The Breakfast Plan Goes Awry

Andy Warren, 2010-06-29

Ever have a small, simple idea for making things better at work and watch it take strange and unexpected turns until you wonder ‘what the heck did I start?’. It’s happened to me more than once!

So once upon a time (it is a good story after all), the company I’m working for starts talking about what could they do to make life better for employees. Little ideas, big ideas, just send in ideas and some will probably work out. I thought life wasn’t bad all in all, but donuts or bagels on Friday morning would be a nice way to wrap up the week. Not expensive, easy to manage, and it would contribute to some light social time for a few minutes.  Submit the suggestion, I do.

A few weeks go by and my boss announces that starting that week, the whole team will be going to the café on the first floor for breakfast to get what we want, with an $8/person allowance. It turns out not everyone likes donuts, bagels, muffins, so in order to make everyone happy, off we go to the café. The donuts and bagels there are not as good (in my view) as what we could get elsewhere, but you could get something hot if you wanted. Not bad, right?

I was thinking 2 dozen bagels/donuts/what-evers each week, for a total of $25 or so, for a team of 20. We were burning close to $160 a week. After all, the bagel and coffee was only $5.25, so one might as well get a granola bar for later and spend the whole $8.

$160 a week. Was it nice? Sure, but it just never seemed like the company got $160 worth of goodwill each week, and over time it started to become an entitlement and not a treat. It finally died when the internet bubble burst or likely they would probably still be getting their $8 a week allowance!

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