Go ahead, eat that snack… and boost your productivity

Everyone needs a pick-me-up throughout the day.

No, really — everyone needs to munch on a quick bite in order to perform better. In fact, eating is such a positive force in business, its powers extend beyond productivity. Snacking has even been correlated with higher profits in negotiations, speaking to just how critical food is for thought and decision-making.

Effects of snacks on productivity

Scientists have stressed the importance of maintaining constant glucose levels in order to take the best care of your brain. Most people experience an early afternoon reduction in productivity. This slump primarily results from a dip in blood glucose, which the brain and body need to make energy. Without that energy, you feel sluggish, lightheaded, and uninspired.

Snacking choices also reflect overall health, which is directly tied to productivity. It should come as no surprise that the healthier you are, the more work you’re capable of doing — and the more consistently you can perform at this higher level.

Although emotional eating is not recommended, the pleasure associated with food can keep your team’s mood up. Happier employees will be more pleasant and cooperative in their interactions, while also being more creative and quick-thinking.

Keeping healthy snacks on hand also reduces decision fatigue for your employees, so they can focus on making the choices their jobs require instead of agonizing over what they will eat, where they will find it, etc. They don’t need to spend their willpower on resisting temptation; a quick, healthy bite, and they will keep running smoothly through the rest of their day.

You are are what you eat

The important caveat here is to make sure you provide healthy snacks. Believe it or not, an office full of people eating candy and corn chips will not be optimized for success.

What makes for a healthy snack? Ideally, you can find some room for fruits and vegetables. Harvard Business Review noted that the more fruits and vegetables people consume, the happier and more creative they are. This might be because they are associated with elevated dopamine and antioxidants, both of which contribute to optimal brain performance.

Protein-rich snacks like yogurt and nuts help offset the sugar spike of more carbohydrate-rich snacks. It takes longer to digest protein, so protein-rich foods take a little bit longer to be reflected in blood glucose levels. Roughly when the first carbohydrate-induced spike starts to die down is when the increase in blood glucose resulting from protein occurs. Many offices have now started stocking portable egg boiling units, which allow employees to rapidly cook eggs for another protein source.

If you’re feeling like “spoiling” your employees with a touch of decadence, dried fruit and even dark chocolate might provide something closer to traditional treats while still maintaining health. Dried fruit has vitamins and fiber, while chocolate has powerful antioxidants that are good for the body and mind.

Combining several different snacks can offer a more diverse range of nutrients, further boosting the positive effects of snacks.

Where do I start?

Here are some guidelines to follow when stocking your office with snacks:

  • Make them healthy. Do they offer protein alongside carbs? Are they low in sugar? Do they have minimal preservatives? These are just some suggestions for the types of considerations you should make as you assemble your office’s snack program.
  • Make it easy to eat healthy. Maybe this involves installing a healthy snack vending machine in the break room. Maybe you’ll need to give everyone access to a snack stipend that keeps healthy snack options readily available for everyone.
  • Bring them to meetings. Facilitate comfort by making snacks available during meetings. Your team members will be less prone to getting hungry and irritable. Their patience will make it easy for everyone to contribute.
  • Get a diverse range of options. Make sure you can address a wide range of allergens, dietary restrictions, and food goals in order to make this a true perk for everyone.
  • Pick choices that don’t smell. Or, at the very least, stay aware of the potential impact odors from food can have on the office space. No one wants to sit — much less, try to work — in the midst of lingering odors, food or otherwise.

Should you be providing your teams with snacks?

Let’s wrap this up on a high note: Get your team some snacks! The expense will more than pay for itself with happier, more productivity employees who are fully equipped to get the job done.

Chad is a former VP of Marketing and Communications at Jotform. He’s also a frequent contributor to various tech and business publications, and an absolute wizard with a Vitamix. He holds a master’s degree in communication and resides with his wife and cats in Oakland, California.

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