Hiring Wisdom: What a 2 Cent Mint Tells Us About Appreciating People

Illustration by istockphoto.com
Illustration by istockphoto.com

I just read a fascinating study that really brought home the importance of appreciating the people in our lives.

The research was conducted by Doctors Strohmetz, D. B., Rind, B., Fisher, R. and Lynn, M. (2002), Sweetening the Till: The Use of Candy to Increase Restaurant Tipping; Journal of Applied Social Psychology. As the title of the study suggests, the research focused on increasing tips by offering something extra.

Briefly, the waitstaff at a restaurant were instructed to do everything the same way they normally do, but, when presenting the check, to include a single mint candy for each person at the table along with the bill.

Tips went up 3 percent overnight. (And that’s not to be taken lightly since most people get about a 3 percent cost of living raise each year.)

The following night the same group did everything the same again, but this time gave two mints for each person sitting at the table. Tips increased by 13 percent!

On the third night, they went back to one mint for each person at the table. However, as they walked away, they were instructed to stop, turn back to the customers, grab an extra mint from their pockets for each one and say: “For you fine people, here’s some extra mints.”

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Guess what happened? Tips increased by a whopping 23 percent!!! Wow! All that extra income came from just letting customers know how important they were by showing some appreciation. A 2 cent mint and a little bit of gratitude brought a 23 percent raise. Not too shabby.

It’s important to note, this is not about fooling someone or just telling them what they want to hear, it’s a sincere acknowledgement of thanks. The waitstaff really did appreciate their customers because they were enabling them to earn a living.

What would that kind of appreciation do for the people you have working for you?

This was originally published on Mel Kleiman’s Humetrics blog.

Mel Kleiman, CSP, is an internationally-known authority on recruiting, selecting, and hiring hourly employees. He has been the president of Humetrics since 1976 and has over 30 years of practical experience, research, consulting and professional speaking work to his credit. Contact him at mkleiman@humetrics.com.

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