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Holiday Tipping

The people who work in our buildings are in many ways invisible, yet they are significantly responsible for the quality of life we enjoy. For this reason I (and many others) have long advocated a centralized means of giving tips during the holiday season to reward not only the people we see on a regular basis, but also those who work behind the scenes. I was thrilled when Greenthal responded by instituting such a system in 2012.

The system instituted by Greenthal has three components — a staff list, a contribution envelope, and receipts.

In order to inform the tipping considerations of Shareholders, Greenthal publishes a list of all staff who serve us, their positions, shifts, and building assignments. Upon reviewing this list in 2014, I noticed some discrepancies. The combined posts of some personnel did not add up to a full-time position, and the combined posts of others added up to more than full-time; furthermore, some of the staff categorization was not correct.

In order to accept and allocate tips, Greenthal produces a envelope with checkboxes so that Shareholders can allocate their contributions to Maintenance Staff, Security Staff, Office Staff, and/or the General Fund). It occurred to me that these categories were unduly limiting — certainly many Shareholders would prefer to allocate their tips the people who serve them directly (such as "Building One Security" or "Section A Maintenance").

With these two considerations in mind, I developed and shared with Greenthal a spreadsheet that accommodates a list of staff, highlights possible errors (when an employee's total assigned posts do not add up to exactly one full-time-employee), allows the allocation of tips to a a very granular degree, and in the end, calculates the allocation of tips per employee. Greenthal embraced this system, and I am pleased to say that this has resulted in the accurate distribution of tips for three years now!

I had recommended that Management change their tip envelope to invite Shareholders to allocate their tips following the granular model I produced. I also recommended that Greenthal address what seems to be a significant oversight — giving receipts to Shareholders without confirming that the amounts on the receipt match the amount in the envelope — this can certainly allow the undetected theft of funds. But two years after making these recommendations, neither has been followed. For this reason, I am writing to inform Shareholders of the additional options and to share some related considerations.

I know many people simply allocate their tips generally to the "General Fund" which this year distributed tips evenly among our 77 full time employees:

  • All Staff – General Fund for all staff (77 full time employees)

The existing tip envelope also offers options to distribute tips to:

  • All Security Staff (28 full time employees)
  • All Maintenance Staff (41 full time employees)
  • All Management Office Staff (8 full time employees)

Fine-tuning distribution beyond these basic categories is made difficult because many of our staff cover posts at different buildings at different times, and others are assigned to "core" posts that pertains to our property as a whole but not to any particular building. In order to allocate tips to staff in proportion to their work at specific posts, we first needed to establish an accurate record of staff and their posts! As of December 2016, our staffing at various posts was as follows:

  • All Staff – General Fund for all staff (77 full time employees)
    • All Security Staff (28 full time employees)
      • Security – Core (10.4 full time employees)
      • Security – Building 1 (4.73 full time employees)
      • Security – Building 2 (4.73 full time employees)
      • Security – Building 3 (4 full time employees)
      • Security – Building 4 (4.13 full time employees)
    • All Maintenance Staff (41 full time employees)
      • Maintenance – Core (25 full time employees)
      • Maintenance – Building 1 (4 full time employees)
        • Maintenance – Section A (1⅓ full time employees)
        • Maintenance – Section B (1⅓ full time employees)
        • Maintenance – Section C (1⅓ full time employees)
      • Maintenance – Building 2 (4 full time employees)
        • Maintenance – Section D (1⅓ full time employees)
        • Maintenance – Section E (1⅓ full time employees)
        • Maintenance – Section F (1⅓ full time employees)
      • Maintenance – Building 3 (4 full time employees)
        • Maintenance – Section G (1⅓ full time employees)
        • Maintenance – Section H (1⅓ full time employees)
        • Maintenance – Section J (1⅓ full time employees)
      • Maintenance – Building 4 (4 full time employees)
        • Maintenance – Section K (1⅓ full time employees)
        • Maintenance – Section L (1⅓ full time employees)
        • Maintenance – Section M (1⅓ full time employees)
      • All Management Office Staff (8 full time employees)

Going forward, I hope that Management will modify the tip envelopes they provide to accommodate these allocations, as follows:

Using this model, and as a resident of Building #1, I could allocate my tip as follows:

However, this can be improved. With this allocation, my $200 contribution amounts to just over $4.50 to each of the 44 full-time employees listed in those four categories. Since I want to weigh my contribution more heavily on people working in my building, I decided to split my one contribution into two parts. Contributing $100 to just my building's Security and Maintenance yielded about $11 each to nine full time employees, and contributing another $100 to Core Security and Maintenance yielded $2.75 to each of 35 full time employees. These allocations look as follows.

Finally, people occasionally ask me how much of a tip they should give. I don't know the answer to that. But with this same question in mind, I reached out to Greenthal suggesting that they report back to Shareholders with regard to the total number of tips collected, the value of tips collected, average tip given per Shareholder, and average tip received per employee. This would certainly inform our tipping considerations going forward!