how to get out of a goodbye lunch, my company doesn’t pay its bills, and more

It’s seven short answers to seven short questions. Here we go…

1. My company doesn’t pay its bills on time

I recently started working for a company that holds events at venues. I’m finding my company pays extremely late or doesn’t pay at all. I’ve been told by more than a handful of venues we use that they can’t directly bill us because of the delinquency and we need to pay with a credit card, which I was told I could be fired if I ever do without authorization from accounting. However, when I go to accounting with the issues, they tell me they’re handling it … yet it gets ignored until I beg and at the last minute the problem is resolved or they give me the credit card authorization. The event ends up getting planned literally a day beforehand, the logistics come out wrong, and it looks bad on me.

I have began building relationships with these vendors and plan on using them down the line or possibly being employed by them when I one day leave this position. I feel as if this is being reflected badly on me and is harming my relationship with them and reflecting badly on the company as well. When I ask accounting why we’re being denied, they tell me a bill “must have gotten lost,” but it always ends up being a bigger problem than that. I feel frustrated because when I try to talk to accounting about the problems this is causing; they just don’t care.

Am I being over dramatic about this reflecting bad on me personally? And is this normal or something I should be concerned about? I have heard from upper management that the company has reputation for nickel and diming people, so I’m pretty positive they have the funds and we have already been banned from some venues because of this. Who else should I speak to in my company about this problem to hopefully resolve it?

No, this isn’t normal, and yes, it will reflect badly on the company — and eventually on you, if these vendors are people who you want to build good relationships with. You can certainly talk to your boss about the problem and how it is harming the company (and not to mention, is terrible, unethical behavior), but if your boss doesn’t care or can’t fix the problem, there might not be more you can do. If that’s the case, and you value your reputation with these vendors, you might need to rethink whether staying in this job is in your long-term interests.

2. Do I need permission to bring in baked goods to my new office?

I am starting a new job (finally!) on November 1st. I love to bake and since I live alone, I am looking forward to having a place to bring my baked goods to (not that I’ve had any problems until this point keeping a batch of cookies or muffins all to myself). Should I ask my boss first whether or not it would be a good idea to occasionally bake for the office? For people with allergies, I’m already planning on bringing in what I bake in a covered dish and including a note listing any common allergens the food contains (peanuts, gluten, etc). I’m only a year and a half out of college, so I’m not very experienced with a variety of office cultures. Is this the sort of thing I can just go ahead and do or should I clear it with my new workplace first?

You can just go ahead and do it — it would be odd for a manager to want to give permission for that first; typically people just bring stuff in, leave it in the kitchen, and send around an email telling people to help themselves.

That said, read the considerations in this post and this post before you do.

3. Was this employer blowing me off?

I received an email yesterday from a company I interviewed with last week. They wanted to set up a second interview. This is a private Jewish school so it was meeting the rabbi, who is the dean of the school. I already interviewed with the principal. This is for a office position. Anyway, upon arriving, I was handed paperwork to fill out — application, background check, etc.

I was filling this information out and the principal came out and said they would need to reschedule the interview because the rabbi did not know I was coming in and they had another meeting to go to. She said she will call me. Does it sound like they blew me off?

It’s certainly possible, but it’s just as possible that she told you the truth and they had a scheduling mix-up. In general, when it comes to hiring practices, you’re best off just taking things that employers tell you at face value, because there’s no way to know if you shouldn’t. People often want to know what something an employer said “really” means, but in every one of those instances, it’s perfectly plausible that what was meant was exactly what was said. So it’s easier and more sensible to just take it all at face value rather than going looking for hidden meanings. (And besides, you shouldn’t be counting on any particular job until you have a formal offer, so it doesn’t really matter whether they were blowing you off or not; they could have been 100% sincere and still end up not hiring you for hundreds of other reasons.)

However, I hope that the principal was extremely apologetic — mortified even — for wasting your time, because this is very much Not Cool otherwise.

4. This job offer is taking too long

I applied to a position (that actually uses my degree, which I’ve been searching for for two years) with a prestigious university. I went to the interview and it must have gone extremely well because they offered me the job before I could even send a thank-you note. I, of course, accepted the position. The person who actually offered me the position told me that someone else would be in contact to discuss the particulars (I assume someone from HR?). I waited a week. No one contacted me. I sent the first person, the one who offered me the position, an email saying I hadn’t heard from anyone yet, asking if I needed to do something or if I simply needed to be patient, and also to reiterate my interest in the position. The person replied that they were very slow and I just needed to be patient, essentially. So I waited some more.

It’s been one month and I still haven’t heard a thing. First, is this normal? To wait this long? Second, I’m fine exercising patience but unfortunately bill collectors are not. I hate to say that I need the money, but my contingency funds are running out. So, hypothetically, if I continue my job search and somehow get another offer and perhaps accept it, do I tell someone from this job? How on earth do I handle this?

No, waiting a month after a job offer to get things finalized isn’t normal, although it does happen. While this certainly might eventually pan out, it could also fall through, so in the meantime you should be functioning as if there’s no offer — and keep functioning that way until you have a formal offer in writing (that you’ve accepted) and a start date. If you get another offer meanwhile and accept it, you can simply email your contact at the first job and let them know.

But meanwhile, while you continue your job search, it would also make sense to ask your contact for a likely timeline, if you don’t already have one. You might get more insight into what to expect.

5. Will therapy be confidential if my company pays for it?

I have a diagnosed mental illness which gets worse or better depending on my situation. I have not asked for accommodations for my position because I don’t really need any, but my part of my benefits is that my company will pay for a few therapy sessions each year. I’d like to take advantage of that, but I’m confused as to what my rights are if I talk about job stress with the therapist. Do normal confidentiality rules apply to the party paying for the sessions? I try not to talk about my disability at work because of the stigma, and I’m worried using the sessions will have a similar result.

You should still have the normal confidentiality that you’d expect from any therapist (i.e., total confidentiality unless she believes that you’re a danger to yourself or others and a few other limited exceptions). That doesn’t change just because someone else is paying for it; licensed therapists are bound by legal and ethical guidelines and can lose their license for violating those rules.

But if you have any doubt about that, you can simply ask before making an appointment — any competent therapist will be able to explain her confidentiality policies to you.

6. What to say to a job candidate who I don’t want to interview

There is an applicant who gave me her resume a few weeks ago. She was not qualified for the job and made a bad first impression, so I did not call her to schedule an interview. She has now called and left a message wondering about an interview. What is best practice? To not return her call and leave her to wonder, or to call and let her know she is not qualified for the position? I’m worried that would lead into a conversation of her trying to convince me she is qualified. More than the qualifications, it was her personal manner that did not impress me or seem like a good fit for my team, and there is nothing that she can do to change those things.

Send her a rejection note by email — which you should be doing for all candidates who you don’t intend to interview (and once you interview people, for all candidates who you don’t intend to hire). You don’t need to get into reasons; just let her know that you won’t be moving her forward to an interview, but appreciate her interest.

7. How to get out of a goodbye lunch

I’ve worked at my company for a total of about 11 years, and, partly thanks to this blog, I’ve got a new job lined up and my last day is Friday. My question is about my going away lunch, or, rather, how to not have one.

My cube-mate is asking me to provide a list of names of those I’d like to invite to my going away lunch. But 1) I just don’t enjoy big group lunches. 2) It’s really hard to narrow down the list, because we are a fairly large office and I’m buddies with a lot of people. I would have a very hard time deciding who not to invite. 3) I hate goodbyes, can’t I just decline a going away “event”?! 4) I’m going to lunch with my manager already, so that is covered.

I really want to skip having this lunch. Is there a polite way to get out of this? What would some of your readers recommend as a nice way to say, Thanks but no thanks?

Just be straightforward: “That’s nice of you to offer, but I’d actually not have a lunch.” If she presses you, say, “Good-bye lunches aren’t really my thing, and I’m going to say goodbye to people individually. But thank you.” You’re not required to do anything here other than be warm and polite about your “no thanks.”


{ 125 comments… read them below }

  1. jesicka309*

    OP # 7 – Congrats on the new job!

    As someone who had a similar situation last week, I totally sympathise. Sometimes you’re completely stoked to be leaving your job, and the last thing you want to do is hang out with your former coworkers. And for some people, it’s just not their thing.

    My team leader knew how I felt about leaving the company (thrilled) and asked me if I’d prefer a presentation in front of the depaartment, or a small goodbye at our weekly team meeting – they had a gift for me, so it was necessary for me to acknowledge that. It would have been rude of me to decline!

    I opted for the team meeting. OP, talk to your cube mate and see if you can at least talk them into something low key. Maybe just a small afternoon tea break at your cube for those who wish to drop by? That way you can limit the goodbyes to a time slot (3.45-4 pm!) and people can stop by as they like. ALternatively, you can just let them know that you’ll ber leaving at 5 pm, so drop by at 4.45 to say goodbye. Sometimes people want their chance to say goodbye, or give gifts. I didn’t say no to my shopping voucher, after all. :)

    1. Gjest*

      These are good suggestions. When I left my last job, I didn’t really want a goodbye “thing” but I felt I had to let my boss do it. I think she would have taken it personally if I had flat out refused. Also, maybe it would make her look bad, like she had dropped the ball by not planning something? I don’t know, but best thing is to suggest something less uncomfortable/annoying, like jesicka suggests above.

    2. LMW*

      I don’t like goodbye lunches either. One former boss knew this and suggest a potluck in the kitchen area, and people can stop by when they want and poke their heads in my office to say goodbye. Perfect compromise – I had an opportunity to say individual goodbyes to the people it mattered to, and I didn’t have to endure a long lunch.

    3. LizNYC*

      At my last job, it was more common to have a happy hour for whoever was leaving, so though you don’t want to make a big deal about it, maybe you could do that. That way, you aren’t excluding anyone from the invite (the entire office could be invited to the local watering hole of your choice) and you can set a time limit (you’re only staying an hour or whatever).

    4. Elizabeth West*

      All good ideas. Not everyone likes a fuss.

      I remember one job where anyone that left got a huge potluck thrown for them. The front office was full of women who liked to bake/cook. I had the full treatment when I left to take a different position. I was happy to be leaving because the job had gotten too sales-oriented for me, but I liked my coworkers and it was nice to have the chance to say goodbye. And food!

    5. cf_programmer*

      I opt for booking a conference room and ordering pizza for everyone who shows up.

      Another idea, and I did this. It was fun for me and for everyone else. I got “special gifts” for some deserving folks. Like monopoly money for the project accountant. Disappearing ink for the girl who was always spilling ink on a new shirt. Stuff like that. It was totally fun and defused the attention off me.

  2. Anonymous*

    OP#1, I feel for you, what an awful position to be in. It’s not normal at all and sounds embarassing and stressful. Also if I were you I would worry about my paychecks bouncing at some point. Not only can they not keep their word, it sounds like the company is not in a good place financially. I hate to say it but I think you should be looking for a new job post haste.

    Follow-up question for the illustrious Manager: what should the OP say when interviewers ask why she is leaving her job, especially after a short period of time? Assuming that it hasn’t been so short that she could leave it off her resume. Is this one of those situations where you can be honest?

    1. en pointe*

      I agree that this is potentially going to reflect badly on the OP and she should consider moving on. However, I don’t know if we can definitely assume that this company is in trouble financially.

      The company I work for facilitates in-house training workshops and our clients range from family-owned cafes to multi-million dollar mining companies. We find most of these smaller organisations to be relatively efficient and professional with payment, yet we’re often chasing up long overdue bills from the latter – for whom cash flow would obviously be much less of a concern.

      Some companies just don’t display a lot of respect for others, particularly, it seems, when they’re bigger and don’t so much need to. (Although they absolutely should anyway.)

      1. Liane*

        I agree with en pointe & the others. This kind of Accounts Payable game often has much less to do with the company’s financial state than with the company’s respect for others.
        Some years ago my husband worked for a company that had government contracts (a time when a shutdown wasn’t a very real or recent thing). He told me once or twice that Company routinely did this to many suppliers, by having a 90 day payment cycle for their bills (and not cutting checks sooner), when just about every supplier had a 30-45 day cycle for Accounts Receivable. Husband said they didn’t seem to care.
        I hope I got the terms right–my husband wasn’t in the accounting end of the business and it’s not my area either.

        1. Chinook*

          That sounds about right – my company won’t pay until the next cheque run 30 days after the invoice date. Depending on when it lands and who is the office to sign them, that could mean a 45 day pay cycle. Since our multinational company happens to use a lot of small vendors in our district, this means a loy of anxious calls wondering if the cheque was lost in the mail.

    2. Anne*

      Yes, I agree with en pointe.

      A large part of my job is credit control – I’m the person who’ll be chasing your company to pay your bills. If your company is a bad payer, yes, that will definitely affect the business relationship in a very negative way, including your personal relationship with the company. I can think of one or two companies we work with who are bad payers and might have employees looking for work in our field – and I have to say that I would not be eager to work with them.

      But, tha doesn’t mean that those companies are insolvent. For a lot of companies, this is a cash flow or cost cutting measure which they implement on purpose, regularly. Even at companies which are mostly above board, it’s not that unusual to not pay an invoice until someone from the company has called to tell you it’s overdue. I even had one guy get so flustered when I was chasing an invoice last week that he actually said to me “Well, er, you know it’s our policy to not pay invoices until we’re chased for them.”

      Doesn’t mean his paycheck is going to bounce, although I still felt for the guy.

      1. themmases*

        I agree. My department has had trouble getting payments from large pharmaceutical companies that obviously have the money. My closest coworker is known for being very persistent in following up on stuff like this, and it still took us months to receive some payments between the various levels of approval supposedly needed within the company, whatever accounting firm they used, and all the places for our check to conveniently get lost in between.

        My impression is that they know a certain number of people won’t notice, or won’t follow up, or will give up when they call every week for a couple of months and hear different BS every time.

        1. the gold digger*

          I worked for a Fortune 100 company that had a similar policy – they paid 100 days. I had a small vendor I worked with and I would have to call payables and beg them to pay this guy. It’s really mean of big companies to treat small companies, which live and die by cash flow, this way.

          1. Rana*

            Yes. I’ve been considering having a separate, higher fee structure for clients funded through large institutions (as opposed to paying out of pocket themselves) for just this reason. It screws up my bookkeeping, and income stream, when the invoices get locked up in the bureaucratic process for months. It also screws up my clients, as the rights to my work don’t transfer to them until payment is received. Very annoying.

      2. Natalie*

        “I can think of one or two companies we work with who are bad payers and might have employees looking for work in our field – and I have to say that I would not be eager to work with them.”

        I’m curious why this would influence whether or not you would hire a person, unless maybe you were talking about someone high-level enough to have any kind of say in corporate policies and practices. As much as I disagree with it, it’s an incredibly common practice for large companies. And most employees of big companies don’t have any say in the accounting practices of their employer. Outside of the accounting department, they probably don’t even know the policies.

        1. Anne*

          It wouldn’t keep me from hiring someone (and I only have a little bit of influence on hiring around here anyway!) But when you’re picking up the phone to call the same person every week – or day – and they’re continually making excuses or telling you they’re on it… it’s probably not their fault, it’s probably management at their company (although it’s sometimes clear that it really IS their fault) but boy do I get sick of it. I just wouldn’t really want to work with them. Talk about getting off on the wrong foot.

      3. FD*

        I just don’t get this, it’s so rude and tacky.

        And stupid. It’s like don’t ‘don’t piss of your waiter’–‘don’t piss off your suppliers’! They’re the ones who decide whether to go out of their way to deliver things in the time slot that’s most convenient to you and a host of other little benefits of being decent and reliable business partners.

        1. en pointe*

          Agreed but there’s often a pretty big power imbalance between large companies and small vendors – the former can usually just switch vendors if their current one drops the ball.

          In the case of my employer, no matter how pissed off we get, we have little choice but to swallow our pride or risk losing a couple of our biggest clients.

    3. Anon scientist*

      I’m going anonymous for this… My former 20,000 – employee company had a policy to hound our clients and avoid paying our vendors until 90 days or later to benefit from the float… Although if I had a tiny subcontractor who was in dire need of money, purchasing could cut a check early. They were a publicly traded company and wouldn’t dream of screwing with payroll – that would look bad!

    4. RB*

      The OP can simply say the company had financial difficulties. She doesn’t need to go into detail.

      OP, by the way, start a serious job search now. My husband went through this with his former company. As company credit cards start getting maxed out and bills weren’t being paid, he could see the writing on the wall. Within 6 months they filed for bankruptcy.

      It doesn’t sound as if your company is doing anything pro-active regarding their financial situation, so they may be headed in the same direction.

    5. Anonymous*

      I agree with all of the above. And even if the company does have plenty of money and has made a decision that their reputation can take the hit so they can hold the cash for 90 or more days longer. Yours likely cannot.
      Leave, as soon as possible, leave. Especially since these are places you are having to develop personal relationships with and are trying to plan events at which you may want to in the future.

    6. Marie*

      I work part time for a company that has major financial troubles (they are getting better now). We constantly have to do special orders (it’s a speciality shoop selling high end writting instruments and custom invitation, cards and what not). I one point all our orders were declined and we were advised by our supplyers that the bills were not getting paid… now we have to pay in advance and it’s a pain… head office does’t undestand how they slow response makes us loose clients….

    7. Lisa*

      Delaying payment is a strategy mostly at small businesses that can’t pay all bills at the same time, but frighteningly common at large companies that want their books to look better by having more cash available even though that money is spoken for, but not yet paid.

      1. OP 1*

        Is this an effective strategy? Our event guests pay before the event so I know we are not running around trying to get their money

      2. Judy*

        A large company with a motto around ethics “There is no right way to do a wrong thing.” that I worked for was notorious about pushing vendor terms out to 60 or 90 days.

    8. OP 1*

      OP #1 here-

      As far as the company’s financial situation, I agree with Lisa, Anne & en pointe. I do work for a smaller company and we are still hiring people, sending employees to travel freely and holding events at five star venues. 90% of our venues have pre-negotiated pricing so it’s not even like the company is balking once they see how much we spent.

      I’ve already started looking for new jobs because regardless of whether the funds are there or not, this is not something I’m comfortable having my name attached to. It’s adding an immense amount of unnecessary stress to my job and is wasting a lot of time. I wish the company would realize how many resources they would save by just paying on time!

      The one thing I do worry about is how to explain it to employers? I’ve always been told not to bash the company and I would obviously not go into detail about the issues but this seems like a reasonable issue to leave the company.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        “They had a practice of delaying payments to vendors, which made me uncomfortable since I was working very closely with these folks.”

        That’s fine to say — it’s objective (unlike “my boss was a jerk”) and it’s something everyone will understand is reasonable (unless they too have the same policy, in which case you want them to screen you out anyway).

      2. Plynn*

        I used to work for a company just like this – a publisher that had screwed so many vendors that we were essentially shut off from anyone who was the least bit professional. Every project was on an unbelievably tight, below-market budget but employees were routinely pulled off their projects to spend hours on the phone with full-booked luxury hotels, trying to force them find space for the owner to stay. Because it would “look bad” for her to stay anywhere except at the trendiest, most expensive hotel in a city

        The employee turnover was insane, but I recently realized that there were almost no other company alumnae on LinkedIn- because nobody wants to be associated with this publisher – it taints the reputation of anyone who comes into contact with it.

        So – look for another job. You’ve got the “why did you leave your last job” question in the bag.

      3. Not So NewReader*

        You may not have to explain it to employers.

        I worked for a company that was so famous for not paying, I could walk into any store and the employees would shake their head at the mere mention of my employer.
        I made one purchase that took EIGHT months to get paid back to me.

        I think that within a given radius of the employer everyone knows that the employer is not a prompt payer. These local-ish people will just smile knowingly and not say anything. They will think that it is wise of you to be looking around for new employment.

        Meanwhile make sure that you, yourself, are fair with people. That will serve you well in the long run.

    9. Elizabeth West*

      I agree. Start looking, if you haven’t already.

      Sometimes companies depend on payment from customers to pay their bills and they can’t seem to push hard enough to get that money, so their own bills are late. But this one sounds like it’s playing the vendors. I don’t blame the OP one bit for not wanting her reputation tarnished by their shenanigans.

  3. Sourire*

    #7 – Okay, I know this is totally not the point of the letter at all, but is it a normal thing to have a “list” of who you want at a goodbye party for work? I get it for personal things, but for work it seems a little weird/clique-ish to me. Perhaps what I’m used to is not the norm, but I’ve always seen very general invites go out – “So-and-So is retiring next month. If you would like to join her to celebrate there will be a gathering at X restaurant at this time” or something similar.

    And can I just say re #2 – as someone who also lives alone and loves being able to give my extras to coworkers, it makes me really sad that we even have to think about it having negative connotations. I hope your workplace appreciates your goodies as much as mine does (without any weirdness stemming from it) and congrats on the new job :)

    1. Jen in RO*

      I had a list at my goodbye party, sort of. I didn’t make the list, but my coworkers asked me if there were anyone in particular I wanted to see and they e-mailed other people they thought might want to come. In my case, the “party” was a 10-minute thing in the kitchen where they gave me some goodbye gifts.

      For an actual party at a restaurant, it depends on how big the OP’s office is. What do you do if 100 people show up? And, honestly, sometimes you just want to see your close work-friends and not everyone you’ve ever worked with.

      1. Sadsack*

        At a former job where the team I was leaving held a luncheon for our dept. on my last day, people who I had worked with from other departments occasionally over the years came to say goodbye and some even brought little gifts, which I never expected. It was actually touching to receive kind gestures from people who I didn’t necessarily have a close relationship with. It made me feel good to realize that these people valued working with me even though we didn’t have constant interaction. I don’t think this was a planned out, it was a medium-sized company and word gets around.

    2. SC in SC*

      It depends on what you consider a goodbye party. We have a variety of things ranging from nothing to fairly big events. Some you have to limit, others you don’t. Official luncheons have a limit since the company is paying. We usually follow the same standard as our anniversary lunches. Official drop-ins are light catereing so they are sort of limited that the email only goes to a particular organization (think 100-200 people versus the 1000 on site). Departmental lunches may be limited or include the entire department. That one usually depends on the persons level and years of service. Departmental drop-ins are pot luck so the more the merrier. On top of that it’s typical for a group to go out on their own.

    3. The IT Manager*

      I’m my experience the “office” is invited and then the guest of honor is asked for a list of anyone extra. RSVPs are usually needed as it is pay your own way, but large tables need to be reserved.

      * The definition/size of the office is different at each place but it was generally consistent across the board within each office for every going away.

    4. Colette*

      I assumed it was inclusive rather than exclusive – i.e. “we’re inviting the group you work with now, are there other people you are close to you’d like to invite”.

  4. anon for this*

    #5, if it’s through an EAP, in my experience that’s been highly confidential. I don’t think my therapist even knew the name of my employer. The EAP is run by an entirely separate organization that my employer contracts with, so my therapist had zero direct interaction with my job. She was also very clear about her confidentiality requirements, as I think any respectable therapist would be.

    1. WWWONKA*

      The therapist should be billing to a third party insurance company. Your confidentiality is covered by law too.

    2. Katie*

      #5 It’d be great if the OP could clarify what the arrangement is. I assume that the company is paying as part of the insurance or EAP.

      1. Frieda*

        Shouldn’t matter. Alison is right that the therapist can’t share all but very limited and specific (i.e., intent to harm self or others) information with anyone. Even sharing medical records with other doctors requires a different HIPPA consent form than for regular medical records–so even if you previously signed a form at your primary care doctor saying that they can access your records at a specialist doctor, they could not use that consent for mental health records (at least it NYC).

        Also, in my not-insignificant mental-health experience (7 psychologists & psychiatrists over the last 5 years, long story), at or even before your first meeting, the therapist should give you a written privacy and confidentiality policy which will explain everything from what they can and cannot share with whom to under what circumstances you should contact them via different methods (phone, email) and the level of privacy that you can expect from each method. And you’ll be expected to sign a statement saying that you’ve read and understand this. Honestly I’d be skeptical of any mental health professional who didn’t do that–it’s necessary for open and honest communication but also to dissuade malpractice suits if they do find themselves in a situation where they need to contact someone on your behalf.

        1. Frieda*

          Also, on the less technical/more supportive side–dealing with (controlling? hiding? managing?) mental health issues while working full time can be really hard. I know. There is still a lot of stigma and you never know how someone will react to even an innocuous comment like, “I need to leave early on Tuesdays for my therapy appointment.” (And this is in NYC, where *everyone* has a therapist). I’m “lucky” in that part of my slow spiral into depression and anxiety and insomnia involves staying at work as long as possible every day to avoid dealing with any of the problems in my life, so even if I am not accomplishing much I look like I do. Even the compliments I sometimes get of “you seem so calm in a crisis,” or “nothing seems to get you riled up!” stress me out because I want to explain that it’s not that I’m calm, it’s that I’m either highly medicated or just don’t care about anything anymore. (I’m in a good spot right now, btw.)

          I don’t mean to project my situation onto the OP here because I do not know their situation. But if they’ve read this far I will throw in my 2 cents:

          (1) Definitely take advantage of your employee benefits and see a therapist. If you clash with the first therapist you see, don’t give up, try another one. And another. They won’t be offended, and it’s worth the stress at the beginning to find someone who understands the approach needed to help you specifically.

          (2) If you have an even slightly sympathetic manager and/or coworker, don’t be afraid to open up even a little. You don’t have to go into your whole story, but even just something like “I’m working on getting a mood disorder under control” can be helpful if you feel it’s affecting your job performance.

          (3) If you have a mental health issue that makes attendance or punctuality a problem, look into intermittent FMLA. Of course it depends on the size of your company/type of job/etc., but most diagnosed mental health conditions qualify for FMLA and you don’t have to take it all at once.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            Your point (1) is right on. So many people approach therapy with trepidation, and when they don’t quite mesh with the practitioner, they say, “Well, therapy didn’t work/sucked; I’ll never go back.” It’s a very personal relationship–but a mismatch doesn’t mean that the practice itself has no value.

    3. ExceptionToTheRule*

      When I was fresh out of college and juggling 3 jobs, the supervisor at one of my part-time jobs referred me to EAP for some problems I was having. When I made the phone call, one of the questions they asked me was if I had to complete some level of therapy to keep my employment.

      For me, the answer was no, but the guy explained that if it had been yes, the therapist would report only that the requirements set down by the employer had been met to EAP and then EAP would report the same to the employer. Those requirements tend to be “has to attend X number of times.” No specifics were given.

      That was about 15 years ago, so I don’t know if that information is still current but back then the only thing the employer could ever know is that the program was used.

        1. ExceptionToTheRule*

          For situations like mine, there was no report. I got the impression it was for people who maybe had to complete anger management therapy or something similar to keep their jobs and then employer would ultimately get a report that said “Wakeen has completed the required therapy.”

          I agree it sounded a bit bizarre to me too, but it was 15 years ago and it’s highly probable things have changed.

          1. Sunflower*

            Agree with that. The only time I could see them doing that is if an incident happened at work and the company felt you were a danger to others in the office.

        1. OP #5*

          I love this answer and all the conversations going on, they were really helpful. My company does offer this through EAP, and thanks to the person who advised that you can’t completely hide that you have a mood disorder at work. It’s more that I want to hide some of the symptoms because I don’t want people to think I’m not able to perform.

          I have bipolar type 2, and for me sometimes stress in mixed episodes manifests as angry feelings. I’m capable of dealing with those feelings but I don’t necessarily want my coworkers to know that about me, because if you don’t know the full story of how I’ve dealt with it my entire life it makes me sound like I’m a candidate for going postal or something.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I am glad you mentioned EAP, Exception to the Rule.

        I remember about 20 years or so ago- there were some court cases involving people who had used EAP. The upshot of the whole thing was that EAP records can be subpenaed in court cases. (Not many were aware of that.)
        I have never had the warm fuzzies about EAP, but I do think that there are times where the service is of some value.

    4. Sunflower*

      I could be wrong here but I always assumed the company was never aware of how you use your benefits? Your company pays another health insurance company to provide insurance. While your employer is aware of what benefits you are ELIGIBLE for, I don’t believe they have any way to see which ones you are actually using- at least not with having your name attached to it.

      1. Judy*

        Most large companies are self insured. That means they’re not paying a company to provide insurance, they’re contracting a company to administer based on the rules they agree to.

        My company for instance, certainly seems to get at least some form of aggregate statistics about usage “Our average employee cost us $X in health costs, but the top 10% cost us $Y. Employees with pre-diabetes or diabetes cost us $Z, while those without cost us $z. Employees with BMI > 30 cost us $W, while those with < 30 cost us $w." Oh, and they made sure in this year's enrollment package that they're being the good guy by still giving us insurance, they could force us on to exchanges and save $$$ even with the penalties, but it was worth the goodwill of the employees and the public to spend the $$$.

    5. Colette*

      Yeah, the one time I called my EAP they were very clear that my employer wouldn’t know anything about it other than that someone had called.

    6. AdAgencyChick*

      I think at my company they’ll know you used the EAP, but not what was said to the therapist.


    You should have never stopped looking for another job if you did. And waiting this long should have turned on the light bulb and told you to move on.

    1. thedoctorisin*

      Actually, as somebody who has worked at universities for the last ten years, I would like to point out that some university HR’s are incredibly, incredibly slow. In fact, totally glacial.

      What I would suggest to OP4 is that you try to follow-up again with whoever your contact is. Sometimes nothing will happen at all with HR unless they are pushed. Also, because of this, sometimes university positions do not follow a normal HR process. They may choose their candidate before they even post a job on the HR listings, or need to renegotiate about job title or how many candidates need to be interviewed based on how the candidate matches with the original posting. They also may have to do some negotiating with HR about what the offer looks like, since most universities try to standardize job titles across departments, which is an insane process, because different departments do such different work.

      So, I would follow up again. I would phrase it something like, “Hello [contact], I hope things are going well. I just wanted to check in with you again about the next steps in the hiring process. I’m excited to begin working with you, but wanted you to know that I am still waiting to hear anything from HR. Do you have any information about where they are in their process, or when I should expect to hear from them? Any information you can provide would help me in managing my schedule. ”

      After a month, that’s a totally reasonable request to make, and even if the position fell through, you will know more than you do right now.

      1. R*

        I second this ^. I applied for a position with a university in early June, heard back to schedule an interview in July, interviewed mid August. In late August I was told I was their top candidate, but didn’t hear back to schedule the second round until late September. I recieved a verbal offer (hooray!) two weeks ago, but I am still waiting for the official offer letter, and will start in January. Even having been warned about this by a friend in an analogous position, it seemed eternal. Glacial is a good description.

        That said, I am excited to start what will be my first managerial/leadership position, and credit AAM’s advice for doing well in the interview process.


    #6 My sarcastic side says just ignore the applicant like a lot of other companies do but, just e mail the standard we went with a better qualified candidate and if pressed just leave it at that.

    1. MelPo*

      OP#6 PLEASE please please follow AAM’s advice. I know going in that there are things I don’t know and so I may not be the right fit for any given job. I recognize that I may not have as much experience in X as they are looking for or have too much Y on my resume. So I am not devastated hearing that they are not going to move me forward. But it is SO hard to just sit and wait and wonder. Please, just let people know that they should move on.

  7. Katie*

    #2 Please keep you baked goods at home. I’ve a hard enough time sticking to my healthy diet, and I hate it when people pawn off their sweets on me. I’ve never addressed this with anyone because it’s petty, but I’m pretty confident I’m not alone in my hate of baked goods.

    Also, if you’re early in your career, you need to work on building your professional credibility. Your role as the cupcake girl isn’t going to help with that. It’s work – not an extension of your hobby.

    1. Jen in RO*

      It is petty. I don’t know if you’re joking or not, but it’s not the rest of the world’s responsibility to help you stick to your diet.

      1. Anne*

        No, but people often react badly if you pass up the offer, as well. There’s pressure or they’ll act like you’re being rude to them.

        You don’t want my cupcakes? Why? It’s not like I SPAT in them or something…

        Go on, have one, they’re so tasty! Mmmmmmm!

        It’s insufferable and widespread.

        1. Jen in RO*

          I think the best way to do these things is just put the cookies in the common room or your desk and email everyone. This way there will be no room for “OMG Y U NO LIKE MY CAEK” and people can just drop by and grab a few.

        2. Rachel*

          Which is why the right way to handle this is the way that Allison suggested in her answer – leave the baked goods in the kitchen or some other communal spot, send out an email telling people what you left in the kitchen, and leave it at that. Anyone who enjoys the baked goods is then perfectly capable of thanking the baker, and people who don’t want don’t have to take it.

          But I’m not going to NOT bring in baked goods on the off chance that some of my coworkers are dieting and don’t want it, when I enjoy sharing food and know that many of my coworkers will enjoy it.

          1. Bea W*

            Exactly – leaving them in a communal spot allows people to choose whether or not to partake. For people who do not want to eat an item, this means that they don’t have the awkward situation of having to decline a personal offer, and can just quietly go about their business while people who do want to partake can choose to get up and help themselves.

            This is win-win unless your co-workers are still pushy, in which case it is still on you, as an adult, to push back to put a stop to it.

            Wakeen: Hey Jane, did you try these cupcakes, they are incredible! You should try one.
            Jane: No thank you Wakeen. I’m trying to change my diet and stay away from cupcakes.
            Wakeen: Are you sure? It’s like a piece of heaven in your mouth. MMMMMmmmmmm!
            Jane: Yes. I don’t want one, but you can eat one for me instead.

        3. OP #2*

          I’m not planning on going from desk to desk. When I do it, I’m just going to leave them in the break room and take whatever’s left home with me at the end of the day.

          1. Anonymous*

            Please rethink this.

            You are early in your career, and starting a new job. No one knows what kind of a person you are, and they will form the foundation of their opinion of you based on their early interactions. If that is a mass email about cupcakes, you will be known as the cupcake girl – whoever posted that was unfortunately not kidding.

            If this is all they know, it will be all that they talk about. This is NOT HELPFUL to your chances of getting interesting work or development opportunities, although you might be asked to coordinate the annual pot luck.

            You bring in cupcakes only after you have established yourself as a competent professional. You need to know that after you bring in cupcakes, when the new guy asks who you are, the answer will be “That’s Jane. She led the project to revamp the [key system] last year, and made a helluva presentation to save the [major client] account. Oh, and once in a while she brings in these red velvet cupcakes that disappear in minutes – you have to be fast to get one.”

            This will only happen if you have some accomplishments under your belt – known and recognized – before you start with the cupcakes. In the interim, find another place for them – friends, family, boys and girls club, community center – that will appreciate them outside the office.

        4. Cat*

          Nobody with sense thinks it’s okay to harass people about eating something they don’t want to eat. This is entirely different than not making the food item available to begin with.

      2. KellyK*

        Totally agree. If you don’t want the baked goods, turn them down.

        I will say that it *is* the rest of the world’s job to not push food on you or give you grief for refusing, but that’s not about your diet but about basic decency. (Someone coming around with cupcakes and getting offended if you don’t want one is a reason to be annoyed. Someone putting cookies in the break room is not.)

    2. Bea W*

      What do you do out in the world then? You can only really control what happens in your own home.

      Not everyone is on the same diet. You do have the option to say no, and put a stop to someone personally taunting you with sweets. It’s not unreasonable to say to someone, “Wakeen, I am on a diet and do not want a cupcake. I’m sure they are tasty, but please stop offering them to me.”

      You are an adult and the only person responsible for deciding what goes in your mouth. You can ask that people respect that you are dieting and not come to your desk taunting you with cupcakes, but can’t really expect other people to take the responsibility of controlling your personal eating habits by also altering everyone else’s environment to suit your individual needs. The one exception to that would be in the case of something life threatening that couldn’t reasonably be isolated by keeping it separate and labeled. Making a personal choice to change your diet doesn’t fall into that category.

    3. Elkay*

      In my previous office we had a dieter who would loudly complain whenever people bought in baked goods (home made or store bought). I never did understand why her being on a diet meant the other 19 of us in the team weren’t allowed to enjoy baked goods.

      1. KellyK*

        There’s this weird dynamic with dieting where it’s viewed as the best and most important thing you can be focusing your attention on. This leads to people talking about diet and nothing but diet ALL THE TIME, as well as viewing anyone who makes it even a little difficult to stick to their self-imposed eating plan as THE ENEMY.

      2. prchrldy*

        In a previous job, as my birthday approached, I let the person in charge of ordering the cakes know that I would really appreciate a basket of fruit we could all enjoy throughout the day. The same grocery store that made the cakes came up with a lucious basket of perfectly ripe fruit. It was beautiful, and everyone commented on how refreshing it was for a change.

    4. Victoria Nonprofit*

      … and plenty of people love baked goods. It’s not up to your coworkers to manage your diet. I’m afraid this is just something you’re going to have to live with.

      (And if folks are genuinely pushy with their baked goods, then they’re being rude. You can handle that rudeness in whatever way you’re comfortable handling any rudeness: Ask them to stop, ask why they keep pushing the cookies, ignoring it, etc.)

    5. Anonymous*

      I agree that when you are trying to lose weight it is really hard to be around sweets all the time. I wouldn’t tell my coworkers not to bring in sweets, but sometimes I wish they wouldn’t. In Weight Watchers one of the main things is “control your environment” – it’s much easier to stay on track when you are not around unhealthy food.

      1. Cat*

        The issue isn’t that you’re trying to control your environment; the issue is that it’s inappropriately trying to control other people’s environment. And more to the point, it’s inappropriately centering yourself in an environment that really isn’t about you. It’s appropriate to ask friends to go to a restaurant with healthy choices; this is not that.

    6. Annon*

      Lollllll. Not to be mean, but if you can’t control yourself around the food, that’s not the cupcake maker’s problem. It’s not really “pawning off sweets”… it’s SHARING them. It’s not like they are trying to diet and are giving them to you instead. So you hate them. Great – don’t have any.

      OP #2 – I say, make your bake goods, AND kick butt at your new job!

      1. Anonymous*

        I do share sweets with colleagues who claim to be on a diet. It’s evil fun to see them give into temptation.

        1. Annon*

          Besides the fact that I spelled “annon” for “anonymous” wrong, I absolutely love your reply here!

          But still, not your fault these people can’t say no….

  8. Anonymous*

    #4: I know it wasn’t the point of the letter, but this made me laugh a bit (and yes, I know what she actually meant): …that actually uses my degree, which I’ve been searching for for two years. You’ve been searching for your degree for two years? Have you looked under the couch? ;)

  9. en pointe*

    I don’t eat baked goods either for similar reasons. But unless your cupcake enthusiast coworker is perched on your desk, taunting you with red velvet, I don’t see how you’re being made to partake.

    It doesn’t seem sensible that everyone be denied the option just because a couple of people don’t want to indulge their sweet tooth.

  10. Bea W*

    #2 – Always a fan of sharing baked goods, just don’t do it on your first day. Give yourself the first week to get a feel for your co-workers and office culture. If your team has a regular meeting, this is usually a good opportunity to introduce baked goods, arrive a little early to the conference room, and place them on the table. Another thing you can do on any given day, is leave them in a central place, then email your co–workers alerting them to free goodies.

    Labeling the container with ingredients or notices like “Contains nuts” or “Gluten free” is a great idea. I often see this at potluck events, and we do this at my church where we have people with allergies and other food sensitivities like gluten and lactose intolerance. It’s very helpful for people with dietary restrictions and allergies without being intrusive or calling attention to any one person.

    1. Colette*

      I’d probably wait even longer than the first week – probably a month or more, unless there is a work potluck or something. You don’t want your first impression to be related to your baking, not your job performance.

    2. prchrldy*

      Bringing food to share in the workplace means that the bringer of the food **should also** be conscientious and clean up after the feeding frenzy at the end of the day. I have worked in many places where the break room (or maybe simply a table next to the fridge with a coffee pot on it) shares space with the copier, the workspace where client files or compliance packets are assembled, or is where office supplies and brochures are stored. This may mean removing trash with food remains so ants or other bugs do not infest the area. It also means the area needs to be thoroughly cleaned so there are no sticky or greasy spots that might be transferred to projects the next day.

      And do get used to the office culture before bringing goodies.

  11. Jean*

    Re baked goods brought to the office by well-intentioned new employees: I recommend waiting a week or two to see if the organization has any formal or informal policies to accommodate employees with super-severe food allergies. Although at present these issues seem confined to pre- and elementary schools, eventually these super-sensitive kids will enter the adult workplace.

    To folks unfamiliar with these allergies, it seems ridiculously excessive to ban tree nuts, peanuts, shellfish, etc. However, for people with such sensitivities (which can increase in severity over time) it’s a serious consideration, even a matter of life and death.

    In comparison to epi-pen worthy allergies, those of us who struggle to control our weight (with no related food issues except for an overeager sweet tooth) have it much easier, if only because the brownies, cupcakes, and other delicacies will take a longer time to kill us! Sigh. I used to claim that office food has no calories. Now, as I try to keep my waistline from expanding, I mutter “that’s why they call it MIDDLE age.”

    1. ExceptionToTheRule*

      I thought it was because I had to get up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom all the time.

  12. Eric*

    Re: #7

    Just go. It’s just lunch and probably free to you. Don’t let the last impression of you on your colleagues be a potentially bad one. It’s not also for you, but it’s also for them. Closure is a pretty good thing for the morale of a company and you should want your friends to have that.

  13. VictoriaHR*

    #4 – you can also ask your contact at the university for a name/number/email address of the HR person, so that you can follow up with them directly.

    From everything that I’ve heard, hiring (or anything else administrative) in a university is extremely slow paced. The bigger the school, the slower it moves.

    1. Zach*

      This is absolutely true. I work in university administration and the hiring process can be extremely onerous. There are multiple hiring committee meetings before the candidates are brought to campus, meetings AFTER the on-campus interview, and then often there needs to be approval from departmental or college-level heads. Those heads are often very hard to track down, FYI.

      Many universities have a checklist detailing the hiring process step-by-step available on their respective HR websites. The checklist is usually for the hiring committee chair, but it’s also good info for candidates, too.

      Also possibly slowing things down is that the monies for a position may have to be approved from all sorts of different offices before the offer letter can be sent out.

      Your contact should be pretty transparent about things, though.

    2. Anon*

      I also work for a university and everyone is always making comments about how slow the hiring process is. My boss told me when she offered me my job that it took her eight weeks to get her offer letter when she came on board!

      It’s also worth mentioning that some universities don’t provide written offer letters. I was formally offered my job by phone once the HR department gave permission and then signed off on my total compensation package, which they sent me after I accepted verbally. My boss called me ahead of the formal offer to tell me that they WERE going to offer me the job, but she couldn’t officially do it until HR signed off. A weird and onerous process, no doubt, but one that is not uncommon at a university from what I understand.

  14. Del*

    #2 – I’ll echo the suggestion others have made to wait a little while and sound out office culture before moving forward with the baking plan.

    Another thing you might do is once you’ve decided that baking some treats will be accepted in the culture (ie your officemates are reasonably social with each other, the atmosphere is a bit relaxed, etc), send out an email to everyone letting them know you enjoy baking and would like to bring some treats to the office, and ask your coworkers if they have any preferences! This’ll do you a couple things-

    1) If someone has an allergy, aversion, dietary restriction, whatever, it gives them a chance to let you know. My new department head does birthday cakes once a month for everyone in the dept who had a birthday that month, and because we knew ahead of time he was going to, we were able to quietly let him know that one of the people in our office really dislikes chocolate, so could he please make sure cakes are at least partially not chocolate so she can enjoy them too.

    2) If someone has something they really particularly like, they can communicate that too! Especially if someone’s birthday is coming up or similar, it can be really nice to provide something they especially like, and at least in my experience, coworkers are very willing to share that sort of information. “It’s Andy’s birthday in two weeks, and he really loves devil’s food! Why don’t you make something with that?”

    3) If for some reason you’ve misread the culture and it would be a faux pas, it leaves a chance for someone to quietly pull you aside and let you know that maybe you shouldn’t do that.

    1. KellyK*

      I think that’s a really good idea. The one potential downside is that it puts more emphasis on the baking and may come across as trying too hard, or may paint you as “the cupcake girl” in ways that just leaving cookies in the break room with a “help yourself” note on them wouldn’t.

    2. RG*

      Gah – don’t send an email taking preference orders. Just don’t. I can’t explain why, but it just doesn’t seem like an appropriate use of work email. Not an egregious error, but if the email showed up in my inbox, I’d be WTH.

      If you want to talk about it over lunch (because you eat lunch with your co-workers), sure, by all means. But don’t do it by email. It’s really none of your business what their food issues are unless they want to tell you.

      If you want to bring in food, make it and bring it in, with a note about what it does/doesn’t complain. But don’t take orders, unless you want to set yourself up to be the office bakery girl and open yourself up to complaints when what you make doesn’t meet the specifications that people laid out to you.

      1. Cat*

        Yeah, agreed. It’s putting too much of an emphasis on it, and putting yourself in an inappropriately servile position, while simultaneously demanding a weird amount of your co-workers’ attention. Not a good idea.

        1. en pointe*


          If you’re going to do it, it needs to be casual. Just bake whatever you feel like and leave it in the break room for others to enjoy if they so desire. But don’t make a bigger deal out of it than that.

          1. The IT Manager*

            Actually this is a good point. You don’t have to put your name on the sweets or anything. Depending on your office enviroment, that fact that you’re the baker might fly under the radar of most people.

            I second that you should put the food in a break room or common area and not necessarily on your desk.

            1. FiveNine*

              Yes, once in a great while I want one of those soft iced sugar cookies they sell by the dozen in the most grocery bakery sections. But I can’t keep the whole dozen (because I will eat every last one within days). So I will leave the carton with 10 or 11 in the break room with a note saying Help Yourself! — no one has to know it was me or why I’m leaving that many there (and when I’ve dropped them off and then run to the printer, they’re been gone by the time I head back to my desk — I likewise don’t know who has taken them or, heck, if it’s only one person who takes them all).

            2. tcookson*

              Yes, put them in the breakroom/kitchen/common area with a note to “help yourself” and leave it at that.

              At my office people will occasionally bring food in and leave it in the kitchen. Sometimes they’ll send an email just to say, “Hey, there are lemon bars in the kitchen”, sometimes they just leave it in there with no word at all. Believe me, when there’s food in the kitchen, word gets around pretty fast, with or without an email.

              The only thing that people at my office kind of roll their eyes at is the one person who has to make an extra, big-deal effort to let everyone know that she’s the one who left the food — like she expects extra credit above and beyond what anyone else expects who does the same thing.

              So my advice is just to be low-key about it so that your co-workers don’t get the impression that you expect and/or need an above-standard amount of attention or acknowledgement for it.

      2. Colette*


        In fact, I’d say it’s better to bring in baking with the off-hand comment that it’s left over from a non-work event – baking specifically for the office makes it seem like there’s more riding on taking some & enjoying it than just getting rid of leftovers.

        1. Judy*

          Many places I’ve been, on Mondays in May or June, there would be cake/dip/other munchies left over from graduation parties that people have thrown for their kids.

          And we’ve had the remains of the cake from a few “kid weddings” too.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            Yeah, I did that many times at Exjob when I impulsively splurged on cupcakes or cookies and didn’t want to eat ALL of them alone. I would just put them on the table in the break room and by lunchtime, the hungry shop guys would have polished them off.

        2. tcookson*

          Agreed — just be casual and off-hand about it. Don’t act like you expect to Win Friends and Influence People or that there is any expectation of them other than that they grab a goodie if they so choose.

      3. Jean*

        I can see both sides of this. My main concern was that the new employee waits long enough to see if there are any employees so sensitive to XYZ ingredients that they cannot safely enter a room containing those foodstuffs.

        Admittedly, this level of food sensitivity is relatively unusual. I wasn’t trying to get into the business of accommodating the full range of special diets (which people follow for all kinds of reasons: allergies, religious or ethical beliefs, etc. etc.). It’s courteous to list the ingredients of office snacks, but most folks who live with dietary restrictions also accept the accompanying obligation to ascertain that a food is okay for them, to take the chance and eat it, or be prudent and refrain–without making a big deal about their decisions.

        1. RG*

          If someone has that extreme of a sensitivity, then observations about culture should bring it up (do other people leave food in a communal spot) or it will come up in conversation if Sensitive person wants it known. Don’t send an email asking about this.

        2. Nichole*

          At my last job, we frequently had potlucks, and after certain dishes became especially popular, we started bringing in a couple copies of each recipe with potluck dishes. It wasn’t required, but if you thought about it, you printed a few out and left them on the table. We were a foodie bunch, so not only were the ingredient lists readily available for those with dietary restrictions, but it was a lot of fun to try out each other’s favorites (and occasionally bring in the results!).

  15. Mystic*

    OP #5, my large, Fortune 50 company has a very similar benefit offered through a third-party company. I used it last year, so let me describe how the process works.

    To “sign up” for the free counselling sessions, I called a hot line owned and operated by the 3rd party company. In this phone call, they asked me a LOT of personal questions; mostly about what problems I was having that I wanted therapy for, how were those problems affecting my work and home life, and other general health questions about diet, exercise, etc.

    They set me up with a “life coach” who worked for the 3rd party, and the idea was that I could call her any time to discuss how I was doing, ask about the process, etc. It was also her job to check in with me periodically. She worked with me to schedule my first appointment with a local therapist, asking me about what type of therapist I’d prefer and such.

    At the first counseling session I signed a bunch of confidentiality papers. The rule was just as Alison described above; total confidentiality unless I was deemed dangerous to myself or others.

    I went to 6 sessions total, which is the number my company pays for per year. After I stopped going to the therapy sessions, my “life coach” still checked in with me once or twice a month until I told her I felt ok and don’t need her to follow up any more.

    By the way, the 3rd party holds hours such that I can easily do all these phone calls after work and from the safety of my own home. They had both early morning hours and late evening and were very accomodating to make sure I never had to talk about this during my work hours.

    As far as I know, my employer knows nothing except that I used 6 counseling sessions. (I confided additional details with my manager, by my own choice. She was the one who recommended I use the service!) These sessions are available for everything from depression to marriage troubles to financial counseling, so I still feel pretty “annonymous” with regard to using the therapy service.

    I hope this helps you or someone else considering using a service like this! I’m not sure how the process would work if you were already seeing a therapist; probably very similar with using the life coach though. I’d be happy to reveal the name of the 3rd party company, but I’m not sure that’s allowed as per the site rules?

      1. Mystic*

        Ok, thanks :-)

        The third-party company my company uses is called LifeWorks. So, I would think anyone else whose company uses them would have a similar experience to what I described above.

        1. KarenT*

          My experience was similar, except I did it by email (also used LifeWorks). I had an e-counselor who I corresponded with daily and after a couple of weeks she recommended me for in-person counselling and I saw a therapist once a week for six weeks.

  16. The IT Manager*

    RE: Cupcake girl

    I’d wait a month before bringing in your first baked goods. Allow for a month of first impression with everyone that doesn’t involved you baking. (Also checking out the enviroment for any negativity towards that.)

    That said there was a guy in my previous office who loved to bake and brought in baked good probably at least once a week. (His wife who also worked at the company didn’t want all that baking staying in their house.) Him being male helped him avoid stereotypes, but I do think that you can be the office baker. You will have to be extra conscious of the female stereotypes that somehow makes you less professional (homemaker) for baking for others, but I think if you make a professional first impression in people’s minds and you watch out you can share you baking with the office frequently.

  17. Seal*

    #7 – Both my current and previous organizations give supervisors lists of things they are supposed to do when an employee leaves (turn in keys, change passwords, etc). The list includes asking whether or not the employee wants a going away party or similar function. But the emphasis is on what the employee wants, not what the supervisor or soon-to-be-former colleagues want. I’ve had plenty of former coworkers, even those who had spent their entire careers at the organization, who left with little or no fanfare.

    My personal preference is for something small and simple, with just my immediate colleagues, if that. Or even a series one-on-one lunches with the people I’m closest too in my organization. If they threw me a bit party, I’d be afraid no one would show up – more cake for me, though.

  18. Anonymous*

    #5. So if your illness does not affect your work and your company pays for only a few sessions per year, why then would you risk disclosure given the potential damage to you and to your career? Disclosure would for sure outweigh any benefits of taking advantage of this perk. Of course, I’m biased when it comes to these claims of mental illness, as it appears to my Third World mind that it’s all the rave, a badge of honor even, in the U.S. and other developed nations to make such a claim to describe normal emotional ebbs and flows of life. Again, I don’t the severity of your problems, but the cost and benefit of such a disclosure should be taken into account.

  19. OP #2*

    Thanks to Alison and everyone who commented for the advice and feedback. I plan to wait until I’m about a month or so in and have a better feel for the office culture before sharing what I bake with my co-workers. When and if I do, it’ll be without ceremony, just a covered tray with a welcoming note in the break room :)

  20. CassJ*

    #2 – As someone who is gluten intolerant (and likes to bake her own cupcakes) listing allergen info is pretty nice. When I bring in cupcakes to share with my coworkers (same situation, leaving them on the counter in the break room), I leave a note on there specifying what allergens are or aren’t in the cupcakes.

    That said, the only time I ever asked if it was okay to bring in cupcakes was when I made peach cupcakes with bourbon frosting and wanted to make sure that the alcohol in the frosting was going to be okay with HR (which it was, and we didn’t employ anyone under the legal drinking age).

  21. Shannon*

    I work in accounts payable. We pay vendors in 90 days and only if the client has paid us. Vendors don’t like it? Too bad, so sad.

    This is our parent company’s policy and we all hate it, but we have no control over it. Vendors put up with it b/c they don’t really have a choice, we are the largest (I think, top 3 for sure) at what we do in this country and they need our business. We don’t abide by payment terms on invoices (due on receipt due in 30 days, etc) and we never pay late fees.

    There are rare instances where we pay early but that typically requires the CFO’s approval.

  22. Working Girl*

    #7 goodbye lunch. AAM is right. Just be polite and firm and hope they respect your wishes. If they insist on doing something, tell them to put a cake in the kitchen for everyone so they feel they have done something.

  23. Working Girl*

    #2 people love treats at work, just remember to label what it is and if there are allergies in the office best to stay away from anything with those ingredients, accidents happen and you don’t want to be the baker that sent the boss or coworker to the hospital due to his allergies as some people eat first and ask questions later.

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