The Company Dinner – another modern parable

by Daniel ben Avraham

There once was a wealthy man who decided to enter into the news printing business. He gathered up a sum of money and purchased a factory, early in the business year. He then hired some workers and had them trained on brand new printing presses.

As the year progressed, business started to pick up. He expanded the factory floor, added more specialized presses, hired new workers to operate them and even purchased his own fleet of trucks for delivery.

Towards the end of the year, the owner thought to himself:

“My company is doing so well and the men have worked so hard.  I shall host a company dinner for them to celebrate the end of the first year”.

Mid year, the owner went to his accountant and had the funds set aside for the end-of-the-year dinner and told his accountant to prepare bonuses for each of his employees, starting with those hired last to those hired first.

Two weeks before the dinner, the owner was on his way home from work. He came across some men on a street corner, begging for money.  Feeling moved over their situation, he went and asked them their story. They told him that they couldn’t find work anywhere, as no one would hire the homeless. The owner decided that instead of offering them money, he offered each of them jobs in his factory – whatever they could do. He had uniforms made for them with priority – each with their names on them, so they could start training and orientation as soon as possible.

The date of the company dinner had arrived and all the employees were gathered together – from the most skilled of the printing press operators and truck drivers, to the shop hands who swept the floor. When they had finished eating, the owner called each of them over, one by one, starting with those who were hired last to those who were hired first, to give them their bonuses.

Each person received the same bonus.

The workers who had been with him from the beginning, along with those who operated the more skilled machines and drove the trucks, had expected to receive more. When they saw that their bonuses were the same as everyone else received, they became irate and decided to confront the owner. They went over to him together and said:

“Why did those bums you hired the other week get the same bonus as us? They barely know how the factory runs.  Yet, you gave them the same as us, your best workers?!”

The owner looked at them for a moment, and then replied:

“How have I cheated any of you?

Were any of your bonuses specified in the contracts you signed at your hiring?”

They said nothing.

The owner continued:

“Did I owe any of you a bonus?

Take them and enjoy them, but know that I gave them to you because I wanted to.

I also wanted to give them to those co-workers of yours, so I did.

Can I not give bonuses out of my own pocket, as I see fit? Or are you angry because I am generous with how I give them?”

With that, he dismissed them, and concluded the dinner.