open thread – May 8-9, 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.

{ 1,157 comments… read them below }

  1. Jedi Squirrel*

    Is anybody else actually happy to be going back into work, at least part time? I am, and it’s been a tremendous boost to my mental health. (Anxiety is still there, and probably will be for a while. But depression is less.)

    1. Mallory Janis Ian*

      We haven’t started doing that yet; our university probably won’t start sending people back in until after July 1. I’m the one on my team who didn’t want to work from home and stayed in the office until it was mandated that we had to go home, and now I’m the one who doesn’t really want to go back.

      I’m sure there are things that I’ll be glad to be back for, but right now I’m enjoying the fact that I can use odd pockets of time in my work to do my own household chores and maintenance. My house looks better than ever, and I’m getting much of it done in little 5 – 10 minute breaks from work. I’ll miss that.

      1. MistOrMister*

        I was trying to do house work on break periods, but found I was getting carried away and spending way too much time on things. What I’m doing instead is doing things on my lunch break and/or before or after work. I’ve managed to clean and clear out all of my upstairs except the linen closet and my closet, most of the basement and most of the main floor. (Although I keep buying food and having no storage room in the pantry so the kitchen always looks crazy!!). I just can’t make myself do these kinds of cleans during the week when I go in to work and there just doesn’t seem to be time for it on weekends, so I am really grateful for this time at home. Honestly, I hope I never have to go back other than once in a while for meetings or what have you. Even going in only once a week would make my soul sad at this point.

    2. Kate*

      I want to go back *so badly*, but without childcare, I am probably at home until September. It would do both my daughter and I a world of good to be back even part-time, but her grade isn’t considered a priority for going back (only grades 1, 2, and 6).

      1. Justme, the OG*

        Same. At least until school is back in session, if they go back at all in August.

        1. Sled Dog Mama*

          Some places have milestone tests, state I grew up in did, in certain grades. So those gradeswould likely be a priority to get back sooner. Plus with the mention of grades 1 & 2 being a priority I bet it’s got to do with how much of an impact missed time has in that grade. Missing substantial time in K/1st could set your reading level really far behind which sets you behind for every grade that follows, so it has bigger impact than missing the same amount of time in 8th grade.

        2. spock*

          An article in the NYT this morning said that some places believe younger children to be less contagious and thus are opening their grades first, while other places instead believe that older children are more likely to follow directions so their grades are being opened first.

          1. CatMintCat*

            And in NSW, Australia, we’re rostering the whole school on in sections – one day per week, with online learning for the other four days. Except we all know that once one group comes in all their siblings will be with them, and we explicitly can’t turn any child away. This starts on Monday and I expect we’ll be back to normal attendance by Friday.

            Schools (our schools anyway, don’t know about yours) aren’t a concern for Covid. We don’t need to socially distance because children don’t spread the virus. The kids can’t play in a park or have a birthday party but we can cheerfully send them to school.

            Our government is officially insane. I’m not concerned about my isolated little rural school, near a town that hasn’t seen a case of Covid in over a month (and the three we had were all tied to the Ruby Princess), but some schools in the cities are headed for a world of hurt.

      2. Epsilon Delta*

        Same here. I am hanging on to hope that at least some summer camps will be able to operate. So far only one has cancelled. If not… we’ll have that mental breakdown when we get there.

    3. CTT*

      I thought I would be since I loathe working from home, but the one time I went in, I found it way too stressful. They’re asking us to wipe down work spaces twice a day, always wear masks when not in our office with the door closed, use gloves in common areas, etc. Which all makes perfect sense, but it’s a lot to stay on top of and it created more anxiety for me.

    4. Justme, the OG*

      My depression has been worse since at home, so it should be better once I am able to go back in the office.

      1. RobotWithHumanHair*

        Same here, along with my anxiety. I started tracking my moods throughout the day in an app back on the first of the year and…well, I’ve tapped on “good” a single time since I was furloughed. The rest of it’s been some “meh” and a whole lot of “bad” and “awful”.

        Unfortunately, due to my industry, I don’t foresee being back at work any time soon. The remote employees all went back this week though, but due to the nature of my specific position, that still doesn’t help me at all.

    5. Amy Sly*

      I’m very happy that I switched jobs at the beginning of April. Working from home wasn’t going well, even after just two weeks! They’re only three of us in the office, we all work quite a ways from each other, and I really feel my depression and anxiety are under better control than they’ve been in quite a while.

      People need to work to be happy — by which I mean they need to perform activities that they feel are meaningful, even after ensuring that basic survival needs are met. I’m staying sane. My husband is turning into an excellent house-husband to get his dose of “I did something useful today,” as he isn’t allowed to go to work.

    6. Tyche*

      We did 2 weeks working from home and then everyone back into the office on April 27th. I much preferred working from home. It was a bit inconvenient in some ways, but I found it less stressful. It isn’t for everyone though.

    7. Anon Anon*

      I’m still working full-time, but from home. I’m dreading going back into the office.

      1. AnonEMoose*

        I’ve told my boss that I would rather keep working from home. Partly because my normal way to commute was public transit, and I would rather not risk the exposure myself or bring it home to my higher-risk spouse. Nor do I want to take on the expense of another car (currently we have one car, and it works for us).

        Fortunately, my company is indicating that they’re very open to people continuing to work remotely, and my particular job is very remote work friendly.

    8. Generic Name*

      I’ve got mixed feelings about it. The county stay at home order ends tomorrow, but my company will not re-open (partially) until at least June 1. In any case, I will be working from home until the end of the school year. I will definitely be glad to go somewhere other than my house. I’m incredibly lucky to have a fully set up home office already, but I feel like I’ve been sitting in a single room for two months, and it is very isolating. But on the other hand, I’ve been social distancing for so long, the thought of being around people other than my immediate family seems a little scary. Weird how your mindset can change so quickly.

    9. Oxford Comma*

      We were told def not till late July and probably not even into fall and it was such a relief. I don’t think my anxiety could stand it.

    10. LGC*

      I’m a bit ambivalent.

      I’ve posted way too much about this fact, but 1) I live just outside of New York City (so…yeah, the global epicenter, and actually in the area that’s doing the worst currently) and 2) am a public transit commuter. Starting next week, I have to go back in twice a week (I can WFH the other three days).

      I’m not looking forward to the hour+ commute (50 minute train ride, then ~20 minutes cycling cross-town), but it’ll be nice to see people more regularly, somewhat. I’d been in twice, since I prepare invoices and there’s paperwork that’s on-site (thanks guys for the boost a couple weeks ago!), so it’s not like I haven’t done this post-plague. And of course, I’m still a bit worried about whether I’ll catch COVID and spread it to my team. (And…you know, whether I’ll catch COVID and die.)

      But I’ll also appreciate my step count actually going up! It’s been depressingly low.

      1. OTGW*

        Me too. I want to stop doing dumb webinars and like… be in a building working with people. But I like the break from driving and having a real schedule again (2 PT jobs + school).

        But yeah, I’m worried about catching C-19 and giving it to my family. I’m not in NYC, but my state is in the top 5 of cases. So, pluses and minisis (sp?).

      2. voluptuousfire*

        Same. Now that I’m living alone, I can actually go into Manhattan if I need to for work. The only difference is that I’d drive in and would spend the $ on parking vs. taking public transport. I’m very leery of taking a bus at this time when I don’t have to.

        1. pancakes*

          FYI for those of you driving in, some streets have been closed to cars, to give pedestrians and people on bikes more space. Streetsblog has a list. I believe this will be expanded throughout May.

    11. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

      I am currently going in one day a week, and it’s been nice to put on “real” clothes including pants that button, and makeup. Once we “go back for real” (still TBD) I do think it’ll be at least part time remote for many of us for the foreseeable future.

    12. RecoveringSWO*

      I’m ambivalent as well. I have a ~1 hour commute. Between daylight savings time and teleworking my life has had a big influx of sunshine and personal time–most days I either workout or just chill/read outside while it’s still nice and bright out. So I feel like I’m going to lose not just 2 hours/day to commuting, but 2 hours of sunshine that’s been really great for my well being. That said, I am slightly extroverted and have a new manager whose remote-management style isn’t a perfect fit for me. So I know that I will have a difference kind of boost from working in the office as well.

    13. Dust Bunny*

      OMG yes. My job is one that can’t be done very effectively from home. I am immensely grateful that my employer has done so much to keep everyone safe and healthy (and employed), and have been very forgiving about us being less effective, but I need my physical workspace and materials back.

      1. Dust Bunny*

        AW DAMMIT

        I just got an email that we’re staying closed to the public through June 8.

          1. Working Hypothesis*

            I know what you mean. I’m a licensed massage therapist, and that’s a job they haven’t figured out how to do from six feet away yet, so until either they do (our work Slack is full of silly ideas) or there’s a breakthrough in vaccine or treatment options, I’m not working. I completely understand and agree with this in principle, and honestly I’d be more than a little frightened if they tried to tell us we could come back now… my husband is high risk, and I’d probably have to refuse. But dammit, I love my job and my clients and my clinic, and I want them all BACK.

            1. Dust Bunny*

              Archives. The only options are to do it in person, or to miraculously find the staff, time, and funding to digitize and store a 9,000-square foot (x 15 feet vertically) literal warehouse of records and books bwa ha ha ha ha.

              I just got notice that, no, we’re going back to partial-in office, partial-WTF next week as planned. My department specifically isn’t in the main building so we’re isolated, anyway, and don’t get a lot of traffic (we’ll be closed to the public and only taking email and phone research requests), so it’s actually a pretty good situation for returning to work. Plus, we’re medical-related so everybody does take this seriously, but there just is very little that my department can do remotely.

    14. Chronic Overthinker*

      I never actually stopped going to work during this whole thing. Court is still in session (though mostly virtually) and legal professionals still need their assistants, now more than ever! I’m happy to report my duties actually increased during this time as most of my collegues are WFH. Mail still needs to be circulated and processed and documents need to be created. I’m happy to be working hard and not dealing with unemployment issues during this crisis. I feel for anyone who is dealing with it.

      1. TeapotExtraordinaire*

        what state are you in? I’m pressing criminal charges in rhode island, and I was told all the courts are closed.

        1. Chronic Overthinker*

          Wisconsin. Everything is virtual or teleconferenced right now, but I’ve still been working just about full time and acting as the go-between to paralegals and attorneys. It’s been a challenge, but I’m thankful I’m getting paid and actually working.

    15. Doc in a Box*

      We have been doing telehealth aside from injections (which we are clustering on pre-specified days), so I have been in clinic exactly two days in the last two months. I found it extremely stressful and harder to do my job, because I didn’t want to touch the computer, the doorknob (used my elbow and foot to get doors open and closed) and although I wear a mask of course, I find it uncomfortable. My telehealth setup is way better — no mask, widescreen computer (so I can split screen and look up lab values, MRIs, while still talking to patient), easy bathroom access.

      Unfortunately, telehealth uptake has been ~50% or less (geriatric patient population) so we are hemorrhaging cash. In order to prevent layoffs, they have announced that we will be re-opening for regular visits on May 18, and I am fucking terrified.

    16. Jaid*

      I’d like to, but even with my building working at half time/half a unit, people are still getting sick.

      I miss my work routine and the daily interactions with my coworkers. I’m hoping I remember everyone’s names by the time I get back!

    17. University press employee*

      My own company’s president has made it clear from Moment 1 that we are expected to sacrifice our lives for the business, so the prospect of going back to the office (which won’t even happen soon since my state is still on SIP order) feels like cowing to his death knell. I’m dreading it.

    18. Lucy P*

      Company got its PPP funding, so we start back on Monday after being furloughed since March. I’m grateful to have a job to go back to, but I can’t say I won’t miss this bliss.

      I’m hoping everyone else has had time to de-stress during also of this. We’re a small group with different intermingling departments. One of the departments has constant fighting–loud, occasional f-bomb, can hear it with everyone’s doors closed type of thing. I don’t want to go back to that.

    19. DataGirl*

      Still working from home- presumably at least until my state’s shelter-in-place order lifts end of the month, but I’ve gotten to go into the office a couple of times and it felt great. I’m looking forward to being able to go back eventually. It’s hard being home all the time with all my family.

      1. Jaid*

        I heard that the Post Office is holding our mail. It’s gonna be wild when we get back.

    20. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I’m working in the office a full week for the first time in about two months and it’s fantastic. My mental health has really been boosted.

      My brother finally has picked up part time work and it’s night and day for him.

      I honestly wasn’t worried about it though, so there’s really no anxiety on that level for me. I’m still not going to go visit people, I haven’t seen my parents in these two months, so there’s still a huge social downturn. To add no office on top of that, it was brutal.

      1. Jedi Squirrel*

        Exactly. I live alone, haven’t seen any parents or friends in forever, and I just needed to have a conversation where I could look at someone’s eyes.

        Anxiety is worse than it’s ever been, but depression is back to pre-Covid levels.

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*


          One of my coworkers was talking about how their adult child who lives with them but works a really traditional “leave me alone to my work” kind of job, even hates working from home. It’s not the same, just because I can do my job on the moon with the right equipment, doesn’t mean I want to be that far removed from my own little “society” here.

          We’re not alone by any means, lol.

    21. Square Root of Minus One*

      I would be happy. But so far, strict shelter in place ends on Monday, but news are we’re not gonna go until we’re called in. And it’s not gonna be on Monday, and probably not even the next.
      I’m REALLY disengaging. I need to go back because my motivation is down the drain. It’s gutting to feel so useless.

    22. Mazzy*

      I am WFH and am having major anxiety about the possibility of stuff opening up but requiring masks. I am out of the house for 14 hours at least three days per week, I cannot sit there all day in a mask. Please don’t tell me their comfortable for you, I don’t care, they’re extremely uncomfortable for alot of people. Not to mention, we need to eat and drink and take them off to breath fresh air every once in a while. Even before it gets itchy and uncomfortable or sweaty and harder to breath through, my brain is screaming “something’s on your face take it off. Something’s on your face, take it off. Something’s on your face take it off.” And I cannot concentrate on anything except telling my brain “hold on, it’s supposed to be there.” Also, I’m going to need loads of masks and a mask washing routine because they will definitely be getting damp and sweaty and so I will need multiple change-outs per day.

      1. Lucy P*

        One of my coworkers just cannot wear a mask because it makes them claustrophobic.

    23. Nita*

      I wish! My company is starting to talk about reopening, which is great and a real ray of sunshine in my day. But realistically, I don’t know where I fit in. It’s nice to think about going back, but my kids aren’t going to have anyone else to watch them for the forseeable future (into summer? until September? until there’s a vaccine?). Even if I could scrounge up some child care options, the recent news here in NYC has not been good for children.

    24. Quinalla*

      We are WFH until at least June – we are lucky that we can do nearly all of our work seamlessly from home – and I’ll likely be longer because of no end in site to childcare coming back and even if it did, would I send my kids to it? I don’t know…

      I will be happy to go back to work when it is safe, until then, it will be more anxiety for me to be having to go in, so I’m going to try and WFH as much as possible as long as possible.

    25. allathian*

      I’m not going yet, I work for the government and mandated WFH continues until the end of August.
      My son, who’s in the 4th grade, will be going back to school on May 14. Luckily school’s out at the end of May so it’s only 12 days.

  2. SpamItSpamItGood*

    I work at a big company and we had a “reply all” sort of fail this week. A whole bunch of people were added to an access list. That was slightly annoying, but was only like 6 emails. But once added, we were all on auto-subscribe to any reply. People started replying and asking what it was about (???). This caused a cascade of people replying “Unsubscribe” at best and rants about Spam at worse. Every reply was a reply-all under the covers. And if you removed yourself from the list, you were auto-added overnight.

    Aside from the total Fail at having added people to this thing in the first place, I’m disturbed by the number of people who thought replying with “unsubscribe” was the right thing to do when it was clearly spamming everyone. We work at a tech company. I can’t even.

    It did create a fun side conversation on slack as we witnessed the mayhem.

    It only stopped as someone “fixed” it and unsubscribed everyone from this list that I’m not sure why we were on in the first place.

    1. Diahann Carroll*

      I’m disturbed by the number of people who thought replying with “unsubscribe” was the right thing to do when it was clearly spamming everyone. We work at a tech company. I can’t even.

      Sounds about right, lol.

      Related, but something similar happened when I worked at an insurance company and, yes, an alarming number of people thought the best thing to do with this spammy email with everyone from our 3k+ company copied on the message was to Reply All. This went on for almost a half hour until someone in middle management replied something like, “Would you idiots knock it off! Just delete the damn email!” I was dying at my desk, then wondered if he would get spoken to at all by his division’s SVP about a) not calling colleagues idiots and b) cursing over an email chain where our company’s CEOs could see it.

    2. Anon for this*

      This happened at my university, but with tens of thousands of students.

      After people realized what it was it turned into a really sweet memory capsule of sorts rather than a tax form FYI. Unfortunately tech shut it down a few hours in, and not everyone got all the emails. I kind of wonder sometimes what was left in the ether.

      I can see it being less nice at a workplace, lol.

    3. RC Rascal*

      I’ve seen this happen twice: once at a financial services company, and other at a large manufacturer. My thoughts are with yours.

      I guess it goes to show you how many people think they need to get their two cents in.

    4. dealing with dragons*

      this kind of thing took down Microsoft’s internal email system some 20-30 years ago. My current company limits who can email large distros and IT is in charge of making new distros. Unless it’s a small one for a stated reason, generally hard to get new large distros added.

    5. Mazzy*

      I think people love the satisfaction of sending something out into the ether and getting a response. My job sometimes get long/useless chains where people reply all “thank you” and “welcome.” I think some people think a high volume of emails = productivity.

      1. Gatomon*

        Yes, for some this is a thing. My old job had a branch-wide email address (~30 people) and any little news or update sent would get 5-7 reply all’s that were basically just “thanks for sharing!” It was always the same people.

        I’m pretty sure the company-wide email at my current job is moderated because I haven’t seen a single reply-all come through in all the years I’ve been here.

    6. Aquawoman*

      You would think that people who got unnecessary email would understand how annoying it will be to others to hit “reply all” but they so often don’t.

    7. EnfysNest*

      My sister told me about an incident at her work where her company’s help desk was accidentally added to a company-wide email group. Well, her help desk has an auto-reply function, so it would auto-reply to the whole company… including itself. Which would activate the auto-reply again. O_O Apparently their on duty IT person was away from their desk at that moment, too, and it took about an hour to track them down and then get the email explosion shut down.

      1. tangerineRose*

        Sometimes computers remind me of the brooms in the Sorcerer’s Apprentice.

    8. Indy Dem*

      We’ve had something happen similar a few times. Big issue is that we are a global company, tens of thousands employees world wide. As each office opened there would be another slew of unsubscribe emails sent as reply all. Lasted a trip around the globe. It was fabulous.

    9. CoffeeAdict*

      Outlook should have a feature similar to “it looks like you have forgotten an attachment” except it would say, “you have selected ‘Reply All’ to this email, it will go to 1,784 recipients. Do you wish to proceed?” and it should be required to be enabled on all machines.

      1. Jedi Squirrel*

        This would be a great feature and I would love to have it, but Microsoft cannot even fix the “the message cannot be moved because the message has been changed” issue, which has been a documented bug for at least 15 years.

      2. tangerineRose*

        “you have selected ‘Reply All’ to this email, it will go to 1,784 recipients. Do you wish to proceed?” This would be so cool!

    10. Jedi Squirrel*

      I love reading about these things, but would never want to be a part of it.

      Google “wikipedia email storm” for more such atrocities.

  3. NGL*

    I imagine a version of this has been addressed in a Covid-related letter, but I can’t quite find anything.

    How are people-with-kids handling managers-without-kids who say all the right things about prioritizing family time, taking care of your physical/mental health, etc, but then aren’t giving you the grace to not be performing at 100%?

    1. Hey Karma, Over Here*

      Yesterday there was a letter from the opposite side. The manager has kids and employee is affected by not getting necessary things. There might be some good comments under that letter.

    2. Potatoes gonna potate*

      Sounds like my ex-boss says the right things but doesn’t act on them. I wish I could give some good advice but one thing my coworker does is that when it’s time to wrap up the call (because calls with the boss frequently go over by hours), he’ll move to a room where his kids are as boss hates the sound of kids. I know this isn’t the broader picture advice, but it’s a temp solution.

      1. NGL*

        I have definitely texted my partner before while on a call and asked if our kiddo could “break into” the bedroom where I’m working as an excuse to get out of it ;-) The appearance of a cute kid has been enough to get the long-winded people to stop talking and then I can say “Well, I think that’s my cue! Great talking to everyone, bye!”

    3. RecoveringSWO*

      “who say all the right things about prioritizing family time, taking care of your physical/mental health, etc, but then aren’t”–been there, sorry it’s definitely frustrating!

      Do you have a good amount of PTO? If so, you could try to use the formality of PTO and setting up coverage to force your manager to lower expectations/deliverables. Maybe take a day off per week or 2-3 half days per week for the long term. Then inform your manager of what you expect your performance metrics to look like for the week and refer to your progress as on track within those terms. Also, definitely be unavailable when on PTO. This might give your manager the swift kick they need to change their expectations and timeline. It also more formally puts the onus on the manager–of course your PTO time shouldn’t count towards their calculus of how many widgets you should produce this week. It’s more than just not following through with their previously supportive statements re:family&mental health, it’s earned time off.

      1. NGL*

        The company is requiring us to take some time off before the end of the fiscal year – which my boss has used as extra work time, and said I should consider doing the same when my day off came up this week! I told her that wouldn’t be possible – I was willing to check email on my phone, but I couldn’t sit at my laptop all day for project work! She kind of shrugged and said “You gotta do what you gotta do.”

        She’s usually SO GOOD about respecting boundaries and time off. I do wonder if it’s pressure coming from higher up. There was a flurry of activity and demands of new and innovative ideas when the WFH orders started, then it all leveled off, and now that we’re in week 8 or something the overall feeling seems to be that we should be used to this by now and back to something akin to our old standards (nothing said explicitly of course, but these expectations that everything should be getting done in the same fashion/timeline as it used to be in the office).

    4. What the What*

      My experience is not universal or representative of all managers. But I’m a business owner/manager with no kids. My employees have kids and are working from home. I’ve asked here and there how things are going and explained what options are available if they need to take time off, but I haven’t pursued it much further than that.

      If someone is having a problem, I would need them to communicate that, rather than leave me guessing. Because if you leave me guessing, I’m going to guess that there’s no real problem. I don’t have a crystal ball that tells me how they’re doing with their kids at home. Some of them have spouses, or older kids, and it’s not really a problem. Some of them never had daycare canceled.

      So I guess my advice would be to talk to your manager and be specific about what accommodations you need. Your childless manager isn’t going to be good at guessing and proactively providing what you, individually, need.

    5. Aquawoman*

      It depends! If the boss is aware of the day-to-day challenges you’re facing and turning down requests to change soft deadlines, or expecting you to respond to messages instantaneously, or the like, that’s difficult. If it’s just that they’re barreling through in a business-as-usual way, maybe increasing the communication on your end might make some headway. Thinking about and asking for things to work in a way that works for you and the company (what to prioritize/deprioritize/rearrange) and having a talk about that?

  4. not_kate_winslet*

    I am probably going to end up letting a probationary employee go, during a global pandemic. This will be my first non-certification of a new hire since I’ve been in my supervisory position (I’ve had two successful hires before him). I have tried everything, and this week I have been attempting to get him to commit to a last-ditch plan to commit to demonstrating that he is the right fit for this job. But it’s like he is making every effort to fail. Not showing up for meetings, making nonsensical excuses, etc. etc. HR is looped in and I’m following the steps, but I am nearly heartbroken over this. I was very excited about him joining the team. He was every single person on the hiring panel’s first choice. It’s been a little bumpy but I thought we were on the right track. I’m struggling to detach emotionally from this, especially given the current state of the job market. Blah. Any tips for getting through this? Or – if I end up having to keep him on, any tips for letting go of my now pretty entrenched bias about his attitude?

    1. cmcinnyc*

      Maybe he IS trying to fail. It is possible that he took this job expecting one thing and now sees that it’s another. He doesn’t want to quit; he wants to be let go so he can collect unemployment. (I’m assuming that non-certification isn’t the same thing as being fired for cause, and that he would qualify for benefits.) Of course, you are not a mind reader but if he’s behaving this way maybe framing it as his choice will help you let the guilt go.

      1. RC Rascal*

        This. Not showing up for meetings is a loud and clear way to say “Fire Me”.

    2. mcfizzle*

      Remember that you can only control yourself. Also, as long as you are confident you’ve done everything you can to try to help / correct, then hold onto that. He’s choosing to sabotage himself. I had a coworker do the same thing, and just dig in ever harder. You and your employees will all feel much happier once the toxicity is gone.

      That being said, you are really a good human for caring about his situation. It’s too bad he doesn’t seem to share your concern (again, his issue). I felt that with the coworker, as he had just bought a new house. I kept thinking “well, why isn’t HE worried about this?”

      This may seem harsh. I don’t mean to be. More… pragmatic. Regardless, it’s not a good situation. I wish you the best and would love to know how it ends up going.

      1. Working Hypothesis*

        My first thought was very similar to this: you can’t care FOR somebody, so if you are putting more effort into protecting his job than he is, there’s something wrong. I would really second the advice about framing this as his choice, maybe even going so far as to tell him so: “I have been trying hard to give you clear expectations about what it will take to keep this job. We need to see X, Y and Z, and it needs to be consistent, all the time unless there’s a very rare emergency. Is there anything in that that you’re having trouble understanding, or need help doing? [Listen; if the answer is that yes, you’ve been clear and there’s nothing specific he needs… then:] “When I see you failing on very basic things like not attending meetings, it looks to me as if you’re making a choice that this isn’t a position you want. What’s going on? Would you rather we just decide mutually that this is not the right fit for you and discuss how to transition you out of the position?”

        I’m pretty blunt, though, and also not a manager of anything more than a small all-volunteer organization. So take what I would do with a grain of salt.

        1. SeluciaMD*

          I really like your languaging here – it’s clear and leaves no room for misunderstanding. But it also allows that in the off-chance he needs something he doesn’t currently have, he can articulate that here and you can get clarification on what the issue is. But it doesn’t sound like that is happening so I will be surprised if this is simply an issue of miscommunication.

          I agree with others that in many ways it does seem like he’s either self-sabotoging or just straight up not caring if he gets let go over this. But that being said, reading some of the other comments in this thread about how some people are really eager to go back to a physical office and how hard they have been struggling with remote work, I think there is at least a little potential that maybe he’s not trying to do poorly or actively not caring about things he should be responsible for. Maybe he’s just not coping well with the crisis or isn’t well-suited to remote work or any number of other things related to this crazy time we find ourselves in.

          Please know that I’m not suggesting that you need to keep bending over backwards to keep this guy or make his staying on your team feasible – I’m not! He’s still responsible for his behavior, as are we all during this time. It’s just that I can imagine that trying to navigate a new job during this kind of crisis (particularly if you have any complicating factors or aren’t well-suited to WFH etc) might not be the best environment for success.

          not_kate_winslet, I think you are doing all that you can: being clear about expectations, being transparent in your concerns/problems/challenges with his work, and treating him professionally and with compassion. As others have said, you can’t care more about him keeping this job than he does. You can only give him the tools and the space to do his job well and support him in those efforts. And if he can’t, it means the person and the job aren’t the right fit. There’s no need to assign blame on one side or the other – just acknowledge that sometimes things just don’t work out because the pieces didn’t work together the way you’d hoped.

          GOOD LUCK!

    3. Me*

      It’s your job to be a good boss – which you’ve demonstrated. If he doesn’t want to succeed you can’t do it for him. Let him fail and know it is a choice he is making. You’ve done all that’s your responsibility to do.

    4. Deja vu*

      I noticed you said “…I have been attempting to get him to commit…” – why? As the supervisor, it is not your job to make people commit to wanting to be employed. You are there to equip employees to do their jobs safely and effectively. I think that’s the key to emotionally detaching here: you do your job and he should do his. If he doesn’t want to do the job, he’s not the right fit.

      It’s worth taking a moment to self-examine your own actions. You don’t mention exactly what has been said to this employee, but the standard AAM advice applies: be extremely clear about your expectations (no sugar coating, no watering down, change “It’d be nice if you did X” to “I need to see X”, etc.), ask them what’s going on, and listen. You mention non-nonsensical excuses – did you explain that his explanation is unacceptable and his behavior did not meet expectations?

      For your last question, if you keep him, then communicating expectations is still key: you need to communicate them and review them often. Maybe even use a physical calendar to mark of each day with a checkmark that expectations are met: if you see 100% of the calendar filled with checkmarks, I think you’ll find it harder to think you’re employee isn’t cutting it. However, if he continues with his current trajectory, you should be addressing it frequently so he knows that he’s not on track.

      1. not_kate_winslet*

        Thank you for this. Yes, I’ve been explicitly clear about setting expectations, benchmarks, tasks, etc. His probation was extended by three months with clear expectations for seeing improvement. We’re about halfway through the extension, and it has deteriorated a lot – way more than I had expected. Granted, we’ve also shifted gears in a huge way due to COVID-19, telework, and agency priorities. None of us are working at 100%, and I’m trying to keep that in mind. Ugh.

        1. Deja vu*

          Got it. Well it sounds like you already have your recommendation for this employee – it sounds like it’s just a matter of what higher-ups allow you to do. Don’t feel guilty about it – you’ve done more than your share of trying to help. Some people refuse to be helped.

        2. Steve*

          > None of us are working at 100%, and I’m trying to keep that in mind. Ugh.

          Attitude can count for a lot in this type of situation. If my boss said “I feel that you aren’t meeting our expected standards” I would be able to explain what I am doing well, and where I am struggling, and how the current WFH situation is affecting my work (ergonomics, and inability to focus on specific tasks). I would commit to trying harder, and would be able to explain how being physically at work would help. I would hate for anyone to lose their job right now, but if they aren’t cooperating with you then there are larger problems that won’t be helped with time.

      2. Koala dreams*

        Getting employees to commit is also part of the standard AAM advice, though. You ask the employee: Can you do that? If they say they’ll do it, okay. If they say they won’t, then there is no point to keep them.

        The point is not that the manager gets emotionally invested, the point is to find out if the employee is invested in the job at all.

        Of course, this assumes that the employee participates in the discussion.

    5. Kobayashi Maru*

      I truly feel for you. I don’t wanna sound like a hard-ass, but there are some things in life that aren’t fixable by any means. It sure sounds like you’ve tried to save them, but – they don’t want to be saved. In the words of Capt. James T. Kirk: “I don’t believe in a ‘no-win scenario’. Except this one. Let it go.”

    6. Senor Montoya*

      You’re worried that this is a terrible time to fire anyone, but it’s possible he doesn’t need the job or has other resources. You don’t know, and he has chosen to not follow through.

      The only thing I would add is have you made it excruciatingly clear that if he doesn’t do X Y Z that he *will* be fired? If not, do that. If you have, you have done everything you could.

      We’ve got a couple of recent hires that everyone lurrrrrved when they were hired and for the first half year. As they’ve been tasked with working at a higher level and more independently, we’re seeing problems. Some of them of the “fix this or you’re fired” variety. It’s hard not to take it personally if you had a hand in hiring and/or training them (that’s me for one of them). I feel that I’ve failed my co-workers and my employer, and tbh I’m irritated that now I have to chunk in more of my time and mental energy into helping them get in good shape. Or document how they are not. I do feel bad if they lose their jobs, but it’s a long process for them to get there — sounds like the same for your situation, OP, remember that you are not kicking them out unexpectedly and for no reason.

    7. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

      Ugh, I am sorry. I’ve had to do this, too, and it’s not fun. But just know that you did everything expected of you as a manager (and then some, it sounds like!) and you aren’t doing anyone any favors (him included) by keeping him just to keep him.

    8. dinoweeds*

      Ugh, I feel you. I was in a similar situation a few years ago when I had to fire a genuinely nice guy for a laundry list of reasons (one of which included drinking on the job!), but he had just found out his girlfriend was pregnant with twins and it was two days before Christmas. I had no choice but to let him go and even though I KNEW that it had to be done, I still felt like the worst person in the world because I was aware of stuff in his personal life. In the end I had to remember that my job is to my company first and my employees second – if I didn’t fire him I would not have been holding up my end of responsibilities. It sucked, but it had to happen.

    9. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      We can only control our own desires, motivations and over all commitment. We can have encouragement from outside sources but in the end, it’s again a personal choice and push.

      So you have done your job. You’ve been supportive, you’ve been coaching and encouraging him to be able to keep his job. Now it’s time to cut your losses.

      LOTS of people interview and present lovely in an interview. And they may be very skilled in certain aspects but that doesn’t mean in the long term, they’ll end up gelling into that position.

      You could have also had a weak candidate pool if he stood out among all others. He could be charismatic but charisma doesn’t get work done necessarily. That’s okay too, I’ve had this happen countless times, the best is still not good enough. in the end or lets you down.

      This isn’t personal on his part. He most likely didn’t set out to deceive you. Most people do think they can do the job! But while in it, they realize that it’s a whole different rodeo than the last one they were in. That’s okay too. It’s part of the business world. They get to quit, we get to fire them, none of this should leave a bad taste in anyone’s mouth in the end.

      Be respectful and you only need to keep your emotions out of it on the surface when he’s concerned. Clearly don’t break down in front of him. Don’t go try to talk about it to someone in his same level or what have you. You can be emotional personally, you can often talk to other managers who have been down this road before as well, we get it! We sympathize. Just know your audience but don’t lose your feelings.

    10. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)*

      Did you ask your team privately for feedback? We’re dealing with a similar situation right now, and it’s not an easy situation to be in. I told my boss since day one, not accusating anyone but concerned since this employee comes from a background where following orders without questioning is the norm. I really don’t want to say “I told you” to the person who greenlit the hiring despite those yellow flags, but I did told them…

    11. Sara without an H*

      Try to detach your feelings from the facts. Suppose you keep him on permanently and the pandemic ends? You’ll be trying to manage an employee who skips meetings, makes nonsensical excuses, etc. Do you really want to do that to yourself?

      It sounds as though you’re doing all the right things: documenting performance issues and keeping HR in the loop. Will you feel good in the end? Probably not. But unpleasant feelings are an occupational hazard of being an adult. You can do this. And you should.

    12. Mazzy*

      Seems pretty clear cut. My heart would be broken if they were trying hard and weren’t a good fit, but someone not even trying, especially with 15% unemployment? My sympathy well is pretty low here.

    13. AnonandAnon*

      I wonder, if employees demonstrate they clearly don’t want to be there, don’t want to do the job, etc., why would they not be terminated? I’m even talking about someone who has been with the company for years, and has, time and time again, demonstrated their inability to be proactive or take any initiative while their coworkers are killing themselves. Don’t let this employee go any further, you can’t control what is occurring outside your department/company, but you can provide an opportunity for someone who truly wants to work.

    14. Uranus Wars*

      I have a note taped to my computer that says “You can’t care about someone else’s circumstances more than they do”. This was initially a prompt for me to set better personal boundaries with my father but it has leaked over into other areas. I hope it can help you get through this.

    15. Kettricken Farseer*

      Don’t fret so much about having a person you were excited to hire actually turned out to be a dud. About 10 years ago I interviewed a guy who seemed fabulous…but was so very not. He wasn’t good at his job despite a lot of coaching and mentoring. But the larger problem was that he was very paranoid and suspicious of others and had an issue with most of upper management being women (including me). That’s just not something that is detectable in an interview.

      All managers run into this scenario sooner or later. Well, maybe not paranoid people…

      1. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)*

        Long time ago, I had a “former genius kid” as a coworker. He was neither a “kid” nor “genius”. He left before he was fired for his incompetence… and harassing a much younger female employee.

    16. Djuna*

      One things others haven’t said, that I think you may need to hear is that one bad apple doesn’t make you look like a bad manager. Probation exists for a reason and I doubt anyone at the company is keeping a scorecard on how many of your newbies make it through probation.

      I’ve worked for people who made bad hires, knew very quickly they were bad hires and still let them through probation and refused to ever consider letting them go because it would look like they had made a mistake. You can imagine what morale was like on those teams.

      This is not all about this one guy, it’s also about your larger team who don’t deserve the added stress of picking up after Dudley won’t-do in the middle of a pandemic. Your instincts here are kind, but be careful you’re not directing your kindness at someone who won’t see it, much less respond to it.

    17. Mavis*

      Having to keep him? Why?

      Why are you trying so hard for him? And why would you want to continue to do so ?

    18. not_kate_winslet*

      Thanks to all who provided feedback. I really appreciate the comments. I definitely cannot care more about him keeping his job than he does. And I think there is definitely a little piece of my ego that feels like him not being a good fit is a reflection of my hiring decision. So – sincere thanks for the advice and reminder that this is not about me.

      There were some questions about probation/why I’d have to keep him… I work at an organization with very solid and legally/culturally entrenched civil service and union requirements. All employees enter their jobs with a probationary period. At the end, they can be permanently certified. They can also be non-certified if things aren’t working out, but I need to ensure the process is followed accordingly.

      *Also, just as a follow-up, after he was a no-show on Friday, I sent him a detailed message explaining the expectation for showing up to today’s check-in with a solid explanation for where he’s been recently, and this morning I woke up to… another new excuse for being out today. I also checked in with the person who oversees one of his COVID related assignments and she confirmed that he hadn’t reported for those duties recently either. So, yeah. It’s not good :-/

  5. Is this... reasonable?*

    Hypothetical question for the managers out there- I used to be part of an office that had an under-performing, gaslighting, Nazi-enthusiast, serial sexual harasser that management never seemed able to do anything about. A real Fergus. Supervisors mismanaged the situation from head to toe- instituting reporting requirements for all staff that took hours to complete each week, assigning other staff to clean up this person’s mistakes, failing to acknowledge that Fergus actively sabotaged other people’s work. One thing that drove my coworkers crazy was that they constantly “reported” Fergus’s harassing behavior to supervisors, and the supervisors refused to take action. 

    What gives me pause is that my coworkers have told me that they either didn’t want to or couldn’t name specific behaviors. (Ex- “Fergus is having loud personal conversations that make me uncomfortable” when Fergus was telling his wife that she needed to wear tighter clothes, and then later, loudly discussing his divorce and all the things he was going to do to his now ex-wife; “Fergus is making the female staff uncomfortable” when he was waiting until the office was empty to corner and block the exits of junior female staff and asking them increasingly personal questions; “You need to address how Fergus talks to other staff” when Fergus was showing off his SS memorabilia to our Jewish coworkers) 

    Targeted coworkers either quietly quit (there’s been almost 100% turnover in this office in the past 4 years) or didn’t want to make complaints because they were concerned about their physical safety. Supervisors said they couldn’t do anything because 1) there weren’t specific incidents to address and 2) the targeted staff had to be the ones to formally file a complaint.

    So, AAM managerial commetariat, does this sound reasonable to you? How would you have handled a situation like this? This was in a US gov agency, if that makes a difference, with a pretty high bar to meet in order to take formal disciplinary actions.

    1. Em*

      I definitely think that 1. Supervisors should have asked them to name specific actions if that was necessary. But also 2. Someone literally should have just taken a picture of his SS memorabilia? I work in a state job that is hard to be fired from (think people being lazy and destroying very intense and expensive scientific experiments and just being retrained again and again) and this kind of thing would not fly. Especially after Charlottesville, many agencies have been more on top of this kind of behavior.

      If his behavior made anyone uncomfortable, not just those he targeted, they should have and could have reported it. But I don’t understand why a supervisor couldn’t? They could have just watched him?

      This sounds like an awful mess.

    2. GoingAnon*

      This is ridiculous. If people were making vague reports, the supervisors should’ve dug into things. If the people complaining weren’t comfortable making formal complaints, their reasons should’ve been explored and addressed. If they needed specific incidents, they should’ve asked staff who made vague complaints to clarify or make note the next time something happened and report it.

      Is it possible that the supervisors found out the details and just didn’t think the behaviors rose to the level of harassment or creating a hostile work environment, though? They definitely are, but some people are confused about what constitutes harassment or don’t understand how serious these seemingly minor things are.

      1. GoingAnon*

        But also, I worked in a government agency for a while, and managers often seemed to claim powerlessness. I left rather than figure out how much of it was bureaucratic nonsense. One woman in my department had been basically told she wasn’t allowed to speak to another employee in an adjacent department beneath the same grandboss after she’d essentially stalked this woman. Supposedly she caught the other woman sleeping in her car at work. Neither of these people was fired (I have no clue if the sleeper had a medical condition or was on break when she decided to nap–the other lady was also quite the slacker by the time I got there, so she had no leg to stand on).

        The one with the virtual workplace restraining order also once advocated genocide to my face and always referred to older black women as “girls,” which always struck me as a racist thing. I didn’t report either because she’d been there for decades, so the message to me was that nobody would do anything.

    3. Kobayashi Maru*

      I’m a retired manager – does that count?

      What sticks out to me is how “they either didn’t want to or couldn’t name specific behaviors.“ Fergus may indeed be a serious jerk, but as a parent *and* an ex-manager, I get suspicious when I start asking questions and the details start getting vague.

      I don’t know all of the details – maybe the KKK was using the office for after-hours meetings? – but based just on what you wrote, no, it does not sound unreasonable to me. Your account of the matter makes it sound like a conspiracy. But if no-one is willing to file a detailed complaint, I don’t think Fergus *should* be disciplined on the basis of what sounds like rumor and hearsay.

      1. Observer*

        When you have that many vague complaints and that much turnover, that should send a LOUD (like klaxon level loud) signal that something is very, very wrong.

        When you also know that you need to have people regularly fix someone’s work and you instituted heavy reporting requirements due to the behavior of one person, that should make it 100% clear that you need to dig.

          1. Is this... reasonable?*

            So, normally this is an office of about 10-15 people, and there have been about 20 departures in the past 4 years. (About 3 cohorts of hires have come through, and they’re about to hire a 4th.)

            # of complaints is difficult to gauge- Fergus has targeted people outside of the office that have also complained to their supervisors, who have taken action, even if it’s just to ban him from their office suite. I would say there’s been maybe 8-9 people who have made complaints, verbal and written, but it’s been spread across multiple managers and reporting entities.

            1. Kettricken Farseer*

              Does he have some skill so rare that your leadership is willing to overlook his behavior? The Nazi memorabilia alone should have been enough to fire him.

            2. Kobayashi Maru*

              Given the quantity and level of detail of information you have on the situation, I don’t understand why you yourself have not spearheaded an effort to get Fergus taken down?

      2. blepkitty*

        I agree with Observer. There was enough cause to suspect this employee of being a problem. Plus, there actually were specific events behind the unspecific complaints (showing SS memorabilia to anyone at work, let alone a Jewish coworker???).

        Also, you’re basically assuming the female employees are being cliquish bullies making up stories of harassment to get someone fired, without doing any investigation on your own–sorry, but this reads as Very Clueless about sexual harassment to me and possibly sexist, and I’m glad I was not one of your direct reports.

        1. Grace*

          I have, surprisingly, actually discussed a coworker’s SS memorabilia with him – but I’m not sure “memorabilia” is the correct term when it’s actually items his grandfather looted from ‘abandoned uniforms’ after he was freed from a POW camp at the end of the war and was making his way across Germany to where he was told the nearest British forces were.

          Even though his stuff is less ‘memorabilia’ and more artifacts of actual historical interest, if he brought them into work, our manager would be having Words with a capital W.

      3. Blueberry*

        From what I see in the original description, it wasn’t that anyone asked questions and got increasingly vague answers but that no questions were asked to pull sharper details out of vaguely described initial complaints.

        I’m not even going to touch describing multiple reports of sexual harassment as “a conspiracy”, or the KKK joke.

        1. Working Hypothesis*

          I did not see the “conspiracy” reference as meaning that the people reporting Fergus appeared to be conspiring to do so falsely, but that the LW had presented the HR staff as appearing to be conspiring to keep Fergus despite many credible reports, when later details suggest that they might just not have had enough detail to be able to do anything about it.

          This doesn’t mean I agree with what HR did — they clearly had enough information just in the form of “large numbers of people are filing reports about the same manager” to know they needed to dig deeper. But it does mean I don’t believe that Kobiyashi Maru was dismissing the claims of those who filed reports against him as “conspiracy.”

      4. soon to be former fed really*

        And you are part of the problem. Long time Fed here. Fed managers are mostly ostriches, and if misbehavior doesn’t affect them personally, they look the other way. Employees must be proactive and protect their own rights by documenting and reporting no matter what some lazy and scared manager does or doesn’t do. Ugh.

    4. Observer*

      Your supervisors were making excuses.

      It’s true that it makes it MUCH easier if people are specific and it’s definitely reasonable to ask for that. But it is absolute malarky to claim that they could only do something if the target complained. In fact, when it comes to discrimination / harassment complaints, the law is that if an employer “had reason” / “should have” known, they are liable.

    5. LGC*

      With regards to your department’s management: …it’s a pretty un-woke way to approach sexual harassment! And yeah, this is pretty much a “Fergus is creating a hostile work environment” sexual harassment training sketch.

      It’d be great if we could feel comfortable naming the behaviors to our managers. But actually having had to deal with people saying extremely uncomfortable things around me, it’s often really awkward to name it! I might have probed a bit more, myself and tried to get a better idea of what was happening, and I would have also said, “Look, I encourage you to take x action, and I’ve got your back.”

    6. What the What*

      I understand the need for specific incidents. “Fergus sucks” is not something management can act on. They need to know in what way he sucks. They can’t go to Fergus and say, “Someone told me that you make female employees uncomfortable, but I’m not sure how or when, because the complaints were unspecific.” That’s not helpful.

      Now, I do think it’s ridiculous that the victim needed to be the person to report it. If I witness Fergus showing Nazi memorabilia to a Jewish coworker and I report that, and they say “Well, he wasn’t showing it to you, so unless that coworker steps up, we can’t do anything…” that’s a flimsy excuse not to confront the issue.

      Or “Nancy told me that Fergus cornered her after hours and sexually harassed her at work and now she’s afraid of retaliation if she reports it,” and the response is “Well, unless Nancy steps up and reports it, we can’t do anything” uhhh no. They need to talk to Nancy and Fergus. Even if Nancy doesn’t make a formal complaint, they need to tell Fergus that if it did happen, that was wrong, or if they hear of any retaliation, he’ll be fired.

      1. Is this... reasonable?*

        Yes, the unwillingness to talk about specifics has been frustrating- my coworkers felt like a supervisor or HR person should be responsible for looking into more vague statements, or at least understand the implications of “Fergus makes people uncomfortable”, but that seemed like a leap….

        1. Sara without an H*

          Were they afraid of retaliation if they complained? Some organizations make a point of shooting the messenger.

          1. Is this... reasonable?*

            They were more afraid of retaliation from Fergus than supervisors.

            1. Working Hypothesis*

              The supervisors had a responsibility to protect the reporters from retaliation by Fergus. If I were one of them, I would have gently tried to pry more details out of everyone reporting, but also made it clear that I’d do everything I could to make sure that Fergus couldn’t do anything to them, whether that looked like getting them permission to work from home/another site, so Fergus wasn’t physically near them, to putting them on a project that didn’t work with him in any way, to whatever else it took. If they were literally afraid for their physical safety to the point where protecting them in the office wasn’t enough because they thought he might come to their house to hurt them, I’d offer to help them get an order of protection. The details are gonna vary wildly depending on the office configuration (both architectural and hierarchical), but it’s my job as a manager, not the reporting employees’, job to protect them from retaliation by Fergus.

    7. AnonAtty*

      Nopity, nope, nope. I clerked at an entity involved with discipline for federal employees and whole heartily agree with Alison’s general assessment that government employees can be fired–they just require documentation. In general, when a fed appeals their termination it goes to the Merit Systems Protection Board. The Board weighs the propriety of the discipline by a number of factors called the “Douglas factors.” I’m going to list them below. You’ll see a number of factors that would support firing Fergus. They require evidence, but even if your employees weren’t willing to come forward with specifics, all management needed to do was continuously document his repeated poor performance.

      The Douglas Factors
      The following relevant factors must be considered in determining the severity of the discipline:
      (1) The nature and seriousness of the offense, and its relation to the employee’s duties, position, and responsibilities, including whether the offense was intentional or technical or inadvertent, or was committed maliciously or for gain, or was frequently repeated;
      (2) the employee’s job level and type of employment, including supervisory or fiduciary role, contacts with the public, and prominence of the position;
      (3) the employee’s past disciplinary record;
      (4) the employee’s past work record, including length of service, performance on the job, ability to get along with fellow workers, and dependability;
      (5) the effect of the offense upon the employee’s ability to perform at a satisfactory level and its effect upon supervisors’ confidence in the employee’s work ability to perform assigned duties;
      (6) consistency of the penalty with those imposed upon other employees for the same or similar offenses;
      (7) consistency of the penalty with any applicable agency table of penalties;
      (8) the notoriety of the offense or its impact upon the reputation of the agency;
      (9) the clarity with which the employee was on notice of any rules that were violated in committing the offense, or had been warned about the conduct in question;
      (10) the potential for the employee’s rehabilitation;
      (11) mitigating circumstances surrounding the offense such as unusual job tensions, personality problems, mental impairment, harassment, or bad faith, malice or provocation on the part of others involved in the matter; and
      (12) the adequacy and effectiveness of alternative sanctions to deter such conduct in the future by the employee or others.

      1. Tabby Baltimore*

        If you ever come back to this, I have a question: To your knowledge, do “Douglas factors” also apply to Dept. of Defense workplaces? For some reason, I’ve always thought DoD workers were not eligible for Merit Systems Protection Board involvement. Thanks.

    8. Humble Schoolmarm*

      No, your supervisors aren’t right. I’m taking this from a middle school teacher perspective where vague complaints about bullying (50/50 parents and students) are very common. When I go digging, “Sam made me feel uncomfortable” sometimes means “Sam spent the last 45 minutes ranting about Marvel and DC and I just need it to stop” and sometimes it means “Sam threatened to burn down my house” (true story). Yes, it’s a pain to talk to everybody involved when the answer is really live and let live, but you have to do it to make sure you don’t miss the serious things.
      That being said, people with complaints like this, I know context doesn’t always make it possible, but please try to make it as specific as you can. It makes it so much easier for everyone in the long run.

    9. Koala dreams*

      I’m not a manager, but I’m interested in the responses to your scenario. Sometimes when you read advice about harassment, there seems to be a fine line to thread between staying safe and fighting for the harassment to stop.
      I also don’t understand the rule about only the targeted staff making complaints. Wouldn’t that be risky for the organisation? If they know about illegal harassment and do nothing when waiting for the detailed complaints from victims, it will look to the other employees like they don’t care.

    10. Fikly*

      You wrote that management never seemed to be able to do anything about Fergus.

      That’s not what happened. Management chose not to do anything about Fergus.

      1. Working Hypothesis*

        This. So much this. They could have fired Fergus ages ago — they decided not to, and then set policy (or invoked existing policy in ways that suited their original preference) to give them an excuse for doing what they wanted to do anyhow. Which was nothing.

    11. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      For the billion’th time, the targeted person doesn’t need to be the one who reports it. Anyone can report someone for being a discriminating piece of trash without a filter. I don’t care if it didn’t happen to Jim, Jim has every right to report it.

      Constant complaints about the same patterns is enough to demand answers from Fergus and terminate him in the end.

      They’re lazy and using the excuse that it’s ‘Hard” to terminate someone as an “out” for them. They don’t want to do their jobs. Management sucks. And when management sucks, you get a Fergus.

    12. ..Kat..*

      Well, if I saw management not dealing with Fergus not doing his job (taking way to long to complete work, having error filled work, etc) and additionally saw management not fixing THAT problem that should be OBVIOUS to management, I would know that management would not act on my behavioral complaints (the harassment). So, why bother to take the time to be explicit? Especially since I know Fergus will retaliate (because specific information will identify me). Also, I know that management has to be seeing at least some of what Fergus is doing – if they won’t act on what they see, why bother. I will put my time and energy into getting out of there. In addition, I am probably hearing from coworkers that management won’t do anything about Fergus.

      Management could make a point to investigate, observe, show up unexpectedly to see Fergus and his behavior. This is their JOB.

  6. Sockster*

    I’m feeling a little lost, because I know I want a new job, but I don’t know what job I want next. I’m not at all attached to my current industry (childcare).
    I’ve been working in administration and program management, and I feel like my skills would roughly transfer to a lot of workplaces, but the things I like about my job aren’t the industry, they’re the specific attributes of my workplace. I wish I could filter on LinkedIn or Indeed for positions that ‘spend 75% time or less sitting at my desk’, ‘a decent amount of social interaction and collaboration with the public, clients, and coworkers’, ‘sending lots of informative emails’.
    How do people find jobs that they’re compatible with? I feel like I just don’t know what jobs are out there!

    1. Friday afternoon fever*

      One way to go about this is look at job boards for specific companies you think you might want to work for, across industries. You could have some fun with this.

    2. Chronic Overthinker*

      Check under Administrative Assistant/Reception jobs. Or Marketing assistant. Or, like someone else suggested, find a company that you like and search through their listings/job descriptions. Keep your chin up and have fun finding out just what you want to do!

    3. cubone*

      I know this is probably groan worthy advice, but I really feel like “What Color is Your Parachute?” is a classic for a reason! It really helped me sort out all these components (eg. the skills, knowledge, environment, people, etc.) that I wanted in a job and made me feel more clear on exactly what I wanted (and then you can use that to talk to people or go hunting for jobs that match). It sounds like you already have this list, but maybe it would be a helpful exercise. Reading it definitely made me feel confident and encouraged that I could find jobs I didn’t know of before that would fit my desires.

      1. Sockster*

        I had actually forgotten about this book, so I think I’ll give it a look! Thanks for the reminder!

    4. Fikly*

      So last time I was job searching, I was in something of a similar position, in that I wasn’t super committed to a particular industry.

      What I did was really take some time and think about what things in a job would make it sustainable for me long term. Once I had identified those, I had to figure out search terms for job ads. That was super hard, but what ended up working well for me was searching “empathy.”

      I ended up searching that because I have very strong communication skills, and have worked for a crisis line for several years, so I’m very good at empathetic communication. And empathy as a search term really gets at job ads that are across a number of industries, and a number of jobs I wouldn’t have thought of on my own.

    5. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Can you go into something that’s not childcare but something related to the school system instead? That would be stepping away but not taking a huge leap.

      I mean I could also say that construction/manufacturing will take you away from the child aspect if you want to jump ship from that area. But the attitude and atmosphere is going to be a world apart. Sadly industries are weird and so individual it’s hard that even if they did give you that information to know if you’d actually like them in the long run!!

    6. Goomba*

      I think you actually know a lot about what you want! I was in a similar place where I wasn’t attached to the industry but had a good idea of what I wanted my day-to-day to look like. Actually I think this is a good way to ensure you’re happy with your job!

      I encourage you to check out the Kent University careers site, they had a quiz you could take and answer questions like “Do you like to work with your hands?” and give you options based on that. You can also google things like “jobs sending informative emails to clients” and see what kinds of job ads come up.

      Actually your likes list sounds kinda like my old job, I helped organize conferences and sent lots of informative emails to clients, participants, guests, and so on. It was very collaborative and while it had desk work days, often I had to go meet clients and attend the events. I can also see jobs in a library lining up with this; the “informative emails” makes me think of supportive jobs like HR, admin, maybe even marketing or something?

  7. Qwertyuiop*

    My boss set up meetings with an outside contractor to work on database cleanup. The contractor and I have daily meetings for a few hours to work on this. (My boss is also invited to the meetings. )
    For some reason, either the boss forgets or something, but while I’m in the meetings, boss will text me asking why I’m not in another meeting or where I am. I have to remind boss that the contractor and I have a meeting.

    Once the boss even made a remark like, “Qwerty would rather work with the (contractor) than go to the Teapot Meeting.”

    Umm….Boss was the one who set up the meeting!

    How do you deal with something like this?

    1. irene adler*

      Get clarification up-front from boss as to which is to be your higher priority- meeting with contractor or the other meeting(s). If boss’ response is “the other meeting(s)” then make sure boss understands that that will require you to cancel the contractor meeting -that he set up. You cannot be at two meetings at the same time.

      1. Qwertyuiop*

        My boss already told me that the meeting with the contractor is top priority though and that I did not have to attend the other meetings.

        1. irene adler*

          Sounds like boss has forgotten the priorities he set for you. Time to ask for clarification as this will require boss to assess the priorities. Then might ask why, if the priority is to meet with contractor, boss is texting you to locate you to join other meetings. This is causing you confusion as to what the priorities are.

          Might even text boss each time you are meeting with contractor : “Hi boss, it’s 8 am and I’m about to meet with contractor until 10 am today.”

    2. Legally a Vacuum*

      On critical meetings that overlap, I usually IM my boss to remind him that I’m going to be doing X and that Y person will be in the other meeting.

      1. Sara(h)*

        This. I often send a quick text to my boss that morning, “Just a reminder that I’m attending the Koala Policy meeting at 10am so I won’t be at the Panda Procedure meeting,” and, if applicable, “Bearita is going to do our team’s report out.”

      2. tangerineRose*

        Yeah, a reminder’s a great idea, and if the boss still says this kind of thing, how about saying “I was in a meeting with contractor; I thought that was the highest priority?”

    3. Me*

      Is your boss just a dolt who has a bad sense of humor? I had a boss like this. He was incompetent to say the nicest thing about him and he routinely joked about things to deflect from his being bad at his work and also just in general to be funny except he wasn’t. Ever.

  8. Frustrated HospitalStaffer*

    TL/DR: My employer is cutting staff hours to the bone, while acting like their meager pay cuts makes them saints. They are also secretly laying staff off, keeping everyone in the dark, lying to the media, and patronizing us for having feelings about it all. Oh and BTW we are a hospital!

    Man my leaders are bringing on a new level of infuriating incompetence. I’m ready to burst! I work at a Hospital, which has naturally been very stressful these past two months. And like a lot of hospitals in our region, we are losing money and furloughing/laying off staff. This, I can understand, kind of, but the way it has been done is so cruel, so secretive, and maximum stress inducing! I’ve never been angrier at an employer in my life.
    Let’s start with the furloughs. They built this self-serving email, talking about how top leadership was taking pay cuts between 10-25% but that staff would have to take some time off too. Naturally they released this email at 8am on Friday, and then didn’t tell anyone what our cuts would be until the end of the day! And when the cuts fell, was it less than leadership or at least less than top leadership? No! They cut most of us 40%-80%! On a Friday at the end of the day so it was too late to call the banks or car loan and mortgage and bill companies. Then the next week they hold an all hands staff meeting, did they say “thank you for your tireless work and we understand these pay cuts are difficult” – nope! They, kid you not, went on a rant about how our productivity was slipping! Like – duh??? If you cut staff hours 40-80% you are not going to get maximum productivity. We then split into departmental meetings where our department leader really laid into us. He said and I quote “As salaried staff I expect more from you. You don’t get paid to be here every hour, you are paid to finish a job (remember they cut our hours 2-4 days a week!)”. Someone in the audience asked if we are expected to work while on PTO/unpaid leave and he responds “No of course not. When you are off you are off. Just get your work done!”. Can you see my eye’s rolling across the computer screen?

    This continued for a month, then on May 1st our company sent out another email first thing in the morning this time announcing layoffs. They stated it would start with leadership and to expect continued cuts over the next month. There were no details, but many of us had already learned of layoffs from the news which was announced BEFORE we were told. We are in week two and most people have started calling them “Fearful Fridays”. They also lied to the local newspaper and stated they were only cutting 5 executive leaders. In reality they cut 10 top leaders, and many middle and lower managers as well. None of us know exactly who is cut or how many or what departments are impacted because they are not telling us. When questions were submitted to the team asking when a new org chart would be provided they told us they are not going to be providing one.

    So we had another all hands meeting yesterday, and what did they say this time? Thank you for working hard and getting as much as you can get done despite hour and personnel cuts, here are the new departmental goals taking into account our new workforce? Of course not! The first sentence out of their mouth was literally, “Check your attitudes. You need to be coming to work with an attitude of gratitude.” They then showed us all these gag-inducing videos about “resiliency”. One memorable part of the presentation from senior leadership, that to me demonstrated just how out of touch they were with us workers, was when they did a “financial health” slide where they, kid you not, mentioned that not buying a coffee each day could safe you up to $100 a month. Literally – the buy less coffee tip! The only thing missing was a remark about avocado toast. They didn’t even have a single slide about student loans! That’s how out of touch they are.
    AAM community give me strength!!!!

    1. Hey Karma, Over Here*

      I hear you and offer indignant looks and best wishes for you to survive and thrive!

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        That’s all we can really say, isn’t it? They cut people down to only working between 20 and 40% of their regular schedule and then tell these same people they should be happy about this? And they should still be able to get the same amount of work done they’d complete during a regular work week in way less hours?! Don’t even get me started on that bullshit coffee spiel – we’ve debunked that condescending ass “advice” many times on this site.

        Wow, OP – I’m truly sorry that your hospital administrators suck so hard. Take care of yourself and try not to lose it on them (I know how hard that is right now).

    2. dryroasted*

      Good gracious. That is just infuriating to read. I can’t imagine how it is to live it. I am sending you good vibes.

    3. Senor Montoya*

      Send copies of all the emails to the news media and take notes during the meetings, send to news media. Of course the leadership is going to lie when the news media call.

      1. Anonessential*

        You could very well be working the largest health organization in my state Truly awful. I’m sorry.

      2. CM*

        I like this idea — talking to your leadership won’t help and may endanger your job, but shining a light on this behavior might get some results.

    4. Anon Anon*

      I am so sorry.

      This is what I fear in this depression/recession is that many employers are going to start treating employee’s as if they should feel lucky that they are employed as all. That whatever they get paid, however they are treated, is better than being unemployed.

    5. Koala dreams*

      Wow, that’s so bad! I’m a get with your management too. I hope you find a better job as soon as possible. Take care!

      Can you contact media about this? If you find a trust worthy reporter, it would be doing the public a service. Or maybe you can keep notes and report it later.

    6. Mazzy*

      Oh no, I’m about to walk off your job and not come back. Seriously! This doesn’t seem like a serious hospital or job. I would probably just start “acting out” by calling out the dumb videos and leaving meetings and not getting extra work done. This is ridiculous. This doesn’t seem like a “real” job anymore. Maybe you can get laid off and get unemployed and get hired somewhere else later and tell them what trash the management of the other hospital is.

      As a regular citizen, I’m pissed at the lying to the media part. So many governors are downplaying the impacts of the shutdowns and this is giving them more power to do that. I’d be terrified to have a serious medical issue right now where you can’t really get treated.

    7. Fikly*

      Are they similarly grateful to you for working for them? Somehow I think not.

      Employers like this are so quick to forget that they would not exist without their employees.

      1. Working Hypothesis*

        They’ve bought into the idea that as “job creators” they are a higher order of being from mere employees, granting the boon of employment to those lesser entities out of charity. Of course they expect gratitude.

        If they had enough of a clue to understand that actually, they and their employees see just two equally valuable human beings who have entered into a business deal together for mutual benefit, and neither owes the other anything except what’s listed in the contractual terms (plus the basic kindness and decency that every human being owes every other, and which appear to be in short supply among this particular type of “leader”) they’d be much better bosses, and much better people.

    8. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)*

      I knew hospitals could be crappy places to work , but this pandemic is showing the worst in some. Two weeks ago a regional hospital dedicated to elderly patients (not hospice) was closed down when a massive covid outbreak was uncovered. Everybody knew it was anything but a hospital, barely complying with standards, and patient’s families had reported it for ages, but not even the nurses complaints of lack of PPE were enough.
      Also, a top hospital in my city (who TESTED ME FOR HIV WITHOUT MY CONSENT when I applied for an admin job) annouced 15% pay cuts and layoffs of non essential personnel.

    9. pancakes*

      You should contact the reporter(s) who wrote about the executive cuts and let them know they’re being lied to.

    10. Melly*

      Sounds like healthcare administration to me (my first career). I got out because what the ever loving hell. My parents still work in a hospital and some of the stuff their administration put them through is just mindboggling.
      Of course, now I work for higher education, which is only slightly better…

    11. What's Your Damage, Heather?*

      I work at a hospital also and the politics and decisions are always infuriating esp cause they are typically made by people who have never worked bedside. I don’t know if I can give you strength but I know how you feel. Wish I could buy you a drink!

  9. Diahann Carroll*

    Good work news this week:

    * My manager informed me I’d be getting the full amount of my bonus next week, which is great because bonuses are expected to be cut across the board starting in our second quarter by up to 10%. This full bonus will finally give me four months of living expenses in my emergency fund, the most I’ve ever been able to save thanks to low paying jobs, insane student loan debt, and ballooning rent costs. It’s times like these where I’m very grateful grandboss didn’t try to negotiate me down from my starting salary ask, which was 11k more than what they initially presented me with – he just gave me everything I wanted (i.e., higher starting salary and an extra week of vacay). Now, if something crazy happens with this job and I lose it, I won’t have to worry about a possible eviction while job searching in this terrible economy.

    * Company extended our travel ban until the end of June. I was happy about this because the larger team I’m on meets once a year because we’re all dispersed throughout the world and don’t see each other regularly (our company doesn’t do video calls, only audio thanks to the differences in time zones), and they kept talking about planning a trip in June. I would have been the only one to nope out of that trip (maybe not – maybe my manager would have as well since his wife is now pregnant and has an underlying illness that makes her more susceptible to complications from the coronavirus), which would have made me look like the buzzkill. Plus, I actually like hanging out with this group for a week in the once a year setting, so I would have been bummed to miss it. Now it looks like it won’t happen at all since no one is talking about rescheduling anything. I know it’s selfish of me to be happy about this being cancelled for everyone, but I really think we should have just aimed for summertime next year anyway.

    * A campaign my direct team helped our marketing and sales department with recently was a huge success! We’re signing up new users for our software services for free (for a limited time), so hopefully, these companies will see the long-term value in having our stuff for remote work reasons and will sign paying contracts at the end of this promotion. Ditto for another one we just did this week as well – that campaign doesn’t go live until the end of next week.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        Right? I love reading all the good news posts here on Fridays as well, so thought I would finally contribute again – it’s been awhile, lol.

  10. Student Affairs Sally*

    I’m currently frustrated with an interview process that wants FIVE references (I’ve never been asked for more than 3 about a hundred of job applications in my field) before even moving me on to the second interview. My primary supervisor (who has been very supportive of my search) just had a baby and without her, I only have 4 people I can list, two of which are peers (I’m in my first professional job so I haven’t had many bosses in this field). I’m planning to give my supervisor’s information but provide a note asking them to wait to contact her until later in the process. Or is there a better approach I haven’t thought of?

    1. masters student of none*

      Not ideal, but were you vlose with any professors or teachers you could use?

    2. Dawbs*

      Can you ask the supervisor who is on maternity leave? In spite of leave
      I specifically told one of my mentees they could use me when I was (and 3 jobs for me later, I still gave her one. She’s awesome, I’m thrilled when she succeeds)

    3. Washi*

      Are they going to call the references now or do they want them to “save time” (which is what I find is why a lot of companies ask for references up front)? I’ve had success asking if I can wait until later in the process to give my list of references. I can’t remember if I gave a reason or not, probably was something like “trying to be respectful of everyone’s time” or something.

      1. Student Affairs Sally*

        I have to enter their information into an automated system, which will send them an email with a survey to complete about my work. I’m not sure if they will be contacting them again later for an actual call, or if this is the only contact they’ll have with my references. I’m pretty sure that as soon as I finish entering the information (which I have to do within 24 hours from when they contacted me), the email is sent immediately. I reached out to HR to let them know about my supervisor, and they responded that they could give “a few more days”. So at this point I’m not terribly hopeful that this position is going to come through – my boss literally just had her baby yesterday so I don’t think she’s going to be keeping a very close eye on her email.

        1. Washi*

          Ugh :( It’s not your fault at all, but I hate written references! Not because I don’t want to put it in writing but just because it’s way more time consuming. A survey might be better if it’s all multiple choice, but at that point, I can’t imagine they’re getting super nuanced information.

          Their process stinks, I’m sorry!

      1. Student Affairs Sally*

        I am not lol. I’m in education and make less than $50,000 a year :P

  11. LifeBeforeCorona*

    We just learned that there will be no bonuses this year. They are usually given out at the end of the month. It’s not a surprise (thank Corvid!) but it’s still a bummer. I’m happy to have work still but does it seem tone-deaf to be disappointed?

    1. Hey Karma, Over Here*

      Bonuses for last year’s work based on last year’s achievements? That is terrible. I’m sorry about that. You are quite within normal reactions to be disappointed. They are reassigning “your” money. I would be mad, too.

      1. Just J.*

        I would agree on being disappointed. You have every right to be so, but would you prefer your bonus or prefer to be laid off?

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          I normally hate that framing, but admittedly, it’s what I used to lessen my disappointment at our raises and promotions being frozen and future bonuses being cut. I could have been laid off or furloughed (I’m one of the creatives at my company, and many places feel they can do without those services during economic downturns), but I’m not – I’m still working. My base salary hasn’t been cut, my company-provided benefits are still fully intact (401k and HSA employer matching is still happening), and my workload is picking up.

          I’m doing well all things considered.

    2. Jedi Squirrel*

      Not in the least. You were expecting this and received very little notice about it.

      Our bonuses are at the end of the year, and I am fully expecting not to get one. But by the time that date rolls around, I will have seven months to prepare myself mentally for that. You didn’t get that amount of time.

      It’s okay to be disappointed. Be easy on yourself.

      1. Mid*

        I’m in a similar boat—no one got raises this year. My boss told me during my review that I would have qualified, but no one is getting them at all, and some of the higher ups are likely getting pay cuts. It’s disappointing. And just because some people have it worse, doesn’t mean I can’t be bummed about my situation, and the same goes for you. Be bummed out and disappointed!

    3. cmcinnyc*

      I know we won’t get raises this year, I totally understand why we won’t get raises this year (revenue for April was down 70%), I’m grateful that we still have our full benefits and that I have a decent job at all at this time–and OF COURSE I’m disappointed that there will be no raises. I’d be a jerk if I complained or pushed for a raise to my boss, but just *feeling* disappointed is normal. I’m disappointed about *a lot* of things right now. Pandemics are scary and sad and disappointing.

      1. Working Hypothesis*

        My husband got a stellar review and no raise recently and yeah, no matter how much you know that it’s not personal and nobody is getting extra money right now because the money just isn’t there, it still feels bad. My sympathy.

        In our case, the disappointment was somewhat offset by the welcome news that our landlord won’t be raising our rent this year. That’s unusual in our area, and the second year in a row he’s kept it flat, so he’s really been exceptional about it. It still doesn’t even out to the amount that the raise would have been, but it definitely helps.

        Feel what you feel and try not to be hard on yourself for it. This is just one more crummy thing that is happening due to global pandemic, and it’s real. Just because other people are suffering worse didn’t mean you’re not having crummy things happen. Suffering isn’t relative — it doesn’t go away if someone else’s is bigger.

    4. Amy Sly*

      Nothing wrong with being disappointed but understanding of the circumstances.

      As always, destroying keyboards, punching holes in the walls, biting colleagues, swearing at colleagues, forming a duck club, or writing entitled emails to the C-suite demanding you get your raise anyway are contraindicated.

    5. CorporateDroneLiz*

      IMO it would only be tone deaf if you complained about to a friend or family member who’s been laid off/is unemployed. But feeling disappointed in and of itself is completely normal and a valid feeling to have!

    6. MissGirl*

      Totally fine to be disappointed. Our 401k match has been temporarily suspended and I’m disappointed. The key is not to complain about to people who are in worse conditions. Also don’t let the disappointment affect your performance.

    7. PrincessFlyingHedgehog*

      Your feelings are valid. Feelings are not tone-deaf. Actions are tone-deaf. It is 100% OK to feel disappointed that you’re not getting a bonus. Ranting on Facebook about a loss of bonus when you have friends/family who lost their jobs or who got their pay or salary cut would be tone-deaf. (Not saying you would do that! Just an example.)
      No bonuses for my institution this year, either — it’s a disappointment, not just because a loss of money (the money is nice), but also because the money symbolizes recognition of excellent work. Not everyone gets bonuses. It’s the (potential) recognition I’m missing, too.

        1. anon4this*

          Yes! This helps me. Our organization is laying off about 300 staff. My job was spared, so I am very fortunate. Still, I felt gut-punched this week when a document crossed my desk relating to the layoffs that listed everyone in the department’s salaries, top to bottom, and I found myself in the bottom half, almost the bottom third. I am highly respected, always go above and beyond, have numerous accomplishments, and am easily doing the work of many of the people who get paid more than I do, but because of internal politics and union pressures (don’t ask) I’ve been stuck where I am.
          The point is, my feelings of hurt and disappointment have been butting up against feelings of gratitude that I have a job and the respect of my managers and peers in this environment when many are losing their jobs. The good news is that I kept it to myself as the last thing anyone needs and wants in my organization these days is any more negativity or whining.
          So, “feelings are not tone-deaf. Actions are tone deaf.” Glad I didn’t turn my feelings into actions which would have been a d–k move.

    8. Diahann Carroll*

      Nope, not tone deaf as long as you don’t act inappropriately based on those feelings. Honestly, your company should have sent out an email at some point when this crisis began indicating that it was possible they would need to cancel all bonuses for the year if revenue went down. My company told us all ahead of time that bonuses would be cut up to 10% starting in the second quarter of this year (because first quarter bonuses were based on last year’s fourth quarter results). We were also told that raises and promotions for the year would be postponed – then our CFO recommended a complete cancellation of the salary review process this year to our CEO, so we all know CEO will accept this. We were kept apprised of the situation the whole way through, so even though I was bummed about it, I had time to wrap my head around it. You didn’t get that.

      1. LifeBeforeCorona*

        I had a general idea that bonuses might not happen because it was obvious revenues were going to tank but it was still disappointing to hear for certain. Fortunately, pay raises aren’t affected and my last one was just before Corona so I have that at least. We have a good director and they’ve been working hard to find any financial assistance that’s available for the short and long term.

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          Well, that’s good to hear – I thought they were one of those places that weren’t giving their employees any info until the last minute. And it’s great that you at least got a raise and they’re trying to find you guys more money to stay afloat. Who knows – maybe your business will rebound sooner than upper management thinks and they’ll give you guys your bonuses retroactively.

    9. RemoteHealthWorker*

      As someone whose company has furloughed 30% of its staff, you have my permission to mourn the loss of your bonus.

      Seriously – the “be grateful for what I get attitude” benefits no one but stingy employers.

      1. RobotWithHumanHair*

        This helps me feel a little better too (still furloughed here). I was due both a raise (haven’t received one in almost 3 years and I’m paid under market for my position) and a substantial bonus due to accomplishments from 1st quarter 2020. Of course now, I’d just be happy to actually get my UI pay.

    10. Fikly*

      Your emotions are always valid. Even if logically, you knew that this was going to happen, and you understand why, it still sucks!

    11. HA2*

      It’s ok to be disappointed. I think it’s natural.

      Just because “it could be worse” doesn’t mean that you have to be happy that you’re only somewhat worse off instead of a lot worse off.

      I mean, it could be tone-deaf to complain about losing a bonus if you’re talking to someone who just lost their job – but that’s about a particular conversation. There’s nothing wrong with the feeling itself.

  12. Anon for this*

    So, I work in outpatient healthcare at a fairly large private practice. We were furloughed for four weeks, during which I applied to a bunch of jobs but didn’t hear anything (unsurprising, given the industry). The practice got a PPP loan, and so we were all brought back to working online/some in clinic. I was told yesterday that I’m going to be screening patient’s temperatures and giving them masks prior to appointments for the foreseeable future. This is a significant departure from my regular job duties. I know through the employee grapevine that one employee doing screening has symptoms and is being tested for COVID. I help take care of two elderly relatives, one of whom I need to see in person since he can’t do all the essential tasks of daily living. I also live with one of his other caretakers, so even if I stopped helping I would be a possible vector. I gave my boss several other possibilities for what I could do, but I told her I wouldn’t do screening. I know at least one other person in this situation who lost her housing because of this (high risk relative lived with them, and her family kicked her out), and our boss told her it wasn’t a high risk position and to suck it up.

    This was yesterday afternoon and I haven’t heard back. I’m so scared I’ll loose my job over this, but I talked it over with my family and doing in-person screening is our risk line. I have my refusal, with the reasons, in writing. Is there anything I could do to increase my odds of getting unemployment if I get fired? Ideas/recommendations? This is my first full-time job out of school and I’m terrified.

    1. White rabbit*

      Alison answered a similar question on April 27; check out “can I get unemployment if I quit due to health issues.” So sorry you are having to deal with all this.

    2. Mazzy*

      Can’t you handout masks from afar and drop the temperature thing? That always seems like “security theater” anyways. No one is going to have a fever and not notice it. If they have a slight one, it might be from something else. Kind of pointless to test at the door IMO

      1. CatsAway*

        People can have a fever and not notice it (or be in denial). I had to take my spouse to urgent care (> 1 month ago now) and there were 2 teenage girls in there too. One was sick, and went back but they kicked her out after taking her temp and seeing she had a fever of >100. She hadn’t felt warm, she just had some chills.

      2. Fikly*

        Many, many people can have a fever and not notice it. I was about to say that you might always know if you have a fever, but unless you are checking your temp every hour, how do you even know if that’s true?

        Regardless, policy is policy, and suggesting she has the power to change her employer’s policy is completely ridiculous. Also, the point of taking someone’s temp is not to say do you have covid or not. The point of taking someone temp is to determine if futher screening is needed, or if they are clear to proceed. Which you would know if you bothered to look into it before forming an opinion.

        You can have many symptoms and problems and not notice it. As an example, I was hypoglycemic and my sugar was rapidly getting lower the other day and I had no idea until my CGM started beeping an alarm.

        1. pancakes*

          People can and do lie about whether they’re feverish, too! Or have been feverish recently. Especially when acknowledging that they are or have been could keep them out of work. Whether a particular commenter feels safe doing temperature checks and/or feels comfortable with their job changing are separate questions.

          1. Anon for this*

            The biggest thing is that screeners at my practice see a much larger number of people than anyone else, so the risk is correspondingly a lot higher. There are some positions I could fill that would involve seeing way fewer people (including my normal job, which is much less in demand than it was – we have too many people in the position right now), but the practice is having a really hard time filling the position. My state is reopening when it really shouldn’t (increasing cases and low test availability), and there seems to be no understanding from higher management of why we might be concerned. I get that they need to see patients to make money and that we need to screen people, but it’s been handled terribly.

      3. Liane*

        The temperature checks–which my restaurant wants to implement when they reopen dine-in–makes no sense to me. The idea begs the question, “So many people with COVID-19 are ASYMPTOMATIC, so how exactly are temperature readings going to keep sick people out?!”

        1. fhwdgads*

          Nothing will keep every sick person out, but keeping some of them out is still a valid risk mitigation technique, as are masks, as is social distancing, and handwashing, and sanitizing surfaces multiple times a day, etc. The theory is to do a whole bunch of stuff which, if done on its own is not helping very much, but in conjunction can actually make a significant difference. Success is that context is not “absolutely zero people who are ill enter the building”. It’s “reduce the likelihood of transmission here as much as we can with the tools we have available.”

      4. AcademiaNut*

        They’ve rigged up an automatic temperature screen at work, fairly simply. There’s one of those IR thermometers, attached at head height to a mirror, and a small makeup mirror set so you can read the display. We arrive at work, scan our ID card, lean in for the temperature check and use hand sanitizer, all without getting near to the person monitoring the process.

      5. tangerineRose*

        Can you hand them the thermometer and have them put it in their mouth? Stay 6 feet back the rest of the time until checking the thermometer. Then take it and sanitize it and wash hands?

          1. pancakes*

            Yes. I get my temperature checked a lot because I still go to a cancer center once a month for an injection, though I’ve been in remission for several years. I can’t remember the last time I saw an oral thermometer besides the ones sold in drugstores. Mine is taken with a head swipe that ends near / behind an ear.

            The cancer center is the only place outside my apartment I’ve been since late February (!!), and the screening process there is a bit different: Just beyond the usual front desk where one or two people always are, there’s another desk with three people (wearing masks of course) who ask a few screening questions. While that’s happening, a person standing off to the side comes over and holds out a paper mask you have to put on, even if you’re already wearing a mask. (A bit annoying since I finally have a comfortable cotton one with a pocket for a filter insert). My temperature is taken as it’s always been, by a nurse in the infusion center who also checks my blood pressure & whatnot.

            Another change is that patients can no longer be accompanied by anyone. That’s a big one because people often bring someone to chemo. I knew this coming in via voicemail, and they did make an exception for a woman who arrived with someone around the same time I did and claimed not to know, after getting the approval of someone or other higher up.

  13. Laura*

    Any tips on managing depression in the workplace given the current situation. I’m so…..down and on edge all the time and it is affecting my performance, but it is tough at the moment (lost a parent to the virus, partner laid off and homeschooling the kids who are miserable) and I’m just struggling.

    1. Duckduck10*

      Are you seeing a doctor? I would get some professional medical help if you are able. Take care.

    2. Justme, the OG*

      Does your insurance have teladoc visits? I’m lucky enough that I saw a doctor and got on a good medication regimen before all this started.

    3. NotAPirate*

      Can you declare a family holiday of 2 or 3 days? A staycation where you take off work, kids don’t do school, and you all just try and relax? Give the kids infinite TV time just those days, ignore the dirty dishes, stay in bed, read a book, take a bath. I have anxiety issues, and I find sometimes taking a day off feeling guilty about not being able to keep up with things really helps. Also being still gives my brain a chance to say “okay yes we are okay”, and reset.

      The best analogy I ever had resonate with me, was why don’t we treat depression, anxiety etc as real issues. If you broke your arm of course you’d give yourself slack, take a day off work as needed, ask and accept help. If you broke an arm of course you’d take medicine, see a doctor, tell your family you need help. But with mental issues we usually try to minimize the changes, pretend we’re fine.

      Right now, do you have friends or family local? Ask for help. Grieving is a real process. Maybe people could drop off a casserole to your porch, you can heat it up to kill germs and then that’s dinner sorted. If you don’t have friends/family local, do you have friends that might be willing to facetime your kids for an hour so you can take an hour off? (Or play them on xbox etc?) Plenty of people want to help, and don’t know how. Plenty of people are bored and might find listening to a kid for an hour a great break from their lives. I know in my circle we’re doing that sort of thing. Does your work offer bereavement leave? That’s another way to get a couple days off if you can’t afford to just take vacation day.

      I’m sorry for your loss.

    4. Emi*

      Be honest with people. My dad died about 15 months ago, so my deep grief was not during all this, but it helped me just to be able to just say it out loud that I was struggling. The people around me were very kind, and that also helped, but was a separate thing from saying it. Trying to maintain a veneer of it-is-all-ok was exhausting. Give the adults around you a chance to extend you some grace. Most will.

      Also, be gentle with yourself. I am sorry for your loss.

    5. MissGirl*

      I don’t have a solution but wanted to say these are horrible things that have happened to you. Of course, your emotionally damaged. Think of it this way, you were in a bad accident and got injured. There’s no way you’re going to be 100 percent for the foreseeable future.

      Take off the pressure that you have to be where you were a few months ago. Do you have a good manager? Can you talk about what is realistic of you right now?

      Move everything off your plate that doesn’t have to be there. Your partner can handle all home schooling. Can you do the minimum at work? Do you have a support system to reach out to?

    6. Amy Sly*

      In additional to getting therapy as quickly as possible — easier said than done, I know — I have over-the-counter tips for anyone struggling with depression learned from a lifetime struggle with the black dog:

      1) Make sure you get the sleep you need. Block out the needed time consistently, and if you need benedryl or another sleep aid to manage it, do it. Alcohol is *not* a good sleep aid though.

      2) Make sure you get the nutrition you need. Water, protein, and vitamins tend both to be neglected while depressed but also help you generally feel stronger and healthier. If that means adding Ensure shakes to the shopping list, so be it.

      3) Make sure you get the exercise you need. It increases your metabolism, helps you burn off any co-existing anxiety, increases your appetite for real food, and helps you sleep better. Even if it’s just a walk around the block a few times, try to do something that causes you to sweat.

      4) To the extent you can safely do so, get sunshine on your skin. Interesting fact: the severity of Covid symptoms appears to be inversely correlated to the amount of vitamin D you get. Even without Covid concerns, vitamin D deficiency is extremely common and linked to all kinds of health problems.

      5) Make sure you keep up with your personal grooming. When I’m at my worst, dragging myself into the shower seems nearly impossible, but once I manage it, I feel so much more myself.

      6) Try to do at least one thing every day that lets you feel in control of your environment. Maybe that’s just making your bed at first. Studies have shown that living in a messy environment increasing cortisol levels (a physical indicator of stress) in women. Frame it to the partner and kids that keeping the house clean isn’t about some arbitrary standard but about keeping you healthy and sane.

      7) Try to achieve at least one thing every day that you can point to and say “I accomplished this.” Maybe it’s that you did one of the prior six things, or something from work, or something with the kids. Maybe it’s something that you didn’t do, like not yelling at the kids. It doesn’t have to be much: just something concrete enough to be a line item on a to-do list that you checked off. Ideally, keep a list of these achievements. Being able to see your successes as well as just the defeats that depression is bringing to your mind will help you balance.

    7. notMichelle*

      Have you looked into some of the mental health apps? I signed up for Better Help and even though it doesn’t take my insurance (annoying) I was able to get a slight discount b/c of income. I have my 2nd appt during lunch today and it definitely helped last week. There are a bunch apps now and the great thing is that you don’t have to wait long for an appointment.

    8. Working Hypothesis*

      I don’t have advice; just wanted to say I’m so sorry for your loss. My mom died not long ago — just before the Covid outbreak and of something unrelated, but I still have vivid current experience with grief, and it’s awful. I would call in all the help you can realistically get right now — accommodations from the office, medical help, whatever your partner can do to give you a chance at self care time — and be very gentle with yourself. You’re going through a lot. I hope it gets better soon.

    9. What's Your Damage, Heather?*

      Do you have an Employee Assistance Program? If not, I would look up resources through NAMI maybe. I know a lot of people are struggling right now. Try to get some sleep and rest.

  14. Anon for this one*

    I’m struggling with how many mistakes are acceptable in an employee! I am a new manager (about a year) overseeing an employee who is great. But, our work is highly visible (communications). I fully admit I am a perfectionist. I hold myself to extremely high standards and rarely make errors that show publicly (maybe once or twice a year). But my employee has been making errors approx every other month in publicly visible ways. I point out the mistakes and they get corrected quickly and without any push-back. But should I have a conversation about the pattern? They are minor mistakes like typos. I fully admit that my standards for acceptable errors may be out of line for most people. It’s just how I am. But I don’t want to push unreasonable expectations on my employee. How perfect can you expect someone to be?

    1. Ranon*

      It takes additional effort to reduce errors. Is the amount of labor required to reduce minor errors like typos from one every other month to a rate lower than that worth the cost of the effort to do so? Is there an actual cost to the error besides you not liking them, and is that cost balanced by the cost of the effort to prevent them?

      1. Laure001*

        I agree with Ranon. A typo every twenty messages seems “normal” to me. Now if you had someone else in your team who could be proofread, great, but you don’t, so you are going to drive a good employee crazy and waste A LOT OF his time – which will come at the expense of something else… and of his sanity.
        Also, worse case scenario… He will leave because he will be sick of the constant editing, and he will be replaced by someone with really bad spelling… Who will drive you nuts! :) :)

    2. not_kate_winslet*

      This would drive me insane too. Especially in a communications role, mistakes really shouldn’t happen this often.

    3. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Are you finding the typos in proofreading, or after publication? I imagine it’s the former. I don’t know any writer who doesn’t make typos, for all kinds of reasons, and I also don’t know anyone who can or should edit their own work. I’m not saying it’s not a big deal, but I do think there should be some space for a typo or two. I think it depends on the frequency and if you can identify specific patterns. For example, I often make typos in all-caps headers rather than body text because I see it differently, that kind of thing, so if it’s one type of text or font, then it’s worth mentioning.

      1. Anon for this one*

        After publication. This employee is tasked with full management of minor daily communications. I only edit and proofread major tasks. Setting up a system for me to review everything before publication would be very time consuming on my part. But certainly could be done if needed! Great question, thank you.

        1. AvonLady Barksdale*

          Are we talking… a Twitter post or an email? Sorry for all the questions! But if it’s a typo in an internal email or even an external tweet, then I wouldn’t worry about it too much. If it’s, say, a banner ad or an email to customers, that’s a different issue.

          Either way, having someone proof something that goes public would be good– it doesn’t have to be you, since they’re not proofing for content. I used to proofread my boss’s emails because English wasn’t his first language. I wasn’t his assistant, just someone who could read quickly and correct minor errors. Worth it in the end (and I got him to stop using so many ellipses).

          1. Anon for this one*

            More along the lines of a twitter post. Nothing internal! I would agree, ideally I’d have a larger team so we could check work like this as a matter of routine. But unfortunately my team is very small and we don’t have additional people to help out with proofreading.

        2. another scientist*

          My compass for addressing it would not be ‘I’d do it differently’, but ‘this impacts our work/reputation’.

          When you say it would be too much effort for you to proofread everything, what I’m hearing is that there is a significant amount of communications going out. So, maybe several short shout outs per week rather than two long, carefully researched articles per month. That means, your employee has a typo in one out of 20 published posts?

          The number is of course guesstimated, but if it’s in the right ballpark, plus there is no system set up for a second pair of eyes to go over these posts, then I’d think this is a normal error rate. Unless you are in a very formal or strategic communications role (security, legal, giving information to investors etc.), I would imagine that this low error rate wouldn’t have a big impact on reputation/achieving your communications goals. Another caveat is what the kinds of errors are. Typos in the text are harmless, in the title they are more embarrassing, and mixing up names and dates is more problematic.

        3. Meg*

          so, I once had a comms job where there was no one to proofread anything I did. There were occasional typos, and it ended up being a huge problem. My situation was different, it was a very poorly run organization where there was no other comms person, and no one reviewed even the big things. But I really struggled with that whole set up, since I couldn’t get anyone to understand that it’s really, really, hard to proofread your own work.

          I no longer work in comms, so I don’t know what the expectations/standards are around proofing minor things, but wanted to offer that perspective. It ended up being hugely demoralizing to me, but I felt like the root of the issue is that I would never be able to do a perfect job proofing something I wrote/put together.

    4. CorporateDroneLiz*

      I don’t think a pattern of typos and misspellings is a small thing in communications, so I would address it.

    5. Senor Montoya*

      A couple of typos every other month? Unless it’s in the website banner or on a billboard, I think you need to get over it. Is this employee ordinarily careful with their work? Is it possible to make this EASY and QUICK for the employee to catch? When you catch the small errors, are they fairly easy to fix? If yes, then just fix them.

      Look, I notice every friggin’ typo, grammatical error, and omitted Oxford Comma (all hail Oxford Comma!) in every piece of communication our office touches, and I’m on our comms team. I fix them quietly or I let them go. Because pointing out infrequent very small errors is counterproductive and makes people dislike you.

      1. Anon for this one*

        I am exactly the same, errors like this are extremely visible to me. I can’t not see them. However, I don’t expect perfection in terms of grammar and compliance to writing style. I could easily fix these errors myself, but I don’t have the time to constantly monitor this and I feel it’s a disservice to the employee to not bring things to their attention if they are not meeting my expectations. I’m just trying to gauge if my expectations are reasonable!

        1. another scientist*

          I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect no errors, ever. One is often blind to one’s own errors, but maybe you have your own tricks of proofreading your own work, beyond spellcheck? How do you find those one or two errors that you make yourself, annually?

          1. Diahann Carroll*

            Yup. Whatever you do to catch errors, Anon, pass that info along to your employee. Maybe even write it down in a quick guide for proofreading – sure, this will take time from your busy schedule upfront, but may save you time and frustration on the back end.

    6. Observer*

      Are these typos in high profile places? Like the banner on your site down to the TITLE of a press release? Or are they in the second paragraph of a two paragraph blog post? For the headline stuff, that’s too much. Otherwise? Eh.

      I might have a conversation where you find out what the person is doing to mitigate the issue. Is anyone proofing the copy? If not, why not? Are these errors automated tools would find or ones that they are likely to make (or make worse)? The point is that you want to look at whether there a ways to minimize the problem that take an appropriate amount of effort.

      1. Anon for this one*

        The mistakes are not buried in content. More along the lines of a social post. Unfortunately, the only way to catch these errors are visual checks. Making sure sentences are not repeated, nothing is double posted, etc. We already have spell check in the tools. I’m leaning towards asking this employee to make it a step in their process to review their work after scheduling which would only take a few minutes a day.

        1. Amy Sly*

          Okay, yes, requiring someone to review their work as part of their normal workflow is not too onerous a step. Keep getting a second person to sign off as an option in your back pocket if just asking them to be more careful doesn’t result in improvement.

        2. No Name Yet*

          A few ideas that might help the employee/not be too onerous: have them read the text out loud, and/or read the text from the end to the beginning (sentence by sentence). I’ve found both of those can help me ‘see’ mistakes that my brain is skipping over otherwise. And I think you mentioned that it’s social media-type posts, which I would think wouldn’t take too long to do this (vs. pages and pages of material).

        3. Observer*

          The occasional typo in a twitter post is really not that big of a deal unless it’s a real howler or seriously changes the meaning of the sentence in a way that the mistake is not obvious.

          I do agree that the check after scheduling is a good thing to work into their workflow, but don’t expect to get to absolute zero.

    7. Policy Wonk*

      I’ve learned that many people never see their own typos. Somehow the mind sees what is supposed to be there instead of what IS there. These people need to have someone else review their work before it is sent out, published, or otherwise goes public. You might want to consider having a formal sign off by a third person who wasn’t involved in creating the text. Depending on how common this is in your organization, you could require this for anything that will be publicly visible, rather than limit it to this employee.

      1. Meg*

        I posted above, but this has been my experience. I can never be a reliable proofreader for something I worked on. I just don’t catch those errors.

      2. Dolly Dagger*

        ^^^ This. I’m in communications. I can easily catch other peoples typos, but not my own. Esp if it’s something I’ve been staring at all day. Our entire marketing team has missed a few here and there simply because we’re the ones reading and re-reading it.

        If I see another person from another dept, If I know they’re not busy, I’ll call them in to look something over quick.

    8. Celestial being on a bike*

      At our org, we expect anything external facing to be error free. However, we do not expect folks to self edit because that just won’t be perfect enough. Everything requires a second set of eyes, and if it’s super important, third or fourth! If we didn’t have this system in place, I’d say we couldn’t have such high standards.

    9. Fikly*

      When you point out a mistake, does the conversation end with “I saw this mistake?”

      Have you had a discussion about how to prevent these typos from being in things going public?

      When a mistake happens, step one is correcting it. Step two is figuring out a plan to prevent them from happening in the future. Step three is implementing the plan. Step four is evaluating if the plan works. Too many people stop at step one.

    10. Lyudie*

      Is Grammarly an option for your organization? There’s a free app and I think a paid service as well (it was shot down at my company due to security issues IIRC…not that it has security issues, we’re a healthcare-related company and I think we have stronger tech security requirements than most). Running the text through that should catch a lot of those issues. Maybe it’s just my writing and editing background showing, but I don’t think it’s unreasonable to put a process in place to avoid errors in communications…that’s kind of a big deal.

      1. Anon for this one*

        We do use Grammarly! Love that tool. It is has definitely made my life much easier. It is trickier to use in this context but very good for blogs and longer formats.

        1. Lyudie*

          Ah ok! I haven’t used it so I don’t know much about how it works with various platforms and such but thought I’d throw it out as an option in case it would work!

      2. Actuarial Octagon*

        I was going to suggest this as well. It catches things that spell check won’t, like missing prepositions or homonyms.

    11. RagingADHD*

      Pushing is one thing, but implementation is another.

      You can’t stop someone from making typos by telling them to stop. You need to change the workflow so that the errors get caught somewhere.

      Having the same person simply review their own work is logical in terms of efficiency, but not likely to reduce errors to zero, or whatever your acceptable number is. If their brain glossed over it once, it’s likely to do so again.

      If you are very good at spotting typos, it seems logical to have you do the final proofread.

      Other options include having them use proofing techniques that change the way the brain processes text, such as reading backward, reading aloud, using large-type paper printouts, etc.

  15. Marian the Librarian*

    I had an interview with an academic library. One of the questions they asked was, “What type of people do you want to work with? What type of people do you not want to work with?”

    I kept it general, saying that I try to get along with others and so on, but the hiring manager pushed for an answer. I gave an answer, but was a little surprised by the question.I have never had a question like this before.

    Has anyone had a question like this? What did you say?

    1. Friday afternoon fever*

      Maybe this question is trying to get at what work style you have? For example I do really well with direct feedback and instructions, but not well with unspoken expectations, so that factors into what kind of manager I want to work for, which I have talked about in interviews before. Apply to coworkers?

      1. Marian the Librarian*

        This is what I thought and how I originally answered the question, but the hiring manager explained that it was more personality based.

    2. INeedANap*

      I asked a question like this when interviewing! It sounds like the interviewer should have clarified what they were looking for.

      Basically, what I was getting at was seeing if this was a culture fit. My department is very small, and the employees tend to keep to themselves – although we all enjoy chatting over lunch or a cup of tea, it’s not a super social environment. Someone very extroverted who liked a lot of collaboration and team-building probably wouldn’t have enjoyed us.

      I was looking for an answer like: “I prefer to work with people who are excited about collaborating, and who tend towards an open-door policy. I work best when I can stop by someone’s desk to ask a question or talk through an problem, so I’m looking for a team that works together more than independently.”

      1. Melly*

        We did the same in our last round of hires, and that’s what we were looking for. We went further with the “what kinds of people do you prefer not to work with” and asked “how do you manage that when you must work with those people?” so it also got at conflict management.

    3. dragocucina*

      When asked something similar I focused on people who can support the library’s mission. The importance of customer service bother to the users walking in the door and the internal “customer” of our own staff.

    4. Rainy*

      I’d bet that they’ve had a problem in the past with someone who didn’t work well with their team, or else they have a missing stair they can’t get rid of and they’re trying to select for people who won’t quit immediately.

      I think maybe the approach I’d take is to name the positive behaviours you like to show in the workplace and see in your coworkers?

    5. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      Maybe the vacancy was caused by a (genuine, no-fault) personality clash, and the interviewer wants to prevent a repeat.

    6. J.B.*

      I’m not sure that libraries ask the best questions. I think they want people who are a little more touchy feely.

    7. button*

      Hm, I see what the other commenters are saying about this probably trying to ask about working styles, but I agree it’s a weird way to phrase it–it makes it much more personal, somehow. I could say I want such and such type of workplace culture but it casts it in a different light to say I like to work with one type of person over another. I would probably also have been stumped!

    8. fhwdgads*

      I have. I said something like I pride myself on being an expert and I like working with other people who even if they are not yet experts prioritize really knowing their stuff, and being at the top of the field. Or something to that effect. In the context of the position (and the work culture at the hiring company) this was relevant and also part of what made me a good fit. I might have also said something about really respecting other people’s time and starting and ending my meetings on time.
      For me, I felt comfortable giving these answers not only because they showed me as a good fit for where I was applying but also because I think there isn’t an inherently “wrong” answer. I didn’t phrase it as well here as I did in the interview but part of the point was to not make value judgements. So I wasn’t saying there’s anything wrong with a work environment where meetings start late or run long or whatever, but rather that I personally do not enjoy that type of environment. I think that’s the best type of example to use in these sorts of questions. Where you’re not dissing the thing you say you don’t want to work with, but just identifying that while it’s a style that works for some, it’s not what you prefer.

  16. pod person*

    Advice on how to be more polished? I’m very good at my job but feel I don’t always come across as “polished.”

    1. fposte*

      In addition to AE’s good question, is this about physical presentation or behavior/manner?

    2. Miss Catherine Moreland*

      Can you be a little more specific as to what you mean by “polished?” Do you mean in terms of manners, appearance, communication, all of the above or something else?

    3. NotAPirate*

      Just in general?

      For presentations, try practicing them in their entirety before giving them to people. I found that really reduced my anxiety and made me look and sound more professional. Saying “uh, um, uh” cuts down a lot if you know your transitions really well. Also repeat questions before answering, it helps the room here the question, and makes sure you’re going to answer what they asked, and it gives you another moment to think.

      For meetings, take notes, make eye contact, nod occasionally. Try to minimize fidgeting. Don’t get up mid meeting unless absolutely necessary. Review who’s in the meeting ahead of time, greet people you know by name (take up space, don’t just sit in the corner, small talk may be necessary pre meeting).

      For emails, take a second to proof read. Did you spell names right? Is the grammar fine? Have you anticipated questions they might have (eg if emailing to confirm a meeting, include the meeting date, time, location again).

      For appearance, as soon as you can afford it get clothes that fit you, make sure you don’t have loose threads sticking out (trim them!), copy cat the rest of your workplace (for style as well as things like do they tuck in shirts, wear jackets?), wear deodorant, brush your teeth.

    4. SpringIsForPlanting!*

      As a naturally scruffy person with a weird sense of humor, I’ve found a couple of things helpful in the quest for ‘polish’ or ‘professionalism’. First is to be deliberate about developing a ‘work persona’. It sounds kind of silly but for me it was helpful to make a clear distinction in my own mind between “Work Me” and “Personal Me”. Like, it’s not ‘inauthentic’ to behave at work in a way that I wouldn’t necessarily behave at home, it’s just responding appropriately to circumstances. Stuff like clothes can help with that… google “enclothed cognition,” or just anything else you can use to flip that switch mentally. I also found it helpful to identify individuals in my workplace who did have the level of polish or professionalism I was targeting, then observe how they conducted themselves and how it might differ from my natural instincts.

      …brb going to change out of my quarantine sweatpants to follow my own process better :)

    5. Mayflower*

      Please check out the YouTube channel for Vanessa Van Edwards – tons of practical, specific advice on how to improve your commications.

    6. TiffIf*

      Is there more context you can give us? Who is telling you that you are unpolished or what areas you need to be more polished in?
      “Polished” could be about appearance, or written or spoken communication, or presentation skills, or myriad other things–there’s a lot of ground to cover.

    7. Laure001*

      As a non polished person I know what I should be doing… And I’m not. :)

      – Don’t slouch. Don’t open your legs wide when you’re sitting.
      – have good table manners
      – try to keep your tone even. Do not exclaim, raise your voice, yell, laugh super loudly.
      – do not get super enthusiastic and talk super fast
      – think before you talk. Do not get into super long convoluted explanations. The summary answer first. Then more explanations only when needed.
      – do not joke all the time (sigh)
      – hair, clothes, shoes, fit and neat
      – do not use profanities, or really rarely.

      I am guilty of most of this (I do not open my legs wide when I seat though!) But I am in a professional situation where it works for me. If I ever had to get a real job at a real firm I would be screwed.

        1. Laure001*

          My mother would add to hold your tea saucer in your left hand while you drink from your fragile porcelain tea cup with your right hand, but I say, let’s not push it. :) :) This situation doesn’t happen that often in the office. :)

      1. designbot*

        I’d add
        * eliminate distracting behaviors like pen chewing or clicking, hair twirling, nail biting, nail tapping…
        * focus on the person or group you’re speaking with
        * instead of letting yourself become visibly stressed or exasperated, be willing to tell someone “now isn’t a good time, could we discuss this later?”

  17. Kramerica Industries*

    About a year and a half ago, I posted a comment that I thought was reasonable, but turns out it was a very cynical and negative take. Commenters on here replied to me with things like “that’s an awful view because of X” and “wow you sound like a miserable person”. The replies were harsh, but it made me realize that I truly did have something else going on.

    Shortly after, I started a bit of therapy for anxiety/depressive symptoms that had gone unchecked for a while. I just wanted to throw a huge thank-you out there for being a community that I trust for general work things, but that also helped shine a red flag in views that led me to come to terms with my headspace. So yeah – just thanks for being amazing!

    1. Me*

      Good on you! When your normal has become icky, it’s hard to see that…because it’s your normal.

      Glad you’re in a better space.

    2. NeonFireworks*

      This kind of adjustment takes a LOT of self-reflection, consideration, and work! Way to go!

      1. Laney Delaney*

        Agreed with NeonF — I am in awe that you were able to ” realize that I truly did have something else going on” – rather than act defensively, shut down and avoid the site, you were able to ask yourself the hard questions, and then you took action and are doing the work. Sounds like being amazing is on both sides.

      2. AthenaX*

        I agree with NeonFireworks. It’s wonderful you were able to deeply consider the feedback and not be defensive.

    3. Blueberry*

      I’m incredibly impressed that you didn’t just get defensive, but thought about the responses, and then went and not only did some hard work but proactively got help in doing so. Well done!

    4. nep*

      Amazing. Good for you. Wishing you all the best. Thanks for sharing this.
      (I have to say, love the handle.)

  18. Bunny Girl*

    I had an 2nd interview two weeks ago that went really, really well and I haven’t heard anything from them. They had said they were hoping to make a decision a week ago. I know to take that with a huge grain of salt, but I’m just getting really antsy. A couple weeks ago someone at my job quit and our department head announced during a staff meeting that I was taking over their duties. I was in no way, shape or form asked about this beforehand and I do not want to do this woman’s job at all. I tried to push back on it after the meeting but was told that it was too bad. I am desperate to get out of this job and have been applying as much as I can. Blegh.

    1. another scientist*

      Two weeks is not very long, and imagine half the people being slowed up by either childcare issues, or additional HR work with COVID! Hang in there!

      1. Bunny Girl*

        I keep telling myself that! Plus it’s at a vet clinic. I have a friend who works at one and she says they have just been swamped at theirs because of everything going on.

        1. Uranus Wars*

          That might explain it, too. I know my vet clinic has had to reschedule a few of our appointments due to staggering shifts for vets and techs. So even though they are working regular hours, between the short staff and emergency cases (like I ended up having last week) I think they are doing all they can to keep up with their work load and are likely coming up short in other areas. Hang in there!

          Also, I am sorry they dropped the extra work duties on you without checking first. Yikes!

          1. Bunny Girl*

            Thanks!! I know our vet clinic is doing curbside pick-ups and my friend said that is slowing them down so much so each visit is taking twice as long. I’m hoping that’s all it is! I’m actually a client at this clinic so I hope they don’t just full on ghost me knowing they’ll have to see me again.

            Also, I wish that was the worst thing my work has done. They’re beyond awful.

    2. Jeffrey Deutsch*

      A couple weeks ago someone at my job quit and our department head announced during a staff meeting that I was taking over their duties. I was in no way, shape or form asked about this beforehand….

      Crappy Passive-Aggressive Management Red Flag #2281: Direction By Announcement.

      Good luck with your second interview (and the rest of your job search)!

  19. Middle Manager*

    Thoughts on how to credit a jointly written document on your resume?

    More detailed: I lead the documents, but they are very much team efforts, lots of input from subject matter experts and executive staff, including writing whole sections, and ultimately published under our agency head’s name (government agency, this is standard). I’m not the author, but do lots of the writing and almost all of the coordinating.

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      “With a team of three, co-wrote…”
      Something like that, where you make it clear you did something, but it wasn’t just you?

      1. another Hero*

        I think something that indicates MM’s role in putting the thing together would be helpful. “Coordinated team that prepared,” “With subject specialists, wrote,” “Organized experts to write and publish”

    2. RecoveringSWO*

      Coordination at that level is a skill/beast that deserves highlighting along with your writing. I would go with Cowrote/authored _____, lead coordination of _ SMEs and _ members of executive staff in publishing document that ::insert positive fact about timeline, level of detail, impact of document, etc::.

      1. Middle Manager*

        I like that template, makes a lot of sense. Thanks! I was just really drawing a blank on how to capture it succinctly.

      1. Sara(h)*

        How about, “As lead editor and co-author of “Document X,” co-wrote, edited, and coordinated content from multiple contributors to develop final version for publication

  20. Posting anonymously today*

    I caught up with a friend/former coworker last week. Amongst other stuff, we talked a bit about work and he told me that the remote team I used to manage was doing poorly. The person left in charge is inexperienced and says that I didn’t train him properly.

    Well….no kidding lol. He was a good employee working under me but wasn’t manager level *yet*. My goal was to eventually bring him to a level where he could manage a team, but that was going to be a long term coaching. But then COVID hit and we were sent home and 2 weeks later I lost my job and he was thrust into the position. 

    So, ex-boss complains about how bad my replacement is. The two of us spent a year trying to build up the team and turn it around and we performed well. Ex-boss made the decision to put an inexperienced person in charge.

    I have to admit I’m feeling a bit….not happy, but…very slight schadenfreude?  This boss has not been a great boss through the years. They micromanage, they berate us, show preferential treatment to certain teams/individuals and are biased. There were murmurs that they do not like pregnant women or black people but it was so subtle that it could never be proven.

    Said boss is also anxious for the office to open up and everyone to come in to the office. Managers under boss are pushing back against that, as many are not comfortable with how safe it is just yet and would prefer coming in to the office be a choice. To that, the boss says “anyone who doesn’t come in to the office can collect UI like everyone else we fired.” (60% of staff was removed at the start of COVID). Shall I mention that this boss would constantly work from home and rarely allowed anyone else to WFH? (btw majority of managers pushing back are white and male if that’s relevant).

    The way things look, the company will probably go under as so many talented people leave.

    1. Stormy Weather*

      Wow, what a place to have been. I think a little schadenfreude is natural in your case. I feel bad for the good workers that will suffer when (not if) the place goes under, but the managers sound like they’re due to cash a check at the karma bank.

      1. Posting anonymously today*

        The managers were good, its the top level Director who deserves the karma.

        I do feel bad for the good workers. The same day I was let go, half my remote team was let go in a conference call (!). One said they were devastated and another who wasn’t available for the conference call as it was out of their normal working hours messaged me a few days later saying she couldn’t log in. Bad leadership all around.

  21. LilPinkSock*

    My company has traditionally held a low-key employee picnic every summer. For many reasons, not all of which are COVID-related, we will have to go in a different direction this year. One suggestion from a few colleagues is an company talent show. Has anyone ever organized something similar?

    1. Moi*

      Some tangential thoughts to your question, I would be aware of the culture and make sure a talent show would be something people are genuinely interested in.

      A past employer had multiple global offices. Our Philippine office could host talent shows, singing competitions, and similar team building activities to great success, but the culture supported it. Those kinds of events would flop in our USA office, but dodgeball, inter-company sports leagues, and an ‘easter egg hunt’ worked really well.

      1. lilpinksock*

        That’s a great suggestion. I sent out an anonymous and completely optional survey this morning asking my colleagues if they’d be interested in attending and/or participating. I was pleasantly surprised to see that 49 out of 50 said they’d go and about 20 people wanted to perform!

        At our usual summer picnic, we do have field day-type activities, but some of the feedback that we’ve been getting over the years indicates that increasingly more folks absolutely hate sports and therefore the picnic just isn’t an enjoyable day for a pretty big group. I think scavenger or treasure hunts would be great! Now to figure out how to do that around the office park while being social distancing-approved….

    2. Senor Montoya*

      Just…make participation in the talent part completely and truly voluntary.

      1. LilPinkSock*

        100% voluntary! Some of my colleagues are very shy, including one of the people who suggested it. They said they’d really like the free entertainment, but from a seat safely in the back. As a non-talented individual, I agree.

        1. Amy Sly*

          I would also provide some kind of minor reward for providing entertainment for one’s colleagues, along the lines of a $10 coffee card. Not so much that people feel compelled for monetary reasons, but enough to get enough people to participate to make sure it’s not just three or four people who sign up.

          1. LilPinkSock*

            Great idea! I have a stack of Panera cards I need to work through–and we would be giving out little prizes at the company picnic anyway. I told my manager that providing snacks is an absolute must, so knowing my colleagues that’ll get more than a few butts in seats :-)

        2. Gumby*

          It depends on what kind of talent show it is. I used to work at a company that had an annual talent show. Participation as a performer or audience member was 100% voluntary. But, frankly, some of the best acts were not the ones that displayed a lot of talent. Don’t get me wrong, on occasion there were some truly talented people who did wow us with their abilities. But mostly there were acts like the work group with no actual experience at it doing Irish step dancing, another department with no voice performance experience singing a slightly-altered song from a musical, and a group performing a medley of movie music by blowing over the top of glass bottles filled to various levels (they were quite impressive given their tools). “Cutting bananas by throwing playing cards” made it into one show. Also, it helped the the emcee for the shows was one of the higher ups and the CEO usually performed as well.

    3. JustMyImagination*

      Make it super super optional! There have been letters on this site from the very shy coworkers who get punished or teased for not wanting to participate.

      1. LilPinkSock*

        Absolutely. We have regular employee engagement stuff going on throughout the year, and no one is ever singled out for not participating.

    4. dinoweeds*

      This might just be me, but combining the words employee + talent show sound like an absolute cringe disaster. Even if it was super optional and handled really well, there is zero chance of me attending.

    5. another scientist*

      my employer of 3000 has now hosted two talent shows on videoconference, and a third one is scheduled. When I first heard this, I totally cringed. But the first one was in the beginning of shelter-at-home, so we were all disoriented and frazzled and so I tuned in, not expecting much. It was amazing! About 15 colleagues had signed up to perform, and they played instruments, sang songs, read poetry and prose, some of it original! Some of it was high-brow, and some of it was more crowd-pleaser or utterly dorky. Everybody loved it and the chat was overflowing with cheer, and people had their video on, bopping along. If you are getting the sense that a few people are willing to put themselves out there, it’s worth a try!

      Also, my department had to skip their staff appreciation picnic, and donated in our names to the local food bank. That was a very nice touch, I thought.

    6. Coco*

      On top of making sure it is totally voluntary:
      Have a minimum number of participants. If only 2 acts want to performance, it is awkward.

      Have a decent MC/ host. Someone who enjoys being on stage and can make kind and funny comments if the time between acts is too long.

      Have people willing to volunteer with audio equipment. Nothing is worse than having to listen to bad microphone squawks or it just not working.

      Good luck.

    7. Narvo Flieboppen*

      My company used to host an annual talent show as part of our holiday party.

      Until the year that a dept. manager/wanna-be stand-up comedian thought the best way to do this was to ‘roast’ the CEO with a bunch of anti-Semitic “jokes” (CEO was Jewish). This did not go over well, on so very many levels.

      We have never again had a talent show.

      I guess my advice would be to have someone with some common sense vet all of the incoming talents, perhaps a dress rehearsal or something of that nature. It doesn’t guarantee that something unpalatable won’t slip through anyway, but it could help.

    8. somethingcleverhere*

      People here are being very kind to you so I’ll lay it out straight: do not do this. I am so tired of people planning childish activities that no one’s interested in and then demanding participation. Remember the person here who literally made her office color hand turkeys? We are professionals, not preschoolers.

      I believe you were also the one looking for KPIs for a secretary? Honestly, if I knew my secretary was spending her time on childish summer camp activities that everyone will hate, instead of the actual work I have assigned her, she’d be fired immediately. I hope your boss doesn’t feel the same way, but seriously, stick to your job and stop wasting company time on forced kiddie crap.

      1. another scientist*

        nobody said anything about demanding participation. I think it’s fine for you to abhor this idea, but there are a) people who enjoy spending social time with colleagues, and b) dorks that enjoy talent show-style entertainment. It’s ok that you don’t, but you are making some big assumptions here about what everybody else thinks.

      2. lilpinksock*

        This is so out of line, incorrect, and frankly mean-spirited that any more commentary isn’t worth anyone’s time. Please re-read my question. If you have helpful feedback in planning an event of this type, I welcome it.

    9. Deanna Troi*

      I don’t have anything to add, but I just wanted to tell you how much I love your name!! I adore everything Mutts related!

      1. LilPinkSock*

        Thank you! I am but the humble servant of a former street kitty who is Mooch’s twin…big nose and all.

  22. Hey Karma, Over Here*

    I saw an article in the Wall Street Journal about the problem that musicians are having with regards to practicing and producing music while in their homes. I was amused because AAM hit that topic weeks ago. Stay ahead as usual, Alison!

    1. Jedi Squirrel*

      Yeah, I’ve started supporting some of my favorite musicians and podcasters on Patreon. Not a lot, but it’s a little more than they would have gotten.

      1. pancakes*

        Bandcamp has had two days during all this where they waived revenue-sharing and let musicians keep all their sales. They raised over $11 million! Too much of which was from me, lol.

    2. NotAPirate*

      That letter made me appreciate my neighbors, who while terribly loud at least don’t play an instrument.

    3. Sara without an H*

      As an amateur (very) vocalist, I really appreciate the fact that my apartment building has excellent soundproofing between units. I can’t hear my neighbors and they can’t hear me.

      The doors to the hallway are just builder’s standard — you can always hear people walking or talking in the hallway. Why the developer chose to spend good money on soundproofing the party walls, then cheaped out on the doors, is beyond me.

    4. Windchime*

      My coworker lives in a funky Seattle neighborhood. One of her neighbors is a member of the Seattle Opera, and he goes outside every afternoon at 5 PM and seranades the neighborhood with several musical pieces. People gather on their porches or on the sidewalk and enjoy a few minutes of world-class music. Me? I get the trombone of the kid next door.

      1. Anono-me*

        It could be worse. You could live next to me and my violin. (Actually I don’t make anybody listen to me practice right now.)

        1. Daphne Moon*

          Or worse yet, my child gleefully plays their recorder for the suggested 30 minutes 3 times a week.

  23. Macarena*

    I really hate my job (unpleasant work environment and it was a stop-gap job) and wanted to try and get something better paying and more in my field…..but then Coronavirus came and I am worried the pandemic has put a huge DON’T FORGET YOU’RE HERE FOREVER sign above my desk and I am struggling. How does one try and get a new and better job in the coming years with the great depression coming?

    And telling me to just be grateful I have a job…..any job…..isn’t helpful, please.

    1. Bunny Girl*

      Hey I just want to say I’m right there with you. My job is so horrible and I hate it. I have been there for two years and really started upping my job search in November of last year, but then it was holidays and then COVID-19. My manager just announced I was taking over someone else’s job who had just quit (without asking me and now refuses to let me say no) and so now I’m doing my job, their job, and half of another lazy coworker’s job. Honestly the only thing that keeps me going is spite. I know when I eventually do find a job, I’m going to be screwing my entire department over because they have a hiring freeze for at least the next year and that makes me really happy because I swear I’m actually in hell and all my coworkers are just demons. Anyway so that might help.

      1. There’s probably a cat meme to describe it*

        So when Hell has a hiring freeze… (sorry, couldn’t resist!)

        It sounds like your departure will be glorious, and I hope you share the story.

    2. MechanicalPencil*

      I am in somewhat similar shoes, except I accepted this job as a progression in my career, and it has now morphed into I-didn’t-sign-up-for-this. No advice, just commiseration.

    3. murph*

      I don’t have solutions for you, just empathy (very much in the same boat) and a glimmer of hope: my husband actually started a much better job with a higher salary in the middle of this insanity. Not all hope is lost – things are just much more difficult now. Hang in there and attack that job search with everything you’ve got – I’m sending you a virtual hug and support.

    4. August*

      I commiserate, I’ve been in a funk this whole morning. Literally just spent an hour job searching and frantically trying to see if I reeeaallly make a lower-paying job work. I’m going to try to funnel all of my spite into teaching myself new skills (for me, it’s database and language stuff) and hoping they’ll give me a leg up whenever another job does pop up (even if that’s in 6 months to a year, auuugh).

    5. cmcinnyc*

      I think the only way to get a new job is to start looking and let your network know you’re looking. Since it’s probably going to be a challenge, I will make the counterintuitive suggestion to be picky and look for a job that will really suit you. You already have a stop-gap job you don’t like. No need to get another one!

    6. the.kat*

      Ugh, this is really awful and I’m sorry you feel this way. Is there any way to concentrate on firming up the skills that will help you ace the next job interview when it comes? Tinker with your resume, set alerts on job search boards, take some free webinars (I’m not sure if this is true in your field, but everyone seems to have one in my field), research interview questions, etc. It’s like packing your “bug out bag” just in case and getting ready, because COVID or not, your opportunity could open up at any time. You’ve got this and you’re not stuck. You’re already planning your escape and it’s going to be GLORIOUS.


      I don’t have any advice sadly, but I do have a “Me too” to add. I hate my job. It got crap 13 months in because of co-worker changes (I liked the 2 people I worked most closely with….both quit, and the replacements terrible).

      Told myself I’d stick it out until I got to 2 years for the sake of job history…..which is June 1. Sigh. I’m worried Covid-19 will keep me here until at LEAST June 1, 2021.

    8. Spearmint*

      How likely you are to get a new job depends a lot on your field. The corona recession is hitting some industries very hard and others hardly at all. I have a relative working in an engineering field who was stuck at a toxic company. They just accepted a job offer this week.

      So maybe figure out who much your desired field is affected, and which parts of it might be less affected.

    9. There’s probably a cat meme to describe it*

      When I went through an especially trying period, I used to keep a note next to my desk saying “everything is impermanent”. I’d be reminded every day that everything is in a constant state of flux and nothing stays the same just because I want or expect it to. Wonderful times always end, and so do shitty ones.

      It may sound callous, but crisis = opportunity for some businesses or industries. It may not be immediately apparent, but doors will open where there were walls before. You’ll find something else even if it seems impossible now. Just keep up your search and know that your days at Horrible Job will end.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        It may sound callous, but crisis = opportunity for some businesses or industries.

        I’m starting to see this for my company. We make and sell software that makes remote work possible for other businesses, and we’re getting a lot of interest – I didn’t realize this during my initial panic about companies laying people off and cutting costs.

    10. Observer*

      Covid won’t last forever, and the depression won’t either.

      And even DURING the depression, people left jobs and found new ones. The same seems to be happening now – places are hiring although obviously nowhere near as much as pre-covid.

      Which is to say that it may take longer, but if you are good and persistent you still should be able to get a new job eventually.

    11. J.B.*

      This is tough and I’m sorry. The best advice I have is – 1. be kind to yourself. Things are hard sometimes, especially our expectations being upended. 2. – sometimes it helps to do smaller concrete things (work on a certification or something) even if the day to day is rough.

    12. Sara without an H*

      Macarena, go ahead and start looking. Review AAM’s archives for all pertinent information, then clean up your resume, LinkedIn profile, etc. Start now, and work your network for all it’s worth.

      Then just repeat over and over to yourself: “This will take time.” It’s not true that nobody is hiring, but fewer companies are hiring, and the process takes longer.

      So start now, acknowledge that it’s going to take more time than it would have six months ago, and please, please, stop thinking that YOU’RE STUCK HERE FOREVER. Only Hell is forever. No need to go there.

    13. Rainy*

      A lot of hiring processes were paused or cancelled, but a lot are still moving. Quite a few of my clients are still seeing movement in their job search, so don’t give up! Make your resume and cover letter the best they can possibly be for every application, and if you are able, start researching sectors that are still hiring–that info is out there in jobs reports etc–and think about pivoting.

    14. Fikly*

      Anyone who tells you to be grateful you have a job is an asshole, frankly. You do not have to be grateful for being paid in exchange for providing work.

      You cannot control the economy, or even predict it. (I am still laughing at the person in the comments here who got very angry at me in the comments in early March when I told them they could not predict the next five year’s economy down to the fine details of exactly what recession it would be like.)

      Instead, try to focus on what you can control. Right now, schools that have never done online classes are being forced to do them. I strongly suspect as a result, there are going to be more online offerings on a long term basis. That’s great for people who are working, because you don’t have to deal with the travel time, and often the class schedule is more flexible. There are a lot of ways you can use classes to help get a new and better job that aren’t an entire new degree, too, which is both cheaper and faster.

  24. COVID-19 Free!*

    I am a full time exempt experienced software developer at a Fortune 500 company. I am one of 8 Team Leads on the Teapot Project; my team is responsible for Teapot Visuals and consists of 3 full time developers and a subcontractor named Alex.

    Alex is a good developer but I find her difficult to work with. I think Alex believes she should be Team Lead. My company doesn’t allow subcontractors to be Team Leads. This does not prevent Alex from attempting to take charge: she slows down meetings by disagreeing on virtually everything, engages in various types of passive-aggressive behavior, confuses other team members, etc.

    Earlier this week Alex came to me, saying that she’d been talking to some of the other Team Leads, and they wanted to hold ‘informal’ status meetings at lunch every day. I managed to brush this off temporarily, but I’m sure it will come up again. Lunch has always been my time to rest and recharge and maybe catch up on minor paperwork. I’m not excited about “daily ‘informal’ lunch meetings”. But if I don’t go, Alex almost certainly will attend, which will almost certainly lead to more head-butting. Which won’t help the project and will probably make me look bad. And: she’s a subcontractor, I don’t think she’s allowed to charge for her time at lunch. But I’m uncertain about saying “you can’t go to these lunches because you’ll talk about work but you won’t be paid for it.”

    I’m going to ask you to believe me when I say that this is not a case of two large egos fighting for control. I simply want to do the job. Further complicating the situation is that our corporate culture frowns on taking these kinds of issues to the boss. And if Alex gets cut loose, I’m down a developer.

    Any thoughts on how to handle this gracefully?

    1. Amtelope*

      Can you suggest scheduling a Team Lead status meeting for a different time, and maybe less often than every day? You could phrase this as “many people are likely to be away sometimes at lunch taking care of personal business, so it’s not the best time for the whole group to check in.” Depending on how your company schedules meetings, that might allow you to control who’s invited (and tell Alex “oh, this is for Team Leads, and that’s not your role” if she complains.)

      Also … these are virtual meetings, right? There shouldn’t be in-person group lunch meetings for any reason right now.

    2. Short and Stout*

      Hmm. Would things really be worse without Alex, if the rest of the team got things done in meetings and were less confused?

      Also: is there not already a method of coordinating the teams? Like scrum of scrums or a program cadence meeting or some such? Why do you even need this meeting?

    3. merope*

      Have you actually talked to the other Team Leads about this proposed meeting? Or is it just Alex’s comment?

    4. BethDH*

      Have you talked to the other team leads to see whether they actually do want to do this? I wouldn’t be surprised if most or all of them don’t actually want to do daily lunch updates!
      I think you can tell Alex directly but kindly what you said about payment, but I’m not sure you need to if you can get rid of the meeting issue entirely. If there is a need for more frequent team lead updates, surely there is a more efficient way to handle them.

      1. Ama*

        Yeah I have dealt with people like Alex and it is probably one of two things —
        1. She’s claiming the team leads agree with her when maybe all they did was say “well that’s an idea, we can think about it” or something similarly noncommital. (Or they may have outright told her no — I had a coworker once who would get no from me and then go straight to my senior coworker and claim I’d said yes. We started calling each other as soon as she left our offices to let the other know what exactly we’d said.)
        2. The other team leads think she’s expressing *your* thoughts because she’s on your team and don’t realize she’s going behind your back.

        If you have team leads you trust to be discreet, just let them know that Alex seems to not really understand that she’s not a team lead and you’d appreciate if they’d redirect any ideas she floats by them back to you. But I think you need to decide if you want Alex attending team lead meetings at all — if you just tell her “we can’t have lunch meetings if you want to attend” she’s going to take that as permission to attend if they are at a different time of day. It sounds to me like you need to be reinforcing that, as she is not a team lead, it’s not really her business what kind of meetings the team leads are and are not having.

        1. Working Hypothesis*

          This. The first response to “I’ve talked to the other team leads and they want to do X,” is “that’s nice. I’ll talk to them about it, but since you’re not a team lead, it isn’t really your business; please stay in your lane.” Said with slightly more politeness, of course, but that message.

          The same is true with everything else that comes up involving her trying to act like a team lead. “Alex, please stop trying to do the team lead’s job. You’re not a team lead.”

    5. Senor Montoya*

      Dump Alex. If you can. She’s undermining you all over the place.

      How long would it take to get another developer hired? once hired,up to speed? If it isn’t too long, worth it to be down a developer than to spend enormous amounts of time and energy managing Alex aka Eve Harrington all day every day

    6. Senor Montoya*

      Do you actually NEED this additional meeting? Just because Alex suggests it doesn’t mean you have to do it. Check in with your fellow Team Leads — see if they really want or need to do it.

    7. Observer*

      Well, I think you need to deal with Alex and also deal with the lunch meetings, separately and in conjunction. Because you should NOT be hearing about stuff the other team leads are doing / planning / want to do through Alex.

      So, tell her that she can’t attend meetings of the team leads. And that she can’t attend lunch meetings, because she can’t be paid for that. Also, stop letting her derail your meetings! Just because she disagrees with something and wants to argue it, does not mean you have to allow it. If she gives someone instructions counter to the ones you have given tell that team member to ignore her. Etc.

      You have standing to tell other team leads that you’re not enthusiastic about lunch meetings because that is generally time you’ve already allocated for other tasks. But before you do that verify that this is actually something that the other leads are interested in. And also make it clear to them that not only is she not the FORMAL team lead, she’s not the INFORMAL team lead and that she doesn’t speak for you.

    8. Fikly*

      Have you verified with the other team leads that what Alex is telling you is true?

      I suspect that Alex has suggested to the other team leads that this informal meeting be held, and it’s not their idea at all.

    9. The New Wanderer*

      She’s only good at part of her job. She sounds awful at the other things that make an employee good, like getting along with others, not causing disruption or confusion, and understanding how the reporting structure/chain of command actually works.

      10 to 1 the informal lunch meetings are her idea (why would other team leads be running that past her) and you can clear that up pretty easily with the other team leads.

      I understand ifyou think it’s better to keep her at least short term, but I think she needs to go.

    10. Aquawoman*

      I guess I’m curious why you came here rather than talking to any of the other Team Leads. It makes me wonder if you are maybe reluctant to communicate with them and if that’s leaving a gap she’s exploiting? I don’t know–just throwing it out for your consideration. I would talk to one or more of the other Team Leads. If they are really gung-ho about daily meetings, I think you could suggest another time of day, or if the reason for the meetings could be addressed by a daily email (today’s priorities, etc). If these meetings wind up happening at lunch, I think you need to go at least for a while and not allow Alex to go (shift your lunch time to get your down time, if workable). Talking to the other team leads will also let you know if they view her as informal deputy team lead or Alex getting ahead of her skis. It’s completely reasonable for you to not allow Alex to go to a meeting of Team Leads when she’s not a team lead.

      1. pancakes*


        Also, if Team Leads are asking her to come to meetings she won’t be able to paid for, that’s a pretty messed-up way to run meetings. Someone among the Team Leads has to take the actual lead there on sorting that out.

    11. Katniss Evergreen*

      I think Allison’s tip for “we” language could fit well here for at least the lunch meetings part and Alex’s subcontractor status. First, as other folks have said, I’d suggest leaning on other people’s/your own need to get personal business done during lunch or to use that period to recharge. If she says that’s not an issue, bring up the subcontractor pay thing; frame this as something like “we wouldn’t want the company to run afoul of any employment regulations regarding pay and break times, so even if you’re okay with sacrificing pay for lunchtime meetings, it’s not okay for the company to take on that liability.”

      If you are Alex’s Team Lead, you really have to get this person to stay in her lane. If you have any managerial authority here, I’d have a frank but kind conversation about boundaries at work, after discussing it openly with other Team Leads. Don’t be thinking you know what they hate about Alex’s work or disruptions, ask for examples. The conversation with Alex should be a discussion of a common goal and why she needs to change her behavior to reach it – e.g. you’d like to have a good working relationship, and her developer’s skills are good, but that she’s detracting from the goals of team meetings by dragging out items everyone agrees on, and other examples of issues you mentioned above if you have specifics. Only if she brings it up, say that your company’s policy makes her ineligible for a Team Lead position.

      Bottom line, somebody has to reign her in. She is making your team look bad, and the opportunity cost of saying nothing is high compared to her feelings being hurt if you address this directly and professionally.

  25. Exhausted Frontline Worker*

    Essential worker check-in! I’ve been wanting to post here more often, but usually I’m at work on Friday mornings, and I don’t have the type of job where I’m in front of a computer. Today I’m going in late.

    How are things going for everyone? Any bright spots amid this mess? I’ll post my own response below so anyone who wants to opt out can collapse this thread.

    1. Jady*

      Bright spot for me is I got laid off from a job I hated. Lucky enough to be in a situation where my partner is still working (remotely & business is booming). We can afford to be on just the one income/insurance. Got a great severance AND they paid out a bonus they had been promising employees for months to those who were let go. (People who still work there don’t have their bonus yet, unfortunately.)

      Been a huge boost to my mental and physical health. I’m an extreme introvert so the lockdown isn’t difficult for me. I’m spending more time with my family, exercising more, eating better, my severe clinical depression is 100x better, I’m sleeping better, I’m regained interest in a lot of old hobbies, playing and walking my dogs more, getting so much around the house done that would always get put off.

      I’m incredibly lucky, but man.. this layoff has been the best thing to happen to me in years.

    2. Exhausted Frontline Worker*

      Last week, one of my coworkers passed away from COVID-19. I didn’t know them too well, but it’s still really upsetting. There are reasons to believe this person may have contracted the virus outside of work that I won’t elaborate on for anonymity reasons, although it’s impossible to know for sure, and no one else has had symptoms, but still. We haven’t been able to really process their death or do anything to honor them because of the current situation. All we’ve been able to do is take a collection up for their family and…just keep working.

      Even outside of this, I’ve really hit a wall this week. My boss and the coworker I work most closely with have been butting heads a bit. I don’t think either of them are right or wrong, they just have very incompatible ways of dealing with stress, and their conflicts stress me out. I’m mad that states are starting to reopen, because as much as staying at home sucks and is destroying the economy, we are nowhere near ready. It feels like politicians dgaf about my life and the lives of other people who can’t stay home. I also really can’t with all my friends and everyone on the internet complaining about how terrible working from home is. It’s not that your challenges aren’t valid, I just don’t have the space to care. I wish there was better support for frontline workers and the media would give us a little more love instead spending 90% of their focus on the WFH experience.

      Thanks for letting me vent. There have been a few bright spots–I did speak on my first ever panel last week on COVID-19 response and that went well. I was surprised I’d be allowed to do that, but my org is open to lower level staff speaking on public events with some training, which is unlike other places I’ve worked. Hopefully I’ll get to do more. A coworker and I are also treating ourselves to takeout once a week to reward ourselves for getting through another week and support local restaurants. I’m looking forward to lunch today!

    3. SaraV*

      Hello fellow essential!

      I’m…doing okay. I started in a new position/location in the New Year, and it seems like every time I think I _might_ be getting to where I have more control/understanding of things, something happens. (Addition of a brand new “department” to be responsible for, then Covid, now a FT employee retiring at the end of the month and I’m taking over a chunk of her responsibilities because they aren’t rehiring her position)

      I’ve just been putting my head down and keep trucking and TRY to get ahead.

    4. Now in the Job*

      Keeping to the brightness: My doggo has started to process his anxiety better, although it’s still not perfect. Husband’s mental health rounded a corner after I strongarmed him into playing a board game with friends via video chat last weekend, so I think he is responding positively to some sorely needed friend-time. He is now looking forward to the gametime this weekend. I have been able to consistently do some kind of physical activity/workout every day so far this week.

      I got a lot of superlative compliments from somebody whose team’s work is the sole reason I was hired. I have been thanked for being proactive in participating in some developing office re-opening work and my efforts have been put squarely in front of my boss, which is appreciated.

      And a friend who was diagnosed with Covid-19 and was in a real bad way rounded the corner and is actually being released from the hospital this weekend!

  26. Aggretsuko*

    So I have been bursting into sudden tears several times a day since this happened.

    I am going to be the only one left doing the workload of about six people starting in June. I already do a job that was four people and is now down to me, and now I have to take over literally the most complicated job in the office at the same time. My work group consists of me and one other person (two used to do her job, down to one there) and the other one is retiring. My work TRIED to hire two replacements and then got blocked by a hiring freeze, and the best they can do is to have one of our temps part-time work with me, but then the temp’s contract expires in July. I spend four hours a day in Zoom meetings having to train on the new job, and I have to answer a billion panicky emails, and attempt to find time to do my own job. It’s literally too much, but there isn’t a thing my work can do to help me. And they have been incredibly unsympathetic about me struggling in my job over the years–two weeks before the pandemic, they told me that I have to be genuinely happy at all times. No joke.

    And now I’m overloaded and crying all the time at home. I didn’t have a webcam here and it was great, because I called into Zoom via phone, nobody saw me, and I could put myself on mute when I cried and nobody knew. They have now sent me a webcam and I had to straight up tell them that I wasn’t going to use it and I did NOT want to disclose why. I know that’s not great, but it was literally the best option my therapist and I could come up with. I am out of emotional resources to fake that I am okay and happy. I am in dire distress, but there’s literally nothing anyone can do about it. Except write me up for crying, and before you say anything about how nice people wouldn’t do that in a pandemic, they have already told me I HAVE to be happy and I have no doubts in my mind I would get in more trouble if they find out how miserable I am. And we still have to have performance reviews soon! Even if they can’t afford to fire me, I can always get myself in more trouble.

    Anyway, where this is going is that I ended up crying during the 4 hour Zoom training yesterday, so now I’ve been found out by my coworkers and I’m terrified that one of them (probably the retiring one) will decide that ethically she should tattle on me. On the one hand, presumably any manager would want to know if their one remaining employee is having a nervous breakdown. On the other hand, they treat me like shit fairly frequently and she knows that and they’ve been telling me how bad I am for years before this. Is it going to do anything other than make things worse to tell on me? I don’t think this can be made better, but it can certainly be made worse.

    So now what?

    1. CatCat*

      If they can’t afford to fire you, why does it matter if you get yourself “in more trouble”? Like what’s the consequence that’s going to flow from that?

      Because the whole situation sounds unsustainable and it’s time to let some balls drop.

      1. Anonymous Elephant*

        Best statement.

        Aggretsuko, release yourself of the problems caused by your boss’ ineptitude. It is not possible to do the work of 6 people. It’s not. Balls will be dropped, tasks will be prioritized and left undone. That is not your fault. That is your employer’s fault. Be upfront and honest about expectations and let them handle the mess. You work 40 hours a week. That’s your job. Clock out after 8 hours a day and disconnect. Your mental health is more important than this work.

        On January 13, 2020, Alison posted “I’m burned out and overworked and my bosses keep piling more work on me”. Definitely go back and read that. That is going to be the best advice to help you release your own expectations and get your bosses paying more attention. (I’d link it but then my post would have to be approved. I’ll link it in a reply just to help.)

        1. Jeffrey Deutsch*


          What CatCat and Anonymous Elephant said.

          *slow clap*

          …they have already told me I HAVE to be happy and I have no doubts in my mind I would get in more trouble if they find out how miserable I am.

          Your employer is a deranged hellscape. As soon as you can (be patient!), get a new job and leave Nurse Ratched in your rear-view mirror.

      2. Fikly*

        This, 100% this.

        They created this problem. Let them deal with the consequences. It’s not your problem.

    2. BethDH*

      Is the “they” your direct boss, HR, all leadership? I’m wondering if you can escalate this to someone? This might be totally useless, but can you ask what metrics are involved in “being happy”? Make them spell out what that looks like and maybe it will show them how unreasonable it is?
      I don’t really have anything very useful but this sounds so horrible and I’m sorry you’re dealing with it. I wish I had something to offer to help!

    3. NotAPirate*

      Tell them you are crying tears of joy, and it is a genuine expression of your happiness?

      Sorry, unhelpful response. Your work sucks.

      1. Double A*

        Tears of joy that in a crisis where so many have no jobs, you have six!

        (Sorry OP… I find gallows humor helpful, I hope you find it at worst neutral and maybe a little amusing).

        But I think that point someone made upthread is so good. You hold all the power here. What are they going to do… fire you? No, they would be screwing themselves worse. They can be mean to you, they can have unreasonable expectations, but you don’t have to believe them.

        First, take some PTO. Seriously, take a week off. Totally unplug. You cannot think clearly right now, and you will not be able to think clearly until you take some time off. I have been there, and I did not take this advice, and I had a nervous breakdown. Take. Time. Off.

        Then, the last day of your time off, think about what you want to do. Write it out. What will you prioritize? What will you get done? Then, share this with your manager and your team. You will be focusing on X, and when that is done, Y and Z. If they would like A, B, and C done, they will need to provide you with D. If they disagree with this priority list, they can reprioritize for you, but without clear direction, you will be going with your list.

        If you have an EAP, access it. You are ill right now. You need time off, and you need to make time for your health treatment. They don’t get to know the details. You CAN detach from this situation, but you MUST take some time off. My heart goes out to you.

    4. Nicole*

      Oh my gosh, I’m so sorry. You poor thing.

      Pulling from previous advice on here, is it possible to reach out to your boss and have them help you prioritize what needs to be done? And cutting things that aren’t necessary? Expecting you to complete the work of 6 people is ridiculous. It’s just not possible. And expecting you to be happy about all of this is utterly insane.

      Have you tried getting some mental health assistance? I’m seeing ads all over Facebook about online counseling and it might be helpful to have a safe space to vent. What they’re asking of you is a lot.

      If/when you can, you should consider looking for a new job. It’s hard right now but staying like this is not sustainable. You are eventually going to hit a wall and your well-being is more important.

    5. Campfire Raccoon*

      Time to take FMLA leave, for your mental health. They have NO RIGHT to instruct you to be “genuinely happy” all the time. Especially with your working conditions.

    6. Libervermis*

      Oh Aggretsuko, all the virtual hugs for you. You are dealing with an impossible situation in the middle of a global crisis. I am not a medical person, but from your post maybe you need more mental health support right now – more frequent therapy, medication, etc. You deserve the support you need to not be so miserable all the time.

      It sounds like this is one of the “your manager/company sucks and is not going to change” situations. That’s awful, but it does give you the gift of freeing yourself from the obligation to make it better. You can’t make it better, because they suck, so now the focus is to survive. It seems like up until now you’ve been trying to keep up with too much work and focused on managing the (entirely understandable) emotional symptoms that come from that. Have you had Alison’s “I can do A or B or C but not all of them, which do you want me to prioritize?” conversation with your manager?

      If you’ve tried to have prioritizing conversations with your manager and gotten “everything is a priority!” (blech), then you can do the “I can finish A this week and that’s what I’ll be focusing on, let me know if you want me to focus on something else”.

      Alison has a bunch of letters in the archives about how to survive a job that sucks. It might be a good idea to start job hunting too – not much is available right now, but at least you can remind yourself that there are other options out there and you can plan for the glorious future when you can apply to them.

    7. Observer*

      Why are you not looking for a new job? I’m not being snarky, I mean it. Start looking, HARD. Yes, it’s a bad time to be looking, but it’s not like there are NO jobs now and forevermore.

      Also, have the priorities conversation. Not “I’m having a hard time”, “I’m struggling”, “This is bad for my health”. Just “This is not physically possible. What should I prioritize”. And, if they say “Everything” you reply “That’s not physically possible.” If they say “figure it out”, end the conversation. And STOP TRYING SO HARD.

      Work your hours and let things slip. Document what you are doing and how many hours you are spending so they can’t tell you that you are not working.

      What’s the worst that can happen? What’s the worst that MIGHT happen? They can’t really afford to fire you so that’s unlikely. If they are stupid enough to do that, you should be eligible for unemployment since firing someone for being unable to meet impossible is generally considered not the fault of the employee, but that’s where all of your documentation may come in.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        Exactly. Aggretsuko, you have more leverage than you think you do in this situation. If your role is truly essential for their business and they can’t afford to fire you, then you can push back against these unreasonable demands. They won’t do shit but grouse, maybe write you up, but with the free time you’ll get back, you should be job searching anyway and, hopefully, you’ll be gone before they can really do anything about it.

    8. Koala dreams*

      Do you have any sick leave left to take? This sounds like a recipe for burn out, and if you can take some time off and plan some relaxing activities (watch TV in pyjamas, eat take out food and ice cream and fruit, take a walk and count how many dogs you see), you might be able to recover a little.

      I know there have been some posts in the past about dealing with a crushing work load. I doubt your employer will suddenly listen to reason, but you can decide for yourself that you will only do a reasonable amount of work every day. After that you shut off notifications, shut off your phone if necessary, and do something else.

      I’m so sorry for you. Take care, and be kind to yourself.

    9. Deja vu*

      First and foremost is self-care. I’m so glad you have a therapist to talk with – please keep going.

      In regards to your management – what have you communicated with them? It sounds like their “be happy” comment caused a huge shut down of information from your side. Considering that you’re already emotionally spent, consider writing down what you’d like to say and then reading it to them via phone call. Something to the effect of “I have extreme concerns about the workforce reduction and its impact on my responsibilities. I am already doing the work of 4 individuals and in June it will increase to 6 – the current situation is, of course, already unsustainable for any person for any length of time, so I’m wondering what the path forward is? I understand about the hiring freeze, so obviously tasks will be dropped, Could I get more clarity on what the priorities are?”

      For the “be happy” comment, did they just say it the one time, or was it a repeated thing that you’ve been reprimanded for multiple times? Sure, they don’t want anyone crying all the time (no employee is effective when under that much emotional distress), but they’d be ridiculous for not recognizing the strain that reduced staff levels cause; they should want to retain the remaining employees. They need to know the stress you’re under (and really, they should already know), and if they have any decency, they’ll want to work with you to come up with some kind of mitigation during this time.

    10. Blueberry*

      Except write me up for crying, and before you say anything about how nice people wouldn’t do that in a pandemic, they have already told me I HAVE to be happy and I have no doubts in my mind I would get in more trouble if they find out how miserable I am.

      This is so, so unfair of them (and one of the effects of our business culture of Crying Is The Absolute Worst Always). I have no proper advice but I wanted to tell you that this is unfair and I’m very sorry.

      1. Fikly*

        Well, nice people wouldn’t do that in a pandemic, but they are clearly not nice people.

    11. Goomba*

      I feel for you. I have been there.
      Here are things you can do that the real Aggretsuko never did:
      -emotionally detach from work. Do not try to do a good job. Do not try to make people happy or feel happiness from your job. You are there to receive pay and be a robot, and when you leave, you leave the place behind.
      -find someone in your company you can talk to. Your boss? Boss’s boss? Older/mentor-figure coworker? Friend in another department? HR? Anyone you can connect with and feel like you have an ally.
      -talk to your boss and lay out that you are burned out and can only do XYZ, unless they want you to prioritize differently, as Alison has suggested before.
      -find a therapist or similar mental health support. There are some free options online. This will help you detach from work and heal.
      -job search. Seriously. There are lots of jobs out there that are better than yours now and you have nothing to lose by looking.
      -quit. Seriously. File for unemployment and take a month to just sit quietly at home and recuperate. Your job is destroying you and your body is crying out for help.

  27. Michelle*

    I recently got a job offer for a really great opportunity (yay!) I’m currently considering the offer, and one thing about the job that gives me a lot of pause is that they use a hot-desking setup, where you just plop yourself and your laptop down in a different spot every day. Obviously, this won’t be an issue for a while, given that everyone is working from home, but the office will eventually re-open and I’m not keen on the hot-desking thing. I like having my space and being able to personalize it a bit, which won’t be possible. I also have a lot of neck and back pain that I’m worried will get worse without any ergonomic supports, which I know is more difficult to address without assigned desks.

    That said, my current work situation is not good… the environment is toxic and dysfunctional (think all the red flags that come up in other letters on this site) and I’ve been feeling undervalued and sad all the time because of my job. I don’t think turning down a job because of hot-desking is reasonable, especially given my situation. Am I making a bigger deal out of the setup than it really is? Is hot-desking really as awful as I’m imagining? Any tips on how to make it a workable situation?

    1. Picard*

      I would not accept a job with hot desking. It just doesnt work for me. And if my current job changed to hot desking, I would be looking to leave ASAP. soooooo…..

      I would keep looking.
      But, I’m not in a toxic dumpster fire of a job so you’ll have to weigh that obviously!

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        Same – hot-desking, especially now and moving forward (because this virus is not going away), is a potential health hazard. I wouldn’t risk it, so it’s totally reasonable to turn down a job because you would rather have a dedicated, personal workspace.

        1. Windchime*

          My job is actually planning to go to hot desking. But they are also telling us that we will only need to come into the office 2-3 times per month in the future and we are going to be a mostly remote team (yay!). So I have decided that I can handle it for very infrequent trips to the office. But every day? I don’t think I could do that.

    2. merope*

      Is it possible to ask for ergonomic accommodations for your neck and back pain which would also mean you couldn’t change desks? This could be done via a note from your doctor, for example. My sister works in a hot-desk environment but because of vision challenges requires a permanent setup, and her company was happy to work with her on that.

      1. Michelle*

        That’s a really good point! For some reason I was imagining this being… inflexible? I don’t know, the whole concept is super new to me. But it’s good to know that it’s worked for other people!

      2. Steve*

        Definitely this. Ergonomic reasons, doctor’s note, and see how they respond. Mention it if/when you get to an offer, probably not before, although work on getting a note before then if it’s easy.

        If they have people hot-desking then they likely don’t need you there all the time so you can maybe offer to go in for specific meetings and otherwise work from home. Essentially companies that hot-desk do it because people aren’t always at their desk, so they would likely either want you to commit to being there more often, or hardly at all.

    3. Jady*

      Idk, for me the idea of hot-desking is a nightmare. It would be a huge issue, and unless I was really in a terrible situation I wouldn’t even consider a job like that. In my snotty opinion, companies that do things like that are pretty short-sighted and don’t care a lot about their employees well-being.

      If it’s a primarily remote job, and (normally) you’d only be in the office a couple times a week at most, I could live with it. That’s really the only valid justification for hot-desking, is there’s only a small number of people actually in the office at one time, and those people vary.

      If somehow you could get a doctor’s note for reasonable accommodation for ergonomic equipment, that may help.

      I just imagine of all the incredibly small things that would grow extremely annoying. The chair will never be the right height/lean back enough or too far. The monitor’s position will always be different, and people will probably mess with brightness/contrast.

      I’d also suggest really digging into the company culture, and making sure it’s also not toxic and dysfunctional too. Find some people on linkedin who do a job similar to yours and ask them what they think about working there.

      1. Michelle*

        I totally agree with what you mean about how hot-desking can be a red flag, but from what I can tell, the company culture is actually really great. All good reviews on glassdoor, flexible hours and work from home options (more on an as-needed basis than a regular thing, but still), and basically unlimited sick days. The HR person I’ve been in contact with to ask questions said to me, “I’ve had to say this about a lot of places I’ve worked where I haven’t meant it, but I can genuinely say that the office environment and culture is phenomenal and supportive, and it’s a great team to be on.” Yes, it’s still the word of someone at the company, but the tone did seem genuine.

        I’m also pretty early in my career (currently in my first job out of grad school… honestly, if it wasn’t for this blog, I wouldn’t have realized how messed up my workplace is), so I don’t really know what is and isn’t a deal-breaker for me yet, if that makes sense?

      2. Clementine*

        Every office is likely to change dramatically if or when we all go back to the office. One thing I keep hearing is that there will be staggered shifts. No one will be allowed to have personal items. Etc. One consequence is likely to be that hot desks will become the norm. So I would not let this stop you, because every other company is going to be doing something similar likely anyway.

    4. Hawkeye is in the details*

      Ask about reasonable accommodations for your neck and back issues. There should be no problem with setting you up at one desk with special equipment.

      Also, I wouldn’t be too surprised if the hot desk situation changes when they being everyone back. Many employers are constructing cubicles now. Ask about that too. Tell them that, in this current pandemic situation, hot desking is giving many people pause, and is the company thinking about changing their setup?

      1. Michelle*

        Thanks for the advise! Yes, I agree about how hot-desking is even less appealing with everything going on… it doesn’t sound like they’re thinking of making any changes once we return based on how the person I’m talking with is discussing the office setup, but maybe that’ll change? It’s also an NPO, so I don’t know if they’d be able to make those changes financially right now, anyway.

    5. PX*

      In my experience, hot desking tends to often result in people still claiming “their” spots, just less officially. And if you request a specific set-up for ergonomic reasons, this will absolutely mean you can have a specific spot.

      So yes, for me turning down a job at an otherwise sane looking job over this would be shooting yourself in the foot somewhat.

    6. MissGirl*

      We hot desk and most people find their favorite spots and everyone settles in. I would ask at the offer stage about ergonomic supports and how it works. Also ask if they foresee some work from home days sticking around after the office opens.

    7. Katniss Evergreen*

      Now that you have the offer, I would ask about ergonomic support when staff do return to the office! If it’s just movable equipment you would need, maybe the hot-desking setup allows for people to have cubbies in the office where they keep some essentials like a mouse/standing desk mat/etc. to bring to their assigned desk, or a closet where they keep special things like that + chairs (since you’d still need your own chair if you needed special lumbar support, etc.). It might not be as bad as it sounds, but if the company bristles at this and doesn’t totally prioritize other ways that employees can have proper space in the office (like having a damn nice breakroom as a trade-off for not being able to keep a mug at your desk), this is a bullet to dodge.

  28. Sunset Maple*

    My current company is like no other job I’ve had in that we are expected to drop everything and bend over backwards for any ridiculous, inane request a salesperson makes. It’s like nobody can ever say no to a customer, no matter how pointless or obnoxious the demand. This isn’t retail–I work a tech position supporting large industry.

    I currently have two major dumpster fires in progress, but now I have to drop everything and do what amounts to changing a sky blue teapot to baby blue. A customer misinterpreted a jobsite requirement, and despite being told that he’s wrong by TWO SMEs, he won’t sign off unless the teapot is baby blue. The salesperson won’t tell him off, because of course anything for a sale. It’s no problem in the eyes of the salesperson to shove this work on me, since he gets incentives and bonuses, while I get nothing except longer hours for the same pay. I can’t push back, because company culture.

    Is “Do you let customers treat you like a sniveling doormat?” an inappropriate interview question?

    1. tetris replay*

      Maybe “How do your sales teams handle a situation where there’s a disagreement between the documented scope of a project and what the client is insisting on in the final stages?”

      1. Hamburke*

        I’m forever saying, “I can do that but it’s out of contract and will be billed at the regular hourly rate”

  29. Janey-Jane*

    What’s a good way to tell your immediate department about furloughs? We’re a small department of less than 15 in a larger organization, which announced some furloughs. Our department head said nothing about the impact on our office for a week and a half. They finally mentioned it on our virtual all-staff meeting, while the 3 furloughed employees were there. (The three individual had known for over a week they were getting furloughed; the rest of the department didn’t.) Surely an email would have been a better to announce the impacts in our department, no? I’m not crazy that saving it for a meeting was at minimum awkward for the furloughed employees, and didn’t allow us to actually focus on shifting workloads to non-furloughed employees?

    1. London Calling*

      Can only speak for how we do it, but I was told about my furlough in a 3 way phone conversation with my manager and HR. My manager then asked if I minded colleagues being told about it in our every-other-day Workplace catchup. Shifting my workload has not been handled nearly as well and is going to cause massive problems for weeks. Otherwise we aren’t announcing furloughs at all, because when lockdown started HR didn’t know from day to day who it would affect until the executives had made that decision. While I was working I was trying to contact people and didn’t know if the lack of reply was because they were overwhlemed with email or not replying at all, amd virtually none of them have left out of office messages.

  30. Justin*

    Update from last week on the racist-dog-whistle email:

    I spoke to one (white) colleague I trust (via personal emails), and she said, basically,”Yeah that was super racist, I read it out loud to my boyfriend and we were shocked at the positive responses.” She is a manager (though not mine), and she expressed regret she hadn’t pushed back immediately (because when the director is co-signing it, you don’t know if anyone else will push back, and this is how these attitudes stay in place). She said she would bring it up directly when she meets with the director this week. So we’ll see. I just want the emailer to be told, “that was racist.” That’s all. Just to hear that applied to her. But it won’t happen. Maybe a “racially insensitive” “implicit bias” at best.

    In other news, these folks cannot stop this. We had a call on Tuesday, which was May 5th, and a manager (who is white) said, at the least no white folks would be filling the bars near his apartment for Cinco de Mayo despite not having any such heritage (and the fact that it’s NOT an important day in Mexico, etc). And I agreed with him, saying it was not a good day for sensitivity.

    And then the director (same one who co-signed the email) said, “Yeah but it’s a good day for drinking.”

    I cannot with these folks.

    But, yes, glad to be employed and paid. Hopefully I can find something better (not even the work, which is whatever, but the team) eventually and Let Them Know. Apparently a black employee who left had made several official reports about racism and nothing was done by our director’s boss (who used to be our director), because they’re all best friends.

    1. Justin*

      I had wondered why the black employee had left rather suddenly (we were told he got another opportunity, and yes, he did), but it makes sense now.

      1. Anon for this*

        AAAAAAAH this is maddening, I’m sorry.

        I had a similar experience about a year ago. Took concerns to boss, who shrugged and said it sounded like we’d had an “interesting sociological discussion.” NO WE DID NOT. We pushed away an internal PoC who was interviewing to be our new recruitment lead because in the final stages a white dude spent like 15 minutes telling the candidate that they hadn’t provided any “evidence” that racism exists. The person seemed completely unfazed, but accepted a job elsewhere and jumped ship before we could come to a decision. None of the other candidates got told anything remotely like this. I’ve been trying to get out of here myself since, and feeling icky about it.

        1. Justin*

          Ah, this is like my other colleague who said he was upset that his daughter’s teacher said the president was racist, and “We respect the president, no matter who.” This guy isn’t even conversative, he’s just… bootstrap lockstep foolish.

          People express their racism in these weird, off-center ways and then say, NUH UH.

          1. Justin*

            (Now, bringing up the president as an example of racism might be good, but I’d bet her teacher was saying, “racism is like this and only like this,” and thus allows most racism to flourish, but I’m off topic now…)

        2. leapingLemur*

          “white dude spent like 15 minutes telling the candidate that they hadn’t provided any “evidence” that racism exists.” Shuddering. What is wrong with people?

          1. Justin*

            I’m a doctoral student, and one of the things we have to do in our papers is provide a basis for our work. Fine. I write about race, and if I don’t go find some numerical evidence of racism, I swear people question the entire premise of what I write (outside of my school). It’s maddening.

    2. Fiona*

      Keep us updated on this… it would be great if your white colleague could reply-all so everyone doesn’t think it’s tacitly accepted but I know office politics play a role in this too. Rooting for the day when you can eventually Let Them Know.

        1. Justin*

          I am gonna tell you folks whether or not people wanna listen, lol.

          Also, I think “office politics” really just reifies power structures more often than not…

          1. Blueberry*

            Also, I think “office politics” really just reifies power structures more often than not…


            1. Fiona*

              Oh certainly – I wasn’t trying to say that was a valid excuse. I can just see someone shying away from doing the right thing for those reasons.


    I’m working from home and any tips on how to bring up with management that I feel like I am doing the work of my 2 co-workers who have kids with them at home? I get that it is hard for them with kids at home at the moment, I really do, but I don’t see why I have to pick up the slack and do triple the work to compensate for them always have to “duck away from the computer for an hour” to feed their kids lunch or whatever. I am not getting paid any extra and they are basically getting paid to watch their children, not do the work. I’m starting to burn out from 5 weeks of triple the workload and can’t handle it anymore. It’s exhausting and stressful and I can’t take it anymore. I need them to start pulling their weight or a pay rise because I’m doing the work of 3 people right now.

    1. Amtelope*

      Hey, so, “co-workers who are caring for kids at home due to the pandemic start ‘pulling their weight’ by being exactly as productive as they were in the office” is not a possible solution. Neither is you doing the work of 3 people, and that’s the part I’d bring to management. “This is how much my co-workers can do under current circumstances, this is how much I can reasonably do, and this is what’s going to be left undone — how can we either get more help with getting the work done (you probably can’t hire, but there might be people in parts of the company that have lost business who could help), or to postpone or eliminate non-essential tasks?”

    2. Ann Perkins*

      Are you doing the extra work because it’s specifically been assigned to you, or because it’s not getting done otherwise? If the former, I would push back and say, “Ok, I can start working on X, but that means I won’t have time to work on Y anymore.” and see what happens. If you’re jumping in on your own initiative, give yourself permission to step back from doing that.

      1. leapingLemur*

        Yeah, this. Work reasonable hours and let the boss know you can only do so much and ask what to prioritize. You don’t need to mention your co-workers.

    3. cmcinnyc*

      Look, we are not zebras. Our kids do not stand up and run an hour after birth. Alas. So no, you can’t complain about parents “not pulling their weight” because you are a member of this species and someone fed you lunch once upon a time. What you CAN say is “I can’t sustain this workload.” It’s on companies to take everything down a notch if they possibly can. There is just no way for the same pace of business to continue right now when a chunk of the workforce is unavoidably on diaper duty or homeschooling half the day. What used to be a reasonable deadline is no longer sustainable. Reworking expectations for *you* and how much you can get done, and at what pace, *is* a conversation you can have with management. This is a gravity problem right now. You can’t repeal gravity because your bag is heavy and you can’t fix the fact we’re dealing with a global pandemic. (Unless you can. If so, do. I will send cash.)

      1. GalleryMouse*

        I love these two sentences so much:
        Look, we are not zebras. Our kids do not stand up and run an hour after birth.

        So funny and so true. I’m going to think of them often during this horrible time.

        1. Double A*

          Also, once our kids *do* stand up and run it actually makes things worse! In terms of how much attention they absorb.

      2. IHATEUCOVID19*

        I get it. Kids need to be supervised and fed. But they are not MY kids. They’re not my circus not my monkeys. They say it takes a village to raise a child, and sure, but I didn’t sign up for the “person who does my work for me without any extra compensation” job in their village.

        I made a conscious choice not to have children because I know how difficult they are and how much work they are. I don’t want the extra work associated with kids……and I REALLY don’t want the extra work caused by kids I didn’t choose to have.

        1. Oof with the tude.*

          I understand your frustration with the situation, but as another commenter addressed – you need to take this up with your management. You’re sounding really adversarial about your coworkers’ situation – it’s not like they’re doing this to you on purpose. I don’t want kids for lots of reasons, some related to the work involved in raising them, but I can’t hate on my colleague whose 9-y.o. has interrupted a webex meeting because the kid is bored and needs some degree of attention and engagement throughout the day. Reframing your perspective here would go a long way in making this better in your mind, I’d guess – thinking of the expectation that you will take on more work during a crisis situation as a problem that either you need to address with your manager, or a situation that your company is allowing to continue is much better than this.. I doubt your coworkers are trying to give you the finger here – they are, like literally everyone else, trying to make the best out of a sh*t situation.

        2. Jeffrey Deutsch*

          The impression I get is that you’re at the end of your rope. And I’ll bet even money you’re getting significantly less sleep now than before.

          I don’t think you’d be expressing these sentiments under normal circumstances.

          Please, address your workload — NOT your opinions about your co-workers’ families — with management soon. Both your sanity and your job may depend on it.

    4. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      I don’t think your either/or has viable options in either direction. If I were you, I’d just work your normal hours while WFM and maybe if you can increase your productivity a little (say, if you had a lot of coffee or internet browsing breaks while working at work, maybe decrease those) and just do what you can do in the amount of time you have. Loop your boss in that you are doing your normal amount + 10-20% say (if possible without driving yourself nuts) but you can’t do any more so what does s/he/they want you to prioritize? Then I’d ignore the coworkers taking breaks for their kids – not your circus, not your monkeys on that one and they likely can’t help it.

      You can control your own hours and work output. It’s not up to you to control the output of your entire team/department so just let that worry fall off your plate.

    5. Mockingjay*

      Who is assigning the overflow to you?

      1) If it’s your boss, try Alison’s time-tested advice to ask them for prioritization. “Boss, if you want to add X, I still have Y and Z due the same day. It’s not feasible to get all three things done. Which should I prioritize?”

      2) If you are just picking up stuff that needs to be done, whether by coworkers’ requests or because your own work depends on getting their inputs, again, don’t. Flag the problem to your boss. “Hey boss, I’m not getting Lucinda’s spout and handle numbers in time for the monthly teapot production report. What should I do?” Don’t do Lucinda’s numbers for her unless Boss tells you. If so, repeat question 1.

    6. Koala dreams*

      Don’t bring up the co-workers, bring up the work load. There is some advice above, at the comments made to Aggretsuko, and there are also a few useful posts in the AAM archive. If your workload is too much for one person, that should be the focus of the discussion. I’m not sure if it’s you or the manager who brings up the children, but if it’s your manager, you need to bring it back to work. “Children are wonderful, but let’s get back to work. I need your help to prioritize my work tasks. I can do only one of (tasks). If I do task A, I won’t be able to do B or C. Would you like me to keep doing A?”

      If you truly can’t take it anymore, see if you can use sick leave or vacation days to relax and recover.

    7. Cat*

      I mean, “ducking away for an hour” here and there doesn’t equate to you doing the work of three people. Are they accomplishing nothing whatsoever ever while you work 24 hours a day? I find that framing suspect and hyperbolic, which I think you want to consider before approaching your manager.

      Absolutely go to them and say your workload is unsustainable though.

      1. IHATEUCOVID19*

        When they do it 3 or 4 times in an 8 hour day and are then frequently tending to their children by leaving their work station for 20 minutes here and 20 minutes here and ANOTHER half an our there and ultimately barely turning in any work, it is, especially because they seem to talk behind the scenes and seem to have agreed to protect each other when asked about it. It was was something like “Emily has the gastro today, I’ll be in and out because I have to look after her” or even half an hour of extra lunch every day to get the kids sorted would be totally fine. But they are not even hitting 2 hours of working.

        I get it. Kids need to be supervised. But they are not MY kids. They’re not my circus not my monkeys. They say it takes a village to raise a child, and sure, but I didn’t sign up for the “person who does my work for me without any extra compensation” job in their village.

        1. RagingADHD*

          Then don’t. Do your own work and let your manager manage them.

          If your manager is pushing you to pick up the slack, then you have a manager issue, not a coworker issue.

          If you really are doing the work of 3 people and nobody else is working at all, it’s not like they can afford to fire you.

    8. New Senior Manager*

      I get it, but everyone manages their children in different ways, to different degrees. My coworker’s child may make frequent appearances on a zoom meeting while another coworker’s child may stay in their bedroom and watch TV throughout the entire meeting. as directed. The advice here is to reframe the narrative before taking it to your manager and place the focus on your work load. Which is something your manager should be able to help you with if they are worth their weight. Good luck to you.

  32. EnfysNest*

    I work at a government medical facility campus where currently everyone entering our property is being asked screening questions related to COVID-19. There are 8-12 screeners at each check point to keep traffic flowing – they were hired as temporary workers solely for the screening.

    One of them, as soon as he is done checking his current person, calls out very loud greetings to every passing car he can catch, saying “God bless you! Have a great and blessed day!” Okay, yes, this is the south, I would just take it as a general nicety and not think any more of it if he was just saying it at a conversational volume to the people that he checked, which would statistically be me every now and then, but not every day. But he is calling this exact greeting out at top volume to every single car that passes.

    Even still, once a day I could deal with it, except that this checkpoint is just 40 yds from my office window, so I can hear him shouting “God bless you! Have a great and blessed day!” over and over for about an hour after I arrive at work every single day.

    Hearing anything repeatedly shouted would set me on edge, and I’m fairly cynical towards any “forced positivity” and anything that feels too Pollyanna-ish, so I’m sort of predisposed against this anyway, but especially because it’s a religion-based greeting at a federal facility, it feels even more out of place. I have no idea who the screeners report to or if they are direct employees of our facility or contracted through another company or what. I can’t address it directly with him, because we need to keep traffic moving through the check point as quickly as possible.

    I probably should just start wearing headphones for that first hour of the day, but do you all think it’s worth trying to bring this up to my boss to see if he knows who could talk to this guy about at least lowering his volume and maybe see if he would be up for a more neutral greeting, or should I just leave it alone?

    1. NotAPirate*

      So as a teenager I had my first jury duty. And the courthouse automated recording tells you to have a blessed day. I was super annoyed by that, ready to go launch a fight against that courthouse. But my father heard me out, and told me that he (buddhist) just takes those comments in the spirit they meant them – “be safe, be happy, have a nice day”, and that he appreciates them wishing him well even if they disagree on gods. His temple also volunteers at the catholic homeless shelter for the christmas shifts so that the catholics can spend their holy day with their families, so they definitely have some “we will respect each other even while we massively disagree on the afterlife” strengths.

      It’s a pick your battle thing too, do you want to spend the work capital on this one greeter? Doing the screenings is taking a risk to protect the rest of you, he’s being exposed to a lot more people in the day. I might give them more slack.

      Headphones, arriving later, work in a conference room for that hour, schedule early morning meetings in someone else’s office?

    2. Campfire Raccoon*

      Frame it as “the greeter is yelling so loudly, it’s disrupting my morning work flow. Could we ask him to tone it down with a wave?”

      1. leapingLemur*

        This! Someone yelling anything over and over and over again would be frustrating to me.

      2. LJay*

        This is the way I’d tackle it. (As long as the OP can figure out who contracted or manages these workers).

    3. Colette*

      I’d suggest asking for him to lower the volume, since that’s probably the most disruptive part of it. I think it’s fine to mention that it’s also a religious phrase, but if he were yelling “artichoke hearts” every 30 seconds, that would also be annoying.

    4. Ama*

      I actually think you can just focus on the noise issue, which is really the problem, right? “Hey, I can hear the security staff extremely clearly as they greet each car every morning because they are yelling at the cars as they drive away — is it possible to tell them to try to keep things at normal speaking level?”

    5. Koala dreams*

      1. Bring it up with your boss. Someone yelling at the entrance is better than a car alarm that goes off all the time, but not much better.
      2. Use ear protection. Earphones, earplugs.

    6. EnfysNest*

      Thanks, all! I just wanted to check my perspective on this one, since I know it would probably have been easier to ignore four months ago without the other added stressors going on. I think I’ll try to bring up just the volume part of it on Monday if I can catch my boss in the office while it’s happening and see what he says.

    7. nep*

      I can see how hearing it all day would be annoying, whatever the content of the message.
      I used to be really irked by ‘blessings’ and ‘God bless you,’ for the assumption that everyone shares a certain belief. (We don’t, y’all.) But ever since I watched an interview Tom Snyder did with Ayn Rand, and their discussion of ‘God bless you,’ I shifted and saw it as just positive vibes/wishes.

  33. Duckduck10*

    Does anyone work in a physical job? I am in my 30’s are work a physical job. For many reasons this is the right job for me for now. But I am concerned about what I am going to do in my 50’s if I am still in this. There are not many people in their 50’s working jobs like mine full time. And of the part timers there’s not a lot who are older.

    I don’t have the skills to transition to something like office admin so I’m not sure what I will do, I’m trying to plan now for the future. I expect to need to work full time until well, forever really. Retirement looks financially unviable so I need to be thinking about future work options.

    1. Picard*

      can you transition to training/teaching what you do instead of doing it? (think dancers/ballet teacher etc)

    2. AnotherAlison*

      This probably depends on exactly what the job you’re doing is. Can you move up into a supervisory role? Is it something you can start a business in and hire people to do the physical part? Those are paths I typically see for people in trades (or house cleaning or hair styling).

      1. tetris replay*

        Is it possible to move into a more skilled/technical role further into your career? It sounds like you might not want to go into supervising/inspection/teaching, but there might be jobs adjacent to your role where you can be faster/more effective as you have more experience that aren’t as reliant on heavy labour.

    3. NotAPirate*

      Can you get the skills to transition? 20 years is a long time from now. I know engineers transition from active jobs to regulatory roles like inspection, reviewing proposals a lot. Teaching, supervising is always an option too. Insurance weirdly, takes a lot of former jobsite workers, because they know the components and can spot issues faster. Dancers become casting directors. Etc. If you’ve more specifics on the field you’re in it may be more helpful.

    4. Colette*

      What have you seen other people leave to do?

      What do you like about your job? You have time to develop skills that will help you transition to a new job, so how’s a good time to think about what kinds of things you like doing that you might be able to do in a different role.

    5. Brunch with Sylvia*

      My husband has been a laborer (with the same company) for 35 years–he is 56 yo and not only loves his work but also has absolutely no desire to learn new skills or change careers. He has been vigilant about ergonomics and safety for about the last 15 years–he speaks up when needing help or equipment to avoid strain and has invested in proper footwear and support. His company also gently pushes him to work faster but he pushes back against that. Colleagues his age are often out for long periods of time to recover from injuries, surgeries, etc. He also exercises, eats meticulously, prioritizes sleep. Hahahahaha—I know I’m kind of describing a diva but basically he takes care of his body as if his livelihood depends on it.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        You’re not describing a diva – that’s just smart behavior. Our bodies can only endure so much manual labor, especially if it’s hard labor, until it starts breaking down. You have to do stuff like this to protect yourself.

    6. another Hero*

      I used to work in kitchens and left for similar reasons – I enjoyed the work but figured I wouldn’t be able to do it for as long as I’d need to, at least not without really messing myself up. In that field, you can move to different kinds of employers – I knew older folks who started working at a state park that served three buffet meals daily, where they could go a little slower, but I’m sure there’s not a parallel option in lots of fields (and it’s not the one I went for). But it does sound like you have some time to make choices. Could you take classes, one at a time, online or at a local community college? Are there people in your field whose work is more manageable, and could you start talking to them about how they got into that, if it seems interesting? Are there fields where knowledge of the kind of work where you do now might be an asset for, like, planning, or otherwise in a way where it wouldn’t be your whole job? Is there something totally unrelated that you’d like to try, and you could spend some time trying to figure out whether you’d actually like it and what it would take to get into it?

    7. Lucky*

      Many members of my family are in the trades, and it’s very common to transition to less physical work as you get older because, frankly, most physical will leave you with long term repetitive stress and other injuries. My family members have usually transitioned into training & supervising within their trade (great especially if you’re union) or to project management within commercial or residential construction, or to driving truck, which brings a whole new opportunity for repetitive stress injuries. If there are equivalents in your line of work, I’d look toward that.

    8. Out of Retail*

      Not me, but my father has been a mechanic for 40+ years (he’s in his 60s now) and his arthritis is finally starting to really slow him down. He’s been thinking about maybe doing consulting building on his expertise from working in different shops for decades and seeing what set ups work and what doesn’t. I think consulting and training works out for a lot of people.

      But also keep in mind that you will change in the next 20 years or so. You may get more determined that a physical job is the right thing for you and you can start looking at ways to keep yourself in shape/ find ergonomic and accessibility adjustments so you can continue to do it as long as you want. Or you may find that your interests (and the world!) change, and you can react to that. You’re almost never stuck- you can always make changes.

    9. RagingADHD*

      The business you work for, no matter what industry, has relationships with other businesses to get things done – suppliers, specialists, consultants, designers, inspectors, team leaders, facility owners/managers, all kinds of things.

      Make a habit of getting to know people in these different aspects. Observe who is good at their job, who is reliable & easy to work with, who is growing in their career, and how these different businesses operate.

      This will, over time, give you ideas of other jobs you could move into. And as you cultivate these connections and introduce people to each other, you’re building a personal network that can connect you to those job openings.

  34. SaraV*

    I’m on my last weekday of staycation. All I could think about this morning is the amount of email I’ll need to get through come Monday. I created a whole bunch of rules in Outlook to send common emails to folders, but there will still be so. many.


    1. What the What*

      I was on staycation last week. It took me until today to actually get through all my emails. Obviously, email wasn’t all I did for 5 days straight, but it sure felt like it!

  35. new kid*

    tl;dr – Anyone else anxious about appearance changes being noticed at work?

    I have a pixie cut style haircut normally that I try to get trimmed at least once every six weeks and it’s been almost double that now. It’s driving me crazy so I’ve switched over to just covering it with a headscarf instead. That’s a considerably different look for me and I hate when people notice things like that at work (eg. I try not to ‘dress up’ even if I have a new outfit I like because I worry people will comment). It’s such a silly thing to be worried about especially in the grand scheme of things right now, but I guess I’m hoping someone else can commiserate and I’m not completely crazy/alone on this. I’ve literally been practicing responses to theoretical comments so I’ll be prepared if (when) they happen.

    1. juliebulie*

      I think the scarf might seem more commentworthy to people than the grown-out haircut. I mean, everyone else will have a grown-out haircut too. If someone mentions your hair it’s probably because they’re just as self-conscious of their own hair!

      1. new kid*

        Yeah, I think that might be where the anxiety is stemming from honestly – the scarf is for my own comfort because my hair was getting in my eyes/sticking to my neck/being generally annoying.

        But you’re right that we’re all on edge right now and can’t help projecting a little on each other sometimes. I think about that when I notice things in the background of coworkers houses – I’m only even paying attention to that stuff because I’m nervous about someone judging my own place.

    2. Picard*

      er… yeah this is a little anxiety calling the shots here.

      Trust me, no one care what your hair looks like.

      1. new kid*

        My anxiety is really good at that. :)

        I wish my logical brain was easier to listen to because I definitely try to tell myself, “well, do you care what any of your coworkers look like?” but somehow I can’t turn that thought back around positively at myself.

    3. Sylvan*

      You’re probably fine. My short-haired coworkers are all wearing hats, even indoors… I’m wearing a ponytail or bun every day. We’re all in the same boat so you probably won’t get comments.

    4. CTT*

      Seconding those that think the scarf would draw more attention to it and that everyone’s looking a little scruffy. Also, don’t know what stage your pixie is at, but bobby-pins have been doing the lord’s work for making mine presentable.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Yup. My mom made me keep my hair super short when I was a kid, and when I was growing it out, I discovered that my (Merida-like) hair totally defies gravity until it’s about halfway between shoulder and bra strap length. I’m pretty sure I single-handedly kept a couple of bobby pin factories operational for that year and a half, and I was afraid to walk anywhere near a magnet lest I get pulled off my feet by the amount of metal on my head. (And I don’t do short anymore – my last proper haircut, other than trimming it myself, was May 1999.)

    5. Millicent*

      We have an online standup meeting every morning. I have definitely noticed everyone’s hair has deteriorated. I think some are not even brushing it; many wear hats.

      Do whatever you need to make yourself comfortable, in terms of hair getting in your face. A normal coworker will not judge you for it, because this is just the reality we’re in now.

    6. Senor Montoya*

      “Thanks! It’s fun!”

      That’s your response whether they are complimenting you or compli-sulting or prying. Same response. Every time. Maybe occasionally: “Thanks! Yep, it’s STILL fun!”

    7. Stormy Weather*

      Yes, when it comes to my hair. My bangs are asymmetrical so there is no way I would attempt to cut them myself. Add to that some roots and I’m going to look rather scruffy. I’m sure it’s going to take a while to get appointments when salons open up again.

    8. anon for this*

      Everyone’s standards are being compromised right now. Several of my friends across gender categories have gotten so annoyed with their hair that they’ve simply shaved it off. For me, there is an excellent external reason not to be touching my face right now, but unfortunately I have dermatillomania and my hands semi unconsciously wander up there and start looking for excuses to pick at things, especially when I am a bit anxious. My work involves intermittent, unpredictable use of keyboard and mouse and stylus. While I am good at not picking at my skin when other people are looking, I am apparently very bad at not doing it when WFH in a pandemic. I’m experimenting with solutions (cotton gloves, duct taping hands to the table, giving non-dominant hand a stress ball), but it’s been two steps forward, one step back. My acne has become obviously worse, and it’s magnified on my webcam, but no one’s said a word. I probably wouldn’t notice this in someone else, and if I did notice, I’d just assume they were having a hard time with a medical issue. For hair, if there were a change and I noticed, I’d think, at most, “well, they felt like it!”

    9. TiffIf*

      I’m with you on the pixie cut getting too long (and mine looks weird because apparently certain parts of my hair grow faster than others so some parts are awkwardly longer and look like something out of a boy band lineup) but then I also dyed it blue on the spur of the moment last month. I think a scarf would cause more comments. I think most people won’t comment on your changed hair because most people understand that getting a haircut is not essential right now, but for those who do just prepare a stock answer somewhere around “I haven’t been able to schedule my regular trim.” or something.

    10. Shoe Ruiner*

      Just wanted to say that I, too, in normal times, do not like coworkers to comment on my appearance and try not to give them a reason to. It’s not just you! :)

    11. Kettricken Farseer*

      Our COO showed up on an all-staff meeting at my very very large company with a shaggy mess on the top of his head and the reaction was like, “Yep, everyone’s hair is getting bad.” So you’re in good company.

      When I was growing out a pixie cut I relied on really wide cloth headbands to cover up the worst of it. I don’t see how a pretty scarf would be completely different, unless it had a questionable print :)

    12. ..Kat..*

      Well, I am a bedside nurse in a pediatric ICU. Most of us (even male nurses!) are wearing headbands with buttons to strap our face masks to (keeps the elastic from being behind your ears for our 12 hour shifts – many of us were getting sores behind our ears from this). My hair is now a wavy, longer than chin length frizz-bomb (it’s hot with all this PPE! I am sweating!). I am wearing a headband. It is not a good look for me. I totally expected at least some jokes about it. But, nope. Most of us seem more self conscious about how we ourselves look. We each think the other nurses look fine. I even had some jokes prepared (wow, I forgot that was my natural hair color! or, it’s amazing that I can still change diapers and save lives while looking like this!). Have not needed to use these jokes.

      As for the parents of my patients, most of them don’t know what I looked like before COVID19. None of them seem to care. They just seem to be grateful that I am at their child’s beside performing quality nursing care.

      And finally, my hairstylist and I have a long standing agreement. She does not perform nursing care and I do not cut or color my hair.

      Hope some of this helped you to feel better about how you look.

    13. Alexandra Lynch*

      I have very long (hiplength) hair that I normally wear back in a bun or braid, and during the pandemic, I have been wrapping a scarf round my hair (keeps the wispy hairs off my forehead so they don’t tickle me) and over my face. I have discovered that I really like wearing a headscarf, and am probably going to start doing it most of the time. I’m not doing it for any religious reasons, it just feels good. I’m a little worried about people’s reactions, but so far the full head-and-face wrap has gotten several compliments, so maybe it won’t be anything at all.

  36. I miss going into the office*

    Never thought I’d say it but I miss going into the office. Last year we moved offices and had a transition period of 6 weeks where we worked from home so I’m accustomed to daily work from home. But this is just not the same. Maybe it is not knowing the end date? Or that there will be an end?

    I miss the end of the work day. I miss it mattering when I shower. I miss coffee runs with colleagues. I miss looking over at a coworker during a terrible meeting and seeing the same look of horror momentarily flashing on their face that mirrors my own. I miss taking a day off to get a haircut and feeling like I’m playing hooky even though I know it is my vacation day, it is a benefit, etc. I still take a few hours here and there but that is more for grocery shopping than anything else.

    On the upside because I’m home so much more, the dog is losing weight from all of the long walks.

    Anyway thanks for letting me ramble.

    1. AnotherAlison*

      I hear you. I figure I’ve been going to school or work for 37 years, other than during summer breaks when I was a kid. I don’t like not doing it. I always thought I would like working from home, but that was considering more independent work. Being tethered to my desk at home all day doesn’t have the upside I was looking for.

      My company is considering permanent telework for some, but we don’t know who or when, so that added uncertainty is also frustrating.

    2. Loves Libraries*

      I miss work too. However our dog loves the many walks. She is not loosing weight because she gets extra snacks because 4 of us are home all day long. She will be devastated when life returns to more normal.

  37. juliebulie*

    There is a recurring issue in my organization with managers who ask “why can’t you just ___” [gross oversimplification of what needs to be done].

    We are not the kind of people who like to make things more complicated than they need to be. We understand the complexities of a given task, and we try to explain them. Eventually our bosses see what we are saying, and agree with us… only to say “why can’t you just ___” again next time.

    I don’t blame them for asking once in a while, but it happens a lot.

    1. INeedANap*

      Can you write up basic explanations of these tasks? Kind of like a FAQ or job guide? And then just copy and paste that to them every time they ask?

      “Why can’t you just trim the llama’s tail feathers?”
      “Process for trimming llama tail feathers: Use database to identify where Llama is. Requisition a car, 24 hour lead time. Drive to Llama pen, 30 minute travel time. Wrangle Llama into grooming pen, anywhere from 5 minute – 5 hour work time. Organize Llama grooming materials (including cleaning brush bristles, sharpening shears, and waxing leathers), 20 minutes work time. Wash Llama thoroughly, 45 minute work time. Dry Llama, 20 minutes work time. Trim Llama tail feathers, 1 hour work time. Clean up from work process, 30 minute work time. Return Llama to llama pen, 5 second work time. Drive back to office, 30 minute travel time.”

      1. juliebulie*

        LOL, that’s exactly the kind of thing that gets a “can’t you just.” “Can’t you just send the llama through a car wash?”

        Plus, these aren’t standard recurring task. The details of how to do each thing is very much dependent on the project. We analyze what we need to do and how long it will take, and that’s what elicits the “can’t you just.”

      2. willow for now*

        Agree, this is always, in my world, asked by bosses who have no idea of the process for the thing they “just” want you to do.

    2. Dr. Tony*

      Yeah, it can be rough. “Can’t you just expose that to UV light?” “Have you tried Lysol?” etc. I get this stuff all the time from my boss. I’m pretty sure that, as a ‘boss’, he wants to be helpful and contribute. But he’s more of a ‘big picture’ kind of guy.

    3. willow for now*

      Oh, how I hate the use of “just”. It reminds me of those TV ads – Just do it – for Nike, and Nancy Reagan’s Just say no to drugs. It makes me just … GAH!

    4. Kettricken Farseer*

      I had a boss like this years ago. We made large, complicated software which he didn’t understand in the slightest. He would always ask, “Isn’t that just a pop-up?” even when he was asking for something that would require basically reorganizing our terabytes-worth-of-data database. This was years ago and we still go, “It’s just a pop-up!” and laugh and laugh

    5. Claritza*

      My middle school students opposed so many directions from me with “Can’t we just….” It was exhausting and my answer always began with “No”

  38. Nicole*

    My husband and I have been talking about starting a family in the past year and yesterday I found out what my new job’s maternity benefit is. It’s so bad that I’m actually disgusted. This job has posters all over the place about self-care and getting enough sleep and such, so I assumed they’d actually care about pregnant employees.

    My benefits are: use up all vacation/sick leave, then I need a doctor’s note to confirm I need leave (wtf?), and then the benefit is a measly $170 a week. That’s not even 20% of what I make. That’s $4.25 an hour.

    So basically, my husband has to be okay with being essentially the sole source of income if I have a child. I’m wondering if it’s worth it to just quit my job and go on government assistance at that point.

    Like, it took me a long time to be open to the idea of having kids. Now that I’m mostly on board with the idea, this info completely took the wind out of my sails.

    1. Jules the First*

      If it makes you feel better, statutory maternity pay here in the UK is £151.20/week…which is roughly what I earn for a single morning’s graft. And out of that princely sum, one must pay income tax, plus national insurance and pension contributions at the level of your usual salary if you want to maintain your pension entitlement and retire before you’re like 90…

      1. Bagpuss*

        Except you get the first 6 weeks at 90% of your normal pay then 33 weeks at the level you mention – I think most US workers get far shorter maternity leave.

    2. Ann Perkins*

      I hate that this is the state of paid maternity leave in the US. Do you have a group short term disability policy available? Otherwise… it sucks but unfortunately the majority of employers in the US still don’t offer paid leave. Mine doesn’t at all, we just had to save a bit extra leading up to leave.

      Quitting your job is a big step though – some careers are easy to take a few years off and then hop back in, some that would really set an individual back in terms of overall career trajectory and income potential. If you would have to go on government assistance to make ends meet, it’s not a good idea to quit.

      1. Nicole*

        Not really. I’ve only been here 3 months, and I got the job through a good friend. Also it’s my first time in this field. So, I’d be kind of burning bridges if I did.

        1. pancakes*

          Would you be? With the employer, or with your friend? Leaving a job with paltry benefits for a better one is something decent people should understand.

          1. Me*

            exactly. and AAM has lots of advice on leaving a job you’ve only been with a short time because it’s not right.

            just don’t forget there are companies with GOOD benefits out there.

            1. Nicole*

              The thing is, when I moved into this field I was able to do so at the same rate of pay I was making in my previous career because of my friend. I think if I moved companies it would be much harder to justify paying me as much as I’ve only been doing this type of work since I started this job in February.

              They’ve actually boosted our pay a little during this pandemic so I’ve been able to start building up my savings. I know that other companies with similar work haven’t done that, so outside of the shitty maternity it’s actually been pretty decent.

    3. Senor Montoya*

      I have pretty good benefits (state employee). Maternity benefits are: File for shared leave. Use your sick and vacation leave (paid at 100%). Use any shared leave. Go on leave without pay if you need/want more time. I think that’s pretty typical, the fact that you’re getting paid *anything* is not that common.

      Is this a good state of affairs? No.
      Is it a typical state of affairs? Yes.

      1. Althea*

        Agree. Large Gov contractor here and exact same leave policy. Here in California the state will pay 60% of salary for ~14 weeks, but we also pay for it in the high taxes.

    4. shhhh... don't tell*

      Is it financially possible for you to get a 3rd party short term disability policy?
      Some companies like AFLAC, Colonial Life, etc., will do a policy for you. It will still have to go to your HR to be payroll-drafted, and then they have to send the money for the premiums to the insurance company, but you would pay a premium based on your gross wages and receive 66.67% of your salary when you go out on leave.
      Word of caution – STD is usually only approved to pay for the weeks you are out medically. If you wanted to take the full 12 weeks as covered by FMLA (assuming you are US-based), but your dr clears you to return to work after 6 weeks, you’d only get the benefit for those 6 weeks.
      Also important to note, most policies have a 1 week exclusion period for maternity leave, so if your dr has you out medically for 6 weeks, you get a 5 week benefit.

      Sorry your company is a bag of dicks.

    5. dealing with dragons*

      do they offer short term disability insurance? my job does and it will pay 65% of my salary during fmla leave. the doctors note is possibly related to fmla as you do need proof that you can’t work. So if it’s $170 + 65% of your salary it’s not too bad. you can also look at getting yourself short term disability but it needs to be before you get pregnant.

    6. NewWorkingMama*

      I know this won’t remove much of the sting, but my org has really good maternity leave benefits and I had to get a note from my doctor stating when I would be out and that I needed leave. I think it was a requirement for the STD.

    7. Double A*

      So… this leave is shitty, but it is probably better than average in the US.

      I had a union teacher job in California when I had my baby. Great, California has parental leave! Except not for teachers, because we have our own whole thing and don’t pay into state disability, and my union had not negotiated any sort of maternity benefit. So I bought my own short term disability policy, for about $110/month. Here’s what you do:

      -Go on leave. You need a doctor’s note, because it’s a medical leave.
      -You start disability leave. This can start 4 weeks prior to due date, then continues 6-8 weeks after, depending on type of delivery.
      -Use all vacation and sick time during disability leave. Once that is used up, leave is unpaid unless you have purchased your own short term disability.
      -Then, you start FMLA leave, which is unpaid.
      -If you have purchased STD, they pay 60% of your salary for up to 12 weeks.
      -Return to work with 0 sick or vacation days while having an infant at home, so any time you take after that point in unpaid.

      I cried a lot of times while figuring out maternity leave. But it kind of prepares you for the other types of misogyny that you will, for the first time in your life, truly *feel* once you become a mother.

      (All this being said, I recommend having a baby. It is awesome. But society will not support you in any systematic way in that choice until your child is school age. You are really on your own. You will batter yourselves against our society’s stinginess when it comes to families, and it will make you sad, angry, and bitter in varying degrees. Just remember it when you vote).

  39. There’s probably a cat meme to describe it*

    Has anyone started a new job during the Days Of Plague..? Any particular challenges you found, or tips you can share? Or even just random stories shared in the spirit of solidarity..?

    I start a new job next week and I’m a little nervous about getting up to speed and adjusting to the new role given the current environment. It’s already a stretch role with a steep learning curve!

    1. Searching for a New Name*

      I started my new job (at the same company but a different role) back at the beginning of April. Training has been a struggle. Normally, I would be sitting with a member of the team, going through the process and observing them, and then taking part in processing with them. That’s impossible right now for obvious reason, so we’re trying to train remotely by going over processes (we can’t, unfortunately, listen in on active calls) and reviewing documents, but no one has really written out the processes for this team and I’m woefully not prepared to finish training and go live. Not through any fault of the trainer — she threw together our training program last minute and it’s as good as our current tech will allow, but it’s just not nearly what it would be if we were all in the office.

      1. There’s probably a cat meme to describe it*

        Yeah, this sounds pretty similar to what I’m worried will happen in my situation.
        So what happened in the end, did they extend your training or give you any other additional support to get fully prepared..? Or are they just expecting you to wing it?

    2. Just a PM*

      Alison just posted a fantastic update from one of the readers about someone who started a new job recently. Could you take some of those tips to share with your new boss to help you on-board and adjust to the new work?

  40. Marie*

    My situation is like so many people’s right now. First my hours were cut back to 0.75 time, then we got an across-the-board 2.5% salary reduction, and now we’re hearing that layoffs are coming. I’m still scraping by, using up my PTO to make up the lost hours and picking up a side job, but I’m just so stressed and tired.

    1. Picard*

      I hear ya. We got 25-50% salary cuts and no hours change. So basically the same job for (A LOT) less money.

      1. Marie*

        It sucks! I’m so sorry, Picard.

        My position is hourly, so when my PTO runs out it will be effectively a 25% + 2.5% overall pay cut. And layoffs here are based on seniority, and I’ve only been in this job for 1.5 years. I’m probably going to be on the cut list.

  41. Sylvan*

    How do you address a possible need for time off when your parent is sick? My dad has symptoms of COVID. I don’t live with him, but I’ll be needed if an emergency comes up.

    1. queen b*

      I think you could frame it as that! “My dad is elderly and he is starting to show symptoms of COVID. Right now, he’s mostly okay, but I wanted to let you know that if an emergency happens I’ll need to take some time off with little warning.”

      1. The New Wanderer*

        That’s what I did when waiting to hear if my mom was going to need immediate help or help within a month or two due to a sudden and critical (non Covid) diagnosis. I emailed my manager and said basically what queen b wrote. I didn’t end up needing to take leave (yet) but my manager thanked me for letting her know and reiterated that family needs come first, which was good to hear.

    2. Campfire Raccoon*

      Just came to add this is covered by FMLA. If he needs your care, you can take time off at reduced pay.

      1. Doc in a Box*

        Clarifying point that FMLA is unpaid and you need to have been with that employer for 12+ months.

        The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) does mandate up to 2 weeks of leave to care for someone with covid, at 2/3rd pay, plus an additional 10 weeks if you’ve worked there more than 30 days.

        Both have restrictions as to the size of your employer.

  42. Telephone Questions*

    Just got notified we are returning to work early next month. Usual precautions- daily temp checks, masks, gloves (if you want), social distancing, etc. A good portion of my job is talking on the phone. I feel like this will be difficult. When I asked about it, I was told that if I am facing my work station that I can take my mask off. I just learned that masks don’t actually protect you from getting anything contagious, it just prevents you from spreading your droplets to others. Would it be safe to take my mask off if no one is within 6 foot of me?

    1. INeedANap*

      You should be relatively safe if no one is within 6 foot of you, but I would be wary of employers who want to cram people EXACTLY six feet away. If there is a very healthy distance between you and others, more than 6 foot, I’d say you’re fine, but if that isn’t a very generous distance I’d ask that person keep their mask on and keep yours on too. Which sucks, for being on the phones, definitely.

      1. Telephone Questions*

        I have a cubicle with high walls. I am on the end, so I have someone directly across the wall in “front” of me and the cubicle next to me is empty. Another person who does nearly the same job as me is across the aisle, but if we are facing our work stations, our backs are to each other. I expect there will be a lot of “yes we are open but we are limiting the number of people in the facility and you need to pre-purchase a timed ticket” type conversations.

        They will be opening the banquet facilities for us to use for breaks and lunches, so we have been told 1 person per table and the tables will be placed at least 6 foot apart.. We have to clean/sanitize our tables before and after eating, which cuts into my 30 minute unpaid lunch. So I either have to download the mobile app to clock in and out so I don’t have to walk to the time clock after sanitizing my table before eating but know I wonder about washing my hands after I clean the table. I’ll use gloves of course, but I try to only use hand sanitizer when absolutely necessary because I already have dry skin and sanitizer just wrecks it. Or we can eat in our cars. I hate trying to eat in my car.

    2. WellRed*

      We just learned we may have to mask up and I also do a lot of phone work. Curious how your company is handling temperature checks?

      1. Telephone Questions*

        The reopening plan they sent us says that they will be using a touchless temperature scanner/thermometer . We are to go in, have our temperature checked and logged on a spreadsheet and as long as we are at or below 100.4, we are considered safe to work.

        I asked about who is taking the temps and logging. It will be done by either our security staff or a member of our EDU dept. Since we have cancelled all EDU programs and any programs or activities that would draw large crowds, they are asking if any EDU employees would want to do this to be able to get hours.

      2. Diahann Carroll*

        My mom’s employer has a nurse on staff that is stationed inside the front entrance. Any employees who come in have to stop at the nurse’s station and answer questions, including whether they have taken their temperature. If they haven’t, she takes their temperature. If they don’t have a fever, only then can they move on to the elevator banks.

  43. August*

    Coworker lost it and started near-screaming about how wrong X review process was going (with focus on one of my comments in the review doc, fun!) and manager sat there and let him do it. I wish there wasn’t a pandemic so I could quit on the spot and have a somewhat decent chance of finding a new job. I’m just so…sad.

    1. leapingLemur*

      It’s probably worthwhile looking for a new job anyway – who knows, you might find something great!

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        Yup, start the job search. You may get lucky like a few people who regularly comment here and find something new.

  44. Ariana Grande's Ponytail*

    I’m looking for thoughts on the best way to resign when you have two bosses who are married to each other, and we are not meeting in person any time in the foreseeable future.

    I’ve got a verbal offer and am waiting on details, but I expect that as long as the details are good, I will hopefully be needing to resign very soon. Hooray! But I’m curious about the best way to resign. I expect that at least one of my bosses might get emotional, which adds unnecessary stress. Anyways, they are married and live together. I meet with them regularly on one day a week, but at different times, via phone/video call. I am not sure if I should call a meeting with both of them on whatever day I need to resign, send an email to both at once and say we can discuss details individually, or some other option. I feel like it’s not possible to tell one and expect that they would actually not tell the other before I got the chance to speak with them myself. This is the first FT job I’ll be leaving ever so any advice is appreciated!

    1. Picard*

      Personally, in these times, I would send an email to both and offer to chat about the particular of the transition via SKYPE/ZOOM whatever.

    2. anony*

      Here’s one option: schedule individual calls with each of them, in whichever order makes most sense to you. Compose an email to the 2nd person, before talking to either of them. Hit “send” on that email IMMEDIATELY after speaking to the first one (or even while you are on the first call), and say in it something like, “I am expecting to talk to you about this on our call today, but wanted to be sure you got the news directly from me.” They will probably talk in between, but that’s okay… what matters is that the email is there and says the news in your words, and then you get to speak to each of them individually as that is what you are used to.

      1. anony*

        Actually, after seeing Picard’s comment… I think I’d include both of them on the email, and send it just as you’re calling in to the call with the first one.

  45. Belle*

    Happy Friday, all.

    I am currently applying for a position as Director of HR for a local private school. I have worked in non-profit before but not specifically education. Plus I have for-profit experience in HR but know there will be some differences.

    If anyone knows of a good resource on HR for educational institutions, would you mind posting it for me? I googled and was able to find some general info, but I am hoping to do a deeper dive in case I am selected for an interview.

    I am open to any type of resource: website, book, etc.

    Thanks all!

    1. Anono-me*

      It might be helpful to take a look at your State’s teacher licensing board to familiarize your self with the process and CE requirements.

      It might also be helpful to look at your local or State teachers union website, that way you could get a feel for some of the more common current workplace issues.

      (Ideas from a teacher adjacent person)

  46. CatCat*

    I’ve been feeling a little checked out at work lately. I’ve been having a ton of generalized anxiety and sleeplessness. I had an interview this week and while I was initially ambivalent about the thought of changing jobs in a tough economic landscape, the interview made me pretty excited about the opportunity since the work is more aligned with my interests and strengths than some of my work at my current job. I was also able to get in touch with a couple people outside the interview process who work there who verified that it’s a great place to work.

    Getting excited about this new opportunity has made me feel even MORE checked out the last few days. Ugh. I really need to focus at work. But it’s so tough with anxiety, feeling exhausted, and dreaming of greener pastures at the same time.

    1. Drivesmenuts*

      I feel you! I am having a hard time adjusting to the new Rona-related job changes at work and the fact that my company took this as an opportunity to let go a great CEO who I really clicked with. I am sad and angry and just don’t want to deal with the BS anymore (BS that has been happening well before Rona). I interviewed for a new job and now I have no patience for my old job. I’m basically ready to say if I don’t get the new job, I’ll quit anyway to relieve my stress and anger. Hugs!

  47. Jules the First*

    Oof. This was a rough week.

    I had to let a newish but quite senior member of my team, John, go at the beginning of the week for poor performance and although it should not have come as a surprise to him given that I had to step in and take over a major project a month ago, apparently John was blindsided by it. He’s found the learning curve hard, but I thought we were making progress until an external partner called me last week to mention, casually, that Project X had really suffered from not having one of my project managers on the team…which was awkward as John had allegedly been the senior project manager on that project for five months. I worked with HR to investigate and ran the results past legal and their conclusion was that the very best case scenario for John was termination for non performance. Legal said it was borderline fraud, but I didn’t want to go there right now. So we are paying out several months of severance and benefits even though we legally don’t have to, and providing a neutral reference, but boy, John was angry. Name calling, mudslinging, accusations of bullying and intimidation and setting him up to fail. He even compared me to a moderately obscure genocidal dictator! I’m actually cravenly grateful that we got to do this over video call instead of face to face. I really thought John was our gilded unicorn, but even being charitable about the timing, his response makes me very glad he is no longer on the team.

    Please send hugs…

    1. new kid*

      That really sucks. I’m sorry you had to deal with that/had to listen to his exit tirade. People definitely seem to show you who they really are in those moments.

    2. Picard*

      ugh. Hugs for sure.

      I had an ex employee situation yesterday where the person accused me of all sorts of shenanigans which yes, I took personal offence at (but didnt respond to) This was over the phone – the person hung up on me and I did not call them back. I followed up with an email and evidence attachments proving what I was saying was accurate. MIC drop.

    3. WellRed*

      I’ll bet if you really dig into his past work history, he has a pattern like this (I am not saying to actually do this).

    4. Laure001*

      Who was the moderately obscure genocidal dictator? And such a great turn of phrase. :)

    5. Diahann Carroll*

      So wait – he wasn’t actually working at all, screwed up an important project, and was surprised and pissed off when he was inevitably let go? Wow. The level of arrogance/entitlement is astounding.

    6. Bagpuss*

      A little late, but sending hugs and sympathy. Sadly I think it’s not an uncommon reaction for someone who is failing and unwilling to a accept it to take it out on the person who has to call them to account.
      I‘be come across it 2 or 3 times- in each case where we had already done everything we could in terms of making sure that the person knew there were problems, providing support and training etc. I think it’s about not being able/willing to admit fault (& being a jerk!)
      On the plus side, he’s out of your hair now and you can fix the problems he caused .

  48. Ann O'Nemity*

    I want to hear your crazy job rejections stories. Mean rejections, funny rejections, WTF rejections, etc.

    Here’s mine: I was invited to apply for a job by the hiring manager and the outgoing person in the role, both of whom I know professionally. We had super transparent conversations about the role and salary. I went through a time-consuming hiring process to appease HR requirements, but knew I was a shoe-in for the position. The hiring manager told me I was selected, and that HR would send the formal offer. Two weeks later, HR reaches out with an offer that is 20% less than the bottom of the range we discussed. Won’t answer questions about where the number came from, why it’s different, etc. Tells me everyone takes a pay cut to work there (WTF?!). I reach out to the hiring manager and try to negotiate for a higher salary. Standard stuff, like Alison has advised here. A few hours later, I get a curt email from HR telling me that because I wasn’t happy with the first offer, they were rescinding it. Since then, they’ve added me to their mailing list, all efforts to unsubscribe have failed, and I had to block them to stop getting the spam. Still a little bitter.

    1. CatCat*

      After paying out-of-pocket to travel across the country on short notice for a final round interview, I got an email rejection a few weeks later, the entirety of which said, “Applicant not selected.”

    2. Been There*

      You should report the company to the FCC – it’s HUGELY illegal to send email to people who have unsubscribed from your mailing list, and they could get fined for it.

      1. Ann O'Nemity*

        Ha! It makes me laugh just thinking about being that vindictive.

        When unsubscribing didn’t instantly work, I tried to be patient. Maybe it takes a couple days? After awhile, I unsubscribed again. And again. Every email was like salt in the wound. And this is a company with an active email marketing push. Finally just blocked them.

        1. Been There*

          well…. you’re not being vindictive if you’re right? Ultimately it’s not about getting revenge, it’s about the company following the law, and it sounds like they’re not. They may not get fined right away (or at all) but they will get investigated and that should be enough to wake them up to their completely unethical marketing practices.
          I wonder what email marketing software they use… Most of them have a built in system to remove unsubscribes from the email lists.

          Btw it sounds like you dodged a proverbial bullet there.

        2. Ama*

          Actually if a fairly low threshhold of people complain that a sender is spam (i.e. they are ignoring unsubscribe requests), they can sometimes get blocked by their bulk email service provider (because ultimately the service provider could also be held responsible for violating spam laws). I know Blackbaud in particular does this because my employer uses Blackbaud and we had to have a whole staff meeting about it to explain why people need to think carefully about who should receive their emails and not just send to everyone in the database.

          1. Anonymous Elephant*

            This is true. My former employer was a University and every 3-4 months any email going outside of our server would be blocked because we had been reported for spam. We finally switched over to G Suite so we could be whitelisted and it solved the issue.

    3. pretzelgirl*

      Right out of college I was offered a job at a major, major bank in the customer service department. I had to do a background test and get fingerprinted to get the job. I was really young and a super goody 2 shoes in college. I barely had speeding tickets so I wasn’t worried. I got a call from an outside screening company, that asked me about every job I had held at that point (which then dated back to HS). They wanted to know, what I made, why I left, if I gave a 2 weeks notice. Which was super strange. In college I left 2 jobs w/o a 2 weeks notice. It was silly at the time, but I was young and didn’t know better. The lady on the phone said bc I had left w/o giving a 2 weeks notice, my offer was rescinded and I would no longer be working at the company. I was flabbergasted. No mention of this was made in the hiring process. I was so shocked and I was mortified.

      A few weeks later, I got a packet in the mail. In the packet was a check for my first week of work (???), a new hire packet and info about insurance. I was so confused. I never was communicated start date info, or anything since my offer was rescinded. So I threw everything away and didn’t cash the check. Months later I got a call from collections saying I cashed the check. Which I didn’t (way to rub salt in the wounds). They finally realized I never cashed it and stopped contacting me.

      It was the strangest experience ever. I have never experienced anything remotely close in my professional career. To this day I still, I am not sure if they ever officially rescinded the offer and they counted me as a No call no show on the first day. I wonder what would have happened if I just showed up to work!

      1. pretzelgirl*

        Also I am not 35 (this was over 13 years ago), and I am still not over it. Every new job I get, I make them run the background check, and then give me an offer letter confirming the job. I had actually resigned from my college job (which paid decent for the time and given my age) and was worried I wouldn’t get it back. Thankfully I did, but to this day it still worries me!!

      2. Ann O'Nemity*

        If you hadn’t said “major bank” I would have expected something shady with the employer. So weird.

    4. RC Rascal*

      Out of college in the 1990s I got an interview for large brand name Consumer Package Goods company. I was really interested in the job so while I was in the interview process I mailed my resume to the HR departments of all the other brand name CPG companies I could think of.

      After a month of interviews, I was offered an awesome job with the initial brand name CPG company. Yay!!!. They had me wait 3 weeks to start. During that 3 weeks I received a letter from one of the other companies that said I was completely unqualified to work for them and they would never consider hiring me. The tone was extremely rude and patronizing, especially for a company marketing brands everyone buys. Ironically, this company was a major competitor of the one that extended the offer.

    5. What the What*

      Our of college, I went through multiple interview rounds for an entry level accounting/CPA job. Every interview went great and the firm was my first pick. They told me they were ready to extend my offer and were super excited to have me on board. The HR recruiter gave me a verbal salary and start date.

      There was just one formality they had forgotten… an online personality test. So I take the test online. It was one of those “there’s no right answer” types of tests.

      Apparently there are right answers though, because the next day, I was told they would not be extending an offer to me.

      What did it say about my personality that was so bad?

      I knew the guy who got that position, and he told me he lied on his personality assessment and just selected random answers. LinkedIn sent me a message celebrating his 8th year at the firm, and I quit my job and started my own firm. So I guess maybe the personality test was right about us. He was the right man for the job.

    6. Can't Sit Still*

      An internal recruiter contacted me about a job because I had previously worked for a parent company and would be familiar with their policies and procedures, etc. I was on the fence due to location, but decided to see where it went. After the second round of interviews, I received a rejection email that said “we have much better candidates than you from our internal referral process.” Fair enough, although they could have phrased it better. But the commute would have been brutal, so, whatever.

      Two weeks later, I got a call from another internal recruiter to see I could start, because I was the best qualified candidate. LOLwut? I declined. One week, later, I got another call, pleading with me to take the job. Same internal recruiter, not a headhunting firm. I firmly declined this time and told them not to contact me again.

      1. Rachel in NYC*

        I feel like there is some really great story here that none of us will every know involving an internal candidate emailing all of the external candidates rejection letters.

        1. Can't Sit Still*

          That got a belly laugh! I will forever after imagine that’s what happened.

        2. Uranus Wars*

          Next week on AAM “What to do when an internal candidate retaliates by sending all external candidates a rejection letter for the position they were unqualified for”

    7. Anon for this!*

      I had applied for a job where you meet with people one-on-one after they have potentially broken a rule. Most of the time things go just fine, but sometimes there are volatile situations. I had done that kind of work before, and I am trained in how to respond if something goes wrong. I had great references that the hiring manager knew. The hiring manager, who was also a mentor, invited me to apply.
      I didn’t get the job, and I was bummed out but ok. When the hiring manager gave me the news, she invited me in for feedback, which I really appreciated. But then the only feedback she could give me was “you’re a small woman and the guys you have to meet with here will run right over you.”

      So, bullet dodged, I guess. Don’t want to work for her.

    8. Bloopmaster*

      About a week after an initial phone interview, I received a call from HR inviting me to an on-site interview. We confirmed the date, time, location, and itinerary. Everything sounded great. Ten minutes later HR calls back and tells me there had been a mix-up–I wasn’t invited after