When it comes to boosting employee morale, finding small ways to make the day a bit more pleasant, fun, and less stressful can go a long way. That’s why office perks are a big deal at today’s top companies—and among the most appetizing are boatloads of free snacks.
Don’t worry—you don’t need to hire a celebrity chef and create gourmet meals on-site. However, stocking a bountiful snack pantry, setting up a coffee bar, or having free lunch Fridays just might feed your employees’ workplace devotion, and end up offering a pretty healthy return on your investment. According to a Glassdoor survey, younger workers aged 18-34 (89 percent) and 35-44 (84 percent) said they actually prefer benefits or perks to pay raises. And of the perks listed, 19 percent mentioned free lunch.
When you consider that only 22 percent of offices provide free snacks and beverages, it’s an easy and fairly low-cost way to stand out from your competitors.
Take a look at a few of the benefits of keeping your staff well-fed to decide if it’s time to get in on the office snacking trend:
Snacks make people happy. Even in companies that have extremely or very satisfied employees, a survey by grocery delivery service Peapod found that the happiness factor goes up when free food is involved-jumping from 56 percent in companies with bare cupboards, to 67 percent at workplaces that supply snacks. Think about organizations that are known for their great employer brands (like Dropbox, Apple, and Google), and you’ll see that fabulous food is a staple of the employee perks menu.
Your staff may be more productive. It’s hard to dispute the fact that hunger tends to creep up throughout the day, especially around 3:00 in a hectic office setting. So, ask yourself-isn’t it better if your employees walk into the kitchen or lounge for a cupful of popcorn or to make a cappuccino, than if they step out and end up taking an extended work break? Why do you think tech start-ups are notorious for having so many perks on-site-it’s to limit the need for their employees to leave the premises. By encouraging people to remain in the building, you’ll limit those 15-minute coffee runs that turn into 45 minutes, or those 30-minute lunches that turn into two hours.
Healthy food can improve moods and keep people energized. You can’t argue with nutritional science. By offering an array of healthy energy-boosting foods, it will help prevent your workers from crashing or fizzling out. Sure, it’s nice to have cupcakes or pizza luncheons from time to time, but for daily offerings, stick with snacks that will invigorate your workers. The American Heart Association actually has a Healthy Workplace Food and Beverage Toolkit that offers smart snack and lunch suggestions for employers to offer. Among the most important tips are to provide clean, cool water, always, and offer healthy treats, like a “Build Your Own Trail Mix” bar, complete with dried fruit, nuts, seeds, and whole grain cereal or granola.
If you’re looking for an easy and affordable way to increase employee satisfaction, consider serving up some free snacks. A giant jar of pretzels or a few bunches of bananas might seem insignificant, but that small gesture can help show your workers that you appreciate them.