Why Providing Unhealthy Office Snacks is Killing Employee Productivity

Sally Hetherington   30 November, 2020
employee benefits Featured

We spend on average 8 hours a day at work, so it is inevitable that we will have at least one meal during the course of a work day, and it is highly likely that most employees will have a snack or two to keep them going. Many offices supply snacks to motivate employees, and an easy quick fix is a vending machine loaded with soda’s, crisps and chocolates. Who doesn’t love a sneaky biscuit with their morning cuppa?

You may think you are doing your employees a favour by offering these sweet treats. But what you are doing instead is killing their productivity. Before your employees return to the office, here’s why you need to rethink your company snack culture...

The Disadvantages of Unhealthy Office Snacks

Increased Stress

Surely having access to a delicious sugary treat will motivate employees and make them happy? Yes, in the short term, however as the carbohydrates and associated sugar hits your bloodstream your body releases insulin to sort out the converted glucose, as your brain cannot  store it.

At the same time various endorphins - those happy hormones - are released, adding to your sugar rush, and, for a while, you’ll feel better for having eaten that donut. But only for a short while. After that your body will try to regulate these endorphins, causing a crash, and suddenly you feel anxious and depressed, so you reach for more sugar. And so the unhealthy cycle continues.


Increased Absences

Eating unhealthy foods without the recommended daily allowance of important vitamins and minerals will not give your body what it needs. A poor diet can also lead to diabetes, obesity and heart disease. Together all of these will compromise the immune systems of your employees and they will not be able to fight off illness and will therefore take more sick days, leading to loss of productivity and therefore money for your business.

The Dreaded Afternoon Slump

Many of us will know the sensation of feeling sluggish after that lunch-time pie and in need of an afternoon nap. Usually we head off for a quick caffeine fix or a chocolate bar to sort this out, which of course makes it worse. Eating high glycemic index carbs for lunch like white bread and pasta without enough protein will add to this dip, and fixing the dip with unhealthy snacks, no matter how delicious, will add to the spiral.

Skipping Meals

Having easy access to unhealthy snacks may lead to a pattern of skipping meals, meals where your employees may be getting the correct nutrients, but are now missing out on. Filling up on empty carbs, fats and sugars will do just that - fill them up.

Dailynew.com explains that skipping meals not only leads to the lack of essential nutrients that in turn causes your energy and concentration to drop, but it also leads to cravings and excess hunger which can lead to poor food choices later on. intermittent fasting but those practising intermittent fasting will understand how important it is to nourish their bodies with a healthy, whole foods diet and hydrate with enough water prior to a fast. If you’re planning on skipping meals for the benefits that intermittent fasting provides, make sure you’re not loading up on empty calories.


The Advantages of Healthy Snacks

Healthy snacks go a long way toward improving the health and productivity of your employees. Consider instituting a food programme at work which can become part of your company culture. Squarefoot.com explains that a food program can be a precise company strategy designed to encompass all food related activities within the company.

How you feed your employees throughout the day and instill a healthy relationship between food and the workplace, will not only improve the individual health of your employees, but also the overall culture and productivity of your business. Changing the food culture in your company has a number of benefits:

Healthy Snacks Boost Concentration

Providing healthy snack options including fruit, vegetables and low GI carbs and high proteins will help combat that afternoon slump as well as giving your employees a boost to help them focus, while a stable blood sugar level will allow them to concentrate for longer. Healthy snacks will also keep your employees full for longer meaning that they can focus on tasks and not their hunger pangs, meaning they won’t have to get up as frequently to fill the gap.

Healthy Snacks Help Build a Community

Cater2Me believes that snacks can be an opportunity to involve everyone in the workplace, by asking everyone for ideas and collaboration on healthy snacks, allowing employees to feel valued. It also allows a chance for a short communal break every couple of hours which can improve productivity if snacks are healthy and energy sustaining, as well as allow for opportunities for teams to socialise.

Healthy Snacks Remove Stress and Increase Happiness

Most people are in a rush to get to work in the morning and having to pack enough snacks for the day can feel like an unnecessary chore. Some people will just not bother, and instead reach for the quick fix unhealthy snack on the way to work, coffee and a chocolate muffin anyone?


Or they may run late, starting their day filled with anxiety about having to rush and letting people down. Having healthy options in the office will take this stress away and allow your employees to get to their desks quicker and sustain them for longer with a healthy snack at hand. Not all offices will have a handy supermarket nearby so sourcing a healthy option might be difficult, as opposed to the local chippie offering trans fats and empty carbs!

We all know that food makes people happy and happy employees means increased productivity which improves your bottom line. Cater2Me believes that something as simple as keeping healthy, popular snacks in the office could increase productivity by improving your employees’ moods.

Did you know that a gym membership is now considered a basic employee benefit? Click here to read why it is worth the investment.  

Jessica Pieterse, director and clinical dietician at Dish Up Dieticians says “Unhealthy snacking at the workplace can cause you to be more tired, irritable, less focused and have lower concentration. This occurs due to irregular spikes and drops in blood sugar levels as well as possible dehydration.” She suggests the following options could be provided as healthy alternatives for employees: 

  • Homemade popcorn
  • Fresh fruit plates
  • High fibre crackers with cottage cheese
  • Boiled eggs
  • Plain yoghurt with a sprinkle of seed mix
  • Rice cakes with peanut butter


Consider making the necessary changes, like hiring a catering manager who will be responsible for sourcing and preparing healthy options, in conjunction with your staff members.

If a catering manager isn’t possible, consider an occasional consult session with a dietician who can advise you on the best menu for your team’s requirements. A healthy food culture in the workplace will further encourage your employees to make healthy choices outside of the office, leading to happier, healthier and more productive employees.

Not sure how to look after the wellbeing of employees whilst they are working from home? Click here for some tips. 

Book a demo with Staff Treats today to find out how your staff can benefit from our health and wellbeing discounts at all your favourite grocery stores and wellness centers.

Sally Hetherington

Full time teen wrangler, part time writer, passionate traveller and wannabe chef.

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