Did I not pay my building staff enough?
January 5, 2017 12:35 PM   Subscribe

First time NYC apartment building owner. I gave holiday tips... did not receive the response I'm used to.

Granted I never owned before. Only rented. Before when I rented I'd give the building manager $125 The handyman $100 Some of the doormen got $100 while others in the staff got a range of $40-$85

I gave the same amount this year now that I've moved to another building and own. Yet something seems off. They look very happy when they get it, but then when I see them again they seem ... i dunno. Just not that happy I guess. It was different at my other two buildings.

This makes me think- Did I not pay enough?

I saw this and thought I did ok by the guildlines. Am I wrong?

The value of my home is a little over 1 mil, which is not much in NYC. I'm not sure if I did something wrong or not.
posted by lazywanderer to Society & Culture (15 answers total)
You say you own the building, but you've linked to a tipping guide for renters and owners of individual apartments. OTOH, "1 mil" doesn't seem right for the value of the building. So ... what?
posted by JimN2TAW at 12:43 PM on January 5, 2017 [1 favorite]

I own an apartment not a building
posted by lazywanderer at 12:50 PM on January 5, 2017

What exactly happened at your old building with the building staff that isn't happening at your new building?
posted by griphus at 12:52 PM on January 5, 2017 [1 favorite]

Maybe they just feel awkward around you afterwards-- could be that it is more than they expected/normally get, or maybe there is some policy that they are not supposed to take bonuses so they just feel awkwardly about it.
posted by bearette at 12:53 PM on January 5, 2017

ask around amongst the other owners/tenants if theres something different at this building? (or how much they tip if you can do that without it being awkward).
posted by TheAdamist at 1:01 PM on January 5, 2017 [6 favorites]

Could just be the culture in your building. Think of it like their office. At some companies, enthusiasm is high and at other companies, enthusiasm is low. Could just be the 'office' culture of your building to not be that effusive with their gratitude. I wouldn't worry about it.
posted by greta simone at 1:06 PM on January 5, 2017 [6 favorites]

Do you mean in old building it was 'happy when they got the gift and happy afterward' and in the new building it's 'happy when they got the gift and stinkface afterward' or 'happy when they got the gift and sort of neutral after'? I wouldn't sweat it too much, it's post holiday letdown for everyone. If you're in line with the guide you're fine, if it makes you feel a little better ask your neighbors.
posted by fixedgear at 1:43 PM on January 5, 2017

Thank you for clarifying. I agree with Snickerdoodle.
posted by JimN2TAW at 1:44 PM on January 5, 2017

I haven't asked others as was suggested... Except once a few weeks ago I said something like- Oh I forgot about holiday tipping and my neighbor said- "Oh yes, but it's optional." Which made me think he doesn't even give tips, though that's just an assumption I made that may not at all be true. I'm not sure why else he would put it that way.

No one here has said I didn't pay enough, so I guess maybe I did.
posted by lazywanderer at 1:44 PM on January 5, 2017

Ask more people in your building. They might be irked that you gave tips so late. Blue collar / pink collar workers in NYC tend to rely on holiday bonuses to buy Christmas gifts and pay for travel, so the earlier you give, the better.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 1:50 PM on January 5, 2017 [1 favorite]

In my Manhattan experience you tipped on the high side of normal. Discussions with our neighbors revealed that we were tipping on the generous side, and others would give $20-$50 to doormen (30+ staff members in the building), while some didn't tip at all. Everyone was always thanked profusely by the doormen regardless of the amount, and then it wasn't mentioned again. The doorman/resident relationship is a rather awkward one, and it sounds like you're letting your paranoia get to you. Would you really want them thanking you multiple times for a cash gift? It's weird from the beginning.

The only exception might be if you live in a very small building. I might be inclined to tip much more if I was only one of a few people who would be contributing to the holiday bonus. But even then, one thank you and everyone moves on.
posted by defreckled at 2:33 PM on January 5, 2017 [8 favorites]

I don't know what you were expecting so this is a hard one to guess. Expecting the exact same reaction from entirely different people in a different workplace seems unrealistic.

I can't tell if you mean they are treating you worse than before you gave, or if they're just not super jazzed and solicitous. If it's the latter, I'd urge you to reframe the tipping process-- you tipped as recognition of their work last year, not as prepayment for increased enthusiasm.
posted by kapers at 4:50 PM on January 5, 2017 [7 favorites]

I should add your amounts sound very generous (Brooklynite here) so unless your neighbors are all billionaires setting cuckoo precedent I doubt that's a problem.
posted by kapers at 4:54 PM on January 5, 2017 [2 favorites]

Similar Manhattan situation, your tips are reasonable and average, maybe a little low but not dramatically so.

More likely it's just that you're a new face in the building. Do they all know your name?

After the holiday shouldn't matter either in my experience. However tipping building staff is never really "optional" if you own a condo or co-op.

I think you're fine and you just are over-reading the attitudes of your staff folks.

Future reference, I would say don't give anyone less than $50. But otherwise you're good.
posted by spitbull at 5:59 PM on January 5, 2017 [3 favorites]

Manhattanite and co-op owner here. You're right in the ballpark. Some years I've given less, some years I've given more. It all depends on how flush I am. Our two building staffers make more than I do, so I don't feel that they *need* it, but I consider it a way of saying thanks for all they do to keep our building clean and running smoothly.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 6:12 PM on January 5, 2017

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