I want to skip my office’s day at the beach, I shared an employee’s paycheck on Facebook, and more

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. Can I skip my office’s day at the beach?

I’ve been in my office for about seven months now and I recently learned that every year, the team goes on a summer outing. It’s not necessarily a team-building outing. It’s just a day away from the office enjoying each other’s company.

This year the team voted on spending the day at the beach (other options were kayaking, laser tag, and going to the movies). I really don’t want to attend this outing for multiple reasons. I don’t really like going to the beach and even though I like my colleagues just fine, I don’t necessarily want to spend an entire day just socializing with them. Part of me wishes we picked one of the other activity that didn’t require being away for the entire day and that also involved an activity.

Do I have to suck it up and go to this? Is there any way to graciously ask to sit this out?

You should go, be sick that day, or have a scheduling conflict. I would not ask to sit it out on grounds of just not wanting to go, or you’ll come across as Not Interested in Being Part of the Team. That’s silly — you shouldn’t have to spend a day at the beach if you don’t want to — but that tends to be how this stuff goes.

2. I shared an employee’s paycheck on a private Facebook group

I have an employee who couldn’t understand how the pay periods starts and ends since I would give them their paychecks earlier than the paycheck is signed for. So when she asked why she wasn’t getting her paycheck early, I posted her previous paycheck (just the front of the paycheck) on a private group on Facebook. Basically I shared with the other employees to show them the time periods on the check and when the check was written and dated. She got very upset that I posted her paycheck. Are there any laws that I wasn’t supposed to discuss or show the paycheck to anyone else? 

Laws? No. But assuming that it showed the amount of the payment, then yes, you violated her privacy. She’s entitled to be pissed off, and you should profusely apologize and rethink how you’re protecting your employees’ confidential information.

(And yes, there are certainly employers with total salary transparency, where everyone knows what everyone else makes, or government agencies where salary is public record — but I’m assuming that’s not the case here. And even if it were, she’s still entitled to prefer not to have her paycheck splashed all over the place.)

3. My manager keeps rotating through contract workers

I have a question regarding a situation that my fairly new manager is in. Our team had a couple of full-time employees quit, and our manager has brought in a couple of contract workers to fill the positions as temp-to-hire. Two of them haven’t worked out (so far), one for clear performance issues and one for more general fitting-in-with-the-culture issues.

Our manager is trying to find someone who fits the role really perfectly, but I wonder whether it is better to keep rotating through contract workers until she finds that person, or is it better to work with someone to help them fit in with the company? I really don’t know myself – it seems like each approach takes a fair amount of effort, and both a bad fit and a rotating roster are not great for building a cohesive team. I’m not really asking for advice for myself, since there’s not really much I can do about this, but was just curious about what you recommend in case I wind up in a similar position later in my career.

Neither! She should be hiring better. It sounds like she needs to put in more time on the front-end for screening, interviewing, and testing candidates. I wonder if she’s allowing herself to see the temp-to-hire set-up as one that gives her time to do all that once someone is already in place, since she hasn’t committed fully to them yet and can still get rid of them. She’d save herself (and probably the rest of you, not to mention the temp hires) a lot of time if she’d instead make sure she’s hiring the right person to begin with.

No hiring process is perfect, of course, and you’ll still always end up with some proportion of hires who just don’t work out, but you can do a lot during the hiring process to steer some of that away.

4. People keep interrupting my work to ask for directions

I am a prospect researcher for a large university. I sit at my computer and do research and compile reports all day long in a cubicle very close to the front of our office’s door. I’m on the 11th floor, where our Development headquarters’ mail room is, but our Donor Services department is on the 10th floor.

My problem is, despite all of the signs in the world, people still come up to me in my obviously high walled cubicle and ask me, “Hey, is so-and-so here today?” or “Where is person X’s office?” Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy to help, but that’s not my job here and it is so frequent that it affects my work. I would just put headphones in and ignore people, but we have donors, parents, and colleagues come in, and I don’t want them to assume I’m front desk and am just rude and then get a bad taste for our department without my even knowing.

We do have signs up with the names of all the administration that have visitors or get packages the most and arrows to show where they are. People just seem to ignore them.

How do I politely display that I am RESEARCH, not front desk, so that people understand my priorities when they come in? Or how do I propose to my supervisor changing my desk so that this isn’t an issue?

I’d actually take this as a flag that there’s a need for a better system for directing visitors. If people are asking you and you’re the wrong person, there’s a hole in the system that needs to be fixed — maybe by something as simple as better signage than what’s currently up. So I’d start by talking about the problem with whoever’s actually responsible for managing the visitor flow to that area and brainstorming solutions.

If that doesn’t work, talk to your manager about what’s going on and the impact it’s having on your work. It’s okay to directly say, “This happens enough that I’m finding that this is impacting my workflow and making it hard to focus. Would it be possible to move my desk to a different location?” (You could also go straight to this step if you want to, but your manager might ask if you’ve already tried to resolve it with the person responsible for that area.)

5. Can I work more reasonable hours during my last two weeks?

I have given notice at my job a few weeks ago now, and my last day is in two weeks. My primary reason is that I’m moving to be with my fiancé, but a large contributing factor is that they have had me working 12-14 hour days with no signs of it getting better, and we don’t get overtime. Can I reasonably go back to working 8-10-hour days?

My coworkers have approached the boss about the hours and he told them that’s what they signed up for and they should get over it because Saturdays are going to start soon. When I signed on, I was told my working hours would be 7-4 Monday-Friday, but typically I get to the office before 6 am and don’t leave until at least 7pm, and it’s been that way since about a week after I started. Sowing up after 6 am gets you a 6:15 phone call from the boss demanding to know where you are, and leaving before 6 gets you the same thing. I like what I do so I have put up with it, but now I’m burned out and can see the end. Can I take my sanity back or do I have to tough it out?

Probably, but with a boss that awful, there are no guarantees. Theoretically you should absolutely be able to say, “For my remaining two weeks, I need to stick to the schedule we agreed to when I was hired — 7-4.” That’s reasonable and most employers would have no problem with that. But with this awful dude, who knows.

{ 410 comments… read them below }

    1. Ella

      I’m confused as to why posting a picture of the paycheck was even necessary for the explanation. Or why one person asking a question necessitated the whole group getting an answer. Or why “I get my check on Thursday but it’s dated for Friday, what’s up with that?” is somehow a complicated question.

      1. Lillie Lane

        I was wondering the same thing. Presumably the person has a copy of the past check, so why need to post it? Just sit down and explain it. And why include the whole group, if only one person was asking the question?

        And…personally, I am not all that concerned with my own privacy, but if my employer shared my paycheck on a Facebook page….I would be so, so, so pissed.

        1. SandrineSmiles (France)

          Well, that’s the thing. In France, we get a one page paper with your name, adress, social, things like that. If any personal info was blacked out, I wouldn’t have a problem with the paper being plastered all over the internet. I mean I could black out the information myself and show you one of those, it really wouldn’t matter (to me, of course).

          And to answer Ella, well, I will admit that sometimes it’s difficult for me to get certain concepts if I don’t have a written example of what’s being explained, which could be happening here. But still, the personal info should have been blacked out (and nothing in the letter says it has been, sooo…) .

        2. NJ anon

          Same here. Why didn’t op post her own paycheck for all to see? Incredibly . . . I can’t even think of the right word . . .

          1. Spooky

            +1. This is such an unbelievable lapse in judgement that, as a coworker, I would have serious difficulties working with or trusting her in the future, and would be considering reporting her had I been the poor employee whose information got posted.

            1. madge

              Yes. Considering she’s in accounting or HR (sometimes they’re the same department), I would really have a problem respecting this person/office going forward whether or not it was my information being shared.

            2. Liz

              Not to mention it was on Facebook. You don’t control those servers, so now the copy of that paycheck is out there forever, even if no-one in the private group took a copy. (And given the numerous privacy “oops”es from both FB and Google, I wouldn’t want to assume anything posted there would ever remain private.

            3. Jessa

              What if there were garnishments or other personal deductions on the cheque? Was the personal information all blacked out? Was there an SSN? The employee’s address? Banking information? I don’t care if people know what I make and probably wouldn’t care if something was being debited like student loans or something (but child support? court fees? back taxes? heck no.)

              Why not use a blank cheque? You could even make up a general graphic with a blank voided cheque with arrows and explanations of things (this is the times you’re getting paid for, this is your overtime, this is your medical insurance, or your taxes.)

              Also posting without blanking out the company banking info can be an issue. Especially since Facebook is known for making changes that accidentally screw up people’s privacy settings every now and then. They’re slowly getting better at it, but still. It doesn’t take much for that to become public knowledge, people can share things from private groups after all.

          2. Lily in NYC

            Good point! It takes a lot to get me angry, but if my supervisor did this to me I would be livid.

            1. Jill

              I work in government so our wages are public record. But you still have to go through the rigmarole of making a public records request to find out. And even then, you’d get only my wages not any of my personal information. I can tell you, even in government where our salaries are all public, there is still resentment over why certain people are paid what they are, and whether so–and-so is really worth what they get paid. We even have situations where worker bees make more than their supervisors.

              Why on earth, in the private sector, would you want to set your staff up for resentment and judgment, and set yourself as a manager up for complaints by publicizing someone’s pay? You owe her a sincere apology, OP!

        3. Kyrielle

          And for me at least at my last job, if it wasn’t literally the *check* part, the whole pay stub would show all my withholdings – which optional plans I’m signed up for, how much I have held for taxes, etc. I would be pretty unhappy about that being shared with my coworkers, even though there’s nothing particularly secret or that could be used for identity theft in that section.

          I mean, if you needed an example to refer to, why not use your own? Or maybe mock something up, if you could do it without violating any of finance’s rules.

          1. AW

            the whole pay stub would show all my withholdings – which optional plans I’m signed up for, how much I have held for taxes, etc.

            Yep. Not even jobs where pay is public or common knowledge make *that* information public.

            1. Jessa

              Exactly, especially garnishments or other private deductions (even if not garnished, some people agree to pay certain things like child support by direct deduction.)

        4. Anonygoose

          I’d actually kinda like it. Because hopefully then another coworker in the same job would tell me if I was being screwed. :-)

      2. Arjay

        And was the person asking the question on Facebook? If not, why was that he venue chosen for the response? How about email, if you want to send a document?

    2. Uyulala

      It’s just weird and off all around. And OP’s question wasn’t asking if it was rude or inappropriate to do. They only cared if it was illegal. There has got to be a whole lot more back story here or something that got things to that point.

      1. AW

        And OP’s question wasn’t asking if it was rude or inappropriate to do.

        Considering the entire Facebook group saw what happened, the OP is probably getting more than an earful about how inappropriate this was. They probably don’t need that question answered at this point and are just trying to figure out the extent of the damage.

      1. LizB

        Yeah, this was my thought. Five minutes in MS Paint, and you have a fake paycheck for Fezzik the Giant who earns $10/hr as a Brute Squad Specialist. The colors and fonts don’t even have to be the same as long as the information is in the right spots — you just want an employee to be able to compare the fake paycheck with their real one at home and understand it based on your explanation.

        1. Judy

          I’ve always assumed every payroll system has an example employee in there, because most places have documentation that shows what the pay notice looks like and exactly what each field means.

      2. AW

        Or just do a Google image search for “understanding US paycheck”.

        Honestly, I’m surprised they don’t already have a mock paycheck image on hand specifically to use to answer questions.

    3. NickelandDime

      I don’t know why this conversation took place on Facebook in the first place. Why not a face to face conversation to ensure she understood?

      1. Lily in NYC

        It sounds like the company or dept. might have a private facebook page that they use internally? I am not on facebook so I am reaching here.

        1. Case of the Mondays

          That’s what I’m thinking. I don’t use Facebook normally but I volunteer for a non-profit and all communications between this sub group of volunteers is done via a private FB group. I created a FB just for this purpose. We discuss non-public things in this group and it is vastly preferred by the various volunteers over constant email chains. I don’t care either way which we use.

        2. AW

          The idea that a business would find Facebook useful for internal communication isn’t reaching at all. There are actually a few Facebook like sites that are specifically for workplaces. Two I know of off the top of my head are Yammer and Chatter. I don’t think those sites would exist if people hadn’t already been trying to make Facebook work for workplace communication.

    4. LiveAndLetDie

      I’m stuck on this as well — if you needed to make a “understanding your paycheck” infographic for your employees, why not mock up a fake one or black out all personal information (names, ID #s, dollar amounts)? None of the identifying information on a paycheck is necessary to explain what the OP was using it to explain.

      Also, I feel like Facebook is a TERRIBLE venue for this conversation.

      1. NickelandDime

        Right! And this isn’t an internal communication tool, this is a private FB page or group. Does anyone really trust FB like that to use it for this purpose? I’m on FB and I sure as heck don’t!

        1. Jessa

          And I’m still not sure if someone in the group can’t forward/share something and if their settings are lower security then it’d no longer be private information.

  1. Brett

    #2 Depending on the state (and maybe the employer) there could be information on the paycheck that would be in violation of laws to release, e.g. it is a crime in my state for my public employer to release a document that reveals my social security number _or_ employee id.

    1. jag

      I don’t understand why an organization would put information on the check that it is a crime to release, since checks can be given to third parties. Yes, if the recipient of the check passes it on to a third party, then they are releasing their own info, not the the issuer of the check, but putting a SSN on a check is a set-up for problems and makes the check harder to use.

      1. Jessa

        The pay stub contains two parts, the information section and the actual cheque which can be separated from the information and cashed. The information on the cheque part is just the pay to business. It’s the top part where it says salary, deductions, taxes taken, what insurance you’ve paid for, any garnishments or agreements to pay things like child support, court costs, probation costs, tax liens, student loan liens…

        When the OP is discussing the paycheque they mean the whole sheet, in fact the part that’s the actual cheque is not relevant to the information they’re trying to explain to people at all.

  2. Gene

    As someone who regularly advocates here for pay transparency, and a government employee who’s base pay is readily available to anyone who cares, my actual check is still private. My PTO balances, how much I have deducted for my 457 plan, which health plan I’m on, deductions for child support or attached wages, and the like are nobody’s business.

    1. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec

      Yes. I would feel very sensitive about some of the details on my paycheck being displayed like that. For example, I max out my FSA…and I don’t want people wondering why I need so much money set aside for medical care.

      Also, it seems odd to have these kinds of discussions on Facebook, even in a private group. Why does your company do that, OP?

      1. Merry and Bright

        Yes, I don’t get the Facebook thing either. My current organisation explains stuff like that by email with links to any illustrations.

        1. LBK

          If this is retail or another service industry with a lot of non-exempt part-time workers, most of them probably don’t have company email addresses and/or wouldn’t be checking them during off hours (since then they’d need to be paid for it).

            1. AW

              Lots of small businesses have Facebook accounts. IIRC, it doesn’t cost anything to create a private Facebook group.

          1. Anna

            Yeah, but a discussion about paychecks shouldn’t happen in a forum where anyone else but the employee and the payroll person can see it, no matter what the industry. I can’t think of a single industry where this would be an acceptable way to communicate that kind of information to an employee.

            1. LBK

              That’s a clear overstep, but my point was to say that setting up a Facebook group for your store or location isn’t uncommon in retail as a means of disseminating information to everyone.

      2. Finn

        No kidding. Two things about Facebook — even their private groups — come to mind here: (1) Various Facebook settings are seemingly in continuous flux and (2) Facebook copyrights every image/photo you post to it, so technically this is now Facebook’s image to sell at some future date if it wants (it does this when people die, I frequently see Facebook copyrights on news photos of non-famous people whose deaths have made the news, for example, and it irritates me to no end that Facebook has a revenue stream from this).

        1. Apollo Warbucks

          Also just because it is posted in a private group doesn’t mean it will stay private anyone could save a copy of the picture and post it elsewhere for anyone to see

        2. Kelly L.

          There was a letter posted to some other advice column a year or two ago (Dear Wendy?) where the OP was convinced her stepmother was cheating because stepmother’s picture popped up attached to an ad for a dating service. Nope, most likely Facebook just snarfed up a picture of her and used it. I believe something similar also happened to that poor kid Rehtaeh after she died.

        3. The IT Manager

          Facebook doesn’t copyright the photos users post to it. However through the user agreement users grant Facebook the right the use their photos for free and share the photos for free to others.

          http://www.nyccounsel.com/business-blogs-websites/who-owns-photos-and-videos-posted-on-facebook-or-twitter/

          http://www.snopes.com/computer/facebook/privacy.asp

          http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/facebook-copyright-hoax-copy-paste-copyright-facebook-message/story?id=17811357

      3. sam

        I was thinking about this as well. paychecks could, under certain circumstances, include information that could be considered Protected Health Information under HIPAA. Now, it’s only a a HIPAA violation if the employer is a Covered Entity or some other related actor under HIPAA, but that could very well be the case depending on how your company has structured its health plan (my employer is a Covered Entity under HIPAA because we have a self-funded health insurance plan and the employer is the actual plan sponsor, so we have to be extremely careful with such employee information.) We spend a lot of time explaining to people that PHI is not just “whether someone is sick”, but *any* information relating to their healthcare.

      4. The IT Manager

        What the letter writer did was wrong, but I assumed the a paycheck meant an actual paycheck; the extra info you mention would not be on a paycheck. If what she shared was a pay check only name and amount of money employee makes would be on there.

        1. dawbs

          I get stuck there though–if all that was there was the name and amount, how would showing that help explain the pay structure?

          (Although, along those lines, I may be giving my co-workers to much credit [but I have some really smart co-workers! Most of them are great, but there’s at least one jerk in every bunch who may use his smarts for bad], but my salary is public record.
          My salary + details about my work (like how much my insurance costs–which is public too) + the amount of my take home pay = them being able to back out all sorts of data, if they wanted to. Like mentioned upthread, my deductions (“huh, why is dawbs single +1?”) or childsupport or garnishment. So even that would give info)

        2. sam

          really? my pay statement has all sorts of itemized deductions – taxes, FICA, payroll withholding, my employee classification, my hourly “rate” (even though I’m an exempt, salaried employee), the portion both I and my employer contribute to my health insurance premium, 401K contributions, If I’ve made a charitable contribution through the company’s employee giving site (which gets matched by the company), the imputed value of the life insurance premium for the life insurance my company takes out on me, how much I’ve contributed to my Health Savings Account, my transit benefit account, etc. Not to mention a masked version of my SSN (last 4 digits).

          Now, there’s a pay “stub” at the bottom that can be separated that basically looks like a check with nothing else (I get direct deposit, so it’s got “THIS IS NOT A CHECK” scrawled across it), but that has no information that would be of use to the explanation that the OP was trying to provide to the employee. I’m assuming she posted the pay statement, which would include information as to the hours worked, etc., and could, at least in theory, include some subset of the above information depending on the type of employment arrangement we’re talking about. That’s a LOT of personal information that I certainly wouldn’t want people seeing, that has nothing to do with caring whether people know how much money I make.

          1. blushingflower

            I think that’s part of the question –
            Is it this an actual, literal pay check that the employee receives and then has to go to the bank to deposit, or is this a paystub that includes all of the information about hours worked, salary, deductions, etc.?

    2. A Dispatcher

      Was going to say the same thing. Having my base yearly salary available publicly (and being able to look up what I actually made which is vastly different due to overtime and shift differential) is one thing – seeing my actual paycheck is quite another.

      I mean maybe OP’s paychecks are vastly different than ours and wouldn’t show that information on what she posted, but then I am not quite sure why the employee would be so upset. I’d be interested to see a response from OP as to why this had to be posted at all, since it seemed like an individual question versus one that a group of employees had. Further, would it really be that difficult to provide a list of when the pay periods start and end and when each check is issued?

    3. LQ

      Agreed. (Also pro-pay transparency and a government/nonprofit employee, salary has always been public.) There are many possible factors on the actual check that are completely inappropriate to share (as is the lack of those things btw).

      For me I don’t understand why not explain this using your words, or if you had to have an image a fake check or the OPs check (which I wouldn’t want to see so I’d hope they’d blank out the other stuff on anyway).

      “Time cards are due on the 15th, this lets us get everything processed and turned around by the 20th usually, but sometimes things come up, holidays, someone being out, a delay in getting the time cards, so we guarantee getting them out on the 23rd. We try to be as quick as possible, but please don’t expect your paycheck until the 23rd which is the guaranteed date.”

    4. jag

      “my actual check is still private. My PTO balances, how much I have deducted for my 457 plan, which health plan I’m on, deductions for child support or attached wages”

      That’s on the check? The thing you deposit in a bank? Where does it all fit?

      1. Jessa

        The pay stub is actually usually an 8.5 x 11 page with the bottom third being the actual cheque that you detach and cash/deposit. It’s the top 2/3 that would contain the information the OP specifically said they were explaining – the dates of the pay period vs the date of being paid. That information is not on the detachable cheque.

  3. Anon Accountant

    Laser tag could pose a problem for someone that has seizures that can be triggered by strobe lights, flashing lights, or flashes of lights. “Photo-sensitive epilepsy” is the term commonly used and flashing lights can trigger seizures in a person that has a history of seizures even when taking medications.

    (Since laser tag was mentioned as an activity OP1’s group voted on I had to mention this as a caution). And for an activity? How about everyone having a day off that doesn’t count against vacation time or personal days? A “free” day off?

    1. April

      Yes, and some people just don’t like laser tag. We aren’t children anymore, i.e. playing games.

      1. SandrineSmiles (France)

        Some people not liking laser tag doesn’t have anything to do with “not being a child anymore” though… Fun is fun, regardless of age… but if you don’t like something, it’s fine ^^ .

        (Not to mention, I will admit that I’m pretty sensitive to the “Not a child anymore” comment as I often feel insulted when I see it, since I’m a Pokemon playing 32 years old and keep having to “defend” myself about some of the stuff I like ;) )

        1. Margo Victory

          As a 40-something Harry Potter nerd, I feel your pain and offer up my favorite “not a child” response, courtesy of C. S. Lewis:

          “Critics who treat ‘adult’ as a term of approval, instead of as a merely descriptive term, cannot be adult themselves. To be concerned about being grown up, to admire the grown up because it is grown up, to blush at the suspicion of being childish; these things are the marks of childhood and adolescence. And in childhood and adolescence they are, in moderation, healthy symptoms. Young things ought to want to grow. But to carry on into middle life or even into early manhood this concern about being adult is a mark of really arrested development. When I was ten, I read fairy tales in secret and would have been ashamed if I had been found doing so. Now that I am fifty I read them openly. When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up.”

          1. SandrineSmiles (France)

            Harry Potter love FTW. Sailor Moon, too.

            Also changed my gravatar-avatarthingie to match current mood (and in a hurry to find employer who might accept that kind of hair, while I’m at it) .

            1. The Cosmic Avenger

              As soon as I saw your first comment I wanted to say that I love your hair and your new avatar!

            1. Dana

              I watch a ton of cartoons and have SpongeBob’s pineapple house tattooed on my arm. Saw Frozen, The Lego Movie, etc., in the theater. Just reread HP4 for the 203984208th time. Growing up is for suckers!

        2. A Minion

          My younger daughter still loves Pokemon. When her husband proposed to her, he put her ring in a Poke ball and told her somewhere in his speech, “Minion’s Daughter, I choose you!” LOL

          1. Alison Hendrix

            OMG that is sooo cute! (not that into Pokemon but your daughter wouldn’t say “no” to that!)

            I still watch Anime – not as much as when I was younger – but I tend to stick to the old-school ones – Evangelion/Ranma 1/2/Sailor Moon/Yu Yu Hakusho… and I have a few shojo Manga in my library :D I also geek out on some computer games – so, screw growing up!

        3. MsChanandlerBong

          I’m 34 and spent like three hours playing Lego Batman last night. No judgments here!

          1. JB (not in Houston)

            Lego blocks are have always been and will always be fun to play with.

        4. Allison

          I got a Zelda game and a Captain America dress for my 26th birthday. People who tell me video games and comics are only for kids are big, stupid, doodoo heads!

          1. A Minion

            A Captain America dress?? Where could I find such a thing?? Suddenly, this is something I don’t think I can live without…

            1. Allison

              Her Universe released a limited edition line of Avengers clothing for Hot Topic, mostly dresses and a Stark Industries bomber jacket. ‘Twas just in time for my birthday. But it all sold out online, and it came out in stores about a few weeks ago.

              1. Kelly L.

                They had a Marauder’s Map dress and I wanted it like burning, but alas, they didn’t carry it in my size.

          2. Chinook

            Ummm…I didn’t learn that girls could play video games until I turned 29 (thank you future DH). I now, at age 40, impress my Sunday School kids with my ability to refer to various Zelda, Mario and super hero references (totally floored one with a reference to Arrow’s Lazarus Pit and Diggle while another one tried, and failed, to convince her mom to get me a game credit card as a thank you instead of a nice candle set).

        5. LBK

          I buy every new Pokemon game and bring my 3DS to work so I can play on my lunch break. No shame! I think people would be pretty surprised to discover how complex and deep competitive play is, too. Much closer to chess than rock-paper-scissors.

        6. Amanda

          Agreed. The “not a child” snark is not appreciated. It’s really dismissive and kind of hurtful.

          Slight digression, but I think it’s kidn of hilarious that I know some adults that deride Harry Potter as childish but avidly watch Game of Thrones. Like, yeah, it’s more “adult” content–i.e. rape and abuse and violence, let’s be honest–but it’s still a fantasy story. At least J.K. Rowling doesn’t pretty openly hate women. (I’m a fan of both HP and GoT.)

        7. edj3

          MORPG-playing grandmother here, most definitely no judgment. I played EQ for five years, WOW for eight and now I’m playing Rift.

        8. Connie-Lynne

          Playing Pokemon is how my husband and I made it through wedding planning!

          We were also in our 30s.

        1. Merry and Bright

          I agree there’s nothing wrong in having fun. It’s more the idea of organised fun that I’m not good with. Certainly not fun organised by my employers.

          1. Hellanon

            Agreed. Also, I suspect that most folks would object strongly to being coerced into participating in what my friends & I consider fun – “wait, we’re expected to create elaborate costumes & wear them in July? Is that legal?”

          2. INTP

            Totally agreed. Laser tag is something that might be fun after a couple of drinks with close friends but it certainly would not be with coworkers.

      2. A Minion

        Enjoying laser tag and playing games has nothing to do with not being a child anymore. I’m 40 years old and I’d be ecstatic if my office had a laser tag day. I love to play games of all kinds and I just bought a lovely princess coloring book and some crayons and spent the other evening coloring to my heart’s content. In fact, the older I get, the more determined I am not to ever “grow up”.
        There’s really no need to qualify not liking laser tag (or playing games) by saying you’re not a child anymore. If you don’t like it, you don’t like it. No need for explanations.

        1. Kelly L.

          I never got to play laser tag as a kid–I’d love to play it as an adult and finally see what the fuss was about.

          /Also Harry Potter nerd

          1. MegEB

            I played it for the first time as an adult last year and was thoroughly humbled when a group of 10 year old boys at a birthday party kicked my ass. I had a blast though.

        2. Lily in NYC

          True – laser tag would be my nightmare come true, but I would have hated it when I was 10 as well.

      3. neverjaunty

        Only children play games? The billion-dollar industries that sell games and accessories (ranging from Cards Against Humanity to fantasy football league sites) beg to differ.

      4. ThursdaysGeek

        I may get old, but I will never grow up. And my well nourished inner child likes playing in the mud with my 3 year old granddaughter, riding a carousel, flying kites, catching bugs, playing laser tag, going to the beach, etc. Playing games can be healthy.

    2. Malissa

      Yes, but the thought of actually being able to shoot my coworkers…sounds like great stress relief. Can you shoot them more than once in laser tag?

        1. Happy Lurker

          We have done paint ball – the whole company (6 people) all ganged up on the owner and shot the *$@! out of him at the end – great fun. Awesome team building.

    3. JAL

      That’s what I thought about the beach too. I’m on a medication that essentially makes me allergic to the heat as one of its sid effects. I get red and blotchy and itchy and irritable because of it. I’d prefer the day off rather than a forced group destressing activity

      1. Marcela

        It can happen with things that are not exactly a medical condition. I suffer from melasma and I try to avoid the sun as much as I can. The beach is the vivid representation of hell for me. In just a couple of days under the sun the effect of my winter treatment can completely disappear, so no, no more beach for me.

        1. Brandy

          I am too heavy to be seen by my coworkers in a bathing suit. I’ll save that for me time.

        2. Shortie

          Oh, me too, Marcela. I get stressed out just trying to explain that no, I can’t do a long time outside in the summer…even with a big floppy hat and SPF 100. For me, heat seems to have worse effect than light.

          Can’t imagine trying to do a whole day at the beach with coworkers. If I’m going to ruin all my winter treatment, it’s going to be with friends or family!! :-)

          1. Marcela

            I know, right? Most people don’t understand! I get it, they don’t know what is like to have dark spots on their faces, or being asked “what’s in your nose?” or being told my face is dirty… Even my dear husband, who usually understands, sometimes asks me if maybe I’m worrying too much as I’m starting to get paranoid of the UV rays entering through the windows. Sometimes I honestly think I have to adopt a vampire lifestyle :D, specially when I look at photos of myself 10 years ago, with a flawless skin :'(

    4. Ella

      Depending on how far away the beach is, I’m wondering if OP can drive her own car and say that she has some appointment later in the day, or a summer barbecue to get to, that’ll let her make a gracious exit after just a couple hours. That way she doesn’t become the non-team player, but she also doesn’t lose a whole day to staff bonding.

      I’ve gone to staff bonding events and had more fun than I thought I would (especially if they’re truly just social, and not team-building games), so ibwsnt to encourage OP to give it a chance, but having an escape route is always a good plan.

    5. Ask a Manager Post author

      Lots of activities could be unsuitable for someone with a particular condition though (like JAL’s comment above about the beach). I don’t think that alone is a reason a work group should never consider those activities — although of course if it does turn out that it would exclude someone, they should pick something else.

      (Of course, I wouldn’t want to do any of these, so I’m not pushing laser tag or the beach. I’m pushing “we all go home and read on our couches with some iced tea” as an activity.)

      1. AdAgencyChick

        Right?! When will the people who organize these things understand that some of us hate forced socializing?

        1. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec

          I also hate forced socializing, but I don’t think it has to be a total “no”. We did a survey a few years back because people kept suggesting that we do teambuilding (which I generally hate), and the verdict was to cater a nice lunch a few times a year and let people sit around and chat (during normal paid lunch time). It has accomplished our goal, which was connecting people whose jobs can be solitary with the rest of the team and letting people get to know each other a bit better-it is good to humanize coworkers you rarely see, and makes people nicer and more considerate. We do it around holidays (less important ones, like Valentines day) and will have a themed treat like fancy cupcakes or a simple little optional activity for those who find round table chatting boring or awkward. One time an origami enthusiast brought in supplies and taught the people who wanted to participate, which was about a groa quarter of the group. I’m sure someone hates these lunches, but they do serve a business purpose, so they are staying until there is a better idea.

          1. Blue_eyes

            I think this is a really good idea. (Almost) everyone appreciates a good meal, and it’s not taking up much time since it’s during their usual lunch break. I’m sure some people would prefer to read or something on their lunch break, but it’s only a few times a year.

            1. Charlotte Lucas

              My boyfriend hates forced socializing. But he loves the ice cream social that his department does every year, because – ice cream! (Sadly, budget cuts and general atmosphere may mean it doesn’t happen this year.)

            2. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec

              Yes, and it’s normal for these people to sometimes have business lunches, etc., so it’s not like they expect to be free to do whatever every single day a lunch.

          2. Alison Hendrix

            I think it’s partly cultural, too. When I was in my homeland we always look forward to summer outings, and we typically have a big one for the team annually. We hire a huge bus and drive to the beach, and would stay over the weekend and do all sorts of fun teambuilding activities (including late night boozy sessions), team leads and managers included. The managers don’t mind the drinking and would participate a bit, but they keep alert with making sure nobody does anything really stupid. It’s not mandatory though, so anyone who doesn’t want to attend have that option not to sign up, but most of the time people enjoy the activity so much that we have 99% attendance.

            Funny story: On one memorable summer outing our team lead actually went batshit drunk and decided she wanted to go swimming one night so she walked into the water. A few of us (somewhat drunk too) told her not to get into deep water. She didn’t – but tried to – she wanted to go after her flip-flop that managed to slip from her feet and start sailing away. We tugged her back to shore and she was all the while saying, “noooooo… my left orange slipper!” Later that night she forgot all about the slipper and was content to just bike around the resort (I have no clue where she got the bike) while one of my coworker ran alongside her drunkenly yelling, “Ms. Team Lead, please be careful!”. It was a classic, LOL.

            Here those things would’ve been unprofessional – but when we got back to the office it was business as usual. We still maintained the same respect to our team lead. I guess it’s mostly because we felt like family, that after seeing each other let go of our inhibitions made us look all the more human. Our team has bonded over those late-night deadline crunching, working 14 hours or more at a time in a cramped office, having a “dorm” to share at the end of the night, smiling and encouraging each other when the system fails or if someone gets stuck in a code and stress-crying over it. We kind of had the mentality that if we can’t see our families at the end of the day we might as well treat each other like family, and that the ordeal will be over soon. I still miss those guys. :)

            If I were still working with my team back home I’d jump at the opportunity for this summer outing, but here where I am now in the US I’d probably give it a second thought, mainly because a lot of my colleagues I know mostly on a superficial, small-talk basis, and most of them don’t share my interests and my sometimes filthy thinking. It’s kind of a catch-22 for introverts – I can’t stand small talk, but if I don’t start with one I can’t get any deeper with a person. :/

      2. MT

        Would anyone find it acceptable if the company made it a show up for this work event or show up for work type deal? The company is paying the employee’s time. If i was paying for my employees to socialize and bond, i wouldn’t want to pay for employees just to sit at home and not benefit from the event.

        1. Stone Satellite

          This is in fact my company’s policy. You can attend the event, which is serving a business purpose, or you can work, which is serving a business purpose. In fact, some people like working during well-attended events because they get a lot done without the rest of us around.

        2. INTP

          I’d be okay with that as long as I was able to arrange a tight deadline to give me an excuse to work, haha. My experience with that sort of thing is that unless you have a clear reason why you are tied to your desk that day, you’re still Not A Team Player for not wanting to join the fun.

      3. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

        IDK. I’m very much in the home/couches/tea group, but we don’t always have to get our way either. There’s always someone who doesn’t want to do something, and sometimes you have to be the one to suck it up. Work, family, spouse, whatever, sometimes you have to suck it up and bring joy to someone else without being the Debbie Downer.

        Let’s have a Scrabble Day! I know all the little high score words.

        1. LBK

          Scrabble Day would be a cause of much animosity in my department because I use triple world scores as weapons to decimate my opponents’ egos. There’s a reason no one will play Words With Friends with me anymore.

          1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

            People HATE me when they play Scrabble with me.

            On second thought, this is a bad idea for a work play day.

          2. Shortie

            Haha, me too. I try to take it easy and it still usually ends in bloodbath. When this happens, I like to remind the opponent that if we were doing anything else, they would trounce me. Scrabble is my only talent. LOL.

        2. Ask a Manager Post author

          I do agree on the “sometimes you just have to suck it up” thing … but I also feel like employers should be thoughtful about the fact that some people hate this stuff and therefore pick things that are short, easy to leave from, not likely to cause a bunch of discomfort in people (like activities where you wear virtually nothing in front of coworkers), and so forth.

            1. Rachael

              This! I will do almost anything “teambuilding” if it is during work hours and I can shirk my work. Sign me up! LOL

          1. Jesse

            Yeah, for that reason, a movie sounds perfect! Maybe there’s some chit chat before or after, but it’s not a whole day, you can wear your clothes without seeming odd, you don’t actually have to socialize much, etc.

          2. Anna

            You nailed it. Not all day, easy to leave from. Everyone sucks it up for some part of the event, but don’t feel trapped.

          3. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

            I agree.

            Short and easy to leave from is key. I can suck it up for 2 hours a lot better than for 8 or 10.

          4. Ginger Snap

            My company is doing a day on a boat, and I’m already anticipating the complaining (including my own!). I don’t like being trapped somewhere for hours, and while I like socializing, I hate “mandatory fun”. I would much rather just rent a room at a restaurant or bar and have people pop in as they please. Or, have lunch catered at the office and let people go home early. I know you can’t please everyone, but I feel like forcing people on a boat for several hours is going to lead to a lot of unhappy campers.

            My old company had a movie outing for our interns (we had 30 one summer) and it was so fun. The group split into two and saw two different movies, and we all met up at a bar at the end for snacks and drinks. A great way to spend an afternoon, you had the choice of your movie, and you could still socialize if you wanted.

        3. Chinook

          “Let’s have a Scrabble Day! ”

          My company has a Cribbage Tournament (in conjunction with their Curling Bonspiel). It is a hotly contested tournament and I hear it is great fun (I have never been available when it has been in my part of the country and can’t justify the $$ to fly out to it).

        4. Mephyle

          Another well-known forum uses ‘Scrabble’ as a euphemism for what we call quacking-related activities here. That would give a whole new meaning to ‘Scrabble Day at work’.

      4. LiveAndLetDie

        I think the key is that the company make sure that their activities are varied (so if they travel to the beach one time, the next time they do something indoors or more locally so on) so that even if an employee doesn’t want to or cannot participate due to the nature of one event, they aren’t ALWAYS prohibitive. My job has done bowling, baseball games, gathering in a local park, and ice skating, just as a few examples. None of these are mandatory, which I think is another key point. Mandatory outside-of-work social events are the worst.

    6. Colette

      A free day off is an awesome reward, if that’s the goal. It does nothing to help the team share a non-work activity and possibly get to know each other in a different environment.

      1. Afiendishthingy

        That’s true, but time apart is vital to maintaining a healthy non-murderous relationship with my coworkers ;) (I love most of them! But I’m an ambivert and need time away from them)

            1. Hotstreak

              Depending where you are, around here jeans and a jacket are beach attire 90% of the year.

      2. Joey

        It must do something or the rest of the team would see no need to do it right?

        I’ll add it’s not going to reflect real well if you make it a habit of not going to these things on a regular basis. Presumably they’ll expect you to mention a medical condition when ideas are being tossed around.

        1. Colette

          Yeah, my comment wasn’t clear. What I meant to say was that if the outing is a reward, it could be replaced with time off. If it’s not a reward but a bonding event, suggesting time off instead would sound out of touch.

    7. MT

      The big issue i see with not joining in with the outing, is if this leads to more non-work related outings. If a group of people at this outing, decide that they enjoy each other’s company, and start to exclude the people who didn’t show up for this outing, from other non-work organized outings, is when there are letters popping up that people are getting excluded from bonding events.

      1. illini02

        Thats a great point. I could see it being just like that. People aren’t necessarily upset that she isn’t there, but figure that she just has no interest in socializing. Then when they stop inviting her to things, she gets mad about that too. Then they are the “mean girls” who don’t invite her, when in reality, she set the tone of not wanting to be around them outside of work.

    8. Jessa

      Also I don’t do outdoor stuff, unless it’s winter stuff. A: It’s hard for me with crutches or a frame to do sand. B: I burn like a lobster no matter how much I do the sunscreen thing. C: I do not do heat well at all (trouble breathing, exhaustion, etc.) D: all kinds of allergies to things like bees and stuff. I am just not an outdoor person. And I’m photosensitive so no laser tag either.

      But any company I work for would know that. And I’d also be the one willing to stay behind and man the phones or whatever (even if I was management,) because well I can’t do those things but my employees would like them.

      I guess the point is that unless every single time they go to something you hate, saying you don’t want to do x, or can’t do x, or just majorly dislike x, should not be an issue.

      And if every single thing they do is a problem, then they need to get a new list of things to do, because alienating someone like that is not useful team wise (in my case it’s different because it’s a combination of medical issues and I personally don’t think it’s fair to harsh their fun just because I can’t fun.) Or they need to be okay with “Person isn’t doing that, that’s okay, we like them anyway.”

  4. Tess McGill

    I wonder what industry #5 is in? It sounds like the late eighties/early nineties when my friends who were Wall Street newbies would regularly crank out 100 hour weeks. For weeks, the only time I’d see my roomie would when she’d appear at 6am having been gone for the past 24 hours, jump into the shower, change clothes then run downstairs to the car that was waiting to take her back to the office for another round. New York City is many, many years in my rearview mirror. Do people still do that???

    1. steve g

      These hours are mind boggling to me. Granted that I worked in midtown (not wall st) until a few months ago….but the streets and subways and delis were pretty dead if I came in before 8 and left after 730….so my guess is that the vast majority of people don’t do such crazy hours. Actually, nyc is like a ghost town until around 7am, I couldn’t even find a place to get coffee before 7 half the time….

      1. Merry and Bright

        Oh dear, another image gone! Many of us in the UK think of NYC as “The City that Never Sleeps”!

        1. Blue_eyes

          To defend NYC, there are a lot more businesses open late or 24 hours in NYC than almost anywhere else. The subway runs all night and you can always find a 24 diner for a late night meal.

      2. the gold digger

        I laugh every time I read a novel set in NYC where the character gets to work at 9 or 10 a.m. What color is the sky in that world?

        When I get to work at 7 a.m., I am far from the first one here.

        1. Blue_eyes

          That sometimes happens when people are working crazy hours because they didn’t leave the office until midnight the night before. We’re in NYC and my husband works 9-6. I work odd hours right now, so I’m often on the street at 10am or so and it does surprise me when I see people who are obviously dressed to work in an office who are on their way to work at that time.

          1. Charlotte Lucas

            If they are dealing with clients outside of the Eastern Time zone, this would make sense. I’ve worked in offices where my hours started after 11:00 because I was dealing with people two time zones behind me. (This was in a mid-sized Midwestern city – I would think it would be even more common in a big, big city three time zones ahead of much of the US.) We also had people who started at crazy hours because they took international calls – great hours for college students, though.

            1. Jessa

              Exactly, I worked for a Japanese import house, when we were talking to Japan we were all there at OMG it’s early/late due to time differences.

        2. Jesse

          I think that people in more creative fields are more likely to work 10-8 than 8-6 or whatever, no?

          1. The Strand

            If you work in film in NYC, and have contacts in Los Angeles you call, 10 to 8 is not unheard of. They’re three hours behind.

        3. LiveAndLetDie

          Jobs start at all hours depending on all kinds of factors. NYC isn’t some kind of strange exception.

        4. techandwine

          Honestly, with flex hours becoming more and more of a common thing, getting to work at 9 or 10 is totally possible. NYC isn’t some mythical place where everyone works the same hours and they all start super early. Or is it and I’m missing out by living in the south?

        5. AVP

          I work in NYC and show up between 9 and 10 every day. But I stay til 7…over here on the East Coast it doesn’t make sense to start much earlier than that since I usually need to talk to people in Central and Pacific time. Downside is, they still call you until 8 or 9pm like it’s nothing.

          1. the gold digger

            Hmm. One of the main reasons I show up early is because I work with people in Europe and on the east coast. (I am central time zone.) I don’t want people to have to stay late to work with me.

            (I had a boss who would wait until 9:00 a.m. to have his weekly calls with the China and the India country managers, even though it was very late at night for them. That would have been fine, except he was up at 4 a.m. anyhow to work out and then drive the 90 minutes to work. I don’t know why he couldn’t have had his calls at 4 a.m. and delayed the other things. I used to call Dubai at 6:30 a.m. from my house. I was already up, so it’s not like it was a sacrifice for me. But if I had waited until I got to the cubicle to call, it would have late for them.)

        6. sam

          It’s not that uncommon. When I worked at a law firm, we generally didn’t get to work before 9:30. Then again, we tended to work very late in the evening. We also had some west coast clients, so the partner I worked for had more of a 10:30-7 schedule, which also helped him avoid the jam-packed rush hour commuter trains from Connecticut. But it also depended on your specific work and who you worked for.

          Now that I’m in house, people here tend to get into the office before 9.

      3. Blue_eyes

        That may be somewhat specific to midtown because not many people live there. I live on the UWS and the Starbucks near me opens at 5:30am, as does the gym. There are a number of 24 hour diners nearby and a lot of the pharmacies are 24 hours as well.

      4. jag

        People working 14 hour days don’t take the subway. They don’t walk outside much either – just from a car to their door and vice versa. Food is ordered in most of the time.

    2. Engineer Girl

      Aerospace has hours like this, as does most of the tech industry. You may or may not get OT depending on the contract/job.

    3. Sandy

      Yes, they do. I have one of those jobs and I’m in *government*.

      I’d be a lot less nervous about coming to work after my mat leave ends if I knew I was going to be working “normal” hours. Instead I’ll be going from mat leave straight to 18 hour days.

      1. Laurel Gray

        18 hour days? With no overtime like the OP? I am intrigued. Are you able to be more specific about what your job entails in government?

        I know industries have busy seasons but regular 12 hour days with no OT? Whoa. I too am curious of OP’s industry. I was going to say that I expected that the OP makes a decent 6 figure salary that should probably be significantly more to compensate all the extra hours she works but then I realize that many people with decent 6 figure salaries still have time and life outside of work to spend said 6 figures.

        1. Sandy

          Pleading the 5th because I have colleagues on here.

          Reading AAM is what we do to decompress :)

      2. Victoria, Please

        And you help run the country, huh? Can I just say that I don’t trust y’all’s judgement much, given that you are getting zero rest and time to process decisions?

        I don’t mean you personally, Sandy. :-) This is just a really bad way to do things.

      3. Amanda

        Campaign work is like this. Working usually 7 days a week, 12-16 hour days at a minimum.

        The last four days leading up to election day are particularly grueling. Last cycle, I was in the office at 6 AM and didn’t leave until 2 AM prepping materials and tallying data. It was worth it for me, but part of why electoral work tends to be so insular is that it’s damn near impossible to maintain relationships with people with more regular hours when you’re in the middle of that shit.

        1. steve g

          Wow even if I loved what I did I literally couldnt do those hours. I did once for a short summer gig and packed on stomach fat, lost muscle, and got big bags under my eyes and started to look older than I saw, even though people usually confuse me for someone younger. I have no clue how people keep up their health during times like that

        2. zora

          but I think the only reason people can do it is that it comes in short bursts. I mean, some people do longer bursts than others. But almost everyone in campaign world takes a few months off at a time periodically. And the actual schedule varies depending on what part of the cycle you’re in.

          I didn’t think I’d be able to do it the first time, but that adrenalin kicking in a few weeks in does miracles. I couldn’t have kept it up for ever, but knowing you have an end date on Election Day makes it somehow possible.

          And most people don’t keep their health up, honestly. Everyone except the candidate looks pretty terrible by Election Day.

    4. HM

      I have one of these jobs – in the VFX industry. Half the year is fine, normal hours, but when you get to crunch time…not unheard of for people to be in the building for two or three days straight.

    5. Ann Furthermore

      I love your name!

      In my line of work (ERP support/implementations) the hours ebb and flow. Right now I’m a month out from launching a project I’ve been working on for the last year. Between now and then, I’ll be working very long hours. Then, after we get it off the ground and do a couple weeks of hand-holding and let the system stabilize, the hours should taper off and things will calm down for awhile. Then I’ll get put onto another project, and the hours will ramp up the closer we get to milestones, and finally the go-live date.

      The long hours are hard, but on the flip side, during the in-between times I never work more than 40 hours a week, and my boss doesn’t care if we duck out an hour or 2 early here and there, since she knows we more than made up for it leading up to the last project launch.

      1. jhhj

        I don’t think “sometimes I work 80 hours a week, but sometimes I only work 38” is a great deal.

        1. Ann Furthermore

          I guess it doesn’t sound that great when you put it that way. LOL. I have a lot of perks at my job that I wouldn’t get anywhere else, which is why the hours don’t bother me. And the “80 hour weeks” come maybe 3-4 times per year, and they’re pretty well spaced out. In addition, I have an awesome boss who lets me flex my schedule and work at home if/when I need to, and she doesn’t micromanage. So if I want to leave for a couple hours in the middle of the day to go volunteer in my daughter’s classroom, I can do it, and then log back on in the evening to finish things up. Or if I need to work from home at the last minute to take care of a sick kid, or wait for a repair person to show up, all I need to do is email my boss and that’s the end of it. From reading this blog, I’ve learned that not everyone is so lucky, so I’m very thankful that my job allows for so much flexibility, because sometimes it’s a real life saver.

          1. jhhj

            Flexibility is an incredible perk. (Though I recall the line “[x] is great, I get to choose whichever 80 hours a week to work I want.”)

            If you have 3 or 4 really long weeks a year, and the rest of the time you work 35-40 hours, that feels fair. Not 3-4 times where you work long weeks for a month, though. (At least, not unless you’re doing one of those 6 weeks on/3 weeks off kind of deal in an isolated area.)

            1. Aunt Vixen

              I think most people who say they get to choose whichever 80 hours they want to work are talking about per (two-week) pay period, though, not per week. So you could always do 80-hour weeks with always a week off in between – but who would?

    6. #5

      Its construction, they claim the expectation is an hour before the crews and an hour after the crews which is where the hours originated from, sometimes our crews work 12hr shifts, but they get OT.

      1. The IT Manager

        Wow! So they straight up lied to you about the hours.

        I think your stuck and need to suck it up and work the long hours if you want to leave on good terms (assuming you think your boss will let you leave on good terms). “Calls you up to yell at you” pretty much screams crazy, unreasonable boss.

        1. Vicki

          She’s leaving in 2 weeks. Two weeks’ notice is a polite courtesy.
          Good terms died when they lied abut the hours.

      2. ConstructionHR

        Ha, welcome to my world.

        A couple of years ago our salaried folks started getting straight time over 50 hours. I still make less than some of the guys who work for me, but its A LOT better than it used to be.

      3. Vicki

        My answer would be: work the 8 hour day.
        Because, what can they do in retaliation? Fire you?

        1. zora

          This.
          Just say you’re coming in 7-4 and then do it. What are they going to do about it? If they fire you, say “Bu-bye” and take some time off before your new job starts.

    7. BRR

      I have a friend who is an auditor at a big four firm. She’s exempt but calculated her hourly rate for what she works most weeks and actually makes less than minimum wage. When her husband was out of the country she would text me as she left work and when she got home for safety reasons because it would frequently be after 11.

      1. the_scientist

        My friend (also an auditor at a big 4 firm) used to just take the subway home because the office is close to a station and it’s a short walk from her apartment to the subway…..until she was waiting for the train late at night after a long day and witnessed a woman being assaulted. It turns out that her firm offers taxi chits for employees working late at night (a lot of people commute in from the suburbs and the last train might be at 8 or 9 p.m.) but doesn’t really “publicize” the availability of this perk. After that incident she made sure to make use of the taxi chits!

    8. Sadsack

      There was an article online yesterday about a Goldman Sachs analyst who committed suicide due to working 100-hour weeks.

      1. Sadsack

        Sorry, all, my comment seems stark and rather grim now that I see it posted! OP, I am glad that you are getting out of your job with the crazy hours!

      2. nona

        Just read about that. God, that was sad.

        He even left and came back with “reduced” hours, and then found himself working 100-hour weeks again.

    9. AGirlCalledFriday

      Actually, teaching logs looonnng hours like this regularly. I was devoting 13-15 hours a day plus weekends most days. It’s one of the reasons I’m career changing now – teaching overseas, a healthy work/life balance for teachers is encouraged. Here, you are supposed to work until you are burned out for low pay and little respect. And it’s STILL not good enough.

  5. Kathy

    #4 one word: headphones. Big earmuff style. Even if nothing but silence plays out of them, people will not bother you as much.

    1. M-C

      I second the headphones. I’d also suggest a curtain, a room divider, a folding screen, something to block people’s view of you from the flow of traffic. And put a repeat of the ‘where are things’ sign on that screen or right next to your door, to emphasize the point, with a helpful map maybe? A big arrow towards the front desk ‘ask questions there’.

      But really you need to talk to your boss about this. Are people latching on to you because there -is- no front desk? Are the signs really as helpful as they could be?. If you’re condemned to bear the brunt of public speaking, you should be able to switch desks periodically, the victim should rotate. In any case, you should start keeping a diary of how many times you’re interrupted every day, an estimate of how long it takes you to get back to work, so that you can present it to your boss as a simple obstacle to productivity. And also can your work be done at home? Do it more.. and don’t ask permission for that.

      1. Lynn Whitehat

        I used to work at a university. For some reason, people visitors think of a major research university like it’s an elementary school, in terms of how many people work there and how familiar they are with other areas? You “work for the university”, and in a lot of visitors’ minds, that means you are at most one degree removed from everyone from Alumni Relations to Medical Research.

        I bet the signage is terrible, too. Universities tend to be really bad at imagining what things would look like to an “outsider”. “Gosh, donations are on 10! Everyone knows that!”

        1. the_scientist

          As a grad student, I had an office at an off-site location that I really only used 1-2x per week. It was a shared office and I needed to store my hard-copy data at that location; otherwise I had no real need for that space and had a personal cubicle on campus. This location was open to the public and people (mostly older men, to be completely honest) would come by the office while I was there to ask where “so and so’s” office was or where X service was. I wasn’t even the first office along that hallway, and there was a reception desk at the front of the building!- but I was the first office with a young, female occupant. One man straight up referred to me as “Mr. Whatever’s secretary” (because why else would a woman use a computer and have a desk, I guess?) and I was like “I have no idea who that is. Please go to the reception desk at the front of the building”. So I wonder if something similar is happening to the OP- lots of people just see young+ female + desk near doorway and think “oh, secretary!”.

          1. Book Person

            This has happened to me, too, almost exactly. Three offices with open doors next to each other, one with me (female) and the other two with (male) colleagues. One had to walk right past the front desk to get into the hallway. The admin at the front desk was also male. Students and professors would walk in and out frequently, so the admin wouldn’t just stop people at random (understandably) to make sure they knew where they were going.

            I don’t know how many times people (men and woman of varying ages) would walk past the desk, past the open doors of my male colleagues, and then stop to ask me things instead. When I pushed back once, the flustered person told me they thought I was the secretary for the other three men. Even the one at the front desk, not in an office. :|

            1. #4

              These are actually really great suggestions. I try to be nice about it too because like Lynn said not everyone knows where everything is. I’ve made a ridiculous amount of signs, the admin for our floor (who has a window/corner cubicle next to the director she directly supports) suggested getting a sign pointing to the sign…. gee thanks

            2. blackcat

              A nearly identical set up used to happen to me.

              I would often direct people to the actual front office and say they could get help there and turn my back. It’s sort of rude, but I have work to do, and directing people isn’t part of my job. If someone persisted (“Why can’t you help me?”), I’d ask straight up, “What gave you the impression that I am the receptionist?” Most people got embarrassed and walked away, presumably following my initial directions to the receptionist’s desk. One older man did once respond “You’re the only young lady around here.” At which point I was ready to sock him, when one of my wonderful (male) colleagues walked over and said “Wow, way to live in the 1950s. You do know that women can be scientists these days, right?” Older man muttered something and slinked away, clearly insulted.

              1. Alison Hendrix

                “Wow, way to live in the 1950s. You do know that women can be scientists these days, right?”

                I would totally say that in a shrill Bernadette (from The Big Bang Theory) voice. Complete with snark.

          2. Anonsie

            This is part of it for sure. I would say 75% of my interruptions come from people on the floor who know me, though, because I’m at the end of the area and people come through on breaks/lunch/free time of whatever nature and just sort of bring that along with them to my space.

        2. Kelly L.

          YES! I get wrong-extension calls, or walk-ins who’ve gotten lost in the building, and sometimes they seem downright appalled that I don’t know who “Jim” is or where “Jim” really works. If they know a last name too, I can look them up in the directory, and now that I’ve been here a while, I know who some of the “usual suspects” are–the departments people most often mistake us for–and that helps me narrow it down. But if Jim works half a mile away in a department I never talk to, I’m not going to know who he is.

          1. Elizabeth West

            People do that to the front desk here too–when we ask how to direct their call, they say, “Can I speak to Greg?” Well, Greg who? We have over 5000 employees all over the country; if you just say Greg, I have no idea where to send you.

        3. Nikki T

          YES! People call our office a lot and ask for random faculty members, there are NO faculty working here. The entire faculty population is not sitting around my desk waiting for your call…

          I’ll have to say, are you trying to reach someone at [this university]? Do you know what department they work in? Most of the time, they do not. The campus has a switchboard, call the switchboard!!

          1. Jennifer

            Hah, our office is apparently the catchall knows everything, does everything office and we get every random call ever. I think the concept of “yes, there’s an operator who can direct your call” should really be publicized more here. Or uh, at all.

      2. Xarcady

        In grad school, I had a job in the library. The technical services people were in a large open space on one floor. There were no signs for where each department was, or a map for where individual people sat. No names on the individual cubicles, either. I guess the people in the cubicles nearest the doors got tired of having to tell just about everyone who entered the space where so-and-so sat, so they reconfigured the cubicles so that when you entered the space, you were met with one great big long blank wall of cubicle panels.

        And still no map or signs or anything to indicate where people were sitting. As mentioned above, you were supposed to instinctively know where each of the 100 people in that space were sitting.

        Silly, really. They caused their own problem by simply not posting a single sign or map.

        And the end result was that people went around the huge wall, and just asked the first person they saw for directions. Didn’t solve the problem at all.

      3. 34

        I tried this, unfortunately we have donors and students who come in that OBVIOUSLY don’t know I’m research they assume I’m front desk. So instead of getting oh I’m sorry to bother you I get angry people tapping their toes outside my cubicle. Or once a guy just laid his head on the top of my cubicle and when i took my headphones out he’s like why do they let you were those?

        um…cause im allowed to ignore everyone everywhere to do my work please go away

    2. Anonsie

      I can tell you, I have a similar job and a similar scenario, and people just tap me on the shoulder or lean in and talk loudly.

        1. Anonsie

          No amount of barely turning, continuing to look at my screen/typing, only lifting the headphones slightly off my ear, etc. will even change people’s reaction though.

        2. Jennifer

          Yeah, I can imagine I’d get new assholes ripped on me for not giving great public service even if my job wasn’t public service, representative, etc.

    3. zora

      i worked somewhere with this problem. The root of the issue is at the top. When people enter a department they NEED a clear front desk or reception or someone they can talk to. The place I worked didn’t want to pay a separate front desk person so they just didn’t have one. Which meant that people coming in would just walk around and interrupt the first person they could see in an office. So everyone was getting interrupted all the time to play ‘greeter’ and help direct the visitor to where they were trying to go. It was so stupid, instead of having a receptionist, let’s waste the time of all of the rest of our employees who have other jobs to do.

      You need to talk to the boss. They either need to move you, or give someone the specific task of dealing with visitors and make sure they are prominently placed where they will be seen first by any visitors entering the department. It’s not fair to expect visitors to know how to search for someone to answer their question. If this is happening regularly that means there is a design flaw in the system, and they need to fix that! It is not your job to fix.

      An alternate idea: is there a door to your office/department? Can you keep that door closed (can be unlocked) with a sign that says: “No visitors. See reception desk on 10th Floor.”? That would prevent people from walking in and finding you first. But again, someone at the top needs to decide that the 10th floor will handle all of these people coming in.

  6. Canuck

    #5

    I sure hope you and your co-workers are paid well into 6 figures….12-14hrs a day, plus Saturdays too? That seems so excessive and I feel for you!

    What industry are you in?

          1. AnotherAlison

            Not sure why I’m feeling defensive of construction today, but I am. : )

            The link you posted applies to construction labor. Above, the OP mentioned getting in an hour before the crews, so my interpretation is that the OP is on the CM side, not labor. Depending on what their role is, they could be legitimately exempt. The OP didn’t say what their duties are.

  7. M-C

    #5 would it be financially catastrophic for you to stop work instantly? Or could you take a vacation while waiting for your next job to start, or just start sooner at the other place? If it’s the case, I’d just start working normal hours, but without making any sort of announcement about it. Don’t confront the jerk with wanting to work normal hours, just do it. If his method of enforcement is to call you, nothing’s easier – let it go to voice mail. If he confronts you when you show up, play innocent “really? I didn’t hear, I must have been in the shower/subway, sorry ;-)”. If he screams at you, act concerned, say you’re happy to stop work immediately if it’d be better for him than to have you show up ‘a bit late’. If he makes it literally impossible for you to leave before 7, there is no back door you can slip out of, start coming in at 11.

    It sounds like he’s about squeezing you for all you’re worth, so likely he’ll see that it’s better for him to get regular working hours from you than nothing at all, but then again.. Frankly, the sooner you get out of there the better :-). And if you’ve been working that kind of hours you -will- need some rest in order to give your best to the new job, I’d almost recommend you quit spontaneously if you can afford it..

    You have no obligation to this jerk, especially if you already have another job. Good luck OP, and please try to work more normal hours from the first at the new place, so you don’t give them wrong-headed expectations about you on like this forever.

    1. ReanaZ

      Yuuuup. I would just pretty much stop working the stupid hours. I have successfully done this when coming to the end of a contract at a place with outrageous hours, a terrible boss who I wouldn’t trust with a reference if my life depended on it, and that treated people like shit. You’re done. Just stop. What are they going to do, fire you?

      1. la Contessa

        That’s exactly what I told my paranoid self when I started working normal hours for the last few weeks of Old Job. I had been freaking out for four years that if I didn’t have enough hours listed I’d be fired (I was an attorney working on contingency, but still required to log hours, and my bosses outright refused to tell me how many hours they expected to see, naturally), but in the end . . . if I only logged 8 hours, what were they going to do, fire me? That was usually followed by an insane little giggle, for reasons that may be obvious.

    2. Cam

      Maybe for these next two weeks you have to drop your kid off at daycare every morning so you can’t come in earlier than 7 and you have an appointment after work so you have to leave at 4? And your phone strangely doesn’t seem to be getting service before and after work.

  8. Liz in a Library

    I’m trying to figure out the context for OP 2 mentioning that only the front of the check was shown, and hoping it might mean that some initial stub information that was less sensitive was shown instead of pay, like pay period dates and such. Long shot, but who knows?

    I have never seen the need to be secretive about pay, but I’d still be very upset to have mine broadcast without my consent.

    1. Onymouse

      Yea, I’m also hoping “front” the part where it looks like the outside of an envelope and is addressed to you from the employer. I can see a line about the pay period being there next to the name and address.

      1. Tau

        …but then the OP would’ve broadcast the employee’s address to the Facebook group, no? I’d be very upset about *that* myself.

    2. Apollo Warbucks

      I was wondering the same, it’s not very clear the why the OP States they were showing the front of the pay check. Maybe the information was less sensitive than actual pay and benefit information, but that said if it had an information that idenfityed the member of staff it belonged to sharing it on Facebook was NOT the best idea.

      1. No Longer Passing By

        The address and the salary are a big deal. This is not a good way to manage. Why don’t you have a payroll calendar? Whenever someone questions me about when they would get paid, I always direct them to the calendar that they received at onboarding . When they ask for clarification, I always sit with them and show how the calendar goes through every pay period and matches it to the pay date. So even when they want to argue that they should be paid today just like old job, I’m sorry but this is the policy here.

        1. The Cosmic Avenger

          My 27 cents (inflation, ya know), I’d rather my mailing address (a PO box) and my net pay were shared than my PTO, my 401(k) deduction, my FSA deduction, my gross pay before all of that, and my year-to-date totals for all of those.

          I’m not saying that anyone else should feel similarly, but to me, my take-home pay is a lot less sensitive than all of the other pay stub info.

          1. Kyrielle

            I agree, but I would be upset at *any* of it being shown. My mailing address is my home address, not a PO box.

        2. zora

          +1 to payroll calendar.

          Every place I’ve ever worked has had one, even tiny places with <5 employees. This question really confuses me.

  9. Liz in a Library

    A work event where I have to be in my bathing suit sounds like a stress nightmare. I can’t fathom any instance where that would be morale building.

    1. De (Germany)

      I wouldn’t assume wearing swimming clothes for a day at the beach. Shorts/skirts and a t-shirt/tank top will likely be perfectly fine.

      Then again, I’d really enjoy that day at the beach.

        1. Charlotte Lucas

          When I’m at the beach, I dress like an extra from “Laurence of Arabia.” And then people ask why I’m so pale. It’s either that or bright red and peeling…

    2. Ann Furthermore

      There is no circumstance that I can think of where I would want to be around my co-workers in a bathing suit. No. Just no.

      1. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec

        Agreed. I mean, a swimsuit covers about the same stuff and in the same wat as underwear. I’m no prude, but that crosses my co-workwr boundaries. I do agree with others that you don’t have to wear a swimsuit…just wear cool summery clothes.

        I go to a conference every year and sit around discussing work topics in the pool or hot tub. Last year it sparked a very funny conversation about being “nearly naked” with your colleagues and how bizarre it is that it’s totally socially acceptable. And yet would be an outrage for anyone to forgo pants at the meeting that followed. (this was not a scheduled meeting in the pool, people we’re hanging out on their own and a gathering naturally formed).

        1. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec

          By “cool”, I meant clothes you won’t be miserably hot in, not “latest summer trend”

        2. Chinook

          “I go to a conference every year and sit around discussing work topics in the pool or hot tub. Last year it sparked a very funny conversation about being “nearly naked” with your colleagues and how bizarre it is that it’s totally socially acceptable.”

          As one who was interested to Japanese style hot springs (i.e. nude bathing with same gender) by a Canadian coworker who gave me tips on how to not be awkward (i.e. where to look, the fact that you soap and rinse off before entering and that sometimes a stranger may offer to wash your back if you do theirs) and then went many times with students, colleagues and friends (and nearly flashed herself on live tv), I can tell you that the awkwardness does disappear after a while because everyone is doing it.

          In fact, if you act like it is completely, normal, then others will to. Sure, I got strange looks when I tried to convince colleagues this year to go to Banff Hot Springs (with bathing suits) while we had a meeting there, but I found at least one other person (and that my boss would have gone too if I had found her in time) to join me and we did get to talk in a much more relaxed way. Others went tio the bar and karaoke and interacted that way. It is one of the benefits of our 3 day meetings – getting to see each other beyond the demands we make.

          1. AGirlCalledFriday

            OOOOHHH lemme tell ya about hot springs in Japan!

            So…I lived in Japan for a few years, and I was also an exchange student there. Let me describe to you my very first experience with some girls I barely knew from school. First, I went into the outer room and undressed. Then I took take a tiny towel into the hot spring room. You are supposed to shower briefly before you get into the shared tubs. Well, I’m the ONLY non-Japanese girl in the room, everyone turns to stare at nekkid old me, and -lucky me- I get to shower at full length mirrors all along the wall, pretending I don’t notice everyone is staring at me, before I can finally get into the tub. It sounds extremely nerve-wracking, but honestly after countless times in the hot spring and dorm showers I realized no one cares – you only get looks because you are different. All told, it was an amazing experience and incredibly fun. I also went to a couple hot springs with a female coworker – she was Australian, not Japanese. Again, it was awesome.

            Dammit, I miss Japan. Sometimes I wish I just stayed there.

            1. AGirlCalledFriday

              Oh – I went with college friends, but there were plenty of other strangers I didn’t know to stare!

      2. steve g

        Me too and I’m not even body conscious! I just find the beach boring. There are so many other things to do. Miniature golf + dinner/drinks, tour of a winery, day trip out of the city to a lovely spot in nature (if you’re from the city) or a trip to cool things in the city (if there in the country)……

        Also, what if you’re pale. I’m medium white but still only like to be outside on the beach for a max of two hours….but I definitely know people who would last even less time

        1. Joline

          Admittedly – sometimes the beach is a lovely spot in nature. I spent most of my life in non-Vancouver British Columbia. A lot of our beaches are on lovely little lakes in the mountains surrounded by forest.

    3. Anonicorn

      Bathing suit aside (although I agree it’s a nightmare), just sitting in the sand under the hot sun with coworkers sounds torturous enough. I am firmly not a beach person.

      1. Artemesia

        Me too. I occasionally go swimming/snorkeling but no way do I ever want to spend a day in the sun on a beach.

    4. Happy Lurker

      My day at the beach always started about 11 and ended at 1. I could never understand anyone who stayed longer (read very pale person here – childhood blistering sunburns are still too fresh in my memory). So, my first thought was no big deal. But if it was a 9-5 I would lose my mind!
      OP – I agree with other suggestions of going for a bit and leaving as soon as the food is gone.

  10. Uyulala

    Some suggestions to make the beach outing better:

    You don’t need to wear a suit. Just stick with cottons and breathable fabrics.
    Bring frizbees, beachballs, and/or volleyballs. Then you have an activity.
    If you are going to be sitting much, bring large umbrellas or a pop-up gazebo.

    1. Beebs

      I love going to the beach to be near the water and in the sand. I rarely bring a bathing suit, because I don’t usually go swimming and don’t bother with the water at all. Getting away from the concrete jungle and getting some fresh air does not need to be an anxiety inducing ordeal. Plenty of fun to sit back, relax, have a drink and some snacks.

      1. Brandy

        This is something I enjoy too, but with my family. I have social anxiety and am not comfortable in forced hangouts. Im as comfortable as I am going to be with my co-workers. Nothings going to make us besties. I know its to make us closer but these people are co-workers, not friends, not family.

  11. Ann Furthermore

    I would be furious if an image of my paycheck ended up on Facebook, of all places, even in a private group. Who knows where it might end up, or who might get a look at it? There are all kinds of reasons to want to keep this information private, for reasons beyond “it’s no one’s business what I make,” which is a debate we’ve all had here before.

    For example, my husband and I went through a very long, protracted battle with his ex over child support when my stepdaughter moved in with us when she was 14. We provided all the financial information that was requested, and required under the law, but since she’s so irresponsible with money, she’s perpetually broke and pulled every trick out of her hat that she could think of to get out of paying us child support. We actually got a letter from her lawyer at one point stating that since my husband and I collectively earn much more than she does, it was unfair of us to expect her to pay child support, despite the fact that she is legally obligated to do so, and my husband was never so much as 30 seconds late with a single one of his child support payments to her for almost 15 years. This is something he started hearing about after we got married and started filing joint tax returns — which of course were more than the ones he filed when he was single. Had she somehow been able to get an image of my paycheck — which not only shows my gross earnings, but also my YTD vacation balances, 401(k) contributions, and all the rest of it — she would have latched onto that and tried to use it to further her own agenda of making her look like the poor down-on-her-luck single mom who was being screwed over by her ex and his new “rich” wife. It wouldn’t have held up in court, of course, but it would have been an egregious violation of my privacy and a gigantic pain in the backside.

    1. madge

      +1. Short of moving cubicles, this is probably the only option. People ignore most signs at our Uni, perhaps because there are so many signs everywhere. I would put the sign you suggested on some type of rope or ribbon and string it across my cube doorway. And put up a springrod with curtains behind it because there will *still* be people who assume their question is so important and/or quick, that your sign doesn’t apply to them.

        1. #4

          Unfortunately we have a sign saying “Front Desk and Donor Services Receptionist on 10th Floor” I wish I could send a picture with how many signs I have on the front of my cubicle it’s getting a little willy wonka looking … *sigh* madge is quite right people always ignore them…

          1. Nikki T

            Sounds like there are TOO many signs.
            Maybe something that just says “All staff/visitors: Please go down 1 floor to 10th to check in”

            Because, unfortunately you look like the front desk….so why should they go downstairs to the front desk?

          2. zora

            is there a way to close a door, or otherwise block casual traffic from even getting to your area? And redirecting them to the 10th floor before they can even get to you?

  12. Amberz

    Wait, for the paycheck thing… How does that work? Like it’s given out on say Thursday but can’t be cashed until the following day, or how does that work? The places I’ve worked have only done direct deposit, although my last workplace gave out pay stubs on pay day and my current workplace gives them out the day before, so this doesn’t make sense to me really, heh.

    1. Daisy

      At my old job we (payroll) got the stubs & physical checks (some people don’t want direct deposit) on Thursday but the checks had a date of Friday. We were under a contract to not distribute the check until Friday from the payroll processing company because they couldn’t risk checks getting cashed early.

      It was a pain for people who worked on Thursdays and not Friday’s because they had to come in only for their check.

    2. jhhj

      We process payroll (using the payroll system the bank runs) on Monday. Pay is deposited into your account on Wednesday. If we wanted to, we could give pay stubs 2 days before they got the money (or on Friday, if Monday is a holiday).

  13. De (Germany)

    “So when she asked why she wasn’t getting her paycheck early, I posted her previous paycheck (just the front of the paycheck) on a private group on Facebook. ”

    Why? What compelled you to do this over Facebook, of all places? And in a group with others?

    A personal e-mail would have been a much easier, and, in my opinion, obvious choice. I really can’t wrap my head around this story.

    1. Cheesecake

      I cant get my head around this either. Being your geographical neighbour, i must say in our countries this is super confidential and employer sharing any piece of paycheck this way (on fb!!!) could get into massive trouble.

      1. Daisy

        I’m American and I don’t understand it at all either. Why Facebook? Why not email, a phone call or wait until you can go to her desk and explain it? Or write the dates on a piece of paper if it has to be public. I’m very confused.

      2. De (Germany)

        Some of this info may not even be transferred via mail except for on secure connections – so that this picture is now on Facebook servers might actually have some legal implications, maybe? I don’t know what data is in the picture, of course, but something like a social security number could be an issue.

        1. Cheesecake

          We also have secured connection and you can’t just receive a pdf via your work email; it is all encrypted and password-protected by the outside provider. I won’t say about US, but here employer sharing any piece of personal info like this can be brought to court

      3. Spooky

        Neither can I! Maybe I’m making a bigger deal of it than it is, but I’m honestly surprised OP wasn’t fired for this. It’s a huge breach of confidentiality, unless we’re all misjudging what info was actually shown in the photo.

    2. UKAnon

      The only thing I can think of is that the employee asked the question on the FB page, so the OP (wisely or not) was replying in the same medium.

      1. nona

        That’s the only reason I can think of, but I would still think that OP could talk to the person or call or email instead. FB’s kind of a mess.

      2. ScottySmalls

        I don’t know why, but I feel like OP was frustrated with her asking about it again and so he did it to kind of social media shame her for not understanding. Like look guys I have to explain it to Susan yet again!

      3. Brandy

        people have got to get over Facebook. Sure it might be a fun past time to keep up with people, but quit living on it.

    3. my two cents

      or heck, just text her a picture of it!? or even a fb message, which allows you to include photos!?

    4. Ella

      This just occurred to me this morning, but it’s not like it’s unknown for Facebook to change privacy settings with no advance notice to users. It’s much less common than it used to be, but still. I think the OP thinks that because it was in a “private” group that makes it okay.

      That doesn’t make it okay. Just because it’s private now doesnt mean it’ll stay that way. Someone in the group could download the picture and do god knows what with it. Facebook essentially owns that picture now.

    5. Lindsay J

      I wonder if it’s a regular question she gets.

      If they’re all young and/or inexperienced employees it may be a question the manager gets a lot. I know that I’ve had to help coworkers understand in a lot of places what pay-period the checks are for – if they worked 20 hours during the pay period of 5/23-5/29 (which has a paydate of 6/5), and then 35 hours of the pay period of 5/30-6/5 (which has a paydate of 6/12) but they don’t understand the payperiods, they get concerned when they think they should have a check for 35 hours of work because they worked 35 hours that week, but have a check for 20 hours instead.

      I could see using Facebook or another public medium to clear things up for everyone. But not using an actual check with an actual employee’s information on it and not blacked out.

  14. Rebecca

    #5 – several things jumped out at me. First, the OP is working at least 13 hours a day, 5 days a week, and now the boss wants to start working on Saturday too? And the OP appears to be exempt, because he or she says they don’t get overtime.

    Talk about no work/life balance with this company! Just exactly when are people supposed to cook meals, do laundry, get groceries, mow the lawn, take time with their children if they have them, exercise, or even sleep? I have no idea what this person’s commute is like, but all in all this schedule is ridiculous. Telling people when they’re hired that the hours are 7-4 and then increasing that by 4 hours a day is horrible. The company is trying to save money on benefits by not hiring the additional staff they need so everyone can work a normal day, and they’ll just end up driving people out, hiring new ones, forcing them to work insane hours, and lather, rinse, repeat.

    It’s too bad all the workers just don’t say to the boss “We were hired to work 7-4. We’ll work 7-5 on some days, not all, and you’ll have to deal with it.” I’m not sure why this made me so angry to read, it just did.

    1. Sunshine Brite

      Seriously, up above #5 indicated that they’re working construction. Whoever is in charge of planning clearly is just trying to take on as much work for as little pay as possible and it’s going to lead to some pretty awful injuries or poorly constructed items.

      1. Natalie

        It’s also extremely unlikely that they’re correctly classified. (Link to follow)

        1. Rock

          Not sure I understand why you think that? There are loads of jobs in the Construction industry that are legit exempt. Estimators, Project Managers etc. spring to mind…
          I’ve got no clue what the OP does, just saying that “Construction” doesn’t only mean carpenters and labor foremen. There’s actually a lot of different jobs in the field.
          Not that this makes that workload anything close to sane. @_@ OP, you have my sympathy.

      2. AnotherAlison

        It sounds like #5 is in construction management, not craft labor, so I’m not so sure about poorly constructed items or awful injuries. The hours described would’t be that unusual for the industry, imho, but the employer shouldn’t have told them 7-4. There are many factors in play in construction scheduling, not just taking on too much work and paying employees little. The public wants that new highway asap, or in my industry, the government only gives you a certain amount of time to get your power plant retrofitted for clean air. It sounds like the particular job was planned with 10-hour craft days–not at all unusual, which puts the management on site for 12 hour days. At my company, these guys don’t get OT, but they get a truck, per diem, company stock, etc. If it’s not a good fit for the OP, totally understood. It’s not my thing, either. But, it’s typical of the industry so I wouldn’t be bashing the company or the boss.

        1. Sunshine Brite

          That’s true. Most of the construction companies I know best are small operations where the management and planning is usually done by 1-3 people.

        2. Lydia

          “There are many factors in play in construction scheduling, not just taking on too much work and paying employees little.”
          I don’t see how the factors you listed contradict the idea that the company hired too few people…does everyone on the construction management team need to be on site at the same time?

          1. AnotherAlison

            The earlier comments sound like the company is trying to squeeze people to make money, while I’m trying to point out that job could have been planned for long hours from the start because of other factors. It’s typical to build a project schedule with 5-10s or even 6-10s to meet a particular end date.

            My thought is the person is working long hours because part of their job is being present to supervise during those hours. Having two people might give you less to do during those hours, but you still have to be there. It’s not like an office job where Sue and Bill could split coverage by working 7-4 and 9-6. (Not saying it couldn’t be, but it would be outside the industry norm.)

            It’s totally possible this person is in a type of position that doesn’t need to be there the whole time (maybe billing or something), and the boss is just a jerk who says I’m here so you need to be here, but not everyone is familiar with the construction industry, so I wanted to point out that field work often works that way with long hours.

  15. MK

    Alison, you start your response to OP4 with:

    “I’d actually this as a flag that there’s a need for a better system for directing visitors”

    While that may be the case in that department, let me assure you that most people, when faced with a live person and a sign, they will ask the person for directions. Especially if the person in question is sitting in a desk nearby and so can be assumed to be working there, but that is not really a requirement. Just hours ago I was stopped in the hallway of my organization to be asked on which floor we were, the very minute I was passing a sizable sign proclaiming “2nd floor”. People knock on office doors to inquire about something that is explicitly stated on a notice glued to that same door or a board directly next to it. You hand them a paper saying “the office hours are stated there” and they immediately ask “so, if I come on Tuesday at 3, you will be open?”.

    I don’t know why. It’s one of life’s greatest mysteries.

    1. fposte

      It’s not really a mystery, though–it’s exactly the prioritization you describe. Lexical clues are the last to be decoded. That’s why traffic sign standardization is so significant for safety–we mostly just stop at the big red octagon, not the word “stop.”

      1. Elizabeth West

        That’s why I suggested a big arrow above–if the OP puts a sign directing them to the front desk, they may come in, see the arrow, and follow it automatically.

    2. Nutcase

      I also don’t get why this happens. My fiancé is one of those ask first, look later people and I just really don’t understand the impulse at all to bother someone else before you’ve actually tried solving the problem yourself.
      him: Have you seen my shoes?
      me: Have you looked where the shoes live?
      him: Oh yeah found them
      me: -exasperated sounds-
      Maybe its my social anxiety talking but unless I’m in a hurry or if it is clearly their job to direct me, asking someone for directions or for information that I can find myself is always a last resort.

      But as for the OP4 I’m not confident that better signs would really help you much here although it might be worth a try. If moving isn’t an option I would try big “don’t talk to me” headphones or finding a divider or something to shield you from view of the door.

      1. Nikki T

        Sometimes the signs are just easy to ignore/not see. Those black cases with the little white letters? Easy to walk right on by. Putting up a screen or a curtain that hides you from view is a good idea if possible. As is a largish poster: ARE YOU LOOKING FOR…..? and then underneath, mailroom—X, so & so’s office….Y, Donor Services…10th floor (downstairs).

        As Alison said, maybe the system for directing visitors isn’t working. If you are easier to find than the signage, make the signage easier to see. And put some signage up after they walk in the door too, instead of just in the hallway.

        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          Yes — I totally agree that sometimes people will still go to the person first, but there are things you can do to minimize that, like exactly what you suggest.

          1. #4

            Here is the big issue, on my floor there really isn’t a front desk person they are on floor 10. And you betcha there’s a sign saying that, it’s exactly as was noted people just want to talk to a live person instead of reading. I wear headphones… they still ask. AND they’re usually angry cause WHY oh WHY WOULD THIS FRONT DESK LADY ,OBVIOUSLY ONLY HERE FOR MY CONVENIENCE, DARE TO DROWN OUT MY QUESTIONS….
            Our University is also very all about being welcoming and nice and how everyone is an ambassador which i love! And in my case its especially important since we have donors come in sometimes, I never want to take the chance of coming off as rude to someone who is donating money to us. I talked to our donor experience group who is on the same floor and they literally asked why are we not at the front?

            Good question!

        1. Collarbone High

          Apparently, I look like someone who knows where every damn thing in the world is located, because not a day goes by that people don’t ask me for directions/locations. Office buildings, malls, airports, foreign countries … the most absurd was a woman asking me (in Japanese) on a Tokyo street corner for directions to the subway. I did actually live there at the time and spoke enough Japanese to help her, but I’m white and have red hair — not the obvious choice when there were hundreds of Japanese people on the same corner. And people get really angry when I say “I’m sorry, I don’t know, I [don’t work here, am a tourist myself, am getting out of a cab from the airport and literally have been in this city for three seconds].” It often does feel, as others have mentioned, that people think a young(ish) woman exists to cater to their needs, and that I have some social obligation to provide customer service to the universe.

          1. AGirlCalledFriday

            I got this in Japan too – lots of recommendations for good places to eat/drink/hang out, directions, etc. I was living there and probably looked it.

            This is the second time someone mentioned Japan on here. Stop making me miss Japan peoples! >_<

  16. AdAgencyChick

    OP5, do you have a job lined up in your new city? If you don’t, have you had other supervisors at your current company whom you could list on job applications (so that companies wouldn’t contact your current boss)? Because if you don’t need this turd to be a reference, you have all the freedom in the world to just say “I’m leaving now” at 4. (And turn off your phone before 7 AM!) Any demands for weekend work get the Miss Manners “sorry, that won’t be possible.”

    Your coworkers will either be annoyed yet understanding and envious, or else giving you a slow clap when the boss isn’t looking. Your boss will be pissed, but who cares? He didn’t care that he was pissing you off by making you do more than you initially agreed to. What’s he going to do, fire you?

    The only way I would stick this out would be if I desperately needed a good reference AND I trusted that he would give me one, because with people who take a mile when you give an inch, you often get hosed even if you did far more for them than a reasonable person would expect.

    I have been in a similar situation, although thankfully the hours were not *quite* that bad, and I hated the company so much that, in my last two weeks, I felt no compunction at all about waltzing out the door no later than 5:30 every day. One coworker was mad at me at the time, but she got over it and tried to hire me back there a couple of years later. My then-boss still speaks well of me. So people do understand that your motivation just isn’t the same once you’ve quit.*

    *Bosses and companies get the kind of notice they deserve. The boss whose employees give several weeks’ notice and bust their butts for her during that notice period, is a boss who treated those employees well.

    1. The Cosmic Avenger

      Wouldn’t it be great if OP #5 could do that, and then, seeing that, all of their co-workers started insisting on working normal hours too? Management, who are probably trying to squeeze the work of 1.5X FTEs out of X FTEs, would be totally up a creek.

      And I hope they all start investigating whether they’re supposed to be exempt or not, because you CAN get retroactive overtime if you’ve been misclassified.

  17. Pill Helmet

    #1 – The biggest issue for me here is getting into a bathing suit or significantly less clothing than I’m comfortable being in in front of my coworkers. I’m overweight and also have a skin condition on one of my legs that is very noticable and invites a lot of questions. I don’t wear shorts or skirts at the office. I really would not be comfortable at all.

    1. Molly

      Right? And if you just wear jeans and a T-shirt or something, someone’s bound to be like, “OH MY GOD, why are you wearing jeans? Aren’t you HOT???” Chill out, people. In your case I’d probably wear a maxi skirt in a light fabric and hope for the best, but…let’s just not go to the beach at work.

  18. Juana

    #1: I would go for a little while to make an appearance, but leave because I can’t be out in the sun for too long- family history of skin cancer and I’ve already a couple of scares myself. A whole work day is a long time for anyone to be out in the sun, never mind medical history!

    I think something like that would be a way to bow out gracefully, but still “check the right boxes” if perception is important.

  19. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec

    Here is a suggestion about choosing activities (like teambuilding) that I use with a group of teenagers I volunteer with:

    Instead of having people vote on what they WANT to do, make a long list of options, and have each person cross out things they are NOT willing to do or would hate. We do this when choosing menus (“if we had pizza, would you eat?). One “no” vetos the option. If you eliminate them all, discuss why the options aren’t working (ie, I hate tomatoes and all of those choices have tomatoes) and get the group to generate more choices within appropriate parameters (no, we cannot have lobster, because out whole budget is $50). Translate language/options for adults, and everyone feels respected.

      1. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec

        You come up with some sort of meal where everyone can assemble their own and people can leave off what they don’t like or can’t eat. Like taco salad, other salad, burritos, make-your-own stir-fry, whatever. Or provide an alternative for the one part of the dish that is causing a problem. Also, I totally allow for pickiness in this process, not just genuine allergies. It’s a good exercise (for teens, at least) to respect other people’s preferences, wants, and needs and find ways to make decisions that work for everyone. If you are really suck, you find a simple meal that the outlier can make for themselves that they will be happy with.

        1. illini02

          See, I’m all for allegeries or even dietary restrictions. I don’t think I could just do the picky eater thing. I have too many friends who just make things difficult for everyone else in that type of thing.

          Plus, it seems there are just some people who don’t want to do ANYTHING where they have to socialize with co-workers.

          1. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec

            In this case, though, these are kids. If they hate something, they just won’t eat. And they may have a limited ability to get their own food and handle their pickiness independently. So I’d rather they be honest about what they will and will not eat than have them hungry (grumpy) or resorting to candy and cookies.

            In an office, I’d provide a few reasonable options, accommodate allergies, and try to have something where you can select ingredients to put on your plate.

      2. Kelly L.

        I think everyone would have to eat at a place that has vegan options, but not everyone would have to choose the vegan option.

        1. Stone Satellite

          Exactly. If the question is phrased as, “If we get X, Y, and Z pizzas, would you have some?” and someone says no, it’s reasonable to ask if there’s some way to accommodate that person. Just because you order a vegan pizza doesn’t mean there can’t be pepperoni and sausage too. When it runs in the other direction, and 90% of people say, “I vote for pepperoni and sausage” so that’s all you order, the vegan is left with nothing to eat.

      3. Aunt Vixen

        If you eliminate them all, discuss why the options aren’t working . . . and get the group to generate more choices within appropriate parameters

        So I assume e.g. the vegan and the, I don’t know, Crohn’s sufferer (who needs easily digestable proteins and can’t really handle high fiber content) can’t eat the same meal. That would be the discussion. But maybe there could be a place they could both order from. Or maybe one of them would volunteer Hey, there’s no reason everyone has to miss out because of my particular thing. There are a hundred ways to a solution. I think Ashley’s point is that the inverse of the majority-rule thing is a kinder way to include the people who are routinely in the ruled-against minority.

  20. Blamange

    #1 I don’t like to do forced activities anyway but I do them for work, I see it as part of the climate and culture. Especially if I want to feel part of the team and to not feel left out; and to just not seem like someone who’s going to ruin everyone else’s happiness (that’s just me tho, I don’t want to feel like an outcast). We go out once a month to pubs and bars or to eat out, for no other reason than to hang out.

    #2 A long similar lines but my boss tells employees off over our works facebook. I retail in a small shop. Still awkward nonetheless.

    Personally, if this happened to me, I’d feel a bit violated and put on a pedestal if you did that with my paycheck (especially if we were just having a conversation about it) to the whole group.

    Plus as we would have been talking about it, and then you show it to the whole team. I would feel as if I was being passively aggressively punished for asking about it, being subliminally told off, or being singled out. Obviously a lot of projection but it’s just the thoughts that would run though my head.

    1. Afiendishthingy

      Your boss tells employees off over FB? Like so everyone can see? Dear god that is awful. Can’t you leave the work FB page/group? I’ve been grumbling a lot about my inconsiderate unsupportive boss but at least he’s so hands off he would never do that…

      1. Blamange

        She posts pictures as well D: saying whoever closed last night didn’t do such and such and such. It’s highly embarrassing for the key holders and staff. Yea the whole team can see it. I did ‘accidentally’ leave it once in protest on I’ve had enough (told everyone my butt did it lol) but as we are a small team I just got bombarded with messages from other staff members, and asked in work and tbh the possible potential atmosphere shift in work I don’t want to deal with. So I just see it as an inconvenience I have to put up with for a job I love.

        The way this problem has occurred – and I don’t see it resolving unless our manager says ‘I feel I should do what the old boss did and stay out and leave work at work’ – is her being promoted from Assistant manager to Manager. She’s a newbie manager as well, never done it before. So she was part of the original group. Our old boss was never part of the work group chats and did everything at work, so if you did something wrong she’d never post about it. I don’t see it ending tbh. I’m trying to cut some sort of slack :/

    2. Kelly L.

      Oh, man. Is that the same FB page the customers see too? I would so never shop at that trainwreck.

        1. Kelly L.

          Ah. Still sucks for you guys, of course, but I guess at least she’s not hanging out the dirty laundry? LOL. There was a restaurant near here that announced it was going out of business, and immediately afterward, their Facebook page completely melted down–the owner was not the same person as the social media person, and the social media person started using the FB page to air all his grievances against the owner. Then the owner popped on to flame him back. And I decided not to go to their “last night open” shindig!

          1. Blamange

            Omg that sounds awful. We’d probably be all be fired if this was public. It does suck, but what can you do?

            1. Brandy

              Is this a chain or a independent? Screenshot the page and send it to corporate on their contact me page.

          2. Lindsay J

            Something similar happened near me. (Though I side with the person who ran the social media account, honestly).

            A restaurant nearby announced it was going out of business on rather short notice. Then the social media person put up a Facebook status pretty much stating that no employees had been paid for a month because the owners ran out of money and tried to hide that until the last possible second, and that they seemed to have no intentions of paying the staff what they were owed.

  21. Allison

    I would definitely talk to your supervisor about this. People generally expect the first person they see to be an admin, so it doesn’t make sense to have people follow arrows to the admins and put you by the door. Sounds like an organization issue, and you should be moved to a cubicle away from the door. Even if people don’t ask you for directions, it also doesn’t make sense to put the research person in such a high traffic area.

  22. Cautionary tail

    Op #3, IMHO your manager has a low liklihood of hiring the best talent through contract to hire. Most people with a current full-time job are not going to apply for a contract-to-hire position unless there are extenuating circumstances. This means that your applicant pool has a disproportionate ratio of people who are not currently employed due to either performance reasons or through layoffs which may not be their fault, and people who are so unhappy in their current role that they will do anything to get out. While some of these people are eminently qualified you have inentionally reduced the pool of qualified applicants with this approach. Why would you ever want to do this? I have heard the recruiter spin on this about how wonderful it is to try before you buy, but what applicant wants to give up their life to you unless they are in a worse situation already, just to be tried.

    Personally, whenever I see a contract to hire position I don’t bother even looking to see what the job is. I have a family that needs to eat, a mortgage that needs to be paid, etc. Taking a position like this would mean I could lose my house and more. Why would I even waste brain cycles thinking about it?

    1. notfunny.

      I disagree. There are people changing fields, just beginning their careers, returning from leaves of absence or moving to a new city who might try to be placed through a temp agency. Why wouldn’t you want to hire someone who has been laid off through no fault of their own? Some of my favorite colleagues in the past have been temporary hires who were a good fit and stayed on – but they had to get a start somewhere and a temp agency provided that opportunity.

      1. sam

        I’m in my current permanent job at a well-regarded public company through what started as a contract position. I got laid off from my fancy law firm job (for what turned out to be reasons that had nothing to do with my performance!) at the beginning of the financial crisis and there were no “real” jobs to be had, so after pounding the pavement for a while, I connected with a legal outsourcing company (granted, one with a very high-end reputation, not a doc-review mill, which is a completely different ball of was), and did contracting work for a while. I did several engagements, got paid some very nice money, was able to keep paying my mortgage and keep things like health insurance, and ultimately ended up getting hired at my “last” engagement. You have to be strategic about the kind of “contract” jobs you take, but some are certainly worth the effort.

      2. Cautionar tail

        I was careful to write “disproportionate ratio” not “all,” and “layoffs”…”through no fault of their own.” My point was that although there are good people who will do contract to hire, employers who seek out contract to hire are excluding a large part, perhaps the majority, of the job market.

        If you are seeking the best person for a position then why would you exclude the majority of the applicants?

  23. SherryD

    I can’t think of anything that would ruin a day at the beach more than MY BOSS AND COWORKERS! ;)

  24. Beancounter in Texas

    OP#3, in my brief experience with Current Employer, using contract-to-hire to hire employees is a sign of insecurity. Current Employer is very risk adverse when it comes to being able to staff his company and tends to let that fear guide some of his business decisions, such as bringing in temporary employees from agencies for a temp-to-hire trial. It mostly works for The Boss Who Doesn’t Want to Commit early on, but it’s a pain for me who has to orient and train each temp we go through until one sticks.

    I would recommend that if you’re in this position in the future, find a temp (or contractor) to fill the position if it is absolutely necessary to fill it quickly and focus on screening and interviewing candidates to hire. Then you get someone who expects the job to end at some point (the temp/contractor) and you hire someone who expects a regular job.

  25. Amber Rose

    I’m skipping the company camping trip next weekend.

    Instead I have to come up with ideas for and price out the next 2 events. I’ll tell you what, there won’t be anything involving managers and coworkers in bathing suits. Gives me the heebie jeebies just thinking about it.

  26. MsM

    #1: I wouldn’t even cite a scheduling conflict, unless they’re expecting you to chip in for this. That might look too much like not being a team player, or they might try and pick a new date just for you. Just go or get sick the day of.

  27. illini02

    #1 I hate to sound like the fun police, but I really do think sometimes people should just relax and step out of their comfort zone before complaining about how they don’t want to do something and how AWFUL it will be. There is NO activity that everyone will like. Of course it would be nice if a company gave everyone a free day off, or gave everyone cash or something like that. But thats not really always an option, nor does it really accomplish the same thing. If you give a free PTO day, it doesn’t really accomplish the goal of getting people to socialize and bond in a non-work context. To me, there is value with that. At every job I’ve had, when we have had those “forced fun outings” as some of you like to call them, they have yielded results in that I know other people outside my department better and we work better moving forward. Even a catered lunch wouldn’t do that, because you’d still have people that would rather eat at their desk or something like that. I mean, you basically say you have no desire to socialize with your co-workers (which sounds like a pretty negative attitude anyway). But why not just go and leave early a bit. You can put in an appearance, save face, and god forbid, even have fun.

    On another note, why do so many on here seem so against any type of work outing. I can’t be the only one that sees the value of getting to know your co-workers in a non-work setting. As I said, there will be nothing everyone like. Not even restaurants can be everyone’s cup of tea. But people seem so set against anything. I know I’m a bit more extraverted than others (probably more than a bit), but having such an adverse reaction to anything just seems so extreme that I don’t get it.

    1. Blamange

      I’m not against it either, I do it because I accept it’s how you play the game, it’s being a team player. This is just a minor inconvenience, besides you might enjoy it.

    2. Ask a Manager Post author

      Well, we’re adults and by this point in our lives presumably we have a general sense of how we do and don’t enjoy spending our time. It’s reasonable to be annoyed at having to spend a day engaged in Unpleasant Activity X when you’re doing your job just fine and know that spending a day at the beach with coworkers isn’t likely to impact your performance but is likely to be something you tolerate rather than enjoy — and doubly so when it’s clear that it’s been chosen because it’s assumed that it’ll be “fun.”

      You’ll notice that people rarely complain about having to do their actual jobs; what they complain about is being told “here’s a fun activity for you to enjoy!” when said activity is actually not fun for them and feels like an imposition and waste of time that they value. We’re adults; we’re pretty capable of managing our own relationships with coworkers and don’t need a day at the beach, laser tag, or anything along those lines for that to happen.

      I find the “relax and you might enjoy it!” attitude to be pretty infantilizing, actually, along with the idea that adults can’t be trusted to manage our own work relationships without a cruise director organizing social activities for us.

      1. illini02

        I get that, but do you really think there is no value in having some non-work time socialization with people? In my current job, which I like, I truly have no desire to hang out with my co-workers in my off time. However, we do a summer and winter outing every year. If these things were being done monthly, I could see where that would get annoying. However, it just seems that if an outing is done 1-2 times a year, then its not really that big of a deal to smile, enjoy some free food and/or drinks, and have some pleasant conversation that isn’t just involving TPS reports. While I don’t think someone should be judged harshly if they don’t want to go, it does seem a bit much that they can’t take a few hours (when they would be at work anyway) to do an outing with their co-workers because its not their favorite thing ever.

        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          I agree it isn’t that big of a deal. Lots of what we talk about here isn’t that big of a deal, but is still annoying/not ideal. and we can still enjoy discussing the reasons why that’s the case. I’d put this in that category. I think you’re reading people as saying this is a bigger problem than it is.

          I do think there can be value in spending time with coworkers in more informal settings. But I think employers should be thoughtful about the details of that and, as I said up-thread, should pick things that are short, not mandatory, not likely to cause a bunch of discomfort in people, etc.

        2. The Cosmic Avenger

          I really like my coworkers. Some of them I consider pretty good friends, and I’ve gotten to know a few outside of work…individually. Many of us just don’t like group social events. I actually don’t mind them that much myself, depending on the people. But outside of work I’d generally prefer to spend my time 1) with my family, 2) decompressing in the privacy of my own home, 3) running errands/doing chores, or 4) volunteering. Anything that eats into that time has to take a very high priority, and while spending time with certain coworkers that I really like might take that kind of priority, spending it with ALL of them does not.

          But what it comes down to is that managers that have mandatory social events like this are saying that other people should prioritize or value their personal time in a certain way, and that’s incredibly inconsiderate.

          1. Ask a Manager Post author

            Yeah, there’s an underlying belief here that there’s one right way for people to bond or socialize (in groups! doing an activity! at the time and place of someone else’s choosing!), and it’s pretty frustrating to people who bond in other ways.

          2. illini02

            Just to be clear, I’m not at all advocating for doing these things in your personal time. I’m referring to outings scheduled during what would be normal business hours.

      2. Beebs

        Eh, I really have to disagree here. Situations can vary quite vastly. I worked in a department with 2 floors and I was on the restricted access upper floor, which I tried to escape when I could in order to get to know other people throughout the department. I had been working there for over a year before I met a colleague who worked in the office directly below mine, we met at the summer pool party (which most people do not utilize the pool, for those wondering) and it turned out we were able to collaborate and make each others work easier, but our daily functions did not naturally lead us to cross paths. So the cruise director was rather helpful here.

        I now work as a remote employee, alone in this office. I gladly engage in any opportunity to join the people from the other offices, regardless of the activity. I am also quite introverted fwiw. The activities might not be ideal, but as adults I think we can also manage our feelings about these things and make them work for our own best interests.

        Also, I have seen the implications of people who politely decline “forced fun” and it has absolutely impacted their relationships with colleagues, and subsequently overall performance. Informal socializing really does build stronger connections and rapport, which in my experience impacts job performance.

      3. Brandy

        + a zillion. Some people have social anxiety and don’t want to step out of their comfort zone. I hate it. My comfort zone is just that (comfortable)

    3. Amber Rose

      No, I’m with you. I feel like the complainers could stand to step away from their desks and be a little more open minded.

      I guess if I HATED my coworkers/managers or was in a toxic work environment I could see it more, but while I’m not best friends with everyone I’m also not going to be tortured by going go-carting with them for a couple hours.

      Uh, except swimming. Not even my husband is allowed to see me in a bathing suit. The beach is fine if I’m allowed to just wear shorts.

    4. Sadsack

      Forced fun is exactly what it is. I do not need to know my coworkers better on a personal basis to work well with them. Whether or not I have sipped lemonade with you while playing croquet does not make me more or less enthusiastic about providing you something you requested at work. If you ask me for something, or we need to collaborate on a project, that’s what we do. I don’t understand the need for anything beyond being pleasant and professional. I am not completely introverted, but I do not enjoy having to make small talk with people for the sake of doing it. I like to go to work, get work done, then enjoy my time off.

      1. illini02

        Well, you sound like you are completely closed off to the idea anyway, so for you it probably would be a moot point. I think though, for many people, it DOES improve your working relationship with someone. Put it like this. I can be professional with Jan and Bill. But if Bill is someone that only will say the minimum to me and we have never said anything more than required, yet Jan and actually had real conversations and somewhat bonded at the last work outing, because I saw her as a person and not just a cog in my work wheel, I’ll probably be more inclined to go out of my way to help Jan with a problem than Bill. Thats human nature to care more about people you actually have a relationship with. So while my relationship with Bill isn’t any worse because he didn’t go, my relationship with Jan has gone up a couple notches.

        1. Sadsack

          Being someone who only says the minimum and is a cog in the wheel is a pretty far swing the other way and is not at all what I am talking about.

        2. Ask a Manager Post author

          But if Bill is someone that only will say the minimum to me and we have never said anything more than required

          I think that’s setting up a straw man though. Who said anything about saying only the minimum to colleagues? Plenty of people who don’t like these activities have warm, friendly relationships with colleagues and even like them very much.

          1. illini02

            Sure, that may be an extreme way to put it, so it probably wasn’t a great example. However, I do think if you have some kind of more personal relationship (which depending on your job functions, may be extremely hard to cultivate while in the office) then that can lead to a better working relationship, even though you can still function fine with someone you don’t have that relationship with.

            1. Sadsack

              “that can lead to a better working relationship, even though you can still function fine with someone you don’t have that relationship with”

              illini02, I agree with this exactly. I still shy away from the forced fun, that’s just me.

        3. Joey

          I don’t think a lot of people realize the more you like someone as a person and not just a co worker and identify with them on a personal level the better the team will perform.

          a great example of this is in the military. And why so many of them risk or incur significant harm to protect their co workers. These people are just co workers, but the personal bonds they create lead them to do extraordinary things like lose life or limb to protect their co workers.

          1. Ask a Manager Post author

            Maybe I’m incredibly naive, but I think a lot of people do realize that but see that there are many opportunities to form those types of relationships without spending a day at the beach or playing laser tag.

            Most of us don’t have jobs with military-like needs for bonding.

            1. Joey

              But wouldn’t you want someone that would do the equivalent of risk life and limb to protect you working for you?

              1. Ask a Manager Post author

                I’m not going to turn down someone taking a bullet for me, but it’s far, far from necessary for most jobs. There’s a reason that the military functions by its own set of rules that’s unique to it and totally different from other jobs.

                (And I don’t think most people, even exceptionally dedicated ones, would risk life or limb for their employers. And that’s totally fine. Good employers won’t expect them to.)

                1. Joey

                  I don’t mean life and limb literally, obviously. I’m talking about the employees who for example, would have your back, who would go above and beyond not for money, but because they want their comrades to succeed similar to the way we make sacrifices so our loved ones can succeed. It’s caring about the team instead of just yourself.

                2. Ask a Manager Post author

                  Well, of course I want those employees and want to be that employee myself. I’ve never found mandatory social activities are required to get that or be that.

                3. Joey

                  I know someone’s going to jump on me for the money comment so Ill say that it doesn’t work unless you feel like your leaders lead by example- going to bat for you, caring about your well being, who would sacrifice for you, etc

                4. Joey

                  I don’t know about you but Ive bonded and gotten to know co workers more in one four hour round of golf than in years of working with someone who I never see socially.

                5. Joey

                  That’s true, but I think you’ve illustrated plenty of times that there are advantages in participating in social stuff at work. namely it’s pretty obvious that it’s a disadvantage of you don’t go regularly. I’m just pointing out there are real advantages to going beyond perceptions.

              2. Well

                Well, there’s a lot that goes into producing that kind of camraderie, and it’s not just the activities – its the kind of people who join the military in the first place. I’m not sure that forcing people to go to the beach together will forge that kind of team bond. In fact, as people responding here are indicating you can instead break down team bonds and make people resent being forced to hang out with work colleagues.

                If you’ve got a play-lasertag-together kind of a team, great. If not, though, don’t try to force them to become one, since that’ll just build resentment. Either start screening for that sort of thing in hiring, or figure out what activities will work for the people actually on your team.

                1. Joey

                  I agree with most of what you said except I don’t think the military has the market on those types of candidates. It’s the environment that the manager and leaders create that breeds that type of behavior. Plenty of corporate employees pour their blood sweat and tears into their jobs too and it’s usually because they feel like the people they work with would do the same for them.

                2. Ask a Manager Post author

                  But different things motivate different people, and it’s a mistake to assume that these sorts of activities are the best way to do it.

                  Personally, I give my all to my work because I find it personally fulfilling and want to be known as someone who kicks ass. It has very little (if anything) to do with feeling that the people I work with would do the same for me.

                3. Joey

                  Have you ever worked with an asshole that asked you for a work favor?

                  Have you ever been asked for a favor by someone you liked and could have easily justified not doing it?

                4. Ask a Manager Post author

                  Of course. And never in those cases has a social activity changed my feelings on those things.

                  And look, I’m not arguing that no one works the way you’re describing; of course they do. But certainly not everyone does. And there can be other ways of achieving what you’re going for too.

                5. Joey

                  except talking to that work asshole about things other than work may change your mind about his level of assholeness and your willingness to do him a favor.

                  Granted it doesn’t have to be paintball or a day at the beach, that’s just a mechanism to remove you from the work environment. Really it could be anything that gets you away from talking about work. It’s just that some people here seem to despise anything with co workers other than work and that’s naive.

                6. Ask a Manager Post author

                  Eh, I might argue it’s naive (and maybe a little condescending) to assume you know better than people do about themselves what works for them :)

                  I think we’ll have to agree to disagree though.

                7. Joey

                  Is it naive to believe that developing better relationships with co workers fosters productivity?

                  Maybe it’s that people have a problem with employers pushing the development of work relationships vs. waiting for them to happen organically….,just a thought.

          2. The Cosmic Avenger

            But I form those kinds of relationships when interacting one-on-one with co-workers, not at company parties. At company parties I tend to just sit with my team anyway, with whom I already have a very good relationship.

      2. Sadsack

        All that said, I enjoy talking with my coworkers at work events or during a few minutes of a break, but spending the day with them doing other “activities” just doesn’t sound fun, at all. It probably would end up not being terrible, but it is nothing I would look forward to.

    5. LQ

      I do suck it up and do it. And it makes me incredibly uncomfortable, I don’t enjoy it, I go home and go directly to bed (yes, even at 5 pm) because I’m so exhausted from it, it means I don’t have the social capital to spend on my actual friends, I don’t think there is anything better about the group afterward, and I rarely like the things I learn about my coworkers. So yes, even the twice a year that my group does it is too much. But yes, I do suck it up and go. I don’t like it. Don’t tell me (or others) that I need to put in an appearance to “save face, and god forbid, even have fun.” I know how to have fun. I am AWESOME at having fun. I just don’t want to do it with my coworkers. I work with them. Don’t assume I don’t like fun or can’t have it.

      1. illini02

        Of course it varies from group to group. However, even if it doesn’t improve YOUR perception of the group, maybe the other team members do work better with each other. In that case, I still think its valid for the whole, even if for you its not the most pleasant thing

        1. LQ

          Don’t tell me it’s fun. And don’t pretend like it’s fun for everyone. If you insist on doing team building, fine I’ll be the adult in the room and take the horrible medicine that hasn’t been shown to work, but, please, don’t tell me that I don’t know what I do and don’t enjoy, or that I should enjoy something that I don’t. Your idea of fun is your own. But it isn’t mine.

          1. illini02

            I think you are taking this a bit different than I meant it. Of course different people have different ideas of fun. While I can’t say I’ve never told someone that something will be fun, I’m not naive enough to think one thing will be fun for everyone. That said, the goal of these things isn’t always to “have fun”. If the goal is to build a stronger team, planning something that many will find fun is a side effect. However, when people are so closed off to even the idea that something won’t be miserable, thats more where my issue is. When people go in with that attitude, its usually pretty obvious to everyone else that you don’t want to be there. That can throw off the entire group. I just think people should go in with an open mind. I’m not trying to be condescending or anything, so sorry if thats how it comes off. I just know I’ve done plenty of things that I wouldn’t have chosen as my particular activity, but when I’ve gone in with an open mind, I’ve found it to be better for all involved.

            1. Marcela

              You are thinking “you are closed off to the idea of fun” -> “you are miserable in the fun activity”. Well, that’s not true. It’s very possible that I am miserable in your fun activity, hence from that moment on, I’ll refuse to go.

              I just don’t get why can’t people accept we are different, we like different things, have different approaches to life, relationships, and that’s fine. It’s perfectly possible to be professional and do our best, without having any extra special relationship with our coworkers. Honestly, sometimes this discussion makes me think about kindergarten, when my mother wanted me to be friends with another child, just because it suited her purposes better or because she liked that child’s mother.

              1. Joey

                Lq, it’s not so much for fun as it is to get insight into your co workers and find possible find something personal about them that you identify with.

                The “have fun and relax” comments really mean there’s an opportunity to have as much fun as you can have with co workers…..which will probably still be less fun than you can have with non work friends, but some amount of fun nonetheless given the objective.

              2. illini02

                I think the problem is that if we really want to have a diverse work environment (and I don’t mean in terms of ethnicity) then you have to be able to cater to both types. I know when I read stories on here about environments with nerf wars and stuff, people say that those types of environment don’t lead to diversity, which may be true. But if you do have people who like that type of thing, you can’t ignore that either. Some people will have fun with these things, so to just not do them ever because some people don’t like them, isn’t realistic. Many people like those extra special relationhips. Which is why if you aren’t the type of person who likes that, I do think that sometimes for the sake of the team, you kind of suck it up and deal. At the same time, I don’t think you should ONLY cater to those people. But if you do have a team of lets say 60% of people who like laser tag/go karts/beach outings, then doing a team outing where that stuff is done is good for the majority of the people. If there are people who don’t like their activities like that, then also choose something that will be more appealing to the other 40% for the next social event. But if you just leave it to those people to plan their own things, and then they are considered a clique, well I don’t know that its fair that people don’t like those either.

                1. Marcela

                  Yup, I don’t think you are wrong in that. It’s next to impossible to find common ground for groups of different people and somebody has to give. What I don’t like is being told “if you relax and open your mind, you’ll enjoy it, because it’s FUN”. No. I can go to any kind of events, for the advance of my career or because it’s helpful to my husband’s career. That doesn’t mean I have to enjoy it, or get anything from it apart from a huge annoyance. The fact that I hate them, doesn’t mean my mind is closed or I’m not relaxed. It only means I. Just. Do. Not. Like. Them. And me not liking these events deserves the same respect than somebody’s love for them.

        1. Not an Athlete

          Would love to know your advice if this beach trip was a multi-day affair. My boss has decided that as a “reward” our team will do a multi-day rafting trip. He is early 30’s and a triathlete — and I’m in my 50’s, overweight, and not in good shape. It’s scheduled this fall and I’m already completely stressed out.

          1. Jessica (tc)

            Am I the only person in the world who doesn’t know how to swim? I do not like being in water past my thighs, and you could not begin to get me into a boat that is going to go out in the water that isn’t perfectly flat at all times (and even then, it’s probably not going to happen unless I trust you an awful lot).

            1. Jessica (tc)

              (I always think this when I’m watching those race shows or the things where you have to do competitions to win money, too, because most of them involve swimming as well. Oh well.)

    6. LiveAndLetDie

      I’m not automatically against extra work outings, but I do think that the ones that add extra discomfort or inconvenience (the ones that are outside of regular work hours and thus cut into your personal/free time) or, like the one the OP remarked, puts people in a situation that can be fraught with extra issues (like insecurity in a swimsuit, skin conditions that require avoiding prolonged sun exposure, etc.) are absolutely out there enough that you cannot expect adults to immediately brush aside their worries and leap in for what may or may not be an overall boost to their professional life. It has nothing to do with job performance and everything to do with interpersonal relations, but if those interpersonal relations can be built in ways that DON’T also massively inconvenience people or make them feel terrible, then all the better. Not everyone’s going to enjoy an outing to the beach with coworkers. I know I certainly wouldn’t. I have a fantastic relationship with my coworkers, but absolutely nothing about spending time outside of work with them in a swimsuit is appealing to me.

    7. Maxwell Edison

      Part of the problem with enforced gaiety is that, in my experience, it inevitably comes at a crunch time. You’re forced to spend a day doing things that bring little to no value to your job, and then you’re that much further behind on your work (and of course, deadlines have not been adjusted to make up for the lost day).

      1. Elizabeth

        Yes, and no one is doing my job while I’m doing the mandatory socializing. And everyone to whom you owe deliverables is confused about why you are now scrambling twice as hard.

  28. I'm Not Phyllis

    OP 5, I recently left a job that was requiring me to keep hours like the ones you’ve described (not-for-profit, by the way). I simply refused to work overtime during my notice period. I made it clear to my boss that I would do everything I could to help during the transition, but that I wasn’t taking any time off in between jobs and that I preferred not to show up at my next gig exhausted. She probably wasn’t very happy about it but she didn’t say anything.

    Also, where I am, your boss isn’t allowed to make you work more than 40 hours per week and has to get special permission to ask you to work more than 47 if you’re non-exempt. Which, granted, might not be an issue you’re comfortable with taking a stand on when you’re working there, but now with another job to go to …

  29. Elizabeth West

    #2–Oops. >_< I'd definitely apologize and find another way to explain things to people. Probably in person would be best.

    #1–Oh, does this bring back unpleasant memories. I was going through a situational depressive episode and had to go to a former job's day out. It took place on a boat where they had a dinner and show. We rode a charter bus to the location. One of the worst days ever. The show was lame (except for the dog act and the acrobats), the food meh, and I didn't want to talk to anyone. Everyone was making it out to be the coolest thing ever, and I thought it was the stupidest thing ever. But there was no way I could get out of it. I thought at one point about quietly going overboard just to get away! I didn't really have the energy to pretend I was having a good time, and it was just exhausting to do so. At least it happened during working hours, so we actually got paid for it.

    Please employers, do not do this to your employees. If you must, make sure they have an out if necessary. I might have enjoyed it a little if I had been feeling better, but being forced to go made it so much worse.

  30. Anonsie

    #4

    Are you me? I’m in the same position, quite literally, in every way. When people first walk into the door there’s a big colorful directory, arrows, room numbers, and a phone so you can find the department you’re looking for and call them if you’re lost. Without fail people breeze past it and open the second door behind it to get to me and then have me help them instead. Or, the regular employees just walk past me so much since I’m by the entrance/exit that I get a constant stream of comments from people I know about unrelated stuff.

    The closest bathrooms and copier are near me so people talk to me about them constantly as if they are my personal belongings. I’m also a young woman so I’m pretty sure there’s a certain amount of assumption that I “take care” of things around me, and I’ve had plenty of interactions where someone was trying to get me to fix something I didn’t know anything about (like an issue with the copier) and even after saying several times that I don’t know anything about it and I just sit near it, they’ll keep saying “well can you just make sure that x happens? don’t you handle copying for this department?” “no I just happen to sit here.” “but don’t you do copying for people?” “no, just my own.” “well can you just make sure everyone knows the machine should be used x way?” “no, I don’t know everyone up here, I just sit here.” “but can you just tell people to do x thing?”

    If I wear big headphones, people just tap my shoulder (try it anyway, but don’t be shocked) and the constant on/off of the headphones just added more distraction to it. I’ve been asking if I can be moved for years, but there’s always more important faculty moving through that get the better spots that open up. I would say that’s the only real option, though, because people are unlikely to leave you alone otherwise.

  31. #4

    I actually am you.
    I don’t have a copier by me I think I’d go loony I don’t know how you deal with that. My favorite is all the delivery people like hey can you sign for this… nope I cant there’s an admin over there or across the hall take your pick. Or they’ll drop things off like inventory’s for water or office supplies to me. I’ve had the interrupters already and they’re just more perturbed that this girl who must be here for their convenience is daring to wear headphones. The worst thing is I have “resting nice face” (look it up its a thing) so when I do get all these people coming up to me its very hard for me to filter them and be like go away. I think I’ll talk to my supervisor, maybe I could get a taller wall in front of me and then put a curtain up. Maybe I’ll put up a sign next to the opening in my cubicle that says “DANGER DANGER HIGHLY CONTAGIOUS WORKER PLEASE DO NOT DISTURB” …. although then all my coworkers would be like HEY HAHAHAH FUNNYYY … then i throw it away in April Ludgate like anger

    1. Anonsie

      Oh yeah, I get the deliveries as well but that’s less of an issue. They just leave stuff in a pile right behind my chair which is aggravating, but they’d do that regardless of who was here I think. I have a real mean resting face but that doesn’t put people off at all, honestly. It does make some visitors visibly ruffled that they’re getting such poor service when I don’t jump up to greet them, but that’s about it. I’ve tried flat out ignoring people who come in but you may or may not be surprised to discover how long someone will stand still in total silence behind your chair, patiently waiting for you to notice them. Hint: A long time. You also may… No, really will not be surprised how many people think sneaking up on you and loudly clearing their throat to get your attention is a cool way to behave.

      And yep, every time I try to set something up to indicate I really don’t want to be disturbed right then (a note or putting my coat over the end of the cube or something) then I just get people stopping to comment on how I must be busy and I’m all holed up and etc. and it just makes the problem worse.

    2. James M.

      I guess I’m late to this little party; If you’re still around, have you talked to your boss/supervisor (whoever shuffles the cubes) and explained that the interruptions are interfering with your work and you don’t want to risk being terse with a donor? Do you have comrades who can back up your request to review the cubicle arrangements? Even switching cubes with someone who doesn’t mind interruptions could result in a mutually agreeable solution. I guess my suggestion is to start talking about it; don’t suffer in silence.

      Signs are self limiting in their utility. The more information contained in an area, the less likely a typical person is to acknowledge it. So unless you attach something attention-getting to a sign (a pit bull could work), another sign is not a solution.

    3. Alison Hendrix

      I was about to suggest a curtain of “Police Line – Do Not Cross” tape, or a plastic sheet with a huge biohazard sticker.

      I for one would be the opposite. I tend to try not to interact with strangers, so I’d probably look around first and find maps/directory. And looking around typically means I’ll see the receptionist.

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