how can I get my coworkers to chip in for snacks, everyone but me is going on a business trip, and more

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

1. How can I get my coworkers to chip in for snacks?

At work we have a kitchen area for employees, and it is my habit to purchase granola bars, soda, coffee, tea, fresh fruit … basically what people need to grab for a quick boost of energy throughout the day at work. When I started this habit, my company was kind enough to reimburse me for my expense.

So far, so good. Only now that we’ve grown as a team and the snacks have been there long enough that other groups have started raiding the snacks… well, the expense has grown to the point that my company has told me that they can’t reimburse any more snacks, there’s just not the budget for this.

I’m negotiating for the proper budget now, but that won’t take effect until 2019, if my negotiations are successful. I don’t want to stop bringing the snacks in for everyone, but I can’t afford to eat the expenses either. I tried sending out a couple of emails to people asking for contributions, and while I’ve gotten some, what I have gotten has come nowhere close to the actual expenses. What’s the best way to get my coworkers to chip in for the snacks they eat and drink without coming off as nagging, or worse…?

It sounds like you can’t. You’ve asked people to contribute, they’re not doing it, and continuing to ask is indeed going to be overstepping. If people valued the snacks enough to pay for them, they presumably would be chipping in for them. They’re not, so you should assume that they’re fine going without (or at least that they’d rather go without than pay for them).

It was really nice of you to coordinate this up until now, but “free snacks that the company paid for” is a different thing than “snacks that we’re paying for ourselves,” and it’s understandable that people might have been enthused about the first but not the second. I think you’ve got to accept here that people aren’t up for funding these snacks, which means they’ll have to stop for now.

2. Should I accept a job where people keep stressing I’d need to be open to “constructive criticism”?

I was recently offered a new job that seems like a great fit in my field. During the interview process, however, several managers have made comments multiple times about how necessary it is to be open to “constructive criticism.” I am, but it has been emphasized so much that I’m beginning to worry if it isn’t a red flag or code for something much worse, such as “expect to be yelled at constantly.”

In order to take this job, I would have to quit a job that I like very much (pay is not good at old job, hence the potential change), but I’m very hesitant to take that final step. Would you worry if a new job emphazied “constructive criticism” so much? As I said, I’m fine with being corrected and guided and I have read your blog enough to know that there are truly people out there who managers struggle to correct without tears, anger or meltdowns on the part of the employee, so the concern about being able to take criticism is valid. I just really want to know your thoughts, since I am excited about the possibilities here, but nervous that so many references to constructive criticism could be a warning sign.

Yeah, that’s alarming. It’s possible that it’s just a reaction to the last person in the position being horrible at taking criticism. Interviewers are often haunted by their last bad hire and get disproportionately focused on avoiding whatever those particularly problems were with the next person (often to their detriment, because in that zeal they end up overlooking other important things). But it’s also possible that you’re going to be working for a manager and/or in a culture where you’ll be constantly and/or harshly criticized.

When you’re getting a strange line of questioning in an interview, or you’re noticing a focus on that surprises you, it’s totally okay to ask about it before you accept the offer! In this case, you could say, “A number of people I’ve talked to in the interview process have really emphasized how necessary it is to be open to criticism in this job. I welcome and appreciate feedback, but there’s been such a focus on it that it’s gotten me wondering — is there something about this job or this team that makes it even more important than normal?”

3. Everyone on my team is going on a business trip except me

Need some desperate advice. At my newish job, I am feeling lost in the mix/not sure of my place.

I was told that my entire team (including an entry-level member who is below me in seniority) “unintentionally” will be going on an international business trip at the end of the summer for a big event, excluding me because I’m basically not needed. I understand it’s business, not personal, but I’m feeling extremely alienated, left out, and forgotten about — all sorts of awful feelings of self-doubt. Any advice or thoughts? Considering this is a big event pertaining to all of us, I feel like I should be going, especially since you now have one team member left behind. Is this totally poor taste on their part or am I overthinking?

Overreacting. If you’re really not needed there, it’s reasonable that they’re not sending you, especially since it’s international (i.e., expensive). In general, you get sent on a business trip if there’s a work reason you’re needed there. If there isn’t one in this case, it truly isn’t personal; it’s just practical.

How are you treated there otherwise? If you’re generally included and not overlooked, I’d try to focus on that, and accept that while this doesn’t feel great, there’s really no message here other than “this is how the work needs shook out.”

4. We can only take time off in half-day increments, even if we don’t need that much

My company has a policy that if you’re going to take any time off during an eight-hour day, you must take a half-day. So, let’s say you have a doctor’s appointment. In order to make it to that appointment, you would only have to leave in 30 minutes early. However, because of the policy, you have to take a half-day off. While I think this policy is meant to be punitive, it’s really not. My job gives us more than adequate sick time per year to use for this sort of thing and it doesn’t all roll over, so use it or lose it. I would rather only take the time needed because of the strain it puts on my coworkers to cover for me. I have pushed back with my concern that this encourages employees to take a lot more time off than necessary, but have not been successful. Is this normal?

In addition, this policy is supposed to be for everyone, but it really only affects non-exempt employees, since exempt employees have more flexibility. If they leave 30 minutes early, nobody is necessarily tracking that as long as they complete their duties.

It’s actually not terribly uncommon; there are a decent number of other companies that also require time off to be taken in half-day increments. So it’s not that your company has come up with a crazy policy all on their own. But it’s a bad policy for exactly the reason you said: It encourages people to miss more work than they otherwise would, and it’s really inconvenient for people who might easily be able to leave an hour early without their work being impacted (whether it’s for an appointment or just because they feel like leaving early to enjoy nice weather on a Friday, or whatever) but will have more trouble fitting it in if they have to take a half-day. Also, if someone gets sick toward the end of the day and unexpectedly has to leave, say, 90 minutes early (or otherwise has an unexpected emergency and needs to leave), it’s awfully unfair that they’d be charged four hours of PTO for that.

5. Bolding and italics on your resume

What’s your opinion on using bold/BOLD or italics (or even underline) to highlight key points in resumes?

A little of it is fine. But don’t overdo it — use it very sparingly — or it will lose its impact and makes your resume look cluttered. (The exception to that is if you’re bolding all your job titles or section headers; that’s fine and normal.)

{ 374 comments… read them below }

  1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

    OP#3, how long have you been in your newish job? It sounds like you’re feeling unsteady, and I’m wondering if that’s contributing to you feeling alienated with respect to this trip. The language you’ve used to describe how you’re feeling sounds really personal—as if attending the trip reflects on your personal worth and your worth to your employer. Are there other things going on that would lead you to that reaction? Are you feeling isolated or excluded in other ways?

    1. sacados

      Also, I’m not sure what kind of team/department this is but there are many situations where it just wouldn’t be feasible for an entire team to be away on a business trip without anyone at the office to keep up with tasks/provide coverage.
      Maybe OP could try to think of it as less being “left behind” and more a combination of a) it is not absolutely necessary for the success of the trip for OP to be there; and b) they trust OP to be the one to keep things operating and functioning smoothly in the rest of the team’s absence.

      1. Nom Nom

        Also as OP is ‘newish’ , it could be as simple as the budget and personnel approvals for the trip were approved and locked in before OP started and there is no room for changes now. A lot of organisations will only approve international trips and budgets at the highest of levels and are reluctant to make any changes afterwards in case the high ups decide on review that the trip is not necessary any longer or remember they need to make some budget cuts and because the trip comes back in front of them, it is an easy target.

        1. The Cosmic Avenger

          This is exactly what I was thinking. Transferrable tickets cost a lot more, so if the team has X people and they had room in the budget for X-1 people (or needed one person to cover the office for the team), they would had to have booked the entry-level employee before the OP was hired.

          Of course, it would have been nice for the OP to have heard that, but it’s possible whoever explained it to the OP wasn’t in on the travel planning/budgeting.

        2. LQ

          This was definitely my thought on it. Often those budgets (at least here) are done well in advance, like a year sometimes. So it would be a big deal to add someone who wasn’t originally scheduled.

        3. Stormfeather

          Enh, the only thing about that is that she says there’s another employee even more junior to her that’s going along, so while it’s possible that the really new person absolutely HAS to go and they went above and beyond to get them into the trip last-minute, I’m leaning away from that.

          1. Indigo a la mode

            I think the junior person predates her tenure there – they just happen to be a lower-level employee, not a newer one. I’m leaning toward Nom Nom’s hypothesis as well.

      2. Spreadsheets and Books

        Another potential interpretation could be that as a newish employee, OP just doesn’t have the experience yet in whatever aspect of the business this is and thus there is no real purpose in her attending. Some companies train slowly – mine is one of these; we have no real formal process to speak of – and it can take a year+ until a new hire is fully up to speed. I know that in my current role, I was largely useless for the first 8 months or so, and sending me on a trip to do work in most aspects of the team functions before the first year was out would have been a waste of company resources.

      3. Justme, The OG

        I’m the longest serving team member in my department and everyone else is at a conference without me. I admittedly don’t have a lot to do this week but I’m rather glad that I’m not going. I honestly don’t want to be around my coworkers 24/7 for a week. I also figure that my boss trusts me enough to actually show up this week and do work without any oversight.

    2. Mookie

      I wonder if the “unintentionally” might be a sticking point for the LW, as well. Presumably somebody used that word when explaining why everyone, but her, will be attending.

      Any insight, LW? Do you doubt the “unintentional” explanation or are you not willing to accept that as a good enough reason for the exclusion? I also wonder how many conversations you’ve had about this with peers / supervisor / boss, and if they’re picking up on the fact that you’re ill at ease about this.

      1. Thlayli

        Oh! That’s what it means. I was totally confused by what “unintentionally” means in this context. You can’t unintentionally go on a business trip so your explanation makes sense. They were assuring OP that the fact she is the only one not going was unintentional.

        That’s actually nice that they even bothered to explain. Shows they care about her feelings. Most jobs wouldn’t even bother and would just expect you to know it’s business not personal and get over it.

        1. ShopGirl

          Ok staying behind to hold down the fort would be intentional and I would expect some discussion on what to do if such and such should happen. Unintentionally leaving someone out says well we didn’t mean to leave you out we just didn’t remember to include you. So disagree with those saying it’s ok and the OP should not be upset.

          1. Management Material

            Sure, if you are determined to be negative you could interpret it that way, I guess. Or you could take it at face value – they didn’t intentionally plan things so the OP would be the only one not attending, it just happened to work out that way. Given that they bothered to explain it and seem to care about OP’s feelings, that seems like a more reasonable, not to mention professional, approach. But hey, you do you, boo!

            1. Falling Diphthong

              Yeah, for unintentional I’d start with “We need everyone who works on G, M, or W” and that happened to include everyone but the OP.

      2. LisaPis

        OP#3 here – I don’t doubt the “unintentional” I’m sure they weren’t maliciously leaving me out because it’s just the way it worked out. It’s more the fact this is playing into my insecurity that I’m not standing out enough amongst the team or doing a great enough job to be noticed. I feel forgotten about and unimportant, I think the fact the employee below me in seniority going is what really hit a sore spot. Like I said, when everyone is in a meeting to discuss planning for said event, and I’m not, I can’t help but feel alienated.

        1. Genny

          I wouldn’t focus too much on the person with less seniority going. I once went on an international business trip even though I had less seniority than the other woman doing the same job (she even had to walk me through how to do all the travel approvals/reimbursements for the trip). It’s not that she wasn’t a good employee, it’s just that the travel happened to be related to my portfolio, so it made sense to me to go.

        2. biobottt

          But even in your explanation, it sounds like people were chosen based on whether there’s a role for them, not by seniority, so there’s no reason to focus on the junior employee’s lack of seniority as a reason to feel left out.

        3. Snark

          They’re not spending, what, several tens of thousands of dollars? to make those who are going feel important and noticed. Sending people on work trips is not a reward, it’s a business need and it’s done as little and as frugally as possible. If there’s no business need to send you, it matters not if you’re the standout team rockstar, they wouldn’t send you.

          You really need to take a hard line with this kind of internal rumination, because you’re digging yourself into a bad hole here.

        4. Jen S. 2.0

          Agree with above. Business trips aren’t rewards or punishments. The junior employee is going and you are not, but it’s not because she’s doing a better job or her work is more important. It’s likely because this trip dovetails better with her projects; she’ll have a role there, and you would not.

          Also, they might trust you more to hold down the fort at the home office, which is also critically important.

    3. LisaPis

      Hi all – OP #3 here. To give some back story – my whole team is relatively new (in the past year) since we are launching a new clothing retail brand. But yes, others have been here longer since I started a few months ago. Originally, 3 or 4 more senior people were going on this trip which I knew and didn’t bother me I wasn’t attending. Then last minute they realized the more entry level person would be needed to handle logistics – leaving me the only one behind. The “unintentional” was used in conversation to make me feel better about the whole team attending except for me. I realize I may be taking it personally but it’s more of the fact this isn’t a random work trip, but more an event to launch our new brand, so I question why everyone has a role in this except for me? I think because my manager is going they don’t need both of us, but regardless I can’t shake these feelings of insecurity that this is a negative reflection on me. When everyone is in a meeting to discuss planning for said event and I’m not, I can’t help but feel alienated.

      1. The Dark Fantastic

        Do you think there is work you should be doing on this trip that won’t get done if you’re not there? Otherwise I’m not sure why you are questioning everyone else having a role but not you? What is it that you see your role on this trip being?

        The thing is, people don’t just get to go on business trips because others are, they go because there is work they are needed to do. If they added the entry level person because they needed them to do logistical work, presumably they would have no problem adding you if they needed you, which suggests that there isn’t work you are needed for during this event. Do you have reason to disagree with your management on that?

      2. Thlayli

        I understand how you feel, but it really isn’t personal. As you said, your manager is going, and presumably she can handle the work you would be doing? so unless you think she can’t handle her aspect of it alone then they genuinely don’t need you.

        Logistics at this sort of thing is probably a lot of hard work and hassle – setting up stands, organising lunches etc. They probably just realised they wouldn’t have time to do all the grunt work / admin work. So if you were going you’d end up doing that sort of stuff and you’d probably feel worse!

        1. LisaPis

          This is true. When I was being told, my manager relayed that she didn’t think I’d want to be the one doing this admin work. I guess I’m just a sensitive person and need to try to separate that from work?

          But to further add, the head of our team sent out a calendar invite for a team lunch (post this trip) and forgot to put me on the invite, which had to be forwarded to me. We aren’t a big team, so this rubbed salt into the wound. He apologized when realizing the mistake via email, but I still couldn’t believe I was forgotten about.

          1. Thlayli

            Oh that must have stung! I would take it at face value though. It’s easy to forget someone.

            Yeah you probably do want to at least give the appearance that you’re ok with it – you don’t want to become the person everyone has to tiptoe round.

          2. DCompliance

            Question for you- do you believe everyone going on the trip has a valid reason for doing so or do you think some people came up with reasons because they saw this is a way to sneak in a free vacation?

          3. Nita

            Wow. Yes, both of these things together are… not so good. Your explanation of why you’re not coming along makes perfect sense, but it does come across as tone-deaf on the manager’s part. I get that it doesn’t make business sense to send someone to a conference if they don’t need to be there, but it’s also not good management to leave a single team member out and not try to compensate for it in some way. For example, could they have given you a new responsibility or interesting assignment while everyone is gone?

            It’s very hard to say if these two things are just coincidences with bad optics, or if your boss really is falling into a habit of ignoring and not valuing you. If it’s the latter, I’m really sorry and would definitely start scanning the horizon for new opportunities. I’ve had my skills overlooked in the past and put in extra effort to get noticed, but this was in a job where I’d previously been appreciated for years, and it seemed like just a fluke. If this kind of thing was happening right out the gate, I think I’d be a little too discouraged to try shining in this workplace. Although, I suppose it can’t hurt to try to get noticed more while you’re on the lookout for new opportunities.

            1. Ask a Manager Post author

              it’s also not good management to leave a single team member out and not try to compensate for it in some way. For example, could they have given you a new responsibility or interesting assignment while everyone is gone?

              I really disagree! Sometimes this is how it works out because of what needs to be done on the trip. Most managers aren’t going to assume that the person not going needs some kind of coddling — I definitely wouldn’t, and I would be a little alarmed if someone felt they needed that.

              1. LisaPis

                OP#3 here – totally makes sense. I think I’m feeling left out in other ways too which is exasperating this feeling.. my whole team will be going into random meetings but then say ‘oh I don’t think you need to be in this’. I’m the middle level between the senior management and entry level, so it doesn’t make sense to me why they’re all heading into a meeting but for me it’d be a ‘waste of my time’. It really feels awful.

                1. Exhausted Trope

                  OP3, I feel your pain. This happened to me frequently at oldjob: private meetings with management that really did impact my work after being told that I didn’t need to be there. I felt like I was being cut out of my work place and disrespected.
                  Eventually, I was cut out of group lunches. I got very lonely working in that cliquish place. Glad I am out now.

            2. Nonsensical

              No one needs to be ‘compensated’ for not going on a trip. The OP is new, seniority often rules, the OP probably doesn’t have enough experience to be able to do much on the trip and the trip is not a work perk that needs compensation or similar benefit added.

              The OP will likely have opportunities to go on work trips in the future.

          4. EMW

            I’m mortified every time I screw up a meeting invite and accidentally leave someone off. It sounds like this is something you can be bummed about, but isn’t necessarily malicious intent by your manager/the company. In the future, you could let your manager know that you would like to attend this kind of event even if you’d be doing admin work – only if that’s true of course. I’m sorry you’re feeling left out – that’s a sucky feeling!

          5. AdminX2

            It’s just bad timing and business needs. They don’t need both of you, the other person was judged more suited, so you stay put. If in a few months you’re still not being invited to lunches directly or full team events that are local an not more expensive to have everyone, then I’d worry. Until then, just breathe and know it’s not about you, just business.

          6. biobottt

            Well, getting left temporarily left off the invite could be down to the fact that you’re new. He obviously didn’t mean to, and apologized when he discovered his mistake. Being able to let go of other people’s honest mistakes is a really important coping skill that’s worth learning (as I know from personal experience).

        2. Ali G

          Agree totally on the point about what the logistics person will be doing. OP, do not feel bad about this! That person is likely never going to see the light of day outside the hotel and will spend his/her time on the phone making reservations, canceling reservations, running people down for messages, etc.
          On the other hand, you were deemed more important to keep the ship running at home. I know it feels a little like you are missing out on a great milestone in your company, and that’s valid, but don’t let it color how you see yourself within the organization.
          Also, if you haven’t done these types of trips before, I’ll just offer in my experience…they are not fun. I’ve flown all over this world for meetings and conferences and really, at this point, I’d rather stay home and hold down the fort.

          1. LisaPis

            OP#3 here – totally makes sense. I think I’m feeling left out in other ways too which is exasperating this feeling.. my whole team will be going into random meetings but then say ‘oh I don’t think you need to be in this’. I’m the middle level between the senior management and entry level, so it doesn’t make sense to me why they’re all heading into a meeting but for me it’d be a ‘waste of my time’. It really feels awful.

            1. SophieChotek

              I second what Ali G said – actually I am going on a business trip at the end of this week and there is so much work involved (logistics, etc.) and then having to worry about everything running smoothly when we’re there, and hoping we can connect with the “right” people — I wish I got to stay home and hold down the fort too.

              I do get it — the idea of travel for work (perhaps especially international travel) sounds fun — but unless the company is very generous with your schedule or you can opt to stay after — it’s not a vacation. I know for my business trip at the end of this week, I won’t get to do anything “touristy” much as I would love to.

              I totally get it — feeling left out. I might also — especially coupled with your other example of being left out.

              But it does sound like this really is about ensuring operations run smoothly, etc. Plus they may need you to look up things, etc. when they are abroad — quotes, specs, etc., etc.

            2. LQ

              They are trying to protect your time because they think there are more valuable ways for you to spend it than in meetings. What they are saying is “your time is so valuable that we want to be careful with it.” They don’t see you or your time as an infinite expendable resource.

              Don’t get me wrong. It can feel bad. I’m in a messy place between management and individual contributor right now. I’m endlessly confused as to what conversations I’m a part of and what conversations I’m excluded from. But I know that part of it is my boss excludes me from meetings he finds a waste of time or that he doesn’t think I need (he’s told me that they’d be remedial for me) because HE hates them so he’s like well if I have to be at these stupid things the least I can do for LQ is not make her go to them. It’s weird and it might even feel exclusionary, but changes are good it’s not, it’s protective or supportive. (those meetings are mostly a waste of time and they would mostly be remedial and I do have other stuff I can do, even this is way better than many of those meetings…) You may have some of those things happening too.

            3. Ali G

              It sounds like, in general you are feeling a little lost/left out in the day-to-day stuff and maybe this trip just kind of brought all those feelings to the surface. I think you might benefit from having a conversation with your supervisor to solidify for you your role and how it relates to these one-off meetings. It could be they think you are still getting up to speed and don’t want to impact that, or it could be that they really are higher level meetings that are not appropriate for you to join. Don’t bring up the trip, because, however poorly it was handled, it’s been handled. But you could say something like: “I know I am new and still learning my role, but I think it would be helpful for me to be involved in more meetings about the business, when appropriate. Are there opportunities for me to do that?” This might help you feel more a part of the team and also strengthen your working relationships with your co-workers. Or you might realize they really are a waste of your time :)

              1. Nita

                +1. The trip is water under the bridge now, but it’s a good idea to talk to your manager about your interest in doing more, if it’s an option. Maybe the meetings really aren’t appropriate for a new person, but if they’re leaving you out just because they’re not tied to what you’re doing right now, they’re wasting a valuable training opportunity.

                It also seems like you don’t have a lot of clarity about where you stand in the company… are they planning for you to have some career growth? Or are you getting the impression you’re there to pick up slack when others are busy, but nothing more?

            4. not so sweet

              Sometimes there’s value for a new person in getting to sit in on meetings to learn things they aren’t realizing would be useful for you to know.

              I agree with AAM and others that you want to keep the hurt-feelings part to yourself, but I wonder if there might be a good way to ask about attending some of the meetings in order to observe and learn. Not while they’re all heading in to the meeting, but maybe catch your manager when she isn’t busy and suggest it. Then if your manager agrees, go to the meeting, listen hard, look interested and impressed, do not volunteer any opinions, take notes if that will help you listen better (and don’t write when they are saying anything controversial), and do not do anything like check your phone even if the legitimate attendees are doing so. Make a point of being all caught up on your other work on meeting days.

            5. Lora

              Oooh, I know what you mean – I’m in a new job and my boss was supposed to send out a “we hired Lora, she’s very nice, please say hi to her” email my first week and just forgot. And then forgot some more. Today he came over to me to apologize for forgetting again, because I keep getting left out of group emails and and people in the department but in a different office are like, “who tf are you?” when I email them or ask them a question. So getting answers from people is like pulling teeth because they’re not sure if I’m important enough to respond to quickly, and it gets awkward.

              I was similarly not-invited to a big overseas meeting that happened on my second week at work, because they weren’t sure of my start date and didn’t have all my corporate travel things set up. I’ll go next year, but I didn’t know enough about the company to be useful on the trip anyway; they were talking about things that required a lot of depth in the business specific processes, but I didn’t find that out until they all came back with a pile of documents for me to read. Now I’m glad I didn’t go.

            6. Anna Held

              Trust your gut! If you think something’s wrong, it likely is. It’s NOT just the trip — it’s all the meetings, the lunch, plus the trip. You’re getting this message consistently in your daily life. Yes, there may be business reasons, but there also may be something else going on, and you’re hearing a lot of commenters telling you it’s not them, it’s you. You’re the one witnessing this — trust yourself!

              Now that doesn’t necessarily mean your coworkers are bad people or you’re about to get fired. I’d start with a frank conversation with your boss about your role at the company, future projects, what meetings you might need to go to and why. Point out that since you’re new, as is the entire team, the team is still gelling and it might be beneficial to you to go to at least some of these meetings so you know what YOUR TEAM is doing! Everyone else is going to wonder what your role is, too, if you’re so often out of the loop. Then make a point of cheerfully integrating with the group, helping them out, letting them know what you’re up to. CC people so everyone’s in the loop, eat lunch or grab a coffee with others, and generally make yourself a happy part of the team.

              And if things don’t get better, job hunt.

            7. GrandBargain

              Is it perhaps because the middle management role itself is ‘newish’ to the team. In the sense that perhaps senior management hasn’t figured out how to involve and integrate this new role into existing processes. If that’s the case, a serious sitdown discussion with your boss may be more productive.

            8. biobottt

              But if the meetings are about the trip, they would be a waste of your time, wouldn’t they?

      3. DCompliance

        While it is not personal, I completely understand being disappointed and feeling left out. It doesn’t sound like it was really being sold as “we need you to hold down the fort and we trust you to do so”. Therefore, I get being bummed out.

      4. Antilles

        Okay, that makes it even more reasonable. Everybody else was planned ahead, so when they realized “crap, we need one more person to handle logistics”, the only people left who could be pulled in were either you or the entry level person.
        And then it comes down to work, which is where an entry level person actually makes more sense: Having once been the entry level dude during a week when everybody else is out, I can assure you that it doesn’t work well. Remember that entry level people generally rely on senior people to divvy out work AND to help them when they get stuck. So it will invariably happen that the junior guy will end up wasting a ton of time – either because he finishes everything and has no more work on his plate or because he gets stuck on something and runs in circles.
        Also, if any fires come up while most of the team is out of town, having a senior person stay back makes a lot more sense than a junior guy, because YOU can address them and he can’t.

      5. LQ

        I get how it might feel a little alienating. But it really sounds like it is simply a business decision. If your manager has been pleased with your work I’d just keep going forward. Next time it might be a whole different set of people with someone else not going along. This is a really reasonable business decision. Really try reframing it in your head as a business decision to send people and then to send an entry level person to make them run around rather than sending someone higher level with more expertise and experience. And they may need someone to be boots on the ground back home to manage things that come up there and triage incoming things on that side. Which is really reasonable.

        1. Ali G

          And do not discount the role of the person staying behind as the boots on the ground!
          This is an excellent chance for the OP to show she is dependable and trustworthy. While everyone is gone running around like crazy people, she will be the one making sure things are moving along at the office, and being available to help out with last minute requests/emergencies and the meeting itself. It’s not uncommon for people to realize they need something off the server and their VPN isn’t working or whatever and they need to you get them what they need (I once spent 3 days in Belgium having to use my mobile hot spot because for whatever reason I could not get on the hotel network and I needed docs on our shared drive – these things happen!). Or to respond to an important email that can’t wait, even if it is just “Jane is out of the country right now but I can do X for you and she will follow up with Y when she returns.” Doing these things willingly and professionally will go a long way in how coworkers perceive the OP.

      6. Michaela Westen

        The times I’ve had feelings like this it’s because it tapped into childhood issues. One big one for me is feeling unsupported – it taps into the isolation and abandonment I felt as a child.
        It sounds like that’s what’s going on here. Maybe you experienced rejection as a child and this is tapping into that.
        So a good therapist can help… in the meantime maybe identifying the root of the feeling will help you overcome it or make it less personal. There’s a physical thing you can do too – alternate stimulation of the brain. Tap your feet or hands alternately (left, right, left, etc.) and the bilateral stimulation helps process the feeling. This is the basis of EMDR for post-traumatic stress, which has been a big help for me. :)

      7. TardyTardis

        I feel your pain. I organized a huge event for vendors when I was in the Air Force, and my CO introduced every important person there *but* me. He later apologized in private, but it was the sort of apology that made things worse than better (he was also the guy who borrowed our lawn mower for a month and seem physically angry we had to ask for it back when we were getting letters from the base to mow our lawn). I keep telling people that I should have gotten 1% disability just for having him as CO (once I was out of the Air Force).

  2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

    OP#1, although this may seem counterintuitive, your best bet for getting your coworkers to chip in is for you to stop providing snacks (seriously!). If folks truly miss them and want them and are willing to pay for them, they’ll chip in. If they feel like this is a perk their employer should provide, but they don’t value it enough to pay for it out of pocket (which is totally valid), then they’ll continue to refrain from chipping in. You’ve been taking on an uncompensated task, and this gives you an opportunity to take back your time.

    1. Tau

      Agreed. At the moment, OP’s coworkers have been trained to expect that snacks will magically show up with no money on their part needing to be involved. As a result, it’s hardly a surprise that a call for contributions results in “eh, guess I can spare $5” or the like. The snacks actually being gone will make clear that things have changed and let your coworkers figure out how they want to deal with that.

      1. Accalia Elementia

        This does seem to be the best course of action.

        I’d been trying to avoid it, Everyone’s been quite receptive to having the snacks in the office, and I like to feel I’ve made a good effort to make sure there’s something for everyone there. It feels nice to be able to provide like that for my team.

        But you’re also right. I do seem to have trained them that the food and drink just turns up with no effort on their part required, and that will have to change.

        -Accalia (OP#1 today)

        1. EPLawyer

          Agree, stop the snacks. If anyone asks where they went, be matter of fact “I can no longer continue to provide the snacks out of my own pocket.”

          If you do bring them back, don’t send an email asking for contributions. Even folks with the best of intentions to contribute may get busy. The TPS report has to be done, someone has to count all the staples that were used in that packet of programs, etc. The email just got shoved to the back of the to do list. Have a box (locking) right next to the snacks so folks can contribute in the moment. Or at least be reminded regularly so they can bring in money/check/whatever to contribute.

          1. The Cosmic Avenger

            And, if you do bring them back, I would keep them *in* your desk and email your team to let them know to come get them whenever they like. If you’re paying with your own money, which is a very generous thing to do, there’s absolutely no reason to provide snacks to other groups! Even with company money, if the expense was approved as a team expense, then I’d still keep them in your desk or a team filing cabinet.

            (I say *in* your desk because, if you’re a regular reader here, I’m sure you know that having something on your desk does not mean that everyone will ask before taking, or that people will take reasonable amounts!)

            1. Snacking

              Eh, keeping them in your desk seems a little overkill. Do you really want to be interrupted every time someone wants a granola bar? That would be way too much time and energy for me to invest in snacks, personally.

              It’s a nice gesture, but the point where it starts interrupting the thing you are actually getting paid to do seems like a good point to cut it off.

              1. Accalia Elementia

                Yeah i’m going to have to agree with you there, either the snacks are in a communal area, or there are no snacks for the public….

                I have a hard enough time getting my work done in between meetings, I’m not adding other distractions.

                :-)

            2. The Other Katie

              Personally, I don’t think I’d go to someone and ask to rummage through their desk for a snack, no matter who was paying for it.

            3. Gotham Bus Company

              One of my coworkers is generous and buys snacks for public consumption. He keeps them in a cabinet near his cubicle, and even “borrows” a second cabinet for Passover goodies. I partake regularly, and contribute money or snacks every so often.

        2. Detective Amy Santiago

          Of course people are receptive to having snacks in the office. They get all the benefit with none of the work. Nothing is going to change unless you stop.

        3. MLB

          In all honesty, if the company were providing them I would see that as a perk of the job. But if I had to contribute to get the snacks, I wouldn’t give money either – I’d just bring my own snacks for the day. It also sounds like you need to find a way for other departments to stop taking them as well if you’re going to continue.

          1. Seriously?

            Me too. If I have to pay, I am going to pick the snacks I like best. If the company is paying, then I don’t mind not having my favorites. Also, if I knew other groups raided the snacks I would not feel like it would be worth it to pay for the snacks because it would be cheaper for me to buy my own than subsidize other groups.

            1. Falling Diphthong

              Yeah, the raiding parties from Accounts Receivable and Spouts really tip this setup to being untenable on the voluntary contribution front.

          2. Rusty Shackelford

            I agree. These were company-provided snacks, so people were happy to take what was there. But if I have to pay for my snacks, they’re going to be what I want. And I’m going to be more observant about getting what I paid for (i.e., Fergus and I both donate $10, but he eats twice as much as I do). So don’t be surprised if people simply aren’t interested in the new paradigm.

          3. Sketchee

            Yeah, if my coworker had given me the details from the letter, I imagine I’d be like “Oh well, it was good while it lasted.” And not be very upset

            I really do want to cut down on my snacking anyway

        4. media monkey

          we have drinks and snacks on a friday afternoon which is funded by staff. we can drop money into a jar or else paypal to a central person. if not enough money is collected or if no one steps up to go and buy the snacks (with the bonus that you get to choose how the money is spent) the collection rolls over to next week. it would be very much looked down on to never put money in and help yourself. so i think you perhaps need to move to that sort of system – more of an honesty basis?

          1. CanCan

            Honesty basis works for a small enough group, not for a whole large organization. If going by honesty basis, you’d have to put snacks in a place not usually visited by other departments and put a sign (Snacks for Llama Groomers only please!). Then send an email to the Llama Groomers explaining the new system.

            Or maybe bring it up for discussion at a group meeting and see what most people want. Some may only want snacks if they’re free.

        5. Snark

          “It feels nice to be able to provide like that for my team.”

          Can I be super, super blunt? Find someone else to provide for. You’re their boss, not their mom, their girlfriend, their grandma. Taking on that role is not going to be a long-term benefit to you.

          1. Jen S. 2.0

            +1.

            It’s kind of you to do, and it’s even fine in an office where the culture is that everyone brings in food (I have several friends who work in offices where bringing in baked goods is A Done Thing), but, as evidenced by your letter, you’re the only one really worried about making this happen. Upper management is clearly not that invested in it, and everyone else only cares because the food magically appears with no effort on their parts. It’s no one else’s priority, and it’s not what you were hired to do. These are not your children; these are grown adults who can buy their own bananas and Diet Coke, and who will not starve without office kitchen snacks. In light of that, I’d be very careful about how much energy I put into organizing and funding snacks, and about how much I want to be known primarily as That Chick Who Organizes the Snacks. It’s not that you can’t do it, but be very aware that being Granola Bar Girl is not going to build your resume. If the people who are overseeing your performance and advancement truly care about whether there are snacks, they can budget for them and assign the organization of the task to an admin or office manager. Otherwise…

            *Note: I don’t think OP1 ever mentioned his or her gender, so feel free to edit that to Granola Bar Guy or That Dude Who Organizes The Snacks. The advice still applies, but it goes double for women.

        1. Les G

          I was just saying this to my wife this morning. This should be a mantra for a lot of folks.

    2. neverjaunty

      Especially this last. Nobody gets promoted because they handled the free snacks.

      1. Mookie

        Yes. And, unfortunately, in many cases this kind of labor is so gendered that performing it is a mark against you and a blow to your credibility; you become a patsy doling out your own money to keep your colleagues fed and watered and caffeinated, with the additional bonus that people are actively ignoring your public e-mails requesting assistance. Cf regular office-tidying when it’s not part of your job description, Being Mother, readily accepting endless amounts of voluntold positions on committees, and so forth.

            1. Les G

              Alison has actually said many times that this is just something that she does in her writing, not a site wide policy. It’s specifically about pronouns and writing, not assumptions.

              1. MotherRunnee

                Well, i think it’s valid to acknowledge that this behavior may be perceived differently depending on whether op is a man or a woman. It’s unfortunate, but that is the reality, and it’s worth pointing out so that the OP can factor that into their thinking, if applicable. Either way, Alison’s advice is what i would go with.

              2. Mookie

                I’m not assuming anything. The behavior is gendered. And we, above and belowthread, default to those pronouns for a reason, which very much involves an assumption or two.

        1. Accalia Elementia

          Well now… OP #1 here… Hi!

          I guess this is a bit of a trend for me, isn’t it? See a sink full of dishes when i walk over to wash my tea mug, wash them all… Wipe down the counters… provide snacks, etc. etc.

          I’ve never really considered it to be a detriment to my career, I’m in management already (that’s why i think i have a chance of getting a proper budget for the snacks next year) and I really don’t want to accept a position too much higher in the company because that would mean leaving the IT department that i love.

          But, at the same time, it does seem like it is time to change my habits a bit.

          Thank you for your feedback! I will certainly take it to heart.

          -Accalia

          1. rubyrose

            So you are in IT management? Two other things to consider.

            I’m assuming you are female. Guessing the majority of the coworkers you are doing this for are male, since this is IT. Those guys are probably going to be doubly ticked off when the supply stops, because many of them are still in the mode of expecting others to take care of them. Just let it roll off your shoulders; it will pass.

            Also, going out of your way to do all of those things (supplying snacks, washing dishes, etc.) sets a bad example for both your male and female coworkers, but especially the females. They have a hard enough row to hoe. They need to see a female pushing against traditional gender expectations. This is how you can be a good example to them.

            I’m guessing you are coming from the perspective that I used to (I’m female, in IT, have been management in the past). I wanted the group to succeed, could see the gaps that needed to be plugged, and would take care of them. Over time I learned that very few people were noticing this and it was not translating into others being more team orientated. So I learned to withhold these extra efforts on a daily basis and only do them when they were more critical. For example, bring in treats only when we had a crushing deadline and people were working crazy overtime.

            Take care of yourself.

            1. Jen S. 2.0

              Agree with this. It’s one thing to bring in cupcakes or cookies for your team when they just crushed a deadline, or successfully launched the huge new project on time and on budget, and of course you can keep your own snacks in your desk … but it’s another thing entirely to feel like you have — or to have created the illusion that you have — an obligation to feed your whole team all the time.

          2. Tardigrade

            If I knew a manager was bringing in snacks, I would assume they are coming from the company and would be confused when you started asking for money for the snacks. Even if I then discovered they were coming from your personal budget, the situation seems different to me because you’re a manager rather than a peer. So I agree with everyone else that the snacks might have to stop (and that dish-washing too, while you’re at it).

            1. Pollygrammer

              Seconded–being the Office Mom (or Dad) is not conducive to being taken seriously.

              IMO dish-fairy = doormat.

            2. Lexi

              Yes or at least using the office petty cash. I have an issue that as the manager asking reports to give money to support the floor with snacks. If it was my manager I would feel like I had to give her money.

            3. Luna

              I agree, and I also would not waste political capital trying to negotiate a budget with the company to cover snacks. People can feed themselves, there’s no need to spend this much time and energy on doing it for them.

            4. Autumnheart

              In my company, the managers occasionally arrange a lunch out or a happy hour with their team, and pick up the tab. I can’t say whether they are reimbursed by the company or not, but if you want to do something nice for your team and promote team-building without having a recurring drain on your own funds, that might be an alternative.

          3. The Other Dawn

            I vote for stopping the snack supply train unless you actually get a budget for it. I think it’s fine to treat your team *once in awhile* out of your own pocket, but that shouldn’t be the norm. Stop the snacks and let it be. If you get a budget for it, then you can resume. If someone asks why there aren’t any snacks, just tell them that there is no longer a budget for it and if they want them, feel free to chip in or bring in their own.

            And I also vote for not washing dishes, cleaning up after everyone, etc. I assume everyone there is an adult. Adults clean up after themselves. Clean up after yourself only, unless it’s actually within your job description. If people won’t clean up after themselves, then your company needs to hire cleaning staff and include dishes and whatever else as part of the contract.

            1. Luna

              I would just drop the whole thing. Why should the company set aside a budget for this, and why is OP wasting political capital over something so unimportant? Free snacks are nice but not at all necessary.

            2. Michaela Westen

              If you do get a budget for it, don’t spend your personal time shopping. Snacks and beverages can be ordered from most office supply companies.

          4. nutella fitzgerald

            I think that you being in management actually adds another wrinkle to this. If I’m getting emails from a manager asking me to chip in for snacks, I might feel like I have to put in money when I wouldn’t for a peer.

          5. General Ginger

            I would not wash other people’s dishes.Not even if you’re already washing your own. Your department is probably used to dishes magically cleaning themselves, and the counters. And the snacks magically appearing. They need to learn to make it happen themselves.

          6. Michaela Westen

            I used to wash all the dishes when I washed my lunch dish – usually only 1 to 3 extra – until my boss mentioned it. Apparently he doesn’t want me spending time on that.

          7. AKchic

            Stop. Being. Office. Mom.

            You’re not their mother. They have mothers. Somewhere out there, presumably. Someone who taught them how to wash their mugs and bring their own snacks (paid for by them). Let them adult on their own. You are teaching them dependence on you (even if they don’t know it’s you). If they truly wanted those snacks, they would have brought in their own. They are eating those snacks because it is convenient for them.

            Be nice and send out an email today stating that no more snacks will be provided. If the snacks haven’t run out by Friday, the rest will be removed by you on Friday and you will no longer be providing them because you cannot sustain the personal financial drain. If someone else would like to start bringing in snacks, you’re welcome to provide the information on the cheapest places to buy what you’ve previously bought, but this is a volunteer out-of-pocket expense and as of right now, it runs $xxx a week/month (and do be honest about it. I bet they don’t even realize just how expensive it gets. My last job didn’t realize just how much money 15-20lbs of chocolate was every week).

            Then, the hard part: Do not bring in anything you aren’t going to eat yourself. Do not share your own personal snacks with people. And yes, they will be coming to you to sniff and scrounge for treats, leavings, snacks, and leftovers. Because they “forgot”, or “accidentally left” their own food at home. Too bad. You don’t have food for them. It’s time to retrain them to be responsible adults. You trained these critters, now you need to retrain them.

            1. Autumnheart

              I wouldn’t send out the email. Just let the snacks run out and don’t replace them. It doesn’t merit an announcement.

              1. Zillah

                Agreed. I’d personally be pretty peeved by an email like that.

                There’d been free snacks that I’d understood to be a company perk, and I’d enjoyed the perk. Suddenly getting an email like that would come off as patronizing and passive aggressive. I’m an adult – I know where to buy snacks! – and why was I getting snapped at when I hadn’t ever asked my boss to provide me with snacks in the first place? It’s not fair to give someone a perk they never asked for and then get angry that they’re not being properly grateful.

    3. KimberlyR

      In addition, be prepared for people to get disproportionately angry. Hell hath no fury like a person who loses a free food. Remind your coworkers (or tell them for the first time, if they didn’t know) that the company used to pay for the snacks and they don’t anymore. You’d be willing to set up some sort of snack supply if people contributed. Don’t let their anger fall on you and remind them that there is a possible solution.

    4. Julia

      I don’t know about you, but if I had to pay for my own snacks, I’d rather buy and bring them myself so I could get stuff I really wanted.

      1. Leela

        Also anyone (like me) who has food allergies is going to balk a lot at paying for group food if it’s unlikely that they could eat all of it! Even when I work somewhere that does provide free food, somehow people who don’t have celiac/dairy allergies always find themselves eating the gluten-free and dairy-free items, leaving me with nothing. It’s annoying enough when I’m NOT paying for it

      2. Ruth (UK)

        I was about to comment the same as Julia, basically. My office doesn’t supply free snacks but sometimes I do end up with free food left over from when we had events (we’re a uni so that could be conferences, applicant days, etc).

        If my office provided free snacks routinely, yeah I’d probably eat them. But if it was a “chip in if you want snacks” I’d rather just buy my own and have the actual snacks I want. Plus, I never ever buy full price cereal bars, crisps, biscuits, etc. When ones I like are on half price or a good deal I buy a few boxes/packs. Add that I’m a small person who doesn’t snack much and I’d be paying proportionally more than I could ever eat. So I tend not to like set ups where you chip in as it always works out much more expensive for me, and not even necessarily what I’d have otherwise picked for myself.

        I realise there may be some people who just expect the free snacks, won’t pay, and will be annoyed if they vanish. But I think a lot of those people not chipping in probably just would rather bring their own.

        For what it’s worth, if I was in an office where the norm was to chip in for snacks and I’d be the only person doing their own thing if I didn’t, I’d probably just go with it.

        1. Jelly Bean

          “Plus, I never ever buy full price cereal bars, crisps, biscuits, etc. When ones I like are on half price or a good deal I buy a few boxes/packs. Add that I’m a small person who doesn’t snack much and I’d be paying proportionally more than I could ever eat. So I tend not to like set ups where you chip in as it always works out much more expensive for me, and not even necessarily what I’d have otherwise picked for myself.”

          ^^^ This is how I feel. Plus, I know some people take advantage of “free” stuff at work (i.e. instead of taking one small bag of chips to eat with their lunch they take 5 and bring most of it home). I don’t want to pay for snacks for greedy people.

      3. Mookie

        I think the trouble in situations like this is that the LW saw an opportunity but took too long to make it a shared responsibility, instead relying on in-house reimbursement. It’s kind of natural to resent having to pitch in when the task at hand wasn’t ‘organic,’ but ‘imposed’ by a single, conscientious person. For this reason, I think things like this should always be a group effort.

        1. MK

          A group effort and, more importantly, a group decision. If I am going to expend political capital, I might want to use the goodwill of my organization in some other way than getting free snacks and coffee. The OP seems to be making a pretty big deal about this (what people need for an energy boost during the work day, negotiating for a budget), but frankly there are about ten more important things my office needs before we get to cereal bars. I bet if the OP had tried to make it a joint responsibility beforehand, she would have realised that many people feel the same.

        2. Anononon

          That doesn’t make sense to me. Are you saying that OP and coworkers should have been paying for the shared snacks even when the company was willing to reimburse? That’s like saying, right now my company pays for coffee, but the employees should tell them to stop and start collecting money on their own.

          Also, resent is a really strong word. Even if people aren’t willing to now contribute (which is completely legitimate), I think most would be understanding the change in circumstances. I might be bummed there’s no longer free snacks, but I wouldn’t resent my coworker for it when the company stopped paying.

          1. Seriously?

            Yeah, I find that odd. Having company reimbursement as the first choice seems correct to me. Why should the OP have tried to get everyone to pitch in for snacks if the company was willing to pay for it?

          2. Hey Karma, Over here.

            I think it means that coworkers will resent being asked by a coworker to do something that the coworker feels is important without having opted into it in the first place.
            So OP would have to speak carefully, beginning with “I started buying snacks for everyone because I thought it was important for the group. The support the snacks have gotten indicates I was correct. That’s why the company was willing to reimburse me for them all this time. They saw a perk that employees enjoyed. But they are cutting back, and won’t reimburse me anymore. Is anyone interested in chipping in for a regular monthly budget?”
            And not, “hey, the company stopped reimbursing me for snacks awhile ago, so can you chip in?”
            Because I’m going to feel blindsided if I didn’t know you were paying for them. Then I’m going to feel pressured to chip in, even if I eat one snack a week because now it’s personal and I’m going to look cheap. So I would resent the situation presented that way.

          3. Mookie

            The resentment I’m addressing is not the lack of snacks, but the e-mails attempting to share responsibility in a task nobody agreed to share.

      4. Thlayli

        Yes. If someone hands me a free apple, I’d probably eat it. But if I was told to buy myself an apple, I’d probably buy a chocolate bar instead.

      5. Kat in VA

        I did that at my last job (C-suite executive assistant). The company provided fruit on Mondays, bagels all week, free soda and water, and the EA next to me always had a dish of mints and tiny Hershey squares. I don’t like to eat chocolate all that much, and I usually had a bagel for breakfast most days, so I figured I’d return the favor and provide little snack-size Kind bars and Larabars (like healthy granola bars but more tasty).

        Well, people were amazed they were “free” as in “How much do I owe you?” until I put a little sign that said, “HUNGRY? HELP YOURSELF!” on the bowl. People asked if I paid for the bars, I said yes, they were…amazed? Surprised? “YOU pay for these?” My answer was yes, not everyone wants to munch on chocolate or mints, these are kind of like a candy bar but a bit better for you and a bit more filling.

        After that point, though, it became a literal free-for-all. I think some people were actually just living on the bars instead of eating regular food. I’d fill up the bowl, by mid-week it’d be half gone (and I never did see who was grabbing handfuls), and by the end of the work week, there’d be one lone Kind bar floating in the bowl. I learned to fill the bowl only halfway because people seemed to be more grabby when it was totally full.

        Now, to be fair, some folks would grab one and say thanks, but I think at other times, if I wasn’t at my desk, they’d grab five or six and split, because I could tell the bowl level had drastically changed when I got back (not that I kept a hugely weather eye on it, just noticeable because it was a clear glass bowl).

        The moral of this long story is people will definitely help themselves if it’s free, and some will disproportionately help themselves if they think they can get away with it, or are allowed to, or even think they’re encouraged to?

        (Although my HUNGRY? note was meant more as ,”If you’re hungry between meals, grab a bar and it’ll hold you over” not “This is mean to sustain you all morning and all afternoon if you don’t feel like buying breakfast or lunch.”)

        I will continue with the Kind/Larabars at my next job, but keep an eye on how many are disappearing on a regular basis. I’m not above buying a bit of goodwill with food, but if the expenses get too high or people get too comfortable grabbing handfuls at a time, I’ll have to dial it back.

        This is another one of those “This is why we can’t have nice things” posts. :(

        1. Kat in VA

          Oh dangit, I mean to preface that whole long post with – I bought Kind and Larabars because *I* don’t like snacking on candy all the time (in case you were wondering how it dovetailed with your reply).

          1. Accalia Elementia

            I do appreciate both Kind and Larabars, In fact I try to make sure I always have some Kind bars in the snack area. I tried keeping Larabars there but for some strange reason between the store and work they just up and disappeared, leaving me with just the empty bi, some wrappers, and a strange… kinda full stomachy sort of sensation.

            Interestingly the snack that disappears the fastest for us are…. Captains Wafers. They’re sour cream and chive flavored spread between two saltines. Basically they’re the same as the peanut butter and cheese cracker snacks but with different flavors. I have *NO* idea who likes those so much, but they’re welcome to my share, i’ll stick with the peanut butter and cheese cracker variety.

            1. TechServLib

              If I’m within 10 feet of those sour cream and chive crackers 90% of my self control goes out the window. It’s like Leslie Knope with birthday cake “Once she starts thinking about birthday cake, she becomes useless until she has birthday cake.”
              I don’t know what it is about those crackers. I don’t even like most cheese crackers or peanut butter crackers. I suspect witchcraft and a hint of pseudo-sophistication brought on by “chives.”
              I will say though, that I’ll use that 10% of my remaining self control to avoid unnecessarily depleting community snack supplies of the desired crackers. I’m not (completely) an animal.

            2. Kat in VA

              Accalia, I think one of the reasons the Larabars disappear so fast (I kept a box of full sized ones in the drawer, just for me) is because they’re so darn easy to eat.

              Kind bars, on the other hand, take more dedication with all those nuts on the bottom!

        2. I'm Not Phyllis

          I had a boss who started bringing in snacks and leaving them in a bowl on my desk. And agreed – people would take one or two if I was sitting there, but if I was away from my desk I’d come back and half the bowl would be gone. I’m not sure if he wanted me to take over buying them, but everybody else sure expected that I would – when the candy was gone and I put the bowl away you could swear they were actually offended. Sorry, but I wasn’t planning to supply food for people who literally made 4-6x what I did!

          1. Autumnheart

            Put a post-it note on the bowl that says “Tips”. :) /things we wish we could do in real life

      6. bunniferous

        In my office people bring in snacks (box of donuts, or chocolate, or cookies, or fruit, or whatever) when the mood strikes and they are left on top of a particular cabinet. If it is there it is fair game. No one has to bring anything, anyone can partake, everything is voluntary. We have a small company and this seems to work well.

        1. Autumnheart

          My department also has a couple “treat stations” where, if someone brings in a pan of brownies or something, that’s where people know to find them.

      7. A.

        Yep! I would definitely not contribute. The snacks people usually bring are donuts and bagels because it is cheap and easy. I would not be interested in contributing to those snacks because I do not eat them.

    5. Susan K

      Yeah, if the group snacks are going to continue, you need to “reset” the way it works. The free snacks are going to stop now. If people want to start up a new group snack arrangement funded by the employees, it will be a new practice started from scratch, and everyone need to agree upon how much to pay, how money will be collected, who is buying the snacks, how to decide what snacks are purchased, etc.

      And this may not be something people want to do. If my employer were providing free snacks, I would partake, but if they decided to stop paying for snacks, I wouldn’t want to spend my own money on the same snacks — I would rather purchase my own snacks and bring them in for myself. Don’t be offended if it turns out people would rather buy their own snacks than chip in for group snacks.

      1. Thlayli

        Group snacks on a voluntary payment basis would be a nightmare – you’d have to keep track of who is “in” and who is out. There’s bound to be a thief. People start watching each other and mistrusting each other. Then there’s the hassling people for money every week which will be interpreted as nagging.

        OP, stay well clear. Don’t set up a voluntary snack group. It will all end in tears.

        1. Queen Esmerelda

          All the OP needs to do is read the “coffee wars” post. Trying to set up a system where people contribute to group snacks is going to be a nightmare. Best that they buy their own until the company decides to make it a budget item.

        2. Kat in VA

          Yep – and she mentioned that other groups had started “raiding” their snack situation, leading to the need to purchase even more snacks for everyone.

          1. Accalia Elementia

            Yeah, that was I think the straw that broke the camels back from a budgetary standpoint. The snacks were being paid for out of the discretionary funds of one department, when more people started partaking… well Accounting can be a bit uptight about the budget. Not that I blame them, it is literally their job to be uptight about the companies money.

            I’m actually working on getting the budget from my company to expand the snack availability to the whole company, and as part of that it would also remove administration of the snacks from me… I’m hoping for success, but in the event that I’m not successful, some later commenters suggested making it a trust kitchen, an idea I hadn’t considered and will be looking into.

            -Accalia (Today’s OP#1)

            1. Half-Caf Latte

              I imagine a good number of the employees from the other department aren’t aware/just don’t care whose budget the snacks come from.

              I’m on a floor that is shared by three very different departments (clinical research, IT, and billing). Billing routinely uses the CR printer, and the paper/toner/wear and tear all come out of CR budget. Because CR is often gov’t funded, there are very specific line items. Billing is like “We’re all part of corp, and we need to print and this one is close by.” The attitude is – company is paying for it in the end, so what’s the big deal.”

              Also, if I found out that my company had money for their snacks but not for mine, I’d find that mighty unfair, and be rather frustrated that TPTB hadn’t forseen everyone wanting snacks when approving the budget for one team. This is not to say that this is not your fault OP, or that you didn’t have good intentions when you started, but just to consider the perspective of the “outsiders” on this one.

              1. Former workplace laundry fairy

                I have to say that I agree with the majority; if the food has always just appeared and mess just disappeared many people are not going to think about who might be behind it. They just don’t give it any thought.
                Let the snacks run out. When people ask what happened just say something like, “The company has said they can’t cover the cost of our snacks anymore, so we’ll have to work something out for ourselves.” Eventually, everyone will start bringing their own or will start bringing the occassional box to share or work out a system as a group.

            2. Ask a Manager Post author

              So … you are putting a lot of work and capital into the snacks situation. Are you sure it’s a good use of your energy and capital? It doesn’t sound like your team particularly cares one way or the other, and that’s time and capital that you could be using on other things.

              1. Accalia Elementia

                From the purchasing stuff side of things? no real time or capital. Still got to go shopping and the bulk store is on the regular list. so it’s easy enough to buy the extra stuff and pop it in the car, then unload it at work the next business day.

                As for the rest… Not sure if a manager from another team recognized me from the letter or if it’s a coincidence but… Something’s happening, and it looks like the upshot of it will be that the work and capital I put into this is going to be a non issue soon.

                Let’s just say that in a couple of days when I have the full picture I think there will be a followup letter to send in on the aftermath of the snacks situation. Apparently Office Politics is now involved in the snack situation, and when Office Politics gets involved things get complicated fast.

                1. Ask a Manager Post author

                  I’m not talking about your time purchasing things (although that matters too). I’m talking about the energy you’re putting into this, and the capital you’ve put into negotiating with management above you. It’s not a good use of your energy, and it’s not going to look great either; it’s going to look like your priorities are off, especially because you’re a manager.

                2. Clare

                  So there is now a bunch of office politics over free snacks? And are you still going to be buying the snacks for the whole company (if it gets approved)? or will someone else now have that duty thrust upon them?

                  Don’t mean to be harsh but I can’t understand why you care so much about this and it seems like a lot of drama to create over such a small, unimportant thing. I would be a bit concerned over how this is making you look on a professional level.

                3. Courageous cat

                  I too think the issue is more “do you want to make this a hill you will die on” kind of thing. Don’t spend more time at work thinking about, or talking to management about, what’s really a non-work issue than is absolutely necessary.

                4. Friday

                  Don’t give your higher-ups a reason to think anything like “wow she spends a LOT of time talking to us about snacks and I wish she’d talk more about [insert important work project here].”

                5. AliceBG

                  Do you by any chance have an unusually light workload right now and need to find something to channel your energy into? Or maybe are you bored with the rest of your duties and looking for something to get passionate about? Because this sounds a lot like you’re making a mountain out of a molehill, and it would be useful to step back and ask yourself what’s the real reason behind that.

                6. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

                  I’m 100% with Alison on this. OP, this is not how you want to use your political cache at work, and it’s not going to be a good thing for you long-term. In addition to the prior comments about coming across as the office mom, the fact that you’ve had to negotiate a budget, that you’re a manager asking your reports to contribute, that another department is raiding the snacks, that accounting is mad—all of that is a heap of “thanks but no thanks.”

                  I’m worried that the snacks have become a black hole that is going to suck away the way people look at you as a manager, as well as sucking away your time and brainspace.

                7. Basia, also a Fed

                  I agree with AAM on this. I don’t manage people now, but I used to. If a mid-level manager under me was spending so much of their energy thinking about and orchestrating this, I would definitely be concerned about their priorities. It wouldn’t matter to me if you were female or male, I would think that you don’t understand what is important at work and where you should be concentrating your problem-solving energy. The fact that you have been negotiating with management about this would alarm me, as I would prefer that those negotiations be spent solving real work problems. Also, I would not want someone making a mid-level wage washing everyone else’s dishes. Someone mentioned elsewhere that perhaps you are bored or don’t feel fulfilled by your job; if this is the case, you should try to find something work related to stimulate you.

              2. Teapot Tester

                I think when the snacks disappear, they will care. We have company-provided snacks and there were budget/reimbursement issues so went months without them. I know every time I went in the kitchen and saw the sad, empty canisters, I wondered why they still hadn’t been filled.

                1. Forrest

                  >I wondered why they still hadn’t been filled.

                  Because you had budget/reimbursement issues? That’s kind of an odd thing to say.

                  Anyway, if they care once the snacks disappear, then they can start buying the snacks. They know that’s what the OP has been doing.

      2. pleaset

        Here’s how it works or doesn’t work at my office.

        One of the big bosses refills the candy bowl most of the time – like it’s full 30% of the time due to him paying. Another three or four or us fill it about 20% of the time total – ie we contribute for just 5% of the time. The big boss announces when he’s refilled it – other contributors like me dont.

        Half the time the bowl is empty. No one complains when it’s empty. We’re pretty mature here.

        Oh, and other random staff contribute snack in the kitchen once or twice a year each – probably the average staff person brings in food once a year.

      1. Oilpress

        And stop asking about them. Drop it altogether. Employers don’t want their employees working on a snack project.

    6. ManderGimlet

      The other thing is that, if they are paying for them out of pocket, why would the coworkers not just get their own snacks? In companies where snacks are supplied as part of the norm, it’s because the work load is such that the employer wants to keep workers there, inside at their desks working, instead of out grabbing lunch and snacks. It’s worth the cost of granola bars to have coders banging away non-stop. LW’s office doesn’t seem like that. Instead, they were willing to fund LW’s idiosyncratic need to feed coworkers at their own expense/effort. But if it were truly important to them as an organization to supply snacks, LW would never have been in this position. They would have made it an established part of the office ordering and assigned someone to order and stock the snacks using company funds.

    7. some random person

      This happened at my office with dish soap! We were warned we were using an excessive amount and if we didn’t scale back we could lose it. We ended up losing it (I found out that it was because 2-3 bottles a week would magically disappear) and the complaints were endless! But the people who valued having it would pay the few dollars to bring in bottles.
      Needless to say if people truly want snacks at work and the company isn’t paying they will bring their own.

  3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

    OP#5, to paraphrase a line from a writing lecture I attended:
    Using italics/bolding once provides emphasis. Using it twice (or more) makes you look/sound like a crank.

    1. Mookie

      Ooh, I think for the LW’s purposes a single instance of emphasis almost looks like an error. In my experience it produces the same general effect an overabundance does: looks unthoughtful or ill-planned, forces the eye to zero in on it, and decreases readability.

    2. Thlayli

      As headings, bold and underline are fine. Italics can work.

      As emphasis within blocks of text? No way.

      1. embertine

        Agreed, you should absolutely not use them for emphasis, it will make you look like a lunatic.

        1. Thlayli

          Come on now, even lunatics wouldn’t do that. It would make you look like a teen magazine writer!

          1. Nanani

            Funilly enough, I see way more bold/italic/underline jumbles from middle-aged and older writers than younger ones.

            I should ask my high school teaching relatives how teens are with those.

            1. Thlayli

              I meant people who write for teens – they seem to be big on them.

              Actual teenagers these days use italics and bold and caps in all sorts of ways – it’s practically a new language that they just know without having to be taught – they are native speakers.

              Like there’s a difference between “Hi.” and “hi…”.

              They’ve even figured out a sarcasm font – you italicise every second letter. It’s fascinating to watch as an outside observer but I’m not sure I’ll ever understand it all.

      2. PB

        Agreed. In my last round of hiring, a candidate bolded certain bullet points within lists of job responsibilities and accomplishments. As a hiring manager, I found it annoying. It’s like the candidate didn’t trust us to compare their resume to the job description and recognize their fit on our own. A better way to emphasize something like this is to move it to the top of the list/beginning of a paragraph.

      3. Elemeno P.

        I’m a technical writer. We use the rule that only important things are written down, and all things are equally important. Emphasizing one thing makes everything else seem less important.

    3. Chameleon

      This also goes for EMAILS. When you seemingly RANDOMLY capitalize words when sending emails, it DOESN’T come off as emphasizing IMPORTANT DETAILS; it just looks like you NEVER LEARNED how to properly write an email.

      (This may be a COMMON OCCURRENCE at my work and also possibly a PET PEEVE)

      1. JokersandRogues

        We had someone at one job that would also use varying fonts and font colors to emphasize things. It felt like the email equivalent of a used car lot commercial. Sometimes….things would dance.

      2. EMW

        I will only do this for deadlines within an email. And even then, people will ask when I need the info by.

      3. AnotherJill

        I once took over maintenance of a departmental document that was heavily referenced. The first thing I did was go through it and remove all the gratuitous starting capitals of words that were Deemed Very Important. It was a big part of the reason for volunteering for the responsibility.

    4. Rusty Shackelford

      However, if you’re listing publication titles? Please use italics instead of underline. You’re not a caveman.

      1. Rock Prof

        My academic CV (US-based) is an aesthetic mess because of this and other standard designations. For example, all publications/presentations are listed like
        Student 1*, Rock Prof, Other Co-author, Student 2*,…. pub title, Abbreviated Ver. of Journal Name.
        Asterisks show student co-authors, my name is bolded so people can see where my standing is as co-author/author (I’m in a first-author = main researcher field, except we often cede that ground to students), other co-authors are just plain text, the title is italicized, and the journal titles are partially abbreviated (my CV is already 6 pages, I don’t need anymore lines).

    5. WalkedInYourShoes

      When I receive a resume where words especially technical words are in bold, one better be ready to be tested and pass these technical tools and/or skills 100%. I often ask those who put bold words and/or phrases in the resume, the responses that I receive are, “to catch the recruiter or hiring manager’s eye”, “to emphasize that my skills are relevant to the qualifications”, and “that’s what the requirements stated that I had to have”. Oftentimes, Engineers and hiring managers express their annoyance by this. However, I only find it useful to bold the headers, e.g., Professional Experience, Education, Community Outreach programs. As for italicizing, I use it to emphasize titles. Other than that, oftentimes, bold and/or italicized fonts do not parse well into an ATS.

  4. Nom Nom

    OP 5. This seems to have been a recent trend but apart from consistently using headings as per suggestion, I don’t recommend you do it at all. At worst, what you think is important won’t be to the hiring manager and you will look like you have missed the mark. I’m scanning for thing we need and think are important not what you are.

    Best case scenario if you hit all the marks it can come across as cynically inserting keywords from the job description and advertisement which doesn’t actually mean you understand the role, just how to get the keywords in so you can get an interview. It’s also not easy on the eyes my end.

  5. Bea

    4 hr increments is probably because whoever does payroll is lazy tbh. I switched the policy when allowed when I arrived to a similar setup. And my boss mentioned the person before me was worried people would start wanting to take off 15-30 minute increments. My response was “then let them. Most won’t want to fill out paperwork but if they do, it’s their PTO to use as they want in my point of view.”

    1. WS

      Or they have a shitty payroll program that makes it really hard to do anything less than half-day blocks! It’s very frustrating!

      1. Bea

        I also found some stuff out about our payroll system that was apparently originally was deemed “unavailable” or some such. I found the magic button and it cut payroll processing down by quiet a bit of time.

        Sometimes the software is trash but often it’s due to user error. Not intentional necessarily. A couple of my questions when taking over were “why this process?” “it’s how I was taught.” I’m never afraid to change a process but I know others aren’t always looking at it as a living procedure and therefore able to be changed.

        1. SusanIvanova

          My previous job inflicted a software system on us that was so badly designed that I once spent 5 minutes just looking for the option to open a ticket (menu items should not be indistinguishable from labels!). If it weren’t for my friend the WonderAdmin nobody on my team would’ve been able to file anything.

          She’d been one of the beta testers as they’d been bringing it up – all her feedback was ignored. So she was the one to file tickets against the software system, and that’s how she found out that all the worst features were because our installation had been customized by people from our company to such an extent that the developers of the package couldn’t figure out how to use it either.

          1. Jesca

            Yes. The reason this actually happens, most of the time anyway, is because people are trying to develop their “processes” based off a program as opposed to the other way around. Little to no process mapping was completed and likely no forethought in what data needs to be collected was done either. What you have then is an over-complicated system that was meant to “solve all the problems” when in fact it creates a million more. Basically, they are trying to have the system take over human thought and human interaction way too much by having the software “do it all”. That, or they again didn’t process map and don’t understand the software. You actually see this a lot with programs like SAP.

            But my point is, more than likely this is a software issue (whether caused by people initially or not), and it is causing problems for employees. So dumb. I feel you, OP.

          2. AnotherJill

            People are often hellbent on duplicating paper systems even though it may not make sense for an automated system. I’ve worked on software to automate systems previously done on paper and it was always a struggle to get users to realize that they don’t have to do something exactly the same way as they previously did.

        2. WS

          Yeah, in my case unfortunately it was management cheaping out despite what was asked for.

        3. Horsing Around

          Eh, I wouldn’t necessarily say it is just about people not looking at it as a living procedure. Often the problem is initial training, if someone is simply taught how to do a process and never given the rationale behind why it is done that way it can be hard to judge if a different process would actually achieve the same thing. There might be some arcane reason behind the scenes that means not using the more obtuse process actually messes up the process down the line.

        4. Tish, the former office manager

          This takes me back; I was “trained” to do payroll and cash reconciliation for one location of a retail company by someone who was SUPER uncomfortable with computers and therefore did everything in a really ass backward, convoluted, head scratching manner, and took 2X as long as needed to teach me, just “to be sure I could do it”. I at least left knowing *what* needed to be done, and set out figuring out for myself *how* best to do it; end result was me taking over as the regional trainer a year later. I often wondered how many poor souls were out there struggling to follow her methods, thinking they were *the* way.

      2. Pebbles

        In CurrentCompany, our payroll software works just fine for 30-minute increments and we can use those on projects and sick time. It is the new CurrentCompany policy where we are not allowed to input anything less than a full 8-hour day when we use vacation time. “You’re either here to work or you’re on vacation.” We used to be able to do half days which were great if you had an early evening flight out or wanted a Friday afternoon off. Not loving the change.

        1. Bryce

          Sounds like either a bean-counter counting the wrong beans or someone found a way to abuse it.

    2. LQ

      I don’t at all understand why (even from a lazy person’s point of view) 15 minute increments would be hard? (I totally do it.) It would be lazier for the company to offer some flex time but assuming they don’t what about 15 minutes would be more difficult than 4 hours?

      1. Elemeno P.

        I think the idea behind it is that 15 minute increments would be used more frequently than 4 hour blocks, so payroll would have to be adjusted more often.

        1. LQ

          Hm. Flex time would definitely be lazier than that. (Unless you’re in CA and you want to flex to another day.) …I’m prolazy if it means I can flex those 15 minutes, until then. I’m requesting my 15 minutes.

    3. Revolver Rani

      At my office we discourage people taking PTO in smaller than half-day increments, but that doesn’t mean you can’t leave an hour early for an appointment or take two hours in the middle of the day for something. Rather, we try to allow flexibility for that sort of thing. So if one of my reports needs to take off an hour or two early, I might just remind her to make it up on another day, or if I know she’s been working extra hours because of an approaching deadline, I won’t even do that. “That’s fine – do what you need to do.”

      This saves managers the trouble of tracking and formally approving every tiny increment of time away from one’s desk, and helps employees feel trusted and responsible for their own time (which, for the most part, they are all capable of being – if it became a problem with a particular employee, I’d address it 1-1 with that employee).

      1. tink

        Yeah we do a lot of that too. Take a short lunch/eat lunch during your 30 min on the clock break so you can leave an hour early/come in late because of an appointment or whatever, make it up over multiple days if something unexpected happens, etc.

      2. Amber T

        This. I once formally took 1/4 day (came in 2 hours late) and when I was reviewing my rollover vacation days at the end of the year with HR (I counted wrong), she asked what the .75 was from. When I explained that I requested to come in at 11 one morning, she looked at me like I had two heads and gave it back.

        It’s not a policy to abuse, but we regularly put in more than 8 hours in a day or 40 hours in a week, so an hour or so here and there isn’t an issue as long as it’s communicated to your manager and you get your work done.

        1. Amber T

          (Meant to end this with – employers to treat their employees like responsible adults first and foremost. Even if it doesn’t balance out that day or that week, it’ll balance out in the long run, and if it doesn’t, then manage your employees.)

          1. Amber T

            Ah, ditto to Revolver. To be honest, this might have been when I was non-exempt? (I’m exempt now and have been for a few years.) My company always made sure I was paid overtime if I worked past my normal hours, but if I had to step out for something longer than an hour, no one really cared (other than clearing it with my boss).

    4. Competent Commenter

      At my salaried job at a public university, I was upset to learn that sick and vacation could only be used in eight hour increments. That seemed nuts to me. I’d only worked hourly before. When I talked to HR they explained that if I worked at least five hours in a day that would count as a full day, that is, if I left early, got in late or took a break to go to a medical appointment I didn’t need to put it on my time sheet. So it balances out. I have a lot of medical appointments but the only times I’ve used sick time to cover them are when I’ve stacked up a whole day of them for efficiency. Could that be what’s going on here and this hasn’t been explained to OP or her supervisor? Because no one explained it to me until I asked and I’ve always wondered if my supervisors have understood. Some of my coworkers haven’t known either.

      1. blink14

        Wow that seems kind of a crazy rule. I can kind of understand the half day rule, but 8 hours is a bit much. I’m also at a university (private), we can take time in 15 minute increments, but generally if I have to leave early and have to come in late and the time is not more than an hour, there’s an unwritten rule that you don’t need to submit PTO for it.

        When I first started, each person was responsible for tracking their own time manually, and the department head responsible for verifying it, which was insane for a large organization. Switched to a time tracking software about a year and a half ago, and while not the greatest software system, it certainly makes things a lot easier.

      2. Someone else

        Your situation is different because you’re talking about a salaried position and I’m guessing the whole “worked 5 hours, don’t bother with PTO” thing came about related to salaried positions. But I think the OP in this case was non-exempt, so it’s a bit trickier for any type of “it comes out in the wash” approach.

      3. OP #4

        Funny thing is – my supervisor doesn’t mind if I work less than 8 hours because he knows I care very much about my duties and not inconveniencing those who might have to cover. It’s HR that pushes back on my desire to not inconvenience my coworkers by taking a half day.

        1. Competent Commenter

          See, that’s bizarre to me. I kind of wondered if your situation was that your supervisor didn’t know the rules, so they were holding you to an incorrect standard. My supervisor has done that to a salaried staff member who sometimes has to leave 15 minutes early to get her kids, and was told she needed to make that up during lunch, which is not how it works here. But for HR to be doing it…that’s so strange.

    5. OnMondaysWeWearBlack

      I absolutely hate this policy. It forces people to work while sick! For example (and this has actually happened to me before) if I wake up feeling fine and get to work at 8am, but then have breakfast and start feeling not so great, and eventually end up running to the bathroom at 9:30am and puke – feel pressured to stay until 12pm and make sure I’ve worked 4 hours, so I can then take the required 4 hour block of sick time. I’ve also had to leave early, like 2:30pm, due to an expected illness. So I don’t really “get paid” for a few hours that day that I’ve already worked? It’s “sick time” instead? Should I delete all the work did and re-do it the next day when I’m officially “on the clock”? It’s so stupid!

      And this was also from a company where you had to clock-in in real-time and were paid down to the minute. Clock-in at 8:03am? Better stay until exactly 5:03pm or you’re going to lose $0.75! It was awfully nice of them to implement a system that screwed employees in multiple ways….

      1. OP #4

        I hadn’t even thought of this because I am almost never ill, but this is a great point about this policy that I had not considered. Ask A Manager brought this up as well. It seems to discourage trying to go to work at all if there is any chance you may receive no credit for being at work at all. “Maybe it’s allergies, but I might as well stay home just in case.”

        1. Becky

          Well, legally they can’t NOT pay you for work you did.
          A few weeks ago I took a half day of PTO just to take care of some errands that had piled up. I came into work in the afternoon and ended up working more than 4 hours, so my time card that day had 4 hours of PTO and 5 hours of work. I just left early a different day so I didn’t go into overtime.

    6. ThatGirl

      Eh. It can be because they don’t want people nickel-and diming PTO. My last job’s policy was basically – if you need to leave 30 minutes early, or even an hour, no problem, make it up. If you need more than an hour or so, take a half-day. I can see how keeping track of 2 hours off here and 3 hours off there would be annoying.

      1. Decima Dewey

        My library system charges time in 1/2 hour increments. A full 8 hour day is considered 16/16 (we put 7 1/2 on the timesheet because lunch doesn’t count), a half hour block is 1/16, and so forth.

        And people who’ve been the system for ages still can’t figure out to report they were gone an hour and a half for a doctor’s appointment.

    7. Becky

      My job has a policy about 4 hour increments (no idea why) but they’re also really flexible about if you need to leave a little early or come in a little late because of an appointment or whatever you can just make up the time a different day. I have actually taken less than a 4 hour block when I got sick and left work early once and nobody actually said anything about it.

    8. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister

      We had a similar rule at a previous job, where you could only take time off in half-day increments. I know for a fact it was because we had one payroll person who voluntarily worked .8 FE when there was easily enough work for two or three people, and she decided to take her crankiness and health issues out on the staff. This happened to be in a city that passed its own sick leave law, so employers had to provide paid sick time in addition to vacation/PTO days. I happened to be standing in the kitchen one day waiting for coffee to brew and idly glancing at the wage law posters, and noticed that the city ordinance required sick time to be used in one hour increments. After I mentioned it to my manager and she ran it through the proper channels (it was a weirdly hierarchical organization), they changed the rule…but only for sick time. So for the rest of my time there employees could take sick time in 1 hour increments but they held fast to the rule about half-day chunks for vacation. Seems like extra work to me, but whatever.

  6. Aphrodite

    OP #1, I am curious about when and why you took this on. It seems unusually generous. Forgive me, but I have to wonder if there is a bit of martyrdom underlying your generosity. I mean if your coworkers want an afternoon snack they should bring their own. And if they don’t maybe they really don’t want it. So why would you take on the responsibility for providing others’ snacks?

    1. KR

      This was my thought. OP1’s coworkers will bring in snacks if they want them during the work day. If they don’t want them bad enough to pay they will survive.

    2. Les G

      That’s a big ol’ yup from me. I’m always suspicious of folks who take on something no one asked them to do and then use passive aggressive methods to get other folks to recognize their sacrifice. This might not be OP, but it will be if she starts resenting her coworkers for this.

    3. Coywolf

      Normally I would agree about the martyrdom but I don’t see it in this case simply because this person is asking how to get others to pitch in and people who like to play martyr will usually try to make everything about themselves (“how can I get people to appreciate” or “people don’t care about the snacks I provide.”)
      In this case I think OP took this on and now feels responsible for providing this perk to others and wants others to feel as invested in maintaining the perk. They can’t seem to let it go and understand that others don’t think it’s as important as they think it is. I feel for them.

      1. Mookie

        That’s how I read this letter, as well. She’s trying to solve a problem, not garner pity or attention. I don’t think this is going to work out for her, at least at the moment, but that doesn’t mean her motives are questionable.

      2. Jesca

        I agree. If it were martydom, it would be all about how much work the OP does for this and why no one else appreciates it. The OP is asking for advise on how to handle a budgeting situation, essentially.

    4. Accalia Elementia

      Op #1 here, there’s not much to that part of the story really.

      My boss had been in the same habit I’ve got now, bringing in snacks and making sure that we’re stocked with K-cups (and of course expensing them to the company), when she was in my position. She’s since been promoted up two levels and was struggling to find time to continue the practice. Since I live practically right next to one of those bulk warehouse stores, and because I do like to be helpful, I offered to take the responsibility on myself.

      My boss (now at the director level) agreed, and I’ve been doing it ever since.

      -Accalia

      1. EPLawyer

        As noted above, this is so a gender thing. Were the male managers making sure their teams had this perk? Of course not. But your female boss started it and was even trying to continue it when she clearly had other better things to do. Now, you took it on “to be helpful.” Stop helping. It’s not your job to take on every housekeeping job in the office. Wash your own tea mug. Let everyone else wash theirs. They are presumably capable of doing so. Get your own snacks. Everyone else, if they want them, can get your own.

        Again as noted, being the office Mom will not get you a raise, being stellar at the job you are actually paid to do will.

        1. MicroManagered

          This. You would never hear of men having a “habit” of stocking snacks for everyone “to be helpful.”

          1. Angeldrac

            You know what’s weird…when I first read this letter my mind imagined OP being male.

            1. RUKiddingMe

              That’s weird. It never crossed my mind that OP might be a male. Males don’t do this kind of stuff normally unless it is specifically part of their assigned duties.

          2. Agent Diane

            Except the male manager in my office does. We pretty much take turns to bring in treats. We’re the same senior grade, neither of us directly manage anyone here but we have an arrangement. Assuming men will never do “office parent” work is not helping to deconstruct gender stereotypes!

            Right now, in heatwave-stricken England, we’re stocking the freezer with treats. ;)

            1. Pollygrammer

              I think taking turns with someone at the same level–and with planning–makes a big difference. It’s not the same as a single person taking on the “office parent” role unprompted.

              And I think the problem isn’t necessarily that women are more likely to do this–it’s that a woman’s image is sadly more likely to be skewed by it.

              1. RUKiddingMe

                And a woman is much more likely to be expected to do it regardless of their actual job. Managers don’t need to be washing dishes. They either need to designate that the job of someone in admin (even a male admin!) or hire a cleaning service.

                1. Zillah

                  Yup.

                  And I agree with you that this is much, much more likely to be something women take on.

            2. Accalia Elementia

              Frozen treats…. Now there’s a great idea…..

              oh, but i shouldn’t…. But also i kind of want to….

              ooooh………… so conflicted!

              -Accalia

              1. soon 2 be former fed

                You are a kind, generous, good-hearted, nurturing person. Nothing wrong with that, woman or not. We need more people like you in the workplace and the world. You have stated that you are already a manager, so folks should leave you be about possible career damage. It didn’t hurt your former boss any! However, I wouldn’t take on a financial burden to provide snacks. If your budget negotiations work out, great! You do you.

                1. Ask a Manager Post author

                  I know I’m all over this thread and I promise I’ll stop, but I wanted to push back on this part:

                  You have stated that you are already a manager, so folks should leave you be about possible career damage. It didn’t hurt your former boss any!

                  We don’t actually know that. There are lots of different levels of manager, and things that aren’t a big deal at lower levels can become a bigger deal at higher ones. It’s also possible to be a manager and be less respected than other managers at similar levels because of choices you make.

                  I’m harping on this only because I don’t want the OP to dismiss the concerns that have been raised here, because they’re important ones.

              2. Zillah

                Frozen snacks are a great idea!

                So you should get some ice pops to put in your freezer at home.

                You really, really, really should let go of being the Office Mom.

            3. rubyrose

              Agreed, not good to assume men will never do “office parent” work (love that term, BTW).

              I had a male manager back in the 1990s who kept a covered mug of M&Ms on his desk. People would come and go to get a handful. We could all gauge the stress level of the department by the sound of the cover going up and down on the ceramic mug. It was often a great opportunity for him to informally check in with the staff person who had come in. It was his mug and he made sure it was always filled. A couple of us figured out over time that is was his personal expense and we as a group were eating a lot, so we individually would bring in bags of M&Ms for him. He was always thankful and said we did not have to, but it was the right thing to do.

              1. RUKiddingMe

                Keeping a mug filled with candy is a whole different thing that taking on the job of shopping for and making sure the kitchen is supplied with a variety of snacks on a regular basis as well as washing dishes that are left int he sing because somehow the others int he office assume the dishwashing fairy will do it.

                1. Zillah

                  This. This sort of labor is something that women very disproportionately take on. Are there a few men here and there who kinda do something like that? Sure. But “I knew a guy once” is the exception that proves the rule.

                2. Zillah

                  I commented before I read Alison’s comment below, and then I realized I basically said what she did. :P

            4. Ask a Manager Post author

              It’s not that no man ever does it (I assume that language was hyperbole). It’s that this stuff is handled disproportionately by women, and it’s not a good use of your time/energy to do it and won’t build your professional reputation in the way spending time on work accomplishments will.

              OP #1, your colleagues are adults and can get their own snacks.

              1. soon 2 be former fed

                But OP isn’t worried about her professional reputation. Both OP and her former boss have done well career wise despite providing snacks. Not every minute in the office has to be spent head down task focused.

                Should the workplace be cold and sterile just to combat stereotypes? Maybe men would be encouraged to contribute in this way by seeing examples of generosity. If OP is happier being her authentic generous self, I say no harm no foul.

                1. Ask a Manager Post author

                  We don’t know what the OP’s reputation is or if there are nuanced ways in which this is hurting her or could hurt her in the future. The fact that she’s in a management position doesn’t mean she’s reached the pinnacle of reputation success!

                  Being your authentic generous self is great. But spending work time on a very low priority is not, and I’d be concerned if I were her manager and saw this much energy going into maintaining snacks.

                2. Zillah

                  There is an enormous amount of space between “cold and sterile” and spending an enormous amount of time and money on taking care of the entire office’s snacking needs.

          3. pleaset

            Yeah, there is absolutely a gender component in this.

            That said, as I’ve described elsewhere in this thread, at my job it was a guy who bought most of the candy for the office. I guess from his viewpoint it was more about generosity than “being helpful” – he was personally much wealthier than others in the office

      2. Shades of Blue

        Sorry OP. It was a great gesture while it lasted. I’d stop the snacks immediately if you haven’t already. I bet you’ll get comments too, like “oh no, why did the snacks stop :(” I’d just stare at them and walk away, but that’s just me.

        My workplace will never provide anything, but we do have a “snack store” with really cheap prices (candy is .25 or .50). There is a price chart and everyone pays by the honor system…although in this scenario I feel like people might ignore the signs at the beginning.

          1. zora

            yeah. I agree with stopping, but there’s no need to be a jerk about it. It would be unfair to have an expectation that everyone should be immediately chipping in financially.

            I would actually tell people in person, but casually, “by the way, there’s a budgeting issue with the snacks, and I’m no longer able to expense them. So, I’m going to have to stop supplying, sorry! If there are specific things we really liked to have on hand, let me know and maybe we can figure out a budget for that in the future.”

            I had a similar thing happen in my company and that is basically what I said, and no one was angry, everyone understood these things happen.

            1. Decima Dewey

              I’ve seen managers start a snacks in the breakroom thing, and sooner or later they’ve had enough and end up pleading for someone else to take over the snack concession. And then the snack concession disappears when no one else wants to take it on.

              OP’s boss meant well when she started the snack thing. OP meant well when she took it over. But it’s not necessary. Unless you’re in an office park far from anything, there should be a stand in the lobby, a 7Eleven or other convenience store, a corner store, etc., where people can get something if they need a snack.

      3. RUKiddingMe

        Please stop.being.the.office mom. Let your coworkers do their own housekeeping and provide their own nourishment. This isn’t pre-school.

    5. AnonAtAllTimes

      I don’t think it’s a good idea to engage in armchair psychology/calling someone a martyr. In this case, I think OP1 simply has a decision to make. Either keep bringing in snacks to the extent he/she feels like doing it, within an acceptable budget, and when the food is gone it’s gone. Or, stop doing it.

      Personally I do not understand this thing of employer-provided food at work. I work for pay. I expect to use that pay to buy my own food. If I want something to eat in the afternoon, I’ll select what I want and bring it in to consume it myself. If I do bring something in, it will usually be some fresh fruit or a Quest bar because I like food that has a good protein and/or fiber content.

      Most of what I’ve seen provided at work is empty-calorie stuff I won’t touch. Doesn’t bother me – my employer already paid me enough to buy my own food. They do not then have an obligation to go out and buy food for me that I don’t want or that I can well afford to purchase myself from the pay I earn working there.

      I see how emotional people get about this topic and it baffles me. Get paid. Buy your own food. That’s part of what your pay is for. If you’re not earning enough to buy the food you need to survive, that’s a problem that is not likely to be solved by the occasional free doughnut, bagel, snack bar or piece of candy at work.

    6. Jennifer Thneed

      She’s only being generous with her time. The company has been paying for the snacks up until this point.

  7. BetsCounts

    LW #2, I would also ask for specific examples of ‘constructive criticism’ that has been given to others in this position before you. If they seem normal, that might be a good lead in to inquire about tone?

    1. RVA Cat

      This. I’m wondering how OP 2 might ask about how long people typically stay in this position without making it look like they’re going to jump but if they can’t keep people that’s a red flag for the job being the Office Chew Toy.

    2. boo bot

      Yes, I was thinking this, to ask about specifically what they mean by constructive criticism. You can preface with something about your openness to feedback, then ask for examples because it keeps coming up – basically either they’ve had a person or two in the role who’s responded really badly to feedback, or they’re doing constructive criticism wrong.

      Fortuitously, I have found that most people who consider shouting and berating to be “constructive criticism” think they’re doing it right, and will probably tell you the truth after a little probing.

      People who are in the middle, and trying to figure out if you will withstand the boss’ temper tantrums, will get uncomfortable and obfuscate. Just ask, people will admit more than you think.

      Boo Bot’s Guide To Dysfunction, Chapter 6.022 x 10^23

      1. Decima Dewey

        My thought is that it’s worrying that they repeatedly tell you that you’ll have to take constructive criticism, when that’s something expected at every job. Do they “constructively criticize” people every other day? After the fact when a mistake has been made? Or when they decide that you should have done X when everyone agreed you ought to do Q? Did a previous person in the position leap off the roof a la Christopher Walken in “Mistress” after being constructively criticized?

        1. RVA Cat

          This. The fact they keep repeating it makes me think of the Inigo Montoya meme: “You keep using that word. I don’t think it means what you think it means.”

        2. tangerineRose

          Either that, or the previous person in that role couldn’t take any criticism at all and would throw a fit if anyone suggested something that could be improved.

  8. Dirty Paws

    Re: Office snacks. While I might enjoy company provided snacks sometimes, I’d really rather choose my snacks myself. So I’d be one of the of the people who didn’t chip in when asked. I’d also be totally fine when they stopped being provided.

    1. AcademiaNut

      I suspect that’s probably a major part of it. If there’s free snacks offered, I’ll happily enjoy them. But if I’m paying for my own snacks, I’d rather just bring in what I like.

      The office club makes the most sense when it’s something that doesn’t lend itself to individual purchase, like brewing pots of coffee and buying cream or having a water cooler. For things like granola bars and individual drinks, unless it’s significantly cheaper than bringing your own, the club is often more trouble than it’s worth.

      Plus, your stash is probably going to still be raided by other groups even when you’re paying for it yourself, so you’re asking your coworkers to subsidize other people’s snacking habits, making it more expensive than bringing their own.

      1. Willis

        Yeah, all of this. If I’m going to be paying for them, I’d rather just bring in or buy the snacks and drinks I want when I want them. Plus then I’m not buying snacks for others who don’t chip in. I think the OP should just stop spending money and time on this and let people handle it on their own.

      2. SusanIvanova

        After our company started the Healthy Snack Initiative, all the edible snacks were replaced by things that took “healthy” to an extreme – rock-hard granola bricks, crackers with the consistency of cardboard, peanut M&Ms instead of plain (aka “deadly allergen and cross-contamination source” to at least one co-worker) etc.

        So my team had its own unhealthy snack stash in one of our offices. Stuff started disappearing, so we left a laptop’s webcam running. Turned out to be one of the security guards!

        1. Lissa

          I like peanut M&Ms way more than plain but would never think of them as a healthy food, let alone taking it to an extreme! …. mm, M&Ms…

          1. Mookie

            NONE of this reads as “healthy” to me (which is fine because the term is mostly subjective, anyway), although I gather SusanIvanova recognizes this by using scare-quotes. Between the three examples, you can either chip a tooth, choke yourself on ash, or experience anaphylaxis.

        2. WS

          I read the M&Ms part the other way around and thought, oh yeah, plain M&Ms instead of the allergen, okay, and then came to a screeching halt! That’s a terrible thing to have!

          1. SusanIvanova

            But it’s got more protein than the other kind!

            Yeah. And we were all guessing that just having it there at all was so the person behind it could say “look, it’s not *all* no-fat no-sugar.”

          2. Bryce

            Pretty much all processed “health/hiking food” is best read as “check for allergens because they’ll throw nuts in here without a second thought.”

    2. Jesca

      Yeah. That whole snack pool thing only breeds resentment and drama, I think.

      I would just explain to them about the budget and that it can’t be afforded anymore.

    3. Rosemary7391

      Yeah. If it’s free and I happen to fancy an apple, I’d go for it. I also keep things I like in my desk drawer. There often isn’t much overlap between the two sets of things! I’d not want to spend the money on the former that I do on the latter simply because I eat much less of the former. I definitely wouldn’t want to spend more and the things listed can be quite spendy – individual sodas cost much more than the large bottles. Makes me wonder how much this all costs per person?

  9. Dorothy Zbornak

    OP #1 – my office operates with a “trust kitchen” – basically, people must have chipped in a certain amount for snacks at the beginning when the snack thing was established, and then all the provided snacks are labeled with a price (granola bars are 50 cents, etc.) and people are expected to pay for what they take, so it’s a self-perpetuating cycle. From what I understand, it all works out evenly, with everyone paying their fair share so no one person eats the cost. I don’t know how you would establish that system in an office that already counts on free snacks, though, especially if people haven’t been forthcoming with contributing to the snack fund. Maybe if you eliminate bringing in snacks (which you should! Stop paying for it all!) people would miss them long enough that they’d be willing to chip in some coins for a trust kitchen if snacks were eventually brought back and you couldn’t get them covered in the 2019 budget.

    1. BetsCounts

      mine did the same thing, but the office did front the $$ to fill up the box of goodies the first time. then about once a month an admin would send out an email noting how ‘short’ the cash box was and hectoring people to settle. however this was included in her duties- she was not a volunteer!

      1. Colette

        Because sometimes you want a snack at 2 that you didn’t anticipate wanting at 7?

        People can still bring their own if they want, and if they don’t want to, they still have an option.

    2. Thlayli

      Freakonomics includes an article on how honest people are in this situation from data from a bagel provider over years and multiple offices. about 80-90% is the answer, though they gave specific percentages in the article. People get less honest on a Friday before a long holiday weekend, more honest around patriotic holidays or when there is a big disaster in the news, and upper management are the least honest of all.

      OP if you are going to do this, then read the freakonomics article first. You could charge an additional 10-15% for snacks and leave a price list and a money box. It might break even that way, and there’s no nagging.

      1. Accalia Elementia

        OP#1 here,

        that’s actually an approach I hadn’t considered before. It’d take some thinking to figure out the price list, and i’d likely want to simplify the offerings (granola bars can have a wide range of prices) but… yeah that could actually work… And it would also work to get people who are not part of our team to chip in when they drop by for a snack.

        Something to consider for sure. i like it!

        -Accalia

        1. Pollygrammer

          I really, really, really think that “there’s no longer a budget for it” should be the end of the snacks.

          I doubt anybody is as invested in them as you are, people can arrange their own snack co-op if they want to, and I do think you could be undercutting your professionalism by putting so much time and energy into it.

        2. SarahKay

          I can’t remember if it was the Freakonomics article or somewhere else, but apparently honesty is also improved by being watched (so far, so obvious) even if that watcher is just a picture of a pair of eyes, or a mirror.

        3. Margo

          We do this at work as well. There is a set price on everything and people can email suggestions about items they want added to the snack station. All extra funds not used to replenish go to charity at the end of the month.

        4. Emilia Bedelia

          People have already solved these problems: they invented the vending machine.
          Ask management to look into installing a vending machine (subsidized, maybe!) and be done with it.

          I think you are putting a lot of thought into the snacks, which is nice, but it seems to be taking up a lot more effort than it’s worth.

        5. Seriously?

          If you want to go this route, I would try to get the department to find the initial stocking of the kitchen. If your team is already balking at contributing to snacks, they probably will not like being told that they have to contribute to both the initial stocking and then pay for the snacks when they want to eat them.

        6. Macedon

          Between your original write-in and your follow-ups here, I’m really getting the feeling that you’re looking for ways to make this snack provision happen even in the face of disinterest from most of its recipients. Sorry to ask so bluntly, but why is this your hill? Have you just invested too much time in it already to want to let it go?

        7. Robin Sparkles

          I have to agree with others…you seem really invested in this despite several comments recommending you just end it with the budget. I don’t know – all of this sounds exhausting to me but you seem committed to making this work.

    3. Rebecca

      Our office does this! One of my coworkers has a Sam’s Club membership, and she stocks up on great snacks for us, frozen breakfast sandwiches, cheese sticks, hummus, all sorts of things, and it’s awesome! Everything is clearly labeled in our fridge, and since we’re a small office, 20 people, it works great.

  10. WS

    OP #3 – I suspect that “unintentionally” here means that they organised the trip for the people they needed and then realised that they were taking a whole team minus one so tried to soften the blow. I doubt it’s personal, but it’s definitely normal to feel a bit disappointed and left out under those circumstances.

    1. Phlox

      Op #3: some folks already have some interesting thoughts on framing. But I wanted to acknowledge – feeling left out really stinks regardless of why the situation happened or how unintentional it was.

      1. misspiggy

        True. But in OP’s case I would be looking forward to a period of blissful solitude and independence as a way of reframing it. Competitions with myself to see how many chair spins I can make while reading emails; luxuriating in going for coffee without taking a group order; taking the desk with the best view. It’s practically a staycation!

        1. Tardigrade

          I like this re-framing. OP might even microwave fish for lunch and go around the office in socks. ;)

  11. Bea

    I love that some companies provide snacks. However I would never opt for some kind of employee paid snack system. I just keep my own shelf of snacks in my office or previously put them in a drawer.

    Some people will squawk over the snacks stopping while most will probably just go back to bringing their own granola bars and soda.

    1. Becky

      Ditto! My company has free snacks in the break room (the department that purchases and stocks the office supplies is also in charge of the snacks). It is nice once in a while to grab one, but if it were suddenly something I had to contribute to? Nope, I’ll just stick to bringing my own (which I do most of the time anyway).

  12. Gatomon

    OP#3, is it possible they decided to trust things in the team’s absence to you instead of the more junior employee? Maybe the plan is to let junior employee go now and then leave them behind next year to hold down the fort when more seasoned.

  13. The Pie Maker

    OP1 – I am also a fellow office snack santa. My approach is to generally buy when I have the budget and/or feel like it, but not to when I can’t. Generally people would step up when they realise their apparently infinite supply of snacks does actually run dry.

  14. Lionheart26

    OP1 if you are still happy to buy the snacks, you might want to consider a charity snack shop. I did this once at an old job. Bought chocolate bars and sodas in bulk at costco, and sold them on at a slightly increased price, with profits going to a charity I volunteer for. Co-workers were more than happy to support because my products were cheaper than the convenience store across the road, and people are more likely to buy if there’s a feel-good factor.

    1. Accalia Elementia

      Now that is an interesting idea.

      If i pitch it right to HR i might even get that sanctioned and approved for a matching donation from the company (my company does that a lot when employees do stuff for charitys, It’s really nice)

      And even if HR doesn’t go for it, it’s still a nice way to make with the feel good vibes. :-)

      -Accalia

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        I know I’ve repeated this a few times on this thread now, but please don’t do this. You are putting way too much time and energy into this, and it will not help you professionally (and really, may raise questions above you about your priorities). Leave it at “there’s no longer a budget for snacks” and let it go. That’s a fine place to end it!

        1. Postits

          Agreed with Alison. It doesn’t seem like OP is listening to all the comments suggesting that she should just stop it. She does seem like she’s spending *way* too much energy and enthusiasm into something that is not remotely related to her work. It seems particularly concerning given that she’s in management.

          1. HRM

            OP1: Are you hearing Allison’s advice at all? You’re really kind of quite oddly hanging on to “snacks trouble-shooting and management” here. Let. It. Go.

        2. Episkey

          I am confused about why this OP is so focused on snacks for the office. It’s coming across as odd that she won’t let it go.

          1. a1

            I’d assume she didn’t have other issues at the office, so this is what she wrote in about. I wouldn’t assume that there are not other things going at work she cares about or other things she does. And since she wrote in about this, she responding about this and not those other things.

        3. Robin Sparkles

          Yeah I commented too soon above but agree completely here. I don’t understand why you are willfully ignoring the comments telling you to stop. As someone in management -this is not worth your energy! If it happens naturally or everyone demands it- that’s when you can start spending energy on solutions (and really- why does it have to be you??)

      2. Accalia Elementia

        Interesting idea, yes.

        Good idea, NOOOOOOOOOOO.

        Past Accalia, listen to Future Accalia (also everyone else telling you this is a bad idea)

        1. Detective Amy Santiago

          Please listen to Alison’s advice. Presumably this is not related to any of your actual job duties and could very well harm your professional reputation. You don’t want to be known as “the snack lady” you want to be known as “the one who is awesome at X” (where X = an important facet of your job).

        2. Friday

          And you mention upthread that you’re pretty swamped with work. Actual work, relating to your job. So please, set aside your snack and dishwashing urges and focus on your job. And dear god please no more talking with your boss/bosses/HR about snacks. Let the snacks thing die.

  15. Tau

    OP4 – how odd! I’ve never had holiday time granted in anything other than half-day increments (and am grateful for that much, when I started at newjob it was full days only.) The way I’m used to doctor’s appointments and the like being handled is “OK, you need to come in an hour late on Thursday, make up the time during the rest of the week and we’ll call it good”. This may be a job thing – you obviously won’t be able to have this flexibility everywhere – but I don’t think I’ve ever even heard of someone around here taking annual leave in anything less than half-days. I wonder if European laws around holiday are the reason why.

    1. Tau

      Which is to say – I do think your company has a terrible policy here, but to me the problem isn’t “they won’t let us take PTO in smaller chunks” but “they make us take PTO if we’re only going to be 30 minutes late/leave an hour early”.

      1. Thlayli

        Yeah. This is more the issue. Taking pTO in half-days is pretty normal, being forced to take a half day if you only want to leave 30 mins earlier is not normal. Most places would let you take a half hour unpaid or else make it up over the week.

    2. KimberlyR

      I have never worked anywhere like that but I’ve always been paid hourly so I have to track my time. My current company actually lets us take small increments either paid or unpaid. So if I have to come in an hour late, I just get paid an hour less than I normally would’ve (assuming I leave at my usual time.) I was able to save my PTO for my maternity leave this way. My coworker didn’t think of it and used up most of hers on doctors’ appointments before taking leave.

    3. AcademiaNut

      The OP does say that this policy applies only to non-exempt employees, and also mentions coworkers having to cover for her.

      In that case, keeping strict track of hours instead of doing things informally makes more sense, because they have to pay overtime if people work more than 40 hours a week (so they have to be keeping track of hours worked), and they have to schedule coverage if the OP is going to be away, which makes an informal arrangement difficult.

      1. Thlayli

        That’s fair. When I worked in a call centre you would not be allowed leave a half hour early as they would need to get an additional person to cover. So there are some jobs where it makes sense.

    4. JR

      I had a job (in the US) that worked as Tau describes – my manager told us to take vacation/sick time only in half- or full-day increments, but what she meant was that, if we were only going to be out an hour or two, just don’t worry about taking vacation or sick time for it on the assumption it would all even out in the end. It sounds like, in OP’s office, the same approach is in place for exempt employees, so I wonder if this was set up by someone who didn’t think through the impact on their non-exempt colleagues.

    5. Miso

      We actually can take days off only in complete days, which sometimes sucks as well…
      But then we don’t have to make up time for doctor’s appointments at all, so I wouldn’t need half days off that often anyway. But sometimes it would be nice.

    6. Sam.

      The job I just left was full day only. If you were just out a few hours (up to half the day, really), you didn’t need to take PTO. I suspect I might miss that flexibility at my new job…

    7. OP #4

      They definitely have that flexibility. And sometimes I do hav flex time to apply from late meetings and special events. But staying an extra 30 minutes often means I am just sitting there taking up space with no actual work to do usually and the result is an hour commute instead of 15 minutes. Traffic in my city gets so much worse if I leave a little later. Because of the nature of my job, my work day really does end at the usual time. And why not take the half day, I have plenty? I think I need to learn not to feel bad about it. And it will seem strange when I have an early morning appointment and then have to leave after lunch to make it a half day off, but so be it.

  16. EL

    OP 4 – I feel your pain! My current company has this same policy for vacation time (sick can be used in 1-hour increments). The positive: having this policy sets the expectation that you’ll either be using 4 or 8 hours of vacation on any given day. I’m in payroll, and have seen (in past positions) employees request 15 minutes of vacation on a given day! The biggest negative is definitely having to take a half day when it might not necessarily all be needed. A case in point: late in 2016, I had some work done in my bathroom and took time off on a Wednesday to meet the contractor. Even though the contractor wasn’t coming until later in the afternoon, I had to use 4 hours of vacation and leave just after noon. And we don’t have separate personal time, so vacation has to be used for these types of things. Very frustrating and I would like to see this policy changed, but it won’t happen, at least not easily.

    1. BlueWolf

      Unfortunately, since I’m non-exempt and we aren’t allowed any sort of flex-time, I have at times taken 30 minutes leave at the end of the day in order to catch an evening flight. I would happily go to work 30 minutes early and leave 30 minutes early, but that’s not how our system works. I think our payroll system is pretty automated, though, so as long as we do 15 minute increments I don’t think it causes issues for the payroll people. Also, we only have one bucket for sick and vacation, so if they forced us to take time in 4-hour blocks for a doctor’s appointment or something it would be taking away vacation time.

  17. Maddie

    Stop all the snack bringing. It’s really out of your control now. If it was there, they partook. They may not be invested enough to fund it. I wouldn’t invest any more emotional energy into it.

  18. Engineer Girl

    OP 2 – my biggest concern is that multiple people are mentioning the need to take constructive criticism. It’s possible, I suppose, that they had a supreme drama lama that traumatized all of them. But several people (Vs one) mentioning it makes me wonder about the culture.
    Asking for clarification would be good.
    But remember there are other jobs out there. Wait for the right one.

    1. Traffic_Spiral

      Yeah, every time there’s an unusual “must have basic people skills” mention in the job description, it’s usually that one of the bosses is a complete douchenugget who phrases his/her awful behavior as a sort of buzzword issue for everyone else to handle.

      Example: Got an JD for an in-house legal role that included “must have emotional intelligence when advising on the best legal strategy.” Fortunately I knew a former employee of theirs and yup, one of the bosses was an egotistical arsehead that kept coming up with “brilliant” ideas for how to get around various regulations, refusing to listen to the legal team when they told him the idea wouldn’t work, and then blaming them for not having warned him properly when it blew up in his face. “Have emotional intelligence” apparently meant “give this one guy a verbal blowjob of ‘yes your idea is totally brilliant buuut….’ every time he wanted to do something illegal, so he actually listens to legal and doesn’t get offended.”

      Hard Pass.

      1. Mookie

        Agreed, it just makes the employer look unreasonable or like they have a record of using bad judgment when hiring. Neither looks flattering to a promising candidate.

      2. Pollygrammer

        And “able to roll with the punches” is definitely code for “you’re going to be working with someone completely unreasonable.”

        1. Traffic_Spiral

          Ooh, someone unreasonable who thinks that being difficult and abrasive is the same thing as being smart, and so everyone around them just needs to put up with their Troubled Genius – when actually the person is just an average asshole with an above-average entitlement complex and a below-average ability to plan and organize.

    2. Lora

      This.

      At CurrentJob, many people worked at one of my previous employers. When I mention that I worked there also, and they ask “oh, what group?” and I tell them, ShoutyGuy’s group, they’re all, “ohhhhh wow how did you manage?”

      ShoutyGuy had an imaginary roulette wheel, and whenever anything went the slightest bit wrong (regardless of root cause), he spun the roulette wheel and the unlucky person whose name it stopped on got screamed at for 48 hours. He would be completely unreasonable for exactly 48 hours and scream and shout at this person until they were in tears – even if the wrong thing happened in an entirely different department, the person had exactly zero control over it, and in one memorable instance the guy he chose to yell at was out of the country on his honeymoon for two weeks when the thing happened.

      ShoutyGuy was 100% sure that this is because people aren’t receptive to criticism. No, it wasn’t that he had a vicious temper that he couldn’t control and acted like a giant a-hole, people quit his department in droves because they couldn’t take criticism and he was passionate about his job, dammit!

      OP, have you checked out Glassdoor yet? I’m betting someone there knows something.

      1. The Other Dawn

        We had a guy like this. Very unreasonable, exacting, critical. His direct reports were often in tears and senior management knew it. I’ll never understand how these people are able to keep their job.

  19. OrganizedHRChaos

    OP 1 – My company used to supply free snacks for many years (soups, fruit, candy drawer, etc.) but some people would ask for different flavors or types and it got to the point where the company decided to stop providing the free stuff and brought in a company that provides a market pantry. The employee pays for what they want and can make requests thru the pantry company. This allows for many more choices, the employees have greater convenience if they forget snacks or meals and it costs the company nothing. We have had it in place for over a year and it’s been going well. It’s not quite the same as your situation but it can be an option that doesn’t cost the company anything.

  20. Alanna Shaikh

    OP #3 – Maybe think of this as a great time to shine? If you’re the only one in the office, your work will get attention. It’s an opportunity to have everyone see how good you are at what you do.

    1. StellaBella

      This is basically what I was going to say, so thanks Alanna! OP3, definitely – you will have a lot of time to focus at work as no one will be there to bug you, and you can really shine by ‘holding down the fort’. I’d even ask your manager for extra tasks to do so that when the team gets back there is less for them/your manager to do so getting caught up is easier for them? You can add a lot of value here.

  21. shebrolet

    In my industry, even if you only need one day off (for a wedding, funeral, school event, etc) you have to take a full week off work. And by week, I’m talking about 7 days in a row. I work a 12 day roster. 7 on, 4 off.
    It is insane, and I wish I could take a half day off.

    1. Thlayli

      im Trying to figure out what industry. I’m guessing one of the following-
      Oil rigs
      A heavily emotional role where you have clients that bond with you for short intense periods – like live in rehab
      Travel tour operator

      Am I way off base?

      1. Overeducated

        I’m so curious. These are good guesses. Add long haul trucker and that covers everyone I’ve known on rotations like that….

      2. Lynn Whitehat

        Firefighter? Our local fire department does schedulings in 19-day periods, exactly because it doesn’t line up with anything else. So everyone shares the pain of sometimes missing church, soccer games, etc. But there’s no “bad shift” and “good shift”.

      3. shebrolet

        Locomotive Engineer. In heavy haulage. Coal, to be exact.
        Good guesses, though!

    2. Antilles

      If your industry really works on rotations like that, I think that actually makes sense – when you take a day off, it’s basically just having an open slot because it’s impossible to ask someone on a different rotation to swap in.

      1. shebrolet

        No, it’s not impossible. There are always people free on any given day, plus there’s always Overtime.

  22. Mark Roth

    We’re tracked by the half day in most circumstances. So everyone simply takes a “full” half day, or just a full day off. I almost feel like I am an outlier because I am more willing to come in in the morning for a half day than to just take a full day off.

    Of course, we have generous benefits and the only question anyone ever asks if you leave early is “Is everything okay.”

  23. g

    #2 – what type of constructive criticism? Being given lots of feedback about your job can be useful, and challenge you to get better.

    If they’re going to give you conflicting criticism or criticism for issues you’re not given any opportunity to improve on, then that’d be really bad.

    1. Autumnheart

      I feel like the word “constructive” is the key here. Is it actually constructive, or are they actually saying, “Everything you do will be wrong, no matter what”?

  24. Rebecca

    #4 – I’m non-exempt, and my previous manager forced most of us to take 4 hours PTO or vacation time if we missed an hour, and we only had 5 PTO (or sick days) to use in one year. And when I say most of us, it depended on who it was. In the same week, she made me take 4 hours PTO when I had to leave 1 hour early for an unscheduled medical appointment, but another coworker was allowed to make up the hour and not use PTO. Manager’s excuse was “I can’t be bothered keeping track of all you people who want to come and go as you please”. In my case, I had a sudden medical issue I needed to see my doctor about, and I made the appointment for late in the day as to not upset our office’s apple cart.

    When I found out about having to use PTO when coworker didn’t, I pushed back, and she claimed she didn’t remember forcing me to take PTO. I flat out told her that from now on, all my appointments will be made for Friday afternoons, at approximately 12:30 PM. She was not happy about this, but I said if I was being forced to burn 4 hours of PTO because I missed 1 hour of work that could easily be made up on another day, that’s what I was doing. At least I’d get some enjoyment out of the time. She changed her position the next time I needed time off for an appointment.

    1. Blue Eagle

      Your solution was a very smart way to get your manager to change her tune. Outstanding!

    2. blink14

      My former boss at my old workplace was like this – we had a very small employee group at our location, and just her and I were salaried. A couple of years into the job, I became very ill with a chronic viral infection that lasted about 6 months, and every couple of weeks I would have an episode that would last 4-5 days. There was no way my pittance of sick/personal time would cover all that, so I tried to make it into work as much as possible, and schedule my frequent doctor appointments as early or as late as possible.

      Sometimes she would take pity and tell me to go home, not to worry about the time, yet the next day if I had to leave 30 minutes early for a doctor appointment, she would freak out and tell me that the home office doesn’t approve of making up time elsewhere, and I’d have to take sick time. It was bizarre. We got 7 personal/sick days, and in the time I was there, the break down of sick vs. personal changed every year. Sometimes it was 4 sick and 3 personal, other years it was 5 sick and 2 personal, etc.

      There were two periods of time per year where I had to work 4-6 hours per weekend for usually 2-3 weekends (not in a row) per time period. I tried to be as accurate as possible on my time sheet, but would usually round up 5 minutes, as she liked things in 15 or 30 minute increments. If I left at 10:25, I would say 10:30. The woman was so paranoid and distrustful that she actually would drive to our workplace and spy on me to see what time I left. The time I worked was paid back in comp time, and one season, I worked enough off hours to get about 3 days in comp time, and she argued with me over 15 minutes that she said I wasn’t there.

      So glad I am not at that job anymore!

  25. Anonykins

    I’m in tech and my resume lists some of the specialized programs I have experience with. I’ve used bold in the past to highlight any programs mentioned in the job ad so that the manager won’t miss them on my resume. Seems to work out pretty well.

  26. Birch

    Only now that we’ve grown as a team and the snacks have been there long enough that other groups have started raiding the snacks… well, the expense has grown to the point that my company has told me that they can’t reimburse any more snacks, there’s just not the budget for this.

    I can’t tell if this means the company is refusing to reimburse any snacks at all now, or if it means they don’t want to up the reimbursement to compensate for increased snacks. If it’s the latter, yeah, just stop doing it as everyone has been saying. But if it’s the former, which it sounded like to me, then the real problem is really that other teams are raiding your snacks! Just tell them the snacks are provided for your team only.

    1. LilyP

      Ehhh if it was somehow part of OPs job to provide snacks or care for the overall food-morale of the team I think that would be the way to go, but in this case it really isn’t and she doesn’t need to take on being the snack police in addition to organizing and paying for the snacks.

      I would say though, it sounds like the company is saying you get $0 budget for snacks now which is sort of odd. Why not let you keep buying as many snacks as you can get with whatever $N budget they were giving you before and just let the snacks run out early? If people are upset they can chip in/campaign for a larger budget/whatever.

  27. Caryatis

    LW1: most of the time when people want (almost no one *needs*) snacks at work, they buy them themselves, because people have different tastes and budgets. Some of your coworkers are probably getting annoyed at being asked to contribute for snacks they may not like or eat–I personally wouldn’t eat granola bars, soda, or fruit. Let people provide for their own food without being badgered into paying for the food you want.

    1. Anxa

      Same.

      I would be mildly disappointed by an employer spending money on snacks or coffee regularly as it is, because I’d rather they save the money for a bonus or a raise or to absorb the cost of accommodating an employee on something, or getting more supplies.

      But I’d be pretty annoyed to them have to contribute to snacks I’m not interested in. I tend to avoid a lot of preservatives and common ingredients in processed foods that make up a great deal of snack foods like this.

      If I want to buy a bulk sized snack pack, I can, and bring a few extra items to the office.

  28. Anon for this

    Am I the only one who *doesn’t* think OP3 is overthinking? Maybe this is because I’m observing a similar situation play out with my clients — one of them was the only person on his team for whom there “wasn’t budget” to attend an important annual conference, but somehow there was budget to send three of us from MY company (his vendors!), and also the summer intern on his team, who had started maybe a week or two before the conference and will be leaving at the end of the summer! There is no way his company derived more value from sending the intern to the conference than it would have from sending him. (This is also within the context of other snubbing behavior he’s getting at the hands of his colleagues and boss.)

    In OP3’s shoes, I’d look carefully at the reasons being given for others, including the more junior person, to go on this trip. Do they ring true? Are you being left out of the loop in other ways? If, after looking at the whole picture, something doesn’t add up, I think it’s very much worth having a conversation with your manager. Not “why can’t I go?” but rather to ask for feedback in general, to see whether being left out of the conference is part of a larger pattern of the team and OP’s manager not recognizing her value.

    1. $!$!

      I agree especially because she said the newest team member is going. How was it “unintentional” when the newest hire is going? Especially for an international trip that I’m assuming takes a lot of logistics. It would be hard for me to do well if I was the only person left behind on my team

      1. WellRed

        She actually said an entry level person, not the “newest” person. Depending on what that role is, like admin support, it might make sense for the entry level person to go.

      2. Thlayli

        Op clarified above that the entry level person will be doing the admin stuff and OPs manager even said something along the lines of “you wouldn’t want to be doing the admin stuff” when telling her.

        Which is worse – not going at all, or going and being the flunky who books the fancy restaurant but is left behind in the convention centre till 10pm tidying up the stand and getting set up for the next day after all the high level people have gone to the fancy restaurant with prospective vendors? Coz that’s most likely what’s going to happen to the junior person (and possibly to the intern in the example above).

  29. LiberryPie

    For OP#1 with the snacks, I’d try making it a more open discussion. You aren’t able to keep buying snacks anymore, so what would they * like* to do? You could suggest several options, one being that everyone chips in X amount per month and you keep buying like you have been. (But tell them how much you need them to contribute. I can’t tell if you did that before.) Another option is team members take turns buying snacks, or people just bring them in on special occasions, or just don’t provide snacks, etc. You can ask if they have other ideas as well.

    I agree with others that if your co-workers start paying, they will want to have more say in what gets purchased, so the system is going to change somewhat. It sounds like what you were asking is for them to chip in so you could continue doing exactly as you had been doing. And clearly they appreciated what you were doing in the sense that they were eating the food. But if they are going to be asked to contribute, they might appreciate it being a group decision, and you might feel less frustration because you won’t be trying to get people to do something that wasn’t their choice.

    1. Millennial Lawyer

      I think at this point, that’s just awkward. People have made it clear that they do not want to pay for snacks – she asked already. It’s going to be Too Much if she keeps harping people on it. Let people just get their own snacks.

    2. Zillah

      But why, though?

      OP #1 likes providing snacks, but that’s on OP #1 – at least from my understanding, that’s where the issue is coming from, not the rest of the team. They may be enjoying having snacks, but it’s not really on to give people something they didn’t ask for (that the company was paying for, until recently!) and then create a drawn out discussion about how to keep it going.

      If my job gave me something for free, I wouldn’t be thrilled to have someone come to me and be like, “The company won’t provide the budget anymore. Let’s workshop this and look at all of our options. Everyone could kick in for chips, we could take turns, we could limit it to special occasions, we could stop doing it completely – do you have any ideas, too?”

      I’m at work to work. I don’t want to spend that much time and energy on snacks.

  30. Adlib

    OP #4: My company does this, and it’s annoying. I’m exempt, and I’d like to be able to take an hour or two for a doctor or dentist appointment without using PTO. This is especially true if I can’t take the remainder of that 4 hours somewhere else in the week so I’m essentially just writing off part of it if I don’t make up the hours elsewhere.

  31. Scott M.

    Re OP#4 – It is pretty normal to use half day increments for PTO. We do that here.
    I have run into one possible side effect that companies need to be careful of. While your manager may informally allow you to take off 30 minutes early for appointments, it can come back to bite you if they retroactively decide that you are taking off too much time. A while back I got into a bit of trouble , where I was justifiable reprimanded for some mistakes I made. But lumped into that was “Also you’re taking a lot of time off for appointments, lately so you need to be more focused and be here more often.”
    The unintended consequence of that for the company is that I now take off 4 hours when I only need 30 minutes. It’s pre-approved by my manager, and documented. And I’ve been here so long that I can take A LOT of these half day increments.

  32. Essess

    Ask to see the written policies that time off must be in 4-hour increments!
    At my oldJob, we were super busy and way behind on our deadlines so when I needed to take a dr appointment, I made sure I was gone just under an hour and rushed back to make sure to minimize the impact on the office. Later, after I submitted my time sheet, our department admin came to me and told me she changed it to 4 hours of PTO instead of 1. I grew angry and told her I would not be penalized 3 hours of PTO after I had deliberately arranged to take so little time off in order to help the office. She informed me that it was “department policy” that time off be taken in 4 hours. This was not the first time she had come to me with some “department policy” that no one had ever heard of. I looked at her and said, I want to see a written copy of all the “department policies”. She just waved her hand and said “oh, they’re not written down”. I informed her that if she hasn’t bothered to share these policies, she can’t expect us to obey them, especially when she applies them retroactively without any notice.
    I went to our corporate websites and pulled the corporate PTO policies down. In them, it specifically stated that employees could take up to 6 hours per month of their PTO time in 15 minute increments for doctor and other appointments. And in the corporate policies, it even had a line that said something to the effect of “department or office policies may not override this benefit.”
    I printed that out to her and told her that if she docked my PTO like she threatened to do, I was reporting her to corporate. I checked my paycheck that month and I was docked properly. She tried to enforce the 4-hour requirement a couple more times on other occasions, but each time I pulled out the corporate policy and threatened to report her (and made sure my coworkers in the department were aware of the policy) until she finally stopped.

  33. Anonforthis

    The half-day policy is, IMHO, so incredibly fucking stupid. Especially if you’re using an electronic PTO system which I assume most companies are/should be, unless they’re located in caves where Internet service has yet to arrive. I do not understand the perspective that says that if someone needs to leave at 4 or come in at 10, it makes more sense to force them to leave at noon or come in at 1. It’s dumb.

  34. Smiling

    OP #1. We have a honor box system with chips, sodas and other snacks. Everything is 50 cents. The company put up the initial investment. Thereafter it generally pays for itself with any profit going towards occasional freebies such as fresh fruit or sweets.

    For the most part it works ok. I can’t say everyone is always honorable. But the idea now is that if we run out of money due to a lack of honesty, then there’s no more snacks until someone decides to pay.

  35. EvanMax

    Re: bolding on a resume(#5)

    We recently were interviewing for a temp position, and one of the resumes we looked over had a variety of keywords which were bolded and colored blue (the rest of the resume was appropriately auto/black colored text). Aesthetically, It looked like hyperlinks, which is a very silly look on a printed piece of paper (also, having the word files, I can confirm that there was no linking going on, it was just an aesthetic choice.)

    After the initial humor of the situation wore off, we dug in to see what words it was that were so important, and it became even sillier, with words like “paperwork” bolded to draw our attention.

    Over-all, it made the candidate come off as very inexperienced and unfamiliar with the “business world”. Because we were hiring for an entry level temp position he wasn’t taken out of the running for that, but It definitely made us take notice of areas where he might be placing undue importance during our interviews with him, and ultimately another candidate got the role, in part, because he seemed to have a better grasp of what was actually important in a business setting.

  36. Meredith Brooks

    There may be a hidden benefit here to the lack of snacks. After a few weeks of no snacks, the other departments may stop raiding your stash. You can stockpile the donations you get and divvy out the snacks in a slow burn.

    That’s if you really, really, really feel compelled to keep having snacks for everyone.

    But, there’s no reason at all that you should eat the expense of snacks.

  37. K

    My current job require me to take holiday (not sick days) as a week…meaning that I have to take two weeks inorder to get sat and Sunday off together! However on the 20th I shall be leaving retail land q

    1. EvanMax

      having spent ten year in retail (previously) including time making schedules, that seems like the most counter intuitive policy ever.

      When I was writing schedules, I’d want as much flexibility from staff as possible to make things work. It was an art that required a lot of creative work to meet every demand on it (staff, corporate, store needs, etc.)

      losing an employee Sunday through Friday because they want the following Saturday would have been absolutely absurd. Yes, everyone always wants Saturday off, and it’s generally the big sales day so the urge to disincentive it make sense, but this is a case of cutting off your nose to spite your face. It hurts the shop as much as it hurts the employee, if not more.

      1. K

        Yep it is…that’s the whole point of having a rota. It is specifically so that someone doesn’t keep taking Saturdays off. But where I live, it’s perfectly fine for your employer to tell you when to take/not take holiday, with notice which I think is perfectly reasonable.

  38. Mediamaven

    Two thoughts regarding LW4 – I think it’s important to remember that exempt employees do have a little more flexibility but it also often means the are working more at other times and realistically not being compensated for that the way a non-exempt employee is. Both types have pros and cons but this is standard.

    1. OP #4

      Not actually true where I work. Most of our exempt employees (not all) work a lot less.

  39. Falling Diphthong

    I am convinced that the city could be under attack by a combination of sharknados and zombies, office buildings barricaded to prevent assaults from ground and air through creative use of the electric stapler, and office workers would pop their heads out of their fortified cubicles just long enough to demand “It’s Tuesday–WHERE are the bagels?”

  40. Courageous cat

    #3 – I’m slightly surprised by the response on this one. If someone below you was going, and this was a big event, I would feel a little excluded too. It’s likely just because you’re new if anything at all, but nonetheless, I’d feel similarly. It’s not a great move for morale.

  41. Autumnheart

    I don’t think there’s ever a good feeling that comes out of “Everyone is invited but YOU” no matter how rational and sensible the reason. Even if your job responsibilities are critical, and you are the only person who can pull the team out of the fire by being the one who stays behind. It’s visceral.

  42. Elle Kay

    OP #1:
    Buy as many snacks as you have contributions to cover. Either people will miss more/more options and contribute more, or they’ll see what their contributions are really providing and learn to live with it.

  43. Bibliovore

    Missed a big red flag in my interview. “how do you manage an employee who lies” Gave a very reasoned real work experience answer. Felt very good about my response.

    Took the job. Immediately had to deal with a report who was a compulsive liar, didn’t do her own work, and threw her colleagues under the bus. Six months of documenting and another 18 months on PIP with numerous grievance charges against me during that time. I love my job but the first two years were hell.

  44. Zillah

    OP #1 – I think it’s really nice that you’ve been doing that.

    However, your phrasing – particularly here:

    well, the expense has grown to the point that my company has told me that they can’t reimburse any more snacks, there’s just not the budget for this.

    gives me the impression that there’s quite a lot of money going toward snacks.

    I hear you when you say that you’re negotiating for a snack budget now… but my real question is whether that’s really the best thing to negotiate for to show your team that you value them. If there were snacks that I liked, I would definitely eat them at least sometimes, but if you were to ask me whether I preferred having access to free snacks or getting an extra vacation day or a bigger raise, I would definitely prefer the non-snack options. It seems like you’re going into this with a very “provider” focused mentality, and while I get that sentiment, I think that you should consider whether there are better places to focus your energy to show that you appreciate them.

  45. Oilpress

    #1 – Don’t let the snack project become your claim to fame. Take all of that energy and instead focus on what you were employed to do. It’s about optics, focus, and using your time wisely.

  46. fruity yet bovine

    OP2 – Does the job entail a lot of subjective opinions about your work? I work in food product development and we do ask interviewees about handling a lot of criticism. It can take hundreds of iterations to get to a final product that everyone likes and meets all the technical requirements. All along the way we get constant feedback which is primarily negative, this is too fruity, not fruity enough, too cold, too spongy, looks like cat food etc.. etc… We have people spit out our work, gag, heck I’ve spit out my own work! No one is a jerk or intends to be mean, but it is a constant stream of criticism. We need to look for people who can handle this and don’t get discouraged easily. I wonder if the job you’re interviewing for is anything like that?

  47. jay

    OP#3 – I just wanted to say that I totally understand where you are coming from. I was passed over to attend an international off site in Thailand last year when I was at my previous job. It wasn’t something I was 100% keen on (I mean, it wouldn’t all be fun and games, and long haul sucks), but I would have really enjoyed the opportunity to go as I’d put in a lot of effort in the past months, and was more senior than a handful that were selected. A number of others were picked over me to attend, and on coming back all I heard about for months was how amazing it was, and it was months of oh haha injoke remember the time that thing happened OMG haha. Not to mention all the photos all over social media of the evening outings and social activities every night.

    If you are struggling with feeling “important” in your role, and especially if you had a childhood like mine of being a bit of a social reject, being missed out for these things can feel really personal and hurtful. I wish I could tell you how to handle it, but I still haven’t figured it out after all these years. I was passed over to be involved in a project a few weeks ago (one I had explicitly told my boss I was really, really keen to be involved in) and to be honest I still feel really saddened and inadequate about the whole thing.

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