Socialism in the Workplace

I’ve had occasion to observe an alarming trend in our food establishments. I don’t know what to do about this, but would like to consider options as to how this might be changed.

I’m referring to the incipient socialism taking over in the restaurants in our area–maybe your area, too.

I was at a Subway for breakfast about 7:15am. There was only one server setting up for the morning. They open at 7. Ahead of me was a lady who had ordered six foot-long sandwiches. The server began my order while that one was working. She was very efficient with her time and her movements behind the counter, plus she was very pleasant.

The lady tried to give a tip for the excellent service, but the girl refused at first. Finally relenting to the older woman, she took it and said, “I will tell the manager about it when she comes in.”

Later, I had opportunity to ask her about the tip.

“We’re not allowed to take tips,” she said.

As I pressed her for more information, she said, “They take all the tips and set them aside for two weeks until the next pay-day. Then they divvy the money up according to who works the most during that time period.”

(slap me six sides of silly!)

But, then I remembered asking about how they handle the tips at one of our favorite restaurants in town.

They put the tips into a common jar, and it is divided equally at the end of the shift.

“We had to start doing this because we found that some servers wouldn’t serve any table but their own, so this eliminated the competition,” I was told by the assistant manager. “They wouldn’t even refill a coffee cup as they passed by if it wasn’t their table.”

Except for the lousy work ethic being tolerated, that actually sounded plausible to me–until this latest episode at the sandwich shop. Then I began thinking about how many places I’ve been where there is a common tip jar. Some of those places, to be sure, there is no one in particular to tip for extra service–Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts, Panera, etc. And, I realize that the Subway shop probably falls under the same category of eatery.

But, this was special–different–and only one person was on duty doing an excellent job of keeping customers happy. She earned the recognition.

Here’s my problem: servers on the afternoon-evening shift the rest of the week and weekend will benefit from her excellent service whether they deserve it or not.

Yes, the same thing can be said of the morning shift deriving benefit from another–but that is my point. Why should one person (or shift) carry another? There is no guarantee of quality service from one person/shift to another. In fact, my experience at the local DD is that the morning shift deserves all the tips, while the afternoon/evening shift should pay me for what I have to put up with. (so, I seldom stop there after noon.)

This system of sharing equally may also help to explain why there is such dour service at so many places.

What is the motivation to excel if everyone gets rewarded the same?

I understand the superiority of internal motivation over external motivation, but that is not the kind of planet I live on.

What can be done to shift this slide toward socialism in the workplace? Employers are constantly complaining about the lack of quality workers. Apparently we are not able to see a connection between effort and reward.

I don’t have an answer at this time, but if you do, please share it.

2 thoughts on “Socialism in the Workplace

  1. Dale, this has been going on for years, at least here in SC and in Hawaii. My kids have waited on tables for over 10 years and this has been standard practice. Unfair. Wrong. But true.

    What can be done about it? Nothing. As long as employees can sue their employers for “unfair” treatment, this will be the practice. It would take a very brave employer to step out and say workers can keep their tips and I don’t expect that to happen soon.


  2. i don’t have an answer, but i know that most restaurants in this area do the same the lousey waiter gets tipped as well as the good one…never liked that idea


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