profit sharing, arrangement by which employees receive, in addition to their wages, a share of the net profits of a business. The purpose is to give them an incentive to increase their output through enhanced morale, less wasteful use of materials, better care of equipment, and the like. Profit sharing does not imply participation by the workers in management. The employer determines the rate at which profits are shared; since the rate is fixed beforehand, profit sharing differs from the bonus system. Profit sharing plans have been in operation in France since 1842 but have not been widely adopted in the United States. The plan has been most successful in businesses where employees work without direct supervision or where it is limited to supervisory employees or lesser executives, e.g., branch managers and department managers in department stores.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.