my employees say a coworker slacks off when I’m not around

A reader writes:

I supervise three people. All of them are great, and wonderful workers. However, I am starting to hear more and more gossip. The two women who work the front are telling me that whenever I am out, either on vacation or working in another department, the woman who works in the back doesn’t do anything. They say that she works on her side business, makes personal calls, and goes off to run errands on the clock. However, I have no other way to vouch for this other then the word of the two women at the front, who do not like her.

I’m having a hard time trying to figure out if they are telling me the truth or if they’re trying to get this woman in trouble because they don’t like her.

I answer this question — and four others — over at Inc. today, where I’m revisiting letters that have been buried in the archives here from years ago (and sometimes updating/expanding my answers to them). You can read it here.

Other questions I’m answering there today include:

  • My old manager won’t hire someone to replace me
  • How much time should we let employees make up when they’re late?
  • Letting employees include personal cell numbers in company communications
  • Job searching and multiple pre-planned trips

{ 95 comments… read them below or add one }

    1. Jennifer Thneed

      “I answer this question — and four others — over at Inc. today, where I’m revisiting letters that have been buried in the archives here from years ago”

      Reply
  1. Crystal

    Alison your answer to the first question surprised me, its sounds like spying “gotcha.” I expected you to say to give that employee specific projects/tasks for when she’s out and if they don’t get done then there’s your answer.

    Reply
    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      An employee with any sense isn’t going to skip out when she knows that her boss is waiting for a project on deadline, so I don’t think that will give her the info she needs.

      I don’t think it’s gotcha to just decide to observe something directly yourself!

      Reply
    2. Amber T

      I think if OP claims to be out on vacation then pops in, that could have a feel of “gotcha” spying. But a good manager should pop in on her own department to see how things are going, especially if there’s cause for concern (which there certainly is here, because you either have one worker who’s slacking off or two coworkers unfairly ganging up on the third).

      Reply
      1. Artemesia

        I think even popping in is not effective. If I pop in and someone is working away, it would be easy for them to slide the personal business under the stack and have the current business out. I would think to be effective you would need to have access to the computer so you could observe in real time what is happening on it. In addition of course to having people observe — the boss and others.

        Reply
      2. Infinity Anon

        I think it said that sometimes she is working in another department. Popping by wouldn’t be so weird in that case.

        Reply
    3. Lynca

      She could get the work done and still being doing that. There’s no indication she’s not getting her work done currently or doing it at an unsatisfactory level. So giving her more work wouldn’t stop the problem necessarily.

      The issue is she’s working another job on the clock for her current job, running errands on the clock, etc. Which if she’s leaving or taking calls/orders related to her side hustle you want to have a first hand understanding of the problem. Either you see it or you see an actual pattern of evidence to have a conversation about. Not just that Thelma and Louise say you’re doing X.

      Reply
      1. finderskeepers

        If she is getting the work done, then I don’t see what the problem is if she is physically present and available

        Reply
        1. Chickasaurus

          I once had a manager who thought like this. I was completely overloaded; Jane was playing games all day. I went to see if I could give her some of my work to even things out. I was told that as long as she was doing her work everything was fine because they didn’t want to make her unhappy (my happiness apparently didn’t count).

          Spoiler alert: When she left, it was discovered that she hadn’t been doing her work and what she had done was a mess.

          My point is that if the employee has this much extra capacity, it’s quite likely that there are other projects she could be taking on, so it’s worthwhile to think about that. The other 2 employees may just be trying to sink the third, but they might also have too much work. In addition, it’s possible that she isn’t getting her work done even if it seems like it, so that’s something that would have to be addressed.

          Reply
          1. Doe-Eyed

            Devil’s Advocate though – we have a manager that does this, and it means that high performing employees get absolutely drowned in work because the lower performers are “always overloaded”. (not saying this is the case with you) You have to be really careful about punishing hard workers that are efficient and productive by giving them more work.

            Reply
            1. TootsNYC

              yeah, that happened to a friend of mine. She’d bust her butt to finish her work, and then when someone else was behind, they’d move those projects to her.
              She told her manager, “I feel like I’m being punished for being on top of my workload,” and her manager got mad at her.

              Reply
            2. sstabeler

              That only tends to be true if the sole solution is “overload the high performer”-assuming the lower performers are performing badly enough that they are de facto not doing their job- if the manager is managing properly- trying to get the lower performers to improve, for example- then it typically works better.

              It also usually helps if the difference in performance is recognised- That is, if management consider the low performers to be doing equivalently to the higher performers, the high performers will get understandably pissed off, but if the difference is recognised, it tends to be more tolerable.

              Reply
      2. finderskeepers

        In other words, maybe she just chooses to be more productive than Thelma and Louisa (who only work as hard as needed given the amount of time available) and use the time freed up to play on her phone.

        Reply
        1. Lynca

          Yet being more productive usually doesn’t mean you can work a second job on the premises or leave to run errands during the day without some kind of expressed permission to be able to leave. Those are generally fireable offenses for most employers. I’ve worked with no employer that would be okay with that.

          Reply
    4. Seal

      Doesn’t sound like a “gotcha” situation to me. The OP states that women complaining about the employee in question don’t like her to begin with. A good manager isn’t going to discipline someone based on hearsay. Dropping in unexpectedly or asking someone you trust to observe the situation is a very logical way to go.

      I had to do that with an employee whose job required her to visit different site in our system. Several of my employees noticed that when I was out of the office this woman visited these sites more frequently, and often would claim to be stopping at one of them first thing in the morning. When I followed up with the sites in question, no one had actually seen her in their building during the times she claimed to be there. The next time she was supposed to be visiting a site I made a visit myself; despite my waiting for an hour she never showed. The next day we had a very interesting conversation.

      Reply
      1. Artemesia

        We once had an intern who was giving great weekly reports on their site and what they were doing; our internship director mentioned to the director of this non-profit when she saw her, how thrilled they were about the wonderful experience Fergus was having with their organization. ‘Fergus who?’ ‘We have never seen Fergus.’ So a little follow up like this occurred and it turned out everything, the journal, the projects etc were whole cloth; he had never so much as visited the site although he had interviewed there and perhaps accepted an internship. Usually the contracting process would have caught this but it didn’t this time.

        Reply
        1. Lissa

          Buh…what? How on earth did Fergus think he wouldn’t get caught?! Every internship/co-op I’ve heard of has some kind of follow up.

          Reply
      2. sstabeler

        I think that’s worth emphasising- “Gotcha” is where the manager is “fishing” for the employee breaking the rules. (by that, I mean specifically trying to catch the employee out just because they don’t trust them) This would be the manager specifically investigating an actual complaint.

        Reply
    5. JD

      So what if it is gotcha? Being paid to do work for the company means if you are not doing work for the company you get in trouble. That’s like saying it isn’t ok for a cop to find speeders.

      Reply
      1. Not So NewReader

        Agreed. Bosses are supposed to monitor work as needed. If a person requires a “gotcha” check then that is on them not the boss.
        When I first started working, I worked for a place where the boss would sit outside the store with binoculars. I shrugged. I thought “You see me not working let me know.” I never gave it another thought and I never had him say anything to me.

        Reply
    6. Bostonian

      What would the alternative be? Have a discussion with the employee based on hearsay (especially hearsay that has a likelihood of being unfounded based on interpersonal dynamics)? That would certainly cause drama and morale issues. What’s the other option? Do nothing? If there is a real performance issue, the manager needs to know.

      Managers should observe firsthand any performance issues before disciplining an employee (minus extreme cases). Considering these issues allegedly only happen without OP there, I’m not sure how else OP can address this issue besides dropping in unexpectedly and/or enlisting a trusted manager to check it out.

      A spying “gotcha” would be, for example, if the manager heard that employee was spending too much time on her personal cell phone, so the manager stopped by 100 times without seeing this behavior, and then on the 101th time, happened to see employee on her cell phone, and then disciplined her.

      Reply
      1. Product person

        What would the alternative be? Have a discussion with the employee based on hearsay (especially hearsay that has a likelihood of being unfounded based on interpersonal dynamics)? That would certainly cause drama and morale issues. What’s the other option? Do nothing? If there is a real performance issue, the manager needs to know.

        As a manager, I can tell pretty easily based on the amount and quality of output whether a direct is only working when I’m at the office and not when I’m on vacation or working elsewhere.

        For example, two of my directs are responsible for creating requirements specifications, with equal rules for deadlines set for their projects based on the amount and complexity of the work. If one started to slack off, I’d quickly see that he/she is not meeting the deadlines, or is meeting deadlines with subpar deliverables that have to go through rework, or timeliness and quality aren’t suffering. If the latter, it means that either the workload is light for both direct reports and the other direct also has free time on their hands and is just “hiding” it better, or is slower and has to work more hours to produce the same amount of work as the one with time to run errands or take personal calls after completing his/her tasks on time and with high quality.

        If the former, I don’t need to “spy” on the direct to learn that there is a problem: the uneven amount/quality of work will indicate that. If the latter, I might want to do what Alison suggests (observe for myself or ask another manager to stop by), and then figure out how to solve the issue of unused capacity: discuss a raise and promotion so that the report now has tighter deadlines but is compensated for the additional output produced compared to his/her peer; consider consolidating the two roles into one full-time role (also with a raise for whichever employee is kept in charge of the full workload); or even doing nothing if more output will just create a bottleneck in the next step of the process without benefiting the business.

        Reply
        1. TootsNYC

          ” the amount and quality of output”

          yes, this is something I thought Alison would address as well.

          Every manager should have a pretty good idea of what work their folks are doing, and how much time that ought to take. And you should have a good sense of when projects are starting and ending, and how they are progressing.

          It’s not just to be able to say, “You’re not working hard enough.”

          That’s how you figure out that someone is struggling, or they’re not getting input from other departments fast enough, or they’re overloaded, or a single project is problematic and could use your intervention.
          It’s also how you figure out that someone is really efficient or effective, and then you can ask them to help you train others. Or you can promote them.

          Reply
          1. Product person

            That’s how you figure out that someone is struggling, or they’re not getting input from other departments fast enough, or they’re overloaded, or a single project is problematic and could use your intervention. It’s also how you figure out that someone is really efficient or effective, and then you can ask them to help you train others. Or you can promote them.

            Precisely. A general understanding of the volume of work that can get done per day or week is important for managers to have for capacity and demand planning as workload fluctuates; to know when to intervene because of issues with input to the process or excessive expectations from other departments; and to identify situations where someone is performing at a much higher level than his/her peers (and thus deserves perks like getting to leave early, or receiving a promotion).

            This type of monitoring is what prevents situations we hear about here in AAM all the time, of people becoming overworked and leaving for other jobs as soon as they can because their colleagues refuse to do their part and the managers are unaware or unwilling to take action.

            Reply
    7. This Daydreamer

      Part of the boss’s job is to make sure that the work is getting done, and they certainly have the right to stop by their own office any time during the workday. I’d have a problem with the boss watching an employee’s every move to make sure they never ever spend a second on a non-work related website but just observing that the employee is doing her job is hardly playing “gotcha”.

      Reply
      1. MCM

        A friend of my mom’s that was getting near retirement worked as an admin in an IT university department. They placed hidden cameras all over her office and where monitoring her. She figured it out, made her so mad and she couldn’t do anything about it. She worked a few more years under them, than took her retirement.

        She had no idea what they thought she doing while at work, just that the new department head didn’t care for her. I’ve always thought he wanted someone younger that he could push around.

        I think the first thing that #OP should do is look the the computer log for this individual.

        Reply
    8. Specialk9

      I was surprised she didn’t suggest keystroke logger. You’ll know clearly if she’s slacking, in which case you aim your displeasure at her. If she’s working, aim at the co-workers. Companies have that right at work.

      Reply
      1. Phoenix Programmer

        How would that be impacted by reading though? There are many times my device shuts off on me when I am doing certain lots of reading work.

        Reply
      2. Michael

        They may have that right, but that’s an awful thing to do to someone. Knowledge that a company behaves like this could be more damaging than the cost of one slacker’s salary.

        Reply
  2. Antilles

    Is “providing your personal cell phone number” still an actual debate? Maybe my industry is just unique, but *at least* 75-80% of emails and business cards I see have a cell phone number listed in the signature – and based on the non-local area codes, a huge proportion of these are clearly personal ones and not company phones.
    I mean, the issue AAM raises about people leaving is completely valid, but it just seems like that ship sailed away long ago.

    Reply
    1. Rulesfor

      In my field (social work) it’s absolutely a debate. In a field where maintaining boundaries between providers and clients is such a sensitive issue, this would definitely be something that wasn’t super cut-and-dried.

      Reply
      1. This Daydreamer

        I’m in a related field (domestic violence shelter) and I’ve been told, repeatedly, to NEVER give out my phone number or the phone number of a coworker. The only exceptions I know of are the legal advocates.

        Reply
    2. NW Mossy

      Plenty of people do use their personal cell phones for work, but I keep mine separate because it’s my preference. I don’t want to encourage myself to look at work stuff in my off hours or deal with the hassle of untangling the two in the event that I leave my present employer. Her advice is still useful for people who can decide individually if they do/don’t want to mix.

      Reply
    3. Justme

      In my field, personal cell phone numbers are generally never used. Definitely not on business cards. And they’re not needed.

      Reply
    4. Anon for This

      I think it’s very industry specific. For example, I work with a lot of volunteers (in the thousands each year). I give my personal cell phone number out to certain volunteer groups, but I don’t give it out to every volunteer I work with or come in contact with.

      It’s far too easy in my industry for volunteers to start calling in the evenings and weekends asking about questions or for information that is publicly available but the volunteer doesn’t want to look for that information on our organization’s website or wait until Monday when I would respond to their email providing them a link.

      Reply
    5. cornflower blue

      It is definitely still a debate in many fields, particularly when the work involves confidentiality or IP. Companies are salivating to jump on BYOD for the cost savings, but many are being short-sighted when regarding the implications. Wiping an exiting employee’s personal phone doesn’t prevent them from being contacted later by a client who still has their info.

      Reply
    6. REd 5

      I see cell phone numbers on business cards all the time, and the ship probably has sailed for people who think it’s fine. I think they’re wrong and it’s almost always a bad idea (it’s so easy to get a seperate number through a VOIP service, why wouldn’t you get something you could just redirect and then disconnect if you need to?) The other problem with it is that I will probably never, ever call a cell phone listed on a business card, that feels super intrusive. So it doesn’t really achieve the desired goal (being easily contacted).

      Reply
      1. Ted Mosby

        It might not achieve the desired goal for you, but the majority of people are going to use the contact information they’re given. Almost no one is going to be forced to put a personal cell on their business card against their work. If a cell phone is listed it’s safe to assume it’s either a work phone or that’s the way the person wants to be contacted. I️ would be annoyed if someone refused to call me because they thought I wouldn’t want to be contacted on a phone number I️ gave out for work purposes. I️ guess you can always email, but I’d be frustrated by someone who wouldn’t call when needed.

        Reply
    7. Triangle Pose

      Why would you assume the cell phone listed on the business card is a personal one? I have a company cell phone and the area code is non-local. I’m in the majority here in my industry.

      Reply
    8. Anna

      I don’t think it’s a debate at all. In some industries it’s normal and expected; in others it’s not and isn’t.

      Reply
    9. Nervous Accountant

      I would never give my personal # to my clients at my job. Doing so would appear that I’m trying to steal them even if I were just doing so w the intent of taking care of them. If I absolutely have to I may call them but block my # while doing so.

      Reply
    10. always in email jail

      NOT the norm in my industry and is in fact discouraged. Those who don’t want to carry two phones forward the work number to their personal cell.

      Reply
    11. TootsNYC

      Those may be company cell phones, not personal. Do you have any way to know the difference in the examples you’ve seen? I would be curious.

      Reply
    12. kittymommy

      In government, at least in mine, it’s very discouraged. Mainly for records retention as it opens your cell phone up to scrutiny if there’s a public records request. In theory you should be able to screenshot the applicable call/text, whatever. In practice, it can be a bitch to deal with if they want to press it.

      Reply
  3. Massmatt

    I wonder if the employee accused of slacking has measurable accomplishments already that can be used to monitor her. Rather than assign a special task to see if it gets done, are there not responsibilities she already has which can be checked? If she is able to work on a side business and leave for other appointments she would not be able to get much work done. And if she can do all this and there’s no discernable difference in her work output, perhaps you are overstaffed?

    And this will sound intrusive to some, but cameras are pretty inexpensive and can be very easy to conceal.

    Reply
    1. Fer Fox Sake

      Or system & network records. Your IT people are like Santa Claus – they know when you’ve been surfing, they know when you come in late . . .

      Reply
      1. Anon anon anon

        That’s what I was thinking. Pull the records showing what applications she’s using when. It’s pretty easy.

        Ideally you’d want to get some hard evidence without getting too personal and present it to her. “90% of your activities are browsing using Chrome and Excel was only open for 5 minutes last week,” not, “You we’re doing XYZ at that site.” And pull the same records on the other people to make sure they’re not just scapegoating her.

        Reply
      2. designbot

        Agreed, ask IT to look specifically to see if she’s been doing other work on company time. The errands etc. don’t bother me if she’s getting her work done, but getting paid by one job while doing work for another is not cool.

        Reply
    2. Not So NewReader

      In OP’s setting it seems like OP could just sit in the parking lot and watch the employee leave. Or OP could double back toward the end of the day and see who is still at their desks.

      Reply
    3. TardyTardis

      On the other hand, I was slimed by a new worker who told my boss how lazy I was (how they reconciled that with my having to take over work the new employee was supposed to be doing I do not know), and it took the intervention of my boss’s boss before the situation was resolved (her office was situated to where she could hear the new employee bragging about things to others).

      Reply
  4. Michelle

    For #3- as long as other employees (such as security) do not have to stay late/come in early if an employee is working to make up time, I think it would benefit you to let them do so. I am hourly nonexempt and I have vacation, personal and sick leave. We can use vacation or personal leave in half-day or whole day increments and we can use sick time in hourly increments. If I just need to run by and grab a pair of hose/medicine/etc on my way in and will be 15-20 minutes late, it’s nice that I can make up that time and not have to either use a whole hour of sick time or not get paid.

    I think you/the mangers could monitor it a bit and if you notice someone is abusing the privilege, speak directly to that person. One thing I have learned is that everything is not “fair”and if you routinely abusing privileges, they get taken away.

    Reply
    1. Not The Droid You Are Looking For

      I think you/the mangers could monitor it a bit and if you notice someone is abusing the privilege, speak directly to that person. One thing I have learned is that everything is not “fair”and if you routinely abusing privileges, they get taken away.

      My old job used to have a guideline of two hours in a week, but it was at the manager’s discretion. It was nice to have a baseline for judgement, but it was nice for teams who could be more flexible.

      Reply
    2. nonymous

      In my workplace, we have a 1 hour “glide-in” policy with the caveat that meetings can’t be skipped (important distinction when staff from both coasts attend with the east coaster’s leave time 10A on Fridays and the pacific coaster’s start time of 6A).

      We also have a five hour block of “core business hours” where everyone has to be available (but you can take a meal break of up to 1 hour). Basically everyone picks a schedule that includes those core hours and as long as they don’t miss stuff, they can come in (and stay late) up to an hour daily.

      We have ad-hoc telework available if someone needs to flex a day here and there as well. And if someone needs to leave early (e.g. kid’s dr appt or early departure at school), it’s pretty common for them to schedule an adjustment with their supervisor. Having said that, upper management has been firm, both about backing up supervisor’s discretion and also encouraging flexibility and thoughtfulness. It seems to work.

      Reply
  5. kas

    I have my cell phone number in my email signature and on my business card. We’re not required to do so and I rarely receive or make work related calls on it but my work does cover the cost of your monthly cell phone bill if you do include it.

    It’s common for us to be out travelling/at client events/etc. so we need to be reachable. However, this is only the case for like two departments. It really depends on the position/department and business/client needs.

    Reply
    1. jmm

      Super nice that your company covers the cost of your cell phone bill if you include the number in your email sig and on your business card. That is a great benefit and would make sharing my personal cell number way more palatable for me.

      My company does not do this, and thankfully I don’t have to give my cell number to clients, but my boss frequently contacts me on my personal cell. My CPA was able to swing a tax deduction for cell phone costs last year, because I was regularly using my cell for work purposes.

      Reply
      1. zora

        Our company requires us to provide our own cell/number, and they only pay a ‘stipend’ of $40/month toward cell bills. I don’t know about anyone else, but it is impossible for me to find a smart phone plan that is $40/month or less. So, I’m a little grumbly about being required to use my phone but only reimbursed a small portion of the cost.

        There is nothing preventing people from having 2 cell phones, if you want to keep your personal phone and # separate, but it’s still out of your own pocket, they don’t provide devices for any reason.

        Reply
        1. GT

          Check out redpocket for a cheaper cell phone plan. Mine is $10/month for 500 text, minutes, and MB (I’m a light user). Higher tier is $30/month. They work with all networks.

          Reply
  6. SaltWater

    Was there ever an update on the first question? Curious as to whether the employee was doing this or if the other two employees were the actual problem.

    Reply
    1. Sherm

      I remember this one! The OP popped in to find the accused person working diligently, and the accusers slacking off.

      Reply
      1. Specialk9

        Whoa! Plot twist!

        “On a day that I was supposed to be in one of our other offices, I popped in mid-day to just “check in.” What do I find? The person who was the loudest whistle blower shopping online, while the accused woman is working diligently in the back. “

        Reply
  7. Long Time Reader First Time Poster

    I worked for a company owner that decided to give out his employees’ personal cell phone numbers to clients, and told the clients that they could call his employees at any time 24/7 for support.

    And then he refused to reimburse the employees in any way for being on call at all times (even though this work wasn’t in their job descriptions).

    And he couldn’t understand why we managers made such a big deal out of pushing back on this plan. Or why everyone quit…

    Reply
    1. SarahKay

      And now I’m immensely glad I’m in the UK, where if a manager (or, in fact anyone) did that to me I could sue them, and the company, under the Data Protection Act.
      That would obviously be the nuclear option; I’d probably start by politely pointing out just how illegal that was to do, and suggest that the obvious way to resolve it would be for the company to take the hit of time (and any associated costs) taken for the employees all to get new personal cell phone numbers and inform their friends/family/dentist etc of the new number.
      I would, however, also be absolutely livid, and would be looking for a new job.

      Reply
    2. Arjay

      I don’t do client work, and now I’m exempt so it’s mostly a non-issue, but at one point my directors included my cell number on a project contact list that went to about 200 of my colleagues without checking with me first. It was fine in context, but I did mention to them that it would have been nice if they asked me before they did it.

      Reply
    3. nonegiven

      DH was issued his phone at work. Then several years later, taxes or some rules changed or something and they required most employees have one and gave a stipend to cover voice service and signed each phone number over to the employee. He now uses it as his main number for most purposes, work and personal.

      When DH retires, I want to ditch our landline to save money. I’m thinking port his work number to GV, make a white list of friends and family to ring through, give everyone else a ‘get lost’ message, and port our home number to his cell.

      Reply
  8. Beancat

    I remember I had an option to have a work cell phone but I would have had to pay for it, so I decided I couldn’t take the extra expense. So yes, clients were given my personal number to contact us. I regretted it immensely after I was let go and clients were still calling me nearly six months after, but they’ve finally stopped after a year. It might be industry-dependent.

    Reply
  9. Fabulous

    I think I remember seeing an update to #1?? I feel like it turned out that the two women up front were the ones slacking off and the one in the back was working hard. Total 180 from what they reported.

    Reply
    1. Jennifer

      I’d love to see a column here sometime about how a manager is supposed to deal with it when there’s a situation like this where some of the staff conspicuously hate someone else.

      Reply
  10. Malibu Stacey

    #2 – my former counterpart worked reception and left early on the regular for ongoing appointments. Instead of taking PTO she would come into work an hour or two hours early. (Because so many of our clients were calling or dropping by at 5 or 6:00 in the morning /s) And that’s part of the reason she’s my former coworker.

    Reply
    1. Observer

      Well, that’s why you don’t have one rule for everyone. I think it should be obvious that the rules for a receptionist are going to be different from those for someone who is doing computer based work 90% of the time.

      Reply
        1. Lehigh

          Okay, but you’d think it would be obvious *to her manager* who would tell her that she had a set schedule. I can understand that it apparently escalated to a fireable offense, but hopefully not before someone with authority said, “Hey, actually these are your hours and I can’t allow deviation except when you use PTO or sick time.”

          Reply
  11. Observer

    One thought about #1 – If the ONLY way you have to figure out how credible this is is by a surprise drop in, you have a problem. Of course Alison is right that you need to see what’s going on before making a decision. But, you should be familiar enough with her work, work ethic and workload to have a good sense of you are likely to see.

    Reply
  12. Seal

    For #3, I let my staff members make up time so long as they do so during our library’s open hours. Since we have evening and Saturday hours that has worked well for us. My staff does both public and technical services work; so long as our reference desk is covered it’s generally not a problem to some flexibility in people’s work schedules. However, I did have a few employees who tended to push the flexibility envelope and asked repeatedly if they could come in after hours to make up time. The answer was always no. Aside from it being a security issue, I didn’t want people to feel as if they could come and go as they pleased, with the intent of “making up time” at odd hours.

    Reply
    1. Windchime

      We used to have someone who supposedly worked a split shift and came in after hours to do her work. Her piles of claim forms went down, so everyone assumed she was honestly working. Until she left and we found boxes and boxes of unprocessed claims under her desk. (This was back in the day when everything was done on paper.)

      Reply
  13. Argh!

    Re: #1

    If you can’t tell by the worker’s output, then is it really a problem of the employee being a slacker? If work is getting done, then the problem is management of the workload. You can’t exactly tell someone to pretend to be busy just to look good to the two chatterboxes at the front.

    Reply
    1. Rusty Shackelford

      Well, there’s slacking because your work is done, and there’s working on your side business (as the chatterboxes claimed). I’d be okay with the first but not the second.

      Reply
  14. Manager Mary

    #4, for each position that requires such contact, set up a separate phone line and number and have it forwarded to the cell phone of whoever is in that job at that time. That way the number never changes even though the person in the job might.

    Reply
  15. bohtie

    For the cell-phone employees, there are now apps like Sideline (and google voice of course) that allow you to set up a different number on your same cell phone. I don’t know how secure they are in the grand scheme of things, but I used Sideline when I was an active sex worker so that I didn’t have to give clients my real number or carry around an extra burner phone (I was a dominatrix, so I was more worried about stalkers than cops bc what I do is totally legal here). It was ridiculously easy and included voicemail and texting.

    Reply

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