child care expenses from team-building retreat, race questions on job applications, and more

It’s four answers to four questions. Here we go…

1. Child care reimbursement for a weekend-long team-building retreat

I work for a company that has a team-building retreat one weekend a year. We are at the event Friday through Sunday (so two overnights). In that time, we have two substantive meetings of about 2.5 hours each. The rest of the time is spent at spas, wineries, shopping, golfing, etc. Spouses are highly encouraged to attend, but children are not allowed. Attendance is not required per se, but it is highly encouraged and if you miss it, there better be a good reason. Similarly, if your spouse does not come, management wants to know why.

My question is whether the attendees who must find and pay for care for children for two nights and days can seek reimbursement of those costs. If this were really for business, or during the week, I could see why not, but it is more of a forced fun event and really, a boondoggle.

Very, very unlikely. Your better bet is to attend without your spouse and explain that he or she isn’t there because you have children who couldn’t be left alone. And beyond that, it might also be useful to get a group of employees to push back against the “you need a good reason for missing this” situation, because asking people to give up an entire weekend (even if it’s full of spas and wineries) is enough of an imposition that they should make it more truly optional than it currently sounds.

2. Can I tell an employer I really want a higher level position than the one I’m interviewing for?

I’m a computer programmer/systems analyst, and I’ve gone through some denied-a-promotion adventures this year for a team lead position. Lots of drama and pain. Long story short, even though I have proven myself and am more than capable of running my own projects and team, I have been all but told that I am too valuable in my current position. That was six months ago, and I’ve been job hunting ever since. (Don’t worry – I didn’t quit my job yet!)

I started looking at only team lead positions to apply to, but have recently started looking at the possibility of sidestepping into the same position at another organization just for the sake of getting out of my current (now toxic) work environment. I’m starting to get some traction with both the team lead positions and the sidestep positions and have been writing some job exams as the first stage of the interview process. The next step after these will be formal interviews.

In these possible upcoming interviews where it would be a sidestep, is it worthwhile mentioning that I really am looking for a position that is one level higher than what the posted position is for? How will that come across? Clearly, they’re hiring for that specific position and not one higher up for a reason. Could it possibly ruin my chances of getting into one of these organizations where there’s more room for career growth? I could mention it as a 5-year goal, but the reality is that I’m not prepared to wait that long and genuinely feel that I am overdue for this.

Nope, you shouldn’t mention that you’re really looking for a higher level position; that’s basically like announcing “I don’t actually want the job that you’re trying to fill and will quickly be trying to move out of it.” Employers want to hire people who are excited about the job they’re putting them in, not already feeling overdue to move up.

In fact, I think you probably need to resolve that mentally before you keep applying for lateral moves. If you’re going to feel frustrated six months into one of those jobs, you’ll have done yourself and the employer a disservice. I think you’ve got to either figure out a way to be reasonably happy at that level for a couple of years, or apply for positions that are at the level you want to be at.

3. How to ask a prospective employer for a schedule where I’d leave early

I am currently searching for a new job (still working at current job but unhappy for many reasons), and in anticipation of interviews, I’m wondering how to ask for specific work hours. I have a one-year daughter who attends a daycare that we adore, but it is only open until 4:30, which means I need to leave work to pick her up before then. At my current job, I’ve modified my hours so I come in early, take a short lunch, and leave early. I’m also available to work at home in the evening if needed. I’d really like to continue this schedule and not have to find a new daycare. I know I’m lucky to have an accommodating workplace, and that has stopped me from perusing other opportunities that are better career-wise. If it matters, the type of positions are upper-level research and development roles that involve working with a team as well as a lot of solo work.

How do I bring this up? In the past, I’ve always accepted the terms as they were offered (and kick myself afterwards), so I don’t have a lot of negotiating experience. Am I crazy for even asking a potential employer to accommodate this sort of schedule without only being considered for lower-level positions? I feel a trapped in my current job because it fits our family needs so well, but I also want to advance my career.

Wait until you have an offer, and bring it up then as something you negotiate for. An employer may or may not agree, but it’s not unreasonable to ask for it. If they won’t agree to it, then you can decide whether the rest of the package is attractive enough to make it worth it to you anyway, or you can always turn it down. But you’re better off trying to negotiate it once you have an offer; if you bring it up earlier in the process, you risk it being a strike against you before they’ve made up their mind that they want you, or the hiring manager just not wanting to sort through it before they’ve even figured out if they want to hire you.

4. Will I be penalized for not identifying my race when a job application asks for it?

I have a question regarding race on job applications. Every job application that I apply to online asks that I identify my race/ethnicity on the application (I am African American) or declare that I wish not to identify my race. Does not declaring my race put me at a disadvantage? I don’t want any potential employers viewing my actions of not declaring my race in the online application as trying to hide something.

They’re asking because companies with more than 100 employees and companies with government contracts over a certain dollar amount are required by law to report the demographic makeup of their applicants and employees to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (in aggregate, not individually).

However, answering is voluntary, and you can’t be penalized for not answering. In fact, it’s illegal to use the information in a hiring decision (except for the part where they asked about veteran status; it’s legal to give veterans a preference in hiring), and that information is usually separated from the rest of your application in order to avoid even the appearance of it entering into decisions.

{ 240 comments… read them below or add one }

  1. neverjaunty

    OP #1, think of it as a litmus test. If your company insists on a spouse AND no children AND they act like “my spouse had to stay home with the children” is not a good reason for their absence – then you know you’re working for, at best, extremely clueless and unreasonable people, and should probably consider changing employment to somewhere that recognizes that employees (with or without spouses or children) have lives outside the office.

    Reply
    1. Artemesia

      This. When I had small kids there was no way I could have provided child care for a weekend. It was hard enough for an evening event occasionally. Not everyone has family at hand who can step in to do this.

      Reply
    2. Ann Furthermore

      I’ve been working on an absolutely horrible project for the last year and a half, with clueless, demanding users who expect me to be available at the drop of a hat, including nights and weekends. The whole group, except for one person, is made up of single people who have no children. They all work insanely long hours because of their unbelievably ineffective business processes, which they are convinced are the only way to do things, despite all of the suggestions they’ve been given, and more streamlined alternatives they’ve been trained to use.

      The fact that they’re almost all childless doesn’t bother me. It’s everyone’s choice whether to have kids or not, and nobody else’s business. What does bother me are the snide comments my co-workers and I all get that imply that because we have kids, we don’t work as hard as they do. Things like how we “only” work 8 to 5, or “just” work 40 hours a week. Or saying, “Gee, I guess I need a kid,” when one of us leaves early or right at 5 to get our kids to the doctor or after-school activities…even though that usually means we log on later in the evening to finish working. Just because you choose to work around the clock and have nothing else going on in your life doesn’t mean that you’re more dedicated to your job than I am.

      I just found out today that the one person in the group who does have a family resigned. Gee, I wonder why?

      Reply
      1. Sarahnova

        There’s a good chance that those of you who are working 40 hours are just as productive as they are, if not more so. Research on this topic since the 1940s has repeatedly found that most people have a maximum of eight productive hours a day in them, and you can add as many more as you like without really getting more work done. You can push it beyond eight hours for short bursts, but not long-term.

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        1. Honeybee

          This. Generally speaking, people who are “working” longer hours for long stretches of time aren’t really working the entire time; there are longer periods of unproductivity during the normal working hours, which necessitates stretching time into the evenings and weekends.

          That’s why I go home between 5 and 6:30 no matter what I have left to do (unless I have a strict deadline). At that point, my brain isn’t working anymore, and it’s better for me to just hang it up and try again tomorrow. And I don’t have children, but I very much like being able to leave at a reasonable time!

          Reply
          1. Sarahnova

            Yep. Once I reach 5:30 or so, I know that I could sit there for another two hours without accomplishing anything more, so unless I literally have a deadline for the next morning, I go home.

            Reply
        2. Artemesia

          I noticed over the course of my career that most people who ‘worked late’ were the people who pottered around chatting, drinking coffee etc during the day and then ‘had to work late’. They always made a big fuss about their long hours but they weren’t more productive — and in many cases, I suspect that they were trying to fill up otherwise empty lives or in some cases avoid going home. I did know some researchers who were genuinely in love with their labs and were probably pretty productive with their long hours, but most people I observed seemed to be more avoidant than not.

          Many bosses see hours and not product. I’ve given this example before of my daughter on the college newspaper who was upbraided by the editor for going home at 8 the night they laid out the paper because ‘poor Susie had to work till 2 am to get it done.’ My daughter pointed out that she laid out 6 pages and went home; Susie laid out two pages during her long long evening of ‘work.’ That has been the norm that I see. Very productive people in an office don’t routinely work late; when the grant has to go in, yes — but not day after day.

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          1. Hush42

            I usually only stay late when I’m in the middle of something when 5 rolls around. But for me it’s more that I tend to be less productive in the mornings and then by 5 I’m at my most productive. I’m definitely one of those people who would benefit from a modified schedule. Unfortunately the owner of my company is a firm believer in having all employees working between 8-5.

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              1. Lore

                Exactly! I work 10-6 on paper but I get more done between 5 and 6:30 than I do between 10 and 2 most days. I’m in a low-walled cube farm and right next to a badly soundproofed conference room and I’ve learned how truly distractable I am the hard way. (And how much energy it takes me to focus in this setting.) When I work from home I cheerfully sit down at the computer at. 8:30! Unfortunately our wfh policy is “occasional and as needed” so I can’t make more of a habit of it.

                Reply
              2. College Career Counselor

                Are you me? 10am – 7pm would be my dream schedule. I don’t start to hit my stride unti late afternoon. On top of that, I’ve always been a night owl, and I don’t actually start to sleep well until about 5am. Naturally, of course, I have to get up less than an hour later. Guhhhh…

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            1. VG

              Same here, although I’ve also found that if I can get into the office very early, say 6 am, I’m also productive from then until about 9. Basically I’m productive whenever there’s no one else around.

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              1. BenAdminGeek

                Yup, totally agree! Get in early and get half my work for the day done, then get bothered all day, then get the other half done from 5-6pm.

                Reply
          2. Myrin

            I remember the story about your daughter but I don’t remember if you ever said how (if at all) the editor actually reacted to having it pointed out like that.

            Reply
          3. MashaKasha

            Not all of them, but many are. I had a coworker who’d spend all day chatting and basically not doing a thing, and not letting her team do a thing (because as you can imagine, she wasn’t chatting with herself!) Then at the end of the day all of a sudden her whole team is behind and they have to stay till 9 to catch up… rinse, repeat. The weird thing though, was that this person kept getting awards, recognition, and promotions, with the management’s comment always being “she works crazy hours”. Uh, no, arse in chair != work. And yes, from my occasional chats with her I, too, did get an impression that she was trying to avoid going home.

            I stay late sometimes because, like other commenters have mentioned, I’m more productive in the early evening when no one’s around. But I don’t go around complaining about it, because that was something I chose to do. I’m a firm believer in that, if a team routinely has to work longer than 40 hours to get their work done, then this team’s work is not being organized/managed correctly.

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      2. neverjaunty

        YMMV, of course, but I’d be tempted to snipe right back at them.

        “Hey, it’s not my fault you take twice as long to get the same work done as I do.”

        “If having a kid is what it takes for you to develop a work ethic, I say you should go for it.”

        “This may stun you, Wakeen, but I actually work even when you’re not directly observing me.”

        (Yes, I realize this is unprofessional. So is sniping because somebody else goes home earlier than you do.”

        Reply
        1. Three Thousand

          It seems like being a rude, presumptive jerk is often seen as less unprofessional than calling someone on their rude behavior. A lot of the time people seem to identify with the jerk and feel sorry for them for being called out even when they know the criticism is deserved.

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          1. esra

            This is what I don’t get. When Steve is an asshole, it’s all “Oh that Steve. He’s just an asshole. /smilesmile.”

            Why can’t they say “Oh that esra. She just calls out assholes on their assholery. Assholes like Steve. /smilesmile.”

            Reply
            1. Dr. Johnny Fever

              I’d be in your corner, esra, FWIW. I much prefer the ones who call out the assholes vs the assholes themselves.

              Reply
      3. Lionness

        On the flip side of this, you wouldn’t believe the sheer about of crap I take at work for not having kids but having the audacity to say…want a holiday off, or need to leave early for an appointment or (SHOCK!) take a lovely vacation. I get crap about “oh it must be nice to have no obligations” and “those of us with families would have liked to have Black Friday off” or “gee, not all of us can drop everything and go to X, Y or Z”

        As if their life choices are my problem or should influence me in some way?

        Reply
        1. neverjaunty

          This isn’t the “flip side” of the issue. The issue is employers treating employees as if they should spend every possible hour at work or work-related events. It wouldn’t be any different if the OP had an infirm parent at home to care for instead of children; the company is imposing mandatory weekend ‘fun’, and insisting that not only employees but their unpaid, non-employee spouses show up unless they offer what the employer deems a sufficient excuse.

          Your co-workers are jerks, but you knew that.

          Reply
          1. Lionness

            On another note, the comments I mentioned here have happened at every employer I’ve had, over the last 15 years, in 5 different states and across multiple geographic regions.

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        2. MK

          I tend to enthusiastically agree with comments like that. I am single and childless in my late thirties and , not that that’s any of anyone’s business, it wasn’t by choice but circumstance. So I respond to such digs with “Well, yes, of course I am making the most of my best of my personal situation. Why on earth would a single person stay at home alone?”

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          1. PhyllisB

            MLK, I understand what you mean. When I was single and childless, if I mentioned going out (to a movie, taking a trip, or eating out, I would get “You went by yourself?????????????” Well, yes. I don’t care to spend my life living in a cave.

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            1. Anonymous Momentarily

              My other favorite is, after hearing that I did something (gasp!) by myself has been “You’re so BRAVE!”

              Why yes, thank you for noticing.

              Because dining in a restaurant, going to a movie, or traveling alone is equivalent to fighting off a desperate, deadly peril.

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              1. AthenaC

                “Because dining in a restaurant, going to a movie, or traveling alone is equivalent to fighting off a desperate, deadly peril.”

                You’d be surprised!

                Seriously, though, one of my favorite things about traveling for business is the opportunity to do all those things ALONE (i.e. no husband or kids). So quiet and peaceful!

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              2. VG

                I’ve come to the conclusion that a lot of people either can’t or don’t want to do anything alone. I don’t know why I’d need a buddy to buy laundry detergent at Target, but I sure see a lot of people there who have dragged a friend along to shop with them. The only person I like shopping with is my teenage daughter (she’s also the only person I like going to the movies with, so if she doesn’t want to see what I want to see, I go by myself).

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                1. Snarky McSnark

                  I’ve always found it funny that it seems odd to go to a movie by yourself, but you shouldn’t really be interacting with that person during the movie. If you plan it right, you are only sitting there talking to the person you went with for 5-10 minutes.

          2. Nethwen

            I’ve had jobs where, when a coworker found out I moves to that state because I wanted to, they asked, “Were you following your boyfriend?

            When I said no, there was a thought pause, then, “Are you running away from your boyfriend?”

            After my negative response to that, they looked confused, fumbled for a reply, and came up with, “You’re brave!”

            Reply
            1. MashaKasha

              Oh no! You mean the course of our entire lives has to be determined by a current boyfriend? I had no idea!

              Off topic, what does “you’re brave” mean anyway? I’ve gotten it many times for leaving my home country and moving to the one where I live now. My home country was going through the worst economic downturn, hyperinflation, crime rate was through the roof, my husband brought home a MILLION in cash in local currency every month and we were still broke, because it was the equivalent of $200; I had inlaws living in our area whose toddler got sick and died of viral meningitis because the dr. came out to see the sick kid, took a look, did no tests, said it was chicken pox, and left… And after the child died, the hospital told the bereaved parents it was the mother’s fault because she hadn’t breastfed long enough and that must’ve affected the child’s immune system!!! My one kid caught dysenteria at a daycare, my other kid couldn’t breathe through his nose and the doctors kept saying there’s nothing they could do and he might outgrow it… turned out, he needed his adenoids removed. I could not get any work in my field because everyone had a policy of not hiring women. My huge extended family was already here, and my parents moved here one year before I did. What on earth do people mean when they say I was brave to leave all that and come here? I always suspect it’s some kind of a sneaky dig at me, because it makes no sense otherwise. Unless they mean I was brave to move in to live close to my parents, in which case, I agree!! heh heh

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              1. MommaTRex

                I think they’re saying “you’re brave” because they can’t imagine what you have been through, and think they’d just be curled up in a corner crying the whole time. I think it’s meant as a compliment for taking action, and trying to show sympathy because they know they can’t truly understand what you have been through.

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                1. MashaKasha

                  Thank you. I never knew what to say to that. Of course I said thank you, because that seemed appropriate, but I probably looked awfully confused while doing that.

              2. Nancy

                Even if the place you live is terrible, it’s considered sort of a known quantity. The unknown is what’s scary to a lot of people; you did something they’d be afraid to do.

                Reply
        3. Sarahnova

          My comment wasn’t really about having kids at all – just about how working long hours is usually a complete own goal.

          That said, I will die a happy woman if having children can stop being referred to casually as a “life choice”, and if certain factions among the child free could stop treating reproduction as if it’s some bizarre affectation parents indulge in defiance of all good sense. Not everyone wants to or should have children, for sure, but a lot of people need to for society to function, and it behooves us all to support working conditions which allow us to parent children, or care for ageing relatives, or pursue independent research, or whatever we want outside of work.

          Reply
          1. Lionness

            It is a life choice. That doesn’t make it a bizarre affectation in defiance of all good sense, but it is a choice you made in your life and a way of life you choose to live. That wasn’t always true, but today it is truly and option whether or not you have children.

            And I agree that employers should be work/life balance friendly Where I disagree is that this should favor parents over non parents.

            Reply
            1. Sarahnova

              It’s not always a choice. It should be, but it’s not.

              It’s true that on the individual level, I can choose not to have children. (Assuming I am lucky and decently stable economically.) But reproduction is one of our basic functions as human beings, and the majority of people will always want and need to have children. It’s not on the scale of, say, taking up skydiving or buying a second home, which is how it’s sometimes treated in discourse.

              This doesn’t really affect the fact that we should all have the ability to lead lives outside work, but it is important.

              Reply
              1. Biff

                Reproduction isn’t a need in industrialized countries, not in this day and age (need being something that must be done for sheer survival,) it’s a want and a privilege. It is absolutely a lifestyle choice, and you’re right, it’s not like a second home or skydiving, it’s much more expensive and it tends to be a choice that people make assuming or insisting that others support it.

                The reality is, and I wish people would consider it more often, that being a parent creates certain special privileges as well as certain disadvantages. We focus a lot on the disadvantages but single people at work, or people with no children are oftentimes called to cover coworkers with children so that those who have reproduced can attend school plays, doctor’s appointments or even family holidays. People make allowances for parents with children on public transit, or let them cut in line at amusement parks.

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                1. Lionness

                  Biff, I can’t agree more. As I’ve said in other comments, myself and my fellow childless friends and family often experience a vastly different set of rules from the parents we work with when it comes to holidays, time off needed for appointments, amount and flexibility of PTO, etc. It is assumed that we can work more and with less time away because we don’t have children and it is assumed we don’t want holidays off (or are selfish if we do!).

                2. MashaKasha

                  I’m sorry, but my children are already contributing to the society in some ways, and probably will in more as time goes by. I refuse to apologize for having them. Since they’re pretty much adults, I’m going to also proactively refuse to apologize for my children having children of their own (whenever that happens), if that’s okay. I don’t judge anyone for having different lives and different family dynamics than mine, but by the same token it’s not okay for them to judge me for something that isn’t even a fault.

                  As to having children being akin to having a second home, I’ll agree with that when a second home graduates HS and college, and starts working and paying taxes.

              2. Lionness

                We’ll just have to agree to disagree on whether or not having children is optional in the first world.

                In addition, given the current population of our world, the vast majority could abstain from adding additional children for quite some time and the global population would be just fine. As for it being alongside of taking up skydiving, etc. Many things are life choices – having kids, skydiving, working, traveling the world, etc. All of these are life choices.

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                1. Dr. Johnny Fever

                  Assuming that all people have equal and unfettered access to appropriate health care, sex education, working contraceptives, and their legal right to abortion (at least in the US) – sure, it’s a life choice. How simple. :(

                  Try looking at this from someone’s else perspective besides yours – it may give you some empathy for those who unfortunately don’t have these choices in the first world.

  2. eplawyer

    I get wanting an excuse for why an employee is not at a company function. But what business of the employer’s that the spouse is not there. “My spouse does not work here” should be reason enough.

    Reply
      1. alex

        People need to be at their work engagements.. I don’t understand expecting a job to cover childcare. People who are child-free have expenses that increase when they’re not home, too. Ain’t none of them asking for funds for out-of-town pet care.

        Reply
        1. Rana

          That’s true… but the problem is that this job seems to also be expecting spouses to attend… without the children. So who’s looking after the children during these supposedly mandatory events?

          I agree that asking for reimbursement for childcare is likely to prove futile, but it’s pretty clueless and/or cruel of the company to put its employees in this position, especially for what is clearly meant to be a “fun” getaway, not an essential work function.

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          1. Rana

            Also, as was noted during the previous comments thread on this topic, unless you have pets with special needs, it’s highly unlikely that their care is going to be as expensive as overnight childcare. Nor can you leave a child alone for several days the way you might be able to get away with for, say, a cat or a snake.

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            1. Lauren

              You can’t really leave animals alone for several days either. A cat can be left alone for maybe 2 days if enough food and water is left out but several? Who is feeding the cat? Cleaning the litterbox? Granted getting someone to come in and feed etc the cat is way less time consuming than child care but don’t leave animals alone for several days! That’s cruel. What if they tip over the water bowl? Eat all their food?

              Reply
              1. Myrin

                I believe Rana actually meant the same thing as you (guessing from her other comments but also just from, well, common sense; obviously you can’t leave animals completely unchecked and alone alone for several days). I think she was talking about the difference, about how you can’t leave a child alone like (as in “in the same manner as”) you can leave a cat “alone”. Where I’m from, most cats are outside most of the time and we could technically leave for several days given someone comes by twice (or maybe only once, even) a day to leave food. So, that would work for a cat (not all cats, obviously, and especially not cats in other situations, like those who are only inside) but it definitely wouldn’t work for any child.

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                1. Rana

                  Yes, I agree that leaving a cat alone for several days isn’t a good idea, nor kind. (I always stress out about our poor singleton cat being lonely, even with the sitter coming by to play with and feed her; I wish I could afford to have someone stay in the house while we are away.)

                  I was more thinking of it as something that was possible, if a person was desperate and unable to find or afford care. The cat might be unhappy and stressed, but it can survive a few days on its own if enough food and water are left out. That’s simply not possible with a young human child.

              2. fposte

                However, the law isn’t going to come after you for leaving a cat alone for a weekend. The law is going to have strong opinions about your leaving a small child alone for a weekend.

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            2. MsChanandlerBong

              Yeah, our local kennel charges $13 per night for a cat and $23 per night for a dog. Even if you’re away for two days, that’s a max of $26/$46. Try finding a babysitter who will watch even one child for a whole weekend for $46.

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            3. Lionness

              I beg to differ. My dog, who has no special needs, will cost me $60-70 a night and that will only get me 1-2 visits for about 30 minutes, which is insufficient. If I want someone to actually stay with him, I’m looking at $200 for two nights, easily.

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              1. Honeybee

                First of all, I think those are above-average costs – I live in a relatively high cost of living area and you can board a dog overnight her for around $30-50/night.

                Secondly, $200 is still a lot cheaper than what 24-hour weekend childcare would cost. Poking around it seems like a lot of parents pay an hourly fee for waking hours plus a flat fee for sleeping hours. So assuming an hourly fee of $15/hour for 12 waking hours for two days, that’s $360. The flat fee seemed to range from $85-100 on the short cursory search I did, but even taking the low end, that’s an additional $170, making the total $530 for two nights of care. Even a low rate of $10/hour would still make the total $410.

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                1. doreen

                  That really depends on multiple factors – IMO, too many to generalize. It depends on not only the costs of boarding (and boarding my 100 lb dog is not going to cost the same as boarding a 15 lb dog, at least not here) and the cost of overnight child-care but also on the chances of getting either without exchanging money. For example, I never paid for overnight childcare since I could trade off with friends and relatives , but I couldn’t do that with the dog for various reasons, including his size.. My sister never had to board her cats- she had a friend down the block who would come in a couple of times a day to take care of them but did have to board her dog if everyone in the household was away overnight .

            1. Honeybee

              I wouldn’t walk it back. I have a dog and 9 out of 10 times pet care is MUCH cheaper than childcare. And there are few places where overnight boarding costs that much; I live in a city with a relatively high cost of living and boarding my dog overnight costs an average of I’d say around $40-45/night, and you can pay less if you are willing to use a service like Rover.com (which allows you to find nearby private citizens who can dogsit for you for a per-night fee).

              The extra expense comes in for OP of that post because she has multiple dogs. Most services charge a discounted fee for the second dog but still almost as much – so if the first one is $45/night, maybe the second one is $35/night, but that’s still $80. Add in an upcharge for living in an expensive area and I can see that reaching $100 a night. Still, most people don’t have two+ dogs.

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                1. mt

                  it isnt of dubious value. the company puts lots of value on it, and it’s their choice if it’s valuable to them.

                2. Colette

                  Believing something is not the same as that thing being true. And I think a lot of companies underestimate the negative impact on their employees morale and engagement when they do something like this.

                3. mt

                  for every employee who hates these, there will be an employee who loves it. Cannot please everyone all the time.

                4. Colette

                  I actually think a lot more employees hate mandatory “team building” outside of work hours than the rare few who love it, if there are any people who fit that category.

                  If it’s really valuable to do this kind of thing, do it during work hours.

                5. The Cosmic Avenger

                  Yes, but if one employee hates it and one loves it, why do both have to go? Both would be happiest if the first one stayed home and the second one went. But by pressuring everyone to go, the company is signaling that it doesn’t care about what makes the employees happy. While it’s true that you can’t please everyone and sometimes you need to decide on, say, a company logo that some people hate, making attendance at this event mandatory doesn’t make the event any better for those who like it, it just reduces morale for those who don’t like attending (for whatever reason).

                6. Traveler

                  I have met very few people that truly enjoy team building events. I’ve met those that don’t complain about going, those that make the best of the situation or enjoy an element of the team building event, but very few who were actually excited about the event as a whole. And I’d guess that’s because few people like “forced fun”.

                7. Ask a Manager Post author

                  But by pressuring everyone to go, the company is signaling that it doesn’t care about what makes the employees happy. While it’s true that you can’t please everyone and sometimes you need to decide on, say, a company logo that some people hate, making attendance at this event mandatory doesn’t make the event any better for those who like it, it just reduces morale for those who don’t like attending (for whatever reason).

                  Yes — and when ostensibly a big piece of the purpose of the event is to build morale and team cohesion, that’s a huge problem. This isn’t a business trip to, say, pitch work to a client — where some people might not be happy to go but it’s a necessary part of the job. This is something where the whole idea is to build morale. It makes no sense to do it when people are dreading and resenting it.

                8. Honeybee

                  Yeah, but I wasn’t referring to that. I was referring simply to whether it was likely or not that per care costs more than childcare. It almost never does.

                9. RobM

                  @mt my employer might get a partial vote on how I spend my time but it simply doesn’t get to decide what is and is not valuable about how my partner spends her time.

              1. Lionness

                Why do people think I am any more likely to leave my beloved dog with a stranger off a website than they would be to leave a child with a stranger off a website?

                In my relatively low cost of living city, overnight boarding at a mediocre kennel is $65/night, but my dog will never be boarded (it is cruel when they are unaccustomed to it) so he requires at home dog sitters which run $100-125/night.

                Reply
                1. Green

                  How much it costs is kind of an irrelevant rabbit hole or whether it’s about kids or other responsibilities (sick/ill parents, disabled relatives, pets requiring varying degrees of care, children of different ages, volunteer commitments, your best friend’s wedding, whatever).

                  Required events should be required equally and you should have to arrange your responsibilities to be able to accommodate job requirements or seek a new job, but “required” should be limited to work-related responsibilities, and at most should only extend to the employee themselves.

                2. neverjaunty

                  Exactly, Green. I really don’t understand why people feel the need to rant about how their pets are expensive or need care too (some of us have both children AND pets, y’all) – the point is the same, which is that this workplace is instituting Mandatory Fun on employees’ free time, AND expecting their spouses to show up too, which is stupid for all kinds of reasons.

                3. Green

                  I think people feel the need to share that people who do not have children still have responsibilities and families. Because it’s typically assumed (and argued about here on this thread and others on AAM) whether children are more important than animals and whether other people’s children should be more important to individuals than the individuals’ own animals (actually seen that on an AAM thread as well). And child-free people face the assumption that their outside-work-lives are not worth living (or are somehow lacking) on a regular basis.

                  BUT in the context of work, the main thrust of discussions among respectful colleagues shouldn’t be about whose outside commitments are more important, but instead creating an environment where EVERYONE has the ability to have a life outside of work, whatever a “good life” means to them. And what I do with that time–if I want to take a nap or put on my yoga pants and watch Law & Order with a bottle of wine–is my prerogative.

                4. Honeybee

                  People do often leave their children with sitters/nannies/caretakers that they initially found through websites. That’s why Care.com was invented, and why most day cares have websites. I have some friends who nannied in graduate school and they used Care.com to find their clients (or their clients found Care.com to find them).

                  The website is only the beginning. After you find the person on the website, you meet them, vet them, have your animal (or child) meet the person, see where they live and where they will keep the animal. A lot of companies also do background checks and have insurance. Personally I don’t like leaving my dog in a kennel either; I want her to stay overnight with a family in a home, preferably with another dog to play with. I’ve used Rover.com to board my beloved dog several times – in fact, I just checked out a sitter this weekend. He invited me over his house with my dog so we could do a meet and greet. Moreover, the website has pet insurance for the duration of her stay, a 24-hour vet line that he can access, and does background checks on their sitters. It also had reviews from nearly 200 people who had left their dog in his care, mostly enthusiastic. I’m not paying anywhere close to $100/night for it.

                  Of course, it’s always a personal choice, and I understand if people don’t feel comfortable with it. But in my mind, it’s really not any different than looking up classified ads in a newspaper or phone book to find people to perform services from you – with the exception that you can read reviews and have the insurance. There’s always a “first time” and always a period of time in which the company or person is essentially a stranger to you, even if you found them in the phone book.

                5. Lionness

                  I don’t know, Honeybee. Count me among the crowd that says that is crazytown. I’ll go ahead and stick with well established businesses to provide my petsitting. I’m not going to entrust my pup with a random person who posts an ad online and may or may not be a crazy person. And I’d like to think people wouldn’t do so with their children, either.

        2. MK

          Some of them are asking for it, or will before long. But that’s not the point. The employer has a right to expect me to be there for work engagements and doesn’t have to worry about how this affects my private life. It’s another thing if you expect me to attend weekend-long non-work activities and it’ still another if you demand my spouce attend too. If my home life is not your problem, then my family or lack thereof is not your business.

          Reply
        3. The Artist Formally Known As UKAnon

          Well, improving this for parents will also improve things for everyone else. There seems to be a real mentality of “if I don’t have it they shouldn’t get it”, when actually it’s much more productive to think “if they are granted it, there’s a good chance my position will improve as well”.

          Reply
          1. Not The Droid You Are Looking For

            My former job was *very* focused on accomodating families and we all reaped the benefits.

            Most of the “perks” we received (flexible start time, work from home opportunities, extra holidays) all came from trying to make our company more friendly to working parents.

            Reply
            1. The Artist Formally Known As UKAnon

              Exactly. Do certain things benefit families more? Probably. Does it benefit everyone somewhat? Yes.

              Reply
          2. Valar M.

            My husband regularly is sent out into the field because he doesn’t have children and the other employees get out of it because of childcare responsibilities and costs associated with it. It doesn’t improve our situation at all – it increases our costs, our stress, and makes my work life more difficult because I have to shuffle to accommodate his constantly being out of town which makes me look like a flake at work. And trying to push back on that just makes him look like a jerk that doesn’t care about kids. It’s a difficult situation to be in – because I don’t want to be a jerk, I get where parents are coming from, but I also don’t feel like my husband and our family should have to take on the full burden either.

            Reply
            1. neverjaunty

              I don’t see how that makes him look like a jerk who doesn’t care about kids – although I guess that’s how his bosses are trying to shush him? It makes him look like an employee who recognizes that responsibilities should be fairly shared. If his co-workers can’t travel because of childcare (which I find suspicious; they can’t *all* be homebound), then they should be pulling more of their weight in other areas to be fair to him.

              Reply
              1. Valar M.

                I also find it suspicious. They’ve cited spouses being out of town or family events. But we’ve had to cancel our own family events or responsibilities for his travel as well. I guess if children aren’t involved it isn’t seen as important by this particular group. And again, I very much feel for parents. I see my friends struggle with balancing kids and work life all the time. The costs for childcare are staggering. I’m not heartless, its just sometimes I feel like those are the breaks of having children. It would be nice if on occasion, when it is convenient they would volunteer to go.

                Reply
                1. neverjaunty

                  And the spouses are *always* out of town, at work, or at family events, such that the people with kids can never ever pay it back? Yeah, it sounds like he works with a bunch of jerkwads.

                  In non-jerk-occupied workplaces, everybody pitches in. Maybe the guy with newborn twins is going to be on a short schedule for a while, but other than that, it should be fair overall. I had to leave early Friday for a kid’s soccer game and you covered for me? I’ll come in on Presidents’ Day and do extra on the teapot project, so you can go to the beach with your chess club. Etcetera.

                2. AthenaC

                  Your husband’s coworkers sound obnoxious. And I say that as the family breadwinner (yes, with husband AND children) who has done my share of travel. Look, if it’s gotta be done, it’s gotta be done. And if it were always fun, they wouldn’t have to pay me to do it.

          3. Lionness

            Sometimes. I’d even say in most cases.

            However, not always. Ex Job gave unofficial extra PTO to parents. You could take all school holidays off…if you had a kid in school or daycare…without it impacting your PTO. That amounted, in our area, to about an addition 10 days a year. I did not reap those benefits. They also got preferential scheduling around holidays.

            Reply
        4. Colette

          I would disagree that this is a legitimate work engagement. I mean, it is in the sense that the OP gas to attend, but they’re not working.

          Personally, I have a commitment on Fridays and if I had to miss it to go to a work spa event, I would be annoyed (and out the $20 it costs).

          Reply
          1. mt

            This is totally a work engagement. This just may be my industry, but at work everyone is working on projects with competing interests and it causes lots of stress. At the end of the day of the most stressful days, no matter how stressed people are or how pissed we are with each other, we all group up and go have a drink and dinner. These type of events fo wonders for some peole

            Reply
            1. AvonLady Barksdale

              For “some” people, certainly not all, and are drinks and dinner truly mandatory? I’ve worked in many places where we liked to go out together, but if someone had a prior engagement or a childcare issue, then have a good night and see you later. It’s not a work engagement the way, say, a conference or even a meeting is a work engagement. Unless you are in sales and your client insists on a spa trip to close the deal, I cannot see this as a work engagement. A nice perk for many? Sure. But it’s cutting into personal time for non-business (i.e., moneymaking) reasons, and that makes this different.

              Granted, I think retreats like this can be great for morale and I personally might enjoy this type of weekend. But if I have a prior engagement, then I shouldn’t be shunned for bowing out, and I sure as heck shouldn’t be penalized if my partner can’t make it!

              Reply
                1. Zillah

                  Right, but if that’s the case, the situations aren’t at all similar. I don’t think many commenters are saying there should never be work-sponsored “fun” events – just that they shouldn’t be mandatory.

              1. Colette

                Thats not to say that there isn’t value is spending time with coworkers in a more informal environment, but it’s best to do that kind of thing in a way that doesn’t cost your employees both personal time and money.

                Reply
                1. neverjaunty

                  Even assuming it’s paid for, I’m guessing that there are certain higher-ups who enjoy a spa weekend getaway, and do this as a way to have it paid for as a business expense (and possibly a tax write-off).

                2. BeenThere

                  Is the personal time thing that gets me the most. The weekend is my time to recharge and be away from the office. LIke you said upthread, if the company thinks it is valuable lets do it during work hours.

            2. Former Diet Coke Addict

              Are you really saying that in your industry it’s common to have dinner with your coworkers every single night? Because I cannot imagine spending that much time voluntarily with my coworkers even to “bond.” Unless your industry is made up totally of young single people without other commitments or pets and live in a major urban area, I guess.

              Reply
              1. mt

                prob once a month we will do drinks and dinner out. i’ve worked 3 differnt companies all in the same industry and it appears to be the norm.

                Reply
                1. AvonLady Barksdale

                  Dinner out is a much different thing from a weekend away, especially when it comes to things like childcare. The two events really aren’t comparable.

              2. Doriana Gray

                I wouldn’t even do this, and I’m young and single without commitments and/or pets living in a (slightly) urban area. That much closeness with my coworkers would drive me insane, lol.

                Reply
            3. neverjaunty

              Sorry, no. There’s a similar social pattern in my industry, and the difference is that we, the employees, are choosing to participate; nobody is giving us the stink-eye if our spouses don’t attend; and it’s not “Friday through Sunday” away-event that you’re voluntold to attend.

              Lots of people have family or social obligations on weekends when they’re not working. And not just people with kids, either. It doesn’t do “wonders” to drag those people to a weekend retreat and make frowny-face if they and their spouses don’t attend.

              Reply
            4. Sarahnova

              I’m glad that works for you, but my company doesn’t get to determine how I de-stress from work.

              I wouldn’t have minded this kind of thing as much before I had my son, but my time out of work is precious and I won’t give it up just because my employer thinks it might be fun for me. It’s not a question of whether it’s fun and destressing. It’s a question of whether it’s worth my sacrificing my family time.

              Reply
            5. aebhel

              When I’m stressed and overworked, I don’t want to go have dinner with the people I’ve been cooped up with all day; I want to go home, have a glass of wine, and watch Star Trek, and I would definitely resent being expected to give that up so some extrovert can feel better about their social connections or what the hell ever.

              Reply
        5. Artemesia

          I don’t expect the job to cover child care, but I don’t expect the job to demand that my spouse who doesn’t work there attend company functions that necessitate us arranging an entire weekend of child care. It is extremely difficult as well as VERY expensive to buy round the clock child care for a weekend. It is nuts to demand that of employees.

          Reply
        6. neverjaunty

          “Ain’t none of them”? I can think of one off the top of my head:

          http://www.askamanager.org/2015/09/my-low-travel-job-wants-me-to-travel-more-but-boarding-my-dogs-would-be-expensive.html

          Frankly, I’m a little surprised to see a self-identified childfree person buying into the trope that childfree couples can’t possibly have any commitments or obligations outside of work, such that of course a company can expect a NON-EMPLOYEE SPOUSE to show up for work events unless there’s a “good enough reason” for it. The letter would raise the same issues if OP’s spouse were caring for an elderly relative or a sick pet.

          Reply
        7. AW

          Ain’t none of them asking for funds for out-of-town pet care.

          Actually…wasn’t there a letter to this site asking if it was reasonable to ask for this? IIRC, employees used to be able to bring pets but that was going away so the LW was going to have to pay for pet care or something like that.

          Reply
        8. aebhel

          What on earth does that have to do with expecting the non-employee spouse to show up? There’s absolutely nothing that could induce me to attend one of my spouse’s ‘team-building’ weekends, with or without children, because I don’t work for his employer and have other things to do with my weekends.

          Reply
    1. Sherm

      Yeah, and as a single person, I’m getting the heebie-jeebies wondering what this company thinks of employees who don’t have spouses at all.

      Reply
        1. Nea

          You’re not their only nightmare. I’m single … and would frankly rather gnaw an arm off than waste a weekend at wineries (I don’t drink), on a golf course (I don’t play, nor am I willing to buy the equipment for a game that I don’t play) or shop anywhere but a specific stores (that I can afford).

          In short, their idea of a lovely retreat for the employees is my idea of several circles of hell.

          I don’t ask my employers to share my hobbies and pursuits and in return expect them to not dictate mine to me.

          Reply
          1. Lauren

            This! I also don’t “spa”. Also are these costs included in the weekend or are attendees having to pay for that as well?

            Reply
            1. Nashira

              Ugh yeah. I hate being touched, so a lovely spa weekend is likely to induce weepy panic attacks and scrubbing my skin raw so it stops feeling weird. For Reasons.

              Reply
            2. Elizabeth

              I love going to the spa, but not with co-workers. I don’t even like it when colleagues are at the nail salon when I’m getting my nails done. That’s my time to myself, and having to put on the professional mask is beyond annoying.

              Reply
          2. simonthegrey

            I’m married, but I have some degree of social anxiety and my husband has Asperger’s tendencies. I hate going to events by myself, but I don’t like making my husband have to go with me because he gets stressed by the noise and social expectations. We’d be a nightmare for this kind of event. We’d both go but hide in a corner, or I would go by myself and still hide in a corner.

            Reply
    2. BRR

      That’s such a good point. I have a long commute now and my weekends are very highly treasured. Unless my spouse was earning a large salary, F being at a weekend event for another company.

      Reply
  3. katamia

    How do organizations that need to report their stats to the EEOC address people who don’t answer in their reports? If there are 300 applicants to a position and 200 of them don’t provide their demographic information (although I’m sure the actual percentage who doesn’t report is typically much smaller), then the 100 people who did may not reflect the candidate pool very well. Heck, even if a relatively small percentage doesn’t provide their info, it could still throw things off if the people who do report tend to be from certain backgrounds and the people who don’t report tend to be from other backgrounds.

    Also, people who hire/have hired, am I correct that the percentage of people who don’t provide their demographic info tends to pretty small most of the time?

    Reply
    1. Panda Bandit

      I’m sure they say something like “Of the 300 applicants who applied only 100 supplied this information” and then give them whatever stats they have. If people don’t give out their information there’s only so much companies can do, other than maybe redesigning their application system to make those questions easier to answer.

      Reply
    2. MK

      I don’t know about EEOC specifically, but usually the people who chose not to answer are included in the demographic, not taken out entirely. You don’t report “out of a 100 people, 50 were X, 30 were Z and 20 were Y”, but “out of 300 people, 50 were X, 30 were Z, 20 were Hand 200 chose not to answer”. It’s how polls typically have a ” don’t know/won’t answer” options.

      Reply
    3. Ani

      It’s of course not just the demographics of the pool of applicants — it’s the demographics especially of the employees actually hired that the EEOC is requiring.

      Reply
      1. Anonecon

        The EEOC looks at the race of both the applicant pool and the race of the people who were hired. If you’ve got a 90% white workforce but 90% of your qualified applicants were white, that’s generally ok…if you’ve got a 90% white workforce and 90% of your qualified applicants are black, th n you’ve got some splainin to do.

        Reply
        1. AW

          So really, answering the question has the potential to help the OP indirectly down the line if there are employers in the area whose hiring numbers are “mysteriously” not matching the qualified applicant pool.

          Reply
    4. HR Mgr.

      It is actually Affirmative Action and the Office of Federal Contract Compliance (OFCCP) that requires a report containing information on APPLICANTS.

      Yes. The information is not even visible to the recruiter with typical online applicant systems.

      Yes. It is (in my experience) a small percentage of applicants who do not answer.

      Each year, the company must “crunch” applicant data along with MANY other groups of data about its employees and create a report about their findings. When considering applicants, the recruiting location demographic population is compared to applicants and certain thresholds are reviewed. If the company is +/- the threshold for a particular demographic in its hiring practices, it will need to make efforts to attract and hire from that demographic in the following year.

      It is a HUGE amount of work to track and comply with the many facets of being an Affirmative Action employer. The cost of doing business with the government.

      Reply
      1. Ordinary World

        It sounds like you understand the process pretty well, so I have a question:

        OldJob wanted staff to ‘fill in’ a guess of what the applicant’s race is based on name for an application system that didn’t capture this information. I refused, as I thought it was most likely illegal.

        Was I correct, or was that a legitimate thing to do?

        Reply
        1. Jazzy Red

          They would have totally gotten mine wrong, every single time.

          Ordinary World, you were absolutely correct in refusing to do that. It’s not necessarily illegal, but it’s definitely prejudicial profiling.

          Reply
  4. Blurgle

    #1 is the kind of brain-dead nonsense that kept me out of the work world for years. No, I am not going to eat your allergen-suffused food/meet you for a restaurant meal/sleep between sheets gummed up by fabric softener/have crap full of nut oils and perfumes smeared onto me in a spa. No, it is not a perk; it is a minefield of serious risks for me, and no, I am not exaggerating or making a big thing out of nothing. I’ve already been in the ICU once, and I have no intention of risking another coma.

    Thank heavens for employers who let you quietly opt out of Christmas parties and this kind of – utter nonsense – without forcing you to give long, involved explanations or having it affect your career.

    Reply
    1. MK

      But how charming. Things you don’t enjoy to do are brain-dead utter nonsense, are they? And they kept you away from the work world?

      Look, I am sorry things that are usual as workplace socialising are dangerous to you. And, yes, no one should be forced to attend, even if it’s just because they don’t want to. But for many people a paid weekend at a hotel spa would be a perk; employers maybe clueless to assume everyone will like it, but they are not trying to put you in the hospital.

      Reply
      1. The Artist Formally Known As UKAnon

        There will be all sorts of reasons that people don’t want to attend these things. I think almost everyone would rather that the company just paid enough that people could choose to do these sorts of things/offered deals with X hotel-spa to employees to use or not throughout the year/gave more holiday.

        Reply
        1. MK

          Sure, but the point isn’t only to give employees a holiday or a free meal; maybe it’s to create a basic social structure in the company. And while almost everyone might prefer it, there are many people who don’t mind spending one weeked a year with their colleagues (more than you might assume, because when people are fine with something, they don’t see the point of talking about it).

          I think these things fall somewhere between “fun perk” and “work socialising that might be useful to the company”. My organization is national and they organise several events during the year; none of them obligatory to the employees, much less their partners. But I have found it useful to attend one or more of them, when it fits into my schedule; you meet people from other departments and locations, you get different perspectives on the work, you hear about what problems they are having and how they deal with them. Families sometimes come and sometimes not, sometimes you meet very interesting people and have a blast and sometimes it’s pretty boring. But I do think there is value in interacting with the rest of your organization.

          What I would find pointless, frankly, is a company retreat where the same 20 people that see eachother every day must travel to do it in a different location. In those cases a yearly meal or party (preferably during bussiness hours) serves the purpose of “let’s see our coworkers in a more relaxed setting” just fine.

          Reply
          1. Honeybee

            Yeah, I agree. I’d see one weekend a year at a retreat with my coworkers that was mostly fun and only a little work as a perk, even though I see the same 20 people every day. I like traveling occasionally, and I like my coworkers, and I love spas.

            Reply
          2. Colette

            There are people who like that sort of thing – I assume, I’ve never actually met one – but there are a lot more people who attend because they feel like it’s good for their career.

            If getting away together is good business, what not do it Tuesday – Thursday? That would still be disruptive, but at least it’s on work days.

            If you can’t afford work time, the activity isn’t really that valuable.

            Reply
              1. Chinook

                Normally I would agree that work time is the best time for socialization, but sometimes it is hard to do this well during business hours without a group of people being left out in order to keep the business running. And hiring temps to cover phones sometimes isn’t enough.

                Reply
              2. Lionness

                As someone who manages customer service in an industry that literally cannot stop, I disagree. My team would constantly be left out (and they are often the most eager to socialize!) out of necessity if all events occurred strictly during work hours. How is that fair to them?

                Reply
                1. neverjaunty

                  Then your company can’t afford social events where everybody has to be present at the same time. That’s simply the reality of your workplace. Pushing all-hands social events to the weekend doesn’t fix that problem.

                2. Colette

                  Why can’t the entire business shut down? Unless you run a truly critical organization (e.g. 911, police, fire, ambulance, etc.), all you’d lose is money. Is the activity important enough for that?

                  If not, why is it inportant enough to use up your employees’ weekend?

                3. Lionness

                  neverjuanty, I’m not discussing required attendance. I am talking about all social events. And, as I mentioned in my reply to Colette, it isn’t a matter of affordability so much as integrity.

                4. Lionness

                  Colette, while I cannot get into too many details I can assure you it isn’t a matter of losing money. Our customers are performing time sensitive experiments and rely on us to be available to assist them. A five minute delay really can make the difference and could cost our customers (not us, mind you) thousands if not hundreds of thousands of dollars. Considering many of these customers are doing their work with government grants it makes it even more imperative that we not squander this obligation.

                5. Colette

                  Lioness, if your company shuts down on weekends, they can shut down during the week. They might have to plan for it and communicate the shutdown to their customers, but they can do it.

                  If they don’t shut down on weekends/holidays, then moving teambuilding to the week nods still means people can’t go, so they might as well have it during the week (or do two shifts).

                6. neverjaunty

                  Lioness, “all social events” would include employees deciding on their own to get a beer after work – and that’s not what anyone is really talking about. The company requiring or voluntelling people to show up for Mandatory Fun needs to either find some way to have that during normal work hours, or acknowledge that can’t be done because of the nature of the business and change the social activity.

                  And sometimes that’s just the way it has to be. While my company has social events during normal work times, sometimes there’s a court hearing, or a trial, or a deadline, or a client meeting that just happens at the same time as the social event and that’s just how it has to be. It sucks when somebody has to skip an official fun event or leave early because of business needs, but the solution is not “Let’s have it on Saturday when everything is closed!”

                7. Honeybee

                  Well, if an industry doesn’t stop, that means that people are working around the clock. Even if you pushed an event outside of your work hours, the people who work at hours others than 9-5 are going to get left out. I’m imagining a hospital, which runs 24 hours, but an all-hospital event is inevitably going to leave some people out even if they do it at 2 am on a Saturday. And a hospital can never have everyone leave the hospital at the same time to get drinks together for a couple of hours let alone for an entire weekend.

                  Some industries simply can’t do this kind of thing.

          3. neverjaunty

            The company can just as easily organize fun perk events during normal working days. Organizing them to happen on days off (which is what weekends generally are) is like giving somebody a “free car” but sticking them with covering the sales tax.

            Reply
          4. J.B.

            Look, as the spouse who sometimes gets to handle kids during weekend work, it is friggin miserable! Having the other parent gone for an entire weekend would be a major stressor, and the bosses could stick it somewhere.

            Reply
      2. AvonLady Barksdale

        Agreed. I might like (or, at least, not hate) such a weekend, but I don’t want to project that like on everyone else. Blurgle, I’d ask you to do the same– I’m sorry you can’t do certain things because of your health, but that doesn’t mean that such things are similarly distasteful to those who can physically enjoy them.

        Reply
      3. Valar M.

        When you have those kinds of allergies – it does feel like brain dead utter nonsense, because they are not taking account how difficult it is for people who have those allergies. It puts them in a position where they either have to go and take a bunch of health risks to look like a team player or stay away and be Sally Sickness and be seen by many as “problematic” because allergies are often not taken as seriously as being in a wheelchair or other disabilities.

        And yes – having severe allergies can keep you away from the work world, because being in the work world makes you make the above decision constantly – negotiating your safety in juxtaposition to other people not seeing you as a “problem” because you’re not “normal” enough to enjoy the perk of a spa day.

        Reply
      4. Ask a Manager Post author

        I don’t think Blurgle is saying those activities are “brain-dead utter nonsense,” but rather that requiring them — or strongly expecting them — all of employees is. (I assume, of course, that someone with these sorts of allergies would be exempted, as required by law — but then you get into the question of how it can be team building if some people need to be excluded.)

        Reply
        1. Blurgle

          It becomes brain-dead when things like spa days and restaurant meetings are considered mandatory to keep a job and pay the rent, and you have to go around explaining – and facing cynical doubt (“I’m sure you’ll like it when you get there” – it has nothing to do with liking) that makes you wonder if any amount of documentation will suffice. “I’m afraid I can’t” should be enough for things like Christmas parties and spa weekends.

          And if I had a loonie for every company who wouldn’t accept a letter from a family physician…

          Reply
      5. BananaPants

        I’m not allergic to anything and have no medical issues, but spending a weekend at a spa with my coworkers sounds like a really crummy way to spend a weekend. I don’t know many people who would consider this a perk, especially if their spouse is expected to attend at their own expense.

        Reply
      6. Blurgle

        It’s not that I don’t enjoy it. Allergies aren’t about not liking things.

        Is forced socialization with anyone, amywhere, nonsense? In my opinion, a thousand times yes. A million times.

        Reply
        1. Jean

          Blurgle, you have my sympathies! I firmly believe that people have the right to control the chemicals that cause havoc with their physical systems. I also look forward to the day when the general population will not be puzzled or offended when substance-sensitive people avoid exposure to whatever sets off their distressing and debilitating reactions. (“Food intolerance” may not be as life-threatening a challenge as an anaphlaxis-level allergy, but it’s still miserable and debilitating.)

          Reply
        2. Dr. Johnny Fever

          “Is forced socialization with anyone, amywhere, nonsense? In my opinion, a thousand times yes. A million times.”

          Sartre would certainly agree with you, and me, too.

          I’ve been in the position of going to “fun perks” as a reward for performance; spouses and selected employees were treated to a plush hotel and tons of luxuries, but not as groups. The only time we gathered as a corporate thing was for evening dinner and drinks, and those were optional. It was a good balance of “let’s thank you for your work – here’s the open bar!” with some work/life balance. Granted, I did need to ask a dear friend to stay with our child during the long weekend, but this isn’t a yearly thing. Those who weren’t into the hotel and spa thing could opt-out for a cash bonus equal to the cost or airfare, hotel, and activities. It worked for all those selected.

          When those events bleed into regular occurrences rather than the exception and become manadatory, that can definitely reflect a disconnect between the employees’ needs and the company’s perspective as well as dilute the overall attempts at recognition.

          Reply
      7. RobM

        Being given a free paid weekend of my choice at a spa would be a perk.

        A mandatory event where I’m required to attend and my spouse is too is not a perk. Having stuff like that forced on you is at the very least tone-deaf on the behalf of the employer; there are lots of reasons why people might not want to go to a mandatory event like this.

        Reply
  5. Amber

    #1 I wonder if the “you must have a good reason for not attending” is because is they ask employees to RSVP and the company pays for rooms and food, etc then it’s a pretty rude to not show up. But if that’s not the case then they are in the wrong.

    Reply
    1. Elizabeth the Ginger

      “You must have a good reason for backing out last-minute” is a perfectly valid stance, “you must have a good reason for not RSVPing yes” is less so but it’s not crazy to have one weekend of work commitments in a year, but “you must have a good reason for your spouse not attending” is bonkers. Unless you’re the president or the queen or something, your spouse shouldn’t be obligated to attend work events more than an occasional dinner. It’s nice to invite spouses, but overstepping to semi-require them.

      Reply
      1. LisaLisa

        The way I read it was not that it was company policy to have a good reason but if you didn’t have a good reason to miss it people gave you the side eye (since OP says “Attendance is not required per se”). For example, if you said I’m not going because I don’t feel like it, people will think badly of you. I’m not saying that is ‘okay’ but I don’t think that it’s as “bonkers” as having an explicit policy that says you have to provide a valid excuse for not attending.

        Reply
    2. Green

      I used to work somewhere that it was “highly encouraged” that you attend a luxury weekend retreat THAT YOU HAD TO PAY FOR YOURSELF. I declined every year.

      Reply
  6. Not Today Satan

    #1, this isn’t an answer to your question but please tell me you at least get 2 comp days for attending this event. The thought of losing my entire weekend to a work event fills me with terror and fatigue.

    Reply
    1. mt

      It would be totally unheard of for salary workers to get comp days for an event like this. If the event was once a month then yes, but for a once a year thing its part of being salaried

      Reply
      1. Not Today Satan

        Totally unheard of? I know several salaried workers, including myself, who get comp days if we need to attend a weekend event.

        Not every employer has the “salaried=we own you” mentality, thankfully.

        Reply
    2. Valar M.

      I’ve pushed back on things like this before – only to be condescended to about how it was a huge “benefit” to me and that I was being offensive by asking to receive comp time for it.

      Reply
    3. Meg Murry

      Yes, I am the same way – I need my weekends away from my coworkers to recharge, and also to do basic life tasks like laundry, grocery shop and meal prep for the next week. I’m pretty sure I would need to take at least a half day off in the week before or after this event if my husband came too – otherwise I’d be relaxed from the spa, but then super stressed by Tuesday morning when we had no food to pack for the kids lunch or to cook for supper and no clean socks or towels.

      Reply
  7. V

    #3 – I’d try asking some general questions about the normal hours for the job during the interview; if they have flexible hours, most places will mention that.

    Reply
    1. Meg Murry

      Yes, and if they say they have flex hours, i woulf ask how they define that – I’ve seen everything from “we don’t care when you show up or when you leave as long as the work is done” to “you can set your start time anytime from 6 or 7 to 9 and end time 8.5-9 hours later but you have to keep a consistent schedule” called “flex time” I’d ask specifically about the hours of your boss and your team. There have been posts here where a person has been told the company has flexible start and end times so he could work later hours, only to find that his team is all early risers and all the team experiments have been set up for earlier in the day. You could end up with the opposite.

      How early would you need to leave, and how long would your workday be? How far are you from daycare? Working 7-4 sounds easier to achieve, and ha been completely possible at my last jobs – leaving at 3:30 or earlier or working less than 7.5 hours a day would be more difficult for an upper level employee.

      In my experience, many companies R&D departments individual scientists or those working with technicians can set their own hours, many of whom prefer to work early – but those in management who often have to work with customers or outside teams like marketing have a harder time getting out at 4 or earlier every day.

      Does your spouse/partner have any flexibility, perhaps to get your daughter 1 or 2 days a week? Knowing that you could stay later on say Tuesdays and Wednesdays as needed would help.

      Or if the position paid enough, would you consider hiring a nanny (perhaps a college student or even very responsible high schooler?) to pick up your daughter at 4-4:30 and take her home? We have friends that hired someone to pick up their kids from school and get dinner started (usually following bsisc instructions they left, like put baking pan of chicken from fridge to oven at 5 at X degress, turn on pot of water to boil for noodles at Y oclock”, not cooking from scratch). They love coming home to dinner already started (and then they prep for the next day on weekends or after kiddo is in bed).

      I wouldn’t wait until the offer, since unlike some other work, lab work can require you to physically be there, especially if there are a lot of test with 8 or 16 hour intervals like at my job. I’m assuming you mean lab work when you say R&D – if its all computer based research instead of lab based that might make it more flexible.

      Reply
      1. Doriana Gray

        I like the idea of hiring a sitter for the afternoon (a nanny might be too expensive). Shoot, I don’t even have kids, but I’m tempted to hire one to come in and get my dinner ready!

        Reply
        1. Elle the new Fed

          My friends call them “house moms.” A few have hired a woman to clean and cook meals x Times a week, instead of straight cleaning. They love it!

          Reply
          1. Doriana Gray

            Okay, where do you find such magical beings?! Seriously – I am in desperate need of someone to cook and clean while I study and/or write in the evenings, but I can’t afford to pay a fortune either for a personal chef and/or housekeeper.

            Reply
      2. #3 questioner

        Thank you so much for your thoughtful reply. Right now I’m working a 7:00-4:00 schedule. I’m currently in the food industry, and the majority of employees are early risers so it works well. Asking about “flex hours” is a really great idea. That sounds much better than asking for special conditions because I have a child, which is how I’m afraid I’ll sound.

        Since it’s the food industry, my lab work usually isn’t time sensitive as yours, but often the tests run long. Luckily my husband does have flexible hours so occasionally working late is an option. So I’m less worried about getting my work done than how I’ll be perceived. Thanks again for your input.

        Reply
        1. Development professional

          I agree that you should ask about flex time in general, but I just wanted to add something. If you’re meeting with multiple people, ask this question ONCE. Do not ask it of every person you meet with.

          We use a 360 hiring process, meaning that candidates meet with HR, operations, the hiring manager, peers on the team they would be on, supervise-es (if applicable), and peers from other teams that they would work with. Not long ago, we had a great applicant who was interested in a little flexibility in her schedule in order to continue a substantial side project that she had going on. She asked everyone she met with some version of the question of how flexible we are in work hours. When it came time for everyone to come together to discuss their meetings with her, it started to become a red flag that she had asked EVERYONE about flex time because it looked like she was more interested in time off than work. She was our best candidate but it almost torpedoed her chances. Fortunately in the end the hiring manager was able to chalk it up to inexperience (this was her second job) and proceeded to hire her. And she’s been great and diligent.

          So, yes, ask, but ask once or maybe twice if you want to compare answers between HR and your hiring manager, but that’s it.

          Reply
  8. Deirdre

    question #3 I might add a few thoughts to the answer.

    While you are job searching, I would suggest looking for companies that advertise flex time, family-friendly benefits, or alternate work schedules. Also, look for company information on LinkedIn or Google +; many companies discuss workplace culture for all employees, not just parents.

    If the job you are seeking is an advanced level, consider working with search firms. They will be able to give you a better sense of the company’s workplace flexibility.

    As a person who has done a significant amount of hiring, this can be a sticky issue. If we advertise a full time position and at the time of offer, get the flex schedule request, it doesn’t always leave a good impression. I never minded the question during phone screens. Some of our departments have core hours (9-3) and so start and end times are very flexible; other departments don’t offer any flexibility due to business requirements.

    So my recommendation is to try and do as much research in advance as possible so you don’t waste your time.

    Reply
  9. RG

    Ugh, spas? I can only think of a very very small number of coworkers that I would feel comfortable with in that environment. Just, no.

    Reply
    1. Valar M.

      Right – does this mean we have to be in swimsuits/towels together? Or have to be wearing robes and possibly seen as less professional because of it? I can think of so many ways this can go wrong. I know the company probably has the best of intentions with this, or at least I hope they do, but yikes.

      Reply
    2. Ask a Manager Post author

      I love spas, but this would bother me too. Walking around in a robe or towel with my face red from the facial I just had? Or coming out of a massage fully relaxed and then running into a disliked coworker who I now have to chat with, thus undoing all the relaxation benefits of the massage? What would be the point? I will spa on my own time, thanks.

      Reply
      1. Green

        My old company did give us mentor/mentee budgets to spend on activities (that often included spa, theatre, sports, dinner, whatever) but it came down to only two people having to find a mutually convenient time and a mutually appealing activity. And it could be during work hours.

        Reply
    3. ITerative

      A spa sounds like hell. I most certainly do not want to wear a towel and be forced to explain the massive amount of scar tissue I have to my coworkers. I keep it covered up for a reason. Plus, locker rooms? Nudity with coworkers sounds like the worst idea ever (I am gay and all my memories of locker rooms are my high school classmates threatening to beat me up. I haven’t been in a locker room since graduating).

      Reply
    4. MashaKasha

      OMG, seriously! That whole weekend sounds like the second worst workplace nightmare I’ve ever heard of.

      The worst nightmare was something I’ve heard of from a coworker at OldJob – “at the place I worked before this one, one time they sent all of us and our spouses on a cruise for a week, wasn’t it awesome?” – Um, which part are you referring to, being stuck with coworkers on a ship for a week, or having to reorganize your life around the fact that you will both be away from home for a week? (I didn’t even ask about childcare… how would it have even been possible? A WEEK? the mind boggles.)

      Reply
  10. edj3

    #4 Actually in order to get preferential treatment as a veteran, the veteran has to have served on active duty during specific times or in military campaigns. We don’t all get preferential treatment.

    Reply
      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        That link is just for federal hiring though. What I’m talking about is private employers, where it’s legal to give preferences to veterans (whether or not they’ve been on active duty), as LBK and Elle the new Fed say below.

        Reply
        1. edj3

          Speaking from a data point of one (me), I haven’t ever had any preferential treatment in the hiring process due to being a veteran. I’m not saying it isn’t possible, but I haven’t ever experienced it.

          Reply
      2. doreen

        That’s about Federal government jobs – it doesn’t mean that other employers can’t legally have a policy of giving preference to any veteran.

        Reply
    1. LBK

      I think Alison was saying that unofficially – there may only be built-in support structures for people who meet certain criteria, but in an unofficial capacity it’s legal for any random hiring manager to look at two applicants, see one is a veteran and preference that person over the non-vet.

      Reply
      1. Elle the new Fed

        I agree here, it’s not one or 10 point preference but legal to hire someone based off taking their veteran status into account while illegal to hire someone based on race.

        Reply
    2. Pennalynn Lott

      At the second-to-last company I worked for, they actively recruited veterans (whether or not they served during specific times or in military campaigns) and absolutely gave preference to a veteran over a civilian if the choice came down to those two people. Out of the 45 people or so on staff, I think 30 of them were veterans. So it definitely happens.

      Reply
    3. Graciosa

      My particular business is heavily former military, and I have specifically recruited veterans for my team (even though this is not a typical candidate pool for my function). There are a lot of good reasons to do this, and I’m glad that it is not only legal but encouraged at my employer.

      Reply
  11. BioPharma

    #3. I completely understand Alison’s advice. However, I’m imagining that there are situations where putting all your cards out on the table before the offer was drawn up would be less… “annoying” for the company? A friend is currently in this situation (offer just made; except about remote work) so won’t the internal recruiter now look bad that he didn’t have everything sorted out before the offer was made?

    Reply
    1. blackcat

      I can see this being more of an issue if LW3 needed to leave work at, say 3, rather than ~4 as it sounds. A schedule of 7:30/8-4 is pretty close to regular business hours. If she was looking for 2 work from home days per week or a 6:30-3 schedule, I think it might be a bit different.

      Reply
      1. Bio-Pharma

        I wonder if anyone is still reading this… So if I wanted to arrange to be able to work 4 days/month remotely, this should be brought up before the offer is made, at the risk of it being a strike against you?

        Reply
        1. Deirdre

          the question I would ask is working remotely a possibility? what kind of flexibility do you offer employees? I know one employer in Michigan that doesn’t allow any flex time, any part time, any alternative work schedules. It’s full time, business days or nothing. Others are very flexible.

          I would ask these questions before an offer. It can feel disingenuous if you wait until the offer.

          Reply
  12. Brett

    #1 Everytime someone wants to yell in my face about all the ridiculous benefits that I get as a public sector worker (yes, this happens regularly here), I want to show them a letter like this. If we ever had an event like this, even paying out of pocket, we would be on the evening news within a day. Even our charity golf tournament for our employee welfare non-profit, paid completely by sponsors, routinely gets blasted as a waste of taxpayer money.

    Reply
      1. doreen

        On the other hand, in my public sector job, it almost works in reverse, People at my level and above do not organize the various social events ( ranging from potlucks to retirement parties to holiday parties to picnics) that are paid for by the attendees. But there will be consequences from below (and very occasionally and unofficially from above) if I don’t pay and participate.

        Reply
      1. MsChanandlerBong

        I think she meant “here” as in where she lives. At least I hope so; I haven’t noticed anything like that on this site.

        Reply
      2. Brett

        Here, as in my location. And people actually physically, in person, yelling in my face. I live in a pretty anti-government area (from both the left and the right lately). My first year on this job, I once went to the library after work to check out a book, in my work shirt, and walked into the middle of an anti-tax meeting in full froth. I got surrounded before I even knew what was happening and had to push my way out. Glad this was slightly before live streaming caught on.

        Reply
    1. JB (not in Houston)

      Wow, I’m not seeing you haven’t had that happen because I don’t keep track of what commenters say to you. But I do usually read many if not all of the comments on posts, and I’ve never seen commenters yelling about benefits that people in the public sector get. Normally people are doing the opposite, saying how ridiculous it is that we can’t get coffee paid for by our employers and about how bad the toilet paper in the bathroom is (it’s bad).

      Reply
  13. AthenaC

    #2: Alison is right that you should be prepared to be in the position for which you’re interviewing for at least a little while. But while you’re interviewing, I think it’s perfectly fair to ask, “What does advancement look like at this company?” That will give you a sense of what it would take to get promoted (i.e. into the position you actually want) and what kind of timeline they expect for someone to be ready for a higher position and more responsibility. It will give you the information you need to be able to plan long-term.

    Reply
  14. Imperial Walker

    #2 – your situation really struck a chord with me, I’m going through a similar situation, so I know the sting and how much it can hurt your confidence – don’t let it shake you! The only difference being that I wouldn’t describe my work situation as toxic, although I’m working hard on my reaction to avoid becoming bitter – while fervently job-seeking.

    I wanted to ask, what have you learnt from the rejections? I learnt that what I thought was “doing a good job” – being responsive, efficient, diligent, working long hours and being willing to do whatever it takes – was actually holding me back. I also got some hard to hear feedback about my performance which I wrote down so I could come back to it when I was less angry. You don’t get many opportunities to get that sort of feedback so it is really valuable for your development.

    In addition I’m getting some career counselling so I don’t end up in the same situation in my next role, which will be a sidestep for me too.

    So, what development opportunities are you taking from this experience? How are you going to use this setback to grow and become an even better leader?

    Reply
    1. Original Poster

      There are a few different sources of the problem here. One is that I’ve just been at my current employer for WAY too long. I’ve been there for 7 and a half years. I should also say that I work at a government agency, so opportunities were always going to be limited. I’ve just stayed there because for the longest time it *was* an awesome place to work, among a few other reasons.

      Part of the drama that I referred to is that management has been becoming increasingly incompetent over the years and have been been bungling a massive internal project over and over again. Morale hit an all-time low a year ago, so one guy (who I ultimately lost the promotion to) threatened to leave. In order to keep him, they threw the job at him, despite his VERY QUESTIONABLE track record. I’ve personally caught him in multiple work-related lies, but that’s another rant for another time. I’ll skip a lot of details, but the situation was so sketchy that the union had to get involved.

      I know that I’m not delusional about being deserving of a promotion because I am getting into job pools with other agencies and departments for those types of jobs (I’d like to stay in the public sector, given how good the benefits are – one of the only reasons why I’ve been willing to wait so long to find something else). The only problem though is that getting into a job-pool does not guarantee an offer, hence why I continue to look and am considering a side-step for the time being.

      To answer your questions though – if I have learned anything here, it’s to not stay at a single employer this long again! (Average turn-around time for my field is 3-4 years). I’ve also learned to always keep my options open and not have all my eggs in one basket when it comes to career development.

      Reply
      1. J.B.

        If you’re looking for another public sector job, nothing wrong with letting them know you’d eventually like to move up, but that’s always contingent on an opening appearing which normally takes a while. And it is likely that other groups already have someone in mind for their promotions. It sounds like taking a lateral to someplace more functional might be a good option.

        Reply
      2. Imperial Walker

        I didn’t think you were delusional – and wowsers, it sounds like you’re not! Also, are you sure you’re not me? It sounds very much as though you’ve been hit by the competency curse, you’re good at what you do there are either skill deficits and/or high turnover and loss of corporate knowledge so you’ve been pidgeonholed, which is convenient for your manager but terrible for your career. I agree with other posters, it’s fine to talk about and plan on a promotion in an interview and what the advancement paths are. I expect that you will find those promotions come easily once you are in an environment where you are valued and have the opportunity to show what you are capable of.

        Best of luck OP!

        Reply
        1. Original Poster

          In my case it’s a combination of skill deficit and loss of corporate knowledge. There aren’t that many people in my city who are genuinely good at what I do. (Estimates are 1 in 5 who are in the field are competent). My organization also has a terrible record of looking to lower-level employees to lead the way for key projects. Because of that backwards way of looking at, they have trouble realizing how much some employees have outgrown their jobs.

          It was funny, in one of the job interviews that I got into a job pool for, they actually ask me to clarify exactly what my role was. They found it too hard to believe that someone at my position was being required to perform these higher-level duties. I think it was when I mentioned that I’ve been on various interview committees for semi-technical positions in other departments that really threw them for a loop!

          Reply
          1. Imperial Walker

            It really surprises me that they aren’t working harder to retain you – although a move now is the best thing for your career and wellbeing. I still think that getting out into a healthy environment and working your way up is going to be your best bet. In my 6.5 years in my department I’ve seen a lot of pidgeonholed people move on and thrive – and now it’s my turn because I just got a job at a fantastic organisation! It’s at level salary wise but is a step up for my career and I’m thrilled! I feel a bit bad because I’ll be the 5th person in 3 months to leave our 9 person team and we are terribly short staffed so there is no one to hand over to – but woohoo! Sending lots of luck your way OP – hope your dream job is right around the corner

            Reply
  15. harryv

    #3 – You can also look for European companies. They tend to encourage employees to work early hours to overlap their business hours. I work for a British company and I work anywhere between 6am – 5pm.

    Reply
    1. #3 questioner

      That actually sounds like a dream. Especially if occasional trips across the pond are required. Thanks for your input!

      Reply
  16. olympiasepiriot

    #1 Wow. I work for a company that has a reputation as being pretty tight with their money and even *they* offer a babysitting stipend for the evening of our grown-ups only Holiday Party.

    No one cross examines any employees about where their spouse is or why the employee can’t make it. Sheesh.

    Reply
    1. Jazzy Red

      Way back when I first started working, people stayed with their companies for their entire career. Co-workers became like family, and people would help each other move, babysit for their kids, attend weddings and funerals for co-workers’ families, etc. We had summer picnics and Christmas parties (often with bonuses!) because we wanted to, and my company paid for everything. We were teams because we spent so much of our lives together.

      When the economy started changing, people started changing jobs much more often. I worked for my first company for almost 25 years. Since I was laid off from there (in 1992), the longest stretch I’ve worked for another company was 2-1/2 years. I’ve spent more than 2 years temping, which means moving from job to job, and company to company, and never really getting to know anyone very well.

      Now forming and encouraging workers to be teams needs to be planned, scheduled, and usually followed up with a questionnaire. The problem is, because people don’t know each other, the “team building” is phony and ineffective, and people know that.

      Reply
  17. Kadee

    #1 – I respect that it seems to bother a lot (most?) people that such an event even exists at the company, but I personally don’t see this as a big deal. It’s one weekend a year. Presumably the employees getting hired into the company know that attending this event is expected and it’s not sprung on them. I guess I’ve just had various requirements from mandatory travel time to mandatory conferences/training events to mandatory holiday party attendance to mandatory on-call outside of regular work hours that I’m not sure what the big deal is. My guess is that they want this 2.5 hours of dedicated work time on both days and are trying to balance it out by offering additional activities for employees to participate in, both as a benefit and to give them them some downtime before the next “power” meeting rather than trying to cram an intense 5 hour meeting into one day and having people mentally fade out as the day went on.

    That said, I do think the company is being short-sighted by the “no children” policy and/or not offering childcare for the 2.5 hour sessions each day as well as expecting spouses to attend, but having the actual event? I just don’t see it as being so terrible.

    Reply
    1. MashaKasha

      I’ve been on call. I was on call for six years. This team-building event is SO much worse than on-call. I’d honestly take a night of calls at 1AM, 3AM, and 5AM, over this. Couldn’t they have just crammed the two 2.5 hour sessions into a workday each, maybe have them overlap with lunch, cater the lunch, and call it a day? Was it necessary to force the coworkers to all get naked together at a spa, golf together, shop together for things none of them need, stay in a hotel together? And, yes, I cannot for the life of me understand why spouses are required to attend.

      Reply
  18. Redroze

    For the retreat, in addition to pushing back, a group of you could suggest that the entire weekend be optional. Maybe the full day is mandatory and then those who choose to, can leave, then others can stay for the whole weekend. I know how management feels as they would think that giving staff the option to go home would mean nobody stays, which looks embarrassing to the management. However, like my team, I’d see that there would be a group of people who would love doing a whole weekend, then the others would prefer to keep it to a day. If you can get people supporting both sides, management may buy into it.

    Reply

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