When Did Free Food Become A Popularised Company Perk?

| 17 Apr 2019


Free food has become one of the more considerable perks at tech companies such as Facebook, Google and Twitter.

Free food sponsored by companies was never a hyped-up perk for the longest time. Yet, tech companies now house their own central kitchens and a whole suite of ‘Daily Chef’s Specials’ for their employees.

Young employees, or otherwise known as the millennials are easily attracted by flashy amenities and perks. Some company sponsored perks include complimentary gym memberships, well-stocked pantries, sleeping pods, Free Booze Fridays, and free meals provided daily throughout the day.

How is providing free food sustainable for the business?

As employees reap the benefits of working at companies that provide free meals, one may ask, “What is the Return on Investment (ROI) companies can gain from splurging on complimentary meals?” How can companies afford to provide free food for the long haul?

Surprisingly, providing free food actually helps your company save money.

The intent of company-sponsored free food should not be taken at face value. Before implementing this method to ‘boost morale’ and ‘attract talents’, companies do take the following points into consideration.


Generally, employees take less time when they have their lunch on-site. If we pit time saved against the costs of a meal, the company actually saves around $2.50 to $4.50 per headcount. This is based on the average salary in San Francisco of US$70,000.

Moreover, employees conserve more energy from eating in. Walking under the hot sun to the nearest hawker centre and waiting in long lines are not exactly ideal. Employees’ energy depletes quicker and psychologically, it’s more likely to catch an employee mutter under his breath “such a food coma”.

Employees tend to highly recommend companies that provide free food. Sponsored meals could also be part of the reason
why these companies enjoy such high ratings on Glassdoor.


The #10YearChallenge of Employee Welfare


Free food is great. It’s flashy, it’s trendy, it’s everything every employee wants… but is it?

Glassdoor measured employees’ perception of the different types of benefits they are entitled to enjoy in a 2016 research, and benefits correlated with the overall employee satisfaction.

While the corporate perks culture can be so enticing to the younger talents, traditional benefits since the dawn of time have always emphasised on only the fundamentals. The basic benefits like healthcare and paid-time-off policies go a long way to provide substantial coverage for employees.

Oftentimes, they are even more important than the short-term gains of the redesigned employee benefits. These benefits serve as a fundamental benchmark for all employee perks.

Shaking Up Traditional Employee Benefits

Traditional benefits are important to boost morale when a mishap happens. With the changing of the seasons, traditional employee benefits have to adapt to cross-sell on the digital space too.

Much as fundamental employee benefits hold a timeless value and should never change, the way of purchase and management of employee benefits should improvise overtime. PolicyPal conveys the same benefits in the digitised form.

Know what your employees truly care about. Only so will companies thrive with happy, satisfied and loyal employees.


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