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The Practice of Tipping: Why we don't.

#1 / Massage therapy is healthcare.

Massage therapy is a licensed healthcare profession in the State of Michigan. Massage therapists are becoming more recognized as health care providers rather than luxury service providers. Tipping is generally not an accepted practice in healthcare.

#2 / Cost transparency in healthcare is important.

The practice of tipping discourages transparency about the true cost of massage therapy services and the true cost of employing massage therapists.

#3 / Tipping is psychologically stressful.

Massage therapy is intended to be stress-relieving and the practice of tipping is counterintuitive to this. Tipping often increases stress levels rather than decreasing them. This stress can come from either not realizing that a tip was expected or being unsure of what tip amount is expected.

#4 / Tipping discourages a healthy therapeutic relationship.

The therapeutic relationship in massage therapy is defined as “The trust relationship that forms between client and therapist where the needs of the client, the ethical considerations of the therapist, and the boundaries of what is possible contain the outcomes of care.” The practice of tipping creates a system of imbalance in this relationship and can negatively affect the level of care or service someone receives.

#5 / Tipping is not guaranteed pay.

Tipping is often used as a positive recruitment point by massage therapy employers. However, tipping is not guaranteed pay. It is the responsibility of the business to offer stable wages. Quite often, this responsibility is passed to the employee and the practice of tipping tends to contribute to wage instability.

In addition, the tip amount a massage therapist receives can be affected either negatively or positively based on conscious or unconscious client bias. Things like attractiveness, mannerisms, race, gender, political affiliation, body size and many other irrelevant factors can influence the amount of the tip.

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