my coworker refused to help with a request I sent her

A reader writes:

I’m about three months into my job and am handling a project (company retreat) where I work with 6 other group members, not including anyone from HR. As we are constantly hiring, I asked HR if she could send me an updated name list once every month or every three months so I won’t miss out adding any new hires while planning. Whenever there’s a new hire, she will usually send out emails (one for each new hire) and I usually delete them after looking through because it is unlikely I’ll meet these people and my mailbox is always almost full. As I receive a large amount of mail everyday, I’m afraid I might just leave out on any new hires announcement and miss them out in the planning. Hence I suggested the above to HR.

Her response was something like, “With the amount of time I have, I am unlikely to provide a list every month.” Does she think that I have nothing to do? I’m a recent graduate and this is my first job. I can hardly breathe with the amount of workload, and don’t even have time to go to the toilet most of the time. I thought that was quite rude and she probably rejected me because it was “troublesome.” Should I reply to her, telling her that I also have a lot of workload and perhaps work out a solution without sounding offensive? I am also in another corporate communication project with her where we are supposed to share equal workload, but I’m always the one doing more.

I understand HR are busy people, but I would like her to know I have many things to do too even if she may not see it that way. Any way to convey without sounding offensive?


It is possible that she’s being rude and inappropriately unhelpful. But it’s also possible that she’s being reasonable in telling you that she doesn’t have time to do this.

The problem is that you’re a recent grad in your first job, and so you’re yet not in a good position to be able to tell which of those options is more likely. And the consequences of guessing and getting it wrong are way too big, especially when all that’s at stake is whether you’re going to get a name list that isn’t strictly necessary (more on this in a minute). If you decide that she’s being unreasonable and push the issue, and it turns out that she was in fact totally justified in saying no, you’re going to look bad — like someone who doesn’t understand how priorities need to balance across an organization or the importance of your work relative to other people’s work, and like someone who doesn’t play nicely with colleagues. That’s not something you should risk for something that doesn’t sound all that crucial.

Plus, if your colleague is senior to you, it’s more her prerogative to make her own decisions about her workload than it is yours to push back on those decisions, particularly when something would be a nice-to-have for you rather than a must-have.

And speaking of nice-to-have’s versus must-have’s…. It sounds like she actually is sending you announcements of new hires. You said that you’re receiving them for each new hire and deleting them. But if you need a periodic list of new hires, you could just keep a running list of these people when you get the announcements if you need to have a list of new hires.

I get that you’re busy, and first jobs can be overwhelming. But do not, do not, do not get into a spat over this. You asked her if she’d do something to help you out, she said she wouldn’t have time, there’s a pretty easy alternative solution for you, and that’s the one that you should use.

{ 267 comments… read them below }

  1. misspiggy*

    Excellent advice. I would add that as the OP gets further into their job, tasks will begin to take less time without them noticing, and they will end up being more productive than they are now.

  2. Mallorie, the recruiter*

    If you are getting a TON of emails (this also happens to me), you could make a folder in your inbox for these new hire emails. Throw them in the folder and then go through the folder monthly to get the list of names. Its not AS FAST as just getting a list of names sent to you, but I would guess that it wouldn’t take longer than 20-30 minutes to compile once a month. Then you don’t have to deal with the emails as they come! I do this with a lot of my emails – its stuff I need, but not right-this-second, so I just throw it into a folder until I’m ready for it!

    1. Ali*

      This is what I do. I tend to get a lot of e-mail at work so I have separate folders. One for procedures, one for various resources to do my job/feedback reports from my bosses, another for conference call recaps and so forth. Instantly deleting those e-mails needed to do your job makes me think the OP isn’t very organized or relies on her memory too much.

    2. KarenT*

      Or create a excel grid with all employee names and add new people as they are hired and remove people as they leave. I get why the OP thinks this should come from HR, but this really won’t take very much time and should be easy to manage. I can also understand why the HR person would bristle at being asked for a monthly report by a new hire when she is already providing the information via email.

      1. Vera*

        Yeah I side with the OP on this one. Why can’t HR make an Excel sheet? How do they NOT already have one? How do they keep track of new hires on their end without some master list?

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Who knows? They could be totally 100% in the wrong. But the OP still isn’t in a position where it makes sense to push the issue (in part because three months into the workforce, she’s just not well equipped to judge it).

          1. Vera*

            I completely agree on pushing the issue, particularly with the OP being so new to the work force.

            I just mean that I, like the OP, think there has to be some list somewhere – if so, this is a matter of pulling up the list once every 3 months when OP shoots the HR manager an e-mail. If the HR manager is saying “no”, then the HR manager either doesn’t have a list or is just being silly about not accessing the master list once every 3 months to send a coworker info she needs (her choice of course to be that way, I’m just saying).

            1. AVP*

              Maybe they do keep a master list, but include info on it that they don’t want to release to the OP? It could be that the list they use has offer numbers or benefit details on it or something, which means they would have to remove pieces before sending, which is more than they want to do.

              1. JesserHR*

                As someone who works in a very large organization as an HR Manager – I totally understand why the HR person would push back on this. We have a centralized HRIS group where we get these reports – and we have to request them specifically. I can go into a master report of ALL new hires in the organization (100s and even 1000s) and then manipulate the spreadsheet to separate new hires on just my accounts – but this is way more work than I can justify spending on a task that is not really necessary to MY job function. There are many scenarios I’m sure…but I think it’s presumptious of OP to request something that could be easily obtained by creating a folder and outlook rule to direct those e-mails in it. Personally – I find people go to HR when they don’t know WHERE to go – so we field an enormous amount of requests. If we were to entertain all of them – there would not be enough time in the day to get the core functions of the job done. Stepping off bandwagon :/

            2. Observer*

              As others have pointed out, they almost certainly do have a master list – which would never, ever be sent out as is, because it has other stuff that’s no one’s business. In addition, she’s actually asking HR to send her a new hire list, which means checking the date of the last list and creating a new list – and expecting her to remember to do this on a regular basis.

              Given that she’s getting the information as it happens, it’s really not all that reasonable a request. It’s no one else’s fault that she’s deleting it.

              1. Hermione*

                Exactly this. This HR person has a master list, but it’d be a lot of work to edit it down each month for one specific person who doesn’t want to compile their own list from e-mails that the HR person is already sending her.

                1. Connie E*

                  Exactly, I work in HR and yes, we get a master list of all the employees but it has everything in it, their comp, birthday and other items related to their position. To forward to someone, I would have to edit this document and verify that I didn’t leave anything confidential in it and I have to get approval from the HR director to send out this list to anyone even when I take out the confidential information in it. I also send out new hire announcements every month.

        2. fposte*

          Couldn’t you equally say “Why can’t the OP make an Excel sheet?”, though? She’s got the information, and there’s no evidence it’s HR’s job to format it for her.

          I agree that if they have the info and can send it, that’s cool and great. But I don’t think they’re obligated to prioritize formatting the info the way the OP wants it, and she would make a mistake responding to HR as if they were letting her down.

          1. BRR*

            I’m glad I refreshed before posting, this is what I was going to say. In this case, it’s not the HR person’s job to send the data in a different format so that it suits the OP. If you want it in a list make your own list.

          2. Vera*

            Sure, except if HR already has a list, why not play nice and share?

            At my company we have at least 15 different people managing lists of employees for various uses. Some of us need to know before the employee is hired, some of us don’t care until the employee is hired. But the thing we have in common is that NONE of us are in a role that would otherwise require us to manage this list – only need access to the list. But, like the OP, our HR dept sends an e-mail for each new employee and will not send us a full list or give anyone a list to access. That’s a whole lot of wasted time that could be avoided if our HR dept would just provide a list that we could all use.

            I can understand in this situation the HR manager pushing back and that the OP should not push harder. But I am genuinely curious on how HR manages things if a list doesn’t exist (per my question in a separate thread below).

            1. fposte*

              As I said, around here that’s a privileged database, not a list; an Excel sheet or Word list seems like an atypical way of keeping stuff to me, but maybe it’s more common in some places.

              1. Jamie*

                Here, too. The data is in the system with access on a need to know basis. To get this HR would need to run a query or report based on hire date and send it. That would require my setting this up for her.

                Which isn’t a huge deal, but if HR or I didn’t have time and we got push back on this from someone who could just as easily keep track when she gets the announcements? That would not be getting off on the right foot.

                1. Mallory Janis Ian*

                  I agree with this. Our HR people have the ability to run a query of the employee database, but they’re pretty unlikely to respond well to someone assigning the task of doing it on a regular basis for no particularly good reason.

                  The OP should just format an Excel (or whatever) list the way that she wants it, save it somewhere from where it can be quickly and conveniently popped open, and add new hires to it when she gets the HR emails. She could then send the list to HR near the end of each month and ask if she was missing anyone.

                2. Lora*

                  Just because you probably know this, I’m going to ask: Why wouldn’t HR databases (at least for large companies) have a regular new-hire report produced automatically based on some time frame, simply for the purpose of scheduling training and the various other onboarding and offboarding activities, even if only as a checklist to follow up on managers who hadn’t filled out the proper forms for IT, HR, Security, etc.?

                  Whenever I have to set up a massive database to track various things, I typically set up a “go bug these people” report and run it weekly or whenever someone asks me about the status of something. And with few exceptions, the vast majority of places I’ve worked had a lot of components to their onboarding and offboarding systems, at least half of which had been neglected on my first day of work. One place actually had me set up all the pertinent requests and forms myself, as when I arrived there wasn’t even a desk for me and my manager was “too busy” to do all that himself (yes, this was an omen of things to come, yes I got out within a year). I’d think it would be a useful application of project management tools, you know?

                3. blu*

                  @Lora If it’s a very large company then they probably have this set up to be automated with automated reminders etc. No one person is going to actually pull a list daily (which in a very large company you probably have people starting every day). The system would just send reminders and such to the manager requesting completion.

                4. Jamie*

                  Some have that in the system, and I agree it’s a good idea. But it’s not a given – some people keep track of this in a separate QC system for example, or by department.

                  I would not want to do anything related to HR without a checklist – I totally agree it’s very useful and work flow reminders are awesome. I cannot tell you how much I love that my system sends me emails of what I’m coming up on, what is late, etc. Just like when my servers send me texts when they go off line. Huge fan of automation, but I’ve noticed like you have, many things aren’t used to their full extent and it’s a shame because it makes life easier.

                  It’s the whole saw sharpening thing. I’d rather spend the time with HR to get it just how it’s most useful to them so it’s used properly than spend more time checking on stuff.

                  (the saw sharpening thing is my most used analogy at work. If a lumberjack is on a tight deadline and he’s got to get all these logs sawed he may thing he doesn’t have time to sharpen his saw. But by saving the time by not sharpening his saw the entire pile of logs will take much longer. I think I use that even more than the bike shed analogy.)

                5. Observer*

                  @Lora, what you describe sounds like a good idea, and I imagine that many system do have something like this. However, even if the OP’s employer has such a report, it doesn’t mean that it’s a no brainer for the HR person. For one thing, someone has to tell the system the time-frame, which is not a big deal when it’s your stuff and you know the last time you ran it. But, when it’s someone else’s list, keeping track of the last time you ran the report could be a pain. And, it’s really easy to understand why someone would not want that to become part of their to do list.

                  Beyond that, the kinds of lists that would be useful in the kinds of scenarios you describe would have a lot of information that the OP should probably not have. eg. Whoever is in charge of provisioning a new employee is going to need a fair amount of information about what new hires are doing and what they will have access to. Whoever needs to make sure that people’s insurance is ok will definitely need stuff that the op SHOULD NOT have. etc.

                  A really abbreviated report is actually not something I can see being needed all that often, which means that it’s just not likely to be in most systems.

                6. Koko*

                  Yep, again it really comes down to — in some companies with some systems, maybe this would be a trivial task and she’s an ass for refusing to do it. In other companies with other systems, it may not be a trivial task. The HR person in the role is most likely the one with first-hand knowledge of which of the two it is.

                  I have a similar frustration in my job. I have a report that automatically runs every Tuesday containing information about teapot purchases in the previous 7 days, and the report delivers into my inbox in the early morning hours. I do some work on the file each Tuesday morning and pass it on to Teapot Fulfillment. There’s a very tiny specialized department that sells limited-edition novelty teacups. They only get perhaps 1 sale every couple of months so they do their own fulfillment instead of using the fulfillment department, and they have an email alert set up to let someone in their department know when there’s been a sale. Every single time they get this alert, they forward it to me asking if I can pull the full transaction information for them to fulfill. And every time I try as gently and politely as possible to let them know that I pull fulfillment reports on Tuesday and will be sure to send their order to them on the upcoming Tuesday. I get the feeling it annoys them that I can’t just go look up one address for them because they’d rather just fulfill immediately, but I plan my workload and schedule carefully to maximize my output and efficiency, and running that report ad hoc in the middle of the week just for 1 sale is not a good use of my time – even if it would only take 15-20 minutes. I can get a lot of other, more important, things done in 15-20 minutes and there’s no real need for them to fulfill their sale a few days early (delivery estimates are made clear to customers at purchase point).

                7. Michelle*

                  Lora – It sounds easy to “just run a report” or to send everyone a standard list. The problem is everyone needs something different. IS needs certain fields that Security can not see and the Finance doesn’t want and Payroll wants everything that is confidential… I could go on but I think you get it. Most HR groups do not have the resources (and should not) to run every single report that every single employee wants. It is about what is actually needed to run a business.

                8. Lora*

                  @Observer and Michelle

                  Yeah, I get that–my question was more related to what Jamie said about how she personally would have to set up the query, and I thought, wait a second, why can’t HR build their own queries? Because in the types of databases I use, building a query and getting automated reports and reminders is either trivial or they are in the process of upgrading it to make it trivial. Then I thought some more about the various places I’ve worked where the HR software was either terribly underutilized or not a good system for the user somehow. It was more of a “wait, does HR software everywhere just suck?” question than a “should they do this” one. Thanks though.

            2. Bananarama*

              If HR even have a list, it may contain extra info that they cannot share. Many companies use HR systems, and not excel spreadsheets to begin with. This one is on the OP – she gets all the info she needs through her email.

            3. Colette*

              As others have pointed out, even if they have a list, it may need minor or extensive modifications in order to send it out. (Think of a list that has the employee’s name, email address, manager, emergency contacts, and salary – the OP doesn’t need all of that, just part.) It’s common to assume something you’re not personally going to do is easy, but that often is not the case. (In other words, the recipient of a favor doesn’t get to decide how easy it is.)

            4. danr*

              They *are* sharing… with the emails. It’s likely that HR’s list has more information on it than you need, and then it takes time to delete it. Miss a couple of columns and folks will be yelling about Social Security or salary numbers being out in the open.

            5. Observer*

              And providing that list to you would almost certainly take time on the HR end. And, as others have pointed out, it shouldn’t have to take THAT much time on your end if you process the emails into your list as they come in, or automate the process of putting those emails into a folder till you need them.

            6. anon*

              I don’t know. Our HR person could produce a list like this without much effort. I can understand why the OP would be worried that she/he missed an email and didn’t have everyone on the list. I agree OP is too new to push the issue but at least where I work this would be a simple task.

              1. Colette*

                Could she, or does it just look easy to someone who doesn’t need to do it?

                It’s easy to assume something you aren’t going to personally do is easier than it actually is.

              2. Adonday Veeah*

                As an HR Manager, I am often surprised by what people consider to be “without much effort.” We have a million little tasks to do every day, and at a moment’s notice a carefully planned and tightly packed day can be derailed by a call from the Union or an employee issue that must be resolved immediately; and yet those million tasks still have to be done. I can truly understand why this HR person is unwilling to add yet one more task to their list as a favor to this one employee who is alrready receiving the info in a different format.

                1. Koko*

                  Yes! People don’t realize that in an administrative position, EVERYTHING is a “small” task. Your day is FULL of “small” tasks and getting a couple extra dumped on you one day is a couple others you don’t get done. You can be just as busy with small tasks as you can be with large projects. Minutes matter.

                2. Adonday Veeah*

                  “Minutes matter.”

                  Can I get a halleluiah?

                  And it irks the holy crap out of me to be sitting at my desk on a Saturday morning while everyone else is enjoying their weekend, just so that I can complete those tasks that I can so easily do “without much effort.”

                  Sorry for the rant — I can see my weekend plans, and they don’t look good…

                3. Kelly O*

                  Have to chime in here.

                  Administratively, there are lots of “small” tasks that don’t take very long individually, but when you add them up, the day can get jam-packed fast. Everyone thinks their small task should not take long, but when you have a string of people in and out all day with a small task, you can spend a whole day doing not much of anything.

                  The OP is already getting the information. Just set up a simple email filter – all messages from Jane with “New hire” or “welcome aboard” go in the New Hire folder. Once a day or once a week or however often, skim through it, collect your list in excel or whatever format you need, and either delete emails then, or keep them for a few weeks until you’ve finished what you need.

                  I use filters a lot for incoming mail. I can skim folders to see if anything needs immediate attention, and it helps me prioritize my workload a lot better than just dumping everything in an inbox. Plus I’m way less apt to “lose” something because I’m presorting it. So my inbox itself is less cluttered, and I know where to look for updates or information.

                4. Bea W*

                  No kidding. If you ran a list for every one who requested one, you’d not get a lot done. I’m not in HR but have the same issue in my job. People have a million seemingly small requests (and some not so small), and I just don’t have to time do someone else’s job on top of my own. I love being able to help people out with one off requests, but I often don’t have the time. I definitely don’t have room to add a recurring task to my other recurring tasks.

                  When I have to say no, it’s not because I think the person requesting is not busy. I understand they are busy, but I’m busy too. That’s what I want the requester to understand. It has nothing to do with how busy I think they are. It is all about managing my own workload so that I can meet my own obligations.

                5. Anonnymouse*

                  Haha, I am in a quasi-management position at my food service job, and NO ONE GETS THIS.
                  I used to have issues with a chef who didn’t get that I was overburdened with work, in part because he would dump tasks on me instead of bothering his work friends (who would regularly hang out and bullshit with him in the kitchen). More than once, I’d give him a response of “I’m really sorry, but I’m literally in the middle of doing three other things that are high priority right now,” and he stomp off in a little huff. (Mind you, I was typically putting in more hours per week for about 2/3 of the pay.)

                  Luckily, most of our staff members now get this a lot more, but it’s still very frustrating to hear this. (It’s one big reason why I’m looking to get out!)

              3. Kelly L.*

                Would you consider making up a username? There have been a lot of anons recently and it’s getting confusing. If you’re the same anon from yesterday, I have a question; if not, then never mind.

                1. Jamie*

                  Oh I tried to find the post where someone was mentioning someone else having the name they’ve used for a long time and I wanted to suggest getting an avitar.

                  For a long time I thought that putting in my email to load the gravatar would make it show here, because I never bothered to check – but it doesn’t. Just a link to whatever pic you have stored at gravatar shows. That way is someone else shows up with your name people still know when it’s you.

                  There is at least one and I think 2 people who post as Jamie – but since I didn’t think to copyright my name it never bothers me (good thing for Jamie Less Curtis and Jamie Lynn Spears – they won’t have to change theirs and confuse imdb). Although there are times I’ll read a post and totally not remember writing that and then realize there are others…kind of awesome.

                  So just wanted to point out you can do that without compromising privacy – and you can pick on or I hear some people choose a theme.

                  (and she’s here now because I need a freaking magic wand, dammit, and none of my usual IT vendors have any in stock.)

        3. Purple Dragon*

          Our company does the same thing – HR sends out new hire announcements as they happen. But we don’t have a master list – especially in excel. I suspect our CEO would have a fit if they did. Excel doesn’t have enough security around it to suit our 2 lots of auditors.

          We use software that is an absolute nightmare to run a report like this from. We are a mid size company (800 people approx) and as the exec level have never required a report like this one would have to be built to run it easily. This would cost about $10K. If we didn’t build a specific report then the HR person would have to run an existing report and then filter and modify it. It would take a couple of hours.

          tl;dr – It really can depend on how it’s setup – and in some places it would be a nightmare.

        4. Vicki*

          HR probably has a database. That database contains names, addresses, manager’s names, salaries, start dates. HR is not going to share that with you.

          HR most likely does not have an Excel sheet (and if they did it would likely, again, contain names, addresses, manager’s names, salaries, start dates… and again, they’re not going to share that with you.)

          The OP’s job duties include planning for the retreat. The HR team’s job duties do not include making up lists of names on a monthly basis.

      2. Letters to Paystubs*


        I was going to suggest this, too! She could even create a Google Doc (a new one each year, tabs for each month) and share it with the HR person. I know it will take a little work at first but, over time, I think it will benefit both the OP and HR as HR will now know they have an awesome spreadsheet with information about when each person started, how many people are starting each month, etc.

        1. Vicki*

          Trust me when I say that HR does not need the OP to create an “awesome spreadsheet” with this information. HR _has_ this information. It’s part of their job to have this information (and a lot more).

          Please do not insult HR by suggesting that they need a new employee to “help them” create a list of employees by month.

        2. Anonnymouse*

          That is such incredibly passive-aggressive nonsense, and the OP would be a fool to follow this advice.

          I would hit the roof if a brand new employee with little to no real experience in the field tried to push a process on me that I already politely declined. (Telling an employee that “With the amount of time I have, I am unlikely to provide a list every month” may be blunt, but don’t conflate “blunt” with “rude.”) Doubly so if I cited time limitations. Trust me, I know how my workweek is structured, and I know how little time I have in the course of a week. I don’t need someone who isn’t familiar with my workload to delegate new, frivolous tasks to me.

        3. Totes Anotes...*

          This is not only bad advice but it is dangerous advice. You should NEVER put company information like this on a document that isn’t being hosted by your own company. Unless you are working for a start-up or other such company where GoogleDocs is part of your working process. This is just bad bad bad advice, and depending on where you work it could even be a fireable offense. Companies have internal networks for a reason, and this information is proprietary to that company.

          I also totally agree with Vicki and Anonnymouse… you’re not actually impressing anyone with these actions.

    3. M. in Austin!*

      This is good advice! I don’t see how the OP’s mailbox could be full- and by full I mean he/she has reached the data limit and won’t receive new messages. If that is actually the case, then just open up a text file and write the names in there. It would only take a few seconds for each new hire.

      Maybe OP could rethink how he/she manages his/her email inbox? If it’s genuinely full, and you need to keep those emails, consider saving them locally to your computer.

      1. Gwen Soul*

        My company sets a limit for each employees amilbox. Mine gets full several times a month and if you don’t clean it out you cannot send email until you do.

        1. danr*

          Every email program has a provision for archiving the emails and taking them off the server. At my old job I regularly used the archive provision to free up space on the email server.

          1. Natalie*

            Not every company allows that – mine doesn’t. I presume there’s some sort of legal-discovery reason for the policy.

            1. GrumpyBoss*

              There are compliance and legal drivers. If you are in a heavily regulated industry, it is not uncommon for this to be disabled.

            2. Observer*

              The companies that don’t allow local archiving most definitely do server based archiving – they can’t afford to have people constantly deleting important emails without some recourse.

              And, if the OP works for the rare company the forces people to delete without archive, I’m having a hard time seeing why it’s so impractical to put name, date and email address into a spreadsheet before she deletes the email.

              1. Jamie*

                This – I do server based so I don’t need to worry about it if a computer crashes – I can restore everything from the server. We have no regulations – just my practice.

                As Gwen mentioned above how big the mailbox can be is a setting – but that’s the active mailbox and not archives when you hit that limit. I tell my people that I am never instructing anyone to delete anything – but archive it. It’s there for you, but it backs up differently and doesn’t take up room in your active box. Those of you using Exchange/Outlook having more than 5000 items in your active box will slow performance.

                1. Poe*

                  My auto-archive runs every week (I get a ridiculous number of emails, with lots of attachments), and it is a beautiful thing. I can still find things but they are not slowing my outlook to a crawl. I cannot ever bring myself to delete any non-spam email, so archiving is awesome :)

              2. Bea W*

                Yup yup yup. Any company that has to archive to regulatory/legal reasons should have this available. It is not possible to function without it for very long.

                My company used to have this, and it would automatically archive emails when your mailbox got to a certain size. The company that took over discontinued this and just gave everyone 1 gig of space on the server, which many long-timers and senior level managers do max out quickly. It boggles the mind why a monstrously large company subject to all kinds of legal/regulatory things would manage mail like this, especially with projects on “legal hold” which means you can’t delete any email related to that project, not even the ones you could normally delete.

            3. danr*

              My old company regularly made backups of the email server and preserved all of the emails separately from what the individual users did. They could (and did) retrieve emails that had been deleted. If you can’t archive emails off the server, then you must have infinite space for the emails.

              1. Natalie*

                Oh, sure – I’m certain they have a backup somewhere. It’s just not something we have easy access to and IT would probably not prioritize a request for old emails without good reason.

        2. M. in Austin!*

          Mine does as well, but it’s 2000 MB. I’d really be surprised if an entry-level person’s mailbox is full after 3 months. Maybe OP’s limit is insanely low?

          1. Bea W*

            Or her colleagues regularly send her 100 mg files. (This seriously happens to people where I work. WHY?! Stop it people! Stop it!)

      2. Lynn*

        On that note, why not just set up a filter to catch and funnel those messages into a specific folder? I do this all of the time, because regular emails like this tend to have predictable keywords, or even identical phrases. It would be no additional work for her once the filter is set up.

        I get 100+ emails every day as an admin assistant. If you can’t handle your email load specifically, the first thing you need to consider is how to better organize yourself so things don’t fall through the cracks, not how others can make your job easier.

        1. Syyd*

          I agree. I’d go a step further and write a macro to throw open these e-mails, add the name (and pertinent info) into an Excel file and delete the e-mail. Learning how to automate as much as possible is going to help a lot. My suggestion is never speak to anyone in HR about anyone else unless the environment is unbearable.

        2. Yet Another Allison*


          This is what the Rules function in Outlook is for. It throws them into a folder for later.

    4. Auditoholic*

      Yes, folders are your friend. In my role, I get HUNDREDS of emails every week. Today, so far, I’ve received about 75 emails – all with information I needed and had to act on in some way – and I’m just halfway through my workday. I’ve also sent at least that many. Folders are my lifeline. I cannot function if I just have all this stuff sitting in my inbox. Inbox is for items that need answers today. Everything else goes into a folder. If it’s complete, then it’s filed in a folder for the department it came from. If there is a future action item, then it’s flagged with the date that I need to start working on it, and placed in a follow-up folder.

      1. Poe*

        Amen. I use rules and folders to sort things as much as possible, and I put things that don’t automatically get sorted into folders manually if I have to. I manage an email account with another coworker and it regularly gets 200+ emails per day, and both of us are in and out of it, so folders stop us stepping on each others toes. My own email at work gets around 100 messages a day (I average 800/week, but for some odd reason I get a lot on Saturday) and there is one folder I only ever deal with on Friday. Lifesaver.

    5. BRR*

      100% what I was going to suggest.

      It sounds like you’re not really in a position to be assigning HR new tasks. This is one of those situations where I can easily see the other person also writing in. “There’s a new entry-level employee who has asked that I start sending her a list of new hires every month. I already send out announcements for every new hire but they don’t appear to be reading them.”

      You’re also assuming what her workload is which a) you really have no way of knowing and b) it never really goes well to tell people that they’re not busy. Even if they have the capacity to take on something else people equate busyness with their importance.

      1. Angora*

        You know … it would irk me if I was sending out info on a regular basis and someone would delete the data and turnaround and request me to prepare a spreadsheet for them because they are not taking the time to organize their e-mail.

        Dear OP … if you are getting info from someone in a timely manner and are not keeping the data; it comes across as disorganized when requesting them to resend it in the format you prefer. You do not want HR to develop the opinion that you are disorganized and lazy. If I was your supervisor, I view the situation a couple of different ways … this person is “not outlook savvy”, is “disorganized and wants others to do the work for them,” or “is just lazy.” You are new at this job and HR is the last department you want to develop that view of you when it comes to your six-month or one-year evaluation.

        I wish you the best but you never delete data and than turn around and request the individual that supplied it in the first place to regenerate it for you. You are asking them to take on additional task; when the information was all ready supplied.

        1. Julie*


          OP is getting all the info she needs and wants to waste someone else’s time because she refuses to open MS Excel? Gtfoh

        2. Vicki*


          “never delete data and then turn around and request the individual that supplied it in the first place to regenerate it for you. You are asking them to take on additional task; when the information was all ready supplied.”

          Also: try not to annoy any of the following people: your HR representative, the receptionist, the department admin, the boss’s secretary.

          1. Angora*

            I’m an admin … you so not get on our!@#$ list. I am extremely helpful, otherwise I wouldn’t do this job. But if you disrespect the gate keepers and support staff you’ll have a hard line to tow.

            Please add IT, maintenance and housekeeping to the “do not annoy” list.

        3. DMented Kitty*

          It’s horribly one-sided, I thought. If given both HR and OP are “equally busy” as OP states — HR took the time to send out emails for every new hire, OP did not seem to take the time to find options to get the names into a list that satisfies her needs, instead immediately goes, “Hey, I’m busy too so I’m sure you’ll find time to do my request!” (aside from the fact that she already DELETES the HR emails immediately)

          It’s not part of HR (or any department for that matter) to cater to any individual’s needs outside their job description. I’m pretty sure the HR person would say the same thing if another employee from another department asks a for a different type of report. Unless it’s a major part of the work they do, understand they cannot simply give 50 different “reports” just because 50 different people ask for it, no matter how simple that may be.

          I’ve made ad hoc requests very seldomly, but they’re typically a one-time thing. If I need an exhaustive list that requires significant effort from the group I’m requesting from — I do it the official way (which is log a service request to the group).

    6. Ezri*

      Depending on the email provider, it is sometimes possible to set up ‘rules’ as well, so that certain emails from certain places get automatically sorted into a folder. It may be a possibility to have one that gathers up the new hire emails as they come in so that they are all in one place when OP needs to go through them.

      I’m an obsessive email-sorter, so personally I’d just toss them all in a folder manually. Some people hate doing that, though, I understand.

      1. NoPantsFridays*

        I am an obsessive email sorter too, and this is what I wanted to add. I don’t know what software/provider the OP’s company uses, but you can do the automatic/filtered sorting in Outlook. You can set up rules where emails from a certain sender and/or with a certain subject automatically go into a certain folder. There should be a way for OP to auto sort all the new hire notifications into their own folder; it would be particularly easy if they all have a common phrase in the subject. Then go through them periodically and add to her spreadsheet.

        1. Judy*

          I’m not sure there are any email systems that don’t have rules. Cc mail had rules, lotus notes had rules.

    7. stillLAH*

      And if you have a gmail based system (maybe Outlook or others do this too now) you can set up a filter to automatically send those emails to your new “New Hire” folder and skip your inbox completely!

    8. Blanche*

      Better yet, if the emails have a standard subject line (e.g. Introducing Our New Starter, [Name] – [Job Title]), you can set up an inbox rule to automatically file them.

    9. Anonsie*

      This is what I did when I was covering for a weekly scheduler. I would get constant emails about adding people here and removing them there and etc, and I would just give them a glance (to make sure I didn’t need to do anything urgently) and then move them all into a holding folder just for that schedule. I’d just go through it when I needed to actually set the schedule. When they were added, I’d move them to a different folder as an archive.

    10. Angora*

      If you are using Outlook, use the filter feature. I have folders set up for particular people. or subjects, etc and you can set up so that particular e-mails from certain individuals go into a folder with their name, or everyone that works in purchasing; their e-mails going into the purchasing folder, or if she uses a particular subject line to announce new hires, a folder can set up for them to go into.

      I have what’s called a “Bulk E-mail” folder where announcements, schedules etc going into that I may need to refer to for some reason, but do not need to read on a regular basis. If it’s a monthly newsletter from HR or accounting, etc … it goes into the bulk.

      If you find your e-mail account filling up quickly, ask IT to increase your mailbox size. If they are unwilling to do that, save the new hire e-mails as a PDF document and save them on your laptop.

    11. Bea W*

      This is what rules and filters are for. If you can set up an automated rule to flag and/or move the new hire messages to a special folder, you’ll have them all there to go through later when compiling your lists.

    12. Vicki*


      Dear OP: Learn about folders and filtering in email. Learning about these now will save you a lot of time and frustration down the road.

      Do not store mail in your inbox!

      Also, if you “can hardly breathe with the amount of workload, and don’t even have time to go to the toilet most of the time.”, you are either prioritizing poorly, need to learn about time management, or need to work with your manager to change your workload.


    13. Jessa*

      I would just shove the names in a word processing document, put a link to it somewhere you can find it (I have a folder on my start menu that’s called shortcuts, and I stick shortcuts to documents I use a lot in it,) takes five seconds to hit the link to open the document, slap the name in, hit save and go.

      The make a folder for the emails works too. But (and I say this as someone who did a lot of admin work in my career,) if I were the HR person and I was sending out notices, I’d get peeved that someone was asking for a document they could make themselves, unless they KNEW for certain that such a document already existed and did not have confidential information attached (IE that I could just slap an attachment on the email and send it.) This is such a tiny job to make your own list from the emails, that I’d wonder why you wanted me to do your work, when I was sending you the info you needed.

  3. Enid*

    I would suggest setting an e-mail rule that would automatically send all new hire announcements to a folder, and then periodically you could go through the folder and add all those people to your list.

    1. Training Manager*

      +1 – I agree completely with setting up a rule and forwarding to a different folder. Then maintaining the list yourself. To HR right now it probably looks like the OP is getting the information, deleting it and wanting it sent in a special format for themselves. Asking them to send you something once a month or once a quarter still adds something to their schedule that they become accountable for. Recruiting and new hire can be a full time job on its own so now is not the time to play the “I’m more busy than you” game because that will not help anyone. I am also willing to bet that the OP will have the information fasting compiling it themselves than waiting for a report from the team. Whenever you are new to a team it will feel overwhelming, but you want to keep HR on your side for the really needed favors later on.

  4. PizzaSquared*

    Why not just create an email filter that puts those new employee announcements in a separate folder? Then you can go through them periodically and add the people to your list. Let the computer do some of the work for both of you.

    1. Elysian*

      My thought as well. If email rules are confusing to you, make a folder called “new hires.” When you get an announcement, drag that email into the folder (instead of deleting it). Reference the folder once a month. Problem solved.

  5. Cat*

    OP, one way to triage those new hire emails would be to set up a separate email folder for them. If they use particular key words in the subject line, you can set an email rule to filter them in automatically; if not, just drag them in instead of deleting. Then look at them when you have time, same as you would the updated list sent by HR.

  6. Katie the Fed*

    Yeah – everyone has already suggested the same email idea I had.

    In general – I’d try to come up with ways to solve those kinds of issues yourself before asking someone else to take on more work. Setting up an email rule will literally take 20 seconds. I get about 800 emails a day – I wouldn’t be able to function without setting up rules.

    If you really think your workload is too much, that’s something you need to work out with your own manager, not this HR person.

    1. Midge*

      Can you give examples of rules you find helpful? My Outlook inbox needs some serious help, and I would love to see what rules others use before I set up my own.

      1. Elizabeth*

        I can give you some of mine. We use a lot of distribution lists, so a lot are based off of those.

        *Emails with key words about a massive project I’m working on go into one folder (Email contains [software name], [project name], or sent to project name distribution list)
        *Emails sent to our company wide distribution list sent to a Announcements folder
        *Emails sent to quotes@ sent to a Quotes folder
        *Emails sent to quotes@ from our automated system sent to a Quoting Reports subfolder, so it filters those out from my direct client emails
        *Emails containing the text “unsubscribe” and sent to quotes@ sent to a Quoting Junk subfolder folder, to field out spam, newsletters, etc. I still look at this often in case important things end up in there.
        *Emails to sales@ sent to Sales folder
        *Emails from Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook sent to Social Media folder
        *Emails sent from our scanner sent to Scans folder
        *Emails sent from an automated system when a project status changes goes to Project Updates folder

        I’ll also set up temporary folders as needed for major on going projects. We have a big conference we’re attending coming up, and everything with the conference name in the email goes to a folder for that conference.

        1. JMegan*

          +1 to all of these. Also, emails containing the words “retirement” or “retiring” or similar go straight to delete in my world. This is because I work in a massive office where people feel obliged to send All Staff emails when they move on, and I get a couple of those a month from people I’ve never heard of.

      2. Katie the Fed*

        What works really well for me is colors and sizes of messages. Folders don’t work as well becuase they’re not right in front of me, and I forget to check them for messages.

        So – emails from my employees are in blue
        Emails sent only to me in the To: line are large and purple
        Emails from my boss or other seniors are hot pink
        Emails that are sent to a distro I’m on, without my name (lower priority) are gray
        Daily updates that aren’t very important go to a Daily Updates folder

        It sounds weird but it works for me – I can USUALLY triage my inbox to deal with the most pressing things first.

        1. Windchime*

          I receive a ton of automated notifications every day; those are all marked “read” and go into a folder based on which environment they came from. Emails from my boss stay in my inbox, but they are in giant red font so they are easy to notice.

          I have a huge inbox so I’m not the best person to ask, but I do a combination of rules for folders and special formatting.

          1. Jamie*

            My bosses are green – the color of money. The external auditors/accountants are red – the color of blood. My outside network guy is blue – the color of calm. A certain problem department’s emails are brown – I will take the 5th on that that color represents.

            My automated responses are pink – because I get a lot of them and that’s my favorite color.

            I love Outlook so much.

      3. Koko*

        The one that’s a true inbox lifesaver for me, more important than any other rule I use, is all those mailing lists I’m on that send you industry tips, training webinars, industry whitepapers, conference announcements…you know, the stuff that helps you get better at your job but also is stuff you have NO time to read on a busy day and the stuff that is clogging your inbox when you get back from vacation…I have a rule so all those skip my inbox and go into their own folder that I can look into a sort through a couple times a week when I have a few minutes’ downtime.

    2. Formica Dinette*

      “In general – I’d try to come up with ways to solve those kinds of issues yourself before asking someone else to take on more work.”

      A thousand times yes! IMO, this is one of those Important Things To Know that people new to the work force often aren’t told explicitly.

      1. LAI*

        Sorry to pile on but this, exactly. I’m still relatively new to my office, but not new to the working world. In general, if I am going to ask someone else to take on new work to help me, then it should be something that is saving me literally hours of work. Otherwise, I’ll just do it myself — because it’s my job, not theirs.

      2. One of the Annes*

        This. If you make a stink about this, you’re going to be perceived–and rightly so–as an entitled prima donna.

  7. EB*

    I wouldn’t just worry about the new hires, what about having an outdated list of individuals who are no longer working for the company. Once a month may be too much for a list, but every three months would be reasonable. It may be that this is something your boss has to request – that your department be periodically updated on who is employed at the company.

    1. Anonsie*

      That’s a thing– if you’re having issues with not knowing when people leave, I think this request is very reasonable.

    2. Gina*

      This is what I was thinking but wanted to make sure no one else had suggested it 50 times before commenting. I get notices when we hire someone but usually I don’t know they’re gone unless I ask (and we have a lot of interns who quit without notice or new hires who get offered something better and leave right away)

      Filters & folders are prettu basic, I bet Op knows about them. It might not be worded very well but I think the issue is she doesn’t know at any given time how many employees are *sstill* there and needs to know that to book a retreat.

      1. OP*

        I do get people who resigned and hires in email but sometimes those that resigned didn’t get sent out at all. For instance, I know a guy left last month, but I never received any email about him leaving. One of my colleagues in the project is from his department – that’s how we found out. We just don’t want to miss out or over-cater for anyone.

  8. MJH*

    She is giving you the exact info you need already! It might not be in the form that makes it 100% easy for you, but you get it. THAT IS HUGE! (And, in future jobs, you’ll realize how lucky you were to have crucial info at all. Trying to get info around here can be like pulling teeth…I wish I got emails every month that contained stuff I need, even in a very rough draft format.)

    Solve your own problem here and do what everyone has suggested with a New Hires folder. Once you’ve made your list, delete the emails and start again.

  9. Magda*

    * makes an offering to Cthulhu that this doesn’t turn into a Millenial-bashing fest*

    Hi OP, I manage a couple of e-mail accounts and I am sympathetic to the frustration of having things sent piecemeal rather than in a nice orderly list. But to me, the HR’s contact’s e-mail reads as being within reason. You really don’t know how much she has on her plate.

    I think this is the kind of thing where you will need to exhaust all possible means or organizing the new hire information yourself before you even consider pursuing it further. Can you make an Excel spreadsheet? A folder in your e-mail, or on your Desktop, where you can toss the new hire emails until you’re ready to deal with them? And if you are still genuinely struggling, I think your best bet is to talk to your manager instead of pursuing it with the HR contact.

    1. Elysian*

      I agree re: managing email generally. Lots of people have trouble handling their inbox – this is not just a new-to-the-workforce problem. For the most part, you have to figure out a system that is going to work for you for all your email. You have to be pretty high up on the food chain before your solution to the “too much email” problem can be requesting that other people send you less email. For your own sanity in general, OP, consider this an opportunity to learn how to manage your inbox. If you can learn the skill, it will payoff 10-fold down the line.

  10. AndersonDarling*

    This is one of those big “new to the office” lessons. Don’t ask someone else to do work you can do yourself.
    If someone other than my boss asked me to keep a running list of something, I would have a cold response. Maybe the OP thought there was a database that had all this info and it would just take a second to pull this information, but it sounds like it would be time consuming.

    And Dear OP, stay away from the “I’m the busiest person here” mentality. It will only cause problems.

    1. Who are you?*

      And Dear OP, stay away from the “I’m the busiest person here” mentality. It will only cause problems.


    2. Hermione*

      “And Dear OP, stay away from the “I’m the busiest person here” mentality. It will only cause problems.”

      Exactly right no matter your level, though honestly, it’s incredibly unlikely that a new grad is actually the busiest person with the most important work in the office. Even if you have reasons to believe that this HR person is not particularly busy, the resentment you’re exhibiting to her for denying your request seems especially unwarranted given that she is giving you the information you need. If your mailbox is constantly full, you could copy/paste the information you need from the e-mail into a word doc on your desktop until you are ready to deal with it at the end of the month.

      If you weren’t getting the information you need at all in order to do your job, then escalating the problem to your manager’s attention (in order to find a solution, not to tattle) might be warranted, but the resentment for her denying your request for her to go above and beyond what is required of her won’t get you anywhere but in a bad mood.

    3. sjw*

      THIS. 2 snaps! A new hire report is an easy thing to run, and if asked nicely and apologetically, I’d do it. Why apologetically? Because, OP, I make sure to notify you every month of new hires, and you just told me that my emails weren’t important so you deleted them. We HR people get a little sensitive about our emails getting ignored. Plus, we’re kinda busy with stuff like, oh, I don’t know, making sure you get paid and making sure you have benefits!

    4. Jennifer*

      Yeah, if I were HR I’d be all, “I’m already sending it once to everyone. I’m not gonna send it individually to you a second time.”

  11. CTO*

    I’m guessing that part of the frustration might be that HR isn’t doing enough work on your other shared project, either. Here’s the thing: her time might genuinely be more valuable than yours. Yes, you’re both very busy, but you are quite likely less experienced and paid less than she is. From that perspective, it’s in the company’s best interest to give you the simpler tasks, like keeping track of new hires or doing more of the daily work on your other shared project. It would be a poor use of company resources to pay HR more to do these things that you’re perfectly capable of doing yourself.

    Having that perspective has really helped me, still being in the earlier part of my career. If I’m asked to do some low-level stuff, it’s not personal. It’s not because the other person is a better person and I am pond scum. It’s because that person has other talents that the company needs, like leadership, strategic planning, or management. They are not paying that person to type up a list of new employees when they could be spending their time on something more strategic. That’s just a smart distribution of limited resources, and when you’re higher up on the ladder you might appreciate not having to do some of those low-level tasks yourself.

    This is not intended to come down hard on you, but to help you understand why HR is acting this way. You two are probably not equals in the professional sense of the word, so don’t look for equal distribution of work.

    1. My Fake Name is Laura*

      100% agree. Also a really really tough lesson I still have trouble with is accepting that even though you were told “share this workload equally”, what was meant was “share this workload as equally as you can but it’s not ever going to be 100% equitable 100% of the time please deal with it”.

      School/College basically taught me to take and follow instructions literally, to seek clarity, and that people higher than I was were responsible for being thorough, accountable, and having the answers. The work world swiftly and constantly disabuses you of these notions.

      1. AVP*

        Sooo agree. Often what people mean is that they want you to share responsibility equally, but how you divide up the labor or individual tasks are up to the people participating, how much time they have, who has the expertise in what area, etc etc.

    2. Jamie*

      This is such a valuable lesson and one, sadly, some people never learn.

      Some people’s time at work is more valuable than others because of skill, responsibility, salary, etc. That never means those people are more valuable or better as human beings – everyone is equal on that front.

      1. Koko*

        Yep. I’ve rounded the corner into my 30s recently, but have quite a few friends who are still just a few years out of college – 24, 25 – and in entry-level roles doing mostly support functions. They’ve been in the positions long enough that they’ve begun to grow bored and frustrated with the low-level tasks they’re assigned and start to gripe about how “lazy” their bosses are for not doing their own grunt work. I rarely suggest that perhaps it’s not the most effective use of the company’s money to pay someone $30 an hour to do something when you have someone on staff who can do it for $15 an hour, because friends want you to listen to their gripes, not tell them why their gripes are unfounded. Hopefully they’ll begin to figure it out eventually. I didn’t really realize it until a boss in a previous job had to explicitly stop me from my habit of stuffing my own envelopes instead of requesting a temp because “we pay you too much to do this.”

        1. Aunt Vixen*

          When I was a baby paralegal a hundred years ago, we liked the partners who would make their own copies instead of asking one of us to come up and do it for them – but only if it was, like, one copy of a five-or-ten-page document. Anything that was going to take more than a very few minutes and even down in the trenches we knew that when someone’s name was on the letterhead, standing at a xerox was not the best use of her time.

  12. Ann O'Nemity*

    You’re planning a company retreat. I would guess that you don’t really need to get monthly updates on the current list of employees;you just need a good headcount estimate for planning purposes. As the event nears and you need more precise info, that’s when you get the full list from HR. Or am I missing something?

    1. Colette*

      Yeah, that’s something that seemed odd to me – if this is a one-time event, then wait and ask for a complete list once, at the point when you’re ready to use it.

      If it’s an ongoing monthly retreat series or something, then the email solution others have pointed out is the way to go.

    2. Cath in Canada*

      Is there no “all staff” email list in this organisation? I’ve never worked anywhere that doesn’t have one; I don’t have the right permissions to email it myself, but I can ask my manager to send something on my behalf. That way you can reach everyone with information about the retreat, and don’t need an actual list at all, unless you need the headcount estimate as Ann O’Nemity suggested.

      1. 30ish*

        Yeah. You can use an all staff email list and then have people RSVP (for example on one of those websites that you can also use to find a date for an event). That way you get a list of participants.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        Bingo. This looks to me like an email problem not a “someone should make a list” problem.

        If the company email list is up to date then OP would be able to sent to all.

        However, if that is not possible then perhaps OP could sent it to the department managers for forwarding, hopefully each department manager would have a list of current employees.

        Worse case, OP could ask how the company wants her to approach the problem of emailing all. It could be that the email needs to go to VP Jane Doe, or maybe to HR.

        I am also wondering where OP’s boss is in all this. Maybe the boss has preferences on how communication is handled and OP needs to find out what those preferences are.

      3. RecruiterM*

        Exactly, and IT is your friend.
        Ask IT for a correct email list name, and ask them to assign you permissions to use it. Probably would need a manager’s approval on this.
        No need to maintain a separate list, problem solved.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I think it’s an on-going need because no one has found a method for streamlining a recurring problem. Not being snarky here- this happens a lot. I have been at my current job for 20 months. And I am STILL working on streamlining ordinary processes. Activities that have to be done on a recurring basis end up being a 20 step process when there is absolutely no need. Except for the fact that I have NO time to organize it and work out the mini-hurdles. I think that I have resolved on average 3-4 recurring issues each week that I have worked at this job. And after 20 months I am just beginning to see where I have made a dent in the enormous amount of issues that need to be tackled. (There are lots of reasons for the number of issues, but that is another story.)

  13. Another English Major*

    Not understanding OP’s reasoning for pressing this. Just because her workload is overwhelming is not a good reason for the HR manager to add to her own workload just to make OP’s job easier. OP is already getting the info she needs (!) and doesn’t want to or doesn’t know how to organize it in the way she needs.

    She could set up a folder so all the new hire emails go there and set up a rule so she doesn’t even have to see them if she has Outlook-don’t know about others. She could print them out to review later, she can copy/paste into a spreadsheet, all sorts of ways to keep track that I’m prob not even thinking of.

    If she had an assistant it would be reasonable to insist on, but that doesn’t work with peers or someone above you.

    OP asked, she said no and now it is up to OP to figure it out herself.

    1. iBex*

      I agree with you. Unless I am misunderstanding something, the OP is already getting the information he or she needs, albeit not in the preferred form. The HR person is not being unreasonable in declining the OP’s request because compiling a list of new hires is something the OP has the information to do him/herself.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      I advocate for OP to reframe her question and perhaps pick a different person to ask.
      It appears to me that OP needs to email everyone the same message. IF that is the case then her question is “how do I access a current list of all employee’s emails?”

      When I read OPs question, I tended to think of a person who is tired and overwhelmed by what is coming at them. BTDT. I have found it helpful to ask myself 1) what is it I actually need that I do not have? And 2) who is the best person to ask for this given type of problem?

      In some cases, I have not correctly identified what I actually need. Usually I have oversimplified a need or I have made it unnecessarily complex – either extreme.

      Then there are other instances where I just am not asking the correct people. It’s not their area of knowledge or it’s not their responsibility. This is actually easier than problem 1. I can ask people, “Who is the person to talk to about X. ” I am chuckling. The job I have now I am ALWAYS asking the wrong person. So I have trained my brain to frame my question in this format: I am looking for help with X, who do I talk to? (It’s a good thing embarrassment does not kill me because I would have been done in many months ago.)

  14. LBK*

    Can we please pre-emptively put a moratorium on the word “Millennial” being used in this post’s comment sections? This letter feels like perfect bait for one of those discussions.

    On-topic: OP, it might help to think of the situation as reversed. You said yourself that you feel overwhelmed with work. If someone that’s not your manager emailed you and asked you to send them a monthly list of expected attendants for this conference, how would you react? Especially if that information was already accessible to them somewhere else, they basically just wanted you to do the legwork to collect it?

    This might also be something to talk to your manager about – is there system access you could be granted in order to quickly pull a list of employees? This info has to be pre-compiled somewhere, I can’t imagine there’s no system in your office that can export a complete roster on demand.

    1. Loose Seal*

      I never even thought Millennial until a couple of commenters brought it up. This situation could happen to anyone who’s in any new workplace.

      OP, it’s natural to feel a bit overwhelmed when you start any new job, regardless of how long you’ve been in the workforce. Just be glad that you’ve figured out where the toilet is; maybe in a few months you’ll have time to use it! OK, that was a bit of a joke but really, most jobs (all jobs?) have a really steep learning curve even if you’ve done that kind of work before. It takes time to learn how your new company processes things, who you’re supposed to talk to for what, and even how to most effectively set up your email inbox (and there are some great tips for that today). Follow AAM’s advice and look forward to getting on top of things over the next few months.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Really good comment. That steep learning curve does not discriminate- it hits everyone just like a tidal wave hits everyone in its path.

        Personally, I do not understand the age group thing. I see myself in the questions many times. Sometimes it’s a learning curve I went through years ago or sometimes it is a learning curve I am facing now. Age has very little to do with it. It’s got more to do with what types of situations a person has been exposed to as they go along. Interestingly, that exposure can simply be from friends telling stories of their own experiences.

  15. fposte*

    It is a challenge, when you’re new in any position but especially in the workplace, to distinguish “things that would really help me” and “things that people are obliged to provide me with.”

    In general, I classify everything as a helpful favor unless I know for sure it’s their obligation. So in your case, OP, I might also have asked for what I wanted–“Hey, is there any way I could get these monthly, if you’re doing a roundup or something? Let me know if that’s possible”–because sometimes things are doable. But I also default to assuming that a no is reasonable and based on somebody else’s workflow, which they know better than I do.

    1. LBK*

      Yes! This is genius and something I didn’t realize I do subconsciously – any time I’m asking for something, I assume it will be difficult/not possible for the person unless I’m already 100% sure they don’t have a choice. It makes it less awkward for them to say no, and as an added bonus people are usually more receptive to doing something that’s being positioned as a huge favor that you know would be an inconvenience for them but you would really appreciate (so they end up saying no less often anyway).

    2. Jamie*

      Add me to this chorus – I do this, too. And since I’m 99% on the receiving end of this kind of thing it’s absolutely the best way to get me to go out of my way.

      Act entitled or as if you’re issuing me a directive and to quote the South Park meme “you’re going to have a bad time.”

      Just ask the new hire who asked for about 9 k in gear and software – everything top of the line – and when nicely told what he could and couldn’t have (and why, and the alternatives) sent a detailed email about how important his time is and he needed these things to “optimize his work experience.”

      And he cced my boss – it’s always fun when people dig their holes extra deep – clearly meant to get me to hop to it.

      My response was an email explaining the concept of an IT budget, hundreds of users, prioritizing purchasing for the greater good of the business as a whole, yada, yada.

      Didn’t learn and months later asked for a really expensive label printer because it’s a waste of time and loss of productivity for him to have to load a sheet of labels into his desk printer. I said no. He replied about loading the labels not being an effective use of his time. I, innocently asked, since he had my boss cc’ed on this and I was in a malicious mood, how many labels we’re talking about. Between 2-20 per day. So I did the math based on the specs of the printer he requested. It would save him 2 minutes and 45 seconds in printing on his highest volume day which are rare. I told him again my answer was no and if he wanted to make the case to my boss that a typical savings of < 1.5 minutes per day of his time warranted this to let me know.

      He's the same one who, on day one when I introduced myself said, "Oh, so you're our IT girl!" Uhm – no. I'm the director of IT and someone the same age as one of my kids calling me "our girl" – sorry, tangent…just goes to show it's a really good idea to get the lay of the land when you are new before you start alienating people.

      Compare that to someone who will come and ask me for something and tell me they know I'm busy, but is there an easier way to do X, but if it's too much trouble they understand. I'll go out of my way to help them out. I don't need my ass kissed to do my job, but if you want something above and beyond not having a history of acting entitled is a huge plus.

      1. Hermione*

        EXACTLY THIS. When I was an undergraduate I worked at a law firm for ~4 years. My parents were both support staff for offices at various points in their careers (Mom an administrative assistant, Dad a facilities manager) and had ingrained being as nice as possible to your support staff into my brain my entire life, coming home with stories about entitled little snots being rude to them based upon their status.

        A new administrative assistant (middle-aged woman) was hired when I’d been there around 3 1/2 years, and she was horrendously condescending and generally unreasonably entitled to our mailroom/copy-room staff, receptionist, office manager, records, accounting and IT departments and other student workers who served as floating support between all of the departments. Overall she was a lazy, mediocre worker – always looking to pawn off work onto these support staff and me, and just generally bad at her job, and completely inconsiderate in terms of taking days off and scheduling vacations (when she specifically knew we’d be on trial)

        She made many “work enemies” her first year there. After about 6 months there, we hit a period of time where we had six active, very involved trials happening in our department at the same time, and we desperately needed all sorts of support just to get everything prepped. But of course, she’d alienated herself so much that nobody wanted to help her. Everything we asked for was delayed and done with the barest minimum of efforts from other departments. If I hadn’t had such a good relationship with our two copy guys, IT dept and the woman who assigned student support, we might not have gotten everything done on time. I got out of there just as we emerged from the last of the trials, but last I heard she was still driving everybody crazy.

        1. hildi*

          Darn, I thought that was going to end with this woman getting what she deserved…..but sadly it doesn’t always work out that way! thats the most frustrating part!

    3. Koko*

      Yep. I usually say something like, “We’d like to [general scope of project]. The most important goals would be [desired outcomes]. [Optional: We would need it by [hard deadline].] Does that sound like something you would have time for? If so, how long would you need, and what would you need from us?”

      1. Anonsie*

        This is what I do. I regularly have to make requests of other people or departments without having any way of knowing what they’d have to do to fulfill it or how reasonable it is, so I’ll usually say something very similar to this. We’re trying to do x, we think we could do that by doing y, is that possible? What would we need to do for you in order to make that happen?

  16. Vera*

    I know there are plenty of HR professionals on this board. How do you guys keep track of new hires? Who has filled out which forms? Who has attended which training? Because…. I would make an Excel spreadsheet.

    Also, who typically tracks the full list of employees, with information like hire dates? Seems like that would also be in Excel.

    I’m honestly curious, because I have been in the OP’s position, and I find it incredibly hard to believe that the information doesn’t already exist in a list format SOMEWHERE that could easily be sent or copy/pasted upon request. If this info isn’t tracked in Excel, how is it tracked?

      1. Another English Major*

        That’s what I was thinking. Maybe HR doesn’t have it in a readily accessible list, it could all be in a database that might print out too much detail (confidential), or not enough detail to make sense to OP

        1. Jamie*

          That’s exactly how ours is – so it’s not like she can run a list without also kicking out pay rate and all that stuff. If they need a truncated list for whatever reason I run a quick sql query and export it to excel. Not fancy but it works.

          1. Thomas W*

            A lot of SQL databases have field- and entity-specific permissions, so if a non-HR person made a query, it would only return fields accessible to the person viewing. Or if it were a web-based SQL, like Shotgun, you could just create a locked page that only returns results from specific, non-confidential fields.

      2. Koko*

        Same here. The only time we really ever use Excel or Word is when we’re sending information to external vendors/clients who don’t have access to our internal databases and proprietary systems. Everything lives in live databases with robust reporting and querying tools. Nothing lives in a static file.

    1. Colette*

      Even if it’s a list sitting on the HR’s desktop, it’s not a good practice to ask someone f0r a favor and make it something they’re now responsible for doing. In other words, “would you mind if I followed up with you around the beginning of every month to get an updated list” would be a better way to ask than “can you send me the list at the beginning of every month?” – in the first one, remembering to send the information becomes the HR’s problem, even if the OP doesn’t end up using it for anything (or no longer needs ). In the second one, it’s the OP’s problem.

      1. LBK*

        Yep – agree with this that even if it’s sent monthly, a monthly email from the OP saying “Hey, can you forward me this month’s list?” is much less annoying than adding it to the HR rep’s list of tasks she has to remember to manage herself.

      2. Vera*

        I completely agree with you – the OP should have asked if it would be OK for her to follow up with the HR manager once every 3 months for a list of new hires, rather than asking HR to send the list every 3 months on their own.

      3. Mimi*

        This is exactly what I came to say! I’m in HR, and I often get requests like this. I’d be glad to provide the information upon request, but I would not be willing to make it my responsibility to remember each month/ quarter.

    2. Alex*

      Ours is also in data base format and it includes a lot of information that the analyst would not be privy to. Modifying even the org charts would mean me printing out the whole lot and going at it with whiteout and then photocopying it. I’m with HR when she said it would be to much work.

      Also, I’ve spent most of my career doing meeting planning. For a retreat, I would only need the actual name of the participant about a week prior. Any work you do prior to that just comes up as wasted time in the grand scheme of thing. I’ve seen it often with newbies who start in the business; they get bogged down on simple task as opposed to the overall concept creation. I had one member who insisted on making name tags and assigning name tags well in advance and had to keep her database updated at all times. Wasting so much time! While on the other hands, I just waited until a couple of days prior, loaded everything up in a database and generated the name tags only once.

    3. Swarley*

      I work in HR and all of that information is fed into a database. I could generate a report for this, but it would include confidential and unnecessary information. I would have to spend time editing this down to make it appropriate to send out which, like the HR person reference by OP, I don’t have time for.

      I agree with the others who have suggested that this information is already available in the new hire emails being sent out. The OP should take the time to format this information that’s already provided.

    4. jmkenrick*

      I think ours was stored in a database, not Excel…but I also assume it contains lots of information that’s not generally released, so it would require a lot of editing to send out as a list.

      I think more the point here though, is that when making these requests, it’s best not to assume that any given action will be “easy” for someone else.

      I used to manage a bunch of projects – all the information for the projects was available on a company database, and was easy to look up. Still, I would be often hit with requests to send over information organized for other people. In theory, I’m happy to do this, because it’s not too difficult for me. But in practice, I cannot respond to all of those requests. When Sally asks me something, she has no way of knowing that John and Amy are also asking me for separate things – none of which, might I add, are ACTUALLY part of my job’s deliverable, and all of which they could do themselves if they figured out a system. If my boss discovered that I spent a few hours making spreadsheets for other people to save them all time, but then neglected the duties I’m actually being paid for…that wouldn’t end well for me.

      So, at the end of the day, if Sally gives me attitude because I’ve already used up my time for “favor-giving” on John…well, that’s not going to endear me to her. But if Sally asks politely, just to check, and is friendly and no-pressure about it, then even if I can’t help her out, it’s no harm, no foul. And maybe if I have an opportunity, I’ll try to help her in the future.

      But these requests should always be approached with the assumption that the person you’re asking has more on their plate than you think. At worst, this will result in a politer request.

      1. Vera*

        Sure, that’s a good point to not assume something is easy for someone else.

        I was unaware that database exports would require so much editing. Seems like maybe a poor database system?

        Either way – just a short explanation like that would totally suffice, I’d shut my mouth and make my own list. And now that I know, I’m not frustrated with my HR dept anymore. Thanks!

        1. some1*

          I don’t think it’s evidence of a poor database — quite the opposite. The HR folks are saying the report the database would generate would include info the. LW doesn’t need and shouldn’t have.

          1. cv*

            A database where it’s difficult to run a query to pull just the information you want is a poor database. Many databases have preset reports, and anything beyond that requires using a very finicky interface to set query parameters. A well-designed system would make it easy to pull a list of active employees (not terminated or on leave) with departments and email addresses but not salary or home addresses, for example.

            1. anon*

              I agree. As stated above, our HR person can easily pull the information needed without much effort or without giving out information that others are not privy to.

              1. Observer*

                That’s nice that your HR person can do that. However, it’s not all that common. It’s simply not a standard report for many systems, and almost never for the homegrown ones.

            2. Jamie*

              I’ve never seen a database where it would be difficult. But does HR have access to the tables and know how to run this query? The vast majority of employees will not have the access or the know how to run a simple sql query. No shame in that if it’s not their job – but most HR people are pulling data from reports, not messing around with the raw data tables.

              The thought of it makes me shudder. One wrong click to save changes and I’m spending hours cleaning up that mess or restoring from backup? Yikes!

              Most users, HR included, interact with the database through their interface and this doesn’t involve running queries for the vast majority of people. For my HR to run a query I’d have to write it, put it in access, make a nice little dashboard with buttons and give it to her. She has a couple of these, they are handy – but it’s not like most people are just pulling the data on their own.

              It has nothing to do with the quality or design of the database – it’s all about what it’s set up for a non-IT end user in HR to pull.

              1. Observer*

                This is what I think a lot of people don’t realize. The last you want is for the HR folks to do is to directly access the system and data. It’s WAAAY to easy to mess up. So there is a front end in most cases. The really good ones let people do non-standard stuff that way, but it’s unfortunately not all that common that people easily pull a list where they get to choose the columns. And, these kinds of stripped down lists are also often not part of the standard set. Maybe they should be, but that’s a whole different conversation.

                1. Jamie*

                  What our erp has that’s pretty cool is expanded the number of reports that be exported directly to Excel – so if people need things in a customized way before I can get a custom report done in Crystal they have a workaround.

                  And I do have some where you can select some things to print or not, but I have do a custom modification and the hooks can sometimes be a PITA – so that’s not something I hop to as a 1st resort.

                  The simplest way to do this with my system is writing up a quick and ugly Crystal report and the OP could get it out of the ERP – if HR was cool with that. But it would depend on how the request was made to HR. In this case tbh I’d suggest to HR that she have a talk with the OP about how to request things to not sound as if she’s assigning tasks. Not ganging up on the OP, and as I’ve posted I’ve seen much worse, but I’d consider it a kindness because that kind of thing can really make things difficult for new people. (It would be whatever the opposite of social lubricant – social sand in the gears?)

              2. Vera*

                Okay – so I learned a lot about HR today. I have no idea if my company uses databases. But it would at least explain why they push back on my requests very similar to the OP’s.

                We are all very busy, but the lesson learned here is that it really can be worth it to spend 2-5 minutes explaining the “why not” beyond the “no”. Sometimes people roll their eyes at my longer than a sentence or two emails, but occasionally I want to be sure folks have the full story, not just the answer. It can go a long way in building understanding and rapport and eliminating hostility and silos.

            3. Observer*

              Well designed by whose definition? I do believe that well designed database front ends do make it reasonably easy for people to pull non-standard reports without jumping through too many hoops. But, the minute it’s non-standard, it becomes extra work. And, since these systems are built to meet HR needs, not the needs of some random project manager, a list like this is not going to be high on the punch list of the system maintainers who need to keep the HR folks happy with their systems.

              In short, these abbreviated lists are not useful for HR, so it’s unlikely that a system designed for HR is going to have this on its list of standard reports.

            4. Koko*

              The real problem I see is that a 5-10 min task is never just a 5-10 min task. Task-switching is THE most common site of lost productivity and wasted time. It may only be a 5-10 min task but if I’m not already in that database and I wasn’t planning on doing that type of work today and it’s not part of my routine, I lose something more like 15-20 minutes’ worth of productivity because of lost productivity due to task-switching.

              Then multiply that 15-20 minutes for your request times the other 400 employees who work here and you realize that if you say yes to everyone’s 5-10 minute task you can easily lose a huge chunk of your own productivity doing favors for others. How do you decide, as jmkenrick noted above, whose favor is more important than who else’s favor? Most people draw the line where stuff you need and can’t do on your own makes the cut; things you don’t really need or things you could do yourself don’t. If you don’t enforce boundaries people will come to see you as a doormat they can dump all their honey-dos on.

        2. Nerdling*

          Not a poor database, simply a database that includes information pertinent to HR (since it would be HR’s database) that the OP has no need to know on.

        3. Jamie*

          It’s not a poor system, it incorporates the data they need. You can used canned reports, custom reports. but if there was no need for a list of new hires names only pulled by hire date before then no one would have created the report.

          So if they are like other companies where the HR employee master reports would kick out data the OP shouldn’t have either HR would have to delete or redact that info before sending or have IT create a custom report, if they have someone on staff to do it.

          A lot of people don’t do custom reporting in house and pay their ERP for it – which tend to run a couple hundy an hour for development. A report this simple would take me about 15-20 minutes to do including the formatting, longer for the ERP tech – but it certainly wouldn’t make it to the top of my must do list if they were already sent the information as it happens anyway.

    5. jennie*

      Ours is in a HRIS database. You would need to create and run a report to get a list of new hires and/or all employees. If you need a headcount, that could come from HR, but if you need internal contact info (email, phone ext.) that would come from IT. For companies with hundreds or thousands of employees an excel spreadsheet just isn’t going to cut it.

    6. Observer*

      Using some excel spreadsheets as your primary way to manage your employee information is insanity. Yes, some companies do do that for a variety of reasons, but it’s hugely inefficient. And, in cases where a request like the OP’s is reasonable (eg the emails weren’t going out and she would have no way to know when new hires come on), pulling a distributable list from such spreadsheets becomes a major deal. Keep in mind that no HR person with any sense is going to distribute a list with the types of information that HR typically keeps. So that means that someone has to extract the relevant information which takes time.

      Do you really want your HR folks to take a chance on accidentally sending out a list with your pay, social security number, number of warnings in your file and insurance status, to some (to you) random person in the company? That’s the kind of thing that is on these master lists.

      Making that kind of mistake is a career limiting move in most companies. In some cases, these errors open the company to liability. In others, there may be legal reasons for keeping confidentiality. And, sometimes it’s just stuff that the company doesn’t want others to see. All of this means that sending out the information requesting is NOT simple and easy.

      1. Jamie*

        I can’t tell you how many end users think I keep all the data stored in spreadsheets because when I run an query for them on the fly I export it to Excel for them to open.

        Honestly, I have more people than I care to admit who think our data is just eleventy thousand Excel workbooks.

        1. De Minimis*

          I had a training on appropriations/government procurement law last year. The instructor used to work for the GAO, and he had a lot of horror stories about poor practices as far as government information systems. The Army apparently does have a lot of stuff only on Excel…and according to him, they can’t actually provide a solid number on how many people they have at any point in time.

        2. Windchime*

          Yep. We constantly have user requests asking us for complicated reports (with vague requirements) and want them by tomorrow. I think they think that I can just cut-and-paste out of one of our eleventy thousand workbooks.

          Also, their request is in a queue behind a whole bunch of other ones. So there is that, too.

          1. Bea W*

            These stories are making me thankful that my non-database savvy co-workers at least understand we don’t keep our data in Excel.

        3. Noah*

          I run into the same problem all the time. We have a business intelligence department that will build reports for you, but there are several of us outside BI with experience in Crystal (and some in SQL) that are allowed database access as well. If it is just a one-off, quick report, it is often easier to do a SQL query and dump it into an Excel spreadsheet. If it will be an ongoing thing I will generally build something in Crystal with selectors.

          I had one manager, in a different department, ask for “that spreadsheet you sent over last year, just the most current one”. I mentioned I would have to create it, and that it would probably be a few days before I had the opportunity to do that. He was upset that I didn’t just keep up with the spreadsheet.

          FWIW, I was always taught that Excel is only for manipulating, analyzing, and presenting data not storing it.

  17. Ann Furthermore*

    If you work for a larger company, then your Finance group probably has headcount reports that they use for budgeting and forecasting. I work for a subsidiary of a huge company, and an inordinate amount of time is spent doing headcount reporting for the parent. How many heads are there? Where are they? Are they FTE’s or contractors? How much additional headcount is planned for the year? When will they be added? How many people have quit? Will the manager be allowed to backfill the position? And so on.

    Anyway, my point is — someone in your Finance group might already have a report they run for headcount that they could either share with you, or tell you how to run yourself.

    1. De Minimis*

      Ugh…this year headcount and trying to make accurate projections/fund balances has been a particular headache for me [a finance employee.] We’ve had a lot of turnover this year, and many times I haven’t found out about new people until their actual costs start showing up in the system [about a month after they start.] So we’ve made decisions based on bad information as far as funds available.

      I’m not in the exact same boat as the OP, our HR person is willing to help, but sometimes she isn’t able to get me the info. It’s just something where we’ll try and improve the system for next year.

    2. Observer*

      Maybe – or maybe not. In terms of the OP running this herself, she never asked for this. She asked that HR remember to run it FOR her. Beyond that, a lot of these reports tend to have information that the OP shouldn’t have or doesn’t need (eg fte or not.) And sometimes these reports are coming out of systems to which access is limited for a whole host of reasons. Some of those reasons are silly, true, but often enough, they are valid. And in either case, if access is limited, it’s limited.

      1. Ann Furthermore*

        Very true — the standard headcount reports might also have sensitive information. But it’s still worth asking the question. At my company there is one reporting guy, who works in Finance, that also creates reports that anyone can run, and the links to launch them is on the intranet. Many times it’s a pretty simple thing to take the report, tweak it to remove the sensitive/classified information, and then publish it. This might be an option for the OP, if this is something she’s going to need on a regular basis going forward.

        Normally I’ve found that if I’m reaching out for help from someone, I get a much better response asking for help figuring out how to get the information I need on my own, if that’s possible. People are usually willing to help point you in the right direction once, rather than being asked to add a recurring item to their to-do list.

        1. Observer*

          Agreed on both counts. Asking should never be a problem, if it’s done right. And, if it exists in a usable and accessible form, it’s a win all around.

          1. OP*

            I would gladly run the report myself if I could. However not everyone has equal access to everything in the data base. And finance is usually busy and most of us believe we should go to HR for a name list. Thoughts?

  18. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

    Reminds me of the time someone new-ish but not so new he shouldn’t have a clue emailed me a customer request (which he was supposed to do) and included “please send back a tracking number”, as if I was going to the warehouse and ship the package for him myself.

    I sent back, thanks, unfortunately, that’s not a service I provide. You can check with the shipping department tomorrow.

  19. TheTemp*

    I had something similar to that happen. At an old job, I was responsible for setting up new hires in the field management system, so that dispatchers could assign them to service calls. I would constantly get questions from dispatchers about why they couldn’t see so-and-so in the system, and I would go “who’s so-and-so?” and it would turn out that so-and-so was a new hire no one told me about. Asked both the managers and HR to keep me up to date on new hires; HR flatly refused and the managers never remembered to tell me. Tons of fun.

    1. Anonymous*

      This reminds me of my previous office at my company… I was the weekend receptionist, and part of my job involved keeping the mail folders updated. Only, I was never put on the mailing list for the emails that announced when people were hired or leaving, and the weekday receptionist never included that info in her weekly email to me. So I would get a call for someone or a letter, and they wouldn’t be on the roster or she would have pulled the name from the mail folder, and I suddenly wouldn’t be able to help the client. Or someone would come in and not have a mail folder yet. A couple times the admin would be surprised that I wasn’t on the list when I’d ask her to forward me an email for a special project, but she never got it fixed either, and she was the one with the authority to ask for me to be added.

      I was always so out of the loop in that office, and it was miserable. Not just for updated personnel-on everything. Parties, special events, policy changes… Everyone expected me to be as knowledgeable as the weekday staff, but no one would bother actually updating me.

    2. Adonday Veeah*

      “Asked both the managers and HR to keep me up to date on new hires; HR flatly refused and the managers never remembered to tell me. Tons of fun.”

      I understand your frustration. Except, as I understand OP’s letter, s/he is actually being kept up to date, just not in his/her preferred format.

      1. AnonAnalyst*

        Exactly. It is hugely frustrating to not receive information you need to have to do your job, but the OP IS receiving information and needs to figure out an efficient compilation system for herself. I may have asked if there was a list HR could share with me monthly (phrased in more of a “is there any way you could send a list once a month, if you have something that would be easy to send over?” kind of way), but once the HR person let me know that it wasn’t going to happen, it’s on me to figure out a system that works for my purposes since they are already sending me the information I need.

  20. Cheeky*

    The essential thing for the letter writer to understand is while it doesn’t seem like an imposition to her for the HR person to create and compile a monthly list of all new hires, it probably is, and at any rate, the HR person isn’t a part of your group and, thus, doesn’t actually owe you anything. You can ask for help, but she’s not obligated to provide you information in your preferred format. As other people have noted, she does send new hire info out. The onus is on you to track it, if it’s necessary for your job.

  21. Lily in NYC*

    I would have said no to OP as well. She has access to the information she needs – if she needs a list then it’s up to her to make it. All of her reasons for not doing it herself “too busy, full mailbox” are not remotely anyone else’s problem. I have noticed (at my workplace) that there are lots of people here who seem to think they are the only ones who are busy and that the rest of us have nothing but time on our hands.

    1. LBK*

      Particularly ironic since the OP basically says that exact thing about herself! You’d think that would promote a little more self-awareness about how busy other people are.

  22. CoffeeLover*

    You want to be careful when asking for requests as a new hire because you don’t necessarily know the level of work involved. If it’s just a matter of sending you a list they already create, that’s easy. But if this is something the HR manager has to build specifically for you, things get a little more complicated. What’s to say your time is more valuable than hers or that you’re busier than her? This is something you need for your job, so really the responsibility falls on you not her. This is totally different if her role was specifically to support you, but here you’re just asking a fellow coworker to help you do your job. I’m not saying coworkers shouldn’t help each other out, but this turns more into favor territory (rightly or wrongly but you should treat it as such).

    I would have phrased your first request differently as a result. I would have said something like, “Hey Jane, I need to have an updated list of employees for X. Is there an ongoing list you keep in HR that you could forward me or give me access to?”

  23. Artemesia*

    EVen when something is a reasonable request, a great way to get off on the wrong foot in a new job as a very junior person is to ‘assign’ people who are far above you in the system new tasks to do. I have been in fairly high level positions and had to tread lightly about making requests for reports and such from people much on my level; people don’t like to be bossed around and they particularly don’t like it from brand new junior people who think they can lighten their load by assigning things to others.

    If you absolutely must have something (and in this case you are getting the information already just not in the precise format you want) then the way to approach it is information seeking i.e. you need X and need their advice about the best way to get that information so you can do your job. The bonus is that often the experienced hand will in fact be able to point you to a way to get this information easily. Asking for a report is ‘assigning work’ and this never goes well from a young, brand new employee who doesn’t know the organization well yet.

    1. LucyVP*


      Also, approaching them with how you tried to solve your problem can help. Such as “I am compiling my own list based on the new hire emails that I receive but I am concerned that my list may not be entirely accurate. “

  24. Molly*

    Letter writer should set up a filter for emails from the HR person which include some key word/phrase (like “new employee”) to go into a specific folder–that way she won’t miss the emails, and they’ll be all together almost as neatly as a list, with no extra work by either person.

  25. some1*

    I’ve coordinated all-company events, and you need everyone’s name for more than just a headcount. Nametags, seating arrangements, gift bags, etc. I can totally understand why the LW wants an updated list each month so she can work on things.

    That being said, I do think the best course of action is to create your own list from the new hire emails. I wouldn’t consider it out of line to ask the HR person to review your list before the event to make sure it is current, though.

    1. LucyVP*

      This is what I was thinking. Although it is not clear from the letter if it is actually monthly events or she just wants to be updated monthly.

  26. John*

    I deal with a similar issue from the other side. I control additions to a management body list, and it’s not central to my job function and I’m not in a clerical role.

    People will sometimes ask me to notify them when new people are added, which is ongoing and is an involved process that already distracts from my core duties. I really don’t have the capacity to constantly send updates. And the full list is published so they can still find the info for themselves.

    If there’s another way to track changes that cuts that person out of the process — and in this case, it sounds like there is — I encourage OP to take it upon him/herself.

  27. gg*

    I get a kick out of the fact that there are two posts asking folks to not use Millennial, but those are the only two that use it. To be honest, if it hadn’t been brought up, I wouldn’t have thought it. :-)

    1. De Minimis*

      I didn’t either….I know they said “recent grad” but I just focused more on them being new to this particular workplace and its norms.

      1. Jamie*

        Me neither. Maybe because I didn’t enter the workforce until I was in my 30’s and know a lot of people who were older when they got degrees, but I don’t equate new to the workforce with being a certain age unless it’s specified.

        1. De Minimis*

          I switched fields and didn’t really work in an office setting until my mid-30s…had to make a lot of the same adjustments and learn a lot of the same stuff…sometimes the hard way.

    2. Magda*

      As one of the posters in question, I’ll take it. There have been some ugly “entitled Millenial” comment threads in the past when the commenter was young/inexperienced.

      1. LBK*

        Agreed – I really thought this would spark one of those conversations and they’re my least favorite threads on AAM.

    3. snapple*

      I thought the same exact thing and was going to make a comment it but didn’t want to come across as snarky!

    4. fposte*

      I generally think proactive requests like that only cement what they’re hoping to avoid anyway. I think it’s better just to wait and see if it happens and address it then.

  28. soitgoes*

    Every time you get a new email announcing a new hire, add that person’s name to an Excel spreadsheet titled “New Hires.” Do it the second you see the email. That is one of the reasons why HR is sending out those emails. She IS already helping you compile the list. I really don’t understand why you would delete those emails as a rule and then wonder why you don’t have continued access to the information in them.

  29. Chriama*

    Hey OP, email rules and folders or an excel spreadsheet are the answer, as everyone else has mentioned.
    If you feel a little hurt after reading some of the comments comments, just know that no-one thinks you did anything wrong. Presumptuous maybe, but it’s the kind of knowledge that comes with experience, which you’re just building now.

    However, it sounds like you’re overwhelmed at work, which is why HR’s message rubbed you the wrong way. Aside from this specific issue, it might be worth taking time to look at ways to automate other tasks or prioritize your work better. I’m still figuring out my own organizational system, but I tend to use a combo of OneNote and Outlook. OneNote is where I take notes: when I solve an issue or learn a process, I write the solution down. I used to use a physical notebook, but OneNote is better because I can search keywords and add emails (click and drag), links to other files, images & screenshots. I don’t use a daily to-do list because I never remember to check it and new priorities are always popping up, but if there’s something I need to work on at a certain time (first thing in the morning, right before a deadline, etc) I’ll add an Outlook reminder because the pop-up grabs my attention.

    I’m sure other commenters have great suggestions as well. Maybe check out the open thread on Friday?

    1. Observer*

      OneNote is nice and integrates very closely with outlook. A really good alternative is EverNote. Both of these are multi platform, so you can have them on your work phone as well as your computer, with all your notes in sync. That’s another reason they are so much better than a bulky notebook.

    2. Dasha*

      Chriama- I love your reply! Very well thought out and I hope the OP reads it. On a separate note, I think all this millennial stuff needs to be put aside wasn’t everyone at one point inexperienced and perhaps overwhelmed too?

  30. tt*

    I was wondering if OneNote was similar to EverNote. I started using it, but just never got into the habit. I think I need to revisit it.

    1. Chriama*

      I tried evernote but couldn’t get into it. This is my first job (actually just past the 3-month mark myself) and it’s the first time I’m using OneNote regularly. I still haven’t figured out how to keep my emails organized for things I don’t need anymore but might want to refer to later, so I tend to drag a copy of the email into OneNote and then delete it from my inbox.

      For my personal life, I’m not organized enough to use any real filing system. Either I remember to do something or I don’t :P

      1. tt*

        I can never figure out what to name anything so I actually remember it! So then I end up filing everything together in one big pile lol

        1. Chriama*

          That’s why I like OneNote. If I just remember a couple keywords, I can find any topic again easily. Right now I have a rudimentary system of sections and pages and I do some basic text formatting (highlighting, bolding and adding tags), but you could also just use 1 section and add a new page every time you have a new topic. The point is to have it easily searchable, not well-organized.

        2. Observer*

          Evernote has a really good search algorithm, so you can do that.

          One thing I really like about Evernote is that you can tag things in a lot of different ways, so you don’t have to decide if this goes into “contracts”, , or . So, for instance, if I just ordered 5 computers, I’ll tag it with the department(s) the computers are for, the vendor I ordered from, the phrase “purchase order” and the word “computer”. You can filter by multiple tags so I could filter on “purchase Order” AND “” which can come in handy if you have lots of purchase orders and lots of notes and emails for the vendor.

    2. Observer*

      The two are similar, but there are some differences. If I were in your position, I think I would download both and try them out. Evernote is free, and I’m fairly sure that you can try OneNote for free. Also, it come with some versions of the MS Office suite, so you may actually already own it.

  31. Another Sara*

    Everyone already mentioned using email rules to send the emails you are already getting to a special folder. If you have the interest, you could take it a step further and create an automated process that adds relevant details to a spreadsheet (how well this works depends on how standardized the email formatting is). Here are ways you could set this up for two common email systems that I am familiar with, but I bet other options are available:

    1. Outlook: You can create a “script” which is just a VBA routine and attach it to your rule. If you already know VBA, or want to learn, you can create a nice little piece of code which extracts key details (name, start date, etc) from the email and writes them to a spreadsheet you have saved somewhere.

    2. Gmail: There is a free service called IFTTT (If This Then That) which allows you to create highly customizable rules for all kinds of services, including Gmail and Google Docs. You can configure it to save data from emails into a Google Docs spreadsheet based on various triggers.

    For both of these options, even if the emails are not particularly standardized, you can have the entire body of the email saved to your spreadsheet. This will at least get it out of your email and into a place where you can review it later. In the very worst case, where you have no way of easily identifying “new hire” emails automatically, you can set your rule to trigger when you manually drag an email into a designated folder.

    I’m not suggesting that everyone should need to become a programmer or script wizard to deal with tasks like this, but *if* you happen to have an interest in that kind of stuff, it’s a great way to dive in and hone your skills.

    1. Chriama*

      I’ve actually been interested in learning VBA for the past few months so I can write my own macros in excel. I know there’s a lot out there, but the few tutorials I’ve started so far either seemed really basic and I got impatient, or they got too complicated too quickly and I couldn’t follow along. Are there any resources you would recommend?

      1. Another Sara*

        I wish I could point you to a specific website or book, but in my experience the very best way to learn is by trying to solve actual problems you are currently facing in Excel. I think there are two ways to start “diving in,” and they work best together.
        1. Pick a small-ish task that you are currently doing manually, and record yourself doing it with the Excel macro recorder. This will give you a complete macro that reproduces every step you took. There will be a lot of extra stuff because it is recording every physical action you take, but it is a great way to get comfortable with syntax and what different commands do. You can play the macro back and execute one line at a time with F8 while you watch what is happening on the screen.
        2. Use Google to find out how to do parts of your task. For example, if the first thing you do is open another spreadsheet, Google “VBA open spreadsheet.” You should get some hits that are similar to your recorded macro, but cleaner. Use this information to start learning what the essential commands are, and what is fluff.

        If you can do these two things, you can start figuring out how to do bigger and bigger things. I’ve never found tutorials that helpful either, for the same reasons you mentioned. For me, slogging my way through solving specific problems in VBA has always been way more useful. I’ve been doing this for almost a decade, and the macro recorder and googling “how to do x in VBA” are still my go-to resources for new projects.

        Good luck!

        1. EA*

 has some good information. More focused on ways to visually represent data, but there is some VBA stuff on there too.

          I’ve found a lot of answers to questions at

          I have used the “macro recorder” some, but I usually find that the macros it generates are not the best way to do things.

          1. Another Sara*

            I should have mentioned that the recorder provides code for *mechanical actions* rather than *programmatic actions*. For example, if you want to put the value in cell A into cell B, the recording does this:
            Select cell A
            Copy value in selected cell
            Select cell B
            Paste in selected cell

            Obviously this is inefficient, because what you really want is:
            Change the value in cell B to the value in cell A

            The difference between those two is key to good VBA programming, and it’s something you learn through experience. The macro recorder gets you started, but as a syntax reference rather than an example of good or efficient coding. That is where online searches come in: you see how a more efficient snippet compares to the macro recorder, and you start learning how to translate those mechanical commands. Eventually, you’ll rarely use the macro recorder except when you don’t know or can’t remember the syntax around particular objects.

    2. Jessa*

      Please be aware if you want to add an additional service or programme you should check with management/IT for the rules about doing this. You may not be allowed to do it, or you may have to do it in a certain way because of security or reporting issues.

  32. Chriama*

    I was rereading the OP’s message and I noticed something (forgive me if it’s been mentioned before). You said HR will *usually* send out new hire emails and that your request was to make sure you don’t miss anybody. I’m assuming that means there’s the odd time she’ll forget to send out an email.
    If that’s the case (and assuming she’s the only person who can get you the new hire info), I’d still recommend keeping track of things yourselves and then sending her the list every month and asking if there’s anyone you haven’t included.
    This doesn’t really change things for you (actually, it seems to create more work!), however the fact of the matter is that when you’re responsible for the deliverable, the onus is on you to get the info you need. This is especially true when you’re new and it’s your first job, since you’re probably at the bottom of the totem pole.

    Again, I’m sorry to hear that you’re so busy you feel like you don’t have time to breathe or go to the bathroom, and I hope you find ways to decrease that stress. Maybe you could talk to other people (coworkers, manager, people who had the job before you) and find out what they do to keep their workloads manageable.

    1. Sadsack*

      This still requires the HR person to review OP’s list every month against her own records, which will still be time-consuming for HR.

      1. Chriama*

        Right, but my point was that she’d have to do this if HR is the only person with that info. If it’s absolutely crucial that she have the name of every new hire and HR has been known to let things fall through the cracks, what’s the alternative? I was posing that hypothetical because all the comments so far were assuming OP has all the info she needs. But if she can’t be assured the info is complete, then I see why she asked HR to send her that list. And since we’ve pretty much agreed that pushing back isn’t a great idea at this point in her tenure, my suggestion was for how to take ownership of the situation.

        1. Colette*

          If the OP needs this information for her job and there is no other way to get it, she should either ask the HR person how she can get what she needs while explaining why it’s important to the business or, failing that, escalate to her manager. Assigning HR a task that’s more work than her first request is unlikely to get her anywhere.

  33. Student*

    Alternatives to quizzing HR about employee headcount constantly or setting up an email filter and doing it yourself:

    Ask HR what the best way to get this info is. It may be that she only looked at your exact request and turned it down, without offering up alternatives that are obvious to her but not to you.

    If you have an internal directory, or an internal phone list, or an internal org chart, see if you can get the info you need from those spots instead.

    If you have an IT department of a decent size, try asking them an open-ended question to see if they have suggestions on how to get the info. IT generally retains the ability to do database queries easily on HR information. Don’t assign them a monthly task! Explain what you are actually looking for (headcount? actual individual name list? email-list? headcount-by-gender? local headcount of a multi-site company?) and see if they have ideas or suggestions.

    1. Jillociraptor*

      “What’s the best way to get this info?” is a GREAT way to phrase the question. In this case it seems like an issue of the OP just needing to take an extra step to document the information she is already receiving, but in most similar cases, this way’s gonna be a winner.

  34. Thomas W*

    This is where an SQL database comes in handy. We keep our employee info, privileged & public, in a database that everyone has basic access to. When my PA needs to make a list of new hires (which we do every few weeks), she can query the database to show all people hired in the past week/month/etc. She saves the query as a page and it updates itself. She can even export this into a spreadsheet. We’ve set the permissions so that when people outside HR/management access the database, they only see basic public info (name, number, email), and not the more sensitive data that is kept in the same database. Not that the OP’s company can just jump to a new format, but it’s worth knowing that it’s possible.

  35. The Legal*

    Perhaps you should ask if anyone outside of HR keeps a list like this. There are benefits to you doing it. One of the main ones is that you get seen as a “can do” person who takes care of things on her own. When I found a hole in my last job (no one had an updated phone list of every department frequently called by my department), I created it and gave it to a few of my friends. Pretty soon, everyone was using “The LeGal’s list,” they knew who I was, and relied on my info. This small task was one of the many things that helped me build a good reputation in my company. This is really a good chance for you.

    1. The Legal*

      PS – I should note that I did this before becoming an attorney and in a role about 10 years ago – a few years out of college.

    2. Bea W*

      This is how one of my employers ended up using shared contact lists in Outlook. I thought it was crazy I had to walk around to everyone’s computer with a floppy disk containing a file I had exported out of FoxPro and/or deliver hard copies every month. So I did some research, and set up a contact folder on my email account that could be shared between everyone on the project. That spread to various other projects, and then when an upgrade to Outlook broke that function, there was enough demand that IS looked into an alternative to replace the functionality that had been lost in the upgrade and started providing shared project folders on the new version of Outlook. I was also just starting my career, and it was a lot of seemingly simple things like being able to share an email list or creating a phone list or the “Who to cc” pin-up guide (some of our higher level folks had admins they requested me cc’d on everything, but no one could ever remember who these people were) that were really appreciated and helped me to build a good reputation and respect of co-workers. It wasn’t even something I was trying to do. I was usually trying to make my own job easier!

  36. Anonsie*

    Our of curiosity, let’s say the OP didnt have another way of getting this information, and couldn’t get an alternative possibility from anyone in HR. What would be appropriate then, considering the OP’s standing?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Then I’d say she should ask her manager for advice: “I need X in order to do Y. Jane is too busy to provide a monthly list. Can I get your advice on what other options there might be or how to proceed?”

      I’d say this for people much more senior than the OP too, but it’s especially appropriate in a junior role to turn to your manager for guidance when you hit that type of roadblock.

    2. Observer*

      In addition to what Alison said, I’d add that there are different ways of asking for this kind of information. “please send me a monthly new hire list.” is going to come off very differently from “I have a problem – I need to keep a current list of staff so that I can do my job. Can you help?” or “I’d appreciate your advice – I need to maintain a current list of staff emails to do my job. What’s the best way to manage that?”

  37. QK*

    OP, I feel you, but here is a lesson I wish I had learned wayyy earlier in my professional life. When someone is kinda cold or even plain jerky to you*, don’t engage. Take the high ground, and ask open-ended questions on how best to handle things (either of the same person, or people close to them, or people more in a position to help–or your manager!).

    Consistently shrugging off perceived “grumpy-grams” as “well, maybe that person was having a bad day and didn’t mean it like that” is one of the best behaviors I’ve ever implemented. You are viewed as a cool-headed person, and man oh man, does it cut down on stress. I am much happier at work when I don’t get worked up over little things (and most things are little things).

    *To be clear, I don’t think the email you received was jerky. To me it would read like, “eh, this person sounds like she’s letting her busy-ness get the better of her and didn’t take the time to word this more warmly, oh well”.

    1. Me*

      QK, I agree not to read too much into the “jerky” email. Too many people try to read tone into these messages.
      And the expectation that someone should/would make a special list when the information has already been given confirms the need for a lot more experience before taking someone on at the office.

  38. Lindrine*

    The company I work for has both “everybody” mailing lists and “location x” mailing lists in addition to departmental mailing lists. Would it be reasonable to have departments send you an update if htere are new hires? Or for you to send out an email blast at a certain time to begin collecting RSVPs? In past jobs, it has not been unusual for company retreat lists to be coordinated at the department level then given to the planner, but every place is different.

  39. voluptuousfire*

    At the risk of not reading all of the responses, wouldn’t the receptionist/office manager/whatever admin person have a phone list with extension and email address? At one of my old jobs, our receptionist updated our phone list whenever we got a new employee. Why not ask them?

  40. Cassie*

    Echoing most of the sentiments above – the OP should really just keep a list herself if she needs it. Does she really need a running list every month for planning purposes? Or just a headcount?

    I think one of the biggest problems is that the OP wants to receive this list each month like you would receive a monthly bank statement. Banks are set up to send you your account statement on X day of each month; HR is (probably) not set up to send you a list of current employees on X day of each month. If the OP was the head of HR or the CFO or something and needed this information, I could someone setting up a report to run each month. But in this situation? Highly unlikely.

  41. Manager Anonymous*

    Our best current list of employees comes from our IT department as it contains contact information (phone numbers/email address/ department name ) of all new hires and has deleted anyone who has left the organization.

  42. HR_Anon*

    I am an HR Manager for an org with about 450 employees and get these types of requests all the time. I never considered telling someone ‘no, I don’t have time’. Then again, we have an HRIS where I can pull these reports in 30 seconds, so it’s not a big deal.

    I would be annoyed if the person expected me to remember to email them the report every month, but as long as they proactively reached out to me monthly to request the information, it would be no problem. I think this HR person is either kind of a jerk/lazy, or they don’t have a sophisticated HRIS and this would be a huge PITA to compile.

  43. Britan*

    Not sure if this has been suggested, but I discovered this just yesterday and it has made my LIFE! If the only emails the OP receives from this HR person is new hires, you can create a folder in Outlook and then *set up a rule so that any email From this person is automatically filed into that folder*. It will declutter your inbox while filing the new hire list without any effort from either you or the HR staff! A google search can show you how and it doesn’t take more than ~5 minutes to set up. I’ve found this to be priceless for organizing my inbox so far. You can set up all sorts of rules like this in Outlook. It can auto file things from a certain person, with certain words in the title or body, etc.

  44. Taylor*

    Yikes, NO. Thank you Ask A Manager for shutting OP down. I’m a “millennial” myself and this still comes off as extremely entitled. Deleting emails you need to reference is really stupid. The HR rep in this instance is spot-on. I suspect OP is over-inflating his/her workload (that said, I have worked jobs where I was told that bathroom breaks were “wasting time,” so I do understand overly demanding managers/bosses). Even if s/he has no time to breathe, OP will look back at this position someday and be thankful they were put through the wringer first thing in the workplace. It will give him/her much perspective.

    I just recently worked with a co-worker a few years younger than me who would constantly ask me to do mundane little tasks for her (I’m in a position senior to her, for the record) that were either insanely simple to do (so do them yourself) or EASILY SOLVABLE BY GOOGLE. When I would tell her she needed to figure out how to solve her own problems and take charge in her new position, she would roll her eyes at me.

    Needless to say, she is not with our company anymore. (Ending slightly off-topic rant here.)

  45. AnnaNonnie*

    I’m freshly at my new job (1st professional job out of college) and I find this to be extremely narcissistic and entitled. The OP should be focused on proving themselves in the work place – IE that they can handle all the responsibilities, be a professional, fit in with corporate culture etc. To expect HR to do a part of your job for you is ridiculous. HR already sends out the e-mails, it’s the OP’s responsibility to keep themselves organized. If you don’t want to clutter up your inbox, print out the emails and start a folder. This may seem harsh, but if the OP can’t handle things as simple as compiling a list of new hires from information HR is sending out, how are they going to handle larger projects? It sounds like the OP needs to learn prioritizing and organization skills.

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