It’s terse answer Thursday — seven short answers to seven short questions. Here we go…
1. Can I set up an incentive system for admin staff?
We have an incentive scheme in place for salespeople where they can earn an extra day off if they reach certain sales targets. I’d like to implement the same incentive for admin staff, but I’m not sure how it would work as so many of their duties aren’t directly tied to sales performance or specific measurable. Their work is extremely valuable but very much day-to-day tasks. Do you have any suggestions for objective incentive schemes for admin/support staff?
I don’t think those positions really lend itself to that. You could certainly set quarterly or annual goals for your admin staff around their job objectives (and should be doing that anyway, regardless of this) and give incentives to those who meet or exceed those objectives — but that’s generally what you’d be doing normally via raises. And admins’ objectives are generally about ensuring that logistics run smoothly, that other staff have what they need, that customers get a warm and helpful impression, etc. — i.e., things that are more qualitative than quantitative.
If you want to set up an incentive system for admin staff, you could do it by aggressively rewarding great performance (including with additional days off, like with your sales team) — but I don’t think you can easily tie it to numeric targets like you can with sales staff.
2. Can my employer make me work while I’m on jury duty?
I have been called for jury duty next week. I won’t know until the night before if I am called for 1 day, a week, longer, or not at all. My issue is that there is a ton of work to do. If I get called for a day, that isn’t too bad to make up. However, if I get put on a grand jury or some extended trial, can my job require that I work in the evening after sitting in courtroom all day?
No. Federal law requires that your employer treat jury duty the same way they’d treat a leave of absence.
3. My school has made it hard to verify my graduation
The university I graduated from, more than 25 years ago, computerized its records back to about 2 years after I graduated. So, if a potential employer calls to verify my degree, they’ll look me up on the computer and respond with “Who? We have no records of this person.” The only way to prove that I attended and graduated is to request a formal transcript, for a fee.
This happened to me for a former job, and I took in my diploma, copies of some report cards, and a signed transcript request form, after a short panic. (It also happened to my husband, who attended the same school, a few years before it happened to me.) Now, when I get to the point of a potential employer asking for references, I include the signed transcript request form, and mention that this is the way this university will respond. Is there a better way to handle this? Telling them that the university will disavow all knowledge of me unless they send $15 seems a bit dodgy, but it I think it’s worse if they call and it sounds like I made up my degree. This is a accredited state university, too!
Yes, that sounds like a perfectly good way to handle it. You and your husband should also both complain to your school that their registrar is denying any knowledge of you unless paid for a transcript, which is really Not Cool for a school to do. You’re alumni, and they want your donations. Tell them they won’t be getting any until this situation is fixed (and enlist any friends you have from school in doing the same).
4. Can I get unemployment if I resigned but my boss moved my ending date up?
I just told my boss (and owner of the company) that I will need to do an internship in the fall for my masters program (8 months from now) and that, if possible, I would like to work 4 10-hour days or go part-time to have one weekday available. He said absolutely not and gave me an ultimatum of school or work, and said that if I choose school I would have to leave in the fall. After a couple more meetings, I told him I choose school and understand he can’t have me work part-time, that it doesn’t fit the position. However, now he is saying, “I have someone for your spot and you have two months to leave.” Do I have a leg to stand on as far as unemployment is concerned. I am not resigning till the fall; in my eyes he is letting me go. How do you see it?
Technically, you resigned; you just disagreed over the date it would go into effect. However, for unemployment purposes, in most states you’ll be able to collect unemployment for the period of time between the date he’s telling you to leave and the date you’d originally planned to go.
5. Bringing a dog to work
About a month ago, I promised my parents that I would look after their dog while they go on vacation for a week in the spring. I asked my manager if it would be possible to bring the dog to work with me. She said probably not, but told me to ask our HR director as well to confirm. HR also said no, so I dropped it. However, since I initially asked, my parents found out that their dog has kidney failure. Because of this, we have to very closely monitor everything that he eats and drinks, and make sure that he’s consuming liquids frequently during the day. I’ve arranged for friends to look after the dog for most of the time that I will be at work, but there is one day that I can’t find anyone to look after him for me.
The dog is extremely well trained, and very calm and quiet, as my parents adopted him when he retired from a K9 unit, and is very friendly. (He was not an “attack” dog.) Since he started getting sick, he has become even more subdued, and my parents frequently take him to work at their offices — he will sit under their desks for the morning, go for a short walk at lunch, and then sleep for the afternoon.
Would it be appropriate for me to ask again about bringing the dog to work now that the situation has changed with his illness, and because it would be for one day instead of a week? I have a 9-5 office job, and started less than a year ago. Making sure that he drinks water from time to time would not distract me from my work, and leaving the office for a short time at lunch is the common practice here. Both my manager and HR considered my request for a short time before denying the initial request, so it wasn’t a case of an immediate, hard answer of no. He would sleep under my desk, and I do not sit in an area that the public can access. Although coworkers frequently walk by my desk, the dog would be out of sight and his presence would not cause a distraction.
Poor dog. I’m torn on this, but if you really have no other options, I think you can ask again if you do it very apologetically and preface it by saying that you realize that their answer is likely to be the same. But be prepared for the answer to remain no — as nice of a benefit as this would be to offer you, it sets a precedent that they might not want with other employees, and they also need to consider other employees’ allergies, some people’s fear of dogs, etc. (By the way, I would not ask again if you don’t have an excellent relationship with your manager or if you’ve ever received signals that you’ve pushed too hard on things in the past. If either of those are the case, asking again about something you’ve already been told no on has the chance of doing real harm.)
As you can see, my initial answer didn’t sit right with me because you already asked for something pretty unusual and were told no; I don’t feel right advising you to ask again. However, I think you have other options for this one day: Have you considered hiring a pet-sitting service for the day, or seeing if you can hire a student or unemployed friend? Or even taking a sick day or vacation day, like you might to care for a sick dependent family member? Those are probably better options.
6. Applying for jobs when you’re waiting to do something else
I’m a final year university student and having to start to get serious about looking for employment. While I don’t really have an idea of what would be my “dream job” (I do Economics and Political Science, so it’s not a vocational degree), recently I’ve been warming more and more to the idea of working in immigration/border control.
I’ve looked this up online and found that there is currently an external hiring freeze for jobs in this sector. My question is, how do I approach the fact that I’ll be applying for jobs knowing that I’m only waiting until I can apply? I assume this won’t look promising to prospective employers if I manage to get interviews, or necessarilly with the sector itself if I end up doing something completely unrelated (which, knowing the current market, is likely). My student job is as a call-center fundraiser, so I’m not sure how to create a positive committed impression in this respect.
You don’t tell them. That’s too close to announcing, “I’m just going to be biding my time here, and once what I really want to do opens up, I’m out of here.” Instead, you keep that to yourself and you find reasons why you’d be genuinely enthusiastic about whatever job you’re applying for.
7. Birthday greetings to business contacts
Today I received an annoying email from a manager of another department to let us know that today is the birthday of Jane Doe from XYZ Company, and to “feel free to send her a happy birthday message.” To the best of my knowledge, Jane does not have a personal relationship with anyone here – not even said manager. And I know that we are currently negotiating an important partnership / consulting contract with her firm. I can only imagine how awkward it might be for Jane to receive birthday greetings from business acquaintances, let alone several from one office. In my humble opinion, this manager is a bit of a twit. Now, I’m not asking you to agree with me on that one. But “feel free” to agree if you wish! What is your opinion on birthday greetings and the ethics of “brown-nosing” a business acquaintance we are in negotiations with?
Yeah, it’s cheesy. Of course, Jane might love cheesy and might feel that getting a bunch of birthday greetings from people she doesn’t know is actually a warm and wonderful thing. Some people do. But Jane might instead feel that it’s a cheesy and transparent (and lame) attempt to suck up to her in the middle of business negotiations, and might be mildly grossed out by your company as a result.