As an HR professional and now as an employee retention speaker, I always argued for food…and drink. The more food the better to drive employee retention strategies. I always knew food brought us together as an organization but then I got reading an article in 99U how Apple created work spaces no farther than 150 feet away from food. This article confirmed what I had thought for years. The more you are near food, the more interaction there is between people, departments, and leadership. When you have interaction, you break down barriers and have more genuine interactions.
If I wanted to find someone and they weren’t in their work space, the next place I went was the coffee location. I didn’t say room. We tended to have them spread all around the building to make them convenient and not take up a lot of space. What this did was create pockets where people congregated and talked. If you listened in on the conversations, it was usually about work. Someone would think of an idea they wanted to bounce off of a colleague and then they would run into them at the coffee pot or decide to get out of their office and have a cup of coffee together while discussing the idea.
People tend to get isolated in their cubes and “food/drink venues” create a place to break from the isolation. When I arrived at a new company they recommended my office be moved away from the “distraction” of being near the coffee pot station. I refused. I loved being there. If I saw someone I needed to talk to, I walked out and did it. People saw me…with my door open…and would stop in to bring up ideas. They knew if the door was closed I was engaged in a confidential conversation.
From an employee retention strategies standpoint this was great. People talked to me. I heard issues I could address. We problem solved. They talked to their boss over coffee. They talked to their co-workers over tea. The key was that we talked! It broke down barriers, drove creativity, and improved cooperation. It also fit well into my C.R.A.P. philosophy.
Now, as an employee retention expert, I recommend to my clients they have “food/drink venues” regularly spaced around the facility because the more food/drink you have around the location, the better off you are. And remember: C.R.A.P. Works!