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Global Eating at Work Survey reveals how employers can win the war for talent and increase staff loyalty, productivity, and wellbeing.

  • Born between 1996 and 2010, Gen Z are expected to account for 27% of global workforce by 2025*
  • 72% of Gen Z say an on-site cafeteria would encourage them to join a prospective employer
  • 71% of workers globally say employers have a responsibility to proactively promote sustainability
  • 68% of Gen Z happy to order food and drinks via apps, compared to 23% for Baby Boomers

New research from Compass Group, the world's leading food services company, and global market intelligence agency Mintel, reveals that Gen Z workers are the most vocal generation calling for enhanced wellbeing, sustainable and digital benefits in the workplace, and are willing to look at alternative employers if their needs aren’t met.

Compass Group’s Global Eating at Work Survey 2023 is one of the largest inter-generational surveys of its kind, analysing insights from 35,000 global workers across 26 countries on their workplace preferences, including views on eating at work, sustainability, digital adoption, health, and mental wellbeing.  

The research reveals that the COVID-19 pandemic and global cost of living crisis have made employees more mindful of what they want and deserve from an employer.

  • Across all age groups, 60% of workers say they are scrutinising employee benefits more closely than they used to, peaking at 70% among Gen Z.
  • 38% of workers say they feel less loyal towards their employer since COVID-19, jumping to half (51%) for Gen Z employees.
  • Facing higher costs of living, 81% of Gen Z and Millennials advocate for employers to provide free or subsidised meals at work.

The list of worker demands on employers is evolving, with food provision at work viewed as a major asset in the war for talent, especially among Gen Z workers.

  • Across all age groups, flexible working hours are considered the most appealing non-monetary benefit that employers can provide, followed by health insurance and a staff restaurant.
  • 72% of Gen Z say an on-site cafeteria would positively influence their decision to join a prospective employer, compared to 42% for Baby Boomers.
  • 71% of workers who have a staff restaurant at work say they speak more highly of their employer to others outside their organisation, compared to 62% for employees with no food provision at work.

Providing a sustainable and healthy food offer at work is paramount, especially for younger generations.

  • 71% of workers globally say employers have a responsibility to proactively promote sustainability in the workplace.
  • All age groups expect that food outlets should help them make healthier food and drink choices through the food they serve, peaking at 73% among Gen Z workers.
  • Younger generations are driving a meat-free revolution in the workplace, with 63% of Gen Z workers advocating for more plant-based options, compared to just 37% of Gen X and 30% of Baby Boomers.

Of any generation, Gen Z are most open to digital foodservice innovations that can improve their productivity and health at work.

  • 81% of Gen Z say that taking a proper lunch break makes them more productive when they return to work, compared to 73% among Baby Boomers.
  • 68% of Gen Z workers are happy to order food and drinks via app, compared to just 23% for Baby Boomers.
  • 55% of Gen Z workers say they like to stay on top of their calorie intake by tracking their diet via an app, versus 40% among the wider population.

Shelley Roberts, Group Chief Commercial Officer of Compass Group PLC, said:

“With Gen Z and Millennials soon to make up the largest proportion of the global workforce, their influence in the workplace is on the rise. Gen Z workers want to associate themselves with companies who share their values, provide a safe, comfortable working environment, and support their health and wellbeing. A staff restaurant is one of the most effective ways for employers to attract, retain and motivate their teams, helping win the war for talent and addressing the productivity challenge at the same time.”

Claire Zuurbier, Group Director of Growth & Innovation at Compass Group PLC, added:

“Gen Z are digital natives and, as a result, they have a greater interest in and expectations of technology for foodservice in the workplace. The whole eating at work "journey" needs to be as smooth, quick, and efficient as possible to harness employees’ productivity. This presents exciting new opportunities for workplace dining to meet Gen Z’s growing demand for ‘what they need, when and where they need it' with dedicated apps for anything from ordering, payment, and delivery, to tracking nutrition and the carbon footprint of the meals they choose.”

- ENDS -

Notes to Editors

*World Economic Forum

Working age population generational demographics:

  • Gen Z - born between 1996-2010
  • Millennials - born between 1981-1995
  • Gen X - born between 1966-1980
  • Baby Boomers born between 1946-1965      

For more information, please contact:

Compass Group PLC

Giles Robinson, Corporate Communications Director +44 (0) 1932 963 486

About Compass Group

Compass Group PLC is a world leading food and support services company, which serves meals to millions of people in c.40 countries and employs and engages more than 500,000 people globally. The Company specialises in providing food and a range of support services across the core sectors of Business & Industry, Healthcare & Senior Living, Education, Sports & Leisure and Defence, Offshore & Remote, with an established brand portfolio.