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What happens to lavish office perks in a post-pandemic world?

Unlimited vacation, casual dress codes, foosball tables, hammocks, nap rooms and video games may attract millennials and Gen Z to a workplace—but they may not “nourish” employees enough.

As CNBC reports, free food is still the perk that attracts top talent most often. Food is a great motivator for influencing productivity, engagement, and community. Simply put, the more edible benefits available to your team, the more excited they’ll be to come to work. In fact, the free-food-at-work trend was cited back in 2018, when a Society for Human Resources Management report noted that the percentage of employers offering free food had grown from 20% in 2014 to 32%.

The trend continues. A recent survey by Knight Frank Research listed onsite food and beverage as the #1 planned amenity among top facilities companies. It concluded: “As companies rebuild themselves, employee wellbeing is particularly relevant . . . Over the next three years there will be a greater focus on mental and physical health coupled with wellbeing and safety.”

Scientific and medical research emphasizes the powerful connections between food and health. “Your brain functions best when it gets only premium fuel,” writes Dr. Eva Selhub on the Harvard Health Blog. Eating high-quality foods that contain lots of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants nourishes the brain and protects it from oxidative stress.” In addition, shared meals also provide an opportunity to strengthen team relationships and friendships in the workplace, which in turn, can increase employee engagement and satisfaction.

These days, there is a cornucopia of options for workplace dining—everything from coffee stations to a well-stocked pantry of healthy snacks to a fridge full of free beverages. Kombucha anyone?

Judson Kleinman, CEO of Corporate Essentials, says there is an emerging segment of the corporate foodservice market that’s taking off: catered meals, which can include everything from boxed lunches to menu-selectable entrees to full-course meals.

“Organizations are implementing lunch catering as a way to demonstrate employee appreciation—and perhaps boost employee retention,” he said. “People are hard-pressed to turn down free food—especially at lunchtime.”

Of course, catered meals are not just for lunch. There can be catered breakfasts or after-work socials, catered client and team meetings, plus company picnics, corporate events and celebrations. And, for those employees who are burning the midnight oil, a catered dinner is a very palatable incentive.

Benefits to employees and employers

Catered meals in the workplace have benefits on both sides of the desk. First and foremost, employees save time and money. Assuming the average daily cost of eating out is $20, employees could be pocketing an extra $100 each week when a catered lunch is provided—a significant positive impact on their discretionary income.

Employers also benefit, since each hour away from the office is time lost, whether it be to work, collaborate, or to form beneficial relationships with colleagues. Research shows it takes the average worker 23 minutes and 15 seconds to reestablish focus after an interruption, such as leaving to eat at a restaurant or a nearby food truck.

As the economy continues to improve and the job market evolves to a candidate-driven market, it is essential that organizations leverage their benefits to recruit and retain top talent. Providing a nutritious, delicious culinary experience in the workplace is not only good for wellness—it’s good for business.

Workplace dining – fresh from our catering division

With its acquisition of Martin + Fitch in 2017, Corporate Essentials’ ability to deliver seasonally fresh, gourmet meals jumped to a delectable new level. Whether in the conference room, break room, or at their desks, catered workplace dining enables your team to experience a truly epicurean perk—with healthy servings of safety and convenience.

Our innovative menus change weekly, with selections inspired by the seasons, influenced by global cuisine, and artfully presented. Thinking of catering your next working lunch? Here’s a sampling of what we offer:

Boxed Lunches Menu

Lunch Entrees Menu

Call us at 973-768-3924 or 646-745-0146 or email to learn more about our corporate catering options to fuel a well-fed, happy team—and enjoy a complimentary dessert with your first workplace dining order.

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Judson Kleinman

As the founder and CEO of Corporate Essentials, Judson set out with every intention of bringing a new meaning to the words "office culture". As leaders in the industry, his company constantly sets the bar by investing in, and improving their product offerings, technology, people and training. 20 years and 1500 clients later, Judson can proudly say that Corporate Essentials continues to positively fuel culture and allow over 150,000 employees to work happy.