5 Reasons to Put Some Love into Your Staff Break Room
In 2011 author Shawn Achor pawed through 200 scientific studies on the correlation between sales and staff satisfaction to come conclude that happy retail workers “produce higher sales, perform better in leadership positions and receive higher performance ratings and higher pay. They also enjoy more job security and are less likely to take sick days, to quit, or become burned out.” Pretty obvious you’d think, yet The Happiness Advantage was a runaway bestseller – suggesting maybe managers need to be reminded that you need to take care of your staff so they will want to take care of your bottom line. And when it comes to retail, nothing says “I care” like providing a proper place to retreat to from the hectic sales floor.
1 Extend the design throughout
So you’ve hired a merchandiser to sort out the front window, an audio engineer to make the music sound just as perfect in the changing room as it does at the cash register, a lighting expert to keep the lighting warm, flattering and reminiscent of Spring at all times and an interior designer to make sure every colour choice inspires purchasing impulses to fire like an AK7 shooting hundred dollar bills. But, um, what about that little room out the back? The one where your valued staff spend their breaks restoring their will to sell your goods? They are valued staff right? One of the quickest ways to make them feel unvalued is to have all of the design details stop at the staff room door – or broom cupboard as it often more closely resembles. Ninety-three percent of employees polled in an American Psychological Association study said they are motivated to do their best at work when they feel valued, proving there is great value to be found in a bit of valuing.
2 Let there be light
Retail floors are usually dynamic places, filled with music and movement. Buzz is part of the business – but natural light doesn’t often factor in, especially out the back where much of your staff spend much of their time. Vitamin D is essential for vitality and mental cognition – which are, in turn, essential for sales staff. Yet The Ministry of Health estimates that 5% of New Zealanders are deficient in vitamin D and a further 27% of us are below recommended levels. So, if possible, provide your staff with a natural shot of it in ‘their room’ via big opening windows or a skylight. If the break room is internal, consider setting up a space outside. Even a row of chairs in the alley out the back can be made pleasant with the addition of a few outdoor plants and a small table to congregate around.
3 Free coffee
Why should you invest in a good quality coffee machine? Because it’s just that – a good investment. You may not have heard, but caffeine is a pretty consistent provider of energy – and energetic and enthusiastic retail staff are pretty consistent providers of sales. A detailed study of sales behavior showed that those employees in an energetic state of mind before negotiating a sale had more success than those in a neutral state. And a major 2002 study found that for every 2% increase in reported employee enthusiasm, sales on the floor grew by 1%. Milk and sugar with that?
4 Take care of tired feet
Having your staff on their feet all day may be having more adverse effects than you think – especially if they’re stalking across concrete floors all shift long. Suddenly providing places for people to put their feet up becomes more than just a nice thing to do. It’s in everyone’s best interests that you provide more than one sofa in your break room so more than one person can flop down and put their feet up. Bean bags, foot stools – even foot spas – will also be much appreciated additions.
5 Provide things to help people switch off
When you work in retail you always have to be “on”, so it’s important to have a place to switch off during breaks to restore optimum perkiness. Help facilitate this by kitting out your staff room with mindless entertainment such as free Wi-Fi access, magazines, a TV with an AUX cord to plug phones into, or if budgets and floor sizes allow – a pool or ping pong table.