Food for thought: A new way to boost employee morale and productivity

Keeping your employees fed - in the office, on the road or working from home - is about more than just their wellbeing as Michael Stewart, head of HR EMEA at Uber for Business explains

Without doubt these are still very challenging times for anyone in business, let alone in HR. Everything is new, every day another twist to the story. But with new challenges come new opportunities - and every issue has its own unique solution. Take Freightliner, for example.

Every year in the UK alone Freightliner move 770,000 maritime containers across the county’s rail network. Their train divers need to be able to access safe accommodation and food - but this was no longer easy to do in a country going rapidly into deep lockdown.

As a client of Uber Business, they turned to Uber Eats to enable them to provide breakfast, lunch and dinner options for their employees. Wherever the train tracks took them, 300 drivers had access to the food they needed to keep them going - delivering crucial goods to businesses and consumers right across the country.

That’s just one example of how some lateral thinking has been able to keep a business on the right track when everything else was completely up in the air. And it really has been ‘up in the air.’ For example, home working is still the norm for many.

According to Gartner’s HR survey in March, 88% of organisations adopted home working in lockdown. While that may have changed a little since then, it still remains a part of the working week for a significant number of workers.

At the office behind a desk, on the road, or working from a remote location, food is an essential. If you were lucky enough to have an on-site canteen, this may no longer be an option - and the ‘soft opening’ of a work site may mean that many remain closed.

Prior to the lockdown, research by Uber for Business shows that employees went out to eat locally to their place of work at least three times a week. Indeed, a recent YouGov survey points out that what 31% of employees miss most about being away from the office is not being able to have lunch out. Yet those employees still have to eat - so having the food come to them is a great option.

Not only does this make sure they can still get vital meals during the working day, it also supports those local hospitality businesses which have lost out as a direct result of employees no longer being able to make those visits to eat out with them. Now the food can come to you - and with contactless payment as an option, too.

Food isn’t just about satisfying basic needs - it’s also about celebrating, relaxing and marking special occasions. That doesn’t have to change just because where we work has changed. Here are five ways we’ve come up with to help you motivate those remote workers.

1. Give their day a kickstart

Many of us love to start the day with a coffee. A hot drink is part of the ritual of going to work or arriving in the office ready to start the day. So how about letting team members order their favourite fix - and a bagel, a muffin or a filled roll - whatever they like - and wherever they are - to get the day off to a great start.

2. Make it a celebration

Celebrations - be they important work milestones, anniversaries, birthdays or even a promotion - needn’t be forgotten. Indeed, they need to be remembered even more - especially if the all important people are not in office to mark those important occasions. Set a budget, and let them order a treat for their special day. And with Eats on Uber for Business employees can order meals and bill them to a business account.

3. Make it special together

OK, so you’re all online in a meeting, but that doesn’t mean you can’t also share a virtual table. With a huge number of restaurants to choose from locally you can plan a time when you can all eat together - then get together on a group call and share a lunch - making it an event to remember.

4. Reward those who have to work longer

When the going gets tough, it’s important that meals are not skipped. Late nights and deadlines are sometimes unavoidable, but meals shouldn’t be avoided. If your employees are putting in the extra hours - wherever they may be - you can set aside time windows for ordering food, set spending limits and delivery locations, so they can carry on working - and break to eat - either at their own location or with others in the office.

5. The every day is the new Friday

After work gatherings may well be on hold, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have team building events anymore. You can still have that quiz night or pizza party - and keep on with the fun. Employees can keep connected and catch up with each other, with the food delivered to them.

Whatever may happen in the future, it looks as if different ways of working are going to stay with us for some time. But when it comes to keeping employees fed - be they train drivers, engineers working away from the office, or office workers getting the job done from a desk at home - there is no need for any of them to skip a meal, miss an important work celebration, or not be able to have their morning coffee and croissant while they catch up with an online team meeting.

There are ways to make it work and to bring people together which are simple to operate and cost effective.

To find out more about how Uber for Business can deliver Eats for you and your teams, click here.

Michael Stewart is head of HR EMEA at Uber for Business.