You can bring a horse to water but you can’t make it drink. Similarly, you can whip up a crackpot team of entrepreneurs and experts to kickstart your business — the hard part is getting them to collaborate.

No team simply ‘gels’ of its own accord, just as nobody doubts the value of good teamwork. Productivity shoots up as tasks are broken down into their constituent elements, hierarchies flattened and different departments sourced. Humans, let it not be forgotten, are inherently social animals.

Company culture is more than just an HR buzzword; it is fast becoming one of the main determining factors of whether or not workers take a job, particularly Millennials and ‘Gen Z’ workers (roughly those born between 1997-2005).

How should companies turn this nebulous concept into actionable reality? Providing breakfast, it seems, is a very good place to start.

In short, hosting employee breakfasts and seminars is a great way to put your employees in contact with each other whilst creating a more inclusive, educational company culture.

Everyone is a foodie nowadays, so making an effort with the pastries will automatically get everybody in a good mood. As for seminars, this is one of the easiest ways you can help your junior staff develop awareness of wider sectors and skills. Inviting a range of speakers or putting on a roundtable can also help foster inclusion and develop your company’s brand both directly, through marketing, and indirectly, through referrals.

Breakfasts need not cost the earth nor be limited to large corporations! Done well and planned in advance, they can provide valuable opportunities in terms of skills training, brand awareness and company culture.

In this article, I will indicate 5 ways in which hosting employee breakfasts and seminars can benefit your small business and its employees.

1. Concentration.

Studies vary, but with as many as 50% of all UK adults skipping breakfast, the temptation is to view the most important meal of the day with a certain measure of cynicism. For most people, just getting up in the morning is a struggle and the thought of factoring in more time to have a proper breakfast can seem unpalatable.

Yet there is a scientific consensus that skipping breakfast can lead to a host of health problems, not least — strange as it may seen — weight gain. Those with a fast metabolism will suffer the most if they fail to break the fast.

Amazingly, employees who don’t eat breakfast lose an estimated 82 minutes every day as a result of poor focus. So, on a purely chemical level, giving your employees some calories in the morning will boost your bottom line.

2. Upskill your workforce.

Inviting other entrepreneurs, HR managers and local businesses to give a speech or participate in a breakfast seminar can have multiple benefits for your employees.

On a basic level, a quick ‘how to’ series can provide easily digestible insights. This is particularly useful and relevant for SMEs, who may lack established IT personnel or technology specialists.

Regular seminars can bring about deeper changes to the approach and worldview of your employees. Just hearing about different business models, priorities and potential audiences can lead to greater appreciation of differences and greater sectorial expertise.

3. Networking.

Study after study after study seems to confirm the oft-cited mantra that what matters is who you know, not what you know. This is especially the case with SMEs, who may rely on endorsement or favourable collaboration to distinguish themselves from the crowd.

Hosting a team breakfast or breakfast seminar is a sure-fire way to make and develop connections, and avoids the numerous pitfalls of evening networking events (fatigue, family commitments…).

Why not plan and run a panel event around a certain theme? You might find yourself attracting professionals from outside your own company, further enhancing opportunities to present yourself and represent your brand values.

4. Employee satisfaction.

Young workers increasingly view the workplace as a source of personal enrichment over and beyond a financial obligation. A recent Deloitte survey shows that almost half of millennials plan to change jobs within the next two years, which makes retaining talent more important than ever before.

No recipe exists for concocting happy employees, but two ways of appealing to younger workers is to encourage inclusion and value commitment. Team breakfasts can help with both goals. Man cannot live by bread alone, yet regular breakfasts can help foster a strong sense of belonging in an otherwise distant workplace.

5. Fun!

If you really throw yourself into the idea, you can engage with your workforce by varying your breakfasts up from week to week. It’s not all about granola — you could have Danish pastries one week, German stollen the next and a nice fry up the week after! Get people talking about what next Friday might serve up.

Besides the food itself, you could try and create little challenges to entertain your employees and help build a sense of fun in the office. Maybe host a quick fire quiz with prizes for the winners, or have a ‘best breakfast’ competition between your different teams. Vary it up!

Have you ever hosted an employee breakfast? Did it improve camaraderie in the office? If you have any other creative ways of boosting workplace productivity, I would be delighted to hear from you at tom@tempagogo.com.

Photo credits: eOffice, Coworking London

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