My first corporate gig was the assistant to Marketing and Promo guys in the record industry. The owner of the label was considered a bit strange, a bit new age. In the era of Puffys, Suges, and popping bottles, he was all about “spiritual balance.” What did that mean? It meant:
- Natural lighting throughout the entire office.
- Ergonomic chairs.
- Soundproofed tranquility room where staff massage therapists gave full time employees a 15-minute massage each week.
- State of the art coffee station and kitchen area with snacks and drinks.
- Full gym with treadmills and stationary bikes and shower areas.
- Isolation tank with a waterbed.
- Monthly chiropractic sessions.
I thought nothing of these things when I worked there. It was part of my routine. Now, when I look back, I remember how energized the staff would be throughout the day (days sometimes ending at 1am). We were always in the office, handling issues big and small with little to no effort. I realize now, all these years later (because this was the mid-90s), that this was an incredibly early version of workplace experience practices that so many companies (outside of the tech industry) are now adopting.
So, what does Workplace Experience mean? Every interaction that an employee has at work is a workplace experience – dealings with management and coworkers; the company culture; the physical office itself; company technology (or lack of); and overall work expectations. All areas that can either enhance an employee’s day or lead quickly to burnout. Focusing on an employee’s well-being fosters increased productivity and stronger retention numbers, which leads to a stronger company overall. Seems simple but our traditional corporate culture doesn’t support this, and change has been slow. But now they are hiring people – Workplace Experience staff – to facilitate these changes.
How do they do this? A multitude of ways but one quick and easy tool at Workplace Experience managers disposal is food. Lunch, to be exact. Feeding people – and feeding them well – is one of the easiest ways to show that a company cares about their employee’s wellbeing. That the company understands their workers may have a long commute and the last thing they need is to rush out, stand in line for processed food (or an even longer one for something healthier), and scarf it all down within their allotted lunch hour. Hot, delicious, curated meals in a dedicated space eases this particular pain point and makes the workday that more pleasant. So, with this push to return to the office, you will see more companies move away from takeout and delivery services to a more refined meal option, an opportunity to sit down and bond with coworkers outside of the watercooler. And not just standard cafeteria food but delicious menus that can take you around the world with no need of a passport.
Workplace Dining is the way to go – Going to work should not be a burden, and I am excited to see more companies adopt this approach with their employees.