You could be forgiven for thinking that the science fiction of yesteryear was on the money with predictions that robots would take over the workplace. After all, automation, lean business and digital connectivity are on every boardroom agenda.
However, the reality is that employers are more aware than ever before that they need to invest in creating a pleasant work environment.
It's the only way to attract and retain the best employees. It is also pretty impossible to reach the necessary levels of productivity, creativity and work ethic from staff who are permanently “cheesed off”.
At the very least, many companies are realising that it is vital to provide their teams with opportunities to find refreshment, breathe and “reboot” during the working day (with a ready supply of delicious coffee to perk them up of course).
But what else are companies doing to show staff that they are valued and appreciated?
Creating a nurturing workplace
Ironically, the big tech companies are leading the way on this. The industry giants invest huge sums in creating leisure, dining and social opportunities in their head offices. They even build “play” areas, with slides, soft bricks to throw, walls to write on and other equipment to let off steam or get creative.
Larger companies are also increasingly providing staff massage and yoga opportunities. Pharmaceutical company Roche takes this a step further with an onsite physiotherapist, chiropodist and sleep pod.
They are possibly outshone by Facebook though. The social media king provides staff with free snacks, a gym, shops, restaurants and a video arcade right in the middle of their workspace. Google is famous for providing top-class health and fitness facilities at its HQs too.
Among the facilities that Microsoft’s Irish employees enjoy are a nail bar and dry cleaners, plus staff have access to a wealth of support such as family days off.
Other companies simply ensure contracts include sufficient vacation days, help with childcare and flexibility on such issues as time to enjoy being a new parent. Netflix offers its employees one year paid maternity and paternity leave.
Companies going places with bonuses
The long-standing tradition of spurring on the sales team with the promise of winning luxury holidays abroad could be seen as divisive. The poor hardworking back office staff must feel rather aggrieved when processing those expenses for bonuses beyond their remit.
However, there are examples of companies celebrating major milestones or successful trading periods by treating the whole workforce to a “junket”.
A team of 42 from Red7 celebrated the 20th anniversary of the British travel and party firm with a free holiday to Marbella. (Which is nothing compared to the Chinese billionaire who took 6,400 staff to France.
Keeping your workforce smiling year round
The problem with that sort of perk is that it is transitory and dependent on a healthy balance sheet.
It may not help when times are tough and you need your team to go that extra mile out of the goodness of their hearts.
The view is that job satisfaction and the right work environment on a daily basis count for more than “splashing the cash.
The ways you show staff that you care don't have to involve chartering aeroplanes or building office play zones. It can be simple touches like free food Fridays or giving them their birthday off work.
A cost-effective but quality coffee machine and the occasional biscuit could well warm your staff to the idea of putting in some extra work.
To take good care of your human “beans”, talk to us about our coffee beans, and the best machines to keep your team refreshed and looked after in the workplace.