The employees at WNYC did not like their coffee. So they polled everyone.
This was the email:
Described as “medium to heavy body with dark chocolate and malt tasting notes,” the winning blend was Mexican Oaxaca from the Brooklyn Roasting Company.
Where are we going? To coffee as compensation.
Looking at our office coffee, behavioral economists see much more than a perk (sorry). When they believe coffee signals a better work environment, employees feel more appreciated. One WNYC employee said that she annually saved $1095 from not buying a cup of coffee each day. But the non-coffee drinkers experience a distributive downside since the expense does not benefit them. Neither would the caffeine that could boost the productivity of the coffee drinkers.
So yes, ranging from the intangible appreciation message to the money saved, office coffee can generate worker satisfaction (until they take it for granted). However, the biggest takeaway is compensation. As an expense, office coffee belongs in a worker’s compensation package.
Our Bottom Line: Worker Compensation
Most of us only pay attention to a paycheck. But really, we are paid much more.
In addition to wages, our compensation package can include retirement benefits, health insurance, paid vacation and parental leave. Below you can see that the rate of compensation growth was higher than for wages alone. The main reason was more expensive health insurance:
So yes, compared to the other parts of a compensation package. coffee is a relatively minor expense. However, it can remind us that we are paid more than the check we receive.
My sources and more: A huge thank you to The Sporkful. Always an interesting podcast, their discussion of coffee was more economic than usual. They even interviewed a behavioral economist. Interesting in a different way, this Econtalk podcast and transcript focused on compensation. It let me consider compensation through an academic lens.