Some good employment news: More food at work

If you want happy employees who feel valued and appreciated, you can attend a seminar about leadership, or you can simply try this: Have a stack of pizzas delivered.

Yep. Nearly 60 percent of hardworking Americans say that receiving food or vouchers for meals at local restaurants make them feel valued as an employee, according to a recent survey, conducted by Seamless, a division of GrubHub (GRUB) which specializes in in-office food.

Food at work is up. While only 11 percent of employees report that they get regular lunches, that is a huge jump from 2013's 5 percent. A majority of companies (63 percent) provide coffee/beverages often or all the time. 34 percent provide food for holidays and 22 percent offer food for office celebrations. So, food, while growing in popularity, is clearly not yet in every office.

If you're a business owner or a department manager, food is a perk that you can implement easily and rather cheaply. Employees don't generally need to be wooed by high end caviar.

One thing to keep in mind, though, is allergies and dietary restrictions (both medically imposed and self-imposed). While you may not be able to please all your employees all the time, consistently leaving out a particular person or group can build animosity. So, if you have a person with a gluten intolerance, ordering pizza every Friday will just make that person more aware that you aren't concerned with their health and well-being. Instead, switch it up so that everyone's needs are taken into consideration from time to time.

Other findings from the survey:

  • 50 percent of respondents said that food-based perks would make them happier with their current employer.
  • 50 percent of employees said that when they eat with their colleagues, they develop better relationships within the office. This is up from 43 percent in 2013.
  • 41 percent of employees said that they would be less likely to accept an offer from another company if their current company offered food and the new one did not.

In terms of desired perks, though, gym memberships still come in as number one. Of employees who have neither, 28 percent said they'd be most excited about a food perk, compared to 38 percent who would love a gym membership. Seamless polled 1,225 full-time workers in early March for the study.

Employees also appreciate it when management recognizes that they put in extra effort on a particular project at work. The same survey says that 48 percent of employees put in more than 40 hours a week. For exempt employees (that is, people who are not eligible for overtime) there is no immediate financial reward for putting in late nights or weekend hours. A gift certificate to the restaurant across the street can help that employee feel valued.

Finally, while lots of people love food at the office, it's not the first choice of everyone. Managers take note: All the perks you offer shouldn't be edible.