July 13, 2018

The Roundup: Coffee’s health benefits, escape room job interviews, and downsides to office harmony

In this week's Roundup, how your workday coffee habit boosts your health, while job interviews are happening in new and interactive settings. Plus, an unexpected creativity killer: team harmony.

Kelsey McGillis

Kelsey McGillis is a writer at Ceridian's Toronto office. An avid reader and writer, she studies English and Communications at the University of Toronto.

Living longer one cup at a time?

Next time that it’s your turn for the office coffee run, know that you’re helping save your coworkers’ lives…well, almost. A recent CNBC article covers the emerging research on the health benefits of coffee. The study in question, run by the National Cancer Institute, found that coffee drinkers had a slightly lower risk of death over time. Specifically, coffee drinkers were about 10% to 15% less likely to die during the 10-year study follow-up (out of the roughly half a million British adults studied, around 14,200 people died.) Whether it’s one or eight cups a day, Starbucks or home-brewed, decaf or not…. Your cup of joe might be doing more good than just waking you up.

This particular study isn’t the first in the field of coffee’s health benefits. Previous studies on the subject have shown that, in addition to increased longevity, coffee may reduce inflammation and decrease risk of diabetes.

Overall, these findings sound like great news for all coffee addicts out there. However, as the CNBC article emphasizes, health experts warn against starting to drink or increasing consumption of coffee for medical purposes. In other words, your Frappucino isn’t proven as a viable medication, so take its health benefits with a grain of salt… and maybe some sugar.  

The future of job interviews

While coffee lovers are certainly rejoicing over news of its health benefits, the coffee shop may soon hold much less value in workplace culture. It seems less likely that job interviews will continue to be held over cappuccinos. Understandably, as the workplace evolves, so does the job interview process.

In a survey by The Knowledge Academy, 72% of U.S employees said they were interested in companies using “more unorthodox recruiting assessment methods.” Some examples of such methods include games of capture the flag, escape rooms and “speed-dating” style interviews. And it seems that both job seekers and employers seem to be on board with the potential benefits of these new approaches.

As one example, when it comes to escape room interviews, The Knowledge Academy describes their value in demonstrating potential employees’ time management, problem-solving and communication skills. These benefits are seen by all parties, with 70% of companies and 66% of job seekers surveyed claiming to be open to escape room style interviews.

It’s no secret that offices are mixing up their physical environments- whether for the interview or day-to-day work life. Companies like Google and Apple have boasted their unconventional offices for years. From offices built inside shipping containers to allowing pets at work, it’s clear that as traditionally corporate settings move the way of the dodo, the traditional job interview will move with them.

related: The Roundup: Offices in gyms, the work snacking epidemic, and discussion on the “gay glass ceiling”

The benefits of office conflict

A recent article published by the Harvard Business Review poses a controversial question that employers often fail to ask themselves: Are my employees getting along too well? Specifically, this article highlights the ways in which “too much team harmony can kill creativity.” As with anything, too much of a good thing is often bad – same goes for total peace in the workplace.   

The article highlights a study on the relation between approaching challenges and creativity in the workplace. It found that teams were more creative when they had fewer resources rather than more (money, time, people). Additionally, teams that dealt with conflict amongst themselves were found to be more innovative, a result of working through their issues. Just as the age old saying “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” goes, dealing with somewhat negative or difficult situations breeds improvement – especially in the office.

The HBR article outlines a few measures employers can take to encourage such an environment of progress and innovation. To begin, proper goal setting is a crucial aspect of employee motivation; goals should be neither completely unattainable or too accessible. The ideal workforce is built around the pursuit of challenging, but feasible goals. According to the HBR, a positive work environment involves employers framing challenging tasks as “opportunities, while keeping their focus on the distance that still needs to be traveled.”

Through all these workplace challenges, employers should ensure their workforce is given enough opportunities to develop interpersonally - through disputes among coworkers. Disagreements in the workplace should be framed as means to gaining a complete understanding of a topic, rather than personal attacks. Bouncing your ideas off coworkers, and in turn hearing their perspective, breeds diversity and balance.

Harmony and complete tranquility is often the antithesis to progress and personal development in the workplace. After all, without roadblocks we’d never have a chance to stop and reflect.

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