The break room might be the most important room your company has. One of the most significant aspects of any well-run business is employee retention. If your employees are happy and satisfied, they stick around, meaning less time and money spent recruiting and training new employees. Happy employees are also more productive and do better work. If they like the place where they work and feel as though their needs and concerns are being addressed, they are more likely to want to do what is in the company’s best interest.
The challenge comes with more and more employees eating at their desks and instead turning to e-mail and networking sites for their downtime via social digital communication. The break room therefore is the pivotal place to start repopularising ‘face time’ within the workplace and drawing people out of their offices and cubicles to a central gathering place for employees to interact with one another face to face.
Although employees don’t always discuss work-related issues in the break room, the conversation usually come around to the workplace and even when it doesn’t, employees are still building relationships. It’s like a daily meeting, although on a more informal basis.
“Accidental, serendipitous interaction between employees and across disciplines is seen in many organisations as the creative spark,” says Dr Jay Brand, in-house cognitive psychologist at office furniture design manufacturer Haworth, which was recently tapped to outfit the offices of German software giant SAP in more than 50 countries. “Instead of rows and rows of cubicles, the idea is to revitalise a space and make it more inviting.”
Break room set-ups may vary from company to company. While some may have the finances to follow the trend of health and fitness initiatives, childcare facilities to enable parents to work longer hours and Friday party team-building, smaller offices can do their bit too. Here are a few essentials for making your break room a place of inspiration:
It’s the little things that count: make sure the water cooler stays stocked, that there is always milk, sugar, tea and coffee available, and that the basic appliances are kept in good order, the seating is adequate and comfortable, there is fresh-air or the temperature is kept constant.
Add little extra’s like fresh plants, a rug, bright framed pictures of exotic destinations or a theme, books and magazine, a Snackwich, waffle maker, top-of-the-range coffee machine, free muffin’s delivered on a Friday morning.
Provide a couch, dart board, backgammon or fuss-ball table. Keep a board for running scores of teams created within the office.
Put up a pin-board for inspirational quotes and photos or events that employees are taking part in on the weekends…
Run interactive team events such as ‘guess who the baby is’ or match the partner to the staff member photo quiz, or games that allow staff to get to know more about personal lives.
Have themed dress days according to calendar days ie Valentines, Red Nose day, save the Rhino with small prizes for the most effort.
Take turns bringing fresh flowers from the garden.
Run a stokvel for birthday money or once a month an employee takes the money and has to present a meal for the whole office in any way they choose.
Once a month plan a social event out, with a lucky draw suggestion box for the funkiest coolest venue for Friday drinks… the winner doesn’t have to pay!