Popcorn! There’s just something about popcorn that permeates any environment and immediately brings happy thoughts to mind. Take a freshly-popped break and personnel will come running down the field. For those that don’t come with outstretched arms, drop off a little bowl at each person’s desk. It’s irresistible and will lift everyone’s spirits amidst a stressful day. Just because you care, show them some freshly-popped love!
Some scientists ascertain that smell is the most powerful of the five senses. After all, our olfactory system can detect 1 TRILLION different stimuli! That’s a lot of scents! Smell is also tightly linked to memory, which is why a certain perfume will conjure memories of visiting your grandmother as a child or why the waxy scent of crayons will transport you back to elementary school.
Did you know that while American work laws require all full time employees to take a lunch break during the day, only one in three workers actually step away from their desk to take lunch? In fact, the average American works 9.2 hours a day, more often than not without taking a break at all. The negative impact this type of behavior can have on productivity, engagement, loyalty, and retention is profound.
Encourage your team to break this potentially detrimental habit by encouraging them to take microbreaks (breaks that are between 30 seconds to 5 minutes). 30 seconds might not sound like a long enough time for a break, but research has found that a 30 second microbreak can increase productivity up to 13% and a 15 second break from staring at the computer screen every ten minutes can reduce fatigue 50%. And what is a more perfect way to take a short break than to head to the breakroom to nuke a bag of popcorn?! Your team might build a positive association between the yummy scent of popcorn and their work environment!
Next time you go to the grocery store, stock up on individual bags of microwave popcorn. Include a variety of different flavors (regular butter, kettle corn, light butter, etc.) if they are available. Take it a step further and really indulge your team by stocking up on a variety of yummy toppings (mini chocolate or peanut butter chips, ranch seasoning, pumpkin spice, cinnamon sugar, etc.) and create a popcorn bar for your department to enjoy during one of their microbreaks!
FUN FACT: Corn was first domesticated about 10,000 years ago in what is now Mexico. Archaeologists discovered that people have known about popcorn for thousands of years. In Mexico, for example, remnants of popcorn have been found that date to around 3600 BC. Popping of the kernels was achieved by hand on the stove-top through the 19th century. Kernels were sold on the East Coast of the United States under names such as Pearls or Nonpareil. The term popped corn first appeared in John Russell Bartlett's 1848 Dictionary of Americanisms. Popcorn is an ingredient in Cracker Jack, and in the early years of the product, it was popped by hand.