The expression ‘the daily grind’ was (probably) coined by an employee without decent work culture or tasty workplace lunches. Let’s face it, we all have moments at work where things go a bit pear-shaped. But nobody should ever have to feel like their work grinds them down.
The effects of the pandemic have shaken colleagues, companies and whole cities. No wonder office workers hesitate to return to their desks, and when they do, they do so with new expectations and anxieties. As a result, employers need to adapt their workplace strategies to ensure that their teams feel energised and motivated.
Regular team lunches are not a sure shot way to develop company culture. But we believe they’re an underappreciated and compelling way to create binding social connections between colleagues. Strengthened relationships between employees, in turn, makes the whole team more resilient to whatever the future might throw at them.
Let’s start with the basics; what are the elements of resilient company culture?
The big picture, also known as ‘vision and mission’, helps a company navigate difficult times. It’s the answer to that crucial question “So why are we doing all this anyway?”. Company culture is the shared beliefs and behaviours held within the business. As commented by William Craig, CEO & Co-Founder of WebFX,
“It’s not enough for you to merely prescribe a purpose for your employees; they also have to buy into it. They have to feel that what they do matters, and has a measurable impact on the success of the company.”
With the right set of behaviours and beliefs, employees don’t just approach a project with short term fixes but instead with long term objectives in mind. When times get tough, you want a team that is effective at problem-solving and ready to adapt. A workforce with resilient company culture can work through challenges together because they have a collective understanding of how they work and why they work together.
Team lunches: the fast track to boosting resilience in the workplace
Moments for employees to connect personally can be far and few in between during the working day, when everyone keeps their heads down to meet that next big deadline. These moments are made rarer still by the remote work revolution brought on by the pandemic.
It’s time to make those ‘in-office’ days count for your teams by serving them a proper on-site lunch. After all, what other period in the day gives employees the chance to build a rapport without overlapping into serious work time?
The lunch table is a space where employees can let their guard down a little and show their authentic selves. The only thing on the agenda is enjoying food and chatting, and these social foundations build a genuinely collaborative culture.
Shared lunches provide an open platform where anything goes: from hot takes on The Great British Bake Off to ‘here’s an idea to boost our sales‘ is all up for discussion. Let’s face it; real-world employee engagement is just what people need as they transition back to life in the physical office; without it, isolation can damage health and productivity. Julianne Holt-Lunstad writes in her report, ‘Fostering Social Connection in the Workplace‘,
“Regardless of organisational status, lonelier individuals are more likely to feel estranged and less connected to coworkers and more likely to experience a lack of belongingness at work, both of which may lower commitment to their organisations.”
Loneliness ultimately leads to a disconnect between employees. It’s a recipe for mental health issues and a workforce wide-open to interpersonal conflict and misunderstanding in stressful situations—the result is a not-so-resilient workplace culture where engagement and job retention begins to wane.
We agree, that shared workplace lunchtimes may not be the silver bullet for all your employee’s woes, but it’s a powerful tool to bridge the social gap between colleagues, teams and departments. Of course, an employer cannot force its employees to adopt a workplace culture or stop feeling lonely. Still, they can encourage their teams to build connections by offering an environment conducive to making positive interactions a daily occurrence. As the old saying goes, “happiness is infectious”.
In a nutshell
A culture of resilience within a company, or any community of people, takes time to build. Therefore, companies need to take a long-term view to grow a culture of resilience to reap the productivity benefits of a strengthened culture.
There is evidence to suggest that lunchtimes are just the ticket for building resilience. One study by Peapod (using the feedback from 1,000 office workers) looked at what happened when employers started footing the bill for their staff’s food, from lunches to refreshments,
“While the majority, 56%, of full-time employees are “extremely” or “very” happy with their current job, that number jumps to 67% among those who have access to free food.”
This stat doesn’t come as any surprise to us. From our own experience as contract caterers, we’ve witnessed first-hand the good vibes on our client’s sites during the lunch hour. Of course, our clients offer food and drinks as a perk to their employees – but hey! They effectively get their money back, with dividends, from the job retention and productivity boost from well-fed and well-connected teams.