Imagine yourself on a job interview and you’re getting a tour of your prospective company’s facilities.
The cubicles aren’t so inspiring, but they’ll do. The reception area was Spartan, yet refined. HR’s offices were, well, HRish. But then you round and a corner and the person giving you the tour of the premises says, “Aaaaand here’s the break room.”
Three Keurigs are lined up against one wall with what seems like an endless supply of Starbucks K-cups; off-brand pods are nowhere to be found. The room has a fridge for lunches and snacks, then another fridge loaded with bottled water, juice and a rainbow of various vitamin-infused drinks.
The tables are sturdy; no wonky wobbles or creaks. Accompanying chairs are cushy, like an embrace from the 15-minute-break gods. There are plenty of outlets to charge your phone, a sparkling clean microwave large enough to fit a suckling pig and enough counterspace to make a decent sandwich or leave your silverware out to dry.
Forget the ho-hum cubicles and reception area. You’re sold.
As you can see, a great break room has the power to woo employees and retain the ones who are already there. Premium K-cups are the best way to reduce turnover, right?!
If you think your break area needs a little renovation, you’re in luck. We’ve created a list of four tips to spruce up your relaxing space.
#1 – Sniper Rifles and Hang ‘Em High
Want to make your break room a place where employees can blow off some steam while they blow stuff up? It’s time to add a decent-sized TV to your break room along with an Xbox 1 or PS4. We live in the video-game generation, where it’s now acceptable for grown men and women to transform into vicious on-screen warriors. So take advantage of that!
A gaming corner in your break room is an instant perk for potential employees, and it communicates that, though you take your work seriously, you’re not afraid to reward your team with the occasional HALO showdown.
Of course, you don’t have to go all high-tech to win hearts and minds. A foosball table is just as much a people-bonder as a fierce game of FIFA ’16.
As Jayson Demers wrote in Inc., games help “relieve stress and promote greater productivity when the employees go back to work (and) if you offer a multiplayer game like foosball or billiards, it promotes bonding amongst your workers and leads to a stronger team mentality.”
#2 Coffee, snacks and water are on the house
Americans love free stuff. Heck, anyone loves free stuff. And when you can get free stuff, that makes the freeness even more awesome.
Think about the most innovative companies today; they’ve got their in-house chefs and cafeterias, of course, but they also offer an endless buffet of pretzels, candy and drinks.
Whereas games can relieve stress and build camaraderie, free snacks are that little touch of kindness that make people happy they work for you. Let’s be honest … when a department gets together for drinks after work and other happy-hour mavens hear talk of free snacks, jealousy ensues.
#3 Keep that thing stocked
Break rooms can quickly become panic rooms when napkins, forks and spoons are nowhere to be found. How annoying is it to pull your spaghetti out of the microwave only to discover there are no napkins to save your pants or dress from an ill-fallen, sauce-soaked noodle?
Or, have you ever dumped sugar into your coffee only to realize you have to use your pen to stir your cup because the silverware drawer is empty and stir sticks ran out last week?
“Powdered drink mix packets, canisters of sugar and sweetener, along with cups, plates, and utensils will go a long way toward making the space more inviting to employees,” idea house Young Upstarts wrote.
If the silverware, napkins and coffee pods are too much for your office administrator to keep track of, consider using a service that sends notices when it’s time for you to refill and allows you to pay online.
#4 Centralize the space
Any honest worker will tell that, after a busy morning of meetings and deadlines, the last thing they want to do is to trek to the other side of your building or campus to take a break. If you have to buy a bus ticket to get from your desk to the break room, you aren’t going to go, right?
For this reason, your break room should be located in an easy-to-access area and it should also provide ample space for employees to gather. You don’t want a centrally located prison cell, or no one will show up. Make sure there’s ample space; it creates a more relaxed environment and encourages your team members to take breaks, Young Upstarts says.
“A single, central location encourages employees to use their breaks for what they were designated for: to relax, unwind, and rest their minds and bodies before finishing the day,” they wrote.