update: should I have to take vacation time for this day when I regularly work extra hours?

Back in 2013, we heard from a letter-writer who was frustrated that after putting in a lot of extra hours at her new job, she was being told to use vacation time for a few hours at home waiting for the cable guy. Here’s her update.

The commenters were a huge help. There were some questions about whether my perception of myself as an all-star performer may have been misguided. While I take their point that it’s hard to self-evaluate, I take a lot of pride in my job and going above and beyond the job description. I was hired into a role that was one promotion up from what I interviewed for. Since then, I have been promoted with raises and bonuses, expense/purchasing discretion, a private office, and generally kept happy.

The commenters were also right that although we idealized a 40-hour workweek, the company wasn’t there yet. That was harder to recognize. It was my first exempt job. The extra hours were needed just to complete the bare minimum, but only exempt hires actually worked them. Non-exempt people did (and still do) keep to the 40-hour limit. Although I worked more than 40 hours weekly at previous jobs, those hours were tracked and compensated with overtime pay. We did not have redundancies built into staffing so when you were out, there was no one to cover your slack. I could do 95% of my job from a laptop with Internet access and my cell phone. I didn’t really need to physically be in the office to perform as long as I was allowed to work from home but that wasn’t generally available as an option.

Ultimately, the solution within my control was to become a more known quantity and earn trust. At the time I wrote the initial message, I’d only been employed here for a few months. Now that I’ve been here two years, I have more leeway. I learned the business and industry better. I learned better ways to manage my workload. I learned that my boss places a high value on face time, and that I need to proactively communicate and re-communicate about scheduling and priorities. Also, I have helped hire steadily since then, bringing efficiency and redundancy into the system. We can adjust our schedules for a personal appointment or take more than a couple days off in a row. Occasionally staff have even had flex-time or alternate schedules approved, which was unheard of two years ago. All of this has helped us deal with personal issues better with boosted morale and far less impact on productivity.

The short version is that we are evolving – both the company and myself. This is the best job I’ve ever had, so I’m glad we are both moving in the right direction.

{ 6 comments… read them below }

  1. DMC*

    Really nice update for a Friday afternoon! And nice to see an employee stick with the situation for a year or two and work toward improving things.

  2. jcsgo*

    To me this is a great example of someone learning a lot and becoming a better employee as a result. I seriously love AAM for how it has helped me do the same.

  3. Kate*

    This is a great update. I love how the OP was able to learn and grow through something that was initially uncomfortable about their job.

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