No one can give 100% all the time. Even the most committed employees need to take a break now and then to relax and recharge batteries. Discouraging employee breaks is tantamount to encouraging burnout.
Some employers seem to purposely make their break rooms unappealing to discourage “wasting time.” That’s wrong-headed. The break room should be an appealing place to go to relax. Think of it as an important part of your HR program – a tool to keep morale and productivity high. You want employees to go there and enjoy it, so that they return to work feeling motivated and energized.
Here are some tips for creating a successful break room in your workplace.
The break area should be separated from the rest of the workplace, both physically and visually. If you have an open floor plan, create a separate space using dividers. Do something to make the break area stand out visually, such as painting the walls differently.
Make the break area large enough to accommodate celebrations. Whether you recognize employee birthdays or departmental achievements, holding parties in your break area makes people associate the space with positive experiences.
Create a relaxing environment. Add comfortable, casual seating; decorate with real art (not motivational posters); paint the walls a color that encourages calmness; play music and/or include a separate quiet area if possible; and offer distractions such as a TV, books, or magazines.
Employees who sit at a desk all day need to move to feel good. Exercise equipment and ping pong tables can help. Or get their minds working in a non-business direction with board games, video games, or a pool table.
Make it Easy to Eat
Studies have shown that taking an actual break for lunch – as opposed to eating at your desk – enhances productivity and creativity. Your break area should also encourage eating nutritious meals to help maintain your employees’ health. So it should have the means to store and heat food, and a comfortable place to eat it, with tables and chairs to encourage employees to sit down together.
Put up message boards to encourage communication. These can include the required signage and company policies, but also boards where people are free to share ideas (or vent), post upcoming events, list items for sale, and share inspirational messages.
Food and Drink
If the food options in your break room consist of junk food from a vending machine, you need to do better. More and more employees prefer healthy snacks, including yogurt, nuts, trail mixes, energy bars, fresh fruits and vegetables. Some employees drink soda – others prefer energy drinks or fruit-infused waters. Accommodate as many preferences as possible.
It’s hard to image a break room without coffee. Free coffee is a draw for a lot of people and helps them stay alert and focused. And people expect good coffee nowadays. Make it so. And keep the room stocked with cream, sugar, cups, and stirrers, as well as tea, cocoa, and powdered drink mixes.
Keep the break area clean to make it more inviting. Create a plan for cleaning the area on a regular basis, then make sure it happens.
BostonbeaN Coffee Company offers everything your Boston-area business needs to keep the breakroom supplied with good things for your employees: coffees, teas, and drink systems; cold beverages, juices and bottled water; healthy and traditional treats, snacks and candy; and cleaning supplies. Call for details: 800-448-2739.