Tom Soter in Board Operations on December 17, 2013
"Everyone needs to remember that there are very divergent economic situations in our city and often within the same building," says Mary Ann Rothman, executive director of the Council of New York Cooperatives & Condominiums (CNYC). "It's all about what [residents] have and can afford." Some people don't have a lot of money to spare, so they give a small tip. "Encourage the staff not to be too judgmental over what they receive," she adds.
Everybody Into the Pool
Some condo and co-op boards organize a pool for the building and assign "floor captains" or a similar ad-hoc position, to solicit from shareholders / unit-owners and residents, collect funds, and distribute them to staff according to a pre-determined formula, according to Michael Berenson, president of Akam Living Services. "In some cases, this pool is for all building employees, except the superintendent or resident manager," he says. "This is done in order to ensure that all building workers receive some gift from the building at the end of the year."
"Many people like the idea of the money being pooled and the staff receiving lump sums that way; some buildings include a Christmas bonus, or holiday bonus, in their budget for staff," says Rothman. "That certainly isn't a union requirement."
Some cooperatives and condominiums publish the names, positions and tenures of building staff, along with a color photo of each employee, for distribution to shareholders or unit-owners in November. This allows residents to put names to faces and give their own individual holiday tips at year-end.
When buildings distribute lists of their employees, it subtly encourages residents to recognize good service they have received in the course of the year. Moreover, people become more aware of the less visible staffers who clean at night or run the service elevator, and are no less deserving of thanks.
The board may want to use this holiday gift-giving as a way to build community spirit. Berenson explains that Akam hosts year-end parties for the staff of each of its co-ops and condos. In some cases, the tips and bonuses are presented there, rewarding staff for a year's worth of hard work.
"In buildings where all staff members are receiving a year-end tip or bonus from the building as a whole, the envelopes may be distributed at these parties," he explains. "Where not every building staff member is receiving a tip, distribution obviously needs to be more discreet."
Tipping is part of an unwritten social contract, Berenson notes. "It is more or less expected that appreciation for services rendered will be expressed in a holiday gift."
— With interviews by Emilie Ruscoe
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