If you are currently responsible for a team of employees, you understand that it’s challenging to keep everyone happy. In fact, it’s impossible. There will always be issues within the office, but it’s how you handle them that will make all the difference. The point here is: happy employees are more productive employees.
You don’t have to take my word for it; the research on this topic tells all. According to one study conducted at the University of Warwick, happiness increases productivity. In fact, it was found that happiness made individuals 12 percent more productive. This is exactly why companies like Google are investing in their employees’ happiness and wellbeing.
Happiness is key, but in order to achieve even higher productivity, scheduled breaks are essential. You would think it’d be the opposite, as more time spent working would increase output. This is where it gets really interesting. DeskTime, an app used to track productivity in terms of computer use, found that the top 10 percent most productive individuals would work for 52 minutes and then take a 17-minute break.
Now a break can be anything from speaking to a coworker to walking around the office or making a cup of tea. Now, focus less on the exact amount of time and more on the benefit of taking short breaks often. It’s not about a longer workday but rather a more productive, smarter workday. When you take breaks, you benefit everything from your physical wellbeing to cognitive functioning.
These findings were supported in a Cornell University study which sent some participants a reminder to take a break while didn’t to others. Those who did receive the reminder were 13 percent more accurate regarding their work. In some cases, those who were the fastest at typing and received a reminder made 40 percent fewer mistakes. So, what am I getting at here? I think numerous studies have verified the importance of breaks, but what about providing a place for your employees to enjoy their break?
Now, you don’t need to install a gym or library, but a break room where your staff feels comfortable is important. It’s also important to include items that encourage, support and provide inspiration. If you’re looking to jazz up your break room, here are 10 must-have items.
1. Coffee Machine
Approximately 83 percent of American adults drink coffee. In fact, 38 percent have said that they can’t live without it. Like happiness, it’s been found that coffee also boosts productivity. When consumed in moderation, caffeine helps elevate cognitive functioning, enhancing concentration, memory and focus.
A coffee machine in the break room will not only be used but will also make your employees feel valued. Based on a recent survey, 37 percent of employees said they’d rather have access to fresh coffee on a daily basic than a Christmas party. This is a cheap and effective way to keep your employees happy.
2. Mini Fridge and Microwave
Having a small fridge in the break room will allow you to store some water bottles, cream for break room coffee, and a place for your employees to store their lunches. If you’re a big company, a standard size fridge may be required. In terms of a fridge and a microwave, your employees will feel like they have more options regarding their lunches.
When they have a safe place to store foods that need to be refrigerated, then somewhere to reheat, this can significantly influence office morale and productivity. At the end of the day, food is fuel and without a proper lunch, your employees will feel the afternoon slump. By encouraging employees to bring and eat a lunch, you can influence more positive moods and more productive employees.
3. Cutlery and Napkins
Although this seems like a minor addition, it can make a huge difference. There’s nothing worse than packing a beautiful salad and then forgetting a fork. To show you care that much more, invest in compostable cutlery. There are plenty of eco options which are reasonably priced and they’ll eliminate plastic as well as arguments about unwashed dishes in the sink. Some companies will even send you samples.
4. Books and Magazines
Have a stack of magazines and easy-to-scan books available to your employees. During a break, individuals should feel relaxed and calm. This will help them recharge their cognitive battery. Many want to unplug and instead of staring at their phone, books and magazines that inspire and boost creativity can be a great way to pass the time and unwind from the morning chaos. In fact, reading a book is highly beneficial and can actually stimulate greater mental capacity. Offer a variety of magazines that cover numerous industries such as business, food, and sports.
5. Comfy Seating
In order to enjoy those books and magazines, you should provide somewhere comfy for your employees to chill out. No need to order in a leather sofa, but padded chairs or even a few stools can allow individuals to sit up the wall, read, and actually feel like they got a break. Small round tables can also be a great addition to place food and items on while they sit.
6. Company Bulletin Board
What better way to get your staff cooperating and working together than to encourage interaction and promotion? A company bulletin board in the break room can be a place where staff members feel as though they have a voice. Maybe someone wants to post an inspiring quote while another is trying to sell their car. This bulletin board can act as a community board, allowing for extended interaction and serving as a creative tool. You can also offer a comment or suggestion box in the break room for those who want to address issues privately or anonymously.
7. Water Cooler
If you don’t want to contribute to all the empty plastic water bottles floating around out there, invest in a water cooler. The truth is that the majority of employees do not drink enough water. According to Thorzt, just one percent dehydration can drop employee productivity by a staggering 12 percent. Water is essential for optimal cognitive functioning and once you feel thirsty, you’re already showing signs of dehydration.
8. Seasonal Decor
Now that autumn has arrived, why not add a nice door wreath that signifies the colors of changing leaves? Soon enough, it will be Halloween and then Christmas. Adding a few pieces of decor to lift employees’ spirits costs little but can make a huge impact. You want employees to feel that it’s not a chore to come into work, and a little uplifting decor can go a long way.
It doesn’t hurt to offer a few nutritious snacks in the break room, especially options such as nuts, fruit, and raw vegetables. If your company doesn’t have the budget to supply these options, discuss a possible snack swap with your employees. Each Friday, someone can bring in a healthy snack, for example. Whether it’s a veggie plate, yogurt with granola, or a fruit salad, snacks liven up any break room.
This will not only encourage greater social interaction throughout the office, supporting and building teamwork, but it will also support your employees’ overall wellbeing. According to a study conducted by the Health Enhancement Research Organization, and as referenced in Mindful Snacks, employees who eat healthy all day are 25 percent more likely to yield higher levels of job performance. If there are healthy snacks available even one or two days a week, your employees will greatly appreciate it.
10. Special Requests
Have a meeting with your team and take suggestions. What makes sense for your workplace? Are you a team of graphic designers? Perhaps some related resources would benefit employees in the office. Depending on your work environment, there may be break room supplies and items that just make sense. Hold a staff meeting and write ideas down. Once the budget allows for new additions to the break room, your team will be included in the decisions made.
At the end of the day, there are very few true requirements for a break room. Some may offer a waste basket and a sink, without much thought at all. Although this may seem cost-effective, it’s important to see how small, inexpensive investments can boost office morale and productivity, and create a better sense of community. Bosses and managers who think about their employees and their wellbeing are often rewarded with hard work, perseverance, and creative ideas.
Can you think of any other must-have break room supplies? Let us know in the comments section below!