Holiday Tipping at Apartment Communities

It’s that time of year. Doormen at residential buildings are happy to hold on to holiday packages, help with groceries and, of course, open the door. I mean, yes, that’s their job, but now it’s done with a smile. Maintenance requests are taken care of quickly and efficiently, no matter what hour of the night they’re requested.

Yup, it’s holiday tip time!

Many apartment community employees deserve these tips. And many residents are more than happy to give in recognition and thanks for their hard work during the year. It’s just that the whole tip-giving process is so…awkward…for residents. How much should people give? Whom should they tip—for example, what if there are four usual doormen, but a resident only typically interacts with two? Do homemade cookies count as tips? (No. No they do not. Especially if they are oatmeal raisin, Scrooge.)

There are some ways to make tipping easier for residents. For example, the property management could send out a community-wide memo with a list of all the employees. After all, a resident could interact with someone in the community every day without knowing his or her name—not with mean intentions of course, but a relationship can start with a smile and a nod, and evolve into a “Hey, what’s up?” or even small talk, and then you realize you don’t know the other person’s name, but at that point it’s way too late to ask. Which makes addressing a card extremely difficult. Anyway. A list of employees with their name and job would be helpful.

Another thing that might be useful for residents is a “suggested tip amount.” No resident wants to be known as the community cheapskate.

And, if possible, how about adding a way to give specific employees tips through the community online resident portal or online rent-paying system (if you have one, of course). This would make it easier for residents to give everyone they wanted to tip something at once, or to give someone they don’t normally see on an everyday basis. For example, at a previous apartment community where I lived, the maintenance worker lived offsite. So I would only see him when I put in a request to have something fixed, which makes it difficult to do the whole, “oh, thank you, and here’s a little extra something, it’s not a big deal” thing. I didn’t want to have him trek all the way over just so I could give him an envelope. So I didn’t end up tipping until like February. Which I’m sure he appreciated, but at the time, probably felt a little slighted. Plus, who ever has cash around? Online tipping makes things so much easier.

One disclaimer though: Tipping is, of course, optional. And if you do send out a list of employees, or give a suggested amount, or provide an online way to pay, you also have to make it clear that you’re doing it for convenience sake for those who want to tip. Residents should not be made to feel that this is mandatory, or that they’ll receive worse service if they choose not to participate, or only want to tip employees they typically interact with or whom they feel go above and beyond the call of duty.

So, another option, then, would be to allow residents to contribute to a “communal pot.” This could even be done anonymously. Residents could choose to give as much or as little as they want (or not at all). Then the property manager could distribute all the money evenly to all the community employees.

What do you think about holiday tipping at an apartment community?

-Jessica Fiur, Senior Editor