How Your Break Room Can Make or Break Your Organizational Culture

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Are Employee Break Rooms Considered Workplace Perks ?

Unlike formal workday breaks, which are required by law in many regions of the country, break rooms are something of a mystery. There are no federal or state laws forcing companies to provide employees with a place to recess in and there is nothing like that on the horizon. At the same time when break rooms are available no one’s ever truly comfortable there, as employees rarely make themselves at home and for a very good reason –they are at wok! Workers who really need a break tend to wander outside for sunshine or even a stroll in the rain, two things no contractor could accurately replicate indoors.

In fact it’s not too far fetched to say that employers who go out of their way to provide a framework for employees to relax in the work environment often struggle with this reality.

That being the case, a successful break room will always be something of an enigma but this should never hold a company back from trying to provide one. After all, when it comes to production creative minds that feel stagnant as the day goes on simply need a place to escape for the juices to start flowing again. Having a room that suits this need within the confines of the company means they don’t have to go far.

Theme-wise it needs to feel removed enough from the rest of the office that it’s the place to go when going somewhere indoors is necessary. Furthermore, because of the disparity regarding break room usage and a company’s staff ‘breaking’ elsewhere having the quality of being sufficiently distracting to warrant interest is a must.

How to Destress at Work in a Dirty, Dingy, & Disgusting Breakroom

How is this achieved? Consider the following:

  • Cleanliness.  Although each employee should be accountable for their own mess the employer is ultimately responsible for the overall cleanliness of a premise, especially the break room. Doing so isn’t always a priority but is in the best interests of employees who are looking for a short change in scenery. With recent studies showing break rooms and kitchenettes in the workplace containing a significantly high amount of germs, keeping these areas clean adds to their attractiveness. Employees will be more willing to step away from the pressures at hand and enjoy a space that helps them regroup because it’s open, free, and clean.
  •  Comfort. How far should a break room’s comfort level go? When it comes to aesthetics forget couches and pillows and focus on cushioned seats that that have nothing to do with work stations. The aim is for it to have as little resemblance to the work space as possible. It should be spacious, receive a lot of natural light, and if possible be accessible to the outside such as a balcony. No break room that is in a hole in the back of the office or down in the basement with fluorescent lighting will be looked at seriously. Those are called storage rooms.
  • Recreation. Break rooms shouldn’t come across as just another meeting room and need to express a different kind of energy for employees to flock to them. For this reason they should be void of most technology because many professionals are surrounded by it all day. Instead incorporating recreational items such as a pool table, ping pong, or foosball (table soccer) will increase chances workers will access the space. Games like these not only add a little bit of fun to the office but take the mind off projects in order to refocus and return to work stronger.
  • Food.  Food is another necessity for luring employees into the break room and while vending machines do the job they come across a bit too impersonal by themselves. When a company provides its own snacks like fruit, nuts, and granola bars in place of candy bars and chips it shows the business cares about its employees health and that they shouldn’t have to go scrimmaging for change when they need a bite to eat. Alternatively, a big hit would be for a business to invite popular restaurants or private chefs to set up shop in the break room once a week for a couple of hours. As employees enjoy a hearty meal for free or at a discounted price they are sure to come away feeling appreciated and the more good energy created in the break room the more it will be thought of as a place to unwind when a break from everything else is needed.  Many companies offer workplace perks and benefits like free lunches, drinks, snacks, and even the after hours happy hour.

Workplace Stress Increases the Cost of Human Capital Management

Workplace stress is at an all time high impacting employee productivity, turnover numbers, and even increase an employee’s healthcare costs.  A bad boss doubles an employee’s risk of a hard attack.  Organizations should pay mind to creating a  recognition culture as well as break rooms and other off-stage areas to help employee relax, rest, and reset so they can be their very, very best.

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