Free snack to attract and retain talent in Silicon Valley


A study suggests that free snack offerings not only attract and retain employees but make them engaged and productive.

Whenever job seekers are given offers by employers, the things they are known to consider before accepting the offer are salary, location, culture and other perks and benefits. Not any more! A new trend is emerging in the Silicon Valley, where the job seekers are attracted by the free grub and snacks offered by the companies in the workplace. Organisations are increasingly mentioning free snacks as a popular perk in their offers.

A survey by food service company, ZeroCater, which offers catering services to startups in San Francisco, has found that companies are spending large amounts on snacks to attract and retain top talent. These companies are spending an average of $3–$8 per employee per day on snacks, which amounts to $78000 to $208000, annually, for a workforce of 100 people.

ZeroCater, which has clients such as Adobe, Visa, Wells Fargo and Salesforce, surveyed more than a 1000 employees at 13 different client companies.

The result showed that most of the organisations preferred items, such as La Croix Sparkling Water, Honest Teas and High Brew Coffees. Nowadays, companies are concerned about the health of the employees and are stocking fresh produce and Emergen-C to keep the employees away from sickness.

Companies are not only maintaining a supply of protein bars and low-calorie beverages, but also keeping a wide variety of edibles—Cheez-Its, Fruit by the Foot and Austin Zoo Animal Crackers.

While one may be surprised that free snacks can be a deal breaker in accepting a job offer, it has indeed had an impact on employees. Bloomberg employees boast enthusiastically about the complimentary snacks it offers to them. These arrangements help in employee engagement and increase employee productivity.

The employees surveyed were asked to their satisfaction level with their company’s free snack offerings. On a scale of 1 to 5, the average checked 1.7. This suggests that organisations need to improve their free snack offering.

When the employees surveyed were asked what is most meaningful to them, they ranked food in the top five, along with medical benefits, work flexibility and other quality work–life factors.

SurveyMonkey offers its employees two meals per day, in addition to snacks. It spends around $10–$15 per day, per employee on meals and snacks. The human resources department of the company asks employees about the dishes they enjoy and makes the menu accordingly. This promotes healthfulness and a community feeling among the employees. It gets an insight into employees’ preferences from the inventory patterns.

Employers need to improve their free snack offering, to attract and retain their employees and make them engaged and productive.

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