Weekly Wrap: Are Workers Less Productive Without Their Coffee Fix?

Think you just can’t make it through the morning — or whenever you start your day — without that first cup of coffee? You’re not alone.

A new survey from CareerBuilder and Dunkin’ Donuts (and yes, they have a bit of a vested interest in this) found that close to half of all American workers (46 percent) say they are less productive without coffee.

If you’re anything like me, you probably already knew that, because I know I have a harder time getting going in the morning without that first cup of java.

So, given that we all need our coffee, here are some more fun facts about our coffee-drinking habit/addiction that popped up from the survey:

  • Keep the refills coming, because 37 percent of American workers drink two or more cups of coffee during their work day.
  • The daily work day coffee ritual is the strongest in the Northeast, with 49 percent  admitting to needing coffee while on the job, compared to the South at 45 percent, the West at 44 percent, and the Midwest at 34 percent.
  • Younger workers are more dependent on coffee, with 40 percent of employees age 18 to 24 admitting that they can’t concentrate as well without coffee. And, 43 percent of workers age 18 to 34 feel they have lower energy if they don’t drink coffee.
  • But younger workers (ages 18-24) also say that “coffee has helped their career by providing an opportunity to network with other co-workers.”
  • And, coffee equals congratulations for younger employees, with 24 percent of American workers ages 18 to 34 saying that they buy coffee as a way to treat themselves for a job well done.

More than just a line item

None of this is all that surprising, of course, but it’s another reminder of why the office coffee pot, coffee service, or however you provide coffee to your workforce, is critically important to them even if it just seems like another line item expense to you.

“A large percentage of people start their day with a cup of coffee,” says John Costello, Chief Global Customer and Marketing Officer at Dunkin’ Brands, “and more than any other product, coffee has a unique place among hard-working people looking to make it through their increasingly busy and hectic workday.”

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That doesn’t surprise me coming from the chief marketing officer of a company that sells specializes in selling coffee, but it doesn’t mean he’s wrong about it. As Richard Castellini, Chief Marketing Officer at CareerBuilder, notes, “Today’s workforce is working longer hours and shouldering heavier workloads.” The survey shows having an extra energy boost in the morning and throughout the day may be helping productivity levels.”

The survey also shows that certain professions seem to need coffee more than others, as this graphic from Dunkin’ and CareerBuilder shows. Note No. 12 on this list; they undoubtedly need coffee a lot more these days as they struggle with the rapidly changing world of employee benefits and meeting all the requirements of the new national health care mandate (also known as ObamaCare).

Somehow, I think it will take more than an extra cup of coffee or two during the day to help cope with THAT.

Fired while on vacation

Of course, there’s a lot more going on than just how much coffee American workers are drinking in the news this week. Here are some HR and workplace-related items you may have missed. This is TLNT’s weekly round-up of news, trends, and insights from the world of talent management. I do it so you don’t have to.

  • How would you like to be fired while on vacation? Yahoo’s new CEO has gotten a ton of glowing stories in the media, but here’s one she would rather skip  — how she fired her chief marketing officer while the CMO was on vacation, according to Business Insider. That’s a terrible people management practice for any company, much less one like Yahoo that needs all the help it can get.
  • A $2.3 million sexual harassment settlement. You don’t ever want your company to face something like this: According to the Los Angeles Times, “Fry’s Electronics Inc. will pay $2.3 million to settle a lawsuit from the federal government alleging that the retailer retaliated against a supervisor who reported a sexual harassment claim.” The issue? A supervisor at a Fry’s in Washington state was fired after alerting supervisors that an assistant store manager was sending one of his young employees “sexually charged text messages propositioning her and commenting on her body while inviting her to his house to drink.”
  • The trouble when you make employees “share.” The Wall Street Journal  reports that “In Silicon Valley, some companies are questioning whether software programmers even need their own cubicles. Their method is ‘pair programming’ — where two people share one desk and one computer. One person is the “driver,” controlling the keyboard and typing in code. The other “navigates,” monitoring design and scanning for bugs.” Pairing is finding fans at technology companies like Facebook, but as you can imagine, not everyone thinks this is such a hot idea.
  • Mistakes companies make with social media in the workplace. Attorney Mark Stein writes in The Miami Herald about the “seven deadly social media sins that could land your company in scalding water.” My favorites: “ignoring reality,” and, “doing nothing.”
  • HR and how they love the red Solo cup. I just got back from the annual HR Florida state conference in Orlando — it’s probably the best of the regional HR events — and the highlight (at least for me) was this wonderful little video homage they put together in honor of that universal party favorite, the red Solo cup. It’s worth watching because it shows HR professionals getting to do what they don’t get to do all that often — let themselves go and have a little fun.

John Hollon is Editor-at-Large at ERE Media and was the founding Editor of TLNT.com. A longtime newspaper, magazine, and business journal editor, John has deep roots in the talent management space. He's the former Editor of Workforce Management magazine and workforce.com, served as Editor of RecruitingDaily, and was Vice President for Content at HR technology firm Checkster. An award-winning journalist, John has written extensively about HR, talent management, leadership, and smart business practices, including for the popular Fistful of Talent blog. Contact him at johnhollon@ere.net, connect with him on LinkedIn, or follow him on Twitter @johnhollon.


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