how to avoid freaking people out when summoning them to HR, a smaller bonus than expected, and more

It’s five short answers to five short questions. Here we go…

1. How to avoid freaking people out when summoning them to HR

Our HR office often needs to call employees in (we are a large educational institution and have several unions, so employees also bring representatives to these meetings). We typically do this with a pretty curt summons. We do not, as a matter of course, offer the employee information on why they are being called in. The rationale behind that is, in part, so employees don’t have time to prepare a story or compare stories with other employees about disciplinary investigations. This leads to frequent consternation, employees want to why they’re being called in, etc. Not my policy, by the way.

I can see both sides of this. Since it is consistently an issue, and I have no related experience elsewhere, I’m wondering what the “best practice” is for calling employees into HR…is more or less information at the time of the meeting request better from a management standpoint? How would you recommend handling this?

If you’re just telling people, “Please come to HR at 2 p.m.” today and refusing to tell them why, then yeah, that’s going to cause some anxiety. People are going to wonder if they’re being fired, for one thing.

In circumstances where you don’t want to discuss the reasons for the meeting beforehand, such as during an investigation related to another employee, I’d think you could still add something like, “This doesn’t relate to your job performance at all, and there’s nothing to worry about. I’m hoping for your insights on a topic that I’ll explain when we meet.” (If the meeting does relate to their job performance, I don’t think you should try to hide that — but I’d assume/hope that their managers are the ones calling those meetings with them, not HR.)

2. My bonus was one-third of what I was told to expect

I just received my “end of year bonus.” It was a third of what I was told it would be when I was offered the position. That conversation included a negotiation of salary, or actually, my hourly pay. The hourly pay wasn’t enough to get me to sign on with the company. But factor in the end of year bonus, and it got me to my bottom number.

After I received the bonus, I was hurt to see it was a third of what I was told it would be. I asked the boss if this amount was based on any formula as to how well the company did on profit or if it was based on job performance. He said, “Neither, it’s just what I could afford.” I pointed out that when I was offered the job, he mentioned a number three times that amount. He said, “It was a hard year. I’m ready for 2013 to be over. It was all I could afford.” And then he couldn’t leave the building fast enough. I don’t know if I was making him uncomfortable or hurt his ego. I was sure wishing he would remember our conversation.

Yeah, the problem with relying on promised bonuses is that if they’re not in writing and they’re in any way discretionary, there’s no guarantee that you’ll definitely get them. They can be shrunk or revoked for all kinds of reasons — job performance, company performance, new manager, personality conflict, etc.

At this point, you probably need to go back to your manager and explain that they only reason you were able to take the job is because you were told that this would be part of your compensation and ask what can be done — but if the money isn’t there, it’s not there.

3. Asking to do more work in the evenings

I’m in a newer job (9 months), and while I have plenty of work (but I’m still able to leave after ~8 hrs), part of me still gets a little bored in the evening and on weekends. I truly love this job and would almost do this work as a hobby/side project (in fact, I did do similar work to a point in my old job with no requirement to do so, and no direct benefit — this new job really is a perfect fit). I don’t want to be completely swamped with work, but I’d love to have little things to work on in my down time — nothing urgently due, but something to work on while watching TV. What I’m picturing is taking something that would normally be assigned out 3 months from now with a 2 day due date, but getting it now instead of later, so even if it takes me 2 weeks to get it done while watching TV, it’s still done 2.5 months before it would be otherwise. And I would understand it’s not the current priority, so I wouldn’t take “work” time to finish it. Doing my active projects at home wouldn’t be the same, since after 8 hours with them, I want a change of pace. And I’m exempt, so there’s no issue with having to pay me more for the extra work.

My problem is: do I ask for this? How? I don’t want to seem like a brown-noser or that I’m hogging work, I just really love what I do and can’t get enough of it! Or do I just keep quiet?

I’m not sure this is the best plan. A good manager might give you a few extra projects here and there but isn’t going to be comfortable doing it on an ongoing basis, because she’ll be wary of you burning out (or expecting to be rewarded for it later, which she might not be ready to set you and herself up for). Plus, once you set the expectation that you can do X amount of work, it may be difficult to backtrack on that if at some point you want your evenings back.

Instead, is there some other way you can spend your time that will help you build your skills in this area, like volunteering for a nonprofit that needs similar work done?

4. Finding out how much my company pays toward our health insurance

It’s the end of the year, so it’s also time for the open enrollment period for next year’s insurance benefits. For 2014, my share of the insurance premiums are going to be about 15% higher than this year (with no change in plan or benefits). Since my insurance is subsidized through my employer, this doesn’t amount to as much as it would if I had to shoulder the full cost, but it’s still somewhat substantial.

While filling out paperwork with my benefits coordinator, I asked if this increase represented a decrease in our company’s subsidy for the plan, an increase in the “real” cost of the plan, or some combination thereof. She said that she couldn’t tell me, as she wasn’t a party to those sorts of conversations.

No matter the answer, I’ll end up paying whatever I need to be able to keep my health insurance, but it left me wondering: Is this something I should reasonably expect an employer to answer? Do I have the right to know the total, unsubsidized cost of my health insurance?

Sure, it’s a reasonable question — and in fact, many employers are eager to share that information, because employees often don’t realize (and appreciate hearing) that their company is shouldering a significant portion of their monthly premium cost. That’s not true at all companies, of course, but either way, it’s certainly reasonable to ask about — not only because it’s interesting to know what your company contributes toward health care, but also because it gives you a better understanding of the true cost of your plan.

5. Putting a leadership development program on your resume

How and where should I put a leadership development program on a CV? I have participated in 2-year finance leadership development program at my company. I guess quite a few large companies have such. It’s a program for selected individuals who are trained on and off-job to become future leaders (as they told us) or just a highly useful employee who built a network within company. I do not want to continue a career in finance despite the fact that I’ve finished the program, but I believe it is worth mentioning. However, I am not sure how to correctly describe it and where to put it on the resume (before or after experience).

I’d actually just put it as one of the bullet points under that particular job, as something that you did there. No need for it to be in a different section.

{ 137 comments… read them below }

  1. Ruffingit

    #3: It’s great you love your job, but you might want to think about spending your down time as just that – down time. Maybe it’s just me, but I get a little concerned when I hear people talk about wanting to work even in their down time. It makes me wonder if they don’t have enough going on in other parts of their life. That may or may not apply to you, but consider doing something else with your evenings – reading a great book, taking a hot bath, actually paying full attention to the TV show, having friends over for pizza night, etc.

    1. Clever Name

      This. Is there any way you could make the parts of your job a hobby as well? For example, I’m a biologist, and I get paid to walk around outside (usually on the side of a road, but still) and identify plants and animals and assess habitat and stuff like that. I really
      love doing that kind of thing, so I bird watch and garden, and generally pay attention to nature when I’m outdoors. I’m doing what I love in a way that’s relaxing and fulfilling. I have a feeling that if you HAVE to spend your evenings working to mead deadlines, you’ll quickly tire of it and get burned out.

      1. Felicia

        That’s a good idea. I have many hobbies, but my favourite part of my job is all the writing I get to do. For work it’s all news content, program descriptions and press releases, so in my free time, I like to write creatively. I’m also taking a Mandarin class because I’ve always wanted to learn a new language, and that one seemed useful and challenging. Taking a class on s omething you’ve always wanted to learn, even if it is vaguely job related, would be better than taking extra work.

    2. Anonover

      I thought the same thing — OP needs to look for some hobbies and outside interests. Hobbies aren’t just busy work, they give the brain/body the chance to do something different which can have a positive impact on the OPs everyday job.

      Hobbies, sports, music, mentoring/tutoring, any number of volunteer things (people, pets, environment, etc).

      I would guess the OP is a long time from retirement, but hobbies/interests now will make retirement (and vacation!) enjoyable later. There’s a macabre “joke” around my job that engineers retire and then die within a year because they have nothing to do without work (less now, I think, most of my collegues have some sort of primary hobby).

      1. Clever Name

        Heh. My grandfather, a mechanical engineer, worked until he was 73 because he loved his job so much.

      2. Poe

        Lawyers, man. They practice until they either die of a heart attack or get pushed out for making a very ugly mistake. My parents nearly killed one another in their first year of retirement because they didn’t know what to do all day and they were stuck with one another all day.

    3. Me

      True True. But I have also had period of my life (going through one now) where I want to be that carrier person. Even though I go to gym, visit family often, watch tv in my foreign language, have a social life, I still have mental room for other stuff. I am studying for the GMAT test, maybe I can finally start working on a MBA.

      As per filling the time with work, it would need to be the type of work you make up – finding a hole and filling it, or training yourself in something other people in your company can do. In my current job, I found that our regulatory wasn’t helping our small market close enough, so I took a more active role in doing that and find every couple months an opportunity to write and submit regulatory comments on this or that to our regulator (and a few days of analysis goes into each one to substantiate my hunches). Or you can make a calculator in Excel that automates a bothersome/complicated calculation people in the office do. But you can go to your boss and ask for that sort of lower level “busy work” that requires 1/2 attention and you could do while watching tv. Most companies have less and less of that type of work, especially as the economy changes.

    4. Vicki

      Exactly.
      Find a hobby that matches. If you’re doing design work at the office, design things at home. If you’re a programmer, learn a new language on your own time.

      Check out meetup.com and look for groups of people who do similar things to your work. Go to meetings. Listen to talks. Network.

      Read books in your field. Read books on related subjects.

      Watch TED talks. Look up You tube videos.

      Start a blog. Talk about your field and why you find it fascinating (don’t name names from work).

      And then, as others say consider doing something else with your evenings – reading a great book, watch a movie, go for a walk, spend time with friends… comment on Ask A Manager. :-)

  2. LAMM

    I think I prefer the 5 short questions instead of the 6 or 7. I feel like I actually think about each question instead of just skimming the Short Answer posts (which are my favorite).

    I’m actually thinking I might be perfectly fine with 4 short answer questions if it meant maintaining the 3-4 posts per day :)

  3. PEBCAK

    #2) One thing I noticed in this post is that you are “hurt” and you think the boss might be “hurt” as well. Try to place some emotional distance between you and this situation. Not getting the money sucks, because you are out the money, but it isn’t a personal slight.

    1. Ruffingit

      Didn’t even notice that, but what a great point! Yeah, this should not be a feeling of hurt, but rather of anger both at the boss for reneging and yourself for not getting it in writing as part of your compensation package.

  4. Zillah

    OP3 – I want to add my voice to the chorus of people telling you that this is not a good idea. I see a couple huge potential problems with it that I think your enthusiasm for what you do may be getting in the way of you seeing them, too.

    The work you do in front of the tv at the end of a long day may not be of the same quality as the work you do when you’re in the office. You’re distracted by something else and more tired than you generally are at work – it’s not just about the work taking longer, it’s about the result just not being as good.

    Even if you feel like it wouldn’t be, IMO you risk coming off as sounding a little naive and dismissive of the mental effort your job entails by implying that you could do it just as well while watching tv.

    I suspect your manager would be skeptical that you could do this and not have the quality of your work suffer, because that isn’t the case for most people. And, even if they *did* give you the go-ahead, what happens if they do find that your work is poorer, or even just feel that it is? That would introduce a lot of awkwardness and potential for hurt feelings that I can’t imagine a good manager wanting to tempt.

    Second, if you start doing a lot of work on your own time in your own home, I think it could easily lead to a pretty dysfunctional kind of relationship with your job/employer.

    What you’re talking about would really make work a central part of several aspects of your life. That could be really, really problematic if you ever lose your job or decide to move on to a different one, and if could even get in the way of your making the decision to do so in the first place, even if it makes sense.

    It could also end up introducing a very personal element that, IMO, isn’t really appropriate for the workplace. If they’re letting you do extra work on your time, it could leave your employers feeling indebted to you in a way that isn’t great, and it could also leave you feeling like they owe you something more than they owe other employees – not necessarily tangible compensation, but maybe promotions/job security, etc.

    Alternatively, as Alison mentioned, it could lead to the company forming expectations that you may not want long term – you may have the time now, but your personal life may change in ways that makes what you’re talking about no longer feasible, and you don’t want to be caught between a rock and a hard place in trying to take back that time without coming off as not caring about your work.

    None of those things is good. This is your job. It’s really great that you love it so much, but ultimately, it is your job. Just as boundaries are good in relationships, so too are they good at work, and this is kind of the equivalent of PDA with your significant other in your business’s lobby.

    You sound super enthusiastic, which is great, and it’s so, so terrific that you found a job that you’re so happy with. At the same time, though, if you feel like you really want to be doing similar work on your off-time, I would also suggest volunteering with a nonprofit – it gets you doing what you want without the same kind of commitment, and as an added bonus could help you network on a wider stage, which is never a bad thing.

    Alternatively, as others have suggested, try to find some hobbies. If you like reading, writing, drawing, stamp collecting, whatever… maybe you should try to cultivate that. You aren’t defined by your job. :)

  5. hamster

    #3 , maybe you can do freelance projects/ personal proof-of-concept stuff and my favourite automation? As in for example learn to code and automate a task that you do manually routinely? For a beginner this is something that is more difficult to do in working hours with interruptions anyway. Or read technical/related books on the subject matter? Or learn for an external certification? Or participate in a community / forum for the specific type of job? There are other ways to increase your skill and do work ( answering questions on forums, this relate more to the tech side, but it can easily translate to non-tech i think)

      1. themmases

        That was my first thought, too. I used to love my job as much as the OP (actually I still do, just not my workplace) and when my job suddenly went bad, as jobs sometimes do, I started a blog. It eventually went by the wayside as I found other stuff to do, like applying to better jobs, but it was still a great outlet and something I’d resurrect in the future.

        Even if the OP’s job is “perfect”, there are probably part of it that are his or her favorite to think about, or reading they like to do that is related to their work but not directly applicable. For example, I work in research so one part of my job is regulatory and ethical: making sure we’re protecting our subjects and potential subjects. But lots of that work gets taken away or made easier for me because, of course, I work with oversight and have rules I can apply. So my whole blog was about medical and research ethics and allowed me to think and write about the higher-level, topical stuff that normally someone above me would decide; and to think about situations I might never personally encounter. I can’t recommend it enough as a way to grow in an area even more specific than your current job description, and own that interest yourself.

  6. hamster

    #3 I get your enthousiasm and I was/am partially the same . In my first job as a BI consultant i was SO grateful i was hired ( i offered to intern there for free) that i started reading in my free time about data warehouses databases, doing some coursework for some database developper certification, and i was already enrolled in a masters degree with a focus on this topic. So , there are plenty of connected info you can educate yourself on the topic. Gives you plenty to discuss , keeps you connected with the neews in your domain. Hugely beneficial

    1. MissDisplaced

      I think this is a much better idea as well!
      Take the time to really educate yourself about the field, company, business, etc., etc., or learn a related skill or software that will help you in your field instead of taking home and doing company “work” on your own time.

      That being said, if you work in a creative field like me, sometimes the “urge” strikes at odd times, and I’ll find myself drawing or sketching concepts of logos, products, storyboards, layouts etc., whenever or wherever. I think it’s fine to do stuff like this at home and bring into work as ideas for the next project… but understand that it’s not really expected of you.

  7. Chocolate Teapot

    2. In my experience, contracts of employment might mention a discretionary bonus, but not give a particular figure. Also, there may be wording to the effect of the payment being dependent on available funds.

    1. Green

      It sounds as though the bonus really is based on company performance, just not with a specific formula.

      I was offered a total comp package that included a range for a discretionary bonus (“target” to “maximum”) that I certainly factored in to whether I would take the job, but ultimately the base salary had to hit what I needed. A bonus based on factors that aren’t fully within your control can always be less than expected. Sounds like everyone involved has a cognitive error here — positive outcome bias/optimism bias. He probably genuinely assumed things would be the best possible scenario when he threw out prospective bonus numbers, and you mentally factored a bonus into your minimum threshold (a no-no). Even in fields where a substantial bonus is an expected (biglaw, for one), there is always the possibility of the economy tanking, the legal market tanking, a major client leaving, stagnation, poor individual performance, etc. that leaves the bonuses up in the air/in-flux. Never count your financial chickens before they hatch.

  8. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

    #3

    Please come work for me. You sound like exactly the sort of person I spot “out there” in my division whom I pluck up and plop on my direct report team.

    Loving what you do is such a blessing, isn’t it? Not only do I love what I do but I get to work with other people who love what we do…and it’s not glamorous or exciting except to us…’cause, we love what we do.

    So if you came to me and said what you’ve said in your post here, my heart would get warm and I’d get all mentor-y with you. I’m a notorious 80 hour a week-er but I work to protect the people who work with me from falling into some of my same traps.

    One of the things we would talk about would be not falling into a situation where you find yourself needing to work 60 hours a week just to do you job. You’d have to listen to my war stories, and one thing and another, assuming you were an exempt employee, we’d work out remote access so you could take on some extra projects that weren’t time sensitive.

    You don’t work for me though and there are bunch of ways this can go pear shaped so the best advice in the threads here might be to use that time for professional self education. It is so easy for the person who works extra to be taken for granted (and then turn bitter and stop loving what they do).

    Or, you try this close ended. If you see a specific extra task to volunteer for, do so, and see how that works out.

    Congratulations on loving what you do! Protect that. :)

      1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

        I can’t be specific, but you’d likely squinch your eyes and say “um, okay if it floats your boat”. It’s not glamorous. It’s just an odd little pocket of the business world that I find infinitely interesting.

        Probably the biggest pro for me is that I get to switch left brain and right brain constantly. So one minute I’m crunching numbers and running pivot tables and the next I’m approving creative. Plus I get to do a lot of logistics and I LOVE logistics.

        There’s nothing about what I do that would make most people go ‘oh, I so want to be in that industry/company”. I get excited when other people I work with fall in love the same way I have. We have a lot of fun together.

      1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

        Did I just embarrass myself? :( I was thinking about the OP. I didn’t think through writing something that might make me sound like a bit of a “oh, I work 80 hours” jerk. :(

        Mostly I meant to say that just because I work a lot, I don’t want to encourage a culture that has everybody pressing themselves to try to do the same.

        I usually work 7 days, and I start early, but I’m sure there are many weeks it is not really 80 anyway.

          1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

            Oh thanks.

            I think it is tacky to “slip in” to conversation how many long hours one works unless you are doing something impressive like saving lives or working two jobs to support your family. I didn’t realize I wrote that until you asked.

            Anyway, it’s not that hard for me and is probably less than 80 on many weeks.

            I live literally five minutes from work. I get up early, do to 3 -4 hours from home, pop over to work and do about 7 hours there. In office time is with other people – my team, other people in the company, vendors, customers. Back home, dinner with the family, hang out, play with the dogs, and then usually a couple more hours before bed.

            Weekends I work on big projects I want to do, at home.

            And that’s pretty much it. Not building the pyramids, just doing what I like to do.

        1. Jamie

          I totally got what you meant. And I really have struggled with the same thing.

          I only do the 80+ 2 weeks out of the year – but I average about 55 on a normal week but I make it clear that I don’t expect that from anyone else. (Except during the 2 crazy weeks, but that is a 100% volunteer team and I comp hour for hour – not days…so they know what they are signing up for but they also know if they work 80 hours in 6 days they are getting 80 hours PTO on the books. Because it’s an inherently time limited project I have people who eagerly sign up to work like crazy and bank the time. (Exempt people, hourly get paid for the OT of course.))

          1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

            Yeah, it’s do as I say, not as I do. :)

            Burning question: You know that old golden rule about “you don’t leave until the boss leaves”, don’t you think that’s nuts?

            I never got that. The boss makes more than you do. I’d swat somebody who works for me who tried to keep pace (solely to keep pace with me).

            1. Windchime

              There are places like that, and I agree, so annoying. I used to work at a place where some of the people on the team worked four 1o hour days per week, and the rest of us worked five 8-hour days. The 10-hour a day people would give the side-eye to those of us who left at 5:00 (they stayed until 6 to make their 10 hours). The implication was that those of use who left at 5 were lazy or not as committed, even though we were there an extra whole day and the hours were the same. Nuts!

            2. tcookson

              I couldn’t keep up with the hours my boss works if I even wanted to . . . he seems to be on almost 24/7. I just ask him if there’s anything else he needs before I leave, which occasionally leads to me putting in an extra 30 minutes to an hour, but mostly he just sends me on my way.

      2. De Minimis

        I worked at a place where it wasn’t that unusual, people would often work 14-15 hours a day M-Thurs, work somewhat less on Friday and leave at a more conventional time and then maybe come in for 6-7 hours a day during Saturday and Sunday. Sometimes on Sunday they would work longer hours and just work Saturday afternoon/evening. This was not year round, however….only during tax season. It was also more project-based work so people often worked until they got to a stopping point then would go home.

        I did 80 hour weeks as an hourly employee, and I did do the 12 hours 6-7 days a week. Again, though, it was only during a busy period. But it makes any type of job more draining, even if it’s something that is normally not all that taxing.

      3. fposte

        When I’ve done it, it’s an eight hour day, then a second stint at home after a break (or two more stints there with breaks between). I couldn’t do it if I had to be at the office for all 12.

  9. Not So NewReader

    OP #3. I’m not a big fan of being all about work. If you go through with your plan you could find that in as little as a year’s time you have cheated yourself. It would be an error for anyone to not encourage you to develop other aspects of your life. I have seen people devoted to their work and their health goes into the latrine because they did not pay attention to the changes in their bodies. Same deal with finances- people that did not work on a financial plan of some sort (long or short term) and later felt that they were on the losing side of that question. This plays out in a similar manner with relationships/neighborhoods/communities.
    Interestingly, I have seen a few people develop hobbies that became their next career. Good thing they expanded their life because when their company failed or they got downsized they had something to turn to that kept them employed. Versatility is a good thing to be thinking about.
    On the good news side, it sounds like you will do well with whatever course you pick. You sound well anchored in your job/field. I bet that you are someone who decides to master your topic- what a huge asset.
    Whatever you do, please do not take home work just to fill up empty time. Be deliberate, be intentional about how you use your spare time. Use your time to invest in you and invest in your quality of life in some manner.

    1. ThursdaysGeek

      Yeah, life is so much more than work. Life is relationships, yourself, exercise, food, enjoyment, learning, sharing, and so much more. Don’t limit yourself to just one sliver and think it’s the most important part. Don’t lose out on everything else.

  10. Confused

    OP #1
    I agree with Alison.
    OldJob did this constantly. Meetings with manager would be scheduled (no, I had not done anything wrong) with no warning or explanation. I found it very demoralizing and the source of unnecessary anxiety.
    “…so employees don’t have time to prepare a story or compare stories with other employees”? Who are you investigating, the Corleone family?
    If an employee is going to lie, they’re going to lie. If you are this concerned about integrity it means you are hiring the wrong people and/or not managing them properly. Give employees the same respect and treat them with the same dignity you would want and you will attract and retain people with good character and work ethic (this applies at all levels). See if you can suggest changes to this policy.

    1. Jennifer

      My director does this all the time and can never understand why it’s stressful. She’ll send me an email saying “come to my office as soon as you’re available” right before I have a two hour program or something and won’t tell me what’s up. It can be anything from a discussion of salary changes in our departments to an incident requiring police intervention, to a patron complaint, to a confidential discussion of staff. I’m a tense person, prone to freaking out over things anyways. Pleeeease don’t do this, if you can possibly avoid it!

    2. OP 1

      OP1, thank you, Alison, and those who replied. As the one fielding the concerned callers and emailers I would like to suggest changes to this policy re: calling people into HR, but I haven’t worked in HR before and wasn’t sure what to suggest. If anyone else here has good methods I would love to hear them also! The policy as it stand is largely due a few things, one I would guess is not wanting to take the time, second as I said that my superior does not want to `compromise` investigations (some of this due to retaliation concerns), and third, I’ve been told the experience is intended to be intimidating. I can think of very few instances though where secrecy was really necessary.
      One large issue is managers that do not want to address performance issues themselves and often have not addressed it directly before we call them in. We are undertaking some initiatives to address this with the supervisors.

        1. Ruffingit

          Seriously, that’s my question too. I mean, I know intimidation is beloved by all, it’s totally the way to hire and retain high quality employees… (sarcasm)

          1. Not So NewReader

            I am wondering what is up with all the big secret investigations? Why the drama? Maybe people don’t understand the rules or maybe they are having a hard time finding good people.

            I’d liken it to your doctor calls you at home on Tuesday and says “I absolutely MUST see you in the office NEXT Monday.” And she won’t say why. Now. What kind of a week are you going to have while you anticipate that conversation.

            1. Ruffingit

              Yeah, that’s a good point too. If you have to have more than one investigation of employees who may be doing things wrong and those things involve getting their co-workers to be complicit in cover-ups, then something is seriously wrong with YOU as the employer. You’re either using White Collar Criminals ‘R Us as your hiring source or you have rules that are not being appropriately communicated to your employees or something else altogether, but whatever the case, if this is an ongoing issue, I’m more concerned about the employer than the employees.

              1. Lindsay J

                I don’t think this is necessarily fair. It depends on the type of work and what is being investigated.

                I work mainly in the amusements business, and in that type of work you are hiring a lot of people who don’t put a large stake in their job. The nature of the job (seasonal, hourly, and with variable hours depending on the weather and attendance) mean that it’s difficult to rely on it as a main source of income, so most of the people you are hiring don’t – they are either taking it as a second job, or they are not one of the main breadwinners in the family.

                We also have to hire a lot of people in a short amount of time so we cast a wide net. Everybody is interviewed, screened, and background checked. However none of those things are perfect and a lot of things slip through the cracks.

                This means that we have a lot of people who don’t necessarily care about or need their jobs, aren’t concerned about references or professional reputation, and a lot are teenagers who may not have yet developed the foresight needed to make good decisions.

                We also work around a great deal of money in my department. Theft is a regular issue. We don’t have a problem with it every year in my department, but it’s happened several times. Every time we caught them. We’ve also had issues with people covering up accidents in the company vehicles, and run of the mill shrink type stuff with people taking food products and eating them without paying.

                In almost all the incidents, the people knew what they were doing was wrong. They just either didn’t think that they would get caught (and hadn’t thought through the consequences if they did) or they didn’t care if they got caught because they didn’t really care about or need the job anyway.

                I would hazard a guess that it’s the same with a lot of retailers, etc – especially at this time of year when they are hiring a lot of temporary workers for the holiday season.

                Though, if these are the types of issues and the types of jobs it is I would wonder why HR is conducting the investigations rather than LP/Asset Protection/whatever you want to call it.

                And if it is a full-time white collar/office-type job I would find the amount of investigations concerning.

        2. Windchime

          It sounds like the HR department is mistrustful of their employees and always assumes the worst of them. I would be a little freaked out if such a terrible HR department called me in with no additional information as well. It’s ridiculous.

          One more reason to be thankful for my awesome employer.

        3. OP 1

          I couldn’t say I guess, it is definitely not how I’d prefer to handle it, and I’m uncomfortable telling employees I can’t tell them why they’re coming in. It seems unnecessarily hostile. There is quite a bit of misconduct, but its a large institution with more than one campus so it’s probably inevitable to some degree. I would agree part of that us due to some bad managers and some lack of understanding of policies, but not always. I’m hoping to propose a new policy this year to try and improve HR`s reputation.

          1. Confused

            Looks like you replied while I was posting.
            It does sound like it’s really an issue with the managers. Good for you for trying to improve things. It will help you retain better people. Good luck!

      1. Confused

        I also wanted to add, if you give someone a heads up they can give you more thoughtful answers instead of just being on the defensive. This will ultimately help YOU resolve the issue at hand.

        “Not wanting to take the time”
        HR or manager were able to take time to gather their thoughts, why should the employee not be given a moment to do so?

        “Intended to be intimidating” Why? You are not shaking down criminals!
        These are employees, people you selected to bring into your organization. You also said these are mostly union jobs. From what I know, they likely had a probationary period prior to joining the union and could have been let them go if the school/college realized they made a bad hire. If they were good enough to remain on staff, why are they suddenly being treated with such suspicion?

        The employees these policies impact are not those the policy is intended for. You may think suspicion, secrecy, and intimidation will help you “catch” bad employees but what you are doing is demoralizing the honest ones.

      2. E

        Something that I’ve noticed is that HR at my workplace is careful about descriptions because usually those requests are meeting requests that end up on people’s Outlook Calendars, which can be publicly viewable. So I get a meeting request to discuss “HR issue” because anything more descriptive could hurt confidentiality.

        1. Poe

          I have this issue where I currently work. What I do is send out the invite with “meeting with x” and in the description I put “please see email of July 7” or whatever. That way I can send different emails to the different participants explaining what is going on, but without putting sensitive or confidential information out there.

  11. Sloop

    OP 4 – I am surprised that the Benefits Manager wouldn’t share that information with you. I suspect that you are shouldering more of the cost this year, percentage wise. I would politely ask again. She definitely knows the full cost of the coverage to you, because she’d need to share with folks that leave the organization and become COBRA eligible.

    1. RG

      Check your W-2. There should be a box (Box 12 – DD) where your employer reports the cost of the employer provided health insurance. It should include the total (both the employer and employee) cost of the insurance. You’ll have a time lag for the 2014 cost information – but it’s a way to get it. You can at least figure out what the 2013 numbers were…

      1. Marina

        I was going to say this… Also, my employer includes this cost on my paystub. There’s the amount I paid towards that month’s health insurance and the amount my employer paid towards it. I have no idea how standard that is, but my employer does go through a large third-party business for payroll processing so I assumed it’s relatively common.

        1. OP #4

          I see what I contribute to my insurance on my paystub, but not what my employer contributes, unfortunately.

          1. Judy

            I thought as part of the ACA, that the total cost of health insurance had to be put on the W2 last year. (Not the paystub, but the w2) That was the explanation in the letter that noted that during our benefit time last year.

  12. Tami Too

    OP #4 – As part of the ACA, employers must disclose the cost of their employer-sponsored group health plan coverage on your W-2, effective 1/1/13. If you don’t know already, you will know soon.

    1. SA

      I live in MA and I get a letter every year from my insurance company with the exact dollar amount my employer contributes to my health insurance. The letter states that they have to send this under MA law.

      It’s been really handy to understand when my contribution goes up if it’s a shared increase or all on me.

      1. Ornery PR

        Also, this requirement is only for employers who have to file 250+ Form W-2’s, so you may not see it on there if you work for a smaller employer

    2. Kimberlee, Esq.

      Small employers that aren’t subject to the ACA aren’t subject to this requirement either, iirc.

  13. Just Wow

    #4, if your insurance only went up 15%, consider yourself lucky. Thanks to the ACA, mine went up 67%! And that was with the company picking up a LARGER chunk of the coverage. If it was 15%, I bet they picked up a larger chunk.

    1. Brett

      Depends on what your insurance covered before. If it was below ACA mandates, it went up a lot. If it was above (like mine), it might actually have gone down, but the coverage got worse too.

      The big changes in either directions are not actually a change in cost but a change in coverage. (Although, in helping others walk through their insurance changes, some employers have unfortunately used this as an excuse to slash their employer contribution before they are required to disclose it starting this tax cycle.)

      1. KellyK

        There’s also the fact that insurance companies can jack up rates simply because they feel like it, because the ACA provides a convenient excuse.

        1. Kimberlee, Esq.

          This. They have been trying all kinds of sneaky tricks, too, to make people scared of the ACA. Insurers in our area were trying to convince employers to do an early enrollment at a 10% to 20% rate hike, which would also have screwed employees (as all their deductibles would have reset at like 6 months instead of a year). They claimed it was because rates were going to skyrocket, and if you acted now, you could lock in the mere 15% rate hike for a full year. Mind you, this was intentionally done before ANY numbers for exchange plans were available.

          Turns out, the plan numbers in our area are totally reasonable, and we’ll easily be able to find a good plan that is around what we’re paying now. I wonder how many employers they suckered into that rate hike (probably a lot, as brokers were all actually advising to take the deal)…

        2. Elizabeth

          Except that they now have to spend at least 80% of premium dollars on paying claims, or else refund the overage.

          My husband’s premiums dropped by about 15% for 2014, because the local not-for-profit-but-part-of-the-national-network-of-similarly-named-insurance-companies (that all have one of the primary colors in their name) lowered rates significantly after they had been jacking rates for the last 3 years. Only they had to pay back thousands of dollars for not meeting the 80% minimum payout, which his employer plowed back into the plan, which helped cover premiums for
          the next year.

          My premium went up by less than 3% for 2014. Our group has had several major claims in the last year, so I wasn’t surprised to see an increase.

      2. Jake

        Our premiums stayed about the same, but we had a $2500 individual deductible / $5000 family deductible, but now it has gone to just a straight $5000 deductible. All of our coverage is the same as before though.

      3. Just Wow

        Actually coverage stayed the same. And it went up that much. So it was actually a change in cost, not a change in coverage.

    2. KellyK

      OP #3, this isn’t something that I’d recommend asking for, for all the reasons other people have mentioned–burnout, creating expectations you might not be able to meet.

      If you want to be able to work on your normal stuff at home during off-hours, I’d ask about that specifically. Especially if that’s something that’s normally done in your office. (In some offices, it’s pretty much expected that people will take work home; others not so much.) But I wouldn’t ask for extra work for the purpose of filling up your at-home hours.

  14. Chinook

    OP #3, I was once in your position when I ran a day camp. I enjoyed spending time with the kids and would spend my lunch with them. The organization director pulled me aside and said it was a bad precedent because, when I did need the time, I would no longer be in a position to take it. She said I was never to work through lunch so that it would always be available to me. She was right – once you set an expectation, to break it and do less means you look lazy. It is easier to be bored during your office then it is to get back that time once you have promised it to your employer.

    1. AmyNYC

      THIS! It’s great you love your job and want more responsibilities, but if you offer something extra now and don’t offer next year, it looks bad (you are NOT doing anything wrong, but some people could see it that way)

      1. hamster

        Yes, at one of my oldjobs i used to log in remotely in the morning just i woke up ( so about 2 h before my shift started ) to check for any emergencies. They got used to this kind of stuff, and one day i did not have time to do it, and there was something happening that morning they were sorta dissapointed that i didn’t catch it . Even though i did that of my own volition and my manager made fun of me for “being to paranoid about work” . She told me it was a bad ideea beforehand. And indeed, yes it was :)

    2. Poe

      It can also bite you in the butt in other ways. Several years ago I had a job where I encouraged people to call me outside my “office hours” if there were issues with things because I loved that job and I wanted to make sure that the place I worked ran as smoothly as a hot knife through butter. After a series of events I left that job, and when I tried to reenter the industry with the same organization, a former coworker was asked about me, and replied that I went over the top and would likely put in lots of overtime (I was hourly but viewed that time as something I did because I loved the job and never put in OT for it because I was young and naive and thought it would help me get ahead, but old coworker would never have seen my timesheets) and that I frequently handled things outside of regular hours that were not actually my job. I was hella good at that job, and would have been great at the job I applied for, but because I bent over backwards to do EVERYTHING ALL THE TIME, it came back to haunt me. And I was DEVASTATED. It took not getting that job to make me realize that I needed a life outside of work. Please, please, please find something else to love and enjoy. When I got laid off, I thought my world had ended for a moment, but I was able to take refuge in nonwork things I loved and I got back on my feet. Without my hobbies I would have been absolutely shattered.
      Sorry for the novel, but I just know how you feel, loving it so much, but work will not love you back, and you cannot count on your manager or your job to be there when $*&# gets ugly.

  15. Anonymous

    Re: telling people they have to come to a meeting without telling them what for

    Ugg. This happened to me once. My boss told me at 8:00 when I first arrived that he wanted to talk to me after work, so I should stay at 5:00 instead of going home. He basically told me I hadn’t been working as hard as I used to the past week. It was more upsetting than it should have been because I’d been worrying for those 9 hours, and since I was upset and flustered I didn’t bring up that I wasn’t working as hard because I was demoralized (he was constantly tell me how “great” I was compared to a coworker who spent most of their time playing computer games, arrived late, took long lunches, didn’t do the work well…hard to stay motivated when other people get away with that).

    It would have been so much better if he’d just stopped me before I left. Why do meetings like this need to be announced far in advance? Employees are generally in the building–it’s not like they need to plan their whole day in such a way as to be available for a quick meeting.

    1. Katie the Fed

      He might have wanted to schedule a formal meeting so you understood it was serious. If it comes across as a spur-of-the-moment “oh, by the way…” type of thing you might not realize that it’s actually important to him.

      1. Anonymous

        Ah. I see your point.

        Personally, I react much better to things when I haven’t been stressing out over them for several hours though. After that, I’d freak out internally every time he said he needed to talk to me or when I finished whatever I was busy doing–and it’d end up being something like, “Do we need more supplies?” “Can you come in an extra day next week?”

        1. Jamie

          After I just posted below I realized the way your boss communicated would be akin to my sending my husband a message early in the day “We really need to talk. I can’t get into it now, but don’t plan on going anywhere tonight because we have to discuss some things.”

          He would spend the day wondering what the hell he did wrong, or what I thought he did wrong, and was our marriage in trouble. The build up would be more than a discussion about a minor recent annoyance warranted and he’d be all wtf if it was “hey, you’ve not been doing X this week – what’s up with that?”

      2. Jamie

        I think the early notice and waiting all day made it more ominous tha it warranted, though.

        I do totally agree that things mentioned extemporaneously or in a ‘oh, btw’ fashion are taken less seriously…but the boss could have maintained the formality by scheduling a meeting during the day or mentioning it with less lead time to worry.

        For something like this I’d give some info, because there is no reason for secrecy or blindsiding someone. “Hey anonymous, I’d like to meet with you later today about some changes I’ve noticed this week.” Or whatever…with a tone that says “and don’t worry you aren’t being fired.” When possible it’s nice for people to know the topic so they can mentally prepare…you get better dialogue when one person isn’t put on the spot.

        Fwiw if I were given the message in this way I’d expect the conversation was a “very big deal.” I’d expect a talk about a serious problem, or promotion, or something very major.

        1. Zillah

          Ditto. I don’t think that giving a person huge amounts of anxiety all day is really worth it to hammer in, “This meeting is important,” even if the meeting is important. Personally, if my boss told me she was concerned about my work, I would take that quite seriously, even if she just pulled me into her office at the end of the day rather than warn me at the beginning of the day that we had to talk about something!

      3. Chris80

        IMHO, I feel like people will know it’s serious by the tone the manager sets during the meeting, not before. It doesn’t require mysteriously telling people nine hours in advance and then having them on edge all day long for them to know it’s serious. In fact, it could negatively impact performance to have an employee distracted like that all day.

  16. AnonHR

    #4- If your employer is distributing more than 250 W2s this year, they have to disclose the total cost of your health insurance in box 12, so you may find out in the next few months.

    Not necessarily what you were asking, but as something to consider, taxes and fees increased pretty significantly this year (in our state, effectively we were paying .75% of premiums in taxes/fees in the last year, and in 2014, it will be closer to 5.9%). While we were able to get a slight premium decrease (!), benefits will cost more overall, so we passed some of that on to employees.

  17. Jen

    My sympathies to poster #2 – I’ve been there before. I accepted a job and HR told me that while they fell $5,000 short on my salary requirements, the bonus would meet that. It was a quarterly bonus and by the end of the year it would add up to $5,000. I stupidly did not get it in writing. The job was miserable for a variety of reasons but the bonus was a complete lie. It was not a $5,000 annual bonus. It was a $1100 annual bonus.

  18. anon-2

    #2 – one of the problems with working with a major part of your expected income as “bonus” is that it’s discretionary — and that part of your compensation can get pulled at any time.

    At one place I signed on – the HR person started talking “bonus this, and bonus that, and we love our bonus, and bonus!” while making a low-ball salary offer. I rejected the low-ball offer – and when she asked “uh, gee whiz, if we offered you something closer to the numbers we talked during this process, would you consider it?” I said I would give them ONE SHOT at revising the offer, otherwise don’t waste any more of my time.

    Thankfully I did so. No bonuses were paid out to people in my grade, for 18 months, in spite of the company’s success. But one of my co-workers took a massive pay cut to come aboard, as he had swallowed HR’s “happy bonus message”!!!! He wasn’t happy!

  19. Andrea

    OP#3, if you worked for my company, the main issue would be on how you charged your time. Even if you’re sitting in front of your TV at home, if you’re working on a company project, it has to be charged to the correct number, and all hours worked must be recorded. Your company may have similar rules. It doesn’t matter if you’re exempt and not getting paid for the additional work, the hours must still be recorded (and the customer charged for them, typically).

  20. Jake

    #3

    AaM is 100% right. For the first year and a half at my first “career job” I worked between 60 and 72 hours a week in the office and 3 to 5 from home and couldn’t get enough. Then, due to some really bad managers in other departments, I slowly started hating my job. Burn out can be very sudden and unexpected, so it is important to manage with that in mind. I never thought I would get it because I truly enjoyed all those hours, but I was wrong.

  21. Anonymous

    #3 – don’t do it.

    Instead, see if you can find some classes related to your job/career – some free options like Coursera or low-costs stuff like lynda.com.

    These will occupy your mind and help you grow.

  22. CAA

    #3 – if you take Alison’s suggestion to volunteer for a non-profit that needs similar work done, please make sure you get the appropriate permission from your current employer.

    It depends a lot on what you do, but if the projects you mentioned produce work that is delivered to clients, then your employer may very well think of non-profits as potential customers and frown on you giving away the work they would like to sell to these organizations. You may even have signed a non-compete agreement or a document granting ownership of all related work to your current employer when you were hired. This is not uncommon in the tech sector, and most companies will grant permission if you have a specific non-profit you want to work with.

  23. Anonymous

    #1. If this is really policy you can’t change (I’d highly recommend you suggest changing it for the reasons others have mentioned before, treat adults like adults, not criminals), then I’d recommend including a personal message, “I’m looking forward to talking with you.” Can make a big difference because unless you are evil and sadistic you don’t look forward to firing someone. So you are probably going to at least say something neutral or positive. But I don’t understand why needing to talk about….I don’t know, the only interactions I’ve ever had with HR are them making me fill out paperwork in 8 hours or less so I don’t know what you’d be asking for.

  24. Anonymous

    #1
    I was called into HR at a job just a couple of days into the job. While they called me in about one thing, I honestly believe it was office politics and someone else wanted their old job back as she had moved to another department. I say this because I had met this woman once while I was there, and sure enough, after I had quit, she moved right in (as indicated on the website). Anyway, to rewind, my boss told me to see HR on Tuesday; this was Friday. Two things: 1. My boss told me he didn’t know why HR wanted to see me when in fact, he did know. He had never said anything to me about any problems the few days I had been working there. Instead he just pushed it off on HR. 2. They scheduled it on my day off and told me on Friday when I couldn’t ask to reschedule it for when I had to work. Reason I bring this point up is I had to drive some 20+ miles each way to get to this job and pay tolls on some roads to get there.

    Long story short, while the situation could have been rectified, I decided to quit. There were already some red flags occurring without this (such as my boss not giving me information that could make the job smoother when he said he would), and now seeing that my boss passed the buck to HR, I really couldn’t figure out why I was there. There were just too many red flags, and I could see the fit wasn’t right.

      1. Anonymous

        Yes. It was really ridiculous, and like I said the situation was easily correctable. But seeing that the boss was being sneaky about this and snarky when I’d asked him for the info he’d said he’d give bit didn’t, I decided the job wasn’t worth it. It had only been more or less a week of me being there, and so I left.

    1. Limon

      So crappy, and completely inappropriate. I wish people could just speak the truth: ‘we want the old person back,’ or ‘we don’t like you.’

      When work people make up all kinds of bs it is really hard to know when you have sincerely made a mistake that you need to learn from versus some bullcrap that they are flinging at you.

      I would much rather hear something truthful so I can deal with it than be trying to interpret vague tea leaf signs and inferring something I am not fully seeing. People think they are ‘being nice’ when they aren’t honest but really, it is so much worse.

    1. Pseudo Annie Nym

      +1 Yes! I read that the other week and wished that they had submitted it to AAM. Alison’s reactions to these absurd ones are just so priceless.

    2. Simonthegrey

      This was one of those instances where I think the use of the word
      “bullying” is off-target.

      1. Poe

        Yeah, manifestations of mental illness may be scary or personally directed, but I don’t think “bullying” is the right word.

  25. ItSoundsLike

    #1
    I told someone that I had been in the final stage of a lengthy performance management process that we were going to have an appointment in an hour “to talk about how things are going” – they left sick for the day shortly thereafter and the next morning I had a note faxed in from a doctor saying they would be on indefinite medical leave. It took two years to get him off the books, but it’s still one of my favorite “manager” stories.

    Sometimes there is nothing you can do to prevent a freak out. If you tell people “we’re meeting now” they have an intense burst of freak out, if you tell them “we’re meeting later today” they have along steady on the job freak out. An uncomfortable conversation is just that, uncomfortable. I tend to strike a middle ground and tell them two hours before the appointment, give them time to regroup but not so long that they are stewing all day.

    1. Anonymous

      The point of the question is not telling them what the purpose of the meeting is.

      In a professional environment that’s disrespectful and, intentionally or not, disempowering – it’s increasing a power imbalance by having one party to the meeting knowing what the topic of the meeting is and the other party not knowing. Bad. Generally bad.

      In rare cases there may be reasons for that, but in general in a professional environment it’s a bad idea.

      1. ItSoundsLike

        Sure, I think I was more or less commenting on the timing of when to tell someone the conversation will occur – I agree it’s a good idea to let people know why.

      2. Not So NewReader

        Well said Anonymous. I agree. Most employees read it as “I am doing this because I CAN.” Pure power play or head game stuff.

      3. tcookson

        It sounds like the company is intentionally exploiting the inherent power imbalance — the meetings are intended to be intimidating (?!). Sounds like bad management. Just bad.

    2. Poe

      Whoa, you must work at my old job…or there are 2 dudes out there gaming the sick leave system. Oh wait, you got rid of him and the one I knew about is still there…

  26. HR lady

    #1 – I’m an HR professional, and I can tell you that at our company, we almost never call employees to the HR office for anything negative. It’s almost always that they forgot to sign something, or we have something to give them (a brochure, for example) or we want to explain something to them in person (such as a complicated answer to a question they asked).

    At our company, managers handle “negative” meetings in their own offices. Sometimes HR is present (those are often the really bad meetings). But we don’t do those in the HR office. So people should not assume that being called to the HR office ALWAYS means something bad.

    (It does sound like at OP’s company there are a lot more negative meetings with HR than at my company — but that proves my point, that different companies handle this stuff differently.)

    1. OP 1

      Thank you! This is part of the issue, we are handling many discussions that supervisors should really be having before referring the employee to HR. We are working to address this, but it’s going to take time and some policy changes, too. In academia many end up in management positions without training in management. It is also true that it’s not always something bad!

  27. The Clerk

    OP #1, I know it isn’t your policy or your rationale behind it, but seriously, if employees have done something wrong deliberately, odds are they already have a cover story handy and anyone else involved has been briefed on it. If the company has so much trouble with this kind of collaboration that they had to build a policy around it, the problem is bigger than how you word your emails.

    You might want to point out to your boss that stressing employees out by summoning them ahead of time is going to wreck their productivity for the day and cost you money. If at all possible, I’d try to catch them before they leave, on the way back from lunch, etc so they don’t have time to wreck any projects. (It’s nice that you don’t want to cause them stress out of compassion, but the company probably only cares about how that stress translates to cost).

    1. Zillah

      Just a point – this may not always be an option, depending on how many people HR needs to talk to in the day. Realistically, there will be times when someone needs to deal with a midmorning or midafternoon meeting. For me, the issue is not telling them why more than anything.

      1. OP 1

        Thank you. Given the size of the organization, and having several campuses, impromptu meetings are not possible much of the time. I do sympathize with that, as I am a nervous person, but the scheduling of everything makes some wait time necessary.

  28. Anonymous

    OP#3, I am guessing you are young, and it sounds like you don’t have a lot of family/life commitments yet. Great for you! However once you are in a serious relationship, have pets and kids, have to take care of a home, and maybe have to move farther away from work and have a longer commute, you are going to *cherish* every second of personal time that you have! It’s great that you have free time, so go volunteer or take a class or something like that. Or even pick up some freelance work if it doesn’t conflict with your FT job.

    1. Zillah

      This occurred to me, too, and it may well be the case. However, I do kind of want to point out that “once” here is a little presumptuous – for all we know, the OP doesn’t want kids and may even be asexual/aromantic. I think that the general point – their life circumstances may change – is a good one, but we probably shouldn’t assume specifics.

  29. knitcrazybooknut

    #1, HR stigma is a serious problem for lots of reasons, many of them (accidentally) perpetuated by HR staff in general. It’s a weird existence, privy to many undercurrents that other employees know nothing about, but outside of the world of “regular” employees. And every organization has different office politics and in-crowds as well.

    If I were in your shoes, I would start making it a priority to have HR people included in every single “mainstream” group that you can. Safety Committee, party committee, charity drives – anything that will expose your employee base to the folks who work in HR. Build those relationships. Does anyone from HR walk through the “regular” employee sections? Can they? Can you hand-deliver some office mail across the building from HR, instead of having it delivered via interoffice mail, using the opportunity to connect with employees along the way? If you collect any forms or have regular meetings, can you schedule an “open house” to answer any questions and give out chocolate?

    If you can make every public interaction with HR a positive thing, you’ll find that people won’t react as badly when they come to HR.

    1. OP 1

      Thank you, there is some interesting food for thought here. Given our size and several locations, it can be a hurdle to be personal, but I can definitely think of some ways we could make more effort in that area.

      1. Not So NewReader

        HR needs good PR.
        Seriously. Half the problem is because people don’t even know the staff or feel HR is approachable. If you never see me in the hallway OR if you do see me, I stare right through you how much do you really want to sit and talk with me about ANYTHING? ugh.

      2. Anonymous

        It’s also not a very clearly defined field. HR means a lot of different things at different companies. I think there are a lot of people who don’t know what you do beyond fire people, so that’s always the first thought that pops into their heads when they get called in. Good PR will help with that too, as well as “selling” your services to other departments effectively.

  30. Ann Furthermore

    #1 – I think Alison’s advice is good, because when you get a vague email like that, people always think it’s something ominous — whether it comes from your manager, HR, or anyone else. People just tend to freak out, and that’s the way it is.

    Just last night, I did some configuration work in our ERP system that needed to be done when no one else was transacting in the system. I did all my setups, and ran a validation program to confirm that everything looked good. I finished around 10 PM, and sent out an email to all the people who needed to know.

    This morning, I woke up right before 6, and my head was pounding. Our bedroom had gotten very warm overnight, and I always get a headache when I get too hot. So I got up, took some Tylenol, and laid back down for a little while to let it pass. About 20 minutes later I rolled over and grabbed my phone to see what time it was, and saw that I’d missed a call. From my boss. At 6:18 AM. I had my phone muted, so it didn’t ring. I immediately thought I had royally screwed something up with my configurations last night and worried it was so bad she was calling me that early to ask me, “WTF is wrong with you?!” I called her back and it turned out to be something completely unrelated, having to do with users in Europe having trouble with their year-end stuff, and thankfully I had it resolved in about 10 minutes.

  31. S.A.

    #4. Don’t get insurance through your employer if you can help it. My employer stole over $2,000 from me and I made less than 14$ a year. My insurance was NEVER taken by any doctor’s office and I was lied to about what it would cover! I wasted $200/month on insurance that wouldn’t cover a teeth cleaning or an eye exam when they claimed it would. The deductible was 10K and that’s nearly what I make a year. Why waste the money? Up to 12K for crap insurance? Hell no thank you! I spent less than 2K out of pocket for myself even when I had an emergency in one year! It seemed I was seeing a doctor every month and I paid $1,800, including preventative care like having my teeth cleaned ($100 cash).

    The deductibles are outrageous and employers often act like they are being burdened by doing you a “favor”. What about those of us who have student loans on top of everything else to pay for? I can’t fork over thousands for lousy insurance.

    I decided to pay out of pocket – despite it being illegal now because insurance is just too expensive. I’m a Millennial tired of being treated like an animal for taking care of myself and getting ripped off at every turn. I don’t live in a subsidized state either, so don’t think I’m refusing help please. There just is no help for struggling graduates let alone the poor.

    It’s great that I don’t have any horrible chronic health conditions but I’m sick of people telling me I need to spend money I just don’t have to pay for other people who are lazy and obese. I can’t financially swing it anymore and think this OP is getting snowed by their employer. Don’t buy into it and shop around if you can afford it! An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. I was never allowed to talk to our fictional insurance broker and the company was so poorly managed there never was an HR department.

    I recently went through and got over a horrible sinus infection in 10 days without antibiotics. That means the prevention and treatment cost me $50 (and will last 3 + months). The cost of going to a doctor? $70 for a visit, $40 for drugs that will make me sick, $70 to go back to the doctor to change drugs($30 – $70), and 2 weeks of missed work ($650). Yes, I can’t afford to be sick but I can work to prevent it much more cheaply. I’ve never been to an ER in my life.

    I’m working in a different area now and am going to go into an interview, I just hope it’s not a waste of time for lousy pay. I’m ready to live out of my car and move out of this dump of a state!
    ARGH! Insurance is such a rip off!

    I really hope OP gets their own insurance, chances are they will be better off. Employers go for what is best for them and never for their employees.

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