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published: 25 Apr 2024 in News

Every second worker in Poland eats alone

Kamila Brzezińska
Kamila Brzezińska

Editor

One in two employees eats alone, and one in five doesn't stop working even during their lunch break. According to the Antal and Sodexo report, "How Poles Eat at Work", this is what our eating patterns look like. How do our eating habits impact our work, and can employers nudge us to improve them?
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An old Polish proverb proclaims that "without work, there is no bread."

However, research in this area indicates that there are many more relationships between work and nutrition, and they are somewhat more complex. A study conducted by the Health Enhancement Research Organization (HERO), suggests that employees who eat healthily can boast productivity increases of up to 25%.

Therefore, making changes in eating habits has a real impact not only on employees' quality of life but also on their business performance in the organization.

According to Eurostat, we spend an average of 40.4 hours a week at work, and so, our eating habits can permeate directly into our workplace. We often even notice a kind of feedback loop, where it’s the culture of our organization that influences the way we eat. This can have both positive and negative effects.


Does the culture of an organization affect our eating?

The question of whether, what, and how we eat is largely determined by the type of our organization's culture. In a workplace where there is room for dialogue about the employees' needs, and where consideration is given to taking proper breaks, it is far easier to cultivate good habits, including dietary ones. In contrast, when an organization emphasizes maximizing results and productivity, it often comes at the expense of workplace wellness.


Eating at work – an individual or team endeavor?

About 53% of Poles eat alone at work. This percentage fluctuates depending on one's place in the organizational hierarchy. For directors and senior managers, it goes as high as 64%, for middle managers – 60%, while only 51% of professionals eat at work unaccompanied by colleagues. While we do not know the exact reason, this disparity may be due to the pressure of demands on managers, or perhaps the distance between employees at different levels of the professional hierarchy.

Moreover, one in ten people – mainly trainees and directors – do not eat a single meal at work.


What meals do we eat at work?

We mainly enjoy breakfast (46%), and second breakfasts (49%), as well as lunches and dinners (51%) in the workplace kitchen. Many of us also frequently reach for snacks (37%).

Interestingly, the majority of people (81%), regardless of whether they hold the rank of a boss or are starting their career as an intern prefer self-prepared meals. Interestingly, a huge proportion of respondents (80%) also fold towards Polish cuisine, despite the wide range of dishes from different parts of the world.

Those who don't want to step up to the challenge of cooking, and prefer to buy meals, most often go for store-bought ones– a common option especially among middle managers (29%). Employee canteens or purchases from the so-called 'Mr. Sandwich' are also quite popular, especially compared to less common options: ordering food to take out, subscribing to a boxed diet or buying food from a vending machine.


What factors determine our choice of food at work?

Price (50%), convenience (47%), and taste (47%) are the three main determinants of our culinary choices at work. Preparation time (32%) is also not without significance, while only about 20% of respondents considered the nutritinal value of meals important.


What eating accommodations do employers offer?

In an era of awareness about the key role of nutrition and its impact on an employee's motivation and productivity, more and more companies are trying to provide adequate dining options in the workplace.

The most common amenities of this type include, first and foremost, a lunch break included in working hours (56%). This is a standard noticed mainly in white-collar jobs (71%), as well as in jobs of a physical nature (55%), although to a slightly lower degree.

Polish employers also offer:

  • 17% - free juices/fruits

  • 15% - food vending machines

  • 11% - lunch cards

  • 10% - employee restaurant/canteen with discounts for employees

  • 6% - free meals


What could employers improve?

While there is no shortage of pro-employee nutrition initiatives, there are still some aspects that could be improved:

  • 1 in 4 employees lack time to eat a meal at work

  • 1 in 5 employees note that their workplace does not have adequate space to prepare and eat a meal

Moreover, only 28% of respondents are satisfied with the available food offerings. So, this is another area where employers still have considerable room for improvement.


Source: „Jak Polacy jedzą w pracy”, Badanie Antal i Sodexo

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