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Why are companies investing so much in onsite events and food? Data says it’s a key RTO incentive

Learn what 240+ workplace leaders said about how they’re incentivizing employees to return to the office.

Maria Akhter
By Maria Akhter Content Marketing Manager

Talk to an employee who regularly works onsite and they’re guaranteed to mention how much they love their office perks. For tech employees, that could be catered lunches and free coffee. For more traditional offices, it could be lunch and learns and team bonding activities. For labs and other facilities, it might be after-hours social events. 

Onsite events offer an opportunity for employees to get together and build stronger relationships. They motivate employees, help them feel a sense of belonging, and create deeper connections to the business. 

According to our recent report, At Work: the 2023 workplace trends report, companies invested heavily on onsite events and programs to get employees excited about being back in the workplace. Among all workplace investments, how important were onsite events? And will they still be important in 2023?

Check out the full report to get a holistic picture of what happened to the workplace in the last year. But if you’re short on time, here’s the skinny on the ways companies invested in onsite events–and how they paid off.

28% of workplace leaders used onsite meals as RTO incentive 

Let’s be honest. It hasn’t been an easy road to bring employees back onsite. Employees have high expectations of the workplace. They want a flexible and fun work environment. Plus, workplaces have to compete with the convenience of working from home. Workplace leaders had to really sweeten the pot by adding appealing office perks into the workplace experience. 

We wanted to see what those incentives were. So we asked over 240 workplace leaders which incentives they have tried to help employees get over their deal breakers and incentivize them to return to office (RTO)

Unsurprisingly, food and beverage programs topped the list with 28% of leaders saying it helped incentivize employees to come to the office. Who doesn’t love a free meal? That’s followed by company events (16%), social events (11%), furniture and amenities (9%), and office environment (7%). Social and collaborative events and spaces were important to employees in 2022. Having space and time for people to get together was an important step in solving for loneliness during the pandemic and building back up employee engagement. In fact, according to a study by TravelPerk, 79% of employees are most excited to go to work events for the opportunity to meet other colleagues and build meaningful relationships.

50% of companies invested in onsite events and programs

Despite tighter wallets in the last year, companies were still spending where it mattered: the workplace experience. According to our survey, 50% of workplace leaders said their organizations invested in onsite events and programs. This is an area that actually saw a jump year over year. Compared to survey results from last year’s report, 28% more respondents invested in onsite events and programs in 2022 compared to 2021. Onsite events were found to be instrumental in fostering a deeper sense of camaraderie, community, and joy in the workplace. 

Another major area for investment for companies in 2022 was onsite food and beverage. This category of investment is also up from 2021 by 27%. This could be because onsite traffic was also up – by 37%. More people onsite, more people to feed! Onsite meals made the workplace a much more convenient place for employees. They no longer had to worry about packing lunch or stopping for coffee before the office. The experience of the workplace became a lot more seamless and exciting with catered food and drink.

2023 is going to be a big year for workplaces

With 2022 trends played out, we wanted to see what workplaces can expect for 2023. So we also asked leaders where they plan to invest their workplace budgets in the year ahead. If their strategies were working in the last few years, then maybe they’ll want to continue them going ahead. Workplace leaders want to see their organizations invest in onsite events and programs (36%) as well as food and beverage (24%). 

Another major area of investment is collaboration. 23% of respondents plan to invest in collaboration tools. Those could look like white boards, digital collaboration software, meeting room features, and more. Compared to last year, 3% more participants want to invest in physical collaboration tools and 9% less participants want to invest in remote collaboration tools. While remote collaboration tools are still instrumental for successful work, the focus shifted greatly in 2022 to fostering even more onsite and in-person collaboration.

Despite shifting economic conditions and tighter budgets, companies invested a lot of time, money, and energy into onsite events. And why wouldn’t they?  Onsite events and perks are highly valued by employees and are a great way to make the workplace more appealing. 2023 promises to be a continuation of this story, as companies continue to invest heavily in the workplace experience to satisfy the needs of their employees.

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Want to learn more about workplace trends?

If you enjoyed this data, then check out the full At Work: the 2023 workplace trends report.

Read the full report
Maria Akhter
Author Bio Maria Akhter

Maria is a content marketing manager at Envoy, where she helps workplace leaders build a workplace their people love. Outside of work, her passions include exploring the outdoors, checking out local farmers' markets, and drinking way too much coffee.