Someone Stole My Lunch! Creating Harmony in the Lunch Room

Posted by on Monday, December 2nd, 2013 with Comments Off on Someone Stole My Lunch! Creating Harmony in the Lunch Room Comments

Stop the Lunchroom Theft Madness! Photo courtesy of Karen Hansen

Stop the lunchroom theft madness!
Photo courtesy of Karen Hansen

The above note might be unique, but if the plethora of websites featuring notes stuck on office refrigerators is any indication, discontent in the lunch room is a common problem.  As prevalent as it is, there are some other signs that your employees may not be happy at lunch time. Does your staff gobble down a sandwich at their desk, dropping crumbs in between the letters on the keyboard?  Do your employees take 25 cars to 25 different noodle joints, with no one hanging out?

This kind of lunch-time unhappiness is a big problem that spills into the rest of the day, hurting morale and productivity.  At one office I worked at, discussions on what to do for lunch often started at 10AM, distracting the people involved and irritating those who weren’t.  However, discontent dissolves when you order in free meals on a regular basis. You can solve your mid-day problems with the click of a mouse. It doesn’t have to be a gourmet meal and it doesn’t have to be another headache, but it will definitely build morale.

Jim Belosic knows why this is important.  The CEO of Shortstack, which designs Facebook apps,  has provided free Friday lunches to his staff since the company’s inception in 2011.  As he explained to Lydia Dishman at Fast Company, Belosic had previously worked for a company where the staff was only allowed a half hour lunch break and he ended up eating at his desk. He wanted to provide a better work environment for his staff. 

Belosic understands that the lunch room, or wherever your employees gather to eat lunch, should be a sanctuary where employees can renew their energy, share a meal, and get to know one another. As he says in the interview, he doesn’t want to talk about work while at lunch, just learn about his co-workers.  Collaboration is key in the work-place environment and employees that know each other well will develop better working relationships too.

When Belosic started ShortStack, there were only a couple of employees working with him. As the company grew, the lunch bill was becoming more expensive and he offered his team a yearly bonus of $3000 in lieu of the free meals. To the surprise of his accountant, the ten employees voted unanimously to keep the lunches instead of accepting the money. Small sample size, maybe, but it helps to show that monetary concerns are not the only motivating factor for employees. 


Entrepreneurs like Belosic are starting a trend. More and more companies, especially tech companies that employ a lot of younger staff, are offering a wide range of perks, such as “Bring Your Dog to Work” days, onsite gyms, day care, and free food. They know that these initiatives cost money, but you get that back in more productivity.

These perks aren’t just good for the employees, they are good for the bottom line.  A small hit in the budget for lunch can pay itself off many times down the road. Companies that have resentful staff have more absenteeism, employee malfeasance, labor disputes, and other employee issues. Your employees need to feel connected to the company if you want to get the best out of them. That’s what food does – it brings people together and it softens the edges.

We tend to focus on money as a reward, but it turns out that non-monetary perks can do the same or better when it comes to boosting employee productivity and happiness in the work-place.

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