We all know that joke about pizza parties in the workplace being a cheap "thank you" from the bosses. Yet many of us also know the excitement of seeing free food in the general kitchen or breakroom. This is because free food is awesome, but free food as a reward is, well less awesome.

The question many ask is: Does free food do anything for employee morale?

In short, the answer is actually yes and no. A pizza party on it's own will not make a difference.

Research shows that highly engaged teams outperform poorly engaged teams by 22 percent. And most leaders know that people who are happier at work are at least 12 percent more productive than those who are not.

Many places like INC. even claim that stuff like pizza parties don't cut it when it comes to boosting employee morale.

Many experts say the first step is having the right environment, and team first. Ken Oudeman stated,

In the grand scheme of things, pizza is cheap and easy and people know it. So like anything cheap and easy, any morale boost would have a commensurately negligible effect. That said, it does have a proper use in three less-Machiavellian categories.

A pizza party and free food in the right environment however seems to be more successful than a party out of the blue. As employees we like to see a "token of appreciation." in other forms. This can be shown after a goal is met, or a new announcement comes out.

So, while free food is exciting in the workplace when it's a surprise from other employees, cheap gestures could have the opposite intended effect on employees when they come from a boss or manager. So, if you're in charge, go all out with your employee appreciation, they deserve it!

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