Workplace Etiquette – Holiday Tipping and Solicitation

The holiday season is right around the corner and as certain to appear as wreaths and menorahs are the perennial issues of workplace tipping and the solicitation of donations for office parties or gifts. While no doubt tipping and soliciting for gifts or parties are both prompted by good will 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 numerous members of our community who feel uncomfortable about one or both of these holiday practices. Because of the inherent inequity in tipping, and of perceived pressure to contribute to office parties or gifts the Administration, MSC and the Human Resources Department discourage tipping of individual employees and urge caution when soliciting for parties or gifts.

Instead of cash tipping, employees who would like to recognize individual staff are encouraged to do so with a thank-you and/or a card, and if there is a strong desire to do more, to consider a non-monetary treat that can be shared among co-workers. For example sending in sweets or bagels and coffee to share at a December staff meeting can be a great way to express your appreciation.  (Consider contacting the employee’s manager to discuss what might work well in the specific workgroup.)

Employees (especially managers) are asked 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 plans are made.  With a little care and planning celebrations and get-togethers can be fun and comfortable for any and all employees who choose to participate.

Best wishes for a happy – and stress-free – holiday season!

-Cheryl Mullins