By Lea Schneider
Building a great working team is a goal for every company. As you work toward that goal, keep in mind that your breakroom is a tool you should be utilizing.
Breakrooms are sometimes the measuring stick by which an employee feels valued. You don’t have to break the bank to impress them, although investing in your employees’ breakroom might be a good business decision. Make sure to organize all of the basics into your breakroom—and then maybe go a bit beyond that.
Check for These Breakroom Basics.
Provide a Place to Break Bread. The need for tables and chairs moves beyond the simple idea of having a place to sit and eat your pizza. Sharing a meal together is a natural bonding time. It fosters interaction and conversation.
Be Food Friendly. Not everyone can afford to go out to lunch, or they may have diet restrictions that require them to pack their own food. Make your breakroom food friendly. Offer a refrigerator, microwave, sink and, most importantly, plenty of storage. Adding cabinets that employees can use to store a few lunch essentials or items like microwave popcorn makes it easy to eat lunch or snack at work. Simply divide up the shelves with labels. As a side benefit, adding storage in the breakroom keeps employees from storing food all over the building.
Clean Up Your Act. The reality is that no one wants to eat or hang out somewhere messy. Don’t let your breakroom become neglected. If you are a small company without a regular janitor, then assign this duty to someone or come up with a calendar to share the task. Adding a dishwasher is another great idea for keeping things sanitary.
Go Beyond the Basics.
As you move beyond the basics of the breakroom, think of additional items as employee bonuses or part of your retention plan. A great breakroom does show you value your employees. Here are some ideas to try.
Think Decor. You don’t have to spend a fortune to tune up the decor in your breakroom. You can create a different, pleasant environment with some paint, wallpaper and art. Make it a room you’d want to be in for a while.
Provide Coffee or Tea. Free drinks keep employees perky. Nearly everyone likes a bit of caffeine in their day. Having a coffee station with everything they need to make a cup is a mainstay.
Offer Interaction. A bulletin board where employees can share information with each other—and not just for HR notices—helps build a team. From information about soft ball teams to someone selling a couch or looking for a roommate, it’s still a good way to share the word.
Get in the Game. Giving your mind a rest is actually a great productivity tool. Taking a few minutes on your break to do something mindless can help you be ready to go focus again. Offer games like ping-pong, foosball, video games and cards. In addition, all of these help foster interaction.
Factor in Quiet. Not everyone taking a break wants a long conversation or a rowdy game. Some people need a few quieter minutes to recharge their batteries. Arrange your room so the noisier things are at one end and on the other end, offer some comfortable seating for those that just need to chill a bit.
Up the Energy. Offer healthy snacks for sale—or for free. Items like nuts, granola bars, apples and yogurt cups can help you give your employees a pick-me-up. As a bonus, having food on hand might have people reach for that instead of leaving the office to find something.
Do Fun Things. Consider bringing in food on occasion. Perhaps have a healthy snack of the month where you set up a yogurt and granola parfait bar one morning, or fire up a grill and make burgers another month.
Provide Supplies. It’s never fun to bring your lunch but forget a fork. Having supplies like utensils, plates and napkins on hand is a useful bonus.
Let your employees get in on the development of your breakroom culture. Ask them what they’d like to see. Leaving an old-school suggestion box in the breakroom can help gather new ideas as they occur.
Lea Schneider works with small and mid-size businesses to help them create and improve their breakrooms and other common leisure areas in the workplace. Lea provides her decor and organizational tips online for Home Depot. If you’re renovating a break room and researching cabinets, you can find a large selection to review on Home Depot’s website.