• Millennials and Gen X named the most generous tipping generations
  • Younger restaurant workers find potential for increasing tips through use of technology
  • 25% of Gen Z workers say fast-food and drive-thrus service warrant tipping

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif., May 28, 2024 — As tipping norms shift across the United States, consumers of all ages are rethinking when they should tip, how much, and for what services. SpotOn, the top-rated software and payments partner for restaurants and small businesses, recently released “Beyond Gratuity: Perspectives of Restaurant Staff on Tipping Practices,” finding that, despite reports of “tipflation,” most restaurant workers' expectations remain modest and closely aligned to consumer tipping preferences. Digging deeper, SpotOn found surprising generational trends in tipping habits, including degree of generosity, technology preferences, and tips based on service style.

Restaurant tipping report

Most Generous Generations

The survey showed strong opinions about the generations restaurant workers saw as the best and worst tippers, with Millennials and Gen X-ers unanimously voted as the most generous. SpotOn found that restaurant workers ranked the best tippers in order from Gen X (35%), Millennials (31%), Baby Boomers (17%), Gen Z (10%), and the Silent Generation (7%). On the flip side, almost half (48%) of respondents ranked The Silent Generation as the least generous, followed by Gen Z (42%).

It may come as no surprise that restaurant workers consider themselves generous tippers, having worked in a tip-reliant industry. 83% of all respondents said they were big tippers when dining out, with most of the generations attesting to tipping 20% or more. Only the youngest restaurant workers (18-24-year-olds) were most likely to report tipping 15% on average. 

Tech for the Ages

As for how Americans tip, all industry workers agree that cash is best, with 95% of those 65+ ranking cash as their top preference over credit card tips and digital apps like Venmo. 86% of 18-24-year-olds also ranked cash as their preferred method, with all other age groups falling between the two. However, younger industry workers (18-34-year-olds) are overwhelmingly positive about using technology like pre-set tip amounts on order kiosks, with over 75% of them finding kiosks helpful to both servers and customers and as a valuable tool to increase tips. Around 50% of workers 55 and up feel the same.

Introducing technologies focused on convenience can appeal to all generations, especially the 36% of Gen Z diners who yearn for technology that makes for a smoother ordering process at limited-service restaurants (LSRs) and 34% who said so about full-service restaurants (FSRs). 

Technology that speeds up ordering is not only popular among diners, but it is also vital to increasing the take-home pay of restaurant staff. SpotOn’s survey makes it clear that younger industry workers are realizing that potential. Speed remains one of the most important aspects of customer service, and with pre-set tip amounts, order kiosks, and handheld devices speeding up service, staff can serve more guests and take in more tips throughout a shift.

“Younger generations have grown up with technology in every aspect of their lives, so it makes sense that they expect and accept increasing amounts of technology in their hospitality experiences,” says Kevin Bryla, Chief Marketing Officer of SpotOn. “Ultimately, the new generation of restaurant workers feel technology like QR codes and handhelds not only enhances the guest experience but also improves the employee experience and results in better overall tip income.”

Support for all Service Styles

Opinions on what venues should include tip prompts showed some interesting generational differences, specifically when it came to fast food. One in four Gen Z respondents said that fast-food restaurants and drive-thrus warrant tipping, while only one in 20 Baby Boomers agreed on adding a tip with their fries. 

Inflation may also drive the hustle that restaurant workers seem to put into every “order up.”  One respondent explained that “making your customers feel cared about” helped boost tips, and a little goes a long way. Using guests' names and hand-written notes on receipts are just a few gestures that restaurant workers across all age groups utilize to improve tips. Beyond smiles, younger generations indicated changes to their appearance bring in more tips, with one in four 18-24-year-olds indicating that they would update their hair, makeup, or outfit to increase tips. Only 2% of senior (65+) workers said they would do so.

Tipping culture and practices continue to evolve, and few can disagree that technology will continue to play a more significant role in the productivity and profitability of every restaurant worker, from executive chef to dishwasher. Pre-set tip amounts, handheld devices, and other point-of-sale system enhancements are essential ingredients in boosting efficiency, improving the guest experience, and ultimately improving tips for hard-working staff. SpotOn is committed to building intuitive technology that enhances the restaurant experience. 

About SpotOn

SpotOn is one of the leading software and payment companies, providing the technology and support that helps local businesses—and the people who run them—to succeed on their own terms. Known for its flexible, cloud-based technology and personalized support, SpotOn offers an end-to-end platform to accept payments, boost revenue, streamline operations, and create exceptional guest experiences. From seamless and efficient point-of-sale systems to integrated restaurant management solutions, SpotOn builds technology that "works the way you work" and backs it up with a 24/7 team of experts that make sure it always does—with fairness, flexibility, and a personal touch. For more information, visit www.spoton.com.


Media Contact:
Megan Palmer

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