It’s counterintuitive, but it’s true: Sometimes, the best way for a business to save money is to spend it.
Take accounting. At a rate of $150 to $400 per hour, an accountant might sound like a serious expense for a small business. But if that accountant helps it claim unusual but legitimate tax breaks, then the company could stand to save thousands.
The return on a professional service depends, of course, on the professional in question. Where should entrepreneurs look for surefire savings? Assets like company vehicles can save money in many situations, as can certain marketing tools. There’s one seemingly frivolous expense, however, that every company can benefit from: healthy snacks.
Office Snacks Save Money
Office snacks might sound like a costly addition to the company budget, but they can actually save firms money in four ways:
1. Improved employee retention
Although it’s true that replacing a salaried employee costs six to nine times his or her salary, the typical retention strategies — raising salaries, providing bonuses, and providing better health insurance — aren’t cheap, either. Simply setting out office snacks, believe it or not, can reduce employee turnover for a fraction of the price.
In fact, free food matters more to workers than you might expect. When grocery delivery service Peapod surveyed full-time workers, it discovered that two-thirds of those with access to free food at work are “extremely” or “very” happy with their current job. Among those who didn’t receive employer-provided office snacks, that figure fell to 56 percent.
2. Reduced absenteeism
Another surprisingly steep employee cost is unscheduled absenteeism. According to the CDC Foundation, absence-related productivity losses cost U.S. employers $225.8 billion — about $1,685 per employee. Although some of those costs are due to injuries, the report notes, a growing fraction comes from chronic diseases, stress, and fatigue.
Although making healthy snacks available might not reduce workplace injuries, it can limit chronic and acute illnesses from taking their toll. Dark chocolate, beef jerky, and healthy nuts, in particular, promote healthy body mass. Other office snacks, like dried papaya, yogurt, and sunflower seeds, strengthen the immune system to keep infections and colds from knocking staff out of commission.
3. Heightened productivity
None of us do our best work when we’re hungry, but a rumbling stomach can be a serious distraction. The U.N.’s International Labor Organization reports that poor nutrition costs countries around the world up to 20 percent of workers’ potential productivity. Although employers can’t change what workers eat at home, they can provide healthy snacks at the office.
To maximize productivity, opt for nutritionally dense office snacks. Our dark chocolate berry trail mix, for instance, provides a balanced punch of healthy fats, protein, and carbohydrates. Snacks that contain iron, which can combat chronic fatigue, are also a smart bet. Try our chile mango strips, which contain no added sugar, fats, or sodium, for a snack that won’t spoil lunch or dinner.
4. Fewer health insurance claims
Although health insurance has never been cheap, its cost has soared in recent years. The Kaiser Family Foundation found that the average annual premium for an employer-sponsored family health plan reached $19,616 in 2018, up 5 percent from the year prior. Although the plan’s cutting coverage level can save money in the short term, it can create other costs like increased turnover or absenteeism.
Healthy snacks, however, can cut health insurance expenses over the long term without accompanying hidden costs. Improving employees’ diets reduces their risk for everything from stroke to colon cancer to tooth decay. Although an apple per day may, indeed, keep the doctor away, workers are more likely to take their medicine when they have choices. Healthy snacks like dried fruits and nuts are particularly filling, healthy, and easy to enjoy on the job.
Depriving team members of one of their favorite perks simply isn’t a smart way to save money. While the savings of healthy office snacks might not show up on the balance sheet tomorrow or even next month, they do build up. To take a bite out of turnover and absences, there’s no better (or tastier) solution than healthy snacks.