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Eurest’s Parklands HQ in Birmingham

Subsidised or free food and beverage in the workplace key to tempting employees back

Subsidised food and beverage could be key to bringing employees back to the workplace, especially during the cost-of-living crisis, according to the results of a new survey.

Commissioned by Eurest, the workplace division of foodservice provider Compass Group UK and Ireland, the quantitative study of more than 1,000 business and industry workers saw free food or drink vending come top of a list of what would tempt employees back to work, with 77 per cent. Free coffee, tea, drinks and snacks was next on 76 per cent and an onsite restaurant provided for free made the top five on 71 per cent.

Eurest has introduced a fully subsidised food and beverages offer to its UK headquarters in Parklands, Brimingham as part of a full refurbishment of the site. Since then, the proportion of its employees using the site restaurant has increased from 69 per cent to 95 per cent.

Morag Freathy, Managing Director (B&I) of Compass Group UK & Ireland, said: “These results underline the value of a workplace restaurant, especially as businesses across the UK search for ways to encourage employees back to the office.

“But they are also hugely relevant for industry, where factories and warehouses have never closed and workers have been unable to work from home.

“The prospect of subsidised or free food in the workplace restaurant is a significant attraction for employees in both sectors. And that’s not surprising when you consider that rising energy costs and rising inflation are squeezing home budgets in what are difficult times for so many.

“We are already seeing some businesses introduce this kind of offer. In fact, we have done so ourselves at our Parklands head office, where dishes made on site are offered free.

“Not all employers are able to follow suit, but they should be encouraged that subsidised meals or higher quality menu options are also attractive to employees.

“Other lower cost benefits, such as free tea, coffee and snacks, or free vending machines, can also tempt employees back to the workplace.

“Furthermore, if businesses can turn their restaurants into spaces where people can bond, innovate and collaborate as well as eat and drink, there are positive outcomes for everyone.”

The Top 10 things that would encourage people to visit their workplace more often

  • Free food or drink vending – 77 per cent
  • Free coffee, tea, drinks, snacks – 76 per cent
  • Free parking – 75 per cent
  • Subsidised travel – 73 per cent
  • An onsite restaurant provided for free – 71 per cent
  • A kitchen or kitchenette – 69 per cent
  • Food and wellbeing events – 58 per cent
  • Fitness centre or gym – 55 per cent
  • An onside restaurant, premium café, or canteen you must pay for – 52 per cent
  • Onsite childcare – 48 per cent

Other stand-out results from the survey included:

  • Fifty-two per cent of those whose employer did not offer a workplace restaurant would be tempted to return to the workplace if they did
  • Seventy-three per cent of employees in a business that has a restaurant would speak highly of their employer to others – compared to just 64 per cent of employees in a business that doesn’t.
  • Happiness is seven per cent higher in companies that operate a restaurant
  • Seventy-nine per cent say they work more effectively when they spend time in the workplace
  • Seventy-four per cent say they enjoy being in the workplace
  • Sixty-eight per cent miss the social interaction provided by a workplace
  • Eighty per cent love being able to work from home at least occasionally and 78 per cent didn’t want to give it up.

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