Royal Cup President of Office Coffee and current chair of NAMA, Howard Chapman discusses the importance of a great break room and how it affects employee performance.
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Peter Drucker coined the popular phrase, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” Traditionalists might balk at the role that company culture plays in business, but savvy, fast-growing organizations are quickly putting culture at the core of everything that they do. What’s the point of having a solid business strategy if you have unhappy employees in charge of its execution? A good strategy matters—a great culture is essential. This is especially important to the influx of millennials that are constantly changing the workforce as we know it.
What is the secret to creating a company culture filled with happy and productive employees? How can you attract and retain top talent? Simply put, it all starts with the break room!
If your break room setup is competitive, your company is automatically set up to be competitive.
Howard Chapman, Royal Cup, Inc.’s Office Beverage Division president, works with businesses across the country to tailor break room solutions to fit the needs of the culture they’re creating. He’s found that there are a few break room essentials that almost instantaneously boost office morale and positively contribute to a culture befitting of a highly successful organization. A few of these include:
Free Beverages: This shouldn’t even be a question, yet many large US corporations ignore the benefits of such a program. Providing beverages like coffee, water or tea as a perk is a relatively small investment that yields a significant return. For example, caffeine increases attention spans, improves focus and boosts mental energy so your employees will get more done and feel rewarded while doing so. In fact, recent news continues to reinforce the health benefits of coffee (see HERE and HERE). Plus, stocking your break room prevents time loss while employees travel off-site to get their coffee fix.
- How to differentiate: You employ consumers, and consumers’ expectations have shifted over time. A standard pot of black coffee won’t excite anyone who purchases more complex, milk-based coffees or loves cold or nitro-brewed coffee. Offices with the most competitive break rooms provide high-quality single serve or “bean-to-cup” systems where employees can interact with a digital interface, grind beans on-demand and create their own signature drinks, whether it be a latte or mochaccino. And remember, what’s “cold” is “hot” right now—iced tea, iced coffee and simple purified water will help set your break room apart.
Condiments: What’s the point of offering sensational coffee if employees can’t have it the way they want it? Providing creamer, sugar, cups, stirrers, alternative sweeteners and even flavor shots can go a long way in fostering a great break room culture.
- How to differentiate: A powdered creamer is better than no creamer, but to set your break room apart you must have flavored liquid creamers and real half and half. Additionally, stocking high-quality paper cups made of eco-friendly materials will be appeal to environmentally-conscious employees and visitors to your break room.
Refreshment Station: It’s not a break room if you can’t go there to take break, which every employee needs throughout the day. A break room is not just a place to sit, it should be a place for your employees to take a “mini-vacation,” engage with one another and become a more tightly-knit team. Chances are, someone will go back to their desk with a solution to a problem thanks to the comradery and connections forged here.
- How to differentiate: Think of your break room as an entirely separate entity, decoratively speaking. It needs to feel comfortable and different from the rest of the office. Adorn it with comfortable furnishings, leather couches and other fun items you may find around the corner at the local, trendy coffee shop. Ideally, your employees shouldn’t feel like they’re at work when they’re in the break room.
Snacks: A well-rounded snack offering is a perk that your employees will truly appreciate. Healthier snack options can be a sure fire way to avoid the sharp spike in insulin and inevitable crash that tends to follow eating sugary snacks. This allows workers to curb their hunger and improve productivity while avoiding the mid-afternoon rut.
- How to differentiate: Over the past few years, over 30,000 businesses differentiated themselves by installing micromarkets within their office break rooms. These free-standing, self-service “shops” create an environment where employees can choose from number of healthy, fresh items, quickly checkout and then begin socializing with their colleagues.
Sustainable Solutions: According to Deloitte’s 2015 Millennial Survey, millennials – who will account for 75% of the workforce in 2025 – are not motivated by money, but rather they aim to make the world more compassionate, innovative and sustainable. In an effort to retain and attract the next generation of young workers, businesses must make a significant shift towards more sustainable solutions, including in the break room.
- How to differentiate: When identifying vendor partners, seek out those who provide sustainable solutions and associate with organizations like the Rainforest Alliance, The Nature Conservatory, the Carbon Disclosure Project and Fair Trade USA. Sustainable practices throughout your supply chain will set you and your break room apart from the competition.