Think about the break room at your company. Do employees use it? Do they look forward to spending time there? Do they feel rejuvenated after being there?
If you didn’t answer a resounding “yes” to these questions, most likely your organization has a utilitarian-type space for employees to take a break or perhaps your work culture is not supportive.
This can be an opportunity to showcase your organization’s commitment to employee wellbeing with a makeover and repositioning of this space. Consider the break room a mini wellness retreat for employees and transform it into a place for employees to re-energize. Have senior leadership promote its use and let employees know it’s okay to pause during the workday.
Let your senses, wellness goals and employee interests guide you through a redesign. Here are some tips to consider:
- The colors people see impact how they feel so consider the psychology of color when choosing paint and furniture. Blues are calming; greens are nurturing, and yellows uplifting.
- Artwork, imagery and a communication board can enhance your wellness messaging so make it health promoting. Photography of colorful fruits and vegetables supports healthy nutrition in a kitchen area. Landscapes and seascapes contribute to the comfort of a seating area. Photos of employees participating in your wellness interventions show engagement.
- Light impacts our sleep/wake cycles so choosing the right lighting for your workforce is critical. Natural light is ideal for day workers. If your organization employs shift workers incorporate a way to manage light for their schedules. Work with your facilities team on your best options.
- A quiet seating space for workers to relax might incorporate a sound machine to generate white noise or calming soundscapes (waves, rainfall, summer night). The room should also be equipped so that employees can easily plug in their devices to listen to their own music.
- A library of wellness resources for reviewing onsite or at home is another worthwhile addition to your break room. DVDs, books and magazines can support organizational wellness goals and other employee interests. You might even set up a laptop station for employees to access the company’s wellness portal.
- A mini kitchen area is ideal for employees to use to prepare more healthful meals. Counter space, utensils, a sink with running water and refrigeration provide the basics for employees to prepare more healthful meals and snacks. You also might partner with a farm or food purveyor in your community to provide whole food snacks and unsweetened beverages. This space could also serve as your drop off for a Community Supported Agriculture Program for your employees.
Remember to ask your employees along the way about how to make their break room more useful to them. At Giner Inc. in Newton, MA, employees specialize in Electrochemical manufacturing as well as Research and Development. As part of Giner’s stress management intervention for employees, the wellness committee listened to staff and converted an under-used conference room into a quiet space with comfortable chairs and dim lighting to give staff a place to relax.
Make sure you enlist senior and middle management support to launch the redesigned break room and to communicate its role as part of the wellness initiative. This will ensure employees know when and how to make the best use of this new wellness program feature.
Now you are ready to think about how you can make your organization’s break room the go to place for rejuvenation during the workday.