Working in the service sector is usually a thankless job. You spend hours on your feet literally serving others, people who range from perfectly nice to despicable freaks who should never have left their house in the first place. Yes, sometimes there is cash advice, but there are also snide comments, piles of trash, and questions from your parents about when you’re going to get a “real” job. Catering Worker Capacity at handling it all with grace deserves recognition—heck, even compensation. But the latest from Yelp attempt to celebrate domestic workers, the Servie Awardsisn’t that quite it.
What are the services?
Yelp announced through his blog this week that he would launch his first-ever rewards programnicknamed the Servies—because, you know, they are for waiters and other service industrial workers, to find? Yelp broad outlines the reasons for the rewards program in the post:
Labor shortages continue, with more restaurant industry employees leaving than in any other industry, and lack of recognition is one of many contributing factors to employee frustration . While there are many accolades for chefs, it’s the front desk staff who ensure the best dining experience possible and who often go unrecognized. At Yelp for Restaurants, we want to change that and are committed to recognizing those diverse, customer-facing employees who keep restaurants running, go above and beyond customer expectations, and have their best attitudes at work, no matter what life has in store for them.
Guests and colleagues can go to theservies.com to nominate hospitality workers in eight different categories, two of which are unfortunately “Best Hustle” and “Best Vibe”. The winner of each category will receive a “tip” of $3,000, a pair of Snibbs shoes, and a very odd-trophy looking for three plates balanced on one finger.
We’re all for celebrating frontline workers when and where we can, but a vote-based rewards system becomes well deserved recognition in a competition that pits workers against each other. Instead, these workers could collaborate in the fight to better working conditions and higher wages; Yelp’s attempt to distract from real working conditions in restaurants feels as disconnected as the finger on this Servies trophy.
The best ways to show appreciation to restaurant workers
There’s a reason restaurant workers and other service workers have been left and right unionization— they want to be better treated (and paid) while at work. And yes, recognition of a job well done could be part of it, but these unions are fighting for recognition for everything, not just for some. To truly show appreciation and support restaurant workers, there needs to be a universal incentive in place for them..
For a big company like Yelp, there are many ways to show support, such as support causes like the Fight for 15, a group working to raise the federal minimum wage. Or how about present itself as an ally of the unions that form at places like Starbucks and Chipotle and provide resources for other service industry employees interested in unionizing? Yelp could take the money spent on these splashes “tips” and new shoes and trophies and putting them into a fund for workers who are struggling to make ends meet.
On the catering side, owners can show their appreciation by simply listening to their employees and responding to their needs and concerns. Even if a company cannot afford monetary bonuses, ensure that employees feeling heard, respected and supported goes a long way. And as a customer of these restaurants, be kind and courteous to all who serve you, and of course (say it with me) give a generous tip. Every little bit counts, and in this case, nothing says “I appreciate you” more than a 20% or more tip; gratitude is practically there in the name.
All that said, Yelp Service Rewards happen whether we like it or not, so go ahead and name your favorite housekeeper to show them some love. Maybe in the future Yelp will be involved in spreading wealth to everyone.