If you’re the owner of a restaurant and want people to not eat any of the food, how would you do it?
The instinctual response is to simply make a rule saying “No employee sampling” and punish anyone who is caught eating food.
But then people get satisfaction in doing what others say they can’t.
People get the joy of eating the food along with the little thrill that they might get caught.
So maybe the opposite approach would work – unlimited free food for employees while working.
It’s paradoxical so it’s likely to work.
There was a thread on Reddit recently that was both fascinating and depressing. People shared secrets from their industry/company. One of the most interesting quotes speaks to how people think.
I had a friend that worked for a bulk candy store. When she started the company policy was “NO EMPLOYEE SAMPLING!!” Then a year or so in they changed the policy to “unlimited free candy for employees”.
They found that offering unlimited free candy, the employees would gorge and two weeks later never touch the candy again. When they forbid sampling they’d have a pretty significant amount of employee theft anyway. Happier employees, less candy lost.
In response to that comment from someone else:
That’s how Taco Bell works. Unlimited free food on shift and by week two you just stop and start to pray for solid poop again.
People don’t know their own limits.
When given unlimited freedom, people either don’t make a choice or they journey to the point of discomfort, self-limiting themselves.
That’s why if you want employees to not eat food, make it free.
As a general rule, people don’t value what they get for free.
Or they consume it until they get sick.
I worked at two pizza restaurants in Jr. High / High School.
The one that offered only discounted food, I’ve been back to about two dozen times to buy food.
The one that offered free food on the job, I’ve only been back to once and it wasn’t my first choice.
When trying to influence behavior, what generally works best is to consider your instinctual response to a situation and do the opposite.