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Workplace microwave, an indicatorof employee morale

on March 25, 2013
Break Room Revolt

Break Room Revolt (Photo credit: catatronic)

If you want to know how your employees’ attitudes are when you are not out and about, check the break room microwave. My former job had me traveling to many locations. During this time I noticed a trend in the break room. Watching people warm coffee or their lunch I became aware of a situation that appeared to mark the attitude of those users, the microwave.

Have you ever used the workplace microwave? What was your first reaction when you opened it? Was it clean or was it ready for the condemned notice? Have you ever watched who was using it and how they left it? During your break, sit back and watch what happens when people use the microwave.

My observations:

  • If employees are happy and respect each other, the microwave is clean. The area around it is clean as well as supplies provided.
  • If there are hostile employees, they never clean the microwave for the next person. They even slam the door when the food isn’t warm to their liking.
  • The workplace filled with gossip will have a dirty microwave. People are in a rush to get back to the group. The inside has lots of beverage spills from grabbing mugs on the run.
  • The burnt microwave… if employees do not feel safe to be open and honest, there will be a burnt mess. No one there wants to own up to anything though the office smells the results. People will also sneak to use the microwave in fear of being blamed for the mess.
  • Food left in the microwave is a sign of stressed employees. They are so busy running around often they forget they put something in to warm. Employers need to check this situation because constant stressed employees make mistakes and burnout. Everyone needs a break during a push or rush time without feeling guilty.
  • Lots of people hanging around a dirty microwave is a sign of an unproductive office. People caught up in the workplace scandals will find ways to hang out at the microwave to catch up on who is backstabbing who. It is often a means of survival if the environment is hostile and harassing.
  • In a supportive work environment one might often find encouraging post-it notes on the microwave. This workplace knows that people visit the microwave often. It is a resource to inspire and encourage via nice sayings and personal praises all can see.
  • In a happy, friendly, and very productive workplace, the microwave area will have goodies. Identifying the likes and trends of fellow employees is noted by the  variety of creamers, special treats, and accessories such as extra plates and cups. This environment lets the observer know that no matter what these people have each others backs in a crisis as well as celebrating the uniqueness of each other in ways that keep even the worse of days filled with moments of smiles and warm thoughts.

I will offer a disclaimer on judging the workplace microwave. Some companies have policies about the break room and how it is kept. Some businesses have people who clean and maintain the areas in a set way. And sometimes, there is one employee who values  the microwave and will clean it daily. My observations are based upon areas employees keep up the break areas.

How is your workplace morale based upon the break room microwave? Do you think people would notice if the area changed? I urge you to take a moment to watch the dynamics of the employee/microwave connections to see if there is a correlation between the two. I would love to hear if my theory rings true in your workplace. Please send comments so we can compare.


One response to “Workplace microwave, an indicatorof employee morale

  1. Mark Morris says:

    How true! I think the same might be said of the break room in general, but that’s purely anecdotal. I have forwarded this to various collegues in my office, and they all agree with you.

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