Beyond the coffeepot: Snacks are a sweet perk for a happier workplace
Searching for an inexpensive, exciting perk to add to your employee incentive package? Look no further than one of everybody’s favorite things: food.
Food is a surprisingly effective and fairly low-cost benefit that gives employers a lot of bang for their buck when it comes to making employees happier. However, this incentive is underutilized by businesses. One survey revealed that only 16 percent of employees have access to free food. So offering food could give employees something more to chew on if they are being recruited by your competition. And while some companies, like Google, choose to go nuts with it and offer gourmet meals and snacks 24/7, you don’t have to get that extravagant to reap much of the value this benefit provides.
Free snacks on-site can boost employees’ mood, motivation, focus and energy levels. Not to mention that employees who feel well-appreciated will be more engaged. In the survey I mentioned earlier, 56 percent of all full-time employees said they were extremely or very happy with their jobs. Among employees who got free food at work, that number climbed to 67 percent.
Having snacks available can also encourage workaholics to take their breaks and get up from their desks to grab a bite, which has been proven to improve alertness and productivity.
And if you want to appeal to more job seekers, good news: In one study, almost half of respondents said they’d consider perks (including free food) when switching jobs.
However, be aware that you may need to accommodate employees who have dietary restrictions or food allergies. This doesn’t need to pose much of a hassle, though. Options that are gluten-free, vegan and so on are now easier to come by than ever. All it takes is a quick survey to ensure there are options available that everyone can enjoy.
On that note, health-minded employees may not appreciate a spread of tempting junk food. Filling the snack cabinet exclusively with Skittles and Cheetos will probably cause more frustration than motivation in the long run. Besides, unhealthy foods are known to cause sluggishness, which is the last thing your workers need in the middle of a long weekday afternoon.
Fortunately, there are dozens of nutritious choices that are a far cry from the limp veggie platter that’s still sitting in the back of the employee fridge. How about trail mix, yogurt, baked chips, whole-wheat crackers, light string cheese, air-popped popcorn, jerky, granola, protein bars, nuts, dark chocolate, edamame and dried fruit, just to name a few? Yum.
Outside of everyday goodies, there are many other food-related ideas to try. Sharing meals together is a great way to foster community, so consider organizing the occasional pizza party, picnic, Taco Tuesday or burger-grilling session as well. Or, as a perfect excuse to stick around after work and socialize, some companies have even implemented office happy hours.
Most breakrooms have a pot of coffee at least, but maybe it’s time to start stocking up on some free snacks to fuel your hardworking team. While all the food in the world is no substitute for a fair benefits package and a healthy work/life balance, it can be a great way to show employees a little extra love. It doesn’t have to be an organic smoothie bar or daily catering — something as simple as a fruit bowl and an assortment of munchies can go a long way. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go pop some popcorn.