Did you know that the key to promoting better relationships among your employees could be as simple as encouraging them to share a meal together from time to time?
In a 2015 study, researchers from Cornell University led by Kevin Kniffin took a look at how sharing meals affected the work group dynamics amongst different sets of firefighters. After studying various firehouses for 15 months, they found that those who regularly ate meals together had better collective job performance compared to those who didn’t.
While you may not be in charge of putting out fires (at least not literal ones), managers across various industries could find a lot of value in this study. While most people think of activities such as trust falls when they hear the words “team building exercise,” eating meals together may actually be a simpler and more effective strategy.
Foster a Sense of Camaraderie
Throughout human history, sharing a meal has often been an effective tool to bring people together and foster a sense of unity.
By having your employees sit down for a meal together, they are able to relax and start to get to know one another on a deeper level. By finding commonality with each other, employees can develop a deeper sense of camaraderie. Even if employees work in close proximity for years, they may never get to know one another outside of a work context. Sharing a meal is the perfect opportunity for employees to get to know each other.
“From an evolutionary anthropology perspective, eating together has a long, primal tradition as a kind of social glue. That seems to continue in today’s workplaces” said Kniffin in a statement.
The benefit of a greater sense of intimacy among coworkers is that it often leads to increased productivity. The firefighter squads who habitually ate meals together more often got higher scores on their job performance than those that didn’t.
This is because meal sharing promotes cohesiveness, which in turn helps employees work better together and ultimately be more productive.
If you’re looking to incorporate more traditional team building exercises, you could ask employees to plan and prepare a meal together.
Bring Different Departments Together
Everybody needs to eat lunch. By providing lunch for your staff, you can bring them all together for the lunch hour rather than everyone doing their own thing. It could be very beneficial to promote cross-department relationships as it will help your workers develop a greater appreciation for the various roles within your company.
While you may not have the time necessary for employees to prepare a meal together, great lunch catering can do the trick. Whether you want to celebrate a recent accomplishment or just give your staff time to relate to one another, a catered lunch that is free of everyday work pressures can do wonders.
At Rivers Edge Catering, we specialize in catering corporate events in Portland, Oregon, and our delicious, sustainably prepared meals will be sure to leave your employees satisfied. Keep us in mind next time you need a caterer.