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Author Topic: Need suggestions on how to handle a situation  (Read 9548 times)
StephanieP
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« on: February 14, 2012, 06:54:42 pm »

I work for a large (10,000+ employees) company.  We occupy a number of floors in a high-rise building.  Each floor has a kitchen with a coffee station.  The brands/types of coffee, tea, creamers and other beverages available on each floor depend upon what the occupants of that floor have chosen to order and pay for (out of their departmental budgets.)  Some floors have elected to go with low-cost items, while others have elected to spend a bit more for higher quality and better selection.  I happen to work (and manage the budget for,) a floor that fits in the latter group.  We have a nice selection for the employees of this floor and are able to do so because we have chosen to have a lower budget in other areas (such as employee expenses.) 

The problem is that occupants from the floor below us (which only provides Folgers, powdered creamer and sugar,) have noticed our better supply (Starbucks, flavored liquid creamers, herbal/flavored teas,) and have begun to come up to our floor in the mornings to not only get a cup of coffee, but to fill up thermoses and take supplies back to their desks (several creamer cups, a couple bags of tea for later, etc.)  I have asked the assistants on the other floor to please remind their employees that each floor budgets for and pays for the coffee supplies on that floor, so please do not take supplies from other floors - but the problem has not only persisted, it's gotten worse as that floor has increased in headcount.  Items are disappearing at an alarming rate, and if it persists, we will have burned through our budget by mid-year.

I am torn between sending an email to the assistants on the other floor asking for their accounting codes so that we can begin to split some of this cost with them, and putting a sign up in our kitchen that basically says "the items in this kitchen are provided for the occupants of this floor, and are paid for out of the budgets of the managers located here.  Please do not remove items for use on other floors."  Either way, I'm sure it will be seen as petty or greedy, when all I'm trying to do is save our buddget from being completely overtaken by these additional expenditures.  We simply can't afford to supplement the coffee budget for these other groups.

Is there an alternative way to conveying this message, or a recommendation that someone else may have?
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countrigal
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« Reply #1 on: February 14, 2012, 08:04:47 pm »

I'd be tempted to do this two-pronged.  First, I'd send an e-mail to the other budget holders (or specifically to the one floor that continues to come up and get yours) requesting a reminder go out to the floor about the procedures and that if other supplies (diff brand coffee, creamer, etc) is desired that the employees should see that person.  And yes, I would state that if your floor continues to provide the supplies for their floors, then the budget will be adjusted accordingly to accomodate the added expenses for your floor supplying coffee for 2 floors.

Then I would put a notice up, like you stated, saying that coffee and supplies are for this floor employees only and not to be taken to other floors.  Then I would list the appropriate contacts for each floor for them to go to if they have any requests for coffee supplies on their floor.  Under this, you can always put the explanation that yes, you all work for the same company, but the budget is broken down by floor for certain stuff and the coffee supplies are one of those, and they are in essence misappropriating budget items when they take what was allotted for your floor to another floor for consumption (use).  Drastic, but I'm pretty sure that the employees doing this are not aware of the way the coffee fund is allocated and are not thinking it's that big a deal.  Giving them the information, especially on who to go to on their floor to discuss the selection, might really solve the problem.

Another option would be to put a coffee can out and run an honor-system cost/payment for folks who are not on your floor.  We had a coffee station in our office, which was paid for by a group of folks all in the "coffee fund" group.  They all paid a set amount each month, and for that money, got to drink coffee for free and their preferences were purchased.  If anyone not in the coffee fund group wanted a cup of coffee, they could either join (paying the monthly due) or they could put $0.55 in the coffee can per cup of coffee they drank.  This money, along with the monthly dues, is what was used to purchase the coffee and supplies.

No matter how you address this, someone somewhere will think you're being petty.  The thing to remember is that you are not... you are trying to be fiscally mindful for your department/floor and need to stick to your guns.  Let us know how this works out over time.
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gee4
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« Reply #2 on: February 14, 2012, 08:28:22 pm »

Silly question but in a company that size, wouldn't it be more economical to provide all staff with the same refreshments?

Across 3 buildings we have various vending machines, coffee stations, etc but all offer the same.  There is no difference made.

I think that's the first problem.  Once you address that the rest will fall into place. 

Realistically, how on earth are you going to police this and stop someone from filling up a thermos?  Personally I wouldn't be that greedy but that's just me.
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StephanieP
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« Reply #3 on: February 14, 2012, 10:01:45 pm »

Silly question but in a company that size, wouldn't it be more economical to provide all staff with the same refreshments?

Across 3 buildings we have various vending machines, coffee stations, etc but all offer the same.  There is no difference made.

I think that's the first problem.  Once you address that the rest will fall into place. 

Realistically, how on earth are you going to police this and stop someone from filling up a thermos?  Personally I wouldn't be that greedy but that's just me.

At one point, all coffee was provided and paid for by our administrative services organization, as part of the facilities budgets, however it became too difficult for them to manage this because there are 4 subsidiary companies operating operating at any one location, and their financial expenditure must be kept distinctly separate, as we are a regulated business.  The best way to ensure that the right companies are paying for only their usage is to let each location manage their own ordering and payment.  We all use the same vendor, and have the same items available to order, but obviously different groups budget differently for this.  This wouldn't be as big of a deal if it were one or two people a day taking one or two cups of coffee, but that's sadly not the case and it's eating pretty substantially into our supply - we went through a box of peppermint tea in less than 2 days, and over 300 single-serve tubs of creamer in less than a week.

One of my colleagues is an early-riser, and her plan is to stake out the kitchen tomorow morning to ensure that it's definitely the occupants of the floor in question that are taking our stuff, and then we'll try to solicit the help of the admins on that floor to keep their people from taking our coffee.
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gee4
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« Reply #4 on: February 14, 2012, 10:12:11 pm »

We all use the same vendor, and have the same items available to order, but obviously different groups budget differently for this.  This wouldn't be as big of a deal if it were one or two people a day taking one or two cups of coffee, but that's sadly not the case and it's eating pretty substantially into our supply - we went through a box of peppermint tea in less than 2 days, and over 300 single-serve tubs of creamer in less than a week.

May be you want to cut back on the various refreshments on offer.  That might limit those who wander to other floors looking for something new to try.  I guess that's what happens when you offer freebies to employees...sadly they take advantage.
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StephanieP
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« Reply #5 on: February 14, 2012, 11:42:29 pm »

I'm hoping the first two options (contacting the other floor's administration and posting a sign,) will yield results.  I hate 'punishing' my team here because another group can't refrain from taking what isn't theirs to take.
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gee4
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« Reply #6 on: February 15, 2012, 10:11:19 am »

I know Stephanie, because those people ruin it for others.

Let us know how you get on.
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Jackie G
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« Reply #7 on: February 15, 2012, 12:44:44 pm »

Let's hope it works.  We have signs in our kitchen about being tidy etc and nobody pays a blind bit of notice.

However, budget is at stake here so that may help.  Or you will have to start locking up your goodies!!
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Atlanta Z3
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« Reply #8 on: February 15, 2012, 03:04:06 pm »

I would have folgers out for the floor creepers and put a combination lock on the cabinet that has the good stuff.  I would send an email to my floor with the combination, so they can get supplies but ask then not to share the combination or supplies!  I would think this would get your message across and the lock could come down after a month or so.

I had the same problem with copy paper, at $35 a case and we were ordering 15-20 cases a month.  Another department's copier was "broken" (read slower than ours), I made them order paper for us.  I caught another department walking away with half a case of paper, again I told them (politely) to restock our cabinet out of our next order.  And I will follow up!
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Jackie G
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« Reply #9 on: February 15, 2012, 08:22:54 pm »

What is Folgers?

And if the stuff keeps going if you go that route, then someone on your floor is sharing the combination!  Not sure what you do then.  Lock it in your office so that everyone has to come and ask you for supplies?  Not very practical!
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msmarieh
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« Reply #10 on: February 15, 2012, 09:36:04 pm »

Folgers is cheap coffee. Smiley

That is definitely inappropriate. I would definitely advise the admins that you will be charging back their departments if it continues.
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StephanieP
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« Reply #11 on: February 16, 2012, 11:24:12 pm »

Thank you all - we're going to try the steps above and I'll report back if there's any change.

 Smiley
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Atlanta Z3
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« Reply #12 on: February 17, 2012, 03:31:10 am »

I had another thought. Do you have door key cards?  If so would ther be any way to put a swipe pad on your break room door and only give access to the occupants of your floor?
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peaches2160
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« Reply #13 on: February 19, 2012, 11:31:17 pm »

Nobody reads signs.  Make sure the folks from the other floor are the culprits.  Charge their departments budgets and suggest their floor order the same refreshments as you.  We have the same problem with first aid supplies.  Instead of taking a band aid, they take the whole box!  Crazy, but some folks always do this stuff in a large group.  Bottom line, it is a form of theft from the company.
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