Developers eat. Feed them.

Aug 3

I'd like to make the case, here, for company provided breakfast, lunch, and dinner, at least for employees on salary.

First, lets take some round numbers, and assume that it costs $10 a meal to feed an employee for 250 days a year. That's $2,500 dollars to feed an employee lunch every working day for a year. Let's assume that these meals are on campus, so the employee is back at their desk an average of 15 minutes faster for lunch alone. That's one quarter of an hour per day for the 250 days, so that's 62.5 hours a year. If the employee is worth, in total productivity to the company, at least $40/hour, you're breaking even or making money. Also, when they interview at other companies, they'll have to factor in this benefit, so it helps you lock them in that way too.

So, lunch is obvious. What about breakfast? What about dinner?

Same argument, same math. If people who take advantage of dinner either stay a little later or, better yet, go back to their desks afterwards, you are coining money. This is why companies like Google feed their employees, so that the employees never leave, not because there's a huge amount of work to do and they can't, but because they don't need to.

Some companies have pay cafeterias and subsidize the food costs. And that's alright, but it doesn't get people hanging around after 6. It's a factor in "where shall we eat", but if the food is good, and free, the off-campus lunch becomes a much larger exception. People are, by and large, lazy.

I guess the thing is… at big companies, they refer to people as "resources", but they don't treat them like resources. Sometimes they refer to them as people, and don't treat them like people either, but I'm more concerned here with the idea of treating people like resources. The name of the game in resource management is to manage resources effectively, to get the most out of them that you can. You might think that that's an argument for exploiting your resources, but that's only effective if the resources are expendable. High quality employees are not expendable resources. They are hard to recruit, for one thing, and they are already trained, for another. Their paperwork is already done.

On top of that, employee morale is an important thing. Happy people are more productive–they've proven this with science. Employees who are being exploited are not happy, ergo, it is not good resource management to exploit your employees. Good resource management would be to find things that make your employees happy, and do those things. I think food is one of those things, but I need to eat food, so maybe I'm biased.