Nathan Roys, statistical analyst at urgent care EMR company Practice Velocity, used to stop by Starbucks on the way to work every day. Nowadays, he heads straight into the office and orders his coffee at a kiosk run by Rockford Roasting Company, a local roasting facility and brew bar.
Nestled between Practice Velocity’s main meeting hall and the open space where employee work stations are located, the Rockford Roasting kiosk is a daily stop for many Practice Velocity employees looking to start their day with a caffeine boost. The company partnered with Rockford Roasting back in 2015 to bring in high quality coffee service to employees at a subsidized cost. The goal? To improve employee satisfaction.
“Since people spend more time at work than almost any place else, our goal is to make their time at PV feel like home,” says Dr. David Stern, CEO of Practice Velocity. “Part of that vision is to make PV a place where their needs and comfort are served. Our hope is that employees feel that this makes their lives better.”
Rockford Roasting serves around 50 cups a day to Practice Velocity’s 200-plus employees, who can either text their orders to the barista in advance or simply walk up and order.
“I thought [the Rockford Roasting partnership] was fantastic,” says Roys, who’s been with Practice Velocity for three years. “Especially because the company subsidizes the cost a lot, so it’s really nice to be able to come in and get coffee for cheaper than, say, Starbucks, which is more out of the way. It’s more convenient here.”
Roys now spends half of what he used to on coffee, a savings that adds up for employees like him who would rather pay for the good stuff than drink the free “sludge” found in most office break rooms.
Bringing in professional baristas as an employee perk is still slow to gain traction in mainstream corporate America, but it’s a popular benefit at technology companies like Practice Velocity. According to the Wall Street Journal, tech companies “learned decades ago that stocking premium snacks and providing hip areas for lounging can improve the office atmosphere, keep long days more enticing and encourage employees to stay at their desks.”
These types of benefits might seem like a superfluous expense, but these companies have the right idea when it comes to running a successful business. According to job and career resource Good&Co, low employee morale can have a serious effect on a company’s bottom line, costing U.S. companies $450 to $550 billion annually in lost productivity. Conversely, investing in employee satisfaction and workplace happiness increases productivity, sales and even creativity.
But can this really be achieved with coffee?
Well, it’s a more popular perk than you might think. According to the Wall Street Journal, “daily coffee drinkers spend more than 62 hours a year purchasing coffee away from the office, with 75 percent of full-time employees also drinking coffee at work.”
Partnerships like the one between Practice Velocity and Rockford Roasting actually help reduce employee time away from the office while providing employees with a fun perk. “Most employees don’t have the time to run out and grab a good cup of coffee, so having this service internally adds value to the employees,” says Lucretia Ristin, owner of Rockford Roasting Company.
Jennifer Bunk, a medical biller at Practice Velocity, agrees. “PV is awesome and that they offer [discounted coffee from Rockford Roasting Company] is even better. I’ve never had an employer that cares about you as much as PV does.”
For companies that are thinking about bringing their own barista on-site, Stern recommends looking for a local coffee vendor to partner with rather than doing it all yourself. “For something that costs less than 1 percent of revenue, don’t waste time trying to save money by doing it yourself. You may save a little money, but it will distract you from your primary goal as a company. Find a vendor that can do it with excellence at a reasonable cost.”
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