It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…
1. Coworkers are leaving love notes for each other
I recently started working in a high-end retail setting selling a luxury item. The team that I’m working with seems really great for the most part, except for this one young couple who can’t seem to keep their private lives out of the workplace.
It’s not enough that everyone knows that they’re dating; one of them has begun taping small love notes to cash registers that are shared between 5-6 of us, in full view of our customers. Now in fairness, the notes are usually pretty short and subtle (“Happy Thursday!!!” followed by a series of hearts), but the most recent ones had what were unmistakably tiny breasts drawn on them, circles with dots in the middle.
I know it’s maybe none of my business and I should probably keep my head down, but every time I have to work with either of them I feel angrier and angrier that they’ve made us all so involved in their private lives. To complicate matters further, the male recipient of these notes is up for a promotion and I’m worried that their relationship will have a negative impact on our team dynamic if he gets it. Am I just being an over-sensitive grouch? None of the other employees seem bothered. What’s your take?
It’s not appropriate for anyone to be leaving drawings of boobs around a workplace, and it would be perfectly reasonable for you to say to the culprit, “Dude, I really don’t want to see this at work — can you cut that out?”
As for “happy Thursday”-type notes, I can see why the hearts are making you roll your eyes and think it’s a bit much to have on public view (and I agree with you that it is), but I’d let those go, especially since you’re new and the rest of your team doesn’t seem bothered, as long as it doesn’t cross over into outright love notes (pet names, mushiness, sonnets).
But you’re certainly right to be concerned if he could be promoted into a position where he’d be supervising someone he’s dating. The company shouldn’t let that happen, although retail is often more relaxed about that kind of thing than an office setting might be.
2. My coworker keeps prying into my performance rating
I have a colleague who always asks about my year-end performance rating. I have said that I don’t like talking about it, but without fail at the year end, she asks me the dreaded question.
For the last couple of years, I have exceeded my manager’s expectations, but this is private and I don’t like sharing it. So she asked me today and I led her to believe I just got the standard “meeting expectations” because I’m newer to my role. I feel bad for lying or misleading her because she’s a friend too, but I didn’t know what else to do.
What would you recommend in this situation? What’s the protocol with discussing performance reviews/rating?
If you don’t want to discuss your rating with her, it’s totally fine to just say that. You can simply say, “Sorry, I’d rather not discuss it” or “Eh, I consider that private” or “You remember me telling you that I don’t like talking about it, don’t you?” or “I would give you top ratings for persistence in asking me this despite my requests not to.”
3. Is there something wrong with how I’m selecting interns?
My team runs a three-month internship program that’s aimed at people fresh out of school with minimal experience. The organization is quite prestigious, and the internship gives interns great admin and event management experience.
When deciding which applicants to interview, I often reject applicants who have done similar internships and already have a lot of experience of doing the same kinds of tasks, as I feel this role would not offer the opportunity to learn anything new. While it’s a good internship for people with very little experience, the scope is fairly limited and I think the role is much more useful to some people than others. However, some coworkers feel it’s unfair to reject someone for being overqualified – if they are the strongest candidate, they should be given the position. What are your thoughts? And how would you give an applicant feedback if they have been unsuccessful due to being too experienced?
It really depends on the goals of the internship and who you’ve found does best in it. If it’s intended to give experience to people who have little or none, that’s a reasonable (and generous) goal and it would be fine to look for applicants who fit that profile. Or, if you’ve found that candidates with more experience get bored in the position, that’s worth considering too.
Really, though, it sounds like the core question here is what the purpose of the internship is, and that you and your colleagues need to get aligned on that if they have a stake in how you run the hiring process.
4. Promotion comes with tiny raise
My girlfriend works as an hourly non-exempt employee at a hotel. She took a move a couple years ago from accounting to the front desk, which was a cut in pay but worked better with her school schedule. They reduced her wages to the normal rate for a front desk person, plus all the merit increases she’s received over her 10 years there. Recently she was offered a promotion to supervisor, but they’re only offering her the base supervisor pay; none of her previous merit increases will apply, so it amounts to about a 45 cent/an hour raise.
Needless to say, she’s not happy about it and I’m not sure what to tell her. I’ve been salaried exempt my whole career, so this is a different area for me. Should she be getting her previous increases on top of the supervisor base rate, and if so how do we make a compelling argument for her to take back to HR? She doesn’t think what they’re doing is legal and wants to ask a lawyer about it, but to my knowledge there’s nothing covering this under law they can offer her anything they want for the job above minimum wage.
Yeah, there’s nothing illegal about it; no law requires any pay other than minimum wage and overtime pay for non-exempt employees. It’s also not uncommon for the salary in a new position not to take into account raises from past positions; it’s common to start fresh with the salary once you’ve been promoted and to set it based on the salary band for the new position. And really, that makes a certain amount of sense; she’s coming into a new role with new responsibilities, where she hasn’t yet proved herself, and it wouldn’t necessarily make sense to pay a brand new supervisor extra because of merit raises she received in non-supervisory positions (which in many ways can be totally different work).
That said, she could certainly try negotiating for more, by pointing out elements of her work that are likely to make her worth more than their normal supervisor starting salary.
5. Paid leave and FMLA leave
I have a question about how FMLA works. Our company’s handbook states that, if you need to use FMLA, you have to use PTO/vacation days first. But if I’m using those paid hours, then how is that FMLA: wouldn’t I get those hours and then the 12 weeks on top of that, since FMLA is supposed to be unpaid? Is this standard practice?
This is pretty common, actually. If you’re are eligible for FMLA, your employer must give you up to 12 weeks of FMLA leave per year for qualifying family and medical reasons — but they can require you to use any accrued paid time off as part of those 12 weeks. That paid leave would run concurrently with your FMLA leave; it’s not the PTO first and then the FMLA after it. Essentially, the law protects your job for 12 weeks, whether that’s paid leave or not. (However, your employer does need to notify you when your leave begins that they’ll be counting your paid leave against the FMLA entitlement.)