If offered a choice of benefits to boost their productivity, 90% of employees would pick daily meal allowances over transport or well-being subsidies, according to a recent survey by Deliveroo. What's more, food delivery, grocery gift cards, and electronic gift cards ranked highly (34%) among prizes that employees would like to receive, as compared to annual leave (43%).
The survey, which was conducted in Hong Kong earlier this year, drew responses from over 1,000 employees who spend at least 25% of their time in an office environment and work for a company with at least 10 employees. It did not delve into why food is so popular, but some of the other findings suggest that the relationship between food and team bonding may play a role.
For example, 68% of respondents said that teams are happier and more productive after eating lunch together; 65% said they would like to eat together with their colleagues more, and cited 'getting to know each other better' and 'creating new bonds' as reasons.
Food allowances also make financial sense for many employees, although the survey did not cover this aspect. For the majority of office workers, especially those whose organisation is located in a central area, food would generally have been their most noticeable daily expense before the pandemic, with transport coming a close second. Working from home tips this equation even further towards food and also adds meal preparation time for those who prefer to cook.
At the same time, WFH has apparently made meal allowances scarce. Over 30% of survey respondents said their companies always offer subsidies for meals when they are in the office, but the figure drops to 13% if the employee is working from home. There is also a clear differentiation between industries, with healthcare, IT, and telecommunications companies being the most likely to offer meal subsidies, and education being the least likely. This also correlates to some extent to the manpower crunch in healthcare and IT.