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Work perks: Free food to get employees back

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With many businesses desperately trying to claw their employees back to the office and away from remote working, offering free food might be a good place to start.

A new study has found more than one in two Aussies would prefer free food over a flexible workplace policy.

The survey, conducted by Uber Australia, found almost 60 per cent of employees wished their office offered free meals or food vouchers.

Millennial workers were also said to be the most food obsessed professionals in the country, with 57.7 per cent preferring free food over any other work perk.

The study found almost 60 per cent of employees wished free meals or food vouchers were up for grabs at the office.
media_cameraThe study found almost 60 per cent of employees wished free meals or food vouchers were up for grabs at the office.

ELMO Software CFO James Haslam said a positive culture was vital for his company and putting on lunches for the team was a great tool to encourage participation and a return to the office.

“It’s one of the little things we could do to help our staff,” he said.

“We have a range of foods. We’re partnering with other technology companies and local caterers so we have a variety of different meals that will allow our staff to pick their meals from a platform.”

ELMO employees enjoying their lunch in the office. Picture: Supplied
media_cameraELMO employees enjoying their lunch in the office. Picture: Supplied

WeWork Australia general manager Balder Tol said maintaining a sense of collaboration and innovation was the reason employers wanted staff to return to the office.

“When it comes to developing thoughtful solutions and creative outcomes, the best way is still face to face,” Mr Tol said.

“In protecting our team’s psychological safety amid the pandemic, we offered our staff the option to take an Uber from their home to the office.

“A longer-term strategy may be staggering start times to help avoid peak-hour transit, ensuring our employees feel comfortable commuting via public transport if required.”

The study suggests almost a quarter of employees say their daily commute doesn’t allow space for social distancing. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Gaye Gerard
media_cameraThe study suggests almost a quarter of employees say their daily commute doesn’t allow space for social distancing. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Gaye Gerard

The survey also found that 41 per cent of employees would like help with transport or the commute to the office, making it the second most desired work perk.

Just over 29 per cent of respondents said the money saved from not commuting to work discouraged them from returning, while 23.6 per cent said their daily commute did not allow for social distancing.

This has been supported through research from the NSW Innovation and Productivity Council showing workers could save $860 a year in travel costs by working from home.

More than 40 per cent of employees want help with transport or the commute to the office. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Gaye Gerard
media_cameraMore than 40 per cent of employees want help with transport or the commute to the office. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Gaye Gerard

Uber head of enterprise Tim Rossanis said the findings came as no surprise and that employers were looking for ways to keep employees motivated and engaged.

“Not everyone is comfortable with taking public transport yet, and the economic impact of commuting, like road tolls, is deterring many people from returning to the office even when it is safe to do so,” he said.

“Some employers will have to help with the daily commute if they want Aussies back in the office. Or provide alternative options that do not lead to more cars on our roads as people opt to drive rather than get a bus or train in post-COVID.”

More than 1000 Australians aged 18 to 65+ were surveyed to learn more about what employees were wanting from their employers to help them return to the office and understand the changing workplace.

Originally published as The work perks to get employees back

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