It may seem like a little perk, but a free cuppa over lunch, at a meeting or toward the end of a long working day can be a real morale booster for British workers.

But many employers are scrimping on free refreshments for their staff as the austerity drive takes hold, according to a new survey.

Some 45 per cent of British workers don't enjoy a free cup of tea or coffee at work and a third of workers (33 per cent) have seen their companies cut back on free refreshments over the last year, research by uSwitchforbusiness.com shows.

Cutting back on drinks may seem trivial given that firms are scaling back on hours, scrapping bonuses and cancelling pay rises, but the free cuppa may hold more value than companies realise.

One in ten workers (11 per cent) polled by uSwitch report that cutbacks to refreshments have changed the atmosphere at work for the worse, while a fifth (20 per cent) say that they have made staff worry about the future and what else could be cut.

A free hot drink can lift spirits, too, the report suggests, with a third of workers (34 per cent) saying that “little extras” like free tea and coffee boost morale.

What's more, a third of Brits (30 per cent) say the quality of perks influence their choice of employers and 16 per cent use it as a gauge for what the company is like.

“Given the economic climate it makes sense to cut costs. However, it's also vital that companies send out the right message to loyal staff,” said James Constant, director of uSwitchforbusiness.com.

“Perks like free tea and coffee do add up, but the cost is minimal when compared with the value that staff place on them.”

The report shows that at work it's often the little things that make the biggest difference.

Why not buy some promotional mugs and bring back the free cuppa at your workplace? It'll help bring your team together and really lift spirits.

Storm in a tea cup? Staff reach boiling point as firms slash free tea and coffee“. Uswitchforbusiness.com. Wednesday June 29th 2011.

Posted by Robin McCrink