Today I was browsing POPSUGAR’s home page and came across an article with the tagline The Surprising Way Companies Are Keeping Millennials Happy. I was expecting to read about flexible hours, pet-friendly workplaces, relaxed dress codes, and technology allowances. However, I quickly learned that the thesis of this article, which is actually entitled “The Secret to Boosting Workplace Productivity Depends on this 1 Thing,” grinds down to one thing: coffee.
Simply put, our generation spends more money at retail coffee establishments than any of our predecessors. The article noted that “gourmet coffee beverage consumption among 25- to 39-year-olds jumped from 19 percent to 41 percent between 2008-2016.” Basically, our generation’s refined palates abhor infamously cold, weak, and bitter office coffee, and will leave their office buildings to seek more tasty alternatives. To combat this not-so-untrue stereotype, some companies are physically changing their break rooms to mirror the appearance of coffee shops and are providing slightly more expensive products in smaller bulk orders. It concludes by stating that good coffee is not only a staple in the workplace, but can significantly enhance a young and talented employee’s decision whether to remain at that company.
While I completely agree that our generation is changing the face of the coffee industry by making this a social and trendy activity, I question POPSUGAR’s definition of “happy.” Because it seems to me that happiness and productivity are not at all synonymous, especially in the work place. Perhaps a caffeinated employee is more productive because she can tackle more projects during the work day. Then, still buzzing from her afternoon java, she can leave the office to go convene with friends, play sports, volunteer, spend time with family, watch television, or engage in an array of activities. But, once she sits down at the end of the evening at what is supposed to be bedtime, her head is still spinning from all of the premium, free coffee you consumed, compliments of Company X. She can’t fall asleep because she’s so wired. The next day, having barely slept, she rolls into work and brews herself another cup of coffee to prepare for the day that lies ahead. On and on, this vicious cycle continues: coffee, work, coffee, work, coffee, home life, restless sleep, and work again.
The daily grind is bound to catch up to her sometime. When it does, it won’t be pretty—and she probably won’t be happy. She’ll be stressed, exhausted, shaky, and overwhelmed with professional responsibilities and professional requirements. She’ll probably have a stomachache, since she’ll be too busy to eat a solid meal with so many daunting tasks in front of her. Caffeine will allow you to pack a lot of activities in your schedule. But at what cost?
I guess what I’m asking you is, does coffee truly make you happy?