calling out sick in your first week, my ideas are ignored unless I submit them anonymously, and more

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

1. I was late my first week — and now I need to call out sick

It seems like five minutes after I started a new job, I hit a brick wall. And that brick wall is COVID-19 symptoms a day after I managed to misread the schedule and showed up an hour late for work.

I feel terrible telling my boss I might need to call out and get tested right after that kind of a screw-up — and I haven’t even been at this job for a week. But I also am coughing up my lungs every twenty minutes and feel like death.

Oh no! Say this: “I’m mortified by both of these things happening my first week on the job. I am normally highly reliable and rarely miss work. I can assure you I don’t expect to continue to have issues like this going forward, but since I’m coughing, I want to make sure I’m safe before coming in.” The idea is to directly address what it could look like and the worry your manager likely has that this will be the start of a pattern of unreliability. Often if you do that, say it’s out of character, and make it clear you’re not being cavalier about how it looks, it will put some of your manager’s worries at ease. Not entirely — she’s still going to be wondering if she has an unreliable new hire, but addressing it head-on is so much better than not doing that, and it’s likely to get you enough time to demonstrate afterwards that in fact this isn’t a pattern. (That’s not to say that being sick = being unreliable! It doesn’t. It just sucks when it’s in your first week and right after you got the schedule wrong.)

Whatever you do, do not go into work if there’s a chance you could infect others with COVID.

Read an update to this letter here.

2. My ideas are ignored in-person but praised when I submit them anonymously

My office has an anonymous suggestion box. The idea is to give people a chance to voice an opinion they may not otherwise want to voice out loud. It was created to help bring forward ideas, concerns, and issues that might be left unsaid.

I have noticed that when I bring up ideas or concerns to our team and office community in person they are often overlooked, disregarded, or deemed unnecessary. About a year ago, I started posting those exact same concerns, in almost identical language, to the suggestion box anonymous after they are disregarded. Regularly the suggestions I submit anonymously are brought up in staff meetings as fantastic ideas and much needed perspective on issues in our office community and many of my suggestions have been read aloud to the entire staff as examples of ideas that can change our office culture for the better. Some of my peers have recognized that these ideas are coming from me, but our leadership hasn’t seemed to make the connection.

I am frustrated because I don’t know how to address the fact that my ideas are overlooked when I voice them out loud and praised when they are submitted anonymously. I think I have the ability to be a real contributor to our culture and community, but I am continually feeling defeated by the response that my ideas have been having in person vs anonymously. I don’t want praise for good ideas, but I do want to grow professionally and know that my voice has value at the table. Do you have any suggestions for how I can address this issue?

Any chance that the people praising your anonymous ideas are different than the people shooting down the in-person ones? For example, if your manager regularly shoots down your ideas, but the person who sees them in the suggestion box is higher-level, it could be that your manager is wildly out of sync with what her management would like to see. If that’s possible, it might be interesting to start signing your name to the ideas you leave in the suggestion box and see what happens.

Or, if you’re a member of a group that’s marginalized in your office — which could be about sex, race, religion, age, etc. — it’s worth looking at that as well. For example, there a pretty well-documented phenomenon where women’s ideas are ignored when they propose them but embraced when a man repeats them.

If none of those are the case, then I’d want to know more about your relationship with your manager (or whoever keeps shooting down your ideas). Is this part of a larger pattern where your manager doesn’t like/respect/appreciate you? Is there favoritism on your team? Has she seemed threatened by you, or by new ideas in general? Have you had performance issues that could color the lens through which she sees your contributions? There are lots of possibilities there and it’s hard to speculate on what it might be without knowing more, but I’d look at what you know about how she sees you and how this might play into that.

3. My company is trying to take back my name change

I recently got married and am in the process of having my name changed. It’s pretty common in my company that when this happens, we can update small things before it’s all legalized (just email and a few other things, nothing with payroll, benefits, etc.). Several people I work with have updated these things prior their name being fully changed. I spoke with our HR department about the status of my name change, made a request to change my email, and was approved for this through HR.

A member of our HR department contacted me and is now trying to make me revert back to using my maiden name (in email, title, and my old business cards) on the grounds that I never should have been permitted to update my email in the first place. But I was approved for the change and have now been using my new name and email with my peers and our systems for about two months. It’s confusing, and I feel it’s asking for people to speculate about my personal life to force me to revert back to using my maiden name especially since I’m just waiting for Social Security to update my name to finalize this. I was transparent when I made my request. Can they now take this back and force me to return to using my maiden name?

They can, unless they’re treating you differently than others because of your sex, race, age, religion, disability or other protected class. But it’s silly for them to be trying, when they’ve already approved it and you’ve already been using the new name for two months.

I would escalate this higher in HR, to someone above the person who contacted you. Point out you were already approved and have been using your married name for two months, and explain that your legal name change is in process. Say you would have been willing to wait had they asked you to initially, but they gave you the go-ahead and it would be difficult to change it back now — especially when you would just need to change it again in a matter of weeks when your new Social Security card arrives. If they hold firm, ask why your married name change is being treated differently than other people’s have.

It’s possible they’ve changed their policy and that’s why yours is being handled differently — but then they need to legacy you in because you already made the switch when they approved you. If you don’t get anywhere by escalating it, ask your manager to see if she can get traction where you didn’t. (And if this takes long enough, you’ll probably run out the clock and your new Social Security card will arrive, hopefully making this moot.)

4. When should I stop interviewing?

I’ve been applying to jobs and I have an offer, but we have not signed any paperwork yet, as I first have to pass a background check (I don’t have any skeletons in my closet, but it takes time). It’s a contractor position where I would be hired by Company A but working at Company B, so I am also worried that the funding might get pulled or that Company B might decide they want a different candidate (this is probably irrational but it could happen). All that is to say, I am not “officially” employed yet since no binding paperwork has been signed at this point in the process. I haven’t been onboarded with payroll or set a start date.

I’m now hearing back from other positions that also want to move to the interview stage. I don’t want to turn them down because, theoretically, my job offer could fall through. But I also don’t want to string them along (and do all the prep/time investment for more interviews). What’s the etiquette here? How do I navigate this?

Ideally you’d keep interviewing until (A) you have a formal offer (B) that you’ve accepted (C) with all contingencies (like a background check) removed. In practice, it’s not uncommon for people to stop interviewing after A and B, figuring that they know their background check will be fine (and some companies don’t even complete the checks until right before you start or even afterwards, which is ridiculous).

Right now, given how much instability there is in the world, you really should keep interviewing until everything is fully final. I know it’s a pain to do that, especially if you’re pretty sure the offer won’t fall through. But if you’re worried about it, that’s the safest option. (Hell, some people would tell you to keep interviewing until you actually start the new job, but I think in most cases that’s overkill.)

5. Can you keep applying after a company ghosts you?

After several interviews for a position earlier this year, my husband was essentially ghosted: He sent two follow-up emails after a third interview and didn’t receive a response. At this point, he knows that the ball is in the internal recruiter’s court for the job that they discussed, but my question is whether he can or should continue to apply for additional open positions at the company, which are different either in role or in location. Would this be acceptable, or has the company indicated that they aren’t interested in him and that he should no longer apply?

He can keep applying. I know it feels weird to do that — kind of like asking out someone who is ignoring you. But it’s not the same thing! Ghosting is unfortunately so common in hiring that you can’t really read any meaning into it. In dating, the message ghosting sends is “I’m not interested; please don’t keep contacting me.” In hiring, the message is really just “we’re busy/disorganized/rude” and not “stay away.”

{ 273 comments… read them below }

  1. Finland*

    LW#2, Any chance you can start submitting all of your suggestions anonymously and then claiming them when they are identified as good ideas? That way, you also eliminate any chance of someone taking a good idea of yours before upper management has the opportunity to see it and praise it.

    1. JJ*

      How does submitting all of suggestions anonymously prevent someone else from claiming her ideas exactly? If they are all anonymous, anyone could claim them. Better to keep saying them out loud so others know they were her ideas in the first place.

      1. Finland*

        I didn’t get the impression that she was identifying those anonymous suggestions as her own when they were praised by upper management. But you are right, she should keep voicing her ideas so that others know that they belong to her. It has already become a pattern that upper management identifies her ideas as good ones, so when she mentions them in team meetings now, her immediate management might also be able to take them from her while simultaneously shooting her down.

      2. Donna*

        OP can write the suggestion to herself as an email or something with a timestamp then submit it to the suggestion box a couple days later, establishing a clear timeline. She can even email the suggestion > bring it up in person > submit it anonymously, with a couple days between each stage, to show that it’s her idea and establish the timeline.

        1. Oh Fiddlesticks*

          And then what – when enough suggestions are used, shout “Gotcha!” and whip out the emails, foiling her manager and anyone else involved in… not taking her suggestions? To what end? It won’t go well, I can tell you that.

          1. Jessa1*

            Agreed. Also another thing that occurs in many work places is the ideas placed in an idea box are trumpeted more often because the idea of the box itself is a upper management idea/initiative and they want to been seen promoting it.

            1. Triumphant Fox*

              Yes – this strikes me as being at play here. They really want to say “See how well the box is working!!!” while in other meetings they don’t want to add more work to their plate, so they pass on ideas that may be good. I’d be interested to know if these ideas turn into reality or are just proclaimed as great and then dropped.

        2. Colette*

          How would that help? This isn’t going to go to court in some sort of intellectual property dispute, and her issue isn’t that someone else is claiming her ideas. The problem is that people aren’t receptive to her ideas when they know they come from her. Timestamps aren’t going to help.

    2. Lynca*

      That’s avoiding the actual issue though! It’s not about claiming the ideas (the OP never indicated that’s even an issue) but the fact that OP does not feel valued/respected as a member of her workplace. They shouldn’t have to submit any of this anonymously to get management to consider it seriously. Encouraging her to do that more doesn’t fix the underlying issue and won’t help OP.

      I have been there, done that. OP needs to get to the bottom of why it’s happening and then evaluate if this is something that can be addressed or if it’s an ingrained problem with the workplace.

      1. Mongrel*

        “That’s avoiding the actual issue though! ”
        It is useful to prove the point though, especially if OP does think that there’s active discrimination going on somewhere.
        Better yet just send the manager the suggestion via e-mail, if they’re that busy\oblivious that ideas that they turned down are being praised when they’re anonymous then they’re not going to notice a traceable record of this happening.

      2. Wired Wolf*

        I’d been floating assorted suggestions to my manager for at least two years and been ignored. When we were on furlough–all of us have since been terminated as of last week–when I was in the store shopping I started to notice ideas that I had brought up last year suddenly being implemented. I politely called out one of the managers on this (“oh, I’m happy to see that my idea is finally being put in place!”) and his reaction was telling…everyone knew damn well the idea was mine but seeing as I was a non-management female my ideas got ignored and if a few of the guys backed me up they mysteriously got more work and sabotage piled on them (one of the male managers who was actually working with me to get my ideas implemented was fired after they piled so much crap on him he couldn’t do it all). Probably for the best that I’m shut of that place…

    3. charo*

      I used to make jokes at the same time as a “cool” guy at editorial meetings at an alternative newspaper, and they’d laugh when he said it but didn’t when I said it FIRST. And of course I was the only female in the room.

      So much for “alternative” papers being so progressive. Laughing is the ultimate “submitting” to someone, even more than agreeing w/an idea, so men really don’t like to do that.

      It’s an area not acknowledged enough — the “culture” in an office can hold back ideas and even laughs cause they DO suck up to who they like.

      Re: sick the first week, that happened to me but I went on to do well, at a big newspaper, so just try to rise above it. Show them how good you can be.

    4. Glitsy Gus*

      I think ideally one of these folks who are recognizing the ideas as the OP’s would speak up and say, “It is a great idea. OP actually brought it up last week in X meeting.” If you do feel comfortable asking some of them to do that, I would suggest it. Also, if you recognize any ideas as something someone else said previously, speak up.

      It doesn’t necessarily solve the problem, you do still need to figure out if there is something else going on here that personally relates to you and the managers shooting you down. However, since there is a lot of discussion lately around helping to promote voices that are being silenced, especially if they are voices that are traditionally repressed in the workplace, it may be useful in the larger picture to start pointing these things out, not just for your ideas, OP, but if others are experiencing the same issue as well.

  2. Cheerfully Polite Grey Rock*

    OP#1 This sucks, and it certainly sounds demoralising. One of the tactics often suggested when a man receives public praise for an idea that was previously rejected when presented by a woman (especially in the same meeting), is to encourage other males in the group to speak up. For example, responding with something like “Yes, I believe that’s the idea that Tangerina just suggested”.
    You mentioned that a few of your peers have figured out that the ideas are yours, would any of them be willing to speak up in one of these meetings where the ideas are praised? For example “I think it’s a great idea, it sounds just like what OP suggested last week!”.
    I think it’s also definitely worth looking into potential demographic issues, as the above may have more impact if delivered by a member of a ‘preferred’ group (ideally this shouldn’t matter, but it is similar to the suggestion that males should speak up regarding other males’ behaviour toward woman when the women are obviously not being listened to).
    If the person or people who knock down your idea are different from those who praise it, it might also be worth having a chat with the latter along the lines of “I’m really glad you thought my idea has merit. I have a few more suggestions, but I’m a bit hesitant to raise them given the negative feedback I have received previously around similar ideas. Could I run a few more of them past you and see what you think?”
    There’s definitely something off about this, and determining what it is might hopefully help you to work around it.

    1. space cadet*

      I was with you until your last couple of sentences. Acknowledging that someone has undue social capital and enlisting them as a workplace ally is really different than validating that undue capital by running ideas by them first! Just because the boss respects them more doesn’t mean they actually need to give you feedback on your ideas, especially after you’ve gotten independent confirmation that your ideas are valued anonymously.

      1. Cheerfully Polite Grey Rock*

        It sounds like I may have been unclear in the last section. I was referring to the people who are praising OP’s ideas, which are not necessarily the same as the people requested to speak up in support.
        For example, if the OP’s boss is shooting down the ideas, but OP’s grandboss is praising them, then it might be worth having a chat with the grandboss directly so that they:
        -know that the ideas are OP’s
        -are aware that these same ideas are being rejected lower down the ladder. This would make grandboss aware of the disparity, and maybe give OP some information on where the disconnect is.

  3. MassMatt*

    #2 I know nothing of your gender, race, religion, etc but this reeks of differential treatment based on SOMETHING other than the merit of your ideas. Do as Alison suggests, see if the roadblock when you mention an idea in a meeting is different than the people reading the anonymous submissions. Also, an6 chance that you are better writing them down than presenting them aloud? But my hunch is they are not recognizing your value. Document that the suggestions are yours so they don’t get stolen, and maybe consider looking for someplace that listens to such great ideas when YOU say them vs: anonymous submissions.

    1. Mookie*

      This was my instinct, but I’m kind of crossing my fingers Alison’s first explanation ends up explaining the discrepancy, and that two different (maybe overlapping?) sets of people are fielding in-person ideas and suggestion box ones. Then again, the LW is in the best position to gauge whether that sounds likely, and her letter seems to indicate otherwise.

      Given that the purpose of the suggestion box in this office is to allow team members to express ideas that are either likely to be controversial or likely to damage or diminish the team member’s reputation within their team and the organization’s leadership, I’d be interested to hear whether the LW is making bold-to-the-point-of-divisive suggestions. My guess is not, judging by the unbridled enthusiasm for these ideas, provided they are not made by the ‘wrong‘ people or in the ‘wrong’ format. Sounds like a glitch in the system worth pointing out in a note (anonymous or otherwise) and then discussed openly with the team, so leadership can clarify what they are trying to do with this policy.

      Speaking of which, are the LW’s ideas, popular though they are, ever implemented or otherwise corrected formally? Are those of other people? Since her peers appear to recognize the LW in these ‘anonymous’ suggestions, how successful are they themselves at navigating this? Does anyone else feel frustrated, overlooked?

      1. Myrin*

        I was wondering about OP’s coworkers myself, and I think it’s a hugely important point in her situation – are her peers’ ideas disregarded regularly, too? And if so, does that apply across the board or only to others who share some demographic details with OP or maybe even job-related ones, like the ignored ones are all from Department X or direct reports of Manager Y?

        1. Inefficient Cat Herder*

          It seems to me that SOMEONE in management is aware that good ideas are being suppressed or they wouldn’t have needed the anonymous suggestion box to begin with.

          1. EPLawyer*

            Here’s where I come down. Is anyone DOING anything with these ideas in the first place? Sure they are praised, but are they then ACTED on? If they are not, OP, you might want to accept your company does a lot of good talking, but doesn’t actually try to change anything. You then have to decide if its worth staying. If it is, you might want to dial back the suggestion making because it doesn’t do any good and just demoralizes you when it is ignored.

          2. Artemesia*

            This jumped out at me. I have never been in a workplace where there was a process for anonymous idea submission. If this is as regular a pattern as implied in the question then there is something deeply broken here. I have had a boss who attacked me for ideas in meetings which he then adopt a couple of weeks later. A colleague after one of these moments, said to me ‘Wow, what is it with Larry — you must remind him of his ex-wife or something.’ But the boss didn’t do this to most others and we certainly didn’t have a process for anonymous submissions.

            If the person praising the ideas is different from the manager reacting in meetings then it might be worth taking the pile of emails and a quizzical look to the uberboss and discussing this phenomenon with him. If it is the same person, then it still might be a risk worth taking. This is especially true if demographics are at play here -e.g. other women or minorities are have the same experience.

            1. Dust Bunny*

              I have never been in a functional workplace where there was an avenue for anonymous submissions. I’ve been in two where there were but it was because management wanted ideas but . . . I’m not sure what was going on but it felt like if they heard good ideas directly from employees they would have had to admit that we weren’t the childish dumb*sses on which their level of respect for us (and payscale) was based, so it was easier for them to face anonymous suggestions and not have to give anyone credit.

    2. Cambridge Comma*

      It could also be that OP presents ideas in writing better than she does in person, or that the person/people reading the suggestions are more receptive when reading ideas at their own pace.
      I mean, it’s probably bias, but I try to be an optimist sometimes.

      1. BethDH*

        These other options are important to consider not just because they are possible, but because if evidence does point to it being bias and OP wants to bring it up to someone, they will have more standing if they can say they considered these other options and are not defaulting to bias.
        I think that’s particularly important because if you’re subject to one kind of bias, you’re often subject to others, and you want to have a reputation where each of those claims is taken seriously.
        Unfortunately, people who have the backbone to report bias are also often accused of being too focused on bias in a sort of twisted “boy who cried wolf” way.

        1. BethDH*

          (By which I mean that if they ever report an incident and suggest that it might be bias-driven, and then it’s something else, they don’t get taken seriously the next time they make a claim. I don’t mean they shouldn’t report, but that it benefits them to show they are considering other options.)

        2. Smithy*

          This to the n’th degree.

          Even if this was just a case where management was dismissive of ideas from junior level staff – it’s very often that junior staff can disproportionately be women and BIPOC compared to management.

          One thing to be mindful of with this kind of bias where ideas presented verbally never seem to be done so in the right way, at the right time, in the right tone, etc. Therefore, another way to address this might be “would you prefer I submit ideas in writing instead of during meetings/ 1 on 1’s.” Now, if this is a case where written ideas are ignored but those in the anonymous box are listened to – that’s another strong evidence point.

          Lastly – should it really seem like there isn’t other obvious bias in place – if you are feeling particularly disregarded, disrespected, or otherwise checked out at work, it may be worth reflecting on your overall tone. When I’ve felt particularly undervalued as a junior staff member, my attitude at work has 100% become more antagonistic. And there can be a significant difference in my style of presentation speaking vs writing. That antagonistic attitude may very well come from an understandable place of not finding opportunities for professional growth or leadership….but it’s worth being mindful of.

          1. hbc*

            Good point about the attitude that comes across. I’ve got one employee (straight white male, FWIW) who comes up with decent ideas but always presents them as if he thinks everyone is an idiot for not doing it already. There’s a huge difference between “I think we’ll get better results if we switch from X to Y” and “Y is obviously superior, I’m not sure why anyone even came up with X.” I spend a good chunk of my time defending how X came to be and how it made sense at the time or whatnot. It’s a lot of mental work to still assess Y on its merits when he’s actually demonstrating that he doesn’t understand the whole picture.

            The negativity tends to be a verbal tic, so in written and anonymous form, it’d just be a nice clear suggestion for improvement.

            1. Smithy*

              I will add – that this kind of antagonistic tone is often interpreted differently based on traditional areas of bias. Whether it represents a frustrated desire for leadership and more responsibility or represents being a poor team player and neglecting development of good communication skills – that’s another issue.

              To BethDH’s point, when you’re flagging a concern of bias – it is so helpful to be mindful of what’s being discussed and focus the feedback on that.

      2. Hey Karma, Over Here*

        I was wondering this as well. I thought that OP could write down ideas during the meeting and hand the notes to the manager leading the meeting either before or during, something like, “I wrote down my suggestion, because I wanted to get all the points in there. Please share it with the group.”
        This will allow manager to process it and OP can read some facial expressions when manager takes the paper…

      3. Sam.*

        If it’s the same people ignoring and praising OP, I would not dismiss that as a possibility. One of my old bosses was averse to change and needed time to sit on an idea. He could be won over to an idea, but that was often only after he’d reflexively shot it down on and then had time to process it before you brought it up again.

        The other thing OP should consider (if they haven’t already) is how they’re bringing up the ideas originally. Is there a different, non-anonymous approach that might be better received? For example, I had a grandboss who, despite asking for feedback, didn’t actually like people offering suggestions in larger staff meetings. I found that he responded much better in a one-on-one setting where there weren’t a lot of people watching him process the idea (and he did have an open door policy, which made it possible to have those conversations).

        It very well may be that they’re just treating OP poorly or they’re unfairly favoring others, but I’d try to consider whether there are other approaches worth trying.

    3. Potatoes gonna potate*

      It is so hard to realize what the real issue is when it happens. I had something similar happening when I was promoted and my contributions didn’t seem to be taken seriously. Honestly, I couldn’t figure out if it’s because I was (at the time) the only woman in that position, I didn’t “present” well (if I spoke confidently, there’d be snickering, if I spoke less or quietly, I wasn’t “engaged”) or, my fear, they thought I was incompetent and that I had a “wink wink nudge nudge” promotion. In any case, I didn’t feel valued or respected at all. IMO it’s such a tricky thing that for me it was hard to just assume it was because of my gender.

      agree 100% with the advice given. it’s worth looking in to to see if there’s a deeper issue,if there are other things at play and ultimately – finding a new company.

    4. designbot*

      The other option I was thinking of is that LW may not be bringing up the ideas at the right time/venue. I hear my husband do this now that we work from home—he has great ideas, but often doesn’t have the sense for when a 1-on-1 is the appropriate venue vs. a bigger team meeting, or when his idea may have merit but the way it’s brought up in conversation feels like a distraction. Sometimes timing is everything, and maybe our LW (like my husband) just doesn’t have it?
      Not bringing this up to negate the possibility of discriminatory treatment, which is definitely on the table here. But there’s little LW can do about that one, and it may help to see if all of her ducks are in a row as well.

  4. MassMatt*

    #3 this is bizarre, changing systems for a new name is a huge PITA at most places, I had to work for months just to correct a typo that somehow creeped its way into multiple systems, it was a many-headed hydra. Someone in HR demanding you change it BACK onl6 to change it again in a couple weeks seems like a terrible idea.

    I suspect this is the work of a low-level functionary that has decided on their own that only fully legal name changes will be processed and everything else is WRONG. Move it up the chain and it wouldn’t surprise me if the reaction “what? Someone is telling an employee to go through THREE name changes in the spa of a couple month? That’s NUTS!”, especially after clients have been notified. I think “Guacamole Bob” has moved from finance to HR.

    1. PollyQ*

      (Side note, and I have ranted this rant before, but!) It’s poor management/system design for name changes to be at all difficult. People change their names for all kinds of reasons, and it shouldn’t be any harder for a company to make those updates for an employee, or any other contact, than it would be to make an address change.


        1. Insert Clever Name Here*

          I re-read the update because I needed something satisfying to begin my week :D

        2. KayDeeAye*

          Ahhh, I love the Guacamole Bob letter/update so, so much, but now, dang it, I crave guacamole! Particularly if the company is paying for it.

        3. LunaLena*

          Ah, thank you! I’d noticed the Guacamole Bob references but had no idea what it referred to. Holy guacamole indeed, Batman.

      1. Colette*

        The issue usually is that there’s not one system – there is a payroll system and an accounts system and an email system and a benefits system and …. They don’t talk to each other, they have been purchased by different vendors, and customized in languages that are no longer in common use.

        1. Gaia*

          The thing is, disparate systems are, in themselves, a system. A terrible system, and one that absolutely needs to be changed. There should be a single umbrella system that connects to all other personnel systems. You change something in the umbrella system and it speaks to the other ones as necessary.

          It doesn’t have to be so difficult.

          1. Colette*

            True, but most companies aren’t willing to invest the millions of dollars something like that would cost. (And even if they did, it would only affect the systems they own – something like an insurance program or retirement account is probably owned and run by a third party.)

            1. That Girl from Quinn's House*

              I worked somewhere that did. They spent millions of dollars on two custom systems, one staff-sided and one customer sided.

              The staff sided one was buggy and full of glitches that meant our staff received incorrect pay more often than not, and that we were unable to fill positions because the application/submission page was so difficult and confusing many entry-level candidates dropped out of the process instead. The customer sided one was deployed years late. They were “very excited” about its upcoming launch when I was hired and by the time I left four years later it had not been launched. Both of these software suites were from big name companies in the field. You definitely know them.

              Spending millions of dollars on software doesn’t guarantee it will work correctly.

          2. Observer*

            That’s very often a very expensive proposition, especially once you start really looking at security and segmentation of networks / functions etc.

            Also, sometime good security / accountability practice requires the admittedly inefficient practice of not necessarily automating things, to force a second pair of eyes, preferably in a different department, to look at some things. Most changes to payroll systems tend to fall under that category.

            1. fhgwhgads*

              It also doesn’t need to be millions of dollars and automated. Even if there are six different systems that need to be done manually, this is what checklists are for. So IT gets the approved request, goes down the list, and it’s done. Maybe it takes 10 minutes, which isn’t ideal, but it’s done.

          3. LQ*

            Absolutely true. But moving people especially a large often beauracratic organization off the disparate systems can take years, decades, and then each little niche areas either rightly or (usually) wrongly, claims that something doesn’t work for them and they have an enterprising person who goes off and comes up with a new separate thing. (Teams stinks, but it’s free and easy so I’ll get slack for just my team.) And then you end up back in the disparate systems again. The only way to maintain a truely umbrella system is with an iron rule on things that does not ever allow anyone to start up their own enterprising idea without going through a process to tie it back into the umbrella and then quashing everyone who wants slack or google docs or notion or any of another million tools that are not the One Singular Allowed Umbrella Tool.

            Good sso kinds of tools are helping, but far from actually integrated.

            It is that difficult in actual practice or everyone would do it correctly because it’s obviously the better way to do it. It’s easy in theory, hard in practice. So yes, these systems are different and it often takes at least a handful of systems (usually at least one of which is an internal and very difficult to change because the one person who can is busy with 30 other more important things than making this change easier).

    2. LifeBeforeCorona*

      Legal name changes should be seamless in a workplace since it affects pay, benefits, insurance. etc. Imagine the nightmare that can happen with insurance claims if the LW is now on her partner’s plan but has a different legal name. It’s worth pushing back on.

      1. bubbleon*

        Frankly, even preferred name changes should be a breeze on at least outward facing communications. If Bob Smith’s been called Bob his entire life and has never introduced himself as Michael Robert Smith, there shouldn’t be an issue making sure his emails come from Bob instead of Michael. There are so many reasons why people might not want to go by their given legal names, it’s something HR should be prepared for.

      1. The Rural Juror*

        Also, reprinting business cards? When I get new business cards that are different from the old ones (updated phone number, logo, etc), I throw away the old ones! I don’t want them accidentally going out into circulation. So if they’re having to get new ones printed with her maiden name, it’s such a waste of money!

        1. Elizabeth West*

          As someone whose admin work has frequently included being the card-orderer, if you asked me to do it three times for one person in such a short amount of time, I would find that a little bonkers.

    3. MCMonkeyBean*

      Yeah, the weirdest part of this to me is that HR would be making a lot more work for themselves. Or a lot more work for IT. Basically just more work than necessary for absolutely no good reason.

    4. Stephanie*

      Hi! Thanks for commenting! Exactly what I thought while this was happening. It seemed like so much more work for them and a lot of headache for colleagues who just got used to my new email address.

    5. Amethystmoon*

      Many companies are very slow to process married name changes. There are people in my company who have been married for years, and it reflects in one database properly, but not another. It causes issues with new people when they have to say, route a task to a person but don’t know that Jane X. Doe is really Jane X. Smith. But that’s not because our IT dept. changed their minds, it’s just that it gets done at about the speed of a snail crossing the road.

    6. Aitch Arr*

      Or it’s a higher level HR/Benefits/Payroll employee who is a HUGE stickler for The Rules (TM)… ask me how I know.

  5. Ellie May*

    In the US, the Social Security Administration doesn’t care one bit what your name is as long as you are paying them via your social security number. Women change last names and it doesn’t matter – you don’t need a new social security card with the latest last name on it. Your original social security card and marriage certificate will suffice (yup!). I changed my last name when I married and my husband legally (in court) changed his first name – no new social security cards involved.
    Your employer doesn’t need to “approve” your last name.

    1. AcademiaNut*

      I could see wanting the SSC to match your legal name so you wouldn’t need to reference your marriage in future jobs, even if it’s not strictly necessary. I’m not sure I’d be keen on needing to bring my marriage certificate for processing paperwork for a new job. (You could keep the marriage out of it completely by simply telling your employer that you’re legally changing names, but not why).

      1. Mookie*

        I honestly don’t get why you’d have to do any of that for any new job in a world where marriage is common and is also the most common reason for someone changing/altering their surname (legally, professionally, or otherwise). You just tick the box or otherwise indicate a name change on your application materials, and the background and reference checks do the rest. With few exceptions, the only time marriage certificates are requested are after an offer and for the purposes of benefits, insofar as I know. Employers also need the new SSC for their W-2s, of course.

        Also, in some US states a name change for state IDs and driver licenses triggers a notification to SSA on your behalf.

        1. Mookie*

          Also, if the LW’s employers need to verify that a change has been requested and a new card is coming, there is free and immediate verification from the SSA at their disposal. There is no reason to drag their feet about this perfectly innocuous thing.

        2. Upstater*

          How would a SSA card with one name and a Drivers License with another work with an I9. I work in a small grocery store where we do our own paper work.

          1. Sled dog mama*

            I have my original SS card that my parents got when I was born and a drivers license with my married name. I just present a copy of my marriage certificate and have never had any issue.
            My understanding of the I9 (not at all involved in HR/or paper work) is that you (employer) are just required to verify that the ids presented are for the same person and the marriage certificate provides that by showing a reason that my SS card says Anna Linda Smith* and my drivers license says Anna Linda O’Neill. I imagine it would be more difficult for the marriage license to provide that link when both parties have changed their name.
            *not my actual name

        3. WellRed*

          Yes, I don’t know of anyone who’s ever had to bring extra documentation to fill out new job paperwork. They just need the SSN card for the number.

          1. Haven’t picked out a username yet*

            The I9 required two proofs of identification if one is a SS card or Drivers license. There are only a few documents that don’t require a second – primarily being your passport, because in order to get your passport you have already had those other forms of ID verified.

            1. Gray Lady*

              When I got a passport (non-renewal) after being married, I didn’t need my marriage certificate to verify my (maiden name) SS card vis a vis my (married name) driver’s license. So even that doesn’t require verification — as long as the SSN matches up with the driver’s license in the system, it’s not a conflict.

            2. Christmas Carol*

              I started a new job once, brought them my passport when I did the onboarding process and was told that a passport wasn’t sufficient proof of identity or citizenship. Sigh. Big surprise, the company is no longer in business.

              1. Database Developer Dude*

                I’d have seriously pushed back on that, because it’s both. You have to give so much information to get a passport in the first place it isn’t even funny. Of course the company’s no longer in business, they’re idiots.

              2. Sinister Serina*

                I do the onboarding at my company and I prefer a passport over anything else, because it proves citizenship and SSN, since you needed to provide that in order to get it. When people bring in other documentation (and if you bring in a driver’s license you need to have the SSN to go with it for the I9) I inwardly sigh, even though it doesn’t really add much work. A passport is so much easier though.

          2. Environmental Compliance*

            I’ve always had to bring in SSN card, birth cert, driver’s license, and after I got married my marriage cert, which is an absolute PITA. I got married, y’all, this happens to somebody somewhere on a daily basis, you’d think it would be totally logical to follow that my last name changed, but I’ve ran into too many HR SNAFUs with that.

            The only time I had no problems at all was when I actually got married – I was teaching at a large uni, let them know, and then they had everything (down to email forwarding) set up with minimal fuss – I think all I had to do was submit a piece of paper with the new last name on it, so they had it in writing what the spelling was – and let me pick the day everything switched over. It was glorious. And then at my next job, I think having gotten actual security clearance to be Secret Service would have been easier, and I was coming in with my married name.

          3. Esmeralda*

            Don’t even need the card, really. I mislaid my social security card back in the last century and have not needed it for any job (or any other reason). I’ve had a dozen jobs since I lost it. Not one employer has asked for it (large corporation, small business, teeny business, state government).

            Most things I’ve seen that accept the SS card for id allow other forms of id.

      2. Quill*

        My mom just had to find a copy of her marriage certificate for insurance reasons… she got married 33 years ago, has moved like seven times since, had a copy stashed away at her parents house but hasn’t needed to reference it in thirty years, also her parents have since died…

        She ended up having to order one from the county she and my dad were married in, and paying a fee to “un-archive” it.

        Her advice to me was “If you get married, don’t change your name.”

        1. Sal*

          Honestly, I didn’t change my name when I got married and it has been the non-hassle of a lifetime. Here is what goes wrong: sometimes extended family address checks to my first name + my husband’s last name. I’m pretty sure I can still deposit them.

          THAT’S IT. Everything else stayed the same because…it stayed the same. (Yes, we have kids; the kids have his name; I have never had to prove anything at the airport with the kids and without my husband, I guess I look like my kids.)

    2. Shira*

      This isn’t entirely true. I got married while living abroad and my marriage certificate was in a (fairly uncommon) foreign language. While abroad I changed my name on my US passport – my only form of US ID, as I didn’t have a driver’s license. Then when I moved back to the US I wanted to get a driver’s license, but the DMV required me to present my social security card (the actual card). The problem was that the name on the card no longer matched the name on my only photo ID, so I had no easy way to prove the card was mine!
      I ended up having to send my marriage certificate to be translated by the social security office, which then sent me an updated card. But it was a bit of pickle. And if OP runs up against bureaucratic requirements at work and still hasn’t had her legal name change come through, my understanding is that they’re now having some backlog/delays in processing paperwork because of COVID, so she can ask for an exception/extension because of that.

      1. Semi-Anon*

        I agree, if there is any international paperwork involved, you have to be extra careful to get things lined up and as straightforward as possible.

        My birth certificate is in French, my passport in English, my marriage certificate in Chinese, and I’ve got official tax/employment identification in three different countries. I’ve also got three legally valid names depending on the country I’m in – the English one on my passport, a Chinese one which is totally different, but which is used for tax/employment/health care purposes, and a transliteration of the English one for official paperwork in Japan.

        Getting married in the first place involved a notarized translation of a notarized affidavit that had been verified by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

          1. LifeBeforeCorona*

            The point was how convoluted name changes can be. It seems like OP’s company was making something simple unnecessarily complicated. I wonder what the reaction would be if someone was transitioning and needed a name change? Or someone who was fleeing abuse or a stalker and needed a different name?

        1. Honor Harrington*

          Semi-Anon, it sounds like:
          1) you have had a fascinating life!
          2) you must have had to become a master of bureaucracy to managing that much conflicting paperwork!

    3. MK*

      Most people won’t want to carry their marriage certificate around or have to hunt for it every time they need to provide identification, so, given that the U.S. doesn’t have an official identification system in place and not everyone has passports or driving licenses, it makes sense to update your card (I am assuming this is something that stays with you for your lifetime, doesn’t expire etc).

      And of course your employer doesn’t have to approve your name change, but they do have to approve for a change to be made “in their systems”; most employees can’t change their work email address on their own, for instance.

      1. MassMatt*

        The thing is that the social security card is not really an ID, it just has a name and SSN on it. I honestly don’t know why places accept it for anything.

        AND, if it’s intended to be a permanent ID, how about they don’t print them on such cheap paper!? I still have my original card, which is a miracle.

        1. Upstater*

          You are not supposed to carry your SS card with you. It is not a form of identification.
          It is a card that proves your eligibility to work in the US. You can’t work, legally, in the US without documentation that you can legally work in the US and your identity.

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            But it’s still on paper stock that would dissolve if caught in a flood or the laundry.
            (We’re currently sweating this one because my husband’s isn’t where it belongs and his passport expired. AND we did have a basement flood around the time he started his new job… water poured through the window onto the downstairs desk at the old house. Metal, so the drawer was a puddle.)

            1. MCL*

              You can get a new one if you need. It is a trip to the nearest office, though, and I’m not sure what covid has done to operations.

          2. Natalie*

            A social security card is one document of many that prove work eligibility. Employers are required to accept any of the possible documents in column C on the I9, they cannot require one over the other. I haven’t used my social security card for anything in decades.

            1. Sinister Serina*

              +1 I lost mine in 1987 and haven’t seen it since. My sister lost hers in 1985 and hasn’t seen it since. Luckily no one has stolen our identities in those years and both of us have been gainfully employed since then.

          3. MassMatt*

            I am aware of all this. I was responding to MK’s inference that the SS card SHOULD be considered/used as a form of ID. It really doesn’t serve that purpose. Given how easily it can be faked I don’t think it should be used to prove anything, but here we are.

            When I was a kid shops in Times Square had signs in their windows advertising “novelty” SS cards printed for like $10. An extra $20 and they would leave off the “novelty purposes only” stamp. NYC (and especially Times Square) was very different then. But I can only imagine it’s 100x easier to fake one of them now with pretty much any home printer.

            1. MK*

              That wasn’t actually what I meant; I was, in turn, responding to the original comment that said that bringing a card with your maiden name and your marriage certificate should “suffice”, I assume for anyone needing verification that the card (and number) with the maiden name really belonged to the person with the married name, which isn’t an issue in countries that have an official identification system, a.k.a. ID cards. My point was that most people would prefer to have a new card with their current name than have to produce a marriage certificate, not that the card should be used as ID in general.

        2. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

          It’s more about matching all of your documents, since your SS card is not generally a form of ID. I’ve only ever had to use it in conjunction with other things, for a passport, a new job, etc. And yes, the cheap paper never made sense to me either, but you shouldn’t be carrying it around in your wallet – that’s a great way to get your identity stolen.

          1. NoviceManagerGuy*

            I used my Selective Service card (for non-Americans – the USA’s dormant military conscription system sends 18-year-old males a card) as proof of identity to start a new job once, which was strange, since it doesn’t have a picture on it or anything.

        3. B.*

          It can be proof of signature, but like debit cards a lot of people don’t sign them (and I signed mine when I was a kid so my signature has changed a lot).
          But yeah, you shouldn’t carry it around, better to use something else instead.

      2. cody*

        Most people don’t carry around their social security card either. It’s recommended that you store it somewhere safe with other important documents… like your marriage license. I don’t think I’ve ever used my card as actual identification.

      3. That Girl from Quinn's House*

        We have to send ours in to my husband’s work every year. I’m on his health insurance, and they regularly audit dependents to make sure you are legally entitled to be one. If you don’t have the documentation, they reserve the right to charge you with fraud.

        Marriage certificates are just as vital a document as a birth certificate. You have to keep a copy of it in a safe and easily accessed place.

        1. doreen*

          See, and when I get the health insurance audit, I need to provide a copy of the tax return filed as ” married filing ______” with the financial info blacked out. Because sending a copy of my marriage certificate from 1987 doesn’t mean we didn’t get divorced in 2012. ( and they got a copy of the certificate when I added him to begin with). It’s getting easier and easier to make a “fake” tax return with software ( file the real one for myself as single , and make a fake “married filing jointly” one that doesn’y get filed) so I’m wondering what they will want next.

    4. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      In my state, you can’t change your drivers license without having changed your name with the Social Security Administration first. I also speak from experience when I say that the IRS gets upset at tax time if your tax paperwork isn’t filed in a name that matches your Social Security registration and problems ensue.

      1. doreen*

        It’s part of the Real ID process – and everything has to match. Although I believe the person above who said SS doesn’t care about your name is correct, the problems start when everything is in different names. How do you connect the I 9 I filled out in my second married name with my driver’s license in the first one and the SS in my maiden name? Even f I decide to change them all to my second married name so they match, it’s going to require presenting marriage and divorce documents,

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        This is irrelevant to email address though. They can set you email up however they want: Red.Reader, RReader, ReaderRe or CrimsonBooklover even. Or decide they want email to reflect job titles and use AdultingFairy01.
        There’s a policy somewhere. I fear it could be linked to not wanting people to change their names for non-marriage reasons…perhaps HR sputtered ‘It’s discrimination to keep John from changing his email from Jane even though he’s transitioning, because we’ve never required that for a woman who gets married”…after which someone upper level made a policy change.
        I don’t like the idea but I cynically think it’s a possibility.

          1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

            Transphobia spidey senses pinged. But first it went to standard homophobia, I was like “Is this a same sex marriage?”.

            I’ve seen it happen when my friends in same sex marriages, when one of them takes the other’s last name formally.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          No, for sure – I was specifically addressing the bit about “Social Security doesn’t care what your name is as long as you’re paying them with the right number,” because they totally care what your name is.

    5. Perfectly Particular*

      No, but in a regulated industry, they would need solid documentation that you are still you. Especially if you have to maintain a professional license, like a social worker or professional engineer. New SSN with the same number, different name would be the easiest way to do that.

      The hardest switch I had to make when I got married was my frequent flyer programs – they were not on board with transferring my points to someone with the same first name different last name without plenty of written documentation!

    6. Hey Karma, Over Here*

      This was my question, too.
      Essentially, Dear HR, so what?
      your email user name is not a legal document. You are not under oath. As a matter of fact, my company messed up my middle initial 20 years ago. They didn’t care. A couple YEARS later, they just removed it entirely.
      Someone needs to get back in his lane.

    7. Littorally*

      Depending where you are, though, you may need your updated social security card to update your legal name elsewhere. I couldn’t update my driver’s license or voter registration before I updated with the SSA. The local DMV would not even talk to me until I had the new card.

      1. Sinister Serina*

        Wow-I got my new enhanced DL without my social security card-but I brought in all sorts of documentation to show it though.

    8. TurtlesAllTheWayDown*

      It also makes me wonder about other types of name changes. Someone who goes by their middle name or a nickname that has no connection to their given first name. Are they simply not allowed to do that at this company because it’s not a legal name change? Obviously payroll would have to be processed in their legal name, but their email wouldn’t match, and shouldn’t.

      1. Stephanie*

        I thought about bringing this up with HR when this was going on. How would they handle something like that? I also work for a company where it’s very common for employees to go by a shortened name throughout our systems that is different than their legal. It’s never been an issue before. Still can’t figure out how my name change somehow broke down their systems.

        1. Database Developer Dude*

          It didn’t. They had crappy systems.

          I’m a software and database engineer, and reading this story put three different designs in my head for how a system could accommodate name changes AND preferred names. My first and middle names are Jay David, and I go by J.D.

          The ONLY time I’ve ever had an issue was with one job where when my clearance was passed, my SF-86 had my birth name on it as well, and I got yelled at for not immediately disclosing that I’d changed my name when I was 12, made it legal when I was 18. I was in my late 30s at the time.

  6. Elizabeth the Ginger*

    #1, if the misread schedule is out of character for you, your being sick might be a factor in that. I know that even when I have a cold or something, my mental acuity goes down and I make more slip-ups.

    I hope you are sick with something else, and that you get better soon – but stay home until you can know that you won’t infect others (even if it’s not COVID).

      1. Quill*

        Yeah, hoping it’s not covid, but an increase in stress and fatigue for any cause will hit you right in the memory.

        1. Autumnheart*

          Yep. A lot of people are reporting suffering from executive-function problems, due to the stress and news barrage and general ARGH of everything. I have ADHD and I’ve never felt so normal! /laughcry But the tools you can use for ADHD will also work for COVID stress brain.

          1. Quill*

            Prior experience with chronic stress got me through the first five months (yay for having very accurate disaster-dar?) but ooof, I am struggling right now with a combination of stress, the family brainweird (no idea what exactly it is but we’ve all got it) and the yearly “don’t wanna’s” that I always get in late august, early september based on all that back to school energy.

  7. Anono-me*

    OP3 before you go talk to your HR people about your name change takeback, you may want to check to see what the rules are as to WHEN a marriage name change becomes effective in your state.

    In some states, the name chance isn’t official until the Soc. Sec. Name is updated. However, in some other states, the legal activity of getting married is official action that changes your name .

    Congratulations on your marriage

    1. Liane*

      The question is NOT when a government decides her name change is legal or “official.” The question is about when OP’s job starts changing the name in its internal systems like email, org charts, & payroll, and whether/why Company wants to revert in the middle.
      So whether government entities consider the name change official yet, or even care about it, is moot.

      1. Tthankful for AAM*

        I think it is relevant bc if it is already official for that state, the OP can point that out to the person asking her to change it back.

        1. Anono-me*

          Exactly. Sometimes it is easier get someone to “follow the laws of the state/orders from headquarters” than it is to get them to use common sense.

  8. J*

    #2, if your direct manager shot your idea down or ignored it, and then upper management praised it when reading the anonymous suggestions, I don’t think it necessarily means that your manager is out of sync with what upper management wants. If the suggestion is related to something your team works closely with and upper management doesn’t know the ins and outs of it, they could be praising an idea without understanding why the manager closest to that part of the business wasn’t excited about it. If that’s the case though, your direct manager should share with you why the idea doesn’t work rather than just ignoring your suggestion.

    1. MK*

      Eh, that’s a distinction without a difference, in my opinion. If the manager thinks OP’s suggestions are not good, either in themselves or in that they aren’t practical/right for their work, and the management has a different perspective, they are out of sync, it doesn’t matter who is “right” about how good the ideas are. And if they aren’t good, the manager should focus her efforts in getting her own boss to be more realistic.

      That being said, it would be interesting to know if these suggestions were ever implemented after management praised them. If not, it’s very possible that the higher-ups are ignorant about which new ideas are practicable, or that they are offering empty praise for innovation without being willing to do the work to change things.

      1. Oh Fiddlesticks*

        “Let’s have an ice cream party after work every Friday!”

        Upper management: “What a fantastic idea to improve team morale! Let’s do it!”

        OP’s direct manager: “Well, it would be nice once in a while but we’ve tried it before and found that team members with families tend to want to go home at the end of the week, and usually those who are younger and single don’t attend after-work events on Fridays because they have plans with their friends.”

        In a case like this, OP’s manager is more informed than upper management – which often IS the case – and that’s why their opinion is the one that counts. It’s like a kid trying to convince their grandparents to let them do something that their parents won’t. It’s too easy and they don’t know the rules.

        1. MK*

          Or possibly the manager doesn’t want to go to any trouble to organize this, or implement any new practices, which is also often the case. In any case, the manager should first and foremost get the upper management to understand why these ideas won’t work, so that the empoyees aren’t getting mixed messages. (Not unlike parents needing to be firm with the grandparents about what the kids can do, though the example doesn’t work, because the grandparents can’t overrule the parents)

      2. Mazzy*

        Eh, that’s a distinction without a difference, in my opinion

        No it’s not, re-read the comment. They are saying completely different levels of management might like an idea submitted anonymously, that their direct manager knows won’t work.

        1. MK*

          I have read the comment. The OP’s direct manager ignores their ideas, higher-level managers praise them in public, so they are not in agreement with eachother about it. Maybe the manager is wrong (because she hates the OP, because she hates change, etc), maybe the higher-level managers are wrong (the ideas aren’t good or practical). They are definitely out of sync about it, no matter who is “right”.

          1. M*

            Sure, they’re out of sync either way, but whether that’s because upper management is generically happy with ideas even when they lack the knowledge to assess whether they’re good ones, or is well-informed and backing ideas that OP2’s direct management is dismissing out-of-hand, makes a *huge* practical difference. If it’s the former, then OP2 needs to reassess both the substance and volume of ideas they’re submitting. If it’s the latter, OP2 might well have more opportunities to “break through” on at least some of those ideas, and there may be real benefits in continuing to push. It also likely makes a difference to whether there’s a problem with this workplace (incompetent managers, direct supervisors who actively dislike or don’t respect OP2, etc) or a problem with how OP2 is approaching solving problems and coming up with ideas – which is good to diagnose accurately when deciding what to do about it.

    2. hbc*

      I was giving the company/management some benefit of the doubt in this direction. Depending on when/how the ideas are shared in person, the focus might be on practicalities. More like “We don’t have anyone who can work on this right now” or “That would involve seven other departments to coordinate, so no.” There could be a completely different frame of mind when the suggestion box ideas are being considered–they’re actively looking for improvements and more likely to lean towards praise, without too much consideration of how much work might go into implementation. (I’m not saying all the OP’s ideas are more effort than they’re worth, just that the focus of the reader can greatly affect their enthusiasm.)

      I think it’d be worth submitting a few ideas with name attached, just to see what happens. If a 75% success rate plunges to 0% once you do that, you know you have a problem.

    3. Mystery Bookworm*

      Yeah, my experience with Anonymous suggestion boxes was that the suggestions were recieved in big inter-departmental meetings. So things were often received warmly, but kind of…vaguely, I guess? They weren’t really being recieved in the specific department that would allow them to be actionable. Instead, they would be brought up in the large meeting so that people were clearly aware that the suggestions were being reviewed. (Depending on the department, someone might step in to explain why we were/weren’t going to be actioning that item, but that could vary).

      I’m curious for more details on what OP means by ‘well-recieved’. Are they being actioned or are they getting nice words of praise?

      1. Smithy*

        The one time I worked for a department that had an anonymous suggestion box, it was part of larger issues between management and more junior staff. The suggestion box was created as a response to staff saying they felt disregarded, disrespected, etc. Therefore, the review of those ideas was brought with a lot of performative compassion – but I can’t say too many ideas actually ended up getting implemented.

        Now if the OP’s ideas are actually getting implemented happily by the management/leadership, that really is something.

    4. M*

      I came here to say something roughly like this. As someone in upper middle management, a solid 30% of my job is managing expectations from other senior staff without direct involvement in my team. Lots of good ideas aren’t worth the time, resources or effort that would be required to implement them! Lots of ideas that sound good to those with less active involvement are either bad ideas in practice, or ideas that are outshone by other options that are already in the works, or don’t make sense to start until something else happens first, or won’t ever get signoff from a key stakeholder.

      If any of this rings true for OP2, I’d be spending some time in their place thinking about whether I’m doing enough thinking about the practical implications of my suggestions before I make them – and whether I have the expertise to make them at all. If literally all the managers engaging with you are at the point of just immediately dismissing every idea you raise without talking through why, that might be bad management – but it *also* might be that they’ve reached the point where they’ve just classified you as “OP2, the one with opinions on everything”, which is… not good.

      Of course, if the mentions of “improving company culture” in OPs letter refer to an unpleasant or even hostile working environment, rather than things like “wouldn’t it be fun if we did morning tea to celebrate birthdays” or “OP2 would prefer a company culture that prioritises different things to the (also reasonable, but different) ones this workplace has chosen to prioritise”, that very much changes the nature of this letter.

      1. LQ*

        We frequently get suggestions to let people flex their time. This is always proposed as “We are professionals and adults and should be treated as such!” And senior leadership always hears this and is like YES! We should do that!

        Except we have a call center. You have to answer the phone. It has limited hours based on union contracts. We have people who support those who work in the call center. (My favorite IT person is amazing, but I’m sorry when he works starting at 4 and our call center closes at 4:30 and there’s only 30 minutes for him to trouble shoot a problem with someone it takes literal weeks to resolve the issues.) “Well then just add more hours to the call center, see Win-Win!” Except when we do that we are now committing to handling the same calls per hour over a broader period of time because those senior leaders won’t let us reduce the number of people on the phone at any given time, and we can’t hire more people. And if we shifted schedules more than 30 minutes we have to pay shift differentials, which sounds lovely, except again, we can’t do that for cost reasons. And then if we do that we have to add in more staff in the support areas because they’d have to cover more hours of the day and even if we could hire for that role it takes 6-12 months to get someone up to speed on that work. And when staff are working there are policies about supervisors being available, so now you need to hire more supervisors and come up with a system of making sure every shift is covered. And yes, that’s a management problem you can’t ask someone to take care of covering their own shift, so now you need more middle management to manage the supervisors coordinations. And then what happens if something happens to your computer, if you lock your password, if you can’t get in to work. Oh and now the right IT person isn’t around and you sit unable to do work for 4 hours but charging (rightly so) for those 4 hours and now we are farther behind and have fewer resources to hire more folks. It turns into a very viscious cycle quickly.

        All good ideas have to be implementable with the resources you have available to you. Plenty of ideas sound great until you sit down to work through them. (And the worst for me is when someone suggests something that senior leadership make us do which is only a half step and then we have to push the full step thing out farther.)

  9. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

    LW #2 might get better advice if they clarified if these are work ideas or office culture ideas. There’s a difference between having your “we should market our TPS report strategy to the oompaloompas” shot down versus “teams should take turns rinsing out the Keurig” or “we should have a team day at the water park.” If it’s the first, you likely need a new job. If it’s the latter, it could be you are suggesting things too frequently and/or have low capital even if the suggestions are good ones.

  10. Chocolate Teapot*

    1. Oddly enough, I have ended up falling ill during the first week of a couple of new jobs. I wasn’t ill enough to need time off, but I wonder if changing environments has something to do with it?

    1. Down Under*

      Maybe. But were you also an hour late? Employer must be wondering if this is going to be a pattern.

      1. Dahlia*

        I mean, the first week seems the most likely time you’re going to be late to me, since you’re going to a new place and you don’t know the traffic etc yet.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          This has totally happened to me (alarm wasn’t set correctly). I was mortified, apologized profusely, and promised it would not happen again (it didn’t). My new boss was like, meh, it happens. Of course, I called her the second I woke up and realized what time it was.

    2. Beth Jacobs*

      Definitely! It’s well documented that stress impairs your immunity system and starting a new job is stressful for everyone. Same reason why kids (and their teachers!) get sick a lot in September.

    3. Caroline Bowman*

      One of those never-to-be-forgotten similar ”get sick at the start of a new job” stories involved my mother, a woman who was never ill from one year to the next, most particularly when she was young. She got a fantastic new job, big step up, lots of candidates etcetera. On day 3 she collapsed in the street, vomiting while en route due to severe hepatitis A (no idea why she hadn’t noticed any symptoms before, but anyway) and was booked off work for about 3 weeks. Because she was so new, no one knew what had happened or who to call – this was years ago – and she missed a huge, very important meeting with her new grand-boss and there was consternation.

      They were wonderful once they realised, sent flowers and baked goods, paid her for the entire duration and she went on to work there for many years, but apparently had to be restrained by paramedics, so anxious and scared was she about looking bad at her new job!

      1. Quiet Liberal*

        What a great employer she had! I got a migraine headache the very first day of a new, fantastic job when I was newly married and in a new city. I started to feel the nausea and knew I was going to start barfing soon so had to fess up before that happened. My boss looked pretty skeptical (at the time I imagined this, anyway) and just said I should go home. I went in the next day and powered through the headache hangover. I worked there for several years and just loved that job. I am so sorry this has happened to you, OP1. I hope you took Alison’s advice and are now doing ok.

        1. Gazebo Slayer*

          I once got a stomach bug my second day at a new job. They were remarkably understanding about it, probably since I kept disappearing to the bathroom and probably looked pretty shaky.

        2. Kelly L.*

          I have gotten a migraine on the first day of multiple jobs. I can only guess it’s a stress thing.

    4. Miso*

      When I was in university, I’d always get ill during the first two or three weeks of the new semester starting… That was fun.

      1. LifeBeforeCorona*

        I’m not looking forward to September, new kids, new germs, new schedules and COVID thrown into the mix.

    5. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I’d presume it’s exposure to many new environments during interview process. Likely irrelevant to people video-interviewing for remote work during Covid, but OP apparently has an in-person role.

    6. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      You would have to be highly susceptible to getting sick if you pick something up immediately upon starting a new job every time. It may be stress. I rarely get sick, but if I’m dealing with major stress I’m pretty much guaranteed to get a cold. The year we were trying to sell one house, buy another, pack and move I had 3 colds in the span of 6 months. And other than a stomach virus at the end of last year, I couldn’t tell you the last time I was sick.

      1. Keymaster of Gozer*

        Eh, not necessarily. Human systems have an almost infinite number of variations and it’s not an indicator of overall health/susceptibility if you happen to pick up a bug when entering a new environment. You can have a turbo charged immune system and get ill frequently, or a lax one and never get ill at all.

        (Most symptoms of an infection are caused by the immune system, not the virus itself. Also how come perfectly healthy people can have severe or fatal reactions to Covid for example or how you can feel like crud after a vaccination.)

      2. NoviceManagerGuy*

        I had my first episode of stress-induced abdominal pain after my first day on my job. Spent the evening at urgent care.

    7. What the What*

      I fell down some stairs and broke my foot at work during my first week at work. It resulted in a massive worker’s comp claim. Then the worker’s comp insurance company sued the property insurance company because they thought the property insurance should be liable for the stairs that were in disrepair. I ended up taking all sorts of time off work for appointments, and to be deposed by various attorneys as they fought their way through it.

      They didn’t hold it against me though. I wonder if they were just happy I didn’t file a pain and suffering claim of any kind.

  11. Allonge*

    LW3 – aaargh to your HR.

    One of the easiest ways to get on even the calmest, chillest person’s bad side is to mess with their name. So my question to HR would be: what would this solve, what is the problem here? Your name is your name is your name. Nobody changes their name just because!

    Now, if they want to have your legal name match the one in their records, fine, but if that is already in the works, and the name change has been implemented already… why?

  12. Down Under*

    Sorry, but it’s not “highly reliable” to be late your first day. You check the schedule three times. The illness can’t be helped. You definitely started out on the wrong foot. The only way to save this is be the most reliable employee ever.

    1. Xavier Desmond*

      I think the OP already knows being late wasn’t great but they don’t need to be beaten over the head with it. And it’s easy to misread an unfamiliar schedule even if you’re normally reliable.

      1. Harper the Other One*

        +1 to this. Double- and triple-checking is important but mistakes do happen, and sometimes they’re going to happen in your first week. Allison is always great about capturing both that mistakes are natural and also that it’s understandable that a new boss with limited information about you will be concerned.

        To quote one of my favourite lines from Disenchantment, “two things can be true.”

        1. SarahKay*

          Not to mention that re-checking schedules can be like proof-reading your own work – once your brain thinks it’s seen data as saying one thing it can be appallingly difficult to get it to re-see the data correctly.

          1. Keymaster of Gozer*

            I’ve spelt my own surname wrong on official documents and missed it enough times! Your brain kind of overwrites what your eyes are actually seeing..

      2. IsItOverYet?*

        true and if you are fighting a bug you tend to be more tired and more likely to make mistakes…sending positive thoughts to the OP1 for not-covid and a quick recovery

    2. Mookie*

      Reliability requires reaching familiarity through mastery borne of experience. This doesn’t indicate a lack of conscientiousness; if ever it’s understandable to misread a shift schedule, it’s when you’re new. Yes, people go to great lengths not to fuck up their first day, but first-day nerves also play an outsized part in self-sabotage.

    3. Keymaster of Gozer*

      The issue is, the OP has no way of being ‘the most reliable employee ever’ (I don’t know by what criteria their company needs) until they are well again and if this is Covid that can be a long time.

      Really hope OP heals fast from whatever they have and gets better soon. Rest up, stay at home, all that good stuff.

      1. That Girl from Quinn's House*

        As much as I’d like to root for OP, if they have COVID and the ensuing 14-day quarantine, plus if they take longer to recover because COVID sometimes does that, it’s entirely possible they will be fired, and it will be completely legal for the employer to do so.

        1. Keymaster of Gozer*

          There’s…..really nothing they can do about that though. It’s not like they can haul themselves into work.

          1. Gazebo Slayer*

            I wonder if there’s anything OP could do from home? I mean, they shouldn’t have to, but I would feel desperate to make it up to the employer and prove myself.

            1. Kelly L.*

              It depends on the job. If there’s a schedule to read, rather than just a standard work day that everybody works, it might be something in retail, food service, etc.

              1. Keymaster of Gozer*

                Oh man, my friend works in a university library and I very much understand you. It’s hard work but yes, does require being there.

                I hope you rest up mate, try not to stress out about something that happens to a lot of people and that you likely couldn’t help anyway. You can shine when you’re well again.

    4. Keymaster of Gozer*

      True story: I read the date of my first day at one firm totally wrong. Thought it was the 13h, turns out it was the 12th. Managed to explain that a rare side effect of one of my brain meds is a sudden inability to tell the difference between dates.

      (It is very rare, and very brief. I can tell you the difference between Monday and Sunday but not the 22nd and 13th of a month for instance. I write stuff down on a calendar on my phone now so IT reminds me)

    5. Treebeardette*

      Who said being late means they are highly reliable? Most good managers can read people and know when a mistake is made. I’m sure her employer can tell if she is sick when she calls in. Telling op to be the “most reliable employee ever” isn’t even good advice because that doesn’t mean anything. Let’s not make a mountain out of a mole hill. Everyone knows this is bound to happen during a pandemic.

    6. LGC*

      …that’s kind of dire. You’re saying that LW1 will forever have a bad reputation there because she was an hour late on her first day? I’m not sure if that holds in a lot of jobs.

      1. Katefish*

        When I started my last job, I was horrifically late (about an hour) due to a once in a lifetime traffic event (main freeway there completely shut down for miles). I am time challenged generally, but I went on to be a good employee for 3.5 years, and HR could tell I felt awful for being late (and taking 2.5 hours to get 45 min away).

        1. Environmental Compliance*

          Same here! First week on the job, I knew that the traffic was horrible, and tried to give myself an extra hour…. and then a truck filled with marbles overturned on the freeway and I was stuck there for an extra 2 hours. No joke. And then that same week I later had to call in to my new boss to tell him I was horrifically sick (as in, I had to take an early exit on said freeway to puke on the off ramp). I was out for the rest of the week with whatever that was.

          I felt *so bad* but Boss took it in stride, I apologized many times, and went on to be one of the ones in the section with the best metrics. Boss could tell this wasn’t typical for me, and the only thing he did about it was check in once I was back to see 1) how I was feeling and 2) get me caught up in training.

    7. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      1) What can LW1 do about this now? invent a time machine and not be late on her first day?
      2) Being the most reliable employee ever would, to me, certainly involve not bringing Covid into work. So even with everything you said, it sounds like calling in sick and explaining why would be the best way to go for OP’s reputation.

      1. Keymaster of Gozer*

        “Being the most reliable employee ever would, to me, certainly involve not bringing Covid into work”

        This. This is key. Needs to be in big point lettering somewhere.

    8. hbc*

      You can still be highly reliable and late on your first day. For example, I would call someone reliable if they were only late one day a year, and that could be OP. The first day/week is pretty much the time when you’re most likely to have stuff go sideways–problems with your new childcare arrangements, transportation, realizing your work pants that looked fine hung up have a defect, etc etc..

      The problem here is, the new employer has a hard time telling the difference between a first-week-fluke, highly-reliable person and “start times are an oppressive social construct” person. All OP can do is apologize and make clear that this is unusual, and hope the employer suspends judgment until more evidence is available.

  13. Not Australian*

    OP#1 – I was exceptionally embarrassed when I went down sick during my first week at a new job and was off for three weeks, but my employers were surprisingly relaxed about it. I was told that it often happens when people come into a new ‘germ environment’; they’re prey to any opportunist infection that they haven’t already got immunity to, and can be pretty sick until their system adjusts. I’m sure this isn’t a great scientific description of the process, but as this was actually a teaching hospital I was happy to take their word for it! Anyway, depending on your workplace, you might find that they already have experience of the phenomenon!

    1. Keymaster of Gozer*

      New place of work is always an interesting new virosphere for your immune system to deal with! I’ve worked in both viral research labs and sewage treatment plants and am convinced the battering my immune system took is what led me to get rheumatoid arthritis after.

      On the upside, I’ve not had an upset stomach since 2001…

      1. Quill*

        I rarely come down with anything infectious besides a cold… because I used to volunteer at a school and then was living with my parents, and my mom is a teacher.

        The children will bring you their germs even at a degree of separation. Meanwhile, every new teacher gets sick multiple times in their first year unless they were substitutes first or something.

        1. That Girl from Quinn's House*

          I worked with kids for years and had a generally good immune system.

          Then I moved to the opposite side of the country, and apparently the kids there have completely different germs. That was rough. I had more ER/urgent care visits in that four year timespan than I had in the 10 years prior.

          1. Quill*

            I’m still local to that school but I assume that, should I move, the advantages will be gone.

            They’re probably slipping away by now, it’s been a year since I lived with my parents.

    2. WS*

      +1, I work in healthcare, and people always get sick in their first two weeks of working here. The only person who didn’t was the adult daughter of someone who already worked here so we think her immune system was well-prepared!

    3. Colette*

      Yeah, when I started at the company I now work for, I got some sort of virus 3 weeks in and was out for 2 days … and then a couple of weeks later, I got a cold. I chalked it up to taking the bus to/from work.

    4. MCMonkeyBean*

      The upside of getting sick when you first start is that they aren’t really dependent on you yet.

  14. Bagpuss*

    #1 – definitely do as Alison suggests . regarding the illness, in a lot of ways it may be less disruptive than if you were to get sick a few weeks in once you have taken on your new responsibilities ! Hope you feel better soon.

  15. Ezzle*

    OP3, does your new surname give you the same whole name as someone else in the organisation? (e.g. they can cope with having two people with the same given name but not with having to check middle names to see who is who.)

  16. midnightcat*

    #3 Why do you need to finalise anything? Can you not use your married name as soon as you get married? Or is that just a UK thing. Congratulations by the way!

    1. Keymaster of Gozer*

      When I got married in the UK, my actual wedding wasn’t recognised by the UK government as valid so I had to get married in a registry office at a different date to get the paperwork valid. Then I could change my name.

      (My wedding was a Druid handfasting which aren’t recognised by law here. Or they weren’t at the time)

      If OP has similar situation to mine where you’re waiting on a governmental bit of paper then yeah, it might be an issue on official paperwork.

      I do, however, think their employer is being a twit.

      1. SweetestCin*

        Funny, we had a handfasting as well. In our case (US) it was more that it was not performed by a person who is licensed to perform legal marriages in my state. We joke that our actual wedding was letting everyone in on a two year old secret!

        1. Clisby*

          Yes, in my state (SC) a handfasting would be perfectly legal if performed by a notary public. Actually, the notary public wouldn’t have to preside over the ceremony; just witness that the two people agree to marry. So if the ceremony doesn’t explicitly include some variation on “I agree to marry you” the notary is supposed to get the two people to have that interchange outside the ceremony. (I’m a notary, so qualified to perform weddings, although I never have.)

    2. doreen*

      Apparently , the employer doesn’t update it in their system fully until Social Security has made the change – this is what the OP is referring to as finalizing. Changes both with the drivers license and SS are going to take some time- you have to get the certificate before you can change your name in those systems. You can generally use any name you wish to in the US ( as long as you aren’t trying to commit a fraud ) but that doesn’t mean that you can force any entity ( SS, job, DL agency) to use the one you prefer.

    3. Insert Clever Name Here*

      To change your name legally in the US, you have to file paperwork with a government agency (Social Security) which involved an in-person visit to your local Social Security office and then wait several weeks until a replacement Social Security card with your new legal name is mailed to you. Of course many people *do* begin using their married name immediately after getting married, but there are certain things that Can Not Change until you present a SS card with the new name.

    4. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      You can “use” your new name, but to change your legal name in a company’s IT system it generally requires paperwork and proof. You can’t just send an email to HR and say you want to change your name to Princess Consuela Bananahammock and expect it to happen.

    5. Turquoisecow*

      I’m not sure if this is true in every state in the union, but when I got married I was told that the legal act of marriage doesn’t do a thing as far as your name. The marriage license recognizes that you are married, but that is all. Many people do not change their names, so it’s definitely doesn’t trigger anything else to happen.

      In order to legally change my name, I had to then go to the social security office and the DMV, bringing along a copy of my marriage license to prove that the the person on my birth certificate was in fact the person changing to the new name. (My mom has to bring her marriage license and birth certificate to renew her driver’s license every time, but I believe with a passport I won’t be required to do that.)

      I was lucky enough to be unemployed at the time of getting married, but I then had to change my name with the banks and the pharmacy (which took several years to actually do that change) and my doctor’s offices and a number of other places I’m forgetting.

      But unless you work for the government, I don’t think it should be necessary to prove legal name change in order for HR/IT to change your email address!

      1. doreen*

        That definitely depends on the state – in my state, the license application asks for the new surname of either spouse, the change takes effect at the conclusion of the ceremony , the new surname will appear on the certificate and the certificate is proof of the name change. Yes , I will still have to bring it to SS etc – but that’s to change my name in their records. They can’t change their records util they know about the change that actually happened immediately after the ceremony. If it did – because not everyone changes their name upon marriage.

  17. Oh Fiddlesticks*

    “Often if you do that, say it’s out of character, and make it clear you’re not being cavalier about how it looks, it will put some of your manager’s worries at ease.”

    And this is because truly unreliable people would never think to say this. It’s true. Honest, hard working people who have a vested interest in gaining trust know what they need to do and even though the unreliable people could theoretically say the same words to delay the inevitable, it rarely if ever occurs to them to do so.

  18. Zaphod Beeblebrox*

    ~3 – I’m a bit puzzled as to how an employer can tell you what to call yourself? Surely it doesn’t matter what the reason is, if you’ve changed your name, then that’s your name?

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      The issue is an email address. My company actually had problems doing this part for years…until recently, it was common for email addresses to not match the display name. It’s finally been fixed, but before this year I’d known many women stuck with their ex-husband’s names as their email addresses for years. But it could change if they got married again.

      1. Keymaster of Gozer*

        Former employer used to have the same issue, right up until someone pointed out that it was being extremely unfair to transgender employees who wanted to change their name and they got us in IT to write a series of scripts that would create new accounts and link them to the old ones when certain criteria were met.

        (Has to put that last bit in because half of IT wanted to have things like darth Vader and it got a bit silly for a few hours in the meeting!)

        My sister on the other hand has been divorced for years and her firm won’t change her name back because her son has her married surname. Which is a while other kettle of fish.

        1. Sssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss*

          “My sister on the other hand has been divorced for years and her firm won’t change her name back because her son has her married surname. Which is a while other kettle of fish.”

          Why does that matter? I got married in a province where women keep their names and on top of that, when children are born, you can choose mom’s name, dad’s name, both names or if both parents have hyphenated names, any two of the four and every single one of your kids could have different last names should you choose.

          I wasn’t hyphenating my unique but cumbersome name so my kids have my husbands monosyllabic name and it’s never been an issue for anything.

          Oh, wait – is it because her married name is on his birth certificate? Oh, honestly, that’s being bureaucratic for nothing.

          1. Keymaster of Gozer*

            Just asked her, she said their HR said it would ‘cause problems in future’ if her surname at work was different from her son’s surname if the school called or something.

            Hashtag bad HR departments I guess!

            1. hbc*

              Oy, that’s profoundly stupid on so many levels. Not least of which is that the school will almost certainly call looking for her under her actual name, should they ever get to the point of calling her at work rather than her cell.

            2. Observer*

              Someone is lying or an incompetent uber-idiot. What would they have done if she had never changed her name in the first place? Force her to use her husband’s name even though it’s actually not her name?

            3. AnonInTheCity*

              Uh, that is nonsense. My son has a different surname than I do and I am married to his dad!

            4. Elenna*

              ???? what?????

              Firstly, are they not capable of making a note in a file somewhere saying “so-and-so is [your sister]’s son” and using that instead of the surnames as confirmation, if they really need some sort of confirmation? Nope, easier to tell a woman what to call herself, I guess…

              Secondly, why the hell would HR even be involved in a call from your sister’s son? Surely that’s dealt with by your sister and her boss?

              Thirdly, what if a women doesn’t change her name upon marriage? Is she just supposed to use a name at work that she doesn’t use anywhere? Does this only change when she has a child? Oh, wait, they probably think that situation is impossible, because patriarchy…

              Fourthly, I’m really curious what they would do if a man changed to his wife’s surname and got divorced. Or if a male employee gave his kids his wife’s name. Not to mention all the interesting questions surrounding same sex relationships…

              1. Keymaster of Gozer*

                My husband changed his surname when he married me, apparently his HR lot actually had problems with that at first!

            5. I'm just here for the cats*

              WOW! what if she was a single mother (never married), had a child but agreed that child name could be fathers last name.

              I bet your sister’s HR wouldn’t give problems to a man who had a child but child’s last name wasn’t the same.

              And wouldn’t this cause even more problems? First, A school wouldn’t call and say I need to speak to Jake smith’s mom they would say I need to speak to Julia Smith, this is her childs school. Second, the school probably knows they are divorced and that she goes by her maiden name. So if they called and said I need to speak to Julia Smith, but her work has her as Julia Brown and there is no Julia smith the receptionist or whomever is going to say that they have the wrong number, because there is no one by that name.

              I hate your sister’s HR!

              1. MK*

                “I bet your sister’s HR wouldn’t give problems to a man who had a child but child’s last name wasn’t the same.”

                Yeah, no. A man claiming his child has a different surname would probably get more pushback, not less.

                1. I'm just here for the cats*

                  What I mean is that the HR said she couldn’t change her name because her child has her ex’s last name. Meaning that they require employees to have the same last name as their childrens’. However, would they say something about a man having a different name than his child? Probably not. It is a stupid rule!

            6. sssssssssssssssssssssssss*

              OMG. All schools would have policies in place to handle multiple households due to divorce/custody/grandparents./childcare I’m quite certain that if she’s changed her name elsewhere, the school is aware.

              And the school calls whatever number you’ve given them. It’s a big assumption that in the age of cell phones and divorces that they would call the office first rather than a home/cell number.

              I’ve never shared my name with my kids and the school has never not reached me yet.

              That HR is being stupid for nothing!

              (They did once call the wrong parents because my child has the exact name as another child and it was the other one that was sick but that’s another story.)

              1. doreen*

                They’re being stupid but – I’ve seen stupidity from the other side as well. More than once, I’ve encountered someone who was upset that she didn’t get a phone call. Because although she used “Smith” at work, she used “Witherspoon” everywhere else, and when the kid’s school/the doctor’s office/somewhere called asking for Jane Witherspoon , they were told no Jane Witherspoon worked there.

                Another issue I saw recently was someone who got married and changed her name. The marriage certificate in my state says what your new surname is if you change it. She sent the certificate to HR at my government agency and was surprised they changed her records*- but why would you even send them the certificate if you didn’t want them to change the records? The only reason would be to add the new husband to your health insurance, but she told me she wasn’t adding him. I have absolutely no idea why she sent it.

                * They are good about certain changes with email addresses – you can be H Susan instead of Harriet S , but they if you give then documentation that your new last surname is ” Gillespie” that’s what your email address will be.

          2. TurtlesAllTheWayDown*

            This is so bizarre. I don’t think anyone at my office even knows my husband’s last name.

        2. SarahKay*

          But that’s none of her firm’s business! Good lord, I can feel my blood pressure rising just at the idea that they think they have a right to tell your sister what she may call herself.

    2. WellRed*

      They aren’t really telling her what to call herself. They are refusing to change it in their system. Which is stupid.

  19. Jam Today*

    “For example, there a pretty well-documented phenomenon where women’s ideas are ignored when they propose them but embraced when a man repeats them.”

    I had this happen to me in a meeting with a previous manager (whose abuse and harassment of me still gives me flashbacks and anxiety a decade later). I made an assertion based on my 4 years of working on the project I had launched. He told me to my face that I was wrong. My male colleague immediately repeated what I said — word for word, he didn’t change a thing — and the same manager replied “Oh really? I didn’t know that.”

    (I do not blame my colleague for that, I think he was trying to help get the truth of our situation out there.)

    1. Keymaster of Gozer*

      Also a reason why my online handle on tech forums etc. is a male name, not female. I noticed a big upswing in ‘oh, you don’t know what you’re doing’ responses when I used a female handle.

      I hope you’re doing ok with the anxiety stuff. Workplace PTSD is an absolute git. Sincere sympathies mate and take care.

    2. blackcat*

      So during grad school, I picked up a sub-speciality separate from my dissertation field entirely because one professor in that area was a fantastic teacher. Due to the small size of my program, the normal gender ratio in my field, and the fact that said sub-speciality is even more gender skewed, I was the only woman in all of those classes I took with him (4 over 3 years).

      It happened at least once a semester that I would say something in class, and a male student would say the same thing a few minutes later. Every. Single. Time. that happened, this professor would say “Yes, that’s correct, and Blackcat said that a moment ago.” My favorite was “Blackcat made the same point more clearly five minutes ago. You would do well to listen more carefully to your peers.”

      This professor was an older eastern European man, not exactly the type you’d peg as someone who was fighting the good fight for gender equality. But the fact that he did this–and did it so consistently–sent a clear message to my male peers.

    3. Is It Performance Art*

      When I was in grad school (STEM field), there was one professor who would automatically dismiss just about anything I said, often in a very annoyed tone of voice. If one of the male students then said that it was a good point/question, he’d decide that it was in fact a good point/question. I was friends with one of the male students and at one point, he jokingly asked me if I knew why the professor always seemed angry with me. The assumption in class was that he didn’t like me because I was a woman who did not pretend to think she was stupid or incompetent.

  20. WorkingGirl*

    Op #2 just wanted to say I feel for you! I’ve had several ideas get shot down by my boss… and in one case, the boss later hired a consultant to do XYZ because “we really should be doing this!” Ugh!

    1. only acting normal*

      I had to propose a new process as part of an internal promotion once (from Junior x to X). In the interview they rubbished my idea. I didn’t get the promotion. A little while later they had me institute my process for the new external hire.

  21. Llellayena*

    #1 – For a few jobs in a row I managed to come down with something bigger than a cold during my first week. It’s annoying but ultimately not much of an issue and probably more common than you would think. I assumed it was because I was now exposed to a whole new pool of germs. On a side note, new employment also seemed to trigger jury duty! That’s a fun convo! “I just started but there’s a week where I might need to take time off but I won’t know until I call the court the night before…”

    1. No Longer Working*

      I got a jury duty notice for the day I was starting a new job! I had to let my new boss know I might not be there if my number came up. Luckily I was not needed and was able to start work as expected, but I hated, and I’m sure my new boss hated, not knowing until Sunday night whether I’d be showing up on Monday! Especially since I had no idea what kind of person/boss he was yet.

      1. The Rural Juror*

        I somehow got 3 jury duty notices within a year! My boss probably thought I was just using the “Oh, I have jury duty” excuse to get out of things…but I definitely wasn’t. Finally on the third notice I actually had to go in, but the defendant took a plea deal and we were immediately dismissed. The clerk said it was extremely rare to get notices that many times so quickly, but I must have been put back in the system after I wasn’t called the first two times. It was pretty inconvenient…not to mention my boss probably thought I the worst liar ever.

  22. Insert Clever Name Here*

    #4, please keep interviewing. My husband received an unofficial offer in June (he’s a teacher) pending a favorable background check…and never had anyone contact him about the background check, couldn’t reach anyone in the district’s HR department to give him a timeline on a background check, and couldn’t get any traction with the school he was supposedly hired to for *them* to find out what was going on with the background check. He continued interviewing and signed a contract last week with a private school (which also does background checks and was able to get it completed within a week). Good luck!

  23. PseudoMona*

    For LW #2, I’m curious if the ideas/suggestions submitted anonymously are more than just praised, are they actually put into practice? Is leadership paying lip service to the idea of a suggestion box by praising the ideas submitted, but actually have no intention to follow through on implementing the suggestions? And for whatever reason it’s easy for them to discount your ideas when you bring them up in person, but when they are anonymous suggestions leadership can make a show of being receptive to all these awesome ideas.

    Either way, you have my sympathies. Feeling like you are not being heard or appreciated at work is no fun.

    1. Metadata minion*

      No — there are different people praising and criticizing the ideas. I suppose it’s not completely impossible that this is some sort of conspiracy between the LW’s manager and upper management to make her doubt her own experiences, but that seems vastly unlikely.

    2. MCMonkeyBean*

      Gaslighting is a more intentional undermining. I think it’s more likely that there are some unconscious biases in play here.

  24. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

    #2 – Another thing to think about – how are your communication skills compared to your writing skills? I know for me, I can more clearly articulate something in writing better than speaking depending on the subject matter and who I’m speaking to. Maybe you’re nervous about sharing your ideas (especially if they’re constantly shot down) and they’re not coming across clearly? I’m NOT making excuses if you’re being treated unfairly, just suggesting another possibility. All that to say that if you’ve gone through all possibilities and it turns out your ideas ARE being shot down in person and approved in writing by the same person, I would have a chat with that person. You don’t need to be confrontational, but ask legitimate questions. “I’ve noticed that often my ideas are shot down when I come to you, but praised when I submit them anonymously. Can you explain why this keeps happening? Am I not explaining my ideas clearly?” Force them to think about what they’re doing, and maybe it will improve.

  25. Sssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss*

    I once continued interviewing after I had landed a good contract because I had already started the process with an agency for this job and it was a similar salary but within walking distance instead of an hour’s bus ride. I went to that interview prepared to give a big Sorry to the other employer who had just onboarded me should the interview turn out promising.

    It didn’t. There were all sorts of red flags and I kept the contract job and the terrible commute. It was good to know that rather than wonder “What if…”

  26. Tthankful for AAM*

    Amusing name anecdote related to #3.

    My spouse’s official name is (hard for americans to pronounce bc its from another country first name) (American middle name) (fairly easy to pronounce other country last name).

    He uses the American middle name in daily life. When we first moved back to the US, not all his documents were in the official first name.

    We realized we needed to get everything in his official name one day when I was dealing with the local hospital billing office over some charges. They asked for the responsible party’s name and instead of answering, I turned to my husband and said, honey, what is your name?

    He knew I meant, what name does the hospital think is your name. But I kept waitong for some fraud investigation after the billing person heard that.

    1. AthenaC*

      When we were registering my second for kindergarten, she had been going back and forth with what name she preferred. So when I got to that “preferred name” spot in the form, I turned to her and asked, “What’s you’re name?”

      I could feel the folks at the school looking at me very strangely. :)

  27. Not A Girl Boss*

    Tangentially related to #4, but I always get so stressed when I have to give notice to my current job before background checks and yada yada are complete by the new job. I just went through this and it was the most stressful 2 weeks ever having given notice in this economy and not knowing *for sure for sure for sure* that I had a new job to go to.

    Not that I have any skeletons in my closet, but still.

    Even worse because the jobs never give you an official “you passed” email, its just that no news is good news.

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

    OP4, keep interviewing! Back when I started I was hired by a company who was building a team for a juicy contract they were bidding for. Long story short, they lost the bid, couldn’t place me in a project suitable for my experience (none whatsover) and benched me for a year.

  29. Grapey*

    “many of my suggestions have been read aloud to the entire staff as examples of ideas that can change our office culture for the better.”

    Do they actually get put into practice after they are submitted anonymously? Saying “this is great” at team meetings is different than actually putting resources behind it to get it done.

    I’ve had to shoot down otherwise great ideas from junior employees that didn’t know the entire scope of an issue. When they tell the same ideas to other people who are not in a position to effect that change or don’t understand the whole picture, they often don’t know (or don’t mention) the factors that make it impractical to implement.

  30. Grapey*


    Do the anonymous ideas actually get implemented?

    There’s a difference between leadership giving lip service to a “great idea” and actually seeing resources put into place to enact that change.

  31. Jaybeetee*

    LW1: My ex, at least twice, called in sicl during his first week at new jobs. The employers were understanding, but in his case it did speak to an issue (exacerbated by living with his mother, who’d encourage him to call out for every sniffle). Years later, we realized he’d get physically ill when stressed – one time he had a particularly stressful day and spiked a fever in the evening, another time a slight cold morphed into complete misery over the course of a several-hour road trip because we were running late for a wedding. It was towards the end of the relationship when we realized it, so I’m not 100% how it played out from there, but I think just knowing his body reacted that way helped him.

    … I do not think that’s at all what you’re doing, but you just reminded me of those times, just bc he did it more than once. Hopefully your symptoms resolve and everything turns out fine!

    1. Muriel Heslop*

      Psychogenic fevers are real! I had two kids on my caseload that have them – important for tracking real health issues plus allowed them to come to school when fever was only symptom. Stress related.

    2. Potatoes gonna potate*

      Someone I’m close to gets physically ill after every fight or something. Like, legit feel pain in their body, run a fever. Took me many years to even realize that it’s a manipulation tactic to garner sympathy.

      1. hbc*

        If they actually feel that pain, it may serve to gain sympathy and it may change what people do, but it’s not a tactic. I tend to not be very…compatible with people who have psychosomatic issues, but it’s about as controllable and welcome to them as an anxiety attack or low crying threshold, and I don’t hold them accountable.

        1. Gazebo Slayer*

          Yeah, I had such bad psychosomatic nausea at one point that I was eating nothing after noon and was 5’3″ and 85 pounds. “Psychosomatic” does not mean “fake,” and it’s frankly cruel and shitty to always treat it as faking.

          1. Keymaster of Gozer*

            Psychosomatic nausea is the absolute pits isn’t it? Bad enough barfing but doing it without any physical cause is exhausting and stressful.

            Hope you’re feeling much better these days :(

  32. Jaybeetee*

    LW4: So when my big Career-Making Job happened back in 2016, there was a solid TWO MONTHS between them emailing a “job offer”, and them sending me the actual paperwork and settling on a start date. I work in govt, where delays like that unfortunately aren’t uncommon, especially over the summer, which this was. However, the contract job I was working at offered me a permanent position during that time as well, and moved along much faster, and I felt quite conflicted (they were great people, but a much smaller company that just couldn’t compete in terms of pay/benefits/advancenent).

    Long story short, I wound up accepting the offer where I was at… but then leaving for the gov gig a few weeks later. I was mortified, but they were understanding and all said I was doing the right thing.

    In hindsight, I feel I should have shared what was happening with the Gov employers, and see about them accelerating the paperwork. A lot of people wind up in situations where Job A is a 99% certainty, but not quiiite 100%, and less-desirable Job B gets there faster. Alison has advised before that in those situations, you ought to talk turkey with Job A about what’s happening and see about them speeding up the process. What you should never do is turn down a Real Live Offer because another is “probably” coming.

    1. Smithy*

      I did this in my last job hunt and do have one point to add.

      I was job hunting for about a year during a time where my specific sector was in a “what is happening now???” period. As a result, after months of aggressively interviewing and being utterly miserable in my current role, I had 3 options that all were coming in at almost the same time – but not quite.

      I ultimately had to be very mindful and deliberate in telling my “1A” choice when I needed them to be quicker because I had real decisions I needed to make. When the 1A job finally came through, I was so charged on the adrenaline of the situation and grateful that I didn’t negotiate. So yeah, finding ways to do all of this while still being as mindful as possible is still important.

  33. Jubilance*

    #3 – did HR give you a reason why they were rescinding the name change? I see you noted that you don’t have your Social Security card with the new name – is there some type of rule that the change has to be legal, ie completed through Social Security/drivers license before they will change it?

    My company has that rule, so name changes tend to happen at least a month after the marriage, so there’s time for the marriage license to come back & then go to Social Security/DMV to change those documents and receive the new ones. I could see a company not wanting to change things unless it was legal, especially for tax purposes.

    1. Observer*

      Yeah, but email is not a legal issue. And once it’s been done, rolling it back is stupid, at the least.

  34. Analyst Editor*

    LW2: it sounds like the suggestions are read out and praised but not really acted upon? If that’s the case, it’s really easy to read an anonymous suggestion and make no commitments; whereas if someone praises your suggestion to your face, they make more of a commitment to implement it, especially if you’re likely to be pushy about an idea once it’s been recognized as yours.
    There’s also a question of where you are in the hierarchy. People like others to “stay in their lane” and are protective of their territory and their authority – sometimes rightfully so, sometimes not. If your “suggestions and concerns of the team” cross these boundaries people expect you to observe, management might care less about how good your suggestions are and more about the fact that – from their perspective – you are stirring the pot, sowing discontent, going above your pay grade, or whatever term someone might use privately. These issues are not in play with an anonymous suggestion box.

  35. Ann O'Nemity*

    #2 Another explanation is if management is deliberately trying to encourage the idea submission process. Are other anonymous ideas getting heaps of public praise?

  36. Fiona the Baby Hippo*

    I also have to wonder if LW1 was misreading schedules and late bc they were already not feeling great! I can imagnie early symptoms that you might miss, like fatigue, could contribute to brain fog.

  37. Aggretsuko*

    The anonymous box reminds me of what I call “the wrong messenger.” If I say something, it’s not going to go well, but if the right person says it, then it’s fine and dandy.

    1. lazy intellectual*

      This was a pattern in my last job and it was definitely due to blatant favoritism. I’m not sure there is a solution to it, though. In my last job, I pointed out all the suggestions I made that were implemented in my self-evaluation, and management completely ignored it and wrote in my performance review that I never contributed to the team or provided suggestions for process improvement. Basically, management would lie on performance reviews to suppress the people they didn’t want to promote and advance the people they did.

  38. TooTiredToThink*

    LW3 – A group that may also be in your corner is the IT staff. I’ve been in the middle of process changes on the IT side and…its not fun. But also, when we’d process name changes we’d have to manually update the person in *every* single application they used (and some of these folks were in half a dozen accounts, not including AD and email). Some of these applications were a pain because it mean creating brand new accounts (and then dealing with the licensing(!!!)). So, I don’t know what your set up is like – if its just your network credentials and email, or if its different software that requires licensing; but the IT staff *might* be willing to drag out changing it back.

    But also, it could be the IT staff that is requiring the change back to match the HR systems due to auditors. Also, have been there, done that as well. And yes, I hated it on behalf of the end user, but auditors are…. auditors. *sigh*

  39. Bookworm*

    #5: While it seems odd that they haven’t responded to a potential internal hire there could be any number of reasons why they haven’t been in touch. This would be ghosting if you knew for certain that they hired someone else and did not tell your husband but it doesn’t quite sound like that.

    Keep applying. And honestly, maybe be open to other opportunities too. If they haven’t even replied to say that hey, they’re still working things out, etc. I’d be wary of how they are conducting the hiring process.

    Good luck!

    1. OP #5*

      Thanks, Bookworm! I realized I was unclear: the recruiter my husband was working with is internal to the company, but this isn’t the company my husband currently works for.

      I did some creepy LinkedIn searching, and it looks like the company did hire someone into the role in July, so it does seem like ghosting. I was really worried it would seem out of touch for him to continue to apply to open positions, but I’m glad Alison’s okay with it. It’s a medium-size company with more than one location in our state, and we’re open to moving, so there are lots of open opportunities with this company. And you’re right, he’s definitely applying to other companies too! Thanks again.

  40. EventPlannerGal*

    OP2: What are your relationships with these managers/coworkers like generally? Do you often come around with suggestions on improving company culture? I think that even when suggestions are great ones, people have a tendency to write them off if they’re coming from somebody that they don’t get along with or makes too many suggestions.

  41. HR in the city*

    #3 Yeah HR messed up on this but right now the easy solution is to not change payroll yet. Allow you to keep using your email ect. An organization should NEVER do a name change without a new social security card. Why? Because if name & social don’t match than the employer gets fined (not the employee- the employer!). It has happened to the organization that I work for- name didn’t match what the IRS had on file. Wouldn’t accept a deposit of taxes- which caused a huge mess when you have 1,000+ employees. It is also complicated a little bit because a manager can request a name change for email ect (the employees work profile) through the IT department which HR never sees at my organization. IT isn’t supposed to do it unless HR give the okay but it has happened. It makes the employee very mad when HR says no but we are preventing the organization from having to pay a HUGE fine. So as soon as that new social card comes get it to HR asap.

    1. MCMonkeyBean*

      But they specified that they changed “just email and a few other things, nothing with payroll, benefits, etc.” And that making those small social changes ahead of the official changes like payroll is standard at their company.

      There is no legal reason email needs to match anything. Lots of people at my company have nicknames as their email.

      1. only acting normal*

        Yeah. Our email can be a nickname if that’s what you’re known as! Payroll etc would be full proper name (and for tax purposes National Insurance Number = UK’s SSN), but they’re all linked together in your “virtual file” by a unique employee number. Not name because it’s far too easy to end up with two John Smith’s. (The duplicate names where I’ve worked have actually been bizarrely unusual ones rather than super common, “You want the other Jacoby Warblebottom”. But the principle stands.)

    2. Natalie*

      Wouldn’t accept a deposit of taxes- which caused a huge mess when you have 1,000+ employees.

      This doesn’t really jibe with my experience doing payroll, unless it’s something specific to your state. Federal tax withholding deposits are made as a lump sum tied to the employer’s EIN. Nothing gets reported for specific employees until the employer files W2s with Social Security, and those are filed totally separately from payments. To a completely different agency, even.

      Employers are also given notice to correct mismatched name-SSN, they wouldn’t be fined right off the bat. AFAICT the only agency that would be able to penalize you for a mismatched name-social would be ICE, after an audit and only if they found actual lawbreaking.

      I’ve also received letters from the IRS alerting us to a 1099 name-TIN mismatch and there weren’t any fines involved. We were instructed that we were required to take backup withholding if we used that contractor again, that’s all.

    3. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      If you’re getting fined by the IRS, you’re usually being caught doing something on a regular basis. They don’t usually stick a fine to little stuff, they will just send you a “Fix it ticket” kind of notice, saying “We could fine you for this but really we just want you to fix it, so fix it and we’re good.”

      It sounds like you may have been told otherwise to scare you into being rigid, which is pretty standard practice for HR. But in reality, no they really didn’t pay those fines and if they did, they really messed up because the IRS is quick to waive penalties for standard mixups unless they’re flagrant.

      This sounds more like someone may have been using a stolen or fraudulent SSN and they weren’t terminated when the IRS caught it and alerted the firm. That happened in my past experience and again, we didn’t get fine, we just got told to fix it!

  42. TychoBraheCannotSmellWhatYou'reCooking*

    LW 1: An illness your first week at a new job can feel like the end of the world, but you can definitely recover! I had a kidney stone attack my second day of a new job. Thought I could power through it until the pain got so bad that I threw up all over their newly-installed carpet, passed out, and ended up being taken to the hospital by ambulance. Turns out I had a raging kidney infection and was off work for a week. I figured I wouldn’t have a job to come back to, but nobody made a big deal about it and I was able to prove my reliability by delivering a good and timely work product when I finally did get back to work. Good luck, and hope you’re feeling better soon!

  43. Dis-missed*

    LW#2 – just wanted to say that this happened to me in a ridiculously overt way recently. In a leadership team meeting, I (a woman) made a suggestion (I don’t remember what it was, but it’s not relevant to the story). The Plant Manager (a man) shot it down immediately with multiple excuses as to why it couldn’t work. Two days later, a male manager who was on PTO the day I made my suggestion brought forth the same exact suggestion, and the Plant Manager declared it a great idea and a “must”. I rolled my eyes at a friend in the meeting who caught it, but I didn’t speak up. Next time I will!

  44. Database Developer Dude*

    She needs to find another job. Seriously. She’s not seen as a contributor, even though that’s exactly what she is.

  45. Elizabeth West*

    I’m so sorry you got sick, OP. This is my nightmare while job hunting in the middle of a pandemic. Hopefully your employer will be understanding.

    I hope you feel better soon.

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