terse answer Thursday — 7 short answers to 7 short questions

It’s terse answer Thursday — seven short answers to seven short questions. Here we go…

1. Can I set up an incentive system for admin staff?

We have an incentive scheme in place for salespeople where they can earn an extra day off if they reach certain sales targets. I’d like to implement the same incentive for admin staff, but I’m not sure how it would work as so many of their duties aren’t directly tied to sales performance or specific measurable. Their work is extremely valuable but very much day-to-day tasks. Do you have any suggestions for objective incentive schemes for admin/support staff?

I don’t think those positions really lend itself to that. You could certainly set quarterly or annual goals for your admin staff around their job objectives (and should be doing that anyway, regardless of this) and give incentives to those who meet or exceed those objectives — but that’s generally what you’d be doing normally via raises. And admins’ objectives are generally about ensuring that logistics run smoothly, that other staff have what they need, that customers get a warm and helpful impression, etc. — i.e., things that are more qualitative than quantitative.

If you want to set up an incentive system for admin staff, you could do it by aggressively rewarding great performance (including with additional days off, like with your sales team) — but I don’t think you can easily tie it to numeric targets like you can with sales staff.

2. Can my employer make me work while I’m on jury duty?

I have been called for jury duty next week. I won’t know until the night before if I am called for 1 day, a week, longer, or not at all. My issue is that there is a ton of work to do. If I get called for a day, that isn’t too bad to make up. However, if I get put on a grand jury or some extended trial, can my job require that I work in the evening after sitting in courtroom all day?

No. Federal law requires that your employer treat jury duty the same way they’d treat a leave of absence.

3. My school has made it hard to verify my graduation

The university I graduated from, more than 25 years ago, computerized its records back to about 2 years after I graduated. So, if a potential employer calls to verify my degree, they’ll look me up on the computer and respond with “Who? We have no records of this person.” The only way to prove that I attended and graduated is to request a formal transcript, for a fee.

This happened to me for a former job, and I took in my diploma, copies of some report cards, and a signed transcript request form, after a short panic. (It also happened to my husband, who attended the same school, a few years before it happened to me.) Now, when I get to the point of a potential employer asking for references, I include the signed transcript request form, and mention that this is the way this university will respond. Is there a better way to handle this? Telling them that the university will disavow all knowledge of me unless they send $15 seems a bit dodgy, but it I think it’s worse if they call and it sounds like I made up my degree. This is a accredited state university, too!

Yes, that sounds like a perfectly good way to handle it. You and your husband should also both complain to your school that their registrar is denying any knowledge of you unless paid for a transcript, which is really Not Cool for a school to do. You’re alumni, and they want your donations. Tell them they won’t be getting any until this situation is fixed (and enlist any friends you have from school in doing the same).

4. Can I get unemployment if I resigned but my boss moved my ending date up?

I just told my boss (and owner of the company) that I will need to do an internship in the fall for my masters program (8 months from now) and that, if possible, I would like to work 4 10-hour days or go part-time to have one weekday available. He said absolutely not and gave me an ultimatum of school or work, and said that if I choose school I would have to leave in the fall. After a couple more meetings, I told him I choose school and understand he can’t have me work part-time, that it doesn’t fit the position. However, now he is saying, “I have someone for your spot and you have two months to leave.” Do I have a leg to stand on as far as unemployment is concerned. I am not resigning till the fall; in my eyes he is letting me go. How do you see it?

Technically, you resigned; you just disagreed over the date it would go into effect. However, for unemployment purposes, in most states you’ll be able to collect unemployment for the period of time between the date he’s telling you to leave and the date you’d originally planned to go.

5. Bringing a dog to work

About a month ago, I promised my parents that I would look after their dog while they go on vacation for a week in the spring. I asked my manager if it would be possible to bring the dog to work with me. She said probably not, but told me to ask our HR director as well to confirm. HR also said no, so I dropped it. However, since I initially asked, my parents found out that their dog has kidney failure. Because of this, we have to very closely monitor everything that he eats and drinks, and make sure that he’s consuming liquids frequently during the day. I’ve arranged for friends to look after the dog for most of the time that I will be at work, but there is one day that I can’t find anyone to look after him for me.

The dog is extremely well trained, and very calm and quiet, as my parents adopted him when he retired from a K9 unit, and is very friendly. (He was not an “attack” dog.) Since he started getting sick, he has become even more subdued, and my parents frequently take him to work at their offices — he will sit under their desks for the morning, go for a short walk at lunch, and then sleep for the afternoon.

Would it be appropriate for me to ask again about bringing the dog to work now that the situation has changed with his illness, and because it would be for one day instead of a week? I have a 9-5 office job, and started less than a year ago. Making sure that he drinks water from time to time would not distract me from my work, and leaving the office for a short time at lunch is the common practice here. Both my manager and HR considered my request for a short time before denying the initial request, so it wasn’t a case of an immediate, hard answer of no. He would sleep under my desk, and I do not sit in an area that the public can access. Although coworkers frequently walk by my desk, the dog would be out of sight and his presence would not cause a distraction.

Poor dog. I’m torn on this, but if you really have no other options, I think you can ask again if you do it very apologetically and preface it by saying that you realize that their answer is likely to be the same. But be prepared for the answer to remain no — as nice of a benefit as this would be to offer you, it sets a precedent that they might not want with other employees, and they also need to consider other employees’ allergies, some people’s fear of dogs, etc. (By the way, I would not ask again if you don’t have an excellent relationship with your manager or if you’ve ever received signals that you’ve pushed too hard on things in the past. If either of those are the case, asking again about something you’ve already been told no on has the chance of doing real harm.)

As you can see, my initial answer didn’t sit right with me because you already asked for something pretty unusual and were told no; I don’t feel right advising you to ask again. However, I think you have other options for this one day: Have you considered hiring a pet-sitting service for the day, or seeing if you can hire a student or unemployed friend? Or even taking a sick day or vacation day, like you might to care for a sick dependent family member? Those are probably better options.

6. Applying for jobs when you’re waiting to do something else

I’m a final year university student and having to start to get serious about looking for employment. While I don’t really have an idea of what would be my “dream job” (I do Economics and Political Science, so it’s not a vocational degree), recently I’ve been warming more and more to the idea of working in immigration/border control.

I’ve looked this up online and found that there is currently an external hiring freeze for jobs in this sector. My question is, how do I approach the fact that I’ll be applying for jobs knowing that I’m only waiting until I can apply? I assume this won’t look promising to prospective employers if I manage to get interviews, or necessarilly with the sector itself if I end up doing something completely unrelated (which, knowing the current market, is likely). My student job is as a call-center fundraiser, so I’m not sure how to create a positive committed impression in this respect.

You don’t tell them. That’s too close to announcing, “I’m just going to be biding my time here, and once what I really want to do opens up, I’m out of here.” Instead, you keep that to yourself and you find reasons why you’d be genuinely enthusiastic about whatever job you’re applying for.

7. Birthday greetings to business contacts

Today I received an annoying email from a manager of another department to let us know that today is the birthday of Jane Doe from XYZ Company, and to “feel free to send her a happy birthday message.” To the best of my knowledge, Jane does not have a personal relationship with anyone here – not even said manager. And I know that we are currently negotiating an important partnership / consulting contract with her firm. I can only imagine how awkward it might be for Jane to receive birthday greetings from business acquaintances, let alone several from one office. In my humble opinion, this manager is a bit of a twit. Now, I’m not asking you to agree with me on that one. But “feel free” to agree if you wish! What is your opinion on birthday greetings and the ethics of “brown-nosing” a business acquaintance we are in negotiations with?

Yeah, it’s cheesy. Of course, Jane might love cheesy and might feel that getting a bunch of birthday greetings from people she doesn’t know is actually a warm and wonderful thing. Some people do. But Jane might instead feel that it’s a cheesy and transparent (and lame) attempt to suck up to her in the middle of business negotiations, and might be mildly grossed out by your company as a result.

{ 266 comments… read them below }

  1. jesicka309*

    #1 We have the same sort of system at my work – technically my department is part of the sales division, so we are included on their incentives programs (which come in the form of tax-free vouchers).
    However, because we are data entry, not sales, we don’t exactly have targets. What we have instead are a set of KPIs, and our performance on those determines our voucher.

    Eg. I could be rated Exceptional, good, or below average on a number of KPIs (professional demeanor, attendance at meetings, communication with management, etc.) and my percentage is based on how well I do. And say I get perhaps 80% overall for the month, I am entitled to order an $80 voucher of my choice. If I get ‘below average’ in any field, I get nothing for that month.

    While it’s not exactly the high level that many sales teams get as benefits, it’s better than nothing, and it does give us some regular feedback. I haven’t bought my own make up, bras or high heels in years because I use vouchers, and I know others who use their for groceries and petrol. :)

    1. CatB (Europe)*

      Is there any possibility to share some specifics of the evaluation process? How do you get assessed for “professional demeanor” or “communication with management”? Are there objective metrics, or is it just your boss saying “Jess is nice and smiling, so she’s communicating well with management”?

      This is an academic / professional interest for me (I’m a freelancing trainer / consultant and also preparing my undergrad graduation thesis in the field of organizational psychology – personnel evaluation as part of Talent Management policy), so any details are extremely welcome.

      If this is something not disclosable, then please disregard (I’ve bumped into cultural issues before so I don’t really know if my request is acceptable or not for you).

      1. jesicka309*

        I’ll check my KPIs when I get to work tomorrow – I can’t share them all, as some are very specific, but I think they are just chosen subjectively. I know I lost my bonus for one month after leaving my internet browser open over a weekend and violating the internet policy, which gave me a fail for my “professionalism” KPI. It sucked, but I think they end up being really broad. I once got 96% and lost marks for only meeting expectations for meeting attendance instead of exceeding them, and I am still convinced they did that to prevent me from getting a perfect score. Very subjective, but at least we get a tangible reward, right? I can always ask them if I’m unsure why I was rated low, and improve that for later.

        1. CatB (Europe)*

          Thank you a lot! If you are reluctant to share here you can find me on LinkedIn (AAM group) or through the link in my screen name (though it’s in Romanian, general pages are internationally guessable).

          1. Anon*

            CatB, if you are interested in this topic, I highly recommend the ebook “Measuring the Performance of Business Analysts” — the content can be easily extrapolated to other professions in which quality and productivity of work is hard to measure.

            (Jamie, the ebook also talks about the difference between a measure and a rating — “professionalism” would be a rating, not a measure. But it explains that “the fact that ratings don’t constitute measures doesn’t mean that you should overlook relevant subjective, qualitative estimates of performance. (…). Ratings can leverage subjective information that is often critical to performance, such as feedback from peers, to generate actionable data. Ratings can also serve as a basis for a quantitative, consistently measured performance indicator, as discussed in the section “Leveraging ratings and other qualitative data” to follow.”)

            Oh, I almost forgot to link to the page the ebook is sold (the proceeds go to charity, BTW): http://bealprojects.com/measuring/

        2. Jamie*

          It’s not my business of course, but I disagree with the way your company does it’s KPI’s. IME for something to qualify as a KPI it has to be empirically measurable.

          I have no idea how one would clinically calculate an accurate indicator for “professional demeanor.” Usually KPIS are things like on-time delivery, QC defects, sales, customer complaints. Again, IME, KPIS aren’t subjective. They should be things you can prove the data is correct by running a report.

          I have no problem with incentive programs for people with jobs where it’s hard to find measurables. Those can be a nice perk – but calling them KPIS seems to diminish the whole concept.

          I’m kind of a metric/KPI fangirl and I hate to see them misused. Used properly they are a font of information which can be clearly communicated to everyone in the company. When I was new and my boss first asked me to set up a metrics program he said “you can’t improve what you don’t measure” and I knew then this would be a great fit.

          Just out of curiosity is a voucher like a gift certificate in this instance?

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Agreed. Also, having to do ratings like that month (detailed enough that you can apparently reach a 96%, so it’s presumably somewhat detailed) sounds like it would take a lot of a manager’s time to do well, and it’s hard for me to think that’s a good use of their time. Why not just give lots of feedback and reward good performance with raises, trust, responsibility if wanted, and whatever else that person is motivated by?

            1. Heather*

              Yes, and how would you get only 96% on attendance? “You got here at 9:00:30 on the 5th instead of 9:00:00, so you lose 4%! Better luck next month!”

              Knowing that I’ll get dinged for doing my job would be more of a DEmotivator for me. It would work better if the incentive was structured so that you got extra if you exceeded expectations, instead of losing some if you only met them. They could still subtract if you *didn’t* meet them, but this way they wouldn’t be saying “we’re taking money away because you … did your job.”

              1. Lulu*

                +1 Just reading about this depressed me. I suppose partly b/c I flashed back to a review I once got where everything was glowing except a note that if I got there earlier I could get even MORE done (nevermind that nothing was falling through the cracks, and I was pretty much always on the phone or email from home before I even got to work). They were either crazy or looking for something to keep me from getting “too high” a score, neither of which makes one feel good about the job.

            2. jesicka309*

              Well, I’ve never said I’ve ‘loved’ this job – I’m always on here whinging about it! There’s no such thing as ‘performance based raises’, and when we rarely get a bonus, we lose most of it in tax! (500 bonus became 250, for example).

              There’s on online system we use where our money gets dropped into an account, where we can go online and choose from a range of Australian shops (supermarkets, department stores, clothing shops etc.). Because it’s in the form of a voucher, the company pays the tax, not us.

              The KPIs are REALLY stupid though. In December, for this KPI : “Maintain business confidentiality and conduct yourself in a courteous and professional manner both internally and externally respecting peers & office protocol, demonstrating a “can-do” approach”. I recieved an execptional. But for “Ensure prompt attendance to all relevant meetings and training courses” I recieved only ‘expectation met’. Considering we only have one meeting every two weeks (and most likely none in December anyway), and have no training course in the 2.5 years I’ve been here, it kind of sucks. Another one I only had ‘expectations met’ was “Ensure management is kept abreast of potential issues relating to teapot processes.” I don’t know how I could be exceptional at telling my boss about problems (perhaps I don’t have any!?!) but there you go.

              It’s not a perfect system. The two months I got 96% immediately followed a denied promotion where I was passed over for someone who had been there longer…almost like they were trying to prevent me from becoming disengaged. Didn’t work, but there you have it.
              The percentages are calculated on the expectations met/exceptionals. Eg. Say you have 10 KPIs, exceptional=10%, expectations met=5%, unsatisfactory=0%.
              I only thought it could be good to institute something like this if they OP was really set on having something for their admin. Obviously it depends on management how they choose the KPIs and implement the process. A six monthly review this way would work just as well.

              My bosses are just shitty in their KPIs they’ve chosen for my job. You could easily base them around specific measurables like call stats, or acknowledge that they’re not a good system and give everyone 75% or something each month.

              1. CatB (Europe)*

                Thank you, jesicka309, for sharing. I pretty much suspected it was as you described it (if it’s any comfort that’s how a lot of companies work – dumb, that is).

    1. Soni*

      Not to mention the fact that dogs act very differently in unfamiliar and confusing environments, especially sick animals who may be under the influence of behavior-changing drugs or symptoms.

    2. CJ Record*

      To elaborate, it’s not only an issue while the dog is actually there, but depending on the breed of dog and how well the office is cleaned, the dander can linger. Had a co-worker bring in his dog once – it chased me out of his office for about a week, due to itching.

  2. Anonymous*

    #5 – Sick animals break my heart, I agree with Alison, not to ask again, but if you have no one to look after the dog, then take a vacation day if you can. Have you considered asking the vet? My vet has done that in the past for me, if he has room, I usually will pay a nominal fee and this way, my cat is good hands.

    1. Runon*

      A vet would be a good idea. But you also might want to try local small pet shops. I know someone who found a place where for $10 she can take her pup for the day. She takes the pup there a couple times a week just so he doesn’t have to stay home while she works since he gets to play with other dogs and people and the rest. Something like that can be a really good deal.

      1. VictoriaHR*

        Also there are pay-to-board kennels, and doggy day cares just about everywhere nowadays. Try Care.com also to find a petsitter. I don’t have a lot of friends, personally, but I’m confident that I could find someone to watch a low-maintenance dog for a day.

  3. Sally*

    Is it an option to work from home? Reading documents, editing work, and being at the other end of the phone or email could make this possible for one day. When asking to work from home, you coudl explain about the health issues.

    1. Anonymous*

      I think we should be warned before she does that; I almost blew my coffee out my nose, I was so surprised.

  4. PEBCAK*

    #5 I know this is a work blog and not a general advice blog, but have you told your parents what a problem this is? Asking you to look after their sick dog is much more of a favor than asking you to look after their healthy dog, and I would press them to foot the bill if you have to kennel it for a day or two.

    #3 I am a bit surprised that the OP expects the company to pay for it. Is that normal? Why wouldn’t she just provide the transcript when the time came?

    #4 If you never put anything in writing, you can deny these conversations ever happened at act as though he pushed you out. Of course, that is ethically questionable, but so is pushing an employee out early when they try to give a lot of notice.

    1. Sunshine DC*

      Re: Transcripts, it’s possible that employers wanting to confirm “proof of education” are going to need to receive this directly from the school, either by phone or by a *sealed* document, requested by and sent directly to them from the university.

      1. PEBCAK*

        I mean, it’s possible, but hugely unlikely for someone who has been in the workforce long enough that her university didn’t even include her in the online database. This is less about providing the confirmation, and more about eliminating the risk that the employer would think she was lying if she wasn’t found online.

        1. OP3*

          I would have thought it unlikely too. Why haven’t they computerized the rest of their records!? They must use student workers too, and they don’t bother checking paper records.

          Official transcripts have to go directly to the recipient, must be requested by the recipient, and have a signature from me. I can request them to me, and leave them sealed (and that is probably a good idea), which will work for most employers, since they don’t need official transcripts, just confirmation of education.

      2. KayDay*

        You beat me to it. First, official transcripts must be sealed to be officially official. Second, if the job is confirming education, that to me seems like it would fall under the category of the background check, which is something the employer would normally pay for.

      3. AnotherAlison*

        Yes, but standard practice I have seen both for job applications and grad school applications is that the applicant pays the fee & sends the request to the university to send a sealed transcript to the employer or grad school.

        I’ve ordered several over the years (4 universities!) and this is how I’ve always done it.

        1. Anon*

          I also ordered about 10 sealed transcripts after I graduated (I think I got a discount for a bulk order). They’re sitting in my desk at home (still sealed; I know what they say, so why would I unseal them?), ready to be deployed at a moment’s notice. I’ve used them for the occasional job/fellowship application since graduating without incident.

    2. AdAgencyChick*

      #5: I agree. OP, have you talked to your parents about working together to find a solution? It shouldn’t be all on you — yes, you agreed to watch their dog, but you didn’t agree to watch a special-needs dog, and now that that’s in fact what you are being asked to do, it’s perfectly reasonable to ask for THEIR help, whether that means springing for a kennel for a day or enlisting one of their friends to take the last day.

      I wouldn’t ask again about bringing the dog to work. Many commercial buildings don’t allow them, and management also risks a lot of, “If OP brought Fluffy, why can’t I bring my Precious?”

    3. John*

      @PEBCAK – that was my post to allison. dont think i could ever lie about the facts. i think i waas doing the right thing by trying to give as much notice as possible. i have kept a record of what transpired in case of an appeal with unemployment.

  5. The IT Manager*

    Don’t ask to bring your dog into work again! Frankly I am shocked you were bold enough to ask once because I have never worked in a bring your pet to work kind of atmosphere. Clearly you don’t either because you were told “no.” It’s an extreme request unless your office has that kind of atmosphere and pushing for something extreme when you’ve already been told no once is unprofessional and potentially detrimental to your career.

    Not to mention potential allergies or fears of co-workers or customers. And the precedent it sets once they allow one person to bring their dog in.

    Use one of the other options that Alison and others mentioned including taking the day off of work.

    1. Mike*

      In my new job (started in Nov) we’ve had a bird and three dogs brought in with one of the dogs on a regular occasion. The bird annoyed the hell out of me as it kept making noise but the dogs were mostly quite so I didn’t mind. I’d bring my cat in but I do know one guy is allergic and my cat is “friendly” enough to target that person.

      That said, the OP has been told no which is enough reason. Add to it the fact the animal is sick and you’ve got two very good reasons not to take it into the office.

    2. Elizabeth*

      I have only ever asked about having our cat in an office once. I was home on half-days, when the fire department knocked on the door & announced that there was a gas leak in the neighborhood. I was told the cat & I might have to evacuate, depending on what they found.

      I called my husband at work, saying that if we had to get out, we would be coming to his office. He checked with his boss, and she was okay with it, if it were just for the afternoon.

      We ended up not having to leave (no gas service to our house), but that is about the only situation I’d consider asking: an emergency that no one could foresee. If you have time to make other arrangements, especially for a sick animal and when you have already been told it wasn’t acceptable, then there is no reason to even consider asking again.

    3. Mike C.*

      Frankly I am shocked you were bold enough to ask once because I have never worked in a bring your pet to work kind of atmosphere.

      Why is it that we should all have to live by the bar set by your own personal experience?

      1. The IT Manager*

        No need to be so snippy Mike C. It would have never occured to me to ask for such a thing (if the office didn’t already have an established pet friendly policy). But “bold” is not a negative trait though. I’m not calling the LW out or anything at all.

        I an in no way think asking once was bad; although, I do think it was bold. Asking a second time after being told no is a bad idea though.

        1. AJ-in-Memphis*

          Dang!! Mike C. and Jenn, chill out! It’s JUST a blog and comment (which is generally an opinion) on a blog! Not the family dinner, it’s not that a big of a deal. Relax. There’s only one more day until the weekend!

          1. twentymilehike*

            I didn’t think Mike C was really being that snippy … IMO, the comment he was responding to did sound a bit presumptuous.

            Personally, I thought the “!” followed by sentences with the words “Frankly,” “shocked,” “Clearly,” “extreme” and “detrimental” indicated an pretty strong stance on the matter. And strong opinions are usually met with other strong opinions.

            Some of us seem to think there is a blurry line between animals and people, and some of us feel the two shall never meet in a business environment. That’s fine.

            Or I’m reading way too much into both comments.

        2. Jenn*

          Really? “No need to be so snippy?” I recall your response to the OP who asked about childcare and leaving work early was mighty snippy, indeed.

    4. twentymilehike*

      I am shocked you were bold enough to ask once because I have never worked in a bring your pet to work kind of atmosphere.

      Just because you haven’t, doesn’t mean that plenty of other people don’t! I work in an industry that is made up of lots of small businesses, and it is fairly normal to walk in and have someone’s dog greet you at the door.

      A few years ago, my roof leaked and property management informed me (with super short notice) that I couldn’t leave the cat in the house while they were fixing it. So I brought her to work and she slept under my desk all day. Granted, a long-haired calico probably wouldn’t have been a good idea in a more “white collar” environment or if people here were allergic to or didn’t like cats, but that’s for each of us to judge for ourselves. My coworkers enjoyed playing with her for a couple of days.

      I also worked in an office that had birds. Permanently. Because the owner liked them.

      1. Heather*

        ITA and I think this is probably what Mike C. and Jenn were saying; it’s just phrased a little more diplomatically.

        I would love to have a dog or cat in the office. Sadly I don’t think that’s very likely to happen in our giant cube farm :( My LOLcat calendar will have to get me through.

  6. Jamie*

    OP #5 I am so sorry for what your parent’s dog is going through.

    I would personally jump at the chance to work in a pet friendly office – who am I kidding? I’d jump at the chance to live my entire life where I encounter more animals than people. But despite my preferences most workplaces don’t allow that – and just the travel and new surrounding would add an element of stress that isn’t optimal for the dog.

    If it were me I’d burn a sick day, PTO, call in, whatever. That way you’re not hurting yourself at work and more importantly the sweet little guy doesn’t have to make the trip.

    Good luck and my thoughts are with your dog. I’m so sorry he’s sick.

    1. AgilePhalanges*

      I do work in a pet-friendly company (okay, who are we kidding–it’s more DOG friendly than anything), and it is pretty awesome. People put up baby gates on the fronts of their cubes, adds a bowl of water, and voila–a dog-friendly cube. The dogs who come in are well-behaved, so the only distraction is self-induced, when you can’t pass by the cube without stopping to pet the friendly doggie.

      I have brought my cats in, actually, but that’s because the vet I use is right next door to the office, so it makes more sense to bring the cats and a litterbox than to go home to get them and/or take them back home when the checkup is over. Unfortunately, since a cube-neighbor is allergic, I’ve had to keep them in a conference room with a door down the hall. I post a sign on there to let people know they’re welcome to come in, but not to let the cats out, and let a few of the cat-lovers around the office know that they’re welcome to stop by and visit.

      We’ve never had a bird, though…

  7. JT*

    On #1, I doubt that the university’s certification allows them to say “We have no record of this person” when in fact they do. I would try to bring this up with the registrar of the university in question as a serious problem to be addressed. At a *minimum* the staff there should say “She didn’t graduate since 19XX which is when our computer records go to. If she graduated before that, records are available in another way…”

    University graduation records are serious information with rules about their permanence and availability that can’t be dismissed like that.

    1. Jamie*

      This exactly. It isn’t that they don’t have the records, it’s that they haven’t put those records into their current system yet.

      I can’t believe they aren’t saying that. That would be like my kid asking me for his SSN and my telling him I have no record of his SSN when it’s just stored in the safe. Just because you have to dig a little to put your hands on something doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

      1. Frances*

        Yeah that raised some red flags with me, as well. It’s possible they have a student or temp employee handling desk duties (common with academic budgets so tight these days) and they have either been poorly trained or aren’t remembering what they’ve been told about records prior to XX.

    2. Your Mileage May Vary*

      On #1, I doubt that the university’s certification allows them to say “We have no record of this person” when in fact they do.

      Under FERPA, if the student has asked for their record to be marked “confidential”, this is exactly what they say. It might be worthwhile for the OP to check and see if her record got marked confidential by accident.

  8. Jamie*

    #2 – Make sure to keep your pay voucher from jury duty and see if you have to show it to your HR. My husband’s work has a policy that they will pay him for the day less the $17 or whatever they get paid for jury duty – which pisses me off since parking is like $20 so he’s out money. And can they stop freaking calling him already? He’s called all the time and as soon as they ask him what he does for a living they send him on his way – usually after he’s waited 8 hours to get in.

    #6 – I agree with Alison and I wouldn’t say a word. However, I also wouldn’t accept a job where you know there is a long ramp up and they will expect you there for a longer duration. I.e. some IT jobs take a while to train and find your footing. If you’re looking at a job that’s a good 6-12 months of learning curve it would be bad faith to take it knowing you could leave them before you added much value. JMO.

    #7 – If I ever got birthday greetings from distant work associates my first response would be to reach out to my contact there and ask WTF? Absolutely that would sour me on a company. I took my name out of Birthday’s This Month screen saver we have on shared computers (don’t ask) because I don’t even want to hear it much from people I know and like.

    I have never heard of such a thing.

    1. Cathy*

      Re: getting called for jury duty all the time — this happened to me. I was getting called at least twice as often as my husband. Have your husband save his badge or summons next time. Then when he gets called the time after that, take the new summons and the previous one to the jury commissioner. Then they can look at the rolls and see if he is listed twice and strike off one of the entries. They might be able to do that for him if he just calls, but my county was not cooperative until I had physical proof they were calling me more often than allowed by state law.

      1. Frances*

        Yeah, in my state you are actually exempt for six years, but they tried to call me after five (I had moved in the meantime, and they tend to call by zip code). We get a proof of service letter, so a copy of that fixed the problem. Of course, then they called me up *the exact day* the exemption expired, because apparently they are just that petty.

    2. moss*

      I actually wish I could get called for jury duty & never have been. Possibly because my last name starts with a letter near the very end of the alphabet.

      1. Anon*

        I’ve never been called, and the law school dropout in me wishes I would be, just to see the procedure of it all up close and personal. That I’d get out of work would be a bonus.

    3. girlreading*

      Wow, y’all get $17 for jury duty! We get $6, not even minimum wage. And of course, I always get called downtown for 8 in the morning, so I get to enjoy that extra traffic. At least there are several parking garages that offer $6 parking if you show your jury duty release, so I’m not out EXTRA money for that part.

      #5, agree with Alison, don’t ask again. You’ve been told no and I doubt that will change no matter the dog’s health and will make you look bad. There are lots of other options and plenty of dog lovers who would take good care of the dog for a day.

      1. class factotum*

        I don’t know what they pay for jury duty here, but they do give you a bus pass so you don’t have to worry about pay parking.

        When I was on jury duty in Memphis, I got $11 a day. I never even cashed the check because I didn’t want to worry about declaring it on my taxes.

        1. Stephanie*

          This jury duty discussion is oddly interesting. I was called up for the first time last summer – we were paid $20 a day for showing up and $25 a day if you were actually chosen for the jury. We could park at any meter in the area without paying. If we ended up with a ticket, we just sent it to the Bailiff and he took care of it.

          I didn’t realize how good I had it!

          1. RJ*

            I’ve gotten called 5 times in the past 10 years. County court is lame reimbursement-wise, but the federal circuit court takes good care of its jurors. $40 a day, free validated parking, and something like 51 cents a mile for the drive from your residence to the courthouse each way.

          2. AgilePhalanges*

            I think it’s like $9 a day where I live (and IIRC, payroll doesn’t bother with the hassle of deducting that from your jury duty pay, so you actually get to keep it), and it’s a small town, so we don’t have paid street parking (yet), just a 2-hour limit, which they waive for jurors. So you park on the street, report to the courthouse, and after calling roll and everything, they hand out passes and turn you loose to put them on your dashboard so you don’t get a ticket. If you don’t do this step, though, you’re SOL if you do get a ticket. :-)

    4. Aimee*

      I get called every year, and my husband hasn’t been called in over a decade. I’m currently in the constant postponement cycle due to pregnancy (I ended up having medical appointments that I couldn’t move the first two times, then was at the end of my pregnancy and didn’t feel like I could handle sitting in the uncomfortable chairs all day) and now having a newborn. I actually want to be on a jury though!

      And I’m surprised your husband has to pay for his own parking for jury duty. Here (Los Angeles, where parking is almost never free), jurors do not have to pay for parking at all and can be reimbursed after the first day if they take public transportation. At least we never have to wait that long to get in though – we call the night before to see if we have to report the next day, and it only takes 20-30 minutes to get everyone in the room. When I went in July, I was in, got my postponement, and was out again within a couple hours, and was at work by my normal time.

  9. Katie the Fed*

    I really wish I could bring my dog to work. I feel like potentially difficult meetings would go better for me when I walked in with my pit bull (total love bug but no one has to know that).

    I would take a vacation day for this. I think your parents really put you in a difficult situation though, and you should talk to them about it.

    1. Jamie*

      You wouldn’t fool me. I can spot a love bug a mile away. :)

      I really don’t see where the parent’s put him in a difficult spot though, they didn’t know until after this was arranged. It’s like a family member – if the OP was asked to stay with Gramma for a week but she falls and breaks her hip – sure it’s a different situation but it’s not like anyone created it on purpose.

      If it were me and I were the OP’s mom and he had to take time unpaid I’d definitely pay him and make up the difference – I wouldn’t want my kid losing money. This is just one of those things though, that can’t be helped.

      1. KellyK*

        Same here (in both wishing I worked in a pet-friendly office and not thinking pit bulls are scary). Every pit bull I’ve ever met has been a total snuggle dog (with the exception of some fear of new people for one). I’ll try not to blow Katie’s cover by giving her fierce, tough dog a belly rub and asking “who’s a good widdle pittie wittie?”

        1. Sascha*

          The temptation for me to give lots of snuggles would be hard to resist. I would LOVE to have my animals up at work, and everyone else’s, too.

          1. Jamie*

            On occasion a former co-worker would bring in her pug and I’m sure the little decrease in productivity when he’d come by and I’d have to rub his little tummy was off set by my lowered stress levels…and I was downright perky when he was around.

            I miss that dog.

            1. Jenn*

              Sometimes I go home for lunch, and the boost I get from playing with my dog is really pretty amazing. :-) It’s a great de-stresser.

            2. BW*

              This thread reminds me of the person who had written about their answer the question of their ideal office environment. As I recall, it included puppies.

              I’ve brought my buns into the office when they’ve had vet appointments, because it was out of my way to go home to get them. I had a pair at the time, one who was disabled and would hang out in a comfy box under the desk, and his devoted buddy. His buddy was a sly little treat grubbing social butterfly type and would slip out of my cube when I wasn’t looking and go visiting until someone called out to me and I had to get up and scold him to get his butt back to my desk.

            3. Kelly L.*

              A former boss of mine used to bring her old, old basset hound to meetings. She (the dog, not the boss) would snore through the whole meeting, and it would almost cause the whole office to fall asleep. So soothing! :D

            4. dangitmegan*

              My brother’s office is dog friendly and he brings his pup to work pretty much everyday. She’s shy and usually sticks to him like glue but one day he slipped out quickly to speak with a coworker and when he came back she was gone. He looked everywhere and finally found her in the CEO’ s office curled up on his couch fast asleep. That was the first interaction my brother had with the CEO lol.

              1. Lulu*

                LOL! How awesome would that be to come back from a meeting and find a new dog in your office?! Hopefully the CEO felt the same way ;)

        2. Heather*

          Seriously! I once found a pit mix that had escaped from his yard. When I opened the door to call him he hopped into the car. People were like, “Weren’t you SCARED?” Um, only of the sheer amount of drool and fur he left all over the seats and windows in his eagerness to lick me from head to toe!

      2. twentymilehike*

        I really don’t see where the parent’s put him in a difficult spot though

        I noticed a couple of comments somewhere where people were mentioning the parents putting this on the OP, and it sort of made my heart sad a little. I mean, it’s your parents. Maybe its just me, and how my family is, but even if my parents burden me somehow, it’s not a burden. Those are people I’d do anything for no matter what. I’m very lucky to workin an environment where everyone’s family comes first, and if you have to pick between family and work, it’s always family.

    2. khilde*

      This comment is to all you guys that love dogs here: I just finished reading a book called “Merle’s Door: Lessons from a Freethinking Dog” by Todd Kerasote. I like all those pet stories, but this one was different in that the author really weaved in a lot of science and history of the man/dog relationship. It was really good–I’m looking at my elderly Shih Tzu in a different way now. :)

  10. Hugo*

    #1. . .do you really want to implement an incentive program for admins, or did some admins complain that it wasn’t fair they weren’t eligible for incentives and now you’re trying to make them happy? I think it’s pretty standard structure to have sales receive incentives, since their jobs are arguably more difficult, stressful, and tied to revenue. That may be a generalization, but I agree with Alison that they are in a support role and although their work is valuable, it is not the type that lends itself to quantitative metrics.

    Also, my hunch is that if you implement any type of incentives for the admin staff, your sales staff will not react positively – they will see it as elevating the admin staff efforts to their level and will lose motivation since they are the ones working to bring money into the company.

    1. Jamie*

      Every manufacturing place at which I’ve worked (and including temping that’s about a dozen) has had incentive plans for the floor personnel. Always tied to productivity rates and QC metrics – so, measurable – but I don’t think it’s a level thing.

      Sales bringing in the money usually works on commission – which is it’s own kind of incentive. But when bonuses go out it’s not just to revenue generators – because there are a lot of people working hard to make sure they have something to sell and the structure in which to do it.

      IMO in manufacturing everyone who isn’t making stuff or selling stuff is support staff.

    2. Mike C.*

      This is terrible, terrible reasoning. Admin staff are vital to the running of the business, and should be treated accordingly.

      1. ExceptionToTheRule*

        I agree with Mike C. My working relationship with our sales staff goes like this: I get paid because you sell, but you best remember that without me, you don’t have anything to sell.

        It makes for a very equitable & positive relationship.

      2. Long Time Admin*

        Thank you, Mike. I have worked in Sales & Marketing before, and we admins were told that we didn’t contribute to the bottom line because we didn’t generate income like the sales folks did.

        To the OP, treat your admins like professionals (that means with respect), give them the tools & training they need to do their jobs well, and do everything you can to get them decent raises each year.

      3. JLL*

        Thank you. I’ve found exactly the opposite- you want an unhappy admin staff? Let everyone else get perks and bonuses based on the work they only complete with admin support, while admins get nothing.

      4. OP#1*

        Thank you Mike C! The admin staff are highly valued by all our sales staff and they’d like to see the same incentives available to them. This wasn’t a complaint from admins, we just want to be able to offer them the same perk. (Should also be noted this is separate from performance reviews and raises etc)

        The problem for us was trying to figure out a clear benchmark that they know they can meet to earn the perk – and not rely on just personal judgement.. but it doesn’t seem like that’s really possible. (Not to say we won’t still do it somehow!)

        1. Lulu*

          As a former (ignored) admin, I salute you for thinking of them in this way! I do agree that it’s tough to provide the reward in a similar fashion due to the lack of metrics, and that imposing a previously non-existent/possibly arbitrary measurement system runs the risk of having the opposite effect to what’s intended (i.e. making them feel like they’re being monitored more closely for no reason). If I think of anything genius to suggest, I’ll post again – all I can think of now is either an “admin of the month” type thing, possibly with input from senior staff, which sounds kind of goofy but would at least provide both the reward and the achievement basis it sounds like you’re looking for.

        2. Natalie*

          Do the various admins work directly with the sales staff to support their sales efforts? If so, maybe you could give any relevant admins an incentive whenever the sales person earns one.

          1. OP#1*

            Thanks Lulu!

            Natalie, they do, but at a very early stage. So they could be doing a fabulous job supporting sales staff, but if the sales team doesn’t follow up on those leads or for a number of reasons don’t perform well it’s not really due to lack of support.

    3. AnotherAlison*

      My business development coworkers love our department admin & think she isn’t paid enough for putting up with their crap (exp: someone brought her 12 months expenses to file at once). Considering they already earn double what she does, I doubt they would “lose motivation” if she got a little extra money.

      1. Jamie*

        I have absolutely gone to bat for admins when raise time came around. It wasn’t my call to make in the end, but I like to think I helped by highlighting some of the crucial things that people forget they do – because they are always done.

        It’s a tough job – in many ways my time on the front desk was much harder for me than IT. I didn’t have the right skill set or temperament, but a good admin makes it look easy. Juggling priorities, being the gatekeeper both internal and external, multitasking like it’s an Olympic sport…don’t underestimate what they bring to a company.

      2. Malissa*

        If they bring 12 months worth of crap for the admin to file they should also be bringing her a coffee cared or chocolate!

        1. class factotum*

          They better be taking that chocolate to T&E and finance as well, because they’ve just really screwed things up for anyone who needs to make decisions with good revenue and expense information.

      3. Chinook*

        I once did 3 years worth for a partner who had never filed an expense report the entire time he was there! I am still crushed that I didn’t get a physical reward (like chocolate) but I was forever known as the only admin able to convince him to do it and get him to file monthly forms. The bragging rights were (almost) worth it.

        1. Natalie*

          Wow. Our accounting department would have demanded a pound of flesh or two for handling that much stuff from prior years.

        2. Elizabeth*

          People like this are why we require all reimbursement requests to be submitted within 30 days of the expense being incurred. It is beyond ridiculous to have 3 years of unsubmitted expenses just hanging there.

          1. Anon for this one*

            We “require” it, too, but it’s not legal in all states to not reimburse them for actual business expenses if they ever do turn them in, no matter how far past when they were supposed to submit them it is. Our solution was to accrue for an estimated amount each month, so they saw the budget dwindling as if they had actually turned them in, but without the money in their own pocket. Each month, the prior accrual was re-accrued, plus the current month’s worth of expenses added on. However, the final month of the fiscal year, we didn’t accrue, since the person apparently wasn’t ever going to claim their expenses. Then the final reporting they received showed that they came in underbudget, with all that money they could have claimed but didn’t. If they would have finally submitted expenses the next year, it would put them over budget. Sadly, I don’t think they ever did. The person still works for us, and except for other people booking travel for both of them, all travel has been on their own dime. Sadly, we’re talking tens of thousands of dollars per year, possibly over a hundred grand by now, because they won’t do an expense report. We even made an exception to our normal policy of no assistants (our CEO doesn’t have an assistant/admin, and does his own expenses, even), and assigned a person to do expense reports for this traveler, complete with pre-addressed envelopes that could be used to send receipts to her while traveling. Nope. Never happened. You can lead a horse to water…

    4. Another Jamie*

      Ha. Try having one day without the admin staff and see how well the sales staff are able to bring in money.

    5. Ann*

      Most people I’ve talked to have no idea what admins actually do. Case in point, I went on an interview once and spoke with the HR manager and the person I would be admin for. The job description I got from the recruiter was unclear, so in the interview I started asking questions about the job. They had no clue. It was “typical admin stuff, you know”. The boss actually said he didn’t know exactly what the admins did. My sister has admitted that she really doesn’t know what all the things the admins in her department do, but when they don’t do them, everything goes haywire.

      1. Lulu*

        I totally got this feeling whee I worked, and try to attribute the lack of management support/development etc to them just not even knowing how to deal with people in our roles (rather than just thinking of us as too lowly to even think about). A good chunk of the job, at least there, is what I call being Mikey – remember the Life cereal commercial? – and doing the stuff no one else wanted to do, so it was a pretty broad job description!

  11. KayDay*

    1. admin staff – First of all, this is a great idea, as admin staff rarely get the recognition they deserve. However, Alison is right that you will need to measure qualitative factors (which should be communicated to the admin staff). Be sure to be open with the staff regarding what specifically is being rewarded, both to set a good example and so that the process is transparent.

    2. Jury Duty – The laws are pretty strict regarding jury duty. Also, the facilities available are different, everywhere. When I had regular jury duty, our area had wifi and workspace available so it was possible to do some work while you were waiting, should you so choose. However, I have also heard that the people called for grand jury duty had less freedom than the accused.

    3. University transcript – Not all jobs will actually care to verify your university degree. However, since they won’t necessarily tell you this, I think you are doing the right thing, although it’s perhaps a bit of overkill. You only need a transcript unless they ask for more. (be sure to keep your diplomas and other information handy, just in case.) I would not pay for a transcript each time. Keep an original almost-official (ie open an official transcript) and provide it if you have an interview, and very politely ask for it back unless they really need it. Some might still want a sealed transcript or diplomas, but I don’t think you need to preemptively give these things.

    Also, definitely complain to the University. Their behavior is completely unacceptable. I am assuming you and your husband aren’t the only people who graduated prior to the computerized records–they shouldn’t be inviting suspicion that alumni didn’t graduate just because they aren’t more recent graduates. The first they my university asks for when someone requests a transcript is “did they graduate before 1979” since those files are stored differently than the more recent ones.

    5. sick puppy – I am so sorry to hear your parents’ dog is sick. I don’t think bringing the dog to work is an option; it’s only the rare office that will allow this sort of thing, and they already said no. Since HR considered the request instead of an immediate ‘no’, your office does seem to understand the importance of pets, I would recommend just asking to take a vacation or sick day to care for the dog. (Be sure not to sound bitter when you make the request.)

  12. KellyK*

    For #5, I agree that you shouldn’t ask twice. Asking to work from home or use vacation or sick time is reasonable. Failing that, there are really good pet-sitting services who will come to your house and give meds and do other care. Seeing if the dog can be boarded at the vet’s for the day is a good idea too.

    I would look around online and in your area for pet-sitting and dog boarding services.

    Also, how does he do with being crated? If you have to rely on friends to check on him, it would be much easier if you can have him in his crate, with plenty of water and no access to food he isn’t supposed to eat, than if they have to stay all day and supervise.

    1. Jamie*

      There are also pet motels (don’t laugh – non pet people – it’s a thing) where the pup can have his own room and be separated from the other animals if that’s needed – as that can be a real source of stress for a sick dog. The one we used once for an overnight was really nice – they even had a TV and comfy doggie beds and everything. And access to outside. And it wasn’t much – it was definitely less than a hundy for the night.

      A lot of those places provide doggy day care as well – so I’m sure the rates are even lower if it’s just for one day during business hours.

      I really hope you can stay home with him, though. New environments are so stressful to them and like us when they’re sick they want to be home and as comfortable as possible.

      I wish I could give you some of my PTO I’ve accrued so you can stay home with him. Sucks that it’s not transferable between companies.

  13. Anon*

    #3-If you have called the school trying to get information on yourself and they said “Who? We have no records.” Then you need to report them to the state accrediting body. I’m not sure for what exactly but most schools, when switching to a new system for record keeping still have all the old records. It’s just a pain to get. You should always have 5 official, unopened copies of your transcript. You could also request several copies of a letter of completion. They’d probably do that for free.

    1. AnotherAnon*

      Those 5 transcripts will be stamped with something like “issued to student” and will not count as official. They might be enough for employment verification though.

      1. Anon*

        That hasn’t been my experience. Mine just have the school’s return address and a stamp across the seal. No one’s ever complained, at any rate.

  14. Nikki*

    #3, really? Who the HECK is working in the Registrar’s Office? You should notify the Registrar that her staff doesn’t seem to realize that students who graduated before a certain date must be looked up elsewhere. ..

    My institution had a system overhaul a few years ago (I do not work in the Registrar’s Office). Students before a certain date aren’t in the system (or only a partial record). If an alum calls, I don’t just say, “Who?! You’re not in here.” If I can’t find their record, or can’t figure it out, I ask when they graduated, then I ask the Registrar’s Office myself and call that student back to continue assisting them.

    So if someone calls for verification, the Registrar’s Office should be able to do that, regardless of where the record is located. Even if they have to ‘dig into the crates’ and call them back or fax/email something over on letterhead later.
    *disclaimer, I do not provide verification for anyone, I only speak directly to the students. If they say they graduated and the system says they didn’t, I make sure before we keep going. And yes, there are students who think they graduated, yet, they did not.*

  15. Lily in NYC*

    Regarding jury duty: you would know if you were being called for Grand Jury – it’s an entirely different court and the summons would say grand jury (I recently served an entire month – I loved every minute).

  16. Henning Makholm*

    If somebody brought a dog into my workplace, no matter who they’d gotten permission from, I’d be on strike until the beast was gone and I got some kind of assurance that it wouldn’t happen again.

      1. Henning Makholm*

        Interesting question. My employer might not be practically or politically able to get rid of Fido in that case.

        Still, my skills are in sufficient demand that I could find somewhere to earn a living without having to endure a hazardous workplace, and I can’t think of any moral principles that would convince me not to avail myself of that option as soon as I could arrange it. I love a thousand things about my job, but being trapped in my office because there’s a dog roaming the corridors would pretty much negate all of them.

        1. Jamie*

          Just as a point of information service dogs don’t roam – ever.

          They are 100% at the side of their person, except when they are at home and off the clock for relaxation in the yard.

          1. Henning Makholm*

            Presumably “their person” would need to leave his office from time to time, and I wouldn’t be happy needing to coordinate with them each time one of us needed a potty break. Or lunch. Or to talk to someone down the hall.

            1. Lily in NYC*

              Why would you have to coordinate for your coworker? You really don’t have a choice regarding service dogs – companies are required to allow them. There’s a big lab down the hall from me right now -seeing eye dog. He’s barely a blip on our radar because he is so quiet and we can’t play with him.

                1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  But would you really quit a job you loved because a new coworker with a service dog started? What if one then started at your new company? Would you keep quitting?

                  I’m assuming from your comments that you have an unusually strong fear of dogs, but it seems really unfortunate if it would affect you to that point.

                2. Henning Makholm*

                  @Alison: If a coworker with a service dog started, I would soon not love this job. I’ve found think best when I’m in motion, so I spend a lot of time wandering the halls. Imagine if I needed to spend a lot of mental energy planning detours and escape routes because the coworker-with-a-dog might decide to go for a stroll at any time too. I’d neither enjoy my work nor be able to do my work well under those conditions.

                  And yes, if the same thing happened at a new job, I’d have to move again. Hard facts of life.

                  This has been necessary zero times in my working life so far, so the “keep quitting” seems to be statistically unlikely to come to pass to the degree where it affects my CV significantly.

                3. Lily in NYC*

                  I meant you don’t have a choice as to if the dog can be there or not. You can certainly leave since you are so confident with your skillset.

        2. twentymilehike*

          Henning, so out of curioustiy .. what do you do if you’re out in public and someone is walking a dog? Do you have a phobia or do you just Hate dogs? Is it different if the dog is on a leash or in a crate?

          Please don’t take this as judgemental, and you don’t have to respond if you don’t want to.

          1. Henning Makholm*

            Out in public I can cross to the other side of the street before passing. The corridors at work are not wide enough to do that, so I’d need to backtrack instead.

            Hate dogs? They are barely domesticated hunter-predators whose sole purpose in life is to make a meal out of me. I think that warrants some degree of animosity from my side. (I eat meat too; cows and pigs shall be welcome to hate and fear me if they ever figure out what I’m up to).

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              You don’t really think that a 15-pound dog wants to eat you, so I’m assuming there’s hyperbole here. In any case, I’ll only point out that you should recognize that your feelings on this are very outside the mainstream and not typical.

            2. twentymilehike*

              whose sole purpose in life is to make a meal out of me.

              ???? Unless you are wearing a meat suit in a dog park … I don’t get where this is a rational thought at all. This is getting OT, so I’ll stop with this. But I just wanted you to know that this is not a normal thought and most people are going to think you are being very very irrational, so if you aren’t already, you may want to prepare for that reaction.

              FWIW, I have a extremely irrational fear of my appendix randomly exploding. It is the subject of much teasing.

              1. Heather*

                Now I’m picturing Lady Gaga walking through a dog park like the Pied Piper.

                I’ve never heard anyone say before that dogs’ purpose in life was to maim or eat people. Henning, do you feel the same way about cats? Sorry, also OT but I’m really curious.

              2. class factotum*

                I have a fear of driving over a bridge and into the water and not being able to open my window to escape and save my life because it’s an electric window and the power is OUT. I want a car with manual windows. Barring that, I should keep a hammer in the glove box.

                1. Jamie*

                  I had the exact same fear. What kind of cured it was living in the San Fransisco area when my ex was stationed in Alameda and we lived in Novato. I had no choice but to cross that darn Oakland bridge.

                  But seriously, I never once crossed it without one window being completely down. I was prepared.

                2. Ellie H.*

                  You can get a keychain attachment that is a combination seatbelt slicer/window breaker. They apparently really work though I fortunately never had to use it. My ex-boyfriend gave me one and we always kept it on the car keys. The seatbelt slicer is really only useful for seatbelt slicing, you can’t accidentally cut yourself on it or use it as a weapon.

            3. Hannah*

              Seriously, I would encourage you to consider some cognitive-behavioral therapy.

              Your thinking is not rooted in reality and this seems like it affects your life to some significant degree.

              A great CBT counselor can really help.

            4. KellyK*

              With all due respect to the fact that you don’t like dogs, and I have no desire to get you to like dogs, that’s just flat-out not a true statement. Dogs aren’t wolves and are pretty much the *most* domesticated of all animals. Humans have been living with and deliberately breeding dogs for the last ten thousand years or so. Dogs have been bred for their usefulness to humans and their ability to interact with humans socially. Their whole evolutionary niche is “Get in good with the guys with the opposable thumbs.”

              For that matter, wild dogs aren’t strictly hunters—mostly they scavenge.

        3. Hannah*

          Yes, I think you are confusing what a service dog does. The dog is not going to just sneak up on you or be roaming about in the hallways of your workplace. This seems ridiculous to me.

          What if you were on an airplane with someone who had a service dog? Or a restaurant?

          Have you thought about seeing a therapist about this issue?

          1. Jamie*

            Speaking of service dogs, their use has branched out to include not only the blind but also those with limited mobility, developmental disabilities, the hearing impaired, and there has been really wonderful work done for people with autism who have had wonderful results.

            It’s incredible what they can do and the level of training that goes into teaching them is amazing.

            Independence and autonomy is so important to us humans and these dogs really do open up the world for people who would otherwise be very functionally dependent on others. I just think that’s awesome.

            1. Jamie*

              They are also used for mental health issues now as well – I forgot that.

              Sorry – I’ll stop now. :)

            2. twentymilehike*

              It’s incredible what they can do and the level of training that goes into teaching them is amazing.

              Yes! I am constantly amazed by it! DH has a friend who runs an organization that breeds and trains this one specific breed of dog as service animals for people with autism. We saw the dogs at the pet expo and they are AMAZING. I think they are smarter than most people ….

            3. Sue*

              Agreed – saying you would quit over someone having a service dog seems a lot like discrimination based on a disability to me.

              1. Jamie*

                It would be discrimination if he were hiring and refused to hire someone with a service dog because of his personal feelings.

                It would be like if I didn’t want to work with anyone who wears glasses. I can quit and try to find a glasses free workplace, but as long as I’m not making hiring decisions based on my own issues I’m not discriminating.

              2. fposte*

                Not quite following that. If we were talking US (and I don’t think Henning is in the US, from what I recall, but let’s pretend) there’s certainly no law breached, because you can quit for any reason that tickles your fancy, including reasons that would be illegal to fire somebody for–you can quit if you don’t want to work with somebody of that race, gender, religion, etc. (If he were under a contract, it might be a breach, but that’s another matter that’s got nothing to do with discrimination.) The only way I could see this flirting with a legal issue is if Henning’s boss, knowing Henning’s feeling, decided not to hire a qualified service-dog user if it means losing Henning–and even there, that’s the boss practicing the discrimination, not Henning.

                And if we’re looking at it conceptually, Henning has a dog phobia, not a disability phobia, so it’s not coming from some ableist place. Plus, he’s saying he’s willing to clear out in such a situation–he’s not saying that the other person has to clear out.

          2. Your Mileage May Vary*

            My last therapist had her dog, a pug, in the office with her. She didn’t make any disclaimers about it when people made appointments. She wasn’t doing animal therapy or anything like that.

            I never asked her if anyone came in there and was made uncomfortable by the dog’s presence but I wish I had.

            1. KellyK*

              Yeah, as much as I like dogs, I really think that anyone who has a dog in places where dogs aren’t commonly expected should let potential patients/customers/employees know in advance. Some people have phobias, some people have allergies. It really is a matter of courtesy.

    1. Lynn*

      I’m with you. The workplace is not an appropriate place for pets. Everyone is so totally sure *their* precious little angel would never bark or poop or bite… until it does. Obviously seeing-eye dogs or something are a different matter.

      1. Another Jamie*

        My office had one person who regularly brought in his ADORABLE dog every Friday. But then other people started bringing their rowdy dogs in, and it got to be a bit much. We missed the cute dog, but it had to be an all or nothing thing.

      2. Nan*

        Agreed. I love animals but have developed allergies as an adult, so now I just sneeze whenever someone brings their dog in, and feel awkward to be the only one not petting the puppy and having to explain every time, no really, I do love dogs, but I just can’t pet them without sneezing the rest of the day. UGH.

  17. Lily in NYC*

    I am an executive assistant and if someone started an admin incentive program, I wouldn’t like it very much. It’s not a sales job, where something like that makes sense. To me it would be offensive – kind of implying that you don’t trust me to do my job well unless I’m promised a “cookie” at the end of the day. I’m a professional just like everyone else in the office. If you want to reward a good admin, give him or her a raise or a bonus. We are always the last ones to get raises – think about it – we are not on a promotion track, so we don’t get salary bumps very often. And we are often treated like second-class citizens – the bosses worry about high performers leaving so they give them most of the available chunk of raise money during review season.

      1. Lily in NYC*

        No, I would like to receive merit raises like everyone else when performance evaluations come around. I always get stellar reviews but no raises because “other people make so little that we have to rectify their salary so they won’t quit”. I got a few big raises when I first started and they’ve been using that as an excuse not to give me an increase (it’s been 5 years since I got a raise). I work for a non-profit, so profit-sharing wouldn’t be feasible.

        1. Jamie*

          Have you maxed out? Because there is a cap for every position – at some point the scales tip and a company is paying more than the position is worth. That’s bad in any business, but I would think a non-profit would be particularly careful about how they allocate resources for payroll.

          That’s not an admin thing though – that’s anything. My job for instance. There is a value for my position at a company the size of mine in this market. Once I reach that value in salary they have to stop raising my salary otherwise they are paying more for me than the value I’m adding – even if I was absolutely perfect and a superhuman ultimate employee. The work can only be worth so much. So at that point I can either try to make more elsewhere – maybe a bigger company where I could apply additional skills and perhaps be worth more or I can make a conscious choice to make the salary as is if I have enough other reasons to stay.

          That’s where bonuses come in. Because it allows employers to award employees for being great and it’s a drop in the bucket compared to the cost of turnover. But it doesn’t lock them into an ever increasing salary beyond the value of the position.

          1. Lily in NYC*

            We don’t give bonuses here. And it’s not exactly a normal non-profit (more like quasi-governmental but non profit to avoid legal red tape). I’m not maxed out – I’m $7000 lower than the top of my range. But I make about 20K more than most of the other admins because I work for the big boss and have a degree from a top school. So in their mind I have no right to complain. Which I can understand from their point of view. But I get 5 weeks of vacation (closer to six)! Can’t beat that. It does make me less angry about never getting raises.

        2. Heather*

          Wow, that’s a great way to alienate your admins! Even if they can’t afford merit raises, after 5 years you should at LEAST get a cost-of-living increase.

          1. twentymilehike*

            after 5 years you should at LEAST get a cost-of-living increase.

            YES. YESYESYESYESYES. Everyone who employs an admin please read that.

            I’m at the now at the crossroads of “you can NEVER leave because we NEED you and it would cost too much to replace you” and “we STILL can’t afford to give you a raise, not even a COLA, even though now you are making less than market because we can’t keep up.”

            Don’t let your admins feel like this.

            1. Jamie*

              Yep – merit increases are totally separate from COLAs. If you don’t give appropriate COLAs then soon that position will be under market.

              FWIW I think if a company can’t give everyone COLAs due to budgetary constraints they should start from the lowest salaries and then work up. Lowest salaried workers will feel the rise in the cost of living most acutely.

          2. Lily in NYC*

            Yeah, we never get them! But this year they gave everyone 5 extra vacation days (just for this year) instead of raises. I was ok with that because it’s more than I usually get.

            1. Heather*

              On one hand, I would appreciate extra vacation days, but on the other, you can’t pay rent or buy groceries with them.

              Do they at least not throw fits when you try to use them?

      2. JLL*

        They did that at an engineering firm I worked for years ago. An admin sat on the Board of Directors, and when it came time for profit sharing and bonuses, they were included, and unsurprisingly, they had little turnover and a pretty satisfied admin staff.

    1. Ann*

      I would like to say, hear hear, in terms of raises and bonuses. But I can understand the boss wanting to create some sort of incentive system for the admins too. I worked as an admin at a sales office sometime ago, and it’s something I will never do again. The sales staff were always having incentives, winning money, trips, etc. The people that won the incentives were almost always the ones that relied most heavily on me. Most notably, there was one salesperson who never completed his paperwork and would “forget” he needed to bring follow-ups to the clients. He would come into the office, dump a box-full of paperwork on my desk and leave (the salespeople were supposed to fill out their own paperwork). Then the creative department would have his mock-ups ready to take to clients, and he would be gone and wouldn’t answer his phone so the sales director would have me take his mock-ups. This guy was the top salesperson in the company, so the bosses looked the other way. But it used to really anger the other salespeople. They could sell more too if they didn’t have to fill out paperwork and run their mock-ups. But he always won the incentive prizes and it would grate on me a little because I ended up doing half his work (while having to keep up with my own work), and yet I would get no recognition for going the extra mile or for taking on extra work.

      1. Lily in NYC*

        You know, I didn’t think about admins in a sales environment. I guess if I were a sales assistant and my work helped my boss receive incentive rewards, I would appreciate being included. It’s just so foreign to my industry that I didn’t think of that angle. I have a friend in sales that gives his assitant part of his bonuses because he appreciates her, but I guess people like that are pretty rare.

      2. Lulu*

        I was very fortunate the one time I had to work as a sales assistant as I had bosses who rocked – I got a really nice boom box (this was early 90’s!), and sometimes they’d just give me small cash “bonuses” on their own. The company also included us in their annual bonus (it was my first office job, so that was a real surprise treat). Hated everything else about that job, but the people I worked for were definitely nice about acknowledging my support.

  18. ES*

    For #3 – try calling the alumni association and see if they can help. They should have a database of all school alumni and might be able to help get the Registrar to actually listen. They care a lot more about your donations than the registrar will.

    But please be nice about it, no threatening not to donate.

    1. fposte*

      I’d say any sensible alumni association is going to understand without being told that an alum isn’t going to give money to an alma matter that disowns her.

      1. ES*

        Sorry, I wasn’t clear…I just meant don’t be rude about it. I certainly understand, but taking it out on them won’t help the situation.

        1. fposte*

          Oh, no, you were clear–I was just meaning you don’t need to be rude because they should get the implications immediately anyway.

      2. Kate*

        Bless you for saying that. I used to work in alumni relations, and alumni who went for the nuclear option (“I’m never going to donate again!”) were so frustrating. My favorites were the alumni who’d say, “I haven’t donated, but I was thinking about it, and now I’m definitely not going to!” But I digress…

        Bottom line: Alumni relations professional genuinely care about the happiness of their alumni. Any half-decent ARP will work hard to fulfill any reasonable request from an alumni. Wanting potential employers to be able to verify your degree is an extremely reasonable request, and something other alumni would benefit from. #3 needs to enlist her alumni association for help (the paid staff, not alumni volunteers). They likely have preexisting relationships with the Registrar staff and can sort this out more efficiently. And if it needs to be escalated, they’ll know who to take it up with.

        Good luck!

        1. ES*

          Yup! I work in the same industry, and the school that I work at recently did something that pissed off a lot of alumni. We had a not-very-fun couple of weeks dealing with all these super angry people when we had nothing to do with the problem and were trying our hardest to gather their concerns and thoughts and get them off to the appropriate people.

          1. Editor*

            With the degree-verification problem, I would talk to the university registrar about the problem and find out why callers are being told older graduates can’t be confirmed. At one time they must have had a manual system. If the registrar refuses or is unable to change things, then write a courteous, complaining letter to the president of the university. If the president brushes you off, take a copy of that letter or email with you to a meeting with your state representative(s), since this is a state university.

            Another way to publicize the problem would be a letter to the editor of the newspaper in the community where the university is located and a letter to the newspaper in the state capital. Whether a regional television station would want to do a story, I don’t know. You could inquire, but if you aren’t unemployed as a result of this, they may not find the story compelling.

            But I have to say, I’m astonished that they aren’t providing graduation verification for older graduates.

          2. Dan*

            Do you work for GWU? They recently ‘fessed up to fudging some stats in the US News and World Report rankings, and got delisted this year. That had to piss some people off.

            Me, I ain’t donating until I get my student loans paid off, so it would have been an idle threat on my end.

  19. B*

    #5 As a dog owner I have complete sympathy for you and the puppy. I so wish I could bring my dog with me everyday. However, besides it being against policy, there are people afraid of dogs – no matter how sweet they are, there are people allergic to dogs who expect the workplace to be free of dogs, that type of new environment for a sick dog is not the kind of stress you want to give them, and most of all it sets a horrible precedent. If I saw a coworker able to bring their dog in because they were sick I would be very upset if I could not bring my dog in when he was sick or because I needed some snuggle love time.

    1. Jamie*

      Since the subject has come up – do the rare employers that run a pet-friendly workplace note this in their job ads?

      Because clearly it would be a deal breaker for some people and they wouldn’t work at a place where animals were allowed…but there are also others of us for whom it would be a perk and I’d actually work for less money in such an environment.

      And I wouldn’t even bring mine in; I love them but they aren’t office material But I’d work for less money just to do it amidst other people’s pets.

      I’m just wondering how you’d ferret out such a workplace, because they are rare but they absolutely do exist.

      1. Sascha*

        This is interesting to me as well. I certainly wouldn’t bring up all my pets (one cat…well he gets overstimulated lol), but it sure would be a big perk to have my black cat with me.

        The only places I have seen are vet clinics and a few small retail businesses that are privately owned, and the owner wants to have the pets around. The only way you would know about it is to walk in and see the animals.

        1. Long Time Admin*

          Back when I was a stitcher (counted cross-stitch embroidery), one of the stitchery shops had a cat. I’m allergic as hell to cats, so I couldn’t even shop there.

          My vet brings one of her dogs to work with her every day, and now the dog suffers from separation anxiety when she goes anywhere without the dog. It made me think twice about always wishing I could bring my two dogs to work. They’re perfectly fine with me leaving the house (sometimes I think they want me to go out).

      2. K*

        I love dogs like nothing else in the world, but I’ve worked in a couple of places where dogs have been allowed and it caused nothing but problems. Sadly, I’ve been forced to conclude that dogs and workplaces are largely unmixy. (Well, not true – I also worked at a courthouse that had the most amazing bomb sniffing dog; she was absolutely wonderful. But working dogs are different.)

        1. fposte*

          Yeah, a lot of dog-shamings seem to be about office dogs crapping on the office floor. While I haven’t noted that as a problem in the office dogs I’ve known, that was a while ago and people may be more cavalier about the training state of their dogs now.

          1. K*

            Yeah, that was an issue at one of the places. Dogs stealing food and tussling with each other was an issue at another. Which is sad because there were dogs that caused no problems at all too. But trying to exclude some dogs but not others led to a lot of resentment, I think because people respond so strongly to perceive criticism of their dogs (which makes sense; they’re family too). But the whole thing left a bad taste in my mouth, alas.

            I imagine it would be different at animal-focused companies where you’d probably see a higher level of awareness about responsible pet ownership, or even just the fact that some dogs will never thrive in an office environment and that’s neither the dog’s or the owner’s fault. B

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              “I imagine it would be different at animal-focused companies where you’d probably see a higher level of awareness about responsible pet ownership, or even just the fact that some dogs will never thrive in an office environment and that’s neither the dog’s or the owner’s fault.”

              I think that’s exactly right — at the animal protection charity I referenced below, there was an ingrained expectation that of course you understood that you needed to be a responsible owner, that if your dog seemed bored or unhappy at work (hence, lots of barking) you couldn’t bring her, etc., so people didn’t get upset about the fairly strict rules.

            2. Jamie*

              That’s the thing – not every dog is cut out for this.

              And for the record I’m an advocate of dogs – I would not be a fan of dog poop in the office. :)

              I have two really great dogs. They are sweet and loving and pretty well behaved – relatively. They don’t jump on you and would never bite – but they were never socialized to going out and about (except for walks) so to introduce it this late in the game would be a disaster. They wouldn’t poop, but they’d get very excited with every new person they met – because YAY new people might have FOOD!

              And they are world class beggars – there is no way I would ever subject co-workers to their big sad eyes while trying to eat lunch.

              I’m telling you dogs are a deterrent to burglars, so I’m glad burglars don’t know that they just need bacon to silence my little deterrents and clean us out. That’s why I have the whole security system and the whole married to a cop thing to balance it out.

              But of course it wouldn’t be workable for every dog – or every environment. Like AnotherAlison mentioned about her workplace – the sheer numbers make it pretty much a moot point.

              You have to have firm rules about training and like Alison mentioned, you have to be able to ban the ones who aren’t suited to the environment.

              1. Long Time Admin*

                My dogs are great with people and have been trained for indoors, so that would not be a problem. However, my border collie/lab female was not socialized with other dogs or cats when she was a puppy and does NOT like cats or other female dogs. I have a lot of trouble taking her for walks in our neighborhood, and now we seldom go out of the yard.

                You gotta get to know your furkids.

              2. KarenT*

                I went on a job interview once, and during the interview was told they were a dog-friendly company (there was no mention in the posting). I was annoyed as had they put that in the posting or told me when we scheduled the interview I could have saved myself the trek down there.
                They had a company dog, who was their mascot, and went home with the CEO every night. Others were allowed to bring in their dogs once in a while as long as the dogs behaved.
                I’m horribly allergic to dogs and have already pledged my allegiance to the cat. This place sounded like my idea of hell, though I do know lots of people who would love that environment.

      3. AP*

        I’ve seen ads that mentioned this! Mostly in the creative/start-up world. Usually it’s listed as a selling point but I always take it as sort of a warning (not a pet person).

        I think you can also ferret them out via phrases like “we value fun more than working!” and “everyone who works here is like one big family!”

        1. Jamie*

          Those are the ads that are never looking for an IT – they are looking for a “Guru” or “Rockstar” or “Master of the Network.”


          Unfortunately there aren’t enough dogs in the world for me to make up for having to work with the kind of people who write those ads. :)

      4. KayDay*

        One organization (dealing with feral cats as its mission) lists “cats in the office” as a benefit on the job ad, and also lists the cats on the “about us” page.

        The two other places I have heard of (through friends) that have been animal friendly have been (1) very small (3 ppl max) in number of employees and (2) located in a not-a-big-managed-office-building (i.e. a converted house or attached to the owner’s home).

      5. Anon*

        Haha. “Ferret” out a workplace. :-)

        I work at a place that has had dogs in routinely (and a reptile for a while – don’t ask). They never made a mess or interrupted. It’s not listed in our job listings. It’s an informal perk.

        1. BeenThere*

          I would loved to be able to take my Ferrets to work. They are usually fast asleep, don’t make noises and would probably enjoy a cage under my desk. However there is no way I’d let them loose without their human attached via harness. Sneaky little buggers would go straight for the cable runs or hide behind a fridge then poop in the corner.

          1. Jamie*

            Hmmm…sometimes I have cable that needs to be run through very small spaces and I have a hard time threading it due to length.

            A couple of ferrets with special collars where I can attach the cable…maybe a treat on the other end? I think I could expand the IT department with efficiency and cuteness.

            If your ferrets are ever looking for PT work, let me know.

            1. Anonymous*

              Deal. They need no encouragement to go down tunnels, it’s one of their favourite things to do…the hard part is getting them out ;)

      6. B*

        I have seen a few where they do say you can bring your dog to work. I actually interviewed at a place like this and the dog sat with me the whole time. Now, I am a HUGE dog lover. But was getting annoyed at the dog hair and slobber all over my suit. I don’t even let my own dog near my suit, but also felt it was a grin and bear it situation since I was interviewing. Had I been in jeans I would have loved every moment of it.

        My old office had a woman who would sneak her dog in. Some of us loved it, some of us didn’t.

      7. danr*

        Yes, I saw a job ad recently where the presence of a dog was mentioned in the section on the work conditions.

      8. Lily in NYC*

        I’ve seen it before in ads, and I once had an interview where they told me they were dog friendly and that they wanted to make sure they let the candidate know in case they had allergies or hated dogs. I used to work in an office that had dogs and I miss it. It was so nice to be able to cuddle the boss’ dog when I was having a bad day. Even though he was a grumpy little thing and stole my lunch a few times (the dog, not my boss!).

      9. Frances*

        Hee, I don’t know if you intended the “ferret” joke, but since this whole thread has been reminding me of the job where I had to occasionally rescue my boss’s ferret from the office wastebasket, it made me laugh.

      10. Lynn*

        It would be a deal-breaker for me. I’ve never seen it advertised or interviewed in a place that had animals.

      11. T.*

        At my last job we had two office dogs and that was always mentioned in our job ads as a perk (obviously people who didn’t see this as a perk could self select out). The only disappointing thing was that the two dogs belonged to one owner and no one else could really bing dogs in because one of her dogs becomes very aggressive around other, unfamiliar animals.

        One of our clients was also very proud of being a dog-friendly office and had a great system for allowing new dogs into the office – the owner has to have the dog go through some sort of training/testing to ensure it knows how to behave in an office, around people and other dogs without disrupting people who are just trying to do their work. I believe it takes a few weeks to have your dog approved, but I think it’s a great way to manage a dog-friendly environment.

      12. The B*

        I don’t think it’s advertised in many jobs, but I’ve seen in tech jobs (where they have also mentioned they have a ping pong or pool table an incentive, for example).
        I’ve worked in two places where people brought their dogs. Neither advertised it. One it was a case of a director sometimes bringing in her Chihuahua. I think she got a pass to do what she wanted because she was a director.
        The other was at a university where one of the zoology professors brought her dog to work every day and kept it in her office. The first time I walked in, I actually didn’t see the dog at first. It was so quiet. It was a big dog, too. It just seemed to blend with everything after a while.

      13. Anonymous*

        Not advertised, but my former boss used to leave non-cuddly creatures that he found near his house in a terrarium on my desk. I was in a centralized location, so it was like the designated Display Spot. I’d come in some days and there’d be a tarantula, scorpion, baby snake waiting for me… I’d have to look at it all. day. long. and deal with people coming by and either ogling it or reeling in horror. Would’ve rather he brought the dog!

        1. Editor*

          My orthodontist had half a dozen terrariums with snakes, an iguana and other reptiles in the waiting room, along with a bunch of large tropical plants and a huge fish tank by the receptionist.

          I thought they were ok but strange, but I’m sure other people were freaked out by them. One day his kids were feeding one of the denizens frozen flies. They caught them in the summer and stashed them in freezer boxes in the family freezer. I was ok with the terrariums but the thought of having boxes of flies in the freezer (next to the ice cream?!?) made my skin crawl and my throat close up.

      14. Anon for this one*

        Hmmm….that’s a good question. Our corporate office is dog-friendly (they wouldn’t go over well in the food manufacturing plants), but I don’t know if it’s mentioned during the interview process. It’s not mentioned in the actual job ads, as far as I know. There aren’t dogs here EVERY day (most people bring their dog once a week or two, and it averages out to maybe three dogs a week, sometimes on the same day, sometimes spreadh out), so an interviewee might not know even by getting a tour of the building, unless they wonder aloud why there are baby gates and bowls on the floor in some cubes.

  20. Sascha*

    #5 – There have been a lot of good suggestions already, but I want to say please check with the vet to see if they can board him. Since the dog has special medical needs, I would feel most comfortable with him there. I took care of my sister’s cat for a weekend, who had kidney damage, and it was nerve wracking for me (I had to give him an IV twice a day). I don’t know if you have to do anything like that for him, but I would not be comfortable trusting a random person with that, unless they had been specifically trained.

    And out of curiosity – who here has worked in a pet friendly office? I have never even heard of a pet friendly office – with the exception of vet clinics and mom and pop shops here and there. But a corporate setting? Never. One of my coworkers keeps trying to convince me to bring up my cat – he says he doesn’t understand why I wouldn’t do that. I don’t understand why he thinks that’s appropriate! And as far as I know, he’s never worked in a pet friendly office either. Has anyone worked in a corporate setting that allowed pets?

    1. Jamie*

      I don’t know how corporate it is, but back when I was temping quite a few of the construction companies would allow pets in the office and the contractors would take them in their trucks or leave them in the office.

      Also I’ve worked in a couple manufacturing facilities that someone could bring them in on occasion – not an everyday thing but if they had a vet appt after work or were on medicine they could sleep under the desk of their person. That was stopped both places by complaints of people who were afraid of dogs and refused to enter the office while the dogs were here.

      I’ve only seen it with dogs where I’ve worked, but I have been in bookshops and craft stores that had a cat or two mingling amongst customers. But like you said – little mom and pop places.

      1. Sascha*

        Construction sites definitely makes sense to me – so many of them use guard dogs. My husband worked at a plumbing company that had a really awesome Rottweiler.

        1. Natalie*

          Plus, if you’re anywhere with winter, you usually have a slow season and an 18-hour-day season. Even a very well trained dog is going to be unhappy if it’s left alone that long.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I did! Granted, it was an animal protection charity, so that’s why, but it was awesome. Lots of people brought dogs, and there were office cats who lived there. The offices with dogs had to have things similar to baby gates on them so the dogs didn’t roam free, and if your dog had an accident inside, I think you got one warning and had to clean it up (of course) and if it happened again, you couldn’t keep bringing him (or maybe there was no warning? I can’t remember).

      People were pretty good about not being overly distracted by the animals, but this was also an organization where people worked really long hours, so I don’t think anyone begrudged them a little distraction.

    3. Dianne*

      I worked in a dog friendly office during the internet boom. It was charming for a week or so, then it was annoying (and I like dogs). There were two office dogs, they didn’t really get along so they had to be kept on different floors, unfortunately they were allowed to wander at will so everyone was forced to be the dog separation police. Also, sometimes they barked during calls, which (we were told) was OK because everyone on the call knew we worked in a ‘funky environment’ (funky as in covered in dog hair funk?). One of my coworkers was allergic and had to advocate for a dog-free zone, and (even worse!) had to use an inhaler before staff meetings.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        That reminds me — the office I worked in had pretty strict rules for stuff like that (barking, fighting) and wasn’t shy about saying you had to stop bringing your dog in if there were problems like that. I think that’s key.

        1. fposte*

          So, unsurprisingly, the actual animal-focused workplace had sensible ways of dealing with animals while the one that used it to prove they were cool didn’t impose any rules.

    4. Yet Another Anon*

      I’ve had a cat at work (well, a kitten) but it was only for a few hours. My coworker, with whom I share an office, brought in the kitten. My husband came to collect kitten and take it home within a couple of hours. During that time we got *lots* of visitors!

      1. Sascha*

        That reminds me of a time my sister texted me a picture of a kitten hiding out in her filing cabinet. She works at a big-time law firm, and someone rescued it from the parking lot and they were keeping it hidden until she could take it home. Accounting had a huge increase in traffic that day. :)

      2. ES*

        We had this happen too – we found a litter of kittens outside the building and kept them in a box in a spare office until one of my colleagues could get ahold of her friend who worked at a local no-kill shelter. Best Friday ever!

        1. Jamie*

          We had a stray at the factory – clearly an abandoned house pet. My husband came to get her and we took her to the vet and then home while we searched for her owner. No chip and the calls to local shelters and animal control turned up nothing so she settled right in with the rest of the clowder (or glaring – tm thank you Sheldon Cooper for the vocab for this.)

          Funny thing is, she won’t cuddle with me until I change out of work clothes. She’s really aloof if she can get even a whiff of my work on me – otherwise very snuggly. I think it’s her way of saying she isn’t going back. :)

          We tried to adopt a stray dog which was on the porch at work a couple of months ago – but as loving as she was with us her past life had conditioned her to not get along with other dogs. So we had no choice but to find a pit rescue where they could find her a home with no other animals.

          We only had her for 10 hours including taking her to the vet – but my husband still can’t speak about her without getting that weird little catch in his throat that he pretends isn’t almost crying. She has been adopted though – and from what he hears, doing well. So that’s something.

        2. Elizabeth*

          We’ve had cats in our office twice.

          The first time, it was a rescue litter that we were helping find homes for as a part of a Christmas project.

          The second time, a kitten planted herself on the front entrance right outside our offices and cried piteously. We brought her in and bought some basic cat-edible food from the cafeteria and held onto her until shift change, when one of the nurses took her home.

    5. AnotherAlison*

      I have not. . .which is why this whole question sort of boggles my mind.

      My current corp. office has about 600 people & my previous one about 3,000.

      Even at a 10% participation rate. . .60 dogs, 5 floors, 12 dogs/floor. . .that seems like too many dogs wandering around.

      I don’t know how my dog would do in my office here, but if I work from home, rather than do his normal sleep-on-the-couch-for 8-hrs thing, my dog wants to be let out about every 20 minutes. I think having him here could be annoying, and he’s a senior Lhasa Apso. . .bred to be a footwarmer.

      1. Sascha*

        I work from home most of the week and yes, the dog is different when I am here. While I love him dearly, I would not bring him up to the office, because he likes to be in my face all the time.

      2. K*

        Conversely, my cat acts like she’s completely starved for attention when I get home from work. But when I was working from home during the hurricane she spent the entire day asleep and ignoring me. (And when I was home with the flu, she literally sat across the room and glared at me for four days; I was kind of offended.)

        1. KayDay*

          I was caught my cat in the “omg, it’s sooooo late and I’m soooo hungry” routine. I came home, no cat,put my stuff down and changed, still no cat, finally dropped something with a loud bang, all of a sudden, there was my cat acting like he had been waiting by the door the whole time.

        2. Dorothy*

          Too funny! On the rare occasion when I come home for lunch, my cats act annoyed because I’m interrupting their nap schedule. My becoming-elderly chihuahua would love going to the office with me, he would nap on my lap all day!

    6. Hannah*

      I live in Phoenix and corporate PetSmart is here in Mesa. I’ve volunteered at some large events sponsored by PetSmart and the employees told me they can bring their dogs in every Friday!

    7. Madison*

      My company actually has a pet policy. We’re in a corporate setting. It was never advertised as having one and the only reason I learned about it was because I was bored one day and searching through our intranet to read various things. One person has brought in his small dog to show him off a few times but the dog was only around for an hour or so. No one else has taken advantage of the pet policy. In my old department I used to joke that we should get a gerbil or hamster and set up a maze of tubes around our desks, haha.

      I just looked up the pet policy now and it says dogs must be leashed, can’t go in bathrooms, conference rooms, or eating areas, they can’t be unattended at any time, no aggressive behavior, limited to 3 indoor accidents, and no sick animals at any time. So unfortunately even though we have a pet policy, if I were the OP I’d get ruled out by that last one.

      1. AnotherAlison*

        If these are the constraints of the policy, I can see why no one would bring a pet. It’s impossible to comply with, unless it is okay to kennel a dog at your desk.

        A dog can’t be unattended, but it can’t go to the bathroom or a conference room, so unless you have really nice coworkers who love your dog, good luck trying to go all day without using the bathroom and cross your fingers that no one calls you into a meeting.

    8. Nancie*

      I’m not lucky enough to work there, but a large company a few miles down the road has a pet friendly office. (Replacements, Ltd. if anyone wants to look them up.)

      I took a tour of their facility once and saw dogs in a lot of the office/cube farm spaces, and even in cubicals that were basically in the middle of the warehouse (which is full of fine china!)

    9. Ellie H.*

      My mom is a professor and multiple different colleagues in her department have brought dogs in and had them in their office, some every day. My mom would have LOVED to have brought our (late) dog in, but he is high maintenance and very anxious (agitated, barking, very active) so she never did so. I work at a university (the same one) and one of the women who works in the office across the hall sometimes brings her dog, but it’s a really, really little one, like toy size. So I guess my point is that universities are another potentially dog-flexible setting.

    10. PuppyKat*

      If I ever start my own business and hire employees, the job descriptions will state that all applicants must be able to work with my three dogs in the office. And their own dogs will be welcome, too, as long as they (the dogs) are quiet and obedient and the humans responsible.

      I worked at a non-profit once where I was allowed to bring in my dogs when they were sick or recovering from a procedure (had an Elizabethan collar on, etc.). I would get more visitors on those single days than in the preceding two weeks. That was a wonderful place to work!

  21. -X-*

    “Both my manager and HR considered my request for a short time before denying the initial request, so it wasn’t a case of an immediate, hard answer of no.”

    Just because someone thinks carefully about a request before saying “no” doesn’t mean they are flexible on it.

    It’s possible, but I wouldn’t take careful consideration as meaning flexibility.

  22. Anonymous*

    The company I used to work at allowed people to bring their dogs to work, and it was AWESOME. Absolutely loved it. I didn’t have a dog at the time, and it was just so nice to get a little cuteness in my day. There were a few dogs who came in every single day with their owner. Every once in a while people would bring in a cat if necessary, however this usually only lasted for a day because cats jump all over things and knock stuff over. Most people had their own offices, or shared with only 1 or 2 other people, so if someone didn’t want to be around animals they didn’t have to share a space with them. We had a very relaxed work environment in general and it was truly the best place to work; we were constantly named as one of the top 10 employers in the city, etc. and everyone wanted to work for us. Just thought I’d share that these places are out there, and a lot of people love them!

      1. AdAgencyChick*

        Count me out too, and I’m a dog lover! At my last job, people were allowed to bring dogs to the office, and it was a selling point(albeit a minor one) for me when I was interviewing, because I don’t have time to take care of a dog myself and I thought I’d get to play with other people’s dogs.

        Nope. Mostly the dogs stuck by their owners’ sides, except when it was lunchtime. Then you had to guard your food, especially from the owners’ German shepherds. I swear those two knew their owners were the bosses and that they could therefore steal your food with impunity. Every other dog in the office would beg for food with sad puppy eyes, but those two would look at my food like they owned it and were going to claim it if I turned around for even a second!

        (And then there was the time my coworker brought her sick pup to work, and it pooped on the floor in front of my desk. Boo.)

      2. Anonymous*

        Me 2. I’m terribly allergic to cats and dogs and their dander can trigger an asthma attack. Plus with some animals their dander lingers on carpet and would basically require the carpet to be very thoroughly cleaned or removed or for weeks after I’d be a wheezing, sneezing, runny eyed mess.

  23. Another Day, Another Dollar*

    #3 Bad marks to your school for their lack of organization/ responsiveness. I recently had to call and get information about my Dad’s college years (for his obituary), and although some of it was not computerized, the school was still able to provide quickly, and he graduated in the early 1940s!

  24. Sarah*

    #5 – Most Vets will be happy to board the dog for the day. They can watch it and be sure it’s eating and drinking. If there is a problem, there is no better place for the dog!

  25. MB*

    #1 – These types jobs absolutely lend themselves to incentive schemes. The admin staff should be encouraged to constantly look for ways to improve operational process in ways that increase efficiency, lower costs, and improve the organization. Management needs to be open to suggestions on better ways to do even mundane things such ordering office supplies and processing invoices. This will give admin staff a sense of ownership of their jobs, increasing morale and ultimately the profitability of the company.

    Doing this will require a management style that is more subjective and less attached to “KPI” rubrics and whatnot. Management will need to be very hands-on and engaged as to what is happening in their departments. Communication needs to be two-way and continuous to ensure that no one feels left out. Their ideas needs to be acknowledged, and reasons given if they are not implemented.

  26. Seal*

    Re: 3 – I am an academic librarian with 3 degrees from 3 different schools. Every job I’ve ever applied for in academia has required that I provide transcripts and proof that I graduated; the only way to get them is to submit a request to the school and pay a fee. The employer doesn’t do that; the burden of proof is on me. This is very common, so any potential employer probably won’t bat an eye if you give them a form or explanation of the particular hoops they’ll have to jump through for this.

    Re: #5 – Take the day off! Unless you’re already taking days off left and right, your employer shouldn’t have a problem. It’s far more acceptable to ask for a day off to care for a sick dog than to ask to bring the poor thing into the office.

  27. BW*

    #5 – Check with a pet sitting service or your vet if you can’t find anyone to help out. These will cost, but not over-the-top and worth it for peace of mind. I have dropped ill pets at my vet for the day when they need fluids and closer monitoring. A pet sitter or dog walking service who can come a couple times a day would also work I think since he sounds like he just needs to be checked on and walked.

  28. Ann*

    For the University, that is actually standard practice. It sucks, but it’s true. I work for a foreign diplomatic office, and we frequently have to verify education (elementary, middle, high, and college) for government for mandatory military service. Most schools stop carrying records after a certain number of years, usually 10. They send their old records to a records clearinghouse. Even just a phone to call to the records clearing house for them to give you a verbal ‘yes’ or ‘no’ as to whether a student attended said school costs $5-$20 depending on the clearinghouse. Record requests and diploma copies are also requested through the clearinghouse, although most schools will send for them for you, but you still have to pay.

    1. Natalie*

      I don’t think the LW is complaining about the college digitizing their records, nor do I suspect they would complain simply because records older than X years were moved. The problem is that record checkers are being told “We have no records of this person” without any additional information (such as how long the school keeps records or where older records are stored). Without any additional info, it’s entirely rational for a record-checker to infer that the applicant has lied.

  29. Sam*

    #3 Transcripts

    I have a similar problem with my undergrad university – and I graduated about 10 years ago. They will not confirm my graduation for employers unless *I* submit a request for an official transcript and pay a fee. They claim they’re protecting my privacy and following the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act. (Frankly, I think they’re deliberately squeezing alums for the fees, as other schools are able to confirm graduation without violating FERPA.)

    To get around paying the fee, I supplied employers with copies of unofficial transcripts (free). I also offered to obtain official transcripts by request, with a small explanation about the fee. Not a single employer seemed put off by it – in fact, most seemed to understand completely – and no one requested the official copy. After attending a graduate school that would confirm graduation without a fee, this problem faded away.

    1. Mike C.*

      Yeah, your college is squeezing you. “Hey guys, let’s make it harder for our alums to achieve gainful employment!” doesn’t feel like the smartest of ideas.

    2. Anon*

      Okay, technically, the college has the right to restrict that info on the grounds of FERPA. Graduation confirmation is considered directory information. Directory information is something that colleges can give out. however, each college can determine what directory information they will release.

      That being said, your college is putting you through the ringer and it’s crap. They should be releasing that information to inquiring parties. Go straight to the president’s office and complain. The alumni groups really aren’t as powerful as people here seem to believe. At least not at most schools. Ivy Leagues…maybe.

      1. Schuyler Pierson*

        Anon, you’re half right.

        The school is restricted to FERPA regulations. As a Financial Aid Administrator, I run into this all the time. The school *cannot* offer this information without a signed FERPA release on file, to anyone who is not the student. Period. They’re not putting anyone through the ringer, and they absolutely should not be releasing that information to inquiring parties – as you said, that’s the specific purpose of FERPA in the first place; to keep from giving that information from inquiring parties. I can’t begrudge a staff member for not putting their job on the line just because someone is calling for the information. At $27,500 fine to the university for each violation, it can add up pretty quickly.

        Now, that having been said, I don’t know that even if the person submitted a FERPA waiver allowing a specific person access that the school would release this information. Is an unofficial transcript unacceptable? Oftentimes, students can obtain an an enrollment verification or unofficial transcript online.

        Lastly, if the school doesn’t do this for anyone – enrolled, electronic records or no – then I don’t think there’s a problem, and I say this as someone who has had occasion to request a transcript for this reason. But if they’re willing to part with the information if the student is in the electronic database for free, that’s not fair.

        1. Nikki*

          It is true that many schools consider graduation date/degrees awarded directory information as Directory Information is information which would not generally be considered harmful or an invasion of privacy if disclosed. However, the school is not saying “I am sorry, we cannot release any information without consent of the student” They are just saying, “Who? We have no records of this person.”
          THAT is not cool.

    3. QQ*

      This discussion is making me love my university and the official e-transcript that is on my hard drive that I can just email to anybody who needs it.

  30. LCL*

    Either take a vacation day, or board your dog at his vet’s for the day. Doggie day care isn’t a good option-many of them won’t take sick animals. And most doggie day cares would require him to be vaccinated against kennel cough, and have a negative fecal test, and maybe a trial visit. Too much aggravation for an older dog that is doing poorly.

    Also, you and your parents and their vet should talk before the vacation, and figure out what will be done if doggie takes a turn for the worse while they are unavailable. You don’t want the dog to linger in misery while waiting for your parents to come back. Sorry to be so negative, but I know someone this happened to.

  31. Jax*

    #4 – I handed in a 1 month notice before leaving to GIVE BIRTH. I liked my employers and considered it only fair to give them a heads up to either find a replacement or not renew the contract for the software only I could use.

    They didn’t renew the software–and they also told me I didn’t have to come back after the weekend. “Just relax and get ready for the baby!” I asked if they had a problem with my work or if I was being fired, and they said no, I just “didn’t need” to come back.

    I turned that in to unemployment–and got paid for it. Definitely file!

    1. John*

      Thanks. Reassuring. Cant believe they did that though to you though… Hoping I wont need to file…I am looking for work and have an interview Monday. Struggling with how to present my Masters program requirements to a NEW job and still land the position without HR saying we dont need to deal with this. – But thats a whole other post

  32. Stella*

    #3 – in addition to the advice already provided, tell the Alumni Association, the Office of Development and the Annual Fund Office. You should be able to find contact info from the university’s website. I’d even consider e-mailing the president.

  33. Ann*

    #6- I’d also suggest that you start really researching the field now, even though they aren’t hiring. Look for past job descriptions, ask for informational interviews with people in the field, and try to figure out what are the general skills they want when they do hire. Then you can look for jobs in other fields that will give you experience in those areas, whether it’s public speaking, grant writing, or certain computer skills. That way, when you get a chance to apply for jobs in immigration, you’ll be able to prove that you have the skills they need even though you’re new to the field.

  34. LA*

    I bring my 130lb rottweiler to work with me almost every day. Everyone around here LOVES Boris. He is a joy to have around. There are some workmates who take him jogging at lunch, and they always stop by to say hello. He has level 2 obedience training, and is incredibly motivated to please. He only barks when I ask him to, he has been taught that the kitchen is off-limits, he doesn’t solicit affection from others, and is usually found at my feet. There have been no complaints from my workmates, nor other businesses in the building. Even the homeless guys in the back alley know him by name and greet him every day. There has been plenty of research to back up the theory that pets in the workplace are a source of stress relief. There must be other proven health benefits since hospitals and nursing homes are known to bring in animals for special visitation. I guess there will always be those individuals who are just not into pets, or pets in the workplace (for whatever reason)…but for those who are, it is a true JOY to bring them to work.

    (and thank you AAM for posting my query about client bdays)

  35. The B*

    For those who asked which companies allow pets: 17 percent of US employers allow pets. Google is one of them. The American Humane Association and Amazon.com are two others. I think dogs are a more interesting perk than the software company that told me one of the perks was a beer tap in the office.

      1. The B*

        Not sure. I imagine it is mostly geared towards dogs. I don’t think most offices would mind if you had a gold fish in a bowl at your desk, but a snake or spider seems like a big stretch.

        1. ThursdaysGeek*

          I had pet black widows at one job, but it was mainly because they came with the office and I decided I would rather have them in a jar rather than loose. The other geeks brought me bugs they found in their offices. We asked for the owners to bug bomb, but they never did.

  36. Meghan*

    I would give anything to have my Saint Bernard under my desk, he could be my own personal space heater.

    1. fposte*

      A professor at my grad school had his Saint Bernard in the office. I think the dog got a lot more comfortable when the prof became chair and had a bigger office.

  37. Aimee*

    #1) When I was in Customer Service at my company, the managers would do a quarterly drawing and the winner would receive an extra day of vacation. To qualify for the drawing, you or the manager had to receive an email (from either a customer or a sales rep) with a compliment about how helpful you were/how you resolved their problem, etc. Something like this could work for admin staff as well.

    Related to question 2 – does it make any difference if your company is still paying you? My company pays people who are on jury duty (for unlimited time – our employees are really popular for the longer trials!). I always just figured that because of that, I’d try to get as much work done as I could in the evenings if I ever managed to be picked for a jury.

  38. B in the Bay*

    #5: I’d suggest looking into using DogVacay.com or Task Rabbit to find a pet sitter that one day no one else can watch the dog. Dog Vacay lists dog sitters (some do overnight boarding, too) along with a profile. You can search for a sitter with experience caring for sick dogs. Or you can post an ad on Task Rabbit for a dog sitter and set your own price.

  39. Cassie*

    #3: I’m kind of surprised that you’d need to get a transcript for a degree from over 25 years ago.

    But anyway, I am not sure my alma mater would verify if a student attended or graduated (maybe if it was a news agency requesting info for a story?). If you want verification of a degree, you pay $15 for a verification transcript, which is different from an official transcript which lists which courses you took (that is also $15). The one time I was asked for verification of my degree, the options were to bring the diploma or official transcripts. The hiring manager took the transcripts but if I had brought the diploma, they would just make a photocopy of it.

    1. Ellie H.*

      I don’t think the school I work at would either. I’m pretty sure we are not permitted to give outside parties any information about current or past students. I’ve never heard of an outside party “calling to verify a degree.” Occasionally a student will request that we write their employer attesting to the fact that they are a student or that they will actually graduate on a certain date, but this is usually in situations when the official transcript isn’t available or wouldn’t be helpful e.g. graduation was yesterday, the student starts working tomorrow, and an official transcript showing the conferred degree won’t be available for another two weeks, or when the student has passed the defense but graduation hasn’t occurred yet, or something.

      I agree that it seems difficult that the LW’s alma mater would say “We have no record of this student” but what you are supposed to do to verify your degree is to request a sealed transcript which will be mailed directly to the employer or, say, the graduate program they are applying to. This is the standard operating procedure and I’m not sure why the LW expects the university to give out information in response to a random phone call.

  40. Elizabeth West*

    #1–This is why it’s hard to write your resume using accomplishments if you’re an admin, particularly in a company that doesn’t reward incentive, etc. There aren’t usually any numbers you can point to.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      No, no, you absolutely can still write in terms of achievements. They don’t have to quantitative. Perhaps you ensured the smooth workings of the front desk, handled crises so your boss didn’t have to, etc.

  41. Lindsay*

    I didn’t read all the other comments, so forgive me if I’m repeating someone else, but as Administrative Support is generally connect with (duh) supporting other staff, perhaps there could be some kind of star system (think little kids and potty training), and if they reach so many peer recommendations per month, they would “exceed expectations”…? Any time they completed a task exceptionally well, were particularly helpful with a process or procedure…

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