Snacks Are the Hot Business Trend in Employee Satisfaction

How small companies can attract employees with a popular company perk

People eating lunch in the office
••• Sydney Roberts/DigitalVision/Getty Images

Many small companies struggle to compete for the best talent, and benefits can make or break small business efforts to attract employees in a tight hiring market. Small-to-midsized companies are attracting employees with a popular employment perk: kitchens stocked with healthy, tasty snacks, a variety of drinks, and other foods that make employees happy. 

Why Are Snacks a Popular Benefit?

Free snacks, drinks, and other food are a popular office perk for multiple reasons.

  • Visibility. Employees can immediately see and enjoy the benefit.
  • Changing habits. Snacks appeal to the many workers whose eating habits are shifting towards snacking throughout the day rather than eating meals at set times.
  • Time management. As employees work longer hours, having food available for free reduces the number of hours they have to spend shopping for or preparing food at home.

How Does Providing Snacks Benefit Businesses?

Small businesses are often unable to provide employees with the same compensation package as larger corporations. This includes expensive benefits such as healthcare, dental or vision coverage, or 401(k) matching.

However, providing snacks and other food in the office allows small businesses to offer employees a tangible, visible benefit without hurting the bottom line. Benefits like health insurance or retirement accounts may be out of reach for many small to midsize companies. But having food in the kitchen is something businesses of nearly any size can afford.

Having snacks or other food available also improves employee morale and boosts productivity, especially if those snacks include healthy options that your employees are excited about eating.

What Types of Companies Provide Free Snacks?

Any company can provide snacks as an employee benefit, according to start-up founders Adam Sah and Joyce Guan. The two tech workers founded Buyer's Best Friend in 2010, a company that provided wholesale food and other products to businesses, including office snacks.

When they were involved in the snack industry, the two noted, they worked with businesses in industries that included drones, data centers, venture capitalists, and banks. The business size ranged from 15-400 employees, and about half of the companies provided employees with lunch as well as snack food.

Other Popular Benefits Small Businesses Can Offer

Office food is such a popular benefit that millennial workers are more likely to have access to free food at the office than to employer-sponsored healthcare or retirement. But not all employees love the idea of eating at work, especially those who are older or who have families.

If providing free food isn't the right benefit for your workplace, consider offering one of these popular perks to keep your staff happy.

  • Transportation and parking. No matter how employees get to work, commuting can take up significant time and money. Provide employees with a monthly stipend toward the costs of commuting to and from work, an annual public transit pass, or a parking pass for a nearby garage.
  • Gym membership. Even if you can't offer your employees health insurance, you can still contribute to their well-being. Partner with a local gym or offer free or discounted memberships for your workers.
  • Telecommuting. As many as 90 percent of workers are interested in telecommuting. Give your employees the option to work remotely, at least part of the time. Remote work may also give you a greater pool of job applicants to pull from, rather than limiting you to employees who are in your geographic area.
  • Flexible hours. Depending on your industry, customers, and time zone, your employees may not need to work traditional nine-to-five hours. Others may prefer to work longer hours so they can have every other Friday off. Flexibility is a perk that appeals to workers across the spectrum of age, income, and family situation.
  • Care subsidies. If a large percentage of your employees have family members who require regular care, such as children or elderly relatives, you can help ease the burden by providing care subsidies. These subsidies don't need to be high; for many families, an extra $100 per month toward child- or eldercare can make a big difference.

No matter the size of your business, it is possible to find perks that can keep your employees happy and help you attract top talent, even if traditional benefits are out of the budget.

Article Sources

  1. Esterl, Mike. Forget Dinner: It's Always Snack Time in America. The Wall Street Journal website. https://www.wsj.com/articles/forget-dinner-its-always-snack-time-1404240759. July 2, 2014.

  2. Saad, Lydia. The "40-Hour" Workweek Is Actually Longer — by Seven Hours. Gallup News website. https://news.gallup.com/poll/175286/hour-workweek-actually-longer-seven-hours.aspx. August 29, 2014.

  3. Malcom, Hadley. Study: The key to happiness at work is free snacks. USA Today website. https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2015/09/16/study-says-snacks-affect-happiness-at-work/72259746/. September 16, 2015.

  4. Jobvite.com. (2016). Job Seeker Nation Study 2016. [online] Available at: https://www.jobvite.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/Jobvite_Jobseeker_Nation_2016.pdf

  5. Globalworkplaceanalytics.com. (2016). Latest Telecommuting/Mobile Work/Remote Work Statistics – Global Workplace Analytics. [online] Available at: https://globalworkplaceanalytics.com/telecommuting-statistics. Updated August 16, 2019.