Free Lunch

Don't underestimate the value of free food when seeking employees.
Magazine Contributor
2 min read

This story appears in the September 2000 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

In today's economy, free stock options aren't the only things luring prospective employees to companies. Free food may also whet their appetites.

Edible perks can range from gourmet coffee service and morning muffins to monthly luncheons. "People are looking for social community at work. Sitting around and eating together, even if it's just doughnuts and coffee, creates that," says Diane McNutt, director of human resources at Minneapolis-based Ceridian Employer Services.

Anything you can do to differentiate yourself from other employers helps. Adds McNutt: "It's that casual walk-down-the-hall conversation when you're showing a prospective employee what your company has to offer that people pay attention to."

In a recent online poll of companies of all sizes, Ceridian found that 65 percent of the 129 respondents believe "work perks" like casual dress, flexible hours and free food and beverages help attract and retain employees. Free food ranked fifth in the survey, with 36 percent of the companies polled offering gratis edibles.

Surprisingly, traditional perks such as child care and fitness centers-once thought crucial to attracting talented workers-have fallen off the top five perks list. Time to call Starbucks?



Ellen Paris is a Washington, DC, writer and former Forbes magazine staff writer.


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