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Institutionalized Snacking: Keeping Your Entire Team on Track with Snack Breaks


There’s an old saying in our culture: “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink”.

This is a very important lesson for any manager to learn, especially when it comes to workplace wellness and healthy snacking. Many good managers are uniquely aware of their employee’s coping mechanisms for low energy and calorie management. They know who brings coffee to work in the morning and who refills the communal coffee pot. Who clocks in still eating their fast-food breakfast biscuits and who has a secret stash of cookies in their bottom desk drawer for emergency snacking. 

Mid-shift snacking is something that has existed for as long as there have been work shifts as a way for employees to keep their energy up without stopping work. The problem is that your team members don’t always make the smartest decisions when it comes to work snacks. Some skip the snacks but wind up working more slowly when their breakfast or lunch calories start to fade. Others try to manage their energy but choose unhealthy options like potato chips, french fries, and packaged cookies.

Workplace Wellness and Mid-Shift Snacks

This is something that many employers have become keenly aware of, especially with the recent focus on workplace wellness and the health of employees. Businesses are increasingly motivated to encourage their staff to eat healthily, and that doesn’t have to be limited to lunch options. Providing your employees with healthy snacks is a great way to improve both their lunch options and how they handle mid-shift energy deficits.

But, as we all know, setting a basket of healthy snacks in the break room isn’t a guaranteed solution. Some people may snag a bag of pretzels or nuts at the right time, but these are also likely to be the employees who already understand the value of healthy snacks and may have already been managing their mid-shift snacking wisely.

In other words, you can lead an employee to almonds but you can’t make them eat.

Institutionalized Snack Breaks

So what is the answer? How do you effectively encourage your entire team to take up healthy, energizing mid-shift snacks instead of sticking to their cookie-sneaking ways? We’ve thought a lot about this question and one of our best suggestions is institutionalized snacking.

Many workplaces include designated ‘stretch’ breaks where everyone is encouraged to stand up from their chairs and get a good stretch. Having the whole team do so at once reduces the stigma or awkwardness of being the only person (in any particular moment) to stand up and really stretch out. The same trick can be used for snacking.

To be a great snack-manager, we suggest a snack break about every two hours, as this is the shortest average metabolism cycle. When snack-time comes around, walk around with your basket of healthy snacks and encourage each team member to take whatever looks most appealing. Then encourage everyone to eat at least one handful of their snack and, if they don’t finish the bag, to stash the rest for the next snack break.

No manager likes to see their team’s efficiency flag just because of unwise or insufficient snacking. Whether your employees need a serious infusion of energy or just a handful of nuts to stay alert through the afternoon, a few snack breaks taken as a team can make mid-shift snacking something enjoyable. You might be surprised just how much of a difference the right snack food can make. You can both reduce trips to the vending machine and increase the effective energy of your team just with a thoughtful basket of granola bars and mixed nuts. For more great staffing tips to find, keep, and optimize great talent contact us today!