open thread – March 16-17, 2018

It’s the Friday open thread! The comment section on this post is open for discussion with other readers on anything work-related that you want to talk about. If you want an answer from me, emailing me is still your best bet*, but this is a chance to talk to other readers.

* If you submitted a question to me recently, please don’t repost it here, as it may be in the to-be-answered queue.

{ 1,945 comments… read them below or add one }

  1. jaybh

    What benefits does your employer offer to promote employee retention? Particularly, are there benefits that specifically help retain/are more attractive to good employees? My workplace offers some great benefits, but it seems to me that they would be just as attractive to an average/mediocre employee as an exceptional employee. I’m curious whether that’s simply the nature of the typical benefits offered by employers, or if there are ways to specifically promote the retention of above average employees through passive means such as benefit programs.

    Reply
      1. Lil Fidget

        My workplace offers non-matching 401K contributions. They will contribute 6% whether you contribute anything or not. There’s no vesting. There are lots of people who stay for that benefit alone, because it makes it really easy to hit that recommended 10-15% savings or whatever it is we’re aiming for these days.

        Reply
        1. FJ

          My company matches a lot on 401K. I put in 12%, they put in 10%. Some people refer to it as the “golden handcuffs” but it is pretty great. Our salaries are not great as much, but the 401k is quite nice.

          Reply
          1. Bigglesworth

            My old company did this. They higher I contributed, the more they matched up to 10%. For a while there, I was contributing 15% and they contributed 10%. My salary was not much (seriously low – about half of other universities), but doing that means I have a nice nest egg for someone in her mid-20s. They also didn’t require any time for vesting, which was another bonus.

            Reply
        2. Gatomon

          Mine does too! 4% of salary with no match required. Vests immediately, but you do have to wait a while to be eligible. I do appreciate being able to have something going towards retirement while I’m dealing with student loans.

          Reply
      2. Clever Name

        YES! I recently got divorced and I had to get insurance through my company. My company pays 100% of the employee premium. It was like getting a $3,000 raise.

        Reply
      3. I Love JavaScript

        This was huge at my last company. They paid 100% for all employees, their spouses, and dependents. It’s hard to find similar packages, so people definitely stayed for it.

        Reply
      4. Life

        Employer covers 100% of everything – health, dental, vision, life, long and short-term disability premiums and 401k account management fees…..and match 20% of our 401k contribution. One new perk for good employees (as determined by your manager) is a fully paid 1 month sabbatical to “recharge, do charity/missionary work, etc. this company is privately owned and in the US.

        Yes, I have fallen into a pot of jam.

        Reply
      5. Anon This Time

        Employer covers 100% of everything – health, dental, vision, life, long and short-term disability premiums and 401k account management fees…..and match 20% of our 401k contribution. One new perk for good employees (as determined by your manager) is a fully paid 1 month sabbatical to “recharge, do charity/missionary work, etc. this company is privately owned and in the US.

        Yes, I have fallen into a pot of jam.

        Reply
    1. ExcelJedi

      We get up to 20 days vacation (plus our 13 sick & personal days) based on longevity. We all start off with 10 days in our first year, and get an extra day each year until we his the 10 year mark.

      Other than that, and vestment for our 401k plans, everyone has the same benefits whether they’ve been here 3 months or 13 years. That’s the only way I’ve ever experienced retention-minded benefits.

      Reply
        1. Kj

          Agreed. I think starting at 10 days off is pretty bad. I think 15 days is the low water mark for me. I wouldn’t consider working for a company that offered less if I had a choice. And hitting a HIGH of 20 isn’t great either. Especially in fields where the burn out rate is high.

          Reply
          1. Delphine

            My company does 15/20/25 based on longevity, at 0/3/5 years. The days aren’t accrued, you get them all on January 1st, and that’s what really made it a good deal for me. The other places I’ve worked in the US did 10 days accrued and it took forever to bank enough to take a good amount of time off.

            Reply
        2. ExcelJedi

          I don’t know – or maybe I just haven’t worked in the right companies. We total 23 discretionary days off including holidays in our first year (10 vacation, 8 sick, 5 personal) plus 10 paid holidays, which is pretty good by US standards in privately owned companies, at least as far as I’m aware.

          Reply
        3. JamieS

          If it’s an American company sounds decent to me. Not amazing but not bad. If the additional 13 days is also are the first year so 23 days total that’s pretty good.

          Reply
      1. A.M.

        That sounds terrible. I started at 28, and just went up to 30 this year, not including unlimited sick days.

        Reply
        1. Librarygeek

          You get a *month* of vacation to start? That’s amazing. I also get 10 days (two weeks) and it’s considered standard.

          Reply
    2. Who the eff is Hank?

      My employer doesn’t offer specific benefits to exceptional employees, but is way more flexible and accommodating for them. For example, exceptional employees may be able to swing an extra day or two of PTO if something comes up after they’ve used their allotment (not like you can plan a whole extra vacation, but taking a day off for a family wedding is fine). I’m moving to a different state in June and my company is making an exception on remote work for me (the official policy is Remote Work Is Not Done Here) because they trust that I can manage my own workload and get stuff done.

      Reply
      1. einahpets

        This has been my experience as well and something I was definitely keyed into in my most recent job search. I never asked directly the question on whether I would get to work from home, but other employees who reported to the hiring manager told me about their reasonably flexible work arrangements.

        I am not looking for a job where I get to work from home all the time or slack off. But on the flip side, I have had the unpleasant experience of a manager who puts more emphasis on butts-in-seats than needed in our industry.

        Reply
      2. Sophie Grace

        This is a great reward system that steps away from everyone gets to have the same as everyone else. While it is important to provide incentives within the confines of the law, I like this idea. For example, while my co-worker is on Facebook, perhaps if i get my work done early, I can leave early.

        Reply
    3. AdAgencyChick

      Hmmm, interesting.

      My employer does employee of the month (and I think there’s a small cash or gift card prize associated with it), but to me the people who get picked are always the ones who are willing to stay really late, and overlooking hyper-efficient employees who get out the door on time and do the work so well that they help their teammates get out of the office faster, too!

      Reply
      1. Drama Mama

        Suuuuucks. My husband has been that guy. Finishes his work + does half of Billy’s and Joan’s and it’s Susan who gets kudos for working past 5 pm. Once on a four person team, he did all the work assigned to him for that 2 week chunk, then helped all three other coworkers with theirs, and on the day of the deadline he left at (GASP!) 5 pm *to attend his brother’s wedding that night* and was dinged for “not being a team player”
        He left three weeks later because he reached out to an old boss at a new company and they snapped him up.

        Reply
    4. ZSD

      Are you suggesting offering different benefits packages to people who perform at different levels? I don’t think I’ve ever heard of that. Benefits are generally standard across a company, to my knowledge. (Well, sometimes companies have one set of benefits for blue-collar workers and a better set for white-collar, unfortunately.) I think employers usually just provide higher salaries to better performers.
      I guess some companies provide more *perks* to better performers, like being allowed to telework more often.

      Reply
      1. jaybh

        Other than merit based raises, I don’t think offering different benefits based on performance would be a good idea. This question come to mind because I realized that most, if not all, of the benefits my employer provides would be just as attractive to a bad/unproductive employee as a high-performing employee. I suspect that the main way to deal with below average employees is through management, but I was just curious if there were ways of doing it more passively that I hadn’t considered.

        Reply
      2. Aleta

        My company’s benefits package is union, so set in stone, but from what I’ve read on this site it seems a lot of people negotiate things like more vacation and better 401k matches the same time they negotiate salary, so it seems to be a thing?

        Reply
      3. Florida

        It is very common for employers to offer different benefits based on length of employment. That helps retention, but it doesn’t differentiate between average employees and A+ employees. Many companies offers increased PTO with each year, and you have to stick around for a certain length for your 401k to be fully vested.

        Reply
      4. Alice

        It’s not always the case that the white-collar benefits are better. Where I used to work, the union had negotiated so that its members did not pay for their health insurance. Managers did pay. Probably a pretty unusual situation though!

        Reply
      5. Specialk9

        Our bonuses are based on performance evaluations and grade (level).

        So in the offer letter they say the bonus is X% of your salary (5%, 10%, 15%, etc based on head)… But per the fine print of this guide that you don’t get to see when signing, it turns out to be X% x 100% for exceeds expectation, X% x 80% for meets expectations, X% x 50%, etc.

        Though in 5 years we’ve only gotten a bonus once, so, enh.

        Reply
    5. ChrysantheMumsTheWord

      Reimbursement for educational development.

      It helps attract and retain individuals that want to continue to grow, learn and improve while they are with us and it promotes a culture where we strive to promote from within.

      Reply
      1. Thlayli

        Yup, this is really the only thing I think you could justifiably offer to one person but not another.

        My company will cover costs of training, subject to managers approval, so a poor employee would be less likely to get it approved. Other companies will reimburse training only if it’s directly relevant to your role and only after you pass the course. Also for careers where you can be chartered or otherwise found to meet a standard some companies give a raise or a bonus or similar – my old company gave an automatic £1000 per annum raise when you became chartered as well as paying the application and membership fees for professional organisations.

        Paying for people to attend conferences in nice locations is also a nice unofficial benefit you could consider.

        Reply
        1. designbot

          Yep, this is how we do it too. There’s a standard reimbursable for education that’s offered to everybody, but you have to apply for it. If it’s local/cheap, we’re pretty flexible on what we consider relevant to your job—pretty much any type of creative class would qualify. However if you want to fly somewhere for a special workshop or conference, if it’s directly relevant and we can see how it will benefit the company, we can just put the travel on our company credit card miles so that your educational dollars can stretch further.

          Reply
    6. KatieKate

      Opportunities for advancement and professional growth. Offer incentives to go to conferences and other places to learn skills. You may lose a few people, but the people that stay will be able to grow

      Reply
    7. Rebecca

      Very timely; we just lost the 5th employee from my small office group (18-20 people) to a rival company in the last 6 years. They have better pay and better time off policies, plus more paid holidays. My employer does zero to combat this. Now they will hire someone inexperienced and those of us who are left will have to train them, and the cycle will continue. They are so focused on the bottom line money that they have lost sight of the cost of hiring and training new people.

      Reply
      1. Irene Adler

        Gee! Similar here. Bottom line all the way.

        Management has actually taken away benefits (pension plan, life insurance coverage, long-term disability insurance, health coverage for spouse & dependents).

        Unfortunately few have left. But several are trying…..

        Reply
        1. Rebecca

          They reduced our paid holidays from 10 to 6, nitpick about time off, micromanage, and then wonder why people want to leave. We also pay for our own generous $200/week short term disability program, but if you have employee/spouse insurance coverage, you’d net about $79 a week, before taxes, after paying for your portion of health insurance. Gee. I think you need to have an HR round table about that.

          Reply
    8. lisalee

      My particular department is really flexible about taking time off and scheduling things like doctor’s appointments on short notice, which I love. I do a particularly specialized job (and well, I think) for not a lot of money, so perks like that are huge to me. Our insurance is also great.

      We used to have an *awesome* employee wellness plan (lots of different, low-stress programs from eating veggies to meditation to smoking cessation, you got $50 each time you completed a program, and it didn’t ask you to enter your health info). They did away with it this year for a more run-of-the-mill program where you enter your weight, diet, etc and it gives you a health score and suggests programs. It now feels pretty invasive and is a huge bummer.

      Personally I’m now job searching because of money-related things, but also because my employer does not invest in personal development for my position grade. I think I would stick around longer if they were willing to throw some money at me to take things like computer courses, courses on our particular weird field, etc. I think that’s a benefit that does appeal more to high performers, or that could be offered based on performance.

      Reply
      1. Flinty

        Yes to flexibility! And that’s something you can offer more of to high performers, plus it’s basically free. I just changed departments to one where my supervisor is flexible about stuff that comes up, and I’m already so much happier just from not having to prepare for a huge back and forth about why I need to leave 30 minutes early to go to the doctor.

        Reply
    9. Justin

      Tuition reimbursement for affiliated schools (we don’t work on campus but are school employees).

      And yes, it’s for everyone. But if you lose your job, they won’t reimburse, so it’s incentive to excel (at least it is to me).

      Reply
      1. Irene Adler

        Because short-term, that just takes away from owner’s profits. And when owner’s are only thinking short-term, well, you get what you don’t pay for.

        Reply
    10. Dovahkiin

      5 weeks of PTO
      10% 401k match
      charitable contribution match up to $1000
      an excellent PPO health plan
      monthly public transportation pass
      tuition reimbursement
      $2k a year in professional development per employee

      and (it varies by manager) wfh flexibility.

      Reply
        1. jaybh

          That’s a good example of the sort of thing I had in mind. Presumably good employees would be more invested in the overall success of the company, so the ability to purchase stock would be more attractive to them than it would be to someone who is just there for the paycheck.

          Reply
          1. Cristina in England

            I strongly disagree with this. Plenty of excellent employees either can’t or don’t want to buy stock in their employer. Plenty of excellent employees are invested in maintaining their own reputation and deriving satisfaction from a job well done and this is completely separate from how much or little they are invested in the company’s success.

            I think I’ve taken against this comment so strongly because it smacks of that attitude where employees are supposed to be “loyal” to the company but the company does not want to return the favor. Forgive me if this last part is off base.

            Reply
        1. Dovahkiin

          I work for a payments company in Denver, CO. Tech hiring is very competitive here – the unemployment rate for some jobs in the tech industry is as low as 1%.

          My partner works for a smaller tech firm in the area and the benefits are very similar.

          Reply
          1. Gatomon

            Maybe this explains why we’ve lost a few tech people to the Denver area. Our benefits are good, but not that good.

            Reply
    11. Jen

      I thought these types or ‘survey’ questions weren’t allowed here anymore (because too many comments)? Or just discouraged?

      (Not criticising this post just confused as to what is permitted here on Fridays.)

      Reply
      1. jaybh

        Oops, I was unaware of this. If this question is too broad, I can narrow the focus specifically to benefits that are more attractive to good employees than mediocre employees. Looking at the benefits my company offers, it seems that they would be equally attractive to bad employees as good employees. I wasn’t sure if that was just the nature of employer offered benefits, or if there are certain benefits that specifically attract better employees (a few people have mentioned reimbursement for education/professional development, which I think falls into that category).

        Reply
    12. Ashley

      Superstars who have been here long term can get a more generous PTO then the official policy and more flexibility with hours. This does cause issues with other employees making snide comments from time to time.

      Reply
      1. Grandpa grumble

        Quite right too. If flexibility is possible everyone should benefit.

        “Stars” should get promotions and cash bonuses.

        Reply
        1. Flinty

          Yes, a certain level of flexibility should be given to everyone when possible! Ie, no eye rolling and arguing when an employee needs to use their sick time or whatever.

          However, I work in nonprofits where it’s genuinely not always possible to get bonuses or even promotions, if the org is too small. I think it’s fair that higher performers (who are presumably more productive) get more leeway on taking time off or teleworking than others whose performance might indicate that would make them even less productive.

          Reply
        2. Specialk9

          Disagree. Flexibility is nice for everyone, but is definitely a perk for high performers. “I don’t care, just get the job done” is something you can tell a high performer.

          Reply
        3. Perse's Mom

          High performers should get what *they* find beneficial (within reason), if their employer wants to keep them.

          I don’t care about promotions, but it sure would be nice to modify my schedule.

          Reply
    13. Plant Mama

      As part time, you accrue up to 30 hours of sick time and 40 hours of vacation time. If you’re full-time you get 52 hours of sick time and 90 hours of vacation time. It raises each year for both part and full time. This is also a retail job, where most places don’t even offer anything. I should also note that at my store we have around 20 employees and 10 are full time, so it’s not impossible to become full time.

      Reply
    14. Earthwalker

      To offer a benefit to exceptional employees wouldn’t you have to have some benefit that is awarded on an as-appropriate basis? I would think that’s probably greater time and work-from-home flexibility. Those are benefits that say “we trust you” and that can be awarded to the best and not necessarily to the rest. OTOH, if you don’t offer competitive salary and healthcare for everyone in general, top job candidates who have multiple offers may select other companies.

      Reply
      1. jaybh

        That’s basically what prompted the question for me – most benefits are more or less equally attractive to good and bad employees alike, so you want to offer good benefits to increase your candidate pool. Everyone likes a good health plan, for instance. I was curious if there were benefits that companies offered across-the-board that specifically were more attractive to good employees.

        Reply
          1. jaybh

            Eh, I don’t think this is the way to go. While I’ll always be happy to take more money, other benefits like PTO and flexibility are bigger factors in my job satisfaction. A company that offers a good, comprehensive benefit package sends the message that they care about their employees’ overall well-being, and not just their productivity. A company that tries to attract candidates simply by offering more money sends the message that they only care about the job you can do, in my opinion.

            Reply
        1. Cristina in England

          Why don’t you just offer benefits that are attractive to anyone and everyone, and focus on hiring and retaining great employees with good management? Prevent the mediocre ones from coming in and allow managers to fire people when they aren’t performing.

          Reply
    15. Jessie the First (or second)

      Extreme flexibility. As in, I can pretty much work from home whenever I want; I can come in late/leave early whenever I need. I have a very reasonable billable hours target each month (I’m an attorney) and so as long as I am on top of my caseload, communicating regularly with everyone, they don’t care where I physically am when I am doing my work. (I’m usually in the office, but I work from home several days a month and I never stress if I am running late and have an errand in the morning and don’t get in until 10, for example.)

      I have a lot going on in my life outside of work and this flexibility is the number 1 reason I like my employer and want to stay.

      Reply
      1. thunderbird

        Our office was just offered the option of compressed work week (work extra 30 minutes a day and get an additional day off every 15th day). They are offering this as a response to overwhelming feedback on requests for more flexibility. However, if you agree to it there is no other flexibility because this is “so generous” and the expectation is that you will book all of your appointments on your day off, except for extreme circumstances. Somehow this policy to provide flexibility is actually creating more rigidity. Sigh.

        Reply
        1. Jessie the First (or second)

          Oh for pete’s sake, that’s awful, sorry! That’s not flexibility, that’s just a different rigid schedule than the current rigid schedule. I think the Big Bosses missed the point!

          Reply
        2. anonymous office worker no. 51923

          My coworkers and I are constantly joking/talking about how we would jump at the opportunity to do four 10-hour days and have a three day weekend every week. That would be sweet. What you describe, thunderbird, sounds absolutely counter-intuitive. I can’t wrap my head around it.

          Reply
          1. JHunz

            I’ve actually done the 4/10 thing and it was indeed awesome. I would only recommend it with a short commute, though, otherwise your four days on are really really long.

            Reply
    16. Folklorist

      EXCELLENT medical benefits. 100% employer-paid premiums, no deductible, $25 co-pay with free preventative care, generous sick leave, discounted gyms all over the city. We’re at a pretty small non-profit and don’t get the best pay, but this benefit is a huge incentive for me to stay–even my friends at big companies with more generous plans don’t get these, and I definitely consider it a boost in my pay.

      Reply
      1. Folklorist

        OH, and seconding the extreme flexibility. Work from home, come in/leave whenever I want as long as I get my work done on time and it’s high quality. My boss is extremely understanding about personal issues and very big into work-life balance. That means that I’ll move heaven and earth to get done what we need to get done when it comes to stressful crunch times and not think twice about it.

        Reply
    17. Elizabeth West

      If you want to keep me, offer me generous PTO. By generous, I mean don’t make me wait a whole fricking year to take any paid time off, and accrued time beats a straight two weeks any day.

      And good health insurance, including vision and dental. The more you cover, the happier you’ll make me.

      I don’t care much about 401K; I can’t seem to stay at a job long enough to make it worthwhile, and Exjob is the only one I’ve had that paid enough to allow rollover. OldExjob forced us to get 401Ks and I was pissed–I knew I wouldn’t stay forever, and sure enough, I had to cash it out and pay a damn penalty. I didn’t make enough to contribute and when I got laid off, it was below the rollover amount. I’d rather you just paid me well enough so I could put money in my own account. I will never be able to retire anyway thanks to massive student loan debt.

      Reply
    18. Florida

      My company has insane benefits to keep salespeople (which doesn’t include me). This is a product where people are constantly buying more of it and upgrading. Let’s say a sales rep sells a widget to Johnny. Then every time Johnny comes back and buys more, the original sales rep gets a portion of the commission (even if he was not the sales rep for the additional sales).
      Also, the sales reps get a portion of the commission for all sales reps that they recruit.
      It gets to the point, where you almost can’t afford to leave.
      I’m not a sales rep though, so those benefits don’t apply to me.

      *As I re-read this, it’s sounds a little bit like MLM. It is not. This is a real career. Our sales reps get salary/benefits plus commission. They don’t have to buy their own products or hustle their friends.

      Reply
    19. Bagpuss

      We offer a bonus scheme which is linked directly to performance, but I’d see that more as part of the remuneration package than benefits.

      I think benefits are mostly part of the over all package of being employed by a specific company, and that most of the things you can do which reward or attract better employees are not things that readily fit into a benefits package – it’s more about things like explicitly recognising good performance (verbally and in cold, hard cash!) but also in how you treat people – for instance, if you have someone who is a good employee and performs will, it’s much easier to be flexible about when they come and go etc because you can trust them to manage their time and workload and not to abuse the flexibility, whereas with less effective employees often need a higher level of supervision or management. But I am not sure that that is something you can really market to potential employees!

      I think things like opportunities for advancement and education can be very helpful – both because they send out the message that you think the employee is worth investing in, and because it shows that you are supportive of them advancing. For example, we currently have an employee who stated out as our office junior – he is now one of our bookkeeper/cashiers and we are funding training for him to gain formal qualifications in that field.

      Reply
    20. WinterCanStopNowPlease

      We have a performance-based bonus program, and there are other incentives as well. We have a peer recognition p program using badges, and people with the most badges in various categories get a small cash prize and entered in draws for weekend trips to events we sponsor (professional sporting events) across North America. Also, top performers in each location are selected each year for an all-expenses trip 3-4 day trip to somewhere awesome…this year it’s a luxury resort in the Caribbean. Our office also does catered lunch once a month, and depending on your boss, there’s a lot of flexibility. Our holiday parties are legendary as well and people enjoy them. It’s a high-stress fast-paced environment, but they do try to keep employees happy. Seems to be working, because it was ranked the 2nd best employer in my country for Glassdoor!

      Reply
      1. WinterCanStopNowPlease

        Just realized I forgot some big ones: We have awesome health and dental insurance, premiums paid 100% by the company. Personal/sick days (# varies depending on location), retirement contribution matching up to 3% of salary. .

        Reply
    21. Proxima Centauri

      Mostly it centers around bonus. Every employee is eligible for the annual bonus, and most get something. Top performers can get a second bonus that pays out equal amounts over the course of a few years. If you get that second bonus a few years in a row, it compounds in a way that makes it extremely attractive to stay. For me at this point, walking away would leave a lot of money on the table.

      Reply
    22. College Career Counselor

      Tuition assistance for dependents (full tuition, if the kid goes to this institution, up to 1/3 of this institution’s tuition at another school)

      TIAA-CREF contributions (10% of my income), in addition to whatever I contribute.

      Some version of these are fairly standard for private institutions, in my experience, although the details vary (like amount of tuition at other places, time needed to vest, etc.).

      Reply
    23. Nonprofit worker

      We all get mostly similar benefits but for people that stay longer:
      1. Our days off keep increasing each year we stay and max at 24 (in addition to all holidays), so if I were to take all my vacation and our holidays it would be about 9 weeks and I don’t work at a school.
      2. Our phone plans are covered and every two years we get a stipend for a new phone.
      3. We have internal professional development workshops for leadership and management that people can apply for after they’ve been employed for at least a year.
      4. We have a lot of random, voluntary and fun projects that people can apply to participate in but they also need to be with the company for a year (some include trips to interesting domestic and international locations).

      Reply
      1. side note

        I should restate as overall package. Self funded medical dental vision; vacation and sick time are minimal even for executives (hence something other than a federal holiday such as a snow day means loosing limited vacation days), small chances for promotions/ large raises. It’s not all bad. Friend is working in industry she loves, her job has flexability which is great given her young family and personal interests, amazing mentor. It’s a manner of measuring pros and cons but financial aspects are a concern. Note that friend is a budgeter and does not spend foolishly so it’s not a case of adjusting personal finances.

        Reply
    24. Marcy Marketer

      There are so many good benefits out there! My spouse has federal health insurance and we definitely factor that into any job discussions, as private does pay much better.

      My former company offered 20 vacation days and 7 sick days, and they matched my 401k 6% starting day one, and put in 3% without any contributions from me at all. Also free lunch. It was dog friendly for a while but that ended.

      My current company is very WAH friendly and that makes a huge difference for a lot of people.

      Reply
    25. Lora

      Most places I’ve worked have some kind of extra bonus other than your regular yearly company performance based bonus; these can be small (think gift card size) or decent (restricted stock units). Also, above average folks are usually interested in tuition reimbursement, professional society membership dues paid and conference presentations or courses. And having time off that *doesn’t* come out of your vacation time to be a presenter at conferences and professional societies yourself.

      Reply
    26. Irene Adler

      I’m just amazed at the bennies/perks folks have.

      Kinda wish they’d mention company names. But that’s probably not a good idea to do so.

      Reply
    27. Bad Candidate

      This year my company started offering student loan assistance. They pay $250/month towards my loans. It’s in addition to my payments, not a replacement of. My payment didn’t go down at all, but they are helping pay down the principle.

      Reply
      1. Library Land

        Quick question from the company side of this – is this a tax write off for them? If not for all, would it be for non-profits?

        Reply
        1. Natalie

          I’m sure it would be – the IRS considers these kinds of payments to be wages (that is, the employee has to pay income tax on them) so they’d be just as deductible as any other employee wages.

          If the tax treatment ever changes so they are a tax free benefit on the employee side, you would almost certainly still be able to deduct them as long as the benefit program was broadly available to your employees.

          Reply
          1. Bad Candidate

            Yeah they “add” and extra $250 to my second paycheck every month (we get paid 15th & last) and at the usual rate, not bonus rate, so it’s the same as a wage.

            Reply
    28. Adele

      My friend is a highly-valued employee at mid-size company negotiated an extra 10-days PTO per year, bringing her up to six weeks. She is paid quite well (needs to be to finance her vacations!) but the time off was the thing that was most important to her and keeps her in a job that she might otherwise leave.

      Reply
    29. NJAnonymous

      My employer offers a pension that vests after 5 years. That time span would require that you get promoted, which is not assured, and because of the job most folks leave in under that time frame. FWIW, I’m a Millennial in my early 30s. I didn’t think pensions existed anymore.

      They also updated our family benefits and now give all parents (mother, father, adopted, etc.) 16 weeks full paid leave, as well as full coverage for IVF services. None of that stuff comes with a pay-back period, either.

      Reply
      1. Specialk9

        I’d be very skeptical of pensions. You just can’t trust anyone – private or government – to keep their word that long. The exception may be military. (Though ask Russian soldiers who were fighting in Chechnya how reliable the government was.)

        Reply
    30. SI

      – company funded ESOP (based on % of salary-my avg annual contribution has been around $15-18k)
      – matching 401k (not 100%, but a percentage after the first 5%)
      – 37.5 hour work week (I’m salaried/exempt but it’s still nice to not be expected to work crazy hours all the time)
      – flex schedules available
      – work from home as needed
      – free/reduced banking products, including mortgages and other credit
      – started at 150hrs PTO (remember, this is still based on 37.5hr week, so 4wks) and I’m up to about 225hrs now after 9 yrs
      – super casual attire
      – tuition reimbursement
      – company funded life insurance and disability
      – big sponsorships/large community presence allows for volunteer and other opportunities
      – hefty discounts on home/auto insurance and local memberships

      There’s not much room for movement, but it’s hard to leave perks like this. I once worked for a company that gave you a month’s paid sabbatical after 5 years there. That was awesome.

      Reply
    31. Renata Ricotta

      ” … it seems to me that they would be just as attractive to an average/mediocre employee as an exceptional employee.”

      I think the idea of having great benefits or other attractive qualities is that it attracts and retains EVERYONE, including the average and the exceptional. When that happens, the employer has increased “demand” for their positions and therefore can exercise greater control over their “supply.” If the employer has a ton of people who want to work for them and stay there long term, they can be pickier about choosing and keeping only the great ones.

      Reply
    32. Namast'ay in Bed

      A former employer used to give everyone 10% raises each year, along with bonuses for clients signing a new contract, extending a contract, etc, (proportional to the amount of money the contract was worth), along with year end bonuses for everyone. They wanted to encourage people to stick around around and directly show that the company’s success was success for the employees as well.

      Reply
    33. M

      We have 12% retirement contribution (not a match- I don’t have to contribute at all to get the 12%)

      After every 5 years of service, we get a stipend for travel (basically paying for a family vacation)

      After 7 years we can apply for paid sabbaticals of between 2 weeks and 2 months that include funding for professional development. This is definitely a way to reward best employees because it is an application and not all applicants will be successful.

      We have a gym and pool onsite w no membership fees, etc. and it is open to family members as well.

      Reply
    34. Leela

      Not a “benefit” per se but I left a high-paying job with amazing advancement opportunities because my manager couldn’t understand that a legitimate workplace issue between two women wasn’t just a dumb girl fight. He also favored needlessly aggressive women for being “no-nonsense” and “businesslike” when they were nothing of the sort, and overlooked talented empathetic women who got their work done well and on time because they just didn’t seem like “go-getters” to him.

      Make sure your management is good, and doesn’t roll their eyes at have to doing the parts of management that are hard or interpersonal. Anyone who can will leave that for another company who offers similar benefits.

      Reply
    35. T3k

      Where I was, employees (but not contractors, like I was) had unlimited vacation time, fully covered healthcare, and a host of other benefits. The idea was they wanted to retain great employees and so if they felt one was burning out they encouraged them to take time off (like, a couple months at once) and return, feeling fresh.

      That said, it does make it hard for smaller companies in the same field to compete. Though I was a contractor, employeed through a job agency, they paid me really well and I’ve already had one interviewer, when I told him how much I was paid, comment they wouldn’t be able to quite match that, but they did offer other benefits (though they couldn’t match that unlimited PTO).

      Reply
    36. designbot

      We have a promotional track that’s based on leadership and longevity, and certain benefits are associated with it. So for example, an Associate gets 50% of their professional memberships paid for, a Sr Associate gets 75%, a Principal gets 100%. On top of that SA and above get much better parking spaces. And then people who’ve been here 5 years or more get extra vacation days. So each of these things are maybe not that big, but over time as you grow you definitely find yourself being treated better.

      Reply
    37. Not So NewReader

      A place around here offers one of the better retirement deals around. Senior people have retired simply because their retirement account is making more money than what is in their paycheck.

      It’s the only good thing about the job. Everything else is misery. Their ability to retain help is dismal.

      So, in a not-brilliant move, the company informed it’s front line workers that they were making an additional minimum of $2 per hour in their retirement account. The front line workers stared at TPTB with eyes of deer caught in headlights. TPTB failed to grasp that if you cannot make ends meet now, a bunch of money at retirement is worthless. Workers tried to explain this and the inability to understand is incredible.

      Reply
    38. Researcher

      Where I am offers PTO cash out which is nice – plus PTO accrual per pay period rather than a lump sum. At 5 years you can cash out 40 hours/year and after 10 you can cash out 80 hours/twice a year. Nice for vacations, holidays, home repair emergencies, etc.

      Reply
    39. MCL

      I work at a large state university that has whittled away benefits over the past few years, including more expensive health insurance. It’s still probably better than other plans out there, though – I’m fortunate to be in good health and do not need to use my health insurance beyond routine checkups for the most part, so I never really shopped around. I’m fortunate to be on my spouse’s plan after we married two years ago, and they have a cheaper plan that covers more. He works in the corporate world (software), and his company offers excellent family health care plans that are much cheaper than what my employer offered. His company also offers a paid “sabbatical,” AKA a paid vacation to another country on the company’s dime. His company also offers stock appreciation rights, a usually very generous Christmas bonus (tied to performance), and yearly raises (also tied to performance). I off and on consider moving to corporate for the pay and benefits, but I’m in a good position where I am and earn decent money for my profession, plus I love my work/life balance which I see for my spouse is a little more work-heavy than I like. I also get much more vacation time than my spouse, which is another trade-off.

      Reply
    40. lady bird

      My company has a 9/80 work week. So we work 9 hour days (8 on the Friday we work) and have every other Friday off. it is SO nice. We also have three healthcare plans to choose from – the most popular plan is a high deductible plan but it has no premium (100% covered by company) and the company also gives a significant amount to your HSA to help cover the deductible. our 401k matching isn’t stellar but we also have a pension so that’s nice.

      Reply
    41. Jerry Vandesic

      Equity for top performers, with everyone from individual contributors to company executives being eligible. A combination of stock options and restricted stock that vests over three years. Top performers usually continue to get equity every year, meaning that there’s always a chunk of stock vesting over the next couple years to help retain you. Since we are a publicly traded company, the value of an employee’s equity grant is easy to calculate.

      Reply
    42. Jennifleurs

      Ha. Benefits. My company offers:
      Free parking (because there’s a car park on site)
      A free company dinner in February
      A generous Christmas hamper
      11% off products

      Nothing else. No sick pay, no life/health insurance (I’m British), no transport scheme, no “birthday off”, no incremental holiday increase … it goes on.

      Reply
    43. JanetM

      One thing my university offers is a longevity bonus: starting on the third anniversary of your hire date, you receive an annual bonus of YearsWorked*$100 (less taxes, and maxing out at $3,000).

      Reply
    44. PB

      My company has a good retirement health savings account program. They pay a certain amount of money into an account every month. On retirement, the employee can take it all to pay for medical expenses, provided a certain number of years of service. I’ve only been here less than 2 years, and there are over $2,000 in the account. By the time I retire, with additional contributions and compounding interest, that could be a lot of money for my medical expenses in retirement. I’ve probably got a good 30 year left before I can retire, but you can bet that that is a strong incentive to stay here.

      As far as benefits to retain good employees specifically, other than decent merit-based increases, I can’t really think of anything.

      Reply
    45. Meg Danger

      My employer doesn’t have a great pay or benefits (OK on both, but not exceptional). As a high performer, my company has made an investment in my professional growth in the company (conferences, certification programs, supervisory training, language instruction, cross-training with other departments, etc.), and a lot of these opportunities haven’t been available to other employees. It is one reason I feel some loyalty to my employer. But…

      The #1 benefit that keeps me with my current employer is a dog-friendly work-space. Between our employers, my spouse and I are able to bring our dog to work every day of the week (we trade off, every other day unless one of us has a big meeting or something off-site). This amounts to about $33/daily savings vs. doggie daycare (our work days are too long to leave our dog home alone). My dog loves coming to work, though not every dog enjoys an office environment.

      I happen to be a high performer, but this benefit doesn’t target high-performers. A dog friendly office could be a turn-off for high performers who don’t happen to like dogs. If I were ever to leave my company I would need to find another employer with a dog-friendly policy and/or enough money to pay for doggie daycare plus increased take-home pay (I probably wouldn’t consider changing employers for less than $10,000 above my current salary – so my employer is essentially giving me a sizeable retention incentive at no cost to the company).

      Reply
    46. nonprofit

      I haven’t read all the replies, but I know from speaking with our benefits expert that discrimination in certain benefits such as medical insurance and retirement plan eligibility and contribution is not allowed. Meaning employers cannot offer certain types or levels of benefits to some employees and not others. We’re in California, and it might be a California thing, though.

      Reply
    47. Aphrodite

      Two year college so basically government benefits:

      Vacation days that begin at one day per month and go up to 24 days per year. Can accumulate up to two years’s worth.

      Sick time accumulates at the rate of eight hours per month; can accumulate this without limits and is paid out if you have over a certain number of days.

      Paid holidays: 15 days per year.

      Medical (plus vision): Absolutely fantastic! We have a choice of four plans, one of which is an HMO, the other three are 80%, 90% and 100%. Most of the cost is paid by the college; our co-pay, taken over 10 months, depends on family status and choice of plans.

      Dental: Choice of three plans, two of them great.

      Numerous other smaller benefits.

      Reply
    48. Safetykats

      It’s possible that benefits like educational reimbursement, paying for continuing education and conference attendance, and support for work on professional standards committees might be helpful in retaining better employees – as it’s likely that the people who want to do these things are your better employees. You can also provide these perks with some discretion, so that you offer them only to the better employees. But the best way to retain better employees is always going to be active management – if only because not all your better employees want exactly the same thing. The ability to figure out what kind of perk motivates specific people and provide it requires some work from management, and therefore is by definition not passive.

      Unless you can figure out some way to offer tiered benefits you retain everyone equally with good insurance, vacation, or 401k.

      Reply
    49. Adereterial

      UK here. I get 25 days leave a year, increasing to 30 over 5 years. 8 public holidays, plus 2.5 privilege days (Queens Birthday, half day for Maundy Thursday, and an extra day at Christmas.

      I also get flexi-time, employee discounts, very cheap private healthcare if I want it (don’t need it – NHS). My employers pension contributions are 18.9%, mine are 5.4%.

      6 months fully paid sick leave, then 6 months at half pay. 6 months fully paid maternity/adoption leave (for each birth/adoption).

      Reply
    50. MommyMD

      Premium health insurance, matching 401k, vested retirement, five to nine weeks of PTO per year, dental, orthodontist, vision, offer of overtime.

      Reply
    51. Anxa

      I think our employer uses our benefits to chase us away. Not because they are bad, but because they have a reputation for being pretty good.

      And they taut them all of the time! Only problem? A huge portion of the staff are “temps,” adjuncts, contract, or student workers. Whenever I feel happy at my job, all it takes a little more bragging to remind myself I need to get a job that doesn’t make me feel so jealous of my coworkers.

      Reply
    52. Gainfully employed, soon to be poor

      Well, merit-based raises, obviously. But otherwise, every employee at my company gets 30 vacation days, unlimited sick days, matched 401k, financial support if you plan to buy a home, company-paid fitness classes, a gym of our own including showers, free unlimited organic fruit, juice, coffee, tea, milk, soda and sparkling water, and the option to work from home if a move due to family issues is required. I also got a company laptop and printer just in case I need to work from home at any point. We also have huge Christmas and summer parties, with unlimited free alcohol and food, and a couple lunches and breakfasts every year. Plus, the company is paying to fly ALL OF US to a Mediterranean island for 4 days this year to celebrate 30 years. The company is about 60 people.

      When I write that out, I can barely believe I’m leaving to go to law school!

      Reply
  2. TGIF

    Would it be weird to bring in my own office chair?

    My office has two different styles of chairs to choose from, one with a tall back and one with a short back. I’ve tried them both but find I’m really uncomfortable. I’m happy to spend my own money on something much more comfortable to sit on. But I’m just curious if that would be an odd move.

    Reply
    1. Squeeble

      Unless your office is really finicky about uniformity, you’d probably be fine. But if you find them both uncomfortable, you might be able to have your work buy it for you.

      Reply
      1. rosiebyanyothername

        Tell your manager about your discomfort and you can likely argue for work to buy you one. I am petite (5’2″) and with the chairs we had, my feet never touched the floor, so I was able to get work to purchase a small footrest for me. You deserve to be comfortable when you’re sitting there for 8+ hours!

        Reply
        1. Naptime Enthusiast

          Same, I had to get a petite version of our normal computer chairs and it made a huge difference.

          It would be weird in my office to bring in your own chair, and because nobody does everyone grabs chairs and pulls them up to the table for unofficial cube meetings. You would probably be upset for someone to use yours without permission if you were out one day.

          Reply
        2. LavaLamp

          This is were I plug my 60$ IKEA desk chair that works for us short people! I’m only 5’2″ as well and the office chairs work buys are apparently set as a default for tall people. I have a chronic condition that the too large chairs were exacerbating and having my doc fill out the ADA paperwork was super easy. Work reimbursed me my 60$.

          Said chair is the is the IKEA Renberget

          Reply
    2. Nonprofit Lady

      I don’t think so, no! I’d just let someone know ahead of time… the office manager or whatever. And just make it not a big deal, “I have some issues with sitting all day and I’d like to bring in my own chair if that’s OK. I’ve already found one that I like.”
      And if it’s going to be a big production to bring it in and get it set up, I’d try to do it during off work hours if possible. But once it’s in, I doubt anyone will even notice!

      Reply
    3. WoSoFan

      I wouldn’t find it weird. But before you buy a drag a new chair to the office, see if a back or butt cushion would fix those issues. I have a back support device and foot stool at my desk and it’s made a world of difference with my back pain. All much cheaper and portable than a full chair!

      Reply
      1. Mephyle

        If only the standard could be that everyone is uniformly comfortable, instead of that the furniture all looks alike.

        Reply
        1. Triplestep

          Often it’s less about how it looks, and more about buying practices, vendor contracts, safety and wear. See more in my comments down further if you’re so inclined.

          Reply
        2. Mephyle

          Thanks for the clarification. Even so, it would still be better if the uniform standard could be comfort and suitability.

          Reply
      2. Bluebell

        I worked in a place where you couldn’t bring in your own chair. I thought it was ridiculous, but at least I was ok with my furniture there.

        Reply
    4. Not So Super-visor

      check with your manager before you do it! At my work, they are all about uniformity and someone would lose it if someone brought in an outside chair.

      Reply
    5. go get your chair

      If someone did this in my office, I would just think, “oh, she needs a different type of chair”
      I wouldn’t think it very weird.

      One suggestion though – see if your office manager (or equivalent) can order you a chair, even if you pay for it. It might mitigate some “weirdness” you feel if the chair arrives at your cubicle in a similar manner to how other standard chairs arrive. If anyone asks you (with a slight err of “oh you had the company buy you a SPECIAL CHAIR??) you can volunteer the info that you paid for it yourself

      Reply
    6. Overeducated Higher Ed Admin

      Ask your manager or office admin! We have money in the budget to replace chairs but have had people pay for their own.

      Reply
    7. MissDisplaced

      I’ve thought about doing that too! And I don’t think it’s weird at all. But ask first.
      My company is cheap. We have to buy our own monitors if we want them for our company-provided laptops.
      The chair I was provided with has broken hydraulics, so I slowly sink all day, and the other choices are really uncomfortable chairs. I have back issues and a 2 spare chairs at home, so I was thinking about bringing one in.

      Reply
    8. Eye of Sauron

      I think it depends on the office. I asked an old boss for a new chair and he said no (I think he was just cheap). So the next week I bought my own and brought it in. I got a snotty look from him but not a word was said.

      Reply
    9. Triplestep

      I design offices and workspaces, which includes selecting and buying furniture. A lot of the time, the uniformity you see has to do with buying and servicing contracts the company has put in place. They know that these chairs meet certain specifications for safety and wear, will come in at a certain price point, can be replaced or repaired easily (at no cost to them) and they can get more at the drop of a hat. If they’ve put a lot of thought into getting a chair that meets ergonomic needs for the majority (not every chair has enough adjustments to be right for anyone who might use it) they may not want to open the door to people bringing in their own chairs. They also have no way to guarantee the safety of personal chairs, and they don’t want people injured on their site.

      That said, many companies have alternatives for people have specific ergonomic and/or health concerns. I’d start with your manger and see if your company offers ergonomic assessments (some organizations actually facilitate this through an insurance company). If your manager doesn’t know of a program like this, check with HR. They may make you fill out a form for accommodation, bring in a doctor’s note, whatever. I can’t say for sure, but I suspect it’s really unlikely that alternatives for health concerns and ergonomics have not been made to the two-chair choice you have now. Just like they don’t want anyone injured on their site, they also don’t want people leaving work because their chair choice left them in pain!

      Reply
      1. Not So NewReader

        This is great advice.

        The only thing I can add is if you do end up buying a chair save that receipt forever, or until you quit the job. Put it where you know you can find it. It’s amazing how people can forget something does not belong to them.

        Reply
        1. Chaordic One

          I’ve been in offices where people put those little plastic labels that have raised letters on them with their names on them on the chairs. I thought the people were just overly territorial, but maybe they actually owned the chairs.

          Reply
        2. Blue Cupcake

          I was going to suggest the very same thing. Keep everything that proves it’s your property. Check if there’s a serial number. No only for proof for when you leave the company, but also in case another employee switches chairs thinking it’s company owned and they have a right to it too.

          Reply
    10. Hannah

      I did it.

      Come to think of it, I didn’t even ask. I just did it one day.

      People comment on it but no one has told me to bring it home, and it’s been years.

      Reply
      1. Linyarri

        Yeah, I did it too. I had a chair with a broken backstop, every time I leaned back I nearly fell over. I finally asked for a replacement and was told they are not replacing those chairs. So I brought in my own. A few people looked at me funny, but I pretty used to that so not sure if it was about the chair. Also, I am in a 2 person office with a lock on the door. I would never have done that on the open floor.

        Reply
        1. Linyarri

          I forgot to mention that prior to this the folks who are contracted to fix our chairs said it could not be fixed. I’m a divisional team in a regional office. Division never remembers us & region doesn’t have the $ to support us. So we tend to get hand me downs.

          Reply
    11. Blue Eagle

      I bought an ergonomic kneeling chair specifically for work. But, someone else brought one in before me and I liked it so well I did the same. It was no problem in that office because everyone had their own desk, there were extra chairs if needed, and it was unlikely that anyone else would sit in my chair.

      Reply
    12. Musical chairs

      Agree with the comments to check first and see if you can get your work to pay, with an official assessment if possible. Please don’t just put up with it, I have ongoing health problems triggered by sitting long hours in my office chair.

      Reply
    13. Safetykats

      If you have an office safety organization, you should check with them – or possibly with legal. We are prohibited from beinging our own chairs for safety and liability reasons. The company will provide ergonomic evaluations and ergo chairs as deemed necessary, and they are pretty nice. But since they are responsible if we are injured on the premises, they can’t take the chance that we provide our own substandard chair and it breaks or something.

      Reply
  3. Llama Director

    I got an unexpected promotion this week!

    I left lastjob last summer, and I *never* would have gotten a promotion there. I’d known that for a while and was ok, though not thrilled with it. When I left, my manager had to dig in one last time and tell me that she was glad I was leaving because she just wasn’t sure how to convince the people above her that I was useful. I’m pretty confident she had been planning to start the process for having me demoted. Now, I see that my job there has been posted with an exact list of everything I used to do, with the higher job title. Guess maybe I was useful after all.
    New bosses are awesome and repeatedly tell me that I’m doing more (and better) than expected. I had expected to talk about a promotion a year or two from now. This was totally a surprise and I’m just thrilled. Along with the promotion came a hefty raise (I’m now making close to 70% more than I was at old job), and stock options. Those were unexpected and much appreciated too.

    I was extremely hesitant to move to a new company, both new to me and new to the industry. I’m a stay in my rut kind of person and it was difficult to make that leap. It’s paid off in so many ways though, and being perceived as useful is probably the most important to me!

    Reply
    1. WorkRobot

      Congratulations! You believed in yourself, you took a scary leap of faith, and it paid off. I’m really happy for you.

      Your old manager sounds swell. NOT.

      Best wishes for continued happiness and success!

      Reply
    2. Future Analyst

      This is great to hear! I’m with you: I’m hesitant to make changes, but it’s good to know that things turn out well sometimes!

      Reply
    3. King Friday XIII

      Congrats! I’m glad you’re being appreciated now, and your old manager can just lie in the bed they made. XD

      Reply
    4. BlueWolf

      Congratulations! A similar thing happened for me at my current job. My old job was a small business so there was nowhere to go. I came here and got a promotion and raise within my first year! It is definitely scary to make that initial leap, but it can really pay off!

      Reply
    5. Bostonian

      Congrats! I know a lot of people who never come to the realization that they need to (or can!) leave for something better. Let this be a lesson to many!

      Reply
    6. Bigglesworth

      Congratulations!!! This is amazing news! I love that you’re at a place that can appreciate what you bring and they are rewarding you with more than just words! Keep rocking on!

      Reply
  4. Art Imitates Life

    After so long of reading AaM, I’m interested in how often you guys actually refer to a specific letter to help you out, or just reference. Recently, I’ve been helping the travel coordinator with booking travel for the team I support since she’s getting overwhelmed. I was really nervous at first because I kept thinking about the letter of the person who accidentally sent their boss to the wrong country. That has helped me with triple checking everything I’m booking before finalizing it.

    Also a flock of geese moved into the field and forest near my office during the winter months. Whenever they venture closer and hang out around our parking lot, I can’t help but to remember the bird-phobic employee who shoved his coworker into a car to run away from a bird…

    Anyone else have similar tales of remembering this blog?

    Reply
    1. Not So Super-visor

      I have had to reference the 2 letters about talking to employees about their hygiene. I’ve had to have this talk twice with different employees, and it is definitely not an easy talk to have. I was really grateful to read those letters before I had to do it.

      Reply
      1. Anonsie!

        I asked for a raise after the recent letter, despite it being a fairly chutzpah-laden move based on the circumstances. My boss was casual in saying he thought that was totally a doable raise, rated me top, and now I’m waiting to see what that translates to. So that was a pretty direct correlation of Alison writing a column, I thought for a week, then did what she said.

        Reply
    2. Laura H

      That The whole gumption “walk in and ask” doesn’t work thing is relevant to me- because my folks keep touting it for asking for a transfer and they don’t get that It so doesn’t work that way- sure it’d be nice if it did, but it doesn’t and I’ve accepted it- acting in any way that indicates I can’t would rock the boat…

      Reply
    3. PB

      I was on a search committee recently, and a committee member asked if we should respond to thank you notes from candidates. Alison had just that morning posted a letter addressing that question (which I can’t find right now), so I sent that along.

      Another time, I was proofreading a friend’s husband’s resume. I was horrified to see that he’d listed her as his first reference, using her maiden name to make it less obvious. I passed along, as kindly as I could, that this was a very bad idea, and sent along Alison’s post explaining why.

      Reply
    4. Manders

      I can’t find the letter now, but there was one a few years ago from a person who was feeling really unmotivated at work and believed she wasn’t cut out for working at all. Alison and the commenters gave some great advice about finding out what you enjoy doing day to day and building a career around it.

      At the time I read it, I was recently out of undergrad and stuck in a crappy admin position that wasn’t going anywhere. I’d spent pretty much my whole life up to that point thinking I was either going into academia or publishing, and both job markets were in the toilet at the time. Thinking about what I actually enjoyed (problem solving, having measurable metrics for success, working with words but not cranking out the word counts freelance writers have to handle to stay solvent) helped me find a career path I ended up really enjoying.

      Reply
        1. Manders

          Digital marketing. I started out with a job where I was doing a little bit of everything, realized I really liked SEO specifically, and moved to another company where I could really focus on that. The focus on metrics and rankings gives me the measurable success I was craving, problem solving is a big part of the job, and I now oversee a team of freelance writers so I get to work with words without having to do all the writing by myself.

          Reply
    5. Friday

      The geese are back at my office too! And I totally can’t stop thinking about the bird-phobic dude either. These geese strut about the parking lot and start fights with each other on the roof.

      Reply
      1. Elizabeth West

        LOL Exjob liked to put water features and mowed, fertilized lawns on their campuses a la a country club. Guess what happened? Yep, permanent Canada goose populations. They’re like pigeons around these parts.

        And somebody got fired for kicking at one that was in his way on the sidewalk. I would never kick one; I just flap my arms at them.

        Reply
        1. Art Imitates Life

          I grew up with a healthy respect for geese, after my father had to aggressively impose himself between tiny child me and an angry goose. I would never risk kicking them, I avoid them at all cost. That employee was either brave or stupid.

          Reply
          1. AnonEMoose

            Oh, yes – you do NOT want to mess with geese. They have nasty tempers.

            There’s a story from where I grew up about a couple who took their young kid to a local spot where Canada geese congregate, thinking they’d pet the cute little baby geese ::eyeroll::. Anyway, I’m told that the guy ended up with stitches in his ::ahem:: “personal bits,” by the time he managed to escape the gander.

            Seriously. Who thinks that it’s a good idea to try to pet the babies of wild animals???!!!!

            Reply
          2. Specialk9

            Yeah seriously – the geese can defend themselves! They congregate on rowing docks and ugh I’m so scared of them.

            Reply
          1. Elizabeth West

            Somewhat. It doesn’t get rid of them but it makes you look bigger, so they sort of walk away with their beaks in the air like “I wasn’t interested in you anyway, puh-lease.”

            Reply
        2. LavaLamp

          What?! Poor goose. I like geese. Canadian geese actually like me for some reason. I was at a park once and a mamma goose let her babies come up and untie my shoes. Totally wild birds too. The ones by my office like to wait until the delivery trucks for UPS or FedEx are driving by and then slowly walk across the street in front of them. I’ve seen many a driver face-palm.

          Reply
      2. Chaordic One

        At a former workplace management was puzzled that no one wanted to use a particular row in the parking lot. That row was always empty. It turned out it was below a power line where a whole bunch of birds would sit and poop. No one wanted to park under the pooping birds.

        Reply
        1. Totally Minnie

          I worked in a building once where the parking space nearest to the staff entrance was always empty, which I thought was weird until I parked there one day. It was under a tree, and I had to go through the car wash twice to get all the bird poop off my car.

          Reply
    6. Malibu Stacey

      Not just one letter, but the idea that you shouldn’t really escalate the situation when a peer is breaking a rule (coming in late all the time, not meeting deadlines, etc.) unless it actually effects you.

      Reply
    7. Not So NewReader

      Love this question. So many times we will see in the comments, “this is very relevant to me right now because [reasons]”.

      Once in a while I lose words because a question at work is so obvious that I cannot even explain the answer. I start to think, “Isn’t that intuitive?” I enjoy reading how Alison and others break down obvious-but-not-to-everyone things. It has helped me quickly find wording in the moment. A while back I got hit with the question, “Why do I have to be nice to other people at work?” I was able to handle the question succinctly and effectively.

      Reply
    8. Happy Lurker

      At least once a week I mentally reference AAM. Often times when my BF tells me about her spouse’s terrible boss. This guy is grade A a**hole.
      My sister’s boss is pretty awful too.
      I keep telling them both to check out AAM for pointers.

      Reply
    9. Extra Vitamins

      Well, I accidentally called someone “Fergus” at work this week at work. Ha ha! Fortunately he doesn’t read AaM, because is is very Fergus-y.

      Reply
    10. EvilQueenRegina

      Funnily enough, there was one a week ago where my one coworker talked about her cat as her baby and I flashed back to the letter about the person who did that in front of someone she didn’t know had had a recent miscarriage.

      One I have thought about sometimes is the Hunger Games letter when the coworkers had to fight it out for the day off, usually when my manager has approved lots on the same day.

      Reply
    11. Nic

      I’ve had a couple of employees with issues staying awake (graveyard shift), and have referred them to a couple of letters that had tips.
      I’ve also looked up interview-related letters when I was about to start interviewing potential new hires.

      For the most part, I’d say I generally take the knowledge that I gain from here and assimilate it into day to day decision making without specific callbacks to X or Y letter, but sometimes the specifics are incredibly helpful.

      Reply
  5. Wannabe Disney Princess

    I don’t know if anyone remembers but a couple of weeks ago (I think) I mentioned that we had brought back an fired employee as a sub – let’s call him Cornelius. It was met with a LOT of pushback because he was exceedingly difficult to work with.

    People have complained and subsequently gotten their hands slapped over it. Except, however, the field llama groomers. They’ve threated to leave the llamas to their own devices. This guy cannot possibly groom the sheer amount of llamas we have. So, instead, they’ve brought him into the office. It has gone as well as you can imagine.

    His first day back, a manager-lite (Fergus) swiped an intern’s laptop who had left earlier in the week. We’re supposed to send them back to HQ immediately. The warehouse manager had a fit because it’s his responsibility to get it back to the right people. Fergus told him that it was fine because Cornelius needed to be able to access his email. Turned into a blowout because Cornelius is NOT an employee. But, Fergus won the battle.

    Unfortunately, he was not able to login because………it’s technically still Intern’s laptop. So someone here who knows her, reached out to get the information so Cornelius could login.

    Now I’m getting llama grooming requests from Cornelius’ personal email. I see no way this can go wrong…………….

    Reply
    1. Not So Super-visor

      It sounds like the company should have figured out how to handle the IT needs that Cornelius would have (regardless of whether he is a sub or not). If he’s got to send emails for requests, he needs an email address and a way to access it.

      Reply
    2. Q

      I started a new job a month ago and for the first two weeks many emails were being sent to my personal email. When people wanted to know why I wasn’t getting/responding to emails we figured out the problem. (Also, the email address they were using was one I made just for job hunting. Since I had a job now, I wasn’t checking it anymore.) Anyway, even then people were still using it and I was still not replying. Finally I had to get all shouty and say I AM NOT RESPONDING TO EMAILS SENT TO MY PERSONAL EMAIL ADDRESS.

      So maybe you could get all shouty (or as much you are permitted) and say I AM NOT RESPONDING/TAKING ORDERS FROM PERSONAL EMAILS.

      Reply
      1. Lily Rowan

        The problem there I’ve seen is that since I emailed you during the hiring process, that’s the first address that pops up when I type your name, and I don’t necessarily notice. It’s not on purpose!

        Reply
    3. Juli G.

      I have to have this conversation all the time and I don’t understand why.

      Me: “Why would we bring them back?”
      Them: “They know the system/company/client/llama.”
      Me: “Then why did they fire them?”
      Them: “Well… for *fill in legitimate performance/behavioral issue here that they were always coached on for waaaay too long*. But I think it’s going to be okay.”

      One time, we fired a college kid who missed work an average of 3 times a week and was late the days he came. They asked to rehire him the next month telling me it was okay if he only worked two days a week as long as he was here within two hours of the expected start time.

      Reply
      1. Annon for this

        We just rehired a fire…WCGW?
        Ugh, it has taken much less time for the employee to get back into their bad habits.

        Reply
    4. Oranges

      Is there any way you can kick back and watch the insanity*? I’ve found making a game out of it somehow someway is key to keeping my sanity in these instances.

      *Make sure your boss is on board with you drawing correct boundaries and defending them. Otherwise sneaky boundary enforcing** might be a thing.

      **Sneaky boundary enforcing: Make it really really really hard for them to trample your boundary while still looking like you’re trying. Eg. “Sorry I don’t know why but all your emails go to my spam folder. I’ll check it more often and get back to you as soon as I see it” or “I’m sorry I’m too busy right now, I can totally help on Thursday though” or “It’s in the documentation!”

      Reply
  6. Cancer Crush Anon

    Well, I really spoke too soon last week. In my boyfriend’s words “I’m really sick of this CEO ruining my Fridays!!”

    If you’ve been following, CEO has called me a total of 7 times to ‘apologize’ and ‘clear the air’. 5 times after HR talked to him, 2 times last week. I never answered, but after the 2 last week I called HR and reminded her that I do not want to talk to him about anything but work.

    So last Friday, he came by my desk and asked my cubemate where I was. She told him I was in training. He asked her to tell me to call him about 1:1 Project I Work With Him On. She, knowing the backstory, texted me and let me know what happened.

    I immediately went into my boss’ office once I returned from training and told her. She insisted on calling him by herself to find out what he needed to talk to me about. We both suspected it was not about work, but we both knew we couldn’t ignore him if it was about work.

    So she called and his assistant refused to let her talk to him. Assistant said “He only wants to speak to CCA. It’s about something he’s working on her on. He’s in a meeting. No I can’t put you to his voice mail.” Clearly, this was not about work. As a side note, I had 3 IMs from Assistant asking me if I was at my desk while I was at training earlier. (Sidenote: 99.99% sure she is not aware of what’s going on, a few days ago she came over to me and tried to pry and badmouthed my boss for being pushy)

    So as she’s going over this with me, he freaking WALKS IN MY BOSS’ OFFICE. I stutter and try to leave and he asks me and my boss to stay. My boss tries to say it’s the end of the day and I need to leave, but he shut her down. He then spent an awkward 5 minutes apologizing me and telling me that I misunderstood what he said. That when he said he had a crush on me, he meant that as a high school word. He has his life, I have mine and he couldn’t possibly imagine being a young employee and the CEO harassing her and that’s not him, he can’t sleep blah blah blah.

    My boss tried to cut him off a few times, he talked over her. Finally I said “I get it. It’s fine. I never, ever, want to speak about this again.” And my boss told him I had somewhere to be and I ran out. Apparently he stayed and talked with my boss for half an hour later and she scolded him like an 8 year old (she said that was very scary because halfway through she realized she was scolding the OWNER and sort of froze, but he told her to continue). She said that his general attitude was “poor me why am I being picked on, other people get away with saying these things”.

    UGH. So needless to say, my anxiety is THROUGH THE ROOF. I found out I got rejected for the company my former coworker works at now, and I sobbed for awhile in my car. Not because I didn’t get the job, but because that means I can’t leave yet. I have a therapy appointment with our EAP referral in the upcoming days. We got our bonuses this week and I paid off my student loans and I wasn’t even ecstatic about it. My second recruiter is being unresponsive and I just feel very down and depressed about all of this.

    I’m so tired of this, guys.

    Reply
    1. fposte

      I can imagine; this is really draining.

      On the good side, though: HR is on your side, and your boss is on your side.

      Reply
    2. Jesca

      When I read this, my heart breaks. Just wish I could offer something, but it sucks! I am so sorry you have to go through this.

      Reply
    3. Jam Today

      Oh my goodness. I missed earlier accounting of this, do you have access to any other outside resources like (say) an attorney who can help you with strategies to document this, or offer advice on when its appropriate to get law enforcement involved? He is actually chasing you around the office now. This is starting to look like stalking to me.

      Reply
      1. Cancer Crush Anon

        Yes, boyfriend’s father is a prosecutor and his brother is an insurance defense lawyer. Brother defends companies from horrible harlots like me :) So he’s been able to give me excellent advice on how to handle it. But both BIL and FIL have been helpful in just giving me expectations on what my rights are and what I can and cannot do.

        They have ideas in place for me on what to do, but all require getting a new job first since I do live paycheck to paycheck.

        Reply
        1. neverjaunty

          Boyfriend’s father and brother are probably excellent at what they do, but they should be referring you to someone who handles employee-side employment law. (That should not cost you anything, at least in the US, as those lawyers work on contingency.) Criminal law and insurance defense are waaaaay different than employment law, and you need a specialist.

          Reply
          1. Cancer Crush Anon

            Yes, they are. Didn’t want to get into too much detail about the law side…but if it comes down to me being fired they have people they want to refer me to.

            Reply
            1. Not So NewReader

              Have they contacted your company’s legal counsel?

              It seems to me that a letter to the company lawyer from another lawyer might be a good idea.
              Especially in light of him cornering you in this story here. No means no, no does not mean keep trying.

              Personally, I think this guy could benefit from therapy but that is no help to you, except as a fist bump of support.

              It might be worthwhile to see if you have enough experiences here to quit with a severance package, which might allow you to job hunt. (I mean the lawyers negotiate a deal for you.) I can’t see where staying in this frying pan is going to help you.

              Reply
              1. Not So NewReader

                This might be a bad idea and only you would know if it’s right for you.
                Have you introduced your boyfriend to this guy? I have seen some situations where that shuts everything down permanently. The idea is NOT that your bf will protect you, no-no-no. The idea is that you are involved with a real person and plan to stay there, this dude has NO chance ever. What stops the other person is the realization that you are committed by choice to someone else and you will not ever have any interest.

                Reply
                1. Cancer Crush Anon

                  Boyfriend has not met CEO yet…but I do tend to talk about boyfriend all the time and he’s seen a picture or two I think.

                  Can’t think of a reason they would meet, except for a company event and we don’t have any of those planned anytime soon, nor do I plan to still be there when we do have one.

                2. Anonasaurus

                  I wouldn’t do this for a few reasons. Not only is it squicky (and, in my personal experience, borderline re-traumatizing) to allow a creep to decide whether or not you’re a sex object based on whether or not you “belong” to someone else, but there’s a real boundary issue. I would never want my sig. other to come into my workplace or meet with my coworkers with the expressed intention of branding myself as “taken.”

                  Like you said, maybe it works for some, but it would be one of my last resort keep-myself-safe options because the psychological impact is too high (for me at least).

            2. neverjaunty

              Don’t wait to get fired! They should be referring you to someone NOW so that you can protect yourself and get out without hurting your career or having to sue anyone.

              I’m so sorry you’re dealing with this.

              Reply
          2. Please check your "facts"

            Neverjaunty, Your statement is just plain wrong. Employee-side employment attorneys in the U.S. do charge per hour and require a retainer (usually several thousand dollars but can be tens of thousands of dollars) unless they and their law office decide to take a case on contingency, which is so very rare.

            Reply
            1. neverjaunty

              Contingency fee arrangemens are not “so very rare”. Most employees don’t have tens of thousands of dollars to spend on a lawsuit – and if lawyers only catered to rich employees who had that kind of cash, they’d go out of business. That’s the whole point of contingency fees; your clients can’t afford to pay up front.

              I am guessing that you personally were told by a lawyer that they wouldn’t take your case on contingency and you’d need to pay out of pocket?

              Reply
    4. CG

      I don’t have anything helpful to say other than just an UGH. I’ve been following your updates with horror and concern for you. There are so many “THIS IS WHY”s going on here.

      As others have said, I’m really glad for you that your boss and HR are on your side, but still. That’s a low bar. This is a grown man. A selfish grown man who has made this all about himself and doesn’t realize that he is making things worse by thinking that he can talk to you about this enough to force things back to how he thought they were before.

      Reply
    5. President Porpoise

      So, I’ve just read through the comments you’ve posted on this topic for the last six weeks. Between the CEO crap, your dad’s cancer, and the new job search, it sounds like total hell. You’re starting to sound a bit unraveled, which is understandable given the circumstances.
      I know you want to save your PTO for your job search and in case your dad needs more treatment, but I think you need a day or two to regroup. I have no real advice other than that, so pushing good thoughts your way. I hope you get a viable job offer soon.

      Reply
      1. Not So NewReader

        I think that OP’s bf is getting on edge about it and it’s the straw on the camel’s back for OP.

        The situation has gone on too long, OP, and it might be better at this point just to give notice.

        Reply
    6. SophieChotek

      I am sorry you are dealing with this – I can’t imagine. Hope you find a new position soon. Fingers crossed.

      Reply
    7. Shiara

      This sounds so miserable, and I’m sorry you’re still going through this.

      I’m also very grateful for and impressed by your boss. It really sounds like she’s doing everything in her power to have your back on this. I hope you can get out soon.

      Reply
      1. Reba

        I agree, Boss sounds awesome.

        CCA, Congratulations on paying off your loan! I know you feel under a cloud right now, but that is huge and I hope it brings you some feelings of happiness and relief.

        Reply
    8. anna green

      Oh my gosh, I am so so sorry you are dealing with this. This is utterly horrific. You will get through this somehow! Just keep looking for something else and keep documenting everything. Glad your boss is on your side and supportive. But this is still just… awfulawfulawful.

      Reply
    9. Galatea

      Oh jeez, I’m so sorry — I’ve been following your updates and getting increasingly horrified/furious on your behalf. I hope you find a new position soon, and I hope this jerk falls into an open sewer or something, because JEEZ!!!

      Reply
    10. Cheesesticks and Pretzels

      Sending thoughts and vibes your way that you can get the hell out of there soon! So sorry you are still dealing with this.

      Reply
    11. MissDisplaced

      This is really creepy. All I can say is it sounds like you boss has your back on this, which is good.
      Hopefully, this truly will be the end of it.

      Reply
    12. Llama Grooming Coordinator

      Dude, like…that sucks. I’m really sorry that this isn’t getting better for you, because you deserve better than this.

      I totally agree that you almost certainly need a mental health day (not sure about your company’s policy w/r/t PTO) – and as a bonus, it’d keep the CEO away from you for at least one day! But…ugh, I just showered and your CEO makes me want to take another shower.

      Reply
      1. Cancer Crush Anon

        I really can’t afford to take PTO…We get two weeks total here, and I’ve already used some for my dad’s condition and a planned vacation. Some of the places I’ve been applying to have full day interviews, so I’m trying to save my remaining days as much as possible.

        Reply
        1. Windchime

          How about sick days? Honestly, if you have sick time I would take some as mental health days. Nobody at work needs to know the reason you are out sick; mental health reasons are perfectly appropriate, especially in this situation. I am so sorry you are dealing with this. It sounds really awful.

          Reply
            1. Anonymous Ampersand

              Can you take a day or two off unpaid if necessary?

              I am so sorry you’re still going through all this! The owner sounds like a terrifying loon. Your boss, however, rocks.

              Reply
              1. Cancer Crush Anon

                She has been helpful in this instance. She tends to spend 80% of her day with her boss, who she is having an affair with…so…while she has been great to me with this, she has been terrible in other regards.

                Either way, I appreciate her help, but she would not be okay with me taking a day unpaid.

                Reply
                1. Totally Minnie

                  Holy toledo. Your workplace sound a little like General Hospital. I’m so sorry that you’re still stuck in this. I hope you can find a way out soon. I wish I had a job to offer you!

    13. Alice

      What a frustrating situation. Good luck,

      but also,
      Congratulations! You paid off your loans! That’s an accomplishment to be proud of, even when someone has a great work environment. You are dealing with other challenges too, and you’ve accomplished this. Bravo.

      Reply
    14. Akcipitrokulo

      So glad for your good boss. Maybe that will make him back off.

      It is going to work out… lots of best thoughts

      Reply
  7. Not So Super-visor

    Networking question:
    Is it odd that a former temp would reach out to your boss (director level) rather than you to inquire about any direct-hire opportunities in your department (her former department)? For what it’s worth, he had no interaction with her while she was here and had to come to me to ask who she was. I’m still listed on the company website as the manager for this department, and our company emails are a pretty simple formula of firstname.lastname@company.com (and mine is easier to spell!). It just seems off-base for her to reach out to him rather than me, especialy when I would be the one to make those hiring decisions.

    (TBH, I think that I’m just being overly sensitive about this. I have a fairly domineering, micromanaging director and work in a male dominated-field. I’m the first female supervisor for my department in over 15 years and the first supervisor to ever be promoted to manager. It’s taken 2 years to get people to stop running to him for things that I’m the decision maker on and come to me instead, so I’m probably taking this more personally than I should. It’s fine to tell me that.)

    Reply
    1. dr_silverware

      Trust your instinct. You didn’t get to where you are now by being a dummy about people. At the very least, the former temp misjudged the networking in a weird way—reaching out to a stranger instead of the person you know?—and that’s worth thinking about.

      Reply
      1. Lance

        Exactly. You’re not taking this too personally; the former intern is doing something silly by going to literally anyone but the person she actually knows in the company (that is, you). Not sure what she expects to accomplish with that, but it’s not a good look for her.

        Reply
      2. Marthooh

        I suspect she’s showing Gumption by reaching out to Big Deal Director instead of just using the contact she already has.

        Reply
    2. it_guy

      That’s an old job hunting trick that now is kinda weird. You email the highest level person that you can find and they usually will respond with “I don’t handle that, I’ll send it on to the right people”, and an email coming from the boss has more gravitas than some J.Random nobody.

      Reply
    3. Nonprofit worker

      I’d be annoyed too. I had two interns reporting directly to me last year and they were both in their last year of college. One of them, Bob, had worked previously and Fergus had not. Fergus had never even had anything that resembled a job so he did quite a few things that seemed to defy common sense while he was working for me, but he was also very talented at his tasks. I could definitely see him doing something like what your intern did and not even realize it was wrong.
      He literally told me he was applying for other internships that were scheduled during his internship with me and asked me for advice. He was very clueless about how the working world operated.

      Reply
    4. Not So NewReader

      As a stand alone misstep, I would try to over look it. However, if she has History with you of circumventing you then I would say you have cause.

      Reply
  8. any ideas

    I’m trying to promote a Facebook group that I am using as an advertising tool for a small business that is in the early stages. I am having trouble getting followers to join / likes. So far Facebook wise I have – networked with like-but-non-competitors, advertising on my personal page, discussion boards. Before anyone asks, I am using other avenues of advertising (online non facebook and traditional offline advertising) but based on research, a majority of the small business customers use Facebook as a form of communication. Does anyone have any ideas on how to increase a Facebook group’s members to advertise a business?

    Reply
    1. Anony

      I’m a little confused. Are you trying to get people to join a group solely so that you can try to sell them something? I don’t think many people will do that. You will need to offer some incentive. Either have discussions in the group that are of interest to them, facilitate networking that will benefit them or offer discounts if they join. You may have more luck buying facebook ads.

      Reply
      1. CTT

        Seconding that you should look into buying facebook ads. I find even facebook groups covering topics I am interested in to be annoying and turn off most notifications, so it would be hard to convince me to join one that would just be ads. Getting ads that would be embedded into a user’s newsfeed would be a lot more effective.

        Reply
      2. any ideas

        Hi Anony – sorry my post was not clear. No they are not selling anything directly on facebook. The whole story is I am helping a mom n pop company try to expand to more of a small business atmosphere. This is something I am doing on my own time and something I am very very indirectly trained in in my 9to5 job. Many of their customers use facebook so we created a facebook business page. While their loyal customers have liked and followed their page, they seem to be stuck at status quo. I’ve advertised their group on a few networking pages and discussion pages. We will have to check out your suggestion of facebook ads.

        Reply
        1. Marketing Professional

          Facebook groups and Facebook pages are two separate things. You need to make sure you have the business listed as a facebook page. And think about what incentive there is to like the page, as Facebook has become increasingly “noisy” with politics and memes in the last few years. What information will be shared on the page that makes it worth following? Events? Sales? Daily menus? Get real customers to write reviews on the page to help legitimize it. Good photography will help. You will probably need to do some ads which can be cheap just to give it some traction with Facebook’s algorithms.

          Reply
        2. OperaArt

          I’m a little confused. A Facebook business page and a Facebook group are two different things, and need to be handled differently. Do you have a page, a group, or both?
          Anyway, perhaps offer special deals for followers, have small contests for followers, use targeted ads…

          Reply
        3. sunshyne84

          Are the customers engaged with the page? If you get them to leave comments or reviews then their friends will probably see it. Maybe you can hold a contest? Explore the customers pages and see what other things they are interested in and other groups they are apart of so you can get a feel of your demographic.

          Reply
    2. Louise

      Facebook recently changed its algorithm to preference posts from friends and family instead of pages and brands. I think the best thing you can do is to make sure people are engaging with your posts—not only liking, but commenting and sharing. It’ll help you get in front of more eyes organically, so I’d make sure that the stuff you’re posting is something your customers will want to interact with!

      Reply
    3. Juli G.

      Giveaways after meeting certain thresholds- when we meet 500 followers, we’ll give away x product/gift card/etc. It’s not a long term sustainability goal but it will get short term gains.

      Before you do that, I’d make plans for engaging, regular content to continue the conversation.

      Reply
      1. Betsy

        I second the posting engaging content, on a fairly regular schedule (so people don’t forget about the business).

        I think the trick here is to make the content something people can use without boring people or talking down to them. It depends what the business sells– if they make jams then perhaps people might like a marmalade recipe, or if it’s a boutique people could like an article about recent fashion trends, or a yoga studio could do a short video about how to do a difficult pose.

        In my opinion, small businesses often make the articles too much about themselves and the experience of running their own business which is not that interesting to people unless they’re really successful.

        Reply
    4. Q

      In my experience, local small businesses don’t use their FB pages to post ads. They post news about changing hours and new products and new staff and events they’re participating in.

      Reply
      1. sunshyne84

        Yes go out in the community, maybe even partner with another business. If you sell cookies, find an ice cream shop and throw a lil shindig.

        Reply
    5. Namast'ay in Bed

      Food for thought – if you weren’t connected to this small business, would you follow their page? It can be easy to think “oh so many people like this company or shop here, why won’t anyone follow their social media page” but if you take a step back you may realize you wouldn’t follow them either. What makes you follow other pages? Why should someone follow this page? I may like the local ice cream parlor around the corner, but I’m not going to follow their page without a good reason. They need to share good content that I’m interested in and bring more to the table than just info about their business. Industry-relevant third-party content is a great way to show that the company is knowledgeable at their business and isn’t just trying to sell people something all the time.

      Figure out the non-selling point of this Facebook page and what others will/should get out of it.

      Reply
    6. Where's the Le-Toose?

      The only Facebook business pages that I like or follow are:
      (1) Ones that consistently advertise new products that are interesting
      (2) Cars, just because I like cars
      (3) Local businesses that offer coupons or advertise events at their locations

      I love my local barber, but I don’t follow his Facebook page because he does none of these things. But I follow a butcher that’s not even close to my house (but somewhat close to work) because they are doing cool events like “how to make your own sausage” and “how to carve a chicken or turkey.”

      I think people won’t just naturally follow a page. There needs to be a hook.

      Reply
    7. Freelance Everything

      1) consistent content
      – approx. 3x a day at peak times (check your Page Insights)
      – you can increase frequency during product specific promotion but be wary of spamming

      2) varied content
      – do not plug the same thing all the time.
      – do not sell all the time or talk about yourself the whole time
      – link to articles, posts, videos of related stuff.
      – hop on relevant hashtags but don’t overdo the hashtags. Facebook is not Instagram.

      3) Pictures!
      – always have a photo or video with your post. Proven to increase audience acknowledgment.
      – Use free stock photos, enable link previews, get your own done

      4) Videos!
      – Consistent blog-like updates are good if warranted. Keep it under a minute.
      – Instead of photographing products can you video them?
      – People love behind the scenes/making of videos, is that applicable?

      5) Ask questions
      – encourages discussion
      – doesn’t have to be related to products, it can be silly

      I would also focus less on the ‘joins’ and more on interaction. As other people have said, engagement is really the key area.
      I would personally have opted for a group and therefore be looking at ‘likes’ not ‘joins’ but I assume that’s too late now.

      A point on Twitter, if you’re using it (and I recommend it), don’t sync your Facebook posts to automatically upload to Twitter. You get picture-less links to FB pages with rarely any click through.
      If you use a social media manager, like Hootsuite, you can schedule things very far in advance (cutting down on time consumption for you) and you can create more engaging posts for Twitter.

      Reply
      1. any ideas

        This is very helpful. THank you!!!! We are still in the early stages of things that we can implement a lot of what you discussed. We even had a meeting to go over everything this past weekend. Thanks again!

        Reply
  9. Jennifer paige

    For a minute or two I had a tiny crush on a coworker. That’s passed now. I have no romantic feelings for that person.

    There’s a movie actor who looks similar to them. Now I’m crushing on that actor.

    That’s not weird at all right?…right?

    Reply
    1. AvonLady Barksdale

      Just don’t tell all of your co-workers and clients that the actor is your husband and glare at them when they laugh.

      Reply
    2. fposte

      It may also just mean you have a type that sets your pulse a-fluttering, and you will find other men in future who fit that type as well as these two.

      Reply
      1. Thlayli

        This. You just have a type. You find a specific set of physical characteristics attractive. This is totally normal.

        Reply
    3. MissDisplaced

      As long as you don’t behave like the jerky CEO upthread, I’d say having a tiny ‘crush’ on a coworker is fairly normal and happens from time to time. You like a certain type, that’s all.

      Reply
    4. As Close As Breakfast

      I think sometimes work crushes are inevitable? Kind of like school crushes? I currently have a small crush on someone at work. The thing is, I KNOW I don’t really like him. We have absolutely nothing in common (to the point that most of our core beliefs, values, and general life preferences and activities completely clash) and I don’t even objectively find him attractive. And frankly, sometimes he has bad breath. But still, I get a little tingly sometimes and probably touch my hair more than I should when I see/talk to him. Because… idk… he’s here? Shrug.

      Reply
    5. Anonymous Coward

      I started watching a new TV series and one of the characters reminds me of a coworker. That character has a lot of on-screen love scenes, and now it feels weird when I see that coworker, like I know stuff about their private life.

      Reply
  10. Pancakes

    I’m looking for work travel tips!

    I’m going on my first ever business trip (I’ve been working for a few years, but my previous job never involved travel). My company is hosting an event in another city and I’m traveling there to staff it (along with about half of my office). I feel pretty prepared, but I’d love to know if any AAM readers have any tips or tricks I might not have thought of.

    Reply
    1. Nonprofit Lady

      Take it easy at the bar! I’ve seen way too many people get too comfy at the bar on business trips and do/say things they later regretted. Plus, staffing the 7:30 am registration table with a hangover is not something you want to be doing.

      Reply
      1. Ama

        As an addendum to that — if you know you’re going to drink socially at the event’s meals or go to a bar, make sure you try to get some food and water in your stomach before you start. I’m pretty good at moderating my drinking but when I’m staffing events I often don’t eat regularly and then all of a sudden one glass of wine has a larger effect than I anticipated.

        Reply
    2. ZSD

      Since you’ll probably be having to pack a suit and dress shoes, see if you can compensate by taking fewer of the toiletries and cosmetics that you might normally pack. Not having to lug a huge suitcase can help with your mood when you arrive.
      Check with people who’ve traveled before to get a feel for how much it’s actually reasonable to spend on food and incidentals. Your employer might have an official set level, but if you work for, say, a nonprofit, you might learn through the grapevine that you’ll build up ill will if you actually spend more than 75% of that limit (or whatever). But if people say it’s okay to splurge, do so!
      It sounds like you might be traveling from location to location in a group, but when I go on business trips alone, I put together a clipboard with clear typed directions listing my flight information, how to get from the airport to the hotel, how to get from the hotel to the conference center, etc. Some people might prefer to do this just on their phones, but I find that the act of preparing the clipboard forces me to become extra-organized and prevents confusion on arrival.

      Reply
      1. NotMyRealName

        My system is a file folder that I start as soon as I start booking hotels/flights. All my travel documentation goes in the folder and it rides upfront in my briefcase. All of my travel receipts go in the folder when I return to my hotel at night. If I’m particularly well organized I have my travel reimbursement form included in the folder so I can get a jump on it if I have downtime.

        Reply
        1. Solidus Pilcrow

          I do a mix of your two ideas. I don’t make up a clipboard, but I do print out 2 copies of the flight itinerary, reservations and confirmations. One set goes into my briefcase/bookbag and the other set goes in my roller bag.

          For my briefcase, I found some zippered pouches at walmart that I like. They’re about 12″ wide x 6″ tall. They fit a folded 8×11 sheet comfortably and are somewhat water resistant – mine’s also orange, so easy to see. I keep my itinerary and any important documents in there (like the boarding pass once I clear security) and drop any receipts in there as well. Bonus that the receipts stay nice and flat/unwrinkled when I need to scan them in for the expense report.

          My other tip is an extension cord. I have a travel one with 2 outlets and 3 USB charging ports. It’s great for airports or if outlets are in inconvenient places.

          Reply
    3. rosiebyanyothername

      I asked a similar question before my first business trip a few months ago! Hope you enjoy the trip. My best advice is to stay hydrated, bring comfy shoes, find at least 1 fun thing to do on your own during free time (for me, it was checking out a cool local restaurant near the hotel), and be cautious if you go out with your coworkers–“drunk on business trip” stories last for a long time.

      Reply
    4. Not So Super-visor

      Oh! I just got back from 2 weeks of traveling!!
      A) Make sure that you understand your company’s policies for expensing (what they’ll cover, how to submit it, restrictions, etc)
      B) If you’re picky about food/beverages — find out what ammenities your hotel offers (ie — mini fridge, microwave, coffee maker etc).
      Week 1: I ate fast food/quick dine-in options all week and was miserable (stomach/energy-wise)
      Week 2: I discovered a Whole Foods-like grocery store 2 blocks from the hotel and ate mostly off their salad, soup, sandwich bar for dinner (lunch was at the training center). I was much happier. I also picked up some amazing coffee to make in the hotel room which made my morning experiences 100% better. My company happily covered both as it was much cheaper than my expenses the previous week.

      Reply
      1. SweetTooth

        Yes! The first work travel I did, I couldn’t get one trip to Dunkin Donuts reimbursed because they had given me the credit card receipt but not the itemized receipt. Granted, it was less than $5, but make sure you receive and hold onto itemized receipts for anything if that’s the level of detail your company wants. A fortunately inexpensive way for me to learn my company policies, but still not recommended.

        Reply
        1. Sweet T

          Second. My company is odd in that you must order full meals to be reimbursed. So a coffee by itself is not reimbursable, but coffee + breakfast sandwich is.
          We get $75 max per day for meals so I usually get something inexpensive for breakfast and lunch, and splurge at dinner – and hit TripAdvisor in advance to find a great place to eat.

          Reply
      2. Fiennes

        Definitely consider going to a grocery to pick up breakfast food and munchies; hotel breakfasts are incredibly overpriced & rarely worth it. I always get either protein bars or (if I have a fridge) milk and cereal to eat instead. Then, yes, splurge on a genuinely good dinner!

        In your off hours, try to really unwind. Since I’m by myself and free from any usual errands/housework, I often find business trip evenings a good chance to immerse myself in a book, get out to that movie my partner isn’t interested in, or get a mani-pedi (all as purely personal expenses, of course). Not only is it enjoyable in itself, I’m more refreshed and energized the next day.

        Reply
    5. Ambpersand

      Pack easy to carry snacks! You never know when your schedule could get out of whack and dinner gets delayed, or if you need a quick bite between meeting/events.

      Reply
    6. ZSD

      Since you’ll probably be having to pack a suit and dress shoes (heavy stuff), try to compensate by going without some of the toiletries/cosmetics you’d usually pack. Having a lighter suitcase to lug will help your mood when you arrive.
      Ask your colleagues who have traveled before how much it’s actually reasonable to spend on food and incidentals. Your employer might have a stated maximum, but if you work for, say, a nonprofit, you might learn that it’s frowned upon to actually spend the whole amount. (But if people say it’s okay to splurge, do so!)
      It sounds like you might be traveling in a group from location to location, but when I do work travel alone, I put together a clipboard with not only printouts of my flight and hotel information, but also typed out directions of how to get from the airport to the hotel, from the hotel to the conference center, etc. Some people might prefer to rely on their phones for this, but I find that the act of assembling the clipboard forces me to be hyper-organized and reduces anxiety and confusion when I arrive.

      Reply
      1. Nonprofit Lady

        +1 to this! It’s helpful to figure out not just the RULES of spending, but the NORMS at your org. If you’re expensing meals and what not, figure out a system for keeping receipts. I usually keep an envelope where I write what I’ve spent for which meals, and keep it all in my purse or wallet. And if you’re ordering alcohol you may need to ask for it to be on a separate tab because most places won’t let you expense alcohol.

        Reply
    7. Lily Rowan

      Look nice on the travel days, even if that’s all you’re doing and even if you don’t think you’re on a flight with coworkers — you will run into them, and you’re better off not looking like you rolled out of bed.

      Reply
    8. SophieChotek

      Bring easy to eat/not need to be refridgerated/easy to travel snacks. Especially with work conferences (depending of course on so many variables), there may not be time to eat. And then by the time there is time to eat…everything is closed, or too far away to walk easily to, or the only option is expensive room service, etc. I usually do this and hope I won’t need to use them (that I’ll have lunch with colleagues or even the occassional quiet cup of coffee by myself), but bringing my own snacks has definitely saved me from “starving” at 9pm at night when I finally get in from a full day and just can’t be bothered to go out to get food.

      Snacks might be: nuts/trail mix, protein/granola bars, dried fruit, chocolate/cookies.

      Plus all the good advice here I have no need to repeat.

      Reply
      1. AvonLady Barksdale

        If you have a smartphone, download the GeniusScan app. (This may only be available for iPhone.) Keep your receipts but also scan them so you have another copy. Do this immediately after buying something, if you can– I tend to throw away coffee receipts by accident.

        Reply
    9. CG

      Seconding Lily Rowan’s comment about looking nice all the time. I usually bring dark jeans, nice tops, and an extra comfy blazer just in case – you never know who might want to informally grab dinner or who you might run into at the airport (…I have discovered by running into senior members of competitors’ offices at the airport while wearing yoga pants and a baggy old tshirt).

      Also, if you are checking luggage, make sure you have at least two days’ worth of work clothes in your carry-on just in case. Sometimes, things go sideways with your bag, and it’s easier to have your hotel dry clean a suit than to go find a new one in a new town (especially if you are a woman).

      I always bring a nalgene with me when I travel, because flights make me thirsty, meetings make me thirsty, being in hotels makes me thirsty… it’s handy to have. My other travel essentials are headphones, cheap sleep mask for airplanes, book/tablet for downtime, a backup battery for long meetings with no outlets, a few granola bars for long meeting days or times where work interferes with meals, and a travel converter for international trips. If you’re going abroad, bring some basic meds too, just in case (like imodium, advil, and benadryl).

      Reply
      1. Susan Sto Helit

        I also travel with a stash of baby wipes/deodorant wipes, in case I need an emergency freshen up, and have a set of packing organisers (or travel pouches, or packing cubes, or whatever the retailer is currently calling them). They’re great for keeping your luggage tidy and organised, and are also waterproof – that extra layer of insurance for shampoo explosions and the like.

        Make sure all your wardrobe does double duty as well – everything you bring should ideally be workable for at least two different outfits, and be able to be dressed up or down depending on what you’re pairing it with.

        Reply
      2. CG

        Ooh, don’t forget to pack business cards if you work in that kind of job! Sometimes I forget, and it makes things a little tough.

        Reply
    10. Florida

      You probably don’t need as many clothes as you think. Usually, I’ll plan to wear pants more than once. You can coordinate your outfits so you can wear the same shoes, rather than taking a bunch of shoes.

      I’m pretty introverted. I love people, but I have to be by myself sometimes. Don’t feel bad if you don’t want to hang out with your co-workers ALL the time. If everyone is going out to dinner and you are sick of them, you can say, “I think I’ll go back to my room early.” One thing I usually do is I don’t meet my co-worker for breakfast. I’ll just meet them at the event.

      My company is super generous with travel expenses, so I always get my own rental car. That gives you more freedom than if you have one car for 3-4 people.

      Take a small pack of those lysol wipe things. Sometimes you encounter gross things (like the tray table on the plane), and you can clean it.

      Reply
    11. Nonprofit worker

      Good question. I’ll be scrolling through the comments too.

      I travel about 10 times a year for work and I actually like staying in hotels because I’ve created a routine for myself. I always use the hotel gym so I make sure to bring clothes I can exercise in in addition to my work clothes. I’d recommend bringing more socks and underwear than days you’ll be there because after travelling for a few hours you won’t want to touch any of the clothes you’ve been travelling in.

      The hotel will have toiletries so don’t bother bringing them unless there is something you can’t live without. I usually bring a face mask or two because its my cosy way to end the day.

      I always bring melatonin and earplugs because sometimes its hard to fall asleep in a new place.

      Airports: If you are going through an airport, have all your toiletries in one clear bag at the top of your bag/suitcase so you can pull it out quickly. Wear shoes you can get off quickly, and don’t have a lot of things in your pockets. I usually wear leggings and a sweatshirt with easily removable shoes.

      Reply
      1. Totally Minnie

        As an addendum to the airport wardrobe suggestion:

        I’ve had a similar experience on a business trip where I ran into a VIP in the airport while wearing a less than ideal outfit. Since then, my go-to is leggings and a knit dress with a pair of slip-on boots. You look a little more put together, but feel like you’re in your PJs.

        And I’m going to recommend a travel size bottle of Downy Wrinkle Releaser spray. I don’t know if you typically unpack at a hotel, but I’d recommend at the very least taking out tomorrow’s clothes the night before, spritzing with the Downy and either hanging them up or laying them flat. That way, you don’t have to get into a fight with the hotel ironing board. :)

        Reply
    12. Argh!

      Brush your teeth before you get dressed, not after.

      Don’t order spaghetti or anything drippy for lunch.

      Keep a supply of business cards handy (wallet, purse, laptop bag, etc.)

      Bring a spare cell phone charger.

      Reply
      1. Nonprofit worker

        I’m actually leaving for a conference today and this reminded me to grab some business cards! Thanks!

        Reply
    13. FJ

      All the above comments look good
      + Noise cancelling headphones! They make plane rides so much more pleasant.
      ++ Finding one place to have fun on your off time
      ++ Looking nice, but comfortable (dark jeans) while traveling. I have definitely met colleagues on the boarding ramp when I didn’t know they were coming to events.

      Reply
    14. SI

      If your to-go container/doggie bag is aluminum, you can use the iron on the “linen” setting to reheat. Invaluable LPT.

      Reply
    15. StarHunter

      I use to travel quite a bit for work. Dressy black flats (if female) – went with everything I wore and a black blazer (always cold). Sneakers and exercise clothes so I could go for a morning walk or jog. A folder with my itinerary, hotel info, meeting/event info, etc. I also might wear or bring a nice pair of jeans/top for flying or when I have some down time. I also had a computer backpack for my laptop (much easier on the back & shoulders). And everything needs to fit into your carry-on because you never want to be separated from your luggage. Gives you flexibility when the inevitable hiccup happens and your flight is delayed or cancelled.

      Reply
    16. Ghost Town

      Supply of snacks, both for travel time and for your time on the ground.

      Electronically scout food options ahead of time. Be sure to check out what grocery-type options you have near you to replenish the snack supply or get a ready meal (salad bar, frozen dinner, what have you). (this kind of recon can also help you cut down on emergency sewing kits and other little things you have at home or in your office to deal with wardrobe malfunctions on the fly)

      Food. I try to eat a touch healthier than normal b/c travel + conference = crazy schedules and limited food choices. Sometimes, all the options are “bad” and I just feel better if my body has been getting enough water, veggies, and sleep before/during the travel and event.

      Hydrate. Take care to maintain or increase your water intake. Don’t overdo it on the caffeine or the alcohol. Personally, I tend to avoid alcohol for the duration, but one or two drinks over a reasonable period of time is fine.

      Do carve out some down/fun-time. Whatever is fun for you and will help you recharge from the constant craziness of staffing an event. Trashy tv, a very nice meal, a local museum, the hotel gym, whatever.

      Comfortable shoes. A couple of pairs.

      Reply
    17. Totally Minnie

      Plan your clothing choices in layers. Conference halls can have widely varying temperatures, so you want to be wearing something that looks nice and professional with or without the jacket/sweater.

      Reply
    18. Hillary

      Carry on always – you don’t want to be the person who makes the group wait at the baggage claim. I just got a Timbuktu travel backpack and love it, I’m planning to use that plus a purse on my next trip since it’s only four days.

      Small sample bottles for product are amazing (I bought a 20-pack of 10ML bottles and some syringes on Amazon) – I managed to get an entire week of product into a carry on with my own shampoo and conditioner.

      If you’re doing a lot of travel including international, Global Entry includes TSA Precheck and only costs $15 more.

      In terms of spares, I bring one extra pair of shoes, one extra shirt, and two extra sets of underthings. I like to travel in a sweatshirt dress and leggings in the winter, the boots I wear for work go well enough with it. My spare shoes are usually Toms or something equally collapsible, it’s not like I’m going to wear them in the plant.

      Speaking of the plant, I make space for my own earplugs and safety glasses because I don’t like the ones the company provides. If I have to wear safety shoes I wear mine on the plane (TSA Precheck helps here).

      Agree 100% on water bottles and snacks. Kind Bars are my go to right now because they’re very compact calories.

      Most importantly, remember if you’re with your coworkers work norms still apply, even if you’re at the third bar at midnight. Know your audience, it’s usually ok to say you’re tired and going to go collapse.

      Reply
    19. Admin of Sys

      +1 to everything everybody else has said. Since you’re traveling with other folks, figure out if folks are going to share meals, rental cars, taxis etc, so someone doesn’t get left behind. I found confirming the night before if folks were meeting for breakfast/traveling together the next morning to be easiest. (assuming you’re not so lucky as to be in the same hotel as the conference)
      If you’re a coffee addict, see if there’s a better coffee option than the hotel coffee w/in walking distance on the route to the conference location.
      If you can, bring clothes that don’t need drycleaned, so if a disaster hits, you can use the hotel laundry service.
      Def. feel free to use the hotel gym, but make sure your workout clothes are something you’d be comfortable wearing when a coworker or boss is on the next treadmill. Equally, assume a firedrill might cause you to run out of the room in you PJs or an annoying coworker will knock on your room at 11p and sleep in something modest (or have a robe handy).
      Def. stock the minifridge w/ healthier options if you have the chance – but confirm if you can get comped for grocery purchases or not. (honestly, when I was traveling for a month, it was worth it even if they didn’t cover everything, but check first!)
      This isn’t as big a deal since you said you’re traveling w/ coworkers, but make sure you have offline copies of all the important details, in case your phone / computer bricks on you. (or is stolen, etc) And on that note, check the policies / process for reporting stolen company equipment before you go, so you know if you should call corporate before calling the cops, jic.

      Reply
  11. AP No Noir

    I work for a company with locations in multiple states and found out that wages are adjusted for Cost of Labor, not Cost of Living; is that normal? I’m in an expensive area with low cost of labor (per HR’s stats), how am I going to attract good talent?

    Reply
    1. Lance

      What are the benefits like? Since it sounds like the compensation… really isn’t up to par for whatever silly reason your company has in their heads, you’ll need something else, and something tangible, to attract and retain actual talent.

      Reply
    2. Leela

      I’m sorry but you’re probably not. We had a similar issue working in Seattle as a tech company that was not Microsoft, Amazon, or any of the other big players out there. Our wages weren’t nearly as high but housing costs are skyrocketing and everyone is scrambling to figure out how to live and work there, even my friends who were talented, well-employed programmers were having a hard time.

      We’d attract people with what we did and our benefits, but we could almost always bank on them pulling out at the last minute because Microsoft, Starbucks HQ, etc, was going to pay them more than we could ever hope to pay. I think it’s wise, unfortunately, to go into this with the knowledge that your company IS at the whims of whether other companies are also hiring when you are. You can do things like look at your benefits, increase flexibility of hours, allow work from home, etc, but ultimately in an area that’s high cost of living salary is going to be the primary consideration for most people, even if they’re looking at the other ones. And I worry about you being held hostage to the employees you do have and feeling like you can never say no because you know that they can easily get a better-paying job. I’m sorry your company operates this way and I hope that this policy changes ASAP.

      Reply
    3. Chaordic One

      Actually, this is pretty common. When you’re dealing with low-skill labor that already lives in the area and where there isn’t much competition for work, it usually isn’t a problem. It becomes a problem when you need to attract higher-skilled labor from outside of the immediate area. Sometimes employers will try to promote the location by pointing out whatever amenities are available in the area. (Hunting, fishing, outdoor recreation, diversity, the arts, culture, restaurants.) It’s a problem.

      Reply
    4. Evil HR Person

      It’s a thing and, unfortunately, there’s not much to do about it. I used to work for a company that had offices in SW Florida, Dallas, Sacramento, and the mother office was in Puerto Rico. Guess who paid the least? Puerto Rico, and by a lot. Another company I worked for, part of a much larger conglomerate of media, paid such low wages to Florida folks that it was laughable. They recruited by pointing out how cool it is to live in Florida (and the company paid in sunshine and not much else). That’s, even though SW Florida is actually quite expensive and the housing market is almost the same as it is in Maryland (where I’m from).

      All that to say, it stinks! The company set its budget for wages before the new fiscal year, and they looked at the market rates for people doing the work at your location, and that’s what they went with. You may be able to ask for recruiting bonuses, and make a case for them if you have a particularly difficult position to fill.

      Reply
    5. krysb

      To add to everyone else’s points, you have to remember, we’re at low unemployment, too, so you have to be able to compete. Pay and benefits attract employees, especially in an employee/candidate market. If we fully move into an employee market, even low-skill workers may have a higher bargaining power than we have seen in the past couple of decades.

      Reply
  12. Nervous Accountant

    Ok so regarding the new guy from last week who wanted an evaluation 2 weeks in. I talked to my mgr about it and he told me that our boss really put a lot of pressure on him when he first started, saying that he really needs to get caught up ASAP. I don’t know the guys background or experience, but it makes a lot of sense to me why he’s like this. (It’s also possible I’m projecting my own experience in the beginning on this, constantly being in fear that I’ll be fired if a client complained).

    So far my mgr says his work ethic & work product is pretty good..it’s just that one thing. I’m super sympathetic but again….we just.dont.have.time for handholding. He has been much better this week though. Super nice guy.

    On another note, I feel like its just a small thing in a bigger picture….knowing my boss I wouldn’t be surprised if she did this on purpose to set new guy up to fail and then rub it in my mgr’s face that his team sucks and he can’t manage his team well.
    (I know this sounds crazy but I’ve been here for a while and can totally c this happening).

    just the politics of it all make me really…bleh. Like I don’t know why there’s so much pitting against each other..it’s one damn company, we all do the same exact work. It’s really..sad.

    Reply
    1. Not So NewReader

      This sucks.

      But it’s kind of what I suspected, they dumped a lot of pressure on him and he wants to know how he is doing so he is asking in the way he knows how to ask. What is a crock here, is that it takes two seconds to say, “Overall you are doing fine, keep going. We will talk about the day-to-day stuff as it comes up, no biggie on that.” I think it’s pretty crappy that no one can tell him that.
      This is why people leave companies.

      Reply
  13. Roseberriesmaybe

    My co-worker ‘Basil’ sees himself as completely in the right and the victim all the time, it is exhausting. No call, no show? “The boss has it in for me.” “He never texts me back when I say I’m not going to be in, so why bother?” Boss tries to confront him about lateness- “I had to calm him down and be adult since he wasn’t going to be.” Basil tries to rope the rest of us in with him as well. I…don’t know how to handle him

    Reply
    1. fposte

      Maybe just take your hands off of him? Let Basil be Basil. “It hasn’t been a problem for me, Baz; I gotta do these reports.”

      Reply
    2. WhiskeyTangoFoxtrot

      “Basil, its unprofessional to no call no show. At some jobs it can even get you fired. Even if he doesn’t text back, you at least made the effort on your end.” Always playing the victim is annoying, but politely calling him out may make him rethink things.

      Reply
      1. Pollygrammer

        “Just because he doesn’t respond doesn’t mean he isn’t checking. Have you asked him to text back to confirm?”

        Reply
    3. neverjaunty

      Do not engage! Make listening noises at him and then profess ignorance, as fposte suggests. Decline to RSVP to his pity party.

      Reply
      1. Roseberriesmaybe

        This is my current modus operandi- pleasant but noncommittal. The atmosphere is bad though. For instance, our boss “Manuel” has been out sick for two weeks-Basil has been loudly claiming he doesn’t think Manuel is really sick, but is using his sick leave for something else. Which is something Basil himself has done (and told us that he is doing). So I don’t know why he is criticising somebody else for it! Another example is that he had two ornamental dogs on his desk at one stage. He named one of them Manuel, because, as he loudly said, “It has something of a stupid look.”
        So I try not to encourage him, but it’s more the fact that management can’t seem to engage with him properly that is the sickener

        Reply
        1. fposte

          Then I think your goal is to reduce Basil to basically a buzzing fly in your attention. He’s just making noises–they don’t mean anything and you don’t have to pay attention to them.

          (I am intrigued to hear of the turnabout that made Manuel the boss. My money would have been on Polly.)

          Reply
        2. Lance

          ‘So I don’t know why he is criticising somebody else for it!’

          Deflection, pure and simple. Pointing out what other people are or might be doing in such a way in an attempt to push the negative attention away from himself and try and put it literally anywhere else. Basil knows fully well what he’s doing, and to be frank, if I was the manager, I’d be having a hard look at his performance and behavior.

          Reply
        3. Thlayli

          Just ignore him. Tell him you’re too busy to talk.

          FYI it’s really freaking me out having Manuel as the boss and Basil as the employee. My brain is glitching!

          Reply
    4. Ambpersand

      ugh, people like this. Extract yourself from him and the situation, and don’t engage if he wants to talk to you about it. You do you. All he wants an audience and isn’t going to stop.

      Reply
    5. Not So NewReader

      No call, no show? “The boss has it in for me.”
      “Basil that is standard for everyone. We all work under that rule.”

      He never texts me back when I say I’m not going to be in, so why bother?”
      “Basil, I am not clear on why you are asking me a question only the boss can answer.”

      Basil has been loudly claiming he doesn’t think Manuel is really sick.
      “oh, you mean like you do?”
      OR
      “No one else seems worried about this, Basil. Maybe you should talk to him about it instead of me/us.”

      “I had to calm him down and be adult since he wasn’t going to be.”
      “Basil, you know everything you say like that goes back to the boss, right? I mean someone here WILL tell the boss about these comments.”

      You might find it helpful if you factor in that you cannot cure this person. He is not fixable until he decides to change.
      What a bore. So very sorry.

      Reply
    6. Kuododi

      Oh I feel your pain!!!! I actually have a couple of idiot brother in law’s who have the same personality issues. Good rule of thumb…if you’re not their supervisor requiring a certain level of interaction just limit your contact with him to the absolute minimum necessary to complete your job tasks. You can only police your own behavior. Good luck!!!

      Reply
  14. Snappy McGee

    I think I’m past the point of no return with a coworker.

    He breathes very loudly, will snort/hack/cough every three minutes, and can’t seem to stop moving. He even drinks loudly, if that’s even possible. I’m trying to be nicer to him, but I’ve noticed myself starting to snap at him.

    If he asks me for help (about things that he should know- we’re at the same job level), he’ll call me over, give a very abbreviated description of the issue, and with a loud huff, throw up his hands. He will constantly interrupt me and others on the team, and tries to interject useful knowledge but it just ends up being 50% true and 50% misinformation.

    I’ve already resolved to call him out when he talks over me in meetings, but me snapping at him is a bad habit I need to break. Any advice on being polite and not snapping at him? I’m going crazy!

    Reply
    1. Not So Super-visor

      Can you be asked to move desks/offices? The guy probably can’t control the volume of his breathing or the fact that he needs to cough.

      Reply
      1. Snappy McGee

        Unfortunately we’re in the process of moving buildings, and right now everyone on my team is jammed into a conference room. It doesn’t help that I sit next to him and can’t get a break. Hopefully, we’ll be in the new building in 2 months and have better seating arrangements.

        Reply
    2. Lil Fidget

      Sorry – I really sympathize! – but I think you’re the issue at this point. Blame the open office for pitting us white collar workers against each other like rats in a cage. Somebody who just has personal habits that irk you – but is not malicious or doing something totally off the wall – is something you need to deal with on your own. Think of the terrible coworkers we’ve seen on this blog, who steal stuff, attack you physically, or lie to your boss about you. This guy just bugs you. Mindfulness, headphones, and recognizing what is good about your coworker are what I use. My cubemate blows loudly on his food every day and it makes me want to choke her, but it’s ultimately my issue, not hers.

      Reply
    3. Pollygrammer

      Try to separate what’s under his control and what isn’t. Disconnect in your head his actually performance issues from his obnoxious noises, which is can’t help. Aim for professional and work your way up to nice.

      Reply
      1. JustaTech

        Exactly! And if you never work your way up to nice, that’s OK. Make yourself a mental sign that says “Don’t Snap!” and if you can, try to reduce how much you interact with this person on anything not 100% work related.
        (I had a coworker like this who I was short enough with that my boss ended up talking with me about it. I resolved to be super-professional and tried to eliminate any kind of chit-chat. Sadly I got so good at it that I was stuck helping him on several projects because the other person simply could not stand him.)

        Reply
    4. dr_silverware

      Ugh, I need this too. Not for body sounds but for extreme social yuck-ness. What’s helped me most so far is privately going to a couple coworkers I trust to ask if I’ve been visibly snapping at him a lot and hearing that yes I have been. So knowing that other social pressure is there on me has actually helped a bit on that front.

      Reply
    5. Argh!

      Do you ask for his input? If not, he may feel like his only chance to be heard is to interrupt. If you interrupt yourself and ask if you’ve been clear so far, that gives him a chance to put in his 2 cents. Even if what he says isn’t valuable, at least you gain some control over the situation.

      Reply
    6. a-no

      I count backwards from 5 before I say anything. Often I find the instant-murder-rage that made me want to snap has tapered enough that I’m no longer snapping just speaking firmly.

      Reply
    7. zora

      The avoiding snapping: I have an impulsiveness issue, so I definitely know what you are talking about.

      I would think of the top questions he asks, and then write out a polite answer at a time when you are feeling calm. Then practice saying them in a mirror, and cultivate the most neutral tone you possibly can.

      It sounds like your seating situation is rough, but if you can find a way to keep the list where you can even look at it before you answer, that would be even better. But I find that if I have wording in my head already, that is the best way to avoid saying something frustrated and snappy.

      Good luck!!

      Reply
    8. Babs

      Oh my! My snort-hacker-snot sucking coworker just left our company. I cannot tell you how happy I am! The only thing that stopped me from attacking him was tryyyyiiing really hard to separate what he couldn’t help by habit or health issue. I also had to stop complaining to coworkers about it. Someone was at my cube and asked me “How can you stand sitting next to this snot sucker, throat clearer?” I said that if I wasn’t willing to tell him first and directly then I couldn’t tell anyone else about it either. I wasn’t willing to talk with him about it because the guy was a awful in every other way too. I wanted nothing to do with him, ever. They understood because they wanted nothing to do with him either.

      So I made a pact with myself that if I wasn’t going to talk to him about it, then I for sure wasn’t going to tell anyone else. Besides, they ALL already knew about it anyway because they were in meetings with him.

      Reply
      1. Babs

        If I were you and if I ever got a chance to discreetly move desks away from him, I would do it in a heart beat. My number one reason is that I am SOOOO much healthier without his germs wafting over the cubical wall. I have not had a cold since he left. I washed my hands and Lysol-ed my desk regularly when he was sick but he was like the plague and ohmygerd if you got stuck sitting next to him in a meeting.

        Reply
      2. Plague of frogs

        I’m glad those noises don’t only bother me. I timed my snort-coworker once when he was particularly bad. He was snorting, sneezing, or coughing on average once every ten seconds. Fortunately he is a super nice guy, and I am able to usually have sympathy for what he must be going through, but some days (when it’s loud enough that I can hear it through my earplugs) I just want to burst into his cubicle and spray him with nasal spray from a fire hose.

        Reply
    9. Not So NewReader

      I would target 2-3 of the most annoying things and just let the rest go for now.

      ” he’ll call me over, give a very abbreviated description of the issue, and with a loud huff, throw up his hands.”

      I have a friend who gets huffy over simple annoyances. I have taken to saying each time, “It’s not the end of the world, it’s just NOT.” I repeat the same sentence each time. I am starting to see him be a little more patient with simple things. You might try, “Bob, no need to get upset. We will get this.” Pick your go-to sentences and use it each time.

      ” He will constantly interrupt me”
      “Bob, I am not done speaking.”
      Again, same idea you create a go-to sentence and you use it each time.

      Usually snapping occurs when we have allowed something to go on for too long. It is possible that part of your upset is upset with your own self for not stopping it sooner. We can reduce our quickness to snap by building a plan for recurring issues and STICKING with the plan. See, if we don’t follow through on our plan, we let ourselves down. And there is no greater let down. Build your plan and stick to it or use maybe a slight adjustment for specific situation.

      You have an additional layer because this guy just sounds plain annoying. I try to remember that there are probably more than a few people who find me annoying and yet somehow they interact with me in a civil manner. So that is one idea for coping. Promising yourself to work on a couple of recurring problems is another way to break the strength of a bad habit.

      I know when I have been at a job for a while, I know it like breathing. I could do it in my sleep. When the Bobs of the world start getting under my skin I realize that I have too much available brain space. I need to find a new challenge with my own work. Find an external that helps to fill your mind.

      Reply
  15. fposte

    I ran into a really interesting older piece in the Chronicle of Higher Education that I thought might have some broader value. It’s a guy who had been an administratively involved professor who got an interview for a dean position, and he talks about moving from thinking he did well in the interview to understanding where he’d fallen short. It’s a really great assessment of how somebody can answer questions fluently but still fall short conceptually of what a hiring committee wants to hear, and I thought it had implications for a lot of higher-level candidacies outside of academics as well.

    I’ll post a link in followup.

    Reply
      1. JokersandRogues

        That is pretty interesting. I’m not in academia but certainly has application to interviewing especially in listening to what the interviewer is saying.
        I had a boss once that would ask a question, listen to your answer, and say, “That’s great! Now, could you answer the question that I asked?” While this was a bit…rough sometimes (especially when you had to ask him to repeat it), it did teach me to listen to the actual question not the one I had in my head. Still have to remind myself sometimes as it’s a mind set more than anything.
        Thanks!

        Reply
        1. fposte

          Yeah, I thought that was super-interesting–that he went basically from “Wow, I answered the hell out of those questions” to “Oh, I really didn’t provide any kind of vision of how I’d lead their school.”

          Reply
      2. PieInTheBlueSky

        I didn’t understand this comment that the author made: “Many Ph.D.’s can vividly remember, years later, the humiliation of interviewing for tenure-track jobs while trying to finish a dissertation.” I don’t understand why this would be humiliating. Can someone explain?

        Reply
        1. fposte

          In context, I think he’s talking about how those can be a bit of a cattle call and you are very much an economy traveler through the process; for this interview he was treated as business class.

          Reply
        2. Elizabeth H.

          That jumped out at me too even though I dropped out of grad school before having a chance to reach that stage! I kind of feel like it was mostly a poor word choice (I noticed a few others in his writing style). Humiliating is not exactly the right way to put it, I think. fposte mentioned the cattle call nature of that type of job search, and it usually involves a lot of feelings of desperation and anxiety with many people competing for the same job, at a stressful time of life with finishing a dissertation (and possibly working another job, having a family, being completely uncertain about where you will live the next year, etc.) And a lot of those interviews are conducted in hotel rooms at conferences where you sit across from each other awkwardly on twin beds or in mismatched chairs with everyone wearing suits. I think it can make the ABD grad students very conscious of their lowly status and feel almost like supplicants before the search committee and I think that’s the kind of feeling that the writer was trying to get at by using the word “humiliation.”

          Reply
    1. fposte

      BTW, you have to scroll down a ways for the really interesting stuff where he talks about what he did wrong; you can definitely skim until you see that.

      Reply
    2. The New Wanderer

      Ohhhh, I’ve had several of those moments. The big ones recently have been realizing after the fact that I was being asked where I would take the research, not just how I would address research questions. Subtle, but key for the kind of positions I was looking at and helped explain why I didn’t move forward.

      However, there’s a catch. I deliberately shied away from talking about where to go next because, well, hire me for my skills first before I start giving you answers like that. (The related versions would be, write this code for us or propose a new feature during an interview test, when the code/feature could easily be dropped into their product with or without you.)

      I think it’s different when it’s a director or manager position and the candidate is being asked “What’s your vision” or “What’s your management philosophy” – then you would/should talk about your personal big-picture approach and not just what you’ve done in the past or approach to very specific instances.

      Reply
    3. Not So NewReader

      His mistake is common enough , though. I think Alison cautions about using a global perspective when the interviewers really want to know, “What are you going to do for US?”
      Practicing answers at home can help bring us back down to earth and reorient to the particular company or organization.
      It looks to me like he got so lost in reading what they sent him that he forgot everything else. I can just see that happening to me, too.

      Reply
  16. Folklorist

    It’s your hey-I-remembered-to-do-this-two-weeks-in-a-row ANTI-PROCRASTINATION POST!!!!
    You know that you’ve been putting off something tedious and it’s slowly growing in your brain, taking up space, increasing anxiety, and sucking away your happiness. Just minimize this screen, go and DO THAT THING, then come back here and brag about it! Discover the sweet bliss of freedom before the weekend!
    I’m off to hound some people about invoices. Blergh.

    Reply
    1. SophieChotek

      Instead of lurking here…I need to go write my mandatory weekly report of “what-I-accomplished” this week!

      Reply
    2. Elizabeth West

      Printed all the documents I’ll need for an interview next Wednesday. Since there really isn’t anything else to apply to right now, I need to clean the house, but that can wait a little bit.

      Reply
    3. Deus Cee

      Speaking of invoices, I have been avoiding paying an invoice for two weeks because I can’t get to grips with our new finance system. I have now thrown myself on the mercy of our finance team and asked for help, so hopefully this invoice will soon be paid!

      In other news I’ve caught up on a few orders, found a long-standing error in a database (not quite got as far as correcting it yet, that would be too efficient) and reached the bottom of my desk, which I’ve not seen for about 6 weeks! \o/

      Reply
    4. MRK

      Just put together and emailed a wholesale order I’ve been meaning to do. Now if only today wasn’t my Tuesday

      Reply
    5. Gerber Daisy

      I proofed the data one more time and finally submitted the entries into a third party database so that our products can get certified and into their system. I’ve been procrastinating as it’s the first time the company has done this and I was nervous about submitting it and finding out I’d done it wrong. I used all my resources to confirm but still nerve-wracking. Now to wait to hear back, but IT’S DONE!!

      Reply
    6. Fenchurch

      I finally reached out to the hiring manager for an internal position I applied for (2 weeks ago). I interviewed with her 2 years ago for the same role but was ultimately rejected. I’ve up-skilled since then and have 2 more years of experience. She already set up a lunch so we can catch up/talk!

      Reply
    7. Mimmy

      Finally registered for a conference I’ve been eyeing for months. Even when the registration opened in January, I didn’t jump on it right away because I’ve never gone to an out-of-state, multi-day conference before and I’ll be going alone. It’s not directly related to my job, but I mentioned to my supervisor that I was considering it, and she thought perhaps I could talk about it at a future staff meeting because the information would be useful in my field.

      Reply
  17. KatieKate

    My boss let me know that he remembered the conversation we had about a promotion and I’m getting bumped up a level! This includes a title change and some form of a raise, which I have no idea what the number would be. It still has to go through the higher ups but it’s nice to be appreciated!

    In other news….I’m still waiting to hear anything back from the colleague I emailed about the job I had previously applied for. At this point, I’m wondering if the email got lost? Because I haven’t gotten a “yes let’s chat about this” or a “no we’re still no interested.” So I don’t know what’s going on there and it’s been two weeks. Arg.

    Reply
    1. Jess R.

      Hey, congratulations! I’m glad you’re not only getting the promotion and raise, but that your boss remembered independently — that’s awesome!

      Reply
    2. Irene Adler

      Two weeks is long enough time that a follow-up is in order with your colleague. Email does get lost. It’s happened to me more than a few times.

      And nice that you are getting the title and promotion!

      Reply
    3. undercover poster

      That’s great news, congratulations to you! I relate to your feeling appreciated – I’ve been told in last year’s performance review, and then in the one I just had last week (both glowing reviews), that I’m ‘next on the list’ for a management position promotion. But the reality is that there’s no place for me to move up to. It’s frustrating.

      Reply
  18. youremindmeofthebabe

    My husband is moving from a regular FT job with benefits, to a PT job without benefits (other than a 401K) and will also be acting as a consultant for another company. This is his first time working as a consultant and he’ll have to keep track of his own hours, travel, invoices, taxes, etc. The company he’ll be consulting for is very small, but they are trying to help him learn the process. He’s already realized he’ll need a dedicated work laptop and a landline (our cell service at home is spotty) Is there anything he should know? It’s a giant leap he’s taking, and thankfully I can add him to my medical, but I’m a little unsettled because we’ve never had to deal with taking out taxes and whatnot before.

    Reply
    1. Ambpersand

      We do that with my husband and it’s a lot to keep track of. Quickbooks has a great (paid) app that helps to track expenses, hours, and mileage that will generate a nice & neat report for you when you’re ready.

      Also, try to do your taxes quarterly- it’s a lot easier in small chunks rather than one big bill come April.

      Reply
      1. Natalie

        I’m not clear on how much consulting he’ll be doing, but if it’s going to be around half of his income, he probably has to file quarterly to avoid an underpayment penalty at the end of the year.

        Reply
      2. youremindmeofthebabe

        I’m not sure how much of his income will come from the consulting, since all the details aren’t hammered out, but I’d heard about quarterly payments, so that’s definitely something we’ll check into.

        Reply
        1. Reba

          If he hasn’t already set rates, make sure they are nice and high, much higher than the ‘hourly’ rate he was making as a FT employee. Those self-employment taxes will hurt.

          I’m not sure if/how the new tax regs affect this, but do take a look at what can be deducted as business expenses, including use of a part of your home as an office.

          Reply
          1. Natalie

            Be extremely cautious with the home office deduction as the requirements are strict and it can be an audit flag. The home office has to be *exclusively* used for work – your dining room does not qualify!

            Reply
    2. Nanc

      Is there a Small Business Development Center near you? They are experts with helping folks setting up their own businesses. He should be able to set up a one-on-one counseling session with an advisor who will help with the ins and outs of all this stuff.

      You can search for local offices at https://www.sba.gov/tools/local-assistance

      Reply
    3. alexa, set timer for ten minutes

      One suggestion- talk to your cell service provider and see if there is an option to get a device for a signal booster. I had a friend who obtained a microcell from AT&T at no cost to him, and it made a huge difference in his reception at home.

      Reply
    4. Admin of Sys

      Tracking billable hours is a pain (or it was for me, back when I had to do it). It’s probably worth it for him to check if they want clear lines or if he can multitask and estimate after the fact. If it’s dedicated effort only, I’d suggest he find an app he likes and practice with it – anytime he sits down to ‘work’ clock in, clock out if he gets up to go somewhere, etc. It’s a pain but it’s absolutely worth it looking back at the week and trying to figure out how much of the time was overhead vs admin vs billable, etc.
      Also – get clear rules on what is and isn’t billable back to the company! Obviously things like lunch aren’t, but verify ahead of time if meetings are billable or not – it goes either way with consultants. Same with things like time spent being trained.

      Reply
    5. Sam Foster

      If he’s going 1099, it’s not just quarterly estimated payments but the “self-employed tax” for SSI, etc. that you have to worry about.

      Reply
    6. it's all good

      trust me. set aside 50% for income tax (quarterly) and self employment taxes (annually). he will have to pay both the employee and employer portion, 15%.

      Reply
  19. Nervous Accountant

    On a positive note—

    Major deadline passed yesterday…yasss
    -our company provided us with 15 minute massages every Friday for a few weeks…LOVE
    -We’ve been getting cash literally every day for meeting certain quotas which is pretty nice
    -My mgr took care of awful client for me….yay!
    -put in a request for 2 weeks off (have to go to home country to deal with issues related to dad’s death)…not a vacation vacation but I was super scared of pushback which didn’t happen thank goodness so yay to that.

    Reply
    1. I'm A Little TeaPot

      When I was at a CPA firm, the tax dept always got some relief after the 3/15 deadline. Then they collapsed after the 4/15 one! Hang in there.

      Reply
  20. Jess R.

    We have 3 large printers in my office & we print something on the order of 40,000 sheets per day. Because humans are weird and can pack bond with anything, I’ve decided to name the printers. So far, Printer 1 is Tessa and Printer 2 is Chris. Printer 3 is slightly smaller than the others and she doesn’t have a name yet. Suggestions?

    Also, incredibly, I just got permission from my team lead to spend some of my down time today making name tags for the printers. What a time to be alive.

    Reply
    1. NJ Anon

      We have great overall benefits but the best is the 3 for 1 401k match, the bonus program and the employee stock plan. “Producers'” bonuses are based on how much business they bring in. Us administrative types get more merit based bonuses. Something really horrible would have to happen for me to leave.

      Reply
      1. Tuna Casserole

        I had a printer we called HAL because it wouldn’t do what we wanted. One of our printers now is called Bob Marley, because it always be jammin’. :P

        Reply
    2. Garland not Andrews

      Itty. One of the feral cats near my home is named that because she is tiny. Actually it is Itty Bob because her tail is only about 3 inches long!

      Reply
    3. Jess R.

      A quick Google search for punny printer names suggested Bob Marley (because it’s always jamming) and I am sorely tempted to rename Chris. I’ll still need a good name for printer 3 though.

      Reply
          1. zora

            Except I feel like there’s a lack of gender diversity, and that’s sad, but I can’t think of a punny women’s name.

            Reply
    4. Princess Scrivener

      Cottage-cheese-for-lunch snort. I love sunny Fridays where my boss says we can leave early (31 minutes to go), and perfect strangers make me laugh. You all rock!

      Reply
    5. As Close As Breakfast

      An old coworker and I named our photocopier Pat. Short for Patrick or Patricia. He/She can be cajoled, complimented, or cussed out in whatever way we desire given how we’re feeling that day. It’s stuck for several years.

      Reply
    6. Nina

      I would go with Tom or Mark.

      Unless you’re going with character names. If the printer is driving you crazy, I would go with Loki.

      Reply
  21. Revamping retirement planning with a big raise...

    I am about accept a new job with a $30k+ pay raise! I am very excited about it, but am nervous about how this changes my retirement strategy. For context, I am a 30 year old woman who is going from a salary in the high 40s to one in the low 80s. My current retirement savings hovers close to $80k. I am planning to max out my 401k with my new job (right now, I contribute around 10% + about 3k/ year into an IRA), but I don’t know what else I can do to to feel on track. All of the calculators I am using say I am behind given my upcoming income.

    Are there any calculators or ways to think that can help with this significant pay bump?

    Reply
    1. fposte

      There are a few different ways of looking at it. One recommended approach is that half of any raise goes to retirement funding–can you do that? That would allow you to max out your IRA and maybe max out your 401k, depending on the exact numbers; if you can just keep doing that, you’ll be in great shape. (And honestly, you’ve already started earlier than a lot of people, and starting early is a *huge* advantage.)

      Reply
    2. ExcelJedi

      Were you getting along fine in the 40’s? Or would you have in the 60’s?

      I had a similar situation at 29, and I put about 60% of my pay bump directly into my 401k. Since I never saw the money in my paycheck, I didn’t notice that it was gone. I’m still a little low on where I should be for savings (since I keep going back to nonprofit work with lower paychecks), but I think I would have caught up by now if I had stayed in that job.

      Reply
      1. Revamping retirement planning with a big raise...

        I had some indirect help from my parents (like driving their car and being on their cell phone plan). I did manage to save the difference, which is what put me ahead of the curve, originally. I am hoping to start contributing to those things on my own and maybe even taking on the family cell plan in my name to pay them back.

        It’s such a major change in salary and I will finally be at a point where I feel like I can start taking care of my family, that I am unsure how to balance everything, along with my long term goals for financial security….

        Reply
    3. KatieKate

      Unless you have debt to pay off, I would just make sure you don’t change your spending pattern too dramatically. Max out your 401k, IRA, and HSA (if you get one with the new job) and then invest/save the rest.

      It’s more of a question of 1. when do you want to retire, 2. how much do you want to have when you retire, 3. factoring in compound interest, how far away are you from being on track to that goal?

      Reply
      1. Ashley

        Yes. Most retirement calculators are based on a percentage of your salary as money needed in retirement. You might also look into sitting down with a financial planner to help you look at the full picture and consider other things you should be saving for and an investment strategy. Congrats on the new job!

        Reply
    4. Natalie

      I don’t know that you need to worry too much about the calculator. If it only started saying you’re behind because your salary went up, then it’s probably using your current salary as a proxy for how much income you’ll need in retirement. That’s obviously an imperfect proxy.

      That said, if you were living comfortably on your previous income, stay around that level of expenses. If you max out both of your retirement accounts and still have liquid money, go ahead and save or invest outside of your retirement account! Maybe you’ll use it for something 10 years from now, maybe you’ll use it for retirement 40 years from now. Who knows.

      Reply
    5. Master Bean Counter

      Those retirement calculators are wonky. I’ve only found one or two of them that can look at a whole picture. Usually they over-estimate the money you need to save, because financial planners make more money that way.
      That said, if you can, save. I’d recommend putting some of the money away in a Roth IRA. That way if you need the money before retirement you can withdraw it penalty free, but the interest remains as tax differed income. This is a great way to save money for both retirement and down payment for a house.

      Reply
  22. Madison

    Any ever dealt with major illness and how to tell your boss and coworkers? I haven’t been feeling well for a while. My blood test results are pointing to cancer. I am having a bone marrow biopsy soon. I just feel like I’m lying by not telling the people I work with, but I also don’t want it to be made into a big deal. Should I start mentioning it now so they understand why I’ve been a little distracted or do I wait until I know for sure? Which could still be a month away.

    Reply
    1. Jess R.

      This isn’t really advice, but I hope you remember that you don’t owe anybody the details of your health or medical treatment. You’re not lying by choosing not to tell them. It’s up to you if and when you divulge this info.
      Sending good thoughts <3

      Reply
    2. fposte

      First, I’m really sorry you’re dealing with this, and my best wishes for you.

      I don’t think you have to tell anybody if you don’t want to. You’re not lying to people by not telling them something you don’t know either, and distraction doesn’t automatically require explanation. You can also, if you choose and you trust your manager and/or relevant co-workers, say “I’m getting some health tests done but I’d kind of like to keep the process private and low-key; I’ll tell you more if there’s more to tell.”

      Reply
    3. Anonymous Poster

      If you’re distracted now, I’m all for preempting it with your boss. You don’t need to go into details, but a simple, “I wanted to give you a heads up, I’m dealing with a medical issue and I know I’ve been distracted. I don’t know right now when it will resolve, but once I have more information to pass along on that, I will do so.”

      You don’t owe them details on your diagnosis or anything of the sort, but it marks you as a conscientious employee if you acknowledge that you aren’t at your best right now because of a medical issue. Most people understand both that you will be distracted and that you don’t want to give too many details – if they’re reasonable, that’s probably where this will end.

      Be ready for a, “How can we support you?” or “Do you need something offloaded for right now?” sort of question. They’re not looking to shove you off, but give you the bandwidth to deal with your issue while making sure the work gets done.

      Best of luck. We’re pulling for you.

      Reply
      1. Competent Commenter

        I agree with this post and the others below that advocate for a “heads up, I have a medical issue” approach. More detail opens the door to a lot of complications. If it’s not cancer, you might feel like you look bad to other people for worrying about nothing (not saying it’s worrying about nothing, just that this would be my concern based on what I fear others will think of me!).

        If it is cancer, they’ll have a lot of questions about prognosis and treatment and these things often unfold in very confusing ways. You might not want the burden of managing those questions and updating everyone as you get more news. But not saying anything at all won’t serve you if you’re distracted and need a little extra understanding right now and have to deal with worrying that people will notice—that’s such a burden in itself.

        I feel like the non-specific approach gives you what you need without costing you anything. You deserve all the “freebies” you can get right now. I’m sorry you’re dealing with this and wish you the absolute best.

        Reply
    4. DayVee

      I’m sorry you have to go through this.

      I think it depends on the culture you work in. When I was diagnosed with cancer I felt fortunate to have a good manager whom I trusted. It was in the wonky “Yes, we’re pretty sure that you have this illness but we haven’t yet determined what treatment you will need” stage. I trusted my manager (and his manager) enough to go to them immediately and felt like it was the wise thing to do because I wanted to know what support I would get from the organization, and also because I knew if I did need any significant time off it would affect my co-workers, as well. I was lucky that I ended up only needing surgery to resolve my specific case, so I never needed to go beyond that.

      I completely understand not wanting to make it a big deal. To this day I have only told a small handful of people outside of my immediate family, after more than five years. I think you have the right to that privacy if that’s what you choose. It’s up to you to decide how much to tell anybody but how much you really NEED to say and to whom will be a factor of the treatment that you need.

      Reply
    5. NW Mossy

      If you’ve got a good relationship with your boss and feel confident that she’ll keep quiet about it if you ask her to, I’d encourage telling her, at least. I managed an employee through a cancer diagnosis and the early stages of his treatment, and his openness with me meant that I was able to help him make the necessary adjustments to his schedule around doctor’s appointments during the diagnosis phase and rejigger our medium-term plans for him to allow for what was to come for treatment.

      He eventually did tell the team once he had a defined treatment plan in place and was getting geared up for it, just so they’d understand the why behind his schedule and workload changes.

      Reply
      1. AvonLady Barksdale

        This will also help your boss manage questions/nosiness from other people. If you have the kind of relationship with your boss that NW Mossy describes, it may help you a lot to have your boss in your corner. Best of luck!

        Reply
    6. Nonprofit Lady

      So sorry you’re going through this. I think Jess R is right- you don’t owe anybody an explanation. But if it’s weighing on you, and you’d rather your coworkers or boss know something, I think you could say something like, “I’ve been going through some health issues lately. I’m working to figure out what’s going on, but in the meantime, I might seem a little off, and I wanted to let you know why.” And then if they are being nosy, you just say, “I’d rather not get into the details, but I’m working on figure out what I need to do to get healthy.”

      Reply
    7. OperaArt

      You don’t have to tell.

      I was dealing with cancer 10 months ago. I learned that if you are in the US and you choose to tell your boss because of needing accommodations, cancer falls under the ADA. You have protections covering what the boss can say to other people. However, many managers don’t know this. My good boss didn’t until I pointed him toward the requirements.

      Reply
    8. EB

      I’m a cancer survivor– I was very open with my boss from the point I became aware that something was definitely not right. My turnaround time was pretty short though– I went from my initial doctor visit to surgery and diagnosis within a week. I was out for two weeks after surgery and after that worked at home and in the office as I felt I was able to.

      In my case, I told my boss it was okay to tell people what was going on while I was out and that I honestly did not want it to be a big thing. By the time I was back in the office I was glad I’d done that, the shock seemed to have worn off with everyone and they were great about not asking a ton of questions or treating me in unusually. Of course, YMMV depending on your office culture, but I was really happy with how everyone behaved, it helped me to feel normal while I went through chemo.

      Good luck with your testing– as a member of the cancer club I sincerely wish that you WON’T be joining us!

      Reply
    9. Lora

      Yes. Multiple times.

      1) Unless you know someone quite well and are 100% sure of how they will react, you may wish to keep this info to yourself. People are really weird about cancer specifically, regardless of whether it’s a weird mole that will be removed and you’ll live to the age of 120 and die in a freak accident involving shellfish, a juggling clown and a Maserati or whether it’s Stage IV pancreatic doom and you’re checking off your bucket list. People are just weird about it. The second diagnosis, I just didn’t tell anyone other than a couple of close friends because the stress of dealing with *other people’s reactions* was not worth it. Like, excuse me but I’m the sick one? But people unload all their personal fears of mortality on you. Even if you’re probably going to be OK. Or if there’s a good chance you won’t be OK and you really don’t want to hear their personal angst because proximity to death does not make you a fking therapist.

      2) Also if you are not 100% certain that your boss’ reaction will be supportive and helpful, maybe tell HR first that you will be needing FMLA/short term disability information for a Serious Illness. Just in case your boss is a d-bag, it’s good to have the company policy and what all your doctors need to do for that ready to hand. I needed HR to tell my boss that no you WILL let her out of work at precisely 4:00 for chemo, this is non-negotiable, nobody cares about your opinion. Your bosses won’t be upset just because you asked for the info if they are reasonable, and probably doesn’t know it off the top of her head anyways. Once you know what the treatment plan will be, then you can give boss and HR a better idea of what benefits you’ll be needing to use and specifically what time off you’ll need and how to classify it. I would err on the side of “wait until you know what the treatment plan is” though. Otherwise, see point 1.

      3) Be very clear with your boss about what you would like them to say and not say to colleagues about why you are out. In fact you may wish to tell the boss only exactly what you would like them to tell colleagues, because chances are they will tell everyone everything anyways. I thought it was very nice of my workplace to send me flowers and a get well card on the day of my big surgery. I did not think it was very nice that everyone knew EXACTLY what the surgery entailed and the resulting very personal questions.

      4) Know very precisely how far your desk is from the restroom and whether you may wish to move to be a closer sprint. This may not end up being necessary, as anti-nausea drugs have gotten MUCH MUCH better since my first Dx; by the time the second Dx rolled around it was the tiredness that got me instead. But it’s still good to know. If you have a company nurse on site, they can be a help, especially when it comes to determining your work duties, because operating heavy equipment when you are passing-out exhausted is no fun at all and even worse when your a-hole boss is complaining that you’re just being lazy and not getting work done as fast as he’d like.

      5) You’re going to be immunocompromised, and the very good expensive Amgen products that mitigate it can’t do everything. That means anyone who comes to work with a sniffle needs to be kept very far from you. You’re going to have zero sense of humor about people sneezing and not washing their hands. You know today’s thing about lack of handwashing? Nobody can touch the things on your desk but you. NOBODY. No potluck meals. Wash hands religiously.

      Also you may wish to think about how you’re going to get to work if you need chemo/radiation. I may have driven my car off the road a couple of times and dinged a couple of guard rails falling asleep while driving. I’m just saying.

      Reply
      1. Betsy

        I can’t believe bosses would be jerks about letting people out on time for chemo! I’m livid. I’m so sorry that’s something that happened to you!

        Reply
        1. Lora

          Eh, he got canned for basically Being A D-Bag some months after. Hasn’t held on to a job longer than a year since then. So, what goes around comes around.

          Oh yeah, OP you may wish to think about how you would feel if you came to work and people were all “look I shaved my head for cancer!” Because you might not lose all your hair, mine just got really thin and awkward to style, and the whole pink everything and ribbons and crap just kinda weirded me out. It was really not at all the kind of attention I wanted. Like, I’m glad that they were thinking good thoughts and concerned and stuff, but me personally I just wanted to go back to my normal life as much as possible except with more naps. I was spending half my time off at the doctor’s office / in the chemo chair anyways, and work was sort of a refuge and distraction where I could think about other things, other than the hamster-wheel thoughts about being sick. YMMV.

          Reply
    10. Not So NewReader

      My husband had cancer.

      He started by telling the boss he had a problem, he had a health issue that demanded checking into. This allowed the boss to be fair in assessing his requests off from work, his work itself and so on.

      My husband okayed the boss telling the department this overview so they would be on track also.

      Time went on and the situation got worse. Seriously worse. At this point he told the boss the whole truth and allowed that the boss could inform others. (He was not at work.)

      I believe in the importance of delegating as necessary. Sometimes assigning one person the responsibility of telling others is the route to go. What it also means is telling people what they need to know just in the time frame they need to know it. It’s a bit nerve wracking if you start thinking about how people need lead time on some stuff. Try not to get too lost in this line of thought. It won’t help you. Do what you can, as you can and let the rest go.
      Focus on what your needs are for the next week or two. Then at the end of that time frame plot out what your needs will be for the next time frame whatever time frame makes sense at that point.

      Sending you many good vibes for health and calming. Let us know how it’s going for you.

      Reply
    11. Totally Minnie

      When I got my diagnosis, I told my boss and my immediate team, but no one else. If you want to tell your boss before you get your results back, you could just say that you’ve had some medical tests done and that waiting for the results has been stressful. You can bring up the Big C or keep it vague, whatever you feel most comfortable with. That should help to explain if you seem more distracted or slower to respond than normal. You don’t have to do that if you don’t feel comfortable with it, but your post makes me feel like you might want to talk about it. And you can ask your boss to keep it between the two of you if you think that’s a thing they’ll be able to do (I don’t mean legally or policy-wise, I had a boss at one point whose personality made secret-keeping difficult. I would not have told her anything like this if I didn’t want the entire office to know by lunchtime).

      I absolutely understand the simultaneous need to talk about it and desire to not think about it. Cancer was a word that was really hard to apply to myself. That’s a thing that happens to other people, not me. Above all, try and stay off Google. You’ll end up in the rabbit hole of worst case scenarios, and that’s not a great place to be.

      I’m pulling for you, Madison.

      Reply
    12. Ama

      So last summer I had a mysterious illness that they also thought might be cancer (it wasn’t, but they couldn’t tell for sure until I had surgery). I did tell my boss pretty early on, because the appointment where they gave me my test results and wanted to send me to consult with a surgeon immediately was early on a work day so I needed to let her know I wasn’t going to be in later as planned and at that point I was in such a state of panic I barely realized what I was saying. But she kept it very quiet; only our COO (who handled our HR at the time) was told and she was initially only told that I was having a major health issue and might need some extra assistance (as it happened I was in the middle of trying to hire an admin).

      I mostly told others beforehand that I was having a surgical procedure and would be out for a few weeks to recover — after the surgery resulted in good news I was a little more open with people (had it been cancer I would have had to come up with a way to explain the ongoing issue). I suspect several of my coworkers knew something was wrong because I lost almost 25 pounds in six weeks pre-surgery and looked terrible but I work with pretty awesome people so they were nice enough not to pry unless I volunteered information (I suspect some may have made discreet inquiries to my boss but I trusted her to handle that).

      I hope everything turns out okay. The wait for my surgery was so difficult.

      Reply
    13. it's all good

      I’m sorry to hear this. I just took my dad for a bone marrow biopsy today. Now waiting for two weeks is the next step. – Not the same but I told my clients I might be changing my schedule because of helping my dad and I’m fortunate everyone was supportive. (Also, everyone I know that has had multiple bone marrow biopsies and my dad from today state there is no pain, just some pressure. I hope this procedure goes well for you too). I also hope for good news for you.

      Reply
    14. Faintlymacabre

      Not quite the same, but I found out I needed to have major surgery during my thesis writing- my thesis advisor who generally was a flake and unhelpful (I named my eye twitch after her!), really stepped up and took care of a lot of the red tape stuff that the school needed for my absence and recovery. So people can surprise you. Also, she took care of notifying people affected by my absence, which was really wonderful for me. Hoping you can get the same help, and best wishes however it turns out.

      Reply
    15. Anon for Cancer

      I went through cancer last year: tests, chemo, surgeries, radiation. I’m so sorry that you are going through this. I agree with others who have said you should tell your boss that you’re going through medical issues and don’t know yet what your outcome will be.

      I told a couple of coworkers when I was having follow-up appointments. I was really scared. Then when I was diagnosed, I told my boss and a couple more people.

      About a week later, I told dozens more people in a mass email. The reason was that I am head of a department that a lot of people rely on. I needed people to be lenient and understanding with me.

      I ended up needing a lot of time off for appointments, as well as just rest and recuperation. My bosses and coworkers were absolutely wonderful.

      This is a scary time, but I encourage you to get support and understanding where you need it.

      Reply
  23. Not Today Satan

    For those who have job hunted recently (or are), how has the job market been for you and what is your experience level?

    I’ve been a manager for a year (but my title is team lead- barf), an analyst for 4 years before that, plus a few years of lower level experience. I have a B.A. and an M.A. in things unrelated to my field. I have strong data (SQL and Excel) skills but not enough experience for most data jobs, lol. I’ve mostly been applying to program manager-level jobs but have been having almost no luck. I had a phone screen yesterday and the HR rep told me her only concern was that I was overqualified! I didn’t expect to hear that. I’m not sure whether she’s off the mark or if I really should be aiming higher.

    Reply
    1. Lil Fidget

      I have noted a dearth of job postings to even apply to in my field (nonprofits). I wonder if people are anxious and twitchy because of government churn, which has a bearing on the future likely funding. I don’t see a lot of programmatic jobs posted, it’s all development (fundraising) or communications positions.

      Reply
      1. Not Today Satan

        I’m in nonprofit too and also constantly see development jobs. It seems like everything is ever development or direct service. I have seen a handful of what I thought were fits but barely ever get called. You’re right that they might not be hiring anyone at all. Sigh.

        Reply
        1. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister

          Look carefully at those development jobs – especially in big orgs or universities, a development department might post jobs for roles doing communication, office management, financial oversight, administration, etc. I work in fundraising but a lot of the jobs I see tagged as “development” are actually other various roles, just for the development department.

          Reply
    2. Code Monkey, the SQL

      I’m wondering the same thing. I think my company might be headed for some rough times, so I’m trying to put feelers out, but the jobs either come back with “We’d like a passionate self-starter who loves complicated problems, knows six programming languages, has an MS in Statistics or equivalent experience in AI development, who will travel 90% of the time” or “Junior Analyst. Must relocate to Amityville.”

      Supposedly, healthcare is the field to look at right now, but I’m not finding anything worth trying.

      Reply
      1. Not Today Satan

        Lol, I love that you’re a data person too because I see SO many jobs that I don’t qualify for (e.g. require a Statistics masters, 35 coding languages, etc.) but pay even less than what I make at a nonprofit. WTF?

        Reply
        1. Code Monkey, the SQL

          I’m trying to keep plugging, since I know the ads are often Santa wishlists rather than “Must Know or Fail Job” lists, but really, I don’t love my field enough to put in the time it would take to learn R and Python and C++, just to try to impress a hiring manager who can’t open his own email.

          Reply
      2. Windchime

        I’ve been a data person (mostly SQL but other stuff as well) for almost 20 years, and all of it in healthcare. You might not see those jobs on Indeed or Linked in; I found my current job by going directly to the “Careers” link on my now-employers website. Check your local hospital and clinics websites; almost every facility of any size at all will have an IT or Finance department who deals with data.

        Reply
    3. Q

      Overqualified. I heard that too many times before I dumbed down my resume and removed my MBA. I ended up with a job several levels below what I am capable of but its a job! That pays me! And I have health insurance! I’m actually enjoying just being one of the regular folks and only responsible for myself.

      Reply
    4. Bea W

      Job market in my field (pharma/biotech) is crazy hot right now. I really worry the bubble will burst in spectacular fashion.

      Reply
    5. SophieChotek

      Terrible. But I do think some of my issue is my resume and cover letters aren’t great. I have been trying to apply call the advice, etc. here but apparently don’t have it quite nailed.

      I probably should drop my unrelated grad degrees from my resume, but then I have a very bizzare and short job history.

      Reply
      1. Not Today Satan

        I’m sorry it’s been so tough for you as well. I don’t get it since the unemployment rate is supposedly so low.

        Reply
        1. Fortitude Jones

          The unemployment rate isn’t counting people who’ve stopped filing and/or never filed to begin with because they either never worked or worked positions that don’t report unemployment claims.

          Reply
        2. it's all good

          ^ this. during the recession I went through all my unemployment benefits without a job. I called the unemployment office and I asked if I was still counted as looking for work and they said NO because I was not collecting benefits. I told them I should still be included and then the line was silent.

          Reply
    6. ThatGirl

      I got a new job last summer after being laid off about a year ago.

      I had 13 years experience. I also got “outplacement services” as part of my severance that helped with my resume and networking. I got a lot of phone interviews, a moderate amount of in-person interviews, got to the final round on 4 jobs and got offered three (one was not a real option for me; mercifully, the two good offers came within a couple days so I was able to take the one I really wanted). All told it took me about 4 1/2 months. I was… slightly picky? I was trying to stay within a certain driving range and salary level, but wasn’t too picky about the type of company.

      Dunno if that helps but that was my experience, anyway. :)

      Reply
    7. Frustrated Optimist

      I am mid-career and have been job searching for close to three years. Thankfully, I am still employed.

      So much of what I am seeing is patently entry-level, or alternatively, the company says they want someone with experience and a specialized skill set, but the *pay* amounts to entry-level.

      I’ve resigned myself to the fact that I may need to take some level of pay cut to switch jobs, but I can’t go from $60K to $40K, which is what a lot of these jobs pay. It’s maddening, and, at times, terrifying.

      Reply
      1. Lil Fidget

        Yes, what is that? In nonprofit I’m routinely seeing ED and other director-level jobs for 40-60K, in our very expensive city.

        Reply
    8. alannaofdoom

      I was job-hunting last spring (basically April/May onwards) and landed an offer in early August – I was coming from a decade (ugh, I know) with a small and dysfunctional company so my titles were all “assistant” but ultimately that translated closer to “associate” as my current role – basically one step below director level.

      Re: your data skills, have you considered looking at retail companies? I work for a large department store co. (in planning) and almost every area of the company has folks in charge of data analysis who build reporting tools in SQL and Excel for their divisions. Might be a good fit for your skills! Retail in general had a strong fourth quarter so my sense is that the job market is a little friendlier now than it was 6 or 12 months ago.

      Reply
    9. Chaordic One

      There are a lot of openings and advertisements where I live, but…

      there’s an awful lot of competition for the better paying jobs that I qualify for. I’m sure I would be employed right now if I weren’t so picky, but at my age I don’t really want to work retail and there are some jobs that are a bit too physical for me. (If I were 20 years younger, maybe.)

      Employers still seem to be picky and want to hire younger people. (IMO)

      Reply
    10. RestlessRenegade

      My ex is in his 4th month of unemployment. He has 5+ experience in his field and has had several interviews but no offers. A few have said they will get in touch but never did. I think he is overqualified for the jobs he is applying for and there are a lot of people here who need work, but it has been rough for him.

      Reply
  24. That Cat Lady

    So my cat is having kittens and a work colleague has asked if she can have one. Only problem is she already has a very unfriendly rescue cat (which in my opinion she slightly neglects) and a dog who she absolutely dotes on. She’s one of those people who gets very swept up in and idea and then gets bored of it so I’m concerned both that the kitten would be a fad that she’d get bored of and that it might be terrorised by her existing pets/ young children especially considered that I have neither dogs not children so it would be unused to them.

    Is there any way to politely decline this (personal) request without disrupting our professional relationship.

    Reply
    1. Manders

      I’d go with a polite white lie, like saying your other friends have already called dibs on all the kittens. This does mean that you can’t turn around and ask other people at work if they want a kitten, but I think it’s worth that inconvenience to keep the peace. I definitely don’t think you should feel obligated to give a kitten to someone who doesn’t seem to be taking good care of her current cat.

      Reply
      1. k.k

        That’s the approach I would take. It might take some effort keeping up the white lie, like making sure you don’t slip up and mention to someone that you’re still housing them, but it’s well worth the safety of that cat. I just don’t think there is a way tell her your concerns truthfully without pissing her off. She sounds like a bad pet owner, and people like that don’t typically take criticism well.

        Reply
      2. That Cat Lady

        I think you’re right. I don’t think there’s any way I can approach this truthfully that won’t offend her so I guess I’m going to have to tell her they’re spoken for and then keep any people asking for kittens/ advertising on the down low especially at work. I don’t see her outside work so hopefully it should be fairly easy to keep under wraps…

        Reply
    2. Anony

      Are you giving kittens to anyone else at work or otherwise advertising the available kittens? If not, you could say that all the kittens are already spoken for, or at least that you have had many people tell you they want kittens and you will get back to her after you know how many kittens you have which will turn out to be not enough for her to have one.

      Reply
      1. Pollygrammer

        Even if there’s someone else at work you want to give a kitten to, as long as you can get them to fib that they made their request earlier I don’t think it would be a problem.

        Or maybe you want to keep the kittens in pairs? Or they turn out to have some kind of health problem?

        Reply
    3. Anonymous Poster

      Didn’t you know they’re all spoken for already? Because they’re all spoken for already.

      Sorry that there isn’t another kitten available for you, Ms. Work Colleague! Anyway, back to the TTP project…

      Reply
    4. I'm A Little TeaPot

      Don’t count your kittens before they’re hatched (ok mixed metaphors, but you get the idea). Please don’t give her, or anyone else you think unworthy, a kitten. And sqeee! baby kittes are so cute.

      Also, totally off topic, please get mama, papa (if you have papa), and all babies spayed/neutered when its appropriate. There’s so many unwanted kitties, spay/neuter really makes a difference. (Unless you’re deliberately breeding a purebred, in which case I assume you’re doing it responsibly, vet involved, etc.)

      Reply
    5. Marvel

      I’d tell her that you have some other people who are interested who you’re waiting to her back from, but you’re happy to jot her down on the “maybe” list. And then just adopt out all the kittens to other people.

      Reply
  25. Andi

    The other day I came across a book that was a collection of terrible job applications. Thought I’d include some here for your amusement. Obviously there’s no way to verify whether any/or all of these are real, a few years ago I may have doubted their authenticity, but after reading this site for a while I’m quite ready to believe them!

    Amusing (horrifying?) stories:
    – We hadn’t advertised a vacancy but one eager jobseeker managed to find the names and home addresses of five members of the board. Having cut out letters from newspaper headlines in the manner of hate-mailer or hostage-taker, he sent each of them a series of enigmatic notes that gradually spelled out ‘Joe Chang is going to blow you away!’. The first note just said ‘Joe’, the second ‘Joe Chang’, the third ‘Joe Chang is’, and so on. The penultimate letter proved particularly alarming.
    – I received a 412-page covering letter that was mostly the cut-and-pasted musings of an African tribal elder on the secret healing powers of golden eagles.

    Quotes from resumes/cover letters:
    – I have set up my resume to be sung to the theme tune of The Brady Bunch
    – My time is valued at $180/hour, so please bear this in mind when deciding how long to make the interview. I do not offer ‘mates’ rates’.

    This one is probably the worst:
    – I refer to the recent death of the technical manager at your company and hereby apply for the replacement of the deceased manager. Each time I apply for a job, I get a reply that there’s no vacancy, but in this case I have caught you red-handed and you have no excuse because I even attended the funeral to be sure he was truly dead and buried before applying. Attached to my letter is a copy of my CV and his death certificate.

    Yikes!

    Reply
    1. Snark

      “My time is valued at $180/hour, so please bear this in mind when deciding how long to make the interview. I do not offer ‘mates’ rates’.”

      “Dear Applicant: Apparently we cannot afford you. All the best.”

      Reply
      1. Thursday Next

        This is an actual strategy people have used in apartment hunting in NYC (and probably other tight markets)—reading the obituary pages to identify available apartments (particularly rent-controlled ones). It is macabre!

        Reply
        1. boo bot

          Yeah, but you don’t go up to the pallbearers and ask for a showing!

          You ask the second-tier mourners if they’ve heard what’s happening with the apartment, *then* finagle an introduction to the immediate survivors.

          … I’m just kidding. That doesn’t work anymore. By the time you read the obit, the dead person’s niece or cousin or something has already taken over the lease. If you want an apartment you have to murder someone you already know.

          Reply
    2. Countess Boochie Flagrante

      Oh my god I am laughing silently at that first one! Even aside from the fact that the whole project is BANANAS, I’m vaguely surprised that he didn’t get to that penultimate letter and go “wait… that’s not right…”

      Reply
    3. Anony

      How did the last one get the death certificate! “Dear applicant, we may have an opening but you have seriously creeped us out”

      Reply
      1. WhiskeyTangoFoxtrot

        You can request a death certificate of just about anyone, but you have to pay for it which makes it even worse!

        Reply
      2. Elan Morin Tedronai

        If I wasn’t concerned about my own job security I’d write this:

        “Dear Applicant,
        Thank you for applying to Acme, Inc. Since our last employee, Bugs, died of karoshi, we do indeed have an opening for his post. We have received your CV and will get back to you at the earliest possible opportunity.

        Rgds,
        Wile E. Coyote, HR Manager”

        Reply
    4. David S. Pumpkins (formerly katamia)

      Just had to bite my lip to keep from LOLing for real (while in class, oops) at the first one.

      Also WOW at the third one.

      Reply
    5. Travelling Circus

      Holy crap, these are horrifying! But also hysterical (am I terrible person for saying that?).

      What’s the name of the book? I…really want to read this.

      Reply
    6. This Daydreamer

      That last one – am I the only one who’s even more weirded out by the guy saying he caught them red handed?

      Reply
    7. Plague of frogs

      The death certificate is such a nice touch. I like a candidate who is thorough.

      The first one is admirable too. I made a letter by cutting words out of newspapers once, and it took forever. If I was ever going to kidnap someone, the annoyance of this process would have made me change my mind. So, I have to admire a guy who wrote that many letters that way. He has a reason to be proud of himself and most certainly should frame the restraining orders that he no doubt received.

      Reply
    8. Totally Minnie

      For the last one:

      Dear Applicant,

      Due to this extremely insensitive request at a time when staff are grieving, you have been added to our Do Not Hire List.

      All the best,
      Company

      Reply
  26. Morning Glory

    We have a new upper-mid level person on our team who hasn’t been here long but seems amazing. She seems to be really effective at moving projects forward that had previously stagnated, or been tied up in red tape, and treats those of us on the support staff like we are humans, which is really nice. It’s made me wonder about the impact that one individual can have on an existing department culture. Has anyone else ever had a team that was transformed for better or worse by one person?

    Reply
    1. The Original Flavored K

      I have definitely seen team and office cultures transformed for the worse by one person. Our previous lead receptionist was toxic — like, intimidating to and unfriendly with patients, with a low opinion of everyone but herself. One of our doctors absolutely hated her, but because she was friends with one of the MA’s, it took her having a blowout about one of the other managers in the hospital system (complete with calling her a “stupid b-broad”) in front of a patient to get rid of her.

      Strangely, despite the friendship she had with the MA, the atmosphere in this office lightened up considerably when she was gone…

      Reply
      1. The Original Flavored K

        (Also, no. I have no idea how she made friends with this particular MA. Maybe there was blackmail material, or drugs, or a voodoo doll.)

        Reply
    2. Lissee

      Yes! Coworker who joined my team a year and a half ago helped us jump way ahead in how we were doing things since she brought new competency to her role.

      Reply
    3. Lemon Zinger

      Oh yes, to both. I’ve had a toxic coworker who was on my small team (we were counterparts) but completely affected the happiness of the larger team to which we belonged. She was negative, bad at her job, and lazy. When she left, morale improved almost immediately.

      Reply
    4. JustaTech

      Yes! I’ve had someone on my team move up to manager and made a huge difference (nothing like clear instructions to make life easier).
      I’ve also had an outside person added to our team who made a huge difference in the moral/tone of the group because they’re so excited about the new job that it helped remind us why the job was interesting. (And the new person isn’t bitter like we are, so that’s awesome.)

      Reply
    5. Rovannen

      Yes!!
      We have a complete change in our building due to our new school principal. We’re on year three and I have to say the roughest day now with the new principal is better than the best day we had before the change.

      Our staff was divided; we had the haves and the have-nots. Some were apathetic in their roles while others poured their blood, sweat and tears. We had a King and we better not forget it. We couldn’t even rally a social committee.

      Wonder Woman came in and through hard work (I don’t think she sleeps), we now have a unified staff with a goal. She did this through her leadership, willingness to get her hands dirty, leading by example, her knowledge and experience, trying new things (and not afraid of being wrong), investing in the staff through professional development, and not participating in ridiculous power games. She’s out with the students, in the classroom, lunch room, halls before school and she is out helping with the end of day parent pick ups. She’s budgeted our monies so we are able to make the necessary upgrades across the board. She formed leadership teams for staff and students; everyone has a responsibility to improve our school. And she’s not done! We are developing systems to constantly review, revise and improve. I could go on for several more paragraphs.

      The resulting change of attitudes in the staff, students, and parents is amazing.

      Can one person make a difference, you bet.

      Reply
    6. watching the show

      Oh, yes. This is going on at my job right now. We have a new TL and the whole place has gone to hell in a handbasket. When we are audited this year, the Senior Manager (who doesn’t seem to care), will have to answer for all the things that are against the rules that the TL is doing.

      Reply
    7. Faintlymacabre

      oh god. Previously, I had worked in a place where all of the day shift were women, and then a guy was hired. Not only would he talk shit about what should/should not be shaved, but even though he was explicitly hired to do two things, he decided one of those things was gross, and would not do it. He told me on his first day that he would be doing my job soon, then told me a week later that he didn’t want my job because it was too much work. When he bitched about how little money he was making, I told him that maybe he should do both parts of his job. He interpreted that as me saying he should ask for a raise to do the job he was hired to do. That got him (and me!) in trouble with the manager. I left. He died.

      Reply
  27. What happened to the laundry?

    I had an interview for a grad position at one of the big-four accounting firms. Being a grad program there was a large number of applicants being interviewed at the same time (group interview, group activities etc. before moving on to individual interviews, all on the same day) this part is quite normal and done by most big firms when hiring their grad intake.

    At the end of the day though, they had everyone line up and get a photo taken. The reason given is that it’ll be to jog the memory of the interviewer about who they were talking to etc. (having seen so many people on the same day).

    I found that practice…odd. I mean they were taking notes all the way through, and they still had the initial applications/resumes to work off, was remembering the way a person looked all that more useful? I was pretty put off by it in any case.

    Reply
    1. Betsy

      I’ve been interviewing applicants for our program this week and honestly I think once you’ve interviewed so many they all start to blur together. We completed our scoresheets and wrote notes directly after the interview, so those will be the final scores. But if the recruitment process involved lengthy discussions of the pros and cons of particular candidates after the interviews and group tasks then it would be really helpful to have a picture as a memory aide. In my opinion, they’re just being diligent. I’ve interviewed 22 people this week and if someone asks me a question about a candidate in next week’s meeting when we sign off on the final decisions, I will most likely need to refer to a photo (luckily we have profiles with photos attached) to jog my memory about a particular candidate and make sure I’m not confusing them with one who is very similar.

      Reply
    2. Ledgerman

      I work for a Big 4 and they just asked us to send in a recent photo at some points during the recruiting process (for the newsletter mentioning who would be on site or whatever), and on the other side of that, I now know it’s also used to help keep all the candidates straight in post-interview/event discussions. It’s hard otherwise!

      Reply
  28. AdAgencyChick

    Things that are underrated in the workplace:
    * Saying please (I feel like “Thanks” gets said a lot, but “please” almost never)
    * Assuming positive intent (assuming honest mistakes before assuming malice or negligence)

    What’s on your list?

    Reply
    1. NW Mossy

      * Giving positive feedback when someone does something well or is particularly helpful – if you catch some doing it right, say so!
      * Regularly coming back to basic expectations and making sure everyone has the same understanding, especially for things that everyone should “just know” – so many problems are caused by expectation confusion and lack of awareness
      * Genuinely listening to different points of view, particularly when you want to disagree – if you pay attention to where it’s coming from, you’ll better understand how to work with it

      Reply
    2. AliceBG

      +1 to assuming positive intent!

      My list:
      *Coworkers who are all-business and don’t endlessly monologue at you about their personal lives while you’re trapped covering a service desk

      *Asking for help on a project well in advance of the deadline

      Reply
      1. Triplestep

        Hmm, I guess my example below would not be assuming positive intent. Something for me to think about.

        Reply
    3. Argh!

      I actually once had a report who wouldn’t do anything that included “please” because she thought it wasn’t a real thing. She was from the South so I was shocked by that. I don’t have it in me to order people around like a drill sargeant, but I had to figure out a way that I could be myself without downplaying the importance of an assignment.

      Reply
      1. AdAgencyChick

        I’m less annoyed when my boss doesn’t say please (although she usually does, and I usually use it with my direct reports). It’s more when a coworker in another department says “I need this from you” rather than “Can you please do this for me?”

        It’s the whole attitude of “You will do me this favor” instead of “Would you do this favor?” that I hate, especially because it totally assumes that I’ve already agreed to do the thing.

        Reply
        1. Betsy

          We get emails that say ‘thank you for volunteering to do X task’ when we haven’t volunteered at all and it’s something (outside our regular duties) we have been told to do. This, for some reason, annoys me much more than just saying ‘thanks for doing this task’.

          Reply
    4. hbc

      Related to assuming positive intent, I wish more people knew the limits of what they know, and asked questions rather than drawing conclusions. I can’t even begin to estimate the number of times someone has been all “The llama groomers are all slacking!” because they see a bunch of fluffy llamas wandering about. But maybe someone mixed up the calendar and booked two herds for the same slot, maybe someone in maintenance messed up and there are no sharpened shears, maybe there’s a bout of llama lice going around and the extra precautions are slowing down operations.

      The worst part is, people who react like that tend to register the correction in the moment but the emotional reaction (“Groomers are lazy!!”) is what they remember.

      Reply
      1. AdAgencyChick

        YES, THIS.

        I’m learning more and more how much of “negligence” or “carelessness” boils down to a failure of the person doing the accusing to communicate what she wanted as clearly as she thinks she did (or at all, sometimes).

        Reply
    5. Anonymous Ampersand

      There is one person on my team who is always really clear about what she’s asking of you in meetings and sends an email/action summary afterwards. I’ve actually emailed our team manager and copied her in to say how much I appreciate it. If only everyone did this.

      Reply
        1. Anonymous Ampersand

          I know. It’s particularly something I appreciate as my line manager is rather vague sometimes!!

          Reply
    6. Triplestep

      *Managers who don’t “send you home” early on a Friday or day before holiday just to make themselves feel good. I’m an adult, and I’m salaried – if I want to go home early, I’ll go home early. I tend not to go home early when I’m in the middle of something, thankyouverymuch.
      *Managers who don’t come tell you that you have permission to work from home the next day when 18 inches of snow is expected and the site is already being shut down. Was already planning to, thanks. See above re: salaried adult.

      Reply
  29. NJ Anon

    We have great overall benefits but the best is the 3 for 1 401k match, the bonus program and the employee stock plan. “Producers'” bonuses are based on how much business they bring in. Us administrative types get more merit based bonuses. Something really horrible would have to happen for me to leave.

    Reply
  30. Manders

    The discussion earlier this week about the employee who leaves at 5 pm every day got me thinking about my own work habits. I’ve found that if I work much more than 40 hours a week, my productivity starts dropping to the point that I’m not really producing that much more than I would have if I’d stuck with shorter hours. Or I can keep grinding through mindless tasks, but on detail oriented work I start making mistakes left and right.

    Commenters who’ve worked long hours and not seen their productivity take a hit, what’s your secret? Am I a weirdo, or is this a normal part of the way human brains work?

    Reply
    1. grace

      I think it’s normal! Once you’re tired or exhausted – whatever your own personal level is – things start to slip. I work long hours on an infrequent basis (we’re project/client based, so when something needs to get done by a deadline, you do it no matter how long you work, but if you don’t have that, leaving at 5pm is fine).

      For me it was the inherent terror of what would happen if I didn’t get things done on time, lol. :-) I also get up and walk around frequently; I’d walk to the local Starbucks or just stand outside for 15 minutes and get some sun and call my SO. Walking away from the computer for short times was so vital to me staying anywhere near productive enough. But nothing helped when it got past 10 at night – at that point, it was just finding a stopping point and resigning myself to coming in early.

      Reply
    2. NW Mossy

      In this arena, I think knowing yourself is the most important thing. Personally, I’m a lot more productive when I have fairly rigid hours and don’t work from home after hours. It puts me in a frame of mind where I have to Do The Thing and not procrastinate because I know that if I don’t do it at the office, it’s not going to get done. For me, work is a gas – it expands to fill the time I give it. Adding more hours just means I dink around more and do more low-value stuff that didn’t really need doing anyway.

      Where I think rigid schedules become a problem is when they’re deployed by someone who struggles to plan their time effectively to ensure that the must-dos get done right and on time. Walking out at 5pm when all your criticals are in a good place is really different than walking out when you’re leaving 6 half-baked things behind you that will then either be picked up by others to finish or dropped altogether.

      Reply
      1. Manders

        Ah, yes, the thing about work being a gas really resonates with me! I also have a hobby that can expand endlessly, and having predictable and rigid hours works better for me than dedicating my whole day to farting around.

        Reply
    3. Lumen

      I love people who say they multitask well, feel rested an refreshed on 6 or fewer hours of sleep a night, and are at their most productive (and HAPPY) when they’re working 40+ hours a week. It fascinates me how they’ve mastered robustly lying to themselves and everyone else to the point that entire industries rely on those lies.

      Personally I think the 40-hours-a-week thing is too readily accepted as a standard, not as a maximum limit. Productivity is not life, and no, humans aren’t built to grind like that. The people who are AT WORK 40+ hours are not necessarily being productive that entire time, and it’s an absurd expectation that they would be.

      Anyway, that’s my advice: ask why it’s necessary for you to work more than 40 hours when your work just gets worse by doing so.

      Reply
    4. JustaTech

      I guess I would say that for me, there’s a difference between working more than 40 hours in a week and working more than 8 hours in a day. I’m in biotech, and sometimes experiments just take more than 8 hours and that’s life. But I try hard (and my boss tries hard) to make sure that I don’t have more than one or two of those a week, and not more than two weeks like that a month.
      I’ve had crunch times when everyone was working flat out on big experiments that took hours and hours and hours, but even then we scheduled things to give ourselves “break” weeks (to analyze data and start write-ups).
      I guess the trick is that I can stay productive with long hours if I know that it’s for a limited time frame. I could not possibly do something like lawyer’s hours.

      Reply
    5. EB

      Amen to what Lumen said above me.

      I read somewhere that people really get about 3-4 hours of productive work done each day (I’m a designer so for me that means actually working on various designs). That feels about right for me and I feel accomplished if I can achieve that. I’m in too many meetings, handling interruptions from interns to do much more than that in a day. Not to mention your daily office distractions of others having personal conversations, etc. Obviously, I have days where there are tight deadlines and I’m definitely concentrating much harder than that but I can only do that for so long.

      I’m pretty unimpressed by fellow designers that brag about insane hours– it just seems like that’s a great way to kill your creativity by sitting in front of a computer nonstop!

      Reply
    6. KR

      After about 8 hours I reach a point where I am Done with work and I cannot focus anymore on billing and ordering, especially since a lot of my work is just waiting for people to get back to me. Though when I worked in customer service and the tasks were easier – just scheduling breaks and tasks and then making sure that stuff happened I could easily go for 11 or 12 hrs a day.

      Reply
    7. Oxford Coma

      Breaking up the time. If I need to put in extra hours, often I will pack up and leave at regular time, drive home and veg out for a bit, then log back on later in the evening. Continuing to slog away in the office as it grows darker and darker and everyone else leaves just makes me anxious and depressed.

      Reply
    8. Thlayli

      It depends on the job. I think there have been quite a few studies that have found that people can only be pro-active for a limited number of hours each day, so for jobs where you are being pro-active there really is no point in staying late.

      Reactive jobs are different e.g. if you have customers to serve, or a clear set of tasks to complete that don’t require any clever thinking, just plugging away.

      So it kind of depends on the job.

      If I have a close deadline and I know exactly what I need to do to get there, I can work productively for 16 hours in a day. If I don’t have time pressure and I don’t have a set of clear steps to follow, and am in the mode of trying to figure out what to do next, I can only focus for 5-6 hours a day max. On these days I try to find some mindless tasks to fill up the time my brain seems to need to recharge between thinking sessions.

      Reply
  31. Call Me Al

    Thoughts on warning someone you don’t know well about a job offer they’re considering?

    A colleague who knows some of the many terrible reasons I left Old Job came to let me know she gave my contact info. to a more distant colleague who is considering an offer there.

    I left because of major ethical, financial, regulatory, and safety concerns (to name a few) and also because of constant leadership churn. That’s the tip of the iceberg, as there are a million small reasons it’s a terrible place.

    I don’t want to badmouth, and it’s been a year and a half since I left, so I’m obviously not current on everything that’s happening, but I do stay in touch with a couple people from there.

    Reply
    1. neverjaunty

      “I left for good reasons, and would not recommend working there to anyone.” You don’t have to get into details; if necessary you can say that you are not sure what you’re legally allowed to disclose. That usually gets people’s attention.

      Reply
    2. Argh!

      If there’s been leadership churn, the current environment could have improved. What about: “Under the CEO at the time, this thing happened…”

      Reply
    3. ExcelJedi

      I wouldn’t talk specifically about any instance where you think they broke the law – the regulatory or safety concerns – because I wouldn’t want to start a rumor mill on that.

      I think @neverjaunty’s response (“I left for good reasons, and would not recommend working there to anyone.”) is perfect, but I might add something like “I didn’t feel good about the way they ran things at the time,” or even “The company culture didn’t align with my professional ethics and expectations.”

      In short, make it about you, not specific accusations about them. But make it clear enough that they can read between the lines.

      Reply
    4. Call Me Al

      Okay, I feel good about what I shared.

      I said that I would not recommend working there, but that I understand why she is interested. I suggested she ask to spend some more time there and really try to pick up on the culture before making a decision.

      Reply
  32. Anonymous Ampersand

    To my UK peeps!
    I’ve noticed a lot of comments here that imply that getting a phone call to let you know whether you’ve been successful at interview or not is not standard in the US. I’ve always had a phone call after interview if I’ve been successful, and about 65% of the time have received an call if I’ve not been successful (the rest of the time I’ve received an email – I don’t think I’ve ever not been told after interview that I haven’t got the job).
    Is my experience normal in the UK?
    My entire working career has been in the north fwiw and I’ve always worked in universities, civil service, local government, that kind of thing.

    Reply
    1. Bagpuss

      I suspect it may depend a bit on the nature of the job.

      We always let people we have interviewed know one way or the other – I think (I wouldn’t normally be the person doing it) that normally it is a phone call to the successful application (followed by written confirmation) and then e-mails to the unsuccessful candidates.

      I don’t think I have ever had an *interview* without hearing back afterwards (although in fairness it is over 10 years since I last had to interview!), although I did have quite a lot of applications with no response, when I was job hunting in a difficult market (think literally 100s of applications for a single opening)

      Anecdotally, I think not hearing back at all after an interview does happen – from friends who have mentioned it to me, retail and call centres seem to be the worst offenders.

      Reply
    2. Ruth (UK)

      I have never not heard back after an interview (I have always been told one way or the other), but have frequently not heard back from an application (if it didn’t result in an interview).

      Reply
    3. Never Nicky

      After an interview, I’ve ALWAYS heard back – often with a phone call.

      The one time I didn’t, it was with a start up company, who had rented a room by the hour for the interviews, who seemed to want one employee to do everything (sales, marketing, accounts) and wouldn’t say where their office was … bullet dodged!

      Reply
    4. Amey

      That is my experience too – I’ve always been called or emailed to tell me I haven’t got a job that I’ve interviewed for. At my employer (a large university), we always phone everyone interviewed. Personally, I’d prefer an email to a phone call in that situation but this has been the process on the 10 or so panels I’ve been on so I’m assuming is company policy.

      Reply
  33. Anonsy

    Going anon for this one just in case. No advice, just so much venting.

    Recently some seating arrangements were changed, and a coworker who I absolutely do not want to see/hear is now within seeing/hearing distance. I spoke with TPTB about getting this changed, and it was modified as much as possible, but it cannot be fully changed for Reasons. So now I just get to feel nauseous every time I hear this person’s voice or laugh and freeze a bit when I see them in the hallway.

    Reply
    1. NaoNao

      As someone who just got a Loud Colleague a few desks away for the first time ever, I feel you. I generally like this guy too! But ugh, Loud Colleague *really* needs to take it down a notch!

      Reply
    2. Totally Minnie

      Is it just a loud/annoying person, or somebody you have a bad history with?

      Either way, boo. That sucks.

      Reply
    3. Epsilon Delta

      I moved from sitting by “Loud Coworker who I Like” to sitting by “Loud Coworker who Grates on my Last Nerve,” so I feel your pain.

      Reply
  34. Ambpersand

    Asking for some positive thoughts sent my way…. I’ve applied for two jobs this week that are in my field and close to home (my current commute is about an hour one way)… I wasn’t getting any responses with my old application materials, so I redesigned my resume and cover letter according to Allison’s advice- here’s the hoping I get an interview at the very least!

    Reply
    1. Ambpersand

      Also, thanks to everyone on this site because without it I’m sure my resume would still be in shambles. Figuring out how to shape my experience into quantifiable accomplishments was rough!

      Reply
  35. Snark

    I’m getting laid off at the end of May. I applied for, and was referred to the hiring manager, for a federal position at a nearby military installation. I was recommended to the hiring managers by three people, all of whom have professional relationships with the folks at the base and/or formerly worked there. I have disability hiring preference. Folks from the base have contacted the people who recommended me, asking if I’d made it through the USAJobs application process. I’ve been told I might get a job offer any day now.

    ….or, my pessimistic, anxious brain reminds me, I might not. The other position I was hoping to apply for and for which I’m eminently qualified, at another base, I’m not eligible to apply for, and I’ve gotten rejections for every other position in the private sectore I’ve applied for lately. So, no pressure, this is the best hand I’ve gotten this whole game, and I’m all in. NO PRESSURE OR ANYTHING AMIRITE

    Either way, now I wait. And check my email every 45 minutes. And oscillate between carefully restrained optimism and confidence and “AGH BUT WHAT IF” pessimism. And resist the strong temptation to knock off work and go hiking and/or day drink.

    Reply
    1. Lil Fidget

      Ugh, my sympathies. I hope this works out well for you. Even though it doesn’t seem like it, it’s a blessing to have more than a month’s heads-up for the transition. It will give you lots of time to save up money and send out applications. Can you negotiate for any kind of cushion (severance, COBRA insurance) from your current job, to help manage those anxious feelings?

      Reply
      1. Snark

        Yeah, having some time to maneuver is great. I’m just getting the strong urge to skip ahead to the last chapter, and I have to continually remind myself that this is not a book.

        Reply
        1. Wannabe Disney Princess

          I can totally relate to that sentiment. When I’m nervous, any shred of patience I have goes out the window (which, coincidentally, is when I hop in the kitchen and make all the things). I loathe the “Hurry Up And Wait” game. I have no advice other than to sympathize and hope it works out well for you.

          Reply
            1. Wannabe Disney Princess

              After a particularly stressful period, I sent a picture to my best friend of the homemade sanding sugar I’d made. She called me, “Yeah, those colors are great. But, OHMYGOD, what is going on with you? It’s 6 in the morning…..I feel I should be concerned.”

              All things in the kitchen are meditative for me. I get to channel my nervous energy into something creative. And if I’m super stressed out, the preciseness (especially of baking) keeps my brain from running amok.

              Reply
              1. Exhausted Trope

                Oh, man, does that bring up memories! In my late 30s, I had all kinds of insomnia and often turned to baking to fill the hours between 12-8 am. My coworkers reaped the reward in many a nut bread those years.
                There’s just so much serenity about the act of baking that I love.

                Reply
    2. Finally a Fed

      I feel for you. The USAJobs application process is such a drag and all of the agencies handle the certification accept/reject process different. I still have some applications pending from over a year ago. Best of luck!

      Reply
    3. dr_silverware

      Ugh that emotional state is a horrible one to live in. It’s so physically difficult, too! Best of luck, and I hope you’re able to plan for a little while just bombarding yourself with relaxation after this resolves.

      Reply
      1. Snark

        I’ve got 52 hours of PTO banked – after what I’ve already requested for my trip to Barcelona next week. Depending on how this all resolves, I might be able to work in some significant time off. I hope.

        Reply
    4. Lumen

      Remember that your pessimistic anxious brain is, in this case, correct. And so is your optimistic brain. You might get this job! And you might not. The trick is to not 100% believe EITHER proposition: that’s what is causing the emotional roller-coaster; you’re ‘all in’ emotionally on whatever your brain tells you in the moment, and then to rebalance itself, your brain kicks in with the opposite premise. Back and forth forever.

      Believing/hoping/fearing will not change reality either way. At this point it is out of your hands. So the only thing to do is to take care of YOU, and remember that YOU are separate from how this turns out. Your identity, your Self, is going to persist no matter what happens.

      So do something you like doing. Focus on something that you enjoy, enjoyed before this job opportunity, and will enjoy after this job opportunity (regardless of how it turns out). You and your life are so much bigger than this one thing! Even if right now, you are all in? This isn’t the last hand you’ll ever be dealt. Pinky swears.

      Reply
      1. Snark

        Thanks. This is a good reminder. I really should knock off work today and go on a hike – it’d probably really help center me.

        Reply
        1. Not So NewReader

          Walking (hiking) is very good therapy in times of stress. Walking improves organ function and in turn brain function gets better. The roller coaster doesn’t go so high and so low. Additionally it’s a good reminder that there is a whole world going on out there.

          You read here. You have a huge advantage just with that much. But wait. There are more reasons why you have a huge advantage….[fill in here with reasons].

          Also remind yourself, you do not want just ANY job, you want the right job for you. I think you will land in a good spot here.

          Sending you good vibes.

          Reply
    5. CG

      WE BELIEVE IN YOU, SNARK.

      Okay, federal hiring can be terrible. It sounds like they really want you, so that’s promising. But USAJobs can be kind of a memory hole – for sanity, I usually try to just forget about anything that I throw in there, and then if someone calls me 8 months later about a job I applied for, I am pleasantly surprised. I don’t have any practical advice here, but godspeed.

      Reply
      1. Snark

        That’s the thing that’s driving me crazy here! I made it through USAJobs less than 48 hours after the position closed! People are asking my references if I got referred! I know I’m closer than just about anybody else who applied.

        Reply
        1. CG

          Most of that stuff right after the initial USAJobs application is entirely about algorithms and HR departments, and not usually at all about the folks actually hiring or having to deal with the hire. So sometimes you get all kinds of garbled messages and incoherent stuff that is just about bad HR processes and bureaucracy and not about your actual fitness or likelihood of getting the job. I’ve been a fed for a very long time, and I have had not one but two federal jobs where I got an automated USAJobs email at some point after applying telling me that I did not get the job, which I was then later hired for.

          I’d say for about a month, you may want to just imagine a green HR person on roller skates flailing around an office with a stack of printed out USAJobs resumes that they haven’t handed to anyone with authority to hire yet.

          Reply
      2. CG

        Also, hiking and day drinking sounds like a good Friday to me. My job is cool, but they still have to pay me to be here.

        Reply
    6. General Ginger

      Hiking is probably the better option, as far as the temptations go. But thinking good thoughts for you, Snark!

      Reply
    7. Kalros, the mother of all thresher maws

      Oh, my dude, you have my sympathy. The uncertainty is brutal. Sending vibes – I hope you get an offer very soon and can start getting hype about the new job.

      If you can request the day off in advance so it doesn’t feel like playing hooky, I would actually suggest totally giving in to temptation! Getting lost in the woods for a little while then grabbing a beer afterwards is one of my favorite things to do when I just can’t deal with [insert situation here]. The exercise and the alcohol are stress-relievers, obviously, but being among nature always calms me down. It’s like a reminder that the world is very big and I am very small, and whatever is stressing me out is impermanent. So I say feel free to enjoy a nice long hike and relax with your drink of choice afterwards.

      Reply
      1. Kalros, the mother of all thresher maws

        Or just go ahead and play hooky, tbh (I would very much like to just bounce from work today for an early start to the weekend but alas, cannot today). In any case, enjoy some adventuring to get away from it all for a while.

        Reply
    8. Overeducated

      I got an offer for the only federal job at my level, in my field and area, to be open in the last year. It was also the only one I’ve ever been referred to the hiring manager for. I start Monday. I wish you the same excellent luck – you only need,it once!

      Reply
  36. Lil Fidget

    Has anybody had good luck negotiating a long break between jobs? And did paying for benefits on your own during the gap become an issue? I’m really burned out at my current job – I’m close to just quitting but trying to hang in there – and I don’t think I can take a new job unless I get some serious downtime between. I’m afraid I’d start the new job with a bad attitude if I don’t take at least two weeks, preferably a month of downtime. Of course all the jobs I talk to want to drag their own feet with hiring (“we’ll decide by the end of next month”), but then expect the person to start right away.

    Reply
    1. neverjaunty

      If they make an offer, just present your new start date as a matter of fact; “I would be available to start [four weeks from now].” If they push, explain that you’re also looking forward to starting with them and that’s the date you know you will be available.

      It’s not really their business whether you are giving 4 weeks’ notice at OldJob vs taking two weeks for yourself.

      Reply
      1. RestlessRenegade

        This.
        When I got hired at my current job, I interviewed in June. I told them I couldn’t start until August 15. I stayed on at my old job until July 31st and then took a 10-day motorcycle trip across four states and back, which was amazing. My new job had no idea! Having said that, my manager REALLY wanted to hire me, so it might be easier to pull this off if you are in high demand.

        Reply
    2. A Person

      I’d love to have success at this as well. The old “I just need to give notice to my current job and can start in two weeks” me had much more success with job offers than the “I can start 3-4 weeks after I receive a written offer” me.

      But I have concluded that an organization that sits on my application for 2-3 months before calling me for an interview and then expects me to be able to start within two weeks is either too disorganized or too inflexible to be a good work environment for me.

      I recommend you check your insurance coverage with your current employer – I was pleasantly surprised to find at mine that health benefits are paid a month in advance, so I am covered up until the end of the month after the month I leave.

      Reply
    3. Natalie

      Take a long break if you need it! I took two weeks between my last job and current job and it was fantastic. Given that current job had absolutely no plan to train me until January, I wish I had taken longer.

      For benefits, a lot of places don’t boot you off their insurance until the end of the month after your last day. If you don’t have ongoing medical expenses like chemo or physical therapy or something, you can also wait to sign up for COBRA until you actually need it – you have 60 days to opt for coverage, and once you do it’s retroactive back to the last day of your employer provided coverage. So you can wait and see if your medical expenses are high enough to actually need COBRA.

      Reply
      1. Syren

        Read the fine print on this. I had a 30 day lapse in coverage between old job and new job. The new company sent me a notice that I had 15 days to sign up for COBRA. So maybe it depends on your employer? State?

        Reply
  37. Decima Dewey

    I have an update on my Fergus/Fergusina situation. Or rather a lack of one.

    My boss wants to have a meeting with all parties to hear both sides and resolve the situation. On Every. Day. we could have had the meeting, Fergusina called out. Yesterday she called to ask if the meeting could happen today. I said it couldn’t, since Fergus would not be there. That’s when Fergusina said she would be in today. Both boss and I agree that Fergusina seems to be trying to avoid Fergus and/or the meeting. But the meeting will happen anyway. Fergusina is unaware of how big a hole she’s dug for herself. After Fergus leaves the meeting, boss and I will have to talk to Fergusina about the wording in her last email (Fergus and Fergusina have been told not to email me or each other about the situation). We have to make sure that Fergusina understands that, important as her religious beliefs are to her, she does not know the religious beliefs (or lack of same) of everyone she works with, or of every patron who comes in. She’s signed emails as “Minister Fergusina Lastname”, and has made remarks about having no animosity toward anyone, except people whose lifestyle she disapproves of.

    Reply
    1. Anony

      How can she keep calling out without jeopardizing her job? It seems like it would be better to first have a meeting with her separately to put her on a PIP that includes showing up to the meeting with Fergus.

      Reply
      1. Decima Dewey

        She’s on FMLA for a medical condition. The system has to allow her to work at a branch close to her. The only other branch in the zip code where she lives is a busy branch that sent her to us. At this point, it’s either my branch or Central.

        Reply
    2. JustaTech

      Good grief, I had to snort-laugh at this! ” having no animosity toward anyone, except people whose lifestyle she disapproves of” is just so far out there!
      Good luck dealing with her!

      Reply
    3. Temperance

      Wow. So she’s using FMLA as a cover to try and weasel out of this meeting?

      I might lie to her next time she calls to ask if Fergus is there and say no when he actually is, just to call her out on the carpet. She needs to stop being a discriminatory a-hole, and she needs to stop calling herself a minister at her presumably non-religious job.

      Reply
  38. Merida Ann

    The question yesterday about styles for curly hair had me thinking about the opposite – straight-hair styles for work. Braids specifically, but I’m up to discussing other options as well. I am white with fairly long, stick-straight hair that doesn’t really style well, so usually at work I just have it in a ponytail or half-pony, and occasionally just down if it’s not being too static-y that day, but I’m pretty bored with just these options.

    When I’m not at work, I often like putting my hair in two simple braids to keep my hair out of my face, but I know that reads as too “little kid” to wear to the office. What about other styles of braids, though? I feel like a single French braid (if I knew how to do that) would be professional enough, but what about doing a ponytail and then just braiding the tail part? Or what about two thin braids from the sides tied together at the back of my head? I guess I’m just trying to assess where the line is between professional braids and unprofessional braids.

    And if you have any other options for stubbornly straight hair other than just ponytails, I’d love to hear those, too.

    Reply
    1. Countess Boochie Flagrante

      Before I cut my hair short for the umpteenth time, French braids were my go-to. I think braiding a ponytail might come off a little too casual, but there are certainly people who could probably work it.

      But really, French braids are (imo) really the safest style. It’s hard to find anything to object to with them.

      Reply
    2. lnelson1218

      I too have longish (shoulder length) straight hair. Previously it was longer.
      Mainly I wear it up in either a pony tail or in some of the hair clips from Goody.
      Personally I think that the clips look move professional.
      When my hair was longer, I could put it up in a bun and with a little hair spray it stayed out of my face.

      Reply
    3. CTT

      Right now my standard for braids is “If I would see it on an Instagram post from Coachella, it’s probably not ok for work.” But I think a French braid would be totally appropriate! I just learned how to do it, and it took a few months of a lot of practice; I read somewhere that you should just do it over and over while watching TV or some other idle activity because that way your hands get used to the movements. As for the others, I think it depends on what you see at your work.

      Reply
    4. Jax

      I also have long, straight hair and wear a braid every day. Usually I pin my bangs back and have the braid come over one should or another. It’s like a pony tail braid, but the pony is only at the end of the braid, not at the base of my head AND the end of the braid. I work in a university, so it works here, but I don’t see why it wouldn’t work in conservative workplaces, either.

      Reply
    5. AvonLady Barksdale

      I’m actually a curly-haired person, but I’ve done a ponytail with a braid in the front (crown) on one side. Sort of like, part the hair in the middle, braid one side starting at the hairline, bring both sides back in a ponytail. I like this look on me (it only works when my hair is sopping wet) and my straight-haired friends.

      Reply
    6. Middle School Teacher

      I have a ton of long straight hair. One of my go-to hairstyles is I do a mini Dutch braid down the right side, behind my ear, tie it, gather all hair into a low pony at the nape of my neck towards the right, and then twist it all into a bun. I saw it on Pinterest, I’ll see if I can find a link.

      Reply
    7. The New Wanderer

      Low bun, inverted pony tail (where you put in an elastic, then part your hair just above the elastic and pull the pony through), and French twist are what I used to do the most when my hair was long enough. Also a partial French braid into a low pony tail. I wouldn’t braid just the tail part, as noted above it’s a very casual look (and to me would read young).

      Reply
      1. Kalros, the mother of all thresher maws

        Can vouch for these styles for work-appropriate and chic options, and if your hair has trouble “gripping” in a low bun or French twist, I suggest spin pins instead of bobby pins. They work miracles.

        When I had long hair I also used to do a sort of half inverted ponytail, where I wouldn’t part the hair all the way through, just enough that I could tuck the ponytail inside of it to form a roll, then pin it in place. My hair is super thick and this is one of the only updos that would hold all day without me having to fuss over it, and I’d get compliments on it all the time, even though it took less than 2 minutes to do. I cut all my hair off a few months ago but this was my go-to.

        Reply
    8. Overeducated Higher Ed Admin

      My hair goes to the bottom of my shoulder blades. Aside from pony tails and messy buns, I do two styles of French braids (inverted and regular), pull back my bangs with a small clip, put in three braids in the top of my head to the crown and then wear a messy bun, I occasionally do a ballerina bun. I’ve practiced fishtails and different kinds of braids while watching TV, but none have gotten to the point of being work-ready. My rule is that the style needs to take less than ~5 minutes in the morning.

      Reply
    9. HannahS

      When I had long hair, I defaulted to braids. French braid or side braid (literally pull the hair over to below your ear and braid it down) most days, although once my hair was waist-length I did a lot of crown braids. Also, buns held with spiral-shaped pins hold really well, but they can be a bit heavy if your hair is really long. I think braiding the tail of a ponytail is fine, though it reads as a bit more athletic/casual than a French braid. The two thin braids sounds fine, and you could also do half-up/half down, which is a weird name for putting the top half of your hair in a pony tail. I also would do that half up/down thing and braid the upper part, which worked for me because I found that the upper/outer layer of hair was frizzier than the lower, so containing it worked nicely.

      Reply
    10. Former Border's Refugee

      I have waist length, straight hair, and I usuaually use a clip or two to hold it up. Braiding the ponytail and then pinning it into a bun is a good option. you could also do the two braids, and pin them up low on the back your head (so it’s like the “milk maid” style but pushed way way back). French braids can also be pinned up, and the great thing about all of these is that they don’t take too long in the morning to do.

      I taught myself how to dutch braid during my last semester in law school, and it was one of my biggest achievements. I regret nothing.

      Reply
    11. CopperPenny

      My default work style when my hair isn’t down is a rope briad updo.

      I part my hair in the middle and clip half of it up. I take the other side and get two sections at the front. I then twist them around each other. Like a braid only with two strands adding hair each time same as a French braid. Once I reach the base of my neck I continue to the end of the hair. Fasten the braid then clip it up to maintain the shape while I do the same on the other side.

      Once I have both sides twisted I pin them on the back of my hair, often in a bun but not always.

      I also sometimes braid the front of my hair in a headband braid, basically French braiding bangs across the front of my head. It keeps the hair out of my face.

      Reply
    12. Mephyle

      Check out the braided styles of ‘Milabu’ on Youtube; if those work for your hair, some of her braided hairdos might be what you’re looking for. She shows many, many different braided styles.

      Reply
      1. Mephyle

        She calls it ‘short’ hair, but it’s really brushing-the-shoulders length, and a good many of her styles can work for longer hair, too.

        Reply
    13. Tuna Casserole

      I have long stick straight thin hair. I often twist it into a bun and use a spin pin to secure it. Regular bobby pins just fall out of my hair, but spin pins stay put.

      Reply
    14. Betsy

      I would read one French braid as professional, but two braids, like some people are suggesting, will always read as too elementary school to me.

      Reply
    15. Talvi

      A fishtail braid is a nice option option (they can take awhile to do, but I’ve always found french braids take me longer so ymmv). I also often wear my hair partially pulled back with a clip.

      Also, you mentioned static as a deterrent to wearing it down — you may want to try a “dry” oil like argan oil to help counteract the static, if you’re looking to wear it down more often.

      Reply
    16. Garland not Andrews

      If you want to learn how to French or Dutch braid your hair, there are loads of tutorial video’s on UTube. Search for one on how to braid your own hair. Until December I had hip length wavy hair. I wore it French or Dutch braided most of the time. The fun thing is that the variations are endless. It just takes practice to learn.

      Reply
    17. Mm Hmm

      I think simple (single) braids look really nice. My hair is very straight & slippery. To put it up, what has worked best for me is to braid it *overhand* to create a space beneath it. Put a hair band on it. Then fold it up (end goes in first) into the space you’ve created. Pin that down from above and across, going thru each layer (hair on scalp, each layer of braid). You can use chopsticks, hair sticks, or what the Vt Country Store used to call “rubbers” – u-shape with wavy arms maybe half an inch wide by 3 or 4 inches long. It’s simple, fast, neat & always gets compliments.
      Note that it can be pretty thick, which means I can’t tuck it up before driving or I’m looking down instead of out, so I put it up in the car before exiting. You can accommodate longer hair by starting the braid on the crown rather than the back of the head, but I use this as a gauge for when to trim my hair.

      Reply
    18. Thlayli

      There are actually loads of Pinterest ideas about braiding your hair. I never knew how to do a French braid either and I learned off a Pinterest link. It sounds actually really easy after a bit of practice!

      I definitely think French braid looks more professional than a pony braid or two pigtail braids. You can also learn how to do a French type braid along the side of your face which also looks pretty cool.

      I have really straight ridiculously thin flyaway hair and a pony twisted into a bun often looks good – but I do have a big tendency for flyaway hairs though, so it needs to be redone 10 time and a day – only takes 30 seconds though.

      Reply
    19. Totally Minnie

      I like a Katniss style braid (Dutch braid across the back of my head that turns into a side braid). If you want to class it up a little, you could twist the resulting side braid into a bun.

      Reply
    20. Jingle

      I have hip length, wavy hair, and at this length, always wear it up to work, usually in some form of braided bun (even a ponytail leads to tangles/breakage once you get to a certain length). My most common way of wearing it is to do a side part, then French lace braid each side down to my ear, and continue English braiding each to the end. I then join the two braids at the back of my head together with the rest of my hair and bun, or braid it all together first then bun, securing with a hair stick, flexi8 or ficcare. My favourite buns are the lazy wrap bun and the nautilus bun, but I also use others, depending on my mood (see YouTube for how to). It takes about 10 minutes all up (including the time to take down my sleeping braids). If you’re interested in learning more styles, search for “long hair community” – lots of styles for all hair lengths.
      Also want to add – my view is that as long as it’s off your face, tidy and not somehow distracting you from your work, then it is professional. I do occasionally wear a single or twin French or Dutch braids like you describe, although I’d bun the tails so I don’t catch on my chair back. But even with them loose, I don’t see there as being anything inherently unprofessional about this look. (I also love the crown braid and think it’s a great, polished look, but I’m at the point where I have too much hair for it.)

      Reply
  39. anon for this one

    Soooooo the exec level management in my big, corporate company decided to spend thousands on a “motivational and communication” training that we had yesterday.

    They brought in a man whose entire speech consisted of telling everyone that there’s no such thing as an obstacle or limitation, and that the only limitation in your career is lack of belief in yourself. That if you really want something and pursue it, it will come to you. It was very eye roll inducing. A bunch of us googled the speaker beforehand and he charges $50,000 for each motivational corporate speech (my company has him doing one for each department, so he’s making at least 500K from us alone, unless they worked out a deal).

    At one point he asked what limitation everyone in the room faced that prevented them from achieving success and how we could work through those issues. It devolved into a mess. My first coworker to speak up said systematic racism prevented him from getting good opportunities, and then another coworker said she had struggles because she came from a low socioeconomic background and she didn’t have access to the same opportunities. And it pretty much went from there with people talking about sexism or homophobia or being denied opportunities because they did/didn’t have children, etc.

    I have never seen a motivational speaker pale so quickly and grow so uncomfortable in front of a room. To be fair to my colleagues, we all have very low morale right now because of other company issues, but work deciding it’s a great idea to have a rich white man come into a very diverse room of people and tell us that the only thing holding us back was “our own selves” was so tone deaf. It was only bound to end poorly. I’m kind of amazed they even thought it was a good idea in the process, and while I know my colleagues and I will probably get in trouble, I can’t find it in myself to care all that much.

    Reply
    1. Lil Fidget

      Haha being infuriated at what we pay worthless consultants is a recreational hobby of mine. I always think that these people get close to my annual salary – every single day of my loving attention, for 365 days straight – for some stupid report that probably took them 10 hours of work total, or a ridiculous presentation that took a few hours. My sympathies.

      Reply
    2. bluelyon

      I love that your colleagues brought up things that actually matter instead of going along with his nonsense!
      That’s really hard to do sometimes and he deserved to be made uncomfortable because he’s absurd

      Reply
      1. anon for this one

        I was thinking similar things during the whole presentation, so when my first colleague responded, I was glad that someone else got the ball rolling. I chose to keep my mouth shut at first because I’ve gotten in trouble for speaking about these things before (I’m queer and it’s definitely had an impact at work, even in such a liberal environment, and I’ve gotten talked to by management for complaining about micoaggressions from coworkers).

        It was honestly a way more productive conversation than anything the speaker had to say. I’m so glad it happened.

        Reply
        1. Lumen

          Super glad that when people started speaking up he didn’t end up arguing with them that systemic racism/misogyny/homophobia/other biases just magically don’t exist and they’re just playing some ‘card’.

          Because I’ve heard THAT garbage all my life. It’s all imaginary! I really DO have control over how other people treat me if I just BELIEVE in myself enough!!!

          *rolls eyes to the heavens*

          Reply
            1. Totally Minnie

              Ugh. My sister has dyscalculia and I’ve always hated how people with no LD experience talked to her.

              “If you could just pretend your brain works differently from how it actually does, you’d be getting straight A’s!”

              Reply
          1. anon for this one

            I think he was too taken aback to even know how to respond.

            But I’ve gotten the female/queer card so many times. Though for the latter it’s less “believe in yourself” and more “just closet your sexuality and people won’t treat you differently!”. Uh, no.

            Reply
    3. Damn it, Hardison!

      Oh, that sounds like it was a slow-motion train wreck. Good for your colleagues for speaking up about the realities of their situations. I hope the speaker walked away with some things to think about.

      Reply
    4. Sprechen Sie Talk?

      Wow – does your company also do employee surveys? Good for them for speaking up!

      All I could think of while reading this was if the speaker also lived in a van down by the river.

      Reply
    5. The New Wanderer

      “No, no, I mean a limitation like ‘I don’t know if I can learn this new skill’ or ‘I don’t always believe I’m good enough’.”

      Honestly, what did he expect people to say to that? Has he read a newspaper lately?

      Reminds me of the Sex & The City episode when Charlotte and Carrie go to some relationship motivational speaker (“You have to believe in love to receive love”), and the speaker basically tells Charlotte her problem is that she doesn’t believe enough.

      Reply
      1. Jesca

        I think about that episode so much, but I thought it was Miranda who went and then she flipped her shit on the guy? Anyway, yeah no. I mean we all can be beating on ourselves and it is good to stop that behavior, but if someone came into my work and told me that I was being prevented from moving up in my current role at a company that has ONE FEMALE MANAGER in a building of a 100 or so managers because of my own undiscovered self-sabotaging internal dialogue, I would likely punch them in the face.

        But this post made my day!

        Reply
      2. zora

        “what did he expect people to say to that?”
        I had this thought, too, and then I realized, most corporate speaking events like this, I’m sure 99% of people feel like they have to be ‘professional’ because their work is paying for this, and they are internally eyerolling but playing along. This might be the first time he’s encountered a workplace where the employees had nothing to lose so they told the truth. This is part of that bubble of whitemale privilege, right? That he can go around and say these things and those who are whitemales are like “Yes, I agree!” and everyone else just keeps their mouth shut, so they believe that means they are actually right!!

        I love this story of him getting his comeuppance, though, I wonder if it’s going to change anything for him??

        Reply
      3. Marthooh

        It reminded me of the letter from the admin whose boss wanted to do some woo-woo “purpose-driven work” training for underpaid staff, to keep them from leaving. I hope we get an update from that LW.

        (Link follows.)

        Reply
    6. Crylo Ren

      O M G

      Your coworkers Shut. It. Down. Good for all of you! I hope y’all don’t face any retaliation.

      Reply
    7. Middle School Teacher

      Were the people who paid to bring this guy in there, too? And more importantly: were they listening???

      Reply
  40. EUtrainee

    I have been thinking a lot recently about the locking eternity collar submission from last year. I started working at a EU institution two months ago and one of my colleagues wears a very evident one (more of a steel chain than a collar). He always wears it, even in his profile photo on the directory. He’s such a nice, outgoing person what I’m amazed no one has asked him about it (at least that I know). Since no one makes a fuss about it, I actually wonder if I am the only one who knows what it is!

    Reply
    1. dr_silverware

      Maybe, or it’s possible that the folks who recognize it without AAM are following the tacit “we both recognize what this is” agreement to just treat it like a necklace.

      Reply
    2. Thlayli

      I would not have known what one was without seeing that letter. I would have just thought it was an ugly necklace. I’m guessing a lot of people don’t know what it is.

      Reply
    3. Miss Pantalones En Fuego

      Honestly, even though I know a little bit about kinky relationships, I would never have known what such a collar was until that letter. I’d just figure this guy likes his steel chain and not think anything more of it.

      Reply
  41. SallyF

    If you generally keep a running To Do list at your desk and came in the next morning to find a coworker had added some notes to it (not “To Do” items, just some related info), would you feel:
    1. Grateful – How nice of her to read through it and scribble some thoughts!
    2. Ragey and violated

    I went for #2.

    Reply
    1. DayVee

      I’d be pretty angry. My to-do lists belong to me. If somebody wants ME to add something to it they can talk to me or email me or whatever but what you are describing would feel like a violation of my personal space.

      Reply
    2. that's a no no

      M A D
      I don’t even want anyone to read my to-do. It’s for me, not YOU!

      On another note, workers were rearranging cubicle walls in my office and brushed up against/ERASED my white board to-do lists!! I usually jot things down that I know I’ll forget if not, so, guess what – I can’t remember a single thing that was on it! Welp, guess that means I don’t have to do anything today?? ;)

      Reply
    3. Not a Real Giraffe

      I would also go for #2. To-do lists are a form of catharsis for me. They help me organize my thoughts and my work, and prepare me for the day ahead. I can be very particular about them, depending on my mood and stress level, to the point where I will throw out and restart the list if I make a spelling error or even if I don’t like my handwriting. If someone were to add items or notes to my to-do list without my express permission, I would be livid and it would undo all the catharsis that I created the list for in the first place!

      Reply
    4. Pollygrammer

      I would go for ragey and violated too. I might try a slightly chilly “is there a reason you did that?” (Assuming you know who it was).

      Reply
    5. Q

      Definitely the second one. Don’t touch my personal stuff. Is s/he needed you to do something then follow the proper request channels. Its also creepy that this person was all up in your business.

      Reply
    6. Damn it, Hardison!

      +1 for overstepping. No one adds things to my to-do list. Just no. And if one of the things that’s added to my list is “Smile!” I will do just the opposite (this calls for ragey response).

      Reply
    7. NW Mossy

      This is only barely OK if the additions are humorous and kind, like “Get coffee with me!” or “Knock off early, you’ve earned it!” If they are actual work items that this coworker is attempting to assign to you and expecting you to complete, um, 10000 gallons of no on that.

      Reply
    8. Yolo

      I would talk to the person and say something about how you would appreciate it if they would respect your personal space. But also it might be useful to have sticky notes readily available on your desk in case someone does stop by with information while you’re not around–that way if they’re flailing around for a useful place to deposit the info (and are not willing to email for some reason?) there is a better option at hand than your personal to-do list. And if they again violate your personal items/space, you could confidently escalate the complaint about disrespectful coworkers.

      Reply
    9. Coalea

      #2 all the way. If they had jotted something down on a separate paper – “Hey, saw your list and thought the below might be useful” type of thing – I would *probably* be okay with it, although not thrilled that they had read my list. Actually writing ON my list? Unacceptable.

      Reply
    10. WonderingHowIGotHere

      Definitely 2!
      This happens to me, except its not coworker it’s boss, so as much as I’d like to get stabby, that has slightly worse consequences. It also doesn’t help that she has ‘spider on cocaine dancing in ink’ handwriting, so part of the To Do list is translating whatever random crap she’s tacked on the bottom.

      Reply
    11. Nanc

      New item for your list (in a totally non-invasive way!):

      ID and plan revenge upon mystery person who violated the sanctity of my to do list by adding notes to it.

      I get feeling annoyed, but if it’s out on your desk someone is bound to see it and unless they’re trying to screw you over, probably thought they were being helpful.

      Full disclosure: if I were to do this, I would probably use a post-it note or send and email with my additions!

      Reply
    12. Florida

      If someone took a new post-it note( not my ongoing list), wrote something for me and put it on my monitor or desk, I would not mind. But yeah, don’t add your notes to my notes.

      Reply
    13. SophieChotek

      #2.

      I get annoyed with family members sort of poke through my mail or look at my calendar when they are over, let alone a co-worker.

      (To be fair, my calendar is out in the open at home…guess I should stash that if I know people are coming over…)

      Reply
    14. CheeryO

      A coworker did this to me once, and it wasn’t that weird in the context of my (admittedly somewhat weird) office. He crossed something out and wrote a note about how he took it off my plate, which would have been delivered in a joke-y tone if it was done in person (he is senior to me but doesn’t supervise me, and he helps me out with stuff occasionally in exchange for grunt work), so I just shrugged and went about my day. It was a good reminder that there will always be nosy folks poking around stuff on your desk while you’re gone.

      Reply
    15. Ashley

      That kills my OCD because the handwriting wouldn’t match. I do think it is worth addressing with the offender, and if you are going to be away from your desk for awhile maybe try hiding your to do list.

      Reply
    16. This Daydreamer

      How delightful that your colleague took the time to read your personal notes change your priorities for the day! Especially sweet of them to add to your workload.

      Reply
  42. Nancy

    I’m a teacher. It’s my first year at this school district. When is the best time to disclose that I am pregnant? I am due in september. My observations so far have been positive, but my supervisor and I don’t always get along. I am planning to ask for a leave of absence (unpaid). Thanks in advance!
    Oh, and I’m 13 weeks and not showing yet.

    Reply
    1. Middle School Teacher

      I’d say, when is the time you need to give notice about your intentions? Since you’re due in September I’m guessing you’re going to work until the end of the school year. In our district we need to inform of our intentions (eg. I’m going to take a year off to finish my masters’, I want to move from full time to part time) by May 31. So if that’s true for you, I’d say by then at the latest.

      Reply
    2. Not That Jane

      My approach was to tell my principal very early, to give them time to find a long-term sub. I had been at that same school for 3 years at that point, BUT I also knew that given the culture of our school, taking a long maternity leave was pretty uncommon / likely to be seen as an inconvenience. I was also due in April, so a bit different of a time frame (I had time to get my students well launched on the year, then someone else basically finished the year with them.)

      Reply
    3. A Teacher

      Do you have a union? I would start with the insurance person in the union and go from there. In our district, we are expected to notify as soon as we start to use maternity benefits if we want our insurance to cover all things–there’s more paperwork to sign to add child etc…

      I adopted but I notified the district office, didn’t go to my AP (direct supervisor) about it at all. Insurance person at the district office is who I talked to.

      Reply
      1. Julianne

        Agreed; find out what you are contractually required to do, and do that at minimum.

        At my school, I feel like the culture is basically “announce it by the time your body announces it for you.” For one of my coworkers, this resulted in an earlier-than-planned announcement after she threw up in the middle of morning meeting one day…

        Reply
  43. DayVee

    Is it normal to not be able to get clarity on where your role can go internally?

    I am a teapot strategist. I report to a manager of teapot strategy. Right now there’s nowhere up for me to go unless my manager leaves. I’ve been told many times that I’m a top performer and I’ve received raises and bonuses to reflect that. Now I am at the maximum that someone in my role can receive without going into management or another department.

    We’re in goal setting season and so I’ve been trying to use that as an opportunity to discuss with my manager where my role might be headed and what opportunities there are for growth. I don’t expect an immediate promotion or anything like that. I’m in no rush to have to start approving expense reports or time off requests. But it is very important to me to see professional growth. Right now things feel pretty stagnant.

    How can I get some direction from my manager? Right now I feel as though I will have to leave the organization if I want to see any career development. I’m sure they’d love to keep me, but I don’t want to be doing the exact same work this time next year.

    (As an aside: last year we experienced significant lay-offs and I know my team was on the bubble. There’s a non-zero chance that there are more lay-offs in the future and I don’t want to stick around only for my team to get cut.)

    Reply
    1. DayVee

      OH, and on another note: is it a terrible idea in the context of this kind of conversation to point out that you are being recruited (if it is true)? Is there a productive way to frame that, e.g. “I’ve been approached by someone who is interested in hiring me and I’ve never acted on it because I am committed to this organization, but I do want to see some sign that there will be an opportunity for me to grow here”?

      Reply
    2. AnotherAlison

      For your specific role, I think it’s possibly a yes to that question.

      I worked in a strategy group for [too many] years, and was in a similar situation as you regarding advancement. My experience was that I was working with senior/executive management, but not a lot of operations people. My direct management didn’t know anything about what type of operations role might be suitable to get me into a different lateral position then to move up in the future. I ultimately sought out my own transfer. I was ready to make a move, and a particular operations group manager was giving an informative presentation to our team about what his group does so that we could support him. He mentioned they were adding positions, so I talked to him and my then-manager and it all worked out. I had the right background in my pre-strategy role for a different position, but YMMV.

      Reply
    3. Sprechen Sie Talk?

      Yeah – welcome to strategy. Its fun but… a weird sort of career cul-de-sac. Either you get plucked from a group to run some smaller department/product/whatever by a benevolent senior manager, or you wither on the vine and have to seek your own way. I’m on my fourth strategy department, and every one of them has had the same problem with trying to find a path out of strategy. You learn a lot of excellent soft skills, but it most certainly does not have the same promotion and straight path as a lot of other fields. Also even if you get higher up you are still doing roughly the same work – I have bumped into my boss’ boundaries at multiple jobs because they are either working down or I am working up.

      What are your long term goals for yourself? Do you want to lead a department? Maybe move into more project management? Are there any projects you really enjoyed over the year and would like to know more about that department and opportunities and about making a move? Have you asked your manager about paths other people have taken from the department? This is definitely one career where you need to have vision and self-advocate, but it helps to know where you are going. If you know that and can work backwards from where you are, that could give your boss some guidance to help you set goals, or you could help prompt him with the other question.

      Reply
      1. DayVee

        My long-term goals are up in the air. I like the idea of leadership and I think I’m well-suited for leading a team or a project. However, I don’t know how much I’d like some of the other work that comes with it. I like to be involved with creative stuff. I’ve been actively recruited by a couple of places. The one sounds pretty sweet–it would be consulting, with someone I’ve done freelance work for, but would require a two-hour-each-way commute once a week. The other one is another strategist job but in a smaller organization that has less red tape and is actually building a product department, so there would be a chance to go up to either a product manager role or to lead a team of strategists.

        Project management would be hellish for me, I think. I’ve looked into product owner training, though. I do really like doing strategy work, but my goal would be to do the higher level strategy work. Instead of doing one basket, I’d like to figure out the overall direction for all of our baskets. Marketing strategy’s also interesting to me. And content strategy, but that would be a lateral move.

        In terms of paths others have taken, my manager’s one of the original members, are two others on our team of five. The others who have left have all left the company (voluntarily). But the team has only existed for a year or two.

        Reply
  44. AmITooPicky?

    Who drives a supervision meeting document? I’m having issues with one of my direct reports – let’s call her Phoebe. Each week her meeting agenda/priority summary gets worse. They have two colors of highlighting and list every little thing, including items that are on the back burner, some that are 6 plus months old. It has the effect of highlighting what Phoebe hasn’t done rather than what she has done.

    I don’t want to give her extra work to create a second document, but I think wading through this document wastes both our times. And it just gets on my nerves. Is it reasonable to request a clearer agenda? Also I know this shouldn’t be a factor but I hesitate to upset her as she is going through fertility treatment and is more emotional than usual. She does get her work done, but I think she could definitely be more efficient, and this seems to be part of the problem.

    I do have two other direct reports- Rachel and Monica- and their agendas are always fine. Any suggestions? Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Flinty

      My favorite supervisor used a template from The Management Center, which I then filled out each week. I think it’s totally fair to work together to create a system that works for both of you, as long as you don’t completely override what she needs from the document!

      Reply
      1. Earthwalker

        That sounds like a great idea! or if it’s not a fit, can you provide Phoebe with an example of how her status report should look?

        Reply
    2. Bea W

      How is this agenda being kept? I had a manager who had everyone do this in Excel. We always had more work than people or time to do it. I preferred to keep all the back-burnered items on it as a reminder they hadn’t gone away. My manager would have forgotten about them otherwise. I also didn’t want to forget about them. My solution was to add a status column which made it easy to filter out all the back-burnered stuff.

      Reply
    3. CTT

      Possibly a silly question: does she know that the document is supposed to show work that she’s already done and not what’s outstanding? I’m not entirely sure what a supervision meeting document is, but the only experience I’ve had meeting regularly with a supervisor involved a document that listed what was outstanding on each project with a status report. Is it possible that she thinks that’s the purpose of the document?

      Reply
      1. AmITooPicky?

        Not a silly question at all, CTT. I ask all 3 direct reports to bring some sort of list of what they are working on. Monica and Rachel write “Pink Teapot project’ and a brief update on the due date and what they are doing this month on the project. Sometimes this includes what has been accomplished in the past week. In contrast Phoebe adds things like “check out availability of jewels for teapot ornamentation by calling llamaville llc. ” and then it stays there for three months because it isn’t a top priority. Or things like “email Fergus about wording for teapot plaque. ” And that’s a level of detail I don’t think I need, but she enjoys tracking. So maybe we do try to start from scratch.

        Reply
    4. LDP

      At my last job we started using Trello boards for things like this. It was great because we all had a private board of our own that we could organize however we wanted, then there was a team board that kind of highlighted the high level to-do’s or projects that were being worked on by more than one person, and then we each had one that we shared with our manager. I liked it because it was super easy to copy and paste from my private list into the others, and it was really satisfying to move the cards into the “done” section. I know my manager liked it because he could add comments on assignments if he got more information from higher ups that would be helpful, too.

      Reply
  45. Washi

    Ok, so I hear a lot about applicant tracking systems that reject applicants automatically based on certain criteria. Does anyone here actually use such a system, that weeds people out without a human ever setting eyes on their application? I’ve never actually met someone whose employer’s system was used like that, and I’m starting to wonder if it’s mostly an urban legend type thing.

    Reply
    1. Junior Dev

      I’ve been automatically rejected from a university job because it asked yes-or-no questions with checkboxes and I answered that I didn’t have some required experience, so it wouldn’t let me continue applying.

      Reply
      1. SophieChotek

        Yes I have too. I got rejected within 10 minutes of applying. It was also for some qualification that was listed as “optional” on the job description but when I didn’t check that box, I was automatically rejected.

        Reply
        1. JustaTech

          Yup, I’ve had that too. And then I had someone tell me I should just check “yes” even though it wasn’t true (and was easily check-able). That person got a stern talking-to about how one does not lie on applications to the government, thankyouverymuch.
          But since that happened I’ve stopped even looking at those jobs.

          Reply
    2. Anonymous Poster

      I’ve seen this for people that didn’t meet education or experience requirements.

      It was generally over applied, but for federal contracting sometimes you have to meet certain requirements for the applicant to be eligible. It was harsh, but them’s the rules of the contract.

      Reply
      1. Anonymous Poster

        Oh, also I’ve seen automatic rejections if someone doesn’t have an appropriate security clearance already. That’s because companies either aren’t willing to wait or pay to send someone through the clearance process.

        For reference, it can cost roughly 10-20k for the process, plus carrying the individual as overhead (They generally must be employed for your organization; you usually cannot ‘start’ the process while someone is working elsewhere and give them a clearance. There has to be a need for them to have it), and a 6 month – 1 year wait. It’s a big expense that it’s understandable companies are trying to avoid if possible.

        Reply
    3. HiHiHi

      Although my job doesn’t, I know that at least one of the universities in my state does-they have a list of 10-15 required qualifications, and you need to check off if you meet all of them when you send in your resume and cover letter. They needed to confirm that their process was not inaccessible to people with disabilities when they changed over, and had sent it over to us to look at…we basically said no, it’s not inaccessible, but it’s a pretty terrible idea. They remain convinced that they are going to receive thousands of applicants for positions they aren’t qualified for, and don’t really care if they miss out on applicants that would be great, but have three years of experience in llama grooming instead of 3.5 years.

      Reply
      1. Washi

        That’s true, I have encountered applications like that! It didn’t come to mind because it feels like a separate category of ineffective processes for exactly the reasons you mention, and I was focused on the “you have to have this secret keyword in your app to get passed the ATS” category of ineffectiveness.

        Reply
    4. The New Wanderer

      They exist, for sure. Generally speaking, if you are rejected within a few minutes of applying to a job through an online portal that requires answering position-specific questions and filling out fields (rather than just uploading a resume), it was filtered by an ATS and kicked out for not having the “right” answers.

      To me, that’s not the problem. The problem arises when it’s not obvious from the job posting what the rejection was based on. If X is required for consideration, make that explicitly clear in the job posting and save those of us without X the bother of applying!

      Reply
    5. JeanB in NC

      I’ve received an immediate email a couple of times after taking one of those ridiculous personality tests. In fact, I think there must be something seriously wrong with me, because every single time I’ve ever taken one of those tests, I’m rejected. I don’t even bother applying any more when they require a personality test. And to the best of my knowledge, I am not a psychopath!

      Reply
      1. Not So NewReader

        Don’t feel too bad, I can’t pass them either. Now my motto is “if you give personality tests, then you are not a company for me.”

        Reply
    6. Cloud 9 Sandra

      Ex-job did this. If you lacked sufficient experience, you were rejected. Some of the managers claimed to hate it, but many of the managers and hr people I personally interacted with didn’t deserve an assumption of honesty or decency.

      Reply
    7. pur8ple

      I’m in HR and we definitely have the ability to set “knockout” questions when creating job postings but I try to use them very, very sparingly. For example- Do you have the legal right to work in the United States? No? I’m sorry, I can’t hire you. Are you under 18? No? Again, can’t hire you, sorry. For the less black or white questions, like Have you attached your cover letter as requested?, I’m not going to reject them outright for saying yes when they very clearly didn’t, although I *am* going to roll my eyes very, very hard.

      Reply
    8. Totally Minnie

      We do. I got auto-rejected from a job my HR manager asked me to apply for because it required two years of experience and I only had 22 months.

      Reply
  46. Anonymous Ampersand

    I have an interview next week. My job has been restructured and there are 4 of us interviewing for 3 jobs. The odds are great, obvs, but OHMYGOD I’m scared. Good thoughts next week appreciated.

    Reply
    1. Bea W

      That sucks. Someone is obviously going to end up unemployed, and you don’t want it to be you. Best of luck next week!

      Reply
    2. Anonymous Ampersand

      It’s likely that they’ll be able to redeploy the unsuccessful one. But I love my job, so I don’t wanna be redeployed. I’ve had quite a bit going on recently, I haven’t got the bandwidth to learn something new :-|

      Reply
  47. leave me be

    I’ve noticed that my co-workers frequently comment on my expressions and it’s really uncomfortable for me.
    (for context, I am a younger woman that works in a manufacturing setting. I work with mostly men – all of the comments below came from male co-workers)
    One morning, I walked in to see that construction was going on near my desk so I had to move all of my things to another cube for the morning. I did not say anything rude, mumble under my breath, or slam things around in anger. It’s likely that I did not have a smile on my face, but I wasn’t crying or giving people death glares.
    Later, someone said (in front of our whole team) “Jane was in a BAD MOOD this morning!”
    I did an awkward smile and the conversation went on.
    An hour later in a different meeting, I smiled at someone’s joke. Another person commented, “See Cliff, you even got Jane to smile!”
    At which point I said, “You guys, I’m not in a bad mood or anything I’m not sure why you’re making it seem that way” and they all quieted.
    While the comments I get most are the type of “smile, it’s not so bad!” or “you’re allowed to smile once in a while, you know!”, it goes the other way too! Recently, I smiled at a small comment I heard someone make in a meeting, and someone looked at me and (in a joking way) said “what’s so funny, giggles! Why are you smiling?”
    I guess I just want them to leave me alone and stop commenting on whether I show emotions or not.
    Does this indicate that I need to do a better job regulating my facial expressions? What can I do? Has this happened to you?

    Reply
    1. Snark

      This indicates to me that you have a team of nosy weirdos who need to hear something like, “You know, it makes me really uncomfortable that y’all pay this much attention to my facial expressions and talk about my moods so often. I don’t appreciate the running commentary. I’m not a smiley type and I don’t emote much, but you can assume my mood is neutral unless I tell you otherwise.”

      And then I think you can continue to say, “I’m not actually in a bad mood, but I really don’t appreciate the running commentary about my facial expressions. Can you not?”

      Reply
      1. neverjaunty

        This. You don’t need to regulate yourself – you need these clowns to stop making it their business to police your supposed mood.

        Reply
      2. leave me be

        Definitely nosy.
        I want to do this! I don’t know if it would be “too harsh” though. Judging from the one time I did say something like this and the room became a shocked silence and some people giving each those quick-eyebrow-raise-glances, I feel like doing that gave them a more negative perception of me.

        Reply
        1. Snark

          I think a little harshness is merited when it comes to this kind of expression-policing nonsense. You can deliver it with a half-smile, maybe, but it’s not on you to manage their feelings any more than it’s on them to manage yours. I think that can be outweighed by making sure you’re being warm and collegial at other times, but what they’re doing is offensive, and returning awkwardness to sender is just fine in my book.

          Reply
          1. label queen

            “returning awkwardness to sender” – love that. I’m going to need to write this on a post it and refer to it daily!
            This is hard for me to do, but I see it is warranted here. Thanks, Snark!

            Reply
      3. ANon.

        Agreed: subtle sexism. You can certainly call it out as it is – you deserve to be assertive here – but I also get the urge to need to be polite (ugh – more societal sexism). You can try saying, “You all seem to comment on my mood a lot. But I don’t believe I’ve ever heard any of you comment on anyone else’s mood. Why is that?” and then you can add, “Do you mind not commenting – it feels weird!”

        Reply
    2. Amelia

      This seems sexist. In my experience I’ve heard a lot of women get told to smile or commented on not smiling but not men. You mentioned you work with mostly men, do other people in your workplace get called out for not smiling? If it’s happening to others as well my approach would be different than if it’s just happening to you. Does your department have HR? Do you have a mentor in the same employment you could talk to?

      Some people look more stern by default, Resting GrumpyFace or another term often used. You should not have to make your face jolly for the purpose of your coworkers. That’s absurb. As long as you’re not actively glaring you’re fine.

      Reply
      1. leave me be

        There are two other women that I work with most frequently. One is on my team, the other is on a different team but we still interact (some people on her team actually have nicknamed her “smiley”)
        The other woman on my team is more emotive and smiley than me. I am not saying she is “phony,” it’s more like she just actively shows positive emotions constantly and is very agreeable. I have a hard time smiling, nodding, and agreeing to things I fundamentally don’t believe are right or true. Maybe the difference between us makes it more obvious that I am not aggressively happy all the time?

        Reply
        1. Snark

          I think the diference between you and the other makes the men uncomfortable, because they’re accustomed to the few women they work with being agreeable and complacent, and they’re not sure what to do with someone who doesn’t affirm them.

          Reply
        2. Jesca

          I feel for you so hard right now. I have spent my career in a male dominated environment with male manufacturing type personalities. Sexism is so emeshed into the culture, the even the women get used to it in one way or another. In my current place of employment, the women are either totally complacent or quietly seething.

          But when this guy kept telling me I needed to smile and THEN compared me to Eeyore, I politely explained to him what sexism is.
          When my male (worthless) coworker came over to me last week to offer his help (that he has no real experience with) on my new project, I calmly explained to him that the only thing that will prevent my success is the rampant undertones of sexism that exist.
          And … they all stopped!
          I am for 100% calling them out calmly for what it is.

          Reply
    3. Murphy

      You’re not doing anything wrong. Your co-workers are sexist. I agree with what Snark said. Tell them it’s not cool.

      Reply
    4. Wannabe Disney Princess

      I had a coworker comment on this. To the entire office.

      I am like you. I’m not a smiley person by nature. I’m generally in a good mood and upbeat, but I’m not an outwardly emotional person. He made a comment about me not smiling. I just shrugged it off and said, “It’s just the way my face is.” Another coworker called him out on why he cares. So he yelled, yes – yelled, to the whole office, “WELL, JESUS CHRIST LOOK AT THE SOUR PUSS ON THIS ONE.”

      I was too stunned and mortified to say anything so I did what I do best…….and just ignored him. (Management did nothing and just wrote it off as him being him.)

      Reply
    5. ContentWrangler

      Men repeatedly telling you that you should smile more is definitely not your fault. Casual sexism doesn’t make me want to grin either.
      I think continuing to calmly point out the ridiculousness of their comments like you did is the way to go. Simply asking people Why? when they say something sexist often shuts them down because they know they’ll fumble trying to explain it.

      Reply
    6. Snark

      I just consulted my wife on this matter, because she has strong facial features and gets lots of comments along these lines. Her usual approach is to make it clear how ridiculous they’re being. Her suggestions:

      “You’re allowed to smile once in a while, you know!”

      “Is there a reason why I need to be doing so right this moment?”

      “Smile, it’s not so bad?”

      “Can I ask why you’re so invested in what facial expression I’m using right now?”

      “Jane was in a BAD MOOD this morning!”

      “I wasn’t, actually, but why is it worth commmenting on now?”

      Or, she says, you could just reply “The only thing that makes me smile is the wailing of my enemies being driven before me as I salt their land and pillage their hovels.” Real deadpan.

      Reply
      1. As Close As Breakfast

        Love that last one!

        I’m a big fan of using my two middle fingers to push up the corners of my mouth. I once did this at work. Capping it off with a “Better?” once I had pushed my mouth up into a nice big smile. That dude never told me to smile again.

        (I am the only female engineer at a manufacturing company. It’s a REALLY laid back place, so the double bird wasn’t even close to the worst thing done around here.)

        Reply
    7. Damn it, Hardison!

      I think you handled that very well! I have a “Face” – expressive and slightly frowny at rest. I know this, and am lucky that my colleagues don’t read too much into it. Except for one colleague who would regularly ask if I was mad at her. After one too many times, I responded that if I was truly mad at her she wouldn’t need to ask. I said it with a light tone and a smile, but she finally got the message.

      Reply
    8. Susan Sto Helit

      It’s rude for people to comment on your facial expressions, and probably gendered as well. Plenty of people have what could be described as ‘stern’ resting faces, and that’s just how they are.

      BUT, if you or anyone else does care, you can train your facial muscles to adopt a ‘softer’ resting position – it’s just a matter of consciously adjusting your expression whenever you’re thinking about it, until muscle memory takes over (it’s the same as correcting slumping shoulders by consciously pulling them back until your posture improves, something I’ve also done). I’m looking at this as an investment in my future elderly, stooped, wrinkled self, however, rather than anything that’s for the benefit of other people!

      Reply
    9. J.B.

      I have serious RBF and my parents always razzed me about “scowling”. If it happens again I would talk to someone in relative authority (is there a foreman or shift leader or something?), explain that my face just looked like that, and ask him to have them knock it off.

      Reply