A new study suggests offering employees free food is an easy way to keep them happy and productive.
In a survey of 1,000 office employees conducted by Peapod, a grocery delivery company, only 16 percent of workers report having access to free food at work.
However, those who are offered snacks on the job report higher levels of job satisfaction than those who aren't.
While 56 percent of those polled overall reported being "extremely" or "very" happy at work, 67 percent of those at jobs with free food reported such levels of satisfaction.
Millennials were the most likely to cite free snacks as an important job perk. And workplaces that employ large numbers of millennials, such as startups, are more likely to have food on-site. For new economy companies that seek to make the workplace a home-away-from-home, where employees socialize as well as work, a well-stocked kitchen makes employees more appreciative of the office and pushes them to mingle over food with coworkers.
"It helps employees be more excited about coming to work," Beth Monaghan, cofounder of InkHouse, a company in Connecticut, told USA Today after her office began providing workers an assortment of goodies, including organic fruit, soda, chips, cookies, a popcorn machine and a seltzer machine.
Also touting the benefits of snacks at work to USA Today was Danielle Mahoney, the director of human resources for Appeagle, a software company based in Hackensack, New Jersey. The office not only has snacks on hand (determined via employee requests), but provides free lunch and breakfast to its two dozen employees.
"It shows a personal investment and that need to make sure that they're happy here and they have everything they need to do a good job," Mahoney said.
While it's hard to believe that many employees wouldn't appreciate free food at work, it's difficult to know how big of a role snacks play in shaping worker satisfaction based on the survey. In fact, rather than demonstrating the effect of providing free snacks on worker happiness, the survey may show that free snacks are one indicator of whether a workplace is enjoyable.