Office Snacks: The Way To an Employee's Heart

Providing snack foods for your employees is a great perk, and a win-win if you know how to do it right.
OPEN Forum Contributor
February 27, 2014

Food is one of the most popular perks a small-business owner can offer. After all, food provides fuel for work, and the better fueled employees are, the better work they'll do.

Feeding an office can seem daunting, but the benefits far outweigh the time and effort it takes to coordinate a food plan. Boosting employee satisfaction and productivity are just the start—food also creates a happy, communal atmosphere and can increase bonding between employees. You never know what problems your well-fed, well-nourished employees will solve—or the innovations they'll discover—as they grab an apple, fruit bar or some gourmet popcorn from the break room.

There's an art, though, to workplace snacking, and a right and wrong way to do it.

Go Healthy

It might be tempting to offer candy at the office, because who doesn't like candy? Unfortunately, that sugar rush quickly becomes a sugar crash, which doesn't lend itself to good, productive work. Instead, choose high-protein, healthy snacks like fruit, cheese and crackers, or nuts, which will lead to better focus throughout the day.

Be Creative

Don't be boring with your snacks. Mix things up—think about gourmet snacks instead of mass-produced ones, unexpected snacks instead of expected ones. Being creative doesn't have to mean going out of your way to find delicacies, but it does mean putting some thought into your offerings. Look for what's in season, and talk to local markets, farmers and restaurants to get ideas.

Shop Locally

Be a locavore! It's a great way to connect with local businesses while at the same time offering employees treats. Bring in bagels from a downtown bakery, a basket of fruit from a local farmer's market or cheese from a nearby dairy. It'll build community spirit and also introduce employees to local businesses.

Watch for Allergies and Sensitivities

Many people have allergies and sensitivities, so it's vital that you take these into account when offering snacks. Conduct an informal poll in which you ask employees about foods they need to avoid. At the same time, you can ask them what foods they'd like to have, which will give you much-needed ideas for what kinds of foods to offer.

Designate a Special Snack Day

For small businesses, it can be cost-prohibitive to offer snacks every day. If offering daily snacks is not possible for your business, you might designate a special day, such as Wednesdays to help them get over the mid-week hump. Having a schedule will give employees something to look forward to each week, and it will give you a break from having to offer something special every day.

Offer Basics Every Day

Providing bottled water, coffee and tea is a good way to keep an office humming, so consider offering these every day. Having access to the basics will save people the time and expense of stopping at Starbucks, thus improving employee morale and making work time more productive.

Look into Delivery Services

Check out companies, such as NatureBox and graze, that specialize in delivering healthy, creative snacks. These services can save you trips to the grocery store, and they'll come through for your business when you're out of ideas. Tailor the delivery timing and frequency to your company's budget and needs, and also to the desires of your employees. Using a snack delivery service can be a fun and easy way to offer food without having to think too much about it.

Employees have limited time and lead stressful lives outside of the office, so the less they have to think about how they're going to eat, the more time and effort they can devote to the real business at hand. And that's a winning recipe for all involved.

Read more articles on productivity.

Photo: Thinkstock

OPEN Forum Contributor