open thread – January 27-28, 2017

It’s the Friday open thread! The comment section on this post is open for discussion with other readers on anything work-related that you want to talk about. If you want an answer from me, emailing me is still your best bet*, but this is a chance to talk to other readers.

* If you submitted a question to me recently, please don’t repost it here, as it may be in the to-be-answered queue :)

{ 1,820 comments… read them below }

  1. Applying Anon*

    I’m applying for a job that has a posted salary on the description, but still asks for applicants to list their desired salary in the cover letter. The post salary is $8,000 more than my desired salary. So should I actually put my lower desired salary in the cover letter or match their higher posted salary? I’m leaning towards being truthful, if only to get their attention from applicants who would stick to the higher salary.

    1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

      That won’t get their attention in any way that’s good for you; it would make me wonder if you were adequately qualified or if you had good judgment, not make me want to hire you for lowballing yourself. Ask the posted salary and, if you get the job, enjoy an unexpected $8000 bonus.

      1. k*

        On top of that it would make me wonder if you even fully read the job posting, on the same level as someone who didn’t follow the directions.

        I’m guessing either they want to make sure whoever applies isn’t expecting to negotiate for a higher salary. Or possibly they put the listing together in a rush and didn’t realize they’d contradicted themselves a bit.

      2. Bonky*

        If someone applying for a job I was interviewing for did that, I’d have the same reaction: I’d think it was very weird, I’d question their judgment, and I’d worry about their skillset in relation to what I was asking for. I’d also question their confidence and their own sense of their appropriateness for the role. We do look for people who will be confident at work and comfortable in the role they’re applying for, and this would be a big red flag.

        TL;DR: don’t do it.

    2. Christy*

      Why would you do that? Clearly, they value the job at a $X level. And if you’re applying for it to be at a $X-8000 level, does that mean you’ll bring $8000 less value to the position? You have $8000 less qualifications?

    3. Sparty*

      If they are willing to pay the $8,000 more, put that as your desired salary. It is obviously market rate. Don’t sell yourself short.

    4. KatieKatie*

      Use their salary! Or if they let you leave it blank, leave it blank. Don’t give up your bargaining power!

      1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

        This. It’s like playing chess and going, “here, let me tip over this rook for you.” No.

    5. College Career Counselor*

      Is the posted salary a flat salary or a range? If it’s not a range, I’d go ahead and put the salary they’ve listed for the position.

    6. ThatGirl*

      I wouldn’t, the advice to avoid mentioning desired salary seems like good advice – if it’s in the cover letter and not a system demanding a number, mention that their posted salary is in line with your desired salary or something to that effect. Trying to lowball yourself won’t help you in the long run.

    7. animaniactoo*

      Is it your desired salary because it’s what you think is right based on market rate for the position, or because it’s what you need to live on/would like?

      In either case, you are probably not the only thinking of doing this to “stand out” and you’d be clearly leaving money on the table since they’ve indicated more would be available. That’s not a good thing to do to yourself, and it would be better to “stand out” on being the right person for the role based on your skill set and experience.

      1. Teclatrans*

        This is what I was wondering. OP, why is x-$8000 your desired rate? I ask because it is very very common for folks to approach salary and raise negotiations from the point of what they need to be receiving to meet their needs/desires. (I only learned the error of my ways through reading AAM for…wow, years now.)

        If you *have* researched the normal salary range in your city for this sort of position, and they are offering $8000 more than the customary higher end of the range, then I would wonder if you are reading the ad right, or whether there is something about this particular position that requires the company to offer a higher salary to be competitive Not that the latter would be a red flag, but it might mean that your own salary expectation would increase when you learn to are on call 24-7 or something. Either of these would be good reasons to be cagey about expected salary. I like the suggestions people are throwing out to say something like, “the posted salary is within my range.”

    8. Trout 'Waver*

      I’d put, “The posted salary of $x,000 meets my expectations.”

      If you put a lower number in, you’ll be viewed as less competent. You won’t be viewed as a bargain.

    9. AndersonDarling*

      The application is asking for your desired rate because some people will apply thinking they can still get more than the posted rate. Folks will ask for Posted Salary+$5K. So it’s fine to put fill in the rate they have on the job ad…it shows you took the time to read the ad.

    10. Anonymous Educator*

      Yeah, posting a desired salary $8000 lower than what they’re offering makes no sense. That isn’t “honest,” it’s self-sabotaging. “Desired salary” isn’t some empirically predetermined number you have to be “honest” about. It’s determined by market forces and is fluid.

    11. BRR*

      I wouldn’t. It’s perfectly ok for a job to pay more than your desired salary. Plus do you know the other parts of the compensation package? I would maybe put in my cover letter (since they asked for it) that their posted salary range of $X is in line with your desired salary.

      You should focus on having you accomplishments help you get their attention. If they let a lower salary guide their hiring decisions, you don’t want to work there.

    12. Artemesia*

      If I got a lowball from an applicant when I had posted a higher salary, I’d probably discard their application assuming they were not qualified. Otherwise why would they ask for less than I already said I was prepared to pay.

    13. Jaydee*

      You don’t do yourself any favors by lowballing the salary. When they ask that, they want to weed out people whose desired salary is way above their posted salary so that they don’t waste their time interviewing great candidates who aren’t going to accept the job at what they’re willing to pay. Would they like to get someone for less than the posted salary? Maybe. But if they really wanted to pay someone $8,000 less than what they are posting, they should have posted a salary that was $8,000 lower. If you match their posted salary, what you show is that you’ve read the job posting and are aware of what they are willing to pay.

      Now, if they’ve posted a salary range, you might even want to put your desired salary slightly above the bottom of their range if it’s reasonable based on your education/experience for that position. That way you’re leaving yourself a little room to negotiate by not coming in at the absolute lowest number they are willing to offer, but you’re also signaling that you know the top number in the range is intended as a maximum, not as a starting salary.

    14. Mimmy*

      Why do employers do this? My university includes the pay (hourly or salary) in each post. Yet, when I applied for a part-time job last fall, the system asked me to enter my desired pay. Most times the posted pay is a range, but IIRC, the job gave a specific hourly pay, $X/hr. So I had to put exactly that, $X/hr.

      I like the wording others gave, saying that the posted salary is in line with your expectations.

      1. AJ*

        Seems like that the “desired salary” box is a default in the application management system your university purchased, and either it can’t be disabled or HR has neglected to do so.

      2. Anon13*

        I think it’s because (sadly) there will always be some applicants who don’t read the entire listing. I guess they figure having people actually type out the amount is a good way of ensuring they actually read the salary portion of the listing, and it’s in line with what the applicant is looking for. (I’m not in HR, though, so this is just a guess.)

    15. Ask a Manager* Post author

      It won’t get their attention in a good way! Decent employers aren’t looking for the lowest-priced candidate, especially not one who comes in lower than what they already said they would pay. That’s not how you stand out. Stand out by being a great candidate, nothing else.

  2. Audiophile*

    I’m resigning from my job today. I had an interview on Wednesday and had called out sick. I came in yesterday and repeated that I was sick to direct boss. A few minutes later, big boss told me she saw me on Wednesday.

    We’re scheduled to have a meeting in the afternoon at which point I’ll hand in a resignation letter.
    I’ll ask that they not contest unemployment and set a timeline for when I’d officially stop working. I only took the interview because I felt the PIP was not going to end well.

    1. Whats In A Name*

      I hope your resignation goes well – I am sorry you were put in an uncomfortable position but hopefully it all turns out for the best and they grant your wish to not contest unemployment.

    2. Any Moose*

      Don’t resign-ask to be laid off. And so what if she saw you? Just because you are out sick doesn’t mean you are stuck inside. Maybe you were going to the doctor or picking up medicine or whatever.

      1. Audiophile*

        I don’t know that they would agree to a layoff. While I’m inclined to agree with you that an employee’s sick time is their business, I’m sure it was obvious what I was doing. At this point, they know I lied and they’re clearly angry about it.

        I really hoped to stay a few more months and then leave.

    3. Anon13*

      Ugh. This really stinks. Fingers crossed that you are able to get unemployment (and that the interview leads to an offer or another interview, if you felt it would be a good fit).

      1. Audiophile*

        Two reasons: I was basically on a performance improvement plan, and it did not seen to be turning around to their satisfaction. And I got caught lying about being sick. So if they weren’t planning to terminate me BEFORE, I’m prerty sure they area now.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          If you quit, you probably won’t get unemployment, whereas you might be able to if you’re fired. So I would take that into consideration when you talk to them.

          Also, good luck with the interview!

          1. Audiophile*

            Well I’d ask them not to contest unemployment, if I resign. Which they may be willing to do.

            1. MegaMoose, Esq*

              Eligibility for unemployment in the US is determined by a state agency, not your employer, so even if your employer agrees not to contest, you can absolutely be denied benefits (and most if not all states deny benefits if you quit).

              1. copy run start*

                IF you were going to do it, you’d have to say you were laid off or quit because you thought you were going to be fired.

                Saying you’re laid off is very shaky legally, but I’ve seen it work successfully when the employer doesn’t contest. You’re still at risk of UI fraud though.

                Saying you quit because you thought you’d be fired would have to go to someone to adjudicate. I’ve seen it work when employers couldn’t prove they gave the employee warnings in certain situations. This can turn into a long drawn out process for not a whole lot of money. You can appeal the decision UI makes and so can your employer.

                I’ve seen many failures in both cases.

            2. Uzumaki Naruto*

              I think this will become really hard to manage if you lead with resigning.

              Maybe start by seeing what they have to say. If they’re mad or look like they want to fire you, then raise the issue of whether they think it’s not working out and if so whether you ought to mutually discuss parting ways, and as part of that parting ways you want a severance or for them not to contest unemployment.

              If you just flat-out quit, they have no reason to offer you unemployment. But if they’re going to fire you (for seeing you in a suit!), they will probably have to pay it. So then at that point you’re just negotiating what to call it.

      2. Audiophile*

        Thanks for the advice, Alison and everyone else.

        I kept my mouth shut, like everyone suggested and I didn’t resign. They let me go but they’re not calling it a firing and won’t contest unemployment if I file and will provide a positive reference. I eventually said I had an appointment in the city and that was why big boss saw me.

    4. Mena*

      Yeah, I was out on Tuesday … getting a chest X-ray and picking up prescriptions.
      Don’t resign – see what they have to say first.

      1. Audiophile*

        I was in a suit and heels, though I’m not sure how good a look big boss got, but there’s no way they’d believe that. I was in Manhattan, I don’t live anywhere near there so it just wouldn’t fly. That would only serve to make the initial lie worse. I’m worried about letting them fire me because I’m being canvassed for a state job, I’d rather resign and say it was a poor fit.

        1. MoinMoin*

          I trust you know the situation better than we do, so good luck and I’m sorry. But if they won’t agree not to contest unemployment, I strongly suggest not resigning. Sick time should just be renamed ‘unscheduled time off.’ That’s all it is and the only parameter by which it should generally be judged.

          1. Marisol*

            Yeah, I don’t see why you’d want to rely on an employer’s goodwill regarding a matter like unemployment. What’s in it for them; why would they give you money when they don’t have to? It seems risky to me.

          1. Uzumaki Naruto*

            This is believable — I suspect some people would actually get dressed up to see a legit expert medical specialist. At the very least it gives you enough cover to go on.

            Plus, if you ever want to have to explain being fired or why you left a job, “I was fired because they saw me wearing a suit outside of work” strikes me as a really good reason.

            1. Turanga Leela*

              Yeah, especially if you have to meet with a group of doctors or administrators. People have to meet with panels to discuss treatment plans. Or maybe Audiophile had to meet with the hospital ethics committee or something.

          2. Turanga Leela*

            Also, even if you already called in that day with a head cold, stomach bug, etc… Let me tell you about something that happens to me. Occasionally I’ll start the day feeling like I’m just kind of sick, but eventually it gets much worse, and I have to call my doctor or the nurse hotline, and they’ll tell me to go see a doctor. Once they sent me to the ER (for my kid, not myself, but still). That could have happened to you.

            I’m not saying to say any of this—don’t get into elaborate stories—but you can remind yourself that these things happen, and you legitimately could have had a cold in the morning but have had to see a specialist in the afternoon.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          I am needing a follow up here, how did you fare with this? Do you still have a job? I hope you are okay.

          1. Audiophile*

            It got nested under some other comments.

            They let me go the other day, but are not calling it a firing and have agreed not to contest unemployment. They’ve also agreed to provide a positive reference. Tomorrow, I’ll begin my unemployment claim, but I’m hopeful it won’t be a long stretch. Last time I was unemployed at the end of June, it was about 2 1/2 weeks before I got a new offer.

    5. Ketchikan9*

      I agree with what many others are saying: Don’t resign. Sick doesn’t mean stuck home. They may even be bluffing in the hopes of getting this response out of you. Please let us know how it works out! I am worried for you.

    6. Sas*

      Oh, this is so rough to see. Have you tried what Aam suggested? That is really rough that someone would do that to you. Don’t think that “what you were doing was obvious.” Unless you pulled your pants down and were taking a shi- in the employee parking lot, well, even then it could be argued I suppose. Try to take these posters good words to use.

    7. pahcad*

      Why are they surprised/offended you are looking for another position? People start looking if they are on a PIP. It’s smart and normal. If they ask, tell them you had important personal legal appointment and leave at that. It’s none of their business. Don’t hand in the resignation letter until it is absolutely necessary. Keep your options open. Good luck.

      1. Fortitude Jones*

        Hell, I’m looking now because my division’s metrics have changed in such a drastic way that I know for a fact I won’t be able to keep up, and I’m not even on a PIP. I’m preempting the PIP. So I would not blame someone in Audiophile’s position for looking while on a PIP – that’s just smart.

      2. Not A Morning Person*

        The concern by the managers may be that they can say that the OP lied to them. It could be because OP requested to use sick leave vs. vacation/pto day. Although in most cases if it is classified as PTO, there doesn’t need to be a reason attached, managers will be more flexible for last minute time off when you say you are ill. But when an employee is on a PIP, managers can be stricter. I like Alison’s advice. Call it a last minute appointment for a medical evaluation by a hard to schedule physician’s office or whatever. Don’t quit. See what they say first. Negotiate after you know for a fact that they intend to fire you vs. them just getting some explanation for what they think they saw. Good luck in finding a position that fits!

      3. TootsNYC*

        Yeah, I don’t get this.

        I’d be so happy if someone I had on a PIP was looking for a new job. I’d hope that they’d get a new job quickly, and all the uncertainty and extra work on my end would be over!

  3. Definitely Anon Today*

    Just over six months ago I got promoted to my current role which was a big step up for me in position though not so much in pay. I was friendly with my predecessor and worked with her on some projects so I had a good idea of what the position was and I read and re-read the job description before I took the position. Before I was essentially an admin assistant and now I am a department of one in charge of coordinating compliance efforts (among other things) with my boss who is one of the VPs and oversees a massive arm of the company.
    So here’s my issue…its clear on my job description that I am meant to be assisting with compliance documentation, but it seems like my boss has just let me “have at it”. This is a massive undertaking and I essentially need to tap into every person’s knowledge to compose these extensive reports, which, I have never done before.
    At first, I was concerned that my boss was setting me up to be the scapegoat, but her name is still on the documentation as the submitter and she seems entirely pleased with my work which is why she just tells me to submit it without her review. (And has just signed my probationary review stating how impressed she is, etc., so it’s on record). I’ve just got a bunch of major compliance reports that need to be done relatively soon dropped on my desk, and while I’m up for a challenge, the stakes are really high; if I mess up and we are deemed noncompliant it would certainly be the end of my career and my company risks losing the new program we fought so hard for. Which would be a VERY VERY big deal. I really don’t feel that I am being compensated for the level of responsibility that I have seemingly undertaken. The difference between my admin salary and what I make now is about 4k. With all these massive projects that I’m about to undertake, should I speak to my boss about a raise? Or is it too soon?

    1. Smiling*

      Is it possible that you misunderstood your boss? Perhaps the boss wants you to create the drafts of the reports, but will review everything with you once the first draft it done.

    2. Liz2*

      So if you were paid more you’d be able to be confident in your reports? I guess I am not sure if the issue is a lack of experience and worries of backlash when things go bad, or the issue is payment for the level of work they ask for?

      1. animaniactoo*

        I think it’s more “I’d feel appropriately compensated for taking on this much responsibility and risking my entire career”.

        I think the bigger issue is to push back on the “submit without my review” and be clear that since it is her name on the submission, DAT doesn’t feel comfortable doing that. If her boss would like to submit it herself without reviewing it or give it a cursory review and telling DAT to go ahead and submit, it takes most of the responsibility for it off DAT’s shoulders.

        1. AnonAnalyst*

          I agree with this. Since the documentation is submitted under the boss’ name, I would imagine that if issues come up the repercussions would fall on her since it’s ultimately her responsibility and she’s giving the sign off.

          I personally would find it odd if someone on my team came to me asking for a raise in this situation. I think after you’ve been there longer you could make the case for a raise because you have taken on a lot of that work and saved your manager a lot of time since she obviously values the quality of your work. But I think you need to be in that role for at least a year before you can convincingly make that argument.

          In the interim, I would continue to forward all of the documentation along for your manager’s review and maybe have a broader conversation about your concerns so you are both on the same page.

        2. Definitely Anon Today*

          Yes, this. I think what’s bothering me is that these reports aren’t regular annual or monthly reports. They’re massive we-usually-have-a-whole-department-do this, only occur once every five year type reports, so I feel like the stakes are so high and I’ve got too much skin in the game and that I’m being a taken advantage of a little bit. I did a search yesterday of jobs similar to mine, with similar levels of (my new) responsibilities, at companies of comparable size. I couldn’t find one that is responsible for all the areas that I deal with – most only dealt with one of the three, though there were a few that dealt with two, and all of them paid double, or more than what I currently make.

          I did also talk to my boss about whether or not she intends me to take lead for the entire project or if she just wants me to get the ball rolling and she confirmed that yes, I’m responsible for all of it (and even tacked on a few more new responsibilities!) from start to finish. The only person that will be reviewing it is the grandboss, who typically skims through these sorts of things as his signature is required to verify the content.

          1. animaniactoo*

            Question: Are you rotating through due once-every-five-year reports, or is this “these few reports which come up once every 5 years and then your job will go back to more mundane stuff”?

            1. Definitely Anon Today*

              That’s a really good question and the short answer is no. This is a one-time thing…sort of. My boss made it very clear that she didn’t appreciate how my predecessor managed the department and going forward she has asked that I do two yearly audits in preparation of our next big five-year report (which has slightly different and more in depth criteria than the current one). The audits would be on two different topics. This is in addition to the other big ticket items that I’m actually meant to fully take care of – I don’t want to get into specifics, but I’m also responsible for the planning and assessment of goals for each department in the company as well as for the formal results from three big conference-like events we hold a year (think creation of paper survey, dissemination, retrival, running data, formal analysis, dissemination of appropriate results to 90+ people, all done manually despite my attempts to get proper softwares.) So this vastly increases my workload in an area that is barely covered on my job description, it’s simply handled as “assist the VP with compliance”.

              1. animaniactoo*

                Okay, I think then that it sounds like you have the room to say something along the lines of:

                “Lucinda, I’d like to talk to you about my responsibilities. First off, I’d like to be clear that I’m not complaining – I’m glad that you think I’m capable of doing all of this, and that you’ve been happy with the results of my work. However, it is a lot more than I thought I was taking on, so I’ve done some checking to see what the general standard would be for this kind of work. While I realize that it would be relatively soon to discuss a raise, it looks like my salary is on the low side. Is there room to talk about that about how or when we could get me up to something that’s closer to market rate?”

                That said – if you have a yearly performance review, it might make a lot more sense to make the argument for a raise then; with a solid year’s worth of proven ability to do the job and in a setting that is more of a natural venue for talking about such stuff.

    3. Trout 'Waver*

      Personally, I think 6 months is a little soon regardless of what you’ve accomplished. But your boss may disagree. I wouldn’t push too hard, tbh. Maybe you can say something like, “When I took this position, I thought I would be doing X, Y, and Z tasks, but instead I’m doing the higher stress and higher profile tasks of A, B, and C. I am working independently and at a high level, and have been successful at 1, 2, and 3 specific accomplishments. I appreciate the faith you have shown in me so far. I know I’ve only been here 6 months, but I think we should review my compensation given how this position has changed and the nature of the work I’ve been doing. $XX,000 is in line with the local job market for people who accomplish these tasks.”

      If you get a no, you can follow up with, “Does it make sense to come back to this if and when we pass the compliance audit, since it is such a major milestone?”

  4. AliceBD*

    I’m applying for jobs, and I was supposed to follow up with some people this week. But I was in a car accident on Sunday night, so all of that went out the window since I’ve been dealing with not feeling great, plus insurance nonsense and not having a car. I want to reply to some people tonight. Do I say I was in an accident? Or just not mention it? How do I handle it?

    1. Audiophile*

      Are these places you’ve interviewed? Or just jobs you applied to? I don’t check on applications personally, as most companies send out automated replies as a confirmation.

      As for your question, I think you could mention being in an accident.

      1. AliceBD*

        Sorry yes they are places I have done preliminary interviews with. (HR/recruiter, not hiring manager)

    2. EnviroEducator*

      I think you could definitely mention it – not go into any detail, but just a quick thing saying, “I apologize for my delayed response; I was in a car accident on Sunday evening. I’m recovering well, but my week hasn’t gone quite as planned!”

      1. Marisol*

        I like this response the best of the ones I’ve read in this thread. I personally would be sure to mention my injury, directly or indirectly, so as not to seem like I just couldn’t handle my shit. So something like, “I’m recovering well” as EnviroEducator suggests is great, or “my injuries are not severe, but they are slowing me down a bit. I expect to be back on track within the next 7 to 10 days.” That’s not a perfect wording but what I’m trying to get across is that I’d want to avoid giving the impression that I had a fender bender and felt too emotionally overwhelmed by it to coordinate repairs, deal with insurance, etc. I would avoid any language like what you say in your original post–not to pick on you; I know this is just a blog comment, but just to give an example–“I’m not feeling great” could be interpreted as an emotional state; “insurance nonsense” is also vague and a bit too editorial (although I agree, it is a bunch of nonsense and can completely relate to what you’re going through). Just state the facts: “I will be getting my rental on Wednesday and am available to meet any day after that,” “I anticipate a full recovery by next week, and will resume answering emails and coordinating meeting times then,” that sort of thing.

    3. Lemon Zinger*

      Oh dear, I am so sorry. I hope you’re on the mend! Be gentle with yourself.

      I would just reply, via email or by phone, with a quick “I am so sorry for the delayed response; I was in a car accident on Sunday. I would love to know the status of my application.”

    4. cookie monster*

      as a hiring manager expecting to hear from you, I would definitely want to hear something along the lines of “so sorry I’m just getting back to you now, I had a car accident over the weekend and have been dealing with that all week” or something.

      1. k*

        Yes. Telling them about the accident shows that this is a fluke, and doesn’t represent how you normally handle yourself.

    5. Nynaeve*

      If you just applied, but haven’t been in any kind of contact, don’t worry about it. You don’t need to (and probably shouldn’t) follow up at all. If you were contacted about an interview or are following up after an interview, then you can definitely apologize for the delay and briefly mention the accident to provide context.

      I was in an accident two weeks ago, so I sympathize! It can really throw you off your game. Cut yourself some slack because it really is a lot to deal with.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      A car accident can make our bodies feel like one gigantic bruise. Be sure to get extra rest and perhaps a good soak in a warm tub.

      You can check with your policy/agent to see if you are covered for the cost of a temporary, substitute vehicle.

      I think it is fine to say that you were sidetracked because a car accident but you are getting back on track now and following up to their email.

    7. TeacherNerd*

      Were you told WHEN to follow up this week? Since it’s at the end of the week at this point, I’d shoot folks an e-mail (if that’s possible) and just do the “Hey, I’m just following up!” thing. I’d also say something along the lines of, “I was an unwilling participant in a car accident earlier in the week and I haven’t been feeling well as a result; I’m so sorry it’s the end of this week that you’re hearing from me.”

    8. Not A Morning Person*

      The advice from others about how to follow up is good. On another note, if the accident was caused by the other driver, let YOUR insurance company handle it. Use your company and let them negotiate with the other driver or the other driver’s insurance company. Don’t even talk with the other party’s insurance representative. Let your insurance representative guide you. (Of course, if you were at fault, your insurance representative should already be involved.) I am sorry your are having to deal with this! Take care of yourself!

  5. Sunflower*

    My boss has been experiencing a lot of personal loss lately. Shes had 2 family members die in the past 7 weeks and her grandmom had a stroke few weeks ago and is taking a downturn. Of course, these people are spread out all over the country and her family is a little nuts so between traveling, handling the logistics of all these things and trying to keep her family in check all while keeping up with work, she’s exhausted.

    She seems to be handling it really well- not bringing any issues into work, relaxing when she can, still getting work done but I’m not really sure what I should be doing. I’ve let her know that I’m available to do anything she needs- work late, travel, etc. I’m trying to take as much off her plate as I’m able to but there are certain things I’m not at the level to handle. I know her boss has said to not worry about work and do what she needs to do and we’ll get stuff done here. I’ve expressed that I’m sorry but I’m really bad at handling this kind of stuff.

    IDK if I should be doing anything else? Send a card? Offer any other help?

    1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

      I think a card expressing sympathy for tough times would be a nice thing to do. Otherwise, I’d follow her lead and let her figure out what level of help she needs. In similar circumstances, I’ve found work kind of a welcome distraction, and I’ve been annoyed by overly solicitous coworkers trying to lighten the load.

    2. Persephone Mulberry*

      I think you should just keep doing what you’ve been doing – especially keeping an eye out for things that you can proactively take off her plate. It sounds like between you and her boss, she’s got a really great support team around her, and I’m sure she’s grateful.

    3. Corky's wife Bonnie*

      Ooof, that’s rough. If you cook, how about making a meal that freezes well? I did this for a co-worker once, it was nothing special, just a chicken dish. They told me later how much they appreciated it because it was one less thing they had to think about.

      1. Biff*

        What a great suggestion. So often when people make something for someone, it’s baked goods. A chicken dish, or soup, or breakfast bars would be great.

      2. Sunflower*

        I would love to but we aren’t in the same office and she changes her diet a lot. Like one day she’s vegetarian, the next she’s vegan.

        I know she really likes candy- she always carries it around?

        1. KellyK*

          Vegan is more restrictive, so if she fluctuates between the two, something that avoids animal products entirely should be safe for either. If she changes more than just that, like one week she’s doing low-carb paleo and eating piles of steaks and the next week she’s vegan, then the only way to make her something is to ask what foods she’s currently avoiding.

          1. vpc*

            Fruit goes bad too fast and you can be overwhelmed with food at first (in my casserole-bringing midwestern heritage, anyway) — maybe a vegan bean chili, pre-packaged in two or three containers that can freeze?

            One of my go-to “visiting the sick or laid up” meals is chicken tender packets. Get a big package of raw chicken tenders at the grocery store and split them up into appropriately sized foil packets (one-three tenders per person in the family in each packet) and then in each packet drizzle a tbsp of olive oil and sprinkle with some kind of seasoning. Use a permanent marker to write ingredients and instructions on the packet: i.e. “chicken tenders with ranch seasoning, bake 40 min at 350” or something — wrap up the packet and they freeze; throw them in the oven directly in the packet to cook, no dirty dishes.

            1. Kms1025*

              This is a wonderful idea! I’m going to try it for myself for quick and easy “oh crap I forgot to lay something out for dinner” nights :)

    4. Lemon Zinger*

      Just keep up the great support and sympathy you’re showing by doing your job well, and by being extra flexible. You shouldn’t give her a gift or anything; she knows you’re thinking of her and wanting to support her in any way you can, work-wise.

    5. Chaordic One*

      It sounds like you’re a thoughtful and considerate person and I think you’ve done everything well. Your boss has been through a lot lately and isn’t out of the woods yet. It’s hard to say for sure what will happen so just be organized and available for her and your company in the future.

      Keep the office going in her absence by doing as much as you can without her and help her get caught up when she gets back.

    6. SomeoneLikeAnon*

      I’d leave her alone/follow her lead. People grieve in different ways and you bringing up how you could help could make her feel very uncomfortable.

      When my father died everyone constantly coming over to “see how I was” or “if I needed anything” grated on my nerves. Most people weren’t close friends, it felt intrusive, nosey, and forced.

  6. Oh Lord, This Job*

    This week’s work drama roundup:
    (a) One of my coworkers has come down with some mystery issue where he needs to require accommodation to have people not come in sick. (Beyond that, I don’t know what is going on and he really doesn’t want me to know, so I can’t elaborate.) Apparently when he told TPTB this, he was told he has to disclose this to the entire office by doing a presentation at the all staff meeting. Whaaaat? Um, why can’t someone just say something like, “Please don’t come into work ill?” and leave it there? Coworker has gone to disability services to complain and higher ups are being called. We had the meeting yesterday and so far, no presentation.
    (b) At the aforementioned staff meeting, instead we had a higher-up come in for a Q&A about office transitions. During which she admitted that higher-ups here make decisions and then don’t tell the peons, they ask for input and don’t actually want it, nobody does cross training and “successful orgs don’t work like that” (LOL), bullying is going on, and not every person should be made a supervisor based on seniority. Thanks for your honesty!
    (c ) The aforementioned coworker got up the nerve during the meeting to ask the BigBoss when he was going to address our lists of complaints they had us make in November. BigBoss was all, “We already did that…uh, I guess when my #2 comes back I could have her do something…” Then BigBoss called him for a “chat” right after the meeting was over. He didn’t get fired, it sounds like he “let it all hang out,” and BigBoss basically said he wasn’t aware of all of the drama and nobody had told him much of anything (BigBoss currently doesn’t even have an office in the office that he runs, he works on the very opposite side of town from us), but he doesn’t know how to handle it. Which is about what I figured, really.
    (d) We had our building shut down because there “might” be protesters this week. There weren’t any, so halfway through the day they started announcing it was some kind of emergency maintenance training… thing. LOL.
    (e) The BigBoss’s secretary is retiring and they’re…basically not gonna be able to replace her for a few weeks so, hope we can get someone else to deal with money issues between now and then!

    My coworkers still get angry at all of this shit and think they can do something about it (and if they can, good on them! So far nobody else has managed, but if they’re willing to risk their jobs…up to you), but at this point all I can do is sit back and laugh and roll my eyes.

    1. this*

      Yes – sometime it’s all about the entertainment value. Although eventually that isn’t even enough anymore.

    2. Artemesia*

      If an office is going to have an accommodation in which no one can work sick they are going to have to provide unlimited sick leave.

        1. KellyK*

          Yeah, very true. If someone really can’t be around sick people, that should be accommodated, but not at the expense of making other employees burn through all their paid sick time and have to take days unpaid.

        2. Oh Lord, This Job*

          They’ve tried to set up WFH, but almost nobody could get the systems to work remotely. This really isn’t a job where you can do that anyway.

          As for sick leave, apparently this is more of a problem for the part time workers than the full time people. Or anyone who’s used up all their time with their own illnesses, I guess.

    3. Temperance*

      Re: (a)

      That’s sort of strange. I have a weak immune system and would LOVE this, but I think it needs more explanation. Do they mean that you can’t come in with allergies, or a cold, or a sinus infection that’s being treated but looks scary? I think that you guys need more information than “don’t come to work sick”.

      1. RVA Cat*

        I just hope they don’t make this guy give a presentation (!) to disclose to the whole office (!) that he is HIV positive or is having chemo or something. Because, wow.

        1. Lee*

          Or lupus. Or any array of auto-immune conditions.
          Also, some people show no symptoms before they’re “stay at home sick” but are still highly contagious, so their policy doesn’t really 100% solve anything, especially in the long term.

      2. Bex*

        My office had a similar situation, and it was due to a coworker going through chemo. They handled it very tactfully though. There was an office-wide reminder not to come to the office if you felt sick, and each team lead talked to their teams about working-from-home options. They also posted signs at the sinks reminding people that handwashing was important to keep everyone healthy. Most of us knew why they were doing it, but they were very careful not to single out the employee.

      3. Marcela*

        This can become very complicated if not done properly. I am always sick: I have intestinal endometriosis and suffer it every single day. Being sick is normal for me, although now it’s been controlled for two years and I live like a normal and healthy person. However, do not tell me “don’t come to work sick”, first because I can’t, and second, because I already suffer because of this dammed illness and accepting its consequences has not been a day in the park AT ALL. It is precisely my conflict with endo that would make me react badly, even knowing that by sick, nobody is thinking about me.

      4. Oh Lord, This Job*

        That’s what I’d like to know. Like if I have a sore throat and stuffy nose for five days, I have to spend all week out of work? And who’s going to do my job (which nobody else does and I have no backup) while I’m out with a stuffy nose?

    4. Stellaaaaa*

      If the accommodation is “don’t come in sick,” IMO it’s completely logical for there to be an official office-wide meeting to discuss what counts as being sick and how absences will be handled. Does his accommodation mean paying YOU to not show up? Or alternately, does his accommodation punish you by forcing you to use up your sick time or risk your employment by forcing you to take off all of allergy season? I have to say, I don’t think this accommodation would fall under the “reasonable” umbrella without a whole lot of clarification and specifics being hammered out. This guy’s ability to show up to work with a compromised immune system (or whatever) doesn’t automatically trump your right to come to work with the sniffles.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Half of us walk around sick and don’t even realize for a day or three. One place I worked for the whole department need to call in for a whole week. This would have shut down the department which could not be happening.

      2. AMT*

        It would be logical to have an informational meeting like the one you describe, but it sounds like he was asked to disclose his specific illness in a staff meeting, which I don’t think is reasonable. Saying “X, Y, and Z can make me sick” doesn’t have to entail saying “I have X disease,” and it really should be a manager making the announcement to preserve the employee’s privacy.

        1. Stellaaaaa*

          I’m not so sure. This is a case where every single employee, not just the employer, is bearing the brunt of the accommodation and possibly being punished for their own imperfect health. That already makes me wonder if this accommodation is reasonable. The employees are being asked to self-police when they possibly also have their own illnesses and accommodations. Things don’t have to get to “not everyone can have sandwiches” territory before the only way to clarify things is to explain what the accommodated employee is working with. We’re talking about a situation where management can ask employees about their health and make determinations about it in the interest of protecting the accommodated employee. How on earth are they going to know if anyone is sick without asking them? How are they going to know if employees have “banned” illnesses without inquiring about specifics? I don’t see how that could be possible if the accommodated employee can’t also be asked what he has. Either everyone has to disclose illnesses (which isn’t cool) or no one does.

    5. Master Bean Counter*

      Okay the coworker in (a) is my hero. Anything to get sick people to stay hoe and not share germs. Really we should have that here because there’s a lady on medication that suppresses her immune system. She had to take a month off the last time she got sick. I feel for her.

      1. Temperance*

        I’ve been fighting severe bronchitis/near pneumonia since the first week of January. It’s not really feasible for me to stay home for almost a month with a minor illness.

    6. MoinMoin*

      Glad you have a sense of humor, geez….
      That presentation seems like an excellent way to target individuals requiring accommodations! Good gracious, I hope your HR department has better sense.

  7. bassclefchick*

    Well, I have an interview set up for next week. Obviously, my resume and cover letters are doing their jobs. They did ask if I’ve been fired and I was honest. I’ve been rather picky about what I apply for, so this should be a better fit.

    Now I’m off to an appointment with a career counselor, so things are looking up!

  8. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

    So please don’t turn this into a politics discussion, because I’m going to skirt pretty close….but the next few months are go time for me on the project I’ve been working on since August, and I really need to be productive, but I feel like current events are bumming me out so hard I can’t focus and don’t care. Any tips on pushing forward and being productive in times that feel fraught?

    1. Anonymous Poster*

      When I’ve been in a similar situation, I had a self-imposed media blackout or really restricted what I look at. If things affected me I’d hear through management and via email, instead of trying to figure it out via the media.

      It might help? Good luck.

        1. Christy*

          I deleted the Facebook app (I still use Groups to keep in touch with my internet friends) and I am so much happier. If I’m ever desperate I can use the browser.

          1. Jaydee*

            You have changed my life for the better! I didn’t know there was a separate Groups app. My Facebook feed causes me so much anxiety, but I kept the app to keep track of posts in my groups.

        2. Not The Droid You Are Looking For*

          The best advice I have had is really to stay in the moment and focus on the projects we can work on now, rather than worry about what might happen (or what might not get funded).

        3. Getaway Girl*

          I deactivated my Facebook account for this reason, about two weeks ago. I have been surprised at how little I’ve missed it. Outside of work, I’ve been happier and more productive with a few hobbies that are infinitely more rewarding than getting bummed out by current events. Maybe I’m putting myself in a bubble, but I’m giving myself permission for the short term. Sometimes you just have to tune out of what’s important to the masses to focus on what’s important to you. Good luck with the project.

        4. zora*

          Yeah, I deleted Fb from my phone. I have aggressively curated my instagram feed so that I am only following people who post art or videos of cake decorating, etc, so that i don’t see anything political.

          And I’ve downloaded some meditation/yoga apps that have nature sounds with calming videos so i can take 5 minutes to stare at rain in the trees, etc. I like the Calm app, but there are tons.

          1. MoinMoin*

            Instagram doesn’t have features like friending without following, right? I deleted my FB app back in August, which turned out to be a great decision (and I’ve pretty much cut down on most news since November), but FB friends have started finding me on Insta now and they follow me and then I feel like I have to follow them and my amazing feed is going from dogs and hiking to just the same junk I was getting away from on FB.

            1. zora*

              No, it doesn’t, but unfollowing them isn’t like unfriending on FB, they can still follow you if they want to!

              I just unfollowed a bunch of people. It’s probably temporary. I do feel like people feel differently about being unfollowed on IG than being unfriended on FB. I don’t think you should feel obligated to follow someone back. I have lots of friends now who follow me on IG, but I don’t follow back. I don’t think people really notice who isn’t following them, and there are different expectations for IG. I hope. ;o)_

              1. MoinMoin*

                Thanks! I see a lot of #followforfollow stuff, but your version of Insta etiquette sounds better, so I’ll take it as canon. ;-)

                1. Random Citizen*

                  Other option is to follow them but mute their posts (I think you can do that on ig). That way you are still “following” them, if they happen to care about that, but their posts don’t show up in your feed.

      1. Hellanon*

        I’ve put a Personal Media Strategy in place, with involves a) no TV or radio news about current politics – that stuff gets mentioned, I switch the channel – and b) drastic limits on what I’m reading/engaging with on social media. Actively avoiding the broadcast media coverage keeps my blood pressure/rage response down to a manageable level, and for bonus points, has improved my ability to concentrate on books. Currently I’m reading Misbehaving, about how people make bad decisions & how economics as a discipline has such a hard time coming to terms with this idea.

        So, avoidance, basically, and engaging only with what you can productively engage with – feeling yourself turn into a cartoon Tasmanian devil is unsustainable in the long term, and as it’s only going to get worse, long-term sustainability is going to be a challenge.

      2. AKJ*

        This. I’ve been doing the same thing, shutting off as much media as I can. It’s not that I don’t want to be informed, but at a certain point you have to take care of yourself too. I’ve also found myself getting more interested in my hobbies since the election – embroidery and what not – and that has also been a helpful distraction. I didn’t specifically set out to do that, but I think it was a subconscious way of trying to get preoccupied with something other than the news.

        1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

          I’m lucky in that my hobby is cooking, which I do every night anyway.

        2. Witty Nickname*

          I cut out most broadcast media as a source of information back in 2010, and have started to even phase out some of the political comedy programs that I think do good commentary and generally have points of view that I like, because even that has become too stressful. I do better if I get my news online – I can save articles to read later if I can’t handle the stress now, or skip things completely (or read about that topic from a different source). But it’s also important for me to have a creative outlet that lets me channel some of that stress. I’m a knitter, but I feel guilty if I am not knitting something for my knitting group at church or the blanket I’m working on for my daughter. So I gave myself permission to take up a new hobby and jumped into counted cross stitch (I’ve done embroidery and printed cross stitch in the past, so it wasn’t a huge leap to counted); and since when I jump in on a craft, I like to just jump into the deep end, I’ve decided to make this my feminist creative outlet, and have started to design my own pattern (combination of graph paper and an online program that will take a picture and convert it to a cross stitch pattern).

      3. Lily in NYC*

        This. I recently had three weeks off and I didn’t watch or read the news the entire time (and I used to work in political journalism and am a bit of a news junkie). It was glorious – my stress level decreased dramatically. I’ve been back for three weeks now and I’ve semi-continued my news blackout. I keep myself informed, but I try to step back when I find myself getting stressed again. My mom is annoyed because I cut her off when she starts complaining about you-know-who, but she’ll get over it.

        1. Lily in NYC*

          I forgot to say – I’ve been watching a lot of ancient history documentaries lately. It makes me feel better to remember that yes, the world is messed up, but it always has been and we get through it.

          1. zora*

            Yeah, I’ve always been an activist/worked in politics, so it was weird to make myself take a total break from the news, but it’s definitely helping.

            And my replacement has been really old comedy podcasts, like 2012 and earlier, Comedy Bang Bang, Thrilling Adventure Hour, Nerdist, anything that is silly and makes me laugh. And I’ve been reading only novels, which might be the best thing, actually, reading a wonderful Octavia Butler book is making me so happy.

      1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

        I like this, but I have a feeling my brain is going to read that as “hey liver, get ready for some beer.”

        1. Natalie*

          This may or may not be helpful – I love beer, and it also often features heavily in my initial “be nice to yourself” reaction. But I did dry January this year (or I guess I’m doing dry January as I have a few more days) and I found that other non-alcohol beverages could have a similar effect if I used them in a similar way. So coffee or sparkling water, which I drink all day, didn’t work. But when I started having fancy tonic water on the rocks with some bitters right after work, I built similar associations with it and it started to feel as relaxing as a beer after work. YMMV of course.

    2. Future Analyst*

      I don’t have advice, I’m in the same boat. :( I’ve tried avoiding all news sources during the day, and any discussions about political/news events, but I work in immigration, so it’s literally unavoidable some days.

    3. Anonymous Educator*

      I really try to just recognize that life is complex and involves a lot of emotions and modes.

      Not everything in life is happy. Not everything in life is sad. I can be just as depressed about what’s going on (won’t get into specifics here, obviously) while also being happy about the good things that are happening in the world and in my friends’ personal lives. Likewise, I can just say “work is work” and make work about work and not about what’s going on in the government or in my personal life or the lives of my friends.

      Of course, that psychological trick might not work for you. Not offering as advice, just a perspective.

    4. Spills*

      This is hard. I am more involved in current political events than ever before. I totally agree, and I am finding recent events so overwhelming. I want to tune out, but also feel like I can’t tune out now, and just let things happen. My only advice would be to find like-minded friends who you can discuss struggles with…it has been helping me to vent.

    5. Ally A*

      I’ve been trying to really limit my exposure to news/media during the work day. I don’t want to disengage entirely, as I think it’s super important right now to be informed, but I am not checking facebook or twitter during the day at all – especially in the morning before work so I’m not distracted from the get go. I’m ignoring emails from action groups I’m a part of and dealing with it all after work – however, I’m in a place where I don’t have to work much outside of my normal work hours, this may not be feasible if you’re working long hours or taking work home with you! Then, to keep myself from not sleeping at night, I’ve been listening to fiction podcasts (loving The Bright Sessions) right before I go to sleep to clear my head and stop focusing on all the negative news. I would also say that I have a strong deny and ignore impulse that is serving me well during the work day. I’m pretty good at pushing things back and ignoring them – which is usually not a good thing.

    6. Spoonie*

      I avoid social media and try to steer any conversations about DreadedTopic away to the latest episode of Show A (or something totally opposite). I also utilize the look at lots of pictures of puppies, walk the dogs/go to the dog park, etc. Find my happy place and stay there as much as possible. Hot baths work for that too, and they have the happy side effect of helping with my shoulder tightness that goes haywire when I’m super stressed.

      1. Bonky*

        I oversee our social media team at work. This stuff is really tough to avoid. I am spending much more of my downtime reading, playing the piano and obsessing about being pregnant than I would usually: I’m normally working much more when I’m not officially “at work”.

    7. emma*

      Getting off facebook has helped me. And taking walks! And trying not to stay abreast of every single issue.

      1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

        Yeah, I strapped on the spiked shoes and went for a run in the mountains last night that made me feel amazing, even though it was icy and I fell on my butt a few times.

      2. PK*

        Leaving Facebook was a huge help for me. I deactivated about 3 weeks before election day and still haven’t reactivated. From what I hear from my friends, it’s gotten a bit crazy with the politics and I was already really overwhelmed from the constant exposure. It’s made it a lot easier to decompress from everything (although a bit of a pain for social event planning!)

    8. Anon13*

      I have no advice, either, but I also wanted to commiserate. It’s been difficult for me to focus on much of anything for the same reason.

      I’ve been trying not to think about it during the work day, but it’s really difficult. To top it off, the nature of my job is such that I’m nearly always effectively “on call” – I would never need to physically be in the office during off hours, but I’m expected to regularly check my phone, etc. It makes it more difficult for me to separate the different facets of my life.

    9. Lemon Zinger*

      Other commenters have offered great advice. For me, limiting social media has been helpful. I try to come home from work and totally detach from social media. I do this by plugging my phone in in the bedroom and not checking it at all, so I have time to read/watch shows/cook/whatever without the distraction of my phone.

      I’m in the same boat as you… it’s been a really hard week. Hang in there! *internet hug*

    10. Observer*

      In addition to what the others have said, can you take a “the best revenge is living well” type of attitude? Or “don’t let the idiots rents space in your head?”

    11. Anon This Time*

      My father has a saying. “Things are never as bad as you fear or as good as you hope. They’re always somewhere in the middle.”

    12. LKW*

      Media avoidance is a great strategy. As is taking care of yourself. Although it would stretch you a bit thin – consider volunteer opportunities. Sometimes contributing/helping others is a great way to be a part of the change you want and reminds you of what’s most important.

    13. animaniactoo*

      I tend to take the line that I need to a) step up my own engagement in political activity to try and have influence – even if that just means getting info out about some stuff, challenging a view somewhere, giving a personal opinion in support, and b) do my job because it is my way of contributing towards the future that I want to see. My work will be needed on the other side of all this mess*, so me getting it done, is part of my way of pushing back and not giving up.

      *It may not be the most “necessary” job, but it is necessary to the continued health and profit line of my company which therefore helps keep my co-workers, etc. employed.

    14. Mustache Cat*

      Maybe if you decide to take one action per day on politics, you can take off the edge from that frustration and set yourself up for productivity? I always feel better after I’ve done something, even if it’s a small act.

    15. Biff*

      Take action! If you don’t like what is going on, write your representatives! Give it to them from both barrels, but very politely. I feel much better after making sure I’ve written a great letter of dissent. I feel like I’m not just getting washed downstream in a torrent of bad news. I also write when I’m happy about something, because I get to be happy about it all over again. It works for me, it might work for you!

      1. nonprofit fun*

        Seconded! I’ve also found it difficult to focus lately because of the news, but doing small things here and there to help in my community has made me feel productive instead of helpless. I used five minutes of my lunch break yesterday to call my congressional representatives and felt so much better afterwards. Even taking on a low-commitment, non-partisan volunteer opportunity can help. As far as taking care of yourself goes, make sure you’re getting enough sleep & exercise, take breaks from social media, don’t be afraid to seek professional mental health counseling if you need it. My own therapist listens to me rant about politics regularly, LOL.

    16. Jbern*

      Get off the Facebook! Seriously! And don’t read opinion pieces or commentaries. Or the comments section of a news article. I went Facebook-free about a year ago, and though it occasionally makes me sad that I’ve not kept in touch with certain friends (my fault!), my blood pressure and reactionary thoughts have decreased dramatically.

      FWIW, I see a lot of problems with how news is reported in the largest newspapers. Lately, there seems to be a lot of anxiety that is leaking into the reporting. Once I recognized that, I’ve settled down some.

    17. the_scientist*

      I feel you, and I’m in a different country! I am putting myself on a self-imposed media blackout strategy, really limiting the media that I’m engaging with. I’m also taking extra time for mindfulness and other activities to help alleviate anxiety. Lots of fresh air, reading (fiction), adult colouring, journalling, exercising and trying out new recipes.

      I also find that a great way to combat feelings of powerlessness is to engage (paradoxically)- but I mean like, truly engage, not just passively engage on social media. I’m supporting a March for Science in my home city. I signed up to volunteer with a scientific literacy organization, signed petitions and donated to some of their current campaigns. I also donated financially to reproductive rights organizations. Taking concrete actions, even small ones are really helpful for me, and these activities are also giving me something to look forward to.

    18. Emmie*

      I have the same issue. I can’t seem to pull myself away from the media and Facebook. So, I picked a few things I’m really passionate about in the news and I’ve been going to the source. The President signed an immigration executive order. I go and read that. Then, when I’m tempted to watch the media or read posts, I have an understanding of the facts. I hope at some point, I’ve read enough of the facts personally on issues that matter to me that I’m able to judge which media outlets and which people are relying on facts, and I’ll be able to adjust my browsing accordingly. Other people disconnect and there’s tremendous value and detriment in that. This is what currently works for me. Good luck in whatever you decide.

    19. Rachel*

      Right after the election I did a complete media blackout. Since I find I focus better with bits of distraction to break up the day, I made sure I had none news links readily accessible, so I wasn’t tempted by the news sites.

    20. Elizabeth West*

      I just used work time as politics-free time during the election. While at work, I avoided talking about it, thinking about it, and reading about it. Hopefully your workplace doesn’t have a lot of people talking about it all the time.

    21. Marisol*

      Pushing forward is sometimes a necessary evil, but it’s ultimately more productive to experience the negative feelings fully so that you can move on from them. Otherwise, they linger and affect your life in ways you are not aware of. (“What you resists, persists.”) If you can find friends to bitch with, or spend a few evenings crying it out, really getting everything out, you’ll feel better in the long run and be way more productive. One thing that helps me move through emotions is EFT tapping. I do it on the commute home from work a few days a week. You talk about your issue while tapping on acupressure points–it sounds goofy but I always find it works for me. There’s lots of info about it online if you google. That, and a technique called “Spring Cleaning” as taught by Regina Thomashauer (also googleable) have worked miracles for me. Good luck!

    22. Not So NewReader*

      The pelican and the frog. There was a motivational poster in the 70s that showed a frog halfway down the pelican’s throat. The frog reaches out and chokes the bird. Because the frog is in the bird’s mouth the frog cannot see that he is WINNING. The caption is “never ever give up”.

      What we do when we feel down/cornered/etc can change how our lives play out. Like that frog, we can’t always tell when we are winning. I have been able to keep myself bumping along by saying “Wouldn’t it be a crock of crap if X never became a problem but I failed to do y and z because I was so worried about X?”

      Look at what is right in your life and strive to keep that going well.
      Look at what you CAN fix in your life and work to make it better. (This involves our willingness to stop staring at what we cannot fix. I know sometimes I catch myself staring at the unfixable.)
      Next look around. Is there someone next to you who needs a hand? You know,when we feel overwhelmed helping another person can make us feel empowered.

      Granted we can’t rise above it all everyday. But when you do, take pride, be proud of yourself for continuing on in a proactive manner. Tell yourself, “I am that frog. I am winning here.”

    23. dr_silverware*

      1. Reserve an hour a week for some time to work on politics. IE calling reps, getting up to speed, political action, whatever.
      2. Do as much media blackout as you can.
      3. When you come across something that’s terrible and sad, write it down and save it for your allotted politics time. A lot of activism these days, all they want is your attention, attention, attention. And it feels bad to not give the attention they’re asking for. So then you’re stuck feeling bad if you look at the thing, and stuck feeling bad if you look past the thing. Save it for later & a defined time when you can deal with it, and keep yourself focused in the flow of the rest of your life.

    24. LittleLove*

      I work for a newspaper so avoiding the news is out for me. VERY stressful and it keeps getting worse. Wishing both of us luck.

    25. saddesklunch*

      I echo what everyone has said about getting off facebook, or at least limiting it severely. Also turning off push notifications on my news apps has really really helped me.

    26. Jenna*

      I know it’s unheard of for anyone on this site and others to be happy in a political way right now, but I am. Very happy! And I guess I’m surprised that people are still so depressed, upset, etc. At what point do you think people will finally get over it and see that the sky isn’t actually falling? To be so upset that you’re actually depressed, can’t move on in life, can’t function- I just don’t get it.

        1. Jenna*

          But the new administration has said, even before the election, that the end of Obamacare would coincide with the institution of the new insurance plan, so no one should be without insurance. And even with Obamacare, people are without insurance. Many people’s premiums went way up and they can’t afford it anymore, and I know people whose doctors won’t accept the plan so they have to pay for everything out of pocket. They don’t know how much longer they’ll be able to do that. But I don’t think insurance is what’s distressing everyone. I don’t think it was what made thousands of college students need play doh therapy (!), excused absences from exams or therapy dogs. I think everyone needs to calm down and give the new administration a chance.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Jenna, it sounds like you have been reading fake news, which is probably why you’re confused about why people are horrified and upset! I recommend that you read something reliable like the New York Times or Washington Post.

            (And of course we haven’t even touched on what will happen to refugees, many black and brown people, the long-term effects on the environment, the willingness to lie, the bullying of less powerful people, the disrespect for our institutions and democracy, the anti-semitism, the willingness to act rashly without understanding of consequences, and on and on. If you honestly don’t understand why so many people are profoundly distressed and scared, I think it would help to do more reading in mainstream news sources.)

            I know I’ve asked to keep it politics-free here and I am obviously not abiding by that with this comment, but I can’t host your comments here without responding (which is part of the reason I’ve made that rule — so we can avoid this).

            1. Observer*

              Oh, there is plenty of fake news to go around ON BOTH SIDES.

              And, a lot of the protests have nothing to do with stuff like insurance, which does have the potential to really hurt people.

              The only other item I’m going to address is the issue of antisemitism. I’m sick and tired of the notion that the Democrats are great and Trump is an antisemite. The evidence is, in fact, the reverse. Trump buddies up with anyone who he thinks will be useful to him, but he’s never engaged in antisemitic behavior. The only person he’s embraced that’s presented a problem is Steve Bannon. The only thing that we have heard about him is an allegation that may or may not be true. (I’m not defending the man in general, I am speaking SPECIFICALLY AND ONLY about antisemitism.)

              On the other hand, the Democratic party in general, and Hillary Clinton in particular, have embraced anti-semites and anti-semitism. Sure, if you can “pass” and work for Demorcrat Party causes, they’ll look the other way, but still. That’s not just hot air.

              Hillary Clinton *hugged* Suha Arafat when Ms. Arafat made a speech in which she lobber one of the oldest blood libels in the book – that Jews poison the wells. I’m not kidding. The speech was in public, there were translators, and Mrs. Clinton walked over to Mrs. Arafat and hugged and kissed her. She never apologized for it, although she did claim afterwards that she didn’t understand the speech.

              Al Sharpton has been a player who has been courted by the Democratic Party for years, even though he is responsible for 4 deaths, one attempted murder and mayhem that I don’t even have a decent estimate for through his sntisemitic rhetoric and direct incitement. He should have been prosecuted, but neither the Democrat Party mayor or governor were interested in anything of the sort, because it would have put too much spotlight on what happened there. The mess only stopped when Ray Kelly decided to take action and do something – and he only stepped in because he was tired of seeing police being hurt and humiliated. (I don’t blame him! Just, realize that even there, the key was not any concern for the Jewish population that was at risk.)

              Commissioner Brown did pay a bit of a price, because his obeisance to the black mob also led to ~150 cops being hurt (though mostly not seriously, fortunately.) Dinkins might have recovered, except that he also allowed some other hugely racist stuff to happen on his watch (google the Korean Boycott for an example of allowing a police department to flout the law on a racial basis.)

              Sharpton never paid any price for this. He never apologized. He has never abandoned his antisemitism. The party that embraces him has NO standing to complain about antisemitism.

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                He ran ads using widely known antisemitic dog whistles and imagery.

                I’m not the Democratic party, so whether they do or don’t have standing to complain about antisemitism doesn’t feel like the point to me.

                1. Observer*

                  When people who complain about antisemitism have turned a blind eye to worse for decades, it IS the point. I get that a lot of people have legitimate worries. But there is a lot of puffery and hypocrisy as well, which just exaggerates the issues, as well as minimizing them to people who see the hypocrisy.

                  There is a reason why the protest vote was as large as it was this year, despite candidates that were jaw droppingly flawed – the worst I can remember, tbh, and that there was such a drop in voter turn out.

                  I started worrying the day it became clear who our candidates were going to be.

          2. Former Urban Achiever*

            If you look into the proposed plans you will see none of them will fix the issues people have with the ACA and all of them will leave a substantial amount of people worse off than they are now. Also, many people who are still uninsured are because they live in states that did not expand Medicaid. This is not the fault of the ACA and the proposed plans include block grants that will leave people worse off because the funding will be less and based on current funding. Which means non expansion states will be hit the hardest. Repeal is also going to cost many people to lose their jobs, me included. So you can be hyperbolic in your characterization of college students (I teach part time and nothing like that happened at my school, which isn’t proof but an indicator that you’re assertion isn’t accurate) and poke fun but there are many people who are upset for very valid reasons. I apologize if this isn’t the time or place for this, but being dismissive of people’s concerns and belittling them isn’t helping anyone’s cause.

            1. Observer*

              That’s really not true – the plans range from terrible to not much more than a rebranding. It’s way to early to say what will happen.

            2. Observer*

              Oh, and given that some of the plans really are pretty bad, people really do have a chance to make a difference here since this is going to need Congress. It makes sense to flood your congress person(s) with postcards saying “Please do NOT vote for Plan x.” if you have any sense that they would possibly vote for it.

      1. Not A Morning Person*

        And are you factoring in that there were still people angry over having a Democrat as president for two terms? Some folks didn’t “get over it” for more than 8 years!

    27. nep*

      Be determined not to let negative people and forces drain your power. Take it as motivation to do better, be better.

  9. Bewildered Anon*

    I just started working at a company where the CEO’s very young right hand man – essentially the COO in all but title – has slept with dozens (like over 20 in the past couple years) of younger female employees. He’s currently in a relationship with one of them. Yet no one else in the company has even bat an eyelash at this! He has a huge part in deciding promotions, bonuses, etc., and I feel totally uncomfortable knowing that the budget for my department’s bonuses might be split up based on what sort of relationship he has with other employees* (and also that he uses the company as hunting ground for sexual partners – ew!).

    We have no formal HR department – he acts as the head of HR – and I get the sense that the CEO is already aware of his relationship and just doesn’t care. Moreover, most employees seem to love him – many of them go out partying together and are clearly a very close-knit friend group (it’s a young company where most employees are under 30 years old, and for many it’s their first job out of college).

    Am I crazy for thinking that a) this behavior is wildly inappropriate for someone in such a high position and b) it’s bewildering that everyone else in the company is OK with this? Are my only options for handling this to either turn a blind eye to his behavior or to find a new job elsewhere?

    *One might hope that he would be able to separate his personal bias/feelings towards employees when making decisions in these situations, however, knowing him, I don’t think he would.

    1. Professor Moriarty*

      You are not crazy. That is crazy! I would feel super uncomfortable in your position but I don’t think you have any good options.

      1. Lemon Zinger*

        Yep. This company is wildly dysfunctional if this guy is in charge of so much high-level stuff. Time to find a new job.

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      That sounds like a total train wreck. I would just bide my time, encourage anyone I know who might be being sexually harassed to document everything (not to report to “HR” but for any future potential lawsuit), and quietly look to jump ship at the next available opportunity.

      Also, how close is the COO to the CEO? Any chance the CEO could be appealed to, or are they best buddies?

    3. PK*

      Not crazy and wildly inappropriate. Unfortunately, I don’t think you’ll have many options here. I worked in a very similar ‘college frat bro’ atmosphere where something like this wouldn’t have gotten a second thought. In the end, I grew out of the place pretty quickly as it came with a whole host of issues (and a pretty unprofessional leadership structure). The culture just wasn’t a good fit for me. That may be the case for you as well.

    4. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

      This is wildly unprofessional, but take heart; it’s going to backfire spectacularly. Have emergency popcorn ready and enjoy the show.

    5. Soupspoon McGee*

      It sounds like a culture that is not big on professionalism and appropriate boundaries. Use that information to decide whether you should stay or go, but you can’t change it. The inevitable EEOC finding or lawsuit probably won’t change it.

    6. Liz2*

      Fascinated to see what happens over the next 10 years as they turn into full adults (sure legally they are already but we all know the difference).

    7. Corky's wife Bonnie*

      This reminds me of Alison’s “Your employer sucks and isn’t going to change” articles. I think it’s time to start looking.

      1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

        Dan Savage, the sex/relationship columnist, has said several times that he could answer most of his calls and emails with “DTMFA” – “dump the MFer already.” I feel like Alison could probably do the same with YESAIGTC, though that doesn’t quite roll off the keyboard the same way.

    8. starsaphire*

      I have two pieces of advice for you:

      1. Polish up your resume, and get out as fast as you can.

      2. Take copious notes (omitting names!) and start a novel or screenplay. Because this level of drama is something no one needs in their real lives, but something we’d all love to watch on TV.

    9. LKW*

      Not crazy at all. This is a disaster waiting to happen. It doesn’t matter whether he’s unbiased, the point is perception of everyone else involved. What happens when someone with whom he has slept with gets promoted. What will be the reactions of the woman he’s currently dating and the woman(en) who either slept with him previously or haven’t slept with him yet or the men and women who aren’t part of his dating pool aren’t promoted. Sheesh.

    10. Bewildered Anon*

      Thanks, everyone, for your comments – it’s so good to hear that I’m not the only one who thinks this is wrong!

      Part of my issue is that I’m not super keen on leaving the job since I’ve been there for under a year. Given my job history, I worry it’ll make me look like a job-hopper if I leave. Is it worth sticking this job out? If so, do I take a “if you can’t beat ’em, join em!’ sort of approach (go drinking with COO and coworkers, etc.), or is there anything else I can/should do to make it the situation more tolerable?

      Definitely liked the idea of grabbing some popcorn and enjoying the show, or writing a novel! As is probably pretty evident by this situation, there is a TON of drama within the company!

      1. RVA Cat*

        Network, network, network to find a place that doesn’t have this kind of drama. Meanwhile, try find someone with status at your company who isn’t part of the Duck Club for a potential mentor or reference.

        Follow your gut when it comes to hanging out with the COO and his groupies. Maybe offer to be the designated driver?

        1. Mirax*

          I would not DD in an environment like that because it looks like tacitly condoning the activities. And while I’m not sure it could be held against you legally, I would hate to hear something like, “Why did you let me go home with X? You saw how drunk I was!” from the COO’s prey later.

          1. Uzumaki Naruto*

            Yeah, DO NOT hang out with them socially. That could have repercussions for your standing with these people, but these people are wildly unprofessional and you are trying to find a new job elsewhere with grown-ups.

      2. Jenbug*

        At OldJob, there was a higher up who was sleeping with two different women at the same time. He sent them both flowers and they found out that they were both sleeping with him. They ended up being best friends.

        There was a lot of drama at OldJob.

      3. Not So NewReader*

        You could start looking now with the idea that you can be kind of selective and having an overall plan of being out in x time frame.

        I will caution you, when there is corruption at the top, that corruption trickles down through the company. Try not to get caught up in their nonsense/lies/etc yourself.

      4. Too old for this sht*

        Maybe you could appoint yourself your office’s Secret Speaker to Newbies?

        I am old enough to remember the days when we didn’t even have any anti-sexual harrassment legislation. Back then, pretty much every workplace I went to as a young baby worker had a Speaker to Newbies. Usually an older woman, she (or several women, in the really bad workplaces!) would come over in my first few days, drag me off to a quiet corner or the ladies room, and give me The List: who to avoid at all costs, who was a creep, who was ‘unhappily married’, which ones were running a literal scoreboard/betting pool, etc. and what tactics or sob stories they’d try to use.

        I mean, some other newbies sometimes went for one of these creeps anyway, but at least they knew what they were getting into and the rest of us were less likely to be lied to, tricked, or trapped.

        It is a risky thing to do — sleazeballs won’t like it if they find out — but if you think the risk is worth it, maybe taking action like that could help you with the ethics of having to work with sleazeballs?

        1. Elizabeth H.*

          This seems pretty unpleasant to me. These people are adults – they can sleep with whomever they want for whatever reason. Even if some other people think it’s inadvisable to date or sleep with coworkers not everyone feels that way. There is no evidence that this guy is sexually assaulting anyone, maybe he is really appealing to women for whatever reason. I think the idea of warning new girls about him as if they can’t come to a conclusion with their own brains to be kind of paternalistic and gross.

          1. JHunz*

            It’s absolutely inappropriate for someone to be sleeping with anyone whose compensation they have a say in. It’s a conflict of interest, it puts financial pressure on anyone who chooses to turn down the advances, and it’s ethically bankrupt.

          2. Observer*

            There is a good deal of evidence that this guy is using his position in inappropriate ways. Given that reality, giving people a heads up as to what they are likely to be dealing with is perfectly appropriate. After that, it’s their choice.

            1. Elizabeth H.*

              Regardless of how appropriate or inappropriate HIS behavior is, I still find it really condescending and paternalistic to act like you need to protect the helpless young girls by warning them lest they accidentally be seduced. The guy is maybe a huge creep and behaving inappropriately but HIS behavior and your colleagues’ reactions to him are separate things. If you have a problem with his behavior, speak to him, his manager, HR etc. I would be really offended if someone tried to warn me about a “lecherous colleague,” especially if they took it on themselves as part of some kind of “den mom” type thing. Like, oh, if only someone had warned me first, I wouldn’t have accidentally slept with this guy? Better to assume that your colleagues can take care of themselves and their own choices.

      5. Natalie*

        You can always start looking – for one, you are never under any obligation to take an offered job, so you can bide your time and really look hard for a place that is a good fit, where you can stay for a while. And for two, if you do the first thing it could take you months to find another position, so you might as well start your search now.

      6. Observer*

        1. Do NOT become part of the culture. If you do, you will become complicit in this, and it will warp you and your perceptions of normal. That’s NOT a good thing. Also, if you are anywhere nearby when the *** hits the fan the fact that you are good buddies means that you are going to get caught it in the blow up. You can be sure that these people are NOT going to have your backs. And, even if you do, it might not help.

        2. I would document what’s going on – but NOT AT WORK, and NOT on ANY equipment that your employer might have access to. It might come in handy.

        3. Network your head off. If something comes your way, you should take it.

        4. Give yourself a deadline when you start looking. I’d say at the 18 month mark, unless things get worse (which they could). At that point, you won’t look that flighty and the problems with this job really sound like they start to outweigh that issue.

    11. Just Jess*

      A) This behavior is a liability and B) it sounds like there are a lot of people in your company who are young and want the “fun.” It’s part of the culture and doesn’t sound that surprising given the age of the COO and a majority of the employees. This reminds me of that story about the clampdown at Zenefits last year.

      I try not to make any judgments about how people hook up, but yeah, take gender, age, etc. out of it and the acting head of HR and operations shouldn’t be sleeping with employees.

    12. CrazyEngineerGirl*

      Get out. Nothing good can come of this. There will eventually be repercussions, whether they are to the company, the ‘COO’, or the employees.

      There is a woman at my company that the Big Boss had a short fling with while on a ‘break’ with the woman he has since married. Fling-woman is basically incompetent at her job, something for which all the rest of us suffer, but has become un-fireable in the eyes of Big Boss. I guess he fears her suing him, everyone/his wife finding out, etc.

      Point is, his behavior/choices will most definitely have an impact on you and your job there at some point, especially with the scale of it all!

    13. Bonky*

      Oh, yuk. I think you have to consider whether the culture at this place is something you want to have to put up with: it’s nigh-on impossible to turn a blind eye (or at least it would be for me), and it’s not behaviour you’re going to be able to change. Your instinct that looking elsewhere might be a good idea is a good one.

  10. AlexandrinaVictoria*

    How long should you wait for a promised promotion before seeking greener pastures? It’s been dangled in front of me for a year now, but there’s always something – usually “budget considerations” – that puts it off. I’m already doing the work of the job description I’ve been promised, just at a lower position’s pay.

    1. Sunflower*

      You should definitely be looking now. Remember- just because you’re looking at, or even offered, other jobs doesn’t mean you have to take them.

    2. College Career Counselor*

      I’d your boss one more time about the specific steps/timeline for making the promotion happen and see what she says. And I’d start looking elsewhere in the meantime. Maybe that promotion (and presumably a raise) comes along, and maybe it doesn’t.

      1. NotAnotherManager!*

        If you like and want to stay at your current job, this is what I’d do. If you’re ready for a change, you can skip the talking to your boss part. :)

    3. Anonymous Poster*

      I started looking at a year, since the process generally still takes awhile. You can always stop if things materialize, but you also can’t put your career on hold forever.

      There’s a lot more that enters into it, like are you happy in general, etc., so it’s hard to say in your specific situation. But I wouldn’t think you unusual for looking after a year.

    4. emma*

      It doesn’t hurt to look. If you end up getting an offer and still want to say, you can let them know that you have the offer, which may make them make good on their promises. But if it doesn’t, you’ll still have a hopefully higher offer!

    5. PK*

      Look now. I spent 8 years with a company that dangled the ‘promotion is right around the corner’ carrot in front of my face for the last 3 years I was there. I stayed out of misplaced loyalty and still kick myself for wasting time. The experience let me jump off into a much better place but I could have done it a lot earlier if I didn’t wait.

      1. Bend & Snap*

        Exactly my situation at my last job.

        My promotion was finally approved 15 minutes before I quit so it was an interesting resignation.

      2. AnonAnalyst*

        YES. I’m in this situation now and I am *so mad* at myself for continuing to wait it out because I truly believed for 2 years that the promotion was “just about to happen.” I’m cutting my losses and moving on this spring (even though, according to my company, the promotion is still thisclose to happening).

      3. KR*

        Similar experience. A few weeks after I gave notice my full time position was approved for the next year’s budget along with a significant pay increase. It was a great opportunity but it was just too late especially since I had been telling my boss for over a year that the current arrangement wasn’t working for me.

    6. Artemesia*

      Sometimes deciding you have had enough and starting to look changes the way you come across. The confidence that comes from being decisive about this projects. So without mentioning you are looking (and don’t do that absolutely, don’t) you may appear more valuable and competitive and end up getting what you want anyway. I’d be deciding to leave and searching and probably take a good offer even if these people came back with a counter offer.

      A friend’s son ran a non-profit for years at truly pathetic wages and was rebuffed by the board for a raise. He had an offer elsewhere that doubled his salary and suddenly the board had no trouble meeting that and offering more. A business that refuses to reward you until you are out the door should not hold your loyalty. A year is enough; they are yanking you around because they figure you have nowhere to go. Find somewhere to go and don’t look back.

      1. Newby*

        Yep. If it takes an offer from somewhere else to get your raise, you probably don’t want to stick around because it will just happen again.

        1. Rachel*

          One of my best friends has been working for a company for years where that is apparently the policy, at least for certain positions. The company is aware that they are underpaying legacy employees, who were hired when the market was down and whose pay was never increased more then 3% per year (the result for my friend is that her pay is about $10k under market value). Her supervisor told her flat out that the only was she would get the raise she wanted was if she brought them a job offer from another company.

          She’s been there probably 6 years and works 60 plus hour weeks since basically day one (including answering the phone nights and weekends). She has finally started looking for a new job.

    7. Trout 'Waver*

      If you’re already doing the work, they have no incentive to pay you more. Don’t get paid in promises. The whole do the job before getting paid for the job thing is bullshit. I would start looking for another job.

    8. neverjaunty*

      You shouldn’t. They have no incentive to ever keep this promise. Paying you less money to do more IS a “budget consideration”.

    9. Ann Furthermore*

      Start looking now. Chances are it’s never going to happen. I spent way too long at my last job waiting for a promotion that was not exactly promised, but not exactly denied either. I specifically asked my boss, on a number of occasions, “What specifically do I need to accomplish to move up to the next level?” and I never got a straight answer. I’d get promises that we’d talk about it, and the most concrete feedback I ever got was, “You’re heading in the right direction.” At my last performance review, there was the same old stuff about how I wasn’t quite ready, and I finally understood that the only way it would ever happen — which was very unlikely as promotions company-wide had pretty much stopped for anyone not a direct employee of the parent company — was to just say, “Thank you!” with a big smile on my face and bend over, no matter what happened, and no matter how horribly people behaved or treated me and/or my co-workers. That’s just not in my DNA, so I made the difficult decision to move on.

      It took me about 6 months to find a new job, and I’m about 3 months in. I’m so happy I made the change. I spent 12 years at my last company, and about 10 of them were pretty great — I had awesome co-workers, a really cool, flexible, and hands-off manager, every new project challenged me and helped me grow my skill set, and as an added bonus I got to go to Europe 3-5 times a year and traveled to places I probably never would have gone to otherwise. Then the old CEO was forced out, and replaced with this awful draconian corporate overlord type who was hell bent on slashing costs and (I’m convinced) making people so miserable that they’d quit, and save money on the severance they’re going to pay when they outsource everyone’s jobs in the next year or 2.

      So…start looking now. You’ll feel better for doing something to control the situation, instead of waiting around for someone else to make a decision. And if you do find something and you’re offered the promotion after you resign, think carefully before accepting. A good friend of mine at that same last employer was in a similar situation. She was told that she’d never advance any further, so she found another job and resigned. All of a sudden, they were willing to give her a promotion and a huge raise, but she turned it down. The CFO asked her why, because it had been a very generous offer, and her response was, “Why did it take me resigning for everyone to all of a sudden realize how valuable I am?” He had no good answer.

      1. AnonAnalyst*

        The last part about your friend is really what hit home for me. The promotion that I was promised 2 years ago has started to look like it might actually come to fruition this year, but at this point it’s too little, too late.

        Moreover, I have realized that this is what it will be like every time I want to advance in this company, and I just don’t have the time or the patience for that at this point in my career.

      2. SomeoneLikeAnon*

        Good point about your friend’s situation!

        It’s kinda like negotiating a car price, if I’m walking out the door and the vendor offers an even lower price, how can I trust it’s a good value.

    10. Michelle the Editor*

      I was just in this situation. Had been waiting for about a year, and was starting to apply for a few things. Had a pleasant surprise when the promotion finally did come through.

      Start applying now—if it does happen, that’s great! But if it doesn’t, at least you won’t be kicking yourself for not getting out sooner. Good luck!

    11. Wink*

      At my company promotions & pay raises & changing benefits are tricky. I’ve had employees ask for these types of things, and sometimes it’s just bad timing due to other stuff going on.

      I know the normal recommendation is to not tell your boss you’re looking for another job. But I think this depends on the relationship with your boss. If you can make it clear (without directly saying it) that if this promotion doesn’t materialize you will certainly be seeking other opportunities, that is what I would suggest.

    12. Fish Microwaver*

      I’m sorry this is happening to you. I am in a similar situation and it sucks. While I wasn’t exactly promised the promotion, I was encouraged to apply and sat down with my boss to create an action plan to achieve the goals. It is only a title bump as they already have to pay me at that rate because of my qualifications. It has dragged on for a year so when I return from vacation I will start looking.

    13. SomeoneLikeAnon*

      You should be looking now. I understand that companies often have to worry about profit or a bottom line, but if they’ve expressed they were or wanted to promote you then didn’t, it says to me that they are undereally valuing your skill set. Knowing your worth more but not compensating you for it.

  11. Berry*

    Here’s an interesting experience I’ve had lately: jobs outrightly looking for “nice” people. I saw at least one posting where at the bottom of what they were looking for it said “we only hire nice people,” and had an interview a few days back where the interviewer/person I would be working directly for point blank asked me “are you a nice person?” (My response was “I like to think so,” I was a bit caught off guard.)

    On the other hand, I’m yearning to get out of my office where my coworkers are always talking about each other behind their backs so screening for nice people sounds a bit appealing, however wishful it is.

      1. College Career Counselor*

        As stated, yes it’s fluffy and worthless. I’m a fan of Bob Sutton’s The No Asshole Rule, and in it, there are examples of companies that screen for people who are assholes. But you can’t just ask “are you a nice person?” you have to have them talk about scenarios where they didn’t get along with people, had a difficult time with a boss or an employee, etc. Have other people in the organization interview them, find out if they’re mean/rude/dismissive of the admin person, etc.

        1. Not The Droid You Are Looking For*

          I worked for a culture focused company that actively looked for nice people. But we never asked, “are you nice?” Who is going to say no???

          Junior staff member interviews are a great way to accomplish this, as are mixed level interviews.

          1. S-Mart*

            Plenty of people will say no. You won’t catch all (even most?) of the not nice people by asking, but I’ve known plenty who would happily tell you that no, they weren’t a nice person (and they were right!).

        2. Bonky*

          Ha – I’ve not heard of Bob Sutton, but at my company we have the same rule, but it’s called DHW among those of us who hire. (Don’t Hire Weird.)

      2. Lily in NYC*

        I’ve noticed this kind of thing a lot before – where the ad will say something very specific, like “no drama wanted” or “you must be nice” and I’ve always assumed they had a bad experience with their last person in the position so they were projecting that in the ad. Probably not the best way to go about it.

    1. Sunflower*

      This is so weird it’s almost laughable.

      FWIW I think it’s kind of a red flag. Only hiring nice people could mean a lot of things like ‘we value getting along over doing what’s right’ or ‘not open to hearing new ideas’ or ‘it’s impossible to disagree with someone here’. It’s also possible they already have a miserable office and are looking to add ‘nice’ people into the mix. (also this could be a totally normal workplace with a bit of a fruity manager but just remember you’d still be working for her!)

      1. Berry*

        That specific interview was actually for a tiny husband/wife run company where I would be the first full time employee that wasn’t hired through someone they know, so all the work is really close together, and the question felt kind of justifiable (and also not totally serious). At the same time I doubt anyone would answer “no” to that question.

    2. Future Analyst*

      It seems as though they’re trying to screen for something else. Maybe “gets along well with others, and doesn’t create unnecessary drama.” If it comes up again, maybe ask “have you had trouble in the past with individuals who didn’t get along well with others?” or something similarly prompting. They may need to articulate it better for themselves…

    3. AndersonDarling*

      I’ve seen ads with “We are a drama-free workplace” and “We don’t hire jerks.” “Looking for nice people” doesn’t have the same ring to it, but I understand what they are going for, even if they can’t articulate it in a more professional way.

      1. Berry*

        I’ve definitely seen it as a “hip” or startup-y trend – for instance Buzzfeed tends to add “(no haters)” to the end of their job postings.

      2. Temperance*

        When I see the word “drama”, I know everything I need to know about the person/org who is saying it. RUN.

        1. Manders*

          Yeah, the fact that they feel the need to mention it at all in a job posting says a lot about the kind of management you can expect there.

      3. Not The Droid You Are Looking For*

        I have the same reaction to this as I do to dating profiles where dudes include “no drama” in their bio – it instantly makes me think they are drama filled.

    4. Sadsack*

      I’m not sure the requests for nice people mean anything. I’ll bet your coworkers think they are nice people, too.

      1. MWKate*

        This would be my issue – different people define ‘nice’ and ‘mean’ very differently. I don’t considering myself an unkind person, but I’m not an especially warm person which some people define as not being nice.

    5. Merida May*

      This is just my experience, but the only occasions where I’ve ever been asked outright if I was a ‘nice person’ involved people who were working their way into a sales pitch or some line of pushy/invasive questioning. I’ll admit it’s never come up in an interview situation so I can’t speak to that, but if it did my mind would recall the occasion where a stranger showed up on my doorstep and greeted me by asking me if I was a nice person. While they insisted they weren’t selling anything they became very upset that I was unwilling to rattle off my credit card information for a magazine subscription three minutes later. It’s odd phrasing at best – there are better ways to assess culture fit, which I think is where they’re going with that. However, the cynic in me wonders why it’s so important for them to ask so directly right from the start.

        1. F.*

          Totally off topic, but my husband and I are watching our way through the Avengers seasons with Diana Rigg as Mrs. Peel. Some of the episodes are very weird, but most have been rather entertaining.

          1. mrs__peel*

            It’s a great favorite of mine (as you might have guessed!) The weirdness is a large part of why I love it so much.

    6. bridget*

      I’ve had interviews where potential employers tell me that they work very hard to cultivate a culture of kindness and respect regardless of how stressful the work situation might be (and it gets stressful). It’s both a sales pitch and an implied warning – we will not tolerate it if you are a person who can’t control his/her temper, so only take this job if you can live up to that. I appreciate this because it gives me insight into their culture, and it probably screens people out who know that they are the type of person who doesn’t see anything wrong with getting a snappy/irritable if the situation is difficult.

    7. Victoria, Please*

      In my profession it is absolutely necessary although completely insufficient that someone is in fact patient, warm, positive, easy-going, etc. So although I agree that “we only hire nice people” is kind of a silly way to put it, there may be a very good reason for such a hiring criterion.

    8. voluptuousfire*

      Chances are they’re looking for someone who is kind and empathetic and gets along with people but is putting it way too floofily.

    9. AFRC*

      Nice can mean so many things. Nice can mean “customer-service oriented,” or “pleasant to work with” or “doesn’t ask questions or push back on bad decisions in any way.” But it’s a terrible question, because who wouldn’t say yes?

    10. Chaordic One*

      I’m paranoid, I know, but I would really worry that what they might be looking for are passive “sheep” who will do whatever is asked of them, no matter how unreasonable, without every pushing back or standing up for themselves.

    11. Freya UK*

      I’ve never seen anything like that here – but if only my last job had put “People Pleasers Only” in the advert, I could’ve avoided 3 & a half years of being treated like I was The Worst Person Ever… *eyeroll*

    12. SomeoneLikeAnon*

      That’s such a weird question! I guess I would probably say “no, I’m a practical person.” Though I know that many people think I’m genuinely nice, I feel that nice often has the connotation of not rocking the boat. I’m more that comfortable being forceful in order to move projects forward; I don’t have to be rude to do this, imo, but people might have different opinions when it comes to holding people accountable.

      I would be curious to know what these interviewers think ‘nice’ means.

  12. slick ric flair*

    One of those “little things that doesn’t matter” pet peeves, but I’ve noticed a lot of people referencing GrandBosses and Great-Grand Bosses, etc lately. I heard someone reference it in real life and it was felt cringeworthy. So I’d recommend people not to do that.

    1. EddieSherbert*

      Yeah, I don’t really like that term either, but I haven’t come up with a better reference that people understand right away…

      Confession: I used the phrase great-grandboss recently because someone got confused when I said “boss’s boss’s boss”.

      1. k*

        Yeah, unless someone comes up with a better system this seems to be the best way to easily be understood. Especially if talking about a place with many levels of management.

    2. Persephone Mulberry*

      I’m not a huge fan of it either, but I can see how people have adopted it as simpler than “my boss’s boss” or “my boss’s boss’s boss.” There’s just not a really good, workplace-oriented set of terms for that hierarchy.

      1. Liane*

        I like it a lot. It is not ideal, perhaps, and I wouldn’t call the manager 3 steps above me, “Great-grandboss” in front of her, unless SHE tells me “Call me Great-grandboss. I *hate* Cersei.” However, if you’re telling a story away from work or asking advice here, I think it is fine. You won’t have to explain your office’s odd hierarchy so Alison can give better advice.

        1. Lily Rowan*

          Of course you wouldn’t do it in person! And not even at your workplace, because it’s not necessary. People know if you’re on the Spout team that the Chief of Beverages would be your great-grand-boss (or whatever).

      1. Natalie*

        Yep, I always say Big Boss, or Ultimate Boss and Penultimate Boss if the circumstances call for it. But that latter one is just because I will use any excuse to say “penultimate”.

        1. Creag an Tuire*

          We could go full gamer and use: MiniBoss, Boss, SuperBoss, Penultimate Boss, and FINAL BOSS.

            1. Creag an Tuire*

              I suppose “My Final Boss’s second form” would be if your employer is acquired by another company.

              Otherwise, if your boss literally has multiple forms, you are the Doctor’s companion, in which case none of AAM’s advice really applies to you. Except the bit about avoiding cracks in time.

        2. Aims*

          Just a note, that many people don’t realize and seems to be the case here: Penultimate does not mean ‘greater than ultimate’ or ‘best of the best’, it actually means ‘second to last’ or ‘last but one in a series of things’. It is kind of a strange word/meaning combination and I understand how the mix-up happens, but it can come across as pretty *unintelligent* (not meaning this offensively. Most people use it thinking they’re using a big smart word, but then use it wrong, which nets the opposite effect they were going for).

          1. Marisol*

            If you lined up your bosses in a row by rank, then the boss that comes before the boss who ranks highest on the org chart would be the penultimate boss. Natalie’s usage is fine.

          2. Natalie*

            I’m well aware – penultimate boss would be my boss, say, and ultimate boss would be their boss.

          3. Horological*

            ‘Second to last’ in a reporting chain that starts with the person speaking is a perfectly viable use of the term penultimate. In fact, it’s the only one that makes sense (imo). To call the person directly above you your ultimate boss (and therefore their boss the ‘penultimate boss’) would be redundant, since we already have a term for that – boss. Therefore, any additional terms must stretch upwards (in the reporting chain) from there.

            This is true in most situations I can think of, such as ‘Ultimate showdown’ (because now I’ve got that song stuck in my head). Starting from your current position (just like in the reporting chain), that showdown is the one at the other end of a time period that includes showdowns. The fact that they also tend to refer to bigger/better things is simply an artifact of most people being at the bottom of a chain.

            No-one in this thread has misused the term penultimate.

      2. Karo*

        But is that your boss’s boss, or your boss’s boss’s boss, or someone higher up? If I hear “the big boss” I’d assume the highest person in the company.

      3. Venus Supreme*

        Yup. I have my boss, then my BigBoss. Anyone higher-up would be the SuperBigBoss or UberBoss. Luckily I don’t work for a big company that has a lot of levels.

    3. LCL*

      Put me in the ‘hate grandboss’ column. Because it seems infantilizing to me. But its not forbidden here so I don’t say anything to people that use it.
      It’s up to Alison what she will or won’t allow. She allows it, so I try to keep quiet about it. But since you posted, I had to jump in with a voice of support.

      1. J*

        I’ll back you up on this, too. I am not a fan of the term. But it’s an accepted part of the local slang, so it doesn’t make sense to grumble about it.

    4. Weak Trees*

      You know, I actually love it. I can see how it could seem a bit goofy, but it’s just so dang CLEAR. In a forum like this, where we don’t necessarily know or understand each other’s reporting structures, it’s just so much simpler to use one word than to invoke the infinite “boss” string EddieSherbert mentions.

    5. Jadelyn*

      Cringe at us all you like, but that’s your opinion and many of us find it a very useful term, so I’d recommend you not to police other people’s vocabulary when the situation doesn’t call for that.

      1. AliceBD*

        I only use it in online forums (here and in another forum I’m a part of). Anyone I speak to in real life about this sort of thing, like my family, knows the names of all involved, or at least enough names that I can can say something like “[Person A], who is [Person B]’s boss” because they know Person B.

    6. Tomato Frog*

      As someone who routinely tells family & friends stories that include mention of my boss’s boss and boss’s boss’s boss, I love these terms. People who have never heard it before understand what it means immediately. “Big boss” is useful for other circumstances but doesn’t convey their relationship to the speaker/commenter.

    7. CAA*

      In the professional world, I’ve always heard “2nd level manager”. This extends easily to “3rd level manager” and so on. This site is the only place I’ve ever seen “grandboss” used. I understand the meaning, but to me it’s kind of squicky and too familial.

    8. Creag an Tuire*

      I think it’s rarely necessary in real life but useful here, because getting into the actual finicky details of your reporting structure risks “outing” your place of employment, and we can’t have that.

    9. Mon Mon*

      When telling anecdotes, I usually call the really big bosses “the cheese tray”. Like…there are big cheeses and then there is the cheese tray. I don’t know why. But anecdotally, it amuses me and some of my friends! As in “I was in a meeting with the big cheeses and…dun Dun DUN…the cheese tray!”.

      1. bridget*

        Ha, interesting – if you didn’t explain it I’d assume you meant the opposite. Cheese tray is “under” the actual cheese and supports it, so I’d assume cheese tray = middle management.

        1. Chicken Little*

          That kind of fits with what I say. I tell people about the boss 1, 2 or 3 steps up the food chain from me

    10. Someone*

      I assume it’s the GrandBoss at Wakeen’s Chocolate Teapots and Rice Sculpture, home of the Duck Club. That’s just the tone here.

    11. Hilary Faye*

      Ha! It always reminds me of being in a sorority where you had your Big Sis, Grand Big, Great Grand Big, etc.

    12. Not So NewReader*

      It’s their cringe. Hang on to that thought. If someone chooses to embarrass themselves we do not have to wear their embarrassment.

      I think it’s fine right here as an informal where we need fake names anyway. It makes an easier read, “So, Grandboss told Great Grandboss to shut up”. I got that one on the first read, I don’t have to go back and piece out who Bob is and who Jane is to the the point of the sentence.

      1. Elsajeni*

        That’s a good point, in a storytelling context it’s a really useful stand-in — you don’t need to remember who Bob and Jane are, and it reduces the risk of pronoun confusion in a sentence like “my boss told her boss to shut up” (my boss’s own boss, or my-coworker-Judy-who-I-was-just-complaining-about’s boss, or…?).

    13. SomeoneLikeAnon*

      I work in the government and they use a labeled level structure, which is helpful. The highest of the high is the Alpha, then all the levels following are plus 1. So my boss is A+5, meaning I’m 5 levels removed from the Grand Poobah.

  13. soanonforthis*

    thoughts on people “working from home” to care for a sick child or spouse? one of my coworker has missed the better part of two weeks to do this and it’s really starting to piss me off.

    1. ThatGirl*

      Any time anyone is working from home but not actually getting their work done, it’s frustrating. But I don’t think that’s limited to sick kid/spouse. I think a little leeway is fine – I’ve had work from home days when I had to deal with an unexpected flat tire, for instance – but this person should probably take some PTO if their child or spouse needs that much attention.

    2. Leatherwings*

      I actually think it’s really important to let people do this. I can imagine that it would be really important to be there for a sick person just so they’re not alone and don’t have to make their own juice and lunch and have someone remind them they need to take their antibiotics on time. Assuming the boss is okay with it and people are still getting their work done, this is one of those flexibility things that make everyone’s lives better.

      If someone isn’t getting their work done, then that’s another story, but it doesn’t mean working from home is bullshit or something. I get kind of sensitive about people putting “working from home” in quotes like that because it implies people aren’t actually working and that does a huge disservice to the idea of flexibility in general.

      1. ThatGirl*

        Right – I didn’t quite say that in my post above yours, but I agree — working from home is a valid thing, and me taking 10 minute breaks to walk my dog (or check on a sick husband, or whatever) doesn’t mean I’m not working.

      2. soanonforthis*

        Sorry, maybe I should have left out the quotes. I get frustrated with this coworker a lot because he uses any excuse possible to not come in to the office so I’ve lost my sense of flexibility when it comes to him.

        1. this*

          Answer is still the same. If this does not effect your ability to do your job you have to let it go. If it causes work issues for you then you talk to your boss about those.

        2. Christy*

          Yeah, it sounds like you’re just frustrated with this coworker in particular. He does sound like a pain, fwiw.

          1. soanonforthis*

            exactly – just kind of needed to vent. I know tons of people can WFH, be rock stars, and not abuse the system.

    3. Emilia Bedelia*

      Depends on how old the sick person is. I had surgery and couldn’t walk for a few days, as an adult and stayed at home with my dad while he worked from hom… he made me lunch and got me a water bottle once or twice. That was it. For a toddler with a stomach bug who has to go to the doctor and actually cared for, it’s different.

      If they’re not actually getting any work done, then there’s your problem. If they are getting their work done, then why do you care?

      1. Witty Nickname*

        And really, if there not actually getting any work done, it’s only the OP’s problem if 1) that affects the OP’s ability to get their work done, or 2) the OP is the employee’s manager. Otherwise, the OP doesn’t even need to worry about that.

        (I type, as I am sitting on the couch in my living room working while my sick 8-year-old is resting in the other room. I was actually working from home already, because I really need a day to myself without coworkers or husband or kids around, when I got the call from his school that he was sick. Thankfully, my boss is very flexible as long as I’m delivering things when I need to. So I can determine if my schedule can handle a less productive day based on what I’m working on and when things are due.)

    4. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

      I personally find that most of the time, they’re at about 25% productivity and spending most of their time with the sick person, not working.

      And sorry, I don’t buy staying home with a spouse. A kid who can’t go to daycare or school is a whole different thing, but a spouse is a functional adult and can care for themselves for 8 hours when they’re sick. If you’re required to be there to assist them with, say, surgical recovery, that’s a PTO situation.

      1. ThatGirl*

        I mean, if my husband has a cold or something I’m not gonna use an extra WFH day.

        But a couple years ago he got a debilitating migraine and was throwing up for hours – that was worth me staying home for, just to make sure he was getting fluids, help clean up, and make sure it wasn’t getting worse. We have the flexibility to wfh regularly, though, so it wasn’t a big deal.

        1. spocklady*

          Yeah, my husband actually stayed home an afternoon with me recently — I had a real bad virus/vertigo combo and there was a similar situation with getting enough fluids, cleanup, etc. He wanted to keep an eye on me in case I needed to go to urgent care/the emergency room.

          Most of the time I’m 100% fine to just lay in bed or on the couch and recover, but I was really glad he was there this time.

          1. justsomeone*

            My husband is having retina surgery next week. He has to be face down for over a week. I have to be home with him all day the day after surgery in case his pain spikes suddenly ( an indicator of complications) or to bring him some water or help him get out of bed to use the bathroom. But 99% of the day he’s going to be in bed asleep. I just have to be on hand in case something does wrong. I could absolutely get in a full and productive day of work.

            1. Pretend Scientist*

              OT, but why facedown for over a week? I work for an ophthalmology group, and facedown is fairly rare, especially for that amount of time.

              1. nonegiven*

                I had laser retinopexy on both eyes. I didn’t need to do anything like that.

                But I got stuck in waiting rooms full of people waiting for their eyes to fully dilate and some of the descriptions of upcoming and previous surgeries gave me the willies and some of them could have conceivably needed follow up like that.

                The room was packed and nobody could read so all there was to do was tell war stories.

      2. Leatherwings*

        I just think that’s hugely misinformed. Maybe it’s the case in some workplaces, but when I work from home I am working from home, and that expectation is widespread. If people at your workplace are at 25% productivity, that’s something your workplace needs to address. It’s not true of all people working from home.

        My SO has stayed home for me before because I was so fevered I couldn’t get out of bed or even wake up. He made sure I was getting fluids, made me some soup at lunchtime and woke me up to take ibuprofen. It was roughly the equivalent of taking a few bathroom breaks throughout the day. I don’t understand what about that you don’t “buy.”

        1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

          That’s not true of all people working from home, but when people “work from home” to stay with a sick kid, that usually results in about 25% productivity.

          I’ll take your point regarding the situation you describe, for a few days when the spouse has the flu. When it goes on for several weeks, per the OP, that’s getting excessive and will impact everyone else in the organization.

          1. Leatherwings*

            I just don’t think the 25% thing is true or fair, and even if it is true at certain workplaces, that’s an individual workplace issue, not a work from home issue as a whole.

            1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

              And like I said: I’m not presenting it as a WFH issue as a whole. I’m commenting that in this specific situation, where there’s a sick kid involved, my personal experience is that the parent is not able to work at full output. And staying home with my toddler, I know why, because a miserable little kid wants all the attention.

              I’m very positive about WFH and we all do it once a week. Not a problem.

              1. NW Mossy*

                It can definitely vary by kid, though. My eldest is one that sleeps off illness, so “caring” for her when she’s ill basically just involves being in the house so that I don’t violate local ordinances about leaving kids home alone.

                1. Lily Rowan*

                  Varies wildly by age, too — staying home with a sick infant or 10 year old might let you do your full job, but a 2 year old? I doubt it.

      3. efore*

        I just had surgery and my husband ended up staying home with me because I needed help getting off the couch to go to the bathroom. But he worked from home, because for the most part, I was sleeping or watching TV. But every now and then, I’d ask him for help getting to the bathroom or for a glass of water.

      4. Observer*

        That’s just not true. BTDT as the sick spouse.

        Just because you have never experienced this, does not make it the case.

      5. Manders*

        There are some sorts of surgeries where adults really do need someone to just be nearby for a certain period of time. It was a huge pain at my last job when my partner had surgery and needed someone to sit with him afterwards, but I wasn’t allowed to take time off on the day he absolutely had to have the surgery. Luckily, he had relatives in town who could watch him, but the doctors were very clear that leaving him home alone wasn’t an option.

      6. Creag an Tuire*

        I have to disagree with you there — a spouse recovering from surgical recovery who needs you to occasionally get up and get them things or help them walk to the washroom but is otherwise going to read, Netflix, and rest all day is a perfectly cromulent use of WFH.

        Kids, OTOH, I always take the PTO. (Especially since in most of my experience, the kid’s already feeling better and climbing on the furniture, but has to wait 24 hours before returning to daycare.)

        1. Rebecca*

          Agreed. I had a non time sensitive office job, think, the work needs to get done but not during 8-5 hours, and when my Dad had hip replacement, they allowed me to work from my parent’s house. I was there for the first 10 days or so (they are older and my Mom couldn’t help Dad stand up or move him as she’s tiny and not strong). I worked and got my work done, and carefully kept track of the hours as I was non-exempt. It worked out perfectly. I didn’t have to use 8 days of vacation time, and no one had to cover for me while I was out.

      7. Whats In A Name*

        Being able to work from home was HUGE when my s/o had a spinal fusion. I worked at capacity but I could be there in case any other host of things that he actually could not do for himself over the 10 hours I am gone from home on a workday (8 working, 1 lunch, 30 min commute each way).

        Taking PTO would have been silly for me; he slept 18 hours of the day. I just needed to be able to be there in case he fell on a trip to the restroom. And I made him lunch on my lunch hour.

    5. Newish Reader*

      Is the coworker’s work getting accomplished while they are working from home? If it’s a job where much of the work can be performed remotely AND that work is getting done, you should just let this go. Depending on the type of illness of the child or spouse, it’s conceivable that work can be done while the person whose ill is resting.

      If the work isn’t getting done and that is impacting your work, then you could address it with your manager from the perspective of the impact to your work.

    6. this*

      As long as they are getting their work done and it’s not effecting your ability to do your job you need to let it go.

    7. Artemesia*

      It is all about output. If the person is pulling their oar it wouldn’t bother me too much, but if it is raising everyone else’s workload, then yeah.

    8. Liz2*

      I’m a modern type- if work is getting done and no deadlines are being missed, I don’t care where they are or how much a butt is in a chair.

      If work isn’t getting done and deadlines are missed however…that’s not cool no matter what.

      1. Whats In A Name*

        That’s about how I see this. 5 days a week or no days a week – if you get your job done then have at it.

        Plus, I am way more productive when I WFH. No people dropping by and no phone calls, it’s actually kinda great for my productivity!

    9. Temperance*

      I think it depends.

      My husband’s workplace gave him 6 days off, no questions asked, when I was ill in the hospital, and one day when I was home recovering. They didn’t expect him to work.

      Taking care of a child or high-needs adult is not really working. Someone who might need you for one or two things throughout the day is a different issue, though.

      1. Whats In A Name*

        That was awesome of your husbands workplace! I agree the needs of the individual being “watched” come into play here, too.

        1. Temperance*

          It was really amazing of them. They gave him what they called “emergency leave”, because it was a serious emergency those first few days when I was in the ICU.

    10. Lemon Zinger*

      Two weeks seems like a lot, but I don’t have an issue with it as long as work is getting done. Also, the employee shouldn’t be missing important meetings, conferences, etc.

      I wish I’d had the option to work from home to care for my SO while he was recovering from surgery. Granted, I never asked, but I don’t think my boss would have approved it. He just needed someone to make him tea/fetch him water/help him take his medication. If he needed extensive care, obviously that’s the time to use PTO.

    11. Aurion*

      The acid test is really “are you getting a full day’s worth of productivity out from WFH? If you are, and the alternate schedule doesn’t interfere with or delay other people’s work, then reasonable bosses and colleagues shouldn’t care about the details.”

      I actually had a friend ask me about this recently. She is a relatively new employee and her boss remarked on her WFH a few times when she was sick, and she was all “but I was sick?” And when I point-blank ask her that question above, she sheepishly said something about probably getting a half-day’s worth of productivity. Which is really the key part people are irritated about. If my colleagues get their work done from home, and the alternate schedule doesn’t hold up anything I’m doing, I really don’t care if they’re caring for their sick child, spouse, or cactus.

      1. KellyK*

        Yes, absolutely.

        I’d also add that some reduced productivity may not be a big deal on rare occasions, particularly if the alternative is taking a sick day and having no productivity. If you get done 80% of what you’d do in a normal workday, then get caught up when you come back, that’s better than taking two days off and either sticking coworkers with those tasks or having things not get done.

        Generally, I think that if someone else has to pick up your slack, you should be taking at least some PTO rather than a WFH day.

      2. Bex*

        On the flip side, I’ve also had times where my boss was fine with me working at home with only 50-75% productivity, because from her view that was far better than the 0% they would have gotten if I took a full sick day. Usually it was because we had big calls that couldn’t be rescheduled and my participation was required.

      3. Aurion*

        @ KellyK & Bex:

        Absolutely agreed, and there are definitely circumstances where the reduced productivity now is better than taking a full day off of zero productivity and catch up later. But I feel like that either should be a) rare or b) discussed ahead of time with boss/colleagues so everyone’s on the same page. Otherwise, a blanket defense of “I was working from home!” without that previous understanding means I expect the work will be up to the same productivity and quality as the work at the office.

    12. Overeducated*

      I am doing this with a sick toddler today. At the end of the day I will total up how much time I actually worked and how much I will take as sick leave – my guess is half and half. I am glad that the work on my plate today can all be done just as well from home and isn’t time sensitive, unlike yesterday”s full slate of meetings, and in return for the flexibility I will be honest about my productivity.

      With an older kid who is too sick to go to school, but can read, nap, and watch videos all day, I think working from home is legit and humane of workplaces to allow when possible.

    13. Anxa*

      My mom used to stay home with me and I can’t say that she got a lot done, but, and I’m not trying to diminish the amount of work childcare is, but depending on how sick I was I would maybe see her for an extra hour that day?

      If a child has a cold, there’s really not that much you need to do.

    14. Elizabeth West*

      Well it depends on what’s going on. I’ve had coworkers who WFH to care for a sick child and they actually were available at least part of the time to answer emails, etc. I think that is fine. If they’re not getting their work done and it’s affecting your work, then you might want to ask your boss how s/he wants you to prioritize things.

    15. Mena*

      You can’t do both. If you’re caring for a sick child, you’re not working your full day.

      I was horrified when a former employer stated that working from home required that you have sufficient childcare in place (working from home with small children requiring your supervision isn’t working your full day) … I was horrified that this even needed to be spelled out to senior-level professionals – I was even MORE horrified when people pushed back and complained. WWWWHHHHAAAATTTTT?

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I totally get this. And for the most part I agree.

        I do see that as the decades roll by me, more and more people are having surgeries for this and that. Those patients need someone with them sometimes. I think reality based companies have to realize that some compromises need to be made from time to time. People can’t afford in home care and even if they can often times there is NO ONE to hire. Post-surgery care often falls to the family.

        I think 2 weeks of WFH should require a discussion and plan made with the boss. AND everyone else should be allowed the same ability if needed. The discussion would include accountability for productivity levels.

        Personally, if it took me 12 hours to 8 hours worth of work because of interruptions, then that is what I would do. But I would also know that this not a sustainable plan for me, there has to be an end date.

      2. NotAnotherManager!*

        Eh, I don’t agree. I think people need to have regular and sufficient childcare for a routine work from home situation with well children, but I have had to take a day off to be home with a sick kid* and put in just as much time not having to do a 2-hour-round-trip commute on top of my workday.

        * Stomach bugs not included, that is a full-day of mop and bucket and oh-god-not-on-the-COUCH! detail, but a kid with a cold or something may sleep nearly the whole day and require little more than lunch and periodic check-ins.

    16. Ann Furthermore*

      It depends on a few things. There are definitely people who, as you say, “work from home,” and then people who actually do work from home. There’s a big difference.

      For me, if my daughter is sick, I can usually park her in front of the TV, make sure she’s staying hydrated, check her temperature, and give her ibuprofen or Tylenol. She’s almost 8, so she’s a little more self sufficient. When she was younger, she required much more supervision.

      But no matter what, I always let my boss and co-workers know that I’m home with a sick kid, and will be working on and off throughout the day, and then finish up working after my husband gets home and takes over for me. That way there’s no question about if I’m working or “working.” It’s important to be totally up front about that, so there are no misunderstandings. And for people to have an inbox full of emails, or see that you’ve completed your part of something by the deadline, or whatever, to show that yes, even though you’re caring for someone who’s sick, you’re also getting your work done.

  14. Mrs Lady*

    Sort of a vent, but please chime in if you have experience here –

    My boss likes to ask for feedback all the time. But when she says “feedback,” what she really means is “validation.” I’m sure this isn’t an uncommon problem. I work in a middle school with a teaching staff of about 60, plus various aides and support staff. Her preferred method of getting things done is to put people in “task forces,” ask them to come up with solutions to things so she can say, “See, I’m being inclusive and letting people have a voice!” But when the task forces come back with their ideas, recommendations, and action plans, she vetoes them or overrides them with her own plan… and then makes the task force carry out *her* plan. And believe me, people are riled up as hell about this. Anyone who points out that the task force isn’t making any actual decisions is “negative” and “unhelpful.”

    Our district has implemented something new this year wherein a “team” of teachers, parents, etc handle the planning of the budget. We are under the advice of the principal, but at the end of the process, she doesn’t have a vote – we do. My colleagues voted me in as one of the teachers on this team and they are expecting changes.

    I’m nervous as hell but excited to make a difference – hopefully my boss doesn’t hate me in the process. Has anyone ever dealt with something similar? I’m happy to hear any words of advice.

    1. kbeers0su*

      no experience, but that seems like both an awesome opportunity and a potential shitshow. best of luck?

    2. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

      Your principal sounds like an ass. Sorry. But it’s nice that teachers are getting a real voice, and I kind of suspect that behavior like your boss’ is the reason why that change was made.

    3. Biff*

      You can always deliver feedback that validates only part of a program. Let’s say, for example, that your Boss implements a program that each of you is to read a grade-level appropriate book each week and develop a ‘life lesson plan’ based on the book. Let’s pretend for the moment that your day doesn’t have room for yet another lesson, and your life doesn’t have room for even one more work-task. You could still handle the feedback in a validating fashion:

      “Boss, people really like the idea of having a life lesson each week in the classroom, and we also like the idea of teaching that lesson from a more modern, more popular book. However, most of us are wondering if this should take priority over Onerous Weekly Packet Building, Limited Art Education Time, or should be slotted into one of our scheduled Computer Lab Times, since there’s really not a lot of unstructured time in our classrooms. I think the general consensus is that the idea is great, but we need more implementation planning to make it a big success with the classroom and the parents.”

    4. Master Bean Counter*

      I hate to break it to you, but anytime you are in charge of a budget, somebody will not be happy with you. ;)
      My advice:
      Document any changes you make in the budget with a solid backing. Try to have a reason for everything.

    5. zora*

      In my (second-hand) experience, K-12 principals are either wonderful or dumpster fires. There is no in between. This sounds exactly like my mom’s former principal (except it can’t be because she got Peter Principled up to the district level, fine whatever, good riddance). It can be very common with principals who really have no management experience, and are very insecure. I honestly wouldn’t expect her to change, and pushing back on her could really suck for you in the long run. HOWEVER, my mom discovered that if she pushed back, the most she had to deal with was intense passive aggression from her principal, the benefits of tenure. And since this is a structure where she doesn’t have a vote, it might be the perfect place to take a stand.

      However, what you said “hopefully she doens’t hate me” she probably will hate you, you should be prepared for that. Be ready to stay calm, let it roll off your back. Think about what the worst thing is she is likely to do if she ‘hates’ you, and be at peace with that. Because it’s more important to you to make change in the budget planning.

      Your alternative is to find another school to move to. My mom just got a good principal this year, and she almost can’t believe how different it is.

  15. Kimmy*

    Hi everyone!
    Pregnancy question – at what point did you tell your boss that you were expecting? I am expecting my first and am giving myself until 16 weeks to tell them but am curious what other people have done.

    Also, how available should I expect to be during a maternity leave? I get some paid leave from my office, and I am wondering if people responded to emails or calls or were otherwise available during their leave.


    1. orchidsandtea*

      I told my old boss at 16 weeks and then changed jobs at 22 weeks. I did not mention it until the offer stage, though it was fairly obvious.

      Typically not too available, if you’re using FMLA especially. A quick “Hey where did you file the Annual Spout Report?” is okay, but you’re not supposed to work on leave.

      1. anon prego*

        How did it go switching jobs? Any issues with insurance, etc? Did the new place give you any leave? II’m 16 weeks right now and have had two interviews with the same organization that both went well. I’m wondering if I’m crazy to try to switch jobs right now (presuming an offer comes through, which it may not).

        1. orchidsandtea*

          It went well! I LOVE my new job. I feel skillful and appreciated. My team is competent and kind, including the bosses. And I got a raise! …which makes up for the unpaid time off for medical visits, since I got hired through a temp agency. So I won’t get any paid leave whatsoever. I’ve decided to take a year off, unpaid, otherwise I’d have tried to negotiate for a little bit of paid leave in the offer. I’m fairly junior, though not entry-level.

      2. Roza*

        Also very curious about this! Still a year or two off from trying for a baby, but will likely be moving around the same time or a little before, no idea if current job would let me go remote.

    2. Children's Librarian*

      I told my boss (different boss each time) around 7-8 weeks because I had such bad morning sickness each time and I missed some work. Didn’t want them to worry. Morning sickness lasted the entire pregnancy with my first (medicated) and went away at the end of my first trimester with my second (both girls).

    3. TMA*

      For my second child, I think I told him sometime at the beginning of the second trimester. Probably right around 12 weeks.

      As for being available during maternity leave, if you can be completely unavailable, be completely unavailable. I answered an email to our HR person about health insurance, but other than that, I did nothing work related. Of course, this depends on your company and the requirements of your job, but I always lean toward when you’re on leave, you’re on leave.

    4. Parenthetically*

      I told my boss pretty early (10 weeks) because his wife (also a coworker) and I are fairly close and I knew she’d figure it out when I came in pale and queasy and exhausted every day for weeks! And because I knew I’d need to be leaving for appointments and things.

    5. Poppy*

      I waited until 15 weeks. I wanted to wait longer but I was starting to show, and I didn’t want my boss to be annoyed that it was obvious and I hadn’t been up front with him. I asked him to keep it quiet around the rest of the office, and he’s been really good about it. So now I’m at 19 weeks and still haven’t officially told anyone except my boss because the bump is still pretty small. Good luck!

    6. emma*

      I had a miscarriage at 8 weeks, and was really glad I hadn’t told my boss. But by 16 weeks I know the chances have reduced considerably.

      1. anonforthis*

        Contrariwise, I had to tell my boss after a 9w miscarriage because I needed time off to recover.

      2. KellyK*

        I’m sorry about both of your miscarriages.

        I ended up telling my boss about a miscarriage at 5 weeks because I had a couple dr’s appointments very close together for bloodwork. She was really sympathetic, and that was helpful.

        For my second miscarriage, I was just starting a new job and told absolutely no one. I ended up having to come in late to my first day of work because of, again, bloodwork. I was vague about it being a medical thing that my doctor’s office insisted had to be that day, because I felt stuck in an unpleasant place between oversharing/TMI and looking flaky to a new employer. I think if I’d explained it matter-of-factly, people would’ve been fine, but it’s always sort of an awkward thing to bring up.

    7. Murphy*

      I told my boss ~15 weeks, I think. Early second trimester.

      I haven’t gone on leave yet, but because of some comments my boss has made I’m trying to stress that I really will be NOT WORKING during that time. The other day he asked about being able to call me just to be able to tell them where a file is on the share drive if they can’t find it, to which I obviously said of course. So I’m hoping to be considered unavailable unless they have a quick question that only I can answer.

      1. KellyK*

        Now might be a good time to make sure that shared drive is really well organized, and that all your files are in places that make sense.

    8. Jubilance*

      I told my boss around 12 weeks, which has is also when I told my personal network.

      I’m on maternity leave now and my company has a very strict policy about not doing any work activities while out on leave. I only logged into email to send an email & photo of my daughter to coworkers. I will have to go through my performance review with my manager while I’m on leave but that’s just due to timing.

    9. Sled dog mama*

      I told my bosses unofficially about 10 weeks with each (we worked in different locations so I told when I saw them in person). The first time I didn’t really have a reason to tell so early, the second time we were exploring a major shift in the direction of my position and I felt that pregnancy might impact my ability to cope with some of the changes.
      I also work in an industry where I’m expected to declare myself pregnant at some point due to hazards I work with so this was a hey heads up you’ll be seeing the official declaration soon. I officially declared at 16 weeks with both.

    10. Catabodua*

      I have gone through 2 pregnancies / maternity leaves while working.

      1) Told folks at about 14 weeks along. I volunteered to WFH for a short amount of time each week because some of what I did was so specific that we had to train another employee (which, I agree, we should have done before then anyway) and I was checking in on their work and making corrections/providing additional training. It ended up being about 10 hours a week (after a month of doing nothing) and was no problem at all.

      Note – I adored that supervisor and workplace and was happy to be helpful during my leave.

      2) Told folks when I was 22 weeks along. I would not work from home while I was out. However, a select few coworkers had my home number and were welcome to call for help on how to find things.

      Note – I HATED the person I worked for and was thrilled to not have to hear her voice for the duration of my leave. I was actively looking for another job and went on a few interviews while on leave.

      So for me it was all about how I felt about each workplace and supervisor. Boss #1 had no expectations of me working and was very accommodating. Boss #2 was pissed I wouldn’t even open emails and called my pregnancy “our little inconvenience” multiple times. Made it easy to decide to not do a damn thing for her while I was out.

    11. the spam queen*

      I told my boss at 20 weeks. My pregnancy experience was pretty awful, both physically and emotionally, and my male dominated workplace was my escape.

      During my leave I stopped by the office for social visits at lunch and during an employee function, but remained pretty disconnected from email and phone. The team I was working with paid me back by leaving all of my work for when I returned. Three months of full time work to be accomplished on a part time schedule (half day in office plus a couple hours a day telecommuting). They may have thought a little too highly of my capabilities. :)

    12. J*

      I have always told pretty early on because I get very, very sick when pregnant and it’s impossible to hide. It sucked when I miscarried, but it meant I didn’t need to do a whole thing when I had to take days to recover (emotionally) from those as well.

      I was completely unavailable during my maternity leaves.

    13. Anon Mom*

      I told my boss when I was around 14 weeks and the rest of our team shortly thereafter. I thought it would spread around the office after that but people were more discrete than I expected. Apart from the people I work with directly (who were affected by my maternity leave) I found it very awkward to work “By the way, I’m pregnant” into a conversation. People did start to ask once I was around 6 months and really showing, but there were staff who didn’t realize I was pregnant until I came back from maternity leave and they wondered out loud if I’d been gone for a little while (not kidding! it happened twice). Just food for thought as you’re imaging how this will go…

      As for maternity leave, I only checked in about benefits stuff and return date. My baby came eight weeks early (surprise!) so I did offer to set up a call with my boss about a week after he was born to talk through my current projects, but Boss was awesome and told me not to worry about it — they would manage.

    14. TheCupcakeCounter*

      I had planned to tell my boss after I passed the first trimester mark and got the OK from the doctor but my pregnancy sickness changed that quick and I was outed about the 8-9 week mark. 3 days in a row of nearly puking at my desk multiple times each morning and he knew (had 5 kids and 12 grandkids).
      I checked email once a couple of days after I came home from the hospital but other than that didn’t stay in contact or work at all. Keep in mind that if you take the full 12 weeks FMLA covers you aren’t getting paid for about half of that time.

    15. Bonky*

      I’m one of the company founders, so it was more a case of telling my peers and my board: but I told them as soon as I found out this time because I’ve had a chronic ectopic pregnancy (don’t google it, they are vanishingly unusual and it will not happen to you) and miscarriages with complications, and I didn’t want to be in a situation where I surprised them by needing time off or emotional support again.

      The first trimester can also be really tough on some people. I’m 7 months pregnant with our first at the moment, and I’m a bit old to be doing it because it’s taken such a long time to have a successful pregnancy (I’ll be 41 when she arrives); I don’t know how much of it was age-related, but so far the very worst of the fatigue was in the first trimester, and the morning sickness was very hard to deal with; I was not in the office as much as I like to be. So if you find that you are affected in that way you’ll probably be best off disclosing.

      Maternity leave: depends on you, depends on your employer, depends on where you are. My understanding is that your work is not allowed to email or call you or otherwise make you work (at least here in the UK): you’re on leave, and leave means…leave. Because of my position in the organisation (and the UK’s very generous leave policy) I am intending on doing some work all the way through, but I’ll have a lot of support at home with a nanny, and that will enable me to do that: not everybody is able to make that choice. And, of course, I and my colleagues are aware that my choices around this may change once the baby is here, or that I might be sick or depressed when she arrives, and that that may change things.

      Be pragmatic, be aware that your feelings and needs may change. And congratulations!

    16. Clever Name*

      I told my boss at 11 weeks. I was planning on waiting until the 2nd trimester, but I was coming in late due to morning sickness, so I figured I had better explain myself.

    17. Bluebell*

      I had two wildly different experiences with people who reported to me:
      #1 – told me at 12 weeks or so. This was her second. She did great planning, wasn’t sick during the pregnancy but went into labor about a week early, and I only contacted her a handful of times during her leave.
      #2 – told me before she told her family, at just a few weeks. It was her first, she was sick often, and by the time she left for maternity leave she had no pto left. I asked hr for a temp about a month before her due date. We didn’t need to contact her much, and when she came in during her maternity leave she handed over her resignation.
      I now have two staffers who I think may be taking maternity leave in the next year or so, and I feel I’m pretty well prepared for anything.
      Good luck!

    18. Tandar*

      Be fairly unavailable if you can. I got complained at by HR for “working” during one of my maternity leaves because I replied to an email to say that I was on FMLA and could respond to their concern when I got back on X date. It was about the 3rd email in a row HR had sent me on the same question so obviously no one was paying attention to my Out of Office response.

      I tended to tell my boss on the earlier side but only because I’d had a couple of miscarriages previously and so I was followed closely by my doctor early on with more frequent appointments than is normal.

    19. Anonymous*

      My industry is unusual because we are exposed to several prenatal hazards, so we have to disclose it immediately. I think I told my husband first, boss second, and parents third. Would not have been my preference.

  16. orchidsandtea*

    When you’ve taken over a role in the past, were there any specific types of documentation that really helped you? Especially anything out of the ordinary or that you might not have otherwise thought of.

    I’m in an administrative role that didn’t exist before me, and I’m going on maternity leave for a year. (Well. This is the US. I have zero guarantee I’ll have a job to come back to.) Management’s been a little hands-off, so I’ve shaped the role. There are some big transitions coming up, so while I can document my processes, a lot will need to change. I want to set the next person up for success.

    1. EddieSherbert*

      One thing I wish I got when I started at Current Job was some specific guidelines/reminders for things I don’t do regularly – projects that are quarterly, annual, that kind of thing. I was a bit blindsided on some items that first year or so (a few annual things I wasn’t told about in advance)!

      1. Not The Droid You Are Looking For*

        I have a “cheat sheet” by month that lists things I do once a year/once a quarter.

        1. EddieSherbert*

          Definitely – now it’s all in my Outlook and physical calendar, but that first year had some tough moments!

    2. Mini Snowder*

      Anything that describes a typical day! I took over a role without training and I still have no idea how the previous person filled her days, and no one else does either.

    3. kbeers0su*

      Who to ask about certain types of questions. It’s nice to know who the go-to people for things are so that if there is something you forget to document, the next person at least knows where to (hopefully) find the answer.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I always tried to add a person’s name into my SOP documents, and include the department in case that person was out of the office, left the company, or moved to another division. Like “If you have questions about bewitched teapots, send an interdepartmental memo to Arthur Weasley in the Misuse of Muggle Artifacts Office.”

      2. Whats In A Name*

        Also 2nding this – a list of contacts…what if the printer breaks, what if phone/IT go down….anyone you contact regularly – even if regularly is once every 6 months. This is so so helpful when going into a new role.

    4. Newish Reader*

      Rationale for why things are done a particular way. Someone new that doesn’t have the history of why things are done that way. And then when changes are suggested, they don’t have the context or detail to understand if the suggestions are reasonable. I always hate when someone tells me “we’ve always done it this way.” I want to know why it’s done that way so we can talk through any consequences or implications of changes. Or I want to know what didn’t work in the past so there can be an attempt to ensure changes avoid those earlier issues.

    5. Liz2*

      I like binders for that. It helped organize my thoughts and create “cheat sheets.” Calendaring, big events, travel contacts, equipment ordering/service contacts, local building contacts, catering contacts. Really just a lot of lists with a few important documentations printed out and systems explanations.

      I also like to ask the question “what about when that 1% of time when things don’t go right?” “what about when there’s a blizzard?” When things go normal and easy, no one thinks about it. It’s when everything’s going weird and wrong that they need to find answers fast.

    6. animaniactoo*

      Who to contact if something is unclear from what you’ve left if it’s going to be different people for different portions of the job. So “For teapot compliance reports, X is the best person to go to if you have questions, for teapot safety statistics, Y is the best person to ask.”

    7. Observer*

      List of each vendor, what you use them for (fairly specific if you have multiple vendors that seem similar), contact information and best way to contact them and order (not necessarily the same thing).

      List of EVERY external account you have, login and password, instructions for account maintenance (eg to change the person who gets notices) and date for re-enrollment / renewal.

      List of every form your position currently uses, what it’s for, where the master is.

      All of the other things people have mentioned.

      1. Ama*

        This — and also once you’ve actually made these lists, either a master list of all of these lists with where they are located or (if they are in one document) a table of contents at the front . So many times I have started a new job or been covering for someone and wasted time pulling data on my own only to discover that the data already existed in a document but it was in a folder I hadn’t thought to look in.

  17. Marche*

    Had a great conversation with a recruiter earlier this week. We talked about the current market for entry-level engineers and possible avenues to search, and she reviewed my resume and said she’d pass it around to the rest of her team. I’ve been looking long enough that I’m not super optimistic about anything, just determined to find work, but I’m pretty pleased to have spoken with her because if nothing else, a recruiter can’t hurt.

  18. Zoe Karvounopsina*

    We began tidying hoarder coworker’s desk today. It went surprisingly well.

    This may be because I was the one filing three years of invoices, and she hadn’t come in yet when we put all her half-empty bottles, crisps, and kinder egg toys in a box.

    1. kbeers0su*

      Just ew. I’m in the process of cleaning out my hoarder admin’s files. I literally had to wait until she was gone each day last week (she’s 3/4 time) and dig through her desk to find everything she had, because she either couldn’t or wouldn’t tell me what kinds of files she had. About 20 flashdrives, mounds of old CDs, and binders and binders later, I think we’re finally making headway. Sad part is that although she hoarded tons of useless information over the years, she threw out some really important files because she was “following the rules about purging things every 7 years.” Not sure where that rule came from…ugh.

      1. RKB*

        That’s something I’ve seen on Pinterest. Purging some big ticket paper items every 7 years. But that’s for your home… not for your work!

    2. krysb*

      When I was younger, I was the hoarder assistant. Now, I’m borderline-neurotic about keeping everything in its proper place. Of course, I’m not an assistant anymore, but age has done me well on this level.

    3. Lefty*

      Ugh, best of luck! I’d be interested in hearing her reaction to it.

      I inherited a “hoarder office” from a 20+ year employee… it was so bad that the property manager insisted on replacing the carpet and blinds after I removed all of the other detritus (yay!).

    4. Rachel 2: Electric Boogaloo*

      I’m not a total hoarder, but I do tend to have a messy desk. (Although I do know where everything is!) At a previous job, a coworker took it upon herself to clean my desk every so often. (She came in an hour or so before I did.) What drove me crazy is that whenever she did that, I had to spend a bunch of time trying to find where she had moved my things.

      (Oh, and I added to my name here so as not to be confused with the other Rachel.)

      1. Zoe Karvoupsina*

        We did tell her today was cleaning day, and made sure not to move work related stuff until she was in, and could inform us that the Remittance Advice from 2014 is ESSENTIAL.

        (“No,” her manager whispered, a broken woman, “No, it isn’t.”)

        She’s been politely asked to fix this for the last three months.

        1. Ismis*

          That’s fair, Zoe K – but Rachel 2 – as a messy desk person as well, I would be VERY angry with any coworker who messed with my things!! Did you ever call her on it?

    5. Nan*

      I had termed someone who was also a friend, about a year/year and half ago. I believe it was 5 printer paper boxes full of stuff I cleaned out of her cube. We have 3 drawers and a shelf. Yikes!

    6. zora*

      I spent pretty much 8 hours a day for a month at one temp job just dealing with the stuff from the hoarder admin. There were dozens of boxes of office supplies and equipment in every drawer, closet, desk, and it was a pretty small office! There were more office supplies than that staff would have gone through in 10 years, plus boxes literally full of obsolete things, like 100s of unopened packs of minidisks and minidisk cases (remember those?) 100s of unopened VHS tapes, 100s of packs of typewriter ribbons… it was so weird opening those boxes, like I’d fallen through a wormhole.

      Fun tag to this story: I found out eventually that the admin had been fired because she had been using HUGE Staples orders to hide that she was buying personal items on the office credit card! I just don’t even get people….

      1. Fiona the Lurker*

        In one previous job we had a new colleague arrive (from another department) complete with a large quantity of oddly-sized envelopes that we couldn’t imagine a use for. It turned out that she’d taken over completing the weekly stationery requisition from someone else and because these envelopes had been requested *once* she’d just gone on and on asking for the same number every week; it never occurred to her to find out whether anybody actually needed them.

        Of course, the *really* silly part of all this was that there was no way she could just return them to the store; for some reason that wasn’t allowed…

  19. content marketing/content strategy/writer*

    Does anyone have any advice for me? Not sure how many of you are in this field, but I feel like I need help in my job. I started this job a few months back and I’m basically owning content marketing for this website. my boss had a talk w/ me about how i need to be a self-starter and don’t i want to create the backbone for my team and doesn’t it feel good to not be an order-taker…. but in reality, i rather be an order-taker. i have to basically become a journalistic go-getter within my org and unearth all these interesting stories to tell on the site. i have to create something out of nothing. ironically i was warned about this in my interview, but not by my boss because she started after me. she is very much type-A, REALLY into her job and the marketing field, whereas I’m used to all my other jobs when I’m given assignments or given a set project. i think so much of this is down to my confidence. but also, how do i be a self-starter when i feel like i don’t have anything to do? i’ve been contacting the connections i HAVE made within the org to see if they can be a source, and getting names from them and contacting them too. i’ve asked them if we can have a reciprocal relationship where they tell me if there’s a story in development. but like, what other stories are there except, “this is how this technology works.” “we are launching a new service, this is how it works.” Ahhhh…

    I cannot get fired, I am the only breadwinner right now. My boss is definitely trying to encourage me and set biweekly meetings for us, but we are SO different. she is not going to give me like, a helping hand.

    1. EddieSherbert*

      I came from technical writing to marketing, so I totally get the feeling (incredibly structured to… be creative! Whatever you like!… it was a weird transition).

      Some of my blog posts and social media includes:
      * interviews with clients and staff (Have you talked to Jim in customer support? Here’s some fun stuff about Jim.)
      * training materials (is it time for a full-store inventory already? Here’s some tips on that stuff)
      * hardware tips (another Windows 10 update? Here’s some common networking solutions if it reset stuff)
      * reposts or recaps of industry related recalls/new products/new trends

      I’ve found Sales and Customer Service to be really good sources. Sales usually sees upcoming trends or new things customers are looking for. CS gives me ideas on common problems people are calling in about. If you have suppliers (or competitors), following their blogs/social media is also helpful.

      Not sure what kind of company you’re at or who your customers are, but mine is a B2B software.

    2. plain_jane*

      Can you do pieces about why people who are doing interesting work in the organization think the work/product is important?

      Why did you decide to launch the new service? Can you interview one of the early adopters of the new service? Someone who is using it slightly differently than anticipated?

    3. Karanda Baywood*

      Research your competition. What do they do, how do they do it? Check out industry blogs. I bet you can glean some good stuff from them. Brainstorm with coworkers! I bet they have ideas as well.

      Then make a task list and check things off when you finish. You’ll feel more like you’re being given an assignment.

      1. SophieChotek*

        Yes. It depends on your industry, but I have to do a lot of create-content-from-nothing in my job also. There are lots of Content Marketing websites out there — they are often general, etc., but sometimes I find just reading them give me ideas.

        Ditto treading industry magazines, etc. I am signed up for all our competitors blogs/email lists, etc. so I get a sense of what what they are publishing, etc. It might feel like copying/doing what X just did, but honestly, at least in my industry, I feel like all the content is more of them same — every brand talking about how awesome it is. (Sigh. There are only so many ways I can talk about how awesome my company is, especially when I don’t actually believe it most of the time.)

        Do you have first/early users? Can you talk to them about how your brand’s technology helped them? How did they discover it? etc.

    4. Spoonie*

      I think you need to have a conversation with your boss about exactly what direction the content needs to go in. Does it need to be solely focused on product, or do you want to weave pieces of company identity/brand in with the content? What does your brand look like? Maybe create a better frame of what she’s wanting and then go from there.

      If the decision is that you’re wanting to focus on a mix of product and people, you can do some features highlighting different people within your company. Does your company have any volunteer initiatives that you can highlight? Can you talk about how Fergus has been with the company for 30 years and how he started and where he is now? Maybe a Company AfterHours about how Susan does competitive underwater basketweaving (depending on format, etc.). Is there a new partnership with your company and a national entity?

      The important part is to set up a schedule for yourself to always be refreshing story ideas. Make some contacts with people across your company. If you have a company intranet, set up a form for a story suggestion (with info on who made the suggestion so you can get more details as needed).

    5. Overeducated*

      I think it’s important spend time really getting the know your organization and its work deeply. Often people don’t know what an interesting story would be to an outsider because they are so deeply in it, or they don’t know about connections to other areas. See if you can set up days to shadow people in different areas of your company because the more you know, the more stories you will be able to find.

      I am in a position that is kind of like yours, and my methods right now are a) talk to lots of people, ask for tons of info, read lots of stuff, b) work on a constantly evolving content map and calendar, and c) just start writing when I have an idea, even if a piece doesn’t make the final cut.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      Think about a newspaper there is worldwide, national, state and local news- new information is put into one of these groups. Then they have recurring advice columns, comics etc.
      If you can set up a frame work of general categories maybe your general categories would be industry wide, local level and company wide. Then you could do recurring subjects, which might help you to avoid reinventing the wheel every time you write.

      This may be too sneaky. But why not turn the tables? Tell her that your first piece is going to be to interview her. (Actually write the piece.) Ask her questions, start out easy, “what drew you to our industry?” and work up to larger questions, “what do you think have been the best changes?” and “where do you think our industry will be in five years/ten years.”

      You might collect enough from your interview of her to get yourself into the swing of it. If she is a type A she probably has a thousand things to tell you, it’s just a matter of figuring out how to get it out of her.

    7. Chaordic One*

      I hope this doesn’t sound rude, but I think you might be over-thinking the situation. You certainly want to be creative, but on the other hand, there is truly nothing new under the sun and not everything that you create is going to be truly original. You are going to build upon the work of others and it is not cheating to be doing articles that are similar to or inspired by your company’s competition.

      Aside from technology tutorials, in your current role you are probably going to be doing some current event and news stories about things that are going on in the wider world. You can report these same stories, but write about them from the specific point of view of how they affect your clients and how your company provides solutions to these problems and can help your clients deal with some of these things. Re-presenting an idea from a different angle can be surprisingly creative and effective.

      Here’s a link to an article from the Huffington Post by Anna Johansson who has some ideas that you might be able to use:

      I’ve used some of these same ideas for articles for a newsletter put out by the Friends of the Library group I belong to.

    8. NDR*

      The first thing I recommend doing is to figure out who your company sees themselves as, their brand identity. If you have a brand identity and style guide, start there. If not, this could be a good firstongoing project to propose to your boss. I’ve been working on a rebrand of international company’s website, and the first thing we received was a 25-ish page guide that explained corporate values, ideals, high level services, and then, finally language to use and avoid in portraying that image.

      After that, it will become easier to pick out the stories you want to tell – whether it’s a profile of a person or department, an in-depth look at a product/service, or something in the community that the company is involved with.

      Let’s say you work for a retailer that presents themselves as being an affordable option for stylish and environmentally-responsible housewares. Stories you’d look across the company for would be things like collaborations with popular designers, a profile of a trendsetting employee, and a volunteer environmentally-focused project that your corporate office has adopted.

      People connect to personalities and narrative more than facts and descriptions, so if you have latitude to show success stories or customer stories and how they use your products, you could develop some compelling copy around those stories.

      I also recommend looking at marketing materials from a combination of competitors to your business, brands that identify themselves similarly, and then any companies whose brand/style you like to get inspired.

      Good luck!

  20. Mini Snowder*

    I am a relatively new receptionist at a small office as part of a very large, global institution. The role and industry have nothing to do with my interests or degrees, but I took job primarily out of desperation after a cross-country move with no connections in my new city. I have maybe one hour of work to do each day if I’m lucky. I fill the time with Lynda tutorials, Codecademy, and coursework for a class I’m taking. For context, I hold some of those very useful creative degrees and was previously working in the outdoor industry, but am trying to shift into web design/development work and am taking advantage of all the free time to build a portfolio. So far, I do most things on my work computer and my iPad. However, I’m at a point where I need my personal laptop to progress because I need the design-specific programs. My work computer is heavily guarded for security, so I can’t download anyway software. I also work between PC/Mac environments at work and home so I can’t use flash drives, and sites like DropBox and Google Drive are blocked. So far, no one has said anything when I sit on my iPad watching Lynda all day. I also have openly read big textbooks at my desk, but I feel like showing up with a laptop somehow crosses a line. I am afraid to ask my boss if it’s okay because I don’t want to hear ‘no’ or draw more attention to myself, but I also have a feeling that whatever keeps me out of her hair is fine with her (I gave up asking for more to do a months ago because she always acted very inconvenienced by it and nothing ever came out of it).

    No one here knows I am taking classes. I couldn’t justify the coursework with interests in different positions at my office because we have no in-house creative staff. I always complete what work comes up the second it touches my desk, but there just is nothing else for me to do. Any advice on how to proceed?

    1. Willow*

      I’d just bring the laptop. I feel like textbooks are more obvious than a laptop anyway. If anyone comments or asks you to stop you can just stop bringing it.

    2. Tinkerer*

      Do you have two screens? You could connect one to your laptop and keep the other attached to your work computer. There might be a way to connect two computers to one screen, too. Depending on your setup that might be a little more subtle.

    3. workingstudent*

      You’re new to this job and want to spend part of the day on your personal laptop doing homework that doesn’t benefit your job? No. Please don’t do this and expect your employer to be encouraging of this behavior. Reading textbooks and looking at your iPad, as a receptionist is already drawing attention, even if no one has said anything to you.

      Your gut is telling you that you’d be crossing a line with the laptop, listen to it. Find other ways to work on your coursework without risk to losing your employment. It’s obvious you don’t want to the role you’re in, perhaps job searching is an option.

  21. ArtK*

    I’m in a master’s program, getting my degree in Engineering Management. My latest instructor worked in the aircraft industry until retiring about 20 years ago. Some of the things that he said during his introduction bugged me and I’d like to get some input on them.

    First, he talked about one of his major opportunities as a program manager when his colleague was demoted and he picked up the colleague’s work. The colleague had had a family vacation scheduled for a year, but it ended up colliding with an important meeting (some general was coming in for a review.) The colleague was advised to not ask the boss for the time off, but he did anyway. The boss granted the time off and then demoted the colleague. My professor cited that as if it were perfectly normal. Personally, if I heard that the boss lacked the intestinal fortitude to say “no” to a request, and then punished someone for doing something that the boss had permitted, I’d be looking for another job.

    Right after that, the professor mentioned, approvingly, one person on the project who worked seven years without a vacation. If I were managing that person, I’d be very concerned that they were struggling or had some image that they were absolutely essential and everything would fall apart without them. In general, people work better with some time off. What the professor sees as appropriate dedication, I see as a potential problem.

    As an aside, I had to miss a mandatory in-person lecture (for an online program, no less.) The professor granted me the time off, but now I’m worried it’s going to affect my grade! At least I told him it was a work related trip and didn’t mention the fact that the actual conflict with the lecture was a family vacation piggy-backed on the work trip. I asked for the time off before I heard his introduction!

    There are some other odd things in this class. Apparently, one question on the final will be: “Given your MBPI type, what areas will you need to work on as a program manager?” Note: I am not a fan of managing by “types.”

    1. Soupspoon McGee*

      He’s been clear about what he values in the industry (nose to grindstone, no pesky personal vacations), so asking him for additional input won’t give you more information. It sounds like his preference, but you could do your own research about current industry norms and expectations from people who aren’t old poops.

      For the MBPI thing, I’d be sorely tempted to say, “As a Slytherin, I plan to work on concealing my long-term plans in industry jargon, while as an Aries, I will strive to provide clear direction in a calm and measured manner. As an ESTJ, my goal is to balance my tendency to be logically decisive with the needs of others to have input.” Or not.

      1. ArtK*

        Thanks, but I have *no* intention of working in the defense industry. I know that he’s a dinosaur in a lot of ways; I was more looking for feedback from the commentariat about management practices. I find his two major points to be absolutely abhorrent. I would never punish someone for doing something that I had explicitly permitted. I would be very concerned about an employee who never took vacation.

        Since he’s teaching a bunch of graduate students, he’s essentially telling them that this is good management.

        1. Soupspoon McGee*

          Got it–I thought you wanted feedback from him, not us. In that case, you’re right–it’s lousy management to punish people for taking vacation (a benefit they earned). It’s okay to ask people to be present for big projects. And celebrating the “no-time-off” mentality puts emphasis on the wrong things, while allowing burnout and even fraud.

        2. tigerStripes*

          Also, I understand that embezzlers rarely take vacations because they’re afraid someone taking their place will catch them.

          Vacations are important – give you a chance to let your brain do something else for a while.

    2. Jbern*

      Did he have the time off request already in or did he ask for it after the high level meeting had been scheduled, saying that the vacation had been planned for a year? It sounds like the latter. From my perspective, the employee was essentially told that requesting this time off would be negatively received. He/she did so anyway. The fact that the request still was made suggests that the employee was tone deaf, rather than the boss was passive aggressive.

      No vacations at all, though?! Sounds like a generational issue, but I still see that attitude in my office today, from people across all generations. If someone mentions my love of time off, I discuss how I view vacation time as part of my compensation package. And how I negotiated for more time because I value these opportunities to get away and explore. Occasionally, I’ll see a light bulb go on after I say that.

      1. ArtK*

        I disagree on the first point. Whether it had been approved in the past or was a recent request, the boss should not have said “yes” if they didn’t want the person to take the time. Someone who can’t say “no” but then punishes people is, to me, a bad boss. It means that nobody can trust what the boss says.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      I HATE like heck to give you this advice but I think it has some validity.

      You have to answer the question in the manner HE is looking for, get your letter grade and let it go.
      I have seen whole articles written on this stuff. “My prof says Hitler was a great man. Now I have to write that on a test in order to get a decent grade in his course.” I think I would probably withdraw from the course at this point. This is an extreme example and it is so stomach churning I would not be able to stay in that class.

      However, in your case, remember it is an answer on a test and not a life-long directive. Once you get out there you can handle things in the ways you see as best.

      I was taking a class in business. A question on a test asked about what McDonald’s should do to retain public appeal and keep growing sales. The short version of my answer was to do more healthy foods such as salads. I got a C on my response and I got a very long note telling me how stupid my answer was. It was within a few years McDonald’s started talking about healthier choices. The prof did not have an accurate read on what is going on out there.
      I knew I would get a C or worse for my answer. I also knew that the way the test scores were averaged up it probably would not effect my letter grade in the end. So I wrote my real answer. It was aggravating reading his reply but I had to let that go and just console myself by saying, “He read my essay. He got my message.” I ended up with a solid A for the course. I continued to bump heads with the prof, though. It’s too bad, I liked the guy but I did not always agree with him.

      1. ArtK*

        My question was not “how do I deal with this professor,” or “how can I pass this class?” I was looking for opinions from the people here about the management approaches that he was espousing. I thought that my post was clear but perhaps a more explicit question like “what do you all think about his management approach?” would have worked better, since two people misunderstood my post.

        I’ve been around the block more than a few times (40+ years in the working world), so I know how to lie my face off in order to pass a class.

    4. Ketchikan9*

      I’ve managed up to 27 people at a time. I tell them “You don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here,” if they are working too much overtime. I tell them “Take a mental health day,” if they seem stressed or have been working hard on a particular projected. I’d never, ever, ever encourage someone to not use their time off. Taking time off recharges people.
      As far as affecting your grade, that should be addressed in the course syllabus and the standards of conduct of the school. I find it hard to believe that 1 missed lecture could result in a docked grade and the school would endorse that.
      Good luck!

    5. Chaordic One*

      Please don’t say anything about the vacation reasons why you missed the mandatory in-person lecture. Your professor is not a reasonable person and you don’t want to give him any reason to lower your grade. I’m sure you’ve reviewed the notes and coursework from what was covered in your absence, and caught up on any assignments that were due when you were absent.

      Even though your instructor’s experience in the aircraft industry was 20 years ago, unfortunately there are still a lot of managers who share his mindset. It was passive/aggressive to grant the colleague’s request for vacation and then punish him by demoting him for doing so. It does not appear to be an admirable decision. (Of course, who knows if your instructor knows all the facts and has interpreted the situation accurately.) The admiration (instead of sadness) for the person who went seven years without taking a vacation also shows a certain amount of being out-of-touch and misguided.

      I’m sure you can do some basic research into the MBPI test and find a stock answer about your personality type tends to deal with managing others and then tweak the answer to fit your situation in a way that your professor would find satisfactory. (He sounds like an old poop who isn’t rational and you can’t really count on him to be fair or impartial in his grading.)

    6. SomeoneLikeAnon*

      He could be blowing smoke too. Remember he’s no longer in the industry so he’s experiences could cover any time during his career. They could be during a time when people weren’t empathic to a lot of current social norms.

      I went to one workshop where the guy proudly explained actions which I thought was clearly bullying, but he termed “just a joke.” Yet it was so little of a joke to the employee being played upon that the person quit. This instructor was proudly relying how his jokes got the guy to quit cause he didn’t want to deal with it anymore.

  22. mmmmm.......*

    I recently had a conversation with my dotted line manager who acknowledged how bad my direct manager was and that if I wanted to leave he would be willing to provide me with a great reference.

    Honestly, this is not the first time that people have commented on how horrible my boss is, or how difficult it is to work for him. How do I respectfully acknowledge these types of comments and asking for help, without disparaging my boss?


      You dont have to ask, you were just handed the opportunity. I would gracefully accept the reference, but definitely not disparage your boss. Maybe, say something like, “Thank you, I’ll take you up on that when I start my job search.” If job search is ongoing, “Thank you, I’d like to take you up on that. How best should I have prospective employers contact you?”

    2. lionelrichiesclayhead*

      The thing that jumps out at me most is that your dotted line manager and others are not offering any help to you in your current position; they are offering empathy and references if you move on. I’m not sure if that’s because they aren’t in the position to improve your situation or if it’s because they’ve tried and failed, but I would probably take the hint and start looking elsewhere. It sounds like you would have a lot of support from these people and could count on good references. Would you be open to moving on or are you more focused on making your current position work?

    3. k*

      I would say “Thanks, that’s very nice of you. I’ll let you know if I need to take you up on the offer.” If someone is commenting about how hard you have it but isn’t directly offering help, you can use something like, “My job has it’s ups and downs, but I try and make the best of it.”

      Basically acknowledge what they said but never directly say anything bad about your boss. Deflect and keep it diplomatic.

    4. LJL*

      I’ve been in that situation. I generally responded along the lines of: “thank you for your kind words. Your support means a lot to me.” When it did come time for me to leave, my reputation was enhanced because I didn’t take the opening to trash talk the horrible boss.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      As other have shown skip the part about the bad boss and cut to the part about being a reference. I have seen this used in many different type of situations, where a person just picks the part of the statement they want to talk about and they avoid the rest. It’s a good technique to develop and keep.

      Boss: Nancy did a horrible job on X. She messed it up beyond belief. Ha-ha. Now you get to clean it up! Ha-ha
      Me: Okay, let’s have a look and see what we need here.

      Notice: no mention of Nancy and no mention of the degree of messiness and no mention of boss’ taunts.

    6. Evergreen*

      Assuming you mean ask for help with your job, rather than a job search, I’d try to ask for specific help in a neutral way:
      ‘Yes, I’ve noticed that boss tends to get a bit stressed around year-end and cannot help me with processing – do you have any tips on how I can ask for help from boss more effectively?’
      ‘Yes, boss can be very detail-oriented in reviewing my team’s work and we’ve blown more than one deadline as a result – is there an opportunity to work out an alternative review process for certain types of things?’

      Politely acknowledging your boss’ flaws in a way that’s constructive and specific (and not a rant) will rarely be negatively construed if the other person has already identified the issue.

  23. Working mom*

    Any other working parents here? I work in a male dominated field and the other women in my office are past childbearing age and childless. All the men who have children have wives who are stay-at-home mothers. My son goes to a private school and for all three years he has gone there he is the only one in his class who has a working mother. All of the other mothers are so much more active and involved then me. All of my relatives and my in-laws have or are stay-at-home wives if they have children. I feel so alone sometimes, like no one gets how hard it is to balance work and childcare because they have someone at home or are home themselves. My husband is a hands on parent but it’s tough when I have to call in to work because my son is sick because my husband did the last time and he can’t get the day off, or when he’s the only kid in his class who bought store bought cookies to the bake exchange because both his parents were too busy with work to bake anything. It also doesn’t help that both my husband and I work in industries / for companies where working from home or doing work outside of the office is just not done.

    Just needed to vent. Thanks for listening.

    1. Mini Snowder*

      I feel for you. I came from a working household and forget that it isn’t the norm for some. You’re a bad ass!

    2. AdAgencyChick*

      Your child, however, will grow up with a model that it’s possible to work outside the home and raise a family, even if things are not “perfect.” I think that’s awesome.

    3. Future Analyst*

      Hi, fellow working mom. I hear you, and it sucks. My husband’s co-workers almost exclusively have stay-at-home spouses, so they don’t understand the notion that my husband would need to leave on time (5) some days b/c I need to work later. As for the cookie thing: keep in mind that even if I were to stay home, I wouldn’t be making anything homemade (I’m really just not a baker), so don’t let that worry you too much (plus, some schools don’t even let you bring in homemade things anymore due to concerns about allergens– maybe switch schools? I jest, of course!)

      Do you have any friends who are working moms? Meetup was so, so helpful in getting me around other working moms. (I’m in Dallas, don’t know if that’s available where you are.) And I know it’s really hard, but try not to compare yourself with other parents: it’s a no-win situation. Enjoy the time you spend with your kiddo, and if that involves letting him help bake cookies for him to take to school, do that! But if you don’t enjoy it, spend the time reading with him, or playing whatever, and don’t think twice about sending store-bought anything to school. :)

      1. Working mom*

        Hi back fellow working mom!

        Unfortunately I don’t have any friends who are working moms. I talk to working moms online but I don’t know any in real life. I have friends who worked until they had children but they left their jobs once their children were born. I made a list the other day of all the women I know who have children (family, in-laws, friends, colleague’s wives) but as much as I couldn’t believe it I am the only one.

        I feel guilty sometimes because we could easily afford for me to stay home due to my husband’s salary and job security. 2/3 of my pay is spent on daycare and babysitters for my son and the rest goes to my car and my work clothes. We don’t come out ahead because I am working. It was the same at my last job and if I was to get a new job it would likely still be the same.

        My son doesn’t always understand why none of his friends, cousins or classmates ever went to daycare or don’t go to daycare or the babysitter sometimes after school, or why I couldn’t come to the zoo this summer with him and his aunts and cousins, or why I bought cookies at the store even though he was supposed to have homemade ones for the exchange. He has asked me before to volunteer in his classroom like the other moms but I can’t because I work. I know it’s just because he is young but it is still hard sometimes.

        My husband is supportive of me working and he does his share of parenting. But I still get bummed out and feel alone if that makes any sense.

        1. Observer*

          You really should consider changing schools. What really jumps out at me is not that he’s different that his classmates, but the whole attitude. The idea that all the kids are EXPECTED to have someone at home who will bake cookies is just…. What happens to kids whose mother just don’t bake well? Or are too busy for reasons having nothing to do with their career? Or maybe are disabled? What about kids from single parent homes? Or are those “kinds” of families not acceptable?

          It’s not just cookies, it’s so many other potential issues. “Everyone must ask their father x,y, and z”. “I expect to see your mother at this event” etc. What happens to any kid who has a parent who is not present for some reason? Even in two parent households, if this is a second marriage, this can be an issue. What happens is parents don’t completely hew to gender roles and the thing that the teacher said to “ask your father” really needs to go to Mom? Even if it’s technically ok, this kind of rigidity and total lack of any sort of diversity is troubling.

          1. saro*

            Completely agree with you. I am looking into pre-schools now for my little one and have crossed off a few schools because of this dynamic.

        2. Whiskers on Kittens*

          Perhaps you don’t come out ahead with day-to-day/monthly expenses, but I assume that you are contributing to a retirement plan (not enough people think about this, I am afraid) and perhaps an education plan for your child. That adds up. I wish you could have the flexibility to volunteer–it is hard to explain when they are young.

        3. KellyK*

          I won’t tell you not to feel guilty, because that never helps. It’s right up there with “don’t worry” and “calm down.” But, I will say that working is a good thing, even if it doesn’t put you ahead financially right now. If your husband were to be laid off or were sick or injured and unable to work, your income would be essential. If your situation changes in a year or five and you need to work, you’ll be in a much better position being currently employed than you would if you’d stayed home those five years.

        4. mrs__peel*

          “We don’t come out ahead because I am working.”

          I’d recommend taking the long view– you may not feel like you come out ahead NOW (on a monthly basis). But continuing to work makes an enormous difference when it comes to lifetime earnings and retirement.

          As an attorney who deals with eldercare issues, I can tell you that being able to support yourself financially in your later years is a HUGE, HUGE gift to your children. I see so many people struggling with this. Being able to save for your later years can mean the difference between (e.g.) being able to pay privately for home help vs. having to go into a nursing home.

          Also, although no one expects to get divorced, widowed, etc., that *does* happen to a significant percentage of people who leave work to be stay-at-home parents. It’s often very hard to get back into the work force if you need to, and many people who make that choice unfortunately find themselves in very difficult financial positions as they get older.

        5. mrs__peel*

          On a more personal note, I loved daycare as a kid and I’m *very* proud of my parents who both worked! I can guarantee that your child won’t give a hoot about store-bought cookies, etc., when they get older :)

        6. Rachel in NYC (cuz just Rachel was too confusing)*

          I’m not a parent – maybe someday. But I know this much, if you love working and wouldn’t love giving up your job to stay at home then you shouldn’t. I’m all for parents being stay-at-home parents if that’s what drives them but you shouldn’t feel bad if that isn’t your calling.

          I’ll ditto what other commenters said, maybe what you and your husband want to consider is looking for another school where the student body would be more diverse (in your case, a mix of working parents and stay-at-home parents), so your son won’t feel like the odd kid out (since that is where your guilt is coming from.) Or see if you can take an afternoon to volunteer if his classroom, even if the request has to be passive aggressive – I know how much it must mean to you to have spent time volunteering in your child’s classroom and to be able to see how proud they were to show off their Dad to their friends. I just want to take a few hours to have the opportunity. (some version on that…I have a niece who loves to show off her people and have honestly never met a kid who doesn’t.)

        7. Parenthetically*

          This is wild to me. I teach in a private school in a very conservative area, and we have plenty of working moms — lots of kids who are at after-school programs until 4 or 4:30, kids who go home with sitters, kids who go to friends’ houses and get picked up there.

        8. TheCupcakeCounter*

          I am also a working mom who doesn’t “need” to work so I get the guilt feeling. There is nothing wrong with your situation and and I can’t tell if the pressure is really coming from the school or if it is something you are projecting due to your mommy-guilt.
          Since you have some unresolved feelings on this and I get the feeling you want to tweak something for your son here are some ideas:
          *I love baking so I usually bake whatever is needed at a time convenient for me and then freeze it and actually I have a few other moms who will buy home baked goodies from me for various school or other events. If it is important to your son find a few recipes you don’t mind baking and then either freeze the cookie dough in ready to bake balls or cook them and then freeze them. Then when you or your son has an event just get them out and bake them or thaw them overnight. Other option is find a friend or family member who would be willing to bake them for you and instead of picking them up at the store pick them up at their house. There is nothing wrong with store bought but since it seems important to your son I would try to do it at least some of the time. You can get him involved too. Have him look at recipes with you and make him help. He’ll learn that stuff like that requires effort, possibly acquire a love of baking, and will learn to be self-sufficient as well as have some quality mommy-son time. I do it with my son all the time – each Christmas/birthday/school function he and I will go through Pinterest and pick out what he wants and it doesn’t get made unless he helps.
          *I usually talk with my sons teacher early in the school year and tell him/her that I would like to help chaperone one of the field trips. My experience (public school) has usually been that the teachers are willing to get me an advanced copy of the field trip schedule and I pick the one that works best with my schedule. I will also volunteer at one of the after-hours events. Not the same as weekly reading group or whatever but its something and teaches compromise and commitment. (Your husband should maybe try this too since it is important that kids and sons especially see that something isn’t exclusively a dad or mom job but it sounds like you already have a good balance).

        9. ket*

          Thinking about similar things now as my husband grew up in an all stay-at-home mom environment and I grew up in an all working-outside-home mom environment and we’re expecting a kid soon.

          First, it’s not true that 2/3 of your pay goes to daycare and babysitters. Some percentage of your pay and some percentage of your husband’s pay go to daycare and babysitters — if you (god forbid) got hit by a bus, your husband would be paying — the expenses would not go away. Second, because you’re staying in the workforce you are greatly increasing the expected value of your future earnings. When your child is 10, 15, 18, you’ll be making a ton more money, on average, than all the moms who are looking to get back into the workforce once the kids are teens. Working now is an investment in your future wages and career.

          Third, I loved daycare! I love my mom and dad too but they are not the playdate type — I enjoyed being able to socialize with other kids and experience that different environment, which I would not have gotten at home. Fourth, requiring homemade baked goods is BS. Some people can’t bake a darn. And if my kid asks for homemade baked goods for school I’m going to ask my husband to haul out his crowdpleasing cherry cobbler because everyone loves it, unlike my paleo cookies :)

          Maybe check out Laura Vanderkam for some discussion of how high-earning moms organize life and time…?

          1. Mela*

            Not to mention, if you were a stay at home parent, would you really not have a car? You’d probably need one and it would come out of your husband’s salary. And don’t forget, a big chunk of your pay is going to SS and that second SS check during retirement works out to quite a bit. Would you be able to afford that private school without your salary? Your salary is important, even if it’s not as much as your husband’s!

          2. Observer*

            Fourth, requiring homemade baked goods is BS. Some people can’t bake a darn. And if my kid asks for homemade baked goods for school I’m going to ask my husband to haul out his crowdpleasing cherry cobbler because everyone loves it, unlike my paleo cookies :)

            LOL. At least you aren’t paying someone to make the “home made” cookies for you, like @TheCupcakeCounter’s friends!

            But really, it is baloney. Talk about Mommy wars! For a school to contribute to this kind of nonsense is ridiculous.

        10. Not A Morning Person*

          I get that it’s hard and please don’t take any of what I’m saying as criticism in any way. Are you looking for a place to vent and get a little sympathy or are you looking for outside perspectives on how to overcome some of the loneliness of your situation? If it is sympathy, there are plenty of people who understand the pain of making choices that may make your children uncomfortable or feel different from their peers. It’s true that it can be character-building, but it still hurts!
          What about the teachers? Are they all men with wives at home raising children? It may not be ideal, but perhaps there are a few of those teachers you could enlist to help with at a minimum helping your son deal with the expectations of the other kids or understanding the challenges of a household with both parents working.
          Is your social life so restricted by your local family and your work that you don’t have the opportunity to explore? Are there really no women in your community who have jobs and children? Or is it only the people in your current social circle?
          It is good of you to notice that your son is feeling different from the others and I’m sorry you are having the growing pains of realizing that you can’t fix this for your child. You could quit if that’s the important thing that you and your spouse choose. I’m not recommending that you quit; you had suggested it as one option, but that’s a family decision which you and your spouse would make together after agreeing on the pros and cons long-term for that choice.
          It’s hard to be different and it’s hard to see that difference being a hardship on your child. Whatever you choose, it’s not going to be easy. I wish you well.

    4. TMA*

      I totally get where you’re coming from. I’m in a similar situation where I work outside the home, but the majority of the women in my life are stay-at-home moms.

      It is hard. The balancing act can be overwhelming and guilt-inducing. But the most important thing is that your kid knows he is loved and secure. That’s all that matters.

      Good luck, stay strong. The fact that you’re worrying about this means that you’re probably doing a better job than you realize.

    5. AKJ*

      Not a working parent, but I also came from a working family and so did both of my parents (both grandmothers worked outside the time at a time when it wasn’t the norm) so I feel for you also!
      My grandmother told a story about how she sent bakery-bought cookies to school with my uncle when he was in first grade and the teacher gave her a hard time because “all of the *other* mothers send homemade cookies.”
      Grandma told the teacher: “I work, so I don’t have time to bake. But even if I didn’t, isn’t that why we have bakeries? Why would I want to put them out of business?”
      Grandma may not have baked many cookies, but she taught me so much about work ethic, and she helped me get my first job when I was a teenager, which has helped me ever since. I’d say that’s a hundred times more valuable.
      (My uncle recently celebrated his sixty-sixth birthday, which might give you an idea of how long this debate has gone on! You’re part of a long, proud tradition.)

    6. kbeers0su*

      Also a working mom. My SIL is a SAHM and I love her dearly. But whenever she posts on FB about all the great things she does with her two girls I get jealous. But my brother is a professor making the big bucks, so they can afford that, whereas hubby and I both have to work to support ourselves (well…we also love our jobs/fields). Sometimes I feel bad about not putting time into braiding my daughter’s hair, or making from-scratch baked goods…and then I realize that she does not care. Hair is hair and cookies are cookies. Maybe that will change as she gets older, but for now she’s happy, and so are we.

    7. Accounting Assistant*

      Working mom here. My daughter goes to daycare full time and I only pick her up occasionally because I work so far about 20 miles from her daycare in the city, so I am pretty sure they think I am the career mom. We switch places when my daughter is sick and if it is more than a couple of days, we involve grandparents. If your child is happy and healthy then that is really all you can do. The store bought this is weird but it is because we go to a daycare that is regulated by DHR and we can’t have anything but store bought and no peanuts or shellfish. My last job was male dominated (trucking) and almost all of the wives stayed at home except for the ones who waited later to have children. It sucks, it is hard, and I totally feel you. Hang in there. We started going to classes for kids after 5 pm and I met working moms there that way you atleast you know you are not alone in this world.


      My mom worked outside the home my entire school life, starting before I was in kindergarten. I’m sure there are times when I vented and wished she could have been at some school activity and if she worked in town and had a tolerant boss, she might have been there, but she worked 27 miles away, carpooled with my dad, and would have had to drive separately even if she could get the time off. Re: Time off? –>She started as a receptionist/typist and worked her way up. The kicker? I’m sure she remembers when we would complain, but I sure don’t. Keep that in mind raising your kid. He’ll remember what you did, not that you didnt bake cookies. He’ll remember Mommy working as hard or harder than Daddy. He’ll expect women in the workforce. He’ll expect women to be in authority over him when he starts. He will expect follow classmates to be 50% girls. He will expect all this…because he lived it.

      1. Maternity question*

        He’ll remember Mommy working as hard or harder than Daddy. He’ll expect women in the workforce. He’ll expect women to be in authority over him when he starts. He will expect follow classmates to be 50% girls. He will expect all this…because he lived it.

        This is awesome. Yes!

        1. Marcela*

          Absolutely. Please remember that you are making a man for the future, and preparing him to believe in equality is your best gift to humanity. I say this as the sister of somebody who was never expected to live without a woman (to the point sometimes he didn’t even clean his used condoms at my parents’ place), and the wife of somebody who was expected to clean, cook and be generally responsible of himself.

    9. Liz2*

      You are living your priorities. I bet one of you could stay home if you cut down the expense of a private school. But that’s the value you have. I validate you and your choices and your store cookies are likely better than half of what gets brought in. Your kid(s) will be fine so long as they are loved and enabled to be independent healthy adults.
      Your loneliness however should have some balance to it- I bet there’s a professional group you could make other contacts with. But you have to make peace with your choices and their reasons- the conflict is only a useless drain. As difficult as it is, be proud of your choices.

      1. Question for the AAM readers*

        Thank you for this. I do appreciate it.

        Part of my guilt is that because of my husband’s job security and salary we could easily afford for me to stay home without any lifestyle changes or cost cutting. My salary goes to my son’s after school daycare and babysitters and my car and gas to get to work. We don’t come out ahead because I work. I want to work though and my husband is nothing but supportive. But I still feel guilty. I will remind myself what you said. Thanks again.

        1. Temperance*

          Jumping in again to encourage you to reframe your thought process here. You and your husband are both contributing to the household. Stop the guilt! Your money isn’t covering aftercare and your car … the pool of money that you bring in, along with your husband, pays for those things. I think it’s actually a sexist idea that is floated to women that if we only make X money more than day care, we aren’t contributing so we shouldn’t work. No one, literally no one, says this to men as a matter of course.

          Also, statistically speaking, you will come ahead in the future because you didn’t get mommy-tracked at some point. Opting out is costly.

          1. Observer*

            It’s not that a WOMAN’s income is only important if it covers child care, but that a second income is financially useful if it pays more than the additional costs it brings.

            So, for each job, you look at does it cover the direct costs (transport, extra clothes etc.) then you look at the extra costs caused by the fact that both parents are working, and ask if the second job brings in enough to cover that (and some more, preferably.) The second job could be husband or wife – I’d base it on who has what career.

            On the other hand you are completely correct that the immediate income is not the whole story.

          2. J*

            Exactly. It’s not “my salary covers gas and incidentals”, it’s “our salaries pay for our life”.

            When I had my daughter, we had lots of conversations about whether I would stay home with her. Ultimately, we decided that it made more sense to have a two income household. Two incomes meant that we could afford to take our daughter on trips (she got her passport at 4 to see London and Paris, she’s been to Iceland, we’re taking her to Japan next and she’s only 8). It means she has piano lessons and dance classes. It means that we can save adequately for retirement and cover emergencies. Staying home with the baby meant that I wouldn’t have been able to do those expensive enrichment classes that I would have wanted to do with her anyway.

            We could get by with one salary. But two salaries buys us a measure of financial freedom we wouldn’t otherwise have.

          3. mrs__peel*

            ” I think it’s actually a sexist idea that is floated to women that if we only make X money more than day care, we aren’t contributing so we shouldn’t work”

            It absolutely is!! And it’s sexism that a lot of women have internalized so much we don’t even think about it. Childcare costs come out of *household* income, not just from whichever parent is earning a lower wage.

          4. NACSACJACK*

            Following up on what Observer said, it might be “his” money and “her” money but together its one big giant pot. In my parents’ case, my dad paid for the cars, the house, the utilities and the insurance. After that, it was his money to do with as he pleases. Hold that in your head for a minute. My mom paid for the groceries, the kids’ clothing and I cant remember what else, but it worked for them. Remember that “his” money attitude? While Dad was taking flying lessons and buying airplanes, mom was helping us kids + nieces pay for college & expenses. Guess who didn’t have a college degree and knew the value of one.

            And that example of separate? I’ve held the same attitude through two relationships now. I don’t think I will ever combine them together.

            And to follow up on posts about your later years…three years after retirement, Dad died. Guess who got the cars, the house, the vacation properties, and his pension along with hers. And guess who used his SSA until 70.5 when hers was bigger.

        2. Observer*

          If you are thinking about finances, keep in mind that the impact of your working now is going to be felt till you are both ready to retire. So, taking the long view should help you to re-frame it.

          Also, not to be morbid, but what happens if something happens? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people say that having their job to go (back) to after a major loss was a life line. For a high profile example, listen to what Sheryl Sandberg had to say about the matter when she lost her husband. She didn’t NEED the job *financially*, but it made a huge difference to her AND the children. So, there is that, too, if you enjoy working.

        3. AngtheSA*

          Completely Agree with Temperance on this. The money you bring home is you and your husband’s money together. The pool pays for everything. Housing, food, daycare, transportation. If you love working then you love working. It isn’t that you love your job or you love your child. You can love doing both.

          Unless those women have maids, chefs, and personal assistants doing everything else in their life they are probably doing housework, errands, and cooking too. This is to say they are no spending 100% of their time solely focused on their children.

          Don’t worry about cookies or if you child is somehow missing out because of it. When you can spend time together then go do something fun. Go to the park, do a puzzle, create a craft off of pinterest and cook if you like doing that. Your child will be fine and will love you. Internet hugs to you!!!!

        4. Catabodua*

          Stop feeling guilty that you enjoy working. It’s ok to work and not be a stay at home mom.

          I am a working mom and when people try to give me the sad puppy dog eyes about how awful it must be to have to work and “miss out on them growing up” I shut that nonsense down immediately.

          1. mrs__peel*

            It’s worth remembering that, according to time-use studies, working parents today actually spend MORE time with their kids than stay-at-home parents in the ’50s and ’60s.

            In my grandparents’ day, the prevailing parenting style was, “Go outside and play and don’t bother me (until it gets dark and you come home for dinner)”.

            My parents both worked full-time when I was growing up (in the ’80s and ’90s), but I spent WAY more one-on-one time with them than they did with their parents.

        5. Mrs. Boo*

          Fellow working mom here – now going back to school to train for a new career. When I worked, my salary was helpful but not a deal breaker. The reason I didn’t stay home with my kids is this: I NEED TO WORK. I need that intellectual stimulation and that challenge. Taking care of kids does not do that for me. Instead, my kids are with people who are really good at taking care of kids and who love what they do. This is incredibly important for them because it teaches them how to be with other adults, how to socialize with their peers and get new perspectives (not just mine) on all different types of things in the world. It is incredibly important for me because I am not a cruise director and I have no interest in doing arts and crafts with them. This makes me a happy mom and if I’m happy, so are they.

        6. Not A Morning Person*

          And it has been statistically proven that jobs have job creation properties…that means that you working contributes to other people having jobs. Paying for private school and the salaries of the teachers and administration, paying for daycare, needing an additional car, needing clothes for work, etc., all have to be created by other people who have the jobs to provide those resources. You working helps create jobs for other people, too!

    10. Temperance*

      Not a parent, but chiming in as a former child: I always thought that women who worked were so cool. My mom stayed at home most of my childhood off and on, and I was jealous of day care kids. You are also teaching your son a valuable lesson by showing him that women can kick butt at a career.

      1. New Window*

        Also chiming in as a former child, whose mom started out as stay-at-home and then spent most of her time working–
        Man, when I was a kid, I loved store-bought anything. The adults could wax poetic about lovingly hand-made nutritious life-enhancing fountain-of-youth whole wheat bread, but meanwhile I was so, so jealous of the kids who had their PB&J sandwiches made on store-bought white bread. Sure, homemade cupcakes were tasty (note: these were all made from a box mix with store-bought frosting, and I loved them), but store-bought cupcakes–or cookies, or cakes–looked so much nicer and prettier, and they were fancier than the stuff my family made that didn’t “look right.”

        If I ever needed to look for proof that my parents loved me, I didn’t look to whether they made homemade cookies when the teacher asked, or whether they always made my lunches, or whether they were able to go to every single field trip that someone else organized. To be honest, a lot of times as I got older, I appreciated that my parents weren’t there every time. >_>

        Working Mom, I’m sorry that you’re feeling this pressure. Internet friends aren’t quite the same as meat-world friends, but we feel for you. If they ever try to throw shade at you for living your life the way that is best for you, let us know and we’ll rally to your support. :-)

      2. Rachel 2: Electric Boogaloo*

        Same here. My mom stayed home until I was old enough to watch my sister after school until one of my parents got home. The day care kids always sounded like they had so much fun – I was a little jealous too!

    11. Whiskers on Kittens*

      Hi Working Mom,

      I am also a working mom. I resisted getting back into the workforce when my oldest (of 4) children was in kindergarten. My husband, who is a financial analyst for a large public university, pleaded with me to find a job because he was worried about our funding the educations of our kids, and saving for retirement. I resisted at first, but then my mom piped up that she could watch the kids.

      I went to work the first day, teary-eyed in the car, but I enjoyed it. I did, however, race home, running into the house, expecting to be greeted by (my 3 at the time) children saying “Mama, I missed you so much!” What did happen is that the kids reluctantly stopped playing with their friends to greet me with a “Oh hi, Mom.” After a few weeks of that, I decided that the working thing was not so bad!

      I am lucky enough to be in a salaried position that allows for flexibility. If I have errands to run, I can adjust my hours. If I have a doctor’s appointment that only takes 2 hours, I need not use sick time. I work for a company that is generous with time off (6 weeks vacation, 120 hours sick leave and 12 holidays), and emphasizes a work-life balance. The salary is a bit low for the position (and my master’s degree education), but all the flexibility makes us for it.

      I feel for you that you do not experience the same level of flexibility and often wonder why companies are afraid/against giving this to their professional employees. Quite a few women in my town are also SAHMs, so I understand the feeling of being “the only one” doing a certain thing. However, I am sure your child will someday appreciate the lessons you perhaps unwittingly taught by going to work every day: how to persist when you are tired; how to juggle many different aspects of life; how to balance work-life obligations.

      My oldest three–all girls–are now in high-school and I am glad that a) I got to stay home with them when they were very little and b) glad that I got to model the above-listed traits as students–and employees–are expected to be able to handle a lot. I hope that you are able to make peace with this–it is hard!

      Are any of you parents of seniors, by the way? If so, has this year been crazier than you expected?

    12. Female-type person*

      I vividly remember being the only parent at daycare who didn’t send Valentines on February 14. For 18 month olds. Didn’t get that memo.

      This gets better with time. Moms go to work, people get divorced and then go to work, other life stuff sometimes happens which means homemade cookies go out the window, and women eventually start to opt out of competitive parenting and Pinterest perfect birthday parties, which no one does for middle schoolers, for instance. Many schools forbid homemade treats, because it is only in a commercial environment that there is a reasonable chance of identifiable ingredients and allergens. Do what you can or what you want to do, write a check for the rest, and move on. I told my kids (when they were an age where I was still an asset and not a liability) that I’d go on X number of field trips per year, and then calendar the chosen ones and take a vacation day.

      When I had little, sick kids, I would take a half day off and so would my husband, so we both showed up and got at least some work done. This was a solution that worked well for both of us, we both had jobs that valued face time and butt in seat time.

    13. Project Manager*

      Yeah. I feel you. It irritates the crap out of me when literally every activity the school/daycare sets up is geared toward people who don’t have jobs. There is no consideration for mothers who work and might not be able to take off easily. (On a related note, why do daycares send your 1yo home with complicated assignments he can’t even *help* complete, much less do on his own? I have a full-time job. If I wanted homework, I’d take a class.)

      My church is similarly annoying. They occasionally offer a women’s activity outside work hours, but the majority of the women’s groups meet during the work day, and not even at lunchtime.

      Where we differ is that I don’t have many SAHMs in my social circle…I’m sitting here trying to think of any, and there’s one family friend, one of the moms in our neighborhood mom group, and maybe my cousin’s stepbrother’s wife, but I’m not sure about her. The other moms I know/know of are working.

    14. TFAB*

      I’m the stay-at-home mom (I work part time during school hours) and weirdly I feel the same way you do. I feel alone – like I’m the last stay-at-home mom and the other parents all have these great fulfilling careers. I’ve done lots of volunteering at school, but it was because I could and I enjoyed it. And I always wished my mom would send in the pretty, perfect store cookies instead of the oatmeal raisin ones that crumbled embarrassingly in the container.

    15. Nan*

      Both my husband and I work full time. My son will be 16 soon, so he doesn’t need hands-on parenting all the time, but I went back to work 6 weeks after he was born and never looked back. The 6 weeks I spent at home with him were the most miserable six weeks of my life. You couldn’t pay me enough to be a stay at home mom. I love my kid, but I dislike children. I know some people like being a SAHM, but that’s my worst nightmare.

      Luckily, he never got sick often, and if he did, my husband and I would be able to alternate days or split the day in half. When he was younger, I didn’t have a job that I could work from home if he was sick, but now I do. If store bought cookies are the worst problem your son every faces, he’s doing ok.

      You’re doing fine as parent, and your son will be just fine, too.

    16. JGray*

      I agree with everyone else about thinking of the money as the family money. It’s really hard to change your thinking from my paycheck only pays this to I contribute to family money. I have always worked for governments or nonprofits that are on the lower end of the income level. But they always offered benefits and my husband’s jobs didn’t so I always thought in terms of that without this job we wouldn’t have health insurance but after paying premiums I wasn’t getting that big of a paycheck. But I know that having employer sponsored health insurance is something that not everyone gets and I have checked out the exchange in my state and so I know that I am actually getting a really good deal in premiums/coverage, etc. Maybe try to think of a benefit that your job gives that there wouldn’t otherwise be- retirement is a good one or like me I remember that we have health insurance. I have seen people that don’t have retirement and they either work well into their 80s or don’t have much when they do retire.

    17. Fellow working mom*

      I am so familiar with this guilt – in my case it is mostly self-inflicted because luckily my kids go to a preschool where everyone has two working parents. I love going to work and not being a SAHM makes me a more patient and more loving mom.
      If you live in the Greater Boston Area and are looking to connect with working moms offline as well, email me at pink dot elephant dot 1001 at gmail dot com.

  24. EddieSherbert*

    Yay! I’ve been waiting all week for this thread!

    I’m on the board for a county-wide environmental nonprofit focused on preserving waterways (namely a specific river that runs through the county) and sustainable farming along that river.

    I think we’ve getting away from our purpose the last couple years. We’ve been on a donation decline with donors, and I feel like the focus is just becoming “money” rather than our cause… which I think contributes to the decline!

    Instead of several small events a year (free up to $25), we’re only doing 3-4 big events where tickets are $50-$200 to attend (one of them is $50, the other three are over $100!). The only people attending are those who can afford it AND already support us, because they’re the only ones invested enough to pay $100 for a dinner.

    And instead of focusing on sustainable stuff, we’re going for cheap (i.e. for those $100 dinners, instead of buying recycled or edible silverware…. Or paying for regular silverware to be washed… we’re buying plastic). Same with any “giveaways” – we used to give out reusable bags for farmers’ markets. Last year and this year’s giveaway is a cheap plastic novelty item that’ll end up in a landfill.

    I’ve voiced my concerns but I feel the reactions are just courtesy “thanks for your opinions” and “we’ll think about it” or “maybe in the future but right now…”

    I’m frustrated. And I don’t know how to make them see that we’re losing our purpose and failing to attract anyone new – especially among younger generations – to our cause. I feel like I’m getting sidelined from event planning and just doing marketing/promo stuff… and I’m getting some slack for not bringing in more people!

    I’m honestly thinking about just doing a slow fade from the group and then not reapplying for the board next year…

    1. kbeers0su*

      Have you done any assessment? I would survey your members/supporters- both those who are still in and those who have recently left- and get their feedback. Especially for folks who have left who used to be invested I’d want to know what made them leave. That kind of critical feedback might open the other board members’ eyes to the issues you brought up here.

      1. EddieSherbert*

        That’s a good idea… hearing it from more (and other) people would definitely help give my concerns some weight (or maybe find out the problem is something totally different! Who knows!) .

    2. drago cucina*

      I feel you. It’s frustrating when the actions are contrary to your mission. We’re having our 2nd new building anniversary party tomorrow and unveiling of our new mini-botanical garden plans. People thought I was crazy, but all our plates, cups, flatware are made from sustainable products. The plates are made from sugar cane and look very nice.

      1. EddieSherbert*

        That sounds awesome! In my experience the recycled or recyclable silverware and dishes look really nice! The one “utensils/dishes” battle I won last year was for our priciest event – and I won it on the basis that the sustainable products looked much nicer than plastic. And people paying almost $200 for a fancy meal expect more than plastic!

    3. dr_silverware*

      It sounds like you’re falling into the future trap, and I’m sorry! It means way more work for you to get out of it. The only way I’ve found to overcome the “hm, sounds interesting, we’ll keep it in mind” response is to actually do the thing you’re proposing.

      You mentioned it was hard to just win the sustainable silverware battle, so I know I’m talking like this is open-and-shut when it’s not necessarily. Just, who do you need, and what kind of money do you need to do the actual organization of a small event that you want to put on? It’s best if you can present the event as a cheap, new, painless thing for the board to do that you’ve really almost accomplished anyway. And then you have something you can push for that’s not retreading the same argument grounds you’ve had before.

    4. Whats In A Name*

      I get your frustration – especially when it seems like you aren’t being heard, even when advice or ideas are solicited. I was you once, but I turned my thoughts around by looking at what other groups were doing and paying attention to what made me want to donate, especially on an ongoing basis, to an organization. And that’s where the money is – repeat donors. Find those people. You need new – always…but you need recurring more.

      If you’re involvement stemmed from interest in your mission and it seems like your events don’t support your mission that can also be disheartening. But here’s the bummer about working with associations and non-profits – it still boils down to the numbers. Our state chapter of The American Heart Association brings in the most money from events like fried catfish lunches and hot dog sales. Not in line with their mission but it allows them to raise lots money to fund research and other programs they offer to people who need them.

      Which leads me to a question/suggestion: Have you all done a evaluation to determine the value of events? I.E. “What makes a successful event?” side note:: I do think one thing with events these days is that there are just too many of them and people are sick of going to them! True story!

      Small $25 ticket events can seem like ways to bring in more money because more people are willing to attend but these often take the most time and effort to put on and you end up making a very small amount of money compared to what the “cost” was – example, we used to have an event on the board I am on (NOT – AHA) that was highly attended (our most “popular” event of the year). However, after 3 years we did an evaluation – if each of our 15 board members wrote a $40 check we would actually make more money than this event brought in and save hours and hours of volunteer hours that could have been used to help with other initiatives or events.

      And don’t think only people already invested will spend $100 on your dinners or tickets. I am sure of your area but I was surprised by how untrue this was once I got more involved in philanthropic organizations. Sometimes they want the tax deduction, sometimes they want a date night…the reasons are amazing that I have heard for buying these tickets.

      For your higher priced events (or any of them) is there a live or silent auction? If there is no live or silent auction people are sometimes willing to pay the higher price because they just spend the money and that’s it. There’s no other “hook”. But if you do this you have to advertise you are doing this via ticket sales. I will pay $100 per ticket to go have drinks and eat before I”ll pay $50 and sit through auctions.

      This is probably way more than you were hoping to get, and I am not trying to sway you to stay or not – I get that it’s frustrating. Like I said, I was you once, but being able to re-frame my thoughts and hopefully you can too. I say give it another year!

    5. Leslie Knope*

      I 100% get you. I’m on the board of a small non profit and I feel like I’m the curmudgeonly one who always has a contrary view (and I’m the youngest of the group). What I have found most helpful is to try and see what is the most critical/impactful thing to target–very a la “choose your battles”–and then just go after that. It might be price point, or event location, and let the smaller details that really don’t have a huge impact be taken over by someone else. That has REALLY helped me be more calm and not consistently frustrated.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      You may have run your time with this board. It happens as people can only go so far and then someone else steps in.

      Is your group’s financials online so that people can see how their money is used? Do people know how much of their dinner ticket actually goes to things that make a difference?

      Is each board member actively looking for new members for the group?

      Are other board members offering ideas of what to do or are you the only one?

      Sometimes boards have a person or several who approach area philanthropists. Is there anyone who does that for your cause?

      Can you talk to the president of the board about these concerns? Maybe you just need to get buy-in from somewhere?

      Lots of questions, sorry. It’s fine to just announce you will not seek another term. And you don’t have to explain why or you can say that you need to take care of other things at the moment.

  25. Anon Coward*

    I’m struggling managing an employee with Asperger’s and can use some advice. When I give course correction feedback, such as “You have completed a task ABC way. In the future, I need you to do it XYZ way. Can you do that?” – I’m faced with arguments that, if I didn’t know he was Asperger’s, I’d consider insubordination and flat out delusional. He will argue he only did it ABC because I told him to (not true), but I refuse to engage him on this. I keep telling him that, moving forward, this is how you need to do it. He keeps going back to, “but you told me ABC!”. This back and forth will continue for as long as I’m participating. When I try to conclude the conversation, he shifts to a different argument of “What if you change your mind in the future? What then?”. There will be several more forms of arguments until I end the conversation, not knowing if he just cannot grasp what I’m asking, or if he’s just very combative (which I understand is a symptom of Asperger’s).

    I’m sorry that this isn’t the most politically correct thing to say, but it drives me crazy! How can I communicate with him better?

    1. ThatGirl*

      Uh. I’m not an expert, though I do know people on the spectrum… I do not think being combative is a symptom. I think this guy’s kinda being a jerk. Generally ASD people react well to concrete, dispassionate feedback – this does not seem typical to me.

      1. Sunflower*

        This is where I’m at. And if this is a symptom of this, sounds like he needs to be in a job where processes are CLEARLY laid out and there is no deviation from them. You’re beyond reasonable accommodation at this point it sounds to me.

      2. Liz2*

        Some can learn to “stim” on arguing, it’s a feedback loop and a form of socialization. But you can stop the conversation “This matter is closed. This is the new expectation.” Or acknowledge “Change can be difficult but this is part of the new process.”

      3. Bonky*

        I’ve managed people with Asperger’s, and there are also several more that I don’t manage at my workplace – and I agree, being combative is not the norm (although for some you can end up in a position where it is, if you’re not being clear enough). Very, very clear, concrete, dispassionate feedback is the way to go, and I’ve often found that my Aspie colleagues actually react better to negative feedback presented in that way than some of my colleagues who are not on the spectrum do.

        If he’s arguing with you, have you given him feedback on that reaction? You can explain that it’s not normative, that it’s not considered professional, and that the way you expect feedback to be received among all the people you work with is X, Y and Z.

    2. Christy*

      A reasonable accommodation is only reasonable if he is still able to do the job. It sounds like he’s past the point of being able to do the job effectively if he’s being so combative. I’d see if it’s possible to move him out of the job, honestly.

    3. EW*

      Have you tried bringing up the larger picture? Maybe how you’re communicating these requirements verbally isn’t the best way for him. I personally do better when specifics for completing something are communicated visually (either in writing, or a picture/drawing, etc.). I’m just not an auditory learner so sometimes I misunderstand or it just doesn’t register. I try to work on this for myself, but when my managers put requirements in email form it really helps me.

    4. animaniactoo*

      #1) Document. So that when he tells you that you told him to do it ABC way, you can say “No, here is the guideline I gave you/e-mail I sent outlining how to do this.

      #2) “If it changes in the future, I will let you know then and you will need to change it then. Until then, I need you to do it XYZ way.” (Prep him for the idea that it may change in the future and you are only requesting he do it this way at this point in time, not until forever and a day.

      #3) Talk to him about his combativeness and the idea that you need to have easier conversations with him. Ask him what methods would work best for him to give him direction that you need him to follow. He might have some workable stuff that would be (relatively) easy to accommodate.

      #4) If he’s truly that combative that it’s unproductive to work with him, the Asperger’s is not a reason to keep trying.

      On a side note, it sounds like he’s getting stuck on the “following the rules” thing, so you could potentially pull that off the table. Kill the “You did it ABC way” and just go directly to “From now on, I need you to do this XYZ way”.

      1. Anon Coward*

        I think #3 is especially valid here. I will try this during our one on one this afternoon. Thanks!

      2. Jenbug*

        Definitely #1 is SUPER important.

        Either have the conversation and send an email to follow up or send the email and then go over it together.

    5. Professor Moriarty*

      Can you email him the feedback and new instructions? That way it would be harder for him to argue with you.

      Otherwise, just be very blunt. Refuse to engage past one rebuttal of his argument. Tell him what you need to tell him then walk away. It will feel super weird and rude to begin with but you’ll get used to it!

    6. AndersonDarling*

      I know exactly how your employee feels. Not that this is what is going on, but I had a boss that would give me directions on how to handle x/y/z and then he’d forget because the conversation was a year ago. But part of my Aspergers is that I remember all verbal conversations. All of them. If there was a conversation last week about q/r/s I would not relate that to the x/y/z conversation form a year ago, but everyone else in the room would know that q/r/s should be handled the same way as x/y/z.
      I need to be trained the right way the first time, because those instructions become like a law. If the processes are flexible, then I need to be told that at the time so I understand that it is OK the bend the rules. If I’m taught one method then told, “well, we’re going to skip steps 5-8 because the CEO needs this in one hour”…it’s like my head breaks.
      I’ve learned a lot of flexibility over the last 5 years, but it was hard.

      1. writelhd*

        I can concur with this from the experience of a spouse with Apsergers. Both in the remembering things people said a long time ago that themselves forgot about (or maybe didn’t mean to be taken quite so rigidly) and in the troubles with being flexible when something said later contradicts that. I have absolutely had the experience of “but you told me X a year go, I can’t process that now you’re telling me Y, because you told me X…” when I barely remember if I did say X or not, and if I did say X I probably hadn’t meant it to be taken as set in stone forever. I don’t know if that’s your situation or not, but I at least can concur I’ve experienced this.

        In which case, I would submit that not engaging with the response of “but you told me to do it ABC way!” may be a mistake. I know you don’t want to argue, but if that’s what he remembers, (right or wrong,) it may be the holdup point he’s stuck on that’s making it hard for him to get to the message about future course of action. In which case engaging on that point could help unstick him. People with apsergers often do have really good memories, so entertain the possibility that you *might* have said ABC at some point or something that could have been interpreted as such, give him the benefit of that doubt, and then be direct and honest about it. “I do not think I told you ABC, but it’s possible I’m not remembering as well as you. However, going forward, disregard ABC and do XYZ, until I tell you otherwise. And here is why XYZ is better…” Acknowledging his perception while clarifying your position may help. (The “until I tell you otherwise” builds in some flexibility for yourself later, and the explaining why XYZ better is useful for someone who thinks a lot about *why* things are done a certain way, which some people do and some people don’t, but my spouse absolutely does.)

        I agree that combativeness is not characteristic a trait of aspergers, but combativeness can be some people’s human response to being upset by something, and it is reasonable that remembering something that’s now not true can be a point of upset for somebody with aspergers. Or anyone, really. But it’s also absolutely OK to point out that’s not acceptable behavior.

    7. Artemesia*

      I’d up the ante here. You not only need him to do the thing XYZ way you need him to shut the f up about it. So give him the feedback in writing if it involves a process. Perhaps write it down in his presence and when he pushes back, then make it clear to him that he cannot argue when he is given feedback. He is expected to listen and modify his behavior; arguing with the boss is not acceptable. Things other people would infer, need to be explicit with someone like this.

    8. Jessie the First (or second)*

      Combativeness is not really an aspect of Asperger’s. You are ascribing your employee’s jerky personality to Asperger’s, but it sounds as if he may simply be a jerk.

      Now, it may be that routine is incredibly important to him and he gets unnerved by changes, but that is a different issue. Really, I would urge you to manage him according to the needs of your business. Label behavior inappropriate when it is inappropriate, and end a conversation when it gets combative or argumentative.

    9. Temperance*

      It sounds like he’s a jerk who is on the spectrum. This isn’t ASD behavior, this is insubordination and jerk behavior.

      I know many people on the spectrum, and the rude ass comments and actions are not standard by any means. Even the ASD dude that I’m not particularly fond of because he is unable to empathize with others as part of his disorder (as he explained to me) isn’t rude or mean like this.

      People with ASP are not combative as a rule.

    10. paperfiend*

      That sounds so much like my son, who also has Asperger’s (but is not in the workforce yet). It sounds like he’s getting “stuck” on the first way he learned/did the task. With my son, it’s not so much that he’s combative as that he needs help mentally adjusting when things change.

      One thing that *may* help is writing out the way he completed the task (or the steps he followed), printing that out, and bringing it with you when you go talk to him. Then when you’re describing the “new” (or corrected) way to do it, you can take a pen and cross things out, draw arrows to rearrange, etc. There’s something about seeing the changes on a physical object that helps my son get “un-stuck” when in situations like this. Plus it gives him a reference he can keep nearby.

    11. Observer*

      It actually probably doesn’t matter if this is a symptom of Aspergers or not, so I wouldn’t go down that rabbit hole. The question is can he do the job, with or without reasonable accommodation? Allowing someone to endlessly argue every instruction they don’t like and any negative feed back doesn’t sound like reasonable accommodation. So, you just need to focus on this behavior.

      Document what’s happening, and talk to whoever you need to about this. In terms of communicating, I would say a few things.

      1. You say that you don’t engage, but you clearly are or these discussions would not be happening. So, REALLY don’t engage. “But you said blah”. “No. You need to do x, y and z.” “But you SAID.” “This is the end of the conversation.” “But you said!” Walk away, dismiss him to his workplace or move on to the next topic you need to discuss. “What if you change your mind?” “That’s not relevant. You still need to do X,Y, and Z.” Same deal with repetition. Respond to yet another argument by walking away, dismissing him or moving on to the next agenda item.

      2. Follow up each conversation with a very simple and straightforward email recapping what you told him. ie “Going forward you need to do task x by doing A, B and C”.

      3. NO hinting or assuming he will “get something”. Spell it out very, very clearly.

    12. Lily in NYC*

      All I can think of is to put instructions in writing so there can’t be any pushback later.

    13. Mimmy*

      Everyone else has given you excellent feedback, but just wanted to add a thought or two.

      Combativeness is definitely not a trait of Aspergers or other autism spectrum disorders (sorry, lack of a better term). Under the ADA, any sort of behavior that is considered inappropriate for the workplace does not have to be excused by the disability and it shouldn’t be. However, I do think employers should talk with the employee and discuss reasonable ways that can help them perform their job more effectively–I believe everyone has their individual preferences, disability or not.

      I’m not well-versed on effectively managing people with ASD, so I unfortunately don’t have any specific suggestions. I will say, though, that if his behavior continues after you try to communicate reasonably with him, then you probably have grounds to go through whatever your company’s disciplinary policies are.

    14. Sas*

      Wow I can see this in someone I know. (But, not going to say who.) Believe me, that person is not trying to be an ass. “which I understand is a symptom of Asperger’s). ” It can be out of frustration. In writing, or ending the conversation yourself by saying the ending differently, remaining calm, these can be helpful things for you to do. There are some really good suggestions on this one

    15. zora*

      I agree with others about his combativeness being him being a jerk, not a symptom of Asperger’s.

      But, I have worked with people on the spectrum who do have a lot of difficulty with change. And I have found it helped a lot to acknowledge where they were at, and the situation. It made a huge difference that once it was acknowledged they were able to start to move on to the change.

      Have you tried saying, “Yes, I realize we originally had decided to do ABC. And I know it is frustrating to have to change how we do things all the time. I am doing my best to make sure we don’t have to change for no reason. But, in this case, we now need to change to XYZ because [reasons]. Can we talk about how you are going to make this change?”

      Then if he really is being a jerk, and he repeats “But you told me!” that’s when you say: “Yes, I already acknowledged that this is a change. I”m sorry that’s frustrating, but I can’t keep talking about ABC. I understand it’s hard sometimes, but I need you to do XYZ now, without talking about ABC anymore.” And I like what someone else said about “Well, if we do have to change again, I will let you know as soon as I find out. But for now, I am trying to make sure we come up wtih the best process so that we don’t have to change in the future. Does that make sense?”

      I know, it’s not workable to constantly coddle everyone’s feelings as a manager. But sometimes that one acknowledgement that you do hear them and validate that it is frustrating can help people move on from their frustration. I know that is true for me,and I’m not even on the spectrum!

    16. Leslie Knope*

      I’m sorry I’m chuckling over here. :) My brother is on the spectrum and this is 100% some of my interaction with him. He’s extremely high functioning and incredibly intelligent. He remembers all things he hears and thinks in pictures (which I find incredibly cool!).

      In my experience the frustration or combative nature is just how frustration is expressed when there is a lack of understanding.

      Here’s my advice.
      1. Write it out and email your expectations to him being overtly clear. No euphemisms. No sarcasm.
      2. Try to explain why XYZ way is more important than ABC way. Often because my sibling is seriously gifted at what he does it’s hard for him to understand why anyone would choose to do something differently, and often he views it as wrong. So he feels it’s actually better for the project/org if he does it his way. Part of the difficulty in understanding other’s emotions or interacting socially is from not being able to easily put themselves in your shoes. “XYZ way is better for 1, 2, 3, reasons which has to do with my view as a manger managing R, S, T situations. As your manager I need you to do XYZ because ABC causes this issues which are not acceptable.”
      3. Explicitly explain the consequences of not following your instructions.
      4. Allow them a window of time to process. When presented with the alternative way of doing something, my sibling will often get frustrated and need 24 hours to process. Often the phrasing “I will give you X amount of time to think this over and process what I am telling you to do and we can revisit to discuss your questions.”
      5. If necessary, take action, even termination if necessary. I’ve seen growth in several people on the spectrum that I know when a real-life consequence was handed down due to their lack of flexibility. That may be an important thing for them to realize that this is what happens if directions aren’t followed.

      And most of all, thank you. I’m so grateful to people that are aware of what’s going on with those on the spectrum and try to tailor their management style to the employee. But as several others have mentioned, you’re not expected to completely change your day-to-day operation if an employee can’t perform what you need.

      1. zora*

        these are all great suggestions!! I especially like #4: specifying how much time they can have to think it over and discuss questions. That I think would be really helpful for the folks I have worked with.

  26. Warship*

    Dad fell ill on new year’s and we got an unexpected terminal diagnosis
    mid-month. I was scrambling to coordinate care from a different state and get the care for him since he lives alone.

    Boss came up to me and asked how I was doing then started talking work. He then states “January has been a great month for you”

    I know I made a face.

    1. Collie*

      I’m so sorry; that’s a really tough thing to deal with and it’s exhausting. Please take care. <3

    2. orchidsandtea*

      I’m sorry. I had similar comments after a loss last year. I’m still feeling bitter.

      Be kind to yourself, okay? Give yourself a little extra grace, and know that it’s just going to be hard for a bit. It’s remarkable that you’re still doing a great job at work.

    3. Alice*

      I’m sorry about your father.
      Bravo for keeping up such great work when you’re stressed and worried.
      Your boss is a piece of work. Sure, we all say foolish things sometimes, but sometimes you just have to take it on the chin and apologize. (Boss you, not you you, obviously)

  27. Unemployed*

    Background – I moved to the same state as my husband last January. I got a job in my field (safety), but it ended up being at a dysfunctional company. I decided to quit without a job lined up because it was causing me panic attacks and my husband was tired of having me come home from work every day sad and frustrated. I left on really good terms with the company (April last year).
    I studied and passed the FE in June. I’ve been looking for jobs as an entry level civil engineer, manufacturing engineer, and a better suited safety engineer (Workers Comp was what was the bad fit with my previous position). I had a few interviews in August and then nothing. I did a six week project at a company I used to work for in November/December helping them with their safety program for the money and additional work history/reference.
    It’s now January, and I’m still lacking a job. There’s not a lot of positions open because of where I live (I’m on the wrong side of a large city, jobs are 1.5-2 hours commute). I’m starting to volunteer at my local library for something on my resume. Is there anything else I can be doing to position myself better for companies to hire me?

    1. Construction Safety*

      Do you have a local chapter of the Associated Builders & Contractors, Assoc.? They used to have a searchable database of all their members with contact info. I once sent out 65 faxes to all the companies with more than $10M in revenue. I received back 3 contacts and a job.

      1. Unemployed*

        Yeah, my issue is they are on the other side of the large city near me :( I really want to keep my commute under two hours.

    2. A Plain-Dealing Villain*

      That sucks about not being where the jobs are. I know the feeling. Try looking up the ASSE local chapter. They could be some good contacts and they have a job board on their website. Also, as a member you can get really cheap professional liability insurance. I mention the insurance because OSHA training and loss control work are both in high demand right now and doing some contracting may help you get somewhere faster than the unrelated volunteering.

      1. Unemployed*

        Thanks! I haven’t really wanted to go into the contracting on my own, but maybe I should. The company last year was willing to hire me part time so I didn’t need separate liability insurance.

  28. animaniactoo*

    We have a new HR person. She seems promising. Among the most promising things she’s said so far “I’m an HR professional, I can figure it out” in reference to the lack of clear documentation for how to handle things like payroll and our FSAs not having been setup as they were supposed to be. And “It wouldn’t be appropriate for me to be connected to anyone here on social media” in reference to someone thinking she was asking for their twitter name to connect with them. She was just interested in seeing if it was something fun (she says, could have been looking to see what they post, but I don’t think so) I have hopes here…

  29. anonamasaurus*

    Is anyone else still experience FLSA drama? Work rant: My workplace decided to convert my position to a 10-month a year position at my current salary, under the threshold (higher ed staff position). This coincided with my boss being on maternity leave (which I covered, doing most of her work in addition to mine), so instead of being effective immediately it was effective upon her return in mid-January with the agreement that my ‘months off’ would be nov/dec 2017. While I was at a conference 2 weeks ago I got an email saying the agreement would go into effect basically immediately and I would be off Jan. 23 – mid-March. When I questioned this (because I’ve made plans around being off at the end of the year) I got told never mind, actually the whole agreement is no longer valid. Except I don’t have that clause in my written agreement (apparently everyone else does). HR won’t give me a straight answer, my boss is totally clueless, and we were supposed to meet this afternoon with HR and the meeting just got pushed to next week. I’m super annoyed, because I’m burnt out, the conditions of my job apparently will continue to change with little to no notice and I’ve just spent the past 3 months cleaning up a bunch of messes my boss left on her leave. Also if I hadn’t questioned it I would be off right now, but as it stands I’m having a hard time taking time off because no one does my work when I’m out and it’s a busy time of year for me. I work an average of 50 hours a week and am also in graduate school right now. /endrant

  30. Pup Seal*

    I had an interview last week (the one where I was interviewed by a committee of seven people), and I heard back earlier this week. Their response was they decided to advertise the job some more but I’m still under consideration for the job. In other words, they’re saying they weren’t happy with anyone they interviewed. I guess that’s okay since I’m not sure I would be a good fit in their work culture anyway. Funny, the job is at the business school I attended during college, and even back then I didn’t feel like I fit in. Has anybody ever declined a job because of work culture?

    1. Leatherwings*

      Yeah, I have. I got a few jobs offers at once and declined one based on culture alone. It was just a really stiff, business professional only-suit everyday type place which isn’t really my style. I knew I would like the work but wouldn’t be happy going to work in that environment everyday in the long run.

    2. voluptuousfire*

      I have in the past. The culture of the company (law firm) was too stiff for me. Also the interview was fairly short (an hour between 20 min phone screen and 35-40 min in person, including about 10 mins of waiting). That didn’t sit right with me. I had taken jobs in the past where I was hired after a brief interview process like that and it turned out to be a horror show. It’s rarely a good sign when you’re not hired for being the best candidate overall, just the best out of a handful they interviewed.

  31. committee member*

    My work is considering a sick leave bank for employees. In theory, I support that idea and I’m on the committee to research and implement it. In practice, I’m a bit apprehensive as it seems most of the committee wants the donating employees privy to personal and identifying information about the receiving employee (name and possibly even medical reason for leave). I am concerned it would turn into a popularity contest and would prefer employees donated days without a specific person being involved. Thoughts on how to proceed?

    1. Collie*

      Perhaps give the receiving employee the option of sharing that information with donors when the need arrives but make it clear there’s no obligation to?

    2. Warship*

      I like our system. There is no bank it is simply a form and you name who you donate too but you can remain anonymous. The policy dictates that it can only be used for emergencies and the donar aren’t aware unless the person requesting the leave divulged. HR is in charge of determining eligibility.

      1. not really a lurker anymore*

        Yes, this seems similar to what my job does.

        HR determines if someone is eligible and sends out flyers/emails stating the process to donate time. I think you have to include the name of the person you are donating to though, now that I think about it. We can donate vacation or comptime only, as far as I’m aware.

    3. Warship*

      I also like our system since PTO is only donated when there is a need. I feel like people are a lot more likely to donate to Joe in accounting whose leg was lost in a car accident then nameless folks decided by a committee I don’t know.

      1. LCL*

        Our system is the same way. No bank, just notices from HR that Arya needs sick leave donations. It is up to the donor if you want the employee to know you donated.

    4. Jaydee*

      We have a sick leave bank. If you have more than X hours of accrued sick leave, you can donate some or all of your excess once a quarter. If you use up all your accrued sick leave, you can request up to X days from the sick leave bank. There are criteria for when you’re eligible to request from the sick leave bank, and how many times you can use it total. But that way there’s no popularity contest or assessment of whether a person “deserves” the leave.

      You need to have a system that is applied fairly to all employees. That way there’s no risk of someone saying “well, I’ll donate leave to Jane who has cancer but not to Fergus who broke his leg skiing” or “I’ll donate to Wakeen because he’s on my team and I really like him, but not to Martha because I don’t even know her and I’ve heard she’s a slacker.”

      1. committee member*

        I totally agree! I’m a little dismayed at how many people seem to want to judge the worthiness of other people’s sick leave.

    5. Temperance*

      My office has a PTO bank, but they will also ask for special-case leave if someone has an issue that doesn’t fit within the parameters of the bank, which are related to long-term illnesses.

  32. Spills*

    Has anyone successfully negotiated a remote work agreement right off the bat? I am being “relocated” (laid off) from my company, and the timing is terrible. I had planned to stay at this company for another year, and then start looking to relocate to Denver (from NYC). Now with this lay-off, I am being forced to change jobs earlier than I expected. I was applying to jobs in NYC, and on a whim, applied to a job in Denver, that has turned out to be a really great match so far. I have had two interviews, and I think they are making preparations to fly my out there for a third interview now. However, I am now thinking that while this might be the right position, the timing may not be right. A few conflicting factors:

    1. My boyfriend is returning from 7 months abroad for a work assignment next week. The plan was that he would also return to his company for a year, and we would then start to look in Denver together.
    2. I have only been at my company for 1 year, and had a short stint of 3 months at a company before that, along with another stint of 1.5 years at the company before that. I was hoping to stay here for 2 years or so, to build back up my resume. (Actually was hoping to transfer internally to a Denver office, but that is a moot point now)
    3. My boyfriend and I have just signed a lease on an apartment on Jan 1, for 1 year. I found out about the relocation offer/lay-off 3 days after that.

    With all these factors, I think that it is not an ideal time to move to Denver. However, my other concern is that if I do not move to Denver now, I will need to accept a job in NYC, and then will need to stay there for 2-3 years at least, which pushes back our plans quite a bit. With that in mind, I have been playing around with the idea of asking the company to work remotely for 6 months to a year, to allow me to relocate, and my boyfriend time to search for a new job and relocate as well, as well as find a subletter for our lease. A year would be ideal.

    Is this outrageous? Plausible? I’d be willing to travel back and forth as much as needed, if that makes a difference, and I’m an event coordinator, so travel to/from locations is expected anyway. Thoughts or advice, anyone?

    1. LisaLee*

      Honestly? I think I would just suck it up and move early. Living in NYC I think you’ll have an easy time finding a subletter, and you get all the chaos (moving, new job, separation from boyfriend) over at once.

      1. LisaLee*

        I realize that “suck it up” maybe sounded a bit harsh, and I don’t mean it to be! I just meant that I think its a big ask for a new job and you’ll have to go through the hassle of moving sometime.

        1. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

          I read this more as “rip off the band-aid quick” – as in, go through the job/moving hassle once now rather than doing it twice (NYC now and Denver later). It can seem overwhelming, but if Denver is where you want to be long term anyway, and it sounds like a great job may be coming your way, sounds like the stars are aligning. Besides, you have no idea what the market in Denver could look like in two years either.

          I’d go for it. Things like this have a way of working out (the right subletter comes along, relocation assistance is in the package and you weren’t planning on it, etc)

    2. Moose*

      Ya, I would agree that if you get the job in Denver, you should move now. You never know what’s going to happen in two years, it’s probably never going to feel like exactly the right time. If you’re really committed and you have an opportunity now (a job that you’re really interested in that is also interested in you) then you should take it, even if it means getting a sub letter and leaving the boyfriend behind for a few months.

      I really say this from personal experience, my boyfriend and I have been talking about moving to Boston for years now; we say at the end of each year that we’ll “re-evaluate next year” and then next year comes and for whatever reason it still doesn’t feel like the right timing for jobs/leaving our apartment/ect. At some point, if you’re serious about moving, I think you just have to do it.

    3. Mela*

      Why does your boyfriend need to work a year after he returns from his assignment? What’s wrong with you going to Denver and him starting a job search ASAP and following when it happens?

      If you get this job in Denver, you can ask to push your start date 4-8 weeks out to give yourself time to move. That’s super normal and it will give you time to find the subletter and move. I’m getting the feeling that you want everything timed so that you both find a job at the same time so you can move together, but that’s just not how it works in reality. Most of the time there will be a gap and it would be great if one of you had a solid job to fall back on if the other job doesn’t pan out for whatever reason after moving across the country.