Office snack programs have changed through the years. Over ten years ago, Vending used to be the standard approach to offering snacks to employees. It is neatly contained in a box and you could subsidize the pricing in order to offer your employees reduced prices. We still have many customers that like this solution as vending itself has evolved. Vending machines accept credit cards, wallet payments or cash, and there are several apps currently entering the market that will allow for touchless transactions. Products offered in vending machines now have the calorie count printed on the front of the package. Additionally, prepaid cards can be used to discount the price while generating loyalty points that convert to cash. Through our GlobalConnect solution, we also offer many product promotions – Buy four and get the fifth one free.
The evolution of snack offerings occurred with the introduction of Micro Markets some 10 years ago. These markets have created a new, open consumer experience. Products are displayed in a manner that is more eye-catching, and items that could not be offered in vending machines are now available. The variety alone tripled as the size of the packaging was no longer an issue. Micro markets also offer a multitude of payment options, rewards, and product promotions. Just select your items, scan them on the kiosk, pay, and go.
Vending, Micro Markets, and Pantry Services
More recently, companies have been looking for ways to differentiate themselves to attract and retain top talent. Beyond a position’s measurable offerings such as pay and benefits, Human Resource Departments have been offering other perks that draw employees in. Free snacks and food items entice most people as it appeals to the stomach. To validate this thought, just think about how you shop for groceries when you are hungry versus when you’re not. The stomach and taste buds are a force to be reckoned with and influence the way we make decisions and act.
In addition to recruiting top employees, free snacks and foods boost morale and create a unique culture. This environment is a fertile ground that inspires people towards creativity and productivity. Employees are also more likely to work together and collaborate after they break bread together or in this instance, talking over a free snack in the break room.
While all three options- vending, micro markets, or pantry services (free snacks in the breakroom) have their merits, let’s focus on the ultimate benefit – free snack offerings. How would you go about setting this up and maintaining it? Which items should you provide?
Depending on what you are trying to accomplish, you can either start with a few basic offerings or jump right into a well-rounded menu. If your budget dictates crawling before running, you will want to select the items that appeal to most of your employees. Generally speaking, fruit (bananas and apples), yogurt, hard boiled eggs, and cheese sticks are a solid, baseline offering. These items are healthier and many of them provide a good amount of protein.
As your menu evolves and grows, there are several things to consider. Most locations begin to focus on product dayparts and how many indulgent items you want to offer. Dayparts focus on offerings based on the time of day. To have a balanced offering, companies will consider both breakfast and afternoon offerings. Breakfast/ morning items include muffins, yogurts, fruit, Danishes, cereal, breakfast bars, hard-boiled eggs, etc. Afternoon items are typically snacks that include trail mixes, granola bars, chips, crackers, etc.
Considerations for Healthy Office Snacks
Other things to consider are whether you want to offer prepackaged items vs. bulk items. Auxiliary items will be needed to support the menu such as paper goods, plastic utensils, etc., Finally, who will be ordering the product and maintaining the general cleanliness of the area.
Pre-COVID, many of our customers offered bulk items to their employees. COVID, however, changed this drastically as offices now want touch-free solutions. While slightly more expensive, the prepackaged items provide these assurances. Even so, we think it’s a good idea for employees to sanitize their hands before and after they choose items from open bins.
Auxiliary items may be required for yogurts, eggs, and other items. Again, we would recommend protecting your employees by using individually wrapped utensils. A.H. offers many items that support both snack and beverage bars.
The person who orders the products will need to manage the inventory, rotate coded products, and keep an eye and ear open to what employees like or don’t like. Often times, customers don’t think about the added waste and clean up. By offering certain items, kitchen counters will need to be cleaned more often and the garbage will need to be disposed of regularly.
Choosing a Breakroom Service Company
As with most things, you will need to determine how much time you want your employees working on this. It can range from minimal time to a full-time job depending on your involvement. As a pantry service company, A.H. Management Group’s goal is to assist you in making great choices that don’t require a lot of your time. We will help you plan a menu according to dayparts, health, budget, etc. Our easy, online ordering also makes this an efficient process.
We will meet with you to review different equipment that may be required such as refrigerators, microwaves, etc. along with their power and space needs. In addition, we will work with you to enhance the presentation of the products. Items can be displayed and presented well with the use of baskets, trays, or racks. If you opt for bulk products, we can show you a variety of dispensers.
If you are going to provide free snacks for your employees, you are obviously offering a top-level amenity program to your employees. We often find that customers who offer this are also interested in providing Cold brewed and Nitro coffees, carbonated flavored water dispensers, catering, and Food lockers. Just give A.H. a call, and we will help you create your own pantry service…something that will make your office stand out from the ordinary.