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Opinion Editorials

A tip about tips: A response to food delivery drivers

(OPINION / EDITORIAL) Taking feedback from food delivery drivers, we offer a corrected response to tipping food delivery drivers, especially during the pandemic.

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Man seated on couch eating food from a food delivery person.

When you’re wrong, you’re wrong, and I will admit that I got a few things wrong in my most recent article about food delivery drivers. I want to clear up some misunderstandings I had, despite my research.

Dozens of delivery drivers have reached out to offer more insights on their job and how it really works, and especially why tips are crucial to their livelihood. I spoke with a few of them and wanted to share some of the updated information. Most of these drivers were helpful, which is why I wanted to write an updated version.

In the original article, part of the issue was comparing food delivery services with dining at a full service restaurant. I stated, “The same rule of dining at a full service restaurant applies: Don’t eat out (or order the food delivery service) if you can’t afford to tip.”

While I stand by my tipping statement in the story, I initially felt that drivers should deliver food despite the expected tip. I was thinking of waiting tables, where the server has to serve each table in their station, whether they want to or not, and that the majority of fair or good tips compensate for the few bad tippers.

Here is where I see that this conclusion—and comparison—falls short.

  • A restaurant is run by a full staff of employees, and each server has a team to rely on for help in case things get difficult: Kitchen staff, bussers, other servers, often a bartender or barista, and manager(s). Dealing with a difficult situation is a team effort. Delivery drivers may have a centralized support system, but nobody else to rely on or ask for help in the moment.
  • Delivery drivers are usually only able to deliver one order at a time, unlike servers at a restaurant who work in stations where they usually are responsible for several tables at once. Therefore, each order in a day counts significantly toward the bottom line.
  • Delivery drivers’ contracts with the parent companies gives them the choice to opt out of low dollar orders. They treat each order as a “bid,’ much like a freelancer. If the offer is too low, based on the expected payout shown in the app, the driver has every right to turn it down, unlike a server, who is required to take each table and does not find out the tip until the guests leave.

This takes me to the next point, which I tried to explain in my last article, but did not make clear. The food delivery apps have the greater responsibility here to the customers, as they are the ones who are “selling” the service. I’ve written before about their predatory practices toward restaurants, charging businesses up to 30% of the order, and sometimes even more when they offer a promotion.

Some apps even pay to have their ordering platform pop up when someone Googles the restaurant, so the unsuspecting customer who intends to support a small local business ends up ordering through the third party platform instead. These food delivery apps offer a service that has helped people stay home and support local restaurants safely, and have given drivers a way to pay the bills after losing their jobs due to COVID-19. Some of them have reduced their charges to restaurants, helping them stay in business with takeout orders, and we need to see more of this. Mind you, they are charging the restaurants and the guests, and by taking a good chunk out of the service fees, the drivers may actually end up losing money if they were to accept every possible trip.

Here are a few more points to consider when ordering through these apps–and when deciding how much to tip your drivers.

  • Most of these apps do not have a minimum order, as their service fee stays the same whether the driver is being asked to deliver, say a single fast food burger or a larger order from a restaurant. The driver’s portion of the service fee or base rate is often the same for both orders, so the tip really can make the trip worth it or not. Often the tip reflects the lower purchase price, something drivers must weigh when considering time spent, gas, and wear and tear on their own personal cars.
  • I admit I have always lived in cities, closer to the center of the action, and I did not consider that apps will offer trips to drivers who may be more than 10 miles away. This is especially true in rural and suburban areas, although this also happens in cities. Therefore, drivers may not only be asked to spend 20+ minutes to pick up and deliver one order, one way, they may be asked to do so for as little as $3.00.
  • Some of the apps are better at incentivizing drivers to make these trips worth their time. Several drivers noted that UberEats often did so, although usually not unless the trip has been refused a number of times. Even so, there doesn’t seem to be a standard for when or whom to incentivize, as drivers report that one driver in an area may be offered the incentive while others are not.

It’s a complex system, but it is clear that if these food delivery apps want the most reliable drivers, they will need to take better care of their contractors. Incentivizing them by making up for low ticket and lower tipping orders is a good start.

At the end of the day, having our food delivered to us is a luxury service. While it’s true that many people are new to this system and to using the apps (such as the elderly who are at greater risk out in public during a pandemic), it’s also the consumer’s obligation to educate themselves on how it works, and to opt in or out accordingly. Tipping is optional, but be aware that so is accepting these trips. Nobody should be expected to work for free.

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3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Jeremy Haston

    April 3, 2021 at 1:13 pm

    Thank you

  2. Lee Carroll

    July 12, 2021 at 10:41 pm

    You nailed it in one sentence. Ordering food is a luxury and if you can afford luxury then you can afford a tip. Most drivers including myself have a No Tip,No Trip policy. The only think you forgot to mention is that DoorDash won’t even show drivers the tip until after the delivery and often packages good tips with bad tips just to get the order delivered.

  3. Henry Killingsworth

    February 23, 2022 at 12:53 pm

    I’m glad the article talked about how tips are crucial for a delivery driver’s livelihood. I would think that it would be a good idea to set aside some cash that you can use for tips if you order delivery. That way you can have some money that you can use for tips when a driver gets to your home.

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Opinion Editorials

Shady salary transparency is running rampant: What to look out for

(EDITORIAL) Employees currently have the upper hand in the market. Employers, you must be upfront about salary and approach it correctly.

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Man holding money in the dark representing false salary transparency.

It’s the wild wild west out there when it comes to job applications. Job descriptions often misrepresent remote work opportunities. Applicants have a difficult time telling job scams from real jobs. Job applicants get ghosted by employers, even after a long application process. Following the Great Resignation, many employers are scrambling for workers. Employees have the upper hand in the hiring process, and they’re no longer settling for interviews with employers that aren’t transparent, especially about salary.

Don’t be this employer

User ninetytwoturtles shared a post on Reddit in r/recruitinghell in which the employer listed the salary as $0 to $1,000,000 per year. Go through many listings on most job boards and you’ll find the same kind of tactics – no salary listed or too large of a wide range. In some places, it’s required to post salary information. In 2021, the Equal Pay for Equal Work Act went into effect in Colorado. Colorado employers must list salary and benefits to give new hires more information about fair pay. Listing a broad salary range skirts the issue. It’s unfair to applicants, and in today’s climate, employers are going to get called out on it. Your brand will take a hit.

Don’t obfuscate wage information

Every employer likes to think that their employees work because they enjoy the job, but let’s face it, money is the biggest motivator. During the interview process, many a job has been lost over salary negotiations. Bringing up wages too early in the application process can be bad for a job applicant. On the other hand, avoiding the question can lead to disappointment when a job is offered, not to mention wasted time. In the past, employers held all the cards. Currently, it’s a worker’s market. If you want productive, quality workers, your business needs to be honest and transparent about wages.

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Opinion Editorials

3 reasons to motivate yourself to declutter your workspace (and mind)

(EDITORIAL) Making time to declutter saves time and money – all while reducing stress. Need a little boost to start? We all need motivation sometimes.

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Clean work desk representing the need to declutter.

It’s safe to say that we’ve all been spending a lot more time in our homes these last few years. This leads us to fixate on the things we didn’t have time for before – like a loose doorknob, an un-alphabetized bookshelf, or that we’ve put off ‘declutter’ on our to-do list for too long.

The same goes for our workspaces. Many of us have had to designate a spot at home to use for work purposes. For those of you who still need to remain on-site, you’ve likely been too busy to focus on your surroundings.

Cleaning and organizing your workspace every so often is important, regardless of the state of the world, and with so much out of our control right now, this is one of the few things we can control.

Whether you’re working from a home office or an on-site office, take some time for quarantine decluttering. According to The Washington Post, taking time to declutter can increase your productivity, lower stress, and save money (I don’t know about you, but just reading those 3 things makes me feel better already).

Clutter can cause us to feel overwhelmed and make us feel a bit frazzled. Having an office space filled with piles of paper containing irrelevant memos from five years ago or 50 different types of pens has got to go – recycle that mess and reduce your stress. The same goes with clearing files from your computer; everything will run faster.

Speaking of running faster, decluttering and creating a cleaner workspace will also help you be more efficient and productive. Build this habit by starting small: try tidying up a bit at the end of every workday, setting yourself up for a ready-to-roll morning.

Cleaning also helps you take stock of stuff that you have so that you don’t end up buying more of it. Create a designated spot for your tools and supplies so that they’re more visible – this way, you’ll always know what you have and what needs to be replenished. This will help you stop buying more of the same product that you already have and save you money.

So, if you’ve been looking to improve your focus and clearing a little bit of that ‘quarantine brain’, start by getting your workspace in order. You’ll be amazed at how good it feels to declutter and be “out with the old”; you may even be inspired to do the same for your whole house. Regardless, doing this consistently will create a positive shift in your life, increasing productivity, reducing stress, and saving you money.

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Opinion Editorials

How to identify and minimize ‘invisible’ work in your organization

(EDITORIAL) Often meaningless, invisible tasks get passed down to interns and women. These go without appreciation or promotion. How can we change that?

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Women in a meeting around table, inclusion as a part of stopping gender discrimination representing invisible work.

Invisible work, non-promotable tasks, and “volunteer opportunities” (more often volun-told), are an unfortunate reality in the workforce. There are three things every employer should do in relation to these tasks: minimize them, acknowledge them, and distribute them equitably.

Unfortunately, the reality is pretty far from this ideal. Some estimates state up to 75% or more of these time-sucking, minimally career beneficial activities are typically foisted on women in the workplace and are a leading driver behind burnout in female employees. The sinister thing about this is most people are completely blind to these factors; it’s referred to as invisible work for a reason.

Research from Harvard Business Review* found that 44% more requests are presented to women as compared to men for “non-promotable” or volunteer tasks at work. Non-promotable tasks are activities such as planning holiday events, coordinating workplace social activities, and other ‘office housework’ style activities that benefit the office but typically don’t provide career returns on the time invested. The work of the ‘office mom’ often goes unacknowledged or, if she’s lucky, maybe garners some brief lip service. Don’t be that boss that gives someone a 50hr workload task for a 2-second dose of “oh yeah thanks for doing a bajillion hours of work on this thing I will never acknowledge again and won’t help your career.”  Yes, that’s a thing. Don’t do it. If you do it, don’t be surprised when you have more vacancies than staff. You brought that on yourself.

There is a lot of top-tier talent out there in the market right now. To be competitive, consider implementing some culture renovations so you can have a more equitable, and therefore more attractive, work culture to retain your top talent.

What we want to do:

  1. Identify and minimize invisible work in your organization
  2. Acknowledge the work that can’t be avoided. Get rid of the blind part.
  3. Distribute the work equitably.

Here is a simple example:

Step 1: Set up a way for staff to anonymously bring things to your attention. Perhaps a comment box. Encourage staff to bring unsung heroes in the office to your attention. Things they wish their peers or they themselves received acknowledgment for.

Step 2: Read them and actually take them seriously. Block out some time on your calendar and give it your full attention.

For the sake of demonstration, let’s say someone leaves a note about how Caroline always tidies up the breakroom at the end of the day and cleans the coffee pot with supplies Caroline brings from home. Now that we have identified a task, we are going to acknowledge it, minimize it, and consider the distribution of labor.

Step 3: Thank Caroline at the team meeting for scrubbing yesterday’s burnt coffee out of the bottom of the pot every day. Don’t gloss over it. Make the acknowledgment mean something. Buy her some chips out of the vending machine or something. The smallest gestures can have the biggest impact when coupled with actual change.

Step 4: Remind your staff to clean up after themselves. Caroline isn’t their mom. If you have to, enforce it.

Step 5: Put it in the office budget to provide adequate cleaning supplies for the break room and review your custodial needs. This isn’t part of Caroline’s job description and she could be putting that energy towards something else. Find the why of the situation and address it.

You might be rolling your eyes at me by now, but the toll of this unpaid invisible work has real costs.  According to the 2021 Women in the Workplace Report* the ladies are carrying the team, but getting little to none of the credit. Burnout is real and ringing in at an all-time high across every sector of the economy. To be short, women are sick and tired of getting the raw end of the deal, and after 2 years of pandemic life bringing it into ultra-sharp focus, are doing something about it. In the report, 40% of ladies were considering jumping ship. Data indicates that a lot of them not only manned the lifeboats but landed more lucrative positions than they left. Now is the time to score and then retain top talent. However, it is up to you to make sure you are offering an environment worth working in.

*Note: the studies cited here do not differentiate non-cis-identifying persons. It is usually worse for individuals in the LGBTQIA+ community.

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