The company culture & food: Great people + Great food
How a weekly team lunch has a positive effect on your company culture.
It’s 6 p.m. and my working day is done. In the supermarket I stand in front of the fresh fruit and vegetables. Am I going to cook today or will I go for a quick dish from the Indonesian restaurant across the street? It feels contradictory having to decide and act on this with my stomach growling. You see, I’m absolutely passionate about good food. Cooking together, sitting around the table and enjoying the food; good food is valuable – it’s important. It creates a sense of unity and belonging. Did you know that you can also use this knowledge for your business?
From I choose you to you choose me
Although we feel that our world has been standing still for a year because of Covid-19, our world keeps developing and has become more flexible and diverse. This doesn’t just apply to the food we produce and consume, but also to our work. Companies see a shift from focusing on the system to focusing on the individual, which effects the challenges they face, both for their customers and employees. How do you offer your customers long-term added value and how do you create workplaces where employees can work creatively and remain focused? I see a change is taking place among employees; a company used to choose the employees, now an employee chooses you to be able to contribute to your company. As a result, as a company you have to put more energy into creating a good company culture in order to keep your employees as well as retain new employees.
Teambuilding doesn’t always have to take place in a cabin in the middle of nowhere
When we think of team building, we often think of an activity during the day, happy hours and other trips. In doing so, we neglect an important time and place for our team to meet: the lunch break. This is also evident from research by John Trougakos, Professor of Organizational Behavior and HR Management: “Without breaks no psychological energy; without psychological energy no thinking.” Our psychological energy helps us to direct our behavior, to perform and to focus. When this energy is depleted, we become less effective in everything we do. Recharging during the lunch break makes you more productive for the rest of the day. Eating together also creates space for conversation, where private and business affairs blend smoothly into each other. When I think back to previous jobs, the lunch rituals told me a lot more about company culture. What is it you want your lunch to say about your company?
Food culture as a part of your company culture
How many people do you know have a quick meal behind their desk because they’ve got stuff to finish up? Have an appointment later? Just busy, busy, busy all the time? We see having lunch as a necessity rather than a pleasant social occasion. The most popular explanation for people’s increasingly unhealthy eating habits is the lack of time and rest, which isn’t surprising in a world where scrolling on a screen seems to be our main occupation – I too am guilty of this. For me it is clear: we have to do things differently.
Nowadays we’re already working together differently and our way of communicating has also changed. Now let’s take a closer look at our food culture. If I had it my way, the weekly team lunch would be integrated into the company culture. A regular custom that creates solidarity and togetherness and helps build a strong company culture. Eating together creates a sense of unity and belonging, which are goals you might also strive for during team-building activities. And this doesn’t even have to take place daily; you’ll enjoy the benefits soon enough having a meal together even just once a week.
How a weekly lunch contributes to a strong company culture.
For something as necessary as food to contribute to the culture within your organization, you need to align individual needs and habits with shared values and/or clear intentions. Thus, lunch rituals can contribute, among other things, to higher employee satisfaction, low-threshold interdisciplinary communication and the dismantling of a hierarchy – even though to many lunch is something insignificant. I truly believe that having a lunch every week contributes to an individual’s connection with the (purpose of the) company.
Eating together at work (including some Covid-19-proof options)
- Food truck and regular team lunch: Provide a team lunch at a set time during the week/month. A food truck on the parking lot is a great way to surprise your employees with authentic flavors. Or invite a good caterer who provides a surprising lunch.
- Virtual lunch: This is ideal for employees from different locations, but with Covid-19 it’s also ideal for people from the same office. Have a delicious lunch delivered to your home and have lunch with colleagues and employees via platforms like Zoom, Teams, or Hang Out.
- This is who I am; this is where I’m from: This is a great way to promote understanding different cultures. Organize a weekly/monthly lunch where, as a team, you take a culinary journey with food from different countries and cultures. Nothing connects in a more approachable way than food does.
- Healthy snacks in the break room: With healthy snacks you give employees a boost to keep their energy and focus throughout the day. In addition, snacks also have the so-called watercooler effect. This means that employees have an informal, face-to-face conversations near the water cooler/snacks. There are more social interactions, which lead to a positive company culture and stronger relationships at work. Since snacks attract a larger audience than a water cooler, snacks will have a more rapid and widespread effect within the office.
Make a virtue out of necessity; use lunch breaks to your advantage
To make a virtue out of necessity (food), as a company you must have a degree of adaptability and commitment from leaders and management teams. Make sure there is a clear message: lunch at the desk or lunch alone is no longer an option. During lunch, we get off of our seats, connect and let go of work for a while.
Treat lunch as a benefit. An ”extra” benefit for employees is a weekly team lunch. Create a healthier workforce and higher productivity together. Really think about it: if everyone enjoys the weekly team lunch at the same time, employees are likely to socialize and talk with other employees who may not be from their department. Stronger relationships between departments also lead to efficiency and better collaborations.
As a company, are you ready to incorporate a weekly team lunch into your company culture? Create that togetherness and grow your company culture.