coworkers think I left a bad Glassdoor review, negative feedback in an open office, and more

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

1. My coworkers think I left a bad Glassdoor review, but I didn’t

I work at gossipy, small, family-owned, white collar business. We have about 40 employees, many of whom have been here for decades. I have been with the company for about a year and a half in an entry-level position (this is my first job out of college). I recently put in my two weeks’ notice as I got a job elsewhere with a higher title and salary. A few days after I put in my notice, a negative Glassdoor review appeared online for my current company. It complains about every aspect of the company, from the dress code to the technology to the culture to the people.

This is the only Glassdoor review for this company, and so everyone in the office noticed immediately and are trying to figure out who could have posted it. I am the only employee who has quit in the last six months, and the job title and length of time employed that the Glassdoor review listed matches my qualifications exactly. So of course, people assume I wrote it.

While I agree with pretty much everything the review mentioned, I’m not an idiot! I’m not going to trash the place I still need to work at for the next week and a half. Furthermore, I really do want to leave on good terms. Since I’ll be in the same field in my new job, I don’t want this Glassdoor review to sour my relationship with my current coworkers.

No one has accused me directly of leaving the review, but whenever it’s brought up and I’m around people shush each other or talk quieter, and another employee told me flat out his supervisors think I wrote it. How can I clear my name (convincingly) without sounding like I’m guilty/paranoid since no one’s asking me about it directly?

Talk to your gossipiest coworkers and say this: “I’ve heard people talking about that Glassdoor review, and I think some people might think it’s me. It’s not. I’d never leave a review like that. I want to leave here on good terms. If you hear people talking about it, can you make sure they know it’s not me?”

Also, talk to your manager and address it head-on: “This is awkward to bring up, but I’ve heard a bunch of gossip this week that someone left a negative review of the company on Glassdoor. Since I’m leaving, I’m worried that you might wonder if it was me — so I wanted to tell you directly that it’s not! I’ve really valued my time here and I hope to stay on great terms with you and with the company. I’d never leave a review like that.”

2. Giving negative feedback in an open office

I work in an large open plan office. The open plan model is not entirely bad given the semi-collaborative nature of what we do, but I’m struggling with its implications for giving and receiving feedback. Our manager regularly walks around the office giving people feedback on their work. As we can’t use headphones, I’ve often overheard critical feedback of others work that wasn’t my business to know. Recently I had to let my manager know that I might have made a mistake that I wasn’t sure how to fix. As the manager’s desk is part of the open plan set-up, a bunch of people heard this conversation. Some of them asked me about it later, which was awkward.

Do you have any advice on how to deal more discreetly with the manager or other staff when there’s negative or sensitive information to be communicated? Email is not an option because management believes it’s most efficient to have most of the several dozen-person department share one email account.

Well, that bit at the end says something pretty significant about your management’s thinking around privacy and discretion (it says that they are loons).

Ideally, the way this should work is that people have regular one-on-one meeting with their manager, and those meetings take place in a conference room or another private area. (It’s pretty essential that managers have private work space because the nature of the job means having lots of conversations that shouldn’t be overheard, but if that’s not happening, then they at least should be making regular use of conference rooms.) Giving out feedback by walking around can work when something is minor; it’s not a good way to do it for bigger-picture items, more complicated development conversations, or feedback that’s critical.

While it doesn’t sound like that how your managers operate, it’s possible that you could move them more in that direction by asking for a standing weekly or biweekly meeting to check in on projects and get input and feedback, and then suggesting you do those meetings in a private space.

3. Replacing an employee who’s overpaid

I would like to replace an employee who is overpaid for her position. I inherited this employee from a former manager who hired her two years ago. Our business revenue has declined dramatically in the past 12 months, and I know I could hire someone to do the same job for about $10,000 less per year and $12,000 less insurance per year. Saving $20,000 more or less would really help towards our budget.

Should I ask her if she would be willing to take this much less in order to keep her job or just go ahead and let her go for financial reasons? If she chooses to keep her job, she will no doubt look for another job and be very unhappy about this change and could possibly sabotage her computer because she is in charge of billing and accounts receivable. (I don’t have any particular reason to suspect she would do that; I’m just worrying that a disgruntled employee with this type of job might mess things up. Just my paranoia.) However, I feel guilty about letting her go just because she is overpaid and we need the money. Can you help me decide what to do that is best for her and best for us?

If you’re sure that you can hire someone good enough for what you need for much less money (which is something you should research carefully before taking any action), and you’re committed to lowering the salary of the position, the best thing to do is be up-front with her about the situation. You could offer her two options to choose from: (1) staying in the job with the lower salary, and acknowledging that you know this would be a blow and you understand completely if that makes no sense for her, or (2) transitioning out of the job with X months’ severance pay at her current salary. This gives her some control over the situation rather than you deciding for her and is more likely to leaving her feeling like she was treated reasonably well, despite the circumstances. (And offering severance makes it easier for her to choose the second option if she really doesn’t want the first.)

If you know her to be responsible and trustworthy, I wouldn’t worry about sabotage; that’s not a common response to this type of situation, especially when people feel they’ve been treated with respect and dignity. If you did have some specific worry about her in particular, then I wouldn’t recommend the first option, but it doesn’t sound like that’s the case.

For what it’s worth, though, there might be a bigger picture question here for you: Saving $20,000 is about $1,666 a month. If that’s going to make a major difference in your budget, you probably need to be looking at bigger cuts in other areas too.

4. My coworker falls asleep at his desk

I work at a software development group and one of my colleagues occasionally falls asleep at his desk. He’ll be asleep anywhere from five minutes to 20 minutes. We work at cubicles in an open-ish concept office, so it’s not like he can hide behind an office door. It doesn’t happen every day, but it’s happened at least five times over the past two months and I’m concerned that someone (our manager) will come by and see him. Other people work in our section and must also see that he’s sleeping.

Is the best approach to pretend like it’s not happening? I’ve always ignored it. I have no authority over him and it’s not my place to call him out. However, is there a better response when I see he’s sleeping at work? (Aside from “accidentally” creating a loud noise to wake him.) It’s getting increasingly weird to work near someone who is sleeping.

For some background, he’s slightly senior to me, but I don’t report to him. I just don’t want to see him get in trouble for something entirely avoidable. We have a meditation/quiet room at work, so if he really did need to sleep there’s a place he could go.

If he’s falling asleep that often, he probably has some idea that it’s happening. I don’t think you need to alert him or wake him each time it happens. If you were senior to him, you’d have an obligation to say something to his boss. If he were a peer, I’d suggest you first talk to him (“I noticed you’ve been falling asleep at your desk — is everything okay?”). But given that he’s senior to you, yeah, I’d go on ignoring it. (The other option would be to say something to your boss — “hey, I’ve noticed Fergus falling asleep at his desk a lot and I’m worried about whether he’s okay” — but it sounds like you specifically want to avoid that.)

5. If I think I’m being fired, should I just stop going in?

I have not been working very long. When I started, training was very foggy. I had the training pay rate, which was minimum wage. Well, I had no idea for the longest time if I was off training, so I asked after two months. I was told I had to do training in another location, so I did. I completed my training and went back to my old location. About three months later, the manager said to me very indirectly that she was putting me on probation and she had to take me off training because she could not keep on training forever. That was all she said, with no feedback on what I could improve on. Well, that was two months ago and now I see that she took me off the schedule as of November 4th, but I am still working opening and closings until then. She has said nothing; she just took me off the schedule, no feedback, no being direct, and everything all over the place.

I do not feel like going in to work tomorrow. Should I write her an email saying that if I am terminated, it makes no sense to still go in? Or should I just go in and complete my work? I have felt disrespected here and that this has been handled very unprofessionally. Is this the way most companies work? I am still new to the workforce, as I have been off raising kids for a while. This is my first job back in and I wonder if this is the way things are and have changed since I have last been in the workforce.

It’s not how professional jobs typically work, but it’s definitely true that some retail and food service jobs will just take people off the schedule rather than having a direct conversation. That might be what’s happening here — or there could be some other reason for it, like a simple mistake.

Emailing your boss to say that it doesn’t make sense to work the rest of the week if she’s firing you is a pretty aggressive move, especially if it turns out that that’s not what she’s doing. Why don’t you just ask her directly? When you see her next at work, say this: “I noticed that I’m not on the schedule after the 4th. Do you still plan on scheduling me?” (And if you won’t see her in the next day, call or email to say that instead.)

{ 346 comments… read them below }

  1. SusanIvanova*

    I really can’t imagine a software team where the occasional nap would be a problem so long as the projects got done on schedule.

    1. all aboard the anon train*

      One of the guys who handled our archives used to take naps all the time in his cube. Before we moved to an open floor plan, we had cubes with sliding doors, but I sat in a cube next to his and could faintly hear him snoring sometimes. It was that sort of thing where everyone knew about it, but no one really cared.

      When we moved to open office, he had a spot facing the wall so you couldn’t see his face and a colleague said he continued to take naps. Not gonna lie, I kind of admire his ability to nap in the middle of an open floor plan.

      1. Greg M.*

        there was someone I remember napping during class and would always have impressions from their backpack on their face.

      2. Drew Penrose*

        Judges have been known to fall asleep during trials. Scholars agree it’s not a sign of great professionalism.

    2. Neeta*

      It probably depends on the frequency and length of his nap, but management might have an issue with it if it’s disruptive to other coworkers.

      At one of the past companies I worked at, there was supposedly someone who took lengthy naps every day, and his snoring was so loud that it could be heard by everyone. Needless to say that he was eventually fired… still, as far as I’m aware, his behavior had been ‘tolerated’ for quite a while.

      1. DuckDuckMøøse*

        Unless it’s disruptive, or there is a health concern, I think peers are better off letting management deal with it.

        We had a guy who had a long commute AND previous health problems, so he would often be dozing in the morning, or in the afternoon before he left for his long commute home. Given his health history, we would keep an eye on him, and only do the “make noise to wake him up” occasionally, to make sure he was only sleeping. It was hard to tell, because sometimes he would be leaning over so much in his chair, you wanted to check for a pulse or put a mirror under his nose to see if he was still breathing. :(

        For a merely obnoxious snorer, we would sometimes “one ring” his phone line or intercom line.

    3. Joseph*

      Yeah, this is one of those situations where you need to look at the big picture – If it isn’t affecting work quality, work products, or other co-workers, then it’s probably best to let it go.
      After all, it’s not like an employee taking 20 minute naps is any less productive than his co-worker who’s reading ESPN, his other co-worker answering personal emails or his third co-worker doing online shopping. The guy taking naps is more readily visible than the other people, but in terms of actual effect to the company, they’re all basically the same thing.

      1. Imaginary Number*

        I totally agree with this. Of course, it all depends on the office culture, but a person dozing off for five minutes in the middle of the day is really no worse than an employee taking a coffee break and chatting with a coworker about their new car. Granted, one looks more professional on the surface, even though in both cases it’s five minutes where the person isn’t actively working.

    4. Sarianna*

      Right? Plus it could easily be something like narcolepsy, and the OP is just the only person who doesn’t know, since nobody else has spoken up. About ten years ago I worked in tech support with a guy who had narcolepsy. Would occasionally walk over to find him asleep under his desk.

    5. Anon, good Nurse, Anon*

      I work with someone who will occasionally fall asleep at work. Turns out he has a health issue causing it and the only way he found out was that it was reported to management multiple times that he had fallen asleep and management sent him to employee health for evaluation.
      If it were me I’d err on the side of either saying something directly to him like “I noticed you seem to take short naps often. I’m concerned about you and wondered if you knew that excessive tiredness can be a sign of more serious health problems.”
      Alternatively you could say something to coworker that he’s close to in the hope that the person would pass it on or know that the issue is known and has been addressed.

      1. Beancounter in Texas*

        This is my thought too. Getting help for a health issue can mean a big improvement in the quality of life.

      2. E*

        I worked with someone who also had health issues causing him to fall asleep at the office. It was reported multiple times, several other employees had witnessed the problem. But management just counseled him on needing to get the issue resolved. I’d recommend that you try waking him gently and asking if he’s ok or if he needs to go take a break in the quiet room. From there, the only options are to ignore or report to management if it affects your work or his.

      3. Loose Seal*

        I had numerous reports about a volunteer I managed saying that he slept in meetings. But it was actually that he had a dry-eye condition and didn’t feel comfortable putting in his eyedrops in front of people so he found it worked better for him to close his eyes when he was just listening (as opposed to watching a presentation or in a different type of meeting). I was surprised at the number of people that felt the need to tell me this though. It did not impact them or their work at all.

    6. Pwyll*

      Unless there were performance issues otherwise, I’m not sure I see a problem with an employee taking a nap less a half hour less than once per week. Every so often I just need to put my head down for a moment (though I have a door that closes) and I don’t really see anything wrong with that.

      A bajillion years ago my grandmother was an accountant. People told me (when I visited) that they couldn’t believe how she could put her head down in her cube and take a nap once per week during lunch at her desk with all the noises and everything, but that’s what she did. And then she’d pop back up, refreshed, and get her job done. So long as it’s a kind of scenario like that, no problem.

      1. PK*

        I spend the last half of many of my lunches napping in my car. It’s a great pick me up for the last half of the day.

        1. sunny-dee*

          Me too, and our offices have wellness rooms that a lot of people use to rest. This is really common for people that had very early or very late conference calls; because of international time zones, a lot of people have meetings at 6am or 10pm a couple of times a week.

          Also, if the guy is in software, I know a lot of engineers that are total night owls. It’s entirely possible that the guy does a fair amount of work from midnight to 3am and just zones out in the afternoon.

        2. Fridaaaaaaaay*

          I may be moving way closer to my work and am SO looking forward to potentially going home for a powernap with my cats at lunch. In the past, I’ve napped in my car at work.

      2. Loose Seal*

        I am so jealous of people who can power-nap! If I go down for a nap, it’s two hours minimum. Frankly, I like to have the whole afternoon free so I don’t have to be immediately vocal after waking up. I’ve been this way all my life — and obviously I can’t get away with full afternoon naps so I don’t take them often — and have tried setting an alarm for 20 minutes but I just get so anxious lying there knowing there’s an alarm that I can’t sleep.

    7. Hiding for this*

      That’s a fireable offense in my company, sleeping on the job (software company). I think it’s really stupid. They are good about letting you work from home or not coming in if you’re sick, etc. or need PTO for some reason, but sometimes shit happens. You could be coming down with something and fall asleep or you could have to come in anyway if you were up all night with a sick family member, house emergency, etc. because you have a client call, or whatever.

      I understand it’s probably to keep people from holing up and taking naps when they’re supposed to be working, but I don’t like that it’s on the things-that-can-result-in-immediate-termination list. That seems really arbitrary to me to just fire someone without trying to find out what’s up. It’s hardly up there with fighting or bringing a weapon in the office.

      1. Annie Moose*

        At OldJob, it was… not really an immediate fireable offense, but an issue that could get you Talked To and potentially lead to firing down the road. I had a friend who worked on a team with a guy who was in the office ridiculously late trying to fix some server problems. Finally got things running at 2 or 3 in the morning, had a meeting so he’d have to be back in the office at 7 or so, and had an hour-long commute… so he decided to just sleep in his cubicle. And got completely chewed out for it.

        I mean, sure, you don’t want to encourage employees to spend the night at work, but come on! The guy had just spent hours and hours in the middle of the night making sure the company kept on running, and you’re going to get mad because he napped for a couple of hours in the office?

        1. Anon456*

          They got mad cause he napped in his cube after staying late and not going home?? That is so ridiculous.

        2. zora*

          ugh, seriously!! So, they would have preferred he drive home, and possibly fall asleep on the highway and kill himself or other drivers?? That sounds much better :::eyeroll:::

        3. The Strand*

          Because the person was in IT, this does not, unfortunately, surprise me. In some organizations, the stereotypes about the “IT guy” allow them to ignore the incredibly hard work some of them do, including in the middle of the night.

    8. LisaD*

      We have a data scientist from China on our development team at my company and he naps at work almost every day. I learned from another friend that in China it’s very common and considered a sign someone is working so hard they’re exhausted–there is no embarrassment and in fact sometimes people fake sleep at work to be perceived as hard-working.

  2. Evil mastermind*

    OP 1 – I might be thinking too much, but I am suspecting some current employee with an axe to grind noticed that you were leaving, thereby giving him or her a great opportunity to post on Glassdoor without being suspected for it. *strokes evil mastermind beard*

    1. Sarah G*

      I had that same thought, since the job title and length of time working there match, and she said it’s a small company. What a crappy, malicious thing to do to someone though!

      1. Marisol*

        yup, my thought too, although I was thinking it could be because the employee had a beef with the OP, rather than the company.

    2. Edith*

      I’ll take it a step further. I suspect the person who wrote the review is the person who started the rumor it was OP. I mean, is everyone at your office following Glass Door so closely that they’d immediately notice the review? Sure, she who smelt it may just have a particularly sensitive nose, but in all likelihood ’twas she who dealt it.

      1. MK*

        I don’t know, all it takes is one person seeing the review and telling one other person to get the whole company rushing to see the glassdoor page.

      2. Mookie*

        A 40-person company and someone not attached to management or the family/owners trawling Glassdoor so frequently that they read it almost immediately after it was posted? As you say, does not pass the sniff test.

        1. seejay*

          I’d say it smells like my cat’s butt.

          Considering he has IBS, he has a particularly nasty smelling butt. Like spawn-of-satan butt.

          That’s what this whole “someone randomly saw this post on Glassdoor just on a lark” smell like to me. Spawn-of-satan-cat-butt.

        2. Required Name*

          To be fair (though I agree that this situation in general smells), you can “follow” employers and get updates when someone posts a new review, as long as you’ve reviewed at least one company. I have that set up with my current employer; I haven’t reviewed them (because I still work there, and my opinion will undoubtedly continue to evolve as time goes on), but I get emails whenever someone posts a new review. There’s not a ton of reason to follow a company with 40 employees and no reviews, but I could see following your current employer regardless.

      3. Chocolate lover*

        You can set your Glass Door account to notify you when new reviews are posted for a company you’re following. I got an email this week about a new review for my employer.

        That aside, the situation still seems suspect to me given how similar the review sounds to OP, even though s/he didn’t write it. Does make me wonder if someone faked it.

        1. Anna*

          If this were a larger company or had more reviews, I think that could explain it. But this is the ONLY review on Glassdoor about this company. Chances are nobody has an alert set up for something they never thought would happen.

          The person who “noticed” it is probably the culprit. And is a pretty shitty human too.

      4. AdAgencyChick*

        I should have read your comment first. My suspicions are “the person who started the rumor is the person who wrote the post” for a different reason, but I think we’re both right!

        I think this person probably saw OP’s departure as an opportunity to let management know what she thinks, in a way that won’t get her fired.

      5. MC*

        Agreed. Someone happy at a company isn’t going to be searching GlassDoor. You look there when you’re looking for other work.

      6. AnonEMoose*

        I had the thought about someone with an axe to grind writing the review, with the idea of pinning it on the OP. But this makes sense, too. If this is the case, it’s a crappy thing to do to someone.

    3. Required Name*

      That was my first thought too, but I feel like it might even go to the point of have an axe to grind with the OP too. Job title and years there don’t seem to be required fields. Looking at my own company’s Glassdoor page, I see everything from just former/current anonymous employee to current/former specific job title, full time/part time, location, length of stay employee. The person who posted the review could have done so entirely anonymously; implicating the OP was unnecessary and damaging to them.

      If there’s at least one other employee with the same job title/length of stay, they could have just made the review in poor judgement (not because it’s a negative review but because it’s one with enough identifying info to severely limit the field). If there’s not, I’d be really wary.

    4. AdAgencyChick*

      That is EXACTLY where my mind went. I bet whoever is most aggressively spreading the rumor that it was OP’s who wrote the post, is the one who wrote it. Especially if that person is trying to show management the Glassdoor post as an argument to change things. (“See? We lost OP because of X, Y, and Z!”)

      1. Anna the Accounting Grad*

        Yup. OP1 just happened to be a convenient departure on whom this could be reasonably pinned. (Not that I completely discount the possibility that whoever posted the review has a personal dislike of OP1. I just think dislike of the company is more plausible.)

    5. Important Moi*

      I believe the person who wrote the negative review is not the OP as well.

      The approach of writing a negative review that lists “the job title and length of time employed” of the OP sounds to rudimentary and unsophisticated, I don’t think OP did it.

      I take everything on the internet with a grain of salt when it comes to reviews or opinions. This place of employ doesn’t seem savvy, no wonder they think OP did it.

    6. TootsNYC*

      my thought exactly. And I agree with Edith, that the person who started the rumors, or found the review, or talks about it the most, has a good chance of being the one who did it.

      So I’d specifically say: “I worry that someone took advantage of the fact that I’m leaving to do their own dirty work by hiding it under my details. First, I would never post a review like that. Second, if I were going to say anything negative, you can be sure I wouldn’t be that stupid! The fact that the person who wrote the review was quick to post it before I actually left says to me that they want to get their jabs in at you while they can still blame it on me. Not very smart of them, actually.”

    7. Tequila Mockingbird*

      Yes, this was my first thought, too! This screams ‘sabotage by one of your gossipy co-workers.’

    8. Loose Seal*

      Yup, my thought too. And this person is probably the one who “discovered” the review and first suggested it was probably you.

      Sadly, the company will spend all its time gossiping about the reviewer and no time discussing whether or not any part of the review had merit.

      1. Happy Cynic*

        OP1 – Congrats! You’re undergoing your first attempt at workplace sabotage. Welcome to the working world, where this *&^& happens more often than any of us would like.

        Follow the advice of the above: “Name and Shame”, i.e. leave your own positive review, point out to others you’ve left that, and call out specifically the fact that this has been done, so that – especially after you leave – the blame and gossip of others can sort itself out.

        You’re lucky – at least the worst of all this will shake out after you have left :)

    9. OP 1*

      OP 1 here – this thought definitely crossed my mind! While I wouldn’t be shocked that a current, unhappy employee wants to write a bad review, I *would* be surprised that they’d throw me under the bus to do so. I don’t have any enemies there and would like to say I’m quite well-liked – but then again, people do all sorts of things with the anonymity of the Internet!

    10. EvilQueenRegina*

      Yes, it did cross my mind that someone could have done it to make it look like it was OP!

      1. Long Time Reader First Time Poster*

        I worked for a horrible agency that often laid people off. The day before one particularly egregious round of layoffs, a ridiculously glowing review appeared on Glassdoor. It was so patently fake — it “read” in exactly the HR person’s voice, and even used on if their pet phrase. It was an obvious plant, in order to mitigate any negative reviews that were fallout from the layoff. So, fake Glassdoor reviews with an agenda behind them are definitely a thing.

  3. Evil mastermind*

    OP 3 – I understand that times are hard, but I cannot help but think that firing somebody just for the purposes of saving some money sends a really bad message to the rest of the employees.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Well, it would be a layoff, not a firing. And if the business is in truly dire straits, it may not be avoidable. It’s not something you’d want to do unless you truly need to.

    2. Daisy*

      He’d certainly have to be prepared for other employees jumping ship when they hear about it. But if he has to do it, he has to do it.

      1. AndersonDarling*

        I was coming to say this. Our company canned someone because they thought they could find someone cheaper. The employee was very well liked and did a great job.
        Our retention rate dropped 20% over the next 6 months. If you fire someone because they become an expert at their job (with a matching salary), then no one’s job is safe. Your best employees will leave to go to a company where they have more job security.

        1. YawningDodo*

          Yep, this. Any time someone in one’s workplace loses their position, the natural tendency is to wonder “if them, why not me?” and to reexamine anything that’s similar in your own situation. It’s not always a rational response, but it’s natural to be rattled by coworkers losing their jobs, possibly to the point of starting a job search of one’s own when one had previously been perfectly happy to stay.

          I think OP3 should have a long, hard think about whether the cost savings would be worth the risk of raising the attrition rate — especially since, as others have pointed out below, the process of giving the employee severance and recruiting a replacement will in itself be costly.

    3. Amber*

      I’m curious how much the company would actually save in the long run due to recruiting costs of hiring the “cheaper person” and the productivity lost due to training that person up.

      1. Jeanne*

        Yes. Offer severance, have no employee for a few months. Costs of hiring, costs of training, probably someone a lot less experienced in the role. It could be a year or two before they see any savings.

        1. MK*

          Being without an employee for months is hardly a given; I suppose it depends how easily the position can be filled.

          1. slidewhistle*

            This happened to me. A voluntary buyout program was offered, they did not meet their percentage, and I was laid off along with mostly senior staff. My tasks were assigned to multiple departments since the work had to continue, including procurement and billing. I received a substantial severance with the signing of a release that I would not sue for age discrimination. I was quickly hired by a another company and have spent most of the year collecting two salaries.

            I am sorry to say but there is no loyalty any more and it will cut both ways.

        2. mazzy*

          I don’t always agree with this because some people are replaceable and you can get hundreds of resumes based on a cheap ad on indeed, but if they are running billing and A/R? I’m more skeptical, though it’s very hard to say without knowing the work complexity and volume. When I did billing at jobs, it was possible to catch tens of thousands in mistakes or potential mistakes. Who knows, maybe the OP’s billing system works better and customers are paying on time so there isn’t a need for the subject of the letter.

      2. Ask a Manager* Post author

        If she’s truly overpaid though — meaning that she’s being paid significantly more than the market rate for the job (not by a little but by a lot) — it still might make sense. Impossible to say without knowing more. (Although I will say that the numbers the OP gave don’t push me in the direction of thinking that it definitely does.)

        1. Big10Professor*

          I’m REALLY curious about the insurance savings. Is the OP implying the new person in the position would not be offered insurance, or just that the person in the current position is especially expensive for the company to insure? If it’s the latter, that pings my radar for age or disability discrimination.

          1. AndersonDarling*

            Because you don’t know who is going to come into the position. They may also have health issues.
            Or is it because the employee is insuring their whole family and they only want to insure the employee…it is getting into some very dark territory.

          2. Editor*

            Disability insurance is probably indexed to pay. The OP might also be including FICA (Social Security), which is also a percentage of pay. If the employer pays part or all of the cost of spousal or family health insurance coverage, there could be cost savings there if the replacement employee was single or if the health insurance provisions had changed and new employees only receive subsidized individual coverage and pay all the additional premium out of pocket, while long-term employees are grandfathered in. There may be workers comp or unemployment insurance that is employer-paid and indexed to salary.

            It may be that the OP is lumping all additional insurance and tax costs under “insurance” and isn’t being clear about where the savings actually arise from.

        2. Lauren*

          My question would be when did she start being overpaid? If she was hired at a higher rate than the local prevailing one then someone viewed her skills as being worth it.

          1. Chinook*

            “My question would be when did she start being overpaid? ”

            Is it possible she was hired during a boom period and now it has gone bust? Up here, that happens a lot. Oil drops, companies start laying off, the labour market starts getting filled with qualified people who are becoming more and more willing to take anything that pays and then the person who was hired to do something at $45/hour can be replaced by someone equally qualified for $20/hr who is happy to take it because it is better than $0/hour when their employment insurance runs out next month.

          2. NotAnotherManager!*

            I can’t speak to the OP’s situation, but I was in a similar one with employees I inherited with a new team several years ago. The overpaid (and, frankly, underperforming) employees I had were the result of (1) a bad review/compensation structure that rewarded years of experience over quality of work and (2) a substantial market shift that made it (a) more difficult to charge customers rates commensurate with their salaries and (b) reduced the overall volume of work.

            The first thing that got fixed was the review/comp structure because I was losing good people and retaining mediocre. Then, we focused on trying to bring their skills up to a higher level to address the second item, and this was met with A LOT of resistance — they’d been doing just fine for years, thanks very much, and how dare we suggest that they needed to sharpen their skills or learn new ones?

            Ultimately, one got transferred to another department (and is now WAY overpaid to do that job but they have a higher-up protecting them, plus their current supervisor/job is a much better fit), one got laid off (because their department was very hard-hit by the work decrease), and I still have the last one, who’s improved but still struggles (and hasn’t gotten a significant raise in years because the are so far over market for the position).

            Morale actually increased from these changes because it became apparent to other staff that we were serious about rewarding for performance rather than butt-in-seat years and also removed a frustration from less senior staff that people who under-performed had no consequences.

      3. Marzipan*

        Mmm. Obviously we don’t have all the details, but I’m seeing more negatives than #3 has raised here. Is the business revenue (and therefore, presumably, the workload) at all likely to go back up? If it did, then having the experienced staff member in place would be preferable to someone new and more entry level. Plus you’d have all the expense of recruiting and training the new person.

        And, as others have said, the knock-on effects on wider staffing are likely to cause problems – if I saw this happen to a colleague I would certainly be nervous about my own position (and I’d probably start looking elsewhere). I get the sense from the wording of this letter that #3 regards this employee’s functions as fairly easily assumed by sometime new, but my concern would be that more specialist team members (if applicable) might be spooked by this move.

        If you really feel that the discrepancy between what the employee is paid and what they do is completely unreasonable, is there any way to work on the second half of that equation? Perhaps the employee could take on some additional tasks, or be trained in other areas of the business? This doesn’t give you the immediate win of $20000 in your budget, but in the longer term it could save money on not needing other staffing or by enabling you to bring in extra business.

        1. the gold digger*

          I would certainly be nervous about my own position (and I’d probably start looking elsewhere).

          I was laid off in about round five of a brutal series of layoffs. There were about eight of us on my team; I was the only one laid off. (Management was told to cut ten percent.)

          When I got the ax, two other people started looking for (and found) new jobs immediately – they told me, “If you’re not safe, none of us are safe.”

          BTW, this was 11 years ago. The CEO cut thousands and thousands of jobs. He got his multi-million dollar bonus – but the stock price has stayed pretty much the same since then. As in, it appears that cutting expenses was not what the stock market wanted.

      4. Mike C.*

        The companies I’ve seen do this just go into bankruptcy anyway.

        Also, if money is really a problem, why isn’t the OP considering taking a salary cut themselves?

        1. Karo*

          They may already be at the bottom of the pay band or grossly underpaid for the work they’re doing.

          1. Mike C.*

            Well, consider this analysis –

            If the OP goes the route of finding someone to hire, there are costs for that. You’re going to need what, one to three months of time to properly evaluate candidates? Are your budgets set up to handle these costs? Are stakeholders going to be around and able to make the approvals needed to move forward? That has a cost. Since we’re looking for a budget candidate, this could take longer and there’s a risk that you might have to make significant compromises in candidate quality, compromises which may show themselves only after the hiring process is completed. This isn’t a special risk either.

            Then there is on-boarding and training to get the new candidate up to speed, so that’s what six months? A year? There are also the costs to employee morale. Word will get out about differences in salaries and that is going to cause problems. Comparisons to the end days of Circuit City will come to mind as will the classic comparisons between Costco/Sam’s Club and the recent success Walmart has enjoyed from raising wages. Your employees may wonder if the ship is sinking and may consider looking elsewhere for work. Your best employees will have the best chance of leaving.

            On the other hand, going into HR and having them reduce the OP’s salary would deliver results by the next pay period, avoid the costs and risks of hiring someone new, and avoid the risk of lower employee morale. If budgets are really this tight, pay bands can be changed. I’m not going to complain that this is a perfect analysis and we could easily find out that there are special circumstances going on here, but this issue is more complicated than replacing an employee at a lower salary.

            1. Wilton Businessman*

              I have to agree. It’s probably just cheaper to keep them than re-hire the same position for $10k less. In addition to the “hard dollars”, there will be “soft dollar” costs as well with employee morale and such. Got to be very careful here, especially if she is a high performer.

    4. Engineer Woman*

      OP indicated a salary difference of approx $10,000, which doesn’t seem that much of a significant overpayment for a job. I also don’t quite understand the insurance part as why would the cost of this for new employee be less?

      1. Colette*

        Yeah, it’s the insurance part that bothers me – is it higher because the employee has more dependants or a health condition? Because that’s a pretty crappy reason to lay someone off.

        1. NJ Anon*

          It could be age related. Before Obamacare, insurance premiums were the same for each employee. Now they are based on age. The older the employee, the higher the premium.

          1. Snowglobe*

            Hiring a younger person specifically because they are younger is illegal (assuming the current employee is over 45).

            1. Long Time Reader First Time Poster*

              This was my first thought. Once someone is over 40, you aren’t supposed to can them and then hire someone in their place that’s younger and cheaper, but does the same job.

          2. Persephone Mulberry*

            Not true – I managed our small company’s health plan pre-ACA and our rates were tiered based on employee age. There was nowhere near an annual $12k difference per employee, though.

            I would love to know how OP came up with that number.

          3. the gold digger*

            I don’t think that is the case with large group insurance. I work for a company of about 6,000 employees, about half of whom are in the US. We have one set of premiums – it is not based on age.

            (My former employer tiered employee contributions to the premium by salary – the more you made, the higher your portion of the premium, which I thought was the right way to do it. I could afford $200 a month; a receptionist making $20K could not.)

            1. NotAnotherManager!*

              My employer also did this, and some of the people in the higher premium groups complained about “subsidizing” the clerical employees. Considering the complainers made more than 10x what the lower-level employees did, I thought it kind of made them sound like assholes.

          4. Moonsaults*

            And before Obamacare, having say a 70 year old on the payroll/insurance meant that everyone was skyrocketed to the highest bracket. That’s why my former company axed insurance as a whole, so same issue it sounds like, still punishing companies for having even one older person in the workforce.

          5. LBK*

            I’m fairly certain that’s not true. It might be legal to do it that way now, but it’s definitely not legally required to base it on age – everyone at my company pays the same.

          6. sarah*

            Yeah, but if it’s something like “this person’s insurance is high because they are old and/or sick,” it’s HIGHLY illegal to fire them over that!

        2. Non-Prophet*

          Yes, this also bothered me. I’d be curious to know more details about why OP3 thinks that replacing this employee will save $12k in insurance. Is it a matter of converting a full-time position to a part-time position? (Though in that case, I might expect to see more than a $10k reduction in salary). If OP3 is hoping to decrease medical insurance costs by hiring someone younger or without a family, that feels highly problematic.

          1. Case of the Mondays*

            I wonder if they are self-insured and that’s how much they spend on that person’s health care annually. That issue jumped out at me too and I start worrying about possible ADA issues, gender/age/familial status discrimination.

          2. S*

            Their premium contributions could be tied to their start date. So if someone started after, say, 2012, they might have a 20% contribution, where someone that started before, say, 1995, might have a 0% contribution thus costing the employer more money.

        3. Karo*

          I assumed they were factoring in things like unemployment insurance, which is based on the individual’s salary.

          1. Karo*

            Oh, or like at my company they cover a couple of personal insurance policies which are determined based on salary, like disability and life insurance.

          2. LQ*

            Yeah, but in most states if they lay someone off their unemployment insurance for everyone will go up for every employee, so they should be factoring that in too.

        4. PK*

          I wondered the same thing. Figured it was someone with a family vs. a single person. The whole situation feels a bit ‘icky’.

          1. Harper*

            Yeah, I was thinking the same thing. I understand if this person feels the employee is significantly overpaid, but the insurance comment bothered me.

      2. Annie Admin*

        I’m thinking OP might be trying to bring in a contractor through a staffing agency if they want to avoid insurance costs. Yes they would pay a mark up to the agency, but it is still cheaper than hiring direct with full benefits.

      3. That Would Be a Good Band Name*

        For the type of job listed, that’s a pretty big difference. Of course, this would depend on your area, but here an entry level billing/AR clerk would be around $12/hr. An extra 10k per year, would make it close to $17/hr and will attract a lot more experienced people. Of course, she’s also going to get what she pays for, and will need to do a lot more hand holding with an entry-level person.

        As for the insurance, it’s possible she’s going to try to restructure the position so that it can be part-time and not offer insurance.

      4. the_scientist*

        I’m rather cynically wondering if this has to do with the new overtime laws coming into effect in the US in December. That, or the OP is looking to reduce health insurance costs by turning this into an hourly, part-time position and setting the number of hours low enough that the new employee won’t qualify for employer health insurance. I’m aware that this is in a highly un-charitable interpretation, but something about this question smells funny to me.

      5. Jessie*

        Also – firing someone because they cost too much in insurance could (depending on a bunch of factors) violate federal law. It depends entirely on what insurance OP is talking about, how she knows the cost of that insurance (she’s not accessing protected health information, right??), and whether the insurance is part of an ERISA benefit plan. But to oversimplify by a million degrees, interfering with an employee’s ERISA-based benefits could expose you to a civil lawsuit (for example, laying off a specific person because that specific person is costing the ERISA-based health plan money because she is a high claims employee – you are laying her off for using benefits; that could be a legal minfield). So if insurance costs are part of the reason you’re laying her off, and these are ERISA benefits, consult an ERISA attorney.

      6. SystemsLady*

        To put it into perspective, if $25k were the average pay, which seems a good assumption from other comments, bringing that up to $35k would represent a 40% raise from the baseline OP wants to use.

        That’d also be $16.80/hr versus $12/hr hourly, assuming straight 40s.

        If the employee does exceptional work and is very efficient, that’s really not all that overpaid.

        If this is about the overtime rules change and you’re looking to replace her with a part timer, as many suspect…that adds even more failure points for this to backfire on you, OP.

        For $22k and one employee? Really think about what she brings to the department, consider the cost of training and work performance when calculating all this (some employees are not as efficient or accurate as others – is she exceptionally good on both points? Could be a bigger-than-$22k loss if so), and at least strongly consider putting your eyes elsewhere.

        Perhaps seeing if upper management or other departments can work in that extra $22k for OP’s department is the better, albeit more humbling option.

    5. Lauren*

      True. especially because the OP plans to replace the person rather than eliminate the position. Bad, bad vibe.

    6. TootsNYC*

      every time I’ve left a company, it’s been because the company needed/wanted to save money!!!!

      That’s just what happens. If you don’t have money, you can’t keep paying people.
      Heck, I “laid off” my cleaning lady because I had less income and couldn’t afford to keep paying her. I felt bad, but what was I going to do? Not be able to meet my other financial obligations? (and profit is an obligation for a company; now, I can argue that maybe companies should be willing to accept a slightly smaller profit for the greater good, but there does come a time when it’s just wasteful)

      1. Chinook*

        Yes! If the company is profitable, it is icky to layoff someone just to save money. But, if the economy of an industry plummets (and Alberta has gone through the boom/bust cycle ever since beaver felt hats were replaced by silk hats as the height of fashion), then it can often be a choice between decreasing salary or not making it through the next 5 years. My current city has been devastated by layoffs but it is literally the price of doing business. If you want to make the big dollars, then you have to live with the risk of it disappearing.

    7. AnonEMoose*

      I wonder, too – does the OP really understand the employee’s job as well as she thinks she does? I would strongly suggest looking very carefully at what the employee is actually doing, and not just the “official” job functions. Because what’s on paper may or may not have much to do with day-to-day reality. And I’d hate for the OP to get rid of this person, and then find out the hard way that Employee was doing a lot more than OP thought.

    8. Chinook*

      “I cannot help but think that firing somebody just for the purposes of saving some money sends a really bad message to the rest of the employees.”

      Depending on the economy of that industry, it could also just mean there is less money. Around here, it is not unheard of during a downturn for major companies to start slashing contractors (they always go first) or at least reducing their hourly cost, and then either slashing salaries or shortening the work week (so, if you work 4 days a week instead of 5, you only get 4/5 of your salary without technically losing your hourly rate). Ironically, those who keep their jobs on lower terms are grateful to have a job while at the same time feel for their colleagues who have been let go. If the alternative is the company going bankrupt and everyone is out of work, a decrease in pay becomes quite acceptable.

      OP #3, give the person the choice to take the lower wages. You might be surprised by her response.

      1. SystemsLady*

        I’m in an industry currently in a bad economy (this year and part of last year), and the letter implies they’re in a similar situation – the former boss’s hire would never have been hired above market rate two years ago if things weren’t going well enough, or they weren’t trying to replace two employees.

        If it were that every employee was overpaid and the industry has been in decline for years, sure, give her the benefit of a talk. But since OP is focused on this one employee, the decline seems to have hit very recently, and $22k is the number in question, I think it is very likely OP still has some other options.

        1. SystemsLady*

          (and I mean if they were trying to replace two employees, that’s even more reason to be hesitant about training and potential changes in the output of the employee’s position, even if the decline has been consistent over time. May be a place to talk about a pay cut more so than the other possibility – things were going well – but I have a gut feeling there are other options here)

    9. Vicki*

      Even so, laying off only one person is a) not really going to save much money and b) a bad idea in the long run.

  4. Cynicaal Lackey*

    #1. Leave your own Glassdoor review; as nice as possible (while being truthful of course). You may want to drop a couple of hints so insiders can tell that you are the one writing the new review. Perhaps you can use this opportunity to refute some of the negatives in the first review.

      1. Marisol*

        Indeed. “I’ve only been here for 1 1/2 years, but I can say that I have not experienced x, y, or z” with the 1 1/2 years being the clue.

    1. Jeanne*

      It sounds like there isn’t much that is nice to say. I think this will only make things worse. You can’t force them to believe anything.

    2. Menacia*

      Nah, if OP wanted to leave a review it should be of their own volition not to deflect what others think they did. Someone wrote a review which seems accurate to the OP but is out of their or the company’s control to do anything about, it’s called the downside of the Internet. No one asked the OP directly if they wrote it, just ignore the gossip and finish out your final weeks strong, you have nothing to apologize for or explain away.

    3. AD*

      Considering the OP flatly said they mostly agreed with everything in the negative review, this would be dishonest.

      1. Jesmlet*

        Maybe not a review refuting the previous one, but I’m sure there are good things to be said about the company. I would have the conversation Allison suggested and then at the end, add that you’re more than happy to leave a review yourself to balance things out.

      2. Bwmn*

        I agree that refuting negative points you agree with isn’t the way to go – however, I think for most of us who have had jobs in workplaces with problems, there is usually a positive way to frame the experience.

        In my old job with a very difficult boss and assorted challenges of being in a team of 1 – it was also very true that the job gave you amazing direct experiences. Any time my boss was invited to a high level meeting, I would get sent instead – and while it could be frustrating in experiences when having someone with her seniority would have added weight, there’s no denying the experience and exposure I received that my peers didn’t necessarily get. So a review saying “Old Boss is quick to scream when she doesn’t understand something” – I wouldn’t refute that. But there are still very positive things I could say (while acknowledging all the challenges).

  5. Seal*

    OP2 – Your management believes it’s more efficient for most of what sounds like a large department to share ONE email account? WTF??? Sharing printers or even phones between several people is not unusual, but email accounts? Asinine! Have these people never heard of listservs or mailing lists? They’re quite efficient!

    1. Edith*

      IKR?! Who decides when it’s okay to delete something? My parents still share a joint email account, and they’re constantly mildly annoyed at each other’s email habits. “That email from Jane is still in the inbox.” “Ugh, I know. I left it there so I won’t forget to call her about book club.” “Do we really need to be subscribed to the gas station’s marketing list?” “They send me coupons!” I can only imagine how dysfunctional that would be if there were 18 (!!) more people in the mix and nobody had promised to love everyone else as long as they 20 should live.

      1. T3k*

        God, this reminded me of my last job. 4 people, including the boss, shared one gmail account. And the boss had a habit of keeping all emails, including promotional stuff, and then wondered why she couldn’t find a certain email in the cluttered inbox *sigh*

        1. JKP*

          I had a boss who was annoyingly the opposite, where he rushed to respond to each incoming email so he could delete it and prided himself on an empty inbox. Often, he had to ask for the same info over and over again because he never saved any emails ever. So every 2 or 3 days, “what’s my password for this again?” and I would have to pull out the previous email from my sent file and resend it to him.

      2. Charlotte Collins*

        My department actually does have a shared email account (actually, two), so that we all have access to the same information and so that some communications are clearly from the entire department rather than individuals. However, we have specific rules about how emails are handled and what does and does not belong in the shared box. (We also are responsible for a lot of documentation, so this actually is the best system we’ve been able to come up with.)

        We also have our own, individual accounts, because not doing so would be ridiculous and lead to people getting access to information they had no right to.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Mine does too, and I’m in charge of most of those emails now. It’s never-ending. :P Permissions are kind of restricted, though–not everyone has (or needs) access. Or wants it!

      3. Moonsaults*

        People delete things in a company account? I spent 10 years in my last position and didn’t delete anything that wasn’t just a “thanks” or spam o.o

        1. LBK*

          Yeah, every shared inbox I’ve had I couldn’t even delete anything. Permissions were set so that anyone who wasn’t a manager could only read, reply and move to folders.

    2. MsChandandlerBong*

      I once worked for a place where only supervisors had email accounts/computers. If you had to email someone outside the company, you had to walk over to your supervisor’s office, give her the recipient’s email address, and then tell her what to write. She’d send the email and then print out the response for you later.

        1. Oh no, not again*

          Sadly, no, not 25 years ago for me. About 4 years ago we finally got computers so that we could stop relying on the supervisor to email for us.

      1. Bad Candidate*

        I worked in Customer Service a few years ago for a company that sells party supplies and novelties here in the US. We didn’t have email. And frequently customers would call and ask if we could email extra picture or specs or whatever else to them and we couldn’t do it. Or they’d be looking for something they couldn’t describe and would ask to email us. It was a PITA.

      2. Purest Green*

        A tiny blood vessel just exploded in the part of my brain that desperately tried to believe this didn’t happen.

      3. Pwyll*

        Yup, ditto. And when customers asked me to e-mail things, we were instructed to say we only have an internal e-mail system that couldn’t reach people on the outside. Which satisfied literally no one.

      4. LBK*

        I really hope this was not a job that required you to be emailing frequently…in all the retail jobs I’ve had part-timers didn’t get company email addresses, but there wasn’t really any reason for them to be emailing people anyway.

    3. Cat steals keyboard*

      Yeah. We have a joint inbox for departmental enquiries in that other teams know they can reach our team on this one address. But we don’t use that instead of having our own accounts.

      1. Joseph*

        This is a reasonable practice if it’s a supplement-not-a-replacement for regular email accounts.
        In fact, in some situations it’s probably actually best practice to do so. Accounting/payable department often does this, to avoid invoices getting lost in the system and going unpaid.

        1. Seal*

          All of the libraries in our system have a generic email address (e.g. That gives patrons a single point of contact for reference questions and the like. It’s also not tied to a single person, which makes it far less complicated if/when that person leaves. But every single person in the library also has their own email address, BECAUSE THIS IS THE 21ST CENTURY!!!

        2. Charlotte Collins*

          All it takes is one person whose name everyone knows to leave for 2 weeks on their wedding/honeymoon for you to realize if you need a shared inbox. (Ask me how I know.)

          Also, distribution lists can be a pain, because even if there’s a companywide list, it isn’t always kept up to date (and people can be dropped off for random reasons), and if people can create their own, individual lists, they might not be sending to the official list. (Once again, ask me how I know.)

          1. Dorothy Mantooth*

            I was just out of the office recently for my wedding and honeymoon (2 weeks) and thought for a split second you are a coworker. But of course there are probably thousands of people getting married all the time, so scale back the narcissism, self.
            I made sure to email everyone I have regular/semi-regular contact with well before I left with the heads up and a note on who to contact while I was out. That seemed to work well for my department!

      2. Annie Moose*

        Yep, that’s how OldJob worked. Every team had a group email, so if you had a general question or needed something done, you just emailed the group inbox and that team would sort out for themselves who answered the questions or worked on tasks. (in my team, we junior members of the team rotated who monitored the inbox; every time it was your week, you were responsible for everything that came into the inbox, but you didn’t have to worry about it the rest of the time)

        But we certainly all had individual email accounts for things specific to ourselves, like projects we were assigned to individually and personal correspondence.

    4. OP #2*

      How it works is that everyone has a folder within the mail account where messages specifically for them are dragged by whoever is tasked with managing the email, plus folders for stuff that’s meant for everyone. It kinda works, but it makes it easy for other people to accidentally delete or mark your emails read. Since we can’t open gmail/yahoo accounts or use un-encrypted flash drives at work, if you want to print something personal you have to email it to the group account and then move it to your personal folder quickly. Not my preferred way of working!

        1. Liz*

          There generally is – set up filters/rules (name varies depending on which program you’re using) so that mail addressed only to person A is automatically moved to the A folder. Mail sent to multiple people stays in the main inbox.

          1. zora*

            um, I don’t think that would work, since there aren’t separate email addresses for the filter to evaluate, they are all only sent to one email address.

              1. Elizabeth*

                In Outlook, you can sort by subject line. I do this for lots of e-mails that I get on a regular basis that always have the same subject line. Definitely a timesaver.

        2. MoinMoin*

          Yeah, I’d think you could set up some rules to make it easier. Like if the only recipient is X, automatically sort to X folder or something.

      1. Princess Carolyn*

        How on earth would that be more efficient than setting up separate email addresses for everyone and then using groups for messages that need to go to multiple people? Does management think they’re somehow smarter than, like, 90% of offices in America?

        1. Loose Seal*

          Going by my experience in small offices with no dedicated IT, yes, management does think they’ve figured it out. I’ve seen all sorts of resistance to change to newfangled email ideas:

          1. The bigwig preferring to keep the ending from 20 years ago than to get a very cheap domain in the company’s name so they could use the for a more professional look.

          2. Making their assistant print out every email and then the bigwig handwrites their answer on the paper and gives it back to the assistant to type in and send.

          3. Insisting everyone share a mailbox because the bigwig wanted the ability to oversee everyone’s work and make sure they weren’t sending emails willy-nilly.

          4. And many others…

          When I’ve worked for someone who had one of these ideas, they could not be talked out of it. And email’s been fairly standard in offices for what, 25 years or so? I bet you that’s what’s going on in OP’s soon-to-be-former workplace. Someone at the top has their way of dealing with email and no one is going to change that!

    5. SophieChotek*

      As I’ve mentioned before my company does this also. It takes any semblance of privacy away, which is entirely the point. Anyone can go in and read what you wrote or what others wrote to you. (So people just call each other instead; which means no paper trail, but things can get misunderstood or forgotten more easily too.)

      1. Pwyll*

        My law firm does this in reverse. All our business cards and all public-facing messages are supposed to go to one single account that everyone in the firm has access to ( We each have private e-mail addresses as well, but everything we send or receive is archived by the system automatically into that same address. The idea is that absolutely everything we send or receive is tracked for clients.

        It’s incredibly annoying, but I understand why it exists. But ONLY one e-mail address for everyone? Insanity.

    6. Kittymommy*

      How does that even work!!?? I can’t really imagine sharing an email account with one person much less several. How do you know who’s email it is, what if it’s confidential, how do you tell of everyone’s read it?? so many questions!

    7. Natalie*

      If I walked into a new job and found out that the whole department shared one email address, I’m pretty sure I would just turn around and walk right out the door. Bananas.

  6. Chaordic One*

    OP3 – I really liked Alison’s response. The part about offering severance would make it a lot easier for the overpaid employee to accept the situation and I hope the OP will offer it.

  7. Crystalline (#5)*

    “Well, that bit at the end says something pretty significant about your management’s thinking around privacy and discretion (it says that they are loons).”


    #1: People at my current Place of Employ are oddly paranoid about Glassdoor reviews. Even if you have no idea who left it, how could there possibly be a bad review?! Why doesn’t everyone love it here? Who did we forget to dose with the Happy Serum?! I like Alison’s advice and the comment above suggesting to perhaps leave your own review. If you don’t do *something* they’ll undoubtedly continue assuming it was you. The timing sounds deliberately, frankly–someone knew you were leaving and thought “Aha, opportunity is nigh!” perhaps? Can’t say for sure, of course, not being you, but good luck navigating it all the same.

    #5: Some places are just flat-out weird about those things. People forget you’re in training, or not in training, and to change time codes in the systems properly…rather inconvenient, but it happens. A friend of mine was ‘fired’ in this way, by being removed from the schedule. Naturally she noticed and picked up another job, but she was never actually officially fired. (Food service, for the record.) Hopefully you find something that works for you better, if you are indeed being…gosh, what would you even call that? ‘Gently’ fired? Silently? ‘Politely?’ Your employment is part of a permanent outplacement?

      1. Crystalline*

        I’ll just reply to myself forever as I realize at this moment my browser helpfully saved my number from several posts ago. Sorry! Ack!

    1. Editor*

      Being left off the schedule is kind of like ghosting, except the employee is being made into a ghost.

      Scheduling in retail and food service really does enable a lot of passive-aggressive behavior on the part of management.

      1. Lucky Duck*

        Yup, this!

        Once we got to 16 and a half years old at a burger chain restaurant, my friend and I were just mysteriously no longer on the roster. I phoned one day after two months of going in to check each week, only to be told that my mother had phoned to say I resigned. Super bogus.

        1. Mirax*

          This happened to me once in retail! I called in and told my manager that I had food poisoning and couldn’t come in that day. When I called later in the week to get my schedule, the different manager I spoke to said that the first one had told her I quit so she gave away all my shifts.

      2. Mookie*

        Oh, god, I was ghosted before I was even hired one time. I’d applied to a few on-campus food prep-style places, never heard back from any, found a job off-campus, and then got several increasingly stern voicemails one weekend from one of the food preppers informing me that I’d missed my training, my first day, my second shift. I’d never even been interviewed! And when I showed up, bemused, to “explain” myself, they pretended they hadn’t heard of me.

        1. Jayn*

          I’m still trying to figure out what happened the one summer I didn’t work for my parents. Applied for a job, was interviewed, told I got it and…nothing. When I called in, “oh you’re still interested?” Uh, yeah! (The job itself was fine, but the structural things around the job sucked. When I call an hour into a shift and say “hey I didn’t get any sleep and need someone more experienced here with the other new guy anyways” that means I’m pretty sure I can’t manage another 11 hours. Did learn to be pickier about accepting shifts though.)

          1. Amy*

            Um… maybe it’s just the way this is worded, but not being accommodated when you call an hour into a shift to say you don’t feel like working anymore is really normal. You sound pretty unused to the working world.

      3. SophieChotek*

        Yes. It is passive-aggressive but it seems to work.
        I had a manager that did this quite a bit (never to me). To be fair, I saw that she would give a lot of feedback, but if someone never caught on, it was easier for the manager to ghost the person than going through the efforts of firing them over non-performance, I guess. (That’s my assumption anyway). I just had dinner with her and she told me how she got rid of someone that way.

      4. Crystalline*

        Appropriate for Halloween, but not so much if you want a paycheck… I mean, I get that it’s easier (in theory) to just avoid someone rather than address whatever issues you have, but talk about a crummy way to find out you need a new job.

    2. Loose Seal*

      Yeah, this is common in food service. At least, you (the OP or anyone else in this situation) won’t have to check the Yes box on future applications asking if you’ve been fired. Nope, you just weren’t scheduled further.

      1. Least Complicated*

        I agree with Loose Seal. I worked as a hostess at a restaurant job in college. About 1 year in I asked about opportunities to become a server. That triggered a response where they started reducing the hours I worked. Then one day I wasn’t on the schedule at all. I got some song and dance about how they couldn’t fit my standard hours into the schedule (which made no sense since there hadn’t been any changes in the size of the staff). I wasn’t ghosted. (Probably more like breadcrumbed). I quit the next day and got a job as a bartender, which was better pay and a better boss (honestly, probably one of the best bosses I have ever had). I was fortunate in that I was able to quit rather than be strung along, but it’s pretty obvious that your manager is acting like a child rather than being an adult and talking to you. So find your next job and say goodbye.

    3. OP 1*

      I appreciate the luck! Haven’t quite decided what I’ll do yet as far as leaving my own review, but I think Allison’s advice is an excellent starting point.

  8. Eric*

    #3 I realize this isn’t what you asked, but if your plan to save 12K on insurance is by replacing with someone without a family and/or younger, you may run into discrimination issues.

    1. Isben Takes Tea*

      This is what confused me too…I’m not familiar with the fun and exciting world of business insurance, but how does replacing (not just cutting) an employee save you $12k there?

      1. Jeanne*

        I’m not sure it gets you to 12K but often companies offer life insurance as a benefit. Mine was 1 1/2 times my salary. So some savings there. Probably some on disability insurance also since that is based on income.

        1. Bad Candidate*

          As someone who works for a life and disability insurance carrier specifically in the group protection area, you aren’t going to save $12K/year on premiums for those two products. Even if you offered all of our products and paid for them in full, and were the worst risk out there, the premiums would not cost you $12K/year for one person.

          1. Tuckerman*

            Could the company have self-funded insurance? If the employee incurs regular medical costs (e.g., weekly therapy visits), that could add up. Of course, the employee hired to take her place might incur even greater medical costs.

            1. Jessie*

              Sure, it could add up. But it violates HIPAA to use medical information for employment purposes – the employer cannot use its knowledge that an employee visited some doctors to decide to terminate. (Because it’s using HIPAA illegally in that situation, and also because it’s an attempt to interfere with a person’s protected ERISA benefits, which is the stuff of lawsuits).

              1. Judy*

                I’ve certainly seen a layoff where employees seem to have been picked by (at least perceived) insurance usage. This was at a large company that was self insured.

                When the employees chosen for layoff include someone with a spouse with MS, someone who had a pre-preterm baby, someone with a child with cancer and someone who had had open heart surgery in the last 2 years, it makes you suspicious. In fact, everyone in that small layoff of about 12 people at a location with more than 500 people was most likely a high insurance user.

                1. Jessie*

                  I’m surprised no one sued. They likely could have. ERISA protects your use of benefits. Of course, you have to sue to enforce it and some people won’t realize they have an actual legal claim or won’t want to go through the pain of a lawsuit. But there is a federal cause of action for firing employees for using ERISA benefits.

                2. Natalie*

                  @ Jessie, the people laid off likely didn’t have any idea that they were picked by insurance usage. :/

            2. Bad Candidate*

              That I couldn’t say, we don’t offer health. But like others have said, that’s a slippery slope.

      2. Edith*

        Or maybe the current employee has a spouse and kids on the company insurance policy and OP plans to replace the current employee with a single person with no dependents? It’s a very uncool way to cut costs, but it might explain OP’s math.

          1. Gaara*

            Yeah, your legal fees in defending that lawsuit will substantially outweigh the savings — let alone the potential liability.

            1. Edith*

              What would the grounds of the lawsuit be? Marital status and parenthood aren’t protected classes. Don’t get me wrong– I think it’s wildly unethical to make hiring/firing decisions on these grounds and I would instantly lose all respect for any business that did so, but it’s not actionable.

              1. Jadelyn*

                Depends on where you are. California’s FEHA includes marital status. And I’d think parenthood can be protected as type of caregiver responsibility depending on the situation.

        1. Moonsaults*

          How is the OP going to know that they don’t have a spouse or kids? You cannot ask that information during an interview. I guess you can kind of “sniff it out” and try to play that game but that’s when you get my best friend in there that doesn’t just prance into an interview and say “hi, I have five kids and a husband!’

          1. Natalie*

            Marital status and children are actually *not* protected characteristics under federal law, although they may be in some states.

            1. sarah*

              Is this really true? At my workplace we have a super-strict list of things we are and are not allowed to ask during job interviews, and ANYTHING about a spouse or kids is definitely on that list.

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                They’re not illegal to ask. You shouldn’t make a hiring decision based on the answers, which is why your company says not to ask, but they’re not illegal in and of themselves.

    2. Stitch*

      It can vary a lot, but I think the average cost of benefits per full-time employee is around $10,000, so it sounds to me like LW wants to do something like turn a full-time position into a part-time position (or possibly, it’s already a part time position/otherwise exempt from requiring insurance, but they’re giving her benefits anyway.)

      I just want to say that LW should be really sure they can hire someone for less before going forward with it, and that the costs of hiring don’t outweigh the savings. Frequently, businesses decide that the cost of hiring and training someone new is more than the cost of retaining the talent they have. $20k could be enough for that to make sense, but it’s best to go into this with as much info as possible so they don’t get shoehorned into a suboptimal position.

      1. Ellie H.*

        I replied just after you but it just occurred to me too that maybe the LW is simply talking about changing the position substantially enough that it isn’t benefits eligible. In which case the whole thing seems unfortunate but more reasonable that the position just isn’t efficient in meeting the company’s needs – that it’s more about the nature of the role than the individual in the role.

    3. Ellie H.*

      I noticed that too. It occurred to me that it might be some kind of liability insurance or similar thing you could save money on by hiring someone with different certifications or something but that’s wild conjecture and I know nothing about liability insurance. If it’s like saving money by hiring a different kind of person who is less expensive to health insure (?) that strikes me as seeming unethical.

      1. Cat steals keyboard*

        And it money to replace and train a new employee. People don’t fully realise this in my experience. Are they sure they’ll even save 20k?

        1. SystemsLady*

          Agreed. We have several clients who didn’t realize it takes almost an entire year to train into our industry, perhaps half a year with related experience (not to mention training costs), before firing or laying off somebody experienced. Right now, they are burning the bottoms of their department’s pockets (perhaps the entire pair of jeans in one case) paying us to help them.

          They’re effectively overpaying their untrained employees (there are so few they won’t ever have time to train) to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. Big companies, but I’m baffled nobody with clout in hiring that position seems to care.

    4. Lurker*

      At my company benefits don’t start until the first of the month after a 60 day waiting period. So every time some resigns, we “save” money between the time the previous employee’s coverage ends and when the new employee is eligible. Depending on how long it takes to fill the position, that could add up – especially if the company pays all or a significant portion of the premiums.

  9. Greg M.*

    3. Is there a problem with the person’s performance? How long have they been with the company? If they are a good performer and have been with the company a long time then they probably have earned that higher salary. you need to be really careful about how you approach this because it could seriously damage morale. if she’s a problem employee that’s overpaid then year ditch her but asking a good or even just decent employee to take a 20k paycut? that’s not sending a good message. if it’s honestly just to free up money in the budget maybe see if the paycut could be between multiple people. Just because you could get someone cheaper doesn’t mean someone is overpaid.

    I also have to point out the issue of saying a woman is overpaid with the issue of the wagegap.

    1. Katniss*

      I was coming here to say something similar. If she’s been around awhile and she’s a good employee, maybe she’s earned that extra salary. Regardless, if I witnessed this happening to a good employee at my company and had the option of looking for other work this would be a huge ding against the employer for me. You owe the people who work for you some kind of loyalty too.

    2. BPT*

      Yep. This reminds me of the discussion on assistants/executive assistants – there isn’t always a promotion track for them, but their good performance and institutional knowledge is rewarded by raises.

      Sure, if you want to let someone with a lot of institutional knowledge and good performance go to hire an entry level person to save money, you can do that. But you’ll be losing that knowledge, and you get what you pay for. Plus, a $10k salary difference does not seem “overpaid” to me.

  10. many bells down*

    I quit/lost a job a lot like #5; I was told I’d get full-time hours in the summer, summer rolled around and I wasn’t on the schedule at all. For the next 3 weeks. I’d already quit my other part-time job, so this was a real problem. I asked about the full-time hours and got a mumbled excuse about not having the hours for me right now.

    So I went and got another job. SIX MONTHS later, I had to call my old job for something and the secretary was like “Oh. Where’ve you been? [Owner] was wondering if you could come in.” Apparently I was supposed to hang out for a few months in case they wanted me?

    1. Nicole J.*

      To get hours for casual jobs you often have to make yourself more visible than anyone else – for example, phoning or calling in every week with “Any hours this week?” and always saying yes to requests to come in at short notice. That way it makes it easier to schedule you than it is not to schedule you.

      1. Trout 'Waver*

        It’s really shitty for companies to expect a full-time commitment (call every week, don’t take another job, always on call) from workers and not offer any commitments on their own end.

        1. Nicole J.*

          Agree. It’s just a strategy that’s always worked for me as a way to get hours out of similar jobs.

  11. Knitting Cat Lady*


    It is entirely possible that your coworker has some kind of medical condition that contributes to him falling asleep so often.

    I had surgery a few months ago that fixed my upper airways so I didn’t stop breathing at night.

    Before that I often fell asleep at my desk in an open plan office. Nobody cared.

    Aside from that, plenty of my colleagues nap at their desks.

    1. Jeanne*

      It’s a culture thing. Some offices don’t care about a short nap. Others fire you. It’s so hard to tell from the letter if anyone else cares.

      1. LBK*

        Yeah, I am pretty shocked by all the comments here saying mid-work naps aren’t a big deal. In my department you’d probably just get a verbal warning about it, but in the sales department you’d be packing up your desk.

    2. Somniloquist*

      THIS! I have a medical condition, although I usually don’t disclose to someone at work unless I have to. I actually found out after I fell asleep at a large company event when the lights were low and we were all listening to a presentation for an hour. A coworker suggested I get it checked out, and I did and was diagnosed. I am so glad I did. (And I’m so glad my coworkers knew I wasn’t “lazy” or “bored” and gave me the benefit of the doubt.)

      The diagnosis and treatment gave me some coping mechanisms so I fall asleep far less at work. You might do your coworker a favor with an anonymous note letting him know people are noticing and maybe he should look into why he’s falling asleep.

      It could also be something like a new baby or something temporary too, but he probably doesn’t want to fall asleep at work and can’t help it. But if it’s not, he should look into the Epworth Sleepiness Scale and see if he could use a trip to the doctor.

      1. ChrysantheMumsTheWord*

        I had an employee that also would fall asleep at work due to a medical condition. As his supervisor, it was a tough conversation because he was embarrassed and initially denied that he was sleeping and I had to nicely tell him when and how I had observed it. He would start to go sometimes midway through a one-on-one conversation and was really concerning. I would stop by his desk to gently wake him up as well, especially if he was snoring.

        It was causing other employees to gossip and make negative judgments of him (which I nipped in the bud).

        Upon consideration he did get additional treatment advice from his doctor and a new CPAP machine. It was not easy to approach him but I was so glad after the fact that I did.

    3. Yup*

      Yes – I once had a student who suffered from narcolepsy — legitimate, medically-stamped, narcolepsy. He would fall asleep in class occasionally, but since I knew, it was perfectly fine.

      The point is, you have no idea what’s going on with him, or who may already be informed. Most of all: it doesn’t affect you in any way whatsoever.

      Let it go.

  12. Em*

    OP5: I don’t know where you live, but in my country there was a large chain of convenience stores that would keep people on training wage until they absolutely had to take them off. A little while after, they would “soft fire” them (i.e. stop scheduling them). This was done to keep costs down. It’s pretty shady and horribly unfair to the employees, but that might be what’s happening here. However, I do agree with Alison that you should speak to your manager before doing anything rash.

    1. Anon 4 dis*

      Whenever we discuss letting go an employee my boss just says he likes to take them off the schedule and let them figure things out. I hate this. I feel like it’s inconsiderate and that it doesn’t show the employee we respect them. Interestingly enough he refuses to believe an employee doesn’t want to work here unless they explicitly say they resign (as opposed to not working in months or saying that we can feel free to terminate their employment since they don’t have time for the job).

  13. Apollo Warbucks*

    #3 If you think it’s expensive to hire a professional, just wait until you hire an amateur.

    My firms just had some lay offs in one department and they got rid of everyone with any real understand of that area of the business, now the team I’m in are getting inundated with questions and queries about stuff we shouldn’t be involved in, it’s very frustrating.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      But to be fair to the OP, we don’t know that she’s considering hiring an amateur or even someone with skills significantly beneath the current person’s. The OP says the person is overpaid, which could mean that they could hire someone at the same skill level for much less.

      1. N.J.*

        I agree with Alison. I have a close friend who worked for years in a public university system. This person did good work, got decent annual reviews and so received several standard raises of a few percent. After 10-15 years this person was up to 80 K a year. My friend was laid off for reasons unrelated to salary. In looking for new jobs in their field and in accepting the job they eventually were hired at, it became clear that the going market rate for his experience and skill set was only 40-50 K. Sometimes someone ends up vastly overpaid because of sticking around and doing a decent job.

        1. SystemsLady*

          I’ve seen that as well, but $10k is a lot more reasonable for that than $30-40k.

          (When $30-40k comes with knowing enough from enough areas to be a general purpose trainer in a sudden departure, that might even be worth it, but that’s not applicable two years in)

    2. mazzy*

      I really would love more detail. I currently work with someone who truly is overpaid, and we could easily pay 70-80K instead of 90k for that job and how they do (or don’t do) it.

      But I’ve also worked places where these type of cost cutting ideas ironically always get mentioned concerning the lower end of the salary pool, and upper management had no clue how much those people actually knew or did, meanwhile they job hopped VP level jobs and didn’t get in the weeds of anything and loved to use MBA jargon and discuss “high level” stuff instead of what customers actually wanted or needed or how to specifically increase sales, or what specific issues the folks actually running the company faced.

      But given the limited info we have its impossible to tell what position OP is in

    3. Lily in NYC*

      I am considered “overpaid” here. My former division pushed me out because they had two highly paid admins and replaced me with someone who is making 30K less than I am. They assumed that the work was easy because everything went so smoothly. Well, guess what happened? They quickly realized that things went smoothly because I am good at my job, not because it was easy. They asked me to come back within 3 months and I refused. My new department appreciates me and knows I am worth my salary.

      1. Billy*

        I really really hope poster #3 reads your post (or really any of them). Your story is similar to one I’ve heard many times before – someone who is quietly efficient is laid off in a cost-cutting move and their replacement can’t keep things running. Some of the stories end with the employee agreeing to be rehired for time-and-a-half their old salary.

        1. The Strand*

          I think this is a lesson that some companies and supervisors have to learn the hard way. If you see your employee as just a number, then you’ll only learn that some of them are not, when you start to see other numbers seeping off the balance sheet.

  14. OP #2*

    Thanks so much for answering my question. So good to know that both the email issue and the dealing with feedback in non-private settings are weird, it’s not just me being dramatic. Since I wrote the letter we’ve got a new manager who it seems is planning much more frequent private performance conversations (they used to be extremely rare for some staff). Unfortunately I suspect for smaller issues like pointing out someone has made a stupid mistake they need to fix will still usually be done in an open setting. I try to console myself that everyone has awkward overheard conversations sometimes.

    1. Xarcady*

      As a manager, I sometimes correct small mistakes in public. Two reasons.

      1) If it’s a really small and easily corrected error, there’s no need to make it seem bigger by finding a conference room and dragging the employee into a private meeting. Point out the mistake, the employee fixes it, we all move on. 2) I want my employees to realize we all make this sort of mistake all the time, heck, I make that sort of mistake sometimes, and while it would be great if mistakes like this never happened, it is also No Big Deal when they do. Fix it, try not to do that exact same error again, and move on. That’s why we have quality control steps built in to our process.

      My general rule: Praise in public. Small corrections at your desk where a few others might overhear (and possibly learn something). Seriously bad stuff behind closed doors.

      There are exceptions, like one employee who really did not like public praise at all. But for the most part, it seemed to work.

      1. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

        >>My general rule: Praise in public. Small corrections at your desk where a few others might overhear (and possibly learn something). Seriously bad stuff behind closed doors.>>

        Excellent advice!

      2. Lora*


        The other exception I make is when someone does something horribly egregiously awful – I’ve had employees who had outbursts in meetings, calling other employees names, berating other employees to tears. That is when I say, very sternly and publicly, “STOP RIGHT THERE. [behavior] is completely unacceptable. Go back to your desk [the restroom, whatever] and we will discuss it later.” I don’t want anybody to entertain the notion for ONE MINUTE that such behavior is EVER going to happen again on my watch. It does not hurt morale; on the contrary, employees should know that they will absolutely have a respectful workplace and deserve to be treated with civility from their co-workers. I don’t have to do it often, word spreads when you lay the smackdown only once.

        These people invariably come from previous managers who were confrontation-averse and didn’t want to fire poor performers.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Absolutely. Saying “Oh dear, Hortense; we might want to speak about this later,” isn’t going to cut it for stuff like that.

          IANAManger, but I just had to shut someone down who was making remarks about somebody’s supposed gender (after the person left). I said, “Not that it matters,” and she said something about a boy should look like a boy and a girl a girl.

          I let my phone drop (wham) and said, “Wow, that sounds really transphobic. I think you should stop now.” She said, “What you’re born you’re born–” and I said, “You need to stop. Just stop. You’re veering into reportable territory here. Just stop.”

          She did, thank goodness. I don’t know what I would have said or done if she’d kept going.

          Then I came back here and literally read your comment right after and thought, How on point is that!

          1. Lora*

            *applauds* Right on!

            In the event of continued obstinate idiocy:
            “Company policy is that we do not discriminate against [subgroup]. If you want to discuss it, discuss it with HR.”
            “What is under other people’s clothes is none of your business.”
            “This does not sound like a work-related discussion.”

            I know how tempting it is to reply, “and you were born a bigoted asshole!” but it’s a career-limiting move.

      3. Kai*

        I think this is wise. If you make a big point of having a private discussion about a small, fixable mistake, it can make it seem much more serious than it ever was in the first place.

      4. Crystalline*

        “My general rule: Praise in public. Small corrections at your desk where a few others might overhear (and possibly learn something). Seriously bad stuff behind closed doors.”

        Love love love this! I can’t help feeling like I’ve been called to the Principal’s office when managers ask to see me and ‘Oh, shut the door…’ 99% of the time it’s nothing bad, but the build-up to finding that out is just awful.

      5. LBK*

        In my experience small corrections have usually been discussed via email…which adds another element of how obnoxious it is that the whole department shares an email account.

    2. Not Karen*

      I try to console myself that everyone has awkward overheard conversations sometimes.

      And as such, it is the duty of the person who overhears to ignore it and pretend they didn’t hear anything. Those people who brought up the mistakes they overheard with you later were out of line. Once I overheard a coworker tell our manager about her struggles with infertility. Does that give me the right to ask her about it later? No.

    3. Lora*

      It is extremely weird and I find it very odd that employees even put up with it. I mean, I know if I started a new job and was told I would have to share an email, I would be quickly calling to see if I could have my old job/other job offer back.

  15. Wakeen Teapots, Ltd.*


    When considering employee value, I like to use the measure of the person’s $ contribution to the company rather than market rate. (Market rate ultimately has to be factor but really more so in hiring vs retention or choosing to lay off.) My first approach in this situation would be to ask “how can I get more value $$ to the company out of the $$ being paid”.

    Hiring is a pain in the ass crapshoot + trying to cut somebody’s salary is not something I’d do. I’d try to partner the employee in a solution to get more bang for the buck, given the economic troubles. It might work and if it didn’t, I’d know I tried that step.

    Now word about this employee’s job: billing and A/R. Please think VERY carefully before you swap out a player in a functioning billing A/R dept. If your revenues are down, this spot is *vulnerable*. You can’t afford a big misstep here as that can lead to company ruin, like, I’m not exaggerating, cash flow baby. So be careful and make sure your back up plans have back up plans with back up plans.

    1. hbc*

      Yeah, the inexperienced people we had handling the accounting at one time or another: bounced some checks, incurred late fees, zeroed out 90% of our inventory in our control system, missed invoicing some customers entirely, and actually signed a faxed contract from one of those scam toner suppliers. Experience has real value.

      1. Wakeen Teapots, Ltd.*

        10-4 good buddy + put aside stacks of invoicing that was too hard, delayed or botched customer credits, didn’t follow up to get payments the way they were supposed, didn’t fill out customer paperwork properly or efficiently to get paid.

        In good times you can weather an inefficient A/R because you have the flow. In bad times, it can literally kill the company.

      2. mazzy*

        And those are just the simple amateur mistakes. In some industries, just understanding how bills are calculated is complicated. Sometimes you could call it an algorithm (it’s not just part X qty + tax). So to have someone who gets it so they can spot problems is huge.

        I’ve seen all sorts of issues with billing systems. Things getting doubled, appearing in the system but no on the bill, items re-appearing the next month, customers getting stuck on a wrong price, sales tax rates being incorrect, etc.

        At a past employer, the lady doing AR developed relationships with customers and called them multiple time to push payments through. For example, one customer was unhappy and didn’t want to pay for a huge project even though it met all his specs and was successful. He was just a curmudgeon. She helped with our university customer that had lots of steps on their side to authorize such large payments. Shed call/email “did they inspect the work?”. “Did director X sign off?”. “Did vp #2 look at it yet?” etc. And if she didn’t, payments would have sat in limbo.

    2. RVA Cat*

      This is how death spirals can start…. If the company needs $ 20k that badly, what happens when the cash flow gets botched?

      1. AndersonDarling*

        And payroll is messed up for 4 weeks and the Department of Labor shows up. There goes the $10K in savings.

    3. BRR*

      We had someone who just left for a new position. Although her title was director of spouts, she also did a lot with handles and lids. Assuming she had bene paid more than market rate (which I doubt she was), she had many responsibilities beyond spouts that added to her value.

    4. Natalie*

      “Please think VERY carefully before you swap out a player in a functioning billing A/R dept.”

      Seriously. I am definitely biased because this is my field, but an inexperienced accounting person can eff things up in ways that can be extremely damaging to a company, especially if you are having budget problems. And that’s assuming the person is generally a strong performer, just inexperienced with your company.

      Among the various things my inexperienced and semi- to incompetent predecessors have done – applied payments contrary to the remittance advice (super fun to follow up with customers for bills their records list as paid), stuck about $60K worth of invoices in a drawer so they didn’t have to deal with them, jury rigged the payroll system to withhold a flat amount from people’s paychecks, and run some employee payments through AP so they weren’t reported as income. And that’s just the crap that’s come to light in my first quarter here.

      1. Chinook*

        Wow – two people mentioned A/P people who stuck complicated invoices in a drawer so they didn’t have to deal with them. I am glad our company isn’t the only one who has to deal with it (even though that is why my department hired someone like me to keep track of all those invoices that kept going missing between here and A/P 2 floors up).

  16. Liane*

    #5: another reason to talk to your manager is that it is not uncommon to have a glitch, especially if the scheduling is done by a computer. Managers have access to alter these schedules. At OldJob, it was part of their duties to check their area’s schedule before it went live, so as to catch problems like this, too many unfilled shifts, or shifts being filled with someone who had left the company/department.

    1. KR*

      Yeah. Kronos every once in a while screws someone over and gives them one shift a week or something like that. Granted it’s on the managers to check it before it goes live but in the instance that I went from 30 hrs to 4 hrs and didn’t know how I would pay my bills my manager was really understanding and found me some hours to make up for it since Kronos has underscheduled the week as well

    2. Michelle*

      This just happened to my son! He went to check his schedule and nothing. He asked the manager and got scheduled for 8 straight days!

  17. Kristine*

    Off topic, but I love the use of the word ‘loons’ on this site. I just imagine the bird sitting at a desk trying to type with its beak and it makes me chuckle.

  18. Isabel C.*

    #2, and a few others I’ve seen, makes me think there should be a job-related equivalent of DTMFA. Less immediate–easier to get a job when you have a job etc–but…Start Looking Elsewhere Already? Start Sending Out Resumes Already?

      1. Isabel C.*

        I like that! Though I think that’s more “walk away now, maybe steal some office supplies, and temp if you need to” rather than “start sending out resumes and leave as soon as someone makes you a decent offer.”

  19. Anononon*

    After I left my old job, either my boss or his assistant left a fake glassdoor review pretending to be me. Of course it was glowing, and about a third of the way through, it read more like a job posting than review (using you instead of I, talking about all of the things you got to do). There are only about five people total in the company, so it was pretty obvious. I was pissed at first, and still find it annoying, but my name isn’t explicitly used and at least “I’m” not negative, complaining in it.

  20. Victoriafile*

    The answer to #3 rubbed me the wrong way. $1,666 a month can be not insignificant in a small business, especially if it’s sheer wastage as the OP is stating. If I was losing $1,666 a month profit that would be a huge deal to me, and I’d be grateful to the manager who was looking to address it.

    Seems a bit harsh to say “if this amount is a lot to your business you have bigger problems”.

    1. FD*

      The company’s large enough for at least one non owner manager and an A/R, which probably indicates it’s at least a medium size business. At that level, if $20,000/year is the difference between profit and loss, there’s bigger issues because there should be more margin than that. If they really only have that margin, then at that scale, relatively small factors (an increase in the cost of a part, a change in tax code or legal environment, an accident requiring worker’s comp) could tip the business easily into bankruptcy.

      If this is actually the case, then they probably need to be looking at the bigger picture. IMO they should be anyway–if their revenue has dropped this sharply, there’s some sort of issue. Is the market no longer demanding these services? Are they behind the times technologically? Have they offended their customer base in some way?

      1. sunny-dee*

        Meh. It can really depend. I’m from Oklahoma and live in Texas, and there are a lot of smallish businesses that do amazing business when oil is up and just die when oil is down, and it has nothing to do with their performance or customer base, objectively. It’s just a commodity market.

        1. FD*

          That’s a fair point–but that still answers my comment. In this case, they’d know what the issue is–the oil price is down. However, there’s still a larger picture here. If you know that your business is heavily commodity dependent, than a smart business should build up reserves for down years, because you know that they will come.

          1. Chinook*

            ” If you know that your business is heavily commodity dependent, than a smart business should build up reserves for down years, because you know that they will come.

            Yes, in theory, if your stock holder/owner will let you. But, it is also true that, if you live in this type of boom/bust environment, than workers should also build up a reserve during the good times (or at least ensure they do not incur debt during it). And those who have survived one complete cycle and stay in that industry usually learn to do so (and hopefully not learn this the hard way).

            Both employees and employers should know that wages go artificially high during the boom because of a lack of workers and, as a result, it will go down when the same talent pool is flooded with those who have been laid off. When my company approached me during such a time and only asked for a cut to my salary, I was relieved that I a)still had a job and b) they only asked for a 5% cut. Every other person I talked to felt the same way.

            Now, if OP#3 is only looking at one person’s salary, I would be suspect. Has the company done a wholesale analysis of everybody’s wages to ensure that they are in line with the current market? Can the same type of savings could be had if a hair thin slice is taken off of everyone’s wages instead of just one position?

    2. LQ*

      I worked at a place with 2 FT employees and 1 very part time (like 10 hours a week) plus a few contractors. Cutting this amount of cost wouldn’t have been a signficant enough improvement. It sounds huge, but when you are looking at the budget and you factor in other things (like your unemployment rate is going to go up, and you have to hire and bring a new person up to speed) it really isn’t that much money. I know it seems like a lot of money to a company that is at the 1 mil or less a year mark, but when you sit down and do the budget with that sized company chances are good that if this is a problem, you have bigger problems. I was there, cutting 20K a year wasn’t enough. We went under.

  21. Hatbox*

    I was laid off of a job for making too much money. I had a transcription job where I was making $X when the department was eliminated. I went to another company who I had heard was desperate for people as they had a giant project to work on. I got hired there for the same money. Did a year and then got sacked, which made no sense at the time because I was easily the fastest and most accurate transcriber. I talked to a coworker a few weeks later, who confirmed that I had been making about $5K more than him. I guess they’d agreed to my price when I started because they were desperate for the speed. After the project was over, they preferred slower and more mistakes if it cost them less.

        1. Elle*

          And poor quality closed captioning transcription is so annoying too! I always wondered if anyone ever complained about it.

        2. Bad Candidate*

          Well I suppose mistakes there are more forgivable. Though the way I’ve seen some MT companies treat their employees or contractors, one has to wonder. I was thinking if you were an MT and maybe looking, my friend’s employer is currently hiring, that’s why I asked. :)

          1. Hatbox*

            That’s very kind. I actually got out of the business after that because it is a dying industry. There’s one big center in Philadelphia that does a TON of closed captioning, and there are software programs that are starting to do automated closed-captioning using voice recognition.

            1. Bad Candidate*

              Yeah my friend is a bit concerned about that but so far the voice recognition stuff still needs to be checked by a human, it misses a lot.

              1. Lily Rowan*

                Yeah, anyone who has watched live TV with the captions on knows that automated voice recognition is not great!

  22. AdAgencyChick*

    “It’s pretty essential that managers have private work space because the nature of the job means having lots of conversations that shouldn’t be overheard”

    Alison, if you can find someone on Etsy to embroider this on a sampler, I think you might have a new revenue stream. Just sayin’.

  23. Anon 2*

    #3 – I have a colleague at another organization that was let go because the organization assumed that they could save her salary and hire someone cheaper. She was hired back in less than six months.

    Sometimes these sorts of savings are truly a false economy. And to be honest, if revenues are down the first question should be how to increase those, and then figure out where to cut. And typically cutting staff and reducing salaries should be the last resort.

  24. voice of experience*

    OP3: once upon a time, I was an employee being laid off due to company financial issues. They needed my services, but couldn’t afford me. I wasn’t getting paid more then the average though. It was a time in my life where I wanted and could afford to be a part time employee, so I suggested this. It was a win win! Talk to your employee and try to find a solution that works for everyone.

  25. Allison*

    #5, I’ve been ghosted from two jobs, and it was awful both times. The first time, I know I deserved it, I wasn’t picking things up well and I knew the manager was frustrated with me, so when he sent out the schedule and I wasn’t on it I kinda knew why, but I e-mailed him about it because I wanted him to actually say it. He said, in bold italics, “it’s just not working out.” As though he was angry that I wouldn’t just take the hint and disappear quietly.

    Second time, my manager stopped scheduling me but insisted I was still an employee, and occasionally tried to call me in at the last minute, always disappointed when I couldn’t go in, as though he expected me to consider myself “on call” all the time and jump at any chance to go in. No thanks. I just got a different job. Again, I knew I wasn’t the favorite employee, I never hit the quota for card sign-ups, but it bothered me that they couldn’t come out and say “this is a problem, you have X time to fix it or we’ll stop giving you shifts.”

    Sometimes I wonder if most retail managers are just not properly equipped to deal with performance issues, or worse, I wonder if this is how corporate coaches people to “fire” people because they’re worried an official termination meeting would lead to a nasty confrontation, or theft, or property damage, or assault. I could see corporate executives having such a low opinion of their minimum wage peons that they’d be concerned about that.

    1. Pwyll*

      Or, more likely, it’s done to avoid unemployment claims by making you “quit” as opposed to them firing you.

    2. Allison*

      Oops, forgot to give actual advice!

      OP, the best thing you can do is show up for the shifts you do have. I know you don’t want to, why keep working for someone you’re sure is done with you already? But go anyway, no-showing will leave everyone in the lurch, scrambling for coverage, and will only hurt your situation. And you should ask your manager. “I didn’t see my name on the schedule, is there a particular reason why that happened? Is there anything I can do to get more shifts next week?”

      And going forward, sometimes you need to be proactive in getting direct feedback as to how you can improve. Don’t constantly nag your manager about it, but every now and then it helps to say “I get the sense I’m not meeting expectations, is there anything specific I can work on?”

      Sometimes I think these managers don’t bother giving feedback or coaching because, in their experience, a lot of people working those jobs don’t care enough to improve. If you show you do want to learn and get better, they may be more likely to want to work with you.

    3. De Minimis*

      I was fired from my first job [dishwasher] in a similar way….wasn’t on the schedule anymore, came in to ask what was up [pretty much knew] and my manager told me it just wasn’t working out. I knew I wasn’t really suited for it so it wasn’t a big surprise to me, and I was still in high school so it didn’t bother me that much.

      It still would have been better if he’d just spoken with me after my last shift, but maybe he wanted to avoid it seeming like a spur of the moment thing.

  26. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

    And if you’re giving negative feedback, make sure the room is away from others/soundproof!

    When I was first licensed as a lawyer, I worked in an open plan with about 20 other people. The lead attorney’s office for the given project was just off that large, open room. She proceeded to talk to me for 20 minutes about a mistake (which was a common mistake for new lawyers), while the other people could clearly hear through the wall because the open office was dead quiet.

    Introvert nightmare.

    1. Pwyll*

      Ugh, this. All our conference rooms aren’t soundproof and I cringe every time I hear our partners laying into someone (especially when it’s me).

  27. eplawyer*

    #5, I get not wanting to come in to work based on how you have been treated. However, regardless of their attitude, you need to remain professional. This holds true no matter the company, type of job or rate of pay.

  28. OP #4*

    OP #4 here. Thanks everyone for your comments!

    I understand that it might be a medical condition, but, of course, there’s no way of knowing that unless he told me. I have been ignoring his sleeping and will continue to do so.

    I also get what other commenters have said about the big picture–overall productivity, quality–but in my case, that’s hard for me to gauge as I’m not the supervisor.

    What made the situation confusing for me (and I realize I should have mentioned this in my original question) is that sometimes I need to ask him a question or talk to him while he’s sleeping. We work on a lot of the same time-sensitive projects, so there have been a couple instances where I’ve gone to ask him a question and–oh, gotta wait. He’s sleeping. Of course, I could have gone to his desk to find him unavailable for some other reason–on the phone, talking to someone else, etc. If he was reading the news or online shopping, it would have been acceptable for me to interrupt. I’ve never encountered anyone sleeping at work and didn’t know if ignoring it was the best route.

    As for workplace culture, it’s really NOT ok to sleep at our office. I know a lot of times hearing about a software firm makes people think of casual workplaces, but our office is definitely not like that. The supervisor is very strict, and I highly doubt she’d give him the benefit of the doubt about workplace sleeping being due to an undisclosed medical condition, new baby, etc.

    Thanks again for all your comments.

    1. FD*

      Oh, I’d say wake him up if you have to ask something and it’s time sensitive. As you say, if he were shopping online or playing on Facebook, you would.

    2. N.J.*

      I’d say in the case of him sleeping when you need information that he is interfering with your ability to do your job. I wouldn’t complain to a supervisor or anything, but I would think it’s ok to go ahead and wake him up, just as you said you would usually politely interrupt if he were reading the news or something similar. He is engaging in a personal activity while on work time. Gently wake him, I’d go for it.

    3. NW Mossy*

      Mr. Mossy has narcolepsy, which is one possible medical cause of excessive daytime sleepiness. I asked him what he’d want his co-workers to do and he said to wake him, but with the understanding that it may take him a few minutes before he can interact on a work matter. One of the challenges of narcolepsy is that if you’re woken shortly after you fall asleep, it often triggers confusion and it takes a bit for the brain to reset into wake mode. I’ve definitely seen this myself with Mr. Mossy if I wake him when he’s fallen asleep watching TV – he’ll look at me as if I’m speaking a foreign language until he comes to full consciousness again.

      All that said, if you have anything like a decent relationship with the guy, say something! If you know that the boss is likely to come down like a ton of bricks if she catches him sleeping, giving him a gentle “Hey, I see you sleeping sometimes and I’m concerned Boss will be upset with you if she sees it. I just wanted you to know in case there are steps you can take to avoid falling asleep, or maybe get a checkup just to make sure there’s not something serious going on.”

    4. Erin*

      I hate waking people up in any circumstance, and I think it would probably be very difficult (for me, anyway) and out of the normal comfort zone to do so.

      BUT I think it would be totally reasonable to do it one time, for something time sensitive, and then later say to him casually, “Hey, sorry I had to wake you up before! Is there a different way I should handle that next time? Would you prefer I leave a note on your desk or shoot you an email? I was just worried in this case because of the time sensitivity of the issue.”

      Tone would be important here. You wouldn’t want it to come off as, “Uhhh what should I when you’re sleeping?” I’d approach it with a very nonchalant way, where you’re assuming this is happening for a medical reason that’s none of your business and you’re just gathering information from him on how he wants this stuff handled.

    5. Temperance*

      My husband used to work with a guy who slept on the job. Like, snoring and sleep farting in meetings. The rest of the developers approached their boss about the dude’s unprofessional behavior, they were rebuffed, sleep-farting guy ended up getting more plum jobs and opportunities … so they are leaving, one by one.

      I would wake him up to ask questions, or talk to my boss, because that’s unacceptable.

      1. LBK*

        I cannot imagine maintaining decorum in a meeting with that going on. I’d be losing it, much as I am at my desk right now picturing it.

  29. FD*

    #3- Okay, there’s a lot to unpack here.

    First of all, I do understand where you’re coming from. Wages and benefits are usually the single largest line item for a company, so when the budget gets tight, that tends to be what people think about cutting first.

    But you also have to remember that at the end of the day, directly or indirectly, your people are what make you money. So you have to remember that employees aren’t just costs—they’re revenue drivers. For example, a good A/R person makes sure that vendors are paid on time and accurately, that checks don’t bounce, and that people don’t over-order. This helps maintain good relationships with vendors—which can mean better deals—and keeps you from unexpected cash shortages.

    Moreover, someone who’s great at their job is many times more efficient than someone who’s just ‘okay’ at their job. I can’t find the source right now, but I’d read an interview with someone at the Container Store (which pays employees well above market rate) that they pay employees twice the average rate, but get three times the output.

    Now, if you choose to do this, it is nearly inevitable that the morale of your team will suffer. What you are saying is that the work that your employee does isn’t worth the rate that s/he is being paid. That may be true—but it will create a perception that you do not value their work. It is likely that other employees will look for jobs because they see it as a sign that their jobs aren’t secure, or that they may be facing pay cuts. In addition, low morale tends to lower productivity. Even great employees’ work tends to suffer if their morale is low. That’s not to say you shouldn’t—but you need to be aware of the consequences.

    In my opinion, you’d be better off asking yourself “Are we getting the value for the price we’re paying?” If the answer is no, then instead of trying to reduce the employee’s pay, you’d be better off trying to coach him/her to the highest possible standard. This is true for all of your employees, and for yourself.

    If they can’t live up to high, but realistic, standards, then you can coach them out or eventually let them go. This may still affect morale some—but as long as you are clear about your expectations and hold everyone to them, it will affect it far less than laying off an employee because they’re overpaid.

    If it were me, here’s what I’d do. I would get the team together and have an open, honest conversation with them. Tell them that because revenues are down, everyone’s going to have to tighten their belts a little. Tell them that you want to avoid laying anyone off but to do that, you all need to work together to accomplish your team goals as efficiently as possible. You’re likely to get more buy in and it may bring everyone closer together.

    Finally, I do need to address this. You talk about overpaying your employees and your fear that s/he might sabotage your business. It sounds to me like you’ve fallen into a fairly common management trap of seeing managing as ‘us vs. them’. It can lead to seeing your employees as lazy and stubborn instead of being able to do a realistic assessment of their strengths and weaknesses, and leads to tension and bad communication between managers and line level employees. I would do some soul searching and try to figure out why you feel this way.

    1. FD*

      (I wanted to add that this isn’t meant to detract from the human element of this–but I did want to address the business side of it.)

    2. Chinook*

      I like your advice but I can’t get over how many people are saying that the OP should coach the high costing employee to work at a higher standard. Either that is taking work away from someone else (so a position may still be eliminated) or still not balancing the budget line. Am I missing something here? Just because I can work as a corporate trainer and monitor our vendors’ insurance coverage doesn’t magically mean that another $20,000 will appear in my boss’ budget for someone dealing with invoices. Sure, the extra value of my other tasks means they will try harder to keep me because there is no separate budget line for these things (and if I left they would loose someone doing these things), but if I cost more than they have, than that is reality.

      In my mind, it is like looking at an expensive cashmere sweater. I don’t care if it will last a lifetime, that it is the perfect fit and colour, or that it will make me look amazing, if I don’t have the $250 to pay for it, I can’t have it.

      1. zora*

        well maybe the employee could take some things off of a supervisor’s plate, leaving them more time to focus on clients, or other revenue generating activity. That might not always be possible, but there are often things like that that get overlooked for years, just because everyone is used to the status quo.

        1. Natalie*

          Other possibilities: doing tasks that have previously been outsourced, eliminating that expense, or evaluating existing contracts and suppliers (vendors, cleaning, etc) for cost savings.

      2. SystemsLady*

        I think most are suggesting the employee already works at a higher standard and it is why they got hired at that salary (presumably when the company wasn’t having these problems), which is an important difference. You don’t hire somebody like that being in this type of situation, of course.

        If the process to replace you would cost more than it’d save (in money and intangibles that eventually equal money), the company had better be considering that and swallowing that loss if they have to. At $20k, there’s a significant probability that could be the case.

  30. Abby*

    It isn’t legal to fire someone because health insurance is high. This could get you in serious trouble.

    1. Pwyll*

      I’m not sure that’s right. An employer is certainly opening themselves up to a lawsuit if they start firing employees who need medical care, possibly under the ADA or the FMLA. And the firing could be evidence of other discrimination, based on age or sex. But I’m not sure that it’s illegal to lay off an employee who is too expensive based solely on their salary and health insurance -premiums- (except perhaps if the employer had a self-insurance plan and was unlawfully using the usage information).

      I might be wrong, but I think it’s just a terrible idea, not necessarily an illegal one.

      1. Jessie*

        It can absolutely be illegal. Depends how it is done. Employers can generally restructure positions to be not benefits eligible, which is fine. But targeting a specific employee because of how that employee uses benefits, if those benefits are ERISA benefits, is in fact not legal. If it’s just that, say, she covered by malpractice insurance and the rate to cover her is high, fine. If it is that she has submitted lots of claims to the ERISA insurance plan and you fire her to save those costs, not fine and not legal.

          1. Jessie*

            Premium usage is tricky too, though, depending on what insurance OP 3 means. (Are disability insurance or life insurance premiums high because of the employee’s age or disability status? Then is she in essence laying off an employee because of protected class status?) I’d just stay so far away from targeting any one particular employee because of benefit costs.

  31. Nervous Accountant*

    “I am the only employee who has quit in the last six months, and the job title and length of time employed that the Glassdoor review listed matches my qualifications exactly.”

    THIS THIS THIS. It makes it all seem SO SHADY AF right now!!!!

  32. A Nonny Mouse*

    RE: falling asleep

    About a year ago, I was on some pretty strong medication that caused my blood pressure to drop so low that I would constantly be nodding off. I once actually hit my head on my desk, and would take my lunch hour to have a nap in the recovery room. It was pretty frustrating because I knew it was happening. I also had a coworker once who had sleep apnea, and would do the same thing. Maybe ask him if he’s all right, and then just let it go. He may have already talked to his supervisors about this, in fact – when I realized it was an issue, I went to my boss and explained it and told him that I was working on fixing the issue.

  33. Jessie*

    So I posted this bunches of times, but I really think it is important for OP 3 to know this and to clarify my multiple postings above.

    There is a section of ERISA (section 510) that makes it unlawful for an employer to interfere with an employee’s exercise of her rights under an ERISA plan. Health insurance plans are usually ERISA plans. “Interfere with” here includes firing. You cannot fire someone because they have cost your health plan a lot of money, and you cannot fire someone because they are going to access medical care that will cost you money. (You can’t suspend, fine, discipline, or discriminate against any employee for accessing her ERISA benefits either.)

    So, OP 3, if you are laying her off to save insurance costs, think long and hard about whether those insurance costs are part of an ERISA plan.

  34. AndersonDarling*

    #3 If you are in such a dire situation, cutting one employee is not going to be the solution. The minimal savings will be used up in a month or two of expenses. If you are desperate to retain funds, then it’s time to do an across the board salary cut. Everyone’s salary is cut 5% and no one gets a raise or bonus until the company is back in the green.
    If this is just about the one employee, then cap her salary. We have ranges set for every position and once someone hits the top, they can’t earn any more raises. But I can’t imagine that there is only one employee that has a skewed salary. It may be time to review everyone’s roles and set pay ranges for each position.

    1. Chinook*

      This 100%!!! If one employee is being paid above market rate, chances are good others are too. It sucks to have to tell people that it is time to reevaluate wages, but realistic employees will hopefully realize that this means better financial stability in the long run.

  35. animaniactoo*

    OP#3 – Before you go ahead with this plan, I would check with your higher ups if they’re good with it.

    I’m sure that you were asked to keep costs down and try to find ways to save money – but the owners of your company might be really *really* unhappy with you if you do this without their go-ahead.

    Apart from morale issues, after 2 years, she’s got the institutional knowledge which explains why something is being done a certain way or what the most effective way to deal with a particular issue is within your company or with an outside vendor. Yes, somebody might come in and have a better way to look at or do that – but the probability of that is pretty low if your employee’s work has been good in general.

    Do not step over the dollar to get the dime. And check with your higher ups if this is the kind of area they want you to be looking in for cost savings. They might prefer you do something like renegotiate your insurance premiums with your insurer. Or find software that allows employees to be more efficient, thereby cutting down on overtime hours. Things that help the company without undercutting the loyalty of its employees. Their goals may really be towards not treating employees as disposable parts that are (relatively) easily replaced.

    1. LBK*

      Ehh, I don’t know if that’s the best ideology to follow for decisions like this. Sometimes you have to make a tough choice as a manager. Managing too emotionally is how we end up with managers who won’t deal with problems and who ultimately end up driving out all their good performers.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Yes, exactly. You want to treat people well and be fair, of course, but sometimes you do need to make hard decisions that aren’t optimal for an employee.

    2. TootsNYC*

      Somebody DID do that to me. And I told all my shocked colleagues, “If you gave me the assignment of trimming costs, I’d have probably laid me off too.”

      That company did this sort of thing often.

      other companies deal with the “many years of service at a reasonable raise have taken this position way above the normal salary range” by saying, “here’s the top you can earn in this position, so while you’re doing a great job, we can’t pay you more money.”

      And then the person decides to go get a differnet job, but the resentment is a little lower, and hopefully the morale problem among others isn’t as bad. Because you didn’t yank their job away; you just froze their salary regretfully.

  36. ThatAspieGirl*

    On the sleepy coworker…he may have some sort of sleep disorder. Narcolepsy is the one that comes to mind as the most likely culprit, but it’s not always narcolepsy that makes people fall asleep at seemingly random times. For instance, I have insomnia, I’ve had it since I was very young, and, as I’ve gotten older, it has caused my body to try and “catch up” in the middle of the day – even when I’m in a brightly-lit room and the softest thing in front of me is my busted-up school desk! There are other sleep disorders that could lead to this, too.

  37. TootsNYC*

    #2: Open-office feedback

    If the manager handles this right, this doesn’t have to be a problem.
    However, it needs to be about FEEDBACK, and TRAINING, and FIXING THINGS, not about blame or scolding.

    If you made a mistake you don’t know how to fix, and you ask your manager, and your manager says, “Oh, here’s how you fix that,” then anyone overhearing can learn too.
    In fact, I’ve done this–someone asks me a question, I see a training opportunity, and I take them, and the problem out to the middle and get everyone’s attention:
    “Hey–Mary Beth just asked me about this particular problem. I want to be sure we’re all on the same page, and maybe it’ll be useful for you guys to hear the fix. Here’s what we do…. Any questions? Great. Mary Beth, thanks for bringing this forward. It gave me a chance to be sure we’re all plugged in.”

    Giving feedback–to me anyway, especially if it’s simply fixing a mistake, or work tasks–is not a big deal. It’s not a criticism of someone, and it doesn’t come up in their review at all. (OK, it might come up as “thank you for bringing all this problems and being proactive about fixing them; it makes me feel comfortable that you do that so easily, bcs I know stuff will get fixed right away and you won’t waste time floundering.”)

    I think way too many people think of “correction” as “criticism,” and even as “attack.”
    Managers AND employees.

    I have a “training” plan where I photocopy off work that I think shows an example of a great catch or a good fix (which often means SOMEone missed it the first time). I ask people to review the folder of these papers.
    But I have to stress SO MUCH that nobody is to say, “Oh, I missed that,” or “who was that dumb, to miss it the first time.” The point is, SOMEone caught it, and that I think it’s a smart idea for us all to just review the principle.
    But it’s tough sometimes, to get people out of that “my boss corrected me, and therefore I should be ashamed” mindset.

    I challenge our OP to look at the types of feedback that is being given, and whether it’s truly framed as a punitive thing.

  38. TootsNYC*

    #4: falling asleep

    He’s only slightly senior, so I’d go with the “I’ve noticed you falling asleep for these brief periods. Are you OK? I don’t want to pry, but I also would want to be the friendly voice that says, ‘see a doctor! take care of yourself!’ if you have something going on that you haven’t addressed.
    “And, if you do nod off, is there something you’d like me to do? Should I wake you, or just leave you alone?”

    I’ve just known of too many situations in which someone was lazy/overwhelmed/whatever and ignored a health problem until a colleague said, “Go to a doctor! I’m worried about you.”
    And this is clearly medical; it’s not some “moral condemnation” type thing.

    1. animaniactoo*

      A former co-worker who I frequently hung out with – one day he was looking outright lousy, not feeling well, wouldn’t go home. I went to his boss and told him that CW needed to go home and please go make him go home.

      Boss went and made him go home, wife made him go to the hospital, and he had a heart attack while he was being examined. They told him the condition of his heart was such that if he hadn’t been there where they could get him open and fixed right then, he wouldn’t have survived. For weeks afterwards people kept saying I’d saved his life, but while I may have started it, his boss and his wife did it too. So just to say – yeah, sometimes people need a push.

  39. hayling*

    I know someone who works at Glassdoor, and she said that they see all sorts of shenanigans, including people trying to impersonate another employee. I’m sure that’s what happened.

  40. SuzyQ*

    Re: #5: When I was a teenager, I was fired from a movie theater concession job in that exact way, by simply not being put on the schedule. I was way too young and timid to confront the manager about it. However, my (ex)coworkers told me it was because the usher had complained that I wouldn’t put out for him. Yes, this was a LONG time ago. Managerial sexism and cowardice, all in one fell swoop! I hope the LW find a job where she is treated better than her current employer.

  41. ST*

    I nap almost every day – 30 minutes, generally. It’s my lunch break – I can do what I want with it.

  42. Lisa L*

    LW #4 – I’m wondering if your coworker has a medical problem? My dad has, since he was a teenager, always fallen asleep after sitting for a few minutes. He’s been diagnosed with some sleep disorder and has to take careful precaution when driving/operating machinery, etc. A lot of people assume he’s just being lazy, but sometimes he can’t control it. I hope your coworker sees a doctor and is able to get some help.

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