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When is the right time to subsidize food at the cafeteria?

Updated: Apr 7, 2021

When is the right time to subsidize food at the cafeteria?

We often hear a very common and used phrase – “to reach a person’s heart, one should first go through his stomach”

Organisations and employers have not only analysed, studied, and realised it but also adopted measures and solutions to work upon it to reach the maximum employee satisfaction by subsidising food at work and making the corporate cafeteria a place for relaxation during breaks. Because savouring meals together ignites unity within the team.

Often happiness can come with food or even free snacks and they improve employee morale and productivity. The act of physically sharing a table and eating with others creates a sense of community amongst coworkers while creating a collaborative environment with employees. It also makes for employee satisfaction when you provide them with nutritious meals to fuel their brains and spirits which in turn boosts their performance.

Google employees are the first to experience the subsidisation of food at the cafeterias in the USA and became the torchbearer in the food industry, revolutionising the entire concept of food subsidisation for the other MNCs which became a perk point for many employees to look forward to and join a company, keeping in mind the allowances and the benefits for a healthy and happy workplace.

What is subsidizing food?

The term ‘subsidizing’ means being supported and ‘subsidizing food’ means financial aid provided or supplied by either the government or any particular organization where the employees work.

What is a subsidized cafeteria?

A ‘subsidized cafeteria’ is one where the price of food items, definitely depending upon the respective companies have a way lower price than what is generally and usually available in the market or any restaurant.

A portion of the cost and prices are taken care of by the companies which can vary and range in between any given numbers or percentages decided by them.

Why do companies subsidize food for the employees?

An office is a place where employees spend more than 10 hours of their day, working and being around colleagues. Working straight for hours is a task that nobody can cope up to, therefore breaks were introduced in the offices where employees could relax and stretch, Collaborate, chit chat with fellow team members, and resume back work.

Soon it was noticed that tea or a snack item would complement the breaks. And later due to this, when the companies saw considerable growth in productivity, they came up with a concept of corporate catering where food and beverages also could be a part of the supply in the cafeterias.

This concept was very carefully thought from various perspectives and 3 models were introduced, keeping in mind the ways to increase the work efficiency and physical as well as mental well-being of the employees.

The three models namely are-

  1. Full subsidization – a concept where the company bears the entire cost of the food services provided at the cafeteria of the organization.

  2. Partial subsidization – a method where the company bears the partial cost of the food services provided at the cafeteria of the organization

  3. Zero subsidization – a system where the company bears no cost of the food services provided at the cafeteria, however, the companies do set up certain tuck-shop vendors who sell food items.

Providing subsidized food, from snacks to beverages to full meals at the workplace has gradually become the standard protocol in many companies.

However, money might be a big concern for most employers when considering the idea of a cafeteria inside the office premises to enhance employee satisfaction, especially for small firms and organizations. But, if rightly partnered with the right company, the cost of setting up a digital, cashless, the corporate cafeteria can cost down to a reasonable level, while providing in-house snacking options, preventing employees from leaving the office to grab munchies, in a way monitoring productivity.

Companies post the Covid-19 situations have taken special care and prime concern for setting up the cafeterias which would not only be cashless, contactless and digital but also remain decongested, ensuring workplace safety, thus making lunching at office healthy while enjoying quality food with team members.

Soon after the pandemic situation settles and offices reopen, most of the employees are more likely to bring food from home to ensure safety and hygiene or depend upon online apps for ordering food or simply visit the local eateries. Here, having a cafeteria at the workplace comes as a boon for employees and employers both- the admins and facility managers.

Subsidization of food – a boon to employees:

Employee engagement

  1. The presence of a digital cafeteria with trusted vendor partners who provide clarity and transparency with the kitchen protocols and other measures being taken up by them to ensure maximum HSEQ (health, safety, environment, quality) for cafeterias will convince the employees to consume food available at the cafeteria instead of interacting with various and innumerable people to buy food from.

  2. Not having to pay the entire amount for the meals and other snack and beverage items while at the office turns a huge saving daily, especially post the lockdown scenarios where a salary deduction has been a part of every employees’ contribution to the company for sustainability.

  3. Food allowance or prepaid food vouchers or coupons that get credited into every employees’ wallet/ account are non-transferable and saves the tax-exempt since this portion of the employee benefit or allowance is consumable and need not be reflected in the annual income.

  4. The food allowances (subsidized or company paid) where it is included in the package while hiring an employee, in a way increases the overall annual CTC, which in a way becomes one of the reasons for accepting the job offer letters when compared to companies without the inclusion of food allowances and other employee benefits.

Subsidization of food – a boon for the employers:

  1. After the offices reopen and situations normalize, the employers would all be geared up to increase productivity and maximize work efficiency, and having a cafeteria in the office premises would hold back the employees to step out of the office and spend more time outside during lunch and other small breaks.

  2. The health and safety of the employees is a prime concern and admins and facility managers should focus on healthy eating habits and a safe work environment for their employees and minimize the contact with anybody and everybody during office hours, therefore having an office cafeteria with food availability can act as a preventive measure, especially post the lockdown

  3. Subsidization of food where only a part of the meal is borne by the company, despite undergoing several challenges during the Covid-19 situations can be a perk and in favor of the employees working for the organization, thereby restoring their faith in the company.

  4. Subsidization of food can also be a good way to retain the employees since many companies might not have the access to a free or a subsidized cafeteria where employees can have their meals, thus preventing them passively from leaving the organization, and there is a comfort zone which everybody would once think of before quitting.

Healthy and good food are always well appreciated and preferred by everybody and nothing could ever be better if it can add value to work. And if companies and other organizations can take up the concept of subsidization of food in their office cafeterias with the best help and guidance from platforms like SmartQ who are partnered with more than 250+ vendors, managing the cafeterias becomes easy and smooth. The kitchens and the staff are duly trained and follow the hygienic safety protocols, especially amidst the Covid-19 situation where consuming food from anywhere apart from home or coming in close contact with any person is a major concern and a serious issue that can not be left unattended. The menus are curated by the team of SmartQ, keeping in mind the taste and preference of the consumers.

New age cafeteria

Catering healthy food and giving employees the freedom of choice for healthier food options in the office premises can bring in a revolution of higher job performance since there have been many studies where it has been shown time and again that employees who engage themselves in healthier eating habits are more productive. Thus, subsidization of food in the workplace is now not only a need too urgent but a solution too important!

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