It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…
1. My company gave me a much smaller wedding gift than it gave my coworkers
I work for a small but successful international company. I am the office manager, but I take care of all accounts payable/receivable, HR, and building management. Three of my coworkers, including me, have all gotten married within the last two years. On our expense reports, I have seen our company wedding gifts to each of the other two employees; both were around $300 and purchased from a registry. When my wedding came along a few weeks ago, I was of course looking forward to a nice gift from my office just like my coworkers (with birthday gifts, we always give the same amount to everyone, so I assume it would be similar with other gifts). For my gift, I received simply a $50 gift card. I wasn’t registered for my wedding, but I thought that my gift would be at least ballpark to the others in value.
I am grateful for the gift, but I also think it’s kind of unfair to give so much to some employees, and much less to another employee. When it comes to gifts I usually have a totally different attitude, but since it’s obvious to my boss I see the expense reports, I’m surprised. It’s also bothering me because everyone at the company knows I’m one of the most hard-working employees here. I know based on my work with the budgets that it’s not an issue of cutbacks, and I also have been here just as long as the other employees and I’m actually at a higher level of management than both of them as well, though my pay is around the same level. Please let me know if I’m being ridiculous or if there is something I can do to make things more fair.
My boss does seem to really like the employee who received almost $300, but from my perspective he has shown just as much like toward me as well, so I don’t feel it’s a favoritism issue necessarily. Anyways, I’m not sure if this is worth bringing up at all or if I should just move on, but I’m curious what your advice might be.
Well, it’s possible that it was because you didn’t have a registry and they did; sometimes that leads to unevenness, without people realizing it. That doesn’t make it a great move on their part, but it might mean that it was inadvertent. In fact, it’s much, much more likely that this was inadvertent than intentional.
Unless there’s other evidence of you being devalued or not treated as well as others who are similarly situated, I’d let it go. I get why it’s striking you strangely, but it’s going to come across as petty if you raise it, and really, the value of your wedding gift is really not the thing you want to base your work satisfaction on. (And if there is other evidence of you being devalued or not treated as well as others, that’s where I’d focus anyway, not on the gift disparity.)
2. My office-mate stinks
I share an office with a guy who’s about 20 years my senior. Our office is a pretty good size. We’re constantly about five feet away from each other. I’ve been in this office for about two months now (just moved teams in my company and therefore buildings).
As the day goes on, he gets stinkier and stinkier, and whenever he stretches, it stinks up the whole office. I am keeping the door open. I haven’t rigorously documented how often he gets stinky–it’s definitely more than once a week, perhaps not every day, and more towards the end of the day.
At what point, if ever, could I request to change offices, or some other course of action? We’re on the same team, but we don’t work on any of the same projects. I’m certainly not perfect to share an office with, as I also occupy a human body, etc., but this is egregious.
I think you could ask to change offices now — you’re not required to tolerate this for some particular length of time before you’re allowed to ask not to be subjected to it. When it’s at the point that it’s clear that it’s a regular thing and not merely occasional, it’s reasonable to explain the situation and ask if you can sit somewhere else.
Do be prepared that your boss might instead choose to try to address the problem with your coworker instead of moving you, or even that you might be told to find a way to deal with it … but it’s a totally reasonable thing to speak up about.
3. What to use instead of “write-ups”
In a recent post, you had a parenthetical thought that’s had me thinking. You wrote: “If your manager still wants to ‘write you up’ (a silly concept that needs to be banished, but that’s a different post), at that point there isn’t a lot you can do about it.”
I’m an HR manager, and supervisors come to me when they want to write someone up. It often feels needlessly adversarial to me, and I end up encouraging the supervisor to have a candid conversation with the employee that’s more collaborative than a formal write-up.
On the other hand, if that employee is not going to stick around (either by our choice or theirs), that paper trail is pretty vital. What happens if we banish the “silly concept” of write-ups? What’s a better method, but still covers the bases for documentation?
Yeah, the problem with “write-ups” is that they’re infantilizing. Your employees are adults, not naughty schoolchildren being sent to the principal’s office. If there are problems, you have a direct conversation. If the problems are serious ones and it’s a pattern, you can document the conversation by writing a memo to yourself about what was covered and keeping it on file, or you can send the person a quick email summary of the conversation (framed as “just wanted to summarize what we talked about, in case it’s helpful to have it to reference”).
4. Employees seeing our private health insurance information
Is it legal and or ethical to have three regular floor employees help HR go through and process all other employees’ (hourly and salary) open enrollment insurance information? All of our personal information is on them, as well as our loved ones’. This can’t be legal.
I get why that made you uncomfortable, but it’s legal; the law doesn’t look at that any differently than it looks at HR employees doing that work. And I’d argue that it’s ethical as long as the employees were instructed to keep the information confidential, and some safeguards were in place to ensure that they did (and that there were serious consequences for any breaches).
5. Who should I resign to?
There’s a chance I might be offered a position with another company soon, and I’m wondering how to go about resigning from my current job should I want to take that offer. My situation is a little unique in that I’ve had three direct supervisors over the past several months. My original supervisor (the director) went on leave in August and won’t be back until mid-January. When she first left, I was assigned to report to one of our VPs in her absence. Then last month, we hired a new assistant director and I now report to her. The plan is currently to go back to being supervised by the director when she returns in mid-January (possibly later).
Who should I approach to give my notice to? Right now I’m thinking I would first approach my current supervisor (even though I’ve only been working with her for a month), but also send an email to my original supervisor who will be returning. We had a good working relationship and I wouldn’t want her to come back to find that I just left without telling her. In terms of my official resignation letter, who should that be addressed to (current supervisor, supervisor on leave, HR)?
Yep, that’s exactly the way you should do it — tell your current manager first and then email your original manager who’s returning in January to let her know too.
If you’re asked for a resignation letter (and you may not be; it’s not a universal requirement), address it to whoever has requested it.