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Gen Z Talent value Food, Sustainability and Digital at Work

Global Eating at Work Survey by Compass Group shows employers how to retain talent and increase staff loyalty, productivity, and wellbeing

• Born between 1996 and 2010, Gen Z should 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 leading food services company, and global market intelligence agency Mintel, reveals that Gen Z workers want enhanced wellbeing, sustainability, and digital benefits in the workplace, and will look at alternative employers if their needs are not met.
Irish Gen Z employees particularly valued sustainability commitments in a business, and advanced technology. In terms of eating at work, Ireland’s young workers were ahead of the global curve, with 83% demanding healthier food at work (versus 73% globally) and 68% of our Gen Z workers shunning meat and favouring plant-based meals (63% globally).

Compass Group’s Global Eating at Work Survey 2023 is one of the largest inter-generational surveys of its kind. It analyses insights from 35,000 global workers in 26 countries on 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, 61% of Irish workers say they are scrutinising employee benefits more closely than they used to, peaking at 74% among Gen Z here.

- 40% of Irish workers say they feel less loyal towards their employer since COVID-19, jumping to more than half (61%) for Gen Z employees in Ireland.

- Facing higher costs of living, 82% of Gen Z and Millennials here advocate for employers to provide free or subsidised meals at work.


Deirdre O Neill, Managing Director at Compass Ireland, says that with Gen Z and Millennials soon to make up the bulk of our workforce, their influence in workplaces is on the rise.

Our research shows that Gen Z workers want to be associated with companies who share their values, provide a safe, comfortable working environment, and support their health and wellbeing. A staff restaurant is shown to be an effective way for employers to attract, retain and motivate their teams, helping win the war for talent and addressing the productivity challenge at the same time.”

The extent of worker demands on employers is evolving, with food provision at work viewed as a major asset, 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. A staff restaurant or meal provision is number four on the list of valued perks.

- 80% of Gen Z in Ireland say an on-site cafeteria would positively influence their decision to join a prospective employer, compared to 41% for Baby Boomers.

- 69% of Irish workers who have a staff restaurant at work say they speak more highly of their employer to others outside their organisation, compared to 65% for employees with no food provision at work.

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

- 78% of Irish workers 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 a significant 83% among Gen Z workers in Ireland.

- Younger generations are driving a meat-free revolution in the workplace. 68% of Gen Z workers in Ireland advocate for more plant-based food, compared to just 44% of Gen X and 37% of Baby Boomers. Ireland is significantly ahead of the global curve, in demanding plant-based options.

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

- 88% of Gen Z workers here say that taking a proper lunch break makes them more productive when they return to work, compared to 80% among Baby Boomers.

- 79% of Gen Z workers are happy to order food and drinks via an app, compared to just 32% of Irish Baby Boomers.

- 65% of Gen Z workers say they like to stay on top of their calorie intake by tracking their diet via an app, versus 36% among the wider population in Ireland.

Gen Z are naturally digital natives, Deirdre O Neill of Compass Ireland says, and, therefore, have a greater interest in technology-based foodservice in the workplace.


“Their whole eating at work experience needs to be as smooth, quick, and efficient as possible, for a stress-free break which also harnesses employee’ productivity. This means exciting new opportunities for workplace dining to meet Gen Z’s growing demand for ‘what they need, when and where they need it'. The dedicated apps now provided for workplaces streamline everything from ordering, payment and delivery, to tracking nutrition and the carbon footprint of the meals they choose.”