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No such thing as a free lunch

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Boosting staff motivation and productivity can be achieved in a number of ways and one that is adopted by Silicon Valley companies is offering employees free food.

Businesses such as Google and Facebook are famously excellent places to work, because as well as good food, other incentives include great benefits, quirky offices and large pay packets – meaning many are attracted to positions within these organisations.

However, there could be an end to the free food offered as the American taxman is reportedly examining whether it is in fact a fringe benefit on which employees should pay additional tax.

Martin McMahon, a tax law professor at the University of Florida, believes the meals should be part of a compensation package.

“I clearly think it ought to be taxable income,” he argues.

However, ex-Google employee Sanjeev Agrawal, disagrees: “Free meals should not be taxed because they’re not compensation. They’re a phenomenal convenience, a terrific motivator and a great social thing.”

So how can managers encourage their employees to go the extra mile and boost productivity if they can’t offer them a free lunch?

According to Employee Benefits, motivating factors such as mobile working, recognising hard work and good management are some of the driving forces behind a happy and productive workforce.

And while some companies already know what is important when it comes to employee engagement and motivation, more can benefit from taking these wellbeing factors into consideration, regardless of size or finances.

Take good management, for example. Nick Holley, director of the Centre for HR Excellence at Henley Business School, believes this is the key to incentivising staff to “go the extra mile”.

This means being attentive to staff members and their needs – employees will want to do their best if they feel their employer is interested in them and what they do.

Another factor which can have a profound effect on motivation is mobile working, by allowing staff to take ownership of their own tasks. In this way, employees will feel they are trusted and rather than being micro-managed, they will feel motivated to perform.