wee answer Wednesday — 7 short answers to 7 short questions

It’s wee answer Wednesday — seven short answers to seven short questions. Here we go…

1. Rewarding an introverted employee

What techniques do you recommend for acknowledging, recognizing, thanking, rewarding and celebrating good work (major and minor accomplishments) of an introverted employee? Even though she might not like to be in the spotlight and so I don’t want to put her there, I would like to recognize her among co-workers and compliment and reward her individually/privately. This seems like a topic you’d be especially suited to address! You might have covered it already, but I didn’t find it while searching your blog.

Raises and bonuses — the currency of all personality types! But if it’s not quite to that point, and it’s more about lower-impact positive feedback, why not ask her? It’s fine to say, “Jane, you did such a great job on X and I’d love to recognize you for it in front of the group — any objections?” Also, keep in mind that not every introvert dislikes public praise … some of us (me) love it! (This is probably a good time for my periodic reminder that introversion isn’t about being shy; it’s about whether you recharge your energy through solitude or social interaction.)

2. Asking to be hired for my manager’s position when he leaves

My boss, president of the company, just announced he’s leaving in 8 months. Obviously his position will be available very soon and will require some tutelage during this 8-month transition. Should I ask to be considered for his position or wait to be approached, since I’m the most likely candidate within the company? I don’t want to seem pushy immediately upon hearing the news. He has started sharing and relinquishing some of his duties to me. In a casual conversation, one of our board members just acknowledge my length of employment with the company. These seem like small signs that my name has been mentioned in consideration for the position. What do you think would be proper protocol in this situation?

Bring it up. Don’t wait to be asked. All too often, when people wait to be asked — even when they think they’re the obvious choice — that never happens. Ask your boss what the likely process will be for hiring a replacement, and say that you’d love to be considered.

3. Should I give my notice now or after my background check is finalized?

I have accepted an offer at a new employer pending completion of a background check. I was informed today that my initial pre-employment screening is complete and the final step is to contact my current employer. Would it be more appropriate to give my two-week notice before my current employer is contacted or after the background check is finalized (2-3 days after current employer is contacted)?

Well, if your employer gets contacted for a reference check out of the blue, without hearing from you about what’s going on, that’s going to be pretty jarring. They’re telling you that they’re about to contact your employer because they assume you’ll want to give them a heads-up. So now’s the time to talk to your manager — you don’t need to give your formal notice date yet (since you may want to wait until you have a formalized start date at the new job, which could potentially be a ways away), but it’s time to give your boss at least an informal heads-up.

4. Gifts for retiring managers/mothers

You’ve discussed before many reasons why it is not a good idea to give your boss a gift. What about when that boss is retiring? A group of coworkers would like to give their boss a gift to celebrate her retirement. They like her and the workplace is congenial — a staff of 6 in a local office of a state agency. The boss happens to be my mother, and one of the workers contacted me for ideas about a gift the office could give to her. In general for retirement, I’d typically try to think of something the recipient would enjoy, be able to use and also that is reflective of his/her field, interests and accomplishments. A thing. The group’s idea so far is an e-reader, but I don’t think my mom would use it too much. She usually likes an experience or food or wine (something consumable) or a live plant. In thinking through posing this question to you, I have come up with the idea of a gift certificate with a local travel agency or a dining gift certificate. None of those are things that she’ll keep to remember her working days and workmates though.

I don’t mean for your response to be specific to my mother, but it is the example that raises these general questions: What are your thoughts about employees giving a boss a gift in this situation (retirement of the boss) and do you and/or other readers have suggestions on appropriate types of gifts (object vs. something consumable)?

Different office cultures handle this differently. In general, gifts should flow downward, not upward, but many offices do give retirement gifts and if they want to give her something, that’s certainly their prerogative. I don’t think it matters if it’s an object versus something consumable; it makes sense to go with what the person’s preferences dictate (although personally I’m a huge fan of the consumable). However, make sure your suggestions aren’t expensive — a restaurant gift certificate is probably affordable, whereas a gift certificate with a local travel agency probably is not (assuming they’re giving her enough for an actual trip). Since you’re her daughter, be careful not to look as if you’re suggesting anything particularly expensive — unless they tell you they want to spend $X, and $X is significant.

5. Explaining I’m taking on a second job

My hours have been cut at my current job from 40+ to under 15 a week. I’ve had meetings with management to try and figure out what is going on, and they explain it’s due to a slow streak we’ve been having lately. As a matter of fact, they just fired a veterinarian and laid off a technician, financial reasons is what they told us. I’ve been at this company for over two years and really love the job, but ever since the owner made his PA the manager, things have not run smoothly. I’ve decided to take a part-time job at a nonprofit organization two days a week. I’m not sure how to approach the subject with the management at my current job (I’m afraid they will outright fire me for looking elsewhere and I really need 40 hours).

It’s completely reasonable to explain that if they can’t give you 40 hours, you’ll need to take on a second job. They may require that you prioritize your hours with them though.

6. Pre-employment drug testing

After a lengthy interview process, I’ve received a job offer. The offer is contingent on a drug screening. A 30-day urinalysis would pose no issue. I’ve read, however, that there are other sorts of tests, such as a hair follicle test, that would go back 90 days. In all honesty, I could not pass that. Would I be a fool to ask what kind of drug screening will be administrated? I feel like bringing attention to it might be too big of a red flag. It’s a small bank, and no prior mention of a drug screen was given.

Well, first, chances are pretty good that you’re only going to be given a urine test. Hair tests are less common, although not unheard of.

If you have an extremely professional vibe, you could get away with saying, “What type of testing will this be?” in a tone of professional curiosity. Or a tone of concern about your privacy, frankly. Just not a tone of “uh oh.”

But if they say it’s a hair test, what are you going to do at that point? It probably makes sense to just move forward with it and hope for the best (assuming you want a job that drug tests, which maybe you don’t — plenty of us object to that sort of thing on privacy and civil liberties grounds). Also, you should work to change the laws that allow employers to dig into what you did in (probably) the privacy of your home a few months ago.

7. Comp time in place of overtime pay

I’m a non-exempt employee and I rarely work less than 40 hours a week (I usually work more). I have an agreement with my employer that I receive compensatory time off instead of overtime pay. I have quite a bit of comp time built up, in addition to a lot of vacation days. I am only able to take days off during certain periods of the year due to the cyclical nature of my job, and without doing the math, I’d say I probably have more days off over the next 12 months than I’m allowed to take. I’m curious about the rules surrounding comp time. In general: Does it expire after a certain amount of time? Do I have the right to use it after a certain amount of time? Do I have to continue accruing comp time instead of getting paid out for overtime? Your insight is appreciated, thank you for taking the time to address my questions.

Rules for comp time are set by your employer, not the law. However, rules for overtime pay are set by the law … and it’s not legal for your employer to pay you with comp time rather than overtime, unless that comp time is used in the same week that it was earned. You may not care; you might be perfectly happy with the arrangement you have and you might not wish to challenge it. But be aware of what your rights are under the law, and at a minimum, you should tell your employer that you don’t want to accrue comp time that you won’t be able to use within the year. (Additionally, make sure that it’s accruing at the same rate overtime would — meaning 1.5 hours of comp time or pay for every hour over 40 worked in a week.)

{ 205 comments… read them below }

  1. Meg*

    RE: #1 An all staff email might be preferable to being singled out for praise in an all staff meeting…that way the praise is public but the introverted employee doesn’t feel like they’re directly in the spotlight.

    1. Elizabeth*

      That was what I immediately thought, too. At my workplace, we usually get a “Thanks to…” email after big events, thanking everyone involved and especially highlighting people who had major roles.

    2. Girasol*

      It’s easy to do public-recognition-lite in a status meeting. If you want to let the team know that the work is done anyway, it’s easy to slip in a word on how Jane did it and why she made a difference. Making it a status report item – department news – is an easy way to avoid the round of applause, take a bow, embarrassing sort of recognition while still letting everyone know she did well.

    3. Anonymous*

      I’d like to throw my support behind the email idea as well. The other nice thing about these is you can bring them out during any review time you might have. As these have come across my desk this year I’ve printed them out and stuck them on a clipboard with a List of Stuff I’ve Done so when review time rolls around I can just grab the clipboard and go. Positive notes from coworkers, bosses, directors, other agencies. All good things.

  2. Anna*

    “This is probably a good time for my periodic reminder that introversion isn’t about being shy; it’s about whether you recharge your energy through solitude or social interaction.”

    Yup. It’s annoying how often this needs to be said. The closest to “shy” I get is that I’d rather do things by e-mail than by phone, but that’s more to do with not wanting to look stupid than it is about introversion. The real marker I have for introversion is that I find being in a crowd for too long to be draining.

    1. Sharon*

      Yes! Shyness is usually a pattern of behaviors to cope with a lack of confidence; introversion is preferring your own company to the company of others. There’s definitely a lot of overlap, but plenty of introverted people don’t lack for confidence and plenty of shy people hate being alone. Hell, plenty of quiet, reserved people aren’t introverted or shy, they just don’t have a big, loud personality.

        1. BW*

          Yes, I have a friend who is very bubbly and talkative and I see her as outgoing. I am quiet and don’t speak much. We are both total introverts. It’s funny when we visit each other (we live 500 miles apart), since we are both introverts, it is not unusual that we will be doing out own solitary activities, like reading or computer games. We’re like the perfect guests for each other, because we both get the need to go be in our own world for a bit. When other people visit, it’s like both of us may feel the need to constantly entertain or feel like we’re rude to our guests if we want to retreat to the couch and read for an hour. When we stay together, it’s not rude at all to ignore your guests for a bit. It’s just normal.

      1. KellyK*

        I think even more specifically than that, shyness is a lack of confidence in social situations, not just a lack of confidence in general.

        I’m both shy and introverted, and yes, there is a bit of overlap. I think for me the real difference is which situations make me nervous and uncomfortable and which situations just make me tired from being “on.” Sometimes it’s both.

        1. Laura*

          This, and also, I think it’s worth noting that there are different flavors of “shy” — I’m personally painfully shy in one-on-one situations (sometimes to the point of terror and panic attacks about such simple things as “giving the clerk at CVS my money”), but have absolutely no problem with public speaking or performing on stage or anything like that. In fact, I quite enjoy those things (though I do find them draining and need to go be by myself to recharge after).

          So even if OP’s employee is in fact shy rather than/in addition to being introverted, public praise in front of a group may still not be a big deal.

          1. BW*

            I am like this too! Anxious in many one-on-one situations or general social situation, but get me on a stage or in front of a group, and I don’t have any problems speaking or performing. I have a blast.

          2. Laura L*

            Yes! I’m pretty much the same way. I used to be much worse when I was younger, but, in general I’m much less anxious when I’m giving a presentation or doing something in front of a group than I am one on one.

            When I’m one on one with someone, I’m much more aware of the possibility of judgment or rejection and I make myself nervous over it.

  3. Laurie*

    #1 – As Alison said, introversion is not the same as shyness, and introversion definitely doesn’t mean public-praise-averse. Speaking as an introvert myself, I wouldn’t mind being lavished with praise in a public forum, as long as you don’t set up a situation where I have to then reciprocate with a speech or with entertaining the group immediately after.

  4. KayDay*

    #1 – awesome introverts: Personally, as an introvert, I don’t mind being praised in public if it’s a normal occurrence (like if someone is pointed out at every staff meeting or something like that). Otherwise, I would prefer that the public praise come as a team email instead of having to awkwardly listen to people say awkward nice things and then awkwardly thank them for awkwardly thanking me. But that’s just me and Alison’s advice is also spot on.

    #4 – gift for the boss: I actually think it’s fine to give the boss a gift for their retirement (as long as it’s not mandatory to contribute). Where I have worked, however, this would be paid for by the company. However, if the employees want to get together to give her a gift, make sure it’s something that is fairly inexpensive. A nice bottle of wine or a gift card to a restaurant all seem appropriate to me. The travel gift certificate sounds a bit pricey.

    #6 – shave your head. (sorry, I couldn’t resist). Actually Alison’s advice is spot on–I’ve never had a drug test, and don’t have anything to worry about, and I would probably instinctively ask what the drug test entails. Just be sure not to act suspicious!

    #7 – comp times. Gotta love how the questions where the answer is “yes, that’s illegal” are the ones where the OP didn’t actually ask “is this legal?”

    1. BW*

      I’ve had jobs that required drug testing, and one that had random drug testing (driving and working with children and disabled adults). It’s a urine test. I have never been asked for a hair sample or known anyone who has been asked for a hair sample. It’s a simple urine test, and you will sent to a specific clinic with paperwork to have it done.

      1. KayDay*

        I still think it’s fine to ask about the procedure for the drug test, because not everyone knows what it is. Until recently I had no idea that getting a drug test required going to a separate clinic (although it seems totally obvious now). I also remember hearing (was it on AAM???) that someone was in the room with you when you peed into the cup :-O I didn’t know that either, simply because I had never had a drug test before. These are all things I would want to know before I show up on day one and hand my boss a cup of pee from home! (just kidding, even I know not to do that).

        1. some1*

          I’ve had to take urine tests for two jobs, and both times I was allowed in the bathroom alone, but it was windowless and for the first one (in my county hospital) the water was shut off while I was in there.

          I would think most businesses will use the urine test because it’s easier and cheaper. Also it’s not really fair to someone who has their past behind, for instance, that s/he should be disqualified from something months or years ago.

          1. perrik*

            I had to be tested twice to work at the hospital – once when I came in as an agency temp, and then again when I was hired as a permanent employee. Both times it was a urine test, and both times I had privacy.

            But ugh, I’d rather have hair testing. I hate trying to fill those not-so-little plastic bottles.

        2. Heather*

          I had no idea that someone was in the room with you either! Not good for those of us with shy bladders. ;)

          1. Jamie*

            I’d have walked out. I couldn’t have done it – I can’t even use a public bathroom if someone is in one of the other stalls.

            Not happening.

            1. Heather*

              LOL me either. I probably wouldn’t be that enthused about taking a job where I had to do a drug test anyhow.

            2. Sara*

              AMEN. I can handle other people, but it is really hard if someone is in the stall next to me. At work, the ladies’ bathroom has 8 stalls, all in one line. In theory, it should be really easy to pee in relative privacy, right? Ha! Without fail, whenever I am in there alone, someone comes in and takes the stall *right* next to me. No matter where I am- the closest stall, the farthest stall, somewhere in the middle. Why do they do this? Do they need a pee buddy? Can’t I just pee in peace?

            3. Steve G*

              Ha ha! I had the chick at one drug test come into the bathroom with me and ask me if I had a girlfriend after I was done peeing!.

          2. Elizabeth West*

            I think they come into the bathroom, not into the stall. They won’t let you take your purse in there either, in case you sneaked in a *substitute* sample in with you.

            1. Jamie*

              I don’t know what’s worse. People being paid to be urine monitors or that others are walking around with black market urine in their purses.

              That would serve any purse snatcher right, wouldn’t it? Make a grab, rifle through for money, wait…what’s this…ewwww.

              1. Risa*

                We do pre-employment and random drug because we are a federally regulated company that drives lots of people around in large vehicles.

                We once had an applicant that failed the drug test because the urine was too hot. They take the temperature of the urine to make sure it is body temp. That way if it came out of a bottle or bag at room temp, it would disqualify them. This applicant knew that and microwaved the urine. The temperature was so high that it would have left 2nd degree burns if it had really come out of his body at that temp.

            2. Elizabeth*

              That was my experience when I had to take one for a job in college. I had to leave my purse and coat outside, they sprayed blue stuff in the toilet (so I couldn’t scoop up toilet water and dissolve some secret pill in it, I guess) and told me not to flush or turn on the sink until I had handed the cup out.

              Ironically, that job was the only one I’ve had to take a drug test for, and it was the job with the LEAST responsibility. She’s going to alphabetize papers? We have to make sure she’s never touched an illegal substance! She’ll be in charge of several dozen children? Sure, we trust her without a test.

              1. Elizabeth*

                (Note: I meant by that that I think the drug testing for the filing job was silly, not that teachers should be drug tested without cause. IMO, what teachers do off-hours, in private, is their business alone.)

        3. Janet*

          Agreed. Ask about the procedure for the test. I had to have one for my current job and one for my first job out of college. Both had similar procedures but if you didn’t know what was involved, you might want to ask. I had to book an appointment at an off-site testing facility, show up and wait for my time. They had a special bathroom for the urine tests – No one went in there with me but I was not allowed to bring any bags in with me (no purse) and I had to pull my pockets out to show I didn’t have anything in there (like bags of clean urine?). I peed in the cup and then put it in a special holding area.

          I did mine around this time of year and everyone else at the facility was there for job urine testing. Most were holiday retail workers. You could frame the question by asking about the procedure and roughly how much time it takes.

          Also, just sharing but even though I don’t do drugs and barely drink I am always irrationally terrified to get this done. I’m convinced that I’ll have an Elaine Benes situation where a poppy seed bagel will prevent me from the job.

          1. Jamie*

            It sounds apocryphal but I did know someone who flunked because of poppy seed coffee cake. The Polish among you will know this thing is so loaded with poppy seeds that it’s nearly black.

            As a kid I took a bite of one once, thinking it was chocolate…it is not chocolate! Such a cruel hoax.

            1. KayDay*

              An article I read on the internet was attempting to call the poppy seed issue a “myth” because you would need to eat almost an entire poppy seed cake to get enough to affect a drug test. Clearly, the author had never seen me eat poppy seed cake. (Albeit, I’ve never had a poppy seed cake that poppy seed full. But it sounds delicious.)

            1. Jamie*

              And the hair thing noted below? Nothing like treating new employees exactly the same as you’d treat a suspected rapist demanding that they surrender body hair.

            2. Andrew*

              So, drug screening is bad, but political screening — nixing anyone who disagrees with you on gay marriage, or who knows what else, which I recall you approving of a few weeks ago — is okay? Your sense of outrage seems awfully fickle.

                1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  You’re talking about this post, where I closed comments because people were posting homophobic comments (which is not the same as what you described):

                  Not sure how that’s relevant here, other than that one offended you politically and the other doesn’t. That said, I have no problem with someone choosing not to hire someone whose views they find hateful and hostile to them/their employees/their potential future employees.

                2. Andrew*

                  What if I’m as strongly against pot as you are against chicken sandwiches? Seems pretty similar to me.

                  Out of curiosity — which reason was it? Originally, you said that thread was getting too political; now, you’re saying it was “homophobic”, whatever that means.

                3. Elizabeth*

                  Alison, that link is being blocked by Chrome: “The site’s security certificate is not trusted!” It happens when I try to click over from the archives too. Actually, it’s happening whenever I click any link from the home page except those that say “422 comments”. It seems like the problem is links that begin with https – any idea what’s going on with that?

                4. Jamie*

                  The security certificate is different for that page than for the rest of the site. I clicked “proceed anyway” both with Firefox and Chrome and I’m still alive. :)

                5. KayDay*

                  Actually, I’ve been getting notices about the security certificate for a couple of pages (mostly the recent ones) using chrome…i’m too lazy to check a different browser.

                6. Jamie*

                  Firefox has been fine for me all day. Just checked Chrome and IE and all seems to be problem free as well.

                7. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  Andrew, I’m sure you’re well aware that homophobia and politics are often intertwined, and they certainly were in the comments on that post that got closed. I’m not sure why you’re being so antagonistic here.

                8. jj*

                  Re the problem with the links:
                  I’m seeing this again today (it seems to happen inconsistently). My suggestion is to look at the plugin that is creating the archives links, because most of the time when I’ve seen the problem, it has been when clicking on those sidebar links.

                  The links are sometimes being generated with the https:// protocol, which tells the browser to look for a security certificate. Since you probably don’t have one (since your site doesn’t appear to be, or need to be, secure), the browser throws up all kinds of warnings.

                  For users, if this comes up, you can either just ignore all the warnings (as Jamie did), or edit the URL in the address bar to delete the “s” in the protocol, or delete the whole protocol. That is, you can change the address that shows in the browser’s address bar so the URL starts with http:// (instead of https://), or you can take that out and have the address start with https://www.askamanager.org, which the browser assumes will mean a regular, not secure, connection.

                  I confess, I’m a geek.

              1. LSG*

                I’d say there’s also a big difference between moderating blog comments and making hiring decisions, wouldn’t you?

          2. Anonymous*

            hahahahaha yes me too! POPPY SEED!!!! And I would be horrified if someone was in the room with me. It sounds so degrading. I wouldn’t even let my boyfriend be in the bathroom while I’m peeing!

        4. Jamie*

          “that someone was in the room with you when you peed into the cup”

          And how crappy is that job? I’ll never complain about having to redo a budget snapshot again.

          I don’t know how much one would have to pay me to watch people urinate – but no one has that much money.

          1. Wilton Businessman*

            No joke!

            Back in the late 80s I applied for a job with EDS. Part of their interview process was a drug test. On interview day, an HR rep walks you to the security guard and tells him that you need a drug test sample.

            He directs me over to the Men’s room and proceeds to give me the cup. I walk over to the stall and start to close the door and he’s there behind me holding it open!

            I said “I’ve been doing this 25 years, I think I can handle it myself…”

            He looks away and I fill the cup.

            I got the job, but passed on it for other reasons.

            Out of the 5 or so jobs I’ve had in my life, I’ve been drug tested at 4. Now most companies just have a lab like Quest or Labcorp do it at their facilities and it’s much more relaxed.

                1. Jamie*

                  Awww…All Creatures Great and Small.

                  I’ll stack that up against that book about gray shades that I keep hearing about – any day of the week.

          2. Kimberlee, Esq.*

            For what it’s worth, both of my sisters have had that job (supervising urine tests). They both were super happy about it… they thought the pay more than made up for it. It wasn’t all that much, but when you make like $15 an hour to stand in the same room as people… it’s pretty easy, at least!

        5. Piper*

          I’ve had 4 (yes 4) jobs where I had to do a drug test. Every single time it was a special testing lab. I’ve never had anyone in the bathroom with me, but you are required to lock your purse in a back that’s kept outside the bathroom. The water was always turned off, I wasn’t allowed to lock the door, and someone did stand outside waiting for me. I think there may have been a time limit, too, but I don’t remember.

          It’s not that much different than giving a urine sample at the doctor as far as the type of bathroom (single room, not a stall) and cup thing. But for a job, I think it’s a ridiculous and humiliating practice and it needs to go away.

          1. Anon*

            At my old employer we did pre-employment drug screens for everyone. The only time someone had to be present for those were when they were required by law. I believe that federal law requires someone to be present for drug tests for the CDL (commercial driver’s license). Also, the urine tests cost like $15. The hair tests cost WAY more and I dont think they are as accurate. If you fail the urine test, we had to send it to an independent lab to verify what the actual drugs were and whether you had a perscription. I think that would hair would be a lot harder to keep track of and can’t imagine an employer doing it.

      2. Jamie*

        I agree with asking about the procedure just generally – because you will most likely be sent to a clinic of their choice so you’ll need directions, is it walk/in appointment, etc. and in the specifics should be details.

        I’ve never known a place to pay the exorbitant rates for hair samples – because often they are doing it to meet the criteria of their risk/loss prevention insurance policy and the $5 urine tests qualifies for that.

        At some point this will be passe and we’ll look back on the archaic times when gramma had to pee in a cup in some skeevy clinic just to fill out her W2. Can we fast forward to that era already? This is such a waste of time and money – not to mention it’s just degrading. Just because I will pee clean doesn’t mean I want to do it on command with someone standing outside the door. It’s not just the people who are worried about failing who hate this, lots of us do.

        1. skh*

          Actually, I’ve had the hair test done. they take a BIG chunk! The nurse left the top layer so it didn’t look like anything was wrong, but for a few months I felt like a 5 year old had gotten to me with a scissors. If I get another job where this is a requirement I’ll pass. I’m getting married in less than a year – NO ONE is messing up my hair before my wedding day!

          1. Piper*

            Gah! That’s horrible. Knowing that, I think I’d immediately walk from a job opportunity that required a hair test.

        2. Vicki*

          Once upon a time there was a small company called Cygnus. We knew some of the principals. Because Cygnus provided software to some government clients, they were told they needed to have a drug testing policy.

          The policy they came up with was: Bring any drugs you want tested to the front desk and check them in with the receptionist; we’ll get back to you.

      3. Former Teller*

        I did have to do the hair test when I was applying for a bank job. Which always seemed sort of unfair to me. As a female, they ended up with about 14 inches of hair. If a guy frequently shaves his head (not just before a drug test, but as his normal hair cut), they would end up with much less. Not that I exactly understand the science behaind that, but wouldn’t they have ended up with months or years of history on me, but only a few weeks at most on those guys? That seems really unfair. Not that I had anything to hide, but they did snip a significant line of hair off the back of my head. And as someone with pretty fine hair, I felt like it was noticable for a while. I think a urine test would have been more fair across the board.

        1. Former Teller*

          I just saw A Bug’s response to this below, and now I’m picturing all the guys I worked with (it was a company hiring policy) having to give “body” hair. Ewwww….I guess I’m glad I had hair on my head. But I definitely wish the urine test was still an option.

        2. LPBB*

          I had to do the hair test for a part-time front desk job for a national hotel chain about 12 years ago. As I remember it, a drug test had been mentioned, but I naturally assumed it would be a urine sample. Imagine my surprise when I walked in the first day and my manager tells me he has to cut my hair! I remember only a small piece being cut off, but it was a long time ago.

          I ended up quitting that job about 2 weeks later for other reasons, but requiring a hair test for a PT front desk job was definitely a red flag for me.

    2. A Bug!*

      A couple things regarding drug testing, from my limited experience arranging them. In case you’re curious. Hair testing is often used in family court files where a parent has a history of using hard drugs.

      Hair tests tend to cost more than urine tests. I would expect most places wouldn’t go with those by default unless there’s a specific reason to do so.

      A hair test can go back 90 days, and it can also say whereabouts during the 90 days the drugs were used. So if you’ve been clean for a month the test should show that.

      If you shave your head, they’ll ask for hair from elsewhere on your body. Hair about 1 1/2 cm long will give 90 days of history. For men, a leg hair will often suffice, or armpit hair, or other hair.

      1. A Bug!*

        I meant to put this reply further up in the thread, with the other drug testing discussion! Sorry!

        1. Anonymous*

          Yes, and when I got my hair tested for a pre-employment check, you had to sign off on a form stating they were allowed to take hair from just about anywhere (yes pubic was on the list). I think usually for the hair test it gives you an average value of drug over 90 days, so if you’re clean for months you’ll likely fall below level that means “positive”. If they do a month by month analysis (which I didn’t realize was possible) they’ll know when you quit using.

          However it seems from what I’ve seen you have to be a major user of illegal drugs before a positive drug test will actually prevent someone from being hired.

    3. businesslady*

      I can tell you at least one major company that does hair tests (or at least, did a few years ago): Anheuser-Busch. I guess their rationale is that it would be really bad PR if one of their employees was exposed as a user of drugs that weren’t alcohol-via-domestic-beer.

      1. class factotum*

        A-B wanted a colleague to change his email address, which is a combination of his first initial and last name. They were offended at seeing “molson@mycompany.com” in their inboxes.

        1. businesslady*

          ha! I’ve heard another story about a guy who was at a lunch interview & about to get hired into a pretty senior position…& made the (insane! inexplicable!) mistake of ordering a non-A-B beer. needless to say, he never received the offer letter he had prepared.

          (also, when work email first became a thing, my dad’s company assigned usernames that were “first initial, middle initial, first four letters of last name”…which, in his case, made his handle “[initials]ASS.” they wouldn’t let him change it.)

    4. Anonymous*

      I actually know someone who did shave his head (and arms etc) knowing he was going to have a hair test. The job offer was immediately revoked.

  5. BW*

    #1. My boss once brought me a lovely thank you card with a small gift (chocolate – she knows what I like!). She has on occasion, told me to go home early as reward for all my hard work. Who doesn’t like getting to go home early? Introverts may find this particularly rewarding since having time at home (or to go someplace quiet and solitary) is how we recharge our batteries. :)

    She’s also sure to give me positive feedback when meeting with me privately. When she gives public praise, it’s really not a big deal. She will just matter-of-factly comment that Jane worked really hard and did a great job making chocolate teapots. This is something that is easily mentioned in a regular staff meeting rather than calling everyone together special.

    1. KayDay*

      +1 to leaving early!

      (Although, depending on the OP’s normal work schedule, it might be better to allow the employee to leave early any day in the week, just in case said employee is really busy that day)

  6. Lisa*

    If the “introverted” employee is actually SHY in addition to/instead of being introverted, then maybe she would like the reward of a project that suits her passions? I’m not an introvert OR shy, but my favorite type of praise/reward is, “Great job, Lisa. I loved your work on this, so I’d like you to do Thing Lisa Loves to Do. Would next week be a good time for you to get started?”

  7. Anonymous*

    OP#6: It’s totally normal to ask what kind of test it will be. Imagine you go to the bathroom right before a urine test and then have nothing to give them.

    1. perrik*

      That’s why every drug testing facility has water coolers, big disposable cups, and a waiting area. Drink up!

  8. Chassity*

    According to SHRM, “In general, overtime must be paid in cash. Presently, compensatory time is not allowed for nonexempt employees in the private sector, which includes those organizations not controlled by the government, such as privately owned businesses and not-for-profit organizations. However, public-sector employers, generally comprising entities of the federal, state, and local governments, may grant compensatory time off (“comp” time) instead of cash in certain circumstances. The FLSA requires that compensatory time be earned at a rate of not less than one and one-half hours for each hour of employment for which overtime compensation is required. Public safety employees (e.g., police and fire fighters), individuals engaged in certain emergency response activities, and certain seasonal employees can accumulate up to 480 hours of compensatory time; other public employees can accumulate up to 240 hours of compensatory time.

  9. ChristineH*

    #1 – If the OP’s employee is just introverted, then I’d say Alison’s advice is right on the money (as usual). I’m both introverted AND shy. That said, I’ve noticed that when my fellow grant proposal review committee members compliment me on my attention to detail in front of the agency reps (they say, “she’s our details person”), I give a meek smile and a “thanks”, but I actually don’t mind all that much. As long as it’s not turned into a big production, I don’t think the OP will have any problem.

    #6 – Call me crazy, but I’ve never understood the aversion people have to pre-employment drug screening. Sure what you do on your own time is your business, but I would imagine that recent drug use can have an effect on an employee’s performance regardless of whether they’re under the influence on the job or not. Am I being naive in consenting to a drug screen without hesitation? Also, does a urinalysis also note any prescription medications a prospective employee may be taking?

      1. some1*

        Actually neither drug test I had to take for employment tested for alcohol. They tested for marijuana, cocaine, opiates, and PCP (which I thought was weird because I am in my early 30’s and don’t know anyone who had done PCP. Or know anyone who knows anyone who’s done PCP.)

        1. Anon*

          That was her point, I think; if getting buzzed on a Saturday night doesn’t effect your work Monday morning and isn’t your employer’s business, why is smoking a joint?

          1. Andrew*

            Alcohol is metabolized much more thoroughly and much quicker, I think — I might be wrong about that, but I think it makes the argument even more clearly. If you know you’re getting screened for alcohol Monday morning, and you can’t manage to abstain even for a weekend, what does that suggest about your competency in general?

            1. Anon*

              No, pot from Saturday night will not still be impairing you Monday morning.

              But that timeline isn’t what we’re talking about from the screening. We’re talking about a two week period – it’s not at all unusual for someone to find out that they’re expected to show up for a drug screening in less than two weeks. You can say everyone who might be job hunting should abstain, sure, but there’s two issues with that. (a) We’re no longer talking about a weekend or even two weeks at that point – we’re talking about potentially months or even years, during which it’s relatively unlikely that you’ll be screened at any given point. And (b) plenty of people haven’t had to be screened for previous jobs and had no reason to expect it until suddenly they’re told to show up for it.

              1. Andrew*

                I said “screened”, not “impaired” — it would take some truly heroic drinking on Saturday night to still be impaired on Monday morning. But impairment at the time of the test isn’t the issue.

                Neither of those issues strike me as particularly compelling; you’re an adult in a free country, and drug testing isn’t a new thing, or even a recent fad. But what about them is so critical that, as AAM suggests, the law should be changed and this kind of drug testing should be banned?

                1. Anon*

                  Uh, the law should be changed because we’re adults in a free country and that should preclude certain types of inquiries by our employers.

                2. Andrew*

                  You realize employers are adults in a free country too, right? You’re trying to create a distinction where none exists — and what you’re arguing for, “I want to get to do what I want”, is directly contradictory to what you want, when you think about it.

                  Which I think just means you need to spend more time thinking about the problem.

                3. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  “You realize employers are adults in a free country too, right?”

                  That has nothing to do with whether or not people should object to employers doing this, just as they object to (and sometimes legislate against) them doing other things that strike people as wrong.

                4. argh*

                  If the police wants to take something from your house to prove something they gonna need approvement from a judge which will only approve it if they have some prove already.
                  If any employer wants to take something from your body just to be sure they can just take it if they like to.

                  Guess which invades your privacy more?
                  Why is this so much easier to get then?

                5. Jamie*

                  Actually, even though I’m opposed to the invasion of privacy it’s not the same.

                  A judge with a warrant can legally force compliance. An employer can’t.

                  If I’m offered a job, but I need to complete a drug screen I am well within my rights to forgo the job and refuse the screening. The same as otj random testing. You can refuse – although you may well lose your job – but if they want to compel you to test they need a court order and police involvement (usually only in case of accident/injury where the police would be involved anyway).

          2. some1*

            Well I read her response to mean that employers shouldn’t test for alcohol. And I was only saying they don’t in my experience.

            1. Ariancita*

              No, she was making an analogy. She’s saying that if imbibing in one (legal and socially accepted) intoxicant on the weekend or on a vacation or on your own time, doesn’t affect your work (given you have enough time to sober up and recuperate beforehand), then why should any other substance be different? And in fact, you’d probably take umbrage at being told your employment depended on you abstaining from drinking on your own time for reasons that have nothing to do with your job.

            2. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Ariancita is correct — drug tests do not test for alcohol, and my point was that imbibing anything on your own time shouldn’t be anyone else’s business, if it’s not affecting you on the job.

              1. And if*

                OK, but what if that employee arrives at work, with a baggie in the car. About lunch time, a cop shows up at your office because your employee’s pharmaceutical rep has been arrested in a sting and they have your employee on tape purchasing. They search employee’s vehicle and find the baggie, it has enough crack rocks to qualify for distribution. They arrest her and as your luck would have it, there is a news crew there catching it all on tape. Now the 5 o’clock story is how Mary Jane has been busted with crack and is being charged with distribution at the Chocolate Tea Pot factory. Think that might affect your business?

                Don’t get me wrong, I hate testing- heck my blood pressure goes up every time I go to the airport and I make it a point to go by Gander Mtn before going there just incase TSA decides to swab my hands. I just think that when you work somewhere what you do on YOUR time can very well have negative impacts on not just you but on the company and you should make every attempt to not do things that could bring embarassment to the company.

                1. Jamie*

                  Wow – that would be one very specific fear of employer.

                  To equate people indulging in some pot on their own time with crack dealers carrying at work would be like harboring the fear that if your employees like to have sex on their own time that they will go at it on the conference table in the middle of a budget meeting.

                  Or it would be like assuming if Jane likes a glass of wine at home she’ll be shotgunning beers while driving the company car.

                2. Vicki*

                  If Mary Jane is dumb enough to drive around with a baggie of crack in her car, no drug test in the world is going to prevent it.

                3. -X-*

                  “OK, but what if that employee arrives at work, with a baggie in the car. ”

                  Yeah! Just say no! And the other thing abut MJ is that it could ruin your life. It’s really hard to get a job if employers know you smoke it, and you could go to jail too! That’s why we’ve got to stop people from getting jobs if they partake, and keep it illegal. For people’s own good.

              2. Vicki*

                And if it does affect you on the job — be it alcohol (not tested), antihistamines (not tested), various prescription meds (not tested), or low blood sugar (not a drug) — then it’s a _management_ problem and should be handled as a management problem.

                I don’t any drugs other than small amounts of caffeine, OTC decongestants, and OTC headache tablets. I don’t smoke tobacco. I rarely drink alcohol. I think people who get hooked on cocaine are foolish and pot smells bad. But if someone insisted that I needed to pee in a cup in order to get a particular job, I would thank them as politely as possible and walk away. That’s an infringement of personal privacy and a line I won’t cross.

        2. Construction HR*

          PCP comes from the DOT mandated testing, which was instituted many, many years ago.

          In thousands of tests, I have never seen one come up hot for PCP.

    1. Ivy*

      The only time using drugs on your own time could affect you at work is if you are addicted, but that’s the same as an addiction to anything. I know plenty of casual drug users that you would never know or guess they do drugs. I understand drug testing for safety position (because you don’t want someone to be taking drugs and endangering lives). At the same time though, unless they’re on drugs WHILE working, previous drug use won’t affect you, and, as Alison said, it shouldn’t matter if you did drugs 3 weeks ago. (In the same way, it shouldn’t matter if you employee works 7-4 or 7-4:30, as long as he gets his work done.)

      1. Ivy*

        Drug tests test for specific components that are found in particular drugs. For example, it would test for THC that’s found in marijuana. They don’t give a full breakdown of everything the individual has in their system. That being said, certain heavy duty allergy medications contain the certain components of meth (I think it’s meth… can’t remember exactly right now), so people who use the medicine will test positive for meth.

        1. Elizabeth*

          Sudafed will do it. AKA psuedoephedrine, which is why the DEA requires pharmacies to keep it behind locked windows & scan your ID & only allow you to buy a few pills per month.

          1. class factotum*

            I don’t think they lock it up to keep people from having a positive drug test. It’s to make it harder for meth manufacturers to get their raw materials and to make it a royal pain in the neck for people with allergies to get relief.

            1. KayDay*

              “make it a royal pain in the neck for people with allergies to get relief.” I’ll never forget the time, soon after they implemented the sudafed rules that I had a terrible, horrible, no good, stay-home-from-work-level cold. When I went to the pharmacy, there was a detective at the register next to me (talking to the assistant pharmacist). Despite the fact that my eyes were bloodshot, my nose was bright red, and I sounded like Fran Drescher the pharmacist triple checked my ID and the detective kept giving me the stink eye!

        2. Construction HR*

          Not exactly. They test for specific metabolic byproducts which can only come from the particular drug(s) being tested.

        3. Your Mileage May Vary*

          They won’t TEST positive for meth but they may SCREEN positive. You guys are, for the most part, talking about a drug screen – where they take a cup of urine and dip a test strip in it. Those are quick and cheap but will give back the occasional false positive. A drug test is where the urine is sealed in the cup and sent off to the lab for analysis. More costly and takes longer but rarely do you see a mistake.

          There is a slight misconception about the hair test. It won’t pick up very casual drug. So, OP, if you’re concerned because you indulged at a party six weeks ago, stop worrying. And, like someone said upthread, hair tests are really expensive so the odds that they will require one will be low.

          (In case anyone is wondering about the costs of these things, when I worked (up until last year) with a drug court program, we could get a drug screen for $5, a drug test for $25, and a hair test for $75.)

        4. Vicki*

          It’s meth. That’s why I can’t easily buy Sudafed anymore and why my most useful antihistamine combo is only available from Walgreens. Grumble, gripe, curse, swear.

    2. Rana*

      For me, it wouldn’t be the concern that I have something to hide, but rather that certain aspects of my personal life are none of my employer’s business. They get to control my work and behavior while I’m on the job; demanding that I must meet their expectations off the job in my own life feels like a line has been crossed.

      (What if it wasn’t drug use they were testing for, but birth control use? Or alcohol use? Or prescriptions for managing mental illness? And what if it wasn’t because your job required you to be fully capable, but because they disapprove of certain behaviors that have nothing to do with the job? The line can be pretty thin.)

      1. Andrew*

        Employees who fail standard drug screens are significantly more likely to cost their employers more money — in absenteeism, reduced performance, increased health care costs, etc. It may be on your own time, but your employer is very likely to notice the effects — so why not?

        (And prescription medication, birth control pills, etc. are already protected by a whole host of other laws, as are addicts in drug treatment programs.)

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          If that happens, then deal with the absenteeism and performance problems, like you’re supposed to as a manager.

          Most of us are excellent employees and our private lives are no one’s business.

          1. Andrew*

            Thereby wasting a bunch of time and energy — and more importantly money, which could have gone to hiring someone who’s less likely to be a dud. Why, especially now, deliberately handicap employers, and advocate something that increases the risks of hiring?

            Regardless, I think you’re conflating two points here. We’re not discussing drug legalization in general, but rather pre-employment drug screenings in particular. As someone points out below, the people who are likely to fail those are the types who can’t handle abstaining for only a month — and again, those are the types who are significantly more likely to cost you money. Recreational users, the kind who you’re saying won’t cost their employers any money, won’t be caught anyway. Yet you’re arguing as though these are one and the same.

            (And there’s no way most of us are excellent employees. By definition, that’s impossible; half of us are below average. That’s just how it is.)

            1. jill*

              But then wouldn’t you see evidence of this in your reference checks and prior employment history, as a hiring manager? If you’ve got a guy with a history of consistent employment, increasing responsibilities, and solid results, isn’t that much more applicable evidence?

              1. Andrew*

                Assuming your background check is yielding accurate information — what are the odds that someone that consistently solid in their professional life isn’t going to be capable of passing a basic drug test? Again, the test isn’t going to fail everyone who’s ever touched cocaine, or who’s a recreational pot smoker — only those who can’t manage to lay off for a month or so before the test.

                1. Ariancita*

                  But often times, candidates don’t know they are going to be tested until right beforehand. If it’s not standard in your industry, you won’t expect it. That’s very common. So you may not know to abstain from your recreational use when you’re suddenly faced with having to take a drug test. It’s not like a candidate knows a month in advance that they will be required to take a drug test in an industry that doesn’t require it.

                2. Andrew*

                  Sorry, but I don’t buy it — you have to know it’s an option, even if it’s not common in your industry. (And even then, it may be more common in larger companies than smaller ones, regardless of industry.) And it’s far from a universal practice — if it was, we wouldn’t be having this discussion — so passing on an offer of employment because of a drug test isn’t an undue hardship.

                3. Ariancita*

                  What don’t you buy? If drug testing is a potential in any industry that one should recognize, then you’re argument about the tests not being punitive for recreational/occasional users goes out the door. Because the only way you could accommodate the belief that it’s always an option is to never take drugs, because you could be asked to drug test at any time for a potential employment opportunity. It’s not just for those who are on an active job search (though that still seems to be an over reach for employment companies), but also for a vast majority of people who get offers/opportunities when they’re already employed and not looking. So in fact, drug testing does cross the line into punishing even recreational users, in practice.

                4. jill*

                  But the test also doesn’t yield particularly sensitive conclusions. There’s no difference to the test if I smoked a joint five days ago but at no other point in the past year, versus if I lit up every day in the past year, and it gives you no usable data about how my level of use impacts on my performance in the workplace. In all the reference data and employment history, though I agreed it can be flawed, is much more valuable.

                5. Elizabeth*

                  Say Fred occasionally smokes marijuana on the weekends – maybe once every month or two. September 29 happened to be one of those Saturdays. On Monday, October 1 – when Fred has been 100% sober for more than 24 hours by the time he gets to work – Fred’s boss informs him regretfully that their entire department is being laid off. Fred starts a job search immediately, and has an interview two weeks later on October 15. The new company likes him and moves quickly, and they offer him the job – contingent on a drug test on October 19. Fred fails the test because of the marijuana he smoked three weeks ago on Saturday night, when he thought he was secure in his employment.

                  Okay, this is a bit of an extreme example – but not an impossible one, and it demonstrates how responsible people can be punished unfairly under drug testing policies. There are better indicators for whether someone will be a bad employee than a drug test.

                6. Andrew*

                  Who cares? You’re a responsible adult; this is all well-known stuff; it’s all part of the deal.

                  Why does your right to recreational drug use (ignoring whether or not it’s technically illegal in your jurisdiction) trump the right of an employer to drug test as they please?

        2. Ariancita*

          Employees who fail standard drug screens are significantly more likely to cost their employers more money — in absenteeism, reduced performance, increased health care costs, etc.

          I’d like to see the citation on this claim.

          1. Elizabeth*

            Yes. I’m especially curious: How were the employees selected for drug screens? Was it because they were demonstrating irresponsible behavior? If these were everyone-does-them-before-being-hired drug screens, then the people who failed didn’t get the job – so where did the data come from about how they cost their employers so much?

            The only way I can see this conclusion having a scientific basis is if a company (really it should be multiple companies) tested a large number of randomly-selected employees and then compared the “pass” group with the “fail” group on all these measures.

        3. A Bug!*

          Employees who fail standard drug screens are significantly more likely to cost their employers more money…

          I want to highlight this bit because I think you’ve unintentionally hit on something important, and that is that “drug users” aren’t necessarily the same group of people as “drug users who fail drug screens,” although the latter obviously has to be a subset of the former.

          But there’s no reliable way to distinguish the subset “drug users who pass drug screens” from the separate group “drug non-users”. As far as the test is concerned they’re both the same.

          Because of that, there’s no way to really say what effect drug use on its own has on employee reliability. The presence of the test alters the behavior of the participants and artificially reduces the number of positive screenings, making the statistics unhelpful in coming to any practical conclusions about drug use by employees.

        4. Rana*

          Actually, we can’t rely on those laws protecting other classes of medication anymore. Already we’ve got pushes in several states to make it so that employers can decide whether their employees are allowed to be on birth control.

          And that’s my point. Do we really want to grant employers the power to determine what their employees do when they are not at work, or to require that employees live particular kinds of personal life in order to have a job? If we say yes, we’re headed back to the era when bosses could send agents to inspect your house and family for proper behavior and modes of living. (Heck, some businesses now do this sort of screening, and it has nothing to do with the particular jobs a company needs doing, like requiring people who flip burgers to be married, for example.)

        5. books*

          Right, but the sample population here is no good.
          Employed people at workplaces that test for drugs who test positive for drugs may cost employers more money. BUT. Of the set of all employed people at all workplaces……? #statistics

    3. Elizabeth West*

      I am in agreement with it for certain jobs, like where the employee will be handling money (theft temptation) or operating equipment / vehicles (accident while impaired), but why the heck would you need to drug test your receptionist? What am I going to do, throw a party at the front desk? It’s demeaning and unnecessary.

      1. Jamie*

        The thing with the equipment handlers/drivers is that you can pass a pre-employment drug test but that doesn’t mean anything after you’ve capped the urine cup.

        I’m in favor of zero tolerance for impaired operators/drivers – always – but the pre-employment screening does nothing to rule out any but the most hard core addicts who can’t even hold it together for a scheduled drug test.

        It’s like doing a breathalyzer before getting your license – passing just means you’re okay at this moment, not that you have the required judgment to never, ever get behind the wheel while impaired.

        1. RG*

          Anyone regulated by the DOT has to be part of a random testing pool, for both drugs and alcohol – so they have more than the pre-employment screen to worry about.

          1. Jamie*

            Right – my point was that a test is just a snapshot of that body at that moment in time and doesn’t speak to their overall responsibility.

            That’s where good hiring comes in.

        2. Anon*

          last company I worked at gave you the job offer then asked you to come in and sign the background check papers. They didn’t let you know that you had to do a drug screen until you showed up. Lots of people failed.

      2. some1*

        I agree with this. If I own a business, and I’m hiring you to handle money, I’m going to be more concerned that you test positive for cocaine than trace amounts of THC.

    4. some1*

      “Also, does a urinalysis also note any prescription medications a prospective employee may be taking?”

      My friend/former co-worker takes a med for either arthritis or a thyroid thing that causes her to test positive for some kind of routinely screened-for drug (can’t remember which). She was informed of this by her doctor before she went on it and her doctor is willing to write her a note explaining this for her.

      1. Risa*

        Also if you fail a drug test, the lab will usually contact you before the employer to see if their is a reason for the failure such as a prescription. If you can produce a valid prescription that matches the drug that came up on the screen, you have not failed the drug test.

      2. Mike C.*

        I take ADD meds, and it makes me look like a meth user to a standard drug screen. Luckily, labs are aware of these and they just ask for the name of my doctor.

  10. Chassity*

    #6: I attended a webinar a few months ago about drug screening and according to Dr. Murray Lappe, the founder of eScreen and the Chief Innovation Officer of Alere Technologies, 95% of drug tests are administered on urine samples. Most testing is for pre-hire only—just because you have to take a pre-hire test doesn’t mean you’ll also be randomly tested. Random testing is generally for employees in safety-sensitive positions and is prohibited by some states for employees in non-safety sensitive positions.

    The OP is correct–a hair specimen would have a 90 day window, but this type of testing has a longer turnaround time, testing is not as efficient as urine testing, and it is only performed by a small number of labs in the entire country, so it’s safe to say that you will not have to give a hair specimen. You should also know that the cutoff level for drugs is different depending on the type of screening. For example, as an HR administrator, I setup testing appointments for CDL employees that must follow DOT regulations. With our tests, the threshold of concentration for results is higher so that instances of false positives, such as eating poppy seeds before testing, are extremely rare, whereas with a non-DOT test, it would be less rare. We have the right to have a technician present during the urine collection process, but I choose not to subject my employees to this. This is usually done so that positive results can be legally defended.

      1. Chassity*

        That’s so true! Let’s just hope those companies aren’t supposed to be following DOT regulations… if they are, they’re risking their trucking license.

        1. Jamie*

          None of the companies that use (IME) have transportation requirements – it’s the minimum to meet the insurance carrier requirements for a “drug free work place.”

  11. Ivy*

    I think OP1 means shy rather than introverted. Everyone I know assumes I’m an extrovert because I can be loud and boisterous, but in reality I’m introverted.

    If OP is shy then I think as long as you don’t make it a big deal it won’t be one. Give praise in a quick non-spectacular way, and then move on. “Jane did a great job of building x, which we will be using in y manner. Jack I need you to…”

  12. Michael C*

    to piggyback on #3: I signed everything to be employed at my new company and I am in the transitional two weeks process prior to my new job. However, they informed me that they will be doing a background check like college gpa, felony check, and contacting references.

    Shouldn’t they have done this prior to me formally signing papers for employment? How many times have you heard stories of employees being fired before they even get a chance to start due to discrepancies in a background check? (TBH there are a few things I am concerned about getting audited on..)

      1. Anonymous*

        I just had this happen as well. They checked my references (which were described as “really, really great”) before extending an offer, but as I signed my offer and a NDA, I was also asked to sign a background check consent form. I don’t think there’s anything that will make them rescind the offer, but now I’ve heard so many warnings not to give notice until everything is squared away 100% absolutely for sure that I don’t know!

      2. Michael C*

        Yes. This is what made me nervous – the fact that a background check is a process that weeds out prospective employees.

        They made me an offer, had me sign everything (electronically/fax) and then they said they need me to allow them to perform a mandatory background check prior to employment – which I had to sign off to in order to be considered an employee there.

        What I am most concerned about is my GPA. I didn’t lie or anything, but it is an unimpressive, low score. If anything, it is an impressively low GPA… My references said they gave me outstanding reviews (assuming they’re telling me the truth)..

        1. Ariancita*

          Would they even really care about your college GPA, or are they more looking to check that you actually graduated when/where you said? Unless this is your first job out of college or perhaps some government job that requires it, I can’t see how a impressively low GPA would even matter. I know when I hire, I don’t care about GPA at all, and I’m hiring students for internships!

        2. perrik*

          Unless you’re being hired for a position which specifically screens for GPA, like a “fresh-out-of-university” analyst position at one of the big consulting firms, your employer is likely only checking to see that you officially graduated from the institution from which you claim to hold a degree. I think the education check also verifies that said institution is properly accredited and not a diploma mill.

  13. TL*

    Introverted and shy here, but I appreciate public praise as much as anyone. As long as I’m not called upon to make speeches, and the praise is given in a matter-of-fact way (as opposed to too much gushing), I don’t mind in the slightest. If it’s shyness that OP #1 is talking about, and not introversion, then some public praise – again, as long as it’s not over-extended and fake-sounding – will probably help build the employee’s confidence.

    1. jill*

      This is me too. And the praise needs to be genuine – I get VERY uncomfortable when my manager tries to praise me for things I had very little to do with, things I didn’t really feel were exemplary, or worst of all, instead of apologizing.

      This is actually a question on my team’s “working styles” worksheet that we complete with our direct reports – how do you like to receive positive and negative feedback? I think AAM’s response is great – find out what makes her most comfortable/feels the most satisfying, and do it!

      1. TL*

        I hear you! I’ve been praised for doing things that didn’t seem particularly outstanding to me, and it puzzled me sometimes. However, I gradually realized that the praise WAS genuine. It still baffled me, but I did appreciate having the positive feedback.

        I wanted to add to my original comment that one *very* good reason to publicly praise an introverted (or shy) employee is because introverts often feel like their contributions are invisible: that the company thinks they’re very good and hard-working employees, but not the popular superstars who are Visible Leaders, or Important People Who Get to Spearhead Projects. So it’s entirely appropriate to raise the employee’s profile amongst his/her peers and superiors by pointing out their accomplishments, especially when they’ve worked on something major. (This could, of course, be done by e-mail or in a meeting; “public” doesn’t necessary mean “face-to-face”.)

        1. perrik*

          +1000000 to this. An email would be most appreciated, especially if some Higher Ups are copied on it.

  14. Ackee*

    The problem for the shy/introvert that I’ve witnessed on occasion is when they are particularly attractive. There is always at least one person around them who convinces him/herself that this shy/introvert is really interested in him/her and just needs a little encouragement to show it. And this ‘little encouragement’ is the beginning of hell for this shy/introvert. And God forbid he/she rebuffs the co-worker’s advances! In at least one case, this poor guy had to find another job.

  15. Ariancita*

    Extroverted here, but I’d hate a public in-person recognition. It would feel really over the top. Would prefer in an email, but not one dedicated solely to praise my work contribution. More like an inclusion in a weekly summary email that goes to the team (approaching deadlines, who’s out of the office this week, congratulations to x who did y) or a mention in the company newsletter (if the company has one).

    1. Gwen*

      I was just getting ready to mention that extroverts can really hate public praise, too. I certainly do. Nice to see I’m not alone. :)

  16. Henning Makholm*

    +1 on public praise for the introvert.

    I’m pretty introverted if you ask me, but what it means in practice is that I hate needing to take charge of a one-on-one conversation with someone I don’t know well. Particularly if I need something from the other party and have to communicate that without sounding either entitled or begging, and without dumping more information than they can process at once, or wait to be prompted when they expect me to volunteer more data. Should I start by introducing myself? Will my name even mean anything to them? Would introducing myself be awkward because I should know that they know who I am? I never learned those protocols properly. Hate awkward hate hate. (Phone calls in particular. Something simple like calling a dentist’s clinic to set up an appointment, I’ll agonize for days over exactly what to say in my initial line before pausing for breath and hope that’s enough to let the person at the other end prompt me for the rest of my information in the order they need. That’s worse than the actual visit, and I say this as a not-particular-friend of the dental chair).

    Um. Right. Where was I? Oh yes: groups of people hold no peril for me. I can raise my voice in meetings as well as anyone, deliver presentations, ask questions of lecturers, speak in public … I get high on my own amplified voice in a crowded auditorium.

    I don’t know that I’m typical of anything or anyone, but just as a data point: Don’t assume that just because someone appears introverted/awkward/shy one-on-one, they want to avoid spotlights!

    1. Jamie*

      I could have written that whole comment about myself – except the part about the phone call being worse than the dental chair – those are on the same circle of hell for me.

      Seriously – that’s eerie how this describes me as well.

  17. blu*

    For OP #3 we generally advise that you do not give notice until that background check comes back because aside from potential issues coming up, you can even be certain how long it will take to complete it. We offer people the option of not contacting their current employer as long as they can provide us some kind of documentation showing they are currently/recently employed at whatever company they list as their current employer. It may be work checking to see if they offer something like that.

  18. Kate*

    Just a quick comment re drug testing. Alcohol isn’t illegal. And most companies are screening for use of ILLEGAL drugs.

      1. jesicka309*

        But it could impair their ability to do the job. If they get arrested for doing such illegal activities.
        Sure, you can’t rule out the possibility that any employee is breaking the law (piracy anyone?) but if your employee gets busted with speed in their car on the weekend, you’d lose them for a few weeks on drug charges (if you’re lucky).
        You can’t screen for everything, but you’d at least be deterring anyone who takes drugs from applying for the job.

        1. Rana*

          Well, if that’s the logic, then we should be checking people’s homes to be sure they’re not in an abusive relationship, that they don’t have children or elderly parents who might get sick and need care, that they’re not poor so they’re not tempted to steal, that they never speed because they might be in a car crash, that they don’t drink because they might get into a bar fight, etc. etc.

          Drug tests make sense to me when there is the concern about the employee being impaired at the time they are doing their job. What they do in the privacy of their own homes is their own business; it’s not the job of employers to play police.

          1. LSG*


            My productivity plummets if I haven’t gotten enough sleep, but that doesn’t mean that my employers should be checking my mattress quality. If my work is falling off, then that’s what they should address.

  19. Anony*

    5. Explaining I’m taking on a second job

    Is it even necessary for you to let your manager know that you are taking on a second job? Unless you are trying to give as reason as to why you can’t work certain days or hours, then I don’t see a point in even telling them as long as it’s not affecting your job there. I know people who work full time jobs and have side jobs during the weekends and don’t even let their managers know that.

    1. Anonymous*

      The place I work at currently prohibits employees from taking additional employment elsewhere without first clearing it with management. Not sure if that’s the case here, but it’s possible. But yeah, if that weren’t the case and it wasn’t going to affect my schedule at the first job, I wouldn’t bother telling anyone.

      1. Jamie*

        Many companies have policies about needing clearance to moonlight – but I would not think well of a company that would prohibit it without a valid reason (safety, conflict of interest, etc.) especially if they werent giving 40 hours.

      1. jesicka309*

        We had a girl who started her own free lance advertising company while she was still working with us. Problem was, she was working for a national television station, scheduling commercials.
        She didn’t think it was a conflict of interest, but once our boss got wind of it, the company decided yes, it was. She was advised to pick one or the other. She went with the freelancing, but our boss would have preferred to find out from her straight up what her plans were.

  20. Kate*

    I believe the idea is that someone using illegal drugs is willfully breaking the law and perhaps not a good employee for that reason. If a person has no compunction about violating drug laws, they are potentially a criminal in other ways. Also, I imagine that it could be a security risk. I don’t agree with these reasons, but they are valid to an employer. My employer may not care if I drive my personal vehicle at 80MPH on a back road, but if I’m doing it in a company vehicle, he has every right to be concerned.

    1. Anon*

      You ever drive over the speed limit? Or jaywalk? Or don’t come to a full and complete stop at a stop sign?

      Obviously, you have no compunction about violating traffic laws, and you are probably a criminal and a lousy employee.

    2. Anonymous*

      Fun fact – I’m an undergraduate business student – In Canada, drug addiction is considered a disability, and employers cannot do ‘drug tests’ as a condition of employment – alcohol testing is OK to make sure you’re not, say, coming into work as a crane operator while drunk, but ‘being drug-free’ is not considered a bona fide occupational requirement.

      1. Chriama*

        Are you sure that’s true across the whole country? I’m studying business in Quebec and could totally see it happening here, but not back in Alberta where I’m from.

        1. Anonymous*

          I believe there was a supreme court ruling that made drug dependency a disability, and of course every province has laws against discrimination for disabilities.

          That said, I’m sure the practical application of those laws will vary (e.g. what is dependency? maybe they can argue you’re a casual user… I’m just speculating at this point)

  21. Kate*

    I’m not saying that I agree with the rationale. I am saying that an employer can make drug testing part of the employment process and that this may be the reasoning behind the process. I worded it poorly. I do not assume that someone who uses drugs is automatically a criminal. These things work both ways. If an employee comes in to work under the influence and mishandles equipment, and is subsequently injured, s/he may not be able to collect worker’s comp.

  22. Stephanie*

    I am the OP for both #1 and #4. Thank you for the comments and suggestions.
    #1 You are all correct about introverted and shy not being the same. I didn’t choose my words carefully. The employees I have in mind do both happen to be introverts but neither is shy (they are fine to speak with strangers, speak to a group, speak one-on-one etc.) The key trait is that they are both uncomfortable “in the spotlight” and tend to work independently/remotely/not attend unit-wide work functions. The suggestion to highlight their contributions and accomplishments in a email to other staff will work well.
    #2 Since the employee group’s own idea was a Kindle, I had that amount to work off of as their budget. That would be a lot of bottles of wine (another good option) or just a gift certificate with the travel agency, to pay for a one-day bus trip or to go towards a larger trip the retiree might plan later. I’m glad to hear support for any kind of gift the retiree would enjoy and to know it doesn’t have to be a engraved golden watch!

  23. Erica B*

    In regards to #7 We do comp time at my work, because there are times when we have to work more than 40 hrs/week, but we aren’t allowed the over time. I never thought about the whole 1.5 hours for every 1 over thing before. I find this tid-bit very interesting.

  24. Employment lawyer*

    I have (literally) recently filed a lawsuit on this precise issue. I will win it with ease.

    Simply put, comp-time-for-overtime has two characteristics:

    1) Common
    2) Illegal

    Overtime is a wage. All employers are required to pay wages.

    If you work at a job which pays overtime (most folks do unless they’re salaried or work in some highly specific areas) then you need to get paid time and a half for your work over 40 hours/week (in most cases; there are a few exceptions.) that payment needs to be as CASH WAGES.

    The reasons for that are simple. First, it links work to prompt payment. If you work today, you should get paid for the value of that work, by getting money on your next paycheck. You shouldn’t get paid through PTO, given at an as-yet-undetermined time in the future, subject to the scheduling whims of your employer.

    Second, it ensures that you get what you make. If your employer goes out of business or bankrupt, your future comp time may be lost. If you die, your heirs might not know to collect it. If you get fired or laid off and if you don’t have the right records, you may not collect it.

    Third, it avoids illegal wage theft. Again: workers get paid wages, and wages are cash. Now… haven’t you heard about employers who have “use it or lose it” comp time rules? I have. That’s wage theft.

    Fourth, it ensures that you’re paid time and a half, which is to say that it avoids employers who steal overtime. Most comp time is a double whammy against employees: not only don’t they get paid cash, but the employers rarely comp at the overtime rate. (Some employers do. If you work 45 1/3 hours and end up with 8 hours of PTO comp time, then at least they’re doing the time-and-a-half right.)

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