What’s the Rule?

I happened to be having a drink after work the other day, and overheard a conversation between the bartender and an employee of the place.  “Don’t I get a discount on my food and drinks,” asked the employee?  “Not this time,” the bartender responded.

The employee, making not much more than minimum wage, left, clearly upset about the whole exchange.  Not upset at the bartender, but confused about how the whole employee discount thing worked.  There are a couple of problems with this.

The owners/managers have not set out a clear policy.  Now, the employees don’t know what the exact story is, and the bartender is left in the position of trying to figure out what the bosses want, and what is fair to the employee who just worked his tail off for fifty-three hours this week, and wanted to show the place off to his girlfriend.

Don’t make the bartender have to decide

It is so unfair to put the bartender in this position.  His/her job is tough enough.  There is this thing called alcohol, and it makes that bar a tough place to manage, without the added drama of having to decide who gets what and when, and who doesn’t, with no guidance from above.

It doesn’t stop there

There are a number of other ‘policy’ issues that could come up, and it is up to owners and management to make it clear what those policies are.  If someone wants to come in for dinner, what’s the story?  If an employee wants to buy a gift certificate, is there some deal there?  What if the employee is having a barbeque this weekend, and wants to buy some salmon, or some steaks?  What if the employee’s mother and father are visiting from Wisconsin, and he wants to buy them dinner…how does that work?

The lesson today is to make sure your policies are clear to all involved.  I also think these policies should err on the side of generosity.  Remember, if you sell them some steaks at your cost for their barbeque, it costs you NOTHING.  Why wouldn’t you offer that to your employees?  It will keep them from stealing them.

If you sell them gift certificates for 50% off, you are still making 20% if your cost of goods sold is controlled and around 30%!  I was talking to a consulting client recently and she was complaining to me about her employees wanting to eat and not wanting to have to pay for it.  She serves pizza and pasta for Christ’s sake.  Why not come up with a plan that includes feeding them when they work?  How much is food cost on pizza and pasta?  I’ll tell you–it’s about 18%!

Like I said:  Be generous

If you don’t want to feed your employees when they work, that’s up to you.  If you don’t want to buy them a beer after work, fine.   But, be clear about it!  Make your policies known–it makes it easier on everyone.



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