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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.

Joleen Jernigan is an ever-curious writer, grammar nerd, and social media strategist with a background in training, education, and educational publishing. A native Texan, Joleen has traveled extensively, worked in six countries, and holds an MA in Teaching English as a Second Language. She lives in Austin and constantly seeks out the best the city has to offer.

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2 Comments

2 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.

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Opinion Editorials

How to sound more confident in your next interview or office email

(OPINION/EDITORIAL) After COVID, collectively, our social skills need a little TLC. What words and phrases can you use to sound more confident at work?

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Interview with woman and a man opposite as they each sound more confident/

In-person work communications are on the rise, and it’s no surprise that, collectively, our social skills need a little bit of work. CNBC shares some examples of common phrases people tend to use when uncomfortable – and what you should use to replace them to sound more confident in your next interview or office email.

After explaining a personal philosophy or situation, it’s all too common to say, “Does that make sense?” Aside from occasionally sounding patronizing, this question more or less implies that you believe your worldview or lived experiences to require validation. CNBC suggests saying “I’d like to hear your input” or – if you’re in an inquisitive mood – asking “What are your thoughts?” instead.

This invites the interviewer to give feedback or continue the conversation without devaluing your own perspective.

CNBC also recommends getting rid of weak introductions, listing examples like “For what it’s worth” and “In my opinion” in order to sound more confident. Certainly, most of us have used these phrases to recuse ourselves from perceived criticism in meetings or emails; the problem is that they become an indicator of lacking self-confidence, at least for employers.

Simply jumping straight into whatever it is you have to say without the soft-paws introduction is sure to be appreciated by higher-ups and colleagues alike.

Passive voice is another thing you should remove from your communication when trying to sound more confident. For example, saying “I performed this action because…” instead of “This action was performed because…” shows ownership; whether you’re taking credit for an innovative decision or copping to a mistake, taking responsibility with the language you use is always better than removing yourself from the narrative.

“I’m not positive, but…” is yet another common phrase that CNBC eschews, opting instead to start with whatever comes after the “but”. It’s always good to maintain a certain amount of humility, but that’s not what this phrase is doing – it’s getting out in front of your own process and undermining it before anyone else has a chance to evaluate it. Regardless of your position or responsibilities, you should always give your thoughts the credit they deserve.

Finally, CNBC suggests removing perhaps the most undervalued phrase on this list: “I’m sorry.” There is absolutely a time and place to apologize, but “sorry” gets thrown around the office when a simple “excuse me” would suffice. Apologizing in these situations belies confidence, and it makes actual apologies – when they’re necessary – seem hollow.

The language people use is powerful, and as arbitrarily contrite as the workplace may inspire many to feel, humility can absolutely coexist with confidence.

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Opinion Editorials

10 tips for anyone looking to up their professional work game

(OPINION / EDITORIAL) It’s easy to get bogged down by the details, procrastinate, and feel unproductive. Here are a few tips to help you crush your work goals.

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work productivity

Self-reflection is critical to a growth mindset, which you must have if you want to grow and improve. If you are ready to take your professional game to the next level, here are some stories and tips to help you remain focused on killing your work goals.

1. Don’t compare yourself to others. Comparison is the thief of joy, as the quote goes. And, in the workplace it’s bound to make you second guess yourself and your abilities. This story explains when comparison can be useful, when to avoid it, and how to change your focus if it’s sucking the life out of you.

2. Burnout is real and the harder you work, the less productive you are. It’s an inverse relationship. But, there are ways to work smarter and have better life balance. Here are some tips to prioritize your workload and find more ease.

3. Stop procrastinating and start getting sh@t done. The reason we procrastinate may be less about not wanting to do something and more about the emotions underlying the task. Ready to get going and stop hemming and hawing, you got this and here’s the way to push through.

4. Perfection is impossible and if you seek this in your work and life, it’s likely you are very frustrated. Let that desire go and learn to be happy with excellence over perfection.

5. If you think you’re really awesome and seriously deserve more money, more responsibility, more of anything and are ready to drop the knowledge on your supervisor or boss, you may want to check this story out to see if your spinning in the right direction.

6. Technology makes it so easy to get answers so quickly, it’s hard to wait around for things to happen. We like instant gratification. Yet, that is another reason procrastination is a problem for some of us, but every person has a different way/reason for procrastinating. Learn what’s up with that.

7. Making choices can be a challenge for some of us (me included) who worry we are making the wrong choice. If you’ve ever struggled with decision making, you know it can be paralyzing and then you either make no decision or choose the safest option. What we have here is the Ambiguity Effect and it can be a real time suck. Kick ambiguity to the curb.

8. If you are having trouble interacting with colleagues or wondering why you don’t hear back from contacts it could be you are creeping folks out unintentionally (we hope). Here’s how to #belesscreepy.

9. In the social media era building your brand and marketing are critical, yet, if you’re posting to the usual suspects and seeing very little engagement, you’ve got a problem. Wharton Business School even did a study on how to fix the situation and be more shareable.

10. Every time you do a presentation that one co-worker butts in and calls you out. Dang. If you aren’t earning respect on the job, you will be limited in your ability to get to the next level. Respect is critical to any leadership position, as well as to making a difference in any role you may have within an organization, but actions can be misconstrued. There are ways to take what may be negative situations and use them to your advantage, building mutual respect.

You have the tools you need, now get out there, work hard, play hard, and make sh*t happen. Oh, and remember, growth requires continual reflection and action, but you got this.

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Opinion Editorials

The actual reasons people choose to work at startups

(EDITORIAL) Startups have a lot going for them, environment, communication, visible growth. But why else would you work for one?

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leadership Startups meeting led by Black woman.

Startups are perpetually viewed as the quintessential millennial paradise with all of the accompanying perks: Flexible hours, in-house table tennis, and long holidays. With this reputation so massively ingrained in the popular perception of startups, is it foolish to think that their employees actually care about the work that startup companies accomplish?

Well, yes and no.

The average startup has a few benefits that traditional business models can’t touch. These benefits often include things like open communication, a relaxed social hierarchy, and proximity to the startup’s mission. That last one is especially important: While larger businesses keep several degrees of separation between their employees and their end goals, startups put the stakes out in the open, allowing employees to find personal motivation to succeed.

When employees find themselves personally fulfilled by their work, that work reaps many of the benefits in the employee’s dedication, which in turn helps the startup propagate. Many aspiring startup employees know this and are eager to “find themselves” through their work.

Nevertheless, the allure of your average startup doesn’t always come from the opportunity to work on “something that matters.”

Tiffany Philippou touches on this concept by pointing out that “People come to work for you because they need money to live… [s]tartups actually offer pretty decent salaries these days.”

It’s true that many employees in their early to late twenties will likely take any available job, so assuming that your startup’s 25-and-under employee base is as committed to finding new uses for plastic as you are maybe a bit naïve—indeed, this is a notion that holds true for any business, regardless of size or persuasion.

However, startup experience can color a young employee’s perception of their own self-worth. This allows them to pursue more personally tailored employment opportunities down the road—and that’s not a bad legacy to have.

Additionally, startups often offer—and even encourage—a level of personal connection and interactivity that employees simply won’t find in larger, more established workplaces. That isn’t symptomatic of startups being too laid-back or operating under loosely defined parameters. Instead, it’s a clue that work environments that facilitate personalities rather than rote productivity may stand to get more out of their employees.

Finally, your average startup has a limited number of spots, each of which has a clearly defined role and a possibility for massive growth. An employee of a startup doesn’t typically have to question their purpose in the company—it’s laid out for them; who are we to question their dedication to fulfilling it?

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