– Thoughts on Strategy and Management

It is so easy to make employees happy

I experienced something extraordinary at work today: The entire staff of the company was united in total happiness. You could see people smiling and sharing their emotions everywhere on the floors. What had happened?

A very simple thing: All coffee machines were replaced by new ones from a different brand and supplier. The lease agreement for the old coffee machines had expired and management had taken the one right decision – they changed the supplier.

You may already guess that the old machines did not produce something that people liked very much. They worked with some sort of refrigerated coffee syrup and milk syrup, which was mixed with hot water to give a coffee. The result was everything but tasty. I never met anyone in the company who actually liked this coffee.

My colleagues and I developed two different strategies to cope with this situation: Some tried to get used to the coffee. They drank it every day although they did not like it. Others experimented with different mixtures of coffee, milk, espresso and hot water to find a combination that was drinkable. Others – including me – went for substitutes such as instant coffee, tea, or no coffee at all. I even saw somebody with a good old coffee-filter and coffee-powder.

Today all this changed. We got new coffee machines that operate with real coffee-beans and real milk. We all were busy trying this new experience and were delighted. Comments like these were heard:

  • “Looks like coffee, smells like coffee, tastes like coffee”
  • “It is even hot!”
  • “You would not believe that coffee from beans tastes better than coffee from syrup.”
  • “Delicious”

My conclusion: Our management had decided to listen to its employees and to change something that was not good. It probably had cost some money, compared to the old vendor. It will most probably cost even more money, because our consumption of coffee will increase considerably. However, these are minor amounts. And they achieved something that others struggle to achieve: They made a complete workforce happy.


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