May 19, 2014 Healthcare and Benefits en_US The Business Benefits of Providing Snacks as an Employee Perk
Healthcare and Benefits

The Business Benefits of Providing Snacks as an Employee Perk

By Lee Polevoi May 19, 2014

Providing employees with nutritious snacks should never be viewed as an unnecessary business expense. That’s because unhealthy snacking can lead to health-related issues that cost companies even more time and money.

“When people snack at their desks, they tend to eat fast and furiously,” explains Elaine Magee, who’s nationally known as the Recipe Doctor. “And if you eat fast, you’re more likely to eat more than you need.”

Why not encourage better habits to protect your bottom line? By offering healthy snacks as an employee perk, you can help your small business benefit from:

  • Increased motivation and productivity
  • Less absenteeism and days off due to illness
  • Reduced medical expenses
  • Greater teamwork and camaraderie, because snack time draws people away from their desks to a communal area
  • Better brand awareness of your business as an “employer of choice”

Also, during cold and flu seasons, nutritious and immunity-boosting snacks like walnuts, almonds, plain yogurt with berries, green tea, and oranges can help reduce co-worker susceptibility to contagious illnesses.

Popular Snack Items

Bananas make the top of many diet experts’ favored snack lists. “We all know it’s good to have a wide variety of fruit, but a lot of people don’t find it filling enough,” registered nutritionist Katharine Jenner tells The Guardian. “That’s why bananas are a good snack — they are satisfying and nutritious [and] a healthy but sweet-tasting alternative to sugary snacks.”

Roasted or unsalted nuts are another great choice, in moderation, Jenner adds. They’re rich in protein and help satisfy a person’s appetite between meals.

Try stocking up on these tasty treats:

  • Other fresh fruits (grapes, apples, pineapple chunks)
  • Raw vegetables with nonfat or low-fat dip or hummus spread
  • Individual portions of peanut butter to spread on whole wheat bagels, unsalted crackers, fruit, or pretzels
  • String cheese
  • Low-fat granola bars
  • Light popcorn
  • Small helpings of dried fruit or trail mix
  • Nonfat or 1 percent milk
  • Decaf coffee and tea

For additional guidance, check out the free workplace nutrition tools and resources compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

A Few Best Practices

When offering healthy snacks in the workplace, consider these three complementary best practices:

1. Supply drinking water. Your employees need to stay hydrated throughout the work day, and sodas won’t get the job done. “Giving employees easy access to water is the key to keeping them hydrated,” says registered dietitian Lynice Anderson. “If water is plentiful and accessible, they will be more likely to utilize the resources and stay hydrated.”

2. Ask employees about allergies or food sensitivities. Conduct an informal survey to find out what foods your staff dislikes or avoids. This is also a prime opportunity to find out what types of snacks they prefer, which can help guide your purchasing decisions.

3. Get employees thinking more about healthy eating. “Brown-bag luncheons or break-time seminars are prime opportunities for helping employees learn more about healthy habits,” says Lauren Lastowka, manager of consumer health information at American Specialty Health. “Recruit speakers to lead sessions on cooking healthy meals, staying healthy while traveling, or quick stress-management skills.”

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Lee Polevoi is a business writer specializing in the challenges and opportunities facing small business. Read more