When the COVID-19 pandemic first hit, many had the privilege of working from home, and many…did not. As a nation, we hailed the grocery delivery drivers, food servers and supermarket clerks who were putting their lives on the line, day in and day out. We also made every effort to boost their tips. (For example, I began giving 18 to 20 percent—sometimes higher—even if all I was getting was a coffee to go.)
But two years in, where do things stand on the tipping front?
Colleen McCreary, chief people officer for CreditKarma.com, says the new, more generous standard should hold. “Even as things start to feel normal again, we have to remember that the pandemic has taken a toll on many businesses and service workers,” she says. It’s not just the risk of contracting COVID-19 that they have to worry about, but things like labor shortages and safety concerns as they mandate new pandemic compliance measures are upping the pressure and risk for workers who are already shouldering a lot.
Plus, in most cases, tips are a major part of total wages earned. (Per a recent piece on Vox.com, the federal tipped minimum wage is $2.13, although that can vary by state.)
So, what’s the new norm? McCreary says that, when in doubt, go with 15 to 20 percent, and never-ever don’t tip at all. (You can still adjust the number for bad service.)
Here are three more 2022 tipping best practices:
1. Check your bill to make sure you haven’t already been charged a gratuity. A common practice in Europe, it’s now becoming more common for restaurants to automatically add a tip to the total charge on your bill. Be sure to scan your receipt so you don’t double-pay.
2. Lean on contactless technology. As the world goes cashless, it’s sometimes easy to forget the $5 bill you would have previously left for the person who washed your hair. Don’t. If you don’t want to handle physical money, try an app like Uptip, which links workers with a personalized QR code. Or there’s nothing wrong with good ol’ Venmo. In fact, we bet your barista would be happy to share the appropriate handle.
3. Remember you can always adjust preset digital gratuities. Yes, many businesses now serve up a preset amount (usually a percentage of the total bill) when you check out. If you don’t like the number on the screen—whether it’s too low or too high—look for the “other” option and plug in the amount that best reflects what you want to give.