How food can help you attract and retain seasonal and part-time workers
- 3 Min Read
Based on research we did earlier this year, we know that traditional, 9-5 office workers love getting free, catered food at work. But it’s not just cubicle-based workers who appreciate being fed in the middle of the work day. Our latest survey shows that seasonal and part-time workers also enjoy this work perk–and that a small gesture like feeding your team can actually drive loyalty and retention – specifically among retail, warehouse, and other seasonal and part-time workers.
In fact, nearly two-thirds (65%) of these workers said that their decision to stay with their current employer or return next year would be positively influenced if they received free meals at work. This insight could make a big difference to employers who are struggling to hire and keep part-time and seasonal workers.
Seasonal and part-time hiring is strong again this year (the National Retail Federation expects retailers will hire between 450,000 and 600,000 seasonal workers) and unemployment rates are still lower than we’ve seen in 50 years, so competition for talent is fierce. Finding ways to show that you care and value workers can go a long way.
Explore some of the key findings in ezCater’s latest survey to learn more about how and why free food at work can help motivate hard-working holiday workers.
Food perks can help recruit and retain talent
With 4 out of 5 (84%) seasonal workers in the ezCater survey saying they plan to work overtime this year at stores, warehouses, factories, call centers and transit hubs, it can be a smart business decision for employers to provide perks that show appreciation, and keep energy levels up.
Free food at work is certainly one way to do that. After all, the holidays are always a great time of year to say thank you to workers – especially those who are working extra hard as seasonal or part-time employees.
In case you didn’t think it mattered to them, consider that nearly two thirds — 64% — of workers in our survey are at least somewhat likely to consider switching jobs if the new company offered free meals.
Taking a look by job type, these workers said they’d be more likely to continue working for their company or return next season if given free meals:
- Grocery workers (70%)
- Manufacturing workers (69%)
- Warehouse workers (68%)
- Retail workers (60%)
Free meals could be a simple solution for the 57% of U.S. retail executives surveyed by Accenture who are willing to take “extraordinary” measures to attract candidates for holiday hiring in a year when talent is scarce.
Free food fuels holiday cheer – and productivity
If you’re looking for the business case for offering food at work, this survey result may interest you:
- 2 in 5 people (40%) said free, catered meals make them more productive.
Along those lines, a third of people said that after taking a lunch break, they:
- focus better (32%)
- feel less stressed (29%)
- enjoy their work more (29%)
Especially relevant during the crazed holiday crunch, 35% said catered food helps them to feel more energized.
Food also helps promote employee happiness:
- 67% of workers feel appreciated and thanked
- 41% of workers feel valued
- 26% of workers say catered food makes them feel like the work they do is important.
Many holiday workers take low-quality food breaks, or none at all
Long shifts are inevitable if you’re a seasonal or part-time worker in a warehouse or retail store. Especially during the holiday season, workers find themselves fulfilling hundreds of orders or managing long checkout lines, leaving little time to refuel with a lunch break.
Even during an average workweek, only 29% of warehouse workers in our survey said they take a break for lunch away from their work area 5 days a week. During the busy holiday season, that number is even lower, however — less than a quarter (22%).
Among retail workers, the percentage shrinks further, with only 16% taking breaks 5 days a week during the holidays.
For those who are able to sneak away for a bite, many are making unhealthy choices. For example, 72% of retail workers and 65% of warehouse workers typically resort to fast food. And storage or distribution warehouse workers are the most likely to grab their lunch from a vending machine (18%).
On the contrary, by offering a freshly prepared catered meal, you’ll be providing a healthier and more convenient option that workers can look forward to.
Catered meals can help extend budgets, too
Every dollar counts, and paying for meals out can quickly eat into those extra earnings. Our survey found that the most common price to pay for lunch during the workweek is anywhere between $6 and $10, but 1 in 3 workers are willing to pay $11 and $15 per meal.
When you add in high inflation, it’s no wonder that people are looking to supplement their incomes with seasonal or part-time work. One survey found that 60% of respondents looking for seasonal employment already had other jobs. While some holiday workers may be able to earn more competitive wages this year (like Amazon’s increase to an average of $19 per hour), many will be making less than that.
In other words, catered meals can be a perk beyond the paycheck that has real dollar value.