The Cost of a Coffee

Every weekday my husband spends $1.77 at Tim Hortons on a coffee. Every day – without fail. At first I thought the cost, although minimal compared to my $4.99 Starbucks obsession, was wasteful and unnecessary considering his employer offers free coffee at the office. But, upon further consideration, I started to realize what that $1.77 is really buying him. The result? A complete 180 on my view, and in fact, I’ve come to realize that my husband, and maybe all employees interested in progressing their careers, can’t afford NOT to incur the cost of a coffee everyday – here’s why 🙂

The Opportunity Value

An important point about my husband’s daily caffeine fix is that he walks to Tim’s every morning to get it. That walk is often accompanied by one of his colleagues, and the route is through the busy halls and streets of the downtown core. This is an important factor, because aside from a much needed morning pick up, what his coffee is really buying him is opportunity. Opportunity to socialize, develop relationships (both professional and personal), network with industry peers he sees outside of the office in passing, and have conversations throughout the $1.77 trip that differ from those he has while working at his desk.

So what value is this opportunity delivering? What is the ROI on that cup of coffee and why is it, in my opinion, a cost that is accretive to his career?

  • Employee Happiness & Satisfaction

Firstly, kicking the day off with a cup of coffee makes for a great (and sometimes necessary) morning start. But additional to that, the daily trip provides Mike (my husband) the opportunity to get to know his colleagues and build or strengthen workplace friendships. A study conducted by Gallup found that employees who have a best friend at work were 43% more likely to receive praise for their work. And a separate study found 46% of professionals worldwide believe work friends are central to overall happiness. So, if Mike is building friendships on his daily walk, improving his chances for positive performance feedback AND increasing his happiness both at work and overall in life – can you really put a price on that?

  • You Know What They Say About Happy Employees…

They are more productive. And increased productivity (despite the break to make the coffee trip) bodes well for workplace performance. So, if happy employees are more productive, and the $1.77 is helping to boost happiness at work (both because caffeine = happiness and genuine friendships = happiness), you could go so far as to say that the cost of a coffee might pay multiples come performance appraisal and promotion time as a result of increased productivity.

  • Thinking Outside the Office

Similar to the idea I shared in my last Salopek Blog, the walk to Tim’s every morning gives Mike the opportunity to chat with colleagues and have conversations he may otherwise not have (provided he switches up who he heads out with). This helps to beat groupthink and drives innovative thinking that could lead to business ideas, and potentially (if the ideas generate value for the company) a promotion or bump in compensation come review time. Think of all the coffee you could buy!

  • Catch up Coffees – the new PMP that pays

With many organizations making the transition toward more informal, ongoing & timely performance management processes, coffee trips are an excellent opportunity for informal performance updates and performance feedback. These coffee trips provide employees the opportunity to chat with managers about their work, projects and professional goals. Slammed on a project? Enthusiastically sharing with your manager what you’re working on reads engaged, not braggy (provided it’s done genuinely). Could be busier? Chatting about areas of your business you’d like to gain more exposure in demonstrates eagerness to learn and develop your career. Both result in conversations that may make you stand out as an employee worthy of future interesting projects, a promotion, or even a raise.

So even if you sub Tim’s for Starbucks and buy Refreshers, my personal drink of choice (I’d recommend asking for light ice) every workday for the egregious monthly cost of $99.80, I still think it’d be worth it! The investment can pay dividends in workplace – and life – happiness, employee satisfaction, productivity and performance. Switch up the colleague you have coffee with from time to time – make it an opportunity to catch up with your manager and share your excitement for a project you’re working on, or simply ask the new hire if they’d like to join and maybe you’ll make a new friend. It might cost you $1.77 (or in my case $4.99), but the lost opportunity cost could potentially be a lot more expensive.

Interested in continuing the conversation about employee engagement, performance management or the difference a coffee outside your workplace could make? Salopek & Associates would be happy to connect you with one of the HR Consultants on our team – in keeping with the spirit of this Blog, might we suggest coffee? With Consultants in Calgary, Ottawa and Toronto, contact us to set up a meeting in person or over the phone, we’d be happy to share our expertise and a cup or two with you!

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