EDITOR’S NOTE: Like all posts on Aldi Reviewer, this piece is the opinion of its respective authors. Also like all posts, comments are welcome, although we ask users to be mindful of our Community Guidelines.
If you subscribe to the idea of love languages, you know that there are different ways to express care toward others. Some people appreciate kind words, others acts of service, and still others quality time.
Gifts are a universal way of expressing care. When we give something heartfelt to someone else, we’re letting them know that we see them and we value them. We value them enough, in fact, that we sacrifice time, money, and / or effort to get a gift and pass it on.
So gifts are usually good.
Over the years, customers have given gifts — or tried to, at least — to store workers as a form of appreciation. The most obvious gift is a tip (which is necessary for many restaurant servers to earn a living), but gifts can be more than just money. Take, for example, the 2022 trend of giving Aldi workers a Snickers bar as a way of letting them know they are appreciated.
We appreciate the sentiment. But we don’t do it.
It’s not because we don’t value Aldi workers. Quite the opposite: Aldi workers are some of the best, hardest-working people in the grocery business. They operate with speed and precision while also being generally friendly folk. Whether they work in the checkout aisle, customer service, corporate, or distribution, Aldi workers are terrific.
Instead, the reason we don’t give gifts to Aldi workers is because we do value them. We value them enough that we try our best to make their lives as positive as possible when they’re on the job. And we’re concerned that, while the intentions of gift-giving are sound, it can have unanticipated consequences for workers.
It Treads Against the Spirit of Company Policy
Aldi tends to frown on employees receiving gifts. The company’s published code of conduct handbook, for instance, has clear language discouraging gifts (especially those over $50) from those who might present a potential conflict of interest, such as suppliers and business partners. Moreover, Aldi does not permit shoppers to tip Aldi workers who do curbside service, in contrast to what Instacart workers can receive.
To be fair, we don’t see any language that out-and-out prohibits these kinds of small gifts from customers. But there may be other Aldi documentation — to say nothing of what supervisors may think — that frowns on that kind of gift-giving. We would hate to give something to an employee only to put that employee in an uncomfortable position.
It Puts An Employee on the Spot
Aldi workers are in a zone when they’re working. To give them a gift throws them out of that zone and forces them to evaluate the situation the gift has put them in. What is this gift? Who is giving it? Why are they giving it? What’s their angle or motivation? Should I accept it? What do I do with it? Do I even like this item?
That’s a lot to have to process in the midst of a hectic day when you have a line of customers at your register. Again, for a worker who is just trying to keep pace with the demands of the job, this can be difficult.
It Could Get An Employee in Trouble
We’ve already said that there is a risk that a gift could run against company policy, or at the very least the directives of store management. It’s also possible a gift could land an employee in trouble for other reasons. If you give an employee food, for example, and the manager sees the employee eating that food, how does the manager know that employee didn’t steal that item? Does the worker have a receipt showing the customer bought it?
This might sound silly. But every manager is different, and every situation is different. A customer could, without realizing, put an Aldi worker in a spot that is, at the very least, embarrassing, and could be worse.
What To Do Instead
Just to re-emphasize: we understand the reasons people give gifts to workers. We also worry that there are a number of reasons why the gift might have something other than the intended effect.
That’s why the biggest gift we try to give to Aldi workers is to make our checkout experience as positive for them as possible.
For example, we always try to be positive and upbeat with workers, even if we’ve been through a long line. We try to say hi, and when we leave we thank them and tell them to have a nice day.
We also try to keep their work simple. We try to get things on the conveyor belt quickly and in a such a way that they’re easy to access. We make sure to get our cart in place after the cashier loads the previous cart.
And if you really want to give your Aldi cashier a gift? Give them a little of their time. At the bottom of each Aldi receipt there is information on how to complete a survey at tellaldi.us. You can complete that survey, which will track your experience back to your cashier. Their supervisors have access to that feedback.
And if you absolutely have to give something … mailing a short handwritten note to the store manager saying what a good job the worker is doing is also a way to make that worker’s day.
One other point: what you don’t say also matters. If you had a legitimately bad experience with a product, or if a store is understaffed, don’t vent at the cashier, who likely had nothing to do with the problem. Instead, let Aldi corporate know, so they can fix it, and hopefully make the worker’s life easier.