How important is the employee break room in today’s workplace? We asked that question to some experienced HR and corporate facilities executives. The answers reveal that micro market and pantry service operators have a tremendous amount of leverage today when it comes to landing big office refreshment accounts.
Premium office refreshment options, specifically micro markets - set in a comfortable, functional and impressive break room setting, are becoming a “must have” item at companies who seek to recruit top talent.
“In some cases, a beautifully designed breakroom can make the difference for a new hire candidate.”
Suzanne Neil is an experienced human resources executive and employee benefits specialist who has served the technology, healthcare and the building industry. She said that a company that is not putting emphasis on building a very attractive breakroom, supported by a strong food, snack and beverage program, is at a major disadvantage when it comes to recruiting. “If a company isn’t paying attention to this basic amenity, recruits will wonder about the corporate culture and what other basics are lacking,” said Neil.
Neil added that comfortable seating in the employee lounge, plus recreation options such as ping pong and other table games are the norm. “The employer’s goal is to be that employer of choice,” said Neil. “In some cases, a beautifully designed breakroom can make the difference for a new hire candidate.”
Steve Orlando, an experienced operator of ten years who co-founded Fixturelite, a leading supplier of micro market retail displays, seating and design features, is accustomed to getting this same message from HR specialists, who are stressing the importance of using lighting, graphics, seating, color and high-end shelving to create a dazzling breakroom environment.
“Having a food and beverage program that is appropriate for the company size and industry type is fundamental today.”
Dion Brain, a twenty-year corporate real estate director and facility management executive for fast growing technology, media and entertainment companies, agrees with Neil’s assessment. “Having a food and beverage program that is appropriate for the company size and industry type is fundamental today,” said Brain. “This is a basic amenity that is expected and noticed by both prospective and existing employees. For a small company, that might just mean a few baskets of fresh fruit. In other companies, it can mean on site meals.”
In his experience, Brain likes the concept of a subsidized micro market as opposed to free pantry service items. “With a subsidized micro market, there is less waste because the employee had to pay something for the item – even a nominal amount,” said Brain.
Neil said that HR Managers are getting more involved in the office refreshment decision-making process. “Our job is to make sure that employees are happy,” said Neil. “We are invested in overseeing all of the amenities, so we want to be sure that the food and beverage offerings are where they should be.”
Brain concurs, adding that if everything is going well at a company with food and beverage, I won’t hear from HR. “When they see something new at another facility or feel we that we need to strengthen an amenity, that’s when we do receive feedback,” said Brain. “That’s how important the food and beverage amenity and the breakroom environment has become.”
“This is an exciting time to be in the micro market business,” said Orlando.
What does Brain look for in a vendor? “I prefer to work with a vendor who has a successful track record,” he said. “I want turn key solutions that do not require day to day involvement by my team. I want my vendor to be successful serving my company, because the more successful they are, the higher level of products and service we will receive.”
For Orlando and Fixturelite, every new assignment offers a chance to be creative – both for his team and operators. “This is such a great time to be in the micro market business,” said Orlando. “Micro markets are valued by clients – creative break room design solutions are appreciated by clients. We have a unique opportunity to cement solid client relationships by delivering an exceptional environment and experience in the break room.”
“Best of all,” added Orlando, “we’re already seeing an increase in demand for our products and services going into 2019.”