open thread – February 21-22, 2020

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

* If you submitted a question to me recently, please do not repost it here, as it may be in my queue to answer.

{ 2,107 comments… read them below }

  1. Just Peachy*

    My boss has been interrupting my lunch break lately for things that she is fully capable of handling, and it’s driving me nuts! I am a customer service specialist at a chemical supply company, and have been here for 4 years. I am an hourly employee, required to work 7:30-4:30 with an hour long lunch. My primary responsibility is placing customer orders (mostly over the phone). If it matters, I am a high performer and have always received excellent reviews.

    Yesterday, I had been clocked out for lunch for 5 minutes, and was sitting in the break room eating and reading a book, when my manager walked in. She said “sorry to interrupt, but I have someone on the phone asking for you. I think it’s Customer X.” 99% of the time when a customer is asking for me by name, it’s because the customer has spoken to me on the phone previously when placing an order and simply needs to place another order (not because I have some unique job skills that the customer needs from me specifically). My manager, and the other customer service specialist are perfectly capable of handling these calls when I’m at lunch (and that has always been the expectation in the past). Anyway, I responded to my manager with “oh…okay. Is there something specific that she needs from me?” (knowing darn well there wasn’t). She said “oh, I don’t know, I didn’t ask, but she asked for you by name, so I figured you’d been working with her on something.” I said, “no, I haven’t been working with her on anything, she probably just needs to place an order.” My manager said “well, can you just take it to be sure? I just don’t want to mess anything up that you’d be working on with her.” Mess what up?! I again reiterated that there was nothing I’d been working on with Customer X, but that I could take the call. As anticipated, the customer just needed to place an order. I popped my head into my manager’s office after I was done and said “yeah, she just needed to place an order.” My manager said, “oh, okay, sorry I had to interrupt your lunch.” I wanted to scream, “you didn’t have to interrupt my lunch! You chose to!” Similar incidents of her interrupting me at lunch have occurred over the past couple of months (4-5 other times). I should also mention that she’s not interrupting me because she’s extremely busy – she frequently points out how she’s happy to have a decent amount of downtime (we recently had a reorg company wide, so a lot of her previous duties were recently passed along to our corporate office). Even if she were busy, we have another customer service rep who is available when I’m at lunch.

    If the roles were reversed and I had interrupted my manager’s lunch with a call, she’d be ticked. She would say, “well, is it something you can help with?” or, “just put it in my voicemail”, or, “did you even ask what they were calling about?” (which is especially comical considering she didn’t ask for any context of the call she passed along to me.) Do I have reason to push back here, or am I overreacting? I did tack on the extra time at the end of my lunch to make up for the part that I’d been interrupted, but it still irks me!

    Part of me thinks I just need to start going home for lunch (I live about 15 minutes away), but at the same time, I feel like my lunch break should be treated as if I’m not there, whether I’m 50 feet away in the break room, or whether I leave the office. Am I being unreasonable about this? If not is there a way I can put a stop to this? I’m honestly not sure why my manager has even been doing this lately – she’s been my manager the whole time I’ve worked here, and she didn’t start interrupting me until recently. Thanks in advance!

    1. Pretty pretty good*

      Could you just say – thanks, please tell her I’ll call her back when my lunch is over. And if she balks at that – please ask coworker to take the call?

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        This – I would start here. And no, OP, you are not being unreasonable to want to take your full break as an hourly employee. Your boss is running afoul of labor laws though.

    2. WellRed*

      For starters, make sure you add that additional time to your lunch. I also can’t tell if you’d explicitly said, “I’m on my lunch break right now,” even though it’s obvious. Is she reasonable enough that you can ask her why she’s started doing this? If not, yeah, maybe be less visible at lunch, at least until she breaks this new habit.

      1. Ace in the hole*

        That’s a nope from me. As an hourly employee, I don’t mind my breaks being interrupted once in a while for things that are actual emergencies. For example, I’m part of the spill response team. If there’s a chemical release on my lunch break you bet I don’t mind helping out. Or if a coworker in a coverage-required position had to leave for a personal emergency and they need someone to fill in until they can find a sub? Sure thing. Even in a properly managed business these things happen every so often.

        But petty pointless interruptions for things that could easily be handled by someone else… or could easily wait? That is never okay. It’s illegal, and sets a bad precedent. This means that when she clocks out she’s mentally still stuck at work, since she doesn’t know if her boss is going to come interrupt.

    3. bunniferous*

      Depending on your relationship, could you maybe just come out and ask her (at a different time than your lunch break of course. ) If this is a recent behavior change there has to be a reason.

    4. Narvo Flieboppen*

      Check your local labor laws. Most places have legally mandated break lunch periods and it would be illegal for her to ask you to do work during that time. Remind her of this, and next time, refuse on the basis of ‘protecting her & the company from liability’. Obviously, you just have their best interest at heart!

      Alternatively, if you are worried about retaliation, contact your HR dept. about this issue.

      1. Dust Bunny*

        This. I work this kind of schedule and my employer is very, very, clear that when I am clocked out for lunch, I am functionally not here (even if I’m at my desk) and am definitely not to do any work. It’s no different than if I left the building and were literally not available.

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          Absolutely. When I was an hourly non-exempt employee almost 10 years ago at a very poorly run law firm, our lunch hours were sacred. No one asked us to work during our lunch hour when we were clocked out, and if we had been caught working through lunch, we’d get written up.

          That place was a dumpster fire in a lot of ways, but they did not play with those legally mandated breaks.

      2. kittymommy*

        This. Unless they are paying you for that time, you should not (and in some places cannot) be helping customers/taking calls/working at all. Assuming you are non-exempt, which as a CSR in a call center is probable, your company could get into serious trouble for this. And remember, if she’s doing it to you, she’s doing it to others.

      3. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        This this this this this.

        Here if you are expected to be “on call” during your lunch, you can’t make it an “unpaid” lunch break. Or if you want to play that game, the time starts over again once you are required to “work”.

        It’s not illegal unless they refuse to pay so it’s a PAY ME for working moment.

      4. DeeEm*

        Depending on your state, your employer CAN interrupt your lunch hour, but may have to pay you additional time (For example: one hour’s pay) and if it’s routine, then it can become a bigger issue. If you’re not getting at least a 30 minute uninterrupted lunch break in most states, that’s likely a violation of the law. You could let her politely know. Alison has many scripts on such conversations.

    5. blink14*

      Ugh this annoying! I deal with this sometimes, partially because our current office space doesn’t have a dedicated break room, so I end up taking lunch at an empty desk, and I also read during my lunch break. In the other spaces I’ve been while at this employer, there has only been one with a kitchen big enough for tables, and it was at the opposite end of the floor from my work space, and I was interrupted far less.

      Given that I’m taking lunch in an open work space, I try to block out all noise and foot traffic. I’ll only interact if someone specifically asks me a question. My boss does occasionally interrupt me, but it’s usually a quick notice about something, and occasionally a very important question.

      Options: start clocking that interrupted time as work time. Or, talk to your boss and see if you can gently ask to not be interrupted on your break – because you are paid hourly, you have more of a leg up on this than those who are salaried (If I get interrupted for a long period of time, I’ll extend my lunch period if I can, but I’m salaried). Explain that the interruptions should really be counted as work time.

    6. Laura*

      This used to happen me all the time at my old jobs. I took to taking my lunch to my car and eating there. Otherwise, I’d be interrupted 2-5 times PER lunch break. If they are able to interrupt you once, they’ll keep doing it, over and over.

      Your mileage may vary.

    7. Myrin*

      I’m very intrigued that this only started recently – can you think of anything at all that’s changed around the same time where she started doing this (something to do with the reorg, possibly?)?

      In any case, I don’t see why you can’t simply ask her about it, saying that you’ve been noticing this and have been wondering what’s going on.

      1. Massive Dynamic*

        I’m wondering this too. Are there performance issues that you know of with the other person who does your job?

        1. Krabby*

          I’m not sure it’s that much of a mystery: there was a recent re-org that’s giving the manager a lot of downtime, and now she’s twiddling her thumbs most of the day.
          I don’t know what it is, but a lot of people who get into that head space start delegating more, not less. It’s like, the more free time you have, the more you hoard it. I would guess that’s what’s happening here. The boss has to context switch out of relaxation mode every time she answers the phone, so she’s taking the easy road and passing it off.

          1. Richard Hershberger*

            This is spot on. There is something debilitating about too much down time, even when you don’t have to pretend to work.

          2. CM*

            This sounds right to me. The manager got used to not having to deal with the callers and is enthusiastically grabbing the first excuse she has to pawn them off. I used to work in a call centre where this was a semi-common strategy — “Oh, they asked for you by name so I assume they need something super specific and it would just waste time for me to ask them what it was, I’m already transferring them to you, bye!”

    8. Jean*

      Push back! “I am clocked out right now, I can’t legally work. Please ask someone else.” If it continues to be a problem, you will need to start leaving the building on your lunch break. Sucks but sometimes that’s the only way to solve this kind of problem. She keeps asking because you keep acquiescing and doing it.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        Or “I can do that, but I’ll need to clock back in.” Depending on circumstances, you could say “I’ll extend my lunch when I get back so we don’t have any issues with overtime.”

          1. Rusty Shackelford*

            But if you ask, she can say “No, that’s not necessary, it will only take you a minute.” Don’t give her that option.

            1. Mad Harry Crewe*

              “Oh, no, if I’m doing work I need to be clocked in. Otherwise, it will need to wait until I’m back from lunch.”

          2. foolofgrace*

            “So it’s okay when I put in for overtime?” I realize it’s easier to just extend your lunch break, but why should you? You could try saying the OT thing just to see what your boss says! I’d like to be a fly on the wall for that one.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Jean & Rusty both have good language. Pointing out that you’re clocked out is perfect. Maybe ask your boss to forward the customer to your voicemail to return after your lunch break. (Which you say is *required* so I’m assuming legal.)

        2. I'm just here for the cats*

          She may not be able to re clock in again for lunch, depending on the clock system. I’ve had jobs where there are only to be 4 punches. clock in, clock out (for lunch) clock in (from lunch) clock out. In fact if you left early the stupid system made you clock out, clock in and then clock out again!!

          I think OP needs to push back. Say I can’t since I’m hourly I have clocked out for my lunch. I’d be happy to call the customer back or if its urgent, the other customer service person is covering my lunch.

      2. Who Plays Backgammon?*

        Or “Jane is still on now, we’re a team/cross-trained/etc., so she can cover this or take a message if the person really needs me and not just customer service.”

      3. Marie*

        Yes to what Jean said: shut it down. I wouldn’t even offer clocking in and out for these non emergencies — what kind of break is that? I’m thinking: “I teach people how to treat me.” Letter Writer is on break reading a book—that absolutely already signals a break activity which is not to be interrupted. I would read the book with ear plugs or ear buds and stage a performance—looking up from my book with confusion, slowly taking out ear buds, et cetera. Also it might be that manager needs clarification re being asked for by name. “Is this something only ____ can help you with? If so, _____ is on break. Please call back after ____.” I have heard this said to me when asking for a specific person. In no way and at no time ever did those words cause me to either not talk to someone else or else call back later.

    9. Rebecca*

      And this is why I leave the building, even if it’s just to go outside, during my break times. Can’t be interrupted if I’m not visible or nearby.

      1. Bunny Girl*

        Yup. Since getting a dog I’ve had to run home over lunch to let him out, but before that I had to physically leave my department or I’d get bothered over lunch constantly. I legit hid in the basement of our building to get away from people.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Maybe it’s evil of me to be amused, but with your username I got the image of you digging down into a warren to rest.

    10. Heidi*

      Maybe you could go home for lunch temporarily (like for a couple of weeks), just long enough for her to get used to the idea that looking for you at lunchtime is not worthwhile. It is weird that this is a change in the normal behavior. Maybe she had a bad experience answering a call while you were at lunch or something? But I would hesitate to push back with something like, “You get mad when we bother you at lunch,” with your boss. That could go badly.

    11. Uncannycanuck*

      “Oh, I’m sure (coworker that covers at lunch) can handle that! Did you ask her? If she can’t, I’ll call (customer) back right when I’m back at my desk.”
      It doesn’t sound like this is a job with EMERGENCIES that ONLY YOU can handle.

    12. Observer*

      You are being very reasonable. But do you want to right or effective? The thing that is the least likely to create a scene is to just not be there. In nice weather can you just eat somewhere nearby so you don’t have to waste half your lunch on travel?

      Alternatively, you might talk to her about this – either ask her how to record the time or say something like “I’m concerned we could get into trouble for having me do work during lunch since we have to pay for all time worked.” Also, if your locality requires lunch breaks you could mention that, too.

      1. Champagne Cocktail*

        But do you want to right or effective?

        I think this question should be put up on my mirror so I can see it every day.

    13. Arya7*

      Would it be possible for you to talk with your boss about this? Something along the lines of:
      “If a call comes in for me while I am on my lunch break, would it be possible for me to call the customer back when I am no longer on a break?” I could be playing devil’s advocate here, but perhaps your manager truly thinks that the customer is calling to specifically speak to you about a matter you’re working on together, and wants to make sure the customer is taken care of in a timely manner. I know you’ve indicated this before, but I think you need to be more direct/blunt that 99% of the time, if a customer is asking for you by name, it’s simply because they’ve spoken with you before and just need to place an order, not because they need direct assistance. You could even offer as a suggestion that the call could go to the other customer service rep, who could take a message for you if the customer truly needs to speak with you. I’m getting the sense here that maybe your manager is truly not understanding how much this happens and how annoyed you are by the situation, and perhaps by addressing the issue with her in a more direct manner (in a separate meeting, not in the moment) could hopefully help.

      1. Sunflower*

        I would recommend talking to her as well. You should also be pointing out to her that you’re clocked out during your lunch time.

        1. Dust Bunny*

          Second this. I know she knows, but she’s probably salaried and they sometimes forget that when hourly workers are off, they are for-real _off_ and can’t legally work.

      2. Parenthetically*

        Or “If a call comes in for me while I’m on my lunch break, legally I’d need to clock back in to take the call. Instead of that, I’d like to return the call after my break to avoid any confusion with payroll about hours and overtime. Or Bob can take the call, since we don’t take our breaks at the same time for just this reason. Does that sound reasonable to you?”

    14. Watry*

      Everybody else has covered the advice, so I’m just here to offer sympathy–drives me crazy when customers learn your name and start asking for you.

      1. Artemesia*

        Sometimes people get ‘credit’ for sales and so it is a kindness to ask for the person you know as it gets added to their credit or pay. It is not obvious to an outsider if this is or isn’t the case but when they ask for a particular person it may be because they want them to get credit for the business since they have been pleased with their previous work.

      2. Richard Hershberger*

        It the penalty for a job well done. You have trained the customer that you won’t screw things up. It may be that your colleagues are at least as competent as you, but the customer doesn’t know that. I have sometimes, when on the customer side of this interaction, been explicit about the penalty for a job well done. It serves as both a compliment and an apology.

        1. Not a cat*

          Gawd! I remember having to work with clients to have them imprint on someone else. The curse of competence!

      3. Ace in the hole*

        The alternate extreme – where customers can’t seem to remember anything about you no matter how many times you’ve dealt with them – can be hilarious. I deal with a lot of unhappy people because a big part of my job is telling people “no.” It’s great when someone comes in and starts complaining to me about the horrible horrible treatment they got from “the other girl.” I love telling them I’m the only woman who works here!

    15. theletter*

      Why is your manager acting like a not-great receptionist? “hey I want you to know that So-And-So is on the phone for you but I didn’t ask him what for.” That’s not particularly useful.

      It sounds like there is a disconnect between your status as an hourly employee and “jumping on customer needs”.

      I would be clear with her that you can either be clocked out for your mandatory lunch and let those calls go to voicemail, or you can be an exempt employee who takes a lunch break when time allows.

    16. RobotWithHumanHair*

      This is exactly why I take my lunch breaks anywhere BUT our breakroom. Typically, I actually go for a run on my lunch break, so it’s nigh impossible to reach me, but in the event of inclement weather/horrendously sore legs, I grab my Kindle and go sit and hide in my car.

    17. Hapax Legomenon*

      How do you think it would go over to say, “Okay, I’ll clock back in and take my lunch later” next time she interrupts you five minutes into your lunch? A few other ideas for if it’s mid-lunch:
      “Can you take a message?”
      “Did you ask if it was okay for the other specialist to handle the call?”
      “What is the call in regards to?”
      “Is it urgent?”

      Just asking your manager if she’s done her homework before interrupting you might get your manager to think before she interrupts you might be all she needs to realize she’s being very inconsiderate, especially if she’s more distracted or stressed lately. If not, I would just write them all down somewhere, and when she does it enough times that you feel it’s appropriate to bring up, show her how much she’s doing it and ask if these calls can be handled another way.

      1. Hapax Legomenon*

        Also, I wouldn’t bring up “You’d be ticked if I did this to you.” She’s interrupting your unpaid time to make you do work you get paid for. That sounds like the better way to frame the issue, because it’s less subjective.

        1. Yorick*

          I wouldn’t bring this up either. Our bosses would certainly be ticked if we did a lot of stuff that they regularly do, like assign work to them, or talk to them about how they’ll avoid making a mistake again, or giving them a performance review.

          Ultimately, it could make sense to have you clock back in to take a customer’s call (I don’t think it makes sense now, but it could in some situations), and your boss has the authority to decide that’s what you need to do.

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        For what it’s worth, my company’s timeclock system isn’t flexible enough to let us clock back in before the legally mandated minimum time away from desk!

        1. Parenthetically*

          If that’s true for Just Peachy as well, I reckon they could use this to frame “ooh, nope, can’t” in a real tangible way — “Oh, actually, Janet in HR mentioned the other day that our timeclock system isn’t flexible enough for me just to clock back in for 5 minutes to take this call, and I’m legally not allowed to work off the clock, so I’ll have to call the customer back at the end of my lunch break.” With this framing, it’s “My hands are tied” rather than “I don’t wanna.”

    18. slayerofvampyres*

      Ugh. This is some weird, needy, and/or passive aggressive behavior. Very odd that it’s happening all of a sudden – is there any incident or interaction you can think back to that might have sparked this change? Might help to think about that in case you do need to be more on guard with her. This behavior may have nothing to do with you of course…sometimes I’ve noticed when bosses are having a difficult time in their personal life or with other ppl at the org, they get more needy, especially with their high performers. It sucks and it’s also pretty pathetic to use your power position to suck attention from your reports. Sorry, venting. My suggestion: Say in the cheeriest least-annoyed way possible: “She probably needs to place an order. I’m on my lunch break right now, but Customer Service Rep can assist her. If there’s something she needs from me specifically, I would be happy to do that as soon as I return from lunch.” Then go back to eating your lunch and reading your book. Hopefully this will be enough, but you may have to think of something if she presses…like “are you asking me to clock back in to assist this customer?” If she says yes, then I would def start finding a new place to have lunch, at least for a while to try to kick this habit. Is going home the only option? Maybe there’s something closer.

      Do you have a good relationship with the other Customer Service Rep and feel comfortable to let her know that this is happening, and/or find out if your boss is doing this to them as well? Maybe you two can make a point to intercept calls as much as possible.

      Also, if you are in a union environment, this would be a big no-no so that might be an option if she keeps pushing back when you try to set kind and reasonable boundaries. Good luck.

    19. CW*

      I once had a coworker who would do this repeatedly. There was this one day that I was not in a good mood and I finally spoke my mind when he did it again: “I’m on my lunch.”

      His exact words? – “I don’t care.”

      I was already miserable at that job for reasons that I won’t go into details here, but that was just disrespectful. And no, I am no longer working there; this happened in 2017.

      1. Curmudgeon in California*

        “I don’t care.”

        “Neither do I. I’m on my lunch. Go away.”

        Glad you aren’t working they. That’s just plain rude.

      2. Mina, The Company Prom Queen*

        A coworker? Wow. A coworker who is not your boss has no right to interrupt your lunch and try to make you do something. He was so out of line. I’m glad you don’t have to work with that guy anymore- he’s an ass.

    20. snoopythedog*

      Can you have a conversation with her to say “lately, I’ve noticed I’ve been asked to handle customer inquiries on my lunch break. Many of these requests are not urgent nor are they required to be handled solely by me. As I’m an hourly worker, I need to take the full lunch break and am not legally allowed to do work during this time. Can you help me work out a way to have coverage and ensure that my lunch break is not impinged on.”

      Treat it as a general problem, not just a specifically *her* problem, but something that she needs to help you solve (as your manager, not as the person causing the problem).

    21. Jennifer*

      I don’t think she’s going to stop. You offered her some very reasonable responses and she still bulldozed right over them. I’d start eating in the car, if possible, or in some other area of the building if I were you. Maybe splurge on lunch at a nearby restaurant if you have the extra cash sometimes. Going home is also a good option, but that’s going to eat 30 minutes of your break which is annoying.

    22. Elizabeth West*

      Ugh, this used to happen to me at OldExjob. I was the only clerical worker, and others would get up from their desks and come ALL the way into the break room to ask me stuff. I mean, I’m sitting there behind my personal laptop, with a sandwich in one hand, obviously at lunch, dude. Then they would get mad when I asked them (nicely!) to email me and I’d take care of it when I got back to my desk. *eyeroll emoji*

      Since it’s actually your manager, that’s even worse. But you should not be working when you’re off the clock.

    23. Ophelia*

      Are there any commonalities about the types of situations she’s interrupting you for? I’m wondering if there are perhaps some things she doesn’t know how to do, or maybe isn’t as proficient at, and instead of learning them/admitting it, she’s using excuses to interrupt you and have you handle them. Just a thought.

    24. Quickbeam*

      I leave the premises for lunch, it’s the only way I know of stopping this. I used to try and knit at my desk for lunch but it was one interruption after another. So now I leave.

    25. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

      Is the reorg indicative of slumping business or pressure from top management to improve customer service reviews or increase repeat orders? If the boss was given a mandate to focus more on immediate customer service and satisfaction, and has had other duties removed in order for her to do that, the company may have changed a policy or taken a harder line to any current policies about tending to customer right away and never sending them to voice mail, taking a message, or transferring them to someone else. If you suddenly start leaving for lunch, even though you are in the right, you could get blow back. Perhaps ask if there is a lunch time that will be less likely to be interrupted and that might prompt her to tell you this is going to keep going (if she says something like “No, you just have to be prepared to be interrupted/available and take the calls as they come in). Alternatively, try taking your lunch when she does — she can’t interrupt you if she is also unavailable.

    26. Sleepless*

      Things like this are why I started leaving for lunch. Every single time. I drive one mile to a nearby park and eat outside or in my car. My coworkers don’t even know where I go, they just know I’m not there.

    27. Just my two cents*

      I can understand your frustration! I think I’d start out low key and just say “I’m not working/waiting on anything time sensitive from this customer. Please get their number and I’ll call them back after my lunch break.” Be consistent with this response for a while and see if that works. If not, then I’d talk with her specifically about the issue and let her know that you prefer not to work thru your lunch unless you’re getting paid to do so, or can extend your lunch hour. (Which it sounds like you’re already doing.)

    28. Curmudgeon in California*

      “Can you take this call now?”
      “No. I’m clocked out for lunch.”

      If that doesn’t get through, you may have to eat in your car or go home for about a month.

      You’re hourly. If you’re clocked out and you take a call or do other work, you literally aren’t getting paid for that work, and your lunch hour is being stolen. If they want you to be able to jump up and work during lunch, they need to pay your lunch period, since they are wanting you on-call during it. IMO, IANAL

    29. RagingADHD*

      You put a stop to it by politely saying either

      a) “I’ll call them back when I clock in after lunch.”


      b) “Okay, I’ll clock back in and handle it. Are you authorizing overtime for this, or shall I leave early today?”

      You are not being unreasonable at all. You’re hourly. Don’t work for free.

    30. Boldly Go*

      Your response should be ” thanks, I’m on my lunch break now. I’ll get back to her before x o’clock”.

      You have to train your manager here. If you engage in any way, you’ve already messed up your lunch break. If you go to take the call, then you’ve messed up your lunch break (even if you can take back those ten minutes, but your break was interrupted and you’re annoyed).

      I had to do this at a previous job. My boss knew that I liked to take my break with a group of colleagues (“the salad group”) and she always came in, did the “oops sorry I didn’t realize you were on your lunch break” routine and I would be pissed. So I started saying that line “I’ll take care of it after my break”. (Obviously, in an emergency, I would deal with it right then).

    31. HR Lady*

      Major implications for having hourly employees work during unpaid lunch. Do you clock back in and then extend your lunch when this happens? May be a good opportunity to let your boss or HR know about the liability to the company. They could be liable for paying back years of lunch breaks if it’s evident they are having employees work (even on occasion). Also – you could talk to her, directly, she obviously hasn’t picked up on your subtle encouragement for her to not interrupt you. Talk to her and say this has started happening, I appreciate how much trust you put in me by wanting me to handle it, but my uninterrupted lunch is important to me and is actually legally protected! Can we agree for you to direct them to my voicemail/another employee etc. ?

    32. Mina, The Company Prom Queen*

      It sounds like your manager is either being clueless or passive-aggressive. Could it be that you manager, for some weird reason, doesn’t like what time you’re taking your lunch and is passive-aggressively letting you know that? I’m sure you’re taking your lunch at a reasonable time, but some managers get weird about things like that. But if that isn’t the case, it’s still odd.

      It irks me that employees are supposed to behave like work is the only important thing in our lives. Workworkworkworkwork. Of course work is important, but so are our lives. It’s okay for your lunch break to be important to you, whether you are exempt or hourly. The whole mentality that some people have that a person is a slacker if they’re not a workaholic or work martyr is b.s.

  2. Sydney Ellen Wade*

    I’m attending a fundraiser held by an organization I’d love to work for. They hired a new manager last year and I plan to congratulate him on the improvements he’s made to the company. Is it OK to give him my business card in case a position opens up? If so, what do I say?

    1. Zaphod Beeblebrox*

      Just say “I’m interested in working here – here’s my business card in case anything opens up”.

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      I don’t know that I’d lead with a business card. Can you strike up a conversation and see where it goes? Casually bring up that you’d love to work there if a position opens up? If he seems interested, you can have your business card ready.

    3. Cleopatra*

      YES !! Networking is essential!

      Don’t be pushy, just hand him the card during your conversation. And you can totally be honest by telling him that you’d love to work for this organization someday.

      1. I'm just here for the cats*

        I was going to say this too. Just introduce yourself, give your card and explain why you would like to work their, and what interests you.

    4. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I’ll go slightly against the grain here. I think it’s perfectly appropriate to network, but if he works for the organization throwing the fundraiser, he might be pretty busy during the event (with schmoozing if not with tasks). I think it’s ok to congratulate him, say you’re really interested in the organization, and ask if you can give him a call to set up a coffee meeting or just to chat. And give him your business card. But don’t have the actual conversation during the event, just use it as an opening for further conversation.

      1. RagingADHD*

        I’d go with this, but even more of a light touch. Make the connection, but just give the positive input and move on.

        Then invite for coffee or send an email later and mention your interest.

        Working an event is hard work. Asking about jobs when they are literally trying to make budget is going to come across as tone deaf – a big negative in nonprofits.

        1. Sydney Ellen Wade*

          They’re not a nonprofit and it’s not a fundraiser for them; they’re holding the fundraiser for another charity.

    5. Parenthetically*

      It would feel more natural to me somehow just to do the congratulations, chat a bit about the company, and then reach out to him on LinkedIn to try to set up a coffee. But I don’t think it would be weird at all to give him your business card and just say, “Honestly, you’ve made such a success of this place, and I’d absolutely love to chat with you if there are ever any openings in Snorkel Procurement or Snorkel Fitting for your Underwater Basket-Weaving department. Here’s my card. Thanks so much for your time, and again, huge congrats on what you’ve done with Basketry, Inc.”

    6. june june hannah*

      I would chat with him (briefly!) at the event and then follow up via LinkedIn on Monday with a personalized message. I don’t think it’s appropriate to do an elevator pitch for yourself at the event, JMO.

        1. AvonLady Barksdale*

          Then ask for his email address or card so you can follow up. Don’t expect him to follow up with you– you’re the one who wants to network, so you should initiate. I agree with jjh (and HA, by the way, love it!) that an event is not a great place to pitch yourself. It’s great for making connections, but not for more important conversations.

    7. nate333*

      Have a small talk, present your case and then add them on linkedin.

      Nobody uses business cards anymore. They are useless.

      1. Kuddel Daddeldu*

        That depends a lot on the culture. I go through a box of 200 about every 9 months, unless I am attending a trade show or speaking at a conference.
        In Europe and Asia as well as in professional settings in Canada and much of the US, business cards are still the norm and not having one at the ready would look weird.
        Ours are now hybrid – they have a QR code on the back with all the info, so the recipient can scan everything into their phone/Outlook in one second.

    8. Hawkeye is in the Details*

      I have no specific advice to give, I just want to say: Sydney Ellen Wade of Virginia — knock ‘em dead.

  3. Diahann Carroll*

    Calling all technical writers and content development managers: I need suggestions for online certificate programs that are either free or low cost (like, less than $5k) that focus on technical writing and/or content strategy/development.

    I’ve been doing my own independent research for about six months or so, and I found some very interesting classes I could take at well-known universities; HOWEVER, most of these courses are $10k plus, and I just don’t see spending that kind of money on a certificate. The one graduate certificate program I was really jazzed about, The Storytelling & Content Strategy course at The University of Washington, seemed like a winner – unfortunately, the next online program start date is March 31, and my company’s tuition reimbursement won’t kick in for me until May. The next time this program is available for enrollment will be January 2021, but I can’t wait that long – I feel like I need more training as a content strategist, especially when talking about content analysis (something I’ve never done before), so that I can better determine what kinds of pieces I need to be creating for my company’s proposal team.

    Does anyone have any advice? Any university/college suggestions? EdX course recommendations?

    1. MB*

      It’s possible that your local community college may have a certificate program, too. Otherwise, I’d imagine something like Coursera might be your best bet.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        It’s embarrassing that I didn’t even think about my local community college, but that’s a great place to start looking. I’ve only been in content development for nine months, so I need practical, hands-on training to feel truly comfortable in my role.

        1. Lyudie*

          Definitely check it out. A lot of community colleges have online courses and programs through Ed2Go, I’ve taken a few and they were generally good.

          1. Diahann Carroll*

            I just checked my city’s community college website, and they have nothing there for this – so disappointing. Off to looking at Coursera.

              1. Diahann Carroll*

                I’m not (which probably accounts for why no such program exists at my community college), but I’ll check to see if Bellevue College has any online options. Thanks!

    2. Tech Writer*

      STC offers certification, both foundation and practitioner levels. The textbook cost me $65 on Kindle, and sitting the exam is $265 for current STC members and $525 for nonmembers.

      1. Lyudie*

        Former tech writer seconding STC, they are very well known as *the* organization in the field so any certificate from them will probably be looked on favorably. They are not cheap but are probably cheaper than some of the things you are looking at now.

        1. Tech Writer*

          Can confirm that I’ve seen job postings that specifically list STC certification as “wish list” items. Most recent was tech writing for Universal Studios.

    3. CindyLouWho*

      STC also has online courses. Options are Tech Comm Fundamentals Bootcamp and Tech Comm 101 (although I don’t see it on the schedule right now).

      Go to to see a list of their courses.

      And I second the recommendation for the certification. I’m studying for my first exam now!

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        Oh man, that Tech Fundamentals Bootcamp is exactly the kind of thing I’m looking for, but it too starts long before my tuition reimbursement eligibility window. I’ll bookmark this page though, thanks!

        1. Kuddel Daddeldu*

          If you are up to it, a “new to the field” membership and the bootcamp would be a bit under $1000.
          It might be possible to talk to your manager and HR to waive the eligibility requirement – if the course is really relevant for the job they might be willing to help you there.
          Potentially with some strings attached, like if you quit of your own volition before X date you’d pay them back pro-rated.
          Just state the usefulness of the course for your job and that waiting for the eligibility would mean waiting a year, and you should have a winner.

    4. new kid*

      What CMS are you using? A lot of companies hold free webinars that are ostensibly about using their product but often have more broad applications and/or are real use cases from other folks in similar positions to yours so you can see what did (or didn’t) work for them.

      For example, I use MadCap Flare and they have hundreds of previous webinars posted on their site, which I’ve found to be a great resource in thinking through my own content strategy. Obviously, none of that amounts to a quantifiable certification, but it you care more about just gaining the knowledge (and cheaply) that might be another route.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        We don’t use technical writing software at my company in my role as a content development manager, and our content management system generates proposal docs using the templates I help write and design manually. I know that won’t be the case when I move on from my current company, so that’s another reason why I’m looking into certificate programs – I need to learn what CMSs are out there and how to use them.

        1. new kid*

          Ah gotcha. Sorry, my advice is less useful in that case. But I’ll +1 all the comments above about STC! And especially if you could swing their conference one year, all the CMS vendors will be there as well.

    5. Clementine*

      I’d prefer UW over most options, although the timing certainly isn’t great. How does the reimbursement work? Some universities allow you to defer payment for a good enough reason, so if this lack of timely reimbursement were the issue, you might be able to work with UW to make this work for you. (What I mean to ask is if you could get reimbursed later for a program that you start in March, particularly if you were able to negotiate a later payment date.)

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        To even be eligible, I have to have worked here for a year. So I can’t enroll in the course now, for example, and then go and request reimbursement later because I have to submit a form to my manager that also has to be signed by him and my division VP, then the HR rep in charge of this program. I could end up not getting it approved for whatever reason and stuck paying out of pocket for it, and I don’t have that kind of money.

        To do things by the book (and to ensure I don’t get any nasty surprises a couple months from now), I just have to hold off on enrolling anywhere until May. *sigh*

    6. Clementine*

      I won’t include a link, but the Digital Marketing Certificate at the University of Calgary is an online program, looks quite substantive, and is well under your price range, particularly considering it is in Canadian dollars.

    7. I'm just here for the cats*

      try Ed2Go at I’m not sure exactly what you’re looking for but it may help. You do get sort of like a certificate of completion and there are a lot of universities that offer it through their professional development departments. At least at my university costs are around $100 per course.

      You can also try EDX at There are thousands of different types of classes from all over the world, including Harvard, MIT, and a bunch of other Ivey League schools. Most are free but you can earn credits by paying. Prices do vary.

      Good luck and I hope you can find something that works!

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        Thank you – I bookmarked your first site (I’ve known about EdX – I just wondered if anyone knew of specific courses there that would help). Looks like I have more reading to do!

    8. Ace in the hole*

      Do you need a certificate program, or are individual classes okay?

      Oregon State University has a ton of online classes including some in technical writing (and other kinds of writing). They don’t have a certificate program for writing though. I’m an online student at OSU and have been really impressed by the quality of their courses. Tuition is about $300 per credit, so most individual classes are around $1K.

  4. Folklorist*

    My beloved boss is retiring in June. It’s sad, but not unexpected. We just got our first notifications that they’re beginning the first rounds of interviews for his replacement. My coworker and I, who will be this person’s two direct reports, are scheduled to interview the candidates as well. I’ve never interviewed a potential boss before. What sort of things should I be asking about? We’re a magazine at a science nonprofit.

    Complicating things: I’m currently job searching and not planning on staying much longer. It’s not just about his leaving—I’ve been questioning whether it’s been time to go for a while based on boredom and feeling like I’ve hit my upper limit of development here, and boss’s retirement announcement clarified that it really was time. (And no, I have no desire to apply for my boss’s job, nor am I qualified anyway.) Does my potential leaving change what I should be asking candidates?

    1. Celeste*

      I think you have to do the job until you’re gone. I don’t think the candidates need to know you plan to leave.

      As far as questions, I might ask about their management history, how they prefer to handle communications, have they been part of the non profit world before, and what kind of goals they may have for their career trajectory.

      1. Folklorist*

        Thanks! Those are great insights! To clarify, I’m not planning on telling anyone I’m leaving until I have another job in hand and give two weeks’ notice. I’m just wondering if I should ask anything about what they would look for in hiring new people or forming teams (we are potentially hiring another junior staff member as well, so I might possibly ask what the new person would look for in hiring).

        1. foolofgrace*

          I don’t understand why you would ask about their hiring practices. There’s nothing they could say that would change anything, and in fact you might be opening a door to “Hmmm, why would she ask that, is she leaving??” None of it will be your problem.

          1. Working Mom*

            Agreed. I wouldn’t try to tailor your interview of potential new bosses to your specific situation. Instead; focus on hiring a great manager. Some things to think about – culture (how the work gets done), managing/communication style. A few “tell me about time when” type questions on common management themes like delivering difficult feedback, coaching a low performing employee back to meeting expectations. How top/high performing EE’s are treated (not burning them out but also providing new challenges where possible, etc.).

            What else… I’m sure there are more topics to cover but I can’t think of more right now!

        2. Diahann Carroll*

          I would focus on asking questions about their management and leadership style and leave out the stuff about how they hire – as stated above, it really won’t be your concern once you leave and it will possibly raise flags in your coworker’s mind as to why you’re asking. If you’re trying to keep your job search secret, you’ll pretty much blow that.

          But you can ask broader questions about how they would further develop your team and ask about their experience in that arena.

        3. Curmudgeon in California*

          I would use questions about how they hire as a way to suss out what they want in subordinates. If they only want cheerful morning people, and half your department is night owls with RBF, that’s a thing to want to know. I don’t think that would throw up a red flag, since presumably your team will grow.

    2. Stormy Weather*

      I would ask what their management style was, how they think experience at Xjob on their resume will help them succeed at what they are interviewing for. If they changed industries, why. If there’s volunteer experience on their LinkedIn profile, I’d also ask what they find most valuable about it.

    3. CB*

      In addition to the great comments about management and leadership, I’ve found it to be helpful to ask about things like their vision for the team and a few growth opportunities that they’ve identified based on their research of the organization and previous interviews. Some basic questions along those lines can help identify how they operate, and how that aligns with your organization. For example, if they are a “big thinker” with their head 1,000 feet in the clouds who wants to change everything, but your organization is very rigid and “by the book”, that’s a pretty big culture clash to overcome.

    4. BookLady*

      If it were me, I’d want to know the answers to to questions listed below. And no, I wouldn’t change these because you are planning to leave. Partly because you don’t know when you will get an offer! My most recent job search (last year) took nine months. You may be working for this person for at least a few months. I would also steer clear of asking something vague like, “What is your management style?” and aim for more specific, behavioral questions. “Management style” is so broad and doesn’t really get to the heart of behaviors that matter for a manager. Think about the things that your past managers have done really well or really poorly and ask questions around those behaviors.

      Do you prefer to have regular check-ins with your reports or do you have more of an open door policy where people can come to you with issues or questions? What have you found to be the benefits and downfalls of your preferred method?

      How do you prefer to communicate with your team both as a whole and on an individual basis?

      Tell me about a time when you have had to correct or coach one of your direct reports who was underperforming. What was the situation, how did you approach the problem, and what was the outcome? Is there anything you would have done differently, looking back on it now?

      Tell me about a time when you have had interpersonal conflict in your department and/or between your direct reports. How did you approach that situation? What was the outcome and what did you learn from it?

      Tell me about how you approach giving feedback–both positive and negative–to your team. How do you encourage your team to share positive and negative feedback with one another?

      How do you promote collaboration and knowledge sharing among your team?

      How do you encourage career and professional development for the members of your team?

      How do you handle goal setting and performance evaluation for members of your team? [Note: Hopefully your HR or department have some regulations around this process, but whether or not they do, this is valuable information. I have had managers who didn’t bother with goal setting, but had to follow the annual performance review process and then we were forced to have an awkward conversation about where I’d succeeded and failed around metrics that I didn’t even know existed!]

      Tell me about a time when you advocated for your team or a direct report to upper management, HR, or another department. How did you navigate the intraoffice politics and what was the outcome?

    5. Emmie*

      * Tell me about a time when you handled a low performing employee. What made them low performing and what steps did you take?
      * Tell me about your highest performing employee. What made her a high performing employee. How did you manage her?
      * How have you measured productivity?

    6. Fikly*

      Especially given that you are not planning on staying for reasons that don’t seem to be about the place being terrible, I would feel an obligation to try to hire the best manager I could for the person replacing me.

      Use your experience in your position to know what to ask.

    7. Krabby*

      One of my friend always recommends the below question as a way to gauge how the manager values/ranks their industry knowledge over their managerial skills:
      – [Company] is providing the opportunity for you to take one of the following courses: Option A is a course on effective management, and Option B is a course on [insert highly relevant and valuable skill to have in your field]. Which option do you choose and why?

  5. Nice Legs*

    Yesterday, a male coworker said to me (female and half his age) “Wow, look at your legs! You’re walking so well!”

    Out of context, this sounds absolutely horrible and I should be walking straight to HR.

    BUT, in context, I have been recovering from a broken leg bone. My coworkers have watched me over the past two months go from non-weight-bearing with crutches, to weight-bearing with a brace; and now to being unassisted but slow and wobbly. So I’m getting plenty of comments and questions about my walking; this one amused me so much because of how awful it would sound to someone who didn’t know it was meant as a coworker genuinely thrilled with my progress. Just made me laugh to myself.

    1. Cleopatra*

      I am having a dental surgery next week, I hope someone will be telling me that I am chewing so well afterwards.

      1. toodleoodlewhordleordle*

        “Grrrrrl, what that mouth do?”
        “Functions correctly now, thank you so much!”
        “I’m so happy to hear that, congrats!”

    2. Dust Bunny*

      My boss (male, a generation older than the rest of the department. who are all female) was in a nasty car accident a few years ago and had to do some serious PT to regain the use of one of his legs. So, yeah, we’ve commented on his legs a few times.

    3. Uhtceare*

      :) I had that–I got an inordinate amount of praise as I recovered from a broken tibia, especially the first day I made it to and from the Tims all by myself.

      Cheers for a continued recovery!

    4. Fikly*

      Congrats! I’ve done that journey, it’s a tough one!

      And that reminds me of when I crutched into class in high school my first day back after having surgery, and the class spontaneously applauded (granted, I had been on crutches for pretty much 2 years leading up to this surgery, and was known around the school as “the girl on crutches”). Still, I thought it was sweet.

    5. Toothless*

      I had a similar thing with my face – I got in a bike vs car accident almost a month ago and ended up with some gnarly road rash on my face. It healed quickly enough that I got a lot of comments about “wow, look at your face!” and “you’re looking so good”

    6. Former Young Lady*

      Now I have a certain ZZ Top song playing in my head. :) Wishing you a continued successful recovery!

      1. Anonanon do do do do do*

        Ha, I had both my knees replaced and all anyone talked about were my legs! Good luck on your recovery!

    7. Parenthetically*

      Hahaha oh man I wish I were still teaching writing classes so I could use this as an example of the importance of context when pulling quotes!!

      1. WooferMom*

        I once ran into a neighbor at a work event, and when he said he barely recognized me, I blurted out “Yeah, I guess you’ve never seen me dressed!” Of course, what I meant was “dressed up” as opposed to how he was accustomed to seeing me – walking my dogs in the neighborhood in my workout clothes.

    8. MRK*

      We had a holiday event going on near my work and one of the actors figured out we had snacks out… cue him barging in before a show yelling “I need some sugar, love!” And then immediately looking mortified as he realized that I had customers.
      I meanwhile was cracking up because I knew that A. He wanted cookies and B. I’ve seen him for YEARS doing this holiday event and he’s always been super polite and nice.

  6. TCO*

    Can anyone recommend a great work tote? I’m looking for a larger tote bag to be my daily work bag–big enough to hold my laptop and a lunch when needed. I’d like something that will last for a good while, and I just don’t know where to start or what brands to trust.

    I’d like to spend around $100-125 and I want something simple, no showy designer logos or anything like that. I’m thinking leather since it ages gracefully. What have you bought that has stood up well to years of daily use?

    1. merp*

      There are good, plain-but-still-nice-looking options from baggu, both leather and canvas. You might have to scroll past their (larger) collection of patterned reusable grocery bags though.

    2. queen b*

      Might I recommend Baggu? The Large Leather tote may be what you’re looking for. Alternatively, the canvas ones are also great – they are stylish and easily washable.

      1. Lucette Kensack*

        I was going to say that $100 isn’t going to cut it for a leather tote, but if you can stretch the budget a bit it looks like the Baggu tote is on sale for $150 (from a standard price of around $250).

    3. Fishsticks*

      This is something I’ve been trying to get as well! I’m eager to see others suggestions. I’ve been casually looking at outlet stores and Nordstrom rack for bags for a while

    4. Muriel Heslop*

      Thirding Baggu! I have several of their “grocery” styles and 2 leather ones – I have been so happy with them! I use them for the gym and for toting my lunch and I have several that I use for grocery bags.

    5. AnotherAlison*

      I have a black leather Fossil tote that I’ve had for about 3 years, and it’s still in good shape. I don’t recall the specific model name, but it holds a slim laptop and personal essentials with room to spare for a lunch. I used to have a thicker laptop that also fit in it. They are a little above your range, but they do haves sales and clearances.

      1. Ama*

        My Fossil bag is just a handbag, not a tote, but as someone who is really, really hard on handbags (the one I had before this didn’t even last a year), I’m really pleased with how well it is holding up about sixish months into a very rainy winter (I commute by public transit and have about a ten minute walk from the station to my office so it gets a lot of weather exposure).

        If you aren’t picky about color or want a neutral color, waiting for a clearance sale can get you a good deal (they have seasonal colors for their standard models and some of those don’t make it to clearance).

        1. Leslie Knope*

          I’m in love with my Fossil tote bag! I got it on sale at an outlet, so I paid around $75(ish). It fits my laptop and zips closed (which is a game changer!). I’ll never go back to having an open-topped tote bag. I use it a lot for travel as well, it’s the perfect size for my second carry-on because my little purse can fit down inside of it. I’ve been using it for about 2 years now and it still looks brand new, but it’s black and doesn’t show any stains. If it were a lighter color it would probably be looking a little worn in at this point.

          Normally they would be well over $200, but they have great sales. Just keep an eye out and sign up for the email promotions so they’ll send you coupon codes.

      2. button*

        I’ll pipe in for Fossil too. I find that sales directly from their website are usually for the seasonal colors; I got mine when Macy’s was having a big sale around Xmas and it was 30% off, iirc.

    6. Joielle*

      I have a Fjallraven totepack that I love and is really sturdy and versatile – not sure if it’s formal enough for your needs, but if so I’d recommend it!

    7. Antrobii*

      Have you looked at Everlane? Their leather tote bags are very sleek and simple, and I understand hold up beautifully. They’re $175-ish, I think, which is a bit higher than your named range, but these are really high quality.

    8. Rusty Shackelford*

      I’m looking for something similar. I’m actually on the verge of buying a diaper bag from the Coach outlet (lots of people use it as a business bag), except the only versions they have available right now are leopard print faux leather (I’m not necessarily opposed to leopard print but I’d rather have something more subtle, and actual leather) or black crossgrain leather, which always looks cheap to me. Those Baggu totes are interesting, but I want a zip top and an external pocket.

      1. Leslie Knope*

        I commented above about my Fossil bag, but I can’t stop thinking about how much I love it. It has a zipper and a small external pocket (I keep my business card case in it and can fit my cell phone as well). The interior has two open pockets (for me, that’s where my keys go and my phone when I want it zipped inside) and a panel with a zipper pocket. I had measured it before I bought it to make sure it would fit my 17″ laptop. They have smaller tote versions available at Fossil, but my larger laptop presented a challenge.

        They usually have a great sales, but I’m lucky to have an outlet close. I go there a lot!

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          I do have a Fossil bag that I like a lot, but it’s more of a narrow briefcase type bag, and now I want a larger, wider tote bag. I need to give them another look!

          1. Mayflower*

            Sadly, I must report that the transit tote has very narrow straps so when you put a laptop in it, it really cuts into your shoulders (leaves marks) and sags around the connection points.

    9. Recent Grad*

      I bought a large Kate Spade tote about 5 years ago, it still looks brand new, even though I have used it as a school/work tote daily since then. If you aren’t in a rush they have really good sales every few months.

      1. BusyBee*

        Seconded! I have a black leather Kate Spade tote that I’ve carried forever and still love. There is a Kate Spade outlet near me, and they often have pretty good deals.

      2. Megan*

        I agree! They also have excellent sales on the regular. I just bought a $300 black tote for $50. Sign up for emails.

    10. KK*

      My suggestion is the “Market Tote” from Duluth Pack. I have one and love it. The leather ones would be above your price point, but the canvas ones would hit the mark. Mine is very durable and becomes multipurpose. It can handle work, weather, airplanes, picnics, beaches etc without me worrying about it’s safety. It does not have a full zip top closure though. Duluth Pack has many styles besides the Market Tote if you wanted to poke around. And they do go on sale occasionally!

    11. Lyudie*

      It’s not leather, but I have a laptop backpack from Kroser from Amazon that I really like. It has lots of pocket, plenty of room, is lightweight, and has a metal frame around the opening so it stays open.

    12. kittymommy*

      I’ve had good luck with large leather purses/totes from Kate Spade, Michael Kors, Brahmin, and Frye. Brahmin is a little pricey, but the others I’ve found at places like TJ Maxx or outlets for reasonable amounts.

    13. A Simple Narwhal*

      Timbuk2 bags are great! I don’t think they come in leather but they’re simple looking, versatile, and very durable. I have one of their backpacks for commuting to work and it’s great for carrying my laptop/lunch/shoes/etc without being bulky. They also have messenger bags if you are looking for more of a tote than a backpack.

      1. FoodieNinja*

        Seconding this! I have their convertible backpack (it has backpack straps and tote handles), and it’s been perfect for everyday work use.

    14. Vanilla Latte with an Xtra Shot*

      I really like Longchamp bags. They are simple and functional and fairly easy to keep clean. I’ve had one for almost 10 years and it’s my go to travel bag for work.

      1. RoseMai*

        Same. And they’ll repair zipper pulls/corners of the bag once for free. Plus I’ve actually cleaned mine when it’s gotten marks on it with a toothbrush and dish soap! How convenient is that.

    15. Goldfinch*

      Madewell does gorgeous leather totes.

      The Transport Leather Tote is a zip-top, is released in multiple colors during different seasons, and I’ve seen it on sale as low as $113.

      The Abroad Leather Tote is also a zip-top, but seems to have fewer colors and doesn’t go on sale as frequently (I think staple colors stay full-priced, while the seasonal colors are what get discounted to clear them out).

      1. Detective Right-All-The-Time*

        Seconding Madewell – great quality, simple, affordable (considering what they could be).
        I’ve had my Madewell leather bag for about 4-5 years and it’s still gorgeous. You can add an extra $25-30 to get it personalized. Mine is a little too small for a laptop, but it’s one of their smaller styles so I know you can get one big enough for a laptop + some lunch

    16. LKW*

      I got a large tote from Kensington. It has travelled with two laptops, notebook, electronics and emergency work kit (bandaids, breath mints, pepto pills, nail file, etc). through China, Brazil, France and the states. It had the one big feature that I wanted, a strap to hold it on a carry on suitcase. The bag itself is light, which is great given how much I have to carry in it.

    17. JessicaTate*

      I’d suggest looking at Cuyana leather totes. They have a small structured tote for about $150. I have the large zipper tote — because I travel a lot and want to maximize my carry-on capacities, while zipping up. The leather quality is really nice. It’s a very simple design, but also polished-looking. It depends on what you’re looking for in features, of course. But I invested, and so far I’ve been really happy.

      1. A.A.*

        I second this. I LOVE my Cuyana bag. I have the large one in navy and I commute on a train with it. I have used it for about a year and still looks new. It holds everything I need (water bottle, makeup kit, spare shoes, lunch, laptop, book etc.), looks incredibly professional and isn’t flashy. I work for a nonprofit that serves people experiencing poverty, but I meet with funders -think MAJOR foundations- so I need to strike that balance. I also use it while flying, as it fits under the seat in front of you. I didn’t want to spend the money, but now I am glad I did, as I don’t forsee needing a replacement anytime soon.

    18. Hi there*

      It is not leather but I love the Baggalini Avenue tote bag. Yesterday in a meeting with the faculty member she had the same bag in the same color, called Charcoal. I’ll reply to myself with a link.

    19. Tess McGill*

      I really love my “Classic Leather Tote” from Cuyana ($175.00), found in the “Work Bags” section of the website. Large enough to fit my laptop, lunch and a pair of heels. Handles long enough to go over my shoulder. It has held up beautifully for the past two years.

    20. TCO*

      Thanks for the suggestions so far, everyone! The Madewell and Fossil totes look like what I’m envisioning for style, and knowing that you’ve had them last a long time makes me more comfortable investing in a higher price–I don’t mind spending more if I know it will really last. I’ll keep reading your suggestions and once I find some good options I’ll watch for a sale.

    21. Anonny*

      It might be a bit higher than your budget, but you should take a look at North Carolina designer Holly Aiken’s website. The bags are vinyl, very stylish, and most importantly, can take a serious beating. I’ve had one of the smaller totes, and it’s outlasted 2 other laptop bags.

    22. Elizabeth West*

      Go look at TJ Maxx if you have one near you; they often have totes and purses in their bag/luggage section that are higher end brands — not necessarily designer — on sale. It’s hit or miss, and you have to keep looking, but I’ve had good luck there.

      Case in point: I found a really nice black and white Guess tote. It has a name plate on it and it’s not leather, but it’s very well made and has held up well. Plus, it’s stylish and professional looking and big enough to hold everything. The only thing it lacks is a laptop sleeve, but I don’t often take my own machine to work with me.

    23. Mimosa Jones*

      I posted a link for a really cool one last week sometime…maybe the open work thread. I’m on my phone on a road trip or I’d look it up for you, but you can search on my name to find it. The bags have a zippered “garage” space at the bottom that can hold an insulated lunch sack, a padded space for a laptop, space above the garage for smaller stuff, and two side pockets big enough to hold a water bottle. It’s a woman owned small business. They’re on back order right now but are due in on March. Cost is about $150.

      1. Matilda Jefferies*

        Minkeeblue is the bag you recommended. Mine is sitting at the post office for me to pick up tonight – I’m can’t wait!

    24. Constance Lloyd*

      Admittedly above your budget but comes with a lifetime warranty: Duluth Pack. They come in all leather (about $200.00) or canvas and leather (about $80.00). There are also some nice Vince Camuto totes on ThredUp right now, which are leather and dressier.

    25. Nom de Plume*

      I have a leather tote bag from Madewell. I absolutely love it, and the only reason I stopped carrying it to work daily is having something on one shoulder was causing issues with my back, so I switched to a backpack.

    26. Parenthetically*

      If you want genuine full-grain leather that will actually age gracefully, $100 probably won’t get you there. Waxed canvas, properly made, will stand up well over time and looks classic, and you can just sneak in under your budget for a good-size tote in waxed canvas.

    27. Jonno*

      Not a tote — but I have a fossil messenger bag that functions like this that my BF gave me as a gift and it’s AWESOME. Canvas with leather straps and super durable, lots of pockets, etc. Highly recommend, It’s maybe a few dollars more than your budget!

    28. msgumby*

      Looks like my previous comment may be stuck in moderation because I included a link, so: Nisolo Lori Tote. All leather, gorgeous, stands up to anything

    29. Hillary*

      I switch between a couple Kate Spade bags depending on the season – there are usually totes on their sale site and at the outlet stores. My current favorite is a small dressy backpack just large enough for my computer.

    30. Curmudgeon in California*

      I don’t do totes, but a good messenger bag that can hold a laptop and lunch can be used like a shoulder bag or cross-body messenger bag. The advantage of messenger bags is that they usually close with a zipper as well as a flap.

    31. Veronica Mars*

      As someone with a wee bit of OCD, I am beyond obsessed with my Dagne Dover classic tote.
      -A nice crosshatched patterned leather in a lot of colors
      -Really well constructed, with metal feet to keep the bottom off the ground
      -Zips closed to keep rain out
      -The handle is long enough to slip up over my shoulder even with my winter coat on
      -Has a neoprene sleeve to stand up my water bottle
      -Fits my (rather enormous) freezable PackIt lunchbag
      -Has separate laptop sleeve and notebook sleeve that easily fits my work laptop
      -Also has lots of little organizer pockets for pens, phone, business card, etc.
      -Does not list brand name or logos anywhere on it. I actually had to think on the name for a second

      I adore Kate Spade bags from a cuteness standpoint, but my beloved black one had the handles separate from the bag within a year. This is my replacement, going on 2 years of daily use.

      1. L*

        Seconding Dagne Dover for sure. I have one of their XL laptop bags and it holds up SO well. Not leather, but it’s my go-to even though I also have a leather Madewell tote (which has no pockets/dividers and things just become a jumbled mess…it’s also definitely showing its wear after only a year and a half).

    32. Purple*

      Wow, I was thinking of replacing my Baggallini tote, and have a list of what I narrowed it down to. (though not all of these are leather, I find that a smooth nylon is “dressy enough” for me… Here’s my list:

      – Ebags Savvy laptop tote 2
      – Caraa Sport Studio Tote
      – Michael Kors Kelsey Large
      – Baggallini Carry All Tote

      I bought one of them (The Caraa), but ultimately returned it and spiffed up my old Baggallini (had it cleaned and a strap on the verge of breaking repaired at a shoe repair) because I liked it better than anything else. Why didn’t I buy another Baggallini you might ask? Well, it comes down to features — My current bag has a perfect cell phone pocket that I literally use EVERY DAY and the new bag doesn’t have that…But in terms of keeping up with years of service and still looking great, it’s a good brand.

    33. Plus Ultra*

      I have a Timbuk2 Messenger bag that I’ve had for over 6 years. It’s canvas but super sturdy. You can customize the colors of some designs. It has a laptopo sleeve in it.

    34. AVP*

      The Madewell / J Crew Transport totes! They’re a little over your budget but go on sale pretty regularly. No logos although you can get a monogram. I fit my 13″ laptop, book or ipad, camera with lens, and regular purse stuff in mine regularly and it’s lasted in good condition for years with many more in sight (although I do polish and condition the leather once a year or so to keep it looking nice).

    35. LemonLyman*

      Portland Leather Goods (google the name of check on Etsy). Artisan leather vs dept store. I bought from them when they were a small garage store and my piece has held up well. Beautiful products!

    36. Almost graduated*

      Portland Leather Goods, if you want affordable high quality leather. Check out their almost perfect sale – my wallet as from there and I literally can’t find the issue

    37. Boldly Go*

      I’m 59, I work in NYC in a techie type role at a non profit. I commute to work so have to have things comfy and manageable.

      I gave up on tote bags and pocketbooks and… well anything that looks remotely nice and feminine.

      I use backpacks. It’s so much neater and so much better for my back. (With bags, I always felt my shoulders hurt). My latest love is patagonia (in fact, I joke that they’re so well made that I feel guilty about buying a new one).

      I take – breakfast, lunch, water bottle, coffee mug, small makeup bag, gym stuff, laptop.

      1. scribblingTiresias*

        If looks aren’t a consideration- you could also consider picking up a thinkgeek Bag of Holding or a similar Dungeons and Dragons Bag. I have one and I swear you can fit a smol army in there. It’s got so. many. pockets.
        (The Bag of Holding isn’t getting made anymore so you will have to pick one up used- sorry for the bad rec!)

  7. Amethyst*

    Anyone been the subject of coworkers watching your movements and bringing it to your boss’ attention so they then have to talk to you about it?

    Right now it’s stupid stuff: “Amethyst makes noise when she moves around in her chair.” “Amethyst spends too much time talking with coworkers.”/“Amethyst spends too much time away from her desk.” And the latest today is “Amethyst spends too much time in the bathroom.” I told Boss I have a medical issue and she stopped me right there and said she wasn’t gonna go any further. But still. This is getting absolutely ridiculous. This is my favorite job so far. (Next to no time needed on the phone, quiet environment, no dealing with people, I can wear whatever I want to work, and I can listen to music while working. Not to mention the flexibility it comes with, having work shut down occasionally due to snow or power outages, and the 4 weeks of vacation I currently have after being here four years, lol.) But it’s starting to feel…not hostile, but definitely lowkey covert toxic.

    1. Wannabe Disney Princess*

      I have a coworker who used to do this. Kept track of how long our breaks were. What time we came and went. How long we were in the bathroom. Etc. My boss told her to knock it off. Personally, I think that is what your boss should be doing – unless it truly is impacting work being done.

      1. Bostonian*

        Yup. The boss doesn’t “have to” talk to you about it, OP! Your boss shouldn’t be relaying these things to you unless she sees them as a problem. She should really be telling your coworkers to cut it out and only come to her for things that are relevant to their work. Have you asked your boss: Do YOU think it’s an issue?

      2. Diahann Carroll*

        How in the world are people like this getting any work done if they’re too busy spying on their coworkers? Your boss should have given her more work to do because, clearly, she has the time.

        1. froodle*

          They’re not, all the ones I’ve known who that were massive underperformers, but rather than try to up their work to everyone else’s standards they tried to drag the people around them down in order to look better in comparison

          1. Krabby*

            Yep. And subpar or inexperienced managers think, “Well, I need Amethyst to spend less time in the bathroom so that when I tell LazyBones the same thing, she can’t point to Amethyst and say she’s being treated unfairly.”
            When what they really need to do is say, “We’re not here to discuss Amethyst’s bathroom usage. She is performing at a level where I’m not concerned about a few minutes here or there. I still need X and Y from you though. I’m suggesting shorter bathroom trips as a possible solution, but the real problem is…”

        2. Mina, The Company Prom Queen*

          That’s what I used to wonder about Self-Appointed Hall Monitor at ex-job. I had no idea how she ever got any work done. Hopefully they are giving her more to do now! Haha!

      1. Amethyst*

        Started almost a year ago. They laid me off in November 2018 and I came back last July. Not sure why they’re monitoring me since they were all thrilled to hear I was returning.

        1. Michelle*

          Yeah, that seems weird. I was thinking maybe if you were a new employee or there had been a lot of turnover and they were all new. I agree that you should ask your boss to shut it down. Jean, Person from the Resume and Rusty Shackelford below all have great scripts. Good luck!

    2. WellRed*

      Can you ask your boss to shut this down? “Boss, I’m starting to feel low-key harrassed by coworker tracking my movements, etc. What’s going on?”

      1. WellRed*

        Ofcourse, I’m also a big proponent of saying to the ringleader (because there will be one) “Who appointed you hall monitor?”

          1. Mama Bear*

            I’d piggyback on the conversation about the bathroom and say, “Boss, it seems like someone is trying to get you to believe that there is a problem with my professionalism and it’s become very awkward, as evidenced by the bathroom conversation. I’d like to hear from you directly if there are any significant issues I need to address. Otherwise this feels like I’m being watched by my team and that’s an uncomfortable situation. Can you please talk to the reporter about their behavior? I don’t even know who it is since they aren’t coming to me about anything.”

          2. Jules the 3rd*

            Maybe ask your manager if this is normal – a script like, “You know, we’ve had several conversations about this, and I’m trying to take the concerns seriously. But, do you have concerns with my work? If you don’t have concerns, can you filter this for me a little bit, and help me focus on ways to make my work better? These are getting distracting.”

      2. LKW*

        This. “This is the nth time you’ve brought me into your office to discuss. Are you concerned with my performance or my squeaky chair? If you’re not concerned, then I’m unclear on why we are discussing this. Is there something you can do to put a stop to this?”

    3. Jean*

      Confront. “I noticed you’ve been tracking and reporting my actions to my supervisor, which I find odd. Is there a reason you feel the need to do this?” Keep tone calm and even, maintain eye contact, and be silent while waiting for them to answer. For 9/10 people, this will be enough for them to get the message that you are Not The One to be pulling these shenanigans with. That 1/10 will respond in a way that tells you they feel entitled to do this. In that case you will need to escalate to your manager that you feel hostility from this person and it’s making you uncomfortable.

    4. Person from the Resume*

      It’s really your boss’s job to shut your co-worker down and not bring it up to you. She doesn’t HAVE TO talk to you about it; she’s been choosing to do so.

      You can maybe prompt her by having a big picture discussion with your boss and say “This keeps coming up and it’s been nothing each time. Can you tell coworker to stop tracking and reporting my movements to you?” but honestly that’s not your job. Your boss should have figured this out on her own already.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        This. “Boss, are you unhappy with my productivity? Do you think I should be doing more? Because otherwise I don’t understand why you’re paying attention to rumors about how I spend my time.”

        1. snoopythedog*

          Yup. This.

          Combined with “hearing reports of how my coworkers are tracking me makes me feel uncomfortable in my work space. I’m trusting you as my boss to bring forward legitimate issues with me. Hearing others complaints through you makes me feel as if you agree them with. If these issues are not legitimate, I would hope that you are shutting down this unnecessary talk and gossiping about my medical and other issues”

    5. OperaArt*

      Your boss doesn’t have to talk to you about it. She has other options, such as telling the weirdly involved colleagues to knock it off.
      Do you have a good enough relationship with her to discuss options?

          1. Diahann Carroll*

            This is a possibility, but I would imagine if the OP asks her manager directly about what’s going on, the manager may then actually talk about whatever is really bothering her about the OP’s conduct. Or not. If I was OP, I’d use Rusty’s script in any case so she can see the manager’s response.

      1. Not Me*

        +100. There’s no reason the boss should be entertaining these “complaints” at this point, and should be shutting it down.

    6. CatCat*

      That sounds incredibly annoying. Your boss needs to find out from the people complaining what the problem actually is before addressing anything with you. She doesn’t “have to” talk to you about any of this. Your chair makes noise? You’re in the bathroom “too long”? You’re away from your desk “too long”?

      So what.

      What does any of that have to do with work getting done or not done? Your boss should be looking for more info on an actual problem. If it turns out there is no “there” there with the complaints, she should be telling your coworkers to knock it off.

    7. Muriel Heslop*

      I teach middle school and this behavior is very big with that age. Students who do this I send away, and then discipline if it continues. I try to encourage people to work with their peer before bringing it to me.

      It’s super-annoying. What is your boss’ reaction? It’s unclear to me from your letter.

      1. Amethyst*

        Mostly just eye-rolls and doing her duty as a boss to check in as concerns/complaints were raised. I’m assuming for her own documentation purposes. She well knows that the complaints are just dumb. She did say she wasn’t trying to be malicious asking me about the bathroom trips but did say she’d reach out to HR and see what they want to do, and mentioned that they might ask me to clock out if I’m going to be in there for a while due to my medical issue. But at this point nothing’s solid re: that.

        Everyone here is between the ages of 26-pushing 70.

        1. Muriel Heslop*

          Sadly, chronological age often has no bearing on emotional age. I’m so sorry you are dealing with this. This is almost never the behavior of people who feels confident or secure in themselves. I’m glad your boss is annoyed rather than giving it credence – I hope it stops soon!

          1. valentine*

            doing her duty as a boss to check in as concerns/complaints were raised. I’m assuming for her own documentation purposes. She well knows that the complaints are just dumb.
            There is no need to check with you about childish complaints. She can tell them to stop and that it is a performance issue: theirs.

            She did say she wasn’t trying to be malicious asking me about the bathroom trips but did say she’d reach out to HR and see what they want to do, and mentioned that they might ask me to clock out if I’m going to be in there for a while due to my medical issue.
            There’s no need for this if it isn’t affecting your work and, if it were, I would think you’d already be working later or whatever. I think Alison has said bathroom breaks up to 20 minutes have to be paid, so, be sure they don’t short you.

            1. Working Mom*

              I don’t have an exact script… but I’m wondering if some conversation with your boss next step a “complaint” is communicated to you – even if boss shares it with an eyeroll, etc. Can we craft a phrase that says something like, “Hey can we agree these ‘complaints” are ridiculous? If my performance is on point and these are not real issues, I’d like to stop giving them life by discussing them.”

              Maybe there’s also something to add in like “and can you please discuss with whomever these are coming from that they are not appropriate?”

              I don’t have the right words – maybe someone else does!

              As a side note – I once had an EE resign and when I got access to her files (to move any relevant files to the shared drive) I found an exhaustive list of “complaints” about another EE. It was a list of dates/times and comments, non-verbals, etc. It was so completely absurd!!!

        2. Bostonian*

          No! You being the only one clocking out to use the restroom? Isn’t that essentially docking your pay because of a medical issue? That seems like a liability on their part.

          1. Diahann Carroll*

            That is horrible practice, not to mention an extreme overreaction by going to HR about this in the first place.

            Something in the milk ain’t clean here.

            1. Amethyst*

              Thank you. That’s what I think too, but again, nothing has come of it yet. Today’s the first I’ve heard of the latest complaint. The parent company is huge–several million employees total in the US alone–so I’m sure they’re not going to dock my pay. My boss isn’t HR (HR is off-site) so she was just coming up with examples when we discussed it & said she’d wait for HR to come back with what they need from me (if anything) to accommodate my issue.

              1. Diahann Carroll*

                You might want to be proactive and reach out to HR yourself. Not in a “I’m tattling on my boss” type of way, but in a “I’m having these issues with anonymous reports about my bathroom usage and I have a medical issue – is there something I need to be doing or reporting to you all so my coworkers can stop bringing this up” kind of way. But only do this if you think your HR benefits coordinator can be discreet. If they can’t, tread carefully.

                1. Amethyst*

                  Thanks, I’ll do that if I’m dissatisfied with HR’s reply to Boss about it. I don’t think I will; HR at my company is excellent & I haven’t had any issues with them in the four years I’ve worked there. Hopefully I’ll know by Tuesday or so what they need from me (a doctor’s note stating I need accommodation? Nothing? Something else? Who knows) & go from there.

        3. Jack Russell Terrier*

          I wonder how she’s ‘doing her duty as a boss to check in as concerns/complaints were raised’. Boss hears complaints, takes them under advisement *while* telling Complainer it’s not her job to monitor people – it’s Boss’s job. Boss goes ahead and does that, notices there’s nothing to the complaints in this case and documents that herself without involving you. Complainer comes back – Boss says ‘we’ve discussed this before, please concentrate on your work and don’t monitor your fellow colleagues – that’s my job’. Boss tells you only that she’s told Complainer not to monitor you that you are fine and ignore Complainer – Boss will deal with Complainer. This is part of being a manager. She has the power – you don’t.

          The bathroom breaks are beside the point and not her business (ha) – she didn’t need to bring it up. As long as she’s satisfied with your work long bathroom breaks are irrelevant, you’ll still get your work done, assuming you’re exempt.

          1. Working Mom*

            Yes – I have had employees come to me with absurd things like this about other people. “Did you know that Sally has been coming in 15 min late every day for weeks?” etc. My response to those people was always “you worry about yourself – I’ll worry about other people” – while also noting that there may agreements that she was unaware of. (B/c I always wanted to nip in the bud that something was wrong if it wasn’t. and honestly – even if something was wrong it’s none of her business.)

            So yeah, I’d wonder about that too. Wonder if your boss wasn’t sure what was going on and shared it with you to gauge your reaction??

    8. AnonyMouse*

      Unfortunately, yes. It was like no one was allowed to take a break except for her! Unfortunately, my boss in my old job didn’t shut it down. The person eventually left, but it still felt like I was being watched constantly. I hated it, so I definitely feel your pain.

    9. RestResetRule*

      A past coworker of mine joined me in the elevator one morning when I was feeling grumpy and apparently reported to my boss from that one experience that “I seemed unhappy and unenthusiastic about going to work.” That ish came up in my annual performance review. So, apparently, one morning of RBF (resting bitch face to the layman) isn’t acceptable.

      I left, obviously.

      1. Mina, The Company Prom Queen*

        Wow. Sounds like your manager wasn’t doing their job if a hearsay report from a few minutes in the elevator one morning turned up in your performance review.

        And what was the coworker’s deal reporting that to your manager? I hope that ex-coworker went and got a life! I’m sorry you had that experience and am glad you got out.

    10. NaoNao*

      This sounds a little odd, but do you work for a library? I was subject to very similar “monitoring” when I worked as a clerk for the library. I couldn’t understand it, but my best guess was I worked in the children’s area, which was a separate part mostly away from the public’s prying eyes and really far away from the boss. The clerks who worked circulation (this was before self check out) felt like they were on display and being held to a standard that I wasn’t, even though that wasn’t super true.

    11. ProperDose*

      wow I’m having flashbacks now to when an ex- co-worker was doing this to me! it’s oddly comforting that I’m not the only one who experienced such a thing. It just seemed SO STRANGE that someone would take the time to do this.
      They would say things to me like “wow! that was a big yawn!”, comment on how much I sighed at work, comment on my walking gait in a concerned tone (???). Be oddly intrusive with other random things. Took an opportunity to tell me what they thought all of my negative traits are “you’re too sensitive” “too obsessive over things” “talk too loud”.
      I did bring it to the attention of my boss, asking if there’s anything wrong with my work performance, because X coworker said this stuff to me. To which my boss said this was all news to them, and didn’t agree.

      It was a toxic environment that I was dealing with, but this coworker just added on to it, and it drove my mental health down the toilet. I took FMLA leave to recover, quit that job, and moved to a new city :)

      1. Mina, The Company Prom Queen*

        Your ex-coworker sounds psychotic. What kind of person talks to their colleagues that way?

    12. Hedgehug*

      I don’t even understand why, if your manager agrees these complaints are stupid (which they are) why are they are telling you about them, instead of telling the person/s to stop their pointless complaining?
      “No, I’m not going to tell Amethyst about that, because it’s a non-issue that you need to learn how to grow up and deal with.” Like, squeaky chair?? That isn’t your fault. Are they asking your manager to get you a new chair, or blaming you for the squeaky chair?
      These complaints being told to you serve absolutely no purpose other than to make you paranoid and upset you. That is what I would be telling your boss. “Hey, I just need to let you know, that when you tell me these complaints, I find they serve no purpose, to which you seem to agree, and they only leave me feeling upset, hurt and paranoid that everyone is watching me. Can you please put an end to it?”

    13. What She Said*

      Another possible scenario: are you sure someone else is monitoring and it’s not actually coming from your boss? I had a boss who would bring things up like this, small non-work affecting stuff, and over time it became very clear it was her. She was just putting the blame on someone else and would never admit it was actually her complaint. Because they were silly and petty things I simply stopped caring and listening to her when she’d pull me aside.

    14. Minimax*

      Yes! And it is 100% a boss problem. Boss is being passive, not managing your coworker, and then passing off unhelpful nitpicky comments to you. All of that is innappropriate. It reeks of “Im too passive to manage so I share unhelpful critical feedback in the guise of managing”. I can guarantee you the boss is just saying to the other person “Ill address it with amethyst”

    15. Stornry*

      I’ve had this too — spending too much time chatting (I’m an introvert; I very rarely “chat”) and “hovering” when someone else is talking to the Admin (when if they’d just stop for a second and let me ask my question and leave….). But the thing is, the last time it was “a thing” my supervisor actually did “have to talk” to me because the complainer was HER boss. Sup knew it was stupid but since her boss was the complainer, well…. there you go.

    16. Amethyst*


      I went back to Boss using a version of Rusty’s script (thank you!). She was completely unconcerned with my productivity; she has no issues whatsoever with that & she has observed that I get my stuff done. Boss said she points out the reverse of the situations to Complainers when they come to her about So & So: “You’re spending X amount of time watching everyone else; how in the world are you getting your own stuff done?” (as an example). She also tells them that optics aren’t everything when they approach her again about an issue she’s already addressed with Complainer’s Subject, & reminds them it’s an HR issue & it’s none of their business to know what was discussed. These same people have also gone above her head to HR with a few different people, so she knows how they play. She called herself the highest paid babysitter in [our state], if not the country based on Complainers’ antics, & has warned them to mind their own business.

      Boss approached me out of the POV of “Do we need to give her more bathroom breaks because of ___ or any other accommodation due to the frequency of these trips?” not “This is affecting her productivity so this is a problem.” because, again, she doesn’t care about productivity. That, & our parent company has a slew of policies & procedures in place that require her to document the steps she’s taken to address an issue raised. Our parent company, I learned, is much more strict than we are (they’re very much “butts in seats” unless excused) which makes me appreciate my job much more as they’ve worked hard to shield us from that mentality.

      My boss is a good one; she’s not passive-aggressive & she doesn’t hide behind others to deliver her message.

      I work in a medical billing office, not a library. :)

      Thank you all for your feedback; it really helped.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        Well, I’m glad you’ve sorted (most of) this out. I breathed a sigh of relief for you that your manager wasn’t actually the one making up these complaints for fear of having a direct conversation with you – that kind of thing drives me crazy. I just needs to continue shutting the complainers down and stop bringing their nonsense to you.

      2. Rusty Shackelford*

        That’s good, but it still doesn’t explain why she’s listening to these complaints and actually bringing them to you.

      3. MacGillicuddy*

        I had a busybody coworker like this. She complained to our boss: “MacGillicuddy comes in late and leaves early so I don’t know how they’re getting their work done!” With boss’s approval I was working until 8 pm some nights and some Saturdays. Busybody coworker didn’t know this & I didn’t tell her, because it was none of her business. She’d make snide comments to me, which I ignored
        Boss told me what she replied to coworker: “I don’t have a problem with MacGillicuddy not getting their work done.”
        I’m sure that coworker’s understanding of that was “MacGillicuddy doesn’t get their work done, but I don’t have a problem with that.”
        I’m sure it bugged the heck out of coworker. I refused to justify myself to her.

    17. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

      Are you 100% sure it’s actually coming from the co-worker(s) and isn’t just the Boss having her own ‘complaints’ but attributing them to other people for whatever reason?

      Can you think of anything that changed around the time this started happening?

      1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

        Sorry I didn’t hit refresh so the first part is irrelevant! But I’m still curious what’s prompted it to start, if anything has made these people start doing this?

    18. Greasy turtle burger*

      Wow…I wonder how much time your co-worker is wasting while keeping up with what your doing?

    19. Mina, The Company Prom Queen*

      Oh no! Do you work with the same Self-Appointed Hall Monitor as I did at ex-job? Sounds just like her (even if you don’t know who it is). This person must have a lot of time on their hands if they are spending it monitoring you and bringing the air you breathe to your boss’s attention.

      It might be good for you to document how you spend your time and what you work on and accomplish each day. Not in painful detail, but enough to be able to show your boss exactly what you have been doing. It’s also good, in any case, to give your boss regular updates so she knows what you’re doing. Not to invite micromanagement, but to CYA with your boss. You could mention what you’ve been up to in your weekly one-on-one meetings (if you have them) or just send her an email update either daily or weekly.

      I hope you’re able to resolve this soon and are able to work in peace at your otherwise great job!

  8. pally*

    So what does a background check -for a non-government job -usually consist of?
    I’m wondering how in-depth-or how far back- they go in regards to one’s employment history.
    Would getting the dates wrong on a job from long ago result in a disqualification?
    Thank you.

    1. Miss May*

      Depends on the job, honestly. Sometimes I’ve never had to fill anything out, but my partner had a way more in depth one. He accidentally messed up a section of the form, and he just called the contact back to fix it. It wasn’t a huge deal.

    2. Person from the Resume*

      The depth of the background check really depends on the job, but if your dates are close to accurate you should be fine. If they are wildly off so that it looks like trying to hide something that could result in a request for explanation or a disqualification.

    3. ffd*

      They should tell you how far back they go. I’ve had some background checks that didn’t do much, but my current industry is pretty intense (as in, they’ll ask for two people who can prove you were doing what you said you were doing, then ask those people for another person to confirm). I try to get within a week or two of when I started, and that’s never been an issue (so far).

    4. Anna*

      It really depends on the job. I have a non-government job, but one that handles private data and I needed to provide 10 years of work history and wound up needing to provide paystubs and tax forms for two jobs (a bartending job from college and a contracting job) that they were unable to confirm. Had I not been able to provide them I think it might have resulted in disqualification and definitely would have resulted in some follow up questions.

    5. Sunflower*

      It probably won’t disqualify you but it might hold up the process. 2 jobs ago, I started in one dept part-time and switched to another dept full time after 3 months. When my company did the background check for my current job, OldCompany gave my start dates as the full time job instead of the total time. I was freaking out but my company was fine with it and didn’t even bother going back to them. If you’re concerned, you can always call HR and have them verify that your dates are aligned.

      They usually just call HR depts and ask to verify job title and employment dates. Depending on the position, they might run a credit/criminal check. Some places may request college transcripts but I’ve never seen it as far as I know.

    6. LKW*

      Depends on the job. Could be financial, criminal and if you have to pee in a cup or have your hair snipped, drug use.

    7. RagingADHD*

      The one I had to do a few years ago went all the way back to forever, but IIRC there was enough space on the form that I could put (est.) or (approx.)

      I’m sure most people can’t swear under oath whether their official start date on a job 10+ years ago was in March or April, or whatever.

      1. Brioche*

        Funnily enough, I’m currently applying for my state’s bar exam and you basically have to swear under oath that the dates you’ve provided for all of your jobs within the last 10 years are accurate. It’s…stressful.

        1. Amy Sly*

          Oh Lord, don’t give me flashbacks to that! Made so much worse by the fact that bar exam 1 was when my husband had been switched after the fact to a 1099 and so we were on the hook for $4K of employment taxes while basically living on student loans, and then bar exam 2 was only a couple years after our foreclosure. (“Yes, we technically owe a $17K deficiency payment, but the bank has yet to ask for it” was a fun memo to write.)

        2. RecoveringSWO*

          If you had to provide dates to your law school, try to pull up a copy of your application. That way you have the same estimated month of employment for each job. My state recommended this because they cross referenced information with your law school records.

          What worked well for me was keeping a printed copy of my government security clearance paperwork. I’ve been able to find all of those random dates years down the road for different applications!

        3. RagingADHD*

          Yeah, I could probably do up to 10 years with a little digging. But I am old enough to have outlived many, many computers and quite a few of the smaller businesses I worked for, if we’re going all the way back to my first job ever. They just had to rely on my best guess.

          I got the clearance, so it wasn’t a problem.

      2. Kyrielle*

        Yep! If I had to do an exhaustive list of jobs, there’s one I could at best put “1 day in the summer, sometime in the 1990s”.

        Dude, I was still in school, and I noped out of that workplace so fast I don’t remember a single detail about the company. (I remember a lot of details about the job and the calls I was making. Asked if the job required cold-call sales, was told no, found myself doing cold-call surveys and encouraging people to vote particular ways based on organization membership.)

    8. Elizabeth West*

      Most of my jobs simply checked dates of employment with previous employers and my references. Some of them didn’t even bother with the references. I’ve never worked anywhere an FBI-level check would be done, although when I applied for an internship at OldCity PD, they asked for every address where I’d ever lived within a lengthy period. I really had to reach back for that.

    9. Breezer*

      Generally, 7-10 years of prior employment, plus your most recent degree. You want to be as close as you can – a month or two won’t matter, but 3+ months will get flagged in the system, and 6+ months could be cause for a formal review.

      1. Rollergirl09*

        In banking it is typically the previous 10 years, credit report, finger printing, criminal background check, and drug test (if your company does that-mine doesn’t).

        One good way to refresh your memory on dates of employment is to pull a credit report on annualcreditreport[dot]com and see what years they had you working at what jobs. If you’re off by a month or two they typically don’t get too bent out of shape. If you said you worked at Acme Teapots for three years and you worked there for 18 months, that’s a problem.

    10. whocanpickone*

      It depends on the industry, but ours (tech) are a credit report and a criminal background check. It isn’t usually checking the prior employment. We might do that with references, etc, but it isn’t an official part of the background check.

    11. pally*

      Thanks all! You’ve been very helpful. I’ve never experienced a background check. At a recent interview they told me they would do this.
      It scared me. I don’t have a record, have a high credit score and a long, stable job history.

      I figured they would reject me if I got the dates incorrect for a job 30 years ago with a company that no longer exists. Maybe they won’t believe my history if that happens. Or they might include a check on family members who are convicted criminals (!).

    12. Anon Here*

      The ones that I’ve done have only included criminal history. Sometimes they include traffic violations. The ones that involve working with minors have included a Live Scan where they take finger prints. They care about felonies and misdemeanors that could signify a danger to other people. They have never cared that I took an illegal left turn five years ago. They’ve never verified my dates of employment either (that I know of).

    13. Seeking Second Childhood*

      This would be a good idea for a ‘things to teach teens’ list: keep a running list of your addresses & jobs so you don’t have to regenerate it later.
      This would also be a good topic for discussion with advocates for the homeless & foster kids–how do you fill those out without revealing more than you want? How many people who grew up without a stable address get discouraged from applications with background checks?
      (I couldn’t do it and I DID have a stable home growing up — I don’t know the address of my apartment in college, or of some shared rentals in the first yeats after graduation.)

  9. queen b*

    I just… don’t have a lot to do at work. I thought it was just a slow period, but nothing has been coming in. I’m a contract employee, and I want to prove my worth in order to get hired full time, but I feel like my boss is kind of steamrolling me and just does things for me. I don’t want her to do this, I want to learn!!! I’m really frustrated, and considering job searching even though it’s only been 3 months. Unfortunately, it wouldn’t be possible to take a pay cut which I fear I may have to do to find a job that I like. Any advice if you’ve been in similar situations?

    I already ask for more work to do, but after I while I just stopped because it felt pedantic and no changes were happening.

    1. Uncannycanuck*

      Start job searching, but not for anything at a pay cut. Keep an eye on positions within the company to move into, as that’s the easiest move (and you can say you’re applying for anything permanent internal).
      Then figure out what you can do to stay sane. Can you listen to podcasts/audio books while you work or “work”? Can you take an online course sort of related to your work? Can you read technical content to improve your knowledge base?

      1. queen b*

        this is good advice, thank you! I should look into courses I can take…. I am also considering talking to my consulting firm boss and being like, hey, I’m not sure this role is for me – is there anything we can do about it. I don’t know if it’s in their best interest to pull me from the project, but we’ll see!

        1. foolofgrace*

          That would also give your contracting company a head’s up that your contract might be ending early. It’s happened to me when I was a contract employee. Contract terminated early, not because I was a bad employee but because… budgetary reasons? I’ll never know. But telling your company might have them looking for something else for you.

    2. Do I need a hard hat for this?*

      This was me for pretty much all of 2019. I work for a construction company and we had two large projects going, but they were out of town. Normally I would travel between job sites about 30% of my week for local projects, but with projects further away that’s not an option. In 2019 I spent way more time at my desk than I had in the 5 years I’ve worked for company.

      Part of the problem was that my boss traveled to the far away projects almost weekly, but I would only do a trip there once a month. My boss and I have had several conversations about how he needs to delegate to me more, especially when he travels and can’t be in the office, but he’s notoriously bad at not being able to let go of control. I finally told him that when we do projects like that, I end up spending about a third of my time sitting at my desk reading news articles (and getting addicted to AAM!). If I’m having to wait on him to get back to the office to give me tasks, then I spend a lot of my time being unproductive! I hate feeling unproductive, so it was really affecting my satisfaction with my job. He took that to heart and finally started giving some of what was on his plate.

      I would say you need to talk to your manager about it. Let them know that you want to learn, want to be productive, and want to feel like you’re really contributing. In the meantime, I like Uncannycanuck’s idea to do an online course. I’ve been brushing up on my Spanish with Duolingo in my downtime. It’s relevant to my job to at least be able to understand Spanish, so I’m trying to get better. I’ve been pretty honest with my boss that I do that for like 30 minutes a day while I’m at work.

      Good luck!

    3. Koala dreams*

      I think it’s a great idea to job search. Since you are not an employee, you are not expected to stay on for years, and if work slows down to the point of laying people off, contractors are often first to go.

      You can also have a conversation with your boss where you make it clear that you are interested in taking on more work. It’s not an either-or situation.

  10. Seifer*

    How ridiculous is it that I have to train my boss and my other coworker how to do my job because we’re a team now and I get paid the least out of all of these people. And when I went to talk to my grandboss about it, he said, I don’t understand what the problem is, I gave you the highest raise in the company, 5%!!!

    Well, yeah, but… if you’re talking real dollars, you can afford to give me that much of a raise because if you gave someone else a 1% raise it would be more than what I got. Ugh. So frustrating.

    1. Narvo Flieboppen*

      I hear you about the overall raise amount, but likewise, training your coworkers on how to do your job because you’re a team is totally normal. This is a thing professionals do, at most pay grades. Please try to separate in your mind ‘normal professional job duty’ from ‘I’m not paid enough’.

      As an example: In addition to training, I’m writing a guide on my position, which is currently 95 pages of step by step directions with screenshots and notable exceptions listed. I’m only about halfway done.

      If the low pay is truly an issue and no raises are forthcoming, it may be time to look for other employment.

      1. Seifer*

        We were not a team before. We are now a team. I have a new boss and a new coworker, neither of which have any background or knowledge in my job, and I am the only one that does my job.

        1. Miss Mouse*

          I think it is totally normal for your boss and a coworker to be trained by you on how to your job so that (1) your boss can better understand what the job does and requires which will also allow her to better support you and to evaluate your performance and (2) your coworker can act as your back-up in case you are out of office, busy and need assistance, quit, etc. All members of our department have their primary job duties and also are trained as back-ups for their co-workers, and we are all at various pay grades. Please look at this as an opportunity to integrate with your new team and show them how excellent you are at your job.

        2. Fikly*

          That’s why you need to train them, because they need that background and knowledge to work with you effectively.

          If you don’t want to be part of a team, or you want to be paid more, that’s a very separate issue. What you are being asked to do is not only reasonable, but best practices.

        3. EinJungerLudendorff*

          Like others said: if you are the only one who know how to do your job, then that is a big potential problem for management.

    2. LKW*

      Are they learning your job so that you can take time away from the office? Wouldn’t that be to your advantage? I’m assuming that their jobs are different and they aren’t just doing what you do – but for more money.

    3. Bed Bath ab*

      Not ridiculous at all. Perfectly normal and reasonable, in fact. I think if you find it so ridiculous you probably have other issues with this job, or you have some very unrealistic expectations.

    4. Bed Bath AND Beyond*

      Not ridiculous at all. Perfectly normal and reasonable, in fact. I think if you find it so ridiculous you probably have other issues with this job, or you have some very unrealistic expectations.

  11. Muriel Heslop*

    My husband is job-hunting for the first time (he’s always been recruited) in his early 50s and we are both overwhelmed. He’s a lawyer currently employed by the government and would like to transition out of the public sector. His age and not having portable business are both huge strikes, and additionally the firms he works that hire people with similar experience with want him to stay where he is because he’s such a strong litigator and easy to work with. I’m in a completely unrelated field (teaching) – can anyone share any wisdom with us? We are both frustrated.

      1. irene adler*

        Yeah- find the specialized recruiter.
        In addition to reaching out to past recruiters, might do a little networking. Does the local Bar Association have any sort of meetings he might attend? Might go to a few and ask folks if they know any names of specialized recruiters. It might take asking several people, but there’s always some names folks “in the biz” know about, who specializes. Might also build a network for job searching as well. Also might see if they have any kind of help with the job search: seminars, networking events, etc.

        Bit of a long shot: visit LinkedIn and see if there’s a group pertaining to his specialty that he might join. Or a group local to your area. Then see who frequents this group. Some recruiters tend to ‘hang out’ there, searching for folks to fit positions they need to fill. Some are very involved in the field and will be an excellent source of knowledgeable suggestions on resume and job searching, folks to know, etc.

        And, get some guidance on a non-government resume. I know gov’t wants these to be many pages in length; folks outside gov’t want the opposite. Concentrate on recent work experiences. And keep the length down to a few pages. This might also be a good topic to ask about when talking with folks at Bar Association meetings.

        1. RecoveringSWO*

          +1 on attending bar association meetings for the section of law he practices. He’ll likely get the best intel there.

          At 50, he probably has a pension lined up from the govt job, that security in retirement may open more career choices now. Does he want to keep practicing in his current field? Does he need to make the same salary he currently makes? Is moving an option?

          My Aunt opened up a Wills & Estates practice as a 2nd career in her late 50s. It allowed her to live in a lower COL town and enjoy more control over her job/hours as her priorities changed later in life. Her age seems to be beneficial as many clients are her age or older and prefer having an attorney her age for these sorts of matters. So changing practices might be something to think about.

          I also know a number of attorneys who choose consulting or government contracting jobs over attorney positions because they simply couldn’t pay off their loans with the legal jobs they were offered. Based on your lobbying comment, I imagine that your husband wouldn’t want to shift careers just to maintain his pay. I suggest that he tries to find a specialist headhunter and attends lots of bar association events to network–I bet there are resources for transitioning civil servants through federal government employee associations as well. Good luck!

    1. lost academic*

      I agree about finding a specialized recruiter. I also know how hard this would be to manage, but it might be worth checking into academia, even with how tight the market for law professors is everywhere, all the time – but it’s an extra avenue to check.

    2. Goldfinch*

      He wouldn’t need a book if he was looking at in-house positions, would he? Can he pivot to something business-specific, like IP or regulatory compliance?

      1. Muriel Heslop*

        He has a lot of regulatory experience and has litigated some high-level cases but his background is *very specific*. He has had interest from some lobby groups, but he is very clear that he doesn’t want to do that.
        He has interviewed with a few companies who have thought he was too specialized for what they need and too expensive.

        And has no IP background, sadly. Lots of that available.

      2. Legally a Vacuum*

        We have in-house litigation counsel- definitely worth looking outside firms. GoInHouse dot com was a good resource when I was job hunting.

    3. LadyByTheLake*

      If he’s a litigator, and in-house litigation coordinator position is a likely transition job.

    4. Auntie Social*

      Does he have friendships with defense attorneys? Friendships with the same jobs in different cities, maybe that you went to continuing ed with? Former prosecutors often become defense lawyers for much more money–good prosecutors make even better criminal defense attorneys. And there are specialized, lawyers-only head hunters in the larger cities.

    5. Muriel Heslop*

      Thanks for the great advice, everyone! He has a really specialized background and there isn’t a huge market for it everywhere. He’s overqualified for a lot of the things we have seen and the one recruiter he met with didn’t seem interested because doesn’t do tech/IP. And of course, he’s swamped at work without a lot of time to job hunt.
      He’s only been recruited by other lawyers – he has never worked with a recruiter.

      We will start looking for new recruiters and maybe start accepting that a relocation is in our future.

  12. Cliff*

    Does anyone have suggestions for how to develop your reports to be better managers if you yourself never had any formal management training?

    1. Uncannycanuck*

      Office book club about relevant books that will help you explore improving management skills. I’d suggest “Crucial Conversations” as an example.

    2. SarahKay*

      Get them reading this column.
      I would never choose to be a manager again (I did it for three years, and wasn’t *bad* at it; merely average, but for a disproportionate amount of my effort. Turns out I like working with spreadsheets a whole lot more than directing people!) but if for some reason I had to I know that I would do a far better job of it having discovered AAM a couple of years ago.

      1. Forever Annon*

        How did you transition out of your management role?

        Did you end up having to take a pay cut in your new position?

        1. SarahKay*

          It was retail, about 15 years ago, and the company went bust so I had no choice. I was sad to leave the store, but not sorry to leave the management role. After that I applied for admin roles, and got one which was about a 10% pay cut in base pay but the overtime and hours were better.
          Then I moved to finance three years after starting the admin role, having put myself through evening classes to get an accounting qualification, and rapidly outpaced my retail management salary from there.
          When interviewing for admin roles I did get the questions about why I wanted to stop being a manager, how would I handle the step down, etc, but I was just clear when discussing it that I’d tried it and knew it wasn’t for me and was happy to have the change in direction.
          I can see that stepping down from a non-retail management role could well entail a bigger pay cut, I guess depending how far up the ladder one is. I’m also aware that my refusal to manage anyone in my current company means I’m approaching the limits of any upwards progression, but my manager knows I understand and accept that. (Also, he knows a good thing when he sees it, so isn’t about to try and force me into it!) I earn enough – comfortably enough – to pay my mortgage and bills, and buy treats / go on holiday etc so my feeling is, why make myself miserable just for more money?

    3. Elizabeth Proctor*

      I find the tools from Managing to Change the World (co-authored by our fearless leader Alison) to be really helpful.

  13. Spills*

    An exciting update and a time-sensitive question:

    After three years of working in a soul crushing exhausting job (in a hotel) I have finally received an offer for a new job in-house at a firm planning events. The new role is perfect for me, the team seems amazing, the hours and pay are way better, and most of all, I won’t have to deal with hotel guests anymore.

    However I’ve come across one final snag before I’m free – I’m due my Q4 bonus check, and it’s been delayed for two weeks now. I was due to get it today and give my notice on Monday, but we just found out that the checks are delayed another week. My new job has been really understanding thus far and my background check JUST cleared, but I don’t know if I can ask them to push back another week, but I also am not in a financial position to walk away from a $7K check.

    I feel like I’m between a rock and a hard place – I don’t want to lose this new job opportunity for seeming wishy-washy, but I also want to make sure I give sufficient notice. If it comes down to it, I may need to get the check next Friday and then give only one week notice. Is there ever a time when giving a weeks notice is acceptable or will I burn this bridge forever?

    1. Narvo Flieboppen*

      Have you explained the issue to your new employer? At the very least, you would seem a lot less wishy-washy when it is tied to economic well-being vs. just can’t get in gear.

      Who knows, maybe they’ll offer to match bonus up front just to get you in the door. I don’t know that it is likely, but it is a thing which is possible. And being honest and straightforward with them up front is a good way to start a job.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        This. Outside of bringing it up with the new employer, you may just need to be okay with giving a one week notice. I wouldn’t walk away from $7k either.

    2. WellRed*

      Since your background check just cleared, I think you are OK to try and just push the start date a bit, (say you need to give X amount of notice, or whatever). BUT. What if the bonus checks get delayed again? How sure are you they will come in two weeks?

      1. Spills*

        Yes, but the background check took a bit longer than expected, and I’ve also been open with the new job about waiting for the check to clear. They were hoping I would have given notice on Monday of this week to target a first week of March start date but there was a delay with the background check (which sort of worked in my favor), but now with this check situation I will not be able to give notice on this coming Monday as planned, so would be starting two weeks later than they were originally hoping for. I’m hoping they can have a bit more flex and that one more week won’t matter in the grand scheme of things but we will have to see!

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          But how do you know it’s actually coming in a week though? If it’s been delayed a few times, it may be delayed again, and you can’t expect your new employer to keep pushing back their start date on the hopes that your current employer will get their shit together – they have an immediate staffing need and could potentially move on to the next candidate.

          1. Spills*

            Great question – the past two weeks have kind of been a speculation of ok I think it’s coming this Friday. I know it sounds very fishy but to be honest that is usually the way the commission checks are handled – no one talks about it and they come when they come, unfortunately. However today my director said definitively that the checks will be paid next Friday. I think it’s because a few sales managers are starting to get pissy now since we’re almost three months past Q4 so she pushed our corporate team to give us a firm answer. There is always a chance that it could get pushed again, which is why I’m so frustrated.

            1. TootsNYC*

              is this a commission check? In which case, they can’t refuse to pay it to you.

              if it’s a bonus, they might be able to say “you have to be employed on the day they’re issued” or something, if they regard it as an incentive more than a compensation..

    3. J.B.*

      Contact a lawyer. BTW if they hold up your bonus check in my view they are not entitled to notice. They aren’t paying you, you don’t owe them that courtesy. And honestly I would be concerned it’s not coming anyway. DON’T GIVE UP THE NEW JOB.

      1. Spills*

        Very true! The entire team is waiting for their checks and starting to get very antsy, but obviously for me there is another level of urgency. I don’t unfortunately have anything in writing saying either way whether a check should be paid out even if I’m in my notice period, but I’ve been told by a trusted colleague they will not pay it out if I’ve given notice. However I was here for that entire quarter and did the work, so I definitely should be compensated. A lawyer may not be the worst idea!

          1. RagingADHD*

            An employer who doesn’t give you your regilar paycheck on time is violating labor laws and you have clear recourse to the authorities to help get your money.

            No harm asking a lawyer for local laws, but generally speaking a bonus is not wages, and therefore you don’t have the same legal protection against it being delayed or taken away.

            1. Do I need a hard hat for this?*

              That’s how I would think of it as well. When I quit a job in sales I had difficulty getting my last commission check because my boss was pissed that I quit. That WAS owed to me because it was compensation for doing the job. However, a bonus is a gift from the company, so they might not feel inclined to give it to Spills if they give notice.

              1. Spills*

                It’s technically a commission/incentive check rather than a bonus, if that helps! It’s based off the total revenue I booked and serviced in Q4, not discretionary

                1. Jules the 3rd*

                  Yeah, but it’ll take time to pry it from them, and the effort is more likely to annoy them than a short notice will. Go with the 1 week or less notice.

          2. Jules the 3rd*

            You can not withhold a normal paycheck, but bonus checks are usually discretionary. Unless there’s something in the offer letter that defines this as a deferred payment (ie, ‘you’ll be paid $10/hr + a bonus of $3 per room’), they can choose not to pay it. And even if it is a deferred payment, it may take time / $$ to get them to pay it, through the labor board or small claims court.

            I recommend going with shorter notice period. If they tend to treat employees badly, this is one of the main ways it will bounce back on them. And you won’t be the only person doing it, they may not even remember when it’s time for references.

            1. Diahann Carroll*

              This – I too would just take my check (if it comes next week) and give the one week notice. They should have dispersed the payment on time.

    4. Not a Real Giraffe*

      Have you been transparent with the new job about what the hold up is? It might be worthwhile to tell them that you’re delaying notice because you don’t want to jeopardize your bonus payout. At a minimum, it gives them some context, and in an ideal dream scenario, they may offer you the same amount as a signing bonus so you can begin to move forward.

      1. Spills*

        Yes, I have! The problem is that my current job has told me that my check was coming two fridays ago, and then again today, and then this morning we found out they need to push it again to next Friday. The new job has been super understanding, but I think the situation is getting a bit ridiculous at this point. It’s totally the incompetence of my current job but I don’t want it to reflect poorly on me. Luckily I have a recruiter and just asked for her advice on what to do, so waiting for her to get back to me, but I will absolutely choose the new job over the check if I can’t make both work.

        1. Mad Harry Crewe*

          Good luck! I walked away from a $2k bonus when I took a new job last year – getting out was worth it, and waiting for the check would have meant pushing back my start date by over a month (3 weeks to get paid out + 2 weeks notice), which I don’t think my new employer would have been ok with. In retrospect, there was really no harm in asking if the new company could match or at least soften the blow, but I didn’t think of it until after I started.

          Old company did, however, pay out several months of sales incentive that I had earned, even though they came long after I had left. I second the people recommending to talk to a lawyer about whether the company has to pay this out or not. No harm in getting that ball rolling in case the check is delayed again.

    5. I edit everything*

      If the job was soul-crushing, will it be a problem to burn the bridge?
      If the checks come during your notice, wouldn’t you still get yours, since you’ll still be an employee? Or could you recruit your boss to help? Give your boss two weeks, out of courtesy, and they file the paperwork or whatever after the checks come?

      1. Spills*

        True! I don’t feel like I owe my boss anything but don’t want to leave the rest of my team in a bad place as I really have enjoyed working with them. My boss is the one who likely would not pay my check out in my notice period so she will definitely not be a help there. She’s likely to be super upset anyway when I give my notice, and I unfortunately do t have anything in writing to protect me/indicate that my bonus needs to be paid even if I’ve given notice.

        1. I edit everything*

          Ah. Well, I think I’d start wrapping things up on the QT, documenting, and doing the typical things you’d do during your notice, if you can work it into your day, to help out your colleagues. Then just give a week’s notice to your boss. It’s not typical for companies to be able to replace an employee within a two-week notice period anyway, so just making sure you’re leaving things organized and tidy will be good, and for work-function purposes, practically the same as 2-weeks notice. If you see what I mean.

          1. Spills*

            Totally makes sense! Luckily it’s an unexpectedly slow time for us so hopefully I will be able to leave them in a good enough place

            1. Flyleaf*

              Given their behavior with the bonus check, you wouldn’t be out of line giving little or no notice. They are acting unprofessionally, and that can have repercussions. Hold off on giving notice until you get your bonus check, and limit the notice time to (2 weeks from today – date bonus is paid). If that’s less than two weeks, it’s on them.

              1. Diahann Carroll*

                It almost makes me wonder if they suspected Spills was leaving and decided to drag this out to spite her.

    6. AndersonDarling*

      You earned the bonus based on Q4 then it is your money. I wouldn’t assume that they will withhold it because you are leaving 3 months later unless there is something writing that indicates otherwise. Normally, if you are employed to the end of the bonus period (Q4), then you get your bonus. And $7K is a sueable amount, so I’d bring it up with HR after you put in your notice to make sure they understand that you are expecting that check. Frankly, it is so far into payroll at this point that it would be difficult to stop the payment.

      1. Spills*

        Nothing in writing but I did speak with one trusted senior colleague who said that they would not pay it out if I had given notice. Of course that’s just based on her experience, as I don’t think either of us have anything in writing but it seems like a very big risk to take. I will definitely look into contacting a lawyer to see what they recommend, but you are correct that the amount is confirmed and approved, and we are just waiting for corporate to mail the check in the next check run next Friday.

        1. Sunflower*

          We all get bonuses at my company and the general consensus around giving notice/if you’ll get the check are shaky. There is tons of discussion about it and everyone has different opinion. I doubt they will stop the check once it mails though so you’re probably OK once you know the check has been cut to say Bye.

        2. RecoveringSWO*

          Check your state’s DOL wage and hour division website. They should have guidance on what constitutes a previously earned commission that is owed vs. another form of bonus payment that may not be enforced by the state. Spend some of your down time at work looking high and low for documentation on the bonus/commission payment (what it is, how it’s calculated, etc from a handbook, emails, etc.). The goal would be to have enough information from work and the state’s DOL website to feel relatively secure about making a wage claim for the bonus if it doesn’t materialize next week. I wouldn’t push back your new job any further and I wouldn’t feel bad about giving shorter notice to your old job. If the information you get (or a lawyer provides) is promising, you can fight for your bonus money while you’re at your new job instead of risking your job offer by waiting for the bonus money in perpetuity.

        3. Michelle*

          I would check with a lawyer. If it’s commission/incentive it sounds earned rather than discretionary and in my state (depending on specifics) it would be perceived as owed if earned. But I’m in a state that leans that way on a lot of things. Notice is a courtesy and $7K would be enough in my book to shorten it. I feel like you’re in this position because the employer has the power here, so it seems justified that you would exercise whatever control you’re able to have over the situation.

      2. Diahann Carroll*

        Normally, if you are employed to the end of the bonus period (Q4), then you get your bonus.

        My last company rewrote their bonus policy (ironically a few days before I turned in my notice) to read that regardless of whether you were employed until the end of a quarter, if you voluntarily left the company prior to the bonus being issued, the company was not obligated to pay your bonus out. Basically, you had to still be employed with the company by the time they went to cut the check, which was in the next quarter, to receive payout. It didn’t affect me because the day I gave my two weeks, the bonus check cleared my bank, lol. Had they still been in the process of cutting me the check the day I resigned, they wouldn’t have paid me a dime.

    7. Sunflower*

      Definitely explain this to your new employer. While it may not be common in your exact situation, it’s extremely common in other industries and I think they will be understanding- 7k is a lot of money that a lot of people don’t want to walk away from. You might need to be willing to give your new employer a firm date though.

      It’s definitely worth asking. In the grand scheme of work, one week is nothing and not worth losing a great hire over. Some people are short sighted and don’t agree with that but it’s definitely worth checking with the new job. Good luck! I do in-house event planning and hope you enjoy it.

      1. Spills*

        Thank you! I’ve spoken with the new employer and they are aware – the issue is we’ve already discussed and pushed my start back a week, and now I need to ask them to do that again, all thanks to my current employers incompetence. I think it’ll all work out but just frustrating as I want to get started.

        Also, Hello to a fellow planner! I used to be in-house, came over to the hotel side, and can’t wait to get back to the other side.

    8. Moth*

      In response to the question of if giving one week’s notice is sufficient here, like some other commenters, it’s probably not ideal, but I think you have enough justification for it. Like the response to another letter today, if you approach it apologetically and recognizing that it’s maybe putting them in a difficult place, I think that’s the best you can do. Your hotel may be different than the one I worked in, but there, it wasn’t unusual to have people just give notice that they were quitting effective that day. Not because it was a bad place to work, but because most of those positions were fairly entry level and there was just a lot of turnover to other jobs that were a step higher. Yes, it would probably be putting your coworkers in a difficult position for a week or two while they get someone else hired and trained, but in my personal opinion, the burden on them is not so great that it would outweigh you giving one week notice to protect your bonus and the other job. Just my opinion though!

    9. moql*

      Any buisness that is messing around and delaying your comensation loses the right to 2 weeks notice. Feel free to wait until your very last day to quit if that it what it takes. Explain and apologize to your coworkers and let them know you know this puts them in a bad spot, but they will understand.

    10. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

      The problem here which the other comments didn’t address is this: your bonus check has been delayed for two weeks (presumably you don’t know the real reason why?), and now they’re delayed another week, so you are wondering if you can give 1 week’s notice instead of the usual 2.

      BUT – how sure are you, really, that you will get that check in another week’s time? Isn’t it more likely or at least a significant risk that there will be yet another delay due to ‘something or other’? What would you do then? Delay it again (new job has been “understanding” so I presume you have spoken to them about the bonus delay issue)? How long would they accept that? Are you setting yourself up for a first impression as someone who’s only in it for the money?

      If the new job is perfect/amazing/better hours/more pay how long would it take you to “make back” that $7k especially as it’s actually less than that due to tax?

      In your position I would consider just moving on now, and see if there’s any procedural/legal basis to pursue the $7k later.

      1. Tabby*

        Set your start and give notice after the check.

        If they delay Another week?

        schedule vacation the Monday after? Then quit.

        But at some point you need to put new job over this check. I know it will hurt :(

    11. Koala dreams*

      Congratulations on your new job!

      I think the suggestion to consult a lawyer is a good one, but I also agree with the commenter above me that it’s time to consider if these 7k really exist. Right now you feel that you have to choose between giving notice and the 7k, but it is possible that you actually are choosing between getting nothing (waiting for money that never materializes) and getting your regular paycheck from the new job (giving notice and starting the new job before they get tired of waiting for you). (You might want to look up the sunk cost fallacy.)

      You know that the company have refused to pay out bonuses in the past, you know they have delayed for two weeks already. For all you know, your current employer might not even have the money to pay you.

      As for burning the bridge, I think the company have already burned the bridged from their side when they decided to not pay you the money they owe you. You giving a notice period is for your own sake, and if it repairs the bridge, it’s a nice extra. In your shoes, I wouldn’t count on it.

      1. Massive Dynamic*

        I walked away from a bonus at an old job… annual bonus was over three months overdue and there was no sign of it coming at any set point in time. It wasn’t as much as yours but it was in the thousands. I left it there because my pay at my new company was more than an offset for the loss, and I was really just ready to move on.

        Although now I wish I’d shortened my notice period in the hopes that it’d show up over the following two weeks! It wasn’t a great place to work.

    12. pcake*

      I’m not a lawyer, and I don’t play one on TV, but I don’t think companies in the U.S. – are you in the U.S.? – are required to pay you bonuses. You’ve been told by a trusted colleague that they may not give you a bonus if you’ve given notice, and I’ve seen other companies pull that one.

      I’d pass on the bonus and start work at the new company. You may be passing on that bonus, but they may have no intention of paying it to you. Add to that how late they are with everyone’s bonuses, and I find myself wondering if your old company is in financial trouble. And if the new company is a better working environment and pays more, seems like it’s past time to move on. I see others feel differently, so keep in mind that’s only what I think.

      Best of luck, however you play it!

    13. Spills*

      Not sure if anyone will still see this but I have an update! I have been working with a third party recruiter and she spoke with my new HR team today and they said they are fine to push it one more week and they totally understand.

      I feel confident that the check will come this Friday as the previous two weeks it was more hush-hush speculation but today we have heard from both our sales director and our finance director but if not, I’m prepared to walk away after this week. Not sure what the hold-up is – we were acquired by another company almost a year ago, bur all other quarterly commission checks have come on time since then.

      Although it feels like they are doing this on purpose to spite me, I don’t think they have any idea and it’s just another symptom of the dysfunction of this place. Either way, at the end of this week I will be done and on my way to better things! If for some reason the check doesn’t come I will definitely consider a lawyer but it seems like things are lining up to work out. Thanks to everyone who provided advice!

    14. Mina, The Company Prom Queen*

      While it’s usually advisable to give two week’s notice, I think that if you absolutely have to, wait for the check and then give one week’s notice. Acknowledge that it would be ideal to give two week’s notice but that it just isn’t possible in this case. Be apologetic, but also stand your ground. You can’t risk not getting that bonus check and you also don’t want to risk your new job.

  14. Undercover Bagel*

    I have a question that I’m hoping people might be able to help out with. I’m in my late 20s and was just diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. How do you handle dealing with a diagnosis like this at work, especially one where you will likely be managing symptoms for the rest of your life?

    I still have about a week before I start treatment, so also advice on how to work when you feel like a sack of potatoes would be much appreciated.

    Thanks guys.

    1. Kathenus*

      I was diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis in my early/mid 20’s so I get it. I don’t know details of your situation/condition, but except for the one acute joint issue where it all started that affected me at work until I was diagnosed and got it under control, there was no real issue related to work – and I was in a very physical job at the time. So I’m not sure what part of dealing with it you are concerned about related to work. To be honest, the biggest short-term thing I dealt with was peoples’ surprise at my age and an arthritis diagnosis, although it was a normal onset age for my particular disease.

      And it may take some time to find the right treatment, but I’ve been managing this for over 30 years and the medications these days are so much better overall that I think you’ll get to where this is an annoyance and not a life-defining condition. Again I don’t know your exact situation, so speaking more to how it did/didn’t affect my life or work. Best of luck.

      1. MCTD in the Hizouse*

        I was diagnosed with Mixed Connective Tissue Disease (it’s like Rheumatoid Arthritis, lupus and Sjrogen’s had an underachieving baby) a year ago and now that I have effective treatment, I don’t really have many problems anymore. I do get more colds, and I get sicker when I get one, but that’s about it.

        1. MCTD in the Hizouse*

          Also, look into a vertical mouse. It took a little getting used to, but it’s so much easier on my wrist/shoulder.

    2. Toads, Beetles, Bats*

      Hi there, Undercover. I’ve got some recent experience with this, so will weigh in. A work peer of mine recently disclosed an RA diagnosis and we’re all figuring out how best to support her as she figures out how best to manage her treatment. So far, these things seem to have worked:
      –She disclosed the diagnosis to her manager, and then to her team. She didn’t go into a ton of details, but she let us know in general terms how it might affect our workflow (might need to be out at short notice, etc.)
      –She proactively set up a realistic fallback plan for her duties, which frankly is becoming a company-wide model. The plan involves shared docs and SOPs as well as clear communication with all parties that Bob will handle X and Cyndi will handle Y if she’s out. Buy-in from department heads was crucial. We can activate this plan with 0 minutes notice and thanks to the clear communication, I can honestly say (as “Bob”) that it has neither slowed down our work nor been an undue burden.
      –I don’t know any of the details of her arrangements with HR (i.e. if she’s explored intermittent FMLA or has a flex schedule for the foreseeable future, etc.), but based on all the department heads’ buy-in of the fallback plan, as well as our CEO’s acknowledgment and support of it, I’ve gotta think she was similarly organized and proactive on the HR side of things.

      So from my limited experience, I’d say planning and communication are your greatest tools for adjusting your working life in light of the diagnosis. But all of that is predicated on employers who will be supportive. If you suspect your employer will NOT be supportive, 1) I’m really sorry; ’cause that is just not what you need right now, and 2) you’ll want to do a bunch of research about your rights before you disclose anything.

      I’m sure the path to diagnosis was not a picnic. I’m cheering for you.

    3. You Can Do It!*

      I was 32 when I was diagnosed with RA so welcome to the not so great club! I talked to my boss who happened to be the HR Manager and she was so supportive. I got an ergonomic keyboard, mouse, and footstool and those items have helped a lot. I take mulitple little breaks throughout the day. When the brain fog kicked in, I started writing EVERYTHING down. I have notebooks everywhere. She is the only one I’ve told but if anyone asks why I’m tired or not moving as fast I just say, “Oh, didn’t sleep so well last night!” and people don’t push further. Being open and honest with your boss and HR in what you need will go a long way. RA is considered a disability under the ADA so if you have to, get a doctor’s note.

      It’s different for everyone, but when I started MTX and Humira, I took them on Fridays and slept literally all of Saturday and most of Friday. I did that until the symptoms went into remission and went off the MTX and went just to Humira. I still sleep most of Saturday, but my husband doesn’t mind! Most important in all this, you have to listen to your body. If it needs sleep, you sleep. If you did too much one day, it will show up the next day and possibly next days. Unfortunately with this disease, it changes every aspect of your life. If you have the sick time and/or PTO you can use it for days when you feel off, and there will be days when you just can’t make it out of bed.

    4. JimmyJab*

      I was diagnosed with lupus in my early 20s and type 1 diabetes in my mid-30s (las year) so I totally get where you’re at. I’m lucky that my job is pretty laid back about butts in seats as long as you get your work done, so that made a huge difference for me. Also, this may sound counterintuitive, but there are a lot of similarities between lupus and RA and in my experience, getting up and walking around whenever you feel achey or tired helps a ton. If you have a good relationship with any managers you work with I’d also tell them you’re dealing with a new health issue and it’s going to take time for you to adjust to that at work. Good luck, I feel for you and you’re not alone.

    5. Hedgehug*

      No advice to give, but I wish you all the very best in your treatment and that you have a good medical care team to support you.

    6. CheeryO*

      I was tentatively diagnosed with RA at 27 (my rheumatologist isn’t convinced that it’s not something else, but whatever it is, it presents similarly to RA). I have not disclosed to anyone at work because honestly, my good days are enough to get by in my slow government job.

      Like You Can Do It!, I write EVERYTHING down and use Outlook rules and reminders extensively. Anything you can do to dummy-proof your day-to-day stuff for brain fog days, do it. I became known as someone who can answer any question, maybe not immediately, but after a few minutes of ruffling through my files, because I take notes on everything and organize them meticulously.

      Otherwise, just focus on your self-care. For me, that’s getting outside for a walk at lunch, keeping very active outside of work (thank you, 37.5 hour workweeks), and eating well and staying hydrated. Meal prepping my breakfasts (overnight oats) and lunches (healthy bowls with a grain, protein, and veggies, usually) helps a ton. I also aim for nine hours of sleep per night, but again, I know that’s not feasible for everyone. I am also lucky enough to have very good sick leave on top of generous vacation and personal time, so I rarely have to dip below my personal “red line” that really triggers bad flares.

      So I guess my advice is to get a slow government job with good benefits? Easier said than done, I know, but those jobs do exist if you end up overwhelmed in a demanding job.

    7. Spero*

      I was diagnosed with RA at 21 so nearly all of my work experience is post diagnosis. I have usually disclosed to my manager after about a week on the job – something like, “by the way I have a type of arthritis that means sometimes I’m creaky and moving a little slowly in the mornings, and I have difficulty lifting heavy objects with this hand. I don’t see it impacting my job duties as I’ve learned them so far, but there may be random one off situations like moving furniture to a new office that I’m just not able to do.” When I had flare ups (for me, mostly post-pregnancy) I have let her know that I’m seeing some impacts but have adopted {obsessive journaling of tasks} {additional planner} {scheduling more regular check ins} to deal with it and they have been successful so far. I have also sometimes mentioned a few months in that my RA means regular medical appointments are a priority, but staying on top of it in the moment has helped me avoid any later issues. More than half of my employers have said something like ‘Oh I forgot you had that’ or ‘good for you’ at that point and it’s never been an issue.
      I did however raise hell with my HR when our insurance switched specialty pharmacies and screwed up my meds (the words “it’s unethical to accept a contract you’re unable to fulfill when patient health is at stake” were thrown) and apparently that got back to my boss as a ‘wow she was a little scary’ moment.
      It’s now been 14 years and honestly, with good management and meds there are periods of years at a time where it has little to no impact on me for most days of the week. At other periods it’s an everyday concern and I know every minute that I have it, but those are thankfully short and infrequent. It’s never been as a bad as when I was first diagnosed and other than the pregnancy complications it brought about it’s not as big of an issue as I initially expected.

    8. Anongineer*

      I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia and some other fun stuff in my early twenties – here to cosign a lot of the other advice.

      Whenever flare ups occur, I make sure I do more self care in terms of care. Walking and stretching throughout the day help, as well as a discreet heating pad when I need it.

      Eating better – limiting foods that cause inflammation (not sure if this applies to arthritis) and just bettering my overall health.

      Lastly, yes to writing everything down whenever brain fog or fatigue hits. There are (sadly many) days where I can’t sleep due to pain or anxiety or whatever else, so I write down my tasks and what I’ve accomplished, and who asked me for what when. I also document any design decision with a ton of documentation to back it up. This helps whenever people ask why something was done a certain way and I flat out can’t remember that I’ve ever worked on the project. But I have a notebook per project to make it as easy as possible too!

    9. Fikly*

      So, first, it’s ok to grieve the notion of your healthy self.

      Second, the trickiest part, I find, with a new long-term problem, is that I don’t have enough experience with it yet to know how it will affect me. I find it helpful to have different plans in place for severity of symptoms. I would also suggest checking out JAN – they are great for ideas for accommodations, because you have to have an idea of what to ask for to get them.

      Finally, +1 to everyone who has suggested writing everything down. I have short-term memory problems and lots of brain fog on top of that, and I write everything down (my personal dm in Slack is great for this) and it’s the only way I know what I’m doing. I will start a list each day at work with what I need to get done, and I add things to it as I go. Then I use yesterday’s list as a starting place for the next one.

    10. TypeFun*

      Hi, I don’t have RA but I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at 24 (a few years ago now) and I think the most challenging thing was just dealing with people’s misconceptions about your permanent illness. Yes I’ll have this forever, no I can eat sweets and sometimes I really need to, no it’s not caused by my diet, etc). I imaging being young with RA, you might come across similar things. What I’ve learned is to assume people are speaking in good faith and to try to not take their inquiries or statements personally. Also it’s really great to have other friends with the same or similar diseases. My friends with type 1 have been essential when things get hard or just to commiserate with. I also second the advice that it’s totally normal to have a period where you grieve the loss of your “healthy” status.

    11. Reba*

      I agree with all the comments here so far! I had juvenile RA, was diagnosed at 23, still got it at 34! I am very lucky in that my disease is well controlled with the old, cheap drugs. I hope that you quickly find treatment that works for you.

      I also definitely went through a period of anger-grief-petulance as I learned to deal with the “forever” nature of being chronically ill. Like, procrastinating with meds or bloodwork cause I just didn’t wanna. I’m in a better and more responsible place now, lol.

      Lots of people don’t know about my illness, but I’m open about it if it comes up. I used to wear those little compression gloves or just wrap my fingers with stretchy bandage sometimes, so it would be asked about sometimes. I would advice that you practice not just deflecting but also changing the subject if you don’t want to talk about it. Like “Oh, I have rheumatoid arthritis, so sometimes I _____. Can you tell me more about ____?”

      One thing I notice about myself is that disruption of sleep = pain. So this affects how I plan work travel as well as personal, i.e. recovery days when I can. I also have pretty abundant sick time, and I sure as hell use it, for appointments and sometimes just to rest. I have a boss who is completely chill about this, fortunately.

      I don’t require many accommodations, but little comfort things help me a lot. I like a standing desk (so I can change positions frequently) and occasional space heater usage, fingerless gloves, etc.. These are, of course, things that lots of folks without illness use, so not a major imposition.

    12. Undercover Bagel*

      Hey I just wanted to say thanks to everyone who gave some advice; it was all super helpful! I really haven’t had a good idea of what to expect/how to manage things yet so hearing what others have experienced has helped put things into perspective for me.

      I’ve definitely been struggling a lot with the brain fog, so I will be putting some of the strategies to good use! For me it’s like as soon as I have to work more than 8 hours it takes almost a week to recover. Thanks again and I hope everyone has a good weekend!

  15. Youth*

    With the end of February fast approaching, I’m constantly thinking about that silly Leap Year birthday letter.

    I’m happy that poor employee gets a day off for her birthday this year!

    1. Punk Ass Book Jockey*

      I was thinking about her, too! I hope the 29th falling on a Saturday doesn’t mean she’s still out of luck.

      1. CupcakeCounter*

        If I remember correctly, the letter writer actually addressed this and employees get the working day closest to their actual birthday.
        Still hope the employee has left that nest of bees though.

        1. All Hail Queen Sally*

          But I believe that was only for the employees who had a birthday that fell on a Saturday or Sunday, not the lone employee who only had a birthday once every four years!

          1. CupcakeCounter*

            Yes, but I think Punk Ass Book Jockey was addressing the fact that the Feb 29th is a Saturday and whether or not that would once again cause her to lose out on the benefit.

      1. RabbitRabbit*

        I was weirded out about the whole “everything is fine, she is unreasonable” tone as well. Everyone else gets an additional paid day off 3 years out of 4.

      1. Salty Caramel*

        The letter writer said she’d get a day off in 2020.

        I am still utterly stunned that Leap Day is the unreasonable one in that letter.

  16. Goldfinch*

    My company is spoiled rotten in that they get away with paying everyone in my department way below market rate. There are several lifers motivated by a (now closed) generous pension system, one person stranded in this struggling town due to a sickly parent, and me, who was hired off a four-year stretch of unemployment. Our newest temp started last year because she was sick of her two-hour commute to NYC.

    Recently, the company offered her FTE, and seeing this situation go down has been GLORIOUS, y’all. She’s not at a disadvantage like the rest of us are, she knows her value from working in multiple metro AND non-metro areas, she is accustomed to good benefits, and she is refusing to swallow what they’re shoveling. My company endlessly insists that the vacation is generous and the salary is awesome, when in reality nothing they offer is even close to competitive. She has countered multiple times and finally outright refused their unacceptable offer, and they are SPUN.

    In twenty years of working, I have never seen someone stay a perma-temp of their own volition. I am just in awe of this lady’s poise and backbone.

    1. Miss May*

      One of the managers at my company just told me today that two weeks of starting vacation was GENEROUS. I could hardly stop myself from rolling my eyes.

      1. Potato Girl*

        Yeah I worked at a place like that. When I pointed out that it’s quite low, I was told, “Well we don’t /have/ to give you /anything/. We give it to attract and retain good employees.”

      2. Goldfinch*

        Yup, 10 days PTO and 5 days sick are the new employee package, but managers have discretion on sick use and some start to write you up for as few as 3 days used.

        My own manager uses PTO for sick days unless she has a doctor’s note.

        1. MB*

          Yeah, I tried to negotiate for a third week of PTO at my new job and got rebuffed; fortunately, I get 7 sick days instead of the 5 I have now and I will reach that third week in 3 years (I’m returning to an old job so I am getting credited for the 2 years I spent there).

          But yeah–I hate how generally miserly the USA is regarding free time.

      3. Narvo Flieboppen*

        So, here’s a story of a fun job interview with a small family-owned business. Very long.

        TL;DR – small family business are cray cray. Some more than others.

        I show up and learn a few things off the bat: They have office horses (I didn’t realize the office is also on their family ranch) and also office dogs. So far, so good, though I was a bit judgemental of the hazardous chemical storage units being attached to the barn. Like, if there is a leak your horses could be hurt. Or die! Won’t someone think about the horsies!

        Going inside, the office space is grungy and doesn’t appear to have been updated since they opened. In 1965. Quite a few of the dings, scrapes, etc. have been patched with duct tape. But, this is a small office running a chemical supply business where the products are delivered to customer properties, so no one outside the company sets foot in this space. Also, mostly only family and doggies. So okay.

        We begin with the basics of the two owners (husband Patrick & wife Petunia) and I introducing ourselves and discussing the basic job duties vs. my experience. They’re excited that in addition to my accounting skills, I know how computers work because they currently outsource everything, including installing Windows updates. They’re paying someone to come in and press the ‘Update and shut down’ when it shows up. This is not a good sign, IMO.

        But I continue. Having discussed that I can handle data entry, numbers, and Excel, they show me my private office. Which has a doggie door installed because one of the dogs has adopted it as her space and I will have to share. The office also has a large corkboard covered in photos, articles, and string. It seems they haven’t taken it down yet, but Calvin, the former accountant, was working on a theory that the JFK assassination was plotted by Al-Queada and worked on it during his lunches. All of this is said with straight faces. They are not Anna Kendrick, so I highly suspect they are not just being humorous. Further inquiries about the vacancy indicate the reason the former accountant left is that he is currently in a mental health facility. They are replacing him because he doesn’t know when/if he will be released and so they have to move on, as a business. Well, true, and possibly kudos for supporting those with mental illness. Also, mild concern that they don’t seem to consider his conspiracy theory wall IN THE OFFICE to be an actual workspace problem. On the bright side, my cute animals calendar would be a serious upgrade.

        We discuss their accounting system and the data entry details. I have concerns coming up because ‘the field techs don’t really know what they’re installing, but Calvin always knew which parts went with which job so he would correctly bill each client in they system. It is expected that I will learn which parts, supplies, & chemicals apply to every single potential job and will bill accordingly regardless of the notes submitted by the field techs. I posited perhaps a training regimen for both myself and the field techs, so that they submit the correct documentation normally and I also know what to expect, but corrections would be the exception, not the norm. Petunia, while gesturing to the corkboard o’ lunacy specifies “Calvin was just so much smarter than the techs, and we look for that in this role, because field staff aren’t too bright. You’ll just have to learn and fix their mistakes.” Oh, look, I think someone might ice fishing over there, a red flag just sprang up into the air!

        I continue, just in case there may be some good to offset this warning. A few other things I learn about their business model: The accountant must listen in to all phone calls taken by other staff and remember if that person has done the appropriate follow up. If not, you have to remind them to do so. Especially Patrick, because he is bad at follow up and the accountant is the safety net.

        Petunia and Patrick frequently row in the office. During those times, the accountant will be the intermediary because they will not speak to each other, despite sitting 8 feet apart. No, the accountant will have to leave his office, pick up a note from one to the other, deliver it, wait for the responding note, etc. Petunia laughs and says “You’re married, you know how it is!” Strangely, I cannot relate.

        Also, someone in the distance seems to have caught an entire school of fish. Look at those red flags waving over there! HA HA HA! At this point, I’m not taking the job, but hell, let’s go down this rabbit hole to see what’s at the bottom:

        Their data backups are done to CD ROM. Daily. The up to date CD is hung on a nail next to the door frame. If there is a fire, take the CD with you on your way out. Cloud services are too expensive and anyone could hack your data there, so no internet backups!

        They have never, not once, actually created an annual budget. They have never planned cash flow. They have never, not once in 55 years, reconciled the company bank account. But it’s okay because “there’s always money it when we write checks”. Oh, and don’t answer any questions if the IRS calls. They’re auditing the ranch (not the chemical business!) and Petunia’s personal accounts (not the chemical business!) have all been frozen. But the chemical business is just fine and the IRS is nosy, so just hang up if they call. Oh! The red flag over there is so big, I assume someone has hooked either a blue whale or a nuclear submarine.

        On the topic of benefits: You can get free insurance through the government, so we don’t offer health insurance. Besides, only sick people need insurance and we expect employees to stay healthy. The “extremely generous” PTO package includes 2 paid holidays (Thanksgiving and Christmas), 1 week of vacation, and in your second year of employment 2 days of sick time. That’s all the PTO you ever get, by the way. Did I mention they have a hard time filling open field positions? It’s because the tech people are so stupid and lazy that good help is hard to find.

        There was just no way I was taking a job here, but they wrapped up the interview with an actual job offer: A $5K decrease in pay from where I am and, because they like me and I’m so impressive, the full PTO suite of 1 week vacation and 2 sick days in my first year. Sadly, even though there was no lake nearby and there is no ice here anyway, I still had to go check my ice fishing rig rather than accept the job on the spot. At a glance, it appears I have to release a kraken from my line.

        I did receive a follow up email asking what they could do in the future to hire and retain qualified professionals such as myself. I offered my feedback. They were not impressed and I now know it is because I am selfish, greedy, and fail to appreciate the challenges faced by small business owners. Yup, that must be it.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I’m dying.

          I’ve heard that “good help is hard to find” thing before from stingy-ass employers: “Oh we can’t find anyone who wants to work.” No, you can’t find anyone who wants to work for YOU.

          1. Narvo Flieboppen*

            If I can’t share crazy job interview stories with the AAM commentariat, with whom can I share?

            Actually, I’d love to tell some of my coworkers, but then I would have to out my job search which would not be conducive to continued employment here.

        2. Gig-less Data Analyst*

          “Their data backups are done to CD ROM. Daily. The up to date CD is hung on a nail next to the door frame. If there is a fire, take the CD with you on your way out.”

          I don’t know how you kept a straight face. I would have died.

        3. Anongineer*

          Oh god I wish you had been able to live stream this or something. This officially makes it into my interview horror story favorites!

        4. ampersand*


          Somehow that is the part that struck me as the most insane. Yes, everything else is crazy, and okay maybe they’re truly terribly bad at running a business, that’s not for everyone, and also they’re being audited by the IRS, it happens I guess when you’re bad at business-ing, but on top of all that, NOTE PASSING?

          1. Mad Harry Crewe*

            This joke may be relevant:

            Husband and wife are fighting. They’ve stopped talking to each other and are communicating entirely in notes. Neither one is willing to speak first. Husband has an idea! He’ll force his wife to be the one to break the silence: he needs to catch an early flight tomorrow, so he leaves her a note: “Please wake me up at 5:30 tomorrow.”

            He awakens, birds chirp, the sun beams, it is not 5:30 in the morning. How could his ingenious plan have failed, he asks himself? As he sits up, he sees a note on the pillow: “It’s time to wake up, dear.”

        5. Red Fraggle*

          This is so wretched and astounding and delicious that I can’t stop laughing. Thank you SO MUCH for sharing! Definitely save this for Allison’s next Horrible Story Roundup.

        6. Bilateralrope*

          It occurs to me that pretending to be the IRS might be a way to get at information I shouldn’t have. So I’m not sure if I’d give them anything until they prove who they are. I’m not sure how.

        7. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          I feel like these people, including their former accountant were huffing those chemicals


    2. Notfunny.*

      I am so encouraged that you can cheer her on and appreciate her advocacy! Not everyone who has to stay in an environment like this could see this as positive.

    3. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

      > stay a perma-temp of their own volition
      I don’t think she will be staying as a perma-temp for long – voluntarily or otherwise. I’d bet dollars to donuts she’ll be out of there at the earliest opportunity (contracts permitting) either at the company’s behest or hers.

  17. notinstafamous*

    Any tips on negotiating a bad bonus? I exceeded all of the targets (hard and soft) this past year by at least 30% but got a bonus commensurate with just meeting them. I’m a bit worried it’s linked to my maternity leave in some way. Industry is one where an annual bonus is a standard part of the compensation package. I assume I bring it up in my upcoming performance review but how should it be framed? How do I approach the conversation without sounding whiny/entitled?

    1. Emilitron*

      I’d go with the “can you explain” structure – as in: I thought I had a pretty good understanding of how our bonuses were calculated and how that relates to our measurable targets and performance metrics, but I’m realizing I must be missing some of the details, can you explain that system to me?

      1. RecoveringSWO*

        Take notes of their response as well! If they keep up the maternity penalty or other gender disparities, you or another coworker may appreciate the documentation later on…

    2. Steve*

      I would be tempted to phrase it as “If I want to get a better bonus this upcoming year then how do I do things differently?”
      I did this many years ago (“I appreciate all your positive feedback on this year’s performance review. What gaps do I need to work on in order to get a bigger bonus next year?”) and the response was immediately positive (“Expect a new version of your performance review by the end of today”). I was lucky to get such quick and positive feedback, yet I think it would work for any situation. I wasn’t trying to openly disagree with them, and made it sound like all I wanted to do was be a better employee, but when I wrote it there was a lot of “I think you are wrong!” (although I was very careful to write it in positive language, and I had a colleague read it over just to ensure it sounded okay – he thought it was a great tactic)

    3. Laura*

      I wouldn’t mention the maternity leave as a reason. It probably is, but you want THEM to say it. Just bring up that you exceeded all hard and soft targets by at least 30%, however, your annual bonus was commiserate with you only just meeting your targets. Then ask, can you tell me why this was my bonus? Then shut up and wait through the awkwardness.

    4. 867-5309*

      It would be entirely appropriate to say something like, “I out-performed my targets for the year by 30% and was expecting the bonus to be X. The current bonus amount is closer to what is received when just meeting targets. Is there a reason it wasn’t higher?”

      Focus on your work.

  18. MOAS*

    I did something I’m not proud of — I was frustrated with a peer over something (well many some things). they did the 1 yhing and I plainly said “stop doing that.” I tt was gratifying but then I felt terrible later. I realize I’m on edge with her because there are so many bigger issues at play than just her. 

    The “many things” include her claiming she’s never there so she gets out of doing work.. passing assignments on to us even when her boss told HER to do them, me having to do her work. Her boss knows all this but does nothing and boss’s boss loves my coworker. I see nothing improving on this end. 

    1. Melissa*

      Unless you yelled at her, I think it’s fine. When bosses refuse to manage a favorite, these things happen.

      1. MOAS*

        Even though I’m a peer?

        I was venting to my SIL and she brought up Radical Candor — not sure if it was in teh book or her own advice, but help her be a better manager — even if it’s not my job it’ll help her and help me in the long run.

        It sounds good in theory but I’m not sure how well it’d work in practice.

    2. RagingADHD*

      What do you think you did that you should be less than proud of?

      “Stop doing that” is normal, clear, direct communication. Unless you made a nasty tone or yelled, it’s not even rude.

      1. MOAS*

        So….I know this is going to sound silly but you know how sometimes something over text/email sounds stern but in person, they are very friendly? I have the opposite–I can convey warmth over messages, but I admittedly struggle with it in person.

        I have a very….uh…rough? voice. and I often sound angry or whiny, even when I’m not. I don’t have a soft or nice feminine voice. I have RBF and the voice equivalent of it which I can’t seem to shake, no matter how nice I keep my tone. Majority of people around me get me and , but this person is very soft spoken and “sweet”. (I’m not like this with my reports, I’m comfortable being direct and clear with them, it’s just this person and similar.)

        1. RagingADHD*

          Well, if she kept doing the thing after multiple “soft” requests not to, then she either needs to wake up and pay attention, or quit playing “sweet” to get away with bullshit.

          She can brace up and take normal adult pushback like anyone else. If she makes a habit of annoying and exasperating people, then they will get fed up.

          We’re all supposed to learn that by like, second grade.

            1. MOAS*

              Ah. After today’s meeting I suddenly feel NOT bad about it.

              Bosses do spot checks of our work since we are still a new department.

              She did a years worth of a client’s bookkeeping with PERSONAL BANK ACCOUNTS AND CC. That is 1000% against our company rules and I’m pretty sure against Bookkeeping/Accounting 101. We have a process in place that if a client has business expenses paid out of a personal account, how to record it — connecting the bank account is explicitly against our rules.

              Her boss wanted to brush it off and let it go but my boss kept digging in and asking why and providing solutions. She kept arguing back with everyone.

              SHES A MANAGER.

              The worst/best thing about it? My boss and 3 of my peers see that this is BS. They know 10000% for a fact that if I made that mistake, I’d be out the freaking door and my VP would obliterate me. Meanwhile, VP loves her and the other boss wanted to bypass it.

              I don’t feel bad anymore.

              *table flipping gif*

    3. Odd Duck*

      If it makes you feel better, I ended up telling (loud, firm, “mom’s mad” kind of voice) a coworker that I was going to pop him if he didn’t stop. Background with the coworker is a male (him)/female (me) dynamic and I don’t like being touched. It became a “game” to him to insist on hugs, high fives where it turned into him holding my hand, and random touching. I got to the point that I ducked and ran every time I saw him coming in my direction. That day, it crossed from where I could barely tolerate to a straight up mad. He’d had ample warnings from me and others. After a couple of business days, I sat him down and told him it has to stop or my next step was talking to HR and calling it harassment. To this day, contact is a fist bump where he waits for me to make contact and doesn’t push further. — Yours was better!

    4. Arts Akimbo*

      I don’t think you did the least little thing wrong. You were just asserting a boundary! Don’t feel badly for that.

      Also, she sucks. “I wasn’t there, so…” as an excuse for everything, when she so very clearly *was* there, would drive anyone up the wall.

  19. Throwaway*

    Are there any jobs or lines of work where it’s easier to stay out of politics and leadership drama?

    My work is sort of a blend of business analyst & project management, with a side helping of change management.

    Obviously these areas end up digging up and working through political stuff. In some ways I can handle it and in others I find myself getting exhausted by it all. It’s hard for me not to bring it home and ruminate on it. I’m currently in an organization that has a lot of drama and I’ve seen pretty clearly over the last year that it’s probably not going to change dramatically in the next 5-10 years.

    Is there a way to work more in the BA world without engaging in all the political stuff? Or to work more as an individual consultant/advisor without having to own all the organizational dynamics? The more individual, reflective, research-y aspects of the work, I really love. But encountering conflict after conflict drains me and I feel I expend a lot of project energy on tailoring things to not ruffle feathers in the hopes that recommendations will be adopted.

    PM is something that I do because I have to, but I wouldn’t want that to be my career. So I also don’t want to detach and become someone who is more about task-oriented PM.

    1. Tableau Wizard*

      oh my gosh, are you me?

      like this is literally putting into words the big questions in my head. I work in healthcare in a role that sounds incredibly similar and the politics (read: drama) of my org are literally sucking the life from me. I have no real advice because I haven’t solved this problem either but i can relate on all the levels.

      One thing I’m looking into as I think of moving on is consulting, where you can come in, solve the problem, and then leave the organizational drama to the people who hired you. In my mind, at least the people hiring consultants want the help – i don’t feel like some of my internal customers want my help anyway.

      1. Throwaway*

        Yeah, it’s that internal customers don’t actually always want the help they really need that can make things tough.

    2. JessicaTate*

      The upside of being a consultant is that you don’t have to deal with any one organization’s dysfunction and drama all the time. It doesn’t rule your work-life. That being said, you still have to deal with the organization’s dysfunction to a degree because they are your clients and that’s who you have to negotiate with on your scope of work. It depends on the nature of the dysfunction, politics, and drama. If it’s like internal politicking and back-biting around status, etc. Less of a big deal. If it’s the type that is connected to your work — say, a CEO who really wants your research to show what she believes or who has unreasonable ideas about what can be accomplished — you have to navigate it diplomatically (or decide to not take their money).

      You’ll maybe get more of the individual work time that you like, but you’ll still have to deal with some of companies’ political BS as your clients, just a variety of clients with their unique quirks.

      1. Throwaway*

        I’m wondering if ultimately being some kind of consultant would be a better fit. I’m not sure that’s where I am in my career but even for a time it might help me feel I can recharge my batteries a little.

        1. RecoveringSWO*

          Just be wary of work-life balance for consulting in general. But if you like travel and think the change of duties would recharge your batteries, I’d research heavily which consulting firms you apply to and go for it.

          1. JessicaTate*

            This. I definitely don’t think of consulting as a “recharging” career direction; work-life balance and travel is consistently a challenge in the consulting life. I love lots about it, but it can be exhausting – whether working for yourself or a firm.

    3. T. Boone Pickens*

      While I think that there is inherently always going to be some level of politics in a job I’ve found that outside sales is relatively politics free. If you produce, you thrive, if you don’t you’re gone. Sure, sometimes weaker team members who can play the game maybe get a little more runway but ultimately I’ve always worked in places where it’s produce or get clipped and that has suited me just fine.

      The quickest way to remove work drama is to become self-employed but that isn’t a realistic scenario for everyone.

      1. Jules the 3rd*

        Those options just substitute other drama for internal politics…

        But Change Management is drama central. Anything other than actual politics will have less political maneuvering. My experience is that harder number fields (accounting, data analyst) and IT have less than average.

          1. Throwaway*

            Yeah, that’s the thing. I love analyst positions but typically you end up having to help people understand what the numbers really mean (and DON’T mean) and sometimes that leads to landmines or obstruction.

            1. Jules the 3rd*

              It’s still less than Change Management, where you’re going in knowing that you are the scapegoat for large groups of people.

    4. Stormy Weather*

      Have you considered a BA certification and letting your boss know? Something like, “The more I do the work, the more I find myself enjoying aspects X, Y, and Z. Do you think I could grow into a role that focuses on these skills either in this department or at a higher level?’

      1. Throwaway*

        Yeah, I’m working on it. That kind of thing has been tough in my current wider team for a lot of weird reasons, and there’s not always a lot of follow through, or sometimes there’s weird reversals that aren’t clearly communicated. But I’m at a point in my current role where those kinds of discussions make sense, so I’m trying to express that more clearly and get some more definitive responses. For some reason my wider team really struggles with progression and shifting roles.

    5. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

      Sorry, I don’t have any suggestions for fields that are less ‘political’ but can I suggest a “frame challenge” way to work in the BA world but be less involved in ‘politics’ in the meantime: view yourself as a sort of ‘internal consultant’ (in the way that companies often get a consultant from outside) who has more of an objective view, isn’t really invested in the politics and so on, but gets in, gets the job/task done and then gets out. Present things diplomatically but straightforwardly (rather than “tailoring things to not ruffle feathers” which sounds quite circumspect).

      Explore internally to yourself, what it is that you find draining about “conflict after conflict”. For example is it the interpersonal dynamics that you find draining? Trying to keep everyone happy? Having to find solutions to stuff all the time (rather than a ‘people’ conflict focus)? Is it one conflict after another, or is it actually one problem after another caused by other people (e.g. poor planning / no foresight by senior management). Expand on this as you see fit (or not!)

      How much is just due to the specific company (“I’m currently in an organization that has a lot of drama”) rather than due to the nature of BA/PM work in general? Yes, there is always politics, but is it an option to look outside your company in a similar role?

      BA covers a wide range of skills and industries (as I’m sure you know!) so whatever you are doing now, I expect it could be ‘transferable’ to somewhere else quite easily.

      I’ve said on here in last week’s thread that a good BA is worth their weight in gold!

  20. Stuckinacrazyjob*

    In this community based social work job, they have tried to impose office hours ( i.e. we have to be in the office from 9 to 2). Out of ten employees, only 3 are in the office right now. I guess you can’t impose work from the office on a work from home culture from the top….

    1. hello everyone*

      It’s hard because in community based social work so much of the work is at night or on the weekends (and so many community meetings are during the day), but then they want someone physically present during the day… when are they supposed to use the comp time they supposedly have? Well…

    2. Never Been There Never Done That*

      In the community based social work job I have the social workers are out of the office about 70% of the time doing what they are supposed to do. They come in once or twice a day to do paperwork or attend meetings held in the office. There HAS to be a measure of trust (or willingness to look the other way) that the staff aren’t out shopping or having a two hour lunch. That’s just the way it is. You can try to impose and have lots of good reasons for doing so but………..good luck with that.

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        The kids just have too many emergencies. I had to be out of the office cuz a kid was showing some suicidal ideation ( he’s fine, but I needed to check on him)

    3. Koala dreams*

      I think many clients would be happy to have their social worker having regular office hours, but 5 hours a day sounds a lot to me. Don’t people in social work have a lot of visits, meetings and such to do?

  21. bowlsbowlsbowls*

    Question for folks to weigh in – am I on a power trip about disposable bowls?

    Background: I’m in charge of stocking the supply room and breakroom for our office. It’s come to my attention that people are using our disposable bowls and plates for their daily breakfasts and lunches…and we keep running out of them. I have them in a cupboard, and so I won’t notice we’re out until it’s time for an event and…”YIKES where are the bowls?! We had a hundred stacked in here two weeks ago!”

    I consider the disposable stuff meant for office parties and events…and while we’d have the budget to accommodate ordering more for this new consumption trend…I don’t really WANT to. It seems like a complete waste of money. We have lots of real dishes and bowls…we have a dishwasher…which I load and unload for everyone!

    I want to hide the bowls away, but that seems…petty? Should I just send out an email letting folks know they’re for events only? (…and reminding them that we’re trying to comply with company-wide conservation efforts? We’ve already gotten rid of single-use plastic bottles this year). Or should I let this go…and just order more bowls?

    1. LessNosy*

      Our HR group keeps all event-related disposable dishes in their locked cabinet for this very reason… it’s a real problem if you need them for events and that event rolls around, and suddenly there are none!

      Would it be possible to replace the single-use bowls with some fairly inexpensive ceramic ones? That’s what our office did. They got about 8 bowls and plates and advised people that they were available for office use like the office-use mugs and must also be cleaned when finished, like the office-use mugs.

      I acknowledge it’s possible they could grow legs and walk away (ours didn’t but… I guess YMMV by office?) but maybe that’s a good happy medium since you say you have the budget to accommodate ordering more AND there is a conservation effort?

      1. bowlsbowlsbowls*

        Yep we already have lots of ceramic bowls! And a dishwasher to clean them. So people are choosing to use the single-use ones… :(

          1. valentine*

            Order more bowls. Don’t save the company money it doesn’t want to save. You’re overly invested and this isn’t worth the energy of locking up the bowls, which is where this is going, or being seen as weirdly rigid about them.

            Your coworkers are peacefully using bowls and disposing of them in a proper manner (or you’d have noticed before the next event). There are no piles of dirty dishes or fights about dish rack/-washer etiquette. You are an order form away from peace in our time. Embrace it like the life preserver it is.

            1. MCTD in the Hizouse*

              That’s what my company decided about 15 years ago. Disposable bowls, plates and cups reduced the arguments over cleaning dishes to 0, and peace is important in the workplace.

            2. Curmudgeon in California*

              My workplace orders disposable dishware that is compostable, and we have a special bin for that. Sure, they also have a dishwasher and encourage people to use reusables, but most people either use the compostables or wash their own dishes from home.

      2. Uncannycanuck*

        Definitely put them somewhere that people can’t use them up. It’s fine; there are real bowls and they’re just being lazy. Don’t even mention it, just do it and let them figure it out.

        1. Never Been There Never Done That*

          ITA. You can send out emails until the end of time but if people have access to convenience they are gonna use it. If it were me I would put the disposable bowls out of their reach. Staff are just taking the easy way out and who can blame them? That said, since you are taking care of the dishwasher they can use the ceramic dishes and shut the hell up.

      3. kittymommy*

        If disposable bowls/plates are in our breakroom cupboards they’re for our use for meals and that’s been the case everywhere I’ve worked. Anything meant for a particular purpose or event is kept in a separate area, typically in the office of the organizer but sometimes still in the breakroom but maybe in a crate or something.

        1. New Job So Much Better*

          Agree. If they are in the breakroom/kitchen employees will use them for meals. You will have to lock up /hide a certain portion.

    2. Michelle*

      I would let people know that the disposables are events-only and they should use the regular bowls for breakfast/lunch. If that doesn’t solve it, then hide them. I’m a long time admin and I’ve had to do this before.

      1. snoopythedog*


        Be transparent about it. Send out an email: due to lack of disposable bowls required for event hosting, we have moved the disposable kitchen wear to a separate location. Please feel free to continue to use the ceramic bowls provided in the kitchen for your daily use.

        Frame like it ‘of course you all use the ceramic bowls for daily use’

        1. Shirls*

          I agree with this; this is how my husband’s office handled a full switch away from single-use plates/bowls/flatware/drinking vessels a few years back. People bitched like crazy for the first few weeks, grumbled for the first few months, but eventually they adapted.

    3. CTT*

      Oh my gosh, yes, hide them or otherwise clearly mark that they are reserved for events. That’s not petty at all. People probably don’t realize that’s what they’re for (or they thought that, but then saw people eating out of them and thought they could use them too, and so in)

    4. Bernice Clifton*

      I have been the Office Supply Person at many jobs and this is the way that I dealt with people using supplies that aren’t for everyday use or hoarding supplies.

    5. Person from the Resume*

      Lock them up. You could put a sign, but people seem likely to ignore it and say to themselves I just need it this once.

    6. Rusty Shackelford*

      The fact that you find you’re out of bowls when you need them means this isn’t you being petty, it’s you being responsible for resources that others are wasting. So yeah, hide them or lock them up and send a friendly email saying “please use the reusable bowls, the disposable ones are for events only.”

      1. Observer*

        Why not lock away the ones for events, but stock for everyone’s use. If you really don’t have the budget that’s one thing, but if you do, it really does make sense.

    7. Observer*

      Yes, order more bowls. And be glad you don’t have to deal with kitchen drama.

      You can remind people about the ceramic bowls, but don’t push it on people.

        1. Observer*

          It can be a major inconvenience, especially in workplaces where people don’t have much (or any) place to store their stuff. The more “open” the office is, the less space they are likely to have.

    8. Heidi*

      Eh, I say hide the bowls. As long as they’re there, people will take them, and then you won’t have them when you need them. They have the reusable bowls there, so it’s not like you’re depriving them of anything. If you ask them to stop using the bowls, they might do it. Or they might not, and then it escalates into yet another thing you don’t want to deal with.

    9. Not A Manager*

      Don’t bother with the email. Hide the disposables or lock them up. If people ask about them, be pretty bland. “Oh, those are just for corporate events.”

    10. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      I would hide but not lock up the disposables, and label them “events crockery” or similar so you’re focusing on what they’re intended for rather than what they’re made of.

      Then, in the kitchen, is there a way to make it obvious that the ceramic bowls are for general use? Could the relevant cupboard or shelf be labelled “everyday crockery”?

      I don’t think it’s remotely petty to say “this is for this purpose, and this is for this purpose”. I just think it might be helpful to rename the things so their purpose is front and centre.

    11. Dust Bunny*

      Don’t restock them. Buy them when you have an event coming up and keep them in your own space, or somewhere else secure, until the event has passed.

      My workplace keeps a small stack of thrift-store dishes and the single-use stuff goes untouched for YEARS because we all know it’s absurd to use a new paper bowl every time you eat something. I even bring my own dishes because I like them; the office ones are fine, though.

    12. Hapax Legomenon*

      If you have enough lead time on events, can you only order bowls for events? Having to lock up the bowls seems like something you don’t want to do because of the micromanagement of supplies. If not, then just lock the bowls up and be done with it. Some people will always use them if they’re “free” and it’s not a battle worth fighting.

    13. rayray*

      At places I’ve worked, they supplied disposable dishes and cutlery for employee use. Maybe these people just assume the disposable dishes and cutlery are for their use. Honestly, they probably aren’t even thinking about it causing you distress at all. Maybe just encourage people to use the real dishes. Unless it’s really eating away your budget, it probably isn’t worth it to store them somewhere else.

      Definitely just send an email reminder or put up a note in the break room. I bet people would be fine to use the real dishes. And if a stray disposable bowl gets used here or there….just let it go.

    14. Mia 52*

      I mean if you’re literally doing their dishes for them and they cna’t be bothered to use a regular bowl or plate you should just hide them. That’s a new and extremely low level of wasteful. Jeez.

    15. NJBi*

      This is the kind of thing that annoys the crap out of me, like watching my coworkers use paper cups for coffee every day when we have OUR OWN BRANDED MUGS right there next to the coffee maker!

      Perhaps you could try taking the disposable bowls and plates and storing them somewhere out of the kitchen–a separate office supply cabinet, your desk, whatever. Not so much hiding them, but making the ceramic bowls MUCH, MUCH more convenient. No need to email about it. If someone comes to you, you can individually let them know that actually, in line with the company-wide conservation efforts, it would be better to use the ceramic bowls, and really the single-use stuff is just in the office for events, so you’ve moved it.

    16. Stormy Weather*

      I’d hide them as well. If there is something in a common area, then you can’t prevent people from using them. I would spin it as an environmental concern.

      And they are damn lucky to have ceramic tableware and someone to wrangle the diswasher.

    17. CheeryO*

      If the company-wide conservation efforts are the real deal and not just talk, then yes, absolutely hide the disposable stuff, send the email, and remind everyone not to be wasteful. I work in a 100+ person office where everyone is issued a regular plate when they start (yes, we’re weird), and we simply don’t stock disposables. We have a larger dish collection that we use for events (again, probably weird). It’s not an issue! Sometimes we get pizza delivered and they’ll bring disposable plates, and they go untouched because everyone brings their own. It just needs to become a habit for people.

    18. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

      Try the email / sign / discussion with people — it’s likely that most people don’t know that that’s the intent — it doesn’t sound like it’s obvious, from the outside.

      Check on them more often (if you don’t know what’s in the supply room until it’s time for an event and then ‘whoops’! — sounds like you aren’t on top of those particular supplies!)

      Meanwhile keep a “secret stash” of disposables somewhere in a locked cabinet (maybe you don’t need a huge number? as it sounds like “a hundred stacked in here two weeks ago” would have been more than enough for an event) Use these for an event ’emergency’ if the others are still disappearing. Repeat for each event (sounds like you know in advance when those will be).

      If it continues and people are unresponsive after a few requests you may need to revert to keeping them in the ‘secret stash’.

      (But if the secret stash is in an obscure place please do make sure your potential backups know where it is in case of unexpectedly winning the lottery or whatever)

      We got rid of single use plastic bottles in my own place a couple of years ago and people grumbled for a couple of days but accepted it pretty quickly.

      I find people can adapt to most things if it’s presented with a sensible rationale and not just “because I said so”.

    19. pcake*

      You say that you consider “the disposable stuff meant for office parties and events” – you don’t mention how the company feels about this. Maybe they’re fine with employees using the bowls. Have you found out?

    20. Kat in VA*

      We had this problem with bottled water. Even though bottled water was for meetings and customers only, employees would keep taking it.

      (More annoying – finding 1/4 to 1/2 finished water bottles all over the place. If you’re going to snake one on the sly, can you at least finish it?

      We got filtered water stations in every kitchen (fizzy water! cold! hot! ambient temp!) and people STILL waited until the receptionist was busy and snagged the bottled water.

      Now, the bottled water resides in a locked cabinet because people can’t be arsed to fill up a freakin’ Contigo when they go to their desks. Maddening.

  22. Show Me Potato Salad*

    I tried this a few weeks ago, but didn’t get any hits. I thought I’d try on more time!
    Does anyone in the privacy field have any experience on the usefulness of getting the CIPP/US certification? I’m currently at a tech company but in the legal department working on negotiations of contracts. I would love to get out of the negotiation arena, and it looks like privacy/risk may be a good area to look into. I don’t have specific experience other than what normally comes up in the course of negotiating technology contracts. For example, I have a general understanding of HIPAA, PCI-DSS, GDPR, etc. but very high level. Would getting the CIPP/US help my job prospects at all? Would something else be more useful?

    1. Matilda Jefferies*

      I think it would depend a lot on the industry and the jobs you’re looking in. My experience is that the certification isn’t necessary – I’ve seen a few jobs where it was listed as a preferred qualification, but never one where it’s required. And certainly in my field (provincial/ municipal government, in Canada), employers are usually more interested in your experience and accomplishments, than in the specific letters after your name.

      But there are obviously lots of people who have it and who do find it useful, so YMMV! Do you have an idea of what specific jobs you want? Have you looked at any job ads to see if they require the cert?

  23. Anonymous Educator*

    I know age discrimination is technically illegal in many places, but we all know it still happens (just difficult to prove in a court of law most of the time).

    For those of you who are older and have faced age discrimination in hiring, how old were you when you first experienced it? What happened?

    1. irene adler*

      Recruiter insisted I had exactly what their client was looking for (QC supervisor). So early on during the phone interview with the client, I was asked if I had experience in auditing. Well, there was nothing listed about auditing in the rather detailed job description. I pointed this out to the client. He insisted that auditing was crucial to the job.
      I recounted that my skills and experience matched the job description. That made no difference. Auditing is essential to the job.
      So we ended the interview.
      I contacted the recruiter after the interview per their request. Told him that he’d messed up- the job required auditing. He told me that was not true. I recounted the interview. He was miffed.
      Later, I get a voice mail message from the recruiter. Yep, auditing experience required.

      (2) Contacted by email. The email said that the manager was very interested in the skills/experience in my resume. He had a few questions before we set up the on-site interview. They were: When did I graduate from college? What are the exact dates of employment at the jobs I listed?
      So I gave them these dates.

      (3)Initial phone screen. I recounted how I met the job description in all ways except my skills in Excel are a little rusty. I’m told by the HR interviewer that that is fine. She was so pleased to have found someone who met the job description.
      I have three more interviews. One of these involved a test-which I passed. At these interviews the hiring manager picked apart my resume. She demanded to know when I graduated from college. Then she wanted to know why I completed some additional certifications (in QA and Regulatory Affairs). She then kept asking me why I wanted to work in QC. Why not work in Regulatory Affairs? Why not work in QA? I explained that I liked QC work and felt having an understanding of Regulatory Affairs and QA only improved my understanding of how QC work should be completed.
      The result: rejected. I lack computer experience and knowledge of microbiologic (sic).

        1. Just Another Manic Millie*

          Rusty, I see the evidence of age discrimination in #1, but that’s because I’ve been there. When irene adler said that she was told that auditing was essential to the job, even though it wasn’t mentioned in the job description, I knew right away what she was talking about. Because when I was 56, I went on a number of job interviews where everything went great, until the interviewer mentioned a job requirement that was not mentioned in their ad, nor was it mentioned in the resume that I had sent in.

          Whenever I said that that requirement was not mentioned in their ad, I was always told, “Oh, I’m quite sure it was!” Then I would ask why I was called for an interview, since my resume didn’t say anything about my having the qualification they claimed was absolutely necessary. I was always told, “Someone else made the calls. I don’t know why they called you.” Of course, the person who called me was never in that day, so they couldn’t be asked “Why did you call Millie for an interview, when she lacks this extremely important qualification?”

          I always saved the help wanted ads I responded to, and I would check them afterwards, and none of them said anything about the extremely important qualification. I just figured that when they saw me, they decided they didn’t want to hire someone my age, so they pulled this very important and necessary qualification for the job out of their a$$ just to make me think that they didn’t want me for some reason other than my age.

          BTW none of the companies ever called me afterwards to apologize for having taken another look at their ad and seeing that they did not mention this all-important qualification after all.

          I was hired at another company about six weeks before I turned 40. A few months later, the office manager told me that she had a mental cut-off age of 40 for new hires. I mentioned that I was almost 40 when I was hired. She said that she knew it, and she said that if I had already turned 40, she wouldn’t have hired me. And she said that if I ever told anyone that she said it, she would deny it.

            1. irene adler*

              Yeah you are right, they didn’t see me.

              But they viewed my LinkedIn profile. I saw a notification. On there you have to put start dates for jobs. And I’ve been at my current job for over 20 years.

              1. Rusty Shackelford*

                Ah, okay. I wonder why they even bothered to interview you, if they’d already discovered you were an Ancient One?

                1. irene adler*

                  I think the recruiter pushed.
                  And maybe they suddenly realized that QC supervisor requires auditing experience. It happens. Although QA folks are the ones usually tasked with auditing.
                  I do hold multiple certifications in auditing (from BSI and ASQ). But can’t do much auditing at my current job because I’m already in everybody’s work. No independence from the job function.

                  (4) One recruiter actually sang songs to me and asked me to identify the artists. Yep, songs from the 1970’s. And yes, I knew them. After he’d finished, he politely explained that he’d move my application along to the hiring manager. Then, I received the rejection notice.

                  Can’t believe much of anything HR folks tell you.

                2. Just Another Manic Millie*

                  They probably interviewed her for the same reason that a financial services company called me for three interviews and then sent me a letter stating that they did not want to hire me because I didn’t have experience in the field (although having experience in the field was not mentioned in their ad, and the subject never came up during my three interviews). I was 34 at the time, so no age discrimination, I guess.

                  To this day, I’m still convinced that some interviewers get their jollies from having what they call unsuitable applicants come in for interviews just so that they can burst their bubbles.

          1. pally*

            And yet, older or younger than 40, you would have been the same employee.
            Sheesh! This gets me soooo aggravated!
            There’s no such thing as HR police, and there’s really nothing one can do to combat this mindset. Don’t know why they even bothered with a law. Can’t prove discrimination.

          2. Minimax*

            Im 32 and have ran into #1 a half dozen times at least. Especially when working with recruiters. Id chalk that one up to not knowing what they want. A highly detailed job description is also a red flag in my experience.

      1. Windchime*

        The only reason I stopped coloring my hair was because I’m pretty sure I’m in the job I want to retire from. It’s gone almost completely salt-and-pepper and I really like the way it looks, but if I had to go job searching I would probably color it again. Sad but true.

    2. Close Bracket*

      49 (and I’ve been told I look younger).

      It’s not hiring, but at my current employer, there is clear favoritism shown to young people. Unprofessional behavior is excused bc people are young, and young people are given preference in good assignments. This isn’t something I am reading in–people are explicit about youth being a reason behind their decisions. People who started here as young people and stayed here 20/30 years seem to be doing ok. The difference is between me, who started here at age 48, and all the people who are fresh out of school or just a year or two out of school.

      I’m handling it by advocating for myself and looking for a new job.

      1. Close Bracket*

        You know what, I said the discrimination wasn’t in hiring, but it *is* in hiring. As I asked for advice on below, I got a comparable offer to people (ahem, men) with way less experience (and yes, for those of you who think experience doesn’t drive salary, it absolutely does).

      2. StellaBella*

        Same here. I am 50. In Sept we hired a lot of people all under 30 but one. She is 55. She quit after her 12 weeks probation and I have had my contract not renewed after this past year.

        Now the team of 20 is all under 35-36 but the big boss, he is 48 and director, she is 45.

        I look much younger than 50, and sadly in the tech start up field a lot of the diversity talk is just talk when it comes to gender, age, colour, etc.

    3. Lora*

      It wasn’t in hiring, it was actually after I was hired and they had a re-org. I was 42. Had just been hired in a startup and about four months in they had a re-org. New manager, who was supposed to be at my same level, kept making noises about getting younger people hired in so they could get a fresh new perspective on…whatever…I later found out our mutual boss had instructed him to do this on account of the more experienced people were pushing back, working around and generally ignoring his stupider (and illegal) ideas.

      First they let go of an analytical chemist in her late 40s who had been vocal about the state of the quality assurance testing. Then her replacement, who was in her 50s, was also tossed out. Then a chemical engineer in her late 40s. Then me. All within a span of a few months, and I pointed out the pattern to the HR lady who told me that the EC was aware it was a problem and a legal risk this department was causing, so here is your generous severance check but please speak to a lawyer also. After me, one of my friends who had literally just turned 40 was transferred to a much less desirable location & position. A process chemist in her 40s who had had nothing but stellar reviews suddenly got a new boss who said she was the worst process chemist on earth and he had to fire her for being too stupid to work here (his words). A CMC project manager in his 40s was let go. A supply chain manager in his 50s who was a real expert at scheduling and throughput was pushed out. The HR lady who gave me the bad “we’re not firing you, we’re just um mutually um separating um…” speech, who was in her early 50s was replaced with an actual lawyer.

      Not-coincidentally, in a company of 600+ employees, they had only two black employees and very few Asians. It’s rare in my field to have less than 20-25% Asian employees. I mean, you could certainly make the argument that Big Boss just didn’t like people talking back at him, and the people who mostly felt confident and self-assured enough in their professional career to manage up are going to be the people with a lot of experience to know better, but these were all seasoned professionals who knew how to present themselves politely and we all got along fine with each other.

      1. irene adler*

        Dang, guess that explains why no one will hire me after years of looking.
        This is sooo depressing!

      2. Close Bracket*

        When I was laid off many years ago, all the people who were laid off got a piece of paper with the job titles and ages (and some other stuff that did not include names) of everyone in the layoff. I was told that this was to prove that the layoff did not discriminate against older people. I bet you all could have collectively sued, but I don’t know what that would have gained you.

    4. Curmudgeon in California*

      One place I worked suddenly started doing quarterly performance reviews and stack ranking. Curiously, it was the older people, minorities and non-fem women who got less than “meets expectations”. The they did this thing where if you had two “bad” QPRs you were fired.

      Curiously, they wanted people to sign an agreement that said you couldn’t talk about it, that you hadn’t been discriminated against or retaliated against, and that you couldn’t complain to the EEOC or sue, just to get severance. I couldn’t in good conscience sign a thing that was patently untrue, and I didn’t get severance. I found a new job before the deadline to sign.

      I hope that I gave some of those jackasses a lot of sleepless nights, because I tick the box of several “protected” categories: over 40, AFAB, Queer in a SSM, and visibly disabled. I’m also a member of a non-Christian religion, but that never came up at work.

      I was 51 at the time, and many others who were ‘fired’ for ‘performance’ were over 50. IMO, it was a shady dodge to get around the WARN act.

      Then again, this was the company whose new CEO suddenly decided that there would be no more remote work, and all remote people had to either commute in to the office they were based out of, or quit.

      They later got sold.

    5. always a nurse*

      Late 40’s….. years and years of hands on bedside nursing experience, current in all relevant certifications, graduate level education… started getting told by supervisors with less experience and less education that I needed to contact them when I had questions about patient care, instead of talking to the MD to clarify issues. (Never had any trouble with the MD’s, they were always willing to listen to my concerns, because I had worked longer with them than the supervisors…) Then stuff would start about how I just didn’t seem like a team player, and perhaps the demands of “today’s nursing” were just too much. (When I’d insist on getting paid OT and union negotiated penalty pay for missed breaks and lunches…. missed because management didn’t staff for coverage.) Eventually replaced by 2 people 3 years out of nursing school, whose pay was less than half of mine. Manager got more “coverage” and still saved money. Were the patients as well cared for? Who knows.

    6. BlondeSpiders*

      I am 47, and just graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Business. I’ve had a relatively non-traditional life and I don’t have kids. I have a first name that skews 15-20 years younger, and I am often told I look mid-30s. In spite of all this, when I was trying to pick between majors (Marketing and Management) I decided to choose the path where my age would be an advantage. (Guess which one!) Even though I’m pretty youthful (I even pledged a fraternity in college) I was worried about blatant age discrimination in the marketing world.

      I eventually decided to go into HR, which is bursting at the seams with middle-aged ladies like myself.

  24. LessNosy*

    Ohh I’ve been waiting for this all week! :)

    I have a second interview on Monday with a company whose job fair I attended a couple of weeks ago. I indicated interest in 4 of their positions (all in the same department, all relevant to my experience) and they are calling me back for my top 2 positions!

    Any advice on how to interview for two positions at once?? I have different questions about each position, but I’m not 100% sure what to expect. Both positions report to the hiring manager I’m interviewing with. Also, I was told that an employee in that department that I REALLY hit it off with both professionally and socially is going to be interviewing me as well (she would be a peer), so I’m actually looking really forward to that!

    I’m trying not to get too excited because it’s still so early in this process and I have no idea of the salary ranges yet or anything. But it would be so great to leave my toxic dumpster fire of a job!

    1. I edit everything*

      A lot of your questions will be relevant to both jobs, since their in the same department: office culture, teamwork/collegiality, etc. Other questions can be phrased in terms of how does X work for this position, or how is a normal day for X different/the same as a normal day for Y?

      You will also likely find that your interviewers direct the conversation themselves to cover each position: “First, let’s focus on X job.” If they regularly hold job fairs and interview people for multiple positions at once, they probably already have a system or routine for managing that.

    2. Hamburke*

      My husband did something similar – 2 teams at the same company. The interview process will really be led by the company. In this case, both teams worked closely so it was simple enough – they both had a couple people in the initial interview, and then broke out into basically 2 afternoon sessions. The feedback he got was that both teams were interested and would be internally talking. Unfortunately, their hiring process was really really long which he knew going into but it went 6 months during which time he accepted another position.

  25. Fishsticks*

    What are good questions to ask to gauge work-life balance in an interview? I asked about the long days and it sounds like when a deadline occurs (which is 1-2 a month) its nonstop with 10-12 hour days the week before but I couldn’t get a feel for how the days were when a deadline isn’t looming. Basically I’m trying to figure out if it’s 8 hours unless theres a deadline or always at least 9+ hours a day.
    I have a 2nd round interview next week so I’m hoping to get more info then.

    1. Count Boochie Flagrante*

      Yikes. So right there, it sounds like 25-50% of your life is going to be 10-12 hour days! I’d consider that bad for balance right there.

      I think you can ask pointed questions about the time when there isn’t a deadline looming — what does a normal workday look like, do people generally work early/late, etc.

      1. Joielle*

        Yep, definitely ask pointed questions, and if people are cagey about giving a straight answer… well, that’s the answer right there.

      2. RecoveringSWO*

        Yeah, this is enough of a red flag that I wouldn’t continue. But if it’s not a show-stopper for you, I think you should ask pointed questions that mention comp time. Something like, “You mentioned that it’s all-hands-on-deck for 10-12 hour days during the 1 to 2 weeks a month where there’s a deadline. Is there weekend work involved in that push as well? What does the office look like during non-deadline weeks? Do employees take comp time then or does the office revert back to 8 hour days?” Then, when their non-deadline week answer is “back to regular working hours” without reference to 8 hours specifically or any form of comp time, you can be sure to run away ;)

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      Ask them what a slow day looks like versus a long day, and how the team handles coverage when someone has a light emergency (kid needs to be picked up from school early) or real-life emergency (loved one was in an accident).

    3. WellRed*

      So you potentially have two weeks of 10-12 hour days each month? Half of your work month? Every month? I don’t think this is a place that has work life balance.

    4. Giant Squid*

      I think you need to ask specific people in the interview (potential peers) how much vacation they’ve taken, and how many hours their average work week is. I think a lot of times, teams are in denial about their work/life balance. I worked somewhere with the intention of doing 40hr/week except in emergencies…and did that. I didn’t get reprimanded, but it was agony leaving every day an hour before the rest of the team. Everyone insisted it was fine. I ended up getting laid off when they had some pretty big financial issues (thank God).

      Also, “unlimited PTO” I’ve found tends to mean 1-2 weeks, and you’ll be expected to bring your laptop. Everybody that offers unlimited PTO likes to insist that they’re different, but that’s just not the case. To establish work-life balance, you have to actively pressure people to take vacation, and the only reliable way to do that is “use it or lose it”.

      1. Oh No She Di'int*

        I hope I’ll be forgiven for hijacking this thread, but I have to ask Giant Squid, can you say more about the “unlimited PTO” problem? I was considering shifting to that system at my business, but I’m intrigued that you’ve had bad experiences with this. Can I ask more about why that was?

        1. Giant Squid*

          Whenever I hear “Unlimited PTO” I think “Unknown PTO”. It’s obviously not unlimited–nobody can take 6 months. There’s clearly a range in mind, it’s just that nobody knows it.

          Whenever I’ve worked in a “use it or lose it” place, everybody always took their PTO. Maybe that’s 2 weeks, maybe that’s 4 weeks, but people always take all of their PTO. That ends up creating social pressure to take PTO, and to take it as “unplugged” as possible–there’s an actual number that the company says you’re entitled to, and you don’t want to “waste” it.

          Under an Unknown PTO system, people are going to guess how much PTO they can take, but they’re going to tend to underguess because of risk. If you take too much PTO, it could hurt your performance review, your reputation, make you first in the layoff, etc. People start counting how much PTO their peers take and using it to determine how much PTO they’ll take, but they miscount.

          Maybe Jim only took one vacation because he took an extra long Christmas and Thanksgiving. Maybe Jim wants to use PTO for paternity leave, and is trying to “bank” it. Jim’s peers don’t see that, they just see that Jim is only taking 1, week-long vacation.

          Basically, if you don’t actively make sure people are taking vacations, and make it clear how much vacation you *Expect* people to take, it’s going to go down over time.

            1. Margali*

              My office has unlimited PTO for the upper management folks. Offer letters state they can take PTO as needed, and “most employees take about xx days per year.” (I don’t remember the actual number.) At least that gives something of a guideline.

          1. new kid*

            This. Unlimited PTO means company gets to look ‘progressive’ while actually offering the bare minimum of PTO through cultural pressure + never having to pay out this supposed ‘benefit’ if an employee leaves.

          2. Oh No She Di'int*

            It looks like research is on your side:

            TL;DR: “Paid time off is a publicity stunt. Most companies know that their best employees aren’t going to take advantage of it. And by leaving the policy open and ‘up to the employee’ managers are now creating a different kind of competitive environment, one that encourages taking less time off, rather than more.”

            1. RecoveringSWO*

              Yes! Please don’t adopt that system. It doesn’t matter how good your intentions are, they won’t beat out the other pressure employees will eventually face about taking PTO in the unlimited system. My favorite system for encouraging leave is vacation days that become “use or lose” after a certain amount accrues and sick leave that accrues indefinitely.

        2. pamplemousse*

          I work at an unlimited PTO office and really like it (I’m a manager now but wasn’t when I started). If you go that route, a few things that have addressed some of the most common issues for us. Generally “unlimited” time off too often translates into “no time off” because people are uncomfortable about taking it, so we have a lot of practices in place that are meant to encourage people to actually use it.

          -Establishing a norm around how much PTO people should use. On my team, usually less senior people take about 15 days total of PTO, more senior people closer to 20-25 (not counting sick time). Just having a benchmark is very helpful!

          -Managers also get notified if someone on their team isn’t taking time (I’m not sure exactly what the threshold is, but I think it’s something like if you get 6 months into the year without having taken at least 5 days off) so they can encourage them to do so and investigate whether something is stopping them.

          -We have generous leave policies for parental leave, medical/short term disability, and other situations (caring for a sick family member, etc), so no one is using PTO for that. We don’t track sick days unless they’re interfering with performance.

          -We have pretty strong norms that when someone is on vacation they are On Vacation and are to be left alone. I’m not sure how high up the chain this goes, but I’m a middle manager and have never been bothered on vacation. As far as I know, neither has our department head except in true emergencies.

          -Vacations longer than 2 weeks require approval from someone ridiculously high up, although I have seen them be approved.

          The one thing that this doesn’t solve is having vacation paid out. That personally doesn’t matter to me but it’s important to some people, especially if you are switching from banked PTO to unlimited (we have always had unlimited; we’re a relatively new company that got started when it was en vogue).

        3. Curmudgeon in California*

          From what I’ve heard, an “unlimited PTO” policy ends up shorting the workers, because actually taking PTO is discouraged, because the actual “limit” isn’t known, but everyone knows it’s there. Plus, if it’s “unlimited”, a person’s accrual is always zero, so it doesn’t have to be paid out if they leave.

          If you want to encourage/demand that people take time to unplug and refresh, add to “unlimited PTO” the concept of “minimum PTO”, and make sure that everyone takes at least ten days, one of which must be a contiguous week.

        4. Can't Sit Still*

          If you want to offer something similar, unlimited sick time is much better. It’s not any more unlimited than unlimited PTO, but it means you can send people home when they’re sick or they don’t come in sick in the first place. I much prefer defined vacation time and unlimited sick time than vice versa.

          People generally don’t abuse it, but it’s not difficult to manage if someone does. The best place with unlimited sick time had a policy that regular checkups didn’t “count” as sick time, and that included dependent care. So people could freely schedule their (or their family’s) annual check-ups (physical, PAP smear, optometrist, dental cleaning, etc.), and it didn’t count as sick time OR vacation, and it was an expectation that you would, of course, take advantage of it. That created a lot of good will, and, unsurprisingly, kept employees healthier.

        5. Fikly*

          My company does unlimited PTO (plus unlimited sick). The guideline is to aim for 20 days a year (and I’ve actually had my manager talk to me about not taking enough) but more is fine, please don’t take more than a week at once if you have a major deadline coming up, and if possible, request it x number of weeks in advance, where x is the number of days in a row you want off.

          It’s pretty awesome.

  26. PM here*

    I need scripts! Someone from a past business relationship reached out to me with an opportunity- it’s the second time they’ve reached out. I agreed to a conversation but almost right after I got promoted with a decent raise. I’m now thinking I’ll probably be staying at my current position. How do I tell them I’m no longer interested but still be able to preserve the relationship so that I can reach out when I am actually ready to leave?

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      “That sounds like a great opportunity! I’m actually quite happy where I am not, but maybe let me know again in a few years if something similar pops up. I hope you’re able to find someone good.”

    2. Not a Real Giraffe*

      “I wanted to let you know that I was recently promoted, which changes things on my end. I’m happy staying where I am now, but would love to stay in touch down the road.”

    3. irene adler*

      You might also spend the time listening to the opportunity. Then use the scripts others have posted. They’re good.
      Hearing the person out shows that you are taking them seriously. Can be considered a courtesy. And, after you listened, you felt that your best course of action is to remain where you are, for the reasons you cited. This way they know you take them seriously, so down the line they know you’ll do so again.

      (But use judgment here; some people think that if you give them the time, then you are obligated to something. )

      1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

        I agree that listening to the opportunity is a good idea, though I diverge on timing: If you’re over 50% sure you’ll stay where you are, I would let your contact know that, i.e. a variation of @Not a Real Giraffe’s script:

        “I wanted to let you know that I was recently promoted, which changes things on my end. I’m happy staying where I am now, but would love to stay in touch. If it makes sense for you, I’d be happy to meet with you to discuss the opportunity and maybe I can suggest some folks to connect you with.”

    4. Close Bracket*

      Just meet with them. They have an opportunity, that doesn’t mean you would get an offer out of it. It’s worth it to preserve and strengthen the relationship.

  27. tgif*

    Thoughts on what to say to someone above me (not directly, not my supervisor) who frames his feedback to our team as us being, “in trouble”? As in, “I have a lot of comments this week, you guys are in trouble…” He’s clearly just making a joke, but I’d like to shut it down…our team is 3 people in their early 20s and then myself (their supervisor) so I don’t want to enable the perpetuation of that idea that they’re still kids in school, etc. I’m thinking something like, “Oh, you mean you have feedback on what we submitted to you, right? It wouldn’t make sense for us to be ‘in trouble’ of course, since we’re at work. Sure, what’s your feedback?”

    1. SomebodyElse*

      I kind of feel like you’re reading too much into this phrase. But maybe there’s more to the story than what you wrote?

      If he’s clearly making a joke as you say and not actually scolding the team or making them wear dunce caps or write “I won’t mix the paperclips again” 1,000 times. I wouldn’t use your script. It sounds rather condescending and heavy handed for what you clearly take as intended. As for the 20-somethings has anyone actually said anything or are you projecting feelings that aren’t there?

      1. Yorick*

        I agree, I’d let it go if he’s making a joke. If your employees seem to take it badly, I might talk to them about it, casually as in “oh, he’s just joking with all that,’ a higher-up having feedback doesn’t mean you’re in any trouble.”

    2. Joielle*

      I might just go into his office and say something like “Hey, I don’t want to make a big deal of this, but sometimes you frame your feedback as the team being ‘in trouble’ and I don’t love that. I know it’s a joke, but we’re all professionals and I just prefer not to frame it like that. Would you mind just calling it ‘feedback’ or ‘comments’ or something?”

      Or even in the moment, with a friendly smile, “Let’s just call it feedback. What do you have for us?” I don’t know that he’ll get the hint though.

      If you approach it in a friendly way it shouldn’t be a big deal! And I totally see why this is irritating, it would rub me the wrong way too.

      1. Mad Harry Crewe*

        I agree with addressing it privately – it’s easy to feel embarrassed when you’re called on something you intended to be funny.

    3. Hapax Legomenon*

      If the guy thinks it’s a funny joke, what would happen if you flipped the script or took the joke further? “We kicked butt this week, maybe you’re the one in trouble!” or “Oh no, did you tell the principal about us passing notes in class?” I don’t know if that would backfire on you, but I’m a big fan of pseudo-satire for those scenarios(when I can get away with it). People don’t know how their word choices affect others until it’s turned around on them.

      1. Jules the 3rd*

        If I heard something like those in response to a joking comment I made, I’d think you were ok with my joke and encouraging it. They would make me joke more, not less.

    4. whistle*

      This joke would drive me crazy too. “Am I in trouble?” is right up there with “Are you mad at me?” in terms of questions that I don’t want to hear in adult relationships.

      I think your script is fine. Another approach that might work here is the classic “What do you mean by that?”

    5. Emilitron*

      I’ve definitely used the phrase “in trouble” at work but usually it refers to project status not team reprimands – as in “if Vendor lets their timeline slip we’re all in trouble”. I mean, it’s definitely possible for somebody to get in trouble at work in the colloquial sense (eg “did you hear Fergus is in trouble with HR for what he said to Jane”) but it’s a gossip phrasing not something I’d ever expect to hear out of my manager’s mouth.

    6. RagingADHD*

      One option might be to speak privately and say something like,

      “I sense that you may have concerns about giving the team normal feedback, because you always joke around about us being ‘in trouble.’ I want to reassure you that we expect to get feedback as an ordinary part of the process.

      Especially since so many of the team are less experienced, I’m trying to make sure they don’t pick up any skewed expectations about how this process works. It would help me a lot if we could lose this idea of being ‘in trouble.’ I know it’s a joke, but I don’t want my team to internalize that.”

    7. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

      Is there anyone in another team you are close to, who you could find out whether they also receive the “in trouble” wording from this guy? Is it just your team who get the ‘in trouble’ comments is what I’m getting at (but my feeling is it’s probably more general than just targeted at your team).

      Is this a weekly review meeting of some sort? (you alluded to him saying “I have a lot of comments this week” so it sort of sounds like something that happens weekly where you go through… customer support cases? management feedback? customer reviews? social media comments from people engaging with your company? something else?)

      If your own manager/supervisor is on a similar level to this guy, I’d be inclined to raise my concerns (e.g. as you put it, ‘we’re not “in trouble” since we’re not at school any more, what it actually is is that there’s some issue with the thing we submitted’ etc) to your own manager/supervisor and have them bring this up with that person.

  28. Leavingatabadtime*

    I just gave my 2 weeks’ notice at my job during a particularly busy season. I’ve been there 5 years, in a small department at a small company, and have a close relationship with my boss. Shared personal information, he gave me a large gift when I had a baby, etc. It was really difficult to actually put a job search in motion even given my important considerations for leaving (professional stagnation, better work/life balance at the new job, etc), knowing the situation I’d be leaving my boss/my department in. Everyone is very surprised I’m leaving and the timing puts a lot of strain on my boss. I want to acknowledge that he’s been a wonderful boss/our friendship has meant a lot, and that I realize I’m putting him in a difficult spot. Is it inappropriate to get him some kind of gift when I leave?

    1. Zona the Great*

      Yes I think so. This is business. Doing all you can to wrap up and leave a transition plan will be the best gift you can give.

    2. Amy Sly*

      If not a gift, definitely write him a note. A note saying those things is almost always appreciated more than an accompanying gift.

      1. Kathenus*

        Totally agree – I have a note someone gave me about 10 years ago that is still really special to me about the impact that I had made in her career.

    3. SomebodyElse*

      Would it be possible for you take your boss out to lunch before you leave. It may help transition your relationship from a boss/employee one to a colleague/peer/network one that I’m assuming you’d like to have after you leave.

      It’s also a nice neutral way to show appreciation in a business setting.

  29. Argh!*

    Ughhhh. We have a new hire, I am responsible for training and making sure they follow our procedures and learn the ropes. I emailed yesterday about our file-naming system (email began with “I know this is nit-picky but we have a specific system…”) and was *astonished* when they pushed back saying they don’t agree, they find it easier to do it their way, they would like to have a meeting about it, and on and on. Holy. Eff.

    Who cares that much about a file naming system?

    Who in their right mind picks a fight about this kind of sh*t in their first month on a job?! This person is 24 years old and has 3 years of professional experience.

    They are now saying that when they were hired the boss told them they’d be doing more high-level work, when we explicitly told them it’s mostly administrative.

    I have maaaaaaajor concerns about how this is going to go if this new hire is picking a fight over a file naming system 1 month in. UGH.

    1. Nonprofit Nancy*

      Ugh, I’ve been on the other side of this (so maybe I’m biased) so I’m sympathetic to both sides. I started a new job that I thought was a professional step up, and a coworker – not my boss, but the person training me, who was sort of representing my boss – sent me the most nitpicky emails about the script for my voice mail message, the way we name files, how to store our notebooks, etc – and I almost noped right out there ASAP. She was right though, and I was right that the job was not going to be at all what I’d hoped haha. Hoping your ending is better!!

      1. Argh!*

        Oh god, this is so similar to my situation that I almost thought you were the hire I’m talking about, haha.

        The person who would normally be the trainer and supervisor in my office is on leave, so I’m acting as the proxy. That person is quite meticulous and insistent on consistently doing things her way… when I started and she trained me, I had many many emails of “this email you saved to the file 3 months ago is saved wrong, please fix”. It was hard to let go of my personal annoyance, but I get it now.

        In this situation, my objective is to do the best job possible so that when my colleague returns from leave, she breathes a sigh of relief that I didn’t let the office go to hell in a hand basket. It means I don’t have any REAL power and I’m depending on the new hire being a reasonable person who see that it’s in their best interest to observe and conform for now… which I’m beginning to worry may not be the case.

        I tried so hard to present it as “I know this is nit-picky, it’s not MY thing, I am the messenger” but they got so worked up I was really taken aback.

        1. Nonprofit Nancy*

          I mean, you (and my old coworker) are accurately representing the culture of the organization, so the new hire get to legitimately realize that it may not be a good fit for him, see if there’s wiggle room, realize there’s not and process their inevitable disappointment – it definitely doesn’t mean that you the trainer are doing anything wrong!!

        2. Persy*

          If you also experienced this when you onboarded, it might be worth telling this disgruntled new hire about that! In person might work better than a disclaimer in an email. Maybe accept their ask of a meeting, and then make clear that while you’re sympathetic to where they’re at (sprinkle liberally with your own first month experiences), the office works the way it does for a reason, and while learning the job is not the time to suggest system-altering changes.

        3. Arts Akimbo*

          Honestly? I think you sugarcoated it so much that they felt they had wiggle room to push back on it. It would probably be better to say, “This is how files are named under our system,” just pure matter-of-factly, no room for argument. Don’t try to manage their emotions, just give them the facts of how your office’s system works.

          Also, I wonder if they were the victim of a bait-and-switch job offer. It sucks that they think admin work is beneath them, but if they really were told that they’d be doing different work, I could see why their attitude might be bad. Any way to find out?

    2. NicoleK*

      A new hire was giving me attitude when I tried explaining to her about why a certain process had to be accurate.

      1. Argh!*

        Why?!? Why is that ok? I’m thinking back to all my jobs when I first started and the name of the game was to learn how things are done, observe, be agreeable, get the lay of the land personality-wise, workflow-wise, procedurally, etc. I’m so thrown by the way they’re acting like they can set terms. ONE MONTH IN.

    3. Observer*

      Even if you are doing high level work these kinds of details can really matter. Ask any accountant, data management professional or medical professional for a sample of why.

      Tell your new hire that they need to follow these rules. No, you will not meet with them about it. Don’t get sucked into the whole issue of whether they are supposed to be doing “high level” or “administrative support” work. They still need to follow the rules.

      If they still want to meet in a year, you will consider it.

      1. Argh!*

        Yeah, I didn’t want to pile on seeing how they were taking it so personally at that moment… but I think that part of excelling at this particular job is the ability to observe a file/format/procedure/whatever and be able to follow the style that is already in place. It shows you’re paying attention to detail and are respectful of the existing systems.

        1. Close Bracket*

          part of excelling at this particular job is the ability to observe a file/format/procedure/whatever and be able to follow the style that is already in place.

          Say this, but not the second part. “Respectful of existing systems” is not a good enough reason to follow them. “Everything single thing downstream of this will fall apart bc they use the filenames in the existing format” is a good enough reason to follow the existing systems. Tie the reason to follow the systems to the reason for the systems.

          1. tangerineRose*

            I like to respect existing systems until I know enough about them to have good suggestions. It sounds like this person isn’t waiting to know more about it.

      2. Melissa*

        I agree. Your job is to train them, they need to listen and if they are unhappy with the position, that’s a question for the boss/manager.

      3. Analytical Tree Hugger*

        Even if you are doing high level work these kinds of details can really matter. Ask any accountant, data management professional or medical professional for a sample of why.

        Data manageement professional here and I totally agree. You and the trainer are following protocols that are common across the field, i.e. consistency across systems, even if it seems nitpicky. Once you start hitting several thousand files/millions of data points to sort through, it suddenly starts to make sense why it’s important.

        It’s up to you whether to meet with NewHire or not (could be charitable of you to meet and explain that this is how the team/organization does things and that’s that). Definitely don’t touch the discussion of their role, since that doesn’t sound like it’s in your court.

        1. Argh!*

          Exactly, we’ve got hundreds of thousands of files saved in this format. It really doesn’t matter if the new hire finds their way preferable or easier to find things later. We ALL need to be able to jump into ANY file and easily navigate.

          1. tangerineRose*

            That’s a great way to put it. Does the person know that you’re not the person who has control over this standard anyway?

          2. Mad Harry Crewe*

            Not everyone generalizes well, and this person may not have their head above water to realize that. Taking a minute to explain why something needs to be done in a specific way can really help smooth it over.

    4. SomebodyElse*


      I think I’d shut that down right quick. I’d have replied with “Nope, don’t think we need a meeting on this it’s very straightforward. Please use the naming convention that I’ve indicated going forward and also rename anything you’ve saved with a different name”

      Then I’d give your boss a heads up. Especially if they push back again or don’t do as you’ve asked.

      1. Ama*

        I agree with this — if there’s a possibility they are just not understanding the context (i.e. if they think this is just YOUR preference and not the office standard), you could say “This is not a matter of personal preference, this is the standard for the entire office so we can keep our file organization consistent. It’s not up for discussion.”

        But absolutely mention this to your boss so they can keep an eye on whether this is a pattern going forward.

        1. Argh!*

          Yeah, I have been clear that it’s not my personal preference and there is no room for negotiation at this time. Which why it really shocked me that they dug their heels in. Over a flipping filing system.

          1. Auntie Social*

            “It’s not about personal preference. It’s so someone else can find something in a file when you’re not here. That’s why consistency is so important.”
            We had a new paralegal tell us that our courtroom file index was wrong, was a waste of paper, etc. Why was the client’s income information always under #10 when there might not be 9 other documents in the file yet? Because the lawyers know to look under #10 for financials when they’re in a hurry, and they’re ALWAYS in a hurry. It makes a difference not to have to thumb through a file looking for something, especially with a client and a judge watching. You don’t like the index? I so don’t care—the lawyer likes it.

    5. Not A Manager*

      I wonder if you did them any favors by signaling that you think this is nit-picky, etc. It might have encouraged them to think that it’s optional, or negotiable, or that you don’t like it yourself (do you?).

      In addition to firmly shutting down any attempts to negotiate details, could you plainly explain to them what you explained to us (without the part about personalities)? “Pat, this is the current system and it’s non-negotiable. This isn’t *my* system, I have no authority to change it, and neither do you. My job is to train you using our current best practices, and your job is to implement them.”

      1. Argh!*

        Yeah, that occurred to me afterwards. In that conversation I did say the other things you suggest here, though.

        I tried to circle back today and make sure there’s no animosity… but there is. They told me that my email about our filing system struck a nerve because last week I had given him instructions and pulled rank about something different. They were essentially telling me that they will take issue with my instructions going forward. Which, when you are the most junior person in the office, is simply a fact of life. I wasn’t being a jerk about it but they clearly took it personally.

        I plan to have a meeting with the big boss to get more explicit guidelines on how much power I have in this situation moving forward.

        1. valentine*

          Someone needs to tell them if they don’t have standing to call a meeting and that they have to do what you say. It’ll help you not to soften language. He simply must use the file naming convention.

          (As an obsessive, I hope the system doesn’t unnecessarily omit punctuation, or alphabetize by article or with Mc before Ma.)

          1. Elizabeth West*


            Even if they have a bright idea that would vastly improve the entire system, during training is not the time to push it. There is no way they would know all the reasons why it’s in place just yet. If they were specifically hired to do a process overhaul, they still need time to understand it first.

            1. Auntie Social*

              I remember the temp who overhauled the lawyer’s filing system without being asked, because it wasn’t in alpha order. The lawyer she temped for was a defense attorney so every file started with “The People vs” or “State vs”. “Those files were a mess, but I fixed it!” No, you didn’t, put it back the way you found it. If the system seems odd to you, ASK.

        2. Matilda Jefferies*

          Sorry, what? It struck a nerve because last week you…gave him instructions? Isn’t that your, you know, JOB? Seeing as you’re training him? Dude. Seriously.

          I’m glad you’re taking this up the chain, because this isn’t about file naming conventions. If he’s not willing to take your instructions, that’s a big problem, and it needs to be shut down asap. Good luck, and please keep us posted!

          1. Argh!*

            Yep. He said he was bothered that I was checking up on a “low level, not urgent” task that I assigned him ON HIS FIRST DAY A MONTH AGO. :-|

            The more I consider this predicament, hear input from you all, and have discussed it with my work buddy, I feel assured that I was being reasonable and this new hire may simply not work out. Most of the suggestions here (which are very thoughtful and helpful!) — I already said those things to NewHire and they were not well-received. NewHire is all twisted up over being given instructions, and it’s not a good look.

            1. Observer*

              Do you guys have a probationary period? If so, please talk to whoever is going to make a decision about him ASAP, so they can give him a heads up that he’s not getting out of probation if he doesn’t change his attitude / cut him loose. If you don’t do probation, then please give them a heads up with as much detail as you can so they can figure out the fastest way to either get an attitude change or separation.

              1. Diahann Carroll*

                Agreed – dude has got to go. This is entirely too much drama too soon, and maybe you guys can still reach back out to your also-rans and offer them the position instead.

        3. Fikly*

          Wait, they are complaining that you pulled rank? When you are explicitly in charge of them? WOW.

          This be how jobs work.

      2. CupcakeCounter*

        Yeah – I get the OP was trying not to come down hard or seem too harsh but the email should have been a simple “When reviewing your files I noticed you used naming convention X. We all follow convention A so please rename the files using the proper format.”
        If there is a legitimate business reason OP could through in, even better. For example “The analytics department needs these in a uniform naming format so their data program will pull in the correct file. The program is set to work with our current naming convention so all new files must follow the same format.”

      3. Observer*

        In my experience, reasonable people don’t react that way, though. I’ve found that when I validate that something looks nit-picky but we STILL have to do it that way, people tend to take it better. They may still grumble but they accept they still need to do it.

        The whole conversation here shows a real lack of understanding of hierarchy and office norms. Even in an office that is not strongly hierarchical, this kind of thing is really off the wall.

    6. Dust Bunny*

      Yeah, no.

      We have a file-naming system here, too. You can disagree with it all day long but you’re still gonna use it if you want this job.

    7. Quinalla*

      Definitely loop in whoever makes sense on this because yeah this is not good. You don’t argue with people about their filing system, asking questions about why or details, sure, but arguing? WTH?

      I find it telling that there argument is that they find it *easier* to do it their way. Seriously, literally no one cares what one employee finds easier when it comes to how something is filed. What matters is if it is easier to find 8 years from now when this employee is likely gone and no one know where the hell any of his files are. Argh!

    8. Well, there's this*

      “I’m sure you have your reasons for not agreeing. Regardless, this is our system, and we are not having a meeting about changing it.”

      Alternately, “That would mean a lot of files would have to be renamed and that would be a big project. Do you want to write a business case for this change in process so the executive team can review it?” I’ll bet your favorite beverage they’ve never written one. And hey, it’s higher-level work.

      I’m not nice when I’m low on sleep.

      1. Argh!*

        We are both white, I’m a woman about ten years older than he is. He’s a man. Social class, I think he comes from a working class family, I consider my upbringing upper/middle class (but I’ve supported myself for 15+ years so it’s not a category I still consider myself to be in).

        I’m trying to flex my gender neutrals for this post haha.

        1. Observer*

          I can see why you would. But I’m willing to bet that his background, and more so the fact that you are a woman and he’s a man is playing into this.

  30. Count Boochie Flagrante*

    Folks who work over 40 hours a week on the regular — how do you find ways to manage it? This tax season is really killing me energy-wise. I’m working ~45-50 hours a week (compared with 43-45 last year), and will be until late April; it’s only February and I’m exhausted. I get home at 6:30 or 7pm and have no energy for my hobbies, just stare blankly at a book or the internet until bedtime. How do I make a life out of this until it’s over?

    1. Zona the Great*

      By treating yourself as much as you can afford and justify. Grocery delivery, indulging in television more than usual, sleeping in, forgiving yourself for not doing the dishes. I’m sorry Count!

      1. Nonprofit Nancy*

        Agree, spend whatever money you need to make it easier on yourself (hopefully you are being compensated more for this work; if not you should be) and plan a really exciting, really chill vacation for yourself as soon as the slower period is supposed to be – something easy, like book a resort and plane tickets, since you probably don’t have the energy to plan anything elaborate right now. Ignore any internal or external messages that “it’s not a good time, you need to catch up on Y and Z thing, maybe later” – you need that reward for getting through it, prioritize it.

        1. Count Boochie Flagrante*

          Oh, that sounds nice. The end of tax season is (hopefully) going to coincide with me finishing a licensing program, so if all goes well I can throw myself a double celebration.

      2. Amy Sly*

        One of the most interesting statistics I came across was that the average SAHM in the 1970s spent as much quality time with her children as a working mom does today. The difference is that the mom today doesn’t spend anywhere near the effort in cooking and cleaning.

        Likewise, use some of that overtime/bonus (Dear Lord, I hope you’re getting some kind of extra money for it) for grocery delivery, a cleaning service, or other things you just don’t have the time and energy for right now.

        1. Count Boochie Flagrante*

          Happily, I’m hourly and well-compensated, so I’m making good money for this! Time and a half for weekday overtime, and double time for weekend work. But I’m also studying for my supervisory securities licenses in my spare time (lol what spare time).

          1. Amy Sly*

            Less that than folks accept lower standards for cleanliness (I sure don’t vacuum and dust and mop the kitchen floor every week the way my mom does!) and that restaurant and processed dining are far more common.

            1. Curmudgeon in California*

              This. I don’t dust, mop, sweep, vacuum or scrub floors on a monthly basis, much less weekly. I’m disabled, it’s a big accomplishment for me to do a once over with the vacuum cleaner. To mop a floor, I need to sit on a stool in the middle of the room and just turn. If it gets to be to messy, I hire someone to come in and do the heavy cleaning.

          2. Alexandra Lynch*

            In places we don’t realize, too.
            We modernly don’t require someone in our household to put out a three course dinner every night, just as my partner doesn’t require me to give him an ironed pair of pants and an ironed and starched shirt every morning to go to work. Permanent press and the acceptance of much more casual clothing in most industries has definitely helped.

            We DO do that in the summer because he runs hot and linen is so much cooler, and it is a sizeable chunk of my time on laundry day to iron and starch his linen shirts and linen pants for the week ahead. I don’t mind because I view that as being my job, but it’s definitely something we don’t have to deal with in the winter.

      3. Jedi Squirrel*

        Agreed. I signed up for a laundry service and it’s been great. I save so much time not sorting, washing, drying, folding. It’s my little gift to myself every three weeks.

        1. Curmudgeon in California*

          My wife and I send out our two big bags of laundry once a month. It comes back folded and clean, and they use fragrance free detergent by request.

          If I have to do laundry, particularly folding, I end up in pain. It’s worth the money to pay people with folding boards and a better set-up to do it.

      4. introverted af*

        I don’t have the super long hours, but my commute recently increased and I’m trying to save time and energy wherever I can.

        Even if you don’t want to or can’t get grocery deliveries, I have found that ordering my groceries ahead and being able to just pick them up makes my life so much easier. I spend the same amount of time I normally would planning my grocery list, about 5-15 minutes picking things out online and placing the order, and only 10 or 15 extra minutes on my commute to pick things up, instead of the whole hour to go to the store and pick everything out and check out and go home.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Is spreading the hours over six days an option, and if so, would it help you? I work 6:30-3:30 M-F and 4a-1p on Sundays, and have done for something like four years now. (I am also an early morning person and the software I work with goes down for weekly maintenance at 2p on Sundays.)

      Caveat: I work from home, so I don’t have to take a commute into account, which I know changes the game somewhat. My husband regularly works 10 hour days with an hour commute, and he … pretty much doesn’t do anything except on weekends, other than staring blankly at a book or Netflix.

      1. Count Boochie Flagrante*

        Unfortunately not. I’m welcome to work weekends (and get paid double time for it!) but I’m also expected to work 9+ hour weekdays, since weekdays is where our volume hits.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          in that case, all I got is, make sure you’re taking your vitamins – 5000 units of D helped us both massively. Good luck!

    3. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Honestly, you don’t have a life. The hobbies fall by the wayside. Your social life dies. You gradually just get into survival mode. It sucks.

    4. Mia 52*

      My regular schedule is 45 hours a week all year… There are a lot of comments about spending as much money as you need to feel better, but honestly I think that might add to the stress because the you will feel overworked AND like you’re blowing through all your money. My trick for being engaged on weeknights is to barely set my stuff down and start dinner/cleaning/project. If I get all smooshed into the couch I will never get up. So I set my purse down and leave all my stuff on and grab my dog for a walk. Then when I get in from that I start the next thing without missing a beat.

    5. Sherm*

      How is the quality of your sleep? Not just the hours spent, but how refreshed you feel. I recently improved my sleep quality, and it’s made a huge difference. I had to wake up at 6:30 am today (early for me), and I woke up before the alarm clock and felt ready to go. My concentration is better and I feel more “up” for things. This is also a busy time for me, so I know that when there’s a lot on your plate it helps to have as much mental energy as possible.

    6. CdnAcct*

      I’m in a similar boat, not working much more than my previous role and feeling very brain-dead, just wanting to sit on the couch and watch something. I think and hope it’s not just the hours but the change, and that once I’m more used to this role I’ll feel better.
      In the meantime, as Zona mentioned, be more aware of how you feel and try to do more self-care.

    7. Salsa Your Face*

      Any chance you’re a morning person? Or can become a morning person? If you’re that exhausted when you get home in the evening, then those few hours you spend staring at a book or the internet aren’t worth staying up for. It sounds like it could be worth going to bed right away, waking up early, and indulging in your hobbies before work when you’re fresh and rested. (Obviously this depends on what your hobbies are!)

      1. Count Boochie Flagrante*

        I’m a morning person, and this is actually a bone of contention; the last time schedules were handed out, I got bumped to a later shift than I prefer, and my overtime has been tacked on to the end of my day instead of the beginning. I’d be much happier working 7a-5p, but as it is I’m working 9a-7p. Once my manager situation has settled down (old manager changed jobs a month ago, interim manager barely sees me, new manager is starting next week) I’m gonna advocate for a schedule shift.

        1. RecoveringSWO*

          I was just about to comment with Salsa’s advice. While you’re waiting to advocate for a shift change, test out hobbies/self care during the morning before work. You may find that you prefer giving yourself your “best hours” instead of work!

      2. Alexandra Lynch*

        My boyfriend gets up at five so that he can have an hour and a half to do his hobbies and enjoy the silence before he has to get on with eating breakfast, shower, etc. in order to go to work. When he starts a new contract, I will also be getting up at five so that I can immediately take the car, go work out (mornings before breakfast work for me) and get it back in time for him to go to work. We go to bed earlyish, but that’s okay.

    8. anonymous for this*

      Law firm lawyer here – most of my weeks are 40+ hours, so I have some thoughts. To fit in weeknight hobby time, if I get home at say, 7 or 8, I mentally allow myself an hour to make a quick dinner and veg on the couch with a half-glass of wine and half-hour-long TV show. Sometimes, this mentally recharges me enough to head into my sewing room and work on a project. Even if it’s just for 30 minutes once during the week, this helps me feel more like my life is my own than if my day is limited to wake up, work, sleep, repeat. Other times, I can’t summon the energy and just try to be gentle with myself about that! During really intellectually draining weeks, I consciously lower the difficulty level of my hobby projects. For example, if I’m drafting a difficult brief at work, I am probably not going to spend my evening time doing something complicated like sewing a pair of jeans. I might cut out future projects, read reviews of a pattern I’m thinking about making, or make something simple I’ve already cut out – something that does not require focusing on complex instructions. Dedicated hobby space helps tremendously. I know that is not always possible, but not having to spend time setting up and putting away supplies means that if I have half an hour to sew, I actually spend it sewing! I also listen to hobby-related podcasts while I commute, which help me feel dialed in to my hobby even if I otherwise truly can’t spare a minute for it during my week.

      Energy-wise, I do the following: I generally check email for the last time at 11pm. After that, my brain knows I am done taking in new information until I wake up. I keep my phone in my office, not by my bedside. I was surprised that I slept so much better after this change! I take vitamins and make an effort to drink enough water and not too much coffee. I also make an effort to not skip lunch, no matter how many matters are having a crisis, because I am a less effective lawyer when a hunger headache hits me like a truck mid-afternoon because I forgot to eat lunch again, and I still have many hours to go in my work day. (All basic stuff, but thought I’d mention it because I had a string of busy, hard workdays not too long ago and felt terrible, then realized I was drinking maybe two glasses of water a day, with meals only. No wonder I felt awful – I was really dehydrated.)

      On weekends: I sleep in. I ruthlessly prioritize chores so I don’t end up feeling like they took up half my weekend. (Load of essential laundry? Yes. Dusting each individual bookshelf? Nope!) If time is really at a premium, I might have groceries delivered instead of shopping to save myself the time. If I want to meet up with friends, we meet at their house, a restaurant, the park – somewhere I do not have to worry about getting my house in order before guests arrive. Plans with friends help a lot; if I make plans to see friends for Saturday night dinner, that motivates me to tackle my weekend work before that, I am not likely to cancel on them, and historically, I am usually glad I went. I long ago decided to try and socialize and work on hobby projects even if I’m tired, because I’m so often tired that if I never went out or worked on personal projects while tired, I’d never get around to doing those things. (Note, though, that I am talking about run-of-the-mill tiredness from being a healthy youngish adult who is just tired from working a lot. I am aware that there are many, many life and health situations for which “do the thing anyway even though you’re tired” does NOT work, and I absolutely don’t mean to discount those situations – I am just letting you know how I personally think about this, for me.)

    9. Double A*

      I’m a teacher so I have a job that really ebbs and flows depending on the time of year. The best way I deal with it is to just accept the seasonality of my job! Don’t fight that this is the period where it’s 100% work, and everything outside of work is survival. Make sure that exercise is part of “survival,” so prioritize building some into your schedule, though it’s okay if it’s less regular or intense than your normal routine. Don’t feel guilty that your hobbies are set aside for now; you’ll return to them in April, and can pick them up a little on the weekends if you feel like it.

      You can also accept that this is TV season. Pick a show to get through during your busy season, and guiltlessly watch a few episodes a night. Read right before bed, even if it’s just 15 minutes or so.

    10. Quinalla*

      A few things I’ve done to help with this as my husband and I both work FT and I work 45 hours at least and he is 40-45:
      1. Hire a monthly cleaning service – this ensures the house gets a good thorough cleaning once a month as we can keep it pretty well with the day to day, but you just keep putting off dusting, vacuuming, etc. when you are crunched.
      2. Online grocery ordering and pickup – I still have to go in the store for produce and more specialty things, but getting all the basics this way saves tons of time
      3. Exercising 4-5 days a week in the morning – this has greatly improved my energy. I couldn’t do it without in house exercise equipment which I know not everyone has.
      4. Sleeping in on weekends – kids are old enough to fend for themselves until 8 or 9 am so we can catch up on sleep.
      5. Having a few regularly scheduled monthly activities – for us it is board games and RPGs we host at our house, we stick to it and while sometime we are tired, we never regret doing it. Makes us clean up the house a little more too :)
      6. Make sure we are both pulling our weight on chores & kids stuff – take a hard look at this and divide it up more evenly as needed and also don’t be afraid to renegotiate this regularly as needs change.
      7. Make a point to recharge, whatever that means for you.

      1. RecoveringSWO*

        These are great! To add to #6, divvying up the chores in a manner that incorporates responsibility for the planning/mental load of each person’s assigned task really helps prevent burn out as well. Instead of me asking spouse to bathe the dog every other week and clip his nails every month, Spouse is simply in charge of all dog grooming and I don’t have to think about it. I can certainly help when asked, but I’m just managing my own chores.

      2. Windchime*

        I’m a big fan of online grocery shopping. I discovered it a couple of years ago and have never looked back. I have a long commute (about an hour each way) and the thought of going to the store to go up and down the aisles is the last thing I want to do. So it’s click, click, click and then I just stop by on the way home to pick up my groceries. I love it and recommend it for working people.

    11. My Brain Is Exploding*

      Ugh, sorry!! So…. I would take one of the weekend days and do nothing but stuff I wanted to do: read, hobby, meet friends, etc. The other day would be like a work day: I’d prioritize and then clean, do laundry, get out clothes for the next week, meal plan and cook ahead for the week, etc. Also try to get out of the office for a few minutes’ walk every day. But remember, top priority is to take care of yourself! Vacuuming (etc) can wait!

    12. 1098, 1099. Whatever.*

      No real answers, just wanted to offer my commiseration as another who is neck deep in forms and schedules and explaining why the IRS takes a dim view of pulling mileage out of thin air.

      1. Count Boochie Flagrante*

        God, yeah. I had to have the “no, really, we can’t just pretend that your traditional IRA has been a Roth for the last five years” talk the other day. Oyyyy….

  31. Anonymous Poster*

    I’m an agnostic in an office that is almost completely Christian (I believe we have a couple of Jewish coworkers and one atheist). We’re in a conservative and predominantly Evangelical area.

    Here, it’s not unusual for people to ask their friends to pray for their loved ones, whether their loved one is a sick pet awaiting test results or a relative applying for a job. Unfortunately, I’m finding this pretty uncomfortable at work. I’ve had bad experiences with organized religion, I don’t want to participate in rituals, and I don’t want to be asked to participate. I’m fine with requests for actions, like donating or volunteering, but not this.

    Does anyone have advice for both tamping down my possible overreaction and perhaps suggesting that we not do prayer requests at work?

    Note: Not interested in debating the validity or invalidity of prayer itself, or debating about prayer requests outside of work.

    1. Zona the Great*

      I don’t think you can realistically push back on this. Freedom of speech and all that. Do you feel any hostility toward you due to your beliefs?

      1. Count Boochie Flagrante*

        Freedom of speech isn’t applicable here. Just because something is legal to say doesn’t mean it’s appropriate at work. (In fact, quite a lot of legal things are inappropriate at work.)

        1. Leslie Knope*

          I’m in a similar situation at work. It’s a small company with mostly conservative-leaning folks who openly talk about politics and church. Luckily I can discreetly shut my door and not have to listen, but sometimes I feel put in an awkward spot. I’ve found ways to slink away unnoticed a few times, other times I just say something like, “Oh, I hate to hear they’re not well.”

          We have no HR since we only have like 8 employees, so I can’t bring it up to anyone. I just try to think about how it brings them comfort to ask for prayers, I’ll be pleasant towards them, but then try to remove myself from the conversation and go back to work.

      2. Fikly*

        That’s not what freedom of speech is? The first amendment means the government can’t censor you, it doesn’t apply to what coworkers say to each other.

        For Anonymous Poster, is there a middle ground where prayer requests happen, but are not requested of you? I am not super familiar with various versions of Christianity, but I feel like there are probably ones (or other religions) where prayer requests like this are not the done thing. Could you sort of imply association with one of those without directly saying it, thus perhaps coming across as acceptably religious, but getting the result you want?

        1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

          The first amendment means the government can’t censor you, it doesn’t apply to what coworkers say to each other.

          Yes, thank you!

          1. Fikly*

            The second thing I usually follow this with, is that freedom of speech does not also mean freedom from consequences of that speech. People seem very confused by this concept.

    2. Youth*

      I feel you. I’m super religious, but I don’t think that belongs in an office if the work isn’t religious or religion-adjacent. I had a similar situation where an individual in my workplace constantly used their work email to invite everyone in the office to controversial political events. Our work had nothing to do with political activism. It made me super uncomfortable.

      I think it’s reasonable to go to HR and say, “Hey, this makes me uncomfortable, and it doesn’t seem appropriate in a secular setting.” But your mileage may vary depending on the overall atmosphere.

    3. Count Boochie Flagrante*

      Since you’re specifically asking how to tamp down your own reaction, I think you can try to implement a mental filter — along the lines of “pray = think good thoughts/cross your fingers.” In a specifically religious-language context with my family, I would say ‘pray for me’ in the same way I would ask my friends ‘wish me luck!’ when getting ready to do something difficult, and it might help your feelings if you try to read it in the same way.

      But I think you’re absolutely justified to ask if there can be something of a culture shift at work in the way people talk about this. I don’t know how much success you’re likely to have; if this is reflective of the broader culture, and especially if your office is smaller/less tuned in to Big HR Considerations, you may be fighting against the tide on this one. If you have a work mentor, or a good relationship with your boss, it might be reasonable to bring it up one-on-one in a feeling out sort of way. “Hey, I’ve noticed this is something we do in this company culture, but it’s uncomfortable for me. Do you think it would be feasible to look for a different way to phrase this at work so we aren’t inadvertently crossing the employment/religious practice streams?”

      1. Nonprofit Nancy*

        Yeah if they want to pray with you or pray all together – ugh, I hate that and I would absolutely try to get out of it. But if it’s just a request to pray, I translate that to, “send good thoughts” so I just nod and carry on my day.

      2. Anonymous Poster*

        I do have a boss whom I would consider a mentor. He’s a very considerate person in many respects, but he’s also been a missionary – I don’t know if he’d necessarily see pushing Christian practice on people as a *bad* thing. That phrasing sounds good if I talk about this with him.

        1. Count Boochie Flagrante*

          Uf, yeah, that does make it awkward.

          I saw that you commented above that you haven’t felt comfortable discussing your personal beliefs at work. Would you prefer to take the white lie stance? You might get more traction with a missionary boss if you frame it as having a different prayer tradition that doesn’t mesh well with casual requests to pray, and let it remain unsaid that your prayer tradition is “don’t.”

    4. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

      I get this. I live and work in a very much NOT conservative region (or office) and most of my family/friends are predominantly Catholic/Christian and this is often phrased this way. It makes me uncomfortable, too, as I also identify as agnostic.

      I usually say something non-committal, “Of course my thoughts are with you during this difficult time,” or, “Sending you all of the good vibes and energy,” or even just, “I am so sorry to hear you/your loved one is going through this.” I think there are ways to turn it slightly that won’t be obvious and also won’t offend anyone.

      1. Person from the Resume*

        I send a lot of good vibes and think a lot of good thoughts (or at least I say I do) in place of prayers.

        It’s total lip service. Think of it as just wishing the person/friend/family member good luck and never think of it again.

    5. blink14*

      Try to reframe how you are interpreting the requests. I grew up Catholic, but have not actively practiced the religion in many years. When people ask for prayers, or say they’ll be praying for you, its generally coming from a good place and is well intentioned. Think of those requests as a way to pass along positive thoughts and best wishes.

      I do think requests for prayers are baked deep into certain cultures, both locally and on a larger level, and often aren’t really religious in nature, but another way of saying something like “so and so is having surgery, lets send good thoughts to them”. This is something the people in your office have likely grown up doing and it is cemented in their lives, be it within their family or the local area. I can see how constant requests would get annoying, but in the end, it sounds less like the requests are strictly religious, and more that this is how the people you work with support those around them.

      1. Dust Bunny*

        I was raised Quaker and we “hold people in the Light”, which conveniently sort of splits the difference between active prayer and just good thoughts. But I, personally, am an atheist and, while I will gladly spare all the good wishes I have, if somebody asked me to pray RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW I’d definitely be put on the spot, because that is something I can’t do without actively lying, which a) might put me in a hard spot with my coworkers, and b) still feels really bad, even if I don’t share their beliefs.

        So I wonder if the biggest part of the problem is being asked to pray here-and-now? Because if I was just asked to pray in general, they’d never know if or by what method I did so and it wouldn’t really be an issue.

        1. Curmudgeon in California*

          If they asked you to pray for someone right here and now, I’d respond with “I don’t pray in public. I will keep the person in my thoughts.”

          Different Christian denominations have different traditions on prayer. IIRC, some literally don’t pray “in public”, ie outside of the house or church. The biblical citation for this is Matthew 6:4-6.

          Notice that none of this claims that you will, in fact “pray” for them.

          In most situations, “pray for X” is just Christian-speak for “wish them luck” or “wish them well”.

          Background: I was raised baptist, but have been pagan for 40 years.

        2. KoiFeeder*

          Wait. Holding people in the Light isn’t basically what people mean when they talk about praying for someone?

          I’m not even Quaker anymore how did I miss this.

      2. CatLadyInTraining*

        I’m not super religious so I usually just say “Sending good thoughts your way!” “i’m thinking about you at the moment.”

    6. Construction Safety*

      I wouldn’t be interested in praying for someone at work while at work & in a group, as in “lets all now pray for Fergus”.
      I’d probably just defer, & say “I will” or some such.

    7. AvonLady Barksdale*

      How are they asking? Is it a company-wide email, or are people approaching their co-workers/friends and asking for prayers? If it’s the latter, then no, you can’t say anything. If it’s a company-wide email, then I would find that really odd but also really easy to delete/ignore. Now, if someone is approaching you personally, you can shut that down and say you’re not a believer (or however you want to phrase it) but you hope whatever bad situation resolves itself quickly and well.

      I’m Jewish and I dislike being asked to pray for someone, though I will say prayers for people I know who are ill. However, I have managed to realize that the requests have more to do with the requester than with me, so I let a lot go. When someone says, “I’m praying for you” I will sometimes shut it down (context is everything) but usually I just ignore or nod or whatever. I don’t find it worth my energy to argue.

    8. Onerous Amorphous*

      Is it the kind of thing where you can gently respond “I’ll be thinking good thoughts for you/your sister/your dog” and let that be the end of the conversation? Or are they asking you to get on your knees and pray with them in that moment, write their name on a church’s prayer list, or participate in some sort of group prayer ritual at the office?

      In my experience growing up in a similar kind of area, the first was usually sufficient, and most people won’t push farther than that.

      I would try to frame this in your mind as an expression of worry by your coworkers over whatever is troubling them in their lives/families, and not them trying necessarily to push their religion on you, even though it is presumptive for them to look at you and assume that you’re the praying type.

    9. Sleepy and painful*

      I cant think of a way to convey this to anyone aside from outright saying something like “I know a lot of people are comforted by religion and prayers but it can make people/me uncomfortable. Can you please not include me in prayer requests?” But you might get people who don’t understand boundaries wanting to discuss why with you.

      If it helps any, I am an athiest and I see them less as being about religion and more about people trying to tap into the power of positivity during troubling times. I reframe it as more hoping for the best rather than being religious. Plus if a loved one is dealing with health stuff, there isnt that much most people can do to help so prayer requests can make people feel like they are trying to help their loved one. Maybe thinking of it as less prayer and more cross your fingers and hope for the best that might help.

    10. Behth*

      This is probably getting really annoying for you, but unfortunately, there’s no gracious way to say “I won’t pray for your family member/pet/illness,” especially if it’s something that person is really worried about. It will come across as hostile and uncaring. Are you getting these requests in person or via email? In both cases you should just be able to say “I’m so sorry/that must be rough/good luck, I’ll be thinking of you/them.” You aren’t making a promise to pray that you don’t intend to keep, and you aren’t making the situation awkward by going against the convention. These people aren’t really looking for your prayers, they’re just wanting some recognition of a difficult experience. Or they’re just sharing a life update and “say a prayer” is just part of the delivery.

    11. SomebodyElse*

      I think you just need to make piece with this at this particular office.

      FTR… I am religious and I’m not keen on a lot of prayer talk in offices (and the dreaded biblical email signature). But it is what it is and to me I file it right along with discussions and questions about the newest reality show.

    12. MsManager*

      I sympathize. I’m an atheist in a town that has a church on every block.

      If they are simply talking about prayers, or emailing requests for prayers, maybe just ignoring it is the solution. If they are asking you to come clasp hands in a prayer circle, that’s harder to decline without drawing attention to yourself. Honestly, if it is a situation where it would hurt you at work to decline, I would conveniently have to go to the bathroom every time there’s a group prayer.

      Several years ago, I did push back when a coworker repeatedly asked me to attend an after hours work session so her prayer group could pray over me, because my then-husband was deployed in Iraq, and her group thought God told Bush to start the Iraq war to bring about the apocalypse. But I let it go for as long as I possibly could, because it wasn’t worth the hassle of being outed as a heathen.

      1. Anna Maus*

        Gah! I admire your strength in not going off on them.

        I was out as an agnostic when I lived in the Bible belt and it was awkward and uncomfortable because people felt the need to save me. I remember at a pot luck someone insisted on a prayer to ‘bless the food.” I left the room and came back five minutes later.

    13. Mia 52*

      Are they asking YOU to pray are or are they just asking each other and its making you uncomfortable? If someone wants me to pray or during family meal times where my family prays I just sit quietly and send out “good thoughts” or “positive energy”. Although I’m a path of least resistance person. lol.

    14. theletter*

      I would think this would be inappropriate in meetings or email, if your company does anything other than sell prayer books, this is taking time and energy away from work.

      I would slowly work on this framing as you experience it – if it’s the CEO’s all company meeting, it’s not going to be easy to push back on. If it’s a team lead weekly meeting, you could suggest they separate that portion and make it optional, as you do mean the best for your team but you also need to get your work done!

      If it’s coming through in an email chain, I would ignore it until you get some egregious example. Then you might be able to take it up the chain by saying ‘I don’t mind people sharing their personal lives, but I get a lot of email, and having to sort through a prayer request for Sally’s cousin’s Goldfish is just another level of distraction that makes it difficult to do my job. Could we make an opt-in prayer group for these requests?”

      If it’s happening in and around the cubefarm, treat it as disruption – after the prayer request, approach the person and ask them to hold their meetings in a conference room in the future so that you can focus on your work.

    15. Double A*

      There are a couple of ways to respond when someone asks you to pray for someone. You could say, “They’ll be in my thoughts.” Or you could say, “Prayer isn’t part of my spiritual practice, but they will be in my thoughts.” I would use the second one if you have someone who seems to bring it up a lot.

      If someone says they’re praying for you (in an innocuous way, like if you’ve told them you’re having a medical procedure for example), I think the best thing you can do is accept it as a kindness, the same way you hope they accept “I’ll be thinking of you/them” as a kindness.

    16. RagingADHD*

      Well, would you feel the same if your coworkers said, “Wish me luck,” or “Cross your fingers for us, the surgery is tomorrow,” or “Can you send some good vibes, we need a diagnosis…”

      I mean, that is the equivalent in non-religious language. This is personal conversation about their families and pets, not some kind of mandate from your employer. You can always respond with “Best wishes” or just “Oh, that’s too bad, I hope they feel better soon.”

      It is theoretically possible to push back on this, but I can’t imagine any way of doing it thst isn’t going to come across to your coworkers as you saying, “I don’t give a crap about your sick mother, amd I don’t want to hear about it any more.”

      I know that’s not your intention, but in a culture where “prayer requests” are the social standard for sharing personal concerns or vulnerability, it’s going to come across as a very pointed personal rejection.

      1. Fikly*

        Except that saying something like “wish me luck” does not have the implication that “your religion is made up” or otherwise invalidates someone’s belief. Asking someone to pray for someone else does, if that person is not of any faith. It’s not equivalent.

        1. RecoveringSWO*

          I can see how phrasing personal news is sticky for people of varying religious beliefs and non-beliefs. Some religious beliefs would treat “luck” as blasphemy and requests for “good vibes” or “crossed fingers” as similarly blasphemous. Asking someone to pray for them might be taken well by people of varying faiths and not offend some non-religious folks, but it would also clash with some other religions and offend some non-religious people too. It’s complicated and I would recommend trying to give your coworkers the benefit of the doubt.

        2. RagingADHD*

          Yeah, actually it is equivalent because it doesn’t mean anything about the other person’s beliefs at all.

          It means “I am worried about my loved one and could use some emotional support, please.”

          But by all means, go ahead and take offense where none was intended, and make other people’s request for some human kindness in a difficult time all about yourself.

          I’m sure it will get you exactly the kind of relationships and work environment you want.

          1. Fikly*

            There is a difference between taking offense and being triggered because you have been traumatized by religion/people using religion as justification.

            It’s perfectly acceptable to do what you need to keep yourself safe. And to want some kindness for yourself.

    17. RecoveringSWO*

      Another way to reframe this would be to treat it as people saying “God bless you” after someone sneezes. There’s religious connotations, but you can brush those connotations off because it’s such a common phrase. Try to think of your coworkers using the prayer request phrase just as a softer way of telling bad news and expressing concern. It wasn’t too long ago that we were discussing how hard it is to find ideal phrasing for sharing bad personal news at work. Sorry that you have to deal with this issue/workplace.

    18. Observer*

      What happens when people make these requests? Does someone ask people who will participate? Does anyone follow up or question decisions?

      If yes, then you could say something like “You know, we really shouldn’t be pushing people to pray. I know we all want to be supportive to each other, but there are some people for whom these requests are problematic. I know we want to be respectful of everyone’s religious beliefs, so it’s better if we don’t do this.”

      Otherwise, I doubt you can find a way to ask the to not even ask without turning this into a THING.

    19. Anon Here*

      I think there are two ways to tackle this: 1) What to say to co-workers in the moment. 2) The organization’s policy.

      I would start with the second. Find out what the company’s policy is on religious inclusiveness (meaning making people of all beliefs feel welcome) and prayer requests etc at work. If it seems like there’s room for improvement, bring that up. Find the right person to talk to and have a conversation about how the business can support non-Christian employees and make everyone feel equally welcome and respected in regards to their beliefs. And how everyone should handle prayer requests. Because it seems like this could be solved with a quick reminder from management to leave prayer requests out of the office, or only include people who you know are ok with it – whatever the policy is.

      But that might not happen, or it might take time. So, in the mean time, I think you can shut it down without saying much about your own beliefs. I’m not sure what verbiage would work best, but maybe just say that you’re private about your beliefs or that you don’t want to discuss religious subject matter at work? It could be tough, but it’s worth a try.

      Ultimately, management should have your back. The policy thing would be the most effective, and it might be in the company’s best interest for legal reasons.

    20. Batgirl*

      I use an internal translator for this stuff: as others have said they essentially mean the same as “wish me luck” or “bless you” when you sneeze (And even if it doesn’t, they don’t have to know how well your beliefs match up).
      If I get asked to pray for someone I just respond with “Oh I will definitely (be thinking about them)”. Or I say that I am looking forward to them experiencing better times.
      I come from a really ritualized background where prayers are said with rosaries. I don’t feel at all connected with this way of doing things but neither do I feel any pressure or belief that I should be explaining myself to people: especially if they are just looking for general human connection or support.
      Now of course there are jerks who won’t accept general good will and the whole conversation is them just wanting to make sure you are praying and doing so *properly*. To those people I usually just say that my beliefs are private but you don’t owe them any truth, or answer at all.

  32. Sleepy and painful*

    I have been at my job over 6 months now. I have done this same role at previous companies. I passed probation with stellar reviews and my boss is super happy with my work. Its not the kind of role where you need long to get it. Especially if you have done it before.

    This is the first place though where work from home is discouraged. Everywhere else I have worked I have been able to. There really isnt a reason against it. I have done it here when I injured my foot without issue. And other people have but its just looked down on UNLESS you have kids. The people on the team with kids get a lot more freedom and some have even arranged to do it weekly.

    Our role is not public facing, I think I get 1 phone call a month, and everything can be done remotely. Its just perceived badly. I have health issues and am trying to arrange to be able to work from home more often. But my company has no policy for this and are trying to ask our employee assistance program for advice and send me to them when really they do like counselling and advice on finance and stuff. I already have specialists at the hospital. I just need more flexibility from them.

    I am in the UK, how do I get them to understand I just want reasonable adjustments? And should I really be talking to our helpline about it??

    1. WellRed*

      This is not a helpline issue. Does the UK Offer things like workplace accommodations? I also think it’s worth pointing out that employees are being treated unequally.

    2. Ange*

      You’re in the UK, so reference the Equality Act and say you’re asking for reasonable adjustments. The EAP is not the right place to be talking to: should be HR or occupational health (if your company has an occ health dept). Also, try getting one of your specialists/GP to write a letter stating that working from home is the reasonable adjustment you require.

      If you have a union, then speak to them too.

    3. Never Nicky*

      The key phrase is “reasonable adjustment”. And this is enshrined in the Equality Act 2010. This applies if your health issues are long term and on-going. Citizen’s Advice website has clear information about this.

      Ask your EAP or HR team for a referral to an occupational health specialist. They might suggest other things you haven’t thought of, which might be even more beneficial.

      Access to Work are also incredibly helpful (at least they were in my area) and they can help with – for example – paying for the equipment for you to use at home, so that your employer doesn’t have to.

      1. lobsterp0t*

        Yes. Access to Work was incredibly helpful in part funding a bunch of things that made a big difference to me at my current job

    4. Bagpuss*

      I think if you haven’t already, you need to be explicit (preferably in writing to your line manager cc’d to HR) that you are making a request for a reasonable adjustment due to a disability.
      If you haven’t spoken to the EAP then it may make sense to do so once – you might make more progress if they explicitly say that they can’t assist (and they may know who you do need to speak – they may have had to redirect people who have been wrongly referred before!)

    5. lobsterp0t*

      Ideally you say “reasonable adjustments which enable/prevent XYZ” and your boss will seek HR advice and get help to support you to put these in place.

      I would suggest asking for an OH referral and working with the OH specialist to help you advocate for what you need from your employer. This was helpful when I went through a similar process. This is also because OH can be helpful in educating employers on how to support you as an employee who has your specific needs. This can even include – with your consent – your own consultants sharing information to support or enhance their recommendations.

      It ultimately doesn’t matter if they have “a policy”. In the UK you have rights as a disabled person (you didn’t say that but the equalities legislation covers disability as a protected characteristic and you are describing a number of things that suggest your condition might qualify) and, on top of that, even if your condition isn’t considered a disability (yet), certain employees are legally permitted to make 1 formal/statutory flexible working request per year. Again, regardless of policy. This is protected in law. Even if you aren’t eligible for a statutory request, you can still make a non statutory one!

      It will help a lot if you can explain – without needing to explain details of your medical situation – how this arrangement would help your work. Would it reduce absence by minimising illness or flares/relapses? Allow you flexibility to work around hospital appointments? Enable you to avoid the commute which might be a factor in how well you feel on any given day? Etc.

      Don’t feel that you need to give them gory details. You don’t need to justify yourself. They’re obliged to identify and work with you to identify what adjustments would make sense.

      1. lobsterp0t*

        Oh. And be warned that OH may state their view on whether or not your situation is likely to constitute a disability under the equality act of 2010.

        Don’t let this throw you off too much. Just make sure you are clear and honest about the impact on your life and work. And hopefully your employer can sort themselves out.

  33. 2nd verse?*

    Am I overreacting? I got laid off from my job in October after being there for less than a year. It was my first job doing what I went to school for, but my company lost a major investor and had to downsize.

    Fast forward to January, when I found a new position. Great salary, nice commute, and I like the people I work with! And then one of my coworkers let slip last week that it’s very likely that our small company will be acquired by a billion dollar enterprise with multiple branches very very soon. They’re not looking to lay anyone off, but they would “consolidate [the team I’m on] of the 3 companies they own.” I’m the most junior and don’t have any unique skills– they could replace me with a freelancer or independent agency, if they don’t already have several people doing my job. How worried should I be?

    1. Wannabe Disney Princess*

      I wouldn’t panic. I’ve worked at two companies (still at the one) who acquired companies on the regular. Even if you’re acquired it takes a little time for them to sort things out. The former company bought smaller ones frequently. My boss actually co-managed our office and one of the new ones for a while. She did have to let people go….but that’s because they weren’t adapting to our policies and procedures after nearly a year.

      Obviously, your mileage may vary and I recognize that the above isn’t always the case. But I still wouldn’t panic yet (with the obvious caveat that it never hurts to work on your resume).

    2. Sleepy and painful*


      a. Likely to buy isnt the same thing as bought. This is all gossip at this point. Unless she is senior enough and privy to information about deals in progress and even then it still sounds a likely not a done deal.
      B. Even if they do buy it, it usually takes time. In my experience they will want to evaluate your team and the work it does prior yo any consolidation. Along with a transition of work. There may be lay offs at some point but its unlikely to be right away. Its still in the companies best interest to keep employees for a while to ensure there is a smooth transition of work and that there is no drop in work/business quality.

      I worked at a company that got bought out and left of my own 8 months later. All my colleagues were still there at the year point.

      I would advise you keep working, make sure you are a stellar employee as best you can and get more time and tenure under your belt. If you are worried about not having enough unique skills you can always ask to shadow others or do trainings. I think its too soon to worry about a layoff though.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        Yup. My company just recently acquired a smaller company with a product we really wanted to sell, and none of that company’s employees have been laid off to the best of my knowledge. Just keep your eyes open, ears to the ground, and take on as many stretch assignments as you can to beef up your skills in the event that something does happen later down the line.

    3. Frankie*

      These kind of transitions can take forever to get going and what has worked for me in the past was a “wait and see” situation with a semi-active job search as a “just in case,” mostly to make myself feel a bit more in control in all the uncertainty.

      And easier said than done, but try not to worry about it, since if it does happen, you have no idea how it will actually play out, and it will probably take quite a while.

    4. SomebodyElse*

      Agree with Wannabe… these transitions are usually measured in years, not months. The other thing is that this could be an opportunity too. As soon as you are technically part of this new bigger organization you can start looking for different opportunities within the larger organization, then you’re an internal vs. an external candidate.

    5. Ama*

      As others have said here, there’s no way to know for sure what’s going to happen until it actually happens (and maybe think about whether this is a coworker who can be trusted to have accurate info, or might be presenting conjecture as fact). But it’s never a bad idea to go ahead and start prepping your resume, making sure you have all your reference contact info (you don’t need to contact them yet, just make sure you know where it is) while there’s no great rush so if you do need to start applying you’re already ready.

      I just had this conversation with my husband yesterday, as some stuff is going down with his big boss that is making everyone think their company (a startup) is about to be sold. There’s no way to know yet what is actually happening — and there is always a possibility a sale could actually offer more opportunity for my husband depending on who the buyer is — but prepping before you’re in the ” must get new job now” mindset is always a good idea.

    6. Third or Nothing!*

      For what it’s worth, I’ve been through 2 acquisitions and I’m still with the same company (well, not technically but you know what I mean). Each acquisition brought higher pay and more opportunities, and the latest one a 5 figure retention bonus. So it might not be the kiss of death!

    7. Curmudgeon in California*

      My first layoff was due to an acquisition. People who’d been there 39 years were let go to consolidate operations into a distant property that the corporation owned, not a rented building like we were in. Very few people were offered relocation – the other company people all got to keep their jobs. It was very badly handled, and there was a lot of anger. This was in the early 80s, when Reagan was president and they unleashed the frenzy of mergers and acquisitions that still hasn’t stopped, plus they made actual pensions a thing of the past at most companies.

      Fast forward to the mid nineties, and I was working for another company that got acquired. I had to have some serious talks with my boss and grandboss about whether we would be shafted in the acquisition or not. We weren’t, but I was nervous for a while.

      So it can go either way, and any change takes time. Talk with your management, and see what their sense is. But make sure your resume is up to date.

    8. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

      How does your co-worker (presumably a similar/peer level to you) know this info and you don’t? For example did they read this in the “mergers and acquisitions” gossip section of whatever your trade magazine is? Heard it via the gossip train? Or what?

      I’ve been through this kind of acquisition (in the company being acquired) several times and actually… often they do seek to consolidate the ‘x’ function (where I’m assuming your x is a sort of centralised function like accounting, IT, marketing, HR (!) etc) but it usually takes much longer than anticipated, doesn’t start for a long time, and other people leave in the meantime due to the uncertainty so even if it does happen it wouldn’t happen immediately but would be more of a process and not necessarily impact you. But I’m not gonna lie… it could impact you and I do feel it’s a legitimate thing to be concerned over.

      I’m curious why you worry specifically that you could be replaced with a “freelancer or independent agency”. You were recruited as a direct employee to carry out the x function — even before the acquisition (if it even happens) they had the option to get the x function done by a freelancer or independent agency — why? Because for them there’s value in having x done “in house” rather than by outsourcers (which I can quite understand — I’ve had mixed experiences with outsourcers, to put it mildly). The advantage of doing x in-house rather than outsourced increases in most cases for a larger company (I’m assuming that you know that the potential billion dollar company already has their own x function in-house).

      In your position I would look at this as an opportunity. Take all the responsibility you can and assist with the transition (if it ever turns out to be true). Proving yourself and your potential is the best chance to get an opportunity in the new company.

      A billion dollar enterprise is almost certainly a listed company isn’t it? I would check all your information sources for ‘rumours’ about this possible acquisition and then judge what you find there. I think it’s unlikely that your co-worker is privy to info that isn’t already “out there” unless it’s just gossip at this point. But there’s often some truth to ‘rumours’ like this (if they aren’t just gossip).

      I really do understand how you feel, as a person prone to anxiety and worry especially.

  34. yeine*

    hi all, happy friday.

    this tuesday i just got my first direct report (terrifying, but exciting!), so i’m hoping all my aam reading will make me a great manager who communicates effectively. i will start by threatening to fire them if they don’t join a kidney donation list for my family member, and then i’ll go to a funeral to give them work to do. kidding.

    actual snag. i am salaried and don’t always spend 8 hours at work. up until this point an individual contributor. a few times a week i’ll come in at 9, take an hour lunch where i don’t work, and leave at 5. a few times a week i’ll come in at 9, take an hour lunch, and leave at 7. i find this usually comes out in the wash and my coworkers and manager think i do great work. the work is not time-sensitive, and it gives me flexibility which i value.

    my employee, however, is hourly, and sits next to me. they come in at 9:30, take an hour lunch, and leave at 6:30.

    i feel uncomfortable with coming in after them and leaving before them. i don’t want them to think i’m a slouch, or that i don’t put effort in, or that i’m setting a bad example about how much they should or shouldn’t work. but it sucks to feel i’m losing flexibility.

    should i just assume they will figure it out on their own? should i say something?

    1. Lemon Ginger Tea*

      I don’t think it would hurt to tell them about your typical schedule and how it comes out in the wash. The way you described it here sounds reasonable and easy to understand.
      I’ve had bosses who regularly came in after me and left before me (without exception– this person never put in longer days or worked remotely) and honestly, it did bother me. Better to put it out there so that she knows the deal.

      1. valentine*

        I would find this condescending. Don’t set the dangerous precedent of explaining your timekeeping to them.

    2. Overeducated*

      I would say something, it sounds like your expectations of them are different than what they will see from you and it would be useful for them to know the reason.

    3. CupcakeCounter*

      Yeah just give them a heads up that your hours tend to vary based on deadlines/other departments/meetings with clients in a different time zone so there will be times your schedules won’t match.
      I will say that it would be a huge help to your new report if you synced up your hours for a few weeks while they get up to speed/trained.
      The person spending a lot of time on AAM because their manager and trainer are working offsite

      1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

        I don’t think OPs varying hours are based on deadlines, time zones, other departments etc as much as they are for OPs own flexibility — which changes it somewhat.

    4. Ama*

      I manage a non-exempt employee (which is unusual in my office, most of us here are exempt), so when she started I did try to explain the difference between expectations for non-exempt positions and exempt positions, largely because several of her exempt peers in other departments were giving her incorrect info because they didn’t know they were classified differently.

      One nice thing to point out is if there are any trade-offs. With mine I noted that her schedule was less flexible but that she’d get paid overtime when asked to work outside those hours (in our office that happens a few times a year) and that we had to pay her anytime she was asked to do something like check her email over a weekend.

    5. spoonandcherry*

      I think being transparent about your work schedule will go a long way in building trust and understanding. If you don’t already have weekly meetings scheduled (I highly suggest them! They can be quick, but make giving hard feedback SO MUCH easier because you’re already in the habit of giving feedback and updating each other), add it to you agenda. You can explain your hours for that week, even if it’s a – I’m leaving early today because I know I’ll have a long day on Monday- type of update. This way it’s not a hierarchical feeling when you talk about your hours, but rather a transparency and accountability conversation. People respect that sort of transparency a lot.

    6. pamplemousse*

      I’d say something, especially if your employee is new to the workforce. Doesn’t have to sound defensive, just something like “Just so you know, I’m on a slightly different schedule from you …” and let them know what (if anything) they should do if they need something while you’re not there.

      1. RecoveringSWO*

        Yes, saying something like this gives them a heads up without making it seem like you need to keep particular hours for their benefit. I’ve always understood that people above me tend to work later at times due to their positions. I want to see that work-life balance is enough of a priority for them (and the company) that they can leave earlier/take a long lunch/go to an exercise class some days. I’ve also seen other entry level employees not get this concept right away, so saying something should prevent any resentment or misunderstanding on your report’s part.

    7. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

      Can you match your hours to theirs for a couple of weeks and then have the discussion about differing expectations of exempt vs non exempt?

      I’m assuming your report is still being trained in some aspects of the job at least, so what happens if she has some issue at (say) 5.30 but you’ve left for the day?

    8. BethDH*

      Say something. If nothing else, you will want to explain how they should communicate with you when you’re there/not there, what to do if something is urgent, and so on.

  35. another face in the crowd*

    Mergers are weird. My current boss has been antsy since we merged and moved into our shared space. He is being really passive-aggressive and saying things like “you need to learn simple math” , saying I am bad at my job when in the 18 months since I have been here he has taught me the bare minimum (I’m not bad just he won’t share information I need ) and tells me CUSTOMERS come first but then gives me a ton of side work and gets annoyed when I focus on my clients. I got a cost of living raise right after the merger was announced (he hasn’t had a raise in 4 years) and he has been treating me strangely since. I am so nervous that he is going to take his feelings about the merger out on me during our annual review. I am not saying that I am perfect, I know that there are things I need to improve, but I feel like he is going to make me seem like I am garbage. I want to talk to his boss about this but he is based in another office several states away and is very busy so I don’t know how to approch it.

      1. another face in the crowd*

        I don’t believe so. If he has then he has not shared them with me, which is silly because if he is judged by those metrics I would have similar metrics.

    1. Hapax Legomenon*

      If your grandboss knows enough about your day-to-day work to weigh in, maybe you could start with asking for some kind of clarification about the information he’s refusing to share, with the sense that you’re just trying to understand if that information isn’t supposed to be yours at all, as a way to alert grandboss to the situation. Or the mixed message about whether you’re supposed to be doing side work or focusing on clients. From there you can get a feeling for what his overall reactions are and move into the larger issue if you judge that he’ll understand. At the very least, it flags some of the “communication issues” you’re having for grandboss, and gives you a sense of whether you’re going to get any support or if you’re on your own to deal with your boss undermining you.

    2. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

      The sense I get is that — your boss feels that he’s on his way out due to the merger — and tbh he’s probably right. It doesn’t sound like he contributes a great deal to the company tbh. I guess there’s already some history here since he hadn’t received a COL increase in 4 years (assuming that’s true? How do you know that? is it possible he’s manipulating you by saying that? only you can tell) and isn’t necessarily valued by his own managers anyway.

      I don’t think you need to do anything here unless/until he “takes out his feelings” in your annual review (what would that look like? a malicious bad review? what are you worried about specifically?)

      Do you ever have any interaction with his boss?

      I feel like this isn’t as much about “mergers are weird” but “boss has finally been exposed as not very good”.

  36. Retail not Retail*

    Repost from yesterday’s question – how do sick days work when you’re salaried and exempt?

    The one-two punch of the lateness thread (so many people saying they come in “around” or “about”) vs strict sick day limits has this hourly employee quite confused.

    Thanks in advance!

    1. WellRed*

      I’m not sure I understand the question. If a salaried person takes a sick day, it typically counts as a sick day. But, if they come in and leave at say, 3pm, they probably don’t mark down two hours of sick time (unless their company sucks).

      1. Not really a waitress*

        I worked for “suck” company. Also note that staying after 2 hours did not bank you leave early time later.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Not sure what you mean, “how do they work” – if your company tracks your sick time and requires you to use PTO for it (either specific sick time or a one-bucket system), then if you call in sick, you use 8 hours of sick/PTO.

        1. Kimmy Schmidt*

          You’re still paid the same for the paycheck period, but you now have less sick time accrued.

          So if I work a particularly hectic week of 55 hours, I make the same as if I make my normal 40. Many employers give you a little bit of leeway for an hour or two here or there, so if I have a doctor’s appointment and only work 38 hours, my org doesn’t charge me sick time and I still make the same (provided I get it approved in advance). If I need to take a couple sick days, I’ve now worked only 24 hours a week and used two 8 hour sick days, but I still receive the same paycheck amount.

            1. ThatGirl*

              You generally can’t go negative, or are not supposed to – if you ran out of sick time you might have to use PTO, or go on short-term disability, or take an unpaid day off. It sounds like some companies are much more stringent about tracking sick days and PTO than others, so YMMV.

            2. Kimmy Schmidt*

              At my work, it’s nearly impossible to get unpaid time off. You exhaust all your sick leave first, then I believe you have to use all your personal leave, then move to short term disability. After that, conversations start happening about FMLA.

              We have generous leave policies and the only time this is ever an issue is when you have new employees, like in their first 1-2 months on the job. Even with that, most supervisors have an honor system way to figure out a way to make up the time instead of docking pay.

    3. AMownLawn*

      Not sure if this 100% answers your question, but in my office the exempt staff can only take sick time in half or full day increments. How this plays out in practice for my team is usually something like this: if you are going to be only an hour or two late (or leave an hour or two early) for an appointment, I don’t ask them to report any time. If they’ll be out closer to half the day, then take the half sick day. Ditto for the full day.

      I try to be as flexible as I can since my exempt staff are often working odd hours when they travel, which is a big part of their jobs.

    4. Kathenus*

      At my job for salaried/exempt sick days have to be used in full day increments. So generally speaking if I leave a few hours early for a doctor’s appointment or if I’m sick I don’t get charged, but if I take a full day or work less than a half day before leaving for sick time I get charged a full day.

      1. ThatGirl*

        Whereas in my salaried job we’re allowed to use sick time, specifically, in hour increments (vacation has to be half or full day) – but if I want to leave a little early or come in a little late for a doctor’s appointment I can typically do that without using time. And if I’m truly sick, I take the day and use 8 hours of my sick time up.

    5. noahwynn*

      In my experience, if you don’t come in at all, you take a sick day. If you leave early or come in late it just depends on the company. Sometimes they do half days, sometimes it is common to work an extra hour or two the next few days to make up, sometimes they don’t worry about it at all.

    6. NaoNao*

      Usually as a salaried employee you’re given a set amount of paid time off (meaning 8 hours of pay) to use as “sick time”. This can be for medical appointments or just being sick at home.

      If you’re sick and want to use “sick time” (usually it’s between 5 and 10 days available) you call, email, or text your immediate supervisor and say “I’m going to use my sick time today for x reason. Thanks.”

      When you return to work, usually you’ll have to access a timekeeping system to mark the day as “used” in a payroll system so that the payroll can keep track of the hours/days/used and how much you have left.

      So for example, you took Tuesday off to get a flu shot and recover (or whatever). You come back Wednesday and hop in “Payroll Express” and use the system to mark “Tuesday: PTO: SICK TIME” or similar.

      However, this sick time is unrelated to coming in at a certain time. Sometimes managers will allow flexibility like “I’d like to use a half day of sick time to visit my doctor” and then come in half way through the typical work day, leave early, or come in late when feeling ill, taking partial “sick time” in hourly increments. Usually a half day is the least amount you can take.

      1. Koala dreams*

        What happens if you run out of the available sick days, but are too sick to work? Do your pay get docked, do you get fired…?

        1. AcademiaNut*

          My understanding is that for salaried exempt, if you’re out of sick days, they can require you to use vacation days, and if you’re out of that, they can require you to take unpaid days (but only in full day increments). If the employee and company are eligible, FMLA may kick in (unpaid, but your job is protected). If FMLA isn’t available, the ADA might kick in depending on the reason for missing work – missing work because of the flu, or your kid being sick isn’t covered, missing work due to a qualifying disability might be.

          If none of that applies, I think they can fire you for excessive absences.

          In my job (non US, but equivalent to salaried exempt) there are provisions for longer leaves for serious illness if we use up our three weeks paid sick leave.

    7. Uncannycanuck*

      I’m union, but middle management and salaried. We get up to 6 months of sick time at 100% salary before transitioning to long term disability. Sick days are loosely monitored, and if you’re in a situation where actual extensive use of sick time is required, then more proof is required. Overall, people tend not to abuse the availability of sick time because no one does your work if you’re gone, so it’s mostly painful to yourself when you’re out.

      1. Mr. Shark*

        In my team, we don’t have a set amount of sick days. If we’re sick, we notify our manager and stay home. If we are out for more than 3 days, I think you’re supposed to officially notify HR and then there may be short-term disability or other ways to account for that time.
        But regular sickness is no big deal and is not tracked, unless your manager for some reason feels you’re taking too many sick days and is taking advantage of it. I think that would be shown in performance issues, though.
        Leaving early or taking half days for appointments is also not tracked. In some of those cases, people WFH so just let their manager know if they’ll be out a few hours for appointments. If I’m not going to be in the office, I’ll just WFH part of the day and go to my appointment the as needed, with no PTO in any case.

    8. Spreadsheets and Books*

      Really depends on your job. Sick leave and PTO are used on the honor system at my job. I assume there’s some sort of tracking system, but I don’t know how to access it and no one uses it. Things like coming in late and leaving early do not require taking any kind of leave.

      This was the same at my last job. Sick days and PTO days are allocated, but you’re expected to track it yourself and stick to the rules. When I quit that job, I had to email HR to tell them how many PTO days I used so they could pay out properly.

  37. J.B.*

    Job ads and changing language. In one case they were using language for something I don’t consider myself strong but really meaning something I am really strong in. In another they were using hyperspecific language for something that has generally been a part of my work for years.

    And the black hole of application tracking systems…AAARGH

  38. Miss Fisher*

    Frustrated again, but I don’t know how to deal with it. Our company implemented a new vendor service again. The training was crap and so I had to figure things out as I did my first use of the system. It wasn’t too difficult just different. The issue is, every single time a new process or system is developed, I get calls / emails / hey come to my desks, to help everyone else walk through the system. I typically don’t mind helping, but it irks me that no one actually tries to do it on their own. Everyone seems to expect me to just know everything when I have had the same amount of training. I have had people ask me to walk them through processes I haven’t even used yet. I don’t want to be rude and say hey figure it out, I had to, but how do you get people to at least try something on their own first? I guess it might be a difference in how we all learn. I learn by playing around and doing, so maybe I am expecting others to as well??

    1. I'm A Little Teapot*

      I think it’s fair to gently push back and expect them to try to figure it out before asking you.

    2. Oh No She Di'int*

      I’m a bit confused. Are you managing these people or are they coworkers? If coworkers are they on the same team/department as you or no? You say you “don’t mind helping”, but this post says otherwise. You do mind, at least under certain circumstances. So I think you need to let people figure it out for themselves unless you happen to have the time/mental energy/desire to help. And if you don’t, “No” is an acceptable response to a peer-to-peer request in most work places. (And if it’s not, then you have a different problem.) Practice saying “no”. Just say it: “No, I can’t help you”. “No, I’m actually not familiar with that myself.” “No, I’m just getting the hang of this myself and don’t feel comfortable trying to teach it.” “No, I’m in the middle of something else right now.” Etc.

      Another approach would be more of a diversion tactic: “I’m sure you can figure this out yourself. Email me again once you’ve given it another couple of days.” “It’s actually not that hard. If you consult the documentation on the server, it’s all there.” “I’m going to let you handle this; you’ve generally been good about figuring out these kinds of things in the past.”

      Now, if you’re their manager or in some other supervisory or training type position, then this is obviously more complicated.

    3. Hapax Legomenon*

      Some ideas:
      1) Respond with “I don’t have any experience with that process yet myself. What have you tried so far?” Maybe let them know you’ll get back to them in a week, when you’ve had time to figure out the process.
      2) Create documentation for each new process, and then when someone asks for help, send it to them. If it takes you a week to get that stuff together, that would build in a less-artificial delay to them getting the information so they might have incentive to figure it out themselves. (Having training documentation that people use is also a really good way to have incontrovertible evidence of the help you’re providing to your coworkers, which might come in handy when asking for a raise or promotion.)
      3) If you have one particular coworker who wouldn’t mind walking others through it, you could show that one person, and direct all requests for help to them.
      4) If you don’t have that particular coworker, then the first person who asks you for help gets the “training,” and you direct all others to ask that person for help. Make them suffer instead! Muahaha!
      5) Ask your actual trainers to handle these requests, as they’re cutting into your productivity, and maybe people don’t realize you’re starting to resent the requests.

    4. Ama*

      I deal with this a bit in a different way — my department maintains contact info for some external groups we work with here, and while I am happy to send people a list of contact info if, say, it is part of a larger chain where we are discussing who in those groups should be asked to participate in a particular project, a couple of coworkers have developed a bad habit of using me as their personal address book, even though all of this info is available in the database that all employees have access to.

      When I can tell someone hasn’t even checked the database, I just reply and say “this person should be in the database, try there” as a way of reinforcing that first step is check the database, if for some reason the info is missing or incorrect THEN you can ask me for help. So if your colleagues are asking questions that you know is covered in the training materials, just say “I haven’t tried that yet myself, but I think it’s covered in the training documentation, check there.”

    5. Curmudgeon in California*

      “I’m sorry, I’m still learning the system myself. Can you give it a try and then share what you’ve learned with me? I’d really appreciate it. Thanks.”

      Yes, it’s flipping it back on them, but with the added incentive of them being “The person who figured it out!”

      1. Koala dreams*

        It can be really good for the work relationships to make an effort to ask for help in addition to helping others. I think your script is a very good example of that.

  39. AvonLady Barksdale*

    I am job-hunting and about to go from casually searching to looking HARD, and I need some resume help. I recently worked on a project that I am incredibly proud of, it is by far my greatest accomplishment in my role, and I’m not sure how to include it in a way that covers all of the bases. Here’s the deal (and if some of this sounds like boasting, I do not care one whit– I worked really hard on it!):

    – The business came in because of a connection I had (I didn’t solicit it, but they came to us because of their connection to me)
    – I designed and executed the project from start to finish with some input from senior executives, but I did all of the heavy lifting including managing the work of our internal teams
    – After we delivered the project to our client, they included it in a project of their own that got local press coverage and was picked up by several national news sources (we got lots of credit)– this is highly unusual for the work we do
    – I presented the findings at a major event for our industry in front of some very important people and got really positive feedback

    How would/should I list this on my resume? I imagine it should be the first bullet point, and I want it to sparkle.

    As a side note, I’m kicking the job search into high gear because while people outside of the company have been amazing with their feedback, I feel like this work is being completely ignored by my boss (who did not work on the project). There’s been a major feeling that I am being put back into my place and I freaking hate it. There were some great things that went on in my job in the last month or so, including the excitement around this project, but the reactions I’ve received internally have proven to me that there is no support for my growth here.

    1. Princess Scrivener*

      Something like this, maybe?
      — Designed and executed a project initiated with an external professional contact; presented findings at [major industry event], resulting in high-level, positive feedback; the delivered project garnered local / some national press coverage

    2. MB*

      – Designed, managed, and executed XYZ project, which received recognition from ABC, DEF, and GHI national media outlets
      – Presented findings derived from XYZ project at February 2020 Big Huge Deal Industry Symposium

      Your next employer sounds like they will be very lucky to land you!

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        Oh, I will definitely name it! Unfortunately I’m not mentioned specifically in the press release, but there are some pieces that prove my direct connection with the project, including photos of my presentation that were featured in some publications.

      2. lurker :)*

        I had a friend suggest a “Recent accomplishments include:” bullet and then I could list and sub-bullet a few notable “wow” things. And I think that is really effective!

    3. MissDisplaced*

      I think this is one of those things where you name the project and main points on your resume. Then you go into greater detail in your cover letter (if applicable for the job) and definitely have this story ready in your interviews.

      Sans the boss/being put back in your place part though.

  40. in the file room*

    You know how people joke about how, when they work from home, their “coworker” meows constantly and begs for attention?

    My actual, human coworkers have taken to meowing at each other. As in, when my coworker wants to get my boss’ attention, he stand outside her office and says “Meow meow!”

    No, we do not work with animals even a little bit, and yes, I am job searching…

      1. A*

        Agreed. I could see my office meowing, and I could see some one bringing in a spritzer bottle. This would amuse me (but I can also see how it would be annoying to some)!

    1. whistle*

      I think your coworker have watched Super Troopers a few too many times. (Just kidding. You can’t watch Super Troopers too many times.)

    2. GoryDetails*

      I can see myself doing that at a previous workplace – but only once or twice, and purely for laughs. Anyone who repeatedly used “meow!” as a way to get my attention would be rewarded by having a kitty-treat or a curled-up pipecleaner lobbed at them. Heck, that’s what the cats usually want, right? (Again, this could be cute in some situations, possibly even as a running joke, but not as the default way of getting attention.)

    3. Emilitron*

      Okay, I confess. This would make me happy for at least the first week or so. As an ongoing thing that people never let it end, yes that would get irritating. As compared with workplaces where everybody’s on the best blandest behavior, it can be refreshing to have coworkers be cheerfully weird occasionally. I know it would get old. But this still makes me laugh.

      1. Third or Nothing!*

        I’m with you on this. Random meowing sounds delightfully absurd but would get old quickly if it never stopped.

        Side note: my husband and I meow at each other from time to time.

        1. Curmudgeon in California*

          Meow? Do you live at my house? We have several cats, plus very feline attuned roommates. “Meow?” is a very standard thing here.

          At work, though? With some people who are known cat people it would be cute. If it was everyone, it would become weird.

    4. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      I would vastly prefer this to my (human) coworker, who has taken to making sighing noises that sound like an espresso machine or whistling depending on his mood. To be fair, his workload has taken a turn for the ridiculous due to factors beyond his control, but I’ve never heard someone make such a literal “letting off steam” noise before. (The additional workload is not something I or the rest of the staff could reasonably help him with – think of it