Launch of #Take15 Campaign: Why don't young people put the kettle on?

Today we’re pleased to be launching our #take15 campaign to encourage mentors of trainees and young apprentices to take the time to teach young people how to make tea (and coffee!), and to regularly #take15 minutes to check in on someone to ask them ‘How’s your week going?’ as it can make all the difference.

Inspired by a personal story and listening to people at a networking event, our Head of Traineeships Lisa Brooks tells us more about the campaign, the value of tea for confidence, mental health and problem solving and what you can expect to see in the next few months.

A woman in a suit pouring hot water into a tea cup

“We really want the employers we work with to be the best mentors they can to our young people, sharing their valuable skills and experience without forgetting some of the basics and how it feels to be a young person starting out on their career.”

How did the idea of #take15 come about?

At a networking event recently I heard business owners who said they’ve had trainees before and were complaining that they don’t put the kettle on when they’re really busy. A lot of people are quick to dismiss young people as being not work-minded and they’re judged this way because they don’t yet have the ability to make a cup of tea or coffee or they perhaps don’t know the social cues of when a good time to make a tea of coffee is at work.  

This conversation reminded me of a personal experience with my son who is in the RAF. We attended his graduation from the cadets, and one of the flight sergeants pulled us to one side and said ‘he really needs to learn how to make a decent cup of tea,’ and they couldn’t believe how he had got to 19 without being able to make tea. I realised then it was because he didn’t drink tea or coffee himself, didn’t even know what to put in the cup, how long for – and no-one ever took the time to teach him how to make a tea. Plus, there’s the added pressure of him wanting to impress his Sergeant. I just thought maybe you should show him how to make a cup of tea and it’s something employers don’t realise or forget about it.

My son was home on leave last year, went straight to the kitchen and put the kettle on to make himself a cup of coffee! He said he has a tea bar and they take turns in making the tea and coffee for everyone and it’s a social place that provides downtime for what are physically and mentally demanding roles – and it’s also where they build their friendships, find out about each other and support each other.

Tea serves a specific function within the workplace of taking a break, supporting mental health, meeting new colleagues and it’s an important skill within the workplace – it’s that ability and emotional intelligence of the right time for a tea break.

And it’s not just about tea, it can be any hot or cold drink! So we want to encourage mentors of young people to ‘take 15’ minutes to teach young people about making tea and coffee, but also to take 15 minutes to check in and check up on them over a drink.

With many people working from home at the moment, it’s also that opportunity to put in the work calendar a short catch-up with their trainee or mentor virtually, 

Why is making tea or coffee important in the workplace?

Confidence

Trainees and apprentices can be anxious because they’re trying to make their best impression and want to learn. They might be scared/frightened if they make a cup of tea and get it wrong that you might think of them – they want to get it right and they want to fit in.

Checking understanding is a key thing too – the confidence to simply ask someone to repeat what they say if you haven’t fully understood – it can be difficult. When you’ve been in a workplace for a while you’d question it more casually, but when you’re a trainee or apprentice it’s a big thing to do and we just take it for granted.

And when you hand that drink to someone and get a thank you – it makes you feel good!

At the start of their traineeship placement or apprenticeship is the ideal time to ‘take 15’ minutes to teach them as a mentor about making a hot drink, removing them from their direct work space and you can have that chat about making and tea and coffee, and they can relax and this is when you’ll bring out the best in them. And it’s also an opportunity to ask them what they want to get our of their traineeship.

As we work remotely, your trainee or apprentice might need encouragement of when to take a (tea) break, or how long they should be.

Problem solving

How often do we say ‘let’s think about it over a cup of tea?’. If someone learns the importance and value of this within the work environment that ‘lets have a cup of tea’, think about it, and come back and look can you give you a fresh perspective – taking a well-timed tea break is a problem solver and has so much value for young people as well as their employers and mentors. This works both in-person and the world of virtual work.

Chatting with colleagues that you might not have the opportunity to talk to otherwise – that in turn can lead to problem-solving as you build those connections and who can support you with what you’re doing.

Mental Health

When someone is new in the organisation, it’s not about turning them into the person that always makes the tea or coffee – everyone should take turns – its about taking the 15 minutes to find out what’s really happening in that person’s life and what’s important to them and making them feel comfortable and confident.

It’s also an opportunity to talk about whatever is on your mind, and those 15 minutes can really impact someone’s mental health and wellbeing to be able to talk about what’s going on and simply asking them ‘How’s your week going?’ With many employees working at home, how often do you really take the time to catch up with someone with a cup of tea and ask them how they are?

When you are with people socially and you might go round a friend’s house to have a cuppa, being with like-minded people and taking that first sip and think, relax and talk. When people say they’ve had no time for a tea break in their work day – that’s not right.

Working from home can be relentless with less opportunities for social interaction, so like you would have at a work place it’s important to catch-up over a cup of tea.

Social Skills

Talking to people you wouldn’t normally talk to when making the tea, it builds confidence and friendships. When you start a role as an apprentice or trainee you‘ll know a small circle, if you’re in a larger workplace it’s about being able to make a tea and ask around if anyone wants a drink, who has this mug and so on – and you get to know people by their tea type so it’s a great ice-breaker.

There are so many discussions that can be had about tea and coffee itself! From your favourite mug, type of tea/coffee, the type of milk, (whose milk you don’t touch!) and also the colour of the tea or coffee and if you add sugar or sweetner. These can happen virtually, also!

Plus it’s that social cue of offering someone a tea or coffee when you know someone is busy, or is having a tough day – these cues don’t come naturally to everyone and here a mentor can lead by example.

Taking one of the simplest of things that we take for granted and translating that into a really great piece of value. Asking how someone’s school day was they will remember the fun parts and relate to that but perhaps not the serious – finding common ground, it’s a very very social activity.

What else can we expect from the campaign?

Over the next few months we will have lots more articles, some podcasts from some of the young people we work with and there might be a few pictures of favourite mugs showing up on our social channels, too!

We really want the employers we work with to be the best mentors they can to our young people, sharing their valuable skills and experience without forgetting some of the basics and how it feels to be a young person starting out on their career – your first real work experience placement can be daunting, so we want our employers and the trainees to have the best experience.

Lastly, how do you take your tea or coffee?

I have my tea decaff, white, one sweetner!

We’d like to thank Lisa for her time and don’t forget you can get involved, too – look out for our Friday posts on our social media channels with ‘take 15’ questions and join in the conversation – we’d love to hear from you!

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