written by: N Nayab•edited by: Tricia Goss•updated: 9/25/2010
The basic purpose of employee break rooms is for employees to eat, rest, and relax. Most organizations however remain oblivious to the fact that if properly utilized, break rooms serve as a powerful medium to motivate the workforce. Is your company making the most out of employee break rooms?
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Employee break rooms are quasi-private space away from the work-floor, providing employees with the facility to do a host of personal and non-job related activities. Most states mandate providing breaks for employees, and employee rest rooms serve the purpose of allowing employees to avail such breaks.
The scope of using employee break rooms is wide, with many break rooms serving as all-purpose rooms. The exact purpose of employee break rooms, and the rules and practices that govern usage vary from company to company.
The primary purpose of employee break room in most organizations is for employees to have food and refreshments. Many employers forbid eating food at the work-floor, making the break room an indispensable need.
The employer equipping the rest room with a refrigerator, a microwave oven, and coffee machines go a long way to ensure employees have access to good refreshments and do not run the risk of contracting food poisoning by eating stale food at room temperatures. Such benefits rank as good motivators.
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The second most common use of employee break rooms in many organizations is employees using them as a personal space, away from the eye and ear shot of colleagues in the work-floor. Such a personal space is invaluable for employees to take personal phone calls, cry during emotionally stressed out moments, undertake some special religious rites or medical therapy, or just close their eyes and relax for a few minutes to de-stress.
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Another common purpose of employee break rooms is for the employees to rest and recharge their batteries during work breaks. Many employers provide health equipment such as weightlifting and stretching equipment, treadmills, bikes and skiing machines for such purposes.
The notice board in the break room is a good place to post important communications of general nature such as general rules and regulations that require constant reminder, and various government notices that clarify employee rights and employer obligations, which need display at a prominent place anyway. The break room notice board can also be a place for informal and semi-formal announcements such as upcoming employee birthdays and anniversaries, general interest news, changes in bus timings, changes in car parking regulations and the like. Some semi-official information such as a weekly attendance list with late punch in's and early outs, doctor’s appointments, upcoming vacations of employees and the like also find place in rest room notice boards.
Many companies paste motivational posters and training materials in hope that employees with nothing better to do when relaxing might get inspiration from such posters or re-read training materials.
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The employee break room is the main area in the office where informal interactions take place among colleagues. It serves as a meeting place where employees discuss ideas, plan outings, or parties, and celebrate occasions or events such as birthdays, anniversaries, victory of the favorite team, and the like.
If used properly, the break room increase bonding and instills a sense of community among the workers, facilitating greater commitment to the organization and improved teamwork. Many organizations leverage this opportunity by providing structured inputs in this direction. Examples of such initiatives include organizing break time fun games and events, organizing birthday parties for employees, and the like.
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The break room is a benefit that employees take for granted, and even a small break room, if properly furnished and put to good use go a long way in boosting employee morale.