employees complained about the reward I gave them, getting my job back after being fired for pushing a coworker, and more

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

1. My employees complained about the reward I gave them

I work as a manager of a division that recently underwent a huge system change. As a result, all of our employees had to work two hours of overtime per day for three weeks. They were all paid triple their hourly rate for their overtime hours and were given two weeks extra PTO for their efforts. In addition, all meals were catered during that time, and every imaginable beverage was served to them (think baristas, fresh smoothies, etc).

I decided that in addition I would give them all gift certificates (paid for by our company) as a thank-you for their hard work. These were all in different amounts, based on their respective levels of responsibility, but they ranged from $100-200. In order to give them these gift certificates, I had to spent a lot of time getting permission for the funds and ordering them for the employees, all on top of my already demanding work load. I was hurt when it got back to me that employees were grumbling that the gift cards weren’t enough.

My visceral reaction was to just say that they are being ungrateful for something extra that I did for them and that I will not be giving out gift cards next time they are required to work overtime for a special project. But do you think they were treated unfairly? How should I handle these sorts of things going forward?

It sounds like you really went out of your way to ameliorate the inconvenience of the overtime — two weeks of extra PTO is huge, to say nothing of tripling their rate and bringing in all that food and drink. That was more than most people would expect, and then to do gift cards on top of it was extra thoughtful. So yeah, they’re being unreasonable and unrealistic in their expectations. I almost wonder if they saw all the other stuff as par for the course (which it’s not) and the gift cards as their only thank-you; that’s the only thing I can think of to explain the reaction.

But I’d skip the gift cards next time — no point in doing them if that’s the response.

2. Should I try to get my old job back after being fired for pushing a coworker?

Back in 2013, I was fired from my first job after an episode of physical violence with a coworker who had been bullying me for a while. (We threw shoes at one another and pushed each other. He’d been calling me names and bullying long before the incident though.)

Afterwards, I moved on and worked other jobs. But now, after having my son, it seems like no matter how many jobs I apply to, I always get rejected. A couple days ago, I ran into another coworker from my first job and she suggested that I try to re-apply and come back. She knows what happened to me and agrees that I should be given another chance. I tried to re-apply and actually got an interview and I was doing great, until they discovered I used to work there and the circumstances under which I left, or was terminated as they say, thanks to a jealous coworker who is still there. They pretty much trashed my interview and stopped looking at my application afterwards. It’s really been bothering me and I really wanted to go back and work there. Should I try again by calling corporate and explaining what happened or should I just leave it be? And the jealous coworker, what should I do about her?

Nope, this one isn’t going to work out. Being fired for pushing a coworker is a really big deal. It sounds like you might have been pushed to the brink by his behavior — but when you resort to physicality with someone, no matter what the provocation was, that’s going to be a permanent deal-breaker for most employers. They’re not going to want to take the risk that it will happen again. Write this one off, and focus on other employers.

As for the jealous former coworker, there’s nothing to do there. Move on mentally from this company and start fresh somewhere else.

3. I’m worried that moving into my own office will hurt my coworker’s feelings

I started at a job I love two years ago. I came into a department with one other person who was there two years before I started and our boss. My boss got a promotion and now wants to promote me instead of my coworker. I love my coworker to death, and don’t want to hurt her feelings. At the same time, though, I can’t hold myself back just for the sake of my coworker’s feelings.

We sit in a cubicle separated by a wall. Two offices opened up and ideally we should both get into them. My boss asked us if we want to move over. My coworker said she doesn’t, and I want to. Should I go ahead and do it? My coworker doesn’t know about my promotion yet. I don’t want to seem like I’m trying to be above her (although my title will be). I just don’t want to create a hostile environment.

Good lord, take the office! It’s very, very normal to take an office when it’s offered to you, totally aside from the promotion. It’s not even like you’re being offered something your coworker isn’t; she’s been offered one too, even though she’s not taking it. (But even if she hadn’t been offered one, there’s no reason for that to stand in the way of you accepting yours.)

There’s absolutely nothing hostile about that. If she’s sad that you won’t be sitting with each other anymore say, “Yes, I will miss it too — but I’m really excited to have an office.” If she thinks about your feelings half as much as you seem to be thinking about hers, she’ll understand and be pleased for you, even if she’s a little wistful about losing the camaraderie of your cubes.

4. My office keeps emailing me at my personal email address rather than my work address

I recently started a new job at a university. I had used my personal gmail account while interviewing and had lots of correspondence through that account during the process. When I was hired I was given an @teapots.edu email. (Coincidentally we use a Gmail system for that account.)

Since I started, my boss always emails me work requests to my personal email. At first I just responded and then added my work email to the cc line. It continued happing a lot into week two. I kindly mentioned to my supervisor that I would prefer she use my university email for work correspondence. She explained it was an accident and that when she types my name into our work Gmail, it populates my personal email first. She said she would try to be more careful. Well, it keeps getting worse now. Many coworkers (who I never interviewed with) now are being cc’d (and replying) on emails to my personal email.

I started forwarding emails to my work email and responding to work requests with “I will respond from my work email; please try to sue that for future requests.” Everyone is very apologetic and realizes they are just typing my name in and it is the first item because of how frequently it is used.

Now my personal email is being sent around by accident to students and they are emailing me directly, thinking that is my email. I don’t know how to quell this madness – I just need people to take a second before typing my name into Gmail and look to see that it populates two options and choose my work one. Any suggestions? I don’t want to ignore people but it seems being polite and pointing the error out, isn’t enough.

I have to admit to doing this to a people a few times — for the exact same reason (that I’d been corresponding with them at their personal email address from the hiring process). But I always took action to fix it when they pointed it out! Maybe your coworkers don’t realize that they can fix this in their email, and it would help to send them specific instructions about how to fix it.

I’d say this: “Your emails keep going to my personal email address instead of my work address. To stop it from happening, can you delete it from your Gmail contacts altogether so it doesn’t keep auto-populating that one in messages? To do that, go to contacts.google.com, view all contacts, and delete my personal email. That should fix the problem!”

Since everyone sounds apologetic, they’re likely to be grateful to know how to stop this.

5. Can nonprofit employees volunteer for their own organization?

I’m on the board of a small nonprofit. I was just informed that one of our full-time salaried employees is actually volunteering his time on one of his scheduled work days. Apparently this was an arrangement he made with the former board president, for reasons unknown to me (the former president took many employee issues into her own hands). I believe this employee is non-exempt, but the extra day does not put him over 40 hours a week. And the former president instructed him to do “different” work from his paid work on the extra day, but the truth is, it’s not very different at all (for example, if your regular job was cooking hamburgers, and your volunteer position was cooking french fries at the same restaurant). I haven’t spoken to the board or the employee yet – this information was passed on by a volunteer who is a friend of the employee. So, what do I do about this situation? Is it completely above-board, too hinky for words, or somewhere in between? What if I’m mistaken about the hours involved, and the employee actually *is* spending more than 40 hours a week on site? How does that impact the situation?

While nonprofits are generally allowed to use volunteers (unlike for-profit businesses, which must pay at least minimum wage), the law is different when it comes to the employees of nonprofits, because otherwise employees could feel coerced to do unpaid work. Employees of your organization are allowed to volunteer for you in some limited situations, but the law is clear that the volunteer work can’t be the same type of work the person does in their regular job for you. So for example, your I.T. person could volunteer to run a community outreach booth over the weekend, but she couldn’t volunteer her time to upgrade your server.

However, the case you described, what exactly does it mean that he’s volunteering on one of his scheduled work days? If he’s salaried and being paid for a full week of work, the law doesn’t care if he’s doing task X instead of task Y during that week (and so you don’t need to and shouldn’t call it “volunteering”). However, if you mean that he’s taken a cut in his pay for that day (like he now earns 80% of what he used to earn and the remaining 20% is considered “volunteer work”), you’d be on shaky ground.

Also, if he goes over 40 hours for the week, he’d need to be paid overtime, and the organization can’t avoid that by calling it “volunteering.”

It’s hard to tell exactly what’s going on here, but as a board member you have a legal and fiduciary responsibility to check into it, and act if the organization isn’t complying with the law.

{ 355 comments… read them below }

  1. Eric*

    OP #5 says that the employee is salaried. So if it doesn’t put them over 40 hours, I’m not sure what the problem is here. Or, put differently, how is the fact that they are considered a “volunteer” that day different in terms of pay etc from what they would be getting if they were considered an employee?

    1. Ann Cognito*

      It’s confusing to me which it is, since the first sentence says “…one of our full-time, salaried employees…”, then the third sentence says the LW believes that the employee is “non-exempt”.

      1. PeachTea*

        Salaried and exempt are not mutually exclusive. We have many salaried, non-exempt employees at my office and on the rare occasions they work over 40 hours, they are paid overtime.

      2. OP #5*

        Yes, as PeachTea said, he is on salary but he isn’t exempt from overtime. If we required him to work more than 40 hours a week, we’d need to pay him overtime. The questions is, what if he decides to “volunteer” hours that put him on the worksite for more than 40 hours a week.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          If he does that, he needs to be paid overtime, unless it’s something that dramatically different from his normal duties (like I described in the post).

        2. TootsNYC*

          “what if he decides to ”

          But you can tell him that he can’t do that. Even if he says he wants to; you’re entitled to say no.

    2. Elysian*

      The law also requires that they keep records of this hours worked, so if he’s not recording his time because he’s “volunteering” that could also cause a problem, even if it is under 40 hours.

      1. TootsNYC*

        Right–the employer is actually responsible for the tracking of the hours, legally (if I understand this right). The employer can delegate the initial, physical work of tracking it to the employee in question, but in the Labor Department’s eyes, the responsibility is ultimately the employer’s.

  2. Shell*

    Wow, OP#1, I think you went above and beyond for your employees. I think triple-time and two weeks comp vacation is pretty damn generous, and the gift cards and food on top is extra nice. Aside from not doing gift cards in the future, I couldn’t blame you for being tempted to lower the monetary/paid time off compensation as well, though it probably would increase friction between you and your employees so don’t listen to me.

    Alison, would you have suggested wording for OP#1 if their employees complain about lacking the gift cards for overtime in the future?

    1. bridget*

      No kidding! And all for only two extra hours per day? Thats barely a blip in my world. I work 10 hour days on the reg (although I’m salaried, so that’s the way it goes). No baristas in sight! OP, can you be my boss?

      1. Hornswoggler*

        For two hours extra per day for THREE WEEKS. I make that 30 hours (assuming a five-day week), though I suppose it could be up to 36 hours. You gave two weeks’ PTO as a thank-you hours adding up to less than a week’s work? PLUS overtime pay, PLUS free food?!

        I can’t help feeling that your employees are spoiled rotten!

        Seriously though, over-compensating people is NOT a good strategy. I was guilty of this at one stage and I ended up with two employees who got very entitled and felt they should have all kinds of benefits and bonuses.

        1. The Cosmic Avenger*

          I think that’s exactly what happened; the gift cards kind of paled in comparison with the 170 hours of extra pay (30 hrs at triple time + 80 hours PTO), or roughly a month’s pay, and so their expectations were raised after having been showered with very generous compensation.

          (I think it was ungrateful of them, but I don’t think that that opinion helps the OP.)

        2. Nervous Accountant*


          That and I can’t imagine every single person complained, rather it was a few people. It would really suck if the ones who really were grateful, would suffer because of a few spoiled rotten buffoons.

        3. Tuckerman*

          I agree this borders on over-compensation but consider that if an employee has a kid, the other parent might need to leave work early (and lose pay) to pick up the child from daycare. Or, the family may need to hire somebody short notice to cover the gap, which can be very expensive. Additionally, employees may have been told during hiring that overtime is not necessary, or is rarely necessary, so they never expected it.
          Still, they were more than adequately compensated and I would not be complaining!

          1. Hornswoggler*

            Triple pay for overtime should cover that though. Say you pay childcare the same rate as you normally get yourself, you would still have doubled your money. AND been fed.

        4. Joseph*

          I really wonder what industry OP is working in that an extra two hours per day for three weeks is such a crazy stretch that it deserves all this rewards. In *every* *single* *industry* I’ve ever worked in or spoken with others about, pretty much everybody has had a stretch where there’s an unmovable deadline, tight turnaround, whatever and a stretch where everybody’s putting in an extra 10-15 hours per week.

          Set deadlines in construction/engineering, holiday season in retail, early February in food service, shortly before release for software design, end of fiscal year for accountants, and so on…

          1. Mike C.*

            I think too many people are so accustomed to the expectation that they always work more than 40 hours a week (without any additional pay) that they’ve forgotten the price such a schedule takes on a person.

            1. Zillah*

              I agree. It’s also worth pointing out that the dynamic changes significantly depending on whether or not you’re exempt. I’ve worked on projects that had non-negotiable deadlines and were behind schedule, and in at least one case, I know that my boss was working late pretty regularly bc of it. However, bc I was non-exempt, I never worked overtime on any of them. So even if it happens in your industry, that doesn’t mean it happens to everyone in your industry by any means. Social circles are often fairly homogenous as far as SES goes, and I wonder if that might be leading some commenters to have misconceptions about how ubiquitous this practice is.

        5. lfi*

          where does OP1 work and are you hiring? this is amazing – if I was one of your employees I’d be very, very grateful.

        6. Steve*

          I feel like there must be something being left out in letter #1. That’s a ridiculous amount of compensation for a few weeks of overtime. Seems too good to be true.

      2. Koko*

        Seriously, can I come work for you OP? I thought my workplace was pretty great but yours sounds so appreciative and thoughtful!

    2. AdAgencyChick*

      Seriously, OP1, can I come work for you? In advertising, working 2 hours extra a day for three weeks is called “normal.”

        1. Kixco*

          No kidding! It’s busy season and we’re short staffed, so I’ve worked every day this month (80 hrs this week alone). I’d be thrilled with just a thank you; if I received free food, free coffee, PTO, and a gift card, I’d probably blubber like an Oscar winner!

      1. Chickaletta*

        I’d LOVE to work for OP#1 too! I’ve never been treated that well. When I’ve had to work extra on a project, the best I’ve got out of it was a plastic plaque that was given to everyone on the team. Most of the time my “reward” has been the task of cleaning up at the end.

        1. VideogamePrincess*

          I guess that’s OP’s real solution–replace grumbly workers with enthusiastic ones like us? (I mean, I’m looking for work right now and I promise I would never complain about such nice benefits.)

    3. Jen*

      Can I come work there too? Hubby and u routinely work 10 -12 hrs a day with no warning for weeks to months at a time … to cater food and give PTO is huge, let alone triple time (we get 1.5x).
      To scoff at 100-200$ gift cards is BS.you’re awesome-they suck for acting like kids

      1. Not an IT Guy*

        Exactly, where do I sign up?? Geez, I’m happy when my company doesn’t force me to work off the clock!

    4. Engineer Girl*

      I’ve never seen such generous rewards for so little overtime.
      For that level of OT we might (just maybe) get a box of bagels.

      1. The Other Katie*

        Agreed! After 3 months of 10-15 hours overtime every week, we got a box of donuts with “Good Job” written on the top. And we were pretty darn excited about the donuts. And we are salary and exempt, so we received no extra pay or any other benefits (besides keeping our jobs) for that extra time.

    5. Amber*

      #1 There’s two sides of this, so I’d dig a bit deeper first. It’s possible that only 1 employee was upset about it and just assumed everyone else was too? Maybe the vast majority of them are perfectly happy with the rewards. Is it possible that those who were unhappy have a legitimate reason, such as they had to pay for 2 hours of child care a night for 2 weeks which ended up costing them way more than was covered by the gift card. If that’s the case, I’d be upset too.

      I do think you went out of your way to make it up to them but why not just ask them?

      1. Wehaf*

        Except the increased cost of childcare would be made up for by the triple-time pay for their overtime hours; the gift card was a bonus on top of everything else, so even if there are increased costs there is no call to be upset about the amount of the gift card.

        1. Meg Murry*

          True, although depending on how the pay cycles run, the employees would probably have to pay for most (or all) of the extra childcare before the overtime money actually hit their account. Plus, if OP’s employees are like me – I rarely even open my paystub anymore, and when it was an electronic system I could go months without logging in to actually look at my paycheck, so somehow the extra pay doesn’t seem so “real” to me for a little while, whereas the gift card on my desk does. One thing OP could do to make this a little more real is to subtly remind people of the triple-time by sending an email that says “please be sure to check your paystubs and make sure it is correct and you were given 2 hours of triple time per day”

          One other thing I didn’t notice OP saying – have you explicitly said to your employees “thank you for working so hard to make this project a success”? I see lots of mention of everything you have given them, but sometimes, especially when people are burnt out, just hearing “I know you worked hard and I appreciate it” goes a long way.

        2. Kyrielle*

          Depends! Are these employees at minimum wage, in a state at the federal minimum wage? If so, triple time is $21.75 an hour, before tax withholdings.

          If their children are in a center or other inflexible day care setting and are already picked up close to closing, that means hiring short-term care that you trust to pick the kids up from that location, relocate them to the carer’s location, and watch them for two hours (maybe more if it puts some employees on the wrong end of a commute, but unless they were deliberately leaving early, in which case they may not have been arriving super-close to the existing care’s close, they may actually come out ahead in the commute question).

          Just plain babysitting can run about $15 an hour for two young kids (3-8 or so) in the area I’m at. (Of course, our local minimum wage is $9.25…hmm. I don’t have figures for anywhere it’s $7.25, though.) That does not include transporting the child anywhere, nor babies, nor kids with special needs. And it doesn’t include a commitment to 5-6 days a week for three weeks; that’s for a one-off babysitting job.

          Evening hours are not offered by most places, and I suspect fill up quickly. So you’re probably talking about a provider who doesn’t normally do this or who is available as-needed, and that means taking on additional load and charging more. It would not surprise me to find out that the cost of the child care exceeded the after-tax proceeds of the overtime, and certainly the difference between the overtime and regular pay.

          This assumes no foster kids are involved; I suspect there are additional rules that anyone with foster kids must follow in regards obtaining care, that might make short-term emergency additions of a carer harder.

          I still think the employees should be grateful, because this is still amazingly generous. And people who chose to have kids – well, we know what we’re getting into. But if this is a job that never or almost never does overtime, parents may have been counting on that.

          1. Judy*

            The only center-based childcare that I know of that operates out of the 6:30am – 6pm time frame locally is right near one of our hospitals. And they had a 2 year waiting list when my kids were little.

          2. Anna*

            I don’t a single place that pays minimum wage as a standard that would offer triple pay for OT and 2 weeks of PTO on top of that for their employees working through something that was probably required. I don’t think the people on the OP’s team were in that demographic.

            1. Kyrielle*

              Probably true. I’ve also found that people tend to underestimate the cost of child care if they’ve not had to deal with it, though. (And the difficulty of finding a provider who will do it much after 6 pm.)

        3. Stranger than fiction*

          Exactly. Op more than compensated for any childcare scenario. I’m worried that even if it’s one sour apple, they’ll poison the whole bunch. This needs addressing.

      2. Chickaletta*

        If the cost of childcare was a real burdon for some employees, they should have brought it up when they found out about the required overtime. The OP may have been able to accommodate them, maybe not. But they can’t do anything about it if they don’t know and then to have employees grumble about it after the fact isn’t fair to the manager, especially when they already gave out so many rewards that were actually quite nice.

      3. LBK*

        But…I kind of think that’s their own problem. Everyone has lives and while a late night may not cost childless people money, it’s not like is thrilled to be in the office late. I don’t think the OP was under any obligation to do any kind of extra compensation since, as many commenters have noted, 2 hours extra for 3 weeks barely even qualifies as unusual in many professions/at many companies. Breaking even on extra childcare costs is still generous compared to what they get covered for during the normal work day, which is presumably nothing. And if you want to argue that they break even while the childless people get to take home the OT, well, that’s the cost of having a kid.

        This seems like one of those things where if the OP just hadn’t done anything or had only paid regular OT people would’ve accepted it as the status quo. By dumping on extra compensation it actually created a more obvious dichotomy between this schedule and the regular schedule and that led people to feel more burdened by it, thus not being satisfied even with what would usually be an extremely generous set of perks.

        1. TootsNYC*

          By dumping on extra compensation it actually created a more obvious dichotomy between this schedule and the regular schedule and that led people to feel more burdened by it, thus not being satisfied even with what would usually be an extremely generous set of perks.


          I think this is really an important point, and one that people should remember when they’re dealing with the issue of making extra demands, etc.

          People take their cues from you. If you act like it’s a big deal, they’ll round up from there!

        2. Mike C.*

          as many commenters have noted, 2 hours extra for 3 weeks barely even qualifies as unusual in many professions/at many companies.

          I’d point out that many professions/companies have insanely unreasonable expectations for the workload of their staff. Simply because a lot of people do it doesn’t make it a standard that should be emulated elsewhere.

          1. LBK*

            I wasn’t meaning to say that because it could be worse, you should just suck it up. It’s more about having an accurate frame of reference for the professional standards that are to be expected when you’re salaried/exempt. I think most people would agree that working up to 45 hours per week is standard enough that you don’t feel like you’re working “extra”. Bumping that up to 50 hours is definitely extending past regular exempt hours, but not so egregious that I think it warrants 4 different sets of rewards (triple OT, PTO, food and money).

            I feel like I’m not articulating this particularly well, but what I’m trying to get at is that it’s all relative, and you need to have a reasonable bar for what’s “normal” to gauge that relativity. To me, 50 hours for 3 weeks is only a little above that bar, whereas the reward is WAY above that bar. It’s disproportionate.

            1. LBK*

              And of course I’m sure you could argue that anything over 40 hours should always be considered a big ask, but I think that’s clinging to an old-fashioned set of standards that aren’t ever coming back.

      4. League*

        OP1, I agree here – sometimes one person complains, someone else reports that conversation to a third person, and suddenly it’s “everyone” when really it’s just one person. I wouldn’t let this affect your gifts to the whole team.

    6. Elizabeth the Ginger*

      There might be a bunch of OP’s employees – maybe even the majority – who are pleased with the compensation, but a few hard-to -please louder complainers. I feel a bit sorry for the satisfied folks if that’s the case, since their colleagues’ attitude will mean that next time they get less. On the other hand, I think in their shoes I would have said something positive to my boss about the gift cards instead of just being silent.

      1. Construction Safety*

        Yeah, don’t penalize the many for the transgressions of the few.

        Many years ago I had a PM tell me that there are ALWAYS complainers. If you gave them a $100 bill, they’d complain that it wasn’t 5 x $20s.

      2. AndersonDarling*

        We were once given a week of vacation. In the middle of the year, the CEO closed the office and said we could take the week off with pay! Awesome, right? Nope, one person complained, and complained loud enough that it was the only voice heard. The company said they will never do anything like that again since they got such negative feedback. One person ruined it for everyone.

          1. AndersonDarling*

            It was because we were only told the week before. They complained that they didn’t have enough time to make plans.
            *If I rolled my eyes any more, they would roll away. :)

            1. Mindy*

              I have an employee just like that. She would complain if she was given an extra week off with pay without “enough” notice. She also would have been the one complaining about the gift card and would have felt that she was entitled to the triple pay, extra PTO and food/beverages and would have complained about the kind of food/beverages provided.

            2. The Rat-Catcher*

              …But if they’d had to work, they…still wouldn’t have been able to make plans?

              FFS. I’m sorry someone so moronic blew it for the rest of you.

        1. AW*

          No amount of positive feedback on the vacation after the company said they wouldn’t do it again could change their mind? I’d hope that if enough people let them know that the one person doesn’t speak for all of you (or any of you for that matter) would make them reconsider.

          If the complainer is known, they have to be the least popular person in the company.

      3. TootsNYC*

        A takeaway here:

        If you’re ever the pleased employee who is being treated well by the managers, SAY SOMETHING! Write an email that says, “How nice to get a gift card! It was already good treatment for you to pay us triple time instead of time-and-a-half, and meals as well. but the gift card is extra nice. Thanks.”
        Make that appreciative voice heard by your manager, so she’ll have a reason to do it again sometime.

        And speak up to anyone who complains.

    7. Vicki*

      WOW was my thought too. Triple time? I got double time once for working over the Xmas holiday. Two additional weeks of PTO??? That’s unheard of.

      Anyone who is grumbling has a problem.

    8. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Alison, would you have suggested wording for OP#1 if their employees complain about lacking the gift cards for overtime in the future?

      A good default thing to use in this kind of situation is curiosity and concern. So saying something like, “I was surprised to hear that. Can you tell me more about what made you feel that way?” And you say it in a tone of genuine concern — because maybe there really is something legitimate here that would useful to learn. Hell, maybe two people accidentally didn’t get their cards and they think they were snubbed, or who knows what it could be. Or maybe there’s some angle here that you didn’t consider. (I’m skeptical in this case, but it’s possible.) So you start with the position that you genuinely want to learn more about where they’re coming from. And hopefully that leads to a conversation where you either learn something useful or you’re able to change their perspective, or you at least get a better understanding of each other’s thinking.

      But I also agree with Wakeen’s Teapots further down about making sure you’re building the right culture, hiring for that culture, and getting rid of people who aren’t in sync with it.

      1. Kelly L.*

        Yep, I’m also wondering if there’s something weird going on. The phrase that jumped out at me is “it got back to me,” which makes me wonder if someone said something slightly different and the rumor mill twisted it around a bit, and also how many malcontents there really are–if it’s really everybody, or if it’s just one.

        1. Harper*

          I’m thinking this is probably what happened, although there could be other things at play that make the employees feel less than appreciated. I wonder if it’s just one or two who are complaining because some people are just never going to be happy!

          1. Agree with Harper*

            This comment will probably get lost in all the comments addressing the ungrateful workers, but clearly there is something going on. Do you think you engage in favoritism?

            My guess would be favoritism, since you didn’t give everyone the same amount on their gift cards. You may have come across as favoring one or a few employees in other situations and the gift cards of various amounts reinforced that belief. Next time, if you choose too, give everybody the same. I’m not so sure giving everybody nothing going forward is the right solution going forward.

            There was a comment on another post earlier this week that said (I’m paraphrasing) sometimes managers over value the job/experience they are giving employees with regards to the expectation of loyalty and gratitude…just something to consider.

            1. Bwmn*

              I have to say that the tiered gift giving doesn’t always resonate well. I don’t work in an industry where bonuses are expected at all. So when we received them last year and it wasn’t at a token level, it was wildly appreciated.

              However, as it’s also not standard to receive them – some managers were made uncomfortable in that they received more than their reports. As a result, some managers quietly split the difference with their reports and others did not. So you have some lower level employees who ultimately received more than others based on the behavior of their managers. It could easily be that someone who received $100 felt that someone else received $150/200 – that was where the slight was. Particularly if this kind of gift card situation is not standard at your company.

              The other thing that immediately came to mind is that perhaps when another department i n the same company when through a similar period, they received greater benefits. Compared to where I work, sure – triple overtime and meals provided seems like a luxury cruise. But if at that company another team was given hotel vouchers if they wanted to sleep closer to the office and larger bonuses – it would be entirely to fair to feel “lesser”.

              1. Stranger than fiction*

                But the different amounts were for different levels I thought. Naturally managers or team leads would get more.

                1. Oryx*

                  “Naturally managers or team leads would get more.”

                  Something about this bothers me, although I can’t quite put my finger on it. I think it’s because the managers and team leads are, presumably, already paid more which means when they got 3x OT pay they are getting paid more than everyone else already.

                  The gift card is a thank you for everyone putting in the extra work and doesn’t seem tied to performance or role. In that sense I feel like it should be the same across the board. Depending on the culture of the company, it could be a moral issue at play with employees feeling under appreciated and now the juxtaposition between their roles and management being even more obvious.

                2. Bwmn*

                  In terms of cash bonuses – where there is a standard procedure and industry tradition, I understand that. However, where I specifically work and in my industry in general (nonprofits) there’s not a standard way that bonuses work. Some places have absolutely none, some places have very small token bonuses that are all the same, other do have a more corporate bonus culture. But it’s just not standard, therefore there is no “natural” in terms of what people expect or what people think should happen.

                  In terms of something like a gift cards – I don’t think that different amounts for different levels necessarily works well. Those at different levels already received more during the trebling of their overtime. In terms of an additional “gift” to say thank you – I think that it’s overly hierarchical and I understand how it would lead to grumbling. Hopefully grumbling not to reach a manager’s ears – but the grumbling itself I understand.

                3. my two cents*

                  In the future, I think maybe the ‘management’ level employees could have gotten the smaller giftcards, whereas the ‘worker bee’ level employees could have all received the same-but-higher amount, more like top-down gift-giving in a way.

                  The management level employees are already making more and have signed themselves up to go above and beyond the employees as their leader. As in, the management level employees knew they could be taking on extra time occasionally just as a part of the role.

                  I also wonder how much extra the management could/would have contributed ‘extra’ during this time versus the other employees who have to do their normal workload, fix things that got screwed up within their work due to the switch, learn a new system, and work around the software hiccups as they complete new tasks. In my experience, the management level rarely does the same daily tasks as their reports. That’s not to say that the management works ‘less’, just that their daily workload is likely not impacted in the same way the employee’s workload is by a software update.

                4. esra*

                  That makes sense to me when you are talking about bigger bonuses, but if it’s a difference between 125 and 170? All you’re doing is making one person feel snubbed. Just give them all the same amount.

            2. AndersonDarling*

              This is what I was thinking. Giving people different amounts for their gift cards is going to cause competition and resentment. Conversation:
              “Hey, what are you going to do with your $100 gift card?”
              “$100? I got $200 for my gift card.”
              “What? Why did you get twice as much? Manager must think you are 2x a better employee than me. But I did 2x as much work as you!”

            3. Koko*

              This is a good point. It reminds me of the old letter recently republished, where the company wanted to give their admin a 2-night stay for 2 at a local B&B for her 20th work anniversary and the VP a multi-day ski trip across the country with his family for his 20th work anniversary.

              The consensus was generally that the gift is to award the loyalty and years of service, not the work itself. The VP has already received greater compensation for doing more difficult work. They both have showed the same amount of loyalty, so the gifts should be comparable.

              I think it’s similar here. They were all paid 3x their usual rate and presumably their pay already varies by responsibility level. A cash gift on top of that should have been equal for everyone since it was in appreciation of their willingness to step up in a time of need, not the work they actually did.

            4. TootsNYC*

              I had that thought about the tiered gift as well.

              I give a tiered Christmas gift, and I’m pretty sure (though…) I don’t think people would object, because the tiers are so very obvious (people who work 3 shifts a month during crunch week get $10; the full-timers get $50), and I also don’t think the fill-ins would say, “ooh, what did you get?” to the full-timers. Also, from their personalities, I think they’d say the reasoning is obvious.

              But if I had full-timers at various levels, they’d all get the same.

              Especially for a gift. Raises are going to be different because 2% of $56k is different from 2% of $70k. But gifts aren’t really supposed to be pegged to “value” like that.

        2. LQ*

          Or if say you had me in one cube sarcastically complaining because it was clearly such a good thing “OH MY GOSH I have to take an extra two weeks of vacation, the horror, I love being here with everyone and hate spending time with my family and friends! And now they want me to carry home this gift card? It’s so heavy.” And a coworkers the next isle over hears it and thinks I’m serious and reports that as LQ complained.

          1. Kelly L.*

            Right! Or “I used my gift card to take my whole family out for a fancy dinner! It wasn’t enough to cover the whole thing, but it sure helped!”

            1. LQ*

              I have a coworker who once came over to tell me how to file a union grievance after my boss joked that he was upset that it was going to take me so much time to do something. (It was like a 2 minute thing I did while he was at my desk.) So someone taking that kind of thing seriously seems absolutely like it might happen.

              1. Zillah*

                Ooh, yes – I can absolutely see that happening, and someone misreading the person’s sense of humor and reporting back to the OP.

      2. J*

        My work once gave customers gift cards that somehow never got activated! So it could be some fluke-y thing like that too.

    9. DCGirl*

      I’ve been worked three hours of overtime every day for the last three months, and my company did….. nothing. Zero. Zip. Nada. I won’t even get comp time. I’d love to go work for OP #1.

    10. QAT Contractor*

      There are many times where I’ve had to work many hours of overtime for my clients, but I’m a salaried employee (non exempt) for my company. So while the client pays my employer 1.5x for overtime hours, I don’t see any of that money come back to me. Usually the overtime doesn’t last too long, maybe a month or so then several months of no overtime, but during those required OT times, it sucks. We don’t get food, fancy drinks, any extra pay or even a thank you when it’s all said and done. The client just expects us to do it because they pay us for work.

      Once in a while we do get a gift card from my company if there are extended OT situations (like 3 months straight of 70 hour weeks which is a lot for our company). They usually aren’t much more than $100-200 but it’s still recognition that my bosses understand we are doing something beyond our normal course of work. While I’d LOVE to get the OT pay instead, I’m still happy with the recognition.

      But, to the OP, holy crap your compensation package is insane. All the food and drink for free (I’m assuming all day, not just the 2 extra hours) would be 2 meals a day plus snacks. Going out for lunch and dinner can easily be $10 for lunch and $15+ for dinner which would come out to $375 extra they aren’t spending on food. That’s ~$12.5 an hour, and triple hourly rates for the 30 hours, and gift cards AND 2 weeks extra PTO.. totally baffling.

      If the food and drinks are par for the course (happens every time there is overtime) then they should be happy to get anything extra beyond 1.5x pay. Very ungrateful group of employees. My feeling is they probably broke down the gift cards into an hourly rate which is about $3.33 up to $6.66 per hour for the extra hours, but still.. come on.

      1. Jennifer M.*

        But if you are non-exempt, it shouldn’t matter that you are salaried. Non-exempt means you are subject to the rules on overtime.

        1. Minion*

          I saw that too! QAT, maybe you meant to type “exempt”, but if you didn’t and you’re non-exempt, you’re owed overtime.

      2. Judy*

        The one time that I was exempt when my hours were billed to a client, although I didn’t get 1.5x for overtime, I did get straight time overtime. Of course, that was also only when my billed hours were over 40. (So not if my over 40 hours were because I took an 8 hour training one day or a day of PTO, so I had 8 hours unbilled and say, 36 hours billed.)

      3. TootsNYC*

        I once got a $100 gift card as a thank-you for a really, really tough crunchtime.

        To Bergdorf Goodman.

        I went through the whole store w/a friend and decided I could buy:
        -a pair of socks
        -a package of pantyhose
        -6 pieces of stationery
        -a small glass dish with a punctuation mark or initial on it

        Yeah, not something I’d be so glad to have as my reward for my extra effort.
        That gift card is still in my drawer.

        (I have realized that I could spend it at Neiman Marcus and buy stuff on sale, but it would have to be mail order, which puts me off the whole thing. It’s still in my dresser drawer. maybe I should give it to my kid’s school for their auction.)

        I give Amazon gift cards (years ago I gave Barnes&Noble/bookstore gift cards, since all my employees are readers).

        1. my two cents*

          Amazon gift cards are the best because you can buy just about anything off of there now, from groceries to underpants to movies.

          1. TootsNYC*

            that was my thought. Of course, they may hate Amazon for socio-economic reasons, or something, but I have a small group, and I’m pretty sure they’re OK w/ it. I get good feedback. (One of my employees bought diapers; that’s close to underpants.)

          2. QAT Contractor*

            Just buying a prepaid Visa (or other brand) card is even better. It’s basically the same as giving cash and the recipient can use it anywhere they want to for anything they want to without restriction.

    11. Ann Cognito*

      If this situation isn’t a prime example of “you can’t please all of the people all of the time”, I don’t know what is!

      You went way above and beyond!

    12. Kyrielle*

      This. Please don’t reduce the other perks unless there’s a business reason to do so.

      If I had to work 30 hours of extra time spread over three weeks, and in return I got two more weeks of PTO (80 hours, more than double what I had to put in extra!), even without *any other perks*, I would think my employer *got it*, that this was a big deal to mess with my regular schedule during a week, and they were doing what they could. Add in the triple pay for every hour (so I got paid for 90 hours, and then I’ll get paid for 80 more hours I don’t work when I use the PTO, all for 30 hours of work that admittedly would make those three weeks into an exhausting slog)…wow.

      If there was free food that I could actually eat (because dietary restrictions are a big thing for me), that would be a bonus. But honestly, even if there was free food I *couldn’t* eat (which is somewhat more annoying than no free food for me, over time), I would still be looking at the total of what my employer was doing and coming away with “wow, I work somewhere AWESOME”.

      Gift cards? They’d seem tiny compared to the rest of it, but so what? After all that indulgence I was given a *gift card* also? Best. Employer. Ever.

      Also, if the grumbling is getting back to you – how many employees do you have? What are the odds that it’s a small percentage grumbling? Because the way you treated them is awesome.

    13. Stranger than fiction*

      This is my thought too, like shouldn’t she have a reality check meeting with them? Most companies you’d get your time and half and that’s it.

    14. kms1025*

      what you did was beyond generous and wonderful…are there really a bunch of people grumbling or just a few ungrateful sots???

    15. Bob*

      I guess it could be a pain if you have family obligations (I’m single with no kids) but 10 hours of OT a week at triple time? That alone would have done it for me. That’s closing in on getting double paychecks for 3 weeks! I honestly would have said if someone else can’t do it, can I work 4 hours of OT per day? Typically OT comes at the least desirable times like during Christmas and it is often last minute but scheduled OT and not during a holiday? Bring it on! I won’t even get into the 2 weeks PTO and catered lunches because that is just ridiculously generous. And the gift card is over the top.

  3. Ann Furthermore*

    #1: I do software upgrades, implementations, and support for a living. During projects, the hours always ramp up the closer you get to the deadline. It’s the nature of doing this kind of work, and I’m fine with it — on the flip side, when things slow down you have a chance to take a breath, flex your hours when you need to, and catch up on things that have had to take a backseat while you’ve been focused on the project.

    Let me say that if I got paid triple my hourly rate for my OT hours leading up to the implementation, free lunches and dinners, an endless and free supply of every beverage under the sun, AND 2 extra weeks of PTO, I would be thrilled. And if I got a nice gift card for at least $100 on top of all that? I would be beyond ecstatic. Usually what I get is a thank you for a job well done, and an acrylic doohickey for my desk with the name of the project engraved on it.

    Your employees are completely ungrateful and totally out of touch for reacting with anything other than a heartfelt thank you.

    1. Shell*

      I’m thrilled that my boss gives us a full day of comp time for a partial day of overtime! (8 hours of comp time for 4-5 hours of work.) That’s already generous to me!

      Everything OP#1 gave? I’d be over the moon (as much as one possible could be during crunch time, anyway).

      1. FiveByFive*

        Exactly. Sheesh! Sorry this happened to you, OP #1. That comp package was fantastic and your employees are hopelessly out of touch.

      2. Blue_eyes*

        Exactly. I have to work an upcoming weekend day for an event and my boss is giving me two days of comp time for it as long as I take them in June when things are slow. Plus I get to invite a guest to dine with me at the fancy event dinner. And that seems very generous to me!

    2. MK*

      As far as I can tell, the OP’s team is not doing software upgrade,, they just had one in their system. So this was not the natural ups and downs of their workflow, but an one-off situation where they had to implement the upgrade was well as doing their usual work.

      1. Ann Furthermore*

        Doesn’t matter. The OP went way above and beyond to compensate her team for the extra work involved, which she didn’t have to do. Then they turn around and whine about what she did for them. Clueless and ungrateful.

    3. Nobody*

      Seriously, these people are spoiled! My company goes through a busy time every year where we all work 65-70 hours per week for about 6 weeks (and half of us are on night shift for the whole time). We non-exempt employees get time-and-a-half for hours over 40, and exempt employees just get straight time. Our management acts like WE should be thanking THEM for giving us all this overtime. We’re lucky if they spring for dinner once during the whole thing.

      Triple time plus comp time plus free meals plus a gift card, all for a total of 30 extra hours, is insanely generous. If people aren’t satisfied with that, they’ll never be happy.

      1. Stranger than fiction*

        Totally. This is pissing me off to the point if I were Op, I just might calculate up the total dollar amount each got, write it on a sheet of paper for each employee in big black sharpie and tape it to their computer display.

    4. the gold digger*

      It’s been over three years, but I am still bitter that I got no comp time for having to take a work trip over Thanksgiving weekend. I left the Friday after Thanksgiving (I did get a comp day for that because it was an official holiday, but not for Saturday and Sunday) and was gone for a week. I had to go to Dubai, which is a 13-hour flight from Atlanta, in coach, squashed between two big men.

      In fact, I have never gotten any kind of comp time for working on a weekend, which has happened a few times a year in my career (trade shows that start on a Friday and run all weekend, etc – you know – so people don’t have to miss work to attend!).

      Nor have I gotten comp time for the hours and hours I have spent in airports after work hours. And no, I am not highly compensated.

      I was drooling at OP’s description – what a nice, generous thing for an employer to do!

      1. Kristine*

        Preach. I travel twice a month for my job. I usually work through one set of weekends per month (if not two), plus I spend many after-work hours traveling, landing at 10 or 11 pm and still expected to be at my desk promptly at 8 am the next morning. For below average pay and no comp days or flex time. I would be thrilled with a Starbucks gift card to cover my airport coffees.

      2. pope suburban*

        You and me both. I’m paid peanuts, and I don’t even get a “thank you” or any acknowledgement when I go above and beyond, or when I put up with exceptionally horrible circumstances (Someone screaming obscenities at me, or someone trying to break into the office after leaving a…gift on the washroom floor) and stay gracious. Any one of the things OP1 describes would probably reduce me to tears; all of them seems like a fairy tale. I have no idea what kind of person would be pissy about this, but I can’t say as I feel for them in the least.

    5. Kristine*

      >and an acrylic doohickey for my desk with the name of the project engraved on it.

      My company gives these out after projects. I’m the person who places the orders for them, so I know we pay ~$150 per acrylic doohickey. I always suggest that we give people a $150 gift card instead but the executives are convinced that the more public display of appreciation is better.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        Oh, yikes. I’m nearing a milestone year so I got to choose a gift from a small list, and most of them were acrylic doohickeys. Does anybody really want these? I mean, I have a couple for winning individual awards, and that’s different, but just for working on a project? Or for being here a number of years that can be evenly divided by 5? I’d really, really rather have the money.

        1. Kristine*

          I don’t think anyone really wants them. My theory is there’s a disconnect between the way executives and lower level employees think about money. To an executive, $150 is a drop in the bucket, so it’s not about giving employees a monetary reward so much as it is recognition for the project. But to a lower level employee like me, $150 is a lot of money (at least 2 weeks worth of groceries for my husband and me) and a monetary reward would be much more appreciated.

          1. The Cosmic Avenger*

            I wouldn’t say no one wants them (see below), but I agree about the perspective from the top of the heap. I’m constantly reminding people that a “3% across-the-board raise” will mean a five-digit raise for the top earners, but only a 45 cent/hour raise (or less than a thousand dollars a year) for the lower-paid hourly workers for whom an extra $100 or two a pay period or even a year may be a huge help.

            1. Koko*

              Shoot, I’m not even low-paid but I’m not so highly paid that I would sneeze at $100. I file for my $60 gym reimbursement every month even though it’s not automatic because that makes a difference to me!

          2. Kelly L.*

            And I think some people really like to get the Traditional Thing(tm). So like a nice watch or clock when they’re retiring, etc. For some people, getting the cash would be tacky, they want a tangible item with some tradition behind it and their name engraved on it.

        2. The Cosmic Avenger*

          I got a small Waterford crystal thingie for a certain milestone anniversary; while I’d rather have had the cash, I appreciated it, and it looks nice on my desk. But I think they now give people the choice of $### in cash or that much in credit in the catalog.

    6. Koko*

      I actually kind of like the idea of getting a tangible engraved object for every project completed. (Not that it measures up to PTO, triple pay, and free catering!) It would be fun to watch them accumulate over the years and recall the story behind each one. I do something similar with badges from conferences I’ve spoken at.

      1. TootsNYC*

        In that spirit, I might start issuing campaign medals, like the military does. And give people some sort of display thing they can go on, on their desks.

        Maybe with the ribbon bar for troops and the medal for leaders. Or, just give everybody the whole thing, on the idea that everyone’s “risk” was the same.

        1. Mike C.*

          We receive sometimes receive mission patches or coins for major projects and milestones. They’re really awesome actually.

          1. Rusty Shackelford*

            That would actually be cool. An inexpensive patch that I could pin to my bulletin board (or maybe, just maybe, put on a sash and wear like a Girl Scout, don’t judge) would be fun, wouldn’t clutter my desk, and wouldn’t make me think “damn, that was a waste of money that could have gone toward shoes” every time I looked at it.

            1. TootsNYC*

              You know how soldiers wear the little ribbons on their chest? If a manager made them all a uniform size, you could wear them on your chest during office retreats, or something.

              Or give everyone a cloth baseball cap to iron them onto…

              And oh wow, $113 for 50! about $2.25 each. Pretty econommical.

  4. Vic*

    #4 this happened to me at a prior job as well. I stopped replying to any emails sent to my personal address until the end of the day, usually with a note like, “sorry, I don’t check my personal email at work.”

    1. Lily in NYC*

      I also suggest not trying to get coworker and students to remember and to contact the school’s IT help desk to see if they can do something to clear the personal email from populating automatically. I don’t know if it’s possible but it’s worth a try!

      1. Persephone Mulberry*

        it’s possible that a dedicated IT department might know more, but I administered my company’s Google Apps for Work services and I had no access to people’s personal contact lists, only the domain-branded addresses in the company directory. But it’s definitely worth asking!

        1. Lily in NYC*

          A university is very likely to have a dedicated IT staff who can handle this. We only have 400 people here and we have a 30-person IT department and they definitely have access to my entire life (well, it feels like it).

      2. Not the Droid You are Looking For*

        I know in Outlook there is usually a little exit to the right of the persons name and if you click that it will delete them from auto populating. I feel like Gmail has to have a similar feature.

    2. AW*

      +1 this. The fastest way to get people to send email to the correct address is to stop responding when it’s sent to the wrong one.

      Combine this with the advice from Allison on sending instructions on how to fix their Google contacts, and that should solve the problem.

    3. Allisonthe5th*

      Yes! This is exactly what I did when my boss kept sending things to my personal account. She would say “didn’t you see my e-mail?” I would look perplexed and say “No, did you send to my work address? I do not check personal e-mails during business hours.” She eventually fixed the error simply out of her own convenience, even though she didn’t care much about mine. (Btw, I have definitely made this mistake with new hires as well, but corrected it immediately upon realization.)

      1. Narise*

        I agree. I would send one more email to all stating my personal email should no longer be used all emails sent to the email will not be responded to and stop responding, no exceptions. We use group emails at work for each client and too many will email one person directly and no one else can see it. Unless we stop responding they continue to email one person.

      2. Snowing*

        For some reason my boss had my personal email saved and she used it all the time (once she missed a scheduled call with me and i didn’t see her apology until I left work hours later!). I finally got her EA to delete that email address from her contacts all together.

  5. Anonymous Educator*

    For #4:

    In addition to telling people how to fix it on their end, I would do the following on your own end:

    Get both email accounts into an email client (Mail, Thunderbird, Outlook), and when people send it to your personal, reply back from your work email. Keep doing that. At a certain point, because of how many times they reply back to you, your work email will bump up to be the most frequently used for them.

    Don’t forward the message or put your work in the Cc. Reply directly to the message from your work account (again—very easy to do once you have both accounts in an email client).

    1. Bye Academia*

      You can actually do this directly in gmail if you go to the accounts tab in your settings. You can also set it to automatically send email using a specific address, i.e. you can set it so that anytime you reply it will be with your work address. Highly recommend.

      1. Lore*

        Though in order to make that work in this case, wouldn’t you then also be replying to actual personal emails from the work address, which would just flip the problem?

        1. Carly*

          It turns the from field in gmail into a drop down so you can select which email you’d like it sent from.

    2. Charisma*

      This still happens to me and I just hit my four year anniversary with the company I contract with. It’s almost comical, but I work with some people so infrequently that they forget and use my personal email address by mistake because they think I won’t be monitoring my work email. While the rest of the people I work with are professionals and use my business address with confidence. (Because everything is forwarded to my phone anyway to alert me so I should know when I have work so DUH.) I’m always a little weirded out when third parties are provided with my personal email address because my client couldn’t be bothered to trust me with my business email address. (For context, my personal address was only provided when I was applying for the position and I am an outside contractor that was supposed to be folded into the company with a corporate identity. Which is completely negated when your supervisors includes your personal email address.

    3. Danae*

      If you’re using Gmail as your personal mail, what I would do is set up a rule for people mailing you from teapots.edu that 1) forwards the email to your work address and 2) skips the Inbox with that mail and shuffles it into its own folder. That keeps your personal inbox tidier, and you still have a visual indication of who is still using your personal address and you can talk to them about it.

      I work with someone whose legal name is “Mark” but who goes by “Henry”. The email that comes up in Gmail when I type “Henry” goes to an email that he can’t access, and I regularly send email to that address by accident, because I’ve always known him as “Henry”. (And then I don’t get replies from him, oops.) I have sympathy for people who pick the wrong thing from Gmail’s suggestions.

      1. TootsNYC*

        I agree with this–set up a rule in your own email to forward it to your work email. And then reply from that work email (put “THIS ONE:” at the front of your reply, so people will hopefully reply to that).

        I especially like the idea of having those emails filter into a folder so you can see who’s still doing it, and then go talk directly to them.

  6. Nate*

    I would just stop replying to people who email you using your personal address. Let everyone know beforehand that you don’t check it during work hours. Eventually they will figure it out.

    1. FCJ*

      That’s a little more complicated in an academic setting. If the OP is faculty, “work hours” don’t really apply, and even if they aren’t faculty, depending on their position ignoring emails from students could be disastrous. It sounds like the situation’s gone a little past word-of-mouth at this point.

      1. Jack the treacle eater*

        Academic setting or no, people should be respecting the work / personal life divide, whether it’s email or hours.

        I have to say I’d be tempted to ignore the emails to the personal account as well, or mark them as spam, or even dump the personal email address and get a new, unsullied one. I think the email’s out in the wild and a lot of people are not going to care or get round to correcting their contacts list.

        In the UK, at least, faculty and students tend to be emailing from a faculty issued email address; .edu, .ac.uk, .sch.uk, and so on. Couldn’t the OP set up rules on their personal account so that these emails are forwarded automatically to their work account and deleted from the personal account?

        Alternatively they could set the personal email up to forward everything to the work account, set up a new pesronal email and just let their personal contacts know about it.

        As posted above, setting things up so the ‘from’ and ‘reply to’ addresses are the work account might help, as well.

        @Charisma, I’m not sure “use my personal email address … because they think I won’t be monitoring my work email” is a mistake, it sounds like a deliberate decision to me, and violating the work / personal divide.

        1. L McD*

          Tangent, but please don’t mark emails as spam unless they are actual spam. Doing otherwise leads to IPs blacklisting things that shouldn’t be blacklisted and causes far reaching problems for those of us who legitimately use email marketing to stay in touch with customers. Setting up filters instead is the way to manage your own inbox without triggering the spam algos and feeding them faulty information.

          1. the gold digger*

            If I have personally given you my email address and you send me marketing messages, I won’t mark you as junk.

            If you buy my email address from someone and spam me at work, all bets are off.

            1. fposte*

              Or if the clicking of “don’t use my email” gets ignored–then I will indeed report it as spam.

            2. OwnedByTheCat*

              +1,000. Because then it is in fact spam! I think L McD was saying “don’t just hit spam when you don’t like something” but it’s just so damn easy for emails to be abused these days. Sigh.

        2. Not a Real Giraffe*

          This seems a little harsh given that it’s not purposely done. OP’s coworkers are just accidentally selecting the wrong email address; not maliciously only emailing OP at his/her personal account.

        3. Kyrielle*

          …ooo. You can *also* set up a filter in gmail to forward things based on that filter.

          Say, anything received from @teapots.edu gets forwarded to your email address @teapots.edu. (And probably gets marked read/filed also.)

          (I do this purely because there are certain things I want to get on my phone, and my gmail is generally a hot mess. I do have their app, but I like to get the “important stuff” to my main address.)

        4. Meg Murry*

          Yes, I had to do this when I couldn’t get a handful of people that had been on the interview committee to stop sending me work messages to my personal email, like my department chair.

          Here the steps I took:

          1) You have to enable a forwarding address in gmail first. Go to your personal account, go to settings, then the “forwarding and POP/IMAP” tab. Click on the button that says “add a forwarding address” and type in your work email.
          2) Gmail will send a confirmation to your work email, and you will need to click the link in that message.

          Once forwarding is enabled:
          create a filter in your personal email with the following step:
          1) Go to settings, then the “filters and blocked addresses” tab
          2) at the bottom, chose “create a new filter”
          3) in the From field type “yourschool.edu” – whatever the back half of your email addresses are, then choose “create a filter with this search”
          4) Choose “forward it to” and chose your work address from the dropdown
          4a) you can also choose “skip the Inbox (Archive it)” and “Mark as read” and that way if you have your personal email on your phone, etc, it won’t pop up and send you notifications that you have new personal email. You can also use “Apply a new label” and you can create a label like “yourschool” so you can find all theses messages easily.

          Is it a pain? Yes. And that’s super terrible that your personal address was given out to students. You should still try to break people of this, but at least it won’t annoy the crud out of you in the meantime.

          I also finally went to my department chair and said “Hey, you keep emailing my personal email address. Would you like me to take it out of your address book so that won’t happen?” and then I followed the instructions Alison listed for her. If there are one or two main culprits, and you have a good relationship with them, could you do that? Or go talk to their admin and see if s/he could do offer to do that for them?

          I’m having the same kind of problem right now at work, but it’s my own fault. When I’m running late or sending a quick note, it’s easier to send emails to my boss or direct report from my gmail account on my phone than my work account. But every time I do that, my personal email winds up becoming their default in Outlook, and then I have to go say “oops, please delete my personal email from Outlook”.

          1. IntheSameBoat*


            Thank you so much for these instructions! I’ll be in the same boat as OP #4 once I start my new job in a few weeks and I was wondering how to redirect emails once I get my new work address set up. I’ve already saved your instructions for future reference.

      2. Laura (Needs To Change Her Name)*

        It can be done! In the past 3 years as faculty I have had 2 emails worth breaking my “no email after 5 or on weekends” rule. One from a colleague one from a student (I replied to both ASAP). It can be done! But my life would be much easier if other people started setting firmer work boundaries, too. Most academic emails are not emergencies!

      3. Callie*

        At my university, we are required to send any information about grades, academic performance, etc from EDU EMAIL ONLY because other emails may not be secure enough to meet FERPA regulations and also we don’t know that they aren’t sharing those other emails with other people. My students get so annoyed when I refuse to use their gmail or whatever addresses, but I tell them up front and put in my syllabus that I will only send emails to their .edu account and it’s on them if they refuse to check it. They all have smartphones and it’s very easy to have all your mail sent to your phone so there’s really no excuse other than “I’m too lazy to check my school email.”

        1. LabLady*

          Very true.

          OP #4 might want to look into the university policy regarding e-mail, because certain confidential research as well as information about students is supposed to be kept securely. While the university may have set up an agreement with Google regarding the confidentiality of mail sent to the university address (my old work did that) that agreement certainly doesn’t include e-mails sent to the personal address.

          When I faced this problem, I wrote out a boiler plate paragraph reiterating the universities policy regarding confidential information and since the topic of discussion fell under that policy, I explained that I had forwarded it to my work e-mail (and then asked them to delete my personal e-mail from their contacts). I used that paragraph to start beginning of any e-mail that I had to forward from my personal e-mail to my work e-mail (which I did every time so that all my answers were always from my work e-mail).

          It was a little labor intensive in the beginning, but very quickly both my supervisor and department chair quickly switched over (1 actually made the switch herself from personal to work) and then started reminding people for me when they saw that an admin or something had made a mistake and cc’d my personal e-mail when it should have been a work e-mail. Of course my university makes a point of reminding people quarterly about data security, YMMV.

    2. Newby*

      Don’t stop responding completely, especially since many people are being given the wrong e-mail address through no fault of their own. Delaying response until the next day and doing it from the work e-mail with a request to not use the other e-mail address should get the point across. I accidentally e-mailed professors’ personal e-mail address before (because they had e-mailed me from it) and once they told me that they prefer to not use it for work whenever possible I made sure to use the correct e-mail address. Honest mistakes should not be punished by being completely ignored. Making sure all responses come from the correct e-mail address and including the request at the beginning of the e-mail to not use the personal account should eventually fix the problem completely.

    3. Zahra*

      What about setting the equivalent of an “Out of Office” message?

      “This is my personal address. For all matters pertaining to (whatever your work at the university entails), please use X address.”

      I would probably try to add something about how I don’t/won’t check that address often. Basically, make it as inconvenient as possible for them when they use your personal email address.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        That’s what I believe they can accomplish with Canned Responses in Gmail (see my comment below), except they can limit that automatic response to email that originates from their work domain.

  7. Ben Around*

    #1: My gut tells me you’re hearing the reaction of an unhappy few, not the majority. In the situation you describe, I’d be pretty pleased to get a gift card and I think most people would. It sounds like you feel hurt by some complaints, which is understandable, but I bet most of your employees aren’t complaining.

      1. TootsNYC*

        and us grateful people need to speak up!! right away, so those grinches don’t get a chance to poison the waters.

        Plus, as Miss Manners points out, getting a thank-you for a gift encourages people to do it again.

    1. Carpe Librarium*

      I was coming here to say exactly this.
      The people who complained likely got pushback from others praising the fact you have been so generous.

    2. the_scientist*

      The thing that stuck out to me was that “it got back” to OP1 that some employees were upset. What does that mean, exactly? Who told OP that “some” employees are upset? This is a situation that is ripe for brown-nosing– I mean, just look at the comments here fawning over OP1! I wonder if there is a troublemaking, back-stabbing employee on the team who is trying to throw their coworkers under the bus by drumming up gossip that they are unhappy about the gift cards. It could very well all be fiction designed to make one employee (the brown-noser) look better.

      1. Kelly L.*

        I think this is a distinct possibility.

        Caveat: My perspective is that at a previous job a few years ago, I got called into a higher-up’s office and given a lengthy speech about how important and valuable her work was and how people at my level just didn’t understand everything she did behind the scenes. I was basically like, sure, yup, great, but why am I getting this speech? I eventually managed to tease out that my brown-nosiest, smarmiest colleague had told Higher-Up that I was complaining about Higher-Up being lazy. This was made up completely out of whole cloth, hence my confusion–I hadn’t even said anything remotely like that, and this higher-up wasn’t even on my radar since I didn’t work directly with her.

    3. Zillah*

      I agree. I think it’s also possible that the message got twisted, since the OP says it “got back to” them – e.g., someone was complaining about the cost of childcare or something and someone took it as complaining in general. Or, maybe they were feeling unappreciated or dismissed by others in the company in general, but not the OP or their very generous compensation for this project. I’m even wondering whether someone outside the team is jealous and stirring the pot a bit.

      I’m just flabbergasted to the point of disbelief that a team as a whole would be so ungrateful. OP, what you did for your team is wonderful. You went above and beyond, and I can’t imagine that most of them don’t really, really appreciate it.

      1. Yuki*

        I wouldn’t be surprised if it wasn’t just kind of a general complaint – especially something like childcare, where it isn’t even a complaint about being asked to work extra, just a “Gosh, the late-stay costs for Dudley’s daycare really added up those three weeks!” or something like that. Then someone who has a reason to spread that kind of thing around as gossip took it to the OP.

        In work, I’ve definitely learned to never, ever take anything coworkers or bosses say at face value. There’s way too much that gets twisted, either accidentally or on purpose.

  8. Mando Diao*

    OP1: The only thing I can think of is that some people might not like the store/restaurant that the gift cards were for. People can have weird reactions to gift cards. I agree with other commenters that it’s likely just one or two people who hate gift cards on principle. You treated your employees very well and I’m sure most of them are hugely grateful.

    1. Lily in NYC*

      Do we know it was for a specific business? I assumed it was one of those gift cards from Visa/Amex that can be spent anywhere.

        1. fposte*

          Sure, but it’s still nicer than not getting a gift card, and people who think it’s too much trouble can just ignore it–or give theirs to somebody else. Its not being a perfect gift isn’t justification for people to complain.

          1. Lily in NYC*

            Good point. We always get ridiculous gifts for secretary’s day and even though I have no use for them (other than getting a good laugh), I always send an email to the HR dept. thanking them for the gift and party (I don’t even bother to go to the party).

        2. Rana*

          Or a small amount. I got one for $25 and I’m still trying to figure out how to use it. If you want to buy something that’s more, how does that work? If you want to buy something less, do you get change back? Do you have to use it in a physical store? Is it even possible to use it online if what you’re buying doesn’t cost exactly $25?

          1. Nicole*

            The best use I’ve found for these is to buy an Amazon gift card for the exact value of the prepaid card I was given and then send that gift card to myself. The Amazon credit never expires and I no longer have to worry about the card. If you don’t ever shop at Amazon then I guess you could try the same thing at another store you like.

          2. Stardust*

            If what you are purchasing is more than the gift card, the cashier takes that amount off first and then you pay the rest any way you want (cash, debit, credit). If the cost is less than your card, your visa gift card either has a balance or they give you change back. Anyways if it’s too much of a hassle (which it really isn’t!) then feel fee to give away!

            1. Erin*

              I work in retail. Let’s say your visa gift card is for $25 and your purchase is for $37.86. Pay with the gift card first and tell the cashier there is only $25, they’ll have to put $25.00 then charge your card for that exact amount. Otherwise if you just swipe 50% of the time it will decline because there isn’t enough to cover the total purchase price. Then you’ll pay the balance with cash or another card. I split tenders all the time.
              Using a visa gift card online may get you in trouble because some websites aren’t equiped to take 2 tenders in one transaction.

      1. Oryx*

        Those things can be annoying and have some limitations. Like, you can’t use it for a partial payment in that if something costs $200 and you have a $100 gift card, you can’t use the gift card for half and another payment method for the rest.

        Our holiday bonus came in that form. I used my Square account and ran it as a credit card payment and transferred it to my bank that way. I had to eat some fees, but I’d rather do that and have the money in something more akin to cash.

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          I get GCs on a regular basis from a long-term research study I’m participating in. They used to be Visa GCs, which I loved. They were only for $10, but I’d use that $10 to buy a $10 GC to my favorite online retailer, and then I could use that store’s GC as a partial payment for any purchase. But apparently enough people complained they had a hard time using them, so now I have a choice of a few store GCs, none of which are as appealing. I hate that people messed that up for me. :-(

    2. Zahra*

      I’m thinking that it might be the place the gift card is for as well. As a reference, I like receiving cards from a shopping mall with a good variety of stores or for a store/service the giver knows I appreciate.

      1. Mando Diao*

        I was thinking along those lines. Even a card to Target (where you can buy shampoo and groceries if nothing else) can be annoying if that’s not where you prefer to shop.

        It can be weird when someone gives you something you didn’t ask for and can’t use, but still expects you to be grateful.

        1. SusanIvanova*

          Yeah, I was starting to think I was the only one who doesn’t think gift cards are nice. I wouldn’t complain about it, but I’d probably toss it in a drawer and forget about it. It’s not like cash that works everywhere, it goes to one specific place that I may or may not have any interest in.

        2. TootsNYC*

          though, for something like Target, you could probably swap it for cash w/ someone you know who does shop there.

    3. SH*

      Mando Diao – Great point! For Admin Appreciation Day I received a gift card from my company for a business I don’t visit due to poor quality products. I appreciated the gesture but it means more when they send out flowers/candy on Valentine’s Day/birthdays.

    4. TootsNYC*

      I told above about the thank-you $100 gift card I got once. To Bergdorf Goodman.

      Yeah, it’s still in my drawer. Because you can’t buy much for $100 at Bergdorf.

      In fact, when I realized what a mismatch it was, I was actually sort of pissed. intellectually, I knew it was a generously meant gesture. But my visceral reaction was, “Wait, all that hard work, all that excellence, and all I get is 6 pieces of stationery or a pair of socks?”

          1. Lily in NYC*

            Wow! I don’t think I’ve ever spent more than $8 on a pair of socks (and I usually pay less than that).

    5. Mae North*

      Yeah, I couldn’t help but think of the time my boss of 4 years gave me a Red Lobster gift card – I’m allergic to anything that comes out of water, which everyone in my department and any neighbouring departments was routinely reminded of (by her!) every time we ordered food, had a potluck, or someone planned to bring in treats.

      (We all got different cards, so the tiny grain of charity in my cold black heart suspects she mixed up the cards for two of us. But the rest of me was seriously unhappy with the gift of death.)

      1. Annie*

        For future reference a Red Lobster card can be used at any of the Darden Restaurants (that includes Olive Garden & Longhorn among others) so it’s not quite as limiting as it looked on its face.

  9. Mike*

    #4: Depending on who your mail host is you might be able to setup an auto response for emails that come from your work’s domain. For GMail you can do it with a combination of a filter with a canned response.

    1. Rubyrose*

      Yes, this! I would have the auto response give the correct address and say that all work emails received will not be responded to.

    2. LizB*

      Yep, I bet you can set up a filter for messages coming in from @teapots.edu addresses where it will automatically forward the message to your work email AND send an auto-reply with instructions on how to stop the problem from happening. Zero work for you, useful information for everyone else!

  10. Dan*


    OP, I can’t explain the gift card reaction, other than compared to the monetary value of everything else you provided, it was next to nothing. For this exercise, I’ll assume your employees make $60k/yr or ~$30/hr. So, over the course of a month, they put in 30 extra hours. You paid them triple time, so they made $2700 in extra cash. You gave them two weeks PTO, (80 hours) so $2400 worth of extra paid time off. Then, you fed them, and at $40 or so per day, that’s $600 worth of food. So compared to that, a $100 gift card is pretty small.

    That said, I think you went way over board. You could have done any one of those things (including just the $100 gift card) and been in the clear. But almost $6000 worth of compensation and benefits for 30 hours of extra work? Holy hell! I’d expect that (the triple time and all) for working 80 hours a week for three months straight and call it fair.

    At my last job, we got straight time for every hour worked, and I put in 60 hours a week for most of my time.

    1. Jake*

      I worked 70 hour minimum for 6 months and received nothing more than my salary. Not even a thank you. Not even a raise at the end of the year.

      The idea jobs like the OP describes even exist makes me jealous.

  11. Befuddled*

    I’m guessing you’re not hearing the whole story on the grumbling on #1 – and I can understand the grumbling. Talk to individuals, find out just what is making them unhappy. I’d bet the problem is not the size of the gift card, but that the amounts of the gift cards were different for different people. It’s very easy for thank you gifts to be de-motivating rather than motivating unless they are handled very, very carefully. I’ve seen this time and time again on big projects. Even with trivial things – like giving people balloons.

    What happens is that as a manager your perspective is that the employees had different levels of responsibility and should be rewarded correspondingly, but that’s not going to be all of the recipients perspective. They are probably going to wonder why did Janet get more than me? I worked just as hard.

    Or think of it this way, people at higher pay grades are presumably those with the higher levels of responsibility. So you rewarded them more with the 3x their rate. But when you say thank you for a group effort, no mater the value of the gift, you have to do it evenly. And be sure not to leave anyone out. Otherwise it’s worse than not giving them anything.

    A similar thing happens when company upper management come in and make a big fuss about thanking the manager of a project. The team members are frequently disgruntled because from their viewpoint – they did all the work.

    1. Shell*

      Eh, I can see both sides to this. The bonus an employer gives to its employees are often (probably even usually) not equal amounts. Some people/teams/departments get more while others get less, and it often gets divided by the type of role/responsibility each employee has.

      So while a flat bonus would be nice for certain people, I don’t know the lack of one is grounds to get huffy–especially not with all the other super nice compensation OP#1 threw in.

      1. Befuddled*

        Right – but the gift cards weren’t a bonus. They were a thank you. Plus bonus amounts are usually private, so it’s not so obvious to people that they aren’t valued the same.

        This image is now my head – bonus checks the size of those given out to lottery winners being handed out to employees.

        1. Shell*

          Sorry, bad typing on my part. It wasn’t a bonus, and I can understand being a little disgruntled, but similar to how bonuses are paid differently I would have just written it off as reward, whether straight monetary or in other forms, will be at different levels for different people.

          I can understand a little disappointment, but complaining is beyond the pale especially with how generous the rest of the compensation was.

          1. fposte*

            I do think complainers probably don’t realize that the effect is complaining about the whole package, rather than this specific element of it, and that the likely outcome of complaining is that everybody gets less, not that they get more.

    2. Caroline*

      Yeah, this is the only possible reason I can see for the grumbling too (assuming the employees are at least halfway reasonable people!)

      I still think that they should recognise how lucky they are to work for a company which did all of that to keep them happy whilst they worked overtime and I can also see the logic that the people who had more responsibility should get more of a reward. I also understand that some employees are simply more valuable and more irreplaceable than others, so rewards can be different to reflect that. But on the flip side, they’re probably already getting paid more for doing that job, and it does sting to be a lower level employee in a situation like this, when you feel that you put in just as much work but the “thank you” only serves to highlight that management don’t feel that you’re as worthy or as important to the company as your coworkers.

    3. Bwmn*

      I think this is the easiest way of understanding low level grumbling. I also think that sometimes when the discrepancies are figuratively smaller – as in the amount of a gift card vs. salaries – it’s easier to feel that the lower amounts are a petty reinforcement of hierarchy.

      The other possibility is that within this company or industry this does not rank as an equivalent “thank you”. I work for a nonprofit – I have friends that have worked for assorted auditing firms over the years, and their “perks” vs. mine seem insane. But ultimately it is a different industry with a different compensation scheme. And it’s easy for a very generous “thank you for the overtime” in my industry to be perceived as a slap in the face by another.

      Either way, I understand where the OP is coming from in terms of being upset by the grumblings. But I think it would really behoove them to put aside the initial “how ungrateful” sentiment and dig in a bit more to see why this is the case.

    4. Gaara*

      I’ve gotten big year-end bonuses at my law firm that have left people grumbling. The amount should have pleased people, but the delivery was tone-deaf in a way that pissed people off. I doubt this was the OP1, but it’s certainly possible (and if so varying amounts is my guess, too).

      1. Zillah*

        I’m wondering if the company has been tone deaf, even if the OP hasn’t. E.g., “you’d better be grateful, you don’t deserve this” or “must be nice to get so much for doing nothing” or “your work was awful.” Something along those lines.

      2. Bwmn*

        The more I think about this, I also wonder if there have been some thoughts around people who have not had opportunities for promotions/advancement. If you have someone who feels as though opportunities to progress and be officially recognized with a different title/salary/job tasks – and instead ends up with a gift card – that can feel demoralizing.

        The leap to “people are ungrateful” I just think is too easy. Most people I know (not all, but…), when they appear ungrateful for a gift it’s because there’s hiding disappointment around something else. It’s the classic TV/Movie situation of a woman being bummed out by XYZ gift when it’s a situation where she was hoping for an engagement ring and instead gets anything else.

    5. Jillociraptor*

      Yeah, this is such an unexpected and abnormal reaction that I suspect something else is going on. Maybe it’s the different gift card amounts. I can also imagine a bunch of other scenarios. When you’re generally not feeling appreciated, sometimes this recognition can feel like your management is glossing over the big issue and trying to “bribe” you rather than change their behavior. I can also imagine some people starting to catastrophize because the benefits were so large and numerous–if the company is giving me ALL this for just 10 extra hours a week, there must be something else going on that they’re hiding.

      1. TootsNYC*

        I agree there may be something else, and it’s worth probing.

        But I also think that what someone said upstream is totally true: there is ALWAYS someone who will grumble. So some level of grumbling is not “unexpected and abnormal.”

    6. Quilter*

      I think you’ve hit the nail on the head.

      The percentage increase for the overtime pay is relative to people’s salaries which is something people naturally understand. It sounds like OP gave out equal amounts of extra PTO. It was with the gift cards that OP opted to break employees into different levels. I have no doubt that OP is in a good position to determine “levels of responsibility” and in an ideal world people would be happy with whatever gift they’re given, but it’s not hard for me to imagine scenarios where someone feels – rightly or wrongly – that they were undervalued. (“Cindy got $200 but she was first out the door most nights! I was the last one out almost every night in order to print out all the orders and I got half as much. That sucks. I deserved more.”)

      This may have gotten lost in translation as “Bobby thought the gift cards weren’t enough” when the real issue is that Bobby feels undervalued because of the differing values of the gift cards which naturally encouraged people to compare themselves to one another.

      It’s not that you can’t thank those who go above and beyond the call of duty, but it’s often handled better by giving them something additional and specific to them (e.g., taking them out to lunch, writing a thank-you note, etc.) rather than giving them “more” of what everyone else is getting because the others won’t likely see that they still got something and just be happy about that fact, they’re likely to experience it as they got “less”.

      And yeah, for those who got less, complaining may only result in getting nothing at all but for someone who felt the lower value was demoralizing, it may actually be preferable. I can imagine a situation where some would chose no reward rather than a reward which comes with a message that makes them feel undervalued.

      This was not intended to be critical of the OP whom I think is totally awesome for all that she did! This is only to potentially help the OP understand why the gift cards in particular may be a sticking point.

  12. Newbie*

    Op #1 you really went above and beyond. I would be thrilled if I Was your employee. I worked 12 hour days and some weekends for about 6 months with no OT or anything.

    1. Chocolate Teapot*

      Yes, there is likely to be an element of “Is that it?” with the gift cards even though the rest of the reward (which sounds very generous) is worth far more. My company gives a small gift card with the December salary payment and it took a bit of detective work to find places that would accept them! (And even then I had to confirm)

      But I suspect it is one complainer and everyone feels they have to agree.

  13. Grand Mouse*

    I know it’s bad etiquette to criticize someone for not being properly grateful, but as a manager could they approach it as an attitude issue?

    1. fposte*

      I don’t think there’s any way to do that without sounding like you’re the lord of the manor.

  14. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.*

    #1 is a thing that happens.

    While I’ve never done anything close to that generous all around, as an act for a single instance, we’ve certainly experienced the disappointment of going out of our way to do nice, met with grumbling. It doesn’t happen nearly as much anymore, to the point of infrequent and isolated. Here are some things that have helped:

    1) culture of partnership/ownership. We’re all in this together, day after day. When people feel that level of ownership of their own jobs and feel their significant contribution to the whole is recognized and appreciated, they are less likely to complain about Those People Up There Who Did Not Do Enough, because there aren’t really any people way up there. We’re right by the employee’s side working together. (If that make sense?)

    2) Hiring and choosing to retain the right people, for culture. Hiring and retaining for culture is HUGE with us. Nobody wants to work with complainy back stabby whiny people. We hire for culture and we get rid of people with nasty attitudes.

    3) bonus system for everybody, tied to the impact their contributions make on the $$ whole. This is a work in progress. Happened to hit a big snag on something yesterday, and we see that we have to rework a section kinda pronto, so this is hard thing to do, but when it works it is satisfying for all partners.

    4) transparency. In my old age, I am quite transparent with people around me as to what things cost, how our overall financial picture looks, what our projections are, how we plan to get there. I used to think that giving more information would make people draw false conclusions: “That new Google ad campaign cost $100K? Well then they can afford to give me a larger raise!” , but my experience sharing info with our seasoned people has been the opposite. “That new Google ad campaign cost $100k? God, we better bust butt to convert all of those leads!”

    I don’t know if anything here might be helpful to the OP in the long term but in the short term: hugs! I’ve been there, the feeling sucks, and thank you for trying to do right by your employees. I am positive that there are people on your staff who appreciate you, even if it doesn’t feel like it right now.

    1. Just A Girl*


      Story time: I got a “reward” for good work a while back. It was taxed as a bonus, call it $100, and could only be redeemed for gift cards at chain stores, which I habitually avoid, and the way it worked out, I ended up getting $85 to Amazon, and it took several weeks to arrive, while my actual paycheck was smaller right away.

      It came in lieu of any personalized recognition for my work and felt tone-deaf, and I gave serious thought to asking them to take it back.

      So, I can see complaining, depending on the other particulars of morale. If the project merited overtime and fancy catering and PTO, a $100 “gift” with restrictions* on how I could spend it would make me feel awkward and obligated. It’s so small compared to the other stuff, it just feels off to me.

      *Unless it was a Visa gift card. But in that case why not stick to an actual bonus?

      1. Judy*

        Every “gift card” award I’ve received has been grossed up. They give a $100 gift card, and my next paycheck shows $125 in income and $25 withholding. The company pays the tax. Regular bonuses haven’t been grossed up. (At my current company, the company president brought us each a Christmas card in mid-December, it had a $100 bill in it, and my next paycheck was as above.)

        Also, bonuses are regular income and taxed as such. The withholding for bonuses is at your higher marginal percent, so that you don’t owe more at the end of the year. If the withholding was the same percentage as your salary, you would owe when you file taxes.

        1. Just A Girl*

          Our whole bonus system is wrapped up in points, kind of like a credit card rewards system. It makes the math very oblique.

          At the bottom line, though, I had a paycheck $20 smaller than usual during that pay period, because I would eventually get a $85 gift certificate to a place where I don’t usually shop.

          I realize that it’s technically $65 to the good, but after shopping in the rewards store for a gift card to a store that would let me offset the dollars in our budget to try to recoup the $20 cash loss, it sure didn’t feel that way.

          1. TootsNYC*

            and especially when you’re shopping in a rewards store, most of that stuff is stuff I don’t really need or want anyway. And the stuff that I would want, is usually way higher than the gift card I have.

            1. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.*

              I am: not a fan of those things.

              It’s a cousin to our industry and I could theoretically get involved in selling/administering them but no thanks. I know how that sausage is made.

              I was asked to pitch one by a customer way back in the day. Did my research, gathered my info and….just no.

              It’s overpriced because multiple hands have to take a (relatively small but adds up) cut along the way and also maintaining, recording, and reporting on them is expensive. They aren’t a rip off so much as a terribly inefficient way for money to be spent to finally get a reward in the employee’s hands.

              1. Anonyhippo*

                Agreed. My former employer used to “reward” us with these cards. Everything available and received turned out to be overpriced no better than junk quality and went straight to Goodwill.

                Guess how ‘rewarded’ I felt?

          2. Granite*

            This reminds me of the disastrous way a bonus was handled at a factory job I had way back when. If the company met a goal to ship X widgets that quarter, everyone would get a $300 bonus.

            The quarter ends with the goal met, and the General Manager does this big dog and pony show. Everyone got a handshake and an envelope. Regular employees found $300 cash in theirs, temps like me got a note from the temp agency saying we’d get an extra check the next day with our regular paycheck. So that day the temps were all a little disgruntled at the show of shaking hands for an envelope with an IOU in it. Mostly just rolled eyes, but still.

            But that was nothing compared to what happened the next day when the regular employees got their paychecks, which were smaller than usual due to the extra deduction for the withholding on the $300 in cash they got the day before. Which cash a number of the men had drunk the night before without informing their wives.

            Talk about giving a bonus in a way that killed morale.

          3. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.*


            My people like me a lot but if we shorted their paychecks by $20 for a “gift”, I don’t think my tires would be in tact when I went to go home!

    2. Bwmn*

      This so much!

      In particular I feel that #1 and #4 – lots of times looking from the top it can feel like this is the approach, whereas from those in intermediary roles it does not feel that way.

      Where I currently am, how people are able to advance and what job titles mean is entirely obtuse. This has been exacerbated recently due to new job titles being invented (aka adding associate or senior to titles like Coordinator, where before none existed). Therefore, if someone felt like they were in line to advance beyond being a Coordinator, and someone new was just hired as a Senior Coordinator – with no real explanation of what the difference is – it’s been demoralizing overall.

      Therefore, in this situation something like bonuses are received less enthusiastically (as just happened last December. The extra money is nice, sure, thank you – but it also feels like a bit of a bribe to keep quiet about larger issues.

  15. MK*

    OP2, I am confused by your attitude here. It would have been one thing if you had been upfront about your firing from the beginning, explained the circumstances and asked for a second chance. What you did was conceal your previous employment and why it was terminated and, when they found out, expected for a chance to explain. Why exactly should they give you one at this point, when you not only are a person who was fired for physical violence, but someone who lived to them as well? And why do you think the “jealous” coworker was out of line to give this information? They have no obligation to you to stay quiet about it, and they do have a duty to the company.

    1. Random Lurker*

      Glad you saw it this way too. Stepping around the bullying issue, since that isn’t the question at hand, OP seems to be viewing themselves as a victim who is being persecuted. Some personal accountability is needed here – a situation was handled poorly by OP, leading to termination. OP didn’t leave. The company fired him/her. This is not a result of a “jealous coworker”. Even if there was someone who is harboring resentment/jealously towards OP, the termination and circumstances around it were certainly a record within HR and would have come to light eventually.

      Alison was right on point. There is nothing to be salvaged at this company. Cut bait, move on, and use this as a learning experience of how actions carry lasting consequences.

    2. Kaz*

      OP2 may very well be a victim of bullying. Successful bullies are intelligent and know how to provoke a violent reaction so that they can paint themselves as the victim.

      The challenge for the victim (and for OP2), would be to document the disturbing conduct, ask the bully to end it, don’t retaliate and go to HR if the conduct has not ceased.

      This is easy to talk about, but difficult to do. It requires being objective, which is difficult to do when you are the victim of bullying.

      1. Artemesia*

        Perhaps. But that ship has sailed. The OP has not only been fired for violent behavior on the job but was firmly rejected on another occasion when trying to be rehired. They are clearly on the ‘never hire’ list and the OP is lucky if they aren’t on the ‘escort out of the building with security’ list. Whatever provoked it, violence that leads to dismissal cannot be recovered from on that job. Hope you can find work that helps you build a reputation that erases this blot.

      2. Stranger than fiction*

        What I don’t get is why they both weren’t fired? Op says they threw shoes at each other and pushed each other. Somethings not right there.

        1. Kaz*

          Maybe because the other guy was more valuable to the company so the company decided to keep him.

          1. TootsNYC*

            Or because, as Kaz points out, the OP appears to have “started it” by being “the first one to throw a punch,” even though the bully was using other, invisible tactics to provoke that reaction. And so the company thinks of her as the aggressor, and the bully as the victim. Often the physical is the only part people notice.

            (that’s why when I’ve been dealing w/ kids–toddler, grade school–I always probe a little more deeply. It’s a known situation, that kids who bite are sometimes being over-pressured by more verbal children, and biting is the only way they can hold their own)

            It’s also true that we expect people to respond to non-physical aggression with non-physical responses. And ignoring that is really dangerous to you.

            That’s why it’s so important, when someone seems to be attacking you verbally, or subtly, that you control your anger and look craftily for ways to defend yourself that don’t expose you!

    3. TootsNYC*

      I’m actually worried for the OP in general–I think that the immediately interviewer didn’t know about the firing until they spoke to HR, who looked at the records, but I think that if other prospective employers are calling HR for a reference, HR is saying, “No, she isn’t eligible for rehire.” And that’s why she can’t get a job.

      I don’t know how she deals with that.

    4. EC*

      Even if OP2 were pure as the driven snow in this situation, I’d still hesitate to go back. In a former position, I was disciplined for striking a coworker. Not fired, just disciplined. Sounds pretty terrible until I clarify that I decked him because he thought it would be completely acceptable workplace behavior to throw me up against a wall and grab a double handful of my chest before trying to open my jeans. He was not disciplined for his conduct. Needless to say, I don’t work there anymore and I never would again. The fact that I had a mark on my record there is almost entirely irrelevant. The fact that it is a working environment in which the assault of female coworkers is okay is the real issue.

      1. Rat Racer*

        I’m totally speechless. How can that happen so someone (you, EC, not your co-worker) on the job? If I were at risk for that kind of violence from someone I worked with I would be terrified to set foot in my office.

        1. EC*

          I was shocked, as well. I fully expected the book to be thrown at him (I mean, come on. The guy was making good progress towards trying to rape me until I bloodied his nose). I think, to a certain extent, their hands were tied. In a case of He Said, She Said, plus a bloody nose, they were obligated to address the nose. Fortunately, this kind of behavior is exceedingly rare in my field. When the women are all wearing jeans, lab coats, steel toes, and safety glasses, it’s really hard to argue that we are “asking for it.” I’m just glad I had the presence of mind to punch him; I might’ve broken his leg if I’d let him have it with my safety boots on.

  16. hbc*

    OP1: I think there are a variety of factors at work, some of which have been mentioned by others.

    -Some people are just grousers.
    -Mandatory overtime in a field/position that doesn’t usually have overtime is really painful. They’re not used to it, they probably don’t have backups lined up for things like childcare, and it’s just draining. People are going to be more on edge if they haven’t had a day or so to recover.
    -The gift card is the most tangible thing you’ve given them, and has a monetary value written on it. As easy as it is to do the math, some people will simply have no clue what they made from the triple pay. And smoothies don’t have a dollar value.

    If you don’t want to just let it drop, I would suggest holding a meeting talking about what they would like done in the future should this come up again. Show the money earned by a theoretical employee on the low end of the scale. Show what was spent on the perks. Say that you’re unwilling to just give the barista money to employees because you need there to be in-office incentives to keep spirits and productivity up, but that you’d love to hear other ideas, now or later. The grateful people will think the grousers are idiots, and the grousers will either have a revelation or be stuck coming up with concrete ideas to do better.

    1. Stranger than fiction*

      Yes, similar to what I was saying above. I think they need an illustration, honestly.

  17. anonforthis*

    #2 – I really feel for you here. My partner was let go from one of his jobs for a similar reason. Escalating to physical is a clear line that companies are comfortable firing for, and bully just isn’t yet. In my partner’s case, he’d been bullied for well over a year & bringing it up to management resulted in “don’t take it personally”. Helpful. Eventually the guy started getting physically in his face (not touching) and my partner pushed him away. Just like that – he was gone. It’s extremely frustrating that this type of degrading behavior is perfectly acceptable, but that doesn’t make the escalation allowable (understandable – and he had a lot of support on that – but still not salvageable). So Alison’s advice is spot on, even though it’s frustrating to hear. On the other hand, do you really want to work (again) for a company that allows bullying to go on to the point where you’re pushed to physical violence? There are many ramifications for allowing your business to turn into a middle school, and this seems like a clear indicator that there could be more issues.

    1. RVA Cat*

      This. The only thing I’ve ever heard of to excuse physicality was when the other person used a racial slur (and was fired), and both of them were drunk.

      1. TootsNYC*

        as a colleague bystander, that wouldn’t be OK w/ me, actually–I’d not want to work with either one of them again.

  18. Katie the Fed*

    #1 – I feel like I’m being a bit of a scrooge here, but I think a lot of your problem is that you fawned over the extra work SO much. By doing so much to reward them, they got the sense that this was a highly unusual, major hardship of an assignment, when it fact it’s not that terrible. Yes 10 hour days for a few weeks is rough, but it’s not THAT uncommon. Your rewards, on the other hand, are very uncommon. So yeah, if they’re going to act like this, I would just give them a smaller award or compensation next time and do away with the gift certificates.

    1. MK*

      That was my first reaction too, especially the 2 weeks PTO. But I think it probably has to do with what hbc mentions above about mandatory overtime in positions that don’t usually have overtime. If you take a job that has a very set schedule, with the understanding that you get to leave every day at X hour, rain or shine, it’s maybe understandable to feel any overtime is a huge imposition.

      1. Zillah*

        I agree. If you literally never work any overtime at all, it’s a different dynamic than a job with occasional overtime or fairly regular overtime. The OP was still incredibly generous, ofc, but I think it’s tough to say how uncommon the overtime was in the first place without more information.

        1. Tau*

          This is something I feel a lot of the comments are missing – this was a really big thing to ask of them if a job ordinarily has no overtime at all, and the fact that other jobs work that much every week doesn’t really come into it.

          I’m currently in a job with some significant drawbacks (among others: I’ve been based on a remote site 100% of the time since January which is four hours away from home, and I suspect my on-site accommodation arrangements would… not be to many commenters’ tastes), which I’m accepting, among others, because I’m willing to make those sacrifices in order to avoid overtime. If my job suddenly came to me with “you have to work ten hours extra every week for the next month! toodles!” I would be pissed. It’s normal for some jobs, sure, but I’m not in those jobs for a reason!

          Don’t get me wrong, the compensation is incredibly generous, and complaining about the gift cards is bizarre and rude. But there are a lot of people dismissing what an imposition this might have been and I don’t like it.

          1. Stranger than fiction*

            Yeah, I could kind of see that. But presumably they had plenty of notice ahead of time. The only sort of similar time I had a week working overtime in a job where I usually didn’t, was when the company was moving its office a few miles up the road. We all stayed a little over for a week packing and such. But it wasn’t like this where everyone worked two hours. Some people stayed half hour, others two or three. Those with obligations or commitments could go. So in that case we got our standard overtime and that’s it, and nobody really grumbled that we should have gotten rewarded since these things happen in business.

            1. Zillah*

              But presumably they had plenty of notice ahead of time.

              I’m not sure we can say one way or the other on that – the OP doesn’t address it, and I can see it going both ways. Regardless, though, even if they had plenty of notice, it can still be a big imposition to a lot of people.

  19. Katie the Fed*

    #2 – Jealous coworker? Of what? You got yourself fired because you couldn’t control your temper. It’s pretty normal for hiring committees to ask people who used to work with a candidate what they’re like (I have a great story about that later for the open thread) and all someone had to do was tell them the circumstances of your termination and that would have been enough.

    You’d be far better offer trying to figure out why you’ve had so much trouble getting hired since then. Do you have a bad reputation in your field? Is there something you can do to interview better? Better cover letters?

    1. Laurel Gray*

      I read the letter and I really want the OP to stop using “jealous coworker” when she gives her account of this story. I know we aren’t supposed to nitpick peoples use of words and such, and I am not, I just think the focus should be on the OP recognizing that they did a very bad thing in the workplace and has since learned and matured. You can’t really convey that point when you keep calling the person who was on the receiving end of your physical confrontation “jealous”. This is a great example of a bridge that is burned for good and the OP should use her energy toward finding another way to the other side.

      1. Myrin*

        The “jealous coworker” is not the same person as the bully whom OP pushed (she refers to the latter as “he” and the former as “she”), but I agree on all other accounts, especially the use of the word “jealous” since there is really no context for this at all in the letter and I bet any jealousy on her part flew right out the window when the OP was fired for physically attacking a coworker.

      2. Katie the Fed*

        Yes, agreed! That was the word that kind of set me off. When people refer to those who don’t like them as “jealous” my first thought is usually O RLY? And in this case combined with the shoving incident, it sounds like there’s a lot of drama surrounding OP, and I don’t need that if I’m hiring someone.

        1. Rat Racer*

          I agree – that was my read as well. And I know we’re supposed to give letter writers the benefit of the doubt, but the insinuation that a former co-worker intentionally sabotaged the OP’s interview out of “jealousy” makes me doubt the OP’s overall reliability as narrator. It has me question how much stock we can even take in the assertion that the root cause of the incident was “bullying.”

          OP – I think the feedback you’re getting overall, from both Alison and from the AAM community is that you’re lacking a sense of personal accountability in your portrayal of the events. I think you can overcome this incident from your past, but to do so will require some (perhaps painful) reflection on what you could have done differently.

        2. LBK*

          When people refer to those who don’t like them as “jealous” my first thought is usually O RLY?

          So, so true. It’s one of those descriptions that always makes me a liiiiittle skeptical about your version of the story, if only because it’s so frequently claimed as a motivation where it clearly does not exist.

    2. Zillah*

      Along with this, I’d also point out that if some of the people you had friction are still working there, that’s an additional reason not to bring you on. They’re not concerned with what’s fair, they’re concerned with what’s good for their business, and hiring someone who they know really doesn’t get along with multiple current employees just doesn’t make good business sense, even without the added context of the pushing. The drama is easily foreseeable and easily avoidable. Why risk it when there are other strong candidates?

    3. LiveAndLetDie*

      I’m with you on this point. If someone I worked with got fired after getting into a physical altercation with another coworker, I would absolutely pipe up if that person came back a few years later trying to get hired in. There’s nothing “jealous” about saying, “I don’t want to work with someone who has proven themselves capable of violence in the workplace.”

      It doesn’t even matter that it was bullying. You’re in a professional setting, you handle the bullying professionally (follow established reporting procedures, work with HR, etc.). That the OP caved to the pressure and responded with violence shows a lack of anger management and the propensity for violence. The firing was justified, the former coworker speaking up to say “don’t hire this person back” was justified, and this job is off the table (and will remain so indefinitely).

      1. TootsNYC*

        This “I don’t want to work with” is a really good point.

        Physical violence–even if it’s just yelling (don’t ask me how I know this)–is a major shock to all the people who have to witness it. It’s unsettling, in a deep way.

    4. TootsNYC*

      I think the trouble getting hired may be coming when the new employer calls HR for a reference check, and HR says, “She’s not eligible for rehire.”

    5. Panda Bandit*

      Yeah, why exactly would this coworker be “jealous”? OP is the one who can’t get a job anywhere.

  20. The Cosmic Avenger*

    For OP#4, I suggest you try Google Labs’ Canned Response. You can set it up so any email from teapots.edu gets a canned response saying whatever you like, so maybe something like:

    “This is a personal email address, and may not be checked regularly during work hours. For a faster response, please go into your Sent folder and forward your message to me to Wakeen@Teapots.edu.

    To avoid this issue in the future, please go into your contacts and remove this address [I forget the procedure, but I believe others have spelled it out already].”

    I’ll put a link to Google Labs in a reply, but if you click on the gear in the upper right of the Gmail page, then choose Settings, Labs is one of the top tabs there.

    Once you enable Canned Responses, you’ll have to create your draft response, then click the little arrow to the right of the trash can (down on the composition toolbar, where the Send button is), and save your draft. Then you’ll have to create a filter for mail from teapots.edu addresses, and in the second page where you can file or label or archive filtered messages, there’ll now be an option to send a canned response.

  21. The Cosmic Avenger*

    For OP#4, I suggest you try Google Labs’ Canned Response. You can set it up so any email from teapots.edu gets a canned response saying whatever you like, so maybe something like:

    “This is a personal email address, and may not be checked regularly during work hours. For a faster response, please go into your Sent folder and forward your message to me to [your work email].

    To avoid this issue in the future, please go into your contacts and remove this address [I forget the procedure, but I believe others have spelled it out already].”

    I’ll put a link to Google Labs in a reply, but if you click on the gear in the upper right of the Gmail page, then choose Settings, Labs is one of the top tabs there.

    Once you enable Canned Responses, you’ll have to create your draft response, then click the little arrow to the right of the trash can (down on the composition toolbar, where the Send button is), and save your draft. Then you’ll have to create a filter for mail from teapots.edu addresses, and in the second page where you can file or label or archive filtered messages, there’ll now be an option to send a canned response.

    1. Purple Jello*

      I was going to suggest changing your personal email address, but this is better. Make it less convenient for colleagues to use your personal address rather than the inconvenience of changing your email address at a multitude of places.

  22. Brett*

    #5 I’m trying to understand the motivation for this arrangement. Is pay for the employee budgeted as X but paid as 80% of x? (If so, where is the other 20% going?) Is the volunteer day padding some sort of total of volunteer hours? Is the employee inflating their salary by 25% by counting it against 32 hours per week instead of 40 hours per week? (Not a benefit now, but could be useful moving to next job.)
    I have trouble coming up with a reason for this arrangement that does not involve some level of shady number reporting and it could potential involve hiding money and padding numbers reported to grantors and donors.

    1. Nonprofit director*

      Could be the employee was hired for a 32 hour job but really wanted to take on some extra duties (nonprofit passion), but they couldn’t offer any additional salary, so they said fine, if you want to do it voluntarily.

      Not a good plan, but possibly well intentioned.

    2. OP #5*

      I’m having a hard time understanding it myself. None of your suggestions are the case. The only thing I can think of is that the day I was told Fergus is “volunteering” tends to be a busy day, so he’s definitely needed there, so it would make sense if he decided to come in anyway and call it “volunteer time.” But as I said below, it turns out he’s actually scheduled on that day anyway. So the whole thing may be mostly a misunderstanding.

      1. Zillah*

        Maybe they meant he volunteers to do something different than usual that day? Like, he’s still on the clock, he just volunteered to be the one to do a less desirable task?

        1. OP #5*

          According to the friend, Fergus was told to do something different during his “volunteer time,” but I do not believe it’s different enough to actually be considered a completely different task.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            It sounds like you need to sit down with the ED and ask questions. Explain having an employee “volunteering” can raise some legal issues and get the situation clarified.

            1. OP #5*

              Ah, well, if we had an ED we probably wouldn’t be in this position. We’re small enough that we only have a board and a handful of employees, and there isn’t one specific person who serves as a liaison between the two groups. But I will follow up with the employees and the board and make sure everyone is aware of what we can and cannot do. Thanks!

  23. Ms. Anne Thrope*

    About 10 years ago someone started at my company with almost the same name. I was constantly getting emails for her. For a while I forwarded them, but then of course people kept doing it. So I started replying w/ something like this:

    “Hi, you’ve reached Matilda Beelzebub instead of Matilda Beyelzebub. This happened because Outlook alphabetizes my name first in the global contact list. [instructions on how to set outlook to look for her name first] Thanks!”

    Most people sent an apology, and apparently fixed their email settings. One guy sent a snarky reply along the lines of ‘I know how to use outlook, thanks’ then of course promptly sent another stray email the next day. Which I deleted. Anyone who got my instrucs and kept emailing me got deleted ever after. Eventually most people figured it out.

    But yeah, some people are careless and some don’t like to be corrected. At this point, now that students have your email, I might deactivate it for a while or get a new address and discard the old one. It’ll never be fixed.

    1. Jennifer M.*

      One of my cousins attended the same university and was a year behind me. His name began with an R but his nickname began with a J (we’re Filipino, I am the rare bird for actually going by my name). So he would introduce himself as J—-, so people would assume his email was jlastname@university.edu, but that was my email address. Finally around his sophomore year he started going by his given name. Which really through off roommates when I would call his room (a loooong looong time ago we didn’t have cell phones and you had landlines in your dorm room) and asked for J—- because that’s what I’ve called him my whole life.

    2. Granite*

      We had this issue with 2 employees with very similar names, and IT was able to add their department to their name in the Outlook directory, which helped immensely. IE:
      Doe, John (Engineering)
      Dae, John (Accounting)

    3. TootsNYC*

      ” [instructions on how to set outlook to look for her name first]”

      Where can I find this?

  24. Nonprofit director*

    #5 Be sure to divide the salary by the number of hours actually worked, including “volunteer hours,” to make sure you do not fall below minimum wage.

    What you have is a salaried employee making a salary that was probably determined based on X hours of work and they are working more than that number of hours. While that seems okay, what is “hinky” is that some of that work is being called volunteer work. Presumably this means the employee can quit doing that part at any time without a change in salary? And because the employee is also nonexempt, if he should go over 40 hours, there would be overtime due? How closely is that tracked, given some hours are voluntary?

    Maybe not illegal, but definitely hinky. It could lead to issues in the future if this employee ever claims he was compelled to volunteer.

    1. OP #5*

      Presumably this means the employee can quit doing that part at any time without a change in salary?

      Yes. If it turned out one of the days he works every week is a day he’s not actually on the schedule, then yes, he’d be able to drop that day and still received the same pay.

  25. OP #5*

    However, the case you described, what exactly does it mean that he’s volunteering on one of his scheduled work days?

    When I asked the question, it meant that Fergus is at the worksite Monday through Friday, and I always thought that was his official schedule. Then his friend told me he’s not actually scheduled to work on Wednesdays, but he comes in anyway as a “volunteer.” Because of the hours the business is open, it *would* be mathematically possible for Fergus to work his “official” four days and a “volunteer” fifth day and still stay under 40 hours for the week. We consider him full-time at ~32 hours/week.

    Since I sent my question in, I’ve been able to check his job description and see that he actually is supposed to work Monday through Friday, including Wednesday. So it’s possible that the friend was referring to Fergus’s frequent Saturday work, when the worksite is closed to the public but he often goes in to catch up (however, the comment about the board president advising him to do “different” work makes this seem unlikely to me). It’s also possible that Fergus mistakenly *thinks* he’s not scheduled to work on Wednesdays, for various reasons.

    Either way, I understand that Fergus, being non-exempt, is not able to work more than 40 hours a week with some of those hours being called “volunteer” hours unless the volunteer work is significantly different from the paid work. The thing concerns me is the comment that he was told to do *different* work from his paid position, since I don’t know what difference that would make unless his extra work put him over 40 hours, and it makes me question my assumption that he’s safely within that limit.

    1. Kate M*

      Wait, so he goes in on Saturdays to work too? Even if it’s just to catch up on work and the site isn’t open to the public, I still think that would have to be paid as overtime if that made him go over 40 hours. Is that right, Alison? If he’s working Monday through Saturday some weeks, even if Wednesday is considered “volunteer” by him (if it doesn’t meet the actual requirements of being a volunteer), it seems like he should be getting paid overtime, if I’m reading this correctly.

      1. OP #5*

        Yes, that’s what bothers me about it. If he’s going over 40 hours a week by coming in on Saturdays, I assume we need to pay him overtime. The thing is, no one is *asking* him to work on Saturdays. I think he just decides to come in because it gives him chance to do uninterrupted work since the site is closed to the public on those days. So it would be inappropriate for him to decide to work extra hours and then request overtime, right? (This is a rhetorical question. He is not doing that.) Because now I wonder if that’s how this situation started – if he told the previous president he wanted to come in on Saturdays and not get paid, and was told that he’d need to do something “different” from his regular duties.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          No, you need to pay him overtime for those hours. Overtime isn’t just required when you ask the employee to work. You have to pay it when you “suffer the employee to work” — when you allow it. You can tell him to stop doing that, but you need to pay him overtime for any hours he’s putting in.

        2. Kate M*

          But nobody has to “ask” him to come in on Saturdays to work. If he’s working over 40 hours, no matter if he was asked or not, you still have to pay him overtime. You can explicitly tell him NOT to work overtime, and discipline/fire him if he doesn’t adhere to that, but if he works overtime at all he must be paid for it. If he doesn’t have enough time to get work done in the week and the hours that he’s scheduled, then maybe you need to take another look at his workload.

          It’s possible that it could be legal if he is actually “volunteering” on Wednesdays, but from your description, it doesn’t sound like it.

          1. TootsNYC*

            ” If he doesn’t have enough time to get work done in the week and the hours that he’s scheduled, then maybe you need to take another look at his workload.”

            Or, maybe you need to take another look at how he’s managing that workload.

        3. TootsNYC*

          It would be inappropriate for him to decide to work extra hours without management approval. Period.

          Because he’s creating a liability for you. Either you must pay him overtime (which you may not want to do), or if he doesn’t make you aware, and he doesn’t get paid, he puts you at risk of a legal violation, fees, fines, interest, etc.

          A lot of people don’t realize the risks the employer runs here.

          I had a freelancer offer to come in for free, and I had to tell her (thanks to AAM, I know this now) that not only was it not necessary (I wouldn’t have done it at all ever), but that it would be illegal for me to accept it and would open the company up to legal troubles.

          1. Kate M*

            But he might not think he is working extra hours if he’s thinking of his Wednesday shift as “volunteering.” If he had been told by a boss before that this arrangement is ok, then he isn’t deciding for himself, he’s following what management told him. The organization is creating their own liability, not the employee. If they told the employee what he was doing is ok, even if they didn’t realize it wasn’t, then they still owe him overtime and they were the ones in the wrong, even if unintentionally.

            Once they figure out whether he can actually volunteer or not (my guess is no), and then they tell him not to work any extra overtime, then yes, it would not be ok for him to decide to do it. But right now he’s just following what has been in place before.

            Options they might have:
            -Tell him he as to work M-F and no more coming in on Saturdays (or even working from home).
            -Let him work M,T,Th,F,S so that he can have some quiet time on Saturdays to catch up on some things.
            -Look at his workload – if he’s not getting things done in a timely manner, express that he needs to work on that. If he has too much work to feasibly get done when the site is open, adjust the workload.
            -Let him work however much he needs to and pay overtime when he works more than 40 hours.

            All of these could be options.

          2. Sue Wilson*

            Well, no, if the freelancer is a contractor (1099), which is what “freelancer” would mean to me, none of the FLSA applies. It only applies to employees.

    2. BethRA*

      He’s coming in on Saturdays, too? To “catch up”?

      I think this may all be well-intentioned, but I don’t know that it’s legal, and I think someone on the Board or in the organization needs to do some serious research at the very least.

    3. Over Development*

      Hinky is a good word for it. I’m probably a little jaded because I work in a city that’s *notoriois for under paying non-profit folks, and you see this a lot.

      30 hr/week Development Director position where the person is expected to “volunteer” the extra 10 hours, which usually equates to 15-20. And they try to couch it in the fact that the volunteer part is event management or something that still really is too close to their job duties.

      1. BethRA*

        Wicked hinky. We don’t let anyone in our Development department volunteer at fundraising events, even when their rolas have had nothing to do with events.

        Crazy what people believe is or isn’t legal.

  26. Accountant*

    With #1… is morale a problem in general?

    I ask because when I was in a work situation where morale was so awful that most employees were basically at “b*tch eating crackers” level with everything that management did, a small token gift at the end of busy season enraged everyone. In my current work situation, where people generally feel appreciated, a small token gift at the end of busy season is a nice happy surprise.

    1. Meg Murry*

      I wondered this as well. Or whether the 2 hours of overtime were additional overtime and the employees were already working 9, 10 or 12 hour days and were at that “no extra money is worth my sanity at this point”. Or if the 2 hours were actually 2 hours, or it was “officially” 2 hours but often turned into more than that (for instance, working through lunch, staying later than those 2 hours).

      The gift cards were a very nice gesture, but I think their ROI on the time OP spent getting them may not have paid off. Or, as others have mentioned, maybe they did for 90% of the employees and OP is just hearing about the grumblers who grumble about everything.

  27. Cass*

    Did anyone else notice the gender shift in #3? (Maybe I’m reading wrong but seems like OP used “he” then “she” to describe the bully later.)

    1. Aunt Vixen*

      I got that the bully was a dude, and the jealous co-worker who doesn’t want OP to come back is a lady.

  28. Aunt Vixen*

    OP#4, I feel your pain. When I was in grad school, someone with my first name in the university health care system got married to someone with (and changed her last name to) my last name. Her e-mail address did not change. Her co-workers could not be made to understand this. Their thought process seemed to be “Aunt Doe got married and changed her name, right? Her name is Vixen now. I shall look up ‘Aunt Vixen’ in the university directory.” The results they got would be these:

    Aunt Vixen, graduate arts and sciences (me)
    Cousin Vixen, some other department (a random)
    Aunt Hen, some other department (a random)
    Aunt Vixen, medical center (their colleague)

    Because I was first on the list, they sent her e-mails to me. Snow calling trees, all-hands meetings, all kinds of stuff I didn’t care about. I spent a lot of time replying that they’d found me in error, forwarding messages to her and asking for her help convincing them that her e-mail hadn’t changed, and begging them to put sticky notes on their screens or something because one of these times they were going to e-mail me something time sensitive or (worse) confidential and I really didn’t want to be up in their patients’ business. The other Aunt Vixen was obviously totally sympathetic and at one point even said “Guys! Leave the grad student alone!” Her co-workers were very apologetic and kept. doing. it. For years. Possibly what I should have done was killfiled the lot of them. Maybe then they’d have learned.

    The last time I checked that e-mail before it dried up (this not being one of those e-mail-for-life arrangements), I had graduated and left the place at least a year earlier and there were messages in there from this poor woman’s co-workers. This was more than ten years ago, so hopefully I’ve vanished from the directory or she’s got a different crop of colleagues or a different job and there aren’t random medical staffers going “Yo, Aunt Vixen, why does my e-mail to you keep bouncing?” God.

    tl;dr Take all the advice right now and get this thing nipped in the bud. Walk them through removing your personal e-mail from their contact list, set up an auto-response, and don’t respond to mistakes. It’s the only way to train them that this is not a trivial issue. Good luck!

  29. The Other Dawn*

    RE: #1

    If I were an employee at OP’s company, I’d be thrilled just to get the overtime pay. Maybe a PTO day would be nice, and a company-paid meal so I don’t have to go home and cook after working 10 hours, but beyond that? I wouldn’t expect anything else. These employees sound incredibly ungrateful.

    If I were the OP, I’d ditch the gift cards next time, as well as much of what they provided. Keep the overtime pay, give them a PTO day or two, and give them dinner. I think that’s way more than enough.

    And I agree with what Accountant said above: this may be a morale problem. We had a big morale problem in a company I used to work for, and no matter what Management did, it wasn’t appreciated. Employees wanted more more more. I worked on the employee side and then, later, the management side, and I can honestly say the morale issue came from a couple of unhappy employees that just spread as much poison as they could and got others to jump on their bandwagon. When I was working in the trenches with them, it was exhausting to have to deal with. I just minded my own business and made sure I didn’t participate in it. I also corrected misconceptions when I could. Did the management occasionally make a misstep? Yes. But nothing that would warrant this level of vitriol.

    1. Artemesia*

      I think managers underestimate the damage one or two people like this can do. I had a terrible employee (she was well qualified and did a terrific job that she was hired to do, but assiduously undermined the team with the wider organization and was a negative tornado of doom) who sought out weak employees who were getting disciplined or who were not being highly rewarded and amped them up about how they were being discriminated against and how unfair it was, so she had minions. The weak employees were not being mistreated but their unhappiness fueled by her meddling created some real morale problems. Happy was the day she didn’t get the promotion she expected and left. I think it may have been when she came to me to ask why I didn’t promote her to the position in question and I said that we had not considered her for the position.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        I remember when I was a teller manager (banking) and I was doing extra projects to help management (we were a new bank). Every time I visited one particular branch, which was three days a week, the tellers would go on and on about how they’re “working me like a dog,” don’t appreciate me, I’m “doing something for nothing.” and so on. I finally said, “I’m happy doing what I’m doing. I’m helping the bank, I’m learning tons, and I feel I’m compensated appropriately. And it’s in my job description. It’s called ‘other duties as assigned’.” I didn’t hear anything after that. Lo and behold, none of them ever moved beyond being a teller, and I was promoted to manage the Operations department.

  30. Sadsack*

    #2 – I am concerned that you blame a “jealous coworker” for your old company finding out that you used to work there and about your termination. I think this is something they would have found out eventually anyway through normal channels. Actually, this is probably something you should have addressed early on with your interviewers. You might have explained what happened and what you learned about how you should have handled it since being terminated.

    1. Kaz*

      There is no way that OP2 can get hired in this situation, even if she is upfront about the reason she was fired. Being upfront about the reason she was fired would also sound ridiculous: “Hello Mr/Mrs Manager, I was fired for pushing a colleague however, I have learned my lesson, please hire me again even though the colleague that I pushed still works here.”

      1. Sadsack*

        I agree, I wouldn’t expect her to be rehired. But going in expecting that they wouldn’t have figured out who she is if not for the “jealous coworker” tipping them off is what is ridiculous. Being upfront was really the only chance she had and the responsible, mature thing to do.

    2. TootsNYC*

      They only need to look in your HR file. Which is what they’re probably doing if a prospective employer calls to check references or employment.

      1. Sadsack*

        Right, I think blaming the jealous co-worker is really a cop-out and shows she really hasn’t learned any lesson about what she did to get fired.

  31. Persephone Mulberry*

    #1 count me in the camp that thinks the differing amounts are the culprit. Particularly when the range is smallish, the grumbling much actually be “what did Jane do to get $125 while I only got $100?”

    I also think there’s a tipping point where cash becomes more desirable as a reward than a gift certificate. That tipping point depends on where the gift card is for, but for the sake of this discussion I think once you hit $100, cash is always the answer.

    1. Sad Kitty*

      I was guessing the gift cards were: mastercard/visa/amex gift cards to be used like cash.

  32. LQ*

    #4 Stop responding from your personal account and only ever respond from your work account. It sounds like you are responding from your personal account and only CCing your work account. Absolutely stop that, switch to 100% response and correspondence from your work account for work things.

  33. Lou*

    Wow, I’m seeing a lot of comments discussing how they put in 10-12 hours a day and would be thankful to receive any overtime in response to OP1 . I am assuming most of these comments are coming from people living in the U.S. (please do correct me if I’m wrong), and I have to say it’s a sad state of affairs when employees are described as spoiled for receiving what to me seems like fair (not anything extravagant) compensation. Companies have really pulled a fast one on everybody. Let’s give most of our waking hours to increase their bottom line and be thankful for bread crumbs in return! (You know, compared to the loaf that executives receive for their “highly sought after” skills or whatever.)

      1. LiveAndLetDie*

        I’m starting to think we ought to put a kibosh on “discussing the differences between the way American and non-American companies do things” altogether. It often devolves into an “America is terrible” party.

        1. Petronella*

          Right? It’s predicable and boring. How many times must we read the same pearl-clutching comments from non-American readers. I’m in a different country myself, and I still have some awareness of how things are in the U.S. and do not need it explained to me every time.

          1. Lou*

            I live in the U.S. and I’ve only just begun visiting this website pretty recently. Sorry that critical commentary of labor relations makes you feel uncomfortable – I’m not sorry.

            1. Lou*

              I mean, it’s kinda funny that three of you don’t want this particular topic to be discussed…yet here you are, some of the very few people responding to me. Might I suggest that you just not engage?

            2. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Lou, I think the issue is that criticism of U.S. labor policies comes up a lot here, and it can feel exhausting to hear it day after day, when it’s not a useful or constructive contribution to the letter-writers’s questions. As a newer reader, it makes sense that you don’t have that context.

    1. Judy*

      Well, I wouldn’t call it spoiled, but certainly triple time for 30 hours plus an extra 2 weeks of vacation, plus food brought in does seem pretty extravagant.

    2. MK*

      I live in a labor-friendly country and I would consider this way more than fair compensation. Yes, the overtime pay should be par for the course and the free food is a nice gesture, but nothing deserving of gratitude (biased here, I am not a fan of compensating labor with perks that people may or may not want and need). But 2 weeks PTO extra for what amounts to less than 1 week of extra work is very generous.

      1. Lou*

        Thanks for your input! The two weeks of PTO didn’t really register with me, because my organization offers plenty of PTO, but seldom any opportunity to use it. Plus we have rollover limits. I lost quite a bit of time last year and I’m looking to lose more this year, unless I quit my job and cash it out. This might be a special case, but I know quite a few people in other companies/industries who have the same problem.

        By the way, does anyone know of a tactful way to ask if there are any caps on how much vacation time can be cashed out by a resigning employee? It’s not spelled out anywhere in our handbook.

        1. CM*

          I would ask HR if they have a policy about unused vacation time and when it gets lost or can be cashed out, without specifically mentioning resignation.

        2. LD*

          It could also be by law according to your location. Some state labor departments have legislated whether or not vacation/PTO/sick leave that is accumulated must be paid.

    3. LBK*

      I am from the US but have a great company (which are a lot more plentiful here than the letters and comments may lead you to believe). I have good benefits, plenty of PTO, extreme schedule flexibility and rarely have to work OT (and if I do, it’s balanced by working shorter days other times). I think this level of compensation is bananas.

      I also find it pretty amusing that you’re lamenting how sad it is that Americans work so much and then in the same breath say your company never lets you use your PTO; perhaps things aren’t as rosy in the rest of the world either.

      1. MK*

        I don’t think anyone claims it’s rosy in the rest of the world, but the existence of legal protection is important, even if it isn’t uniformly enforced.

  34. White Mage*

    #4 – I don’t think I saw this suggestion, but I’m assuming no one needs your personal email address anymore. If they go into their Contacts and delete that email from that will that stop your name from auto populating?

  35. Roscoe*

    #1 I understand how it feels to you, but I’d consider it all here. My job has gone through MASSIVE changes in the last 3 months. I’m lucky in that my review was in that time period and got a very nice raise. A lot more than would be expected with no change in title or responsibility. However, it doesn’t make the things I’m going through suck any less. So even though the raise has placated me to management, I may still bitch about things with my co-workers. They aren’t complaining to YOU, they are commiserating with each other. It sucks that it got back to you, but sometimes when there are massive changes like that, people like to get together and talk about it. I wouldn’t look at it as complaining about your reward, which was kind of you. I’d see it more as complaining about the situation, and them just commenting about the reward on top of it.

    1. AW*

      So even though the raise has placated me to management, I may still bitch about things with my co-workers. They aren’t complaining to YOU, they are commiserating with each other.

      This is an excellent point and ties in with the suggestion early in the comments that some general complaint about the situation got misheard/twisted to be a complaint about the gift cards specifically. For example, “The gift card doesn’t make up for missing X” could be a thing that was overheard and someone decided that meant the gift card wasn’t enough instead of them just being upset at missing a concert/party/whatever.

  36. Ghost Town*

    #4 – this happened to me, to a lesser extent. I also work for a university and used my gmail for the application/interview process. After a while it died down as my work email became Outlook’s default for my name in my co-workers’ respective emails.

    Since I do have my gmail open at work, I would either forward it to my work email and respond from there, with a note that the message had been sent to my personal email, or respond from gmail with a similar note and cc my work address. The former is really the best option b/c it gets your work email directly into the conversation, even if it is a bit more work for you at the outset.

    I know it can feel like you are beating a dead horse, but just being consistent will go a long way. Good luck!

  37. super anon*

    no 4 – you need to get this cleared up asap, especially because students are now emailing your personal address. i’m in canada so it may be different in the states, but at my institution i have to sign a confidentiality agreement wrt accessing student data. students cannot email my personal address, because student information cannot be held on servers that are outside of canada, and gmail/hotmail/etc all host info on american servers. in addition, my personal email doesn’t have the same level of security that my work email does. my university found out students had sent me correspondence to my personal email i could get fired, even though i did nothing wrong (although it’s very unlikely to happen. it would be more egregious if i answered the emails from my personal account & asked for identifying information like student numbers).

    finally, by having any work emails sent to your personal email you are opening your personal email up to the potential for an FOI request in the future, which can be a huge pain in the ass and raise questions as to why a personal address was being used for work business.

    i would recommend doing this: when students email you from your personal address, forward the email to your mail account and reply from there, indicating that they should be contacting you at your work address. and then definitely go talk to the people in your office who are emailing/giving out your personal address and talk to them. if it’s a case of autofilling in outlook, the autofills can be easily deleted.

  38. boop*

    What’s happening in #2? If you replace “coworker” with “classmate” it sounds like it was written by a 2nd grader. Adults throwing shoes? Huh? Why do you refer to some random former coworker you don’t like as “jealous”? Who does this?

  39. Sign me up for Triple Pay!*

    OP #1
    Weed out the complainers. You don’t need that poison. Triple pay, every meal covered for a paltry 2 hours extra per day? AND 2 weeks of PTO. I get nothing for working extra as do many others. By the comments above, that is so above and beyond, the gift cards were unnecessary. If anyone felt shorted given that package- nothing will be good enough for that person(s).

    1. Caroline*

      Just because you get nothing for working extra doesn’t mean that an extra two hours per day is paltry. For many that would be a significant challenge. Especially if these are roles which never ordinarily require it, and so employees have sought out and accepted these jobs on that basis. Childcare and other non-work commitments can easily be hamstrung by an extra two hours per day if you’re not set up for that. I’d certainly think long and hard about whether I wanted to do an extra two hours every day even for triple pay and catered meals, and I’m not terribly well paid to begin with, but I love my life outside of work and wouldn’t necessarily want to lose that extra time no matter what was offered in return.

  40. MayravB*

    I agree with Alison’s advice for #3! Don’t feel you should hold yourself back to preserve someone else’s feelings. I’ll take a leaf from Captain Awkward’s book and say that you aren’t moving into an office AT her, and you’re not getting promoted AT her; you’re doing it for yourself and for your career and future. You can’t really control how your coworker feels. If she’s a bit upset but gets over it, then all’s well! She’s an adult and can handle disappointment. But if she get jealous and mean, then she isn’t worth the consideration you’re putting in now.

    1. Artemesia*

      This. A mistake that women tend to make is to prioritize relationships over their own career interests. Of course you take the promotion and the office; better than choosing the loser track in your field. Never make a career decision based on a co-worker relationship and never make a career decision that is beneficial to the business that damages your own career. Businesses do not return the favor.

    2. TootsNYC*

      This was what really struck me from Alison’s reply:

      “If she was worrying about you as much as you are worrying about her….”

      Assume that she’s a decent human being. And take the office.

      If she gets pissy about it, you will know that she’s NOT a decent human being, and you can stop worrying her anymore.
      I think it’s interesting that you are worried about her feelings on this, and I think it means she’s not as decent a human being as she should be–for all that you “love her to death.”

    3. Sad Kitty*

      Not to mention – co-worker had to option to move into an office too! Promotion aside, this option was given to them both.

      TAKE THE OFFICE #3!!

      I think co-worker might end up taking the other open office once you make your move too. It’s not about her anyway. Do not feel guilty for making career moves and wanting a more comfortable work environment. You two can still be friendly/cordial/have a great working relationship.

  41. Joseph Lalonde*

    To the first question: Wow, I cannot believe that there would be complaining over gift cards ranging in the $100-200 range. Most of our team would be ecstatic to see that kind of appreciation on top of what else you did. Way to go on going above and beyond! Sorry to hear it wasn’t reciprocated.

  42. newlyhr*

    #1 While I appreciate the generosity of the OP’s company, there is something that is a little weird for me about the entire scenario. If somebody started throwing that much additional compensation at me–an amount that seems far in excess of typical practice–I would feel like something wasn’t quite right—where is the money for all this coming from? If they can afford to pay me like this now, why aren’t they paying me like this all the time? Are we overcharging the client or is there something in what I am doing that might be a little shady? That kind of extravagance, whether with money, compliments, apologies, or something else, comes across as a little too…………something strange. Not to mention it sets up an expectation that this is how it will be going forward. it becomes the “new normal” and people don’t recognize how unusual it really is. Just my own opinion.

    That said, these employees are outrageously obnoxious if they are complaining. Send them to my office—after 5 years of a lot of work they will get a coffee mug.

  43. BadPlanning*

    On OP#3 — You don’t mention whether your coworker is looking for a promotion. She may be neutral or in fact happy that you got this promotion.

  44. HRish Dude*

    #2 – You tried to sneak in without them knowing that you had been terminated, that’s not the fault of any “jealous coworker”. I would take Alison’s advice – this ship has sailed – and move on.

  45. Sad Kitty*

    #1 – Are the complainers complaining because some got $200 or $150 and they “only” got $100. smh

    I should note, I am amazed that there is any complaining whatsoever, the more than normal OT pay + 2 week PAID TIME OFF on top of that (not to mention free food/yummy drinks) is amazing and not standard… but to push for an additional reward to thanks them on top of all of that is just extremely generous and I’m sad that there are any complainers at all, even if it’s just one. Sheesh.

    Definitely would strongly reconsider ever doing it again.

    I wonder if you should say something to your team as a whole about the attitude surrounding this?

    1. Sad Kitty*

      Reading through the comments, I’m actually going to amend this and remove my “smh” at the end of the first line.

      Because the gift cards (while completely generous and above and beyond and a wonderful gesture I would grateful to receive on top of everything else!) were a THANK YOU GIFT and not a bonus, I do think, if this what people are upset about, that the varying amounts is what the problem could be!

      It unfortunately could be demoralizing to know co-worker got $200 and I only got $100 and I began to wonder am I under-valued? Am I not pulling my weight? Does my manager not like me as much etc?

      I don’t think you did a bad thing, but I think that the value of a THANK YOU GIFT should have been flat even for everyone (since people with more responsibility are usually already paid more, then they were already compensated MORE with the OT pay/PTO)

  46. moodygirl86*

    OP1 – I agree with the theory that this is just one or two people complaining. Like Zillah, I find it hard to believe that the majority of your staff don’t appreciate how generous you were. Unfortunately, a small number of shit stirrers can and do ruin it for everyone. I speak from bitter experience. Don’t let a rude, selfish few put you off being the great boss you are! I wish you worked at my place. :)

  47. Sad Kitty*

    #2 – Let this one go.

    My advice is to really focus on the tips here Alison has gone over regarding writing stronger cover letters, revamping your resume, how to interview etc (check out of free book and the book for purchase if you can, lots of great tips – and search the archives!)

    Focus on making your package stronger and keep looking for something new!! I know its hard having a new baby and having trouble finding work – and I wish you well. But hanging onto the hope of THIS being the job you can come back to, is going to be counter-productive for you. Let it go. Move on. Forget about it.

    Keep looking. You’re going to find something else.. and I hope it’s a good fit and a good environment for you and everyone there.

    Besides, whether or not the co-worker there is jealous of you for real, or if that is just your characterization of them, do you really want to work with someone who you feel that way about/feels that way about you? Sounds like a recipe for disaster all over again imo. Just forget this job exists. Don’t let it take any more of your energy or thoughts.

    You have friend(s) still working there, ask them not to push you to come back anymore or to discuss it with you as you’d like to move on and find the best thing for you and that place isnt it. No need to have a negative feeling about it, just take what you learned from the experience, and move on!

    Best wishes.

  48. Josh S*

    Op1: I’m Late to the game, so this may not count for much.

    Your employees worked an extra 30 hours (over 3 weeks).
    For this, they were paid for 90 hours of work, and given 80 additional hours of Paid Time Off. They effectively got a 5.6x multiplier on their work for those hours.

    Not to mention catered meals and smoothie bars?!?

    This is AMAZING compensation.

    On top of this, you gave them each another $1-200 gift card? That’s frosting on the cake.

    Their response to this is to complain?
    I. Don’t. Even. They don’t deserve extra gift.

  49. Ashley*

    OP1: Ummm…you had me at fresh smoothies. Seriously what you did for them was way WAY over the top and if they’re ungrateful then you should definitely not be doing anything extra in the future.

Comments are closed.