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Companies offering free lunch to employees likely to improve earnings: Study

By James Wanzala | May 31st 2019
(Paul Bradbury/Getty)

NAIROBI, KENYA: Companies that offer free lunch to employees are likely to see improved productivity, high employees retention and achieve up to 150 per cent Returns on Investment (ROI).

Latest study commissioned by a US-based Internet of Things (IoT) firm Highfive found out that apart from earning extra 30 minutes working time, free lunches boost employees moral, bonding mechanism and loyalty to the company.

An experiment was for instance done on Cubist Pharmaceuticals, a company with 750 employees where sensors were put on 30 employees to track the tone and frequency of their lunch conversations.

The information was merged with email-traffic data and the results of weekly surveys in which employees rated their productivity and energy.

When researchers parsed the data, they found that employees that engaged in conversations frequently were more productive and energetic.

‘’While providing lunch for employees at your company can be costly, it is hard to deny that there are also many benefits. The numbers may not fit perfectly into your ROI model but if you add the intangibles of catered lunches the benefits may outweigh the costs,’’ the study said.

This study marries another one done by a food delivery service firm Eat Club in 2014 that highlighted six key benefits companies can get by providing lunch to their employees.

It found out that 54 per cent of employees are likely to stay with the company if free lunch is added to employees perks while 70 per cent are likely to recommend the firm to friends.

The study further found out that employees will improve focus by 46 per cent, happiness by 60 per cent and productivity by 49 per cent.

Apptivate Africa CEO Neil Ribeiro urged more companies to take advantage of the tax-free lunch scheme inscribed in Kenyan laws to achieve shared growth with their employees.

The 2015 Finance Act that allowed employers to spend Sh48,000 annually on every employee’s lunch as tax-free income is a voluntary scheme that is slowly gaining traction among corporate companies.

“Employers are realising they need to provide more than a pay cheque to keep their teams motivated. Food is a basic human need, and a great way to get employees motivated and create an emotional connection between them and the company,” said Ribeiro.

He said that M-Kula, for instance, has reported increased interest largely from industries and lenders.

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