4 Reasons You Should Implement Company Lunches
“One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating.” – Luciano Pavarotti
While breakfast is commonly known as the most important meal of the day, lunch can be an influential part of the workday, especially where team building and morale is concerned. Here at Directive, we’ve long used our Crock-Pot Thursday lunches as a means of creating a more cohesive team.
Here are some benefits that - from our experience - you can expect to see by hosting company lunches.
What a Simple Lunch Can Do For Your Company Culture
There are a variety of effects that a team sharing a meal can have, all of which are beneficial to the dynamic of the group in some form.
Building Close Camaraderie
Sharing a meal has been shown to have strong impacts on a group of people’s sense of unity and togetherness. In a study, Eating Together at the Firehouse: How Workplace Commensality Relates to the Performance of Firefighters, published in Human Performance Vol. 28 Issue 4, researchers from Cornell University examined how team performance is impacted by the act of communal meals, observing this activity through field research of firehouses and interviewing the firefighters there. Some of their observations paint a significant picture of how important meals are in this particular industry. For instance:
- The dining room was commonly the primary gathering area - both before and after calls - as well as the primary recreation space for firefighters on duty.
- When asked why they cook and eat together, most firefighters answered with some variation of “we’re like a family,” rather than citing economic or time-saving reasons.
- One firefighter was eulogized by a coworker during the study, and the coworker emphatically referenced his effort while washing dishes.
- Some firefighters were observed to eat some meals twice - once at home with their families, and again while at the firehouse.
- Even those firefighters who did not partake in the shared meals still ate with their coworkers, and still contributed to tidying up afterwards.
While the nature of their work is conducive to forming close bonds between coworkers, these observations provide some evidence that sharing meals is a significant part of the culture in a firehouse. This is significant, because the nature of their work also requires firefighters to work as a fine-tuned machine, strategically and emotionally supporting one another as they fight fires. Other industries could be well-served by adopting some of these mealtime practices into their own traditions.
This camaraderie and casual conversation in the kitchen can also coax your team to be more collaborative, as well as productive - two goals that are certainly worth striving for.
Put yourself in the shoes of your employees for a moment - what about your company expresses how appreciated they are? Is there anything about working at your company that they may be apt to talk about (or even brag about)?
Providing meals can be a great (and effective) way to show your employees how valued they are, and can give them a reason to talk up their job on social media if they are so inclined. Furthermore, a reputation for providing lunches can help you attract more prospective employees, giving you a greater talent pool to select from. Whether it’s a regularly scheduled meal or a party to commemorate a special occasion, shared company meals can help motivate your employees by making them feel valued and appreciated - two very strong motivators, which also helps your retention rates.
Access to Leadership
How much facetime do you really get with your employees? It can be hard to do (at least responsibly) during the workday, when everyone has responsibilities that they need to attend to. Company lunches give you and your team members the opportunity to get to know one another on a more personal level, which allows you to interact on a professional level more effectively.
Opportunities for Publicity
Finally, you can also use these lunches to bring attention to your company as well, again showcasing some of your culture. Not only does this provide prospective employees with a peek behind the curtain into your internal culture, it can also boost a potential clients’ interest with working with your company.
We very much enjoy our weekly company lunches, and we also enjoy creating fun and creative videos to showcase them. Whether that means we’re sharing our true feelings for one of our collective favorite ingredients…
...or put together a tongue-in-cheek recreation of a classic ‘80s movie…
...or we’re highlighting an event that just so happens to revolve around food, we’ve had great success in embracing our culinary experiences to promote our company and the experience a client can expect to have while working with us.
(Speaking of working with us, you could help us create these videos and others! Check out our Video Editor/Filmmaker opening to see if you qualify.)
But What About Allergies?
Food allergies are extremely common, and can be extremely dangerous. As a result, you need to consider any allergies your team members have if you provide them with a meal - pad thai isn’t really something someone with a peanut allergy should be eating, after all.
If you do elect to incorporate company meals into your routine, you should certainly confirm any allergies with your employees - ideally, during the initial onboarding process with anyone new. This will allow you to keep track of foods that should be avoided, or at least labelled clearly. It is also important to remember that some allergens can be hidden in other, unexpected places. For instance, ice cream doesn’t typically contain gluten, but the additions made to certain flavors (like cookie dough or birthday cake) easily could.
You also need to be careful that any allergens don’t cross-contaminate any food that has been set aside for those in your team who don’t tolerate certain things (or who are under certain dietary restrictions). While it may make for a bit more work, your team members will appreciate your thoughtfulness.
At the end (or, I guess in the middle) of the day, lunch doesn’t necessarily have to be just another meal. It can be an opportunity to improve your company culture, forging a stronger and more effective team. For some delicious meal ideas, check out some of our Crock-Pot Thursday blogs -- and don’t forget to check out our IT services to see what we do when we aren’t enjoying these delicious meals!