As the world reopens following over a year of COVID-19 lockdown, many of us are looking for ways to reconnect. At work, this means creating opportunities for interaction and something fun beyond the usual coffee break.
Company lunches offer a great outlet to shake things up while improving company-wide communication, satisfaction, and even productivity. Routine, free lunches also show employees how much you appreciate their dedication.
You don’t need to plan extravagant lunches, either. Simple, healthy, cost-effective options keep the event feeling casual. (Only, don’t penny-pinch on dollar sandwiches. This could have the inverse effect.)
We’ve assembled a list of our five favorite employee lunch ideas, that will elevate your team and leave everyone feeling brighter, as well as a list of the benefits this can bring to your team. Keep reading to learn more!
Benefits of Employee Lunches
There are many benefits to routine employee lunches. Besides being a fun break from the office, a company lunch outing is a chance to explore new parts of town, try new foods, have new conversations, and take your mind off work.
Many of us are used to working from home and likely feel some anxiety around returning to the office. Bonding over a free meal brings people together in a healthy, affordable way. According to a CareerBuilder survey, over 60% of workers indicated symptoms of burnout and fatigue, with that number jumping nearly 10% since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Investing in employee health and creating opportunities for connection goes a long way on an individual and company level.
Staff Lunches Show Your Employees That You Care
From a management perspective, it can be hard to gauge employee wellness. Staff lunches show that you care about employees beyond the desk and are committed to creating a well-rounded workplace. Sometimes being a team means more than just working together.
Corporate Lunches Improve Overall Employee Satisfaction
Forward-thinking organizations actively create positive experiences focused on employee satisfaction and growth. According to a Warwick study, employee happiness leads to a 12% increase in productivity.
While there are many ways to instill happiness in the workplace, regular corporate lunches are a great place to start. This leaves employees open to come up with innovative solutions and to go home feeling healthy. In turn, this elevates your customer experience.
Company Lunches Allow Employees to Bond
As summer approaches, outdoor dining in the fresh air can be the perfect outing to bring people together. While you may know everyone on your team, chances are there’s someone in the company you haven’t really connected with. These spontaneous conversations allow employees to bond with the added bonus of potentially generating new ideas.
Staff Lunches Allow Employees to Take Their Mind off of Work
It may seem obvious, but giving employees time to take their mind off work goes a long way for engagement, health, and productivity. Too much time in the office can and will lead to diminishing returns and burnout.
It’s like working on a problem all day, only to find the answer spontaneously later on when not thinking about it. Space to relax at a company lunch or similar event is the perfect way to get away from work for an afternoon.
5 Fun Employee Lunch Ideas
Once you’ve decided to host some type of lunch event, you’ll need to get particular. What corporate lunch ideas can boost your team’s synergy or help people reconnect? We’ve compiled a list of our five favorite staff lunch ideas for making the events fun and engaging, in or out of the workplace.
Do an Office Trivia Lunch
Looking to show off your pandemic-acquired trivia skills? Trivia lunches give employees a chance to play games, tap into non-work-related knowledge, and learn something new about coworkers (even those you’ve worked alongside for years).
You can always host a trivia lunch in the office if that feels more natural, though getting out of the office brings a refreshing change of pace in the day.
Draw a Name and Let That Employee Pick Lunch
When planning an event for a whole team, no matter the size, there’s always that underlying pressure to make everyone happy. One way to keep things friendly is to draw a name and let that employee pick what to do for lunch. You never know what fun ideas or outings could come from this!
Have a New Themed Lunch Once a Month
Your theme doesn’t have to be outlandish. Escargot and the finest imported champagne may sound appealing, but sometimes a theme as simple as building your own pizza or ordering from everyone’s favorite Thai restaurant down the street does the trick.
What do staff usually eat for lunch? Finding that balance between new foods and familiar cuisine everyone will enjoy can turn a themed lunch into a new favorite monthly get-together.
Have an Office Sitcom Lunch
Order carry-out and set up the projector in the conference room. Office sitcom lunches are a great, casual way to bond while eating. Laughter helps relieve stress and energizes employees. Plus, one or two episodes fit easily into a typical lunch hour.
If you’re unsure of which show to choose, a brief survey can go a long way in making sure everyone feels included and free to enjoy their office sitcom lunch comfortably.
Have a Potluck Employee Lunch
Potlucks are a great idea for smaller companies, especially when work isn’t super busy, because employees don’t have to prepare huge portions. Plus, they’re a chance for that employee who used to work at a sushi restaurant to share a hidden talent. Potlucks work well around the holidays, and provide a pleasant contrast to employee lunches out on the town.
Note that too-frequent potlucks could have the opposite result, and feel more like a chore than a fun activity if everyone’s already stressed.
Final Thoughts on Employee Lunches
Reconnecting after months of working from home is difficult, and there’s no magic bullet to making everyone feel at home. However, regular events like hosting a staff lunch create a workplace of happier, more engaged employees. Whether you choose a sitcom lunch, trivia, potluck, or something in between, the important thing is elevating your employees’ experience. We’ll say that again: Elevate your employees’ experience!
Here at Centricity, we’re passionate about employee engagement and satisfaction. This leads to incredible results for both your company and your customers. Reach out to us today to learn more about cultivating an authentic workforce brand experience.