Checking In with Last Year’s Breakroom Makeover Contest Winner

Kemper House benefits from the new breakroom.

With the Staples Breakroom Makeover Contest coming up again this year, we thought we'd check in with last year's winner, Kemper House, on how they're enjoying their improved breakroom.

Kemper House is a residential care facility dedicated to caring for individuals with Alzheimer's disease and related dementias. Amanda Radca of Kemper House says the hard-working staff members continue to benefit from the new breakroom in a variety ways.

How did the employees at Kemper House react to the new breakroom when it was unveiled last year?

The response was overwhelmingly positive. Many of the long-time employees were deeply touched that our organization took the time and effort to enter the contest and try to win a new breakroom on their behalf. Many of the newer employees who had not had as much experience with the old breakroom commented about the amenities in the new breakroom and felt it showed how much Kemper House really cares about our employees.

In fact, just yesterday, almost a year after completion, one of our newer staff members said, "This is the nicest breakroom I have ever seen. It really says a lot about you guys" referring to the administration of the organization. Even those who were unsure that we could do much in a small space were pleasantly surprised at how nice it looks and how effective it is.

That's so great to hear. Your staff works very hard doing very stressful work. How has this breakroom helped them in their jobs?

The new breakroom has had such a positive impact on our whole environment. Many more employees are using the breakroom now for their breaks, which has many benefits. In the past, many workers would go out to their cars during their breaks. They have told me they are more comfortable in the breakroom and feel like it is now truly a place of respite for them during their very busy and stressful days. 

Also, in our field there is a significant amount of training that must be done, but our work environment isn't really an "office environment" so finding a spot to do some of that training can be a challenge. So, one other slightly unexpected productivity impact has been the employees using the computer in the breakroom to get their training completed on-site rather than trying to do it at home or on their phones because it is a quiet, enjoyable place to "work" now.  In addition, it is easier for us to communicate with staff now using newsletters and fun signs because they are more apt to read them now since they go in and use the breakroom.

Also, our staff members see the breakroom as a place to have lunch together. They appreciate the refrigerator with ice and water, the TV to catch up on news when they are on break, the bench style seating, and, of course, the coffee maker! More employees are bringing in their own food due to the ease of storage and many like to bring in treats to share and leave on the table for other staff to enjoy, which promotes comradery. 

One staff person said she now looks forward to eating her lunch now with her coworkers in the new breakroom instead of going out to buy lunch and trying to eat in her car on the way back to work.  Another staff person on the night shift keeps a variety of ice cream treats stocked in the freezer for the night shift team so that they can have a treat when they relax on their breaks.

How would you describe the process of working with the Staples team on the breakroom makeover?

It truly was a "Dream Team" that worked with us. The entire team was easy to work with, had ideas that we would never have been able to come up with on our own, and introduced us to products that we would not have known about without their help. They were efficient, prompt, but still very accommodating. It was a real pleasure to work with the entire Staples team.

Watch a time-lapse video of the makeover of Kemper House's breakroom.

Lastly, what advice would you give to an organization that suspects its needs a new breakroom?

Definitely go for it. Our new breakroom has made such a difference to our whole organization. And with this contest, there's no excuse not to enter. Finding and retaining quality employees today in any field is a challenge, so organizations have to make sure they're showing employees how much they are valued. And getting a new breakroom is a great way to do it.