The holiday season has arrived and, along with the wreaths and menorahs, the perennial workplace etiquette issues around tipping and solicitation of donations for office parties and/or gifts have appeared. While no doubt tipping, gifts and parties are prompted by goodwill and the desire to share the joy and bounty of the season, such practices can (and sometimes do) inadvertently have the opposite effect. In fact, each year the Administration, Middlebury Staff Council and the Human Resources Department receive feedback from members of our community who feel uncomfortable about such holiday practices.
The Administration, MSC and the Human Resources Department discourage tipping employees and urge caution in soliciting for parties or gifts because of the inherent inequity in tipping, and the potential for perceived pressure to contribute to office parties or gifts.
Instead of cash tipping, employees who would like to recognize specific staff are encouraged to do so with a verbal thank-you and/or a note or card. If there is a strong desire to do more, consider a non-monetary treat that can be shared among co-workers; for example sending bagels and coffee, or sweets, to a December staff meeting can be a great way to express your appreciation. (Consider contacting the supervisor or manager to discuss what might work well in the specific workgroup.)
Employees (especially managers) are encouraged to be sensitive when organizing holiday gatherings and/or soliciting donations for gifts. Please keep in mind that not everyone celebrates the same holidays (or any holidays), that not everyone is equally in a position to make a donation (either of money or goods) and that some people are simply not interested in doing so. While the myriad of year-end holidays can provide a wonderful opportunity for workgroups to come together socially – and such gatherings can be completely appropriate in the workplace – please do be sensitive to the varying beliefs, interests and resources of ALL of your colleagues as you make plans. With a little care celebrations and get-togethers can be fun and comfortable for all employees who choose to participate.
Best wishes for a happy – and stress-free – holiday season!