By Ali Burke, Czar of the bar
Twenty Below’s mission has always been about people. The coffee is important, but our primary objective is to use it as a catalyst through which we cultivate community and make people feel valued. The value we place on people extends to both our patrons and our staff team alike. A company can run as a well-oiled machine—working in tandem and serving effectively—when well-maintained and cared for. Here are a few frugal ways we at Twenty Below care for that machine.
People Over Profit
It goes without saying that a business needs profit to continue its existence, but what often goes unsaid and overlooked is that a greater importance exists. At Twenty Below, we strive not only to tell our employees that we value them but also to show it. We do this through our daily Community Lunch Hour, where we put coffee-making operations on hold at noon to allow everyone a break (which often includes some friendly table games); through potluck lunch Fridays, where both employees and customers contribute food to a communal meal; and through being closed on Sundays to offer a day of rest. These times of closure could surely be bringing in more money if we opened, but we value the times of rest they give our employees. We value the people over the profit.
A recent addition to Twenty Below, the Fun Fund is a pool of management’s tip money that’s used to fund something that the whole staff will enjoy (e.g., a pizza party or a camping trip.) So instead of management pocketing the tips accrued while they work on the coffee bar, it was unanimously agreed upon to put that money toward something that would benefit everyone.
Non-Work Staff Fun Times
We’ve found that our team feels most connected and rejuvenated when we spend time together outside of work engaging in fun activities. For us, this looks like picnics in the park, camp res, movies together, grill outs, and, most recently, camping. Our annual staff camping trip just took place, and it was a blast! Living life together and building our relationships is undoubtedly worth the effort.
Based on a sparkly idea from “Legally Blonde,” our team has a Slack channel dedicated to encouraging and uplifting one another with praise and warm fuzzies. Praise that’s unspoken is no praise at all, and our aim is to ensure that each employee is valued, that hard work never goes unappreciated or overlooked.
Open Communication, Solicited Feedback And Valued Opinions
A complaint commonly associated with job dissatisfaction is that employees don’t feel heard or listened to. We hope that’s never a complaint associated with our company. In order for our leadership team to avoid this blunder, we encourage direct communication, quarterly employee reviews, and an open feedback loop where employees are encouraged to ask questions and poke holes in our ideas rather than remain silent with discomfort.