California is home to some of the country’s greatest and most original food trucks, so it should come as no surprise that many startup companies are finding innovative ways to work with them. Small software companies in particular have identified food trucks as a low-cost way to reward their employees and improve employee retention from larger technology companies like Facebook and Google.
This makes more sense if you look at food trucks as startup companies themselves, with low entry costs and the advantage of mobility, most food trucks are relatively new to the road and are still looking for a way to become a permanent fixture in their city’s dining scene. Many programmers have come to expect job perks and free time at work, and startup companies that aren’t able to provide these often lose quality employees to large corporations. While many larger companies have built in-house kitchens and hire culinary staffs, food trucks provide healthy, quality food and a recreational vibe.
At the digital advertising startup Rocket Fuel, ‘Free Food Truck Fridays’ have become a huge hit, citing happier and healthier employees since the onset of the weekly event. Another software company called Twilio treats its employees with caterings and prepaid food truck meals in a variety of cuisines. Though the company plans to move and expand its office it will still retain food trucks as part of its company culture, rather than building an in-house kitchen.
Technology companies are increasingly looking to food trucks to build morale and create a ‘hangout’ atmosphere at the office. Gamefly, based in Los Angeles, began bringing food trucks to their office after the company’s founder Sean Specter became aware of Kogi BBQ. Now the company feeds its employees from food trucks about twice a month. “The reality is that people don’t want to eat the office every day of the week,” says Specter. “It’s an added perk to working here. It’s very social.” There are also less dining options in Los Angeles without the food trucks. Known as a ‘work island effect’, employees often get sick of the same two or three restaurants over and over.
In Austin, Texas, food trucks have taken off in a huge way, and tech startups have not failed to notice them. Employees are often given lunch tickets to food trucks parked outside their offices, and at one company employees let out an audible cheer when they received a company-wide email announcing that a food truck was on its way. According to the Society for Human Resource Management, offering healthy meal options has become a best practice for employers.
Now at California’s Rocket Fuel employees are coming into working more instead of working from home, and the company is using ‘Food Truck Fridays’ to attract new talent, often interviewing candidate on Fridays. Employees who have left the company for larger corporations even tell coworkers how much they miss the food at Rocket fuel.
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