do Not Move Further Away from The Office
Most of America’s major tech companies are now putting a decent amount of time into their campuses so that they can provide employees with a cafeteria, break rooms and a gym. All of these features are designed to keep employees in a good mood without requiring those workers to leave the office. Keeping employees on site reduces the sort of travel times that see other places offering a 90-120 minute lunch “hour.” The IRS’s Section 119 mentions that the benefits of an employee cafeteria can also be granted tax exemption. If the cafeteria breaks even, employee meals are exempted from employees’ taxable income. Companies worried about security can also breathe easier if their workers eat on site, rather than at some eatery open to the general public.
“Sitting is the New Smoking.” Keep Employees Active
Companies are much more concerned with healthcare and losing productivity due to an illness or injury. New evidence is pointing out the health risks of staying seated for long periods of time. Employees should be regularly encouraged to walk about and get their heart rate levated, whether by taking a trip to the cafeteria or to an office lounge. An office cafeteria can further positively influence employee health by offering lean and healthy fare. Indeed, one study points out that bad cafeteria options can undermine the very wellness programs a company may try to institute to keep its workforce active.
Cafeterias and Break Rooms Allow For Employee Socialization
Considering how much the average worker deals with technology, both at work and at home, employees need a way to deal with people. Whenever people engage in some moment of collaboration or brilliance, every person involved leaves the encounter recharged with energy. A cafeteria or lounge for employee interaction is just the venue for increasing the frequency of these collaborative moments.
High Profile Amenities Retain Current Employees While Attracting New Ones
As more company features shift to the digital, companies are competing for the best and most knowledgeable workers. This increased focus on technology is also notable as most of the tech-illiterate Baby Boomers have gone into retirement, leaving many corporate boardrooms staffed with Millennials and Generation Y, two demographics with their own ideas of what a good workplace should resemble, where and how work needs to be tackled and even what people should be eating. Any executive or office manager whom is unwilling to entertain the needs of the new blood does so at their company’s detriment. Millennials and Generation Y are not only the majority workforce demographics but also equipped with skills necessary for success.