A New Reason Why You Should Never Charge Your Employees for Coffee

Gene Marks

Let’s talk about coffee.

You’ve got a coffee machine in your office, right? Probably with different flavored coffees, too. And teas, I bet. You do this because, well, you like a good cup once in a while. But you also do this for your employees. This is not just an office perk — it’s almost a work requirement. If your office is like any typical office, then your people drop their stuff at their desks and head straight for the coffee machine as soon as they arrive in the morning. Later, they’ll stretch their legs and take a break a couple of times a day. They drink coffee to keep them alert…and to socialize. It’s all good. Just about every client I work with has coffee available for their employees.

Unfortunately, offering coffee to your employees isn’t cheap. The days of the single coffee pot and a can of Maxwell House are over. Today it’s that fancy, gourmet stuff. Most of my clients have a coffee service where they rent out the machine and pay a monthly fee for its maintenance and supplies. For some, the cost can run to a couple hundred bucks a month. If this sounds like you, then it’s likely that you’ve thought of possibly — possibly, I say — charging your employees for the use of the coffee, or cutting it out entirely.

I say: Don’t even think it. Why? Because coffee is not just a perk for your employees. It’s also proving to be a big benefit to employers like you — for an entirely different reason.

According to recent studies in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, people who drink even a moderate amount of coffee have been found to be more engaged with their fellow employees.

As reported by Arizona TV station KGUN9, the studies found that “consuming a moderate amount of caffeinated coffee prior to indulging in a group activity enhances an individual’s task-relevant participation in the group activity. In addition, subjective evaluations of the participation of other group members and oneself are also positively influenced. Finally, the positive impact of consuming a moderate amount of caffeinated coffee on the evaluation of participation of other group members and oneself is moderated by a sense of an increased level of alertness.”

Is it the caffeine? The sugar? The fancy hazelnut flavoring? No one knows for sure. Forget the company picnic, the “escape room” expeditions, the outward bound adventures. It seems that the best thing to do to get your people to work better together is just to ply them with more coffee!

While this is good news for the entire coffee industry, it’s also good news for you. A caffeinated workforce appears to be a more productive workforce. So don’t cut out the coffee — and don’t make your employees pay for it, either. That few dollars a month is not only making them happier, but also more profitable for your small business.

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3 Responses to "A New Reason Why You Should Never Charge Your Employees for Coffee"
    • Amber | January 5, 2020 at 11:23 pm

      Management shouldn’t make employees pay for coffee, it’s so obvious when they make you pay they are likely not going to treat you with respect in any aspect. Don’t grow your career at a company that is so pitiful to the tiniest pennies. Work for a company that values your productivity and rewards you and your career growth. Not a company that criticize your every move and blames you, then tells you to pay for coffee or don’t offer it at all. Sucks to work there.

    • roy | August 7, 2019 at 11:17 am

      That’s funny, Daniel. Good for you finding an alternative path to be a generic “greeter”. You now have the opportunity to impact people’s lives (one cup at a time) in your own creative way.

      If you read the article, it seems to imply that the goal is to use pharmacology (caffeine in this instance) to improve employee engagement and productivity. (Am I wrong Gene?)

      If this is the case, would this apply to other stimulants? Are people cool with this type of control billed as a perk? What if it were something else built around behavioral design?

      I like coffee and I like people. The biggest challenge is always going to be getting people on the same page. So I prefer to think of it as a light way to foster dialogue and sharing.

    • Richard Daniels | May 29, 2019 at 9:42 pm

      Lol … I own and operate a coffee kiosk in a local area hospital and have no employees other than myself. When I retired I had to choose between being a Greeter at Walmart or opening my own shop. Needless to say, I opened my own shop. I had to laugh because if I as the boss announced to me, myself, that going forward I had to charge myself for coffee, I quit myself and tell myself where to go.

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