I’m working 17-hour days, ex-employee left a bad review of our vendor, and more

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

1. I’m working 17-hour days every day

I graduated from university at the end of last year, and I’ve had some internships and retail jobs during and after my studies. After months and months of job hunting, I finally got a job at a company, which I was grateful for, but almost three months in and I find my mental and physical health being heavily affected by the stress and workload.

Since I started, I’ve had to work overtime almost every single day. I did my best to cope with the work hours and workload, but the during the last couple of months I have been working from 9 am to 2 am+ every single day, seven days a week.

I have spoken to my manager when I was having mental breakdowns and had to go seek medical help. I appreciate her understanding, but the best she could do was allow a day’s medical leave.

My coworkers are all as overworked as I am and despite their friendliness and helpfulness, I see this has been a long-term working culture of the company. Even my supervisor left after three weeks when I first joined!

I do not have time and energy at all to find another job while I’m employed here. I only have five days annual leave until the end of the year and almost no weekends to spare. However, I fear that leaving so soon during my probation period will hurt my career.

9 am – 2 am? Every day?! This is not normal, and completely untenable. Some jobs might have a small number of days like that per year, but it would be (a) extremely unusual and (b) acknowledged as a hardship. To have it happening regularly is beyond the pale, unless you’re in one of the rare industries where you know going in that’s part of the deal (and generally are compensated accordingly). There’s a reason that first supervisor left immediately.

Are you in a position financially where you could simply leave? That’s not advice I give lightly, especially in this job market, but even if you weren’t having health effects, I’d suggest you do it if at all possible. I know it must be awful to contemplate that after a long search, but this is not a situation you can stay in.

2. My former employee left a bad review for one of our vendors

My small nonprofit, for which a positive public image is very important, laid off one of our employees a few months ago for financial reasons. They left on good terms. I heard today from an important vendor that this former employee left a bad online review of that vendor. That review reportedly caused them to lose at least one prospective client. They wanted to be sure our relationship was in a good place.

I checked the review, which was written very shortly after their last day in the office (but not their last day on payroll). It did not identify us, but some quick google searches by the name of the employee could probably reveal who we are.

This employee had regularly complained to me about the vendor. The complaints seemed valid to me and some of the vendor’s reported behavior was concerning to me. However, it never rose to the level of concern that would lead to what I consider the nuclear option: a negative public review of a company we had an ongoing contract with! It seemed more like a “yeah, you all should work that out” sort of issue. Looking back, perhaps I should have been more directive about this.

I apologized to the vendor and noted that that employee was no longer with us and appeared to write the review after the last day, that I did not and would not authorize such a thing, and that I wanted to reset the relationship. They were appreciative of my response and are ready to move forward. After consulting with our equivalent of HR, I contacted the former employee and in a carefully worded email asked them to remove the review, stating that it was not helpful for our attempts to restart the business relationship in a more positive way. They responded, saying they had written the review after their last day specifically so that we could disavow it, but that they stand by their review. I am surprised and disappointed by this response.

Whether the review is factual or not is not my main concern. That’s disputable. My main concern is what sort of reference for this employee I might give if called. I have no interest in going back and forth about the review, even though I could probably make a case that he was still on payroll and should remove it since it was not authorized. When this person, left, I made clear they would get a very positive reference from me, but this has left a sour taste in my mouth. For some reason they’ve decided this is a hill to die on. For what it’s worth, this employee hadn’t had to interact with the vendor since March, and the review was several months later! Am I overblowing this? If I get a call, what do I do? Ignore this? Mention it? And if I can no longer give an unreservedly positive reference, do I need to let the former employee know?

Aggggh, that’s aggravating. They were working with the vendor as a representative of your organization, and they shouldn’t decide on their own to do something that could blow up the relationship just because it was after their last day. It’s an odd emotional investment in something that they should be willing to drop at this point.

As for the reference … I’d want to know more about what you think of this person’s judgment generally. If they’ve always had good judgment and this is an aberration, I wouldn’t bring it up (although it’s also understandable if it makes you slightly less enthused about them in a general way than you were previously).

But if you’ve seen other instances of bad judgment from them before and this fits that pattern, it’s fair for this to move those concerns more to the forefront, and for you to reassess what you think you could honestly say about their judgment in a reference. In that case, though, I’d talk to them about it, since it’s a change from what you’d told them previously. (But if you’re at all torn, I’d err on the side of letting it go.)

3. Formality in chat programs

I’m using my company’s messenger more than ever due to COVID (mostly for work topics). Our company uses Microsoft Teams which has built-in emojis and gifs. I tend to be less formal than email and use a hybrid formal-relaxed style of grammar. For example, no capital letters but I use punctuation. I’ll use the thumb-up emoji quite a bit but rarely use any of the others. I sparingly use PG gifs with very close coworkers. So my Teams chats are more loose than my emails but definitely not on par with how I would text with friends. Assuming I work for a company with a “normal” level of formality, do you think this is appropriate? Some of my coworkers message exactly as they email, but some are more casual like me.

I’d also be curious what others are seeing at their organizations. Maybe we’re all setting the the norms for widespread business messenger use right now?

Sounds perfectly fine and well within the range of normal. Messenger programs are an inherently less formal medium.

4. We have to work from home without pay if we have Thanksgiving outside our homes

Even though I work 100% through phone and email, my office has kept us coming in person day in and day out even during the stay-at-home order when it was in effect. It was tough, but we all adjusted. My employer isn’t quite known for its flexibility. When people started to travel again, it was up to the department heads to decide how to handle testing. I myself had to test three times in a week and was able to work from home during this time.

However, today we received an email about the holidays. We were told that if we celebrate Thanksgiving outside of our immediate households, we have to quarantine. I think this is good practice, but here’s where I stop agreeing. If we need to quarantine and test, we must take vacation time to do so, but work from home. Is this legal? There’s no reason why we couldn’t just work from home without PTO and get tested. So it’s really starting to feel like a punishment just for existing outside of work. I’m personally live alone so if I don’t leave for the holiday, I can’t celebrate it.

The first part of this — ordering you to stay home based on your Thanksgiving plans — is generally legal, as long as you’re not in one of the few states with off-duty conduct laws.

But the second part — telling you to work while taking vacation time — is ridiculous. Those two things should be mutually exclusive. But it’s legal in most states too; the law cares that you get paid for the work you perform, but it doesn’t generally care whether your employer charges that pay to “work time” or “PTO time.” (California may be an exception to this. There’s a longer explanation here.) But legality aside, it’s absurd — and really, if you’re going to be charged vacation time anyway, why would any of you work during that time? People should just take that time off, since they’re going to lose the PTO anyway. (Well, really, you should all push back on the policy, but if that fails and you’re made to use time off, actually take the time off.)

5. Do I use my company email address when applying for an internal position?

I’m happy at my current company, but I think I’ve learned all I can in my current role and would like to move on to a different position. How should I provide my contact information when people on the hiring committees are likely to be colleagues who interact with me frequently? Do I use my company-provided email address? Do I use my regular gmail (firstinitiallastname7@gmail.com)? Do I need to create something more professional? I wasn’t sure what was appropriate in an internal move like this. I don’t want the committee to think I’m being shady (though I won’t be mentioning my interviewing until I’m certain I’d be accepting a position, if that matters).

When you’re applying for jobs externally, you’d always use your personal email address; you wouldn’t want hiring-related communications sent to you on your current company’s network or for an employer to think you’re using your current job’s resources for job-hunting.

But it’s different when you’re applying internally. Then it’s generally fine to use your company email address for hiring-related communications; you’re all colleagues, after all.

{ 601 comments… read them below }

  1. A Non*

    “The complaints seemed valid to me and some of the vendor’s reported behavior was concerning to me.”

    How concerning?? Was there something the vendor was doing that you could/should have protected your employee from?

    1. DietCokeQueen*

      This part stood out to me too, maybe the former employee is “willing to die on this hill” because the vendor’s behavior was abhorrent and brushed aside by their manager.

      1. Aldabra*

        I agree. If they didn’t feel supported and protected by their leadership, they may not want a reference from them anyway. Regular complaints, and the manager’s response is “yeah, I should have been clearer that they have to work that out in their own?” And now the company is trying to make nice to the vendor? I also disagree that a negative review is “nuclear,” especially when it isn’t even traceable to the company without putting effort into research.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I noted this below, but it really depends on details we don’t have. There are situations where it would be perfectly reasonable for the manager to expect the employee to manage the situation themselves. (For example, if the vendor’s communication was less than stellar or they kept wanting deadline extensions, and the employee was in a role where dealing with that was part of their job.)

          1. Booboo*

            It’s pretty obvious that isn’t the case. The LW themselves described the vendor’s inappropriate behaviour as “concerning”, which clearly indicates something far more serious than poor communication or asking for deadlines.

            The bottom line is the employee felt threatened enough that they felt the need to make multiple complaints, and their boss, despite finding the vendor’s behaviour “concerning”, chose to ignore their employee’s concerns. That’s terrible management, period.

            1. Washi*

              I don’t think it’s obvious at all! The letter never uses the words “inappropriate behavior” to start with, nor is there any indication that the employee felt threatened. Yes, it could be something truly egregious, and that would mean having a very different response to the situation. But also, I’ve definitely known people who have very high standards who get really upset with mediocre businesses being…mediocre. The “yeah you all should work that out” comment directed to the vendor made me think of something like losing information and needing it repeated, or missing deadlines even after reminders. That would be a pretty weird response to actual harrassment, for example, and we’re supposed to give letter writers the benefit of the doubt.

              1. WellRed*

                I agree washi. I also think even if it was something on the employee to handle, IPs vague “yeah you should work that out” seems unhelpful to her employee. Passive management is frustrating.

              2. Mystery Bookworm*

                So, I had the same first thought as a lot of other people here (in that I wonder about what exactly the complaint was…) and I think it’s very possible that the employee is in the right.

                That said, I can think of a former colleague who rountinely expected Michelin Star-level service at a McDonald’s price point. Their complaints could sound egregious in isolation but were small in context of the trade-offs (like less personalized service with cheaper, shorter contracts).

            2. aka*

              ‘described the vendor’s inappropriate behaviour as “concerning”, which clearly indicates something far more serious than poor communication or asking for deadlines.’

              No, it’s not clear. It’s possible, but not clear.

            3. Mystery Bookworm*

              It’s not obvious.

              ‘Concerning’ as a descriptor can have serious implications, depending on context — which I imagine is what you’re thinking….but it doesn’t always, and some people use it more freely.

              1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

                Yup. I find it concerning when my coworkers respond to emails I send them asking for information that’s already in the email they responded to, but that’s not a thing our boss needs to get in on.

              2. OP*

                OP here. Concerning to me means just that: “oh, that’s a concern.” I guess I use the word more freely than others!

                1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

                  Ah, I see where the disconnect came from. Personally, I speak fluent Midwest after living here for the last 24 years. From that perspective, I’m used to “concerning” meaning “really really bad” (“we’ve seen concerning issues with this vendor” = “vendor demands kickbacks and threatens clients”) and I tend to forget that not all locations use this word in that way.

                2. OP*

                  I Wrote This In The Bathroom. Thanks. What’s interesting to me is that I’m from the Midwest, but am generally more direct than many in this culture. So I would have said “inappropriate” or “abusive” if that’s what it was.

                  Oh, language.

                3. Zombeyonce*

                  That’s so interesting, because to me, “inappropriate” is not nearly as bad as “concerning”. It’s just a little bad, while “concerning” is VERY bad. (I’m not a Midwesterner, have lived all over the US so not sure how this falls regionally, but currently live on the West coast.)

              3. Hillary*

                I do vendor management. For me concerning can mean not responding to emails fast enough, being on the lower half of my quality scorecard, or not participating actively in my improvement initiatives. None of which are a firing offense but may limit future business opportunities, and all of which it’s my job to manage through the relationship.

                I would rightly destroy my reference if I did this to my boss. Any behavior that could rise to alarming (harassment, inappropriate/unethical behavior, theft) should be reported to my boss or to our ethics line.

            4. EPLawyer*

              I’m coming down on this side. While we don’t have the details, the OP does say it was concerning.

              OP is this vendor the only one who can supply what you need at a reasonable price or do you have options? You seem very invested in resetting the relationship with the vendor to a more positive one, but should you? Yes your Non-Profit needs a good public image, which means the vendors you use should align with the non-profit values too (to the extent that is possible). It’s not about behaving nicely to everyone — if everyone doesn’t deserve it.

              the ex-employee felt this was a hill to die on. Before changing your reference, reflect on their concerns and whether or not you downplayed them in order to maintain the relationship with this vendor. SOMETHING is going on. You know the vendor is a problem, you need to address those issues regardless of their feelings about the negative review.

            5. OP*

              Hi. OP here. As I noted in another post the issue was about the timely provision of business supplies and the communication requires to get them. That was squarely within this person’s job. And additionally, I did at one point offer to call them vendor to work through it myself.

              I have no reason to believe this was anything beyond a communication dispute, and perhaps a dispute about what the vendor “should” be doing but that they weren’t contractually obligated to do.

              Everyone I work with knows I have zero tolerance for abusive behavior and they’ve seen me back that up. So I think I would have known if this was more than a business dispute.

              1. MCMonkeyBean*

                Thanks for clarifying, that makes a huge difference. I would still try to let it go for future references, but I do at least understand now why it feels frustrating.

              2. SallyB*

                LOL so wait! And I know I am later to the game here, but your employee left a bad review for a company vendor due to expediting communications between what sounds like an expeditor and the vendor? Nooooooo that is truly poor judgement. This employee doesn’t have enough information to even speculate why they were having this level of interaction. In other words, it may be true but its not the employee’s place to leave such a review – dealing with this supplier issue is part of this person’s literal job. We wouldn’t have expediting jobs otherwise. Also, it is up to the business what they are willing to tolerate, not the employee. An employee doesn’t have the entire story, and it shows poor judgement as 1. its their literally job(!) and 2. it shows they assume they would know all the details!

                If this happened and I got a call for a reference from another company wanting to hire him any kind of buyer capacity, I would honestly have to mention this!

          2. MK*

            Ok, but, Alison, your response takes it for granted that this is the case, despite not having the details.

          3. MS*

            Why exactly does not knowing details apply to us but not to you? You’re just erring in the side of blaming them rather than someone who is in a managerial position.

            1. Yorick*

              Because we’re supposed to give letter writers the benefit of the doubt, and trust that they know their situation. If they didn’t think the problems were a big deal, then they probably weren’t (and OP has clarified what the problems were in the comments, and Alison was right)

      2. b2b worker bee*

        Was #2’s former employee’s tenure long enough that they they don’t have other options for references?

        Purposefully sabotaging an employers business relationship is bridge burning. If the LW’s employee was writing in asking if they SHOULD leave a scathing review of a vendor the day after they leave, I think most people would still want the context we don’t have before giving them advice.

        I imagine if it were the former employee writing in, even if the review were extremely justified, if the question was “Should I rely on my former manager who had to clean up that mess for a good reference?” Most of us would caution that its probably a tainted reference and the employee would have no idea if the manager would mention that they sabotaged a client relationship without giving more context. If it was harassment, we might say “Please for the sake of other employees, say something” but I don’t think we’d say “and your employer will be totally cool with it and thank you for your honesty”

        The Actual LW is asking about GIVING the reference. LW did damage control for the company they still work at (Like it or not, I’ve never seen a b2b who’s marketing department didn’t concern themselves with every negative review, unless the are a giant one). The vendor reached out. Working with the vendor might not be their choice either by circumstance (supply/demand) or by higher decree. They maybe could have done more, by their own admission, but what was done is done.

        The LW Is asking what they should do with this burned bridge. If I went out of my way to drop a match on a current client relationship with my current employer, I would not reach out for a reference if I could avoid it. I think Alisons advice is sound, if it’s a one off, LW could ignore this event.

        I think its a little unfair to the LW to say that this former scorned employee can be as honest as they want and lack discretion (The vendor called the company, so they likely didn’t drop “I just got laid off” in the review) since they are no longer employed, but LW should not be honest and cover for this employee if asked in a reference. I would just say that the LW needs to examine the situation closer, the facts do matter here if they want to be honest. It shouldn’t leave a bad taste in your mouth if the review was on point and not handled while the employee was there.

        1. OP*

          Thanks. The reality is we’re in a contract with this vendor for three years and the issue at hand would not have risen to the level of letting us break it.

          The position was part time and employee had other so they may or may not use me as a reference. But they were here many years and I wanted to give a positive reference.

          Maybe I should have posed the question this way: “Even though this bothers me I still want to give an unreserved positive reference. Do I have some sort of obligated to mention this if called?”

            1. OP*

              That’s become clear to me. It’s what I suspected, but wanted a gut check. A positive reference it will be.

          1. Weekend Please*

            If you want to give an unreserved positive reference, do so. It is impossible to mention every single interaction with an employee. Just because this is the most recent interaction does not make it more important than everything else the employee did. I would say your obligation is to be honest. If your honest evaluation is that this was a great employee then that is all you need. If your evaluation of this employee changed due to the review, that would also be fair. In that case, I would tell them that so that they are aware that your offer of a glowing review no longer stands.

            1. OP*

              This makes sense. I’m the head of staff and report to the Board (and young/relatively new in this position), so I didn’t have an easy place to go to get perspective on this.

              Thank you.

          2. MS*

            That the issue at hand wouldn’t rise to the level of your company breaking contract doesn’t really mean anything. Companies very notoriously often don’t care bout the well-being of employees to the extent of being blind to whether or not that decision negatively impacts the business in the long term. Especially as you’ve just revealed an employee worked for you for years and only was ever given part time status, and obviously not by choice since you said they were working other jobs.

            Your reply here comes off as in very bad faith. You don’t have some ethical need to save other companies from a bad hire. It seems like you’re upset with this employee and a bad reference is the only power you really have over them anymore. If it would bother you to stick with your original proposition that you would give them a positive reference, the professional thing to do would be to say to them that you no longer feel comfortable with them listing you as a reference.

            They were laid off months ago and no one has called you. Have you considered that they don’t actually want to use you as a reference? Potentially due to the issues other commentors have pointed out with how you managed the situation?

            1. BuildMeUp*

              Especially as you’ve just revealed an employee worked for you for years and only was ever given part time status, and obviously not by choice since you said they were working other jobs.

              I’m not sure I’m understanding this assumption. The employee very well could have been biding his time at *OP’s* company while waiting for his other part time job to make him full time. There is not enough information to know.

              And you’re making a lot of uncharitable assumptions about the OP’s motivations here as well. Nothing in the letter or OP’s comments reads as some sort of power trip to me. Where is that assumption coming from?

            2. Simonthegreywarden*

              I read it as the person having other jobs she could use for references. Thus the comment about not knowing if the employee would use them as a reference.

              You sound like you are taking OP really personally. Nothing about OP comes across as bad faith; it sounds like OP wants to still give a good reference and so is wondering if she has to tell people about this, or if it can just be let slide since it wasn’t part of her time managing the employee.

              FWIW, at points in my life I have worked 2-3 part time jobs because that was the only way to get the flexibility I needed (one WFH in the evenings, one teaching one night a week, one working only mornings-early afternoons). If the employee took that position knowing it would only ever be part time, that’s not something to chastise the OP about.

          3. lazy intellectual*

            The point of a reference is to give a comprehensive assessment of the employee, including both positive and negative things. So you should mention all the positive stuff you originally intended, but you can also mention the vendor reference as something you didn’t like. But you don’t have the right to ask them to take it down.

        2. b2b worker bee*


          The OP responded here, just wanted to note. It sounds like it wasnt harassment and normal b2b hardships, they come with the job.

          I stand by my last comment knowing this. I think if its okay for Former Employee to be scathingly honest in a review, its shit for the LW to have to clean up the mess and still give an glowing review. Former Employee willingly burned the bridge.

        3. serenity*

          This seems to be a great deal of agita over a negative review left by a former employee about a *vendor* – not the employer, a vendor.

          The *former* employee can leave a negative reference online. That’s their prerogative. I don’t see the leap from this to “they are sabotaging our business relationship”.

          1. b2b worker bee*

            the Former Employee can do whatever they want for sure!

            The review left some agita of its own. If the LW was writing in and saying “I found this review, the client didn’t notice, no damage was done, the review was factual” I would think the situation was over blown,

            Instead its “we had to clarify they no longer work with us, the vendor lost a client, we had to repair our relationship and even asked the employee to take it down in damage control, but its fine now”

            Its not the end of the world, but the LW isn’t asking about retribution, just about what to do with this reference now that the former employee disrupted their business, seemingly on purpose.

            If a b2b employee did this and thought it would have absolutely no effect, I would be a little confused and worried about giving a reference too.

            1. Black Horse Dancing*

              Thing is, the former employee was honest. The vendor has issues. The vendor lost a client because the vendor couldn’t fix its ongoing issues.

    2. Emily*

      (Letter 2) Yes, I have the same question. If the manager’s response to the employee’s complaints about the vendor was “Yeah, you all should work that out”, but the problems were serious enough that the manager should have intervened, I completely understand the employee’s frustration, though I don’t agree with how they handled it. I think that’s something the manager should take into consideration when deciding what kind of reference to give (and of course should let the employee know if the reference actually won’t be all that positive). Also, I agree with Alison, the big question here is if there is a pattern or not of poor decision making by this employee. Also, if the manager reflected on what happened and realized they should have done more to support the employee/address the concerns with the vendor, it may have been helpful to acknowledge that when asking the employee to take down the review.

    3. Booboo*

      Agreed. I’m extremely surprised that Alison didn’t flag the LW’s poor judgment in brushing off an employee’s repeated complaints about a vendor acting inappropriately to the point their poor behaviour is still “a hill to die on” months later.

      1. Frankie Derwent*

        Yes. I hoped for a clarification e-mail. The “concerning” behavior could be a slew of things, at least some of which should be addressed by the LW with the vendor before getting mad at the ex-employee. No one upthread has mentioned it but it could be sexual harassment and if I were the former employee, I would definitely die on that hill.

        1. CB212*

          LW has clarified upthread that the behavior concerned “timely provision of business supplies and the communication requires [sic] to get them”.

          1. BuildMeUp*

            This absolutely changes the way I view the former employee, to be honest. Even if these issues caused problems, it seems odd to take that so personally that they wrote a review about something like this. They weren’t even really the ones receiving service; their company was.

          2. CB212*

            And they also clarify that they wrote because they WANT to give the employee a good recommendation! Their concern was whether they needed to give a caveat about this thing that happened or if it’s okay to give an unreserved good rec based on the employee’s work while there.

          3. EventPlannerGal*

            Idk, personally as someone dealing with vendors directly every day I do not see that as the trivial matter that people are making it out to be. As per the OP’s comments this vendor provided cheap and mediocre supplies, was late in doing so and was difficult to get hold of. They are also in a contract with OPs company that even OP, head of staff and reporting directly to the Board, could not themselves break, meaning that the employee had even less power than that and making OP’s directive to “sort it out between yourselves” pretty useless. A very frustrating situation to be in, to my mind. Delivering the contracted goods and services ON TIME is, like, a significant part of a vendor’s job. I do not understand OPs preoccupation with protecting the online reputation of a mediocre vendor who cannot do stuff on time.

            1. Kivrin*

              Totally agree. It is not a business’s or INDIVIDUAL EMPLOYEE’S job to keep another business in operation. A poor review for poor service is warranted. Allison’s response and the comments here about this are very strange to me.

            2. Ally McBeal*

              +1 to all of this, including Kivrin’s bafflement that Alison addressed this so oddly. If I was forced to work with a habitually poor-quality and usually-late vendor, I would absolutely leave a poor review of that vendor. I think the former employee was classy to wait until they’d left to post the review, and the vendor should be addressing their product issues and not pushing back against their client to have the review removed.

            3. lazy intellectual*

              A lot of the times, managers undermine how problematic something is if they don’t deal with it directly themselves. It seems here the employee’s job was constantly hung up on this vendor’s mistakes, but LW1 didn’t think it was a big deal.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Maybe this does not apply to OP, but I have seen situations where just about everyone else was more important than the employee. Got a vendor talking nasty? Just deal. Got a customer talking nasty? Just deal. And so on.
      Having worked for places that are “concerned about appearances” I now see that as at least a caution flag if not a red flag.
      It seems like you resolved the situation with the vendor and the vendor is back on track with your company. Calling the employee at home after they had quit was a bit much, I hope you do not call the employee again. I suspect their next review will be of your company on Glassdoor or Indeed.
      The fact that you were able to say the complaints were concerning, in turn concerns me. It sounds like you did not do a lot to act on those complaints. Okay, that’s your choice. However, employees who feel unsupported by their bosses, tend to do whatever-whatever. When we don’t take action, other people tend to take matters into their own hands. That just a fact of life.
      It sounds to me like this problem weighed pretty heavy on the employee’s mind and that is why the post went up immediately after quitting. What did you tell this employee when they came to you? Did you provide them with back up? Did you offer them scripts that they could use to tell the vendor that the vendor’s words/actions were not acceptable? Did you ever once say, “This person should not be speaking to you this way!”?

      As far as giving her a negative reference, I am even wondering if she will use you as a reference. It could be that an employer calls you even though she did not list you as a reference. Do what you think is best, OP. What I see here and probably what she will see is that she felt pretty beat up by this vendor and you did little to help her. When she posted on line, you felt free to “go right after her” by calling her up at home. Then you withheld or gave a negative reference because she was strong enough to say, “I am not putting up with verbal abuse.”

      You may be totally correct that the situation was not a big deal, she is over reacting and so on. The irony here is that places who are so concerned about their image, never once consider that their employees tell 10 friends how they were treated and those 10 friends tell more friends, etc. Public image is not JUST in the hands of vendors. It’s also in the hands of employees.

      There’s a for-profit here that was refusing to give people breaks. It happened to one person in my town. At this point, I think half the town knows that this store does not allow people to have breaks. And that was done by in-person conversations. How employees are treated matters just as much as how vendors are treated.

      1. Koalafied*

        A few assumptions aren’t right here – the departed employee is a “he,” the LW emailed him rather than calling him at home, there’s no indication that LW “went right after him” (which seems to suggest an attacking tone to the email), and there’s no indication that the vendor was verbally abusive – it’s possible, but we don’t know what the concerning behavior was and it very well could have been something that fell short of abusive, like being flaky and missing deadlines, changing their minds a lot mid stream, forgetting things and needing to be repeatedly reminded, etc.

        1. EPLawyer*

          If my former employer called me to tell me to remove a negative review of a vendor because they thought it would affect their relationship with the vendor, I would feel attacked. I would also remind them I don’t work for them anymore.

          1. Koalafied*

            Again, it was an email, not a call. I don’t think the employee needs to give two hoots about the request, but I don’t think it means the manager was attacking the ex employee. It’s possible that it was simply a request, sent by email, without nastiness.

          2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

            +1000. They laid him off. He owes them nothing. Just like they felt they owed him nothing when they laid him off.

            IANAL, but it looks to me like he also no longer speaks for the company if he does not work there. So I do not see how his review is a “nuclear option”, or something that would negatively affect OP’s company. He probably thought he was being professional when he held off on posting the review while he worked for OP’s company.

            1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

              Edits to the above:

              1) the employee is a “they”
              2) The letter confirms it that the employee had waited until they were no longer working there to post the review, specifically to avoid the impression that they spoke for OP’s company: “They responded, saying they had written the review after their last day specifically so that we could disavow it, but that they stand by their review. I am surprised and disappointed by this response.”

              I am… surprised and disappointed by OP’s response to the response? You don’t get to tell people who do not work for your company to take their reviews down.

              I am also fairly certain that Employee never planned on giving OP or anyone else at OP’s company as their reference, so that should not be an issue.

              1. Koalafied*

                I don’t understand why people are leaping to characterize the LW so harshly. The LW didn’t “tell” the ex-employee (who is referred to as both “he” and “they” in the letter), she asked him. You can ask people to do things that you don’t have the right to tell them to do, without being a monster.

                “After consulting with our equivalent of HR, I contacted the former employee and in a carefully worded email asked them to remove the review, stating that it was not helpful for our attempts to restart the business relationship in a more positive way.”

                It’s frustrating that people are turning this into, “LW called employee at home making unreasonable demands,” and if LW is reading these comments I can imagine it’s especially frustrating for them.

                1. OP*

                  I understand the perspective that says we shouldn’t have asked. I’d just note that, again, we left on good terms and the employee volunteered when leaving that we shouldn’t hesitate to contact them if they should be helpful in any way. This was a way they could have been helpful.

                  As someone else noted obviously they get to say no to that, and they have. That closes the book on that communication.

                2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

                  I don’t understand why people are leaping to characterize the LW so harshly. The LW didn’t “tell” the ex-employee (who is referred to as both “he” and “they” in the letter), she asked him.

                  Hmmm maybe because LW was expecting a “yes” answer and the removal of the review as a response to their request, and is “surprised and disappointed” to have received a different response. I see it as an unreasonable expectation. I bet the employee does not give a hoot about whether a company that laid them off is seen in a positive way by a vendor who has issues that we do not know about, but that are concerning enough to LW.

                3. OP*

                  Also, yes, I am a bit frustrated because it seems a lot is being read into what I wrote. But I also understand that the whole nature of this thing is that I have background information others don’t have.

                  And since abuse is such an issue that is often ignored, I understand the concern people are expressing.

                  FWIW, I got what I needed from Alison’s reply and I’ll be sticking with a clear, positive reference if it comes up.

                4. OP*

                  I Wrote This In The Bathroom, I actually was surprised because this employee had expressed wanting to do anything they could to be helpful after they left. I’m in a field where that is fairly common, though this is the first time I had ever made such a request.

                  Whether that expectation was unreasonable, maybe it was. I was surprised because it wasn’t consistent with what I knew of this person. But obviously their response stands.

                5. serenity*

                  OP, you need to let this go. You said you now have a positive relationship with the vendor. Fine, that’s good.

                  Your former employee gets to write a negative review and they get to leave it up. Whether you agree with what’s stated or not. Please, let this go. The amount of energy you’re expending to try to get a *former* employee to alter or remove a review they left for *another company* is too much.

                6. Eye roll*

                  Well, because it does feel a bit unreasonable to ask a *former* employee to take down an apparently accurate review, which was based on admittedly concerning behavior by a vendor. If it cost the vendor business to have a truth told about them, that’s really the vendor’s problem with the vendor’s business. It’s not OPs job to whitewash that, and there’s really no grounds for the OP to ask a former employee of the business to do so.

                7. BuildMeUp*

                  Yes, I’m also very confused by everyone saying it’s the former employee’s right to leave this review. I mean, sure, they *can* leave a review. But the only interactions they had with Vendor were as an employee of Company. They were never a customer of Vendor as an individual person. To me, that means any review they leave, they leave as a representative of Company. It really doesn’t matter that they waited until after they left to write the review. They’re writing about their time at Company, as an employee there who interacted with Vendor.

                  It’s clear that the review is seen as representing Company; Vendor even reached out to Company to find out what was going on. If I were OP, I would be frustrated and blindsided by this as well. It’s really not a professional way for the former employee to handle this, IMO.

                8. Lalaroo*

                  This is a reply to BuildMeUp: you might be acting as an employee, but you are also an individual human being. If you are assaulted while on the job, it’s you as an individual who is assaulted, not the employer. The employer doesn’t get to decide whether to press charges, because the assault happened to you.

                  Obviously this case doesn’t involve an assault or anything so seriously, but you don’t give up your agency just because you’re an employee.

                9. BuildMeUp*

                  @Lalaroo – I’m really confused by your comment. This situation has nothing to do with assault or the former employee losing their agency. I’m not sure how this is a response to my comment, to be honest.

              2. BuildMeUp*

                I think the issue for me is that there’s no actual way to avoid the impression they’re speaking for OP’s company. The only interaction they had with this vendor was while they were an employee. They’re literally writing a review about this vendor’s work with the company.

                And sure, the company can “disavow” the review, but only if someone who reads it reaches out to them. Thankfully, the vendor did, but what if they hadn’t? The review could easily have tarnished the company’s relationship with the vendor without them having a chance to clarify.

                I also don’t really understand your last sentence. There doesn’t seem to be anything in the letter that indicates whether the former employee would ask for the OP to be a reference…?

          3. Sacred Ground*

            Except in this case, you’d have left the review while still technically employed, of a vendor that your employer and not you did business with, so your review of work the vendor did for your employer, written while still technically employed, is very much your employer’s business. The employee overstepped here by speaking on behalf of the employer without the employer’s knowledge or consent. If you would feel attacked by the employer acting in its own defense, then don’t get involved in a business relationship that is quite literally none of your own business.

            1. Weekend Please*

              I agree. The review was written essentially as a representative of the company. The employee was never a client of the vendor, the company was. If they were writing a glass door review of the company they worked for and mentioned their frustration with how the company dealt with the vendor it would be entirely different. But they have no authority to speak on behalf the company and the fact that they feel they do does raise questions about their judgement. You don’t go out of your way to damage the relationship between your former employer and their vendor and expect a glowing recommendation.

              1. Anonapots*

                I’m of the opinion that if the person knew they were being laid off, as soon as that was known to them, their obligation ended. Hi. We live in a capitalistic world where regard for the employee is nil and can be ended by the employer for any reason at any time. Loyalty ends when the employer’s commitment to the employee ends. As far as I’m concerned that was the moment the employee found out they were being laid off.

                1. Amaranth*

                  The odd part to me is that the ex-employee felt so strongly about their problems with the vendor that they went and put up a review just about as soon as they were able to do so without representing their employer. Yet the employee apparently didn’t escalate requests/complaints at the company to get it resolved? I’m not sure if it means ex-employee takes things far too personally, or if OP is missing the fact that there was a significant problem that they overlooked.

      2. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        I have seen situations where just about everyone else was more important than the employee.

        That’s SOP where I work. We all wear bus tread because Sales makes the final decisions on everything.

      3. RussianInTexas*

        “Got a customer talking nasty? Just deal. And so on.”
        The problem is when the customer is your business’s largest account. My boss have been yelled and cursed out by a VP of a Very Large Corporation over shipping and inventory issues during this spring chaos. As in literally, cursing him out on the phone, multiple times. The same VP will not return the calls when we have concerns.
        We can’t drop them. They are about 30% of our business. We can’t terminate contract on our side because it’s a contract.

        1. Black Horse Dancing*

          That’s why contracts should have an opt-out on both sides, The company can break the contract but then faces the consequences of such a deal.

      4. tiny cactus*

        I feel like most commentators are giving a lot of credit to the employee and not a lot to the letter-writer here. From the LW’s responses, it sounds like the vendor’s behaviour wasn’t egregious or outside of what the employee should be expected to deal with independently. Even leaving that aside, I don’t think it’s so hard to imagine that an employee might leave a negative review for fairly petty reasons, and I do think that’s not a great look. At that point, you’re not working with the vendor, so it just feels like holding on to a grudge. But people do petty and passive-aggressive things all the time.

        1. Mystery Bookworm*

          I agree. I also think people seem to considering that the employee might have been subjected to racial, gendered or other unacceptable harassement. And that is absolutley possible.

          But by the same token, who’s to say it’s not the other way around, and that the employee isn’t the one bringing a discrimintory perspective?

          (Not that either has to be the case, but there are plenty of negative online reviews that are motivated by racial or other biases.)

    5. Mystery Bookworm*

      Yes – I wish we had a little more detail or at least a categorization of what type of complaints these were.

      For example, if the employee was complaining about sexual harrassment or ethical misconduct (ie: not difficulties you would reasonbly expect to have to negotiate with a vendor) then I think my sympathies would lie more with them.

      On the other hand, if the complaints were more about typical workplace challenges (like deadlines, timiliness, prioritzation of resources, etc.) I’d be more likely to think the review speaks poorly of the employee’s judgement.

      1. pancakes*

        I don’t agree that only someone with poor judgement would be dissatisfied with typical vendor challenges of that nature or mention them in a review. The vendor isn’t entitled to be messy in those areas and receive only positive reviews.

        1. Mystery Bookworm*

          We couldn’t know for sure: I said I’d be *more likely* to think that it reflects poor judgement.

          Essentially my thinking is that the “holder” of the work relationship is the company, NOT the employee. The company is entitled to make a trade-off like picking a cheaper vendor even if they’re less reliable. An employee can raise those concerns or advocate for ending the contract….but ultimately it’s up to the company, not the individual. Leaving a review would make me think they didn’t understand that, and prioritized their own irritation over the company’s relationships. (And especially if the complaints are fairly banal ones, then it would strike me as sort of….petty, honestly.)

          In addition, leaving public reviews just isn’t really a great way to deal with those sorts of vendor issues — especially if there’s a long contract. Depending on the employee’s seniority, it would be a very passive way of dealing with a problem.

          But all this rests on info we’re not really privvy to.

          1. pancakes*

            I do have some sympathy for that view, but if the employee-reviewer’s complaints are indeed petty, most readers will pick up on that.

        2. Mockingdragon*

          This is my thought exactly. I don’t…understand the problem. A person expressed a true negative opinion of a company in a review. That seems…ultimately reasonable. I don’t understand why that would tank a relationship, first of all. It’d be one thing if they were making stuff up or if they were still employed with the LW’s company. But at this point they’re a solo person with no conflict of interest stating something true (or at least understandable to have thought?) about the company. What’s wrong?

        3. BuildMeUp*

          But it’s not an individual employee’s place to write an online review of an interaction they had with the vendor.

          1. Anonapots*

            The only thing at issue is the timing. The person can do whatever they want when they’re no longer employed and frankly, once they found out they were being laid off, they didn’t owe their employer anything.

            1. BuildMeUp*

              I mean, every person on earth can do whatever they want, but that doesn’t make it the right or professional thing to do.

            1. BuildMeUp*

              …the company that has the actual relationship with the vendor, a relationship which has now been harmed by the former employee’s actions.

              Look, people are pretending that the former employee is somehow magically no longer connected to their former company, but they are connected. They only worked with this vendor during their time at the company; the review is about the vendor’s work with the company, not just with the former employee. That’s why the vendor reached out to the company regarding the review. The former employee’s review represents the company because it is about their interactions with the vendor as an employee of said company, and it’s not their place to represent the company via this review, whether they still work there or not.

              1. lazy intellectual*

                Just because the employee worked with the company while using the vendor doesn’t mean their review is automatically on behalf of the company. Also, you can argue that the ex-employee was mean or petty to do what they did, but they don’t have any obligation to their former employer.

      2. becca*

        If the vendor’s behavior was concerning…I wonder which employee in LW’s office inherited dealing with them, and what they’re currently dealing with (other than this online review). LW has reset the relationship, great. Has the vendor stopped doing whatever it was that LW’s employee found concerning enough that they saved writing a review of them until after they left the office?

        1. Mystery Bookworm*

          That’s a very good point, and I wonder if how the current employee’s reaction to the vendor can tell OP anything about how valid the review is.

          1. Snickerdoodle*

            Are you having no issues because they’ve genuinely changed the behavior or are they just being nicer because you’re in a higher position than the employee who left the bad review?

            1. OP*

              The behavior itself is not an issue. I have what I need from them when I need it. I don’t know how I would evaluate whether they are being nicer because of my position, but that is certainly a possibility. What would you recommend I do with regarding that possibility?

              1. Snickerdoodle*

                Try having several other people deal with them to see what happens. If they’re rude or otherwise not providing quality service to subordinates (or women or younger people, etc.), you’ll be able to detect a pattern.

                1. OP*

                  OK, that’s a good idea. I am several decades younger than the employee was. We are both men. Even so, definitely worth testing. Thanks.

      3. Tirv*

        The OP clarified earlier .the issue was about the timely provision of business supplies and the communication requires to get them – not anything to do with abuse.

    6. Blarg*

      So concerning that a review, which LW says wasn’t inaccurate, caused a potential client to walk away. Anyone here ever dismiss a business for a single review? Either the behavior described is incredibly egregious OR LW/vendor are exaggerating the review’s impact.

      I know this is supposition but sounds to me like vendor was harassing your employee. Employee told you. You valued vendor over employee and told her to suck it up. And then fired her. And chastised her for then taking the only action she could to warn others. If she was harassed and she can put together a case that you retaliated cause she complained … welcome to a lawsuit. That you bolstered by emailing her to criticize her behavior after her last day but before she received her final check.

      1. Cat Tree*

        This is what I was thinking. Online reviews aren’t perfect, but they are the system we are currently working with. Most people won’t change their mind based on one negative review, especially if there are some positive ones. I think this vendor must be pretty bad.

        Plus, once they get rid of an employee they have no control over what she does. That’s life. And she made a point to make the review after she was no longer associated with the company. At this point she’s just an independent person giving a review about her experience.

      2. Koalafied*

        I strictly disagree that the behavior has to be incredibly egregious for it to deter a prospective customer. I’m currently in the process of choosing a new vendor at work from a shortlist that was recently winnowed from 3 to 2 final contenders that are very closely matched and we’re having a very tough time deciding which to go with.

        If I then saw a review for one of the two finalists that said, “I could never get my account rep to answer my emails unless I emailed him multiple times and called him multiple times,” or, “I constantly had to ask the vendor to redo work that want done to specifications that were clearly stated up front,” that would absolutely be enough for me to decide to go with the other company. Businesses can lose customers over things that aren’t ethical concerns but just signs that the quality of service is lower than you’d hope for it to be.

        If two companies seem to offer a similar product at comparable prices, then I’m looking for something to be the tiebreaker, and if one of the companies has a negative review and the other doesn’t, there’s the tiebreaker.

        1. EPLawyer*

          the things you listed WOULD be deal breakers for me. I would like to know up front so I can make an informed decision that it would be a hassle dealing with Company A, but Company B doesn’t have those problems.

          LW said the review was not factually inaccurate. That means it was a valid review. Vendor objected to a pretty accurate review. Vendor lost a potential customer because … the potential customer learned true facts about the vendor that caused them to go elsewhere. Perhaps the vendor should fix it problems rather than try to get accurate reviews removed. the fact the vendor behaved this way tells me they aren’t addressing the REAL problem. LW should consider that when resetting the relationship — and her reference for former employee.

          1. Koalafied*

            Right, as I said, I agree that the review could be truthful and bad enough for the vendor to lose business over – my point is that doesn’t necessarily mean the vendor was being abusive or unethical in a way that obligated the manager to step in. It could just be that they’re a garden variety crap vendor who LW’s company is stuck in a long-term contract with.

            I support the employee writing the honest review and don’t think it should affect the reference LW gives him. What I’m pushing back on is the rampant assumption that LW was enabling unethical or abusive behavior from the vendor prior to the review incident going down.

          2. Koalafied*

            I think a comment I left here got eaten, but I’m not disagreeing with whether the company did something wrong or whether the review was justified (I think most likely they did and it was). I just feel bad for the LW that everyone assumes the concerning behavior MUST have been something horribly abusive or unethical and that the LW just callously allowed their employee to be mistreated, when the evidence is not at all sufficient to reach that conclusion.

      3. Artemesia*

        It is a vendor too, not a client. I’d put up with a lot more from a vendor who needs my business than a client whose business I need. the fact that the OP is vague about the ‘concerning’ behavior suggests they may have dropped the ball on protecting their employee.

        1. Koalafied*

          I think you mean that the other way around? You tolerate more from a client you’re financially dependent on than a vendor who is financially dependent on you. Which is why the fact that this is a vendor, not a client, makes the idea that they were verbally abusing LW’s employee without consequence among the less likely possible scenarios.

      4. lazy intellectual*

        The whole point of online reviews is to communicate information like this so that prospective buyers can make informed decisions. People like capitalism until it doesn’t work for them.

        I wonder what people’s perspectives would be if the ex-employee communicated their issues verbally to someone else, who then made a decision not to work with the vendor based on what they heard. Online reviews just expedite this process on a larger scale.

    7. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      This was my first question too. Was the former employee whistleblowing on something really deserving of that action?

    8. OP*

      OP here. The complaint was about the timeliness of providing certain supplies, and a change in the vendor’s policies about that. Nothing requiring protection, unless I was not told about that. Plus IIRC I did offer to call them myself at one point.

        1. Mystery Bookworm*

          Not to be smart, but how is that relevant?

          Even if a public chastising causes someone to change their behaviour, it’s reasonable for OP to not want something like that associated with her company (and it IS associated with her company, since the vendor was easily able to make the connection). The ends don’t always justify the means.

        2. OP*

          Due to the pandemic we much less often need these supplies, but so far, they’ve been provided in a timely manner. I would have trouble parsing out why – there are a lot of variables that have changed in the last year in terms of what we need from this vendor.

      1. Snickerdoodle*

        What happened after you offered to call? Was it a definite offer on your part or more of a generic/dismissive thing?

        1. OP*

          Snickerdoodle, it was over a year ago. My recollection is that they didn’t take me up on the offer and I made clear it was a live offer. I also gave them the OK to research other options, while I studied if there was a way we could get out of the contract. But they were providing services per the contract, just not per employee’s expectations of *how* service would be provided.

          1. Uranus Wars*

            I think this is an important fact – was the review based on issues with the employees dislike of the contract? Because I think if the vendor was providing things as agreed upon you can be unhappy about that agreement and how it plays out, but you can’t really post a bad review if they are acting according to what you agreed upon in the first place.

    9. IrishMN*

      That was my first thought too. What if the vendor’s behavior was abusive or rose to the level of sexual harassment? I don’t really like the hand-wavy “yeah, you all should work that out” if that was being said to the employee and there were valid concerns (and LW does allude to the idea that there were). Maybe this employee left due to the behavior of the vendor. I think it would behoove management to talk to other employees who work with this vendor to get their input (again, if the allegations were on the level of abuse or harassment).

    10. howsthatwork*

      This all stands out to me as, you’re allowed to give a bad reference to warn future employers if this person was in fact a bad employee – but they are not allowed to give a bad review to warn future customers if this vendor was a bad vendor? I understand that this puts OP in a tricky position as a manager, but this is hot nonsense. They are not your employee and they are not claiming to represent your company’s position as a whole.

    11. Snickerdoodle*

      I noticed that, too. So it was concerning, but you didn’t do anything about it? What? No wonder they left a bad review.

    12. not neurotypical*

      Yes, was it sexual harassment? Racist microaggressions? Bullying that the employer insisted they just tolerate in the interest of maintaining the relationship? If so, then OP absolutely should not penalize the former employee for finally speaking out when free to do so and should instead apologize for both not protecting the employee and trying to control their speech after their employment ended.

    13. staceyizme*

      I concur! This sounds like a relationship that wasn’t well managed! And your vendor is now complaining to you about a review that did, in fact, occur after the employee separated. The fact that the former employee came by this information as an internal client or collaborator is irrelevant here and I think that the LW is focused on the wrong complainant! Whatever reference you’d have given is probably what you should give now because your former employee DID, in fact, wait to post this review. And if your vendor doesn’t want to lose prospective clients, maybe they should focus a tad less on internet sleuthing the source of a negative review and a tad more on the content of the review. (Is it justified? If yes, that should be the end of the story. You don’t reasonably have the standing to muzzle someone else’s opinion AFTER the fact of separation. Your former employee isn’t picketing the vendor and hasn’t started a petition to curb their right to operate or to drive them out of business. And if your reaction to someone finally being at liberty to speak their mind is to get a “sour taste” in your mouth, maybe that’s a part of your corporate culture that should be revisited. To punish someone for sharing their feedback in this type of context is draconian, dysfunction and frankly, petty. If it’s not a big enough deal to have acted on in the process of managing the relationship, it’s not a big enough deal for this vendor to triangulate you in after the fact.

    14. GamerSlug*

      I find it alarming that #2 decided to stop paying this person, but does not understand that this also removes their right to tell that person what to do. If you want to compel certain actions or speech from this recently unemployed person, I recommend offering to pay them. If that’s too much trouble, maybe mind your own business.

      1. Simonthegreywarden*

        “decided to stop paying…”

        OP2 didn’t make the decision to lay off the person… ? This seems like a really weirdly adversarial reply.

  2. LF*

    Re: #1, there are definitely a small number of jobs where 9am-2am days like this are semi-regular and are not acknowledged as an aberration at all. Investment banking, for example. However, people go into that job knowing that the hours will be terrible. It doesn’t sound like OP was expecting her terrible hours though.

    1. Renata Ricotta*

      And, as someone who fled biglaw after a few years, it’s usually not that bad all day every day seven days a week; there are busy periods and emergencies and stuff and likely at least some work every weekend, but not that sort of crushing non-stop situation. (Still not good enough work/life balance for me, but still.)

      AND, if you get a job like that, you are being paid extremely well for it.

      1. NotAnotherManager!*

        This. BigLaw is notoriously awful on the schedule and work/life balance, but hours like OP #1 describes tend to be around big pushes (trial, deal closure, other major projects) and not an every day sort of thing. Having this go on for weeks or a month around a big event is not uncommon, but not every single day plus weekends. (And nearly everyone takes a week off once the trial concludes or the ink is dry on the deal.) I was very, very candid with people I hired about the realities of the schedule and work hours, but even the all powerful billable hours doesn’t require solid blocks of 17-hour days.

        If OP #1 can’t quit with no job lined up, I might suggest that they assess what can and can’t be done within the bounds of whatever range of hours they feel they can work without endangering their health and freeing up some space to job search. Maybe that’s 9 a.m. to 6 or 7 p.m., maybe it’s something else. Then, sit down with their manager, note that their hours are exacerbating heath issues and are untenable, and propose what tasks/projects they can/cannot complete within reasonable hours. It will be an uncomfortable conversation and not in line with company culture, it sounds like, but the company can make the decision to fire them and hopefully they could get unemployment while they job search. (This is far from ideal, I know, but this situation is extreme, and I say that as someone with two decades in BigLaw.)

    2. many bells down*

      It’s also unfortunately quite common in the video game industry, where you might be in “crunch” for a month or more.

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

        Once upon a time I knew a guy who worked as a video game tester, he told me the turnover was so high there were always boxes of donuts from departing employees and coffee cups and cans of energy drinks from those who stayed. And those were the legal substances…

      2. Keymaster of Gozer*

        Which leads to poorly coded games because the devs are all knackered, and management weren’t competent enough to give a reasonable project timeline.

        (I’m in software, and ‘crunch’ is a particular hot point of mine)

          1. Quill*

            Can’t tell if this is because you’re living in a video game, or if it’s how you feel after sleep-deprivation. :)

    3. BeenThere*

      It sounds like investment banking or technology. Sometimes folks aren’t aware their hours however they usually get their first taste during an internship. Those who are ware go in for two years, make a lot of money and never have any time to spend it. Many move on after that.

    4. Arabella*

      Hi there, I am the poster of Question #1. :)

      Typing while in the middle of a meeting, working another day of very late overtime.

      Thank you for all the comments and advice, I am not from the US. In fact, I’m from an Asian country.

      A little more information:
      – I am working with transaction banking, so I guess these hours are expected. However, I am unsure if even new hires are expected to work such hours since early in their job.

      – I am definitely leaving, and I am grateful that I am financially capable of doing so. I plan to talk to my manager personally about my plans to resign, however I am unsure how to start since I am still a new-ish employee. Upon talking to them about my burnout and poor physical/mental health, they added “take the medical leave, as long as you’re not telling me you’re resigning”.

      Happy to answer any more enquiries anyone has! And thank you for the support. I’ve had people tell me that I should suck it up and that I can’t handle a little stress, so I was feeling unconfident.

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        17 hours a day, 7 days a week is equivalent to triple full time. In other words, they should really have three full-timers for the work they are asking you to do. Just because the work fits into the space-time continuum, that doesn’t mean it’s at all reasonable.

        It sounds as though you are talented and diligent. I trust and hope your job search will be fruitful and swift!

        1. becca*

          OP is working twice as many hours as what I see commonly cited for 20th-century factory workers, when hours and conditions were bad enough that they sparked the entire labor movement.

        2. Derjungerludendorff*

          Yeah, even people who literally live for their jobs don’t put in as many hours as this every day.

      2. Anon326*

        LW, I’m so glad you are going to get out of this abusive work culture. I have worked in healthcare with on-call and never worked the kind of hours you are describing. If we had a 3-day span on call, we sure as heck had more limited hours after that. Otherwise, where the heck is the safety of your work? Surely your efficiency is terrible. There are studies which demonstrate clearly that any hours worked after a certain amount are pointless because your brain needs to recharge properly.

        I just watched the first episode of ‘Industry’ on HBO and it showed the negative health effects of this dangerous (and inefficient) long-hours practice in the City of London. It’s chilling.

        1. Arabella*

          Hi Anon,

          I agree, my efficiency and work performance is extremely terrible, since I couldn’t even bring myself to look at the computer screen and wasted my work hours with my breakdowns.

          Even as we speak, I barely started on my mountain-pile of workload due by Monday. Any attempts to ask my coworkers to help me are out of the picture when I found out that they did their share of their own work and went offline immediately after, leaving me to bear the rest of the workload for the weekend.

          I’m not sure how I can talk to my manager about this, when she expects me to have finished the 90+ testings by today….

          1. Mockingjay*

            Arabella, you did not waste work hours with your breakdowns. The work hours caused your breakdowns.

            As the youngest and the newest employee, you probably feel inordinate pressure to prove yourself. But even the most dedicated employee cannot do the work of three people 24/7. I would immediately cut back on the hours you put in. Your colleagues do; they went offline over the weekend. Do what you reasonably can in a normal day, then go home. You’re leaving this job anyway.

            I am going to repeat advice noted frequently in this forum: you will be in the workforce for 30 – 40 years. That’s a long time. It’s okay if this first job doesn’t work out; there will be others. Find roles in which you perform steadily and learn as you progress, with managers who provide solid foundations for their teams. Remind yourself that you have not failed in this job; this job is a mismatch between your work expectations and the company’s.

            Please care for yourself first.

            1. Quill*

              I want to second this, because I come from a family of insomniacs and know very well that even a short term stretch of doing this much will absolutely mess up your entire brain, from causing breakdowns and mood swings and the inability to focus all the way up to driving accidents and hallucinations.

              This job will make you sick. Another job that created chronic sleep deprivation like this almost killed my uncle. Make tonight the first night you get a full eight hours of sleep.

            2. Derjungerludendorff*

              Thirding this, as someone who frequently tried to catch up on their workload by throwing more and more hours at it (and then blamed themselves when it didn’t work out).

              It does not work. Ever. You just start breaking down and become increasingly useless, untill you can’t force it anymore. And then you get sit at home for months or even years trying to recover from all the damage you did to yourself.

              1. Arabella*

                Hello, thanks for the support once again. :)

                I may have ended work slightly earlier yesterday due to my burnout, however I highly doubt I can begin to recover and get good rest at all until the very day I completely leave this company.

                I hope that I am able to slowly recover from the damage this job has already done, as I still found myself waking up multiple times last night and early in the morning with panic attacks about my workload.

                Are there any tips I could use to keep my thoughts away from work with the very little free time I have?

                Thanks again!

                1. TardyTardis*

                  Run, and do not go back to work. Or you may die there. I am not joking. Pack up your things and go. Your life is more important than this.

          2. I'm A Little Teapot*

            Wait, are your coworkers working the same hours as you? Or are they enforcing more normal hours? If you’re going to quit anyway, just work a more normal amount of time then stop. It’s not your problem if the work doesn’t get done because they need to hire several more people.

            1. Arabella*

              My coworkers and manager are working the same hours – some slightly worse. :(

              Everyone’s falling sick and burning out left and right – somehow they still force themselves to keep working through the weekends and even public holidays. Not sure how they cope since most have worked there for a long time.

              1. Coffee Bean*

                Seventeen hours a day seven days a week is not “a little stress”. I don’t know who is advising you of this, but that kind of work schedule is not tenable. You will burn out

              2. tangerineRose*

                Are they really working or are they spending a lot of time socializing, etc.? I’ve had co-workers who are there all day but aren’t really doing much.

                1. Arabella*

                  I’m not too sure since we’re all working from home, however they seem to be always discussing their projects in the group chats the whole day. And I see emails and messages from them even past 3.30am on quite a few weekends. :(

          3. Archaeopteryx*

            Just say no; you are 100% within your rights to set boundaries on what you will do and how much of your time and your soul they can eat. You get to resign and no one can tell you that you can’t. Wishing you luck!

          4. Sharon*

            At some point ridiculous workloads are rather freeing. You are being given more than you can possibly do in an 8 hour or 10 hr day. I would just do what you can in a reasonable amount of time and let your manager deal with the repercussions of everything not being done. For example, if you are expected to do 90 testings, tell your manager you only expect to be able to get 30 done by the end of the day, ask your manager what the most important ones are for the day, get those done, and do the best you can on the rest.

      3. JC*

        Hi op! I want to put forward a couple of points others don’t seem to have raised (I’m playing devils advocate in a way).

        Have you gone back to your manager to ensure he knows EXACTLY what you are doing? For instance, I was once asked to complete a project that he thought would take a couple hours. I assessed more like 2 days. I sat him at my desk and went through one of the processes and he was genuinely shocked. He really had no idea and that is bad management.

        Is the work coming directly from your manager, or are other teams involved. I was once asked to work with another team which would take no more than one hour. The other team manager had other ideas and tried to give me loads of work. I went back to my manager and asked was this agreed? It wasn’t, and we pushed back on the project.

        Third- have you been correctly trained on the processes? I saw a team member struggling and taking all day on what should be a small task. I sat down and dug in- she hadn’t been trained on the shortcuts and programs and was doing everything manually 1 by 1. All it took was her to be retrained, and she was able to get everything done as expected.

        1. Arabella*

          Hi JC,

          Thank you for the comment. :)

          The manager has actually helped me a little bit with the work the past 3 nights- all the way until 3am. There were 4 of us working on this task, and even then we were not able to finish even half by the 3.30am mark.

          I was very grateful for the small time period they helped, however they then added more steps to each test case, and then left me and my coworker to finish all by the end of next day. This is plus the daily workload I have to manage which takes at least 5 hours. Thus, I’m confused with their expectations.

          Since I joined, I had minimum to no training, even though I’ve made it clear that I have had no work experience beforehand, they trained me in the basic stuff (navigating the websites and carrying out some processes) – but then threw me into a project I had to manage almost alone with no clue on where to start.

          Many of what I’ve learnt so far consisted of me chasing supervisors and coworkers (even from other departments) to get some information. And many times as well, things won’t get taught to me until I’ve messed up real bad and get reprimanded (then a coworker will come up to me and say “next time if you do X, make sure to do Y first or our whole team’s KPI will drop”)

          1. JC*

            Oh no! In that case it sounds like you have really bad management and work culture. They see you struggling and add on more work? They know you aren’t trained, but reprimand you for not doing things correctly? I honestly think if you have decided you are leaving this job, then for your notice period you should draw a hard deadline (5pm or equivalent) and just log off and leave. Email your boss, your bosses boss and their boss if necessary and say you will not be able to work more than your bare minimum contracted hours for the foreseeable future (I know this is really hard). Hopefully your family friend is understanding that this isn’t a job you willingly signed up for, and no good future employer will judge you for leaving due to this. If you can, seek legal advice about salary owed (for example, have they withheld overtime, or paid you too little for hours worked). Otherwise, I would be liberal with telling everyone I know about the bad management and culture (including online sites like glass door). Take time to recover your mental and physical health. Good luck OP!

            1. Arabella*

              Hi JC,

              As I’m typing this, I’m leaving a mountain-pile of workload and am spending the first time in a looooong while just sitting down and watching TV (of course, with full anxiety).

              I do appreciate some of my coworkers, supervisors and even manager sometimes in their efforts to lessen my workload by helping me with some of my tasks occasionally, and start to lessen the tasks we have to finish up once it hits the 2.30am mark – however I still am unable to cope with this pressure.

              Actually, my company has ample reviews about the bad work-life balance (along with the lack of training) in glassdoor. However, I did not expect it to be this bad.

              Thank you all for the support!

              1. 2 Cents*

                It’s not your job to understand how your coworkers and managers are doing this OR to think that if you just try hard enough, it’ll work out. Tell your manager you’re resigning, you’ll be working a scaled back number of hours until your resignation period ends, then never worry about this company again.

              2. Paulina*

                you’re not being left a remotely adequate number of hours to sleep. Persistent shortage of sleep causes significant mental and physical problems, and will get in the way of being able to work effectively. (There’s a very dangerous snowball effect: work is taking too long, so not enough sleep and too much stress, leading to difficulties in learning and working, making everything take longer, and it keeps getting worse.) So it’s not that you can’t cope with the pressure, it’s that the expectations on you, and the job you’re being required to do (with no training!) are quite unreasonable. And while help is worth being grateful for, please don’t let that obscure that you are owed a great deal more help, proper preparation, and reasonable expectations from your employers.

                It may be that the workload could be done much more quickly by someone who’s fully trained and used to the work, but the lack of proper training, and inappropriate expectations for new employees, are their very bad choice. You should not feel bad for not meeting expectations when they have let you down so much. And you’re very unlikely to be able to learn how to do this job well, or do anything else for that matter, while you’re being destroyed by the workload and sleep deficit.

              3. TardyTardis*

                Your management sucks rocks and dies (boy, did I clean that up). You need to pull the plug before an ambulance has to come and get you.

                1. Alice's Rabbit*

                  That is definitely a more polite wording than what has been going through my mind, as well. But I shall attempt to be polite.
                  LW: run. Now. Quit.
                  Taking over a tiny fraction of the work that has been assigned to you is not enough to balance out the complete and utter failure that is the management of this company. On every level. Lack of training, insufficient employees for the workload, unreasonable hours, zero concern for your long-term health and well-being… this place is a mess. That it hasn’t imploded already is nothing short of a miracle.
                  Get out before the bad habits become ingrained, and the damage to you – physical, mental, emotional, and professional – becomes permanent. Leave. Fast. And don’t look back.

          2. Archaeopteryx*

            They are exploiting you; this isn’t normal and it is not OK. Stop worrying about how much you get done and just put in your notice and run free!

      4. Asenath*

        I wouldn’t even bring my mental health into it. The hours are impossible; it isn’t necessary to mention that they also affect mental health.

          1. Quill*

            To be quite honest one of my uncles once nearly died of sleep deprivation. If you don’t get enough sleep, your body starts malfunctioning, and so does your brain.

        1. So they all rolled over and one fell out*

          This simply isn’t sustainable for human beings, for more than very short bursts (a week or so? a month at the most).

        2. Nesprin*

          Agreed- keeping someone awake 120 hours a week is considered torture, even without asking them to work those hours. If your work schedule is banned by the Geneva convention, you might be working the wrong job.

          Speaking as someone who hires if your response to “why are you leaving your previous job” was “i worked 117 hrs a week for 6 weeks in a row” I would be horrified on your behalf.

          1. Attack Cat*

            Even US healthcare, an industry known for extreme hours, doesn’t normally reach that. You hear about the 96 hour week where a small part was on call time. You hear about the nurse that works 12.5 hr days, 7 days a week. 120 hours in a week would be an emergency, in an industry that has normalized 24 hr shifts.

      5. Keymaster of Gozer*

        Having left a job due to extreme burnout (it’s not fun getting up at 4am every day for a job that is supposed to start at 8.30 and coming home near 9pm when I’m supposed to leave at 4:30…) here’s how I did it:

        (Btw I’m in the UK so advice may be wrong)

        I wrote an official resignation, stating I was resigning from my post and would discuss with management as to things like notice period/annual leave outstanding/handover of work. Sent it to my manager and our HR, also printed off a couple of copies for my own records and if they wanted a signed one (they did).

        When my boss asked why I was quitting a job, knowing full well I didn’t have another one lined up, I just said ‘I can’t do this anymore’ which he took to mean whatever, asked if there was anything they could do to help (no, not unless you can make the entire company culture change) and finally agreed to accept that I was leaving and to offer me a good reference.

        (I still have a copy of his leaving speech for me. Glowing isn’t the word for it – it’s blue giant level)

        Basically I didn’t want to put on that my mental health was hanging on a razor edge and I was 20 minutes away from going full bonkers at this rate, because I knew nothing would change and they would likely judge me harshly for it (‘typical emotional female’j.

        1. Arabella*

          Your situation was very terrible, I’m sorry to hear that. :( I’m glad you got out and I hope you’re in a better job and company now.

          Thanks very much for the advice! I’m unsure if I can be as casual in an Asian working environment, however I will definitely make sure to say exactly why I’m leaving- without being too resentful of the company and not sharing too many details.

        2. JC*

          I went through the same thing and unfortunately it look me having a full on crying fit in my managers office for it to sink it that the workload was insane. Also working IB and the only female on the team. Also dealing with the slow decline of a close family member dying from cancer (with no time or energy to spend with them). One day after the outburst I resigned and made a point to tell everyone I had no job to go to, I just couldn’t stand it anymore. Any decent manager would see the long hours and re- prioritise or distribute the work. It took months of decompression for me to see how toxic the team and management were. I also rarely ever express emotion at work, let alone cry. That was really my breaking point.

          1. Arabella*

            Hi JC,

            I’m sorry to hear that. :( I see that toxic workplaces seem to be more and more common nowadays. Its very sad. I hope that you are recovering well mentally from those experiences.

        3. hbc*

          Oh, man, I also had the one-two volley of “Why?” and “Anything we can do to convince you to stay?” My answer to both questions was basically “It’s everything I’ve been saying for the past six months, and we both know you’re either unwilling or unable to do them.”

      6. learnedthehardway*

        Your manager sounds supportive – at least to the extent that they don’t want to lose you. I’d seriously consider taking the medical leave and doing a job search while you are on it. Not that this is what your manager wants you to do, but it’s a way to have a fall back position if you don’t find an ideal position.

        1. char*

          Based on the original letter, it sounds like the so-called “medical leave” would just be a single day off. Not exactly enough time to conduct a job hunt! Heck, it’s not even enough time to even start to recover from non-stop 17-hour workdays.

        2. beanie gee*

          I actually read it as a pretty passive aggressive manager. ““take the medical leave, as long as you’re not telling me you’re resigning” sounds pretty desperate – they know people might resign because they know they are overworking people, and their solution is a day of leave rather than trying to change the conditions that are causing the medical leave. And they are a passive aggressively implying the OP can’t or shouldn’t resign.

          OP, you can definitely resign. Don’t let your manager make you think you can’t, just because you’re new. You don’t owe them anything, including any kind of loyalty, considering the way they are treating their employees. Give them two weeks notice, tell your manager you’re resigning because the job is not sustainable for you long term, and that’s it.

      7. Boof*

        Fwiw, the alternative sometimes suggested is to just…. stop working so much. It’s hard and you’d need to lay this out to your manager ie “i plan to either resign now or start working 8 hours a day and only 8 hours a day (or whatever number of hours is considered standard)”. And then just leave things undone when it’s quitting time. That’s VERY HARD and probably won’t work but it’s the alternative proposal if they ask you to stay.

      8. Elaine Benes*

        I’m so glad to hear you’re leaving. If you start second-guessing your decision, do the math- break down your salary by the *actual* hours you’re working, and you’ll see your hourly rate is at least half of what the job presents on paper. If someone offered you this job at its true hourly rate and told you it was going to completely take over your life, would you have any interest in taking it on, or feel it was worth it? Probably not.

      9. MissDisplaced*

        I mean, you know it’s bad if 12 hour days would be considered “slacking” or being lazy.

        The worst place I worked was regular 12 hour days for months on end. Occasionally, there might be a double shift of 16 hours, but then by law you had to be off for 8 hours after that. Even the steady 12 hour days (6pm – 6am) just began to drag on me. I was 23 and didn’t want to waste my life on this.
        AND it was not even a high paid job! It was a factory-type place. Definitely not some payoff of moving up.

      10. JSPA*

        What would happen if, for the next two weeks, you left at 7 PM? That’s still a ridiculously long by most standards 12 hours (for which they should be glad to have you) but also a chance to eat and sleep and chat with friends.

        If they quietly allow it, you get to re-assess without losing the paycheck, and it will lengthen the stint on your resumé.

      11. US expat temporarily not in Asia*

        I am not from the US. In fact, I’m from an Asian country.
        I am working with transaction banking

        I’m going to give some (mostly) contrarian advice — this as someone who has worked in finance (both buy and sell side) in Asian countries for about half of my career. (I’m back in the US at the moment, due to the pandemic; I plan on returning to Asia when it’s over.)

        First, I’m not sure whether you’re familiar with the phrase “burying the lede,” but in your reply, you indicate you’re working in transaction banking. That makes all the difference in the world. Alison noted in her reply that there are some “rare industries where you know going in” that exceedingly long hours are part of the deal, and you’re compensated accordingly. That’s basically the description of investment banking, especially at the junior analyst level. If you haven’t already, check out the blog Wall Street Oasis, which has compiled some statistics about analyst working hours; they generally range from 72-80 hours per week, with a few banks topping in at 90 hours. I’d also recommend you read the book MONKEY BUSINESS, if you haven’t read it already.

        Do I think this culture needs to change? Yes, to some extent. (Google “Sarvshreshth Gupta” for a longer discussion of why.) At the places I’ve worked, the junior analysts mostly left somewhere between 9-11pm. Some of this also depends on deal flow; if you’re in between transactions, that will be earlier. In terms of mental health, I think there’s a big difference between leaving at 9-11 pm and at 1-2 am, as in the places on the upper end of that Wall Street Oasis survey. I think it’s in the industry’s interest to try and get those hours down somewhat. You can’t render cogent advice to clients if you’re falling asleep when doing your modelling.

        But that said, investment banking is never going to be the place for people who value work-life balance.

        A lot of this is due to the economics of the industry. Day in and out, working on IPOs and M&A transactions that happen very, very rarely in the life of most companies: once or twice a decade, and usually less than that. These transactions are so extraordinary that companies are willing to pay top-dollar to engage an investment bank to work on transactions like this, and in exchange, they want instantaneous access to their deal team. While some of this is a matter of “face time,” a lot of it isn’t: there really is a ton of work associated with completing an IPO or merger. The hours do improve somewhat as you get more senior, but even managing directors work really, really hard. Investment banking is never going to be a 9-5 industry. Every job you’ll have afterwards will feel like a vacation.

        The hours also improve quite a bit on the sell-side, and spending a few years on the buy-side opens the door to sell-side positions in industries like private equity. But again, even there, people work much harder than in non-finance industries.

        Banking is also an industry that attracts a lot of “experience junkies” and type-A talent, because it gives you a chance to work on very high-profile matters (you’ll probably read about your work in the press), grow in seniority/power relatively quickly in comparison to everything most other industries (partly excepting political campaigns and entrepreneurship), and build rock-solid skill sets, mostly quantitative but some qualitative, that will be in high demand. You also get the chance to work with really smart people; the rigorous interviews tend to weed out the truly incompetent, especially at bigger firms. The quant skills at typical I-banking jobs aren’t PhD-level math skills in the slightest, but if you do have that level innate mathematical ability (I don’t), you can also find private sector work that may be as challenging at that in academia, and much more lucrative. Finally, there’s the excellent compensation (and I’m not talking the $80K/year that many AAM reader consider “excellent”; in developed countries, the most junior analysts will earn more than that after bonuses.).

        As a slight detour: rising junior analysis often debate the merits of banking versus consulting. Consulting firms tend to have slightly better hours (you’ll probably have some free weekends) and (relatively speaking) worse compensation. In consulting, that compensation will consist of a greater percentage of base salary and less of bonus. In banking, you’ll learn a great deal about a very narrow area; in consulting, you’ll learn less, but about more areas. The work in consulting is a bit more intellectual/strategic than in banking. You can move between the two industries, particularly if you’ve been a consultant working on studies in the financial services sector. Some creative firms try to hybridize the two industries. Check out the Harvard career services website, which has a good, publicly-accessible summary of the differences between the two industries.

        Second, what does all this mean for you?

        I’m very much aware that I’m stepping on an anthill here, but so be it — I don’t think AAM is the best place for you to seek out advice on this situation. (I read AAM for interesting organizational behavior case studies, not for career advice.) My sense is that the vast majority of posters are not type-A thrill seekers, but more introverted and focused on work-life balance. They dislike schmoozing. My sense is also that a lot of them are in HR or entry- to mid-level jobs and don’t aspire to rise to the C-suite. I suspect that most don’t view getting rich as a career goal. There are some exceptions, of course — but in general, this is a group that self-selects out of the “nasty trio” of banking, consulting, and law, or of other high-pressure fields like entrepreneurship. So it’s unsurprising that most of them focus on the work-life balance aspect of your dilemma.

        Again, I realize that much of what I just wrote will come off as condescending or arrogant, by necessity. Let me also be clear that I think those choices are OK. As they say, “you do you.” Career paths are not one-size-fits-all. Not everyone will be happy at a high-intensity job. But it is a real part of what Arabella needs to think about, and ignoring the gorilla in the room doesn’t make it go away.

        Some other things you should think about:

        1. You need to do some deep introspection about your values and career goals, and decide what’s important to you and how much you’re willing to sacrifice to achieve it. I recall (maybe wrongly) that downthread, you said that finance was a kind of dream field for you; the long hours are part of it. That may mean you make peace with long hours, or it may mean you decide it’s not a dream job after all. I would not make the decision hastily, because you have deal fatigue or you’re tired in the middle of a grueling transaction.

        2. I’d recommend that you post a similar note to Wall Street Oasis, and get a sense of what people there think. They’re much more likely to have been in this situation before and have perspicacious advice.

        3. Is it the *hours* you’re unhappy with, or more deeply, do you dislike the *work*? If you just hate financial modelling, then banking isn’t the industry for you, and you should leave. There are a lot of transactional lawyers who *think* they hate law firm hours, but in reality hate legalese, and many of them thrive when they move into a banking in a business-side role. For instance, it might be that you would like consulting, or buy-side work (impact investing, microfinance, etc.) better than banking.

        3. Talk with friends that work at other firms. While none of them may have good hours, some places may be better than others. Different firms have different cultures. The culture of Goldman is a mixture of meritocratic and “white shoe.” The culture of Lehman Brothers was very much “formerly working class frat types who see this as their big break.” I don’t work for UBS, but I’ve worked across them on deals, and I’ve always found their corporate culture attractive; they’re smart but (relatively) friendly and laid-back. You can check out the Vault Guide to banking to learn more about different firms.

        4. Also, talk with friends that have left banking for other careers, and see whether you’re comfortable with following in their footsteps.

        5. Think about the nature of the firm you’re at. Name brands matter. If you’re working at Goldman, there’s real value to having that on your resume. If you’re working at some boiler room without any name brand, there’s much less value.

        6. What other opportunities are out there? Can you move to a different firm, especially in the current economy? (From the description of your job search, this might be challenging.)

        Without knowing more (your exact firm, role, location, career goals, etc.): my own instinct, frankly, is that you should seriously consider toughing it out for two years, which is the length of most analyst programs. If you’re at a decent bank, after completing an analyst program, you’ll have a lot of doors open for you, whether that’s an MBA or another graduate degree, or another role in sell-side finance, buy-side finance like PE/VC, consulting, corporates, or even in somewhere completely different, like government or non-profits. If people see you have the intellectual chops and stamina to survive two years at (say) Goldman, they’ll think you can handle most anything.

        Again, I’d change this advice if you’re suicidal (obviously) or, less drastically, nonetheless on the verge of a breakdown. Career advice is useless if you’re dead or incapacitated. From your description, it sounds like this *might* be the case, but again, it might not; think about it and decide whether you’re just exhausted, or whether you’re in a worse place than that. I’d change this advice if (1) you’re in some boiler room that offers no career/reputational boost from having completed the analyst program, and (2) finding a decent alternative position, one that’s consistent with your personality and career goals, is a realistic option.

        Third, and finally, I haven’t yet touched on Asia-related factors. Most of what I’ve written above is generic advice applicable to someone working in, say, New York, Silicon Valley, or London; obviously, in youu case, Asia-related factors enter into the equation. (To be clear, I’m writing as someone who has worked in Asia but is not of Asian heritage. That means I miss some insights locals have, but I also have some that they don’t.)

        Working hours in Asia — not just in finance, but across the board — tend to be longer than in the US, and longer still than in Europe. That’s before we get to the after-work drinking, etc. Stereotypically or not, many Asians do look on Westerners as “lazy.” Although this is changing quickly, Asian career paths historically were likely than Western career paths to involve working at a single company, and were more likely to prize working at an established company than an upstart. All of this may factor into your decision.

        You also say that you obtained your position via a family connection. I don’t know if you’re in the Sinosphere, but this sounds a lot like “guanxi.” Now, I’ve spent quite a bit of time arguing that the idea of “guanxi” (or personal networks, connections, etc.) exists every bit as much in the West as in China. I once asked a Chinese business figure to cite some examples of “guanxi” to me, and he responded “my university alumni network.” Take that definition, and ask someone who belongs to the Yale Club in New York City whether we have guanxi in the US!

        Nonetheless, it is true that, on balance, personal relationships matter more in developing countries (and developed Asia) than in the West. That is particularly true of family relationships; look at family-centric chaebol in Korea. While there are again many exceptions, families in the West tend to be smaller, and more egalitarian, than in Asia; what you saw in “Crazy Rich Asians” wasn’t entirely a Hollywood creation. If you were working in New York, I’d have no problem telling you to discount the family issue if you want to move on. For good or ill, I’m more hesitant to give that advice in Asia. (Obviously these are generalizations, and you know your own family and its social circles better than any anonymous internet commentator.)

        Lastly, I don’t know where in Asia you’re working, but downthread, you stated that you’re earning $10/hour, which is ludicrously low for a developed market like Hong Kong, Singapore, or Seoul. So, at the risk of overstepping, I’m guessing that you’re in developing Asia, somewhere like Cambodia or Laos or Bangladesh, maybe Indonesia, and that you work either for a Big 4 firm or a local player (think Abraaj Capital in the Gulf before that company’s scandal, or somewhere like Alfa Bank in Russia).

        High-status investment banking jobs aren’t easy to get anywhere. They’re very competitive in London or New York. But that’s much, much more true in developing countries. Working in finance in those places, particularly at a multinational, really is a golden ticket. The bulge bracket banks usually have a smaller footprint there than in big financial capitals, and you see a bigger big 4 presence and more local players. That means it’s harder to find a new position within the industry than it would be in New York, and at the same time you may have even more people vying for each available slot.

        To compound this difficult position, in my experience, many — not all, but many — of these local players often have highly corrosive corporate cultures and do things like not paying people on time, or engaging in bribery to win business (cf. Abraaj), that would never fly in the West. Many of them are often the plaything of a local oligarch, rather than a professionally-managed institution with a wide shareholder base. So again, if you can get to a foreign bulge bracket, or a foreign regional player, like Standard Chartered or HSBC or whoever, you’re usually better off doing that than staying at a local player. But then again, that can be especially challenging in a developing market.

        If I’m correct about your location in developing Asia, and the nature of your company, you need to think about how many alternative career paths are available and whether this firm is a “golden ticket” or not. There are a lot of talented unemployed university grads in Bangladesh, for instance, and even fewer jobs at Goldman than there are in New York. As terrible as this situation may be, if you’re in a developing country, particularly an LDC, a job at a local player may (emphasize “may”) be a ticket out of a miserable life, unlike in the West, where the alternative is still often a reasonably comfortable middle class life. If you’re really lucky, you could parlay it into an MBA at a top school in the West, or into a job here.

        Then again, your family’s influence may change that equation. Family connections can open doors that would otherwise be shut in Asia. As with much on AAM, there are a lot of facts we don’t know that can change one’s advice.

        Anyways, these are additional regional factors to think about. Good luck with your decision. Don’t succumb to analysis paralysis, but don’t make it hastily either.

        1. US expat temporarily not in Asia*

          One point that I thought of almost immediately after posting the above: if I’m right about OP being in a lesser-developed country in Asia, s/he might want to look into working at a development bank, like the IFC, Asian Development Bank, New Development Bank, etc. Because these institutions are government owned and value social goals, they can have somewhat better hours than other institutions, although they’re still not 9-to-5. If this isn’t a realistic path for OP now, it may become much more realistic after completing the analyst program.

        2. EventPlannerGal*

          As somebody who knows zilch about any part of this world, this was a fascinating read. Thank you for taking the time to write all this out!

        3. Middle School Teacher*

          This is probably the best comment and advice I’ve ever seen on this site. Thanks for sharing this!

        4. Arabella*


          Thank you so much for this insightful advice. :) it’s definitely a different perspective than other advice I’ve gotten.

          Just adding some clarifications:
          1. Actually, finance is not my passion, I was referring to the job of “Consultancy” or “Analyst” as my dream role. Sorry if I worded my comment confusingly. In terms of the industry, I’m still exploring my options – however finance is definitely nowhere near what I even like sadly.

          2. My daily tasks consists of nothing but carrying out platform testings, day in and day out – even if I’m given issues by clients to investigate- its just retesting the issue when it occurs, when its fixed, then again for confirmation. Sometimes I’ll do a whole day’s work of testing, just to have my manager (team leader) tell me to redo everything again and add more testing criteria.

          3. I have met up with the person that recommended me to the company – he stated similar advice which was to maybe tough it out in any way I can until I at least hit the 6 month/1 year mark just so I could have it on my resume. Even if this means that I only do whatever I can and leave any workload (no matter how urgent) that I was unable to finish aside. This is because the worst they could do is maybe to just change my team.

          4. He also stated that its in the end up to me to decide my limits and whether I am able to hang on to such conditions, since in the end quite a few industries and companies (especially those that you can climb up the corporate ladder and reach very successful/lucrative roles) will usually have such brutal working conditions and hours. Also, his opinion was that i should not jump ship yet due to one very bad team (and team leader)- instead, maybe try out another team and see if this culture still persists so i can make a better decision. His relationship with the person in the company will not be affected in any way if I decide to leave still, however – so he tells me not to worry about that.

          5. My biggest dilemma now is definitely determining my career goals – to determine if I’m willing to sacrifice my mental and physical health further just to reach that level of success in the future. My family has already reached that level of success I would say (income and position-wise), so they just keep pushing me to force myself to work and meet all deadlines no matter how many breakdowns it takes. ( for instance, i did not work 9am to 2am this Saturday as I couldn’t take it-i was just called lazy and a bad worker) even now, I have piles of “urgent” workload due tomorrow and I have not made a dent on it. Currently forcing myself to even switch on the laptop and continue working.

          Despite all that, I believe that you have made very valid points- and I will consider posting about this in another place too just to get a little more insight. Thank you very much for taking the time to give such a long response. This is a very very tough decision.

          1. Arabella*

            I am also from a developing country in SEA, so there’s that too. :)

            The company im working for is a pretty big name in the industry and has a reputation-however the reputation is a bad one for their overworking toxic culture.

        5. 40 Years in the Nonprofit Trenches*

          THANK YOU, that was brilliant and with infinitely greater depth and substance than I could have offered. All I could think of when I read the OP was the “eat bitter” culture that is permeating her workplace. You absolutely nailed it.

    5. Artemesia*

      those are jobs also that pay obscenely well. I know people who gave up on investment banking because they decided they didn’t want to live those kinds of hours even for riches, but I also know some very rich people who stuck it out. It is not a surprise though to someone signing on for it.

      1. Shhhh*

        I work with business students. I want to cry when I see how much their starting salaries are in IB and tech, but then I remember that I’m a lot happier with the schedule I have than I would be working IB/tech hours.

    6. Snickerdoodle*

      I used to work as a stagehand; 8 a.m. to 2 a.m. days happen regularly with touring productions, which in turn is why illegal drugs (to keep people awake) are such a problem in the industry. It was part of why I left. But nobody goes into that industry not knowing what they’re getting into. And a lot of people leave because they want a more stable schedule or to be away from the accompanying drama.

  3. gbca*

    #1 – I’m sorry you’re going through this! I completely agree with Alison – if there’s any way you’re able to leave, this is definitely one of those cases where it’s ok to leave a job without another lined up.. Any sane employer would completely understand leaving a job under those conditions (and those who wouldn’t are those you don’t want to work for anyway). Best of luck to you.

        1. Not in the USA today*

          Does the US not have workplace safety laws that would come into play here?

          If staff are working those hours they cannot legally drive where I live (driving while sleep deprived is illegal), it is impossible for it not to be having physical and or mental health impacts.

          Laws where I am are slowly catching up in different industries, but there are cases where employers have been liable from a health & safety standards. I’m honestly expecting increasing legal activity.

          We forbid our staff doing that level of crazy hours. Mostly because we think it unproductive, but also because we know it is harmful and have a duty of care to not place our reports at risk.

          1. PollyQ*

            Not an expert, but probably not. Some jobs have rules about how much sleep you need to perform the work safely, but I’m not aware of anything that would apply if she’s an office worker, even if exhaustion makes transportation to & from the office more dangerous.

            I’m not 100% sure she’s in the US, though. Most Americans say “graduated from college”, rather than “from university.”

            1. Bagpuss*

              In the EU those hours would be in breach of the Working Time Time directive (unless she has opted out) and in the UK, depending on how much she is paid, might also mean that it breached minimum wage rules as if she doesn’t get paid overtime then her salary worked out as a hourly rate over those hours might fall below minimum wage.


              1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

                Quick arithmetic suggests to me that she’s working around 3.0 FTE, so she would likely need to be paid triple minimum wage not to fall foul of those regulations. That’s in the region of £52k in the UK.

                Still, you would have to pay me a lot more than £52k to work so many hours I didn’t have time to eat and sleep. And I’m saying that from the perspective of a previous “67h+on call” regular work week. At least you can sleep when you’re on call.

              2. JC*

                Wanted to add here, most U.K. jobs in banking or tech will actively ask you to opt out of working time directive and include it in the employment contract. I have made a point in 2 jobs to actively decline to sign (HR tried to say it was no big deal and to just sign it, but I refused) and I had to fill in time sheets (took 2 mins a week max). Not one of my colleagues understood what this was, and they just blindly signed their contracts. I never had to enforce it, but had previously burned out working 80 hour weeks, so wanted to be fully protected.

                1. Potential Londoner*

                  Won’t the Working Time Directive cease to apply post-Brexit after the EU arrangements get sorted?

              3. JM in England*

                Th OP’s hours would also breach the legal minimum rest period between shifts under the EU Working Time Directive.

                1. Chinook*

                  I think that it would also be in breach of most provincial labour laws for minimum rest period here as well. There are a few exceptions to that, but it is expected to be for short periods of time due to workflow, not as a continuing business and employment model. Not only is it harmful to an individuals physical and mental well being, but it is also an inefficient use of company resources (which in this scenario is the labour worked) because humans became more inefficient and error prone after so many hours of lack of good sleep, so they are paying you for subpar work due to the labour conditions they created. It would be more financially viable for them to hire more people and pay them the same wage and cut your hours in half.

            2. US expat temporarily not in Asia*

              I’ve read about cases in which courts have held professional services firms liable if an exhausted employee gets in a car accident.

          2. LKW*

            It depends on the industry and amount of liability. I know that in the before times company travel policy was that if my travel + work time exceeded 14 hours, I qualified for a hotel room if I was visiting a client site. Since I live in NYC then almost any day trip that took me out of the city qualified because of time getting back during extended rush hour.

          3. Phil*

            I used to be n the technical end of the movie/TV business and long days are the norm, especially on location. 12 hours is a normal day and 15 or 16 not unusual. Sadly a few years ago an assistant director was killed in a traffic accident directly related to those long on location days and reforms were attempted. It worked for a while but didn’t stick.

        2. Anonymous tech writer*

          For future US readers in a similar situation — it’s also possible for jobs to be wrongly classified. It’s worth looking into. My role was reclassified across the corporation after a legal decision in another state. (We did not receive back pay but I suspect those who filed the lawsuit did.)

    1. Sleepytime Tea*

      I have to agree OP#1. I worked CrazyJob. I worked until 2am. I worked weekends. I did it for the majority of my 3 years there. I had a total breakdown at one point, crying to my mother in a restaurant about how I might rather just give up the career I had been trying to build and instead get a job where I didn’t have to think about it other than during work hours, or be an admin or work in a bookstore or just… anything else.

      I stayed far too long. In some ways, it ended up being good for my career, but it was best for me learning boundary setting and screening out employers who had these types of expectations. They are willing to take advantage of you and want people willing to martyr their personal lives and health for the company (and never for nearly enough pay).

      If you can leave, please do. And while I know that you don’t feel any capacity whatsoever to job hunt right now (understandably), I would still encourage a bit of it. See if you can maybe find a reputable recruiter in your area instead of hunting the want ads. The recruiter could then do the narrowing down for you and bring you jobs to review, and set up the interviews, and take a lot off your plate that way.

  4. Flabbergasted*

    17-hour day person, PLEASE make sure you’re getting your FULL overtime payments (and please quit as soon as that’s a financial possibility for you.

    1. PollyQ*

      If she’s exempt, then she’s not entitled to overtime. However:

      1) If she’s working 120 hours a week, it’s possible that the hourly equivalent of her salary is below minimum wage.

      2) Even if her company is treating her as exempt, it’s possible that she’s been misclassified, and thus is due a whopping lot of back overtime pay.

      1. Arabella*

        Hi there, I am the poster of question 1. :) I come from a country where employee rights are pretty poor (almost non-existing), so for every overtime I’m working a day (from 6pm onwards to whatever time), I’m only paid an equivalent of $10 a working day.

        Of course, I am grateful to be financially able to leave – I just feel guilt for leaving so early. Another piece of info – this job was referred to me by a family connection, and I don’t want to burn any bridges. However, I have told this person of my intentions to leave and they have set a meeting about it tomorrow at lunch.

        1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

          Very best of luck for your meeting. Imagine the entire commentariat on your side of the room with their stern faces glaring at management.

            1. Arabella*

              Not HSBC, but good guess :)

              The banks are actually clients of my company. So im not exactly working in a bank.

              The meeting will just be with me and the family connection, but I think all the great support and advice that I have received will give me all the strength I need to stand my ground when talking to them and my manager about leaving. :)

              1. Hazel*

                I think it’s important to remember that you don’t need their approval to leave, and if they try to guilt (or blackmail) you into staying that’s on them. And you don’t even need to get into details about your health. They already know that it’s affecting you negatively. This job isn’t working out for you, and (I presume) you’re disappointed having to leave so soon after starting, but it’s what you need to do.

        2. Juniper*

          I think it may be helpful to you to reframe this, if you can. A family connection is partly responsible for you being in a job with such breathtakingly bad working conditions that you are working the equivalent of 3 full-time employees and have had to take medical leave to avoid a complete breakdown. YOU’RE not responsible for burning ANY bridges. If anything, that family connection should be horrified and alarmed by the state of affairs at a place they are recommending people (and if they’re not, well, then you definitely don’t have to worry about feeling guilty).

          1. DiscoCat*

            And hopefully that family connection doesn’t try to guilt you into staying. As Juniper said, they put you, a rather young and inexperienced, eager to please and have a career person, into an exploitative and exposed position. They should be feeling ashamed, not you. If they try to guilt trip you or pretend it’s not as bad, stay gracious, say you’re grateful and stay firm on your decision and experience, your health, your happiness and productivity in future jobs depends on this formative experience. Don’t get into a discussion about the details, don’t let them corner you. Best of luck!

          2. Sacred Ground*

            Yep. If you’d be now in a better job (one that isn’t trying to kill you) if you’d applied somewhere else without that family connection, and it seems very likely to me, then that family connection actually did you a real disservice to your detriment, not a favor for your benefit. You owe nothing.

          3. JSPA*

            This is not universal. We don’t know where in Asia. It really depends on their age, and what they lived though / worked up from, themselves. One generation away from standing knee deep in water, bent over, planting rice for 18 hours a day, the idea of 18 hour days on the phone, computer and meetings seems pretty cushy. And if there was war and devastation and literal, “do or die” choices daily, that’s in the mix, as well.

            But “some humans can do this” ≠ “this is how work should be.”

          4. US expat temporarily not in Asia*

            YOU’RE not responsible for burning ANY bridges.

            This is Asia we’re talking about. I get your sentiment, and would generally agree with you if we were talking about the US — but cultural norms regarding family and social circles, and “losing face,” can be different there.

            1. Juniper*

              True. I’m in Scandinavia so my views on hierarchy should be filtered accordingly. At the end of the day though this person is in an impossible situation, so I really hope the family friend recognizes what a predicament they are in!

        3. Caroline Bowman*

          You are doing the right thing. In these circumstances, you literally must leave because even looking for another job would be impossible with the hours you’re working at the moment. I don’t care what ”norms” are, but that is not tenable on an ongoing basis. I do appreciate hours can suck in various industries, that very busy, chaotic times are part and parcel of the working world, but this has been relentless, for nearly 3 months, with no suggestion that it would ever change. It’s not right in any way.

          You are right to leave. You have zero need to feel guilty at all and you should also be quite open about why you’re leaving because others may have also been kept quiet about the reality of the matter. At this early stage in your working life this is one of those unpleasant blips, you have not ruined your job prospects for life, I hope you find something wonderful soon, where conditions are fair and you can grow and enjoy a solid work-life balance.

          1. Arabella*

            Thank you all for the support. I’m very happy to read all of this while I’m still at a very low point, still at work. :)

            I’m definitely very inexperienced when managing my workload and knowing how to say no, but I do know that my desire to achieve work-life balance will withstand any pressure from anyone to stay in this job any longer.

            Hoping for the best in tomorrow’s meeting, and that the family connection will be understanding of my reasons.

            1. Keymaster of Gozer*

              As a side note, the fact that you’ve acknowledged these hours and workload aren’t reasonable, written here asking for professional advice AND made the decision to leave takes you out of ‘inexperienced’ when it comes to professional norms.

        4. B Jolie*

          Please don’t feel guilty. A company, by design, does not care about its employees and will replace you as soon as you leave with a new person going through the exact same process.

          People care, but it doesn’t sound like your manager is truly concerned, even with the severe mental health problems you mentioned.

          Get out while the job hasn’t created permanent damage yet, and never look back.

          1. EPLawyer*


            The company feels not one iota of guilt about working you for an insane amount of hours, then adding more work on top of it and damaging your mental health. If you got so sick you couldn’t work, they would replace you in a heartbeat.

            Loyalty to a company means doing the best job you can in exchange for your paycheck. That’s IT. You owe them nothing more.

            As for the family friend, I know they will feel they lost prestige by recommending you, but life is. You might burn this bridge with the family friend who may value protecting their reputation over your own health. But you need to protect yourself.

        5. LKW*

          I definitely agree that you need to reframe this, if you are doing the work of three people and working three times the amount and getting paid a daily rate, you’re actually only getting roughly $3 an hour.

          1. TardyTardis*

            She said she was only getting $10 a day. Were you talked into this job to pay off a family loan? I know this kind of thing still happens.

            1. US expat temporarily not in Asia*

              As I noted in a long post above, I strongly suspect OP is in a lesser developed country in Asia, like Bangladesh or Cambodia.

        6. Archaeopteryx*

          Don’t feel guilty and stop thinking of this as a job. It’s some kind of exploitative trap; you don’t owe them anything and you need to protect yourself.

        7. Eye roll*

          When you meet with your family connection, stiffen up. Remember, this person sent you to a place where they essentially abuse their employees. They should be paying three people to handle the work load instead of exploiting you for it. Get advice. Try and preserve the connection. But don’t be guilted into feeling responsible for other people’s bad behavior.

    2. Doing math*

      Thats 6188 hours a year…
      2080 hours regular
      4108 hours overtime
      At $15 per hour (1.5x OT) = $123,630

      Just for reference

      1. Arabella*

        Hello :)

        Unfortunately, such a salary is a very very big overstatement. With my base monthly salary plus OT hours, I’ll be earning a range of $1,200 to $1,500 a month. Thus, i won’t even be earning anywhere close to $20,000 a year.

        (Of course this is when I convert my country’s currency to USD. It should be divided by 3 at the moment)

        1. Quill*

          So, if I do some quick math, you’re getting paid approximately $2.50 USD per hour.

          If I take your comment to mean that this is equivalent to 7.5 of your country’s currency, you’re being paid the equivalent of the united states’ crappy minimum wage, in exchange for a schedule that seems designed to kill you.

          Would you honestly be making any less money per hour working at your nearest supermarket?

          1. JSPA*

            Uh, wages really are not something you can compare like that, from one country / continent to another. Not to mention, in some countries, almost every business is in some way a “family business.” Not open to an over-educated outsider from a different family, clan, class, etc. “You can always do X” doesn’t even fly in much of Europe, where some countries have a bar against people taking jobs they are overqualified for, in terms of education.

          2. Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pickled Peppers*

            The minimum wage in my country (converted to USD) is $1.30. It doesn’t make sense to convert to USD when you’re talking about other countries.

  5. Nacho*

    #2: I think we need to know more about what exactly Employee said in that review before we can chastise them for leaving it. LW says they had valid complaints which they regularly brought to their boss’ attention, but were ignored. I’ve read a lot of stories on this site from the employee’s perspective, and usually the advice being given is that the boss is being shitty for ignoring these complaints and telling the employee to work it out themselves. I can think of plenty of things a bad boss might ignore for the sake of keeping the peace, but are real problems that should be brought to light. Usually along the lines of non-explicit sexism, racism, homophobia, etc….

    1. Firecat*

      Honestly even if it were garden variety – we are pushy jerks no -isms attached I don’t see any lapse in judgement to leave a bad review as long as you are not speaking on behalf of your prior company.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      If it was something like that, yes! I assumed it was about the work itself — something more in the realm of bad communication/dropped balls/etc. If the vendor was just not as on the ball as the employee wanted, there are situations where it would be perfectly reasonable for the manager to expect the employee to manage the situation themselves, particularly if was the employee wasn’t super junior. (I also don’t think the OP quite said she ignored the employee’s complaints; it sounds like she assumed it wasn’t at the level where her intervention was needed. Which could be entirely reasonable.)

      1. Uldi*

        But would that be so bad as to motivate someone to leave a bad review of a company they would not longer be working with? They wrote that review literally months after they stopped interacting with that vendor, and even refused to remove it.

        Honestly, #2 leaves too much out for me to feel comfortable condemning this employee, especially since this seems to be the only issue OP #2 had with them.

          1. OP*

            I’ve added several more details above that I think address the concerns referenced here. Let me know if you need more.

            FWIW, I’ve decided to provide an unreserved positive reference. But I take reference-giving very seriously, and wondered if I had some sort of obligation to say “they were great but there was this weird thing I feel like I have to let you know about.”

            The employee is a very principled person. My view is that this turned into a “it’s more important to be right about how the vendor should run their business than to get what we need from the vendor.” If anything I think my failing was probably in not catching that earlier and not working through that with them.

            Obviously it ground their gears for months even after pandemic meant they didn’t have to interact anymore. I’m surprised if it was this intense that it didn’t come up at the exit interview though – some other constructive criticism did.

            1. RecoveringSWO*

              Thanks for clarifying, OP. I think your point of view makes a lot of sense based on those facts. I also appreciate the grace you’ve shown in reflecting on some of the more critical posts.

        1. Mel_05*

          I definitely know people who would think, “Finally, I can speak my mind about this incompetent vendor!”

          From the LW’s description, I thought it was just poor communication, dropped balls, “fixing” things that aren’t wrong. In my industry this is par for the course with vendors and it is part of the job to jostle them along, insist on refunds, and generally be a pain-in-the-neck to the vendor until they do it right.

          It’s all very annoying, but unless you have another vendor to jump to, you really don’t want to go all scorched earth on them about it. Even if you do, you want to be able to jump back if you need to.

        2. Koalafied*

          Absolutely! I’ve worked with vendors who really frustrated me and I did want to spare others the headache, but waited until my company no longer had a relationship with the vendor before leaving a negative review to avoid an awkward situation of having to work with them and them knowing I’d left a bad review. This was actually a situation where I didn’t blame my individual rep because I knew the issues were out of his hands, so there was no point to raising the issues with him in hopes of resolution – yet I still felt it would have been uncomfortable to write a bad review of his employer while still working with him.

          I’d also just underline that this is a vendor, not a client. If it were a client my suspicion of abusive behavior would be much higher because clients have power over vendors, who are dependent on them for income, and not uncommonly abuse that power. It’s much less common for a vendor to be abusive to a client because they lack power in the situation and risk losing the client’s business – unless they provide something so unique that there is no competitor vendor for the client to go to instead. And given this vendor says they lost a customer over the review, it doesn’t sound like that’s the case here, as that lost prospect presumably went to such a competitor.

      2. MK*

        Also relevant, in my opinion, is that apparently someone decided against doing business with the vendor after reading the review (assuming that’s true and it’s not the vendor trying to add weight to their complaint, which is very probable). It would have to be something both substancial and factual, if one bad review prevented someone from hiring the vendor.

        Frankly, I find the OP’s attitude baffling, especially this line:

        “Whether the review is factual or not is not my main concern. That’s disputable.”

        Seriously, who cares about the facts, let’s focus on the former employee’s unprofessionalism? Why? Why isn’t the OP concerned about the actual dispute? Why are they not willing to take the part of their own employee who was very satisfactory (by their own admission)? Why are they bending over backwards to placate a vendor who is unsatisfactory (also by their own admission)?

        1. Corporate Dreamer*

          Agreed this is the first time I think Alison is completely off base. Also I’m kind of curious if this vendor is the reason employee left.

        2. Massmatt*

          I found the OP’s concerns very odd also. They seem oddly invested in protecting this vendor, which they acknowledge had problems, and borderline vindictive against a former employee. At first they said they would give a good reference but now they are reconsidering it because of an online review after they left?

          Maybe OP should stop working for their company and go to work managing the vendor’s online reviews, because that’s where their priorities seem to lie.

          It really seems odd that the LW cares this much abut a bad review left by a former employee about a 3rd party.

          1. Tau*

            It really seems odd that the LW cares this much abut a bad review left by a former employee about a 3rd party.

            It’s completely understandable she cares about it – the vendor went to her and asked about it! It did damage to a business relationship!

            I get where OP is coming from. There are companies I interact with solely as my-company’s-employee-Tau. Sometimes interacting with them is remarkably frustrating and I have concerns about their processes and the reliability of their product. If I wrote a review of some of the things I’d learned about them, that might be enough to make someone reconsider. But there is no way to write that review as independent-person-Tau, because I’ve only ever interacted with them in the scope of my role. So that review would be intrinsically connected to my company, even if I wrote it after I’d left. It would be perfectly understandable for the vendor to be concerned and wonder what’s going on here and whether they need to drop my company as a client. And it would be more than understandable for my company to go “WTF Tau, we thought we parted on good terms, why are you deliberately doing things that could harm our business??”

            Of course, that’s working under the assumption that none of the issues are… like… harrassment, or potential danger to customers, or the like. At OP’s level of detail I can see both readings.

            1. pancakes*

              I’m not seeing the relevance of a reviewer having “only ever interacted with them in the scope of my role.” Why would that not be a legitimate basis for review? It seems very unlikely that whichever site the review was left on is meant to exclude people who’ve used the products or services under review while working.

              1. Washi*

                Let’s imagine you have a vendor that has a medium quality product for a low price. I am working with the vendor and it’s super annoying because people will tell me one thing over the phone vs. over email, and the account rep likes to reply to either/or questions with yes. The product is fine, but not amazing, and there are a few issues periodically.

                If I was so disgruntled that I left my own review, it would be something like: “Vendor is always changing their minds, quotes one price but then won’t hold to it, poor communication, flaws with the product, etc.”

                If the COMPANY decided to leave a review it would probably be something like: “We chose this vendor because of their competetive prices for a higher quality product than we could get elsewhere at that rate. Communication and consistency could be improved and we wish the product had X feature, but Vendor continues to get our business because we are satisfied with the service.”

                It’s not that the individual is wrong, it’s that often the individual weighs things differently than the organization as a whole, and when the individual appears to be speaking for the whole company, the impression can be misleading, because if the company continues to use the vendor, chances are that there are some redeeming qualities.

                1. pancakes*

                  Sure, but either or both of those perspectives might be useful to readers of the review site & people looking for new vendors. As someone mentioned in another comment, if the prices are similar you might want to go with the slightly more expensive vendor who offers better service.

                2. Washi*

                  Yeah, I think from a customer perspective, both are helpful (and I’m not weeping for the vendor for having some truthful feedback out there.) But from the original company’s perspective, the individual’s review would be frustrating becuase it doesn’t reflect their overall experience, it blindsided them as well as the vendor, and could damage a relationship that they want to keep.

                3. OP*

                  Medium quality for low price sums it up perfectly. We’re not rolling in cash to be able to buy ourselves out of a contract and go with another vendor, though I was at one point considering making a case to do so anyways out of deference to employee.

                  Now, when our contract is up, that’s another story.

            2. Gray Lady*

              What constitutes damage to a business relationship with a vendor you’re stilling willing to buy from, though? What do you care, other than getting what you pay for? What does the vendor care, other than continuing to be able to sell to you? If this were a client in question, it would be a real issue. With a vendor, I just don’t see why LW feels the need to take responsibility for someone who doesn’t work for her, just because the vendor didn’t like it. Even if the vendor continues to not like it, what is the vendor going to do? Stop selling to her company? I doubt it.

              1. Gray Lady*

                Doesn’t work for her and didn’t work for her at the time of leaving the review, either. Vendor might be entitled to feel some annoyance but has no standing to take it out on LW or LW’s company, and LW has no standing to address it with someone who no longer works for her and acted at a time when not working for her.

          2. Mel_05*

            If your vendor options are limited, you want to protect that relationship. How will you do business without them? They may suck, but they may also be the least bad option.

            And even if they’re not your primary vendor for that function – we all need backups sometimes. We’ve all had vendors drop us or go under and had to go crawling back to our old vendor.

            There are some things bad enough to where it wouldn’t matter, you’d drop the vendor. But those are things like harassment, not just being bad communicators or whatever.

            1. Koalafied*

              It’s also sometimes the case that you’re in a contract that doesn’t have a clause allowing an out over garden variety shoddy work/work habits, so you’re stuck with the vendor until the end of the contract. I could see myself in exactly that position of having to smooth over a relationship with a vendor that I agreed has issues, but not severe enough to renege on our contract without paying a huge penalty sum, because I don’t want the remaining 6 months on our contract to be tense and awkward, or have them start phoning in work even more than they already were because they think the relationship is already damaged.

              To be clear I could also see myself being in the position of the departed employee who wrote the review, to air my frustrations with a shoddy vendor and hopefully prevent someone else being stuck in a 3-year contract with them. I don’t think he did anything wrong, even though I do agree he created an uncomfortable situation that the company had to deal with as a result. Sometimes when things aren’t going well, it becomes uncomfortable, and the discomfort doesn’t always land on the person most to blame for it. That’s just life. As a manager I would complain to my husband about the mess I had to smooth over but it wouldn’t negatively affect the reference I gave to the employee, who was within his rights to create a mildly uncomfortable situation for a company he no longer worked for.

              1. Mel_05*

                Yeah, honestly, I can see my self as the employee too. I review everything. If I loved it or hated it, the internet knows.

                They had a crummy experience with the vendor, they’ve been laid off, they’re leaving the review up. I probably would not be in a hurry to remove it myself.

                I just also don’t think it’s crazy for the manager to be worried most about that vendor relationship. Of course that’s their primary concern.

              2. OP*

                Yep, two years left on a contact we’re stuck in.

                I understand why the review was written. I believed that former employee would want to remove it once I explained it created a challenging situation, because on departure they encouraged us to contact them if they could be helpful in any way. That’s the part that surprised me. And it won’t affect the positive reference, which is where I was leaning but wanted a gut check.

                1. Black Horse Dancing*

                  Why in the world aren’t there opt-outs in your contracts OP? Our procurement person plus attorney insist on it.

          3. jph in the midlands*

            The OP said he works for a nonprofit, who is concerned about their standing in the community. It may not be the case, but I know having been a fundraiser at several nonprofits, we often go to our vendors for donations, and they often give. From the OP’s comments, it sounds like there wasn’t any kind of abusive situation going on, just a little incompetence. Maybe they make up for their shortcomings by being a really supportive donor (or the organization hopes they will be).

        3. Brooks Brothers Stan*

          OP’s attitude and Alison’s attitude are completely baffling to me as well. I’m frankly incredibly surprised at the way she is bending over backwards to defend a manager that knew there was a problem between a vendor and an employee (and that the manager agreed that the vendor was in the wrong) and then didn’t…manage. Honestly, leaving a review of the vendor when they have been left to fend for themselves with no support from their employer is really the last avenue of redress this employee had.

          The employee did all the right things based off of this letter (and Alison always asks us to assume no other facts that what are presented). They worked with the vendor, ID’d issues, reported issues to management multiple times, and nothing was done. They then waited till they were no longer an employee to leave a review of the vendor. What am I missing where this becomes concerning behavior? I’m more concerned the letter writer, and Alison, have failed to acknowledge that multiple balls were dropped before it even got to this stage.

          In my POV the former employee did the right thing. The LW is upset because their poor management has now left them with egg on their face.

          1. Anononon*

            I mean, having frustrating clients or vendors is a normal part of business, to some degree (assuming the frustrations are typical work issues, and not something unusual). I have clients that are the biggest PITA, and I vent about them weekly. However, I would never write a bad review for them!

            1. Brooks Brothers Stan*

              Clients? Yes, I would keep that internal and only circulate that among a close held professional network. You, after all, are working for the client.

              Vendors? Not writing bad reviews of vendors is what perpetuates bad vendors. Vendors work for you, not the other way around.

          2. Trillian*

            What I’m wondering about is whether the employee feels (with or without reason) that working with an underperforming vendor was partially responsible for him being laid off. The layoff was for financial reasons, but why this employee and not another. If he was dealing with an underperforming vendor and had targets dependent on them, he’d be unable to meet his own targets and look less valuable to his employer. Signed: Been there, done that. (Minus the layoff. I quit)

            1. OP*

              It had absolutely nothing to do with the layoff, none at all. If said supply was missing from the office temporarily, I would never in a million years have put that on the employee.

              What you experienced sounds incredibly gross and I’m really sorry that ever happened.

        4. OP*

          I should have been clearer. Obviously I care about the facts. I also don’t know how the facts would be adjudicated. I have my sense of what happened. My concern *in writing to Alison* was how to handle this in a possible reference all.

          In this moment, the facts of the review are not my concern because it’s become clear that 1) the review will be left up, and 2) we are not currently experiencing the issue that led the review to be put up. The vendor has their own version of the conflict. Both versions are plausible to me and it seems like a big extended miscommunication. At this time I do not experience vendor as unsatisfactory. I’m not sure what would be gained by trying to adjudicate the facts at this point?

          1. surprisedcanuk*

            Did you ask the employee after they put up the review if there was anything else vendor did to upset them? I think people are just a little concerned that the employee was mistreated? I think it would have been nice to ask the employee if the vendor was rude or did anything else happen? Then maybe ask to remove the review. It seems you care more about the vendor than your ex employee. I think this might have alleviated some of concerns the posters here have. I’m surprised Alison didn’t bring this up.

            1. BuildMeUp*

              I really don’t see how this would be necessary unless the ex-employee mentioned issues in the review that he hadn’t already brought up to the OP. As long as the review was about issues the OP was already aware of, what reason is there to start imagining other possible random, secret issues?

              1. surprisedcanuk*

                If your going to ask the employee to remove the review why not take the extra 5 minutes to find out? The contract is eventually going to end and they will need to decide to stay with or find a new vendor. It could also impact who deals with the vendor. If it turns out the vendor is really challenging to deal with it might be smart to not have a junior person deal with them. The employee must have been fairly upset to leave a bad review and refuse to remove it. The LW seems a little oblivious or nonchalant about his former employees problems with the vendor. I guess I find the LW and your lack of concern a little troubling.

                1. BuildMeUp*

                  Because the OP already knows? The ex-employee already mentioned these issues, and left a review about them… there’s no secret to be revealed here. I’m so confused by your insistence that there is!

                  The fact that the ex-employee is upset says more to me about the ex-employee than about the situation. The OP has said in other comments that 1) they offered to call the vendor themselves and the ex-employee said no, and 2) the OP is now the one dealing with the vendor. So none of your comment really applies.

        5. BuildMeUp*

          “Whether the review is factual or not is not my main concern. That’s disputable.”

          Hmm see I read this more as, Former Employee and I obviously see this differently, and I’m not going to push them on removing the review, so it’s a moot point. The reason I’m writing is to find out if this action should affect the reference I give them.

          OP has said in multiple comments that he gets what he needs from the vendor just fine, and that the issue the former employee had didn’t come anywhere near ending their 3-year contract. So it makes complete sense to me that he would prioritize the current vendor over the former employee. I don’t get what’s confusing about that.

    3. Juniper*

      Agreed. I think it’s tempting to chalk this up to frustrated venting on the Employee’s part, and in that light it could come across as unprofessional. But it sounds like they had some legitimate reasons for wanting to warn others about the state of affairs at the vendor, in which case losing a potential client is a natural consequence of poor business management.

    4. LKW*

      Agree that there is more to this. What I’m reading is that the employee identified unprofessional or negative behaviors. The behaviors, when written out in plain language, were caustic enough to make other people wary of working with the vendor. Sounds to me like there were opportunities to lay out expectations of the vendor and make it clear that certain behaviors would not be tolerated. It doesn’t have to be smarmy, just crappy, like rudeness, condescension, lying, finger pointing, etc.

      It doesn’t sound like the employee lied, but called out that the vendor may have a culture that enables crappy behavior. I’ve certainly worked in places that enabled this and it’s toxic. So if I’m looking for a vendor/partner – why would I pick the one that will make my life harder?

      OP unless this vendor provides you something that no one else can, I’m curious why you haven’t laid down the law. If they are your vendor, they work for you, and you can set the tone for how your partnership functions.

      1. Koalafied*

        Possibly because they’ve signed a long-term contract with the vendor that can only be broken via a substantial financial penalty or demonstrating gross negligence. There are a whole lot of valid criticisms that can make working with a vendor extremely painful and yet not meet the bar for gross negligence that allows an early out on the contract.

        1. Black Horse Dancing*

          That’s a poor contract, Many contracts are written with wording so either side can opt out with notice.

  6. Firecat*

    #2 I must be missing something because what I see is a laid off employee who decided to put a, by OPs own account truthful, review of company B up.

    How on earth does OPs company have a right to be frustrated at laid off employee about this? And to go as far as to ask them to take it down? And then think they don’t deserve a good reference anymore because they refused OPs overreach into their personal life?

    If the review was something like – as a rep for company A I hated working for B … Then sure that’s appearing to speak on behalf of the company. However that’s not what happened?

    Reading it seems the biggest concern is that since the laid off employee used his real name then someone might be able to Google his name after reading a bad review and identify that he worked for company A during the timeframe referenced in the bad review and… I just don’t see how this is big enough to warrant calling someone whoOP laid off to ask they remove a personal review and then reconsider their good reference because they (rightly imo) refused.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I think it depends on the details. If the vendor is a B2B company, I don’t think it’s cool to leave a negative review that your employer objects to, when all your work with that vendor was as a rep of your employer. I can see the argument on the other side too — and I don’t think the employee did something absolutely outrageous — but I can see why the OP is annoyed that the person she paid to handle their business with this vendor then publicly reviewed the vendor on that work. The whole “I wrote it after my last day specifically so that you could disavow it” says to me that at some level they knew it could cause a problem.

      1. Viki*

        But at the same time, it’s not the former employee’s problem. It sounds like the employee had enough issues with the vender that were brought up and ignored, and the frustration was there long enough that when the employee had the chance to write a seemingly honest review of their experience with the vendor, they did so with the least amount of disruption to their former workplace.

        And, for me, if it was a B2B, with a negative review, I would still appreciate it, if I was looking for a vendor. If this was an honest experience, no matter how the employee came by it, than it’s an honest review and those are needed for me to go into business with the vendor so I know what I will be getting into. To me, that’s the point of the review and to ask to take it down, by a former employee and possibly withhold a reference because of it….well that also tells me that’s not exactly a company I would want to work for either.

        1. Emily*

          Agreed. When I initially read the letter and response, I agreed that the employee shouldn’t have left the review, but the more responses I read and the more I think about it, the more I think the employee may have been justified, depending on how bad the problems were with the vendor, especially because the employee did not associate themselves with their employer, and if the review they left was honest and they didn’t embellish the problems with the vendor. I do hope LW comments and gives us more context.

      2. Kaiko*

        So then my question becomes, if they’re a B2B company, how would someone write this kind of review without also outing the company they work for? Is it possible?

        1. Mel_05*

          It sounded like a google review to me. Their name is attached to it and you can google the name and see who their most recent employer is. And you can leave a google review for any business with a physical address.

      3. Gray Lady*

        Employee’s employer didn’t object to it, because it was no longer the employer. I honestly don’t see the uncoolness of doing something that someone with whom you no longer have any functional relationship whatsoever, might not like.

    2. TechWorker*

      ‘as a rep for company A I hated working for B’

      Presumably this is exactly how company B will read it though? It’s not like the review is read only by ‘people on the internet’, it also has the danger of souring the ongoing relationship between the two companies. Obviously I don’t know what the employee is complaining about and that might change things but in general it feels unprofessional at best.

      1. MK*

        Ok, but reviews are for people on the internet, who are pretty unlikely to google the reviewer to find out that they used to work for the OP’s company. I understand that this might sour the relationship between the two companies, what I don’t get is why the OP is so accommodating to the other company. This is a vendor who is soliciting business from the OP, not the other way around, and by the OP’s own admission they were not stellar at the job.

      2. Washi*

        Agreed, I’ve worked with partners more than vendors in my nonprofit experience, but if you were having a bad experience with someone, publicly leaving a bad review with no warning is not how you handle it and would truly be a nuclear option. Part of my job was to deal with a variety of people/organizations who could be frustrating in various ways but also had something we needed. Like this former employee, it wasn’t my call to decide that it wasn’t worth it anymore. Ex employee seems to have taken it upon themselves to make sure that the vendor gets their just desserts, but when you’re representing your organization in a relationship, the whole point is that you’re not an individual consumer with a personal relationship. You’re getting paid not to take it personally.

        Leaving a truthful, bad review isn’t horrific and I wouldn’t tank the person’s reference if they were stellar otherwise. But I can see why the OP is so frustrated, since this wasn’t the employee’s call to make.

        (Obviously if the vendor were harrassing the employee in any way, my answer would be different, but I’m taking the letter writer’s word that this wasn’t worth terminating the relationship over.)

        1. Firecat*

          So how is a business whose sole business is offering other businesses services ever supposed to be honestly reviewed by that logic?

          I worked as the main contact for a variety of vendors, and left both good and bad reviews while employed and afterwards, and I find both company A and company B’s behavior extremely odd.

          Things like best in KLAS exist for a reason and require access to accurate reviews to work. For all my prior companies faults, they never required I get permission to review a company (because what?) and certainly never called me after I left to take down a negative review of a vendor they still use.

          I don’t think it matters that I worked with those vendors as an employee. As long as you follow your companies social media policies, which typically have a clause about not speaking on behalf of the company, there is not a problem here.

          1. Washi*

            It sounds like you have the complete authority to choose and change vendors. This employee did not – he went to his boss with the issues, the boss said that they did not rise to the level of terminating services and that the employee needs to make it work. I’m guessing that in this company, if they wanted to review the vendor, it would be the OP writing or at least approving the review.

            1. OP*

              It is a B2B vendor. I actually did review the contract to see if we could get out, and I authorized checking with other vendors. My inclination was to deal with it as is, but since I wasn’t the one who had to deal with the vendor regularly I was willing to do some legwork and even advocate for finding money to buy ourselves out of the contract if we couldn’t make a case for breach of contract, which it didn’t seem that we could.

              That all when belly up when the pandemic hit and those supplies weren’t needed for a while.

            2. Firecat*

              I did not have complete authority to change vendors. I was just the main liason. My managers had the ultimate say although my take was considered in renewing contracts.

    3. EventPlannerGal*

      Agreed. OP has avoided stating what this review was actually about, but unless it was something truly not for public consumption I just think… this person doesn’t work for you any longer. *You* (or your company) laid *them* off. You don’t get to control what people who you laid off do online. And giving them a poor reference after what sounds like a great period of work for you over a review… again, unless this person was airing Company B’s confidential business all over Glassdoor then this seems petty. You can still speak to the quality of the work they did while they were actually employed by you.

      1. RecoveringSWO*

        “You don’t get to control what people who you laid off do online.” I’m not a fan of Non-Disclosure Agreements (and wouldn’t actually recommend this), but if OP really wanted to prevent this, they could have paid their employee a sufficient severance fee to convince them sign an NDA. When you consider that option and the power/financial imbalance it displays, seems like giving the employee a bad reference would be an inappropriate overreaction by the OP.

    4. Xavier Desmond*

      Yeah this is one of the few times where I’ve disagreed completely with the reply from Alison. The ex employee is completely entitled to submit a negative review provided it is a) accurate and b) doesn’t claim to be on the company where she was employed previously. The OP imo has no standing to threaten consequences such as a bad reference for this.

      1. Mel_05*

        It’s not about holding the bad reference over the employees head. It’s just… can the OP give as enthusiastic a reference now? Or does it need to be tempered with, “This employee did good work for us, but also almost ruined a relationship with our vendor when they left”

        I understand the employee’s feelings about not wanting to take it down. If it were me, I would be pretty annoyed that I got laid off and then was being asked to take it down.

        But. I also get where the manager is coming from.

        1. Gray Lady*

          Not “when they left,” “after they left.” What someone who does not work for you does has no bearing on how they performed their job, when they did, and someone who does not work for you owes you nothing beyond the normal claims of honesty and fairness. This should not be an issue. Does it maybe rankle emotionally? I can see that. Should it interfere with objectively reviewing the employee’s work? No.

          1. OP*

            Gray Lady, I think I noted before that they were still on payroll, though had wrapped up their last day in the office. Upon leaving they took pains to say they wanted to be helpful to us later on if they could. So I was surprised when presented with a way to be helpful they didn’t (and I’d never made any request before).

            Anyways, I was not threatening consequences of any sort. I was trying to work out for myself what an appropriate response was, and if this was the sort of thing that could affect a reference. Hence the asking for advice! I’ve gotten what I needed anyways, and a positive reference will be had.

            1. Firecat*

              You’ve done this a few times, but just because you opted to pay this persons severance by “keeping them on payroll” instead of a lump sum on the way out really doesn’t give you anymore say in how they conduct their time.

              Would you have objected to them working another full time job in this time? If not then you should treat the review the same way.

              It also sounds like you don’t like this vendor – what’s the incentive for you to go through all this effort to please them?

            2. Xavier Desmond*

              I used the phrase ‘threatening with a bad reference’ in my previous comment which was probably worded too harshly. As you say, you were asking for advice on how to handle the situation not demanding your former employees head on a platter!

            3. surprisedcanuk*

              I’ve noticed you mention “Upon leaving they took pains to say they wanted to be helpful to us later on if they could. ” that’s just something people say to be polite/nice.

          2. Malarkey01*

            But a reference also encompasses their judgement, integrity, personality and I a reference there is t a clear cut line that anything after they leave can’t be mentioned. I once had an employee that quit and then came back to the building a few weeks later to pee on it. That’s an extreme example, but that is not someone who would get a good reference from me because that behavior isn’t normal or acceptable.
            Someone making online comments of activities that occurred while a representative of the company is fair game for future employers to know.

            The question isn’t what CAN a former employee do, but what are the consequences of doing a certain action.

            1. Firecat*

              Someone making online comments of activities that occurred while a representative of the company is fair game for future employers to know.

              Do you feel the same way about glassdoor? Every single review on that site is about “times when the reviewer was a representative of the company”.

              To be frank if one of my applicants references had said “they did amazing work but they left us a truthful but negative review on glass door and wouldn’t take it down even though I asked them to. Thought you should know!”

              I’d think that manager is an insufferable ass.

    5. Parenthesis Dude*

      I agree with you 100%.

      What strikes me is that the vendors behavior seems to be appropriate, while the manager’s behavior is crazy. I mean, it makes sense for the vendor to reach out and see if there’s an issue and how to fix it. I note that they didn’t tell the manager that if the review wasn’t pulled, they’d stop working with the non-profit.

    6. designbot*

      It’s about the judgement: that former employee is showing that they don’t know how to separate business from personal, and they’re jeapardizing their former employer’s business relationships in order to state their personal views on this company.
      I would probably tell them, ok, that’s your call. But you should know that it puts my view of your time here in a rather different light, that you would sabotage one of our vendor relationships like this, and it would need to come up in a reference if anyone called me for one.

      1. Firecat*

        As someone who who was a “vendor liason” for 5 years I completely disagree that the mere act of leaving a poor review about a vendors services or behavior while you were a client is failing to separate personal and professional.

        I see no issues with judgement here.

        The facts we ave from op are:
        The review is true
        The review was after the employee was laid off*
        The true review is bad enough that vendor has lost potential clients.
        The employee used their personal name in the review.

        We can infer that:
        The employee didn’t speak on behalf of his former company since OP sites their main concern is the employee leaving their name on the review.

        I see no lapse of professional judgement here or a failure to separate business from personal.

  7. Malarkey01*

    #5 I was confused by the LW with the internal job opportunity. When you state you won’t be mentioning the interview unless you accept the job, do you mean you won’t give your manager a heads up when you apply? While it totally makes sense to keep a job search quiet from your current company, when it’s an internal job that’s not typically possible. Internal moves are usually covered by office policies and one of he first things the hiring manager will do is reach out to their colleagues (your current bosses) to get a read on whether you’d be a good fit and worth considering. I’d recommend telling your boss you want to throw your hat into the ring for the new position as you think it’s an exciting g opportunity and you’re ready for advancement/new challenge/whatever is exciting about new position.

    1. LemonLyman*

      Agreed! If you’re in the running, it’s possible (maybe even likely) that the hiring manager would reach out to your current boss for a reference. And you don’t want your boss finding out from anyone but you.

      Also check your employee handbook. Many companies require a sign-off from your current boss to apply for internal positions.

    2. Buzz*

      My company usually does two interviews, and for internal hiring we only ask that people give their line manager a heads up if they’re called for a second interview. References are only done when considering extending an offer.

      Not everyone has a positive relationship with their line manager, and don’t necessarily want them to know that they’re considering leaving the team until later in the process.

    3. Princess Flying Hedgehog*

      I work for a large university and am job seeking within the institution, but looking to move to a completely different unit. I will not let my supervisor know unless I get to the final stages. On the internal application, I am able to check that my manager does not know about the application.

    4. Putting the "pro" in "procrastinate"*

      Yes, I had the same reaction to the letter, and I would recommend to #5 that you find out what your company’s process is for internal transfers. At my company, you don’t just apply to the job the way an external candidate would. You start by having a conversation with the hiring manager and then, if you decide to move forward, with your own manager. You can ask the hiring manager to keep your interest confidential if you decide not to move forward, but once you decide to apply, the hiring manager is absolutely going to talk to your manager. It’s not like applying for an outside job, where you can wait until you have the offer in hand and just give your manager two-weeks’ notice.

    5. Resting B Face*

      If you are interviewing internally, you should assume that your boss and your team are going to hear about it. At least give your boss a heads-up. You want to make sure they hear it from you, not the grapevine. If you try to keep it hush hush, they are likely to hear in the most awkward way. (Ask me how I know-have the t shirt)

  8. fhqwhgads*

    #4 I don’t disagree with your take on your employer’s stance, but also please please please please please don’t go to another household for Thanksgiving. Your employer is going about this all in an exceptionally stupid way by having people who could work from home come in at all during this whole thing. So they lose major credibility there. But the desire to disincentive people going to gatherings next week is a good impulse. Their method of doing is stupid. Their policies to this point are stupid. But seriously December is going to be a massacre with the number of people planning to gather next week. Don’t do it. Just don’t do it.

      1. Mainely Professional*

        The safety of pods is really questionable. Hence the recent order in Minnesota barring people from socializing outside of their household. It’s unfortunate that their employer refuses to let employees that could safely work from home do so, but they aren’t out of line in requiring them to quarantine, pod or no pod.

        1. doreen*

          I don’t understand the safety of pods being questionable simply based on people living in different households if all other behavior is the same. I mean, if my son and daughter are living in my household and my husband and I have contact with them everyday, I’m really not sure how that’s safer than if we live in three different places, and I see my son every weeks and my daughter every couple of weeks but never both at the same time. If my pod is 30 people , that different but it’s also not all that realistic in the US to have 30 people in the same household.

          1. Mainely Professional*

            The safety of pods is questionable because of Occam’s Razor: entities need not multiply themselves unnecessarily. The simplest solution (to stay home and see no one) is the safest/most correct one.

            Your ability to set pod rules is not as strong as you think. Let’s say you set a rule in your pod that you can only go to the grocery store, gas station, and pharmacy. You go to the drive-thru pharmacy, your sister goes inside it–a place where there are likely to be sick people! Different behavior. You always sanitize your hands, and you never remove your mask once you put it on until you are done being in contact with others. If you have to remove your mask you then wash your hands and replace it with a fresh clean one. Your sister takes her (same) mask on and off as needed, using and reusing it throughout the day.* But during your pod check in both you and your sister can say “I only went to the pharmacy and grocery this week, and I wore a mask each time.”

            1. doreen*

              I absolutely understand that the safest thing for me to do is live alone, stay home and see no one. That wasn’t my question. Using your example of my sister, who uses the same mask all day, taking it on and off as needed and who goes into the pharmacy instead of using the drive-through – how is that safer if that same sister with that same behavior lives in my household? That’s my question.

              1. Ashley*

                If you are in the same household you are already exposed on a daily level to your sisters germs. If she is in a different household the exposure level is different. This big problem is exposure in households is huge and if one household member gets it another household member risk of getting it is greatly increased.
                Cross households and the number of people at risk goes up.

                1. Anononon*

                  It really depends on the situation. I was staying with my parents for most of quarantine, but now I’m living alone. I still see my parents regularly because the only difference is the tiny bit of travel between us now. In fact, they’re the only people I;ve seen since I moved (I mostly do delivery).

            2. Mr. Jingles*

              I find it funny how people claim a procedure thats forbidden to be forced on prisoners in most civilised countries is considered ˋsafe‘.
              While I agree that people should limit their contacts to avoid superspreading let’s remember that you can die from a number of things and not just corona. Complete isolation is a dangerous thing and for health reasons it is important to weigh the corona-risk against the also massive health risk that comes with depression and lack of interaction which is also detrimental for your physical health. This employer is absolutely unreasonable to force such nonsense on people without any regard for circumstances.
              My husband and I don’t celebrate thanksgiving. But we will visit my mom at the birthday of my deceased father. We will also visit her at Christmas and also allow her to visit in between for the simple reason she already tried to kill herself twice when he died. Once on his birthday in November and once on the first Christmas without him. She will do so again when she’s isolated and with no one there to visit her there would be no way to prevent that. Letting her go to live in an assisted living or a facility would be a much higher risk than having contact with us regularly. Those institutes are death traps during corona. So lets remember: all people have different vulnerabilities and different needs and there is no one size fits all solution in this crisis. Whats helpful for one can be quite deadly for another. Punishing people just for visiting during holidays is wrong. Especially since there is no proof at all that this is automatically a higher risk in general. It depends on the situation. If for example a family of five meets on a big property, everybody staying apart from each other, meetings and gatherings mostly outside, keeping their distance, the risk is much smaller for everybody then lets say two people living together, being forced into different offices everyday traveling to work by bus or subway twice a day. So what the employer should do is let them work from home! If they’d really care to avoid Corona they wouldn’t force them to meet a ton of people in enclosed office rooms or during commute without much control of safe distances and other peoples behaviour ! Forcing people to accommodate their private life during a few days while on the other side endangering them day by day is nothing else but power play on their part.

            3. Kitty*

              I’ve never really understood the pod thing.

              If your pod people are all completely isolated with no contact with the outside world then great. But if you all are still grocery shopping, isn’t that still a risk? Every time you engage with the outside world, you are risking infection to a greater or lesser degree. I’m not saying that we should all stay at home and lock our doors, but I think the pod idea gives this false sense of security. Close contact with other households is always going to be a risk if they aren’t totally isolating from every other person.

              1. Lana Kane*

                Yes, a pod works best if no one is going anywhere except each others’ homes. Also, you just don’t know if someone in your pod did something risky without your knowledge – it doesnt even have to be a malicious thing. Someone could just consider something “not risky” when it truly is. Case in point – the discussion happening here between those who do things one way, and those who do things another way.

              2. juliebulie*

                Pods can hugely simplify contact-tracing.

                Otherwise, I agree the true benefit of pods is highly conditional on a lot of things that aren’t necessarily examined closely enough.

        2. Malarkey01*

          There’s a great Venn diagram out there labeled “Who you Think is in Your Pod versus Who is Actually in Your Pod”. It’s especially true when those pods have kids. Contact tracers have talked a lot about the pod effect and how it’s increased contacts and riskier behavior.

          1. Artemesia*

            My granddaughter was in a ‘pod camp’ all summer with a friend’s nanny supervising the kids. Went great. Recently that family’s babysitter tested positive for COVID. Luckily the family didn’t get it but it demonstrated that even thoughtful pods have links that increase risk. It is like all those demonstrations of how STDs spread — it doesn’t take a lot of contact to increase risk.

      2. Blarg*

        This is a person who has been going to the office continuously all this time, says “when people started to travel again” which is actually not a thing that has happened for most people, and then says she “has to” leave (town) for thanksgiving. I feel like people working in companies that have dismissed standard measures like requiring WFH from people who can have skewed their perceptions of normal. Traveling isn’t normal right now. You do not have to celebrate this holiday while physically with other people. Your employer sucks for making you come to the office and treating you this way. But please reset what is normal and what is prudent and kind.

        – a person who also lives alone and is celebrating the holiday by myself cause I don’t want to kill any of my loved ones (and that is NOT hyperbole. That’s what we’re dealing with)

        1. Mainely Professional*

          I think that’s right. I’m struggling here because the company is really sending mixed messages. I.e. it acknowledges that people should quarantine when they do something risky (and NOT NORMAL) like travel or visit with people outside their household. But they won’t let them work from home. It’s like company is trying to establish the workers themselves as a pod but …that’s not a thing. Anyway, LW#4 save a life, stay home.

        2. Haha Lala*

          I’m not the OP, but I’ve been working in the office again since this summer (after 2 months of WFH) and some of my coworkers absolutely did start traveling once restrictions started loosening. I’m in the Midwest, but people in my office were traveling the Florida, east coast, all over— and of course, it was the same people not taking mask wearing and social distancing seriously. That’s all to say, it was a terrible idea for people to travel, but they still did it anyway.

          Also, I interpreted that as the OP was planning to leave their house to celebrate the holiday, not leave town.

        3. Keymaster of Gozer*

          I still don’t know what I’m doing about Christmas. I know my in laws will be extremely offended and upset if we don’t go there…but they are also inviting all their grandchildren and that’s 16 children plus 8 additional adults.

          But..I’ve seen friends die to this virus this year. Healthy people with no underlying issues just gone. May have to try and work them on the idea of shared video screen or something. (My side of the family is ‘don’t come here, just phone’).

          1. Bagpuss*

            Well, your in laws can be offended but they can’t force you to go.

            I’d present it to them as of course you want to see them but you are confident that they would never want to put their grandchildren at risk, and you and your spouse would never forgive yourselves if they were to get sick or die as a result of you infecting them, so you won’t be able to go/

          2. KHB*

            I say this with the privilege of not having to deal with your in-laws, but from where I sit, anyone who’s so oblivious to what’s going on out there that they’d be “extremely offended and upset” at anyone who declined to join in their gathering of 25+ people loses all rights to consideration of their feelings.

            Stay home, y’all. Celebrate a belated Christmas in the spring, once we’re clear of the worst of this. Postponing your big party for a few months won’t kill you. But obstinately insisting on holding it very well might.

            1. tangerineRose*

              This! “anyone who’s so oblivious to what’s going on out there that they’d be “extremely offended and upset” at anyone who declined to join in their gathering of 25+ people loses all rights to consideration of their feelings.”

          3. Chris*

            Stay strong and don’t give in and risk your safety and the safety of others just to avoid upsetting people who do not have the proper regard for how serious this pandemic is. I am a people pleaser by nature so I know how hard it is, but I keep reminding myself that making someone upset is not the end of the world.

          4. londonedit*

            Yeah, you’ve got to stick to your guns. If your in-laws are really going to be that upset about people not wanting to attend a gathering of 16-odd people this year, then they’re ridiculous.

            Personally I’ve solved the problem by decamping to my parents’ house – I’m a single-person household so they’re my one fixed ‘support bubble’ household. None of us have been going anywhere anyway, I drove myself to their house the day after second lockdown was announced, I’ll be staying here until January, and there are fewer than six of us in the group who would usually celebrate Christmas together so we’re all fine. I’m lucky that I can work from anywhere so I was able to do that, and lucky that I don’t have a large extended family – if I did, I’d have to make some tough choices about who I wouldn’t be able to see.

          5. Artemesia*

            My parents were ‘extremely offended’ if we would do other things without them in the area when we visited from across the country e.g. visit friends etc. THen I noticed that my brother would spent a couple of days with the folks then go elsewhere with friends, visit his inlaws etc. He just DID it. And being the only begotten son nothing was said about it. So I started doing the same thing and for us at least a fait acompli works just fine. ‘WE’d love to come but we aren’t comfortable with the uptick in COVID and so we are postponing family visits until after we have the vaccine.’ Then don’t discuss further. Bet people deal with it fine. Hope they don’t all get it — our teen nephew is really sick from it — doesn’t just affect the old. He was in school as well as working at a grocery store.

        4. EPLawyer*

          Right there with you Blarg.

          When I was single, I always celebrated the holiday alone, even without a pandemic. It can be done.

          OP, you can order in (even for one) some great Thanksgiving meals, so many places are offering them. Or do what I did, make this the day to have the food you REALLY like, not necessarily the traditional stuff (which most of it is not something I like). Sleep in. Do nothing all day or do that one project you always meant to get to when you had the time.

          Travel is not a good idea right now. Your company is being stupid and I agree that if you are taking PTO anyway don’t work. BUT, the concept of not traveling for the holiday is a good one.

          1. Cthulhu's Librarian*

            Can we please not minimize the social isolation people (whether single or otherwise) might be dealing with right now, simply because it worked fine for ourselves when it was a choice in the past?

            I haven’t had a chance to eat a meal with another human being in the last 8 months. The social isolation, anxiety, and depression this pandemic is causing me is borderline mind shattering. Like nothing I’ve ever felt before. And I remember being ostracized from the local community for being an atheist as a kid, so I’ve gone through something at least a bit akin to this before.

            I consider myself an introvert, typically… but you don’t want to know some of the things I’ve thought and been feeling of late. I’ve spent the last ~8 months being responsible about this situation, for the good of everyone else, and now, after every decided to throw Halloween parties because no governor was willing to cancel that holiday, I can’t see just my parents or sibling for one of the two major holidays of the year I celebrate?

            It won’t mean just not seeing them now. It’ll mean the earliest I can hope to eat any single meal with another human being is probably sometime in the spring or summer of next year… and that assumes everyone else actually is good about following things this time (spoiler alert – they won’t be)

            So… please, remember that it’s not just about the food that can be ordered from somewhere, or whether or not you can make the day special to yourself somehow. There’s a lot more that people who might be trying to make a decision on what to do for their holidays might be going through, and factoring into their decisions.

            1. Anon for this*

              Yes, agreed. Someone else on this blog posted a comment a few months ago about how each of us has a risk budget and we have to decide how to spend it. Part of that includes the risk of COVID but part of it is risk in other areas. Bluntly put, I and many people I know have a current mental health status of shattered. The long-term isolation and losing the things we care about left and right is taking a huge toll on… well, pretty much everyone, but that pain is spread out unevenly. Years of health consequences from trying to find a way to rebuild mental health that has been shattered by extreme isolation, grief, and loss is a risk to be considered along with the risk of years of consequences from Long COVID. If you die from depression, you’re just as dead as if you die from COVID. We have a tendency in the US to elevate physical safety above everything and to believe that protecting that safety is so valuable that we should accept any sacrifice, no matter how extreme, to be physically safe. I’m from the US, I GET that idea, but other things matter too, both short- and long-term.

              To talk about the issue at hand, in some ways it would be safer to have no contact with any other humans for an extended period of time. If the entire planet had managed to completely isolate themselves for 4 weeks back in February, then none of this year’s pandemic insanity would have happened. But it’s also been 8+ months of dealing with this, and we all have to find ways to cope and make it through. Having a huge Thanksgiving party with your 30 closest family members is indeed a bad choice this year. But there’s a big difference between that and the OP saying that she’s getting together with the 3 other family members from her pod. Likewise, while it’s true that there will be increased risk from seeing non-household members, that’s something that she (or other people in this thread) can look at as a carefully accepted risk that is also weighing out the other risks (including the dangers of extreme isolation) and deciding what is the best course of action.

              (As a note, I say this as someone whose household has been pretty strict about our quarantine the 8+ months, has been careful, masked, and socially distant, following CDC guidelines as best as possible [with the exceptions generally related to work, not personal socialization]. I’m not brushing this off or not taking it seriously. But we also need to take other things seriously, including mental health and the toll this is taking on people around the world. Shaming the OP – or other people in her shoes – for not locking themselves up alone in their houses/apartments/etc. indefinitely is not going to help.)

              1. pancakes*

                Why pretend anyone suggested the letter writer lock themselves up alone indefinitely? No one here said or suggested that. No reputable epidemiologists have suggested that. At the same time, you’re claiming that the risks associated with working in this office can be carefully worked into the letter writer’s calculations as to how risky it is to see their family socially, when in fact that’s simply not possible: The letter writer does not and cannot know the risks their coworkers are taking when not at work.

              2. Amykins*

                The thing is, this is not just a personal risk calculation. Every time you expose yourself to another person right now, you’re not just risking your own health, but you’re risking their health and the health of everyone they come in contact with – including probably plenty of people who don’t have a choice about how to set their own personal risk threshold, like service workers who will starve or be evicted without their paycheck, or medical professionals.

                I’m not saying no one should ever take any risks – obviously that’s not possible anyway. And I don’t want to minimize the mental health impact, because I know that’s huge. But we all need to stop framing this as a personal decision about your own risk tolerance – it’s just not.

        5. Marie*

          Hi Blarg- this is LW #4. When I say people have started to travel again, I mean a lot of my coworkers I am forced to be around. I also live in Texas. If anyone in Texas reads this, you can agree a lot of people are acting like COVID doesn’t exist. I explained further up the thread with more details, but I did not say leave town. My parents and sister live on my street and I meant walk to their house. They only see me and I only see them outside of me going to work. Like you, I live alone. This wasn’t a question about my holiday plans, since I am not going to be around anyone I am not around everyday anyway. And if you’re going to say I still shouldn’t see them this one day of the week and all the others, I get tested at minimum once a week just for extra precaution.

          1. pancakes*

            This can’t be right, can it? Even in the unlikely event your parents and sister have all entirely avoiding going to shops, dr. appointments, etc., it’s not correct as to you because you are seeing other people at work. The people you spend time around at work aren’t non-people for contract tracing purposes. There’s an opinion piece in today’s NYT titled, “I Traced My Covid-19 Bubble and It’s Enormous.” You should maybe read it.

            1. pancakes*

              I want to clarify, my point here isn’t specifically about Thanksgiving. The virus itself isn’t going to behave differently that one day on account of it being a holiday, so I don’t think focusing on it is sensible or worthwhile.

              1. Marie*

                I agree with what you’re saying. My point was just that I see those 3 people every single day and as far as I know they also see no one else. So, Thanksgiving is no different. I’ll read the article though. Sounds interesting at least.

                1. pancakes*

                  They are “seeing” other people indirectly by way of you. I’m not sure the risk here is quantifiable in a comparable way because you don’t who your coworkers are seeing.

                2. pancakes*

                  I also want to add, if you read the article, also take note of the comment from the doctor featured in it, who wrote a bit about her work and concluded, “I can’t help feeling you’re making a mockery of our sacrifices.”

                3. JJ*

                  Right, but you seem to maybe have a blind spot about your own exposure, you’re going into the office! So you’re exposed to however many employees, plus their friends, family, the people who do their nails, their Uber drivers, plumbers, and whatever other boundary-pushing is happening. I would bet they are seeing more people than you think.

                  PLEASE be careful. I’m in TX too and am not even going to do any “it’s just 8 people! We’ll be outside the whole time! The yard is big!” gatherings. One mean is just not worth it vs. the prospect of losing those people.

      3. Anon for this*

        As a general response to the various comments on pods: There are two issues that I feel aren’t being addressed by the anti-pod people. One is that we can’t have that perfect purity of a safe option. Except for 100% self-sufficient cabin-dwelling hermits with no human contact (which is…. a limited percentage of the world’s population, to say the least), ALL of us have some level of COVID risk. We each have to decide how to deal with unavoidable risks and what risks we are willing to take a chance on but everyone in the world right now is making those decisions one way or another, and saying “no pods!” isn’t going to stop that. Issue two is that many anti-pod debaters are wanting to limit contact with others to what they consider strictly necessary, but they are not recognizing that social interaction is a necessity. Studies of people at every age show that loneliness and isolation can cause severe health issues including everything from failure to thrive in infants and young children to significantly increased risks of dementia, stroke, heart disease, and early death. (One study that I found indicated that socially isolated men have a 90% increased risk of cardiovascular death and more than double the risk of dying through accident or suicide. Even if these numbers aren’t perfect, that’s a HUGE affect on our overall health.) As Mr. Jingles alluded to below, solitary confinement is considered torture. There is a reason for this. So saying that we can interact with people for essential needs like groceries but not for social reasons is missing how essential social interaction is for us. And as we all know, this isn’t a quick thing; we’ve been doing this for 8 months now. This isn’t a case of staying home for a week or two to make sure we’re not contagious, and going back out into the world.

        As to the point of pods, as someone who is a member of a small pod with a similar make-up to the OP’s pod (5 members, 4 of us working from home, one an essential worker who is more high-risk), here’s my take on it. First of all, this is still a huge reduction in contacts. During my normal life in the Before Times, between church (100-200 people); Favorite Hobby (30-50 people); Choir/Seasonal performance (30-50 people); and work (50 people), I saw up to 350 people from outside my household in some capacity on a weekly basis; obviously I wasn’t interacting with every single one of them closely, but at least 200 per week were people I’d interact with in ways that would be considered risky now (hugging, staying w/i 6 feet for more than 5 minutes, singing together). Now, the number of people I interact with that closely outside of my household is: 2. There have been arguments in this thread that it’s incredibly risky for even that tiny amount of people, but the reduction in risk is enormous.

        Some people have been arguing that the OP doesn’t have a 4-person pod, she has a 4-person-plus-all-her-co-workers pod. I can understand that argument, and it’s true that she is the highest risk person in the group (at the highest risk of bringing COVID into the group). But the interaction with her co-workers is not the same as with her 3 family members. It sounds like she is trying to keep appropriate distance from the co-workers; she’s not going into their houses or inviting them into hers; she isn’t hugging them; etc. They are more likely to pass on COVID than a random stranger in the grocery store, but not the same level of closeness as her family.

        And, honestly…. I know that in my pod we have all carefully and regularly discussed the potential risks and dangers, and have all decided that we are willing to accept them. From the OP’s comments, it appears that she and her family have done the same. Does it have the same feeling of safe purity as if she didn’t see anyone but her co-workers? No. Does it increase the risk for her family members? Yes. But between being completely isolated for the duration of the pandemic, and agreeing willingly with 3 other adults to assume that risk with eyes open is one way to be responsible about both physical and mental health during a very difficult time.

        1. Anon for this*

          Here are a couple of links to the health affects of loneliness and isolation:



          https://thebrain.mcgill.ca/flash/capsules/histoire_bleu06.html (failure to thrive in children)

          https://www.newportacademy.com/resources/mental-health/effects-of-social-isolation-on-mental-health/ (effects on teenagers)

          1. pancakes*

            The solution to this right now is to increase mental health services and find ways to care for one another safely, not simply abandon social distancing because it feels bad.

            1. Anon for this*

              You seem to have a blind spot as to your behavior and comments in this area. I generally appreciate what you have to say in most areas, but on this particular subject you just Will. Not. Consider. Any. Other. Options. This may well not be convincing for you, but the mental health care provider that I have been seeing for the last several months has encouraged me, as a form of mental health care, to make choices like having my quarantine pod and interacting with the people in that pod in person. Because it turns out that a large part of mental health care in dealing with severe isolation and profound loneliness is…. spending time with other humans. (I will add that said mental health care provider is taking the pandemic seriously, encouraging appropriate precautions, etc.) I’m guessing you were thinking more along the lines of medications and Zoom therapy sessions when you said “mental health services”, and I 100% agree that those are important, BUT my medically trained, professional care provider has repeatedly told me that an important part of maintaining mental health right now is seeing my quarantine pod-mates. So there you go; the verdict of someone who is trained in this area.

              (As a side note, dismissing social isolation and its consequences [which as I will remind you, include significantly higher risks of dementia, stroke, heart disease, accidents, suicide, and other early death – remember the 90% increased rate of death through cardiovascular disease!] as “it feels bad” is dismissive and derogatory of mental health in the extreme. And your post I am responding to continues to fall into the all or nothing, black or white view of social interactions which has nothing to do with what I – or the OP – is referring to. Seeing the same 2-3 people outside your household as a member of a quarantine pod, the specific coping strategy that we are referring to, is vastly different than “simply abandon[ing] social distancing”, as you imply. There is a world of difference between that and, say, refusing to wear a mask while going to large dance parties and hugging all of your friends at your church service each week.)

              1. pancakes*

                If you have high regard for and trust in the wisdom of your health care provider’s guidance—which I don’t have any visibility into either way—why do you want validation or agreement from me? A rhetorical question.

                This last comment of yours is considerably more nuanced than simply listing links to articles about the dangers of isolation. I don’t think it’s quite fair to accuse me of being dismissive of those dangers when you (and others who’ve raised them here) aren’t articulating exactly how or where you think these dangers should shape public policy. I agree they very much should. The context here, however, has tended to be that simply referring to them should encourage people like me to be more accepting of & friendlier toward people who are making risky plans for the holidays. I also think it’s misleading to refer to the letter writer’s situation as a pod because, as many of us have pointed out, they aren’t in fact limiting their social contact to a small group of their family & closest friends – they cannot, because their employer continues to force workers to come to the office in person. Clearly this is not their choice, and it sucks, and it’s bad for the entire community, but pretending it’s safer than it is (or comparable to situations involving fewer and closer people) doesn’t make it so.

    1. Double A*

      Also, it’s really no ok that the company people demand that many households get together daily at work when it’s not essential, but then police people’s behavior outside of work in such a heavy handed way. (Though it is the responsible thing for individuals to forgo Thanksgiving outside their bubble this year).

      1. Thankful for AAM*

        Agree with Double A.
        The company is forcing OP to be in a pod of coworkers but then wants to control their other interactions.

        I feel for the OP as I had to physically go to work for months but could do 100% of my job at home. Now we are open and I need to provide coverage so I have to be there.

        The employer’s goal to prevent travel is good but they want it both ways.

      2. Marie*

        Thank you double A- This is letter writer #4 and was more of my point. I am not leaving my bubble, but I know this will just lead to half the company lying and traveling anyway.

        1. pancakes*

          The important question, then, isn’t so much about whether you’re leaving your bubble but what you’re bringing to their homes by way of your coworkers.

          1. Marie*

            hey pancakes- I fully get this. And that’s why I get tested once or twice a week. Ideally, since my job could be done remotely, I would be working from home. Since my current company is refusing to let me do this, it’s not my choice. I’m not sure what your point is. I think we all understand how exposure works.

            1. pancakes*

              I don’t think many people do understand. I won’t keep banging on about it, but I’m not sure you understand that routine testing isn’t an effective substitute for social distancing, either.

              1. AY*

                You’ve got comments up and down this thread haranguing this LW. You’ve basically accused this LW of making a mockery of the medical profession’s sacrifices. I’m pretty sure you’ve expressed your point of view.

                1. pancakes*

                  I disagree that I’m haranguing anyone at all. The doctor’s comment was directed at Farhad Manjoo, the author of the NYT article. If other people find it fitting as to their own behavior, that’s probably worth thinking about.

                2. Anon Lawyer*

                  Yeah, no. This is haranguing and it’s wrong. And frankly, you’ve been doing this for months and it’s made the comments section of this blog borderline unreadable. Literally zero authorities have said that people should have isolated themselves alone in their houses for 8 months and yet every single time someone says they’re not doing that, you attack them. And then you say “why are you saying I said you should isolate yourself for 8 months? I didn’t say that!” Yes, you did. And you have been saying that for months. Stop it.

                  My daughter and I will be having Thanksgiving dinner with my parents. This is entirely in compliance with our governor’s instructions, which is what we can mingle with one other household and no fewer than a total of six people. Could someone die because I have Thanksgiving dinner with my parents? Technically, yes. That doesn’t give you the right to harangue people like me for following reasonable instructions from a reasonable authority.

                3. pancakes*

                  Anon Lawyer, these accusations are pretty over-the-top. There seem to be many hundreds of people who routinely find these comments very readable, for starters, and I have not in fact told anyone to isolate in their house for 8 months, today or any other day. Alison has said on numerous occasions that if people think a particular comment should be moderated, they should bring it to her attention. It sounds like you’ve been wanting to do that for months, and are now extremely angry in part because you didn’t. I suggest you do that instead of seething at me and putting words in my mouth.

            2. Sandra Dee*

              But is IS your choice to expose your family who you don’t live with, who otherwise wouldn’t be exposed to all of your coworkers and their networks. Sorry, but being safe would mean not visiting them – not just on Thanksgiving, but at all. To Pancakes’ point, testing doesn’t stop you from contracting the virus. By the time it shows up on a test, you’ve already exposed others.

              1. AY*

                LW didn’t ask you or even Allison if LW is being safe. LW asked about the legality of LW’s company policy.

    2. Cat Tree*

      Yeah, I won’t be visiting anyone for Thanksgiving and probably not Christmas either. That means I’ll spend the day alone with my cat. It’s hard, but I try to think of it long-term. By missing one year of holidays, I will hopefully have many more in years to come.

      1. Keymaster of Gozer*

        Me: I hate being at home constantly especially during the holidays

        My cat: YEY! More warm human to sleep on/give noms/get scritches from.

        (That’s how I think my cat is seeing this year. I very much applaud your last sentence)

      2. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

        I flipped it in my head. This is the first year that the pets get to spend the holidays with us. Usually they get boarded while we travel. This year they get exciting leftovers (yay!) and will be dressed up (maybe not so yay for them but definitely yay! for us)

      3. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

        I have an almost 6-month-old baby and we’ve decided to skip the family Thanksgiving. It’s hard, but I decided to make this sacrifice next year so we can all be together for the many more holidays in his future. I’m focusing on all the difficulties I was dreading about a big holiday with a baby to try to take the sting out of it!

    3. Marie*

      Hi #4 here. I should have put in more information. I completely agree that no one should be going to any big Thanksgiving. My parents and my sister live on my street and we have only seen each other since March. So I understand there are still risks with “pods” but I consider this my household.

      If I added more context to my company, I would probably get going on a huge rant, but here are some additional details. This policy has nothing to do with the spread of COVID. We were working in office during stay at home even though we can all work 100% remote. When someone at work tests positive (about 40 so far out of 300), first we need to meet with the head of legal to verify that we had “meaningful” contact with the person. And then we can leave to get tested, but must come back to the office and wait for results. In every CEO email about the spread, he mentions our work is a duty to shareholders and never mentions his duty to us. There are so many other things, but lastly I will say twice now, someone has come back from being sick with COVID and a week later they have been fired for “slacking.” The difference between these two people and the others who have come back is that they were hospitalized and therefore not working at home while testing positive.

      1. EPLawyer*

        You are job searching right?

        Also, household means people you live with. I know you want to see your Mom and your sister, but you do NOT know who they have been in contact with. You might think your pod is only 3 people, but its not. YOU are in an office that does not take Covid seriously. That means you might expose your sister and your mom. Who knows who they have been exposed to. You might be exposed from them (rather than your dangerously unsafe office).

        1. Marie*

          Yes I am job searching! Yes I do know because my mother is retired and my dad and sister work together in my parents home. I also am very close to them and know they haven’t even left for the grocery store since March. None of us have been to a restaurant or out of town. We don’t have any IRL socializing outside each other. There are no school aged kids in the family. I agree you can’t always trust a pod ( this is why I won’t see extended family or friends), but I do trust these people.

          1. Anonymouse*

            You seem to consistently be missing or ignoring this part of the point:
            “You might think your pod is only 3 people, but its not. YOU are in an office that does not take Covid seriously.”

            Your pod includes everyone in your office.

          1. Anon Lawyer*

            Right? I actually do know who my parents have been exposed to because we talk about this regularly and at great length and I trust them.

      2. That Girl from Quinn's House*

        ” we can leave to get tested, but must come back to the office and wait for results.”

        Please report your company to the health department. This is a nightmare. People who need a COVID test for exposure/symptoms should be presumed positive until proven otherwise. They should under no circumstances be in the office, spreading germs to others while they wait to find out what kind of germs they are spreading. It might actually be illegal for them to be outside their home.

      3. A Poster Has No Name*

        OMFG your employer sucks so hard. I’m sorry. I hope you can find a way out soon.

        40/300 is a pretty ridiculous number, especially for an office where people can work from home.

        1. SnappinTerrapin*

          Wow. I work in a security department at a hospital. Out of 30 officers, 7 have been off duty for a few days while waiting for test results. Two (including myself) were infected.

          40 out of 300 testing positive, in an environment that doesn’t require direct contact with covid patients is shocking, in light of the risk my team and I face daily.

          The LW seems to make rational assessments of the risk for herself and her family. After all, isolation protects us from some risks while increasing others. We each must make the best choices we can, in light of our own circumstances and needs.

          But their employer would need to “buy a vowel” if they were playing Wheel of Fortune.

    4. Anne Elliot*

      It frustrates me that companies like this do not see how detrimental these policies are to the public health. They are incentivizing their employees to lie to them about risks they are taking. A lot of people who are told, “if you travel, you have to quarantine when you return and during that time you have to work for free” will immediately think “you’re not going to know if I travel, then.” Then you’ve got people who have travelled but are coming into the office without quarantining because they are not willing to either work for free or lose vacation days for time they don’t actually want to take off. Then when COVID arrives at the work place, they can all look at each other and say, “Gosh, none of us went anywhere, yet now there’s COVID, what a big mystery this is.”

      1. Marie*

        LW 4 here- Funny enough this is exactly how the company responds. We used to get an email for each positive case so they could trace contact, but now they must not want the trail so it’s word of mouth which probably leads to people not realizing they were exposed. In each of these early emails, the writer would say “we know Kevin didn’t get COVID here. All of the cases have come from the outside”

        1. justabot*

          My work does this too. South Carolina here… it’s a completely different world/mentality than what most o you describe. I work in hospitality and am around 30 to hundreds of people each and every day. We are fully open for business and I don’t have the luxury of working from home. At my work, you are expected to come in, even if you have had contact with someone with COVID-19, unless you are showing symptoms. There are no occupancy restrictions on venues or events here. My work doesn’t dictate what we do outside of the office, but I guarantee my colleagues and managers are not limiting their social and family circle activities – any day, not just Thanksgiving.

          1. pancakes*

            A quick check indicates cases in SC are up 51% over a 2-week period and deaths are up 14%. Your business is soon going to run out of people to extinguish at this rate.

              1. pancakes*

                It’s not inaccurate, and my hope is that it will be helpful. What justabot’s employer is doing is extraordinarily dangerous and shouldn’t be normalized.

                1. justabot*

                  I don’t disagree, but the reality is that this mentality is normalized and very widespread in my area, not just my employer. We have a governor who was one of the last to shut down and the first to reopen, and lifted restrictions on festivals, concerts, events, weddings, etc. I would like to report that our business is slow, but we are seeing large crowds coming in constantly, bachelorette parties, tourists from all kinds of hot spots, or from the northeast in cities that have many restrictions – while my state basically has a “We’re Open!” welcome campaign going on. Trust me, people are traveling with no hesitation, to and from hot spots, and not wearing masks. Everything I read on this board is not playing out in my city. My PUA ended in June when my business reopened and I was offered my job back. In other states, my position would still be shut down. I don’t really go anywhere besides work and essentials, but most people I work with are out living it up. I talk to my family up north (who I will not be seeing for Thanksgiving) and feel like I’m living in an alternate universe. It’s truly a shame that basic precautions have become so politicized because that is exactly what has happened in some of these states. It’s nice for people to say, “Well stay home if you don’t feel safe” – but I have a job that can’t be done at home and I have bills to pay. Luckily we have not had an outbreak at work (yet), but I’ve been horrified to find out about coworkers who have come into work after being in close contact with someone who just tested positive. I expect South Carolina’s rates will continue to rise.

      2. sofar*

        Exactly this. The company is incentivising people to lie about (or lie by omission) about travel and possible exposure.

    5. JJ*

      Yes, thank you… “if I don’t leave for the holiday, I can’t celebrate it” is 100% the wrong attitude. You can’t celebrate *as you normally would*, that does not mean celebration is impossible! My family and I are going to just turn on our video chats and hang out all day. Try and find a less HOLIDAYS AS USUAL OR NO HOLIDAYS AT ALL compromise! In my opinion, the most loving thing we can do for our families this year is to stay away from them.

    6. Some internet rando*

      I was confused about this letter… am I understanding correctly that the company would make people work but also use vacation time at the same time? How is that legal?

      1. Marie*

        yes that’s what the company is telling us. And I wasn’t sure if it was legal and why I wrote the letter. Really had nothing to do with COVID specifically it just turned into this.

    1. allathian*

      Yeah, this. Everyone’s just going to say that they’re spending Thanksgiving with their own household and then do whatever they want and not tell the employer.

      That said, if they force people to take their quarantine days as PTO, then they shouldn’t expect any work out of the employees on those days.

      1. JustaTech*

        Seriously. PTO means paid time off, but it feels like we get a lot of letters from folks who’s managers don’t get that.
        If you don’t want people to come into the office after Thanksgiving, that’s fine. If you want them to work, then you ask for WFH. If you don’t want them to work then you can say they need to use PTO.

        But you can’t say “use your PTO *and also* WFH”. Why would you do that except to punish people?

    2. CatCat*

      This is exactly what I was thinking. It’s going to encourage both dishonesty and resentment. I can’t imagine what outcome the company is realistically expecting here.

  9. nnn*

    For #1, if you aren’t in a financial position to leave outright, what would happen if you worked fewer hours?

    The answer to this depends a lot on information that isn’t in the letter. (Are you working from home or on site? Does your work require synchronous interaction with co-workers or are you working more independently? How closely do you have to report your comings and goings?)

    But if, for example, you are working from home, what would happen if you just muted your email alerts and went to bed at midnight? (And if anyone asks, say “I’m sorry, I fell asleep. All these 17-hour days are catching up with me.”). What would happen if you took an hour in the middle of some afternoon to job hunt? What would happen if you said “I’m completely overwhelmed and just cannot accept another assignment right this moment?”

    It may or may not necessarily work – I’d imagine they could fire you or give you a bad reference – and it certainly isn’t an actual solution. But it may be a way to eke out a bit of sanity while still getting a paycheque.

    1. Batgirl*

      OP1, it’s the job itself that’s going to hurt your career, not leaving it. This isn’t a job it’s a blind alley with nowhere to lay down and rest. There is no through, there’s only reverse. Yes, it’s a cursable and time costly detour from finding what you actually need, but the longer you put off leaving, the longer the delay will be. Finding another job from this position will be either impossible or you will be doomed to make another ‘fire from the frying pan’ mistake. I’m so sorry, it really stinks they can get away with putting staff through this.

      1. Arabella*

        Hi, I am the poster of #1. Thanks for the comment. :)

        I’m commenting alot in the middle of a meeting haha.

        To nnn:
        I am working from home since day 1, and yes I am very tempted to just switch off all my notifications after work hours- however I do not want to burn any bridges since this job is through referral from a family business partner. (At this point however, I’m way past burnout , so I’ve barely done any work the whole day.)

        To Batgirl:
        Indeed, basically I feel like I’m earning my salary to probably spend a chunk of it on medical fees while I work myself sick. Its definitely hurting my health and my career – to the point where I may completely avoid my field altogether. However, I’m staying positive since its my dream job. :) looking forward to after my last day when I can finally have more than 4 hours of sleep a night.

        Thank you both again!

        1. Anne Elliot*

          Arabella, let me point out that if you are so burned out you are shutting down and not working anyway (“barely done any work the whole day”) then you are definitely better off to cut your losses with this job and move on, than to flame out on the job and potentially be moved out by the employer — and that does happen. It is way better to leave on your own terms and with your own completely justifiable explanation as to why the job didn’t work out, than to permit your inability to work 24/7 to be identified as a performance issue that may be harder to explain down the road.

    2. aka*

      There are crazy hours and then there are CRAZY hours.

      8am to 10pm six days a week, plus four hours on your “day off”? Horrendous, but if you’re making a lot of money and spend some of it on convenience, it won’t kill you.

      9am to 2am every day? Yeah, that’ll put you in the hospital. Not possible for an extended period of time.

  10. CatCat*

    #1, OMG, that is not normal. This place has got to just be churning and burning through people. It’s going to keep degrading your health. If you don’t have the financial ability to quit right now, I’d focus on building up savings as much as possible at this time so you can quit as soon as possible. Those hours are completely unsustainable. I hope you can get out soon.

    1. Stormfeather*

      Yeah, this is the sort of situation where I would risk a LOT to get out of there, MAYBE unless I was making extremely extremely great money with the plan of working there as long as I could possibly stand it and then taking the money and running. Because that falls into the “living to work, not working to live” mentality times about 100.

      1. Allonge*

        Exactly. LW, beyond your health, think of what you will be putting on your ‘achievements in the job’ list for your next resume. It’s not feasible to do any quality work like this, you are not gaining useful experience.

        If you are extremely well paid, maybe it’s worth it, with a clear exit strategy. But to be honest, even that is a stretch.

        1. Arabella*

          Hi all, thanks very much for the concern and support. :) quickly replying to as many as I can before I go back to my overtime work.

          Honestly with the kind of pressure and hours I work, no pay can compensate the health risks both physically and mentally in the long-run, thats my belief. (Also im paid sightly above the average grad salary in my country)

          I tried to stay an additional couple of months since I keep hearing that leaving your first job early will impact your ability to find a new job later on.
          Is that true?

          Thanks again!

          1. Forrest*

            That advice traps a lot of people in terrible, painful jobs. I don’t think anyone can say, “no, it never harms your chances” but it’s the balance of risk: trying to hold out as long as you can is not risk-free. In fact, it’s a clear and known harm.

            Plus, look, it’s 2020. Global pandemic. People are losing or leaving jobs all over the place for reasons wildly out of their control. I think the vast majority of employers are going to look at a short job posting that ends in “2020” and just bleep right over it.

          2. Asenath*

            I suspect sometimes yes, sometimes no. I stayed in a job (not my first one) LONG after I should have left, largely because I thought I’d never find another job or not find one before my money ran out or not find one that paid above minimum wage. Looking back, I was under so much stress I wasn’t thinking clearly. I do hate leaving something unfinished or not done well, and I exaggerated this tendency until it was completely unreasonable. Eventually I was forced out of the job due to mental health issues. And I did, in fact, find one I liked much better after I recovered, although it paid less and had less prestige. I thought it a great trade! On the other hand, a pattern of switching jobs a short time after starting them can make in difficult to find a new one. In my case, a surprising number of people said they understood and knew people who had done the same when I gave my practiced reply that I had left Job X because I felt like I needed to move in a new direction. They knew what I meant, because although it was in a different field than yours, my former job had a reputation for being very stressful.

          3. Allonge*

            In this case staying harms your ability to find a new job too, as you don’t have time to put a quality application package / cover letter / resume toghether, nor for actually looking for jobs. Not to mention the long term effects on what you consider a normal workplace.

            Of course there are no guarantees that you will be able to find a new place fast. But this job is not sustainable. Try to get out as soon as you can, and good luck!

          4. Doing math*

            since you work 3x as much as a normal full timer, youll have a whole year of experience in 4 months lol

  11. A.N. O'Nyme*

    LW4, do you happen to live in a state where unpaid PTO has to be paid out at the end of the year or does your company normally allow for PTO to roll over? (I’m not in the US so I have no idea how this all works) Because to me this sounds like a way to get people to use their PTO. Whether that will actually work is another thing (as mentioned above, this will likely lead to people lying about their holidays instead).

    1. Marie*

      LW 4 here. No they don’t pay out or roll over, but I do agree I think it’s a way to get us to take it. I agree, I think it will just lead to lying unfortunately.

  12. Fried Eggs*

    #1 – This is not normal! So not normal that a lot of advice out there won’t apply to your situation.

    Don’t worry about standard advice like:

    – “Don’t quit a job until you have another one lined up.” Working those hours won’t allow you to do a thoughtful job search, and you could end up in another terrible job just trying to get away. Even if you find a great new job, you’ll be too burned out from your old one to excel in it. You’ll be looking for a job that isn’t like this. So you can just say in interviews that the workload was astronomically high, so you wanted to take a step back to free up bandwidth to look for a job that’s more sustainable, because you want to find somewhere you can stay for a long time.

    – “Talk to your manager/try to fix it before you do something drastic like leaving.” It sounds like you already tried this and the job isn’t going to change, but even if it did, it wouldn’t matter. It’s too late. Even if the workload drops drastically, you’re probably already too burned out for it to make a difference.
    Personal anecdote time: I once did a job where half the year was crazy busy (by which I mean working 60-70 hours/week), and then for like 4 months the workload was extremely light. I figured those four months would allow me to recover from the stress, but I was still so burned out at the end of them, I had to quit. And you’re working so much more than I was. And it doesn’t seem like you’ll even get that kind of slow period.

    This kind of job has to be paying you a LOT of money for it to be worth it, even for a short time. And maybe not even then.

    Your mental health is more important than your career, and nobody’s mental health can withstand this pressure. Even if you have colleagues who seem like they can, they are probably suffering privately.

    1. Arabella*

      Hi Fried Eggs,

      Thank you for your comment. This and others have definitely provided me with the push I need to just hand in my notice and not feel any guilt.

      At first I feel very unsure since my coworkers seem to be handling the workload and pressure just fine, and I kept thinking it was just me being incompetent at my job. (But then again, everyone in my team has worked at least a year and a half)

      I’m sad to hear that you’ve also had a terrible job experience, and I hope you’re in a much better situation now. :(

      How did you talk with your manager about your intentions to leave? And how long did you stay at that job?

      Thank you again. :)

      1. Forrest*

        It’s *possible* that it’s the kind of job where with another six months’ experience you’d be able to bring the workload down to 12 hours days. There are lots of high-status jobs where very long hours are expected at the junior stages when you’re going through a massive learning curve, and where a huge part of succeeding in the job is learning to say no, push back on expectations, do just-enough rather than perfection, or that it simply gets easier because you’ve so much (painfully acquired!) background knowledge to draw on and you’re not learning a hundred new things with every task.

        But like, even things like like the first few years of law, investment banking and medicine tend to average out at 80-90 hour weeks – which means that some weeks are 60-70, and some are 100-110. You’re at the stage where if you cut your working hours by a third, you’d *still* be doing twice a 40-hour week!

        You also don’t seem to have a manager who is willing to work with you to figure out how to get to that point. “I am regularly working from 9-2am” should trigger major alarm bells in any manager’s head. At an absolutely minimum, even if you’re in the kind of industry where that is an expectation, you should have got reassurance that it’s a very short-term thing and that things will calm down a LOT within a matter of weeks. The fact that your manager seemed to think this is a perfectly sustainable situation is one of the most alarming things here.

        1. Arabella*

          Hi Forrest,

          Thanks for your reply. :)
          I highly doubt this is the case, as all my coworkers around me are also working insane hours, and somehow they just take it and stay up every single night until the jobs are done – regardless of how long they’ve been in the company.

          My current project consists of many, many tasks. (For example, one of them almost 200 test cases that I was expected to complete alone, along with the daily workload that takes up to 5 hours or more a day within about 2 weeks.)

          They were mad when I didnt finish everything on time, but Once I had that breakdown, they assigned one person to help me and then piled more workload. All of this is just for one project and consists of endless testing of the same thing while the manager keeps adding complexity after the end of the workday. (So we have to start from scratch yet again).

          As we speak now, I have about 90+ testings i am expected to finish by tonight, which i barely did 6 due to other workload and server issues. I also have testings I have to do this weekend, and everything is due Monday.

          Since I’m a newer employee, I’m not sure if this is the expected workload for someone in a project.

      2. EventPlannerGal*

        Oh man, I hope you get out of there soon, OP. Systems like this maintain themselves partially because they rely on nobody wanting to admit that they are struggling. Do you think you’ve found a group of humans who are magically capable of working 120-hour weeks with no effects? I think it’s much more likely that they’re struggling in their own ways and you just don’t know about it. They might well be looking at you and thinking wow, Arabella is handling this so well. Please don’t let comparisons like that make you hesitate in getting out of there.

        1. Arabella*

          Hi EventPlannerGal,

          Honestly, after looking around I may have found these magical humans. :( i see them working constantly until the late hours and seemingly are still able to start on time in the morning the very next day.

          I have had a coworker mention to me however that this workplace is ideal for workaholics only, so that could be why they do not seem to mind the workload as well.

          Thus, I am always so behind on work and leaving many things unfinished by the time I have to report to my manager, mostly just due to the exhaustion and burnout that slows down my work. On the other hand, everyone else seems to be managing things just fine – so I do feel very incompetent.

          1. Allonge*

            Look, in a very meaningful way it does not matter if they are indeed capable of working like this long term, or just faking it very well. Do you want to do this for the rest of your life? Do you really want to learn how not to have a life at all? Do you want to be exploited like this?

            But I very much suspect that what is happening is like when we think everybody is doing awesome based on their Facebook / Instagram, and only we are not perfectly happy all the time. You are comparing your inside to their outside.

            1. Forrest*

              Other two possibilities:

              1. those other people are actually not getting nearly the same amount of work assigned to them as you because they are much better at turning work down, and even though it doesn’t *look * like you’re allowed to do that, you are.

              2. those other people are actually not getting nearly the same amount of work assigned to them as you because they are much better at turning work down, but only particular workers are allowed to do that, and you’re getting way more work dumped on you and will be punished more harshly because you’re in a toxic culture and you’re being victimised.

              BUT, even if it’s Option 1, you aren’t going to learn how to manage those boundaries at this employer. I firmly believe you can learn to manage a workload down from an 80-90 hour week to a 60-70 hour week (which is STILL long hours and a workaholic culture!), but you cannot learn to manage a 120-hour week down to anything sustainable or helpful because you’ve no time to THINK: you can’t strategise, manage, learn, get more efficient or anything under those conditions. Get out!

          2. Tau*

            Think of it this way –

            Anyone, anyone who has any choices about the matter at all, will see your work setup and run screaming. Most people who do not will be chewed up and spat out within weeks to months (as is currently happening to you right now).

            This means that your workplace has one hell of a survivorship bias going on. The only coworkers you have are the outliers who can handle this schedule at least well enough to plausibly fake it at work, and have been sucked into believing that this is not totally bananas. Anyone else would have quit already. I understand it’s difficult when this is the environment you’re surrounded by (for 120 hours a week, holy shit) but you should not be taking your coworkers as a baseline for normal. Nothing about your situation is normal and nobody should be expected to cope with it.

            Good luck! I wish you a great new job with sane work hours that allow you to actually get human-required amounts of sleep every night.

      3. Fried Eggs*

        How did you talk with your manager about your intentions to leave? And how long did you stay at that job?

        I was there for a year. I basically went through one annual cycle and thought “I can’t do this again.”

        I came back from a vacation and realized my brain was as fried as it was before I left. Here’s a shortened version of how the conversation went.
        Me: Is this a good time to talk to you about something important?
        Boss: Yes, what is it?
        Me: I used my vacation time over the holidays to do some reflecting, and I realized that I’m unhappy in this job. It was a really difficult decision, but I realized I need to quit.
        Boss: Wow, I’m really surprised. I have to admit, I didn’t see that coming. But if you’re unhappy, you have to make the right decision for you.
        Me: I appreciate your saying that. Part of the reason it took me a year to come to that decision is that I’ve really enjoyed being part of this team, and it’s hard to leave it. But ultimately I realized I need to be in a job where I can focus in-depth on just a few projects rather than being responsible on lots of different things. And I don’t think this job can ever be that. If I did, I’d of course have come to you to discuss things we might change.
        Boss: You’re right, I’m really sad to lose you and would have done everything I could to keep you, but this job will always involve wearing lots of hats.

        And then we talked about how to tell the team, he promised me a good reference, he asked me the extent to which a difficult coworker contributed to my decision (moderately, but not the only factor).

        Overall, I think I got really lucky that he was understanding. I’m sure not all conversations go that well. But it also sounds like your boss won’t be quite as blindsided, since you’ve talked about it before.

        1. Arabella*

          Wow, your boss sounds very understanding, thats great :) and for a whole year in that situation, I don’t think I can imagine myself working that long in such an environment.

          I don’t think my manager will be as understanding (or happy) about me leaving, especially since lately they themselves are working themselves sick lately.

          I would like to help as much as I can, but I don’t think I can handle it much more.

          I am planning to follow procedure and give one month’s notice, and help the best I can with training the new recruit- so hopefully it won’t disrupt operations too much when I’m gone.

          1. Fried Eggs*

            If your manager isn’t happy about you leaving, then she needs to create a better work environment people don’t want to leave.

            If she has no control over workload an hours, but is still expected to somehow magically retain her staff, maybe she needs to leave too :-)

          2. Warm Weighty Wrists*

            I want to add one thing here: your primary responsibility is for your OWN health and wellbeing before anyone else’s. As an empathetic person, of course you feel sad that other people at your company are working themselves sick! However, their decisions are not your responsibility, and you need to leave before your health is any more compromised. Please don’t put off taking care of yourself.

          3. LilyP*

            I would really consider whether a full four weeks notice is worth it here — are you really relying on this reference and you’re confident it’ll be glowing if you stay? And if you do, try and work reasonable hours during your notice period an definitely don’t extend it to help with hiring or training. It’s good to be conscientious but they are taking advantage of you!

  13. Mx*

    4# I am not generally a fan of lying, but your employer is a jerk. Ideally you wouldn’t go to someone else’s house these days…but if you decide to do it, just don’t tell them ! And don’t forget to not post your pics on social media.

    1. Mainely Professional*

      Uh, no. This exact kind of behavior is what is driving the epidemic. LW#4 goes to their holiday meal, gets COVID, then goes to work because their employer doesn’t want to let people work at home. Then LW lies (?!?) that they stayed home. Then they infect two coworkers, who go home and infect their spouses and children, who go to work and school and infect their classmates and coworkers, who come home and infect their spouses and children… this isn’t hard. Don’t do things that will kill other people.

      Nobody who cares about not killing other people gets to celebrate Thanksgiving outside their own household this year. Yes, that is hard for people who live alone.

      1. Brett*

        “Nobody who cares about not killing other people gets to celebrate Thanksgiving outside their own household this year. Yes, that is hard for people who live alone.”

        I’ll just point out that the latest CDC study on mental health impacts shows a 100%+ increase in serious suicidal ideation, accounting for 11% of the population. And after an early period of low suicides, suicides are now taking off. The current increase in suicide is still only about 20% of the deaths from COVID in the US, but if that continues to scale that way into the holidays, we could see death rates from suicide that rival those from COVID.
        In other words, “Don’t do things that will kill other people,” is more complex and nuanced than just shaming people into cutting off social interactions.

        1. pancakes*

          I’m wondering where you got these figures. When PolitiFact recently debunked a celebrity athlete’s misstatements on this subject, they contacted an expert on suicide, Dr. Jonathan Singer:

          “Singer noted that preliminary numbers of reported suicides for 2019 show a slight decline since 2018 in the suicide rate. And Singer said there are no national numbers that are current.

          ‘Reporters ask us what is the effect of the coronavirus on suicides, and we don’t know,’ Singer said. ‘Because we don’t have the data.’”

          Where is your data from?

          1. Brett*

            To clarify something, the suicide increases are _not_ covid related. We only have stats for those up to 2018. You can see that here with CDC references:

            The ideation increases are likely COVID related, and that information comes from this CDC study (which is a few months old, but the latest they have)

            The “honeymoon” or “pulling together” phenomena that leads to initial decreases in suicide followed by increases is a recent study here:

            Which I learned about from a recent british medical journal editorial which goes into more depth on the complexity and the changes in evidence in the last few months (with lots of references, but most of them in preprint)

            1. pancakes*

              I think it’s very important to note that the CDC study does not recommend relaxing social distancing or masking protocols. It recommends increased mental health care, particularly for communities that are extra-vulnerable (“young adults, racial/ethnic minorities, essential workers, and unpaid adult caregivers”).

    2. M2*

      Seriously? This is awful advice! This is why the virus is spreading. Stay the eff home, people. It isn’t that hard. Look at what they had to do in WWII or what people who are less fortunate are dealing with. The selfishness of some people always amazes me! UGH!

      And if someone does do this I hope the employer fires them and gives a bad ref!

      1. Former Fed*

        Claiming people that want to see family and friends on important holidays are selfish just encourages people to lie. The company clearly has no problem having staff ignore public health guidelines to further their bottom line, but wants to control what people do on their personal time so that it is easier for the company to ignore guidelines.

        Staying home and avoiding people is hard, very hard, especially for places that are on 9(!) consecutive months of lock down. Almost no one can handle that amount of isolation for that long. For most it becomes a calculated risk – mental health versus physical health, and the needle over time moves closer to mental health.

        1. That Girl from Quinn's House*

          Also, it’s a tad bit privileged. The people who are most struggling in the pandemic are people who live alone, or people with an only child. If two members of a couple live alone, are they just supposed to date long distance until COVID is over?

          Having a small bubble is a calculated risk that I’d like to hope most people made responsibly and behave responsibly re: safety precautions once in it, because the reality is we can’t keep people in solitary confinement for a year without reenacting The Shining many times over.

          1. pancakes*

            We can all see from the statistics that people in the US and many other countries are extraordinarily irresponsible and often staggeringly inept at calculating risk. Have you not noticed that other countries where people are better at these things / have leadership better at these things have been able to move on from solitary confinement? On Wednesday night 50,000 people in Brisbane, Australia gathered in a stadium to watch a rugby match.

            1. That Girl from Quinn's House*

              Yes, and the fact that some people are staggeringly irresponsible does not mean we should rake someone who is being responsible across the coals. We should hold the people who are being irresponsible accountable for their poor decisions that endanger us all.

              1. pancakes*

                I’m not open to being convinced that politely disagreeing with someone about a the safety of traveling during a pandemic is raking them over the coals.

                1. That Girl from Quinn's House*

                  I don’t understand why you’re so angry with OP- who has chosen to exclusively socialize with her mom and sister, who live in her neighborhood- and not OP’s employer, who has decided that the pandemic doesn’t exist and is forcing hundreds of employees to choose between working in an unsafe office or not getting paid.

              2. pancakes*

                I don’t understand why you think my position on this is anger at the letter writer rather than weariness with people—any and all people—who misunderstand and misrepresent the safety of their plans, and/or otherwise don’t seem to understand how to think carefully about this topic. There are an awful lot of people who don’t seem to be capable of or particularly interested in being lucid and realistic about, e.g., what exactly a negative test signifies, or how a bubble works, and it puts all of us in grave danger. The US is breaking records for positive cases, hospitalizations, and deaths on a daily basis. You are misstating the letter writer’s risk in your own comment: They’re not in fact “exclusively” socializing with family because they are going to the office on a regular basis, and cannot possibly have an accurate sense of how their coworkers behave or who they socialize with when not at work. Please invest some time in reading about viruses work. The fact that the letter writer’s employer is putting their entire community in a very bad position isn’t going to be remedied or improved by depicting the situation as safer than it is.

        2. Cthulhu's Librarian*

          Former Fed – Thank you for saying this, and the understanding your last paragraph shows.

          M2 – calling for people to get fired, or labeling them selfish, over them trying to make a very real choice between a potential physical health risk that can be mitigated by masks/testing/pod planning, and a potential mental health crises because of prolonged isolation is… well, I don’t have an adjective to describe it – None that are strong enough to convey my absolute and unequivocal repulsion by the sentiment.

      2. Mx*

        I said that ideally it’s better to not go to someone’s else home these days…
        Her employer should let her work from home but they don’t. Not OP’s fault.

    3. Marie*

      hi LW 4 here- I can’t tell if this is a joke, but it’s absolutely not what I am trying to do. You can see my plans earlier in the thread, but I have an extremely strict “pod”. Unfortunately, I think a lot of my coworkers will take this policy like you are and that’s the issue with the policy.

      1. Kacy*

        Gently, you don’t have a strict pod at all because you are constantly exposed to people who travel at your office. The office is not a pod, is not a bubble, and is not keeping you and your family safe. If you didn’t have that exposure, being in a pod with your parents and sister would be a calculated risk. However, your office creates a situation where you are constantly putting your family at an unknown risk that you could avoid since you do not live with them. You just choose not to.

      1. Firecat*

        In my experience places like this huff and puff and … never do anything about it.

        When I worked at a company like OPs where most folks worked from 8am to midnight, I just didn’t.

        Sure there was a lot of “must be nice” snark when I rolled out at 5pm buy frankly I was getting the same (and sometimes more) work done then everyone else. There was a lot of shaming from my manger, one missed promotion opportunity and that was it. Eventually I scored a role in another department (sometimes it’s only a department at a company that has this dysfunction) and that was that.

      2. Forrest*

        I mean, tbh being fired sounds like the second-worst outcome–the worst being “continue to stay employed here”.

      3. Lizy*

        But is that really so bad in this situation?? (Don’t get me wrong – I thought the same, but really – so what? Then OP has the time to find a new job.)

  14. Lurking Tom*

    LW1: You’re working 119 hours a week, or 3 full time jobs’ worth. I was in a similar situation 15 years or so ago when I was early in my career. I regret not quitting to this day. In addition to the physical & mental health issues you are already experiencing, the habits you pick up during this time are really hard to shake – things like being unable to disconnect from the job at the end of the day even when there’s no need for you continue working, waking up extra early to “get ahead” of the day even when the job doesn’t need you to. I literally got chastised by my very caring current boss earlier this week for expressing remorse about not being awake to handle a problem that occurred while I was sleeping, even though I knew very well that it was not urgent. He actually (half joking, half serious) threatened to find a way to lock me out of our systems during overnight hours so I couldn’t work! These are things that I picked up 15 years ago and they are still with me! It is really, really damaging for you to stay in this job, and I urge you to get out as close to immediately as you can.

    1. Arabella*

      Hi Lurking Tom,

      Thank you for the comment. :)

      Indeed, the job has already done alot of damage to my mental and physical health. :( I wake up throughout the night and spend most of my days with panic attacks, as well as the random crying spells while I’m working my midnight overtime.

      There was alot of nausea, some vomiting and even blackouts once or twice, however I only took 3 days rest before coming back to a bigger pile of work.

      I definitely will be leaving soon, as I am now sitting and staring at my workload, wondering how I can even begin to get through any of it by the end of the weekend. Thank you for the advice to run early and sharing your experience, I will definitely leave as soon as possible, and have a talk with my manager this weekend.

    2. Juniper*

      That is a really good point. I managed about a year in an insane event management job where I worked practically round the clock when we had parties going until 4am. I finally quit after going on medical leave, but the constant knot in your stomach, fear that you’ve forgotten something, complete inability to ever get caught up, and your run-of-the-mill existential dread has left their mark, even now years later.

  15. misspiggy*

    #4 I’m a bit confused – isn’t the LW asking if it’s legal to be forced to work while taking PTO? Surely that isn’t legal?

  16. drpuma*

    Work chat! OP3 thank you for bringing this up. At a previous job with a geographically diverse team and especially now that we’re working from home, I have a handful of “signature” emojis I tend to use to show my reactions. I do think using emoji or GIFs can help build rapport with coworkers you might not interact with in person for months. It’s a way of showing your personality along the same lines of casual office small talk since that can be next to impossible when you’re all remote. I find emoji/GIFs work best to indicate a reaction or for simple upbeat messages (“Congratulations!”), never to communicate meaningful information. My org also uses MS Teams and I like to use the customizable memes to acknowledge when my team hits a milestone. As long as your emoji/GIFs are work appropriate and you’re not overusing them I definitely think they are a helpful aspect of professional communication.

    1. Its GIF not JIF*

      I recently moved from a very buttoned up workplace to a more relaxed on with MS Teams and was initially shocked by the number of GIFs people send each other back and forth, but now I am finding it a fun way to bond and convey the nonverbal queues.

      However, just be very careful…. my boss told me she got engaged and I replied with what I thought was a “Yes” GIF but the caption was actually “This is my fetish” and I didn’t notice until I hit send. Like thanks MS Teams, why is that GIF even an option???

      1. Awesome Hippo*

        This made me actually laugh out loud. I’m so sorry that happened but thank you for the reminder to check the captions of anything I put on slack/ teams/ etc.

    2. Grey Coder*

      We use Teams and have developed a pattern where messages in the main Teams channels are more formal, but there are also some ongoing group chats which are much less formal. Memes/GIFs etc are common in the latter, much less so the former.

      Obviously this is just how our communications have developed, not a universal rule! I think the only thing to do is pay attention to what other people are doing and see if there are unwritten rules.

    3. Lars the Real Girl*

      I think WHO you’re communicating with is also important. With my small team’s group chat – very informal. When chatting with our execs – way more formal.

      And the context. If I’m chatting about more technical or sensitive things, way more formal. If I’m talking to the same person about mundane work and the conversation veers, it can be very informal.

    4. Guacamole Bob*

      My team uses the reaction emojis in Microsoft Teams quite a bit – they add a bit of informality that’s still work-appropriate.

    5. So they all rolled over and one fell out*

      At our last company-wide meeting (held once a quarter) IT had pulled some statistics from Teams and I got an “award” (just a shout-out) for having posted the most memes. My team manager got the “award” for talking (having his microphone on) the most.

      On the other end of the spectrum, one time I witnessed an entire team get fired because they posted inappropriate memes and jokes on their team chat. I don’t know all of what they posted but I know some of the examples were swearing and jokes about drug use. HQ silently logged their chats for months and then swooped in and fired all but one guy on the team.

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

      My org also uses MS Teams and I like to use the customizable memes

      What? Why did I not know about this… I’d love to have this, is this some kind of add-on to Teams or just comes by default?

      1. drpuma*

        The meme option looks like a little post-it and is mostly weird “sticker” images but the categories with a pencil next to them allow you to customize the words. I’m not sure whether it is an add-on, but since we are a big (Fortune 50) has to corporation I don’t think we just blindly implement the default for much of anything. It’s probably in your Teams instance but the functionality is not obvious.

    7. JustaTech*

      I just took a formal training video on how to use email and chat (Skillsoft) and the training said to make thoughtful use of emojis in your chat to convey tone (but don’t use them in emails with clients!).

      If using emojis has made it to corporate training videos, then it must be mainstream!

    8. Casey*

      My org uses Teams in a way that sounds pretty similar to you. We have channels which are public within the department so anyone in IT can read and post in the channel regardless of whether they are on the specific team. These conversations are more formal since they’re public and are equivalent in tone to meetings in-person.
      Individual chat or small group chat which is private, is informal and we all use emoji’s and memes, it’s equivalent to informal chat with team members.
      Within established professional boundaries of course, I don’t use emoji’s or shorthand like “WTF” in messages with the head of the department :) though I may do it with a coworker on the same level as me.

  17. Xmasmittens*

    #2’s letter writer should just take this L and make sure the next time an employee comes to him/her with issues w/vendors that they actually listen and act upon it to avoid that issue happening again. LW dropped the ball a long time ago and now wants the ex-employee to be the bigger person.

    1. TechWorker*

      If you read the updates from LW on this I don’t think this a fair take on what happened at all.

  18. BRR*

    #2 this seems a bit…dramatic to me on all fronts. Purposely waiting to write the review, one review costing the vendor a client, asking to take it down. Nothing says it’s inaccurate so maybe the real issue is how the vendor operates.

  19. JustKnope*

    We definitely don’t have enough information about #2 to make a judgment here. A lot of the language the LW uses set my alarm bells off, because they’re being very vague about the type of concerns their ex-employee raised, which could have been standard business stuff or could have been much more serious than that. Without that information, I think the answer to #2 is off base. If that employee stewed on it for months and then posted the review despite knowing it would upset their former employer… it doesn’t mean for sure something bad was up but it gave me a LOT of pause.

  20. LurkNoMore*

    OP3 question – did anyone watch RHOSLC? There’s a big controversy where one woman said that a thumbs up emoji actually means “F*** Y**”. This exploded on twitter yesterday with a substantial percentages of the responses agreeing with this woman. So you may want to rethink using that emoji…

    1. Workerbee*

      Eh, one Twitter discussion from a sidebar of society wouldn’t make me change my mind about something as ingrained as thumbs up equating like/agreement/something positive. How interesting!

      1. WellRed*

        Yeah on no planet does a thumbs up mean that. Assuming this acronym refers to some real housewives show, that goes double.

      2. Its GIF not JIF*

        Yeah, twitter can’t just unilaterally decide that a thing that has meant a thing forever suddenly means something else.

        1. Meh*

          I do want to agree with you wholeheartedly, but look at what happened to the OK sign. It very well can suddenly change meaning in an unfortunate way.

    2. pancakes*

      That’s pretty strange and doesn’t sound worth rethinking at all. People who appear on those type of shows are selected for their willingness to be publicly messy, childish, etc., their lack of self-awareness, and other entertaining qualities. These aren’t documentaries about how to behave.

    3. Daughter of Ada and Grace*

      I have absolutely never heard of this. The thumbs-up emoji may well be the most used one in our company Slack. Meanings include “Great!”, “I agree”, “Thank you”, “You’re welcome”, and “Let’s do that (thing you just suggested)”. I’ve never seen it used to indicate any sort of profanity. (The poo emoji, on the other hand…)

      1. Tammy*

        At my company, it usually means “I acknowledge having seen your message, but have no substantive reply at this time.”

      1. tangerineRose*

        Apparently this varies depending on culture. Does anyone remember when the first President Bush was doing a lot of thumbs up (with both hands) and did this in (I think it was Brazil or somewhere else in South America) and there it’s the equivalent of putting up just the middle fingers? It made the papers. People there were NOT pleased.

    4. Environmental Compliance*

      I think that’s very, very culturally based though, by no means. Slate had an article about this in 2003, which I will let others determine the accuracy of. Link to follow.

  21. Wakeen Teapots, LTD*

    I once had an employee who was pissed off at a vendor (I sh*t you not), make VOODOO dolls, stick pins in them, and burst into a meeting with this vendor to “present” them (wildly, with a manic look in her eyes).

    I think my #1 most remarkable moment of my working life. Not exaggerating “burst”. It was something.

    (yes, the vendor had missed some delivery dates, but so run of the mill for what we do. “concerning” and routine.)

    Anyway, had to clean that up. We of course apologized and not for nothing, ad hoc actions not going through chain actually diminish negotiation power. It’s hard to keep the focus on “you haven’t met commitments” when you just had a batshit wild eyed employee threaten them with black magic.

    1. Sara without an H*

      Ummm…Yes, it would be difficult to get a meeting back on track after such an incident.

      I assume the employee was fired? As in, “Here’s a box, clean out your desk, Dave from Security will see you to the door” fired?

    2. UKDancer*

      One should always keep the voodoo dolls out of sight of the subject in my view :-)

      That is so funny and the image will make me smile through my afternoon of meetings.

  22. WellRed*

    OP as others have said, what’s up with the vague response you gave the employee? I’m confused by another comment you made. They posted the review after their last day but while they were still on payroll. Not sure what that means but seriously? Once I’ve worked my last day for you I’m no longer on payroll, no matter how you want to split those hairs.

    1. EvilQueenRegina*

      Not sure where OP is, but a way it’s possible here (UK) is if he’d given four weeks notice, but still had some leave left to take so he’d only actually worked three weeks of that and had the final week as annual leave – say he gave four weeks notice 30th October, worked three weeks and had his “last day” doing the job today, he’s still technically on the payroll until 27th November. So if he’d done the review in that week that would have been possible.

      1. EvilQueenRegina*

        Although I will add that I don’t know how far it would have mattered in terms of his bad review and when he left it.

    2. Haha Lala*

      It probably means their last day didn’t fall at the end of a pay period, so they were still “on payroll” until the final paycheck went out.

      1. WellRed*

        That’s what I think but saying the employee was still on payroll is pretty eye rolly. You don’t get bonus points or additional say over that employee’s life for laying them off Wednesday but paying them through Friday.

      2. doreen*

        Or the employer has a lag payroll and/or pays out accrued leave by leaving the person on the payroll rather than paying a lump sum. My current employer had to change the rules to require people to be present in the office on their last day of work, because people were out of the office and on payroll for weeks before their official last day of employment. So now they take leave from say 10/15 to 11/30 and come in on Dec 1 for their official last day.

        1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

          I’ve got something like 4 months of PTO stored up. I wouldn’t mind it paying out over 4 months, but having to come back in for a day afterwards sounds bonkers, especially if I’m leaving for a different job.

          1. doreen*

            It would be bonkers if the situation was different – but I’ve only known a literal handful of people in 25 years who have left to take a different job, and they didn’t have that much accrued leave stored up at the point where they gave notice ( most likely because they started burning it when they started job searching or decided they were moving) so it mainly applies to people who are retiring.

            1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

              What do you do on that last day if the person doesn’t come in? Or if they’re sick?

    3. Percysowner*

      It may be a timing thing.The employee may have been awaiting their last check when they wrote the review. So they had worked their last day, but were still on “payroll” because they were owed a check.

    4. Lexie*

      Sometimes instead of severance being paid in one lump sum the person continues to receive regular paychecks for a specified numbers of weeks/months.

  23. Lora*

    I have a little bit of a different take on LW2 – they are your VENDOR. Are they a single source? You should avoid having single source vendors as much as humanly possible. I get that it’s not always possible (I occasionally need to source materials that come from exactly one mining company in the entire world, it happens), but to the extent that it is possible, always have 2-3 competing vendors, because hey, what happens if your one vendor goes out of business or gets bought? They are selling you a thing, and therefore they rely on YOUR (and by extension your employees’) good opinion of THEM. You can announce tomorrow that you’ve decided to go to their competitor because they were rude to your employee, because they didn’t offer you enough of a discount, because they didn’t buy you a nice enough basket of chocolates last holiday. A vendor should not be complaining to you about anything other than nonpayment. You send them 100 frustrating change orders every project? Cool, they can charge you a premium price for those change orders. You are picky about which contractors get sent to your site? OK, next time they will send their nicest contractors but it will cost $200/hour. This is literally 100% of their leverage against you: their ability to offer a good quality thing for a given price. But the proper relationship of a vendor to their customer is one of *service*, as in, THEY serve YOU and send you thank-you gifts and take you out to nice dinners. Their attitude should be calling you to tell you how brilliant, amazing, fashionable, kind, etc you are, and enquiring if perhaps they could sell you any other products they recently decided to offer – not complaining to you!

    Get a second / third vendor for this product and tell em if they don’t want to play nice with your employees, they can pound sand and you’ll go to their competitor. Even the one mining company in China knows that if they annoy their clients enough, we’ll invent a new catalyst that doesn’t use rare earths. I know it’s not trivial and often involves a lot of bureaucracy, but if this is their attitude I bet you can find someone with an equivalent or better product for the price and without the snotty behavior. I have done this, we have four regulatory-approved vendors for one particular raw material and we ended up ditching two of them: in both cases, the a-hole behavior was blown off and ignored and we were told to just manage it, and then years later when someone finally CHECKED it turned out they were screwing us financially too, overcharging and sending the wrong materials.

    It shouldn’t matter if the vendor is the CEO’s golf buddy. Golf buddy can complain to the CEO, “Hey, LW2 hasn’t been sending us many orders recently, what’s up with that?” CEO should be able to say, “Well Vendor, your salesweasel was rude to one of my guys, is there any way you could have your salesweasel make nice? Maybe you need a new salesweasel, this one doesn’t seem like he’s very hungry.” Then Vendor can tell the salesweasel to send you a box of chocolates and an apology note to re-set the relationship. It shouldn’t be your job to fix the relationship, it should be Vendor’s.

    1. Generic Name*

      This struck me as well. I don’t understand why the LW seems to be bending over backwards to maintain a relationship with a (possibly mediocre at best?) supplier of goods or services. If anything, the vendor should be approaching the LW’s company trying to fix things. So much seems off to me about this letter. LW, you’ve said your main concern is what kind of reference to give. I think you can be completely factual. You can say their work was great, you were sad they left, it was in good terms, etc. and then you found out they left a negative review for a vendor and let the reference-checker draw their own conclusion. Honestly, if I were checking references, I’d wonder why you cared so much about the review, but you clearly do think it’s quite important since you are considering leaving a bad reference for them over it.

      1. EventPlannerGal*

        I agree. The OP is now saying that the disagreement was over “timely provision of business supplies and communication about that”, which in plain language to me means that not only is this supplier providing mediocre goods but they are also repeatedly late in delivering them and difficult to get hold of. These are not trivial issues! Providing the contracted goods and services ON TIME is a major part of a suppliers job!

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

      Seconding the “single source”, for a slightly different reason though.

      I was once in a situation (not as a vendor manager, but it impacted me due to the consequent delays and resulting ‘crunch’ time) where our company relied on a single vendor – actually a “one-man company / sole proprietor” sort of thing – for a key input to our process.

      After many years of a successful vendor relationship, the person became seriously ill (this was made known at the time and reported up through management meetings in our company as a risk, but no mitigation happened?!), tried to work through it and eventually passed away at which point it became a full-on emergency for the company, because the input from this vendor was a critical component of our key product. (I can’t go into any more detail as it would be too identifiable). There were potentially other people out there who ‘could’ provide the same service, but not as a “off the shelf” sort of deal due to the niche nature of the service and the key product.

      There was a ****-storm while people scrambled to try and resolve it and find some kind of contingency plan. No one was ever held to account over lack of continency planning though, which I thought they should have been.

  24. Workerbee*

    #3, I work in a business professional-attired place and we have our Teams emojis and gifs entirely unlocked, and it’s been fabulous for conveying often hilarious “feels” that put an extra jolt of enjoyment in the day, which can often be a pile-on with meetings and deadlines. I’m grateful this option wasn’t locked out by the uber Teams admin.

    You can also type a colon : and then a letter and a selection of additional emojis will come up. This doesn’t work with all letters.

  25. Jam Today*

    Oooooh I feel the pain of the review-writer from LW1 *acutely*. I have been put into two — TWO — vendor relationships at my job that had one vendor literally ignoring me for months on end, putting my product and therefore my bonus and possibly my job in jeopardy — and then lie to two tiers of my management about their behavior while I demonstrated the proof of my position, and a second vendor shouting abuse at me in a meeting while my executive leadership did nothing to step in and assert boundaries of acceptable behavior (among other things they did to undermine me and cut my legs out from under me.)

    I am definitely bringing my own bias to this but given that, I am willing to bet a small sum of money that LW’s former employee tried to get her management to help her with a very bad situation, management did nothing for one reason or another, and now she’s telling the world just how bad Company X is to deal with. Maybe they should have paid attention and protected their employee.

    1. Lora*

      See, I don’t get this. B2B or not, they are selling you their service. You can look at them and say, “you know what, you’re clearly not happy selling us things, maybe it’s better for both of us if (company) goes to (your competitor) instead. Have a nice day.”

      Is it a small company thing where companies feel like they can’t offer contracts as big as larger companies, so they cannot demand as much from vendors? I’ve occasionally run into this with people who have only ever worked for a startup, they come off super-obsequious to the point of groveling to vendors, then vendors don’t treat them well and they are shocked when they go to a bigger company (or the startup gets bigger) and we expect vendors to act not only decent, but be very nice to us. This is a business relationship! You are exchanging money for goods and services! If the service sucks, take your business somewhere else. If they have the nerve to complain to you about anything other than not getting paid, tell them to kiss your entire butt. You’re not married to them, you don’t have to be more than professionally polite.

      1. Mel_05*

        You can if there’s another, better, vendor to jump to. Sometimes the other options are worse. Or, if you work in a semi-rural area… they don’t exist.

        I’m a big fan of vendor hopping, I’ve done a lot of it. But sometimes there’s just nothing to hop to.

        1. Mel_05*

          Also, backup vendors are a thing. Hopping back and forth between vendors is a thing.

          Unless the behavior or service is truly awful, most people don’t want to blow that relationship up, even if they’re looking for an alternative.

        2. Lora*

          Yeah, I see your point on location. One of the sites we have at CurrentEmployer is in a super rural area, and it was the very first site they ever owned, they’re very sentimental about keeping it – even though it’s a downright money pit because of location. But that’s an argument to pick a location for the business where you can get the things you need, or consider a more global sourcing strategy.

          There’s got to be a way to reduce the business risk though, even if it’s difficult. You can’t just have ONE vendor and no other options and you have to somehow wring materials or service out of the King of A-Holes – that’s just a crappy risk to the business, because what if the King A-Hole gets hit by a bus tomorrow? What if they’re bought out – this actually just happened to me, one of our sites that was 100% reliant on one particular vendor, had their vendor get bought out in pieces by their competitors. It was a HUGE vendor, nobody ever thought they’d go out of business, but they had been giving crap service and overpriced badly-made materials for 12+ years and they finally lost enough market share that their executives decided to sell off the whole division. Now we’re in a “crap, what do we do??” position because their materials were custom to their equipment, and it sucks. When I looked at the sheer amount of this *type* of thing we order through the network though, it’s starting to look like vertical integration might even be an option. It’s definitely not easy, but it would address a lot of our vendor issues to bring the function in house, and we do happen to have a partially empty facility laying around…

  26. The Other Victoria*

    #3- We use teams to work remotely. In mission-oriented communication, the thumbs up is used as a quick acknowledgement. The other reactions are saved for less formal conversation among coworkers, as are gifs.

  27. M2*

    #4- No one should be traveling for Thanksgiving. We are in a pandemic. I dont necessarily agree with this, but I think they are doing it to deter you from traveling. Instead of making you work from home and use PTO they should probably just do PTO because people will say they traveled or travel to be able to work from home.

    I see why they are doing this. Stay HOME! We are in a pandemic, people are dying. It is not that hard! AHHHHHHHHH

    1. Marie*

      Hi there! LW 4. I am going to copy and paste my previous answer for more context. I am not suggesting ignoring a pandemic. If you agree with the below, maybe you are related to my CEO, I don’t know.

      Hi #4 here. I should have put in more information. I completely agree that no one should be going to any big Thanksgiving. My parents and my sister live on my street and we have only seen each other since March. So I understand there are still risks with “pods” but I consider this my household.

      If I added more context to my company, I would probably get going on a huge rant, but here are some additional details. This policy has nothing to do with the spread of COVID. We were working in office during stay at home even though we can all work 100% remote. When someone at work tests positive (about 40 so far out of 300), first we need to meet with the head of legal to verify that we had “meaningful” contact with the person. And then we can leave to get tested, but must come back to the office and wait for results. In every CEO email about the spread, he mentions our work is a duty to shareholders and never mentions his duty to us. There are so many other things, but lastly I will say twice now, someone has come back from being sick with COVID and a week later they have been fired for “slacking.” The difference between these two people and the others who have come back is that they were hospitalized and did not work while testing positive.

      1. Anonymouse*

        While I absolutely get what you’re saying, and I have done the “pod” thing with a friend until the latest surge in the pandemic in our area. However, your pod is not limited because it includes everyone you work with in the office and everyone they are in contact with. You haven’t “only seen each other since March” your circle is a LOT bigger than you are realizing.

        Your company/CEO are being utterly ridiculous, but your plans are riskier than I think you are acknowledging because of your in office contact.

      2. Doc in a Box*

        “And then we can leave to get tested, but must come back to the office and wait for results”

        This is absolutely the wrong thing to do. If you are tested for covid, you are supposed to go directly home and strictly isolate (no contact with others, no stopping by the grocery store, no going for walks, even masked) until you test negative.

        I know you know this, LW, but stating it clearly for anyone else: a company like this does not have the moral high ground OR the scientific knowledge to be dictating anyone’s holiday plans.

    2. Agnes*

      IOW, “Just say no”.

      You probably think that slogan was absurd, judgmental, and simplistic, when applied to drug use. Well, so is “stay home”, when applied to seeing family and celebrating major holidays. It may be – is! – the best thing to do. It is not easy, and pretending it is doesn’t move us forward.

    3. Lizy*

      For some people, it IS that hard.

      My sister lives in Berlin. She hasn’t been home in 2 years. She’s coming back state-side (to Kansas, for context) in a couple of weeks for a visit. She struggled HARD about the decision, especially since she’s pregnant and doesn’t want to take unnecessary risks. In fact, she cancelled her original plans to come in September because of the pandemic. She’s worried about our aging mother, and she’s worried for her own health (she has asthma). But… her mental health is struggling. She – quite literally – has been crying daily, and the risks to her mental (and physical) health right now are such that she made the decision to visit. Of course she’ll be taking all the precautions, and has been while living in Berlin, but she will still be travelling.

      This is just one example. I can give many more. I’m not at all saying “go around and have COVID parties” because that’s dumb and reckless and rude. But not everyone can just stay home.

    4. Starbuck*

      “people will say they traveled or travel to be able to work from home.”

      They should already be able to work from home though!

  28. WellRed*

    OP 3: I use punctuation etc but I’m an editor so am hardwired to do so. I’ve also made use of slack emojis and announced I was doing so. So have coworkers along with a gif or two. We’re a friendly bunch and it cheers up the WFH day.

  29. RoDan*


    “I could probably make a case that he was still on payroll and should remove it since it was not authorized.”

    No, you can’t. He was not your employee anymore. The fact he was still on payroll is irrelevant. I seem to recall a recent letter where a person asked if they could list their last day with a company as their last day on payroll, and they were told they could not (sorry if I have the details wrong on this). Likewise, if this boss tried to assign a work project to this employee reasoning that “he is still on the payroll” he’d be laughed off this site. The person in question was an ex-employee and was free to post what he pleased absent, of course, some relevant clause in their severance agreement.

    What I find interesting about this letter is that it does not seem to say anywhere that the vendor in question was asking for a retraction of the letter. The writer says the vendor checked in because they “wanted to be sure our relationship was in a good place.” The idea to take down the letter seems to have come from the letter writer. Also, as near as I can tell, the letter writer did not address these seemingly legitimate concerns with the vendor when the vendor called in to check on the relationship. Am I reading that correctly?

    If so, it seems to me the person wrote the review after he became an ex-employee, the review seems to have some merit, the letter writer knew about these concerns and chose not to address them with the ex-employee, the letter writer further chose not to address these concerns with the vendor when the vendor specifically asked about the relationship, and it seems the vendor are not asking for a retraction. I don’t see how the ex-employee did anything wrong here; to withhold a positive recommendation for someone that otherwise did a good job is a vast overreach by this letter writer.

    1. WellRed*

      Yes! Where does op get off saying this person was still on payroll? I really wanna hear that explanation!

    2. Cat Tree*

      Yeah, the payroll thing is pretty flimsy. What if the employee had just waited another month to pay it? Employers have no control over *previous* employees, nor should they. And honestly, if the vendor isn’t legitimately terrible, a single negative review would not drive away a potential customer, at least not to the point where the customer told the vendor that’s the reason (rather than just quietly pursuing someone else). My guess is that this potential customer already had serious concerns, the negative review confirmed their doubts, and it was easiest to point to that when the spurned vendor pressed them for a reason.

    3. Parenthesis Dude*

      “What I find interesting about this letter is that it does not seem to say anywhere that the vendor in question was asking for a retraction of the letter. The writer says the vendor checked in because they “wanted to be sure our relationship was in a good place.” The idea to take down the letter seems to have come from the letter writer.”

      Yes!!! Exactly this.

    4. AngryOwl*

      Yup. Plus the employee was laid off. To lay someone off and then reach into their personal actions like this…oof.

  30. WellRed*

    OP 4, I would love it if you pushed back on your company’s stupid policy by stating what you have here: “I feel like I’m being punished for existing outside the company.” I feel that sums up the attitude many employers have toward employees.

  31. Workfromhome*

    #2 One of the few time I disagree with Allison. The LW needs to let this go completely. This is how I read the situation:
    While employed the former employee had multiple issues with vendor, expressed them to manger, manger acknowledged there were “concerns” and at best the response was “you need to work it out” and at worst “you are right that’s concerning but we value the vendor more than we value you”. The employee hasn’t dealt with the vendor since march (so 6 months or so) so if the issue was minor that’s lots of time to “cool off” . The employee was laid off for financial reasons so they were in effect told “you are being let go due to no fault of your own. You don’t work here any more” Once they don’t work there anymore (on payroll or not) they can write any review they want of any company they want as long as they are not doing it as a representative of the company (that they don’t work for anymore). The whole “still on payroll” thing really bothers me. If they waited a week until their last paycheck cleared before writing the same review would that be OK? What about a month later or 6 months later?
    When you laid that person off you lost any ability to control their personal reviews. You already (from their perspective) ignored their complaintswhich were bad enough they still weighed on their mind 6 mnths after the last time they worked with the vendor. You’ve already taken their job and income. Why would you possibly take away their opportunity to get a new job with a bad reference? let it go

    1. TechWorker*

      I really don’t get the logic that their review is totally theirs and not associated with the company – it’s likely the only connection the review writer had with the vendor was through their job with LWs company. Writing the review the day after they left doesn’t make it any less associated with the company?

  32. learnedthehardway*

    OP#2 – what really surprises me is that this is a VENDOR to your company, and that the employee’s repeatedly expressed concerns weren’t addressed when the person was employed. What kind of vendor management is that?!?!?

    Honestly, my first take was that your company was the vendor and it was a problem client, because when the company is the VENDOR, you have much more leverage over how they behave.

    I am assuming that your employee’s concerns are serious enough that they felt other potential client companies ought to be warned. If they aren’t, I guess you have the option to tell them that you can’t speak to their judgment in a reference situation, should they request one, but I wouldn’t deny them a reference in retaliation.

    1. OP*

      No reference will be denied. I never wanted to, but wanted to be sure I didn’t have some sort of obligation to mention this. Alison’s response was very helpful for me there.

      Anyways I think I’ve addressed the other pieces elsewhere in the comments, especially regarding how I did attempt to support employee with this issue. You’re welcome to determine what I did was insufficient – I think it’s clear that there’s a moment where I should have gotten even more hands-on – but I did try to address this issue.

  33. caseykay68*

    As others have said for LW#1, thats not normal, and I don’t care what you are doing, not necessary. First responders get mandated time off, Doctors have time off. There is nothing we are doing that necessitates 17 hour work days for anyone. This is bad management (they obviously need more people if there really is that much work), and they are taking advantage of staff. The quality of anyones work is going to be substandard with no rest. All of the advice here is valid, adjust your hours to normal working hours, look for another job, and if you need to quit.

  34. WFH with Cat*

    Re LW #1 – Would FMLA be an option at all, considering the member’s mental and physical health are at risk? I realize that this would require the employer to be a large enough company, in the US, etc., but if a physician states that the LW cannot work for a period of time, she should be able to take leave and use that time to both rest/recover and job hunt (or at least put together a job hunting plan).

    1. WFH with Cat*

      Just had a chance to read the LW’s earlier replies about leaving the job. Best of luck with the job hunt and your next (much more reasonable) employer!

  35. Dwight Schrute*

    I feel like I’m missing something about the review. OP seems to be overstepping and treading into petty territory with this. The employee raised concerns, you said you agreed with them, nothing was done to address the concerns, the employee is laid off and writes a negative, but not necessarily inaccurate review and you want them to take it down? This is literally what reviews are for. If the review was bad enough that it cost business for the vendor, maybe the concerns should have been addressed when the employee was still working there.

  36. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

    #1: My absolute bottom line is a full night’s sleep. And that would be for true emergencies, where people were dying or sleeping out in the elements or the like. I would be progressively unable to function well the more sleep I lost out on.

    Also, you absolutely could not pay me enough to work that much. The money would simply never be worth it. So it would have to be something so important that I was willing to do it for free.

    It would also have to be temporary, because I’m not killing myself even for a good cause.

    So basically, we are talking earthquakes, hurricanes, forest fires and other massive emergencies. I’d be willing to work 16 hour days to, for example, dig people out of collapsed buildings, but not for anything less worthy.

    And precisely none of this applies to OP: She’s not getting a full night’s sleep, it’s not a worthy cause, and it’s not temporary.

    1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      All of this. And, if OP is in the US, health issues that may be caused by ongoing stress and lack of sleep are expensive.

      I decided to leave a job that had a rotating 24×7 support schedule, after an older colleague ended up in a hospital with heart issues and we were all told it was a result of a bad 0n-call week. (She’d told us before that, if she got even one call at night, she could not go back to sleep, and had to just get up and go about her day. So she was not getting enough sleep by a long shot.) I was gone within a year and haven’t been on-call since.

    2. Allonge*

      That’s the other thing: I don’t want my doctor, nurse, firefighter, search and rescue worker or other emergency response person on 5 hours’ sleep. I definitely don’t want my banker or lawyer to work on 5 hours’ sleep, even if I have an emergency. I need them functioning!

  37. ala*

    For #2, obviously we are only getting the employers perspective here, but I wonder if the vendors’ behavior was truly egregious and the company was not willing to do anything about it. They still might not be, and I guess that’s fine, but it would explain why the ex-employee left such a review. Particularly if its also public facing – companies don’t have to get away with things forever, people are allowed to complain about them.

    All in all, I’m saying maybe the bad review was justified and correct, and not an error in judgment.

  38. LW*

    LW1, since you’re not going to use this job as a reference either way, don’t just quit. Start just working 9-6, do your job search in the evenings, and continue to get paid until they fire you.

  39. Stackson*

    OP3: We also use teams, and somehow, the dancing turkey emoji has become something my team uses regularly. One person will turkey, and then another one, and soon there are multiple dancing turkeys lined up, dancing away. It doesn’t really even mean anything; we just… turkey. It seems more seasonally appropriate now but we’ve been turkeying since July. Humans are weird.

    1. Environmental Compliance*

      My groupchat with some college friends made the discovery that we can change FB’s messenger theme and the emoji, but also hold the emoji to make it bigger, which has turned into (of course) giant poop emojis mixed in with aliens.

      I also spent part of yesterday doing nothing but sending gifs back and forth to a coworker.

      Humans are delightfully strange. I’m pretty sure I included the statement in my thesis defense (behavioral science-related) that “humans are the weirdest of creatures, because we spend a lot of our time thinking about what we think others are thinking about, and then changing our behavior based on that, but without ever asking others what they’re actually thinking.”

  40. employment lawyah*

    1. I’m working 17-hour days every day
    This is INSANE. No employer should be taking advantage of anyone like this.

    My main advice: Go see an employment attorney! It’s always possible you have been improperly classified or that someone has been doing something wrong. If that’s true, then you would have (a) great reason to leave and (b) an extraordinarily valuable back-pay claim.

    I say this because there is a STRONG correlation between “employers doing very very very bad things” and “employers who fail to properly document and jump through all the hoops.” You may be SOL but it’s worth a shot.

    I post anonymously, but AAM knows who I am–if you can’t find anyone, go through her to me and I’ll steer you in the right direction in your state.

    2. My former employee left a bad review for one of our vendors
    This shouldn’t affect your references but it should be INCLUDED.

    In other words: “Bobby was a good employee, while here. However, Bobby left a bad review for one of our vendors right after Bobby’s last day, which caused us a lot of problems with a major clients, and refused to take it down.”

    This deserves to be included, just like any other relevant information. Feel free to point that out to Bobby.

    4. We have to work from home without pay if we have Thanksgiving outside our homes
    Your employer is trying to use all of their power to force people to stay home. It may be legal (it depends on your state) and it’s probably smart even if you don’t like it.

    1. WellRed*

      It would be smarter to not create a situation where employees lie. The employer has so many options here to do the right (or at least, more palatable thing) and they are failing on every level.

    2. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      Your employer is trying to use all of their power to force people to stay home.

      I’m with Alison. If they’re going to force you to use PTO, I’d do just barely enough work to keep the job being one that I would want to return to–and if that’s zero, Perfect!

    3. Arabella*

      Hello :)

      Thank you for the concern, LW1 here.
      Unfortunately I’m from SEA, and in my country labour laws are very poorly enforced/non-existent.

      The only positive (?) Thing i have going for me is that its very difficult for me to get fired. But that’s about it. Any other bad conditions (like working hours, safety, verbal abuse, mental breakdowns, etc) are usually ignored or taken very lightly.

  41. The Starsong Princess*

    LW1: Review everything yo do and stop doing everything that isn’t absolutely critical. Be clear with your manager that is what you are doing. This won’t solve your problem but it might give you enough breathing room to think about your next step.
    Lw2: If the employee is telling the truth in the review, then, yes, you owe them the good reference you promised them.

  42. Lindsay Gee*

    #2: I’m curious to get others thoughts on how is this significantly different from, say a glassdoor review of a company? My brain initially jumped to, “Well this was done in their personal time, no longer as a employee or representative of the company. Their experience with the company is valid etc.” After reading Alison’s response, it got me wondering how this would be different from the employee writing a review about their own company vs. a vendor of the company they worked with. I don’t know if it’s logical, but to me they seem similar in terms of providing personal experience of either company, both of which they’ve had interactions with.
    Would love to hear others’ thoughts!

    1. Lord Peter Wimsey*

      I feel like there is a slight difference, but I don’t know if I can articulate it well. It seems to me if you post a review of your employer, that is based on your personal experience & relationship (employee/employer). But if you post a review of a vendor that you used in a business setting, that is based on a B2B experience & relationship (client/ vendor). So in essence, even though the person isn’t working at the client anymore, they’re still writing about the experience & relationship from that client perspective (rather than a personal one). A small distinction maybe, but I think it’s there…

      1. lazy intellectual*

        The LW states that the person didn’t reference the organization by name (if I am interpreting correctly). So they aren’t falsely claiming to represent the organization.

    2. lazy intellectual*

      Alison’s response surprised me! Normally, she respects boundaries between employees and employers. I understand that if it were the ex-employee writing in, she might have warned against writing a bad review in order to preserve a good reference, but this employee can also burn the bridge if they want.

  43. TeapotNinja*

    Nobody HAS to work 17 hours a day. You can say no.

    If they’re that understaffed, they are not going to fire you. And frankly, if they did, they would be doing you a favor.

  44. RussianInTexas*

    I am a vendor. As in I work for a company that is a vendor to many customers. I am in the customer service, and I imagine my customers complain about my company a lot, especially now (waves hand in the general world direction), because we’ve had a lot of issues with manufacturing, freight, shipping, extreme difficulties of predicting product turnaround, all of which causes delays, low inventory levels, etc. I have to deal with irate customers all the time.
    I hope that I, myself is always professional and polite, even when I have to give bad news I can’t control. But I can also imagine a customer leaving a terrible review for us as a vendor.

  45. Radford*

    #2 – I strongly disagree with both the letter writer’s and Alison’s take on this question. While a person is employed, their employer can rightly expect some influence on how they publicly talk about business partners and customers, but that ends when the employment ends. This idea that the ex-employee is not allowed to leave a truthful review for the benefit of other people and organizations that might work with the problem vendor strikes me as almost Orwellian. Reviews like this one, in aggregate, provide valuable information about people and businesses to the rest of society.

    It would be one thing if the review was factually inaccurate, or included personal attacks. But from how the letter writer describes it, the review is factual but the letter writer didn’t think it was a big deal. Clearly at least one other potential business partner disagreed, and thought it was a big enough deal to not do business with the vendor based on just one review!

    This review is not evidence of bad judgement on the part of the ex-employee. They specifically waited until they were no longer employed so that it could not be construed as the official position of the company. To give them a worse reference as a result of writing an honest negative review of a former business partner would be wrong.

  46. BlueBelle*

    What happens if you stop working at 5:00? What happens if something doesn’t get done and you say “I am sorry, I can’t work past 5:00.” It is already a crap situation, how much worse can it get? Start taking care of yourself and set some boundaries while you job hunt. If they let you go you aren’t any worse off than you are now.

  47. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

    LW4: No reason you can’t WFH to quarantine if you travel, especially if work is requiring a physical presence, which is dangerous in itself. It might well be safer to have Thanksgiving, then WFH, than to be around coworkers with unknown contacts during that time.

    Also, mental health is important after many months of being alone. Personally, I traveled for Thanksgiving, and was very careful (paying extra to fly on an airline with adjacent seat blocking, arriving more than a week before Thanksgiving so I can quarantine and make sure I am not sick before celebrating), because I needed to do something different.

    The messaging around how people are dangerous unfortunately plays into bad thoughts that relate to a trauma I’m currently working through. And I live in apartments in Minnesota. So I can’t leave and can’t go outside because of the weather. I was spending literal weeks indoors. No fresh air, no outside social contact, very little fresh food…I couldn’t take it.

    So I took the risk of traveling to family (two others) on the gulf coast, where rates are half what they are at home, and weather means I can go outside and have some safe social contact. I can almost forget COVID as long as I don’t leave the neighborhood- the built environment already favors social distancing (stilt houses, many wide beaches and trails). Now I can sleep again, I’m not drinking, my painful skin condition is healing, and I am actually getting vitamin D. I minimize exposure by not leaving the house except to go for walks outside.

    And I am not penalized for this choice. I can work from home and still be paid! LW should at least have that option, especially if family is just down the street.

    1. EngineerMom*

      It sounds like you found something that’s helped a lot!

      Just a side note, I lived in MN in an apartment for 5 years, too – ended up spending time outside in the many parks, and walking trails, just with sufficient cold-weather gear. Cross-country skiing, hiking, ice skating, etc.

      If you do end up needing to go back to MN this winter, see if you can find some good cold-weather gear so you can still get outside!

  48. lilsheba*

    OP#3 — We use Teams too, and yes it’s definitely less formal than email or other forms of communication. However I do believe one should use good grammar and spelling, and punctuation. We have one person who literally types and speaks like a hillbilly, with the worst grammar I’ve ever seen. Plus they are slow on basic knowledge regarding computer functions and how things should work in our industry. Makes me really question their intelligence. If one is an adult in the workforce, speak like it or write like it.

    As for OP #1, there is no way anyone can endure that work schedule. People need rest, need a break, need time to manage other things in their lives!

  49. NaN*

    #3 – As a part of my product line’s leadership team at a normal, mid-size company, I recently gave my approval for a software release in Teams chat using a Star Trek “make it so” gif. I got a thumbs up in response. This was a standard interaction on my team. YMMV.

  50. D3*

    #2, let me get this straight:

    – employee had problems with vendor
    – you knew about problems, agreed they were a problem, you had concerns
    – you did nothing
    – employee feels frustrated
    – employee loses job
    – employee, once no longer under your control, leaves an honest review
    – you do not dispute the things left in the review
    – vendor calls and asks about the review.
    – you say EVERYTHING IS FINE let’s just carry on
    – thereby guaranteeing bad behavior will continue and another employee will have to put up with the vendor’s concerning behavior.

    Way to fall down on the job. You had so many opportunities to get this worked out. Maybe if you’d stepped up when the employee first brought up the concerns the review would not have happened. Maybe if you had been honest with the vendor about the issues the issues wouldn’t have continued.

    When you SEE a direct report has a frustrating and ongoing problem, you agree that it is a problem, and yet you do nothing to fix it, you have to accept responsibility for the fallout. You left your employee dealing with known issues for far too long.
    IMO managers have to be willing to act on known issues. Not ignore them as things get worse.

  51. Beth*

    LW #3: I really, really, really, really hate gifs in general. If I could, I would ban thenm completely in Teams.

    Unfortunately, the person who’s using them all the time is my grandboss.

    1. juliebulie*

      I’m not crazy about emojis, especially if they’re weird ones that take me a while to see (because they’re friggin tiny) and understand. But I REALLY dislike animated gifs. Maybe I am part snake; I hate having stuff moving around on my screen (unless I’m on youtube or something).

      (And I’ve been searching for a good gif-blocker browser extension for a long time; it’s not actually the images I want to block, it’s the animations.)

  52. EngineerMom*

    1. 9am-2am is completely not normal. You are literally working 2 people’s jobs and then some (covering double shifts would have you working 6am to 10pm only 5 days a week – you would be getting more time off working two jobs than you are working one!). Save money, and leave. You are literally going to kill yourself working. I made the huge mistake of staying in a job I hated at the beginning of my career for 2 years because I thought I needed my first job out of college to be on my resume for some arbitrary length of time. Don’t do that – if it’s making you mentally and physically sick, GET OUT. A coworker I met later in life did exactly that – her first job was awful, and she quite after 6 months, then took another 2 months to find a full-time position. It didn’t hurt her career at all because she didn’t lose her drive, passion, or skills to a soul-sucking dead-end kind of position.

    5. For internal moves, be aware that it is very likely a hiring manager or committee would contact your current manager, so if you are applying for internal roles, let your manager (and anyone else who might be contacted) know! And yeah – use your work email. That’s pretty common (I’ve worked at several large companies where internal movement is common, and that’s definitely the norm, to use @company.com email addresses vs. personal ones. Using a personal email address for an internal move looks weird, like you’re trying to cover up the application.)

  53. Name (Required)*

    #1 and #4 are both in the trend I worry about right now of “be happy to have your job still while we make new working mandates that are terrible”.

    #1, this is not normal. Once in a while, maybe. Every day for 7 days a week? This is a problem. And Allison’s advice is right…if you can take the risk to leave, do it. This is not how employment is supposed to be.

    #4, this also annoys me. If you work from home, it shouldn’t be their concern. But if you are forced to use PTO, then take a vacation. Don’t work. This is one of those legal areas that leave me feeling “icky”. There is no other word for the lack of protections employees have for scenarios like this.

  54. Lifeandlimb*

    OP#1, first please start saving up extra money now. (It’s not like you have much social time to go out and spend money anyway now, right?) Once you have 3 or more months of survival funds set aside, you can make a transition without as much financial fear.
    These work demands are somewhat normal for certain industries seasonally or for juniors who have to “put in the work” for a couple years before they get seniority. However, if this is going to be an ongoing situation for you leading to burn out, you must take that into account seriously.

    As for the resume! At least here in the U.S., if you have been at a job about 5-6 months, you could feasibly put it on your work experience. It won’t be a total loss. You have a long and interesting career journey ahead of you, and a little blip of one company will not be the death sentence for your resume. If you have to leave sooner, leave sooner. Take care of yourself. You can always explain things in the next interview!

  55. CW*

    #1 – EVERY day?! Not normal. If you had to do this once in a while, then maybe it’s doable. But not every single day! That’s just insane.

    Not to mention, how do you even get enough sleep? And my guess is you don’t get overtime. Start looking for a new job immediately. Sooner or later, this will start to negatively affect your health, both mental and physical. It’s not worth it.

  56. Quill*

    #1 Honestly if you’ve been working 17 hours a day, 7 days a week, you’re well into chronic sleep deprivation territory and I am beginning to question if you’re safe to drive, at all, ever. LEAVE as soon as possible, your continued health may depend on it.

    1. Arabella*

      Hi Quill,

      Thank you for your concern. Fortunately, I am fully working from home for now. :) I cannot imagine working my current hours while having to drive almost an hour to and from work.

      Definitely very sleep deprived and constantly on edge, its already 3am ish here and I have to wake up at 8 this weekend if I want to have any hope on making a dent in my workload mountain.

      However, I am definitely planning to leave, just thinking of the best time to bring it up to my already- past burnout manager.

      Thank you again for the comment!

      1. employment lawyah*

        Assuming you’re #1 OP, I really do recommend checking out the “is this legal?” question.

  57. TextHead*

    LW3 – we use Slack (also Teams, but mostly just for certain calls) and use emojis and gifs all the time! Today, there were a bunch of Friday gifs to kick off the day :) We’re a fully remote company, so I don’t have a “how we were in the office” comparison, though. Gifs show our personalities. Emojis are used to convey emotions that may not be otherwise understood in a written message and to show reactions to posts. Overall, the use of these are how we relate to each other and helps with team cohesiveness. We actually use them with customers, too, in our customer service chats – most folks appreciate it.

  58. Chompers*

    LW3 – I literally just used the “Flames – Flames on the side of my face” gif about something that was driving me nuts in my Teams IM. I think being less formal in an IM setting is totally fine, as long as your company culture allows for it!

  59. Fred*

    You should give the same positive reference you intended. They accepted your direction about the vendor while they were working for you even though their criticism even you acknowledge was true. So that is admirable. What they do when no longer working for you has nothing to do with their preferences they were working for you. You fired him and now he’s free. Respect that and don’t seek revenge.

  60. lazy intellectual*

    LW2 – You don’t get to control your life ex employees and they don’t owe you loyalty or good PR. What the ex employee did was pretty dumb from a job hunting perspective, but they aren’t your PR agent and can criticize your vendors if they want. It also seems like it didn’t ruin your relationship with your vendor anyway so I would drop it.

    1. lazy intellectual*

      CORRECTION: The word “life” shouldn’t be there ugh. I hate typing on my phone sometimes.

  61. Jady*

    #1 – Honest question… what would happen if you just stopped?

    If they are having huge turnover and everyone is overworked, would they fire you? That would just mean they’re down another person.

    Some US states will still give unemployment if you’re fired for certain reasons, which I would hope this would apply. I have no idea, but it might be worth the gamble.

    I think it would depend on the boss’s attitude, but you could tell them you just can’t keep that up anymore, and set yourself max work hours (10/day at most!). Then just let the cards fall where they may…

    I’m not saying this is good advice, but this is probably what I would do in this situation.

  62. surprisedcanuk*

    LW2 I’m a little concerned that you may have missed something. You seem direct and literal, a lot of people may be reluctant to be blunt. Before asking them to remove the negative review you should have asked if there was anything else that happened. It’s possible you are not aware of full extent of the problems with the vendor. While there might not be anything you can do right now. It could impact your what happens when the contract with vendor ends.

  63. Tuesday*

    @ Teams LW – I built a very close rapport with a coworker in an adjacent department last year and we got to the point where over work Skype we would type all in low caps, minimal punctuation, sometimes all caps, and speak very casually. A couple times I made her a meme about something silly that happened at work.

    But over email, it’s very “Hi Coworkersname, can you please reach out to the client for a new itemized bill? There is a discrepancy in charges. Thank you! (full email signature)”

    Privately, the disparity is very, very funny to me.

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