Someone once said that if you want to know if the company is treating their employees well, try the coffee.

The coffee? Really? Okay, I get it. One little detail can give you a glimpse into a much bigger picture. The idea is that the coffee machine and the quality of the coffee is an indication of how the employees are treated.

One day we hired an employee to work at Shepard Presentations. On his first day, he asked if there was a coffee machine. That’s when we realized we didn’t have a coffee machine. Nobody in our office drank coffee during the day. Nobody had ever asked for coffee. So, I told our newest member of the team to go to and pick out the coffee machine he wanted.

He picked out the least expensive coffee machine. I had my wife check it out, and she informed me that we could do much better than that. So, we picked out something much nicer. It wasn’t a fancy cappuccino machine, but it was much nicer than the one he had picked out.

The result was more than a “thank you” and a smile. He was truly appreciative that we would “invest” a little more than expected to give him a better experience at work.

Over the years I’ve read many books on how to motivate and recognize employees. These include keeping a dish of candy in the breakroom to an all-employee vacation on a cruise ship. A piece of chocolate candy can’t compete with a free cruise, but it’s not supposed to. Other ideas included the occasional pizza party, the free lunch to recognize someone’s birthday… I could go on and on. How about just a comment or note to an employee to appreciate them for the work they do.

So, back to coffee. I did a little Internet research and found an article on the Market Inspector website that shared a number of reasons to have a coffee machine at work. Here are three of them:

  1. Coffee improves productivity at work. Note: It’s actually the caffeine that’s giving employees that boost of energy.
  2. Coffee is good for networking. Conversation over a cup of coffee fosters friendship and collaboration at work.
  3. An office coffee machine makes employees happy. Apparently, caffeine affects the levels of dopamine and serotonin in the brain, which makes people feel happy.

Coffee is a perk. So is a candy dish and a slice of pizza. These may seem unimportant, and by themselves they are. But when you put them together, with several other small perks, employees start to notice. I’m not saying these little perks will win a “Best Place to Work” award, but they do positively add to the work environment.