boss sends us daily sales pitches for a money management app, pressure for virtual socializing, and more

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

1. My boss is bombarding us with daily sales pitches for an app

One of my bosses has made a money management app available as a perk for employees — think a Dave Ramsey program. She sends us daily emails strongly encouraging us to “sign up and take control of your cash!” I find these emails annoying and intrusive and bin them as soon as they come in. I have my own financial planner and thankfully don’t need this program, nor do I want to give any time (and, I suspect, any money) to an organization that’s as obnoxiously evangelical and gun toting as this organization is. And suggestions on how to handle? My younger staff is feeling a lot more intimidated about this than I am, and I’d like to support them.

I would bet money that this app has an affiliate set-up where your boss gets money for everyone who joins through her link, because there’s no other explanation for why she’s being so aggressive about it. Daily emails?!

This is no different than if she were aggressively hawking nutritional supplements or essential oils at work — it’s not okay, and it’s extra gross because she’s using her position of power both to access people (would anyone else be allowed to send daily sales emails to your team?) and to pressure you into signing up.

Do you have HR? If so, take it straight there; they’ll almost certainly put a stop to it. But otherwise, talk to her and say, “I’ve heard from some of my team that they don’t want to keep receiving pitches for this app — can we give people a way to opt out from messages about it?” Or: “I’m not planning to sign up for this app, and my team has said they’re not interested either. Can you leave us off any future messages about it?”

(If you’re uncomfortable doing that, talk to someone over her head. Or, since you said “one of my bosses,” talk to one of the others. It’s very unlikely the company will be okay with this.)

2. My boss wants us to do virtual socializing all the time

My supervisor, Bob, is very into the group socializing. When he was promoted, he said one of his biggest achievements was getting his entire department to attend after-work happy hours. Another boss leads the weekly virtual happy hour, but Bob attends to see who is there. We usually get an email filled with jokes and the some version of “Remember it’s not only a happy hour but a check-in. These are hard times with continued social distancing so I think we should all commiserate by getting together on a Friday for games and fun.” Some of these happy hours are okay, some are not fun at all. We’ve spent over an hour discussing power tools, people’s health issues, and whether or not recording work meetings is illegal, even after they decided to email our legal department.

In addition to this weekly Friday happy hour, there is a leadership lunch every Monday. That one I skip. Unsurprisingly, both of these have pretty low attendance outside the people who feel forced to attend. The director, deputy director, and other bosses attend every week and have discussed how to increase participation. Some ideas were turning the first half into a weekly highlight meeting, continually mentioning that the bosses are there, and individually polling people who aren’t participating and asking why (personally I’m hoping for this option because a higher-up friend doesn’t drink and wants to point out that happy hours are discriminatory).

Bob has also mentioned that he feels bad for me and another coworker because we’re young and live alone, so he wants to help us be social. We have friends and family to call or even see outside socially-distanced (I talked to my coworker about this, and he feels the same).

I’m one of the younger and least senior people in the department, so I’m not sure how much pull I have. I also just started in July. Is there a good way to explain that people just don’t want to do these mandatory social activities after work every single week? Do you have any other advice or suggestions I can make to supervisors who are insistent we need to socialize? So far I was thinking of switching the weekly events to monthly, but that’s my only idea.

Suggesting switching from weekly to monthly is good, but it’s also okay to just bow out. You can say you have other commitments outside of work — maybe your family has a regular Zoom call every Friday after work or you’ve joined a book club that meets then or your friends have a standing virtual meet-up then or so forth. And if Bob makes another comment about how you must be lonely, you can say, “Just the opposite — if anything, I have Zoom fatigue from how often I’m talking to family and friends these days.”

You can also address it more directly: “I’m wiped by the end of the day and it’s tough to do another Zoom call. I appreciate the invitation, but at the end of the day I usually need to sign off and deal with things around my house that are waiting for me.”

That said, it can be a good idea to attend this kind of social event occasionally — like once a month or once every couple of months — so that you don’t seem totally out of sync with your team culture (which is annoying, but the reality of it). But you don’t need to stay for the whole time — you can hang out for 20 minutes and then need to call the kid you’re tutoring or go make dinner or so forth.

3. How will I give two weeks notice when my UK-based company thinks three months is normal?

I am U.S.-based, but work for a company abroad (UK if it matters). While there are a few U.S. offices of the company, I’m the lone U.S. person on my fully UK-staffed team. I’m not based in any of the U.S. offices either, I’m a fully remote employee.

In a discussion the other day, someone mentioned that another person resigned and gave “only” four weeks notice. They seemed quite upset over that, and seemed to be judging the person harshly for it. Upon further investigation, I learned that at my company, most people have three-month notice periods! While I know employment in the U.S. is at-will, and I’m not contractually obligated to a notice period of a certain length like my UK colleagues, how would I go about resigning? It would probably leave a bad taste if I gave them the customary two weeks, but I’m not sure I could tell my new employer that I would need three months to start! Is there a graceful way to go about this that wouldn’t ruin my reputation? Despite the company’s being abroad, they are still well known in the industry, and recommendations and connections are too valuable to lose one this.

Do you have a good relationship with your boss? If so, you could use the conversation you were just in as a way to raise this — explain what you heard and say, “I want to make sure you know that our resignation periods in the U.S. are generally much shorter; two weeks is the standard here. I don’t have any plans to leave, but assuming it will happen at some point down the road, I want to make sure our notice periods won’t be a shock to anyone.”

Otherwise, when you resign, you can say something like, “I’m sure you know our resignation periods in the U.S. are much shorter — two weeks is the norm. Jobs here generally expect new hires to start pretty quickly because of that.” (That said, if you can swing a month instead of two weeks, it would likely help — and in a lot of fields, that wouldn’t be weird to ask for.)

4. My manager won’t stop commenting on my injury

I suffered a torn ACL recently, which has necessitated me providing my workplace with documentation regarding my doctors’ appointments and workplace limitations. Although my supervisor means well, I feel she is crossing personal boundaries by asking me on a regular basis what my pain levels are on a given day.

A few weeks ago, I privately told her that although I know she has good intentions by asking me about my pain, I am a very private person and would prefer to keep details of my injury to myself. I did share with her that on any given day, my pain levels vary. To be honest, I am not sure why there is a workplace need for this information and think she may just have an issue with boundaries.

Lately, she has stopped asking me about my pain levels, but when we were walking into a conference room yesterday, she exclaimed, “Wow, you’re walking so well today!” She makes other similar comments on a regular basis. I understand she is coming from a good place, but I’m embarrassed by her publicly drawing attention to me, and I don’t exactly know how to react when she says things like this.

Since I have tried to address this a few times with her with no success, should I just grin and bear her comments? In our department she has no one higher up.

I don’t think you need to grin and bear it. It sounds like she’s trying to be kind and concerned about you, but she’s not reading your cues at all, even after you pretty much spelled it out.

But it sounds like she was receptive to the earlier conversation (she just didn’t extrapolate enough from it), so I’d try another one. You could say, “I should have been clearer earlier — I appreciate your concern about my injury but I would prefer not to discuss it at work at all, including things like how I’m walking or X or Y. Thanks for understanding!”

If you want, you could even say, “I’m trying not to think about it and when you comment on it, it gets me focusing on it again.” But you don’t need that explanation.

5. Should I give feedback to an overly enthusiastic and unprofessional intern candidate?

My company is hiring four interns (for a university placement year) to work in my department. The four roles are exactly the same and one of the basic requirements is that you must have excellent written skills. The interns will end up reporting to me and the three other managers in the department (one intern per manager). Right now the candidates are going through screening calls with our recruitment team and will be slimmed down into a pool for us managers to interview.

I got a rather enthusiastic message from one candidate on LinkedIn, which I would usually ignore, but the tone of the message was so off-putting, that I was deciding whether to give them some polite feedback. What do you think? This is an edited version of what they sent me:

Hi, it’s Sansa! I hope you are well! I am interested in the job opening currently at your comoany, infact I had just given my phone interview yesterday! I’d like to get some advice on the next steps and what all you did in order to land this amazing job :) Would love to have chat with you x

There was an emoji thrown in too. And yes, that’s a kiss at the end. I kept the spelling mistakes in too.

I know that LinkedIn is a fairly casual networking place, so I could ignore this message, but I was wondering if it was worth letting them know that if they are going to message a connection to the role, it’s usually best to err on a more professional tone the first time you reach out?

Eh, I could argue it either way. As a general rule, it’s not a good use of your time to give unsolicited feedback to job applicants (there’s so much you could give, you don’t know if people even want it, and ultimately it’s not what you’re being paid to spend your time on) … but interns are a little different since they’re generally at the start of their careers and by definition are trying to learn more about the work world. There’s more room there to offer feedback if you want to.

Also, that is an astoundingly odd message on multiple counts — the spelling errors, the kiss (!), the content itself — which makes me more inclined to want to help. (With a more experienced candidate, it would make me less inclined because I’d figure if she hadn’t learned those things by this point, a single email from a stranger wouldn’t change anything … but again, interns are different.)

{ 539 comments… read them below }

  1. KWu*

    Oh, Bob. If people wanted to socialize more with their coworkers, they would make it happen. Mandatory fun is rarely fun!

    1. allathian*

      Yeah. It’s another case of a tone deaf extremely extrovert boss who is projecting their feelings on less extroverted reports.

      This sort of mandatory socializing would have me looking for a new job.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I *am* highly extroverted and this would be too much for me.
        Fridays are MINE, even before pandemic preferred happy hours to show up on Monday through Friday.

        1. lsjirojliejfls*

          My previous firm scheduled Happy Hours monthly starting at 4:00 and we had a charge code. It wasn’t required, but I would much rather have a drink than work. And 4:00 is great for working parents, lots of times kids need to be picked up by a certain time, so socializing after 5:00 is not an option.

          1. Clockoffmeansclockoff*

            We had the opposite problem. People with kids wanted the time pushed back until after 7/8 when they’d gone to bed. I was fine sticking around for an hour or so after the weekly wrap up for some socialising, but not logging off then having to come back hours later. “But you’re in lockdown and can’t go anywhere, you don’t even have kids so what does it matter?” was pretty much the co-workers’ reasoning, but then they wouldn’t show up later either so we just scrapped it completely.

      2. EPLawyer*

        If he is like this virtually can you IMAGINE what he is like whe people are back in the office? It’s a lot harder to nope out of a happy hour in person. Plus he will probably want to do “team building” exercises and all sorts of things that he considers “fun” and everyone else just wants to get their work done and go home.

        1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          Oh it’s actually easier. “I’ve got to be home at X o’clock to do Y.” OP says they have family in the area? Great, would love to stay, but I need to meet my ailing grandma at exactly 6:00 PM for… grandma things.

          1. Librarian of SHIELD*

            I also have a lot of family living locally and it does, in fact, make a great buffer for avoiding social events you don’t want to attend. “An after work happy hour on Friday? I’m so sorry. Aunt Cathy needs me to fix her internet so she can watch her favorite show Friday night.” “Oh, a hike on Saturday morning? I’m so sorry, I promised my nephew I’d go to his soccer game that day.”

            1. Artemesia*

              You can do the same with mandatory zoom socializing. ‘Oh my family does a zoom get together then so I am covered up.’ ‘Oh my book club is meeting then’. ‘You know I have so many zoom social get togethers with friends and family that it is really hard for me to add work events to that’

              The subtext of course is ‘hey, Bob, not everyone relies on the workplace for their social life’ — I’d attend one every month to 6 weeks — and have other things going the other times. And if Bob commented about loneliness because I live alone, I would say ‘Actually Bob, because it doesn’t matter where you live on zoom, I find that I am actually socializing with friends local and all over the country, more than when we could get out.’

        2. ValkyriePuppy*

          I wonder if he’s someone who’s completely overreacting to having things online though? He might be someone who’s content with a monthly lunch or something when people can interact at work. Some people, particularly more extroverted “old school” types can’t comprehend that the rest of us are ok and don’t need mandatory social gatherings. It’s weird and forced and screams someone who is projecting their own loniliness on others. Eve

        3. Tisiphone*

          Reason #846 why I like working second shift.

          Happy hour at a bar at 5pm? No problem! Go have fun!
          Happy hour on premises at 5pm? Great! I’ll go grab a beverage, hang out for a few minutes, rush back to my desk to check to see what work has come in.

          On-premises happy hours were fine. There usually was a buffet of finger food and beverages of all kinds. Nobody cared what, if anything, you drank. Those of us second-shifters who were on duty were able to attend and we often grabbed something to eat and drink and went back to our desks. If we wanted to socialize, we could, and someone always was available to pick up work in a timely manner. Before the pandemic, this was typical, and only once or twice a year.

          Weekly zoom calls? That’s too much like an after-hours meeting I’m not getting paid for.

          1. kitryan*

            Yup! I had a 12-9 shift and I could ‘show present’ at any in office evening events, (on the clock), do a couple rounds of saying hello to people, grab a snack and get back to work. Then when I was headed out, I could usually pack up some of whatever left overs there were for that night or the next day.

      3. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        I don’t know if this is even a bad case of extroversion. I’d think that extremely extroverted people would have too busy of a life outside of work to plan or attend weekly (or more?) work social events. I… don’t know what Bob is doing here. Sounds like he thinks he is doing it for his employees’ benefit.

        1. Zephy*

          This is probably going to sound harsher than I intend it to, but: being extroverted doesn’t automatically mean that you have friends.

          1. EventPlannerGal*

            I don’t think it’s harsh, I think it’s just accurate. Being introverted or extroverted (insofar as those are meaningful labels – how many times do these discussions devolve into slightly absurd micro-labelling of very unexceptional personality traits, “I’m an semi-extroverted moderate introvert with ambivert tendencies on Tuesdays” etc etc /soapbox) says nothing about your social skills and so on. It doesn’t mean extroverts automatically have a massive group of friends and a buzzing social life.

          2. RebelwithMouseyHair*

            Yeah extroverts can be jerks and introverts can be kind and considerate.
            The extrovert workaholic jerk is precisely the sort to want to make work events mandatory fun.

        2. Another British poster*

          I despise “mandatory fun” but I really hate how everything to do with socialising is reduced to introverts vs extroverts. Almost all human beings have a need for human contact (the number of people who are true hermits is small) but different people have different sources of human contact. (And I’ve noticed the people who are the most judgy about “extroverts” tend to be Extremely Online and therefore have a ton of social interaction, but kinda pretend it’s not social interaction since it’s not face to face.)

          If all your social needs are met by your family, your roommates, or via socialising online, then you have less need of external social opportunities. Even if your family or roommates drive you nuts and it’s excessive social contact, that basic need is still being fulfilled. Not everyone is so fortunate.

          Last year one of the venues I work with set up a weekly Zoom check-in for creative freelancers which is entirely optional and voluntary. Someone requested they be changed to monthly on the grounds she was invited to too many Zooms. I was so angry, because there was literally no reason for her or anyone else to attend unless they personally feel they needed it, and no consequences of skipping. Our society is so wrapped up in the competitive busyness myth it forgets and excludes people who don’t have access to that.

          I’m not trying to throw a pity party because my life has been privileged in other ways, but it has been extremely isolated. I was home schooled, grew up in a tiny family who all died when I was still quite young, live alone and have always worked entirely from home (even pre-pandemic) and have a serious disability which makes it difficult to leave the house. As a consequence lockdown as been extremely isolating for me and I often go weeks without speaking to another person and am rarely asked to Zoom with anyone or take Zoom meetings. I’m so sick of people going “ugh we all have zoom fatigue, right?” – I’d honestly give anything to be invited to a Zoom just to have the tiniest fleeting human interaction.

          All of which is totally separate from MANDATORY Zooms which are one of Dante’s circles of hell, but please stop with the “anyone who wants/needs social interaction is an awful terrible extreme extrovert” – especially if you yourself already have ready sources of social interaction.

          1. Hrodvitnir*

            I’m not sure if you’ll see this but I want to say I’m really sorry you’re feeling so isolated. I’m from NZ so we haven’t had to deal with this extended social isolation at all, and my heart hurts for all the people who are struggling.

          2. Pennyworth*

            The number of people who don’t need social interaction of some sort must be vanishingly small. I’m sorry you are so isolated. Would your employer be open to you arranging a social zoom session occasionally? Do you have any interests or hobbies which might have zoom classes or lectures? I just searched free art classes zoom and some things popped up. Another way to interact is to sign up with an organization that matches isolated people with volunteer callers who phone for a chat once a week. They are always looking for volunteer callers if that is something you might like to do.

          3. Been There*

            Thank you for going against the group here. I miss the social interactions that happen spontaneously when you are in the office, but are very hard when everybody is working from home. Voluntary Zoom happy hours fill that need for me. In my office, only the people who want to, show up, and we have a great time for 30-45 minutes.

          4. Roci*

            I totally agree with this: ” (And I’ve noticed the people who are the most judgy about “extroverts” tend to be Extremely Online and therefore have a ton of social interaction, but kinda pretend it’s not social interaction since it’s not face to face.)”

            I too have noticed that many people who complain online about “extroverts” are also incredibly active online and through texting. That is social interaction too! Interesting how we social primates like communicating with others, sometimes online and sometimes in person :)

            I totally understand your isolation feeling, I am right there with you. I have been trying to participate in weekly online experiences on AirBnB or Event Brite. Some do feel like watching a Twitch stream or listening to a podcast rather than one-on-one interaction, but the regular nature of it allows community building, which is nice. And some are for smaller groups that may be more intimate. Hang in there, we will get through this!!

        3. Keymaster of Gozer*

          I honestly don’t use extrovert or introvert labels often because there’s so much misconception as to what they mean. Most people I meet think I’m extroverted: I can talk to anyone, give speeches in public with no problem, will chat about inane stuff for ages.

          But, it wears me the heck out. I need hours recovery after a day at work.

          So yep, extrovert/introvert isn’t really applicable.

          1. adk*

            Same. I’m an outgoing introvert. I have a friend who is a painfully shy extrovert. She loves and gets power being around other people, but is too shy to talk to strangers.

          2. Snuffuluppagus*

            Ambivert may be more along the lines of what you are. I know I am an ambivert because I am comfortable in social situations but when I am done – I need my down time by myself. Extrovert/introvert has a lot to do with where a person draws their energy.

            am·bi·vert
            /ˈambəˌvərt/
            noun: ambivert; plural noun: ambiverts
            a person whose personality has a balance of extrovert and introvert features

      4. Hobbit*

        This! Yes, 1,000 times yes. Anything with mandatory is automatically not fun. Also, I wish more ppl understood that not everyone wants to be around everyone all the time. I’m an introvert, who lives alone, but I have family and friends I communicate with and see on a regular basis. I love my coworkers and my direct reports, but I don’t want to be around them after a long week of work.

      5. NotAnotherManager!*

        Yes! The Bobs of the world are always stunned that I’d rather read a book with my cat do yet another zoom call or spend more time with the (lovely as they are) people I work with. I have had my people face on all day, I’m exhausted, and I’m not the tiniest bit lonely.

    2. AS87*

      This is infuriating. Weekly happy hours and lunches where it seems they are quietly watching attendance. Keep in mind this is after work or the employee’s lunch. Furthermore Bob proudly considers it an achievement.

      I’m an introvert who is leery of making friends at work due to personal experiences. The “work family” motto some people use makes me cringe. If the atmosphere is already toxic Bob will only make it worse. I would be miserable working under him.

      Spot on description by allathian of a tone deaf extremely extrovert boss who is projecting their feelings on less extroverted reports.

      1. Librarian of SHIELD*

        That’s the part that makes this extra icky to me. If it was something like the last hour of the work day on Fridays we have social time, that would be uncomfortable, but I’m on the clock and they’re paying me to do it so I’ll do it. But to put all these mandatory-not-mandatory social events on the employee’s unpaid time is just not cool. If I were on a hiring committee and one of the candidates told me the accomplishment they were most proud of is that they strong armed their employees into participating in events during their unpaid personal time, I would not hire that person. This is not a boss who has any understanding of boundaries or work-life balance, and it sounds like he’s used to getting his socialization from the workplace rather than having an actual social life.

      2. PartyOnGary*

        The after work or during people’s lunch thing is the biggest issue for me. If they want to increase participation, and see it as a beneficial part of what makes the business work, make it part of the working hours. Asking people to give time and energy beyond what is required these days is completely tone deaf.

        1. JustaTech*

          Like, if people want to have “work friend” lunches, that’s one thing; maybe they all ate together in the Before Times. But one thing I’ve always really respected about my boss is that he *doesn’t* eat lunch with his team. That’s our time to not be “on” for the boss.

          Also, who wants to eat on-camera? It’s so much more awkward than eating in person.

    3. Keymaster of Gozer*

      I hate zoom socialising for one reason: only one person can talk at a time. Feels more like attending a classroom.

      1. Richard Hershberger*

        On the plus side, you can use the time to organize your inbox and hone your minesweeper skills.

        1. Keymaster of Gozer*

          Ha! Not on our network: any and all games are removed and blocked. Tried running Diablo on my home PC next to the laptop once but turns out it makes a lot of network noise :p

      2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        Yep! Even if you are interested in the conversation and want to get a word in, you can’t!

        Also, at a normal happy hour I’d be off in a corner chatting in smaller groups. That’s not possible on a zoom one.

      3. Duckles*

        Some friends and I still do zoom calls and it’s fun, because (aside from that they’re actually my friends) it’s at most five people. Any more than that and it turns into exactly what you’re describing.

        1. Polyhymnia O'Keefe*

          My group of pandemic friends (4 of us — who were all friends in real life before, but our friendship has gotten exponentially stronger during this past year) ends up on video calls — usually FB messenger video — once a month or every 6 weeks, and we can go 6 or 7 hours, long into the wee hours of the morning. I haven’t had phone calls that long since I was in a long-distance relationship! Aside from a few outdoor social activities over the summer, it’s the closest I’ve come this whole pandemic to replicating the feeling of sitting around on the couch just hanging out.

          4 is the perfect size for that, though. Enough to keep the conversation rolling, few enough to not feel left out.

          1. Keymaster of Gozer*

            I’ve done an 8 person friends zoom call, but we were playing a kind of ‘make up funny answers to questions and vote on the best’ game on the internet as a focal point. With a focal point it can work, but otherwise I stick to 1 to 2 people at most outside of work calls.

      4. RebelwithMouseyHair*

        Yes, we attended a zoom wedding and it was excruciating because we wanted to chat just with the few people we really knew, but didn’t want everyone participating in the conversation. One of the guests was a guy we had last seen aged about eight, and I’d have loved to tease him about the pancakes he scarfed, but not in front of 20 other people, most of whom we didn’t know.

      5. Artemesia*

        yeah — it has taken our weekly 6 couple movie club awhile to sort out how to manage this process where only one person can talk at once. At a social event, side conversations are the norm — even when two couples meet, the guys will chat and the women — and then break and she will talk with the guy from the other couple etc —- it really exacerbates the problems of blowhards (them) or people with profound insights who may talk to much (me).

        In large groups and shallow groups like work groups it is excruciating to have to listen to so much that is not interesting. At a cocktail party you would move on to another person or go get a drink.

    4. Anon for this*

      Our “Bob” instituted a daily (!) half hour chat meeting at the beginning of WFH, so he could “check on our mental health”. After a while we got this made optional and now the only people who go ever day are new employees who probably don’t feel they can opt out of a meeting with the boss. Boss is apparently concerned about the dwindling attendance and has now told someone that these meetings are for his own (Boss’s) mental health. I fear he will raise this at our next team meeting and have no idea what to say..

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Say the meetings were bad for your own mental health — not in a snarky way, but in a “it’s better for me to be able to focus on work and not on the disaster around us” way.

        1. Anon for this*

          Thanks Alison! It’s completely true, I’m much happier if I can get things done, and taking half an hour out of my day does not help with that.

          1. Mongrel*

            Yeah, common advice is to have a clear distinction between work time & my time by enforcing a ‘Work computer\connection gets turned off at 17:00’ routine.

      2. Freya*

        You are not responsible for anyone else’s mental health. You’re *definitely* not responsible if you haven’t consented. You’re not getting paid to be your boss’s therapist or therapy group, that’s outside the scope of your work contract, and not covered by your workplace’s injury insurance.

        1. Keymaster of Gozer*

          A harsh truth but truth nonetheless. I’ve used the phrase “sorry, but I can’t be someone’s therapist” during this year. (I have a psych team. They get paid to listen to my fears. My staff do not)

    5. Liz*

      Yes! my group is small, less than 5, and i want to say we’ve had 2, maybe 3 zoom happy hours in the last year. Which has been nice, in order to catch up. Each one lasts maybe an hour or so, we chat, have a beverage, and then are done.

      but i would not be happy if my bosses insisted on having them weekly, etc. and expecting me to attend all of them! while we don’t really do zoom meetings at all, at leaset I don’t, at the end of the day, i want to focus on getting personal stuff done, or sometimes, just doing nothing at all!

      1. snoopythedog*

        Same. We have a bi- weekly half hour ‘fun time’ where someone organizes a short activity or is in charge of keeping the discussion going. Because we’re a small team, we probably only end up meeting once a month because people end up with meetings in that time slot (it’s our busiest quarter). It’s nice to chat to others in a low pressure situation and its during the work day but in a low-focus time slot for all of us. It’s normalized that if you need to hop off at exactly the 1/2 hour mark, you do so!

      2. JustaTech*

        We’ve been having periodic (every other week? once a month?) happy hours over WebEx, and sometimes they’re nice and some times it’s awful because 3-4 of the senior people are all in the same room together, eating and drinking (aaargh) and because they’re trying to keep their distance (and failing), you can barely hear them.

    6. Cat Tree*

      Even pre-covid, some people make this assumption that anyone who lives alone must be sad and lonely all the time. It is actually possible for me to maintain friendships with people I don’t live with OR work with. Luckily my cat is a convenient excuse. If I want to politely get out of an event, I have to feed him at that time. If I’m in an event and hating it, I just heard him throw up and I need to go clean it.

      1. Suzanne*

        This!! It’s so weird. Do they really think people who live alone have NO social life at all? Like do other people live with everyone they socialize with?

        1. Roy G. Biv*

          It’s a stereotype, but also a truism in my experience: Extrovert having to live alone = nightmare. Introvert having to live alone = bliss. Bob cannot imagine a world where the singles living alone are anything but sad, lonely and yearning for social connection with anyone, including Bob and the team. Enforced mandatory fun with management and coworkers on my own time is MY nightmare.

          1. Cat Tree*

            I’m an extrovert and I live alone. People have these really bizarre assumptions about what extroverts are like, but that’s a topic for a different thread.

            1. SwitchingGenres*

              And I’m an introvert who lives with my husband, we’re both home all day, and I love it. People have very specific ideas about what intro/extroverts are like and often they’re not accurate.

              1. Artemesia*

                Me too. I can be assertive and I think a casual acquaintance might see me as an extrovert but I am not and the lockdown with just my husband has been mostly lovely. He has his space and I mine and we get together for dinner and the evening. I miss theater, dinner parties, movies and drinks with friends, family parties BUT I am also pretty happy with the isolation. .

                My mother in law used to say the measure of a complete person was that they could live in solitary confinement and live happily in their head. I know that I could do so.

          2. IndustriousLabRat*

            Introvert CHOOSING to live alone = even blissful-er! :) I’m single by choice, living alone with my dog by choice, and absolutely ADORE the fact that I can choose when, if, and with whom to socialize. My job and specifically my position has a LOT of interaction and communication, plus it’s a super noisy manufacturing facility (think constant earmuffs) and if Boss decided that we needed to socialize out of work too, I’d consider that a major intrusion into my Previously Scheduled Silent Bliss And Pupper Scritches Time and start looking for a new job!

          3. Something Something Whomp Whomp*

            And then there are introverts who find that living alone plus being socially lazy plus mostly being friends with coupled introverts who are enough for each other makes it extremely difficult to get even rather meagre social needs met.

          4. Another British poster*

            I’m an extreme introvert and live alone and it’s living hell. I’m basically suicidal every single day from complete social isolation.

            It’s more accurate to say “introvert who lives alone who is fortunate enough to have a family/partner/friends/people they see at work available to provide meaningful emotional support and necessary social contact in a way the introvert can control it = bliss.”

            1. Keymaster of Gozer*

              UK here and just offering some sincere I’ve Been At That Point Truly This Year advice: ring the NHS if you’re feeling that bad. There’s no need to be suicidal: there is help.

              (I got help early in lockdown because I was at breaking point)

      2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        I just started living alone and it is fantastic, but yes, I am aware of the assumption. So silly. But, I mean, what to expect of a society where at one point, “sad desk lunches” were a trend. Somehow eating your work lunch in a breakroom filled with coworkers, sitting with several of them chatting about work supposedly was a sign of you being a well-rounded person who has their act together, whereas taking a break to eat on your own while, oh I don’t know, reading AAM, was a sign of dysfunction? Now *this* perception I believe is something we have to thank our extroverted friends for.

        1. Suzanne*

          Ugh also this. I like to read while eating (because what else would you do? lol) but apparently this is also a “sad lunch” *shrug* Because enjoying time alone reading a good book is worse than sitting in a crowded lunch room with noise and listening to the latest conversation about something you have no interest in? I don’t know the logic baffles me.

          1. The Rural Juror*

            I was once sitting at a counter in a restaurant eating lunch when a man sat down at an empty space near me. I was reading a book on my phone through the Kindle app. He was being friendly and said, “Oh man! Must be a busy day at work if you’re still reading emails at lunchtime!” Lucky for him, I’m also a friendly person who doesn’t mind chatting with strangers. I showed him the app and said, “Actually, I’m reading Fight Club, and they’re burning each other with lye.” Luckily he was familiar with the movie and laughed at himself for being presumptuous. I don’t even think that’s what I was really reading…but he didn’t have to know that.

        2. TardyTardis*

          I would rather eat lunch in the breakroom because spills are easier to clean up and are less likely to kill keyboards, but don’t talk to me that much, I’m busy catching up on Love’s Tender Spaceship. The second half hour, I’m at the keyboard writing the sequel to Love’s Tender Spaceship.

      3. A Simple Narwhal*

        Right? It feels similar to the no kids = no family assumption that comes up around holidays. Like do parents, siblings, cousins, nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles, grandparents, in-laws, etc not count as family? Someone can live by themselves and still have a rich fulfilling social live and connections to others.

        1. c_g2*

          It’s odd to me how in the U.S among most white Americans — I’m not sure if/how it differs across race — the idea of the family seems to be only spouse and kids once you’re an adult.

          1. kt*

            As a white person from an immigrant family, I’d say it varies across culture. And yes. We spend time every weekend with my grandparents & sometimes other family and ppl don’t see that as the norm.

          2. TardyTardis*

            Mmmm, our family is pretty whitebread, but it’s extended (especially when Nana was still alive). Then again, growing up in a relatively small town meant my dad got flowers when he was sick from a cousin’s ex-husband. And that the step-laws watched over Nana when Dad couldn’t. (Once you have been a member of our family, you can never leave. We’re kind of like the Weasleys that way).

      4. MGW*

        My dog is an excellent excuse! In pre-Covid times- “i’ve spent a lot of time at work this week and really think my dog needs some attention!”. In Covid-times: “my dog is begging to go outside and I have to supervise her because she’s a digger”.

        1. Cassidy*

          In Covid-times: “my dog is begging to go outside and I have to supervise her because she’s a digger”.
          ————

          That’s awesome! I don’t have a dog so I will have to think of a kitty alternative. Maybe “I hear kitty mischief and need to investigate.” Thanks for the idea, MGW!

          1. Hosta*

            “Aw, geeze, not ag- I’m sorry, the cat’s been sick, she’s still adjusting to all the changes from Covid. I need to duck out to clean….all that up. Sorry, sorry, bye!”

    7. Raldeme*

      In my experience with Bobs he is likely to respond to OP’s unavailability one night by suggesting that they move the happy hour to another night. I like the zoom fatigue excuse!

    8. Lacey*

      Oh seriously! I really like and enjoy my coworkers, but I am just not interested in socializing outside of work except for where our lives naturally intersect (some of us are involved in the same community organizations).

      And while I am starved for socialization, zoom calls are not what I want/need. I already have several weekly calls with fam & friends and those feel overwhelming. I can’t dispense with them because I miss people, but they’re exhausting and not how I like to socialize.

      1. Deborah*

        I agree entirely. Maybe they work for some people, but Zoom socializing just doesn’t fulfill my socializing needs AT ALL.

      2. EmmaPoet*

        Yes, this. I miss seeing people in person (and I’m in a risk group so even outdoor visits feel unsafe). Zoom just isn’t the same. Phone calls can be easier, depending on the person.

    9. pleaset cheap rolls*

      I hate these things. And mandatory is terrible. But I don’t think it’s true that coworkers would make it happen themselves. Sometimes someone stepping up helps create a framework.

      At my org the CEO set it up and most people wanted it. I did not, so I started skipping most of them. But some people really liked them. They were well-run with him setting if off to rotating management.

    10. Orora*

      I love the weekly check-in/socializing meeting that our small staff of 10 has on Thursdays. The difference between ours and OP’s is that it’s during work hours and no one is required to attend. We also mostly discuss innocuous subjects: What are people binge watching/reading/cooking? We discuss work subjects sometimes, but more often it’s just “water cooler talk”. It’s more like we’re all going out to lunch together

      I attend every week because I’m the HR Director, but if I don’t want to participate, I just put myself on mute and listen. Some people are there every week, some only on occasion, some almost never. The keys are that we’re not forced to be there, we try to keep it light, and it’s not during anyone’s downtime.

    11. Silver Bunny*

      My executive boss does this same thing. We have a Zoom happy hour every month, of course ALWAYS after work hours for over an hour. I’m in meetings all day long, how is doing random pointless icebreakers with people over Zoom fun?! I hated icebreakers in school, hate them even more now. -_- Don’t we meet enough with these people during the 40 plus hour work week?! At least before COVID you got free food out of it, now it’s just a big waste of my personal time.

  2. Gubbins McGee*

    It’s not standard in the UK to give three months notice. Two weeks is usual. Op3 works for a weird organisation….

    1. Rosa Diaz*

      I think it depends on the industry and company, in my experience it’s often pretty standard for junior employees to have a one month notice period specified in their contract, and for it to progressively higher as you get more senior- 9-12 months isn’t unheard of for executive positions. Three months doesn’t strike me as weird at all

      But for OP, I think a lot of companies may be willing to be flexible, but I agree with Alison that you should give them at least a month (ideally more, given the reaction to your former coworker) to avoid souring the relationship

    2. Storm in a teacup*

      As someone UK based I’ve never heard of someone only giving 2 weeks notice! Once you are in a non-junior role 8-12 weeks is considered the norm and often your notice period is written into your contract so may be worth checking what that says.

      1. Jude*

        Yeah I have to agree, once I moved into office roles I’ve never seen anyone give less than 4 weeks notice

      2. RowanUK*

        I think four weeks is pretty standard for most junior and mid-level roles in the UK. I know that the more senior people who used to work for our agency had a three-month notice period. Honestly, though, I think this varies widely on industry and company.

      3. Sharon Gilmour*

        The difference can be summed up in one word: contract. US employees are “employees at will” there is no such thing as an employment contract for most of us. We can be let go at any time for any (or no) reason. Often when we do give 2 weeks notice we are terminated on the spot. So why would anyone give more? The system here is broken and it was not the employees who broke it.
        Of course there are exceptions – union workers and executives who are in a position to negotiate a contract – but for most of us the idea of a contract is a far off pipe dream.
        That being said, the UK has its own issues with zero hours contracts – but that’s a story for another day…

    3. Keymaster of Gozer*

      I was contractually obliged to give 3 months notice as was my employer of any redundancies etc. Large employer in the UK, but I’d been there over a decade and held a senior role. It’s often depending on length of service.

      1. Keymaster of Gozer*

        Although, there’s generally wiggle room. When they made me redundant I got several months as gardening leave and only a month spent doing work handover tasks. Even if there’s a contract it’s highly dependent upon discussion between the employer and the staff.

      2. lailaaaaah*

        This – lower level office staff will get a month, then it might expand to 2/3 months depending on the level of seniority. When I worked for the NHS, all managers would be expected to give at least 2 months’ notice, and executives would give 3. But I’ve never been in a job that asked for anything other than 4 weeks (or less during a trial period).

      3. English, not American*

        My mum’s contract was written poorly, so when she was made redundant they had to pay out an extra 6 weeks of redundancy. Her notice period was something like “one month rising to three months after [x] years AND 1 week for every [period of service]” where the “AND” should have been “OR”. Made for a nice leaving bonus.
        Annoyingly I’ve lost the offer letter for my current job, and my contract just says “notice period as written in the letter” so I’m in for an awkward conversation with HR if I ever decide to leave.

        1. Ganymede*

          Funny story from the UK – my husband started at a company as a graduate trainee, aged about 23. He stayed on for 26 years, becoming their youngest-ever director, took the company through huge expansion and buy-outs etc as the CEO’s right-hand man, left in a blaze of glory, still on a graduate trainee contract.

          When it came time to give notice, everyone realised he’d never been upgraded and he only had to give 2 weeks. Of course, because of common custom here, he actually gave 3 months – they had to negotiate his senior director’s severance terms from scratch during that time!

          1. Phony Genius*

            Does that mean that he was paid like a graduate trainee the whole time? (Being in the U.S., I don’t understand how employment contracts work.)

            1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

              Typically your pay rise letter becomes a sort of annex to your contract (which might read “Your salary will be £50,000 per annum subject to annual review” or something, then the letter says “With effect from 1 February 2021 your salary will be £55,000 per annum.”)

              1. Ganymede*

                Oh no he got promotions and payrises – they were indeed additional and I guess nobody bothered to change the original contract. Husband is not a stickler for formalities, he never asked! They all had a laugh about it when they found out.

        2. Cthulhu's Librarian*

          Couldn’t you just ask for a copy of your personnel file at any point? Wouldn’t the company’s copy of your offer letter be in there?

          1. English, not American*

            That would be the awkward conversation! If asking for a “personnel file” is a done thing it’s not one I’ve encountered before, and not something I’d need if I didn’t intend on leaving. Which I don’t, I’m just a data hoarder with a gap in my records, but explaining that to the people in HR would definitely raise eyebrows.

            1. SarahKay*

              You could try saying you need the original letter for a re-mortgage or something like that. It’s been a while since I’ve borrowed big money (or changed the bank I’m borrowing big money from) but my recollection is that they like alllll the paperwork.

            2. Cthulhu's Librarian*

              Ah. I guess asking for a copy of your file might be more common here in the US, or possibly just something that is more common in with the public sector/unionized world – I was always told that you should ask for a copy before trying to discuss raises/promotions/adjusted schedules/transfers/etc, so you could make a stronger case for it.

    4. Jennifleurs*

      Two weeks is the legal minimum once you’ve been there more than 2 years, I believe. It probably varies by industry but certainly office jobs that I’ve known have all been a month. Skilled/senior roles, 3 months isn’t unusual.

    5. Kora*

      The thing is, whatever your notice period is in the UK it’s usually spelled out in your contract (and is the same amount of notice the company has to give you if they’re letting you go). If this company is not giving contracts to their US workers they shouldn’t be surprised that they behave differently around this.

      1. Random European*

        Maybe the letter writer hasn’t actually sat down and read that part of their contract, because they are going by “this is standard operating procedure”? Seriously, they should check their contract.

          1. Random European*

            Admittedly, I’m not from the UK, but a different European country, but honestly? I would assume it. And I would strongly recommend that the letter writer go back and check that they didn’t sign a contract, and just didn’t realize what they were signing. Some of them are just a single piece of paper.

          2. lailaaaaah*

            Iirc, UK companies *have* to have a contract (though it doesn’t have to be written) with someone to hire them, and will almost always have a copy of someone’s contract on file for legal purposes, though idk if that also applies to remote workers abroad. But I think it’s safe to assume LW does have one, and that if they ask HR, they could probably get a copy.

            1. Faye*

              No, I wouldn’t assume that LW does have a contract. UK employment law doesn’t apply to employees in the US. Only US laws apply.

              1. MK*

                UK law probably doesn’t apply, but many companies would prefer to have a uniform employment structure in all the countries they operate in regardless. The OP should check whether she has a contract; if she does, it trumps U.S. customs. [Though I doubt the company would come after her for compensation if she doesn’t give the notice stipulated in the contract, it should affect how she broaches the topic]

            2. allathian*

              Yeah, this is the case in the EU in general, as well. There’s some project-based work with neither a contract nor benefits, but in those you usually only commit to one shift, and if you decide one day to just up and leave, you can. I’ve only done this for one employer, when I worked at a call center and did cold call surveys.

            3. English, not American*

              I think it’s that UK-based employEEs have to have a contract, rather than UK-based employERs. So if you have US companies employing people in the UK the US-based employees are at-will and all the rest but the UK-based employees have contracts and minimum annual leave and all the UK law stuff, but a UK company would have to follow US law for US-based employees (though could still use UK standards where they don’t conflict).

              1. B.*

                Yup, I agree here. My husband is UK-based for a US company, and they had to draw up a contract special for him. I don’t know what they do for their US employees. He also negotiated when he started with them for a 3 month start date to fill out his notice at his previous company. He’s senior and very in-demand in his field, so willingness to do this would really vary depending on the field, the company, the role and how much they want you.

              1. I should really pick a name*

                The lack of contracts in the US is a common practice, not a legal mandate.
                I don’t see any reason a legal contract wouldn’t be enforceable if it exists.

          3. OP3*

            I do not have a contract! Since my employment is technically in the US since our company has US offices, it’s very clear that my employment is “at-will.” I think my boss is aware of the discrepancy in notice periods since I know he met with HR before taking on a US employee, but other people are not aware.

            1. Sam.*

              Did you say anything at the time they were grumbling? You might’ve been too taken off guard at the time, but if it ever comes up again, I would be prepared to comment that she probably negotiated as much time as she could with the new employer; it’s just that norms are different here and US companies have different expectations. If they genuinely aren’t aware, hopefully that context will make some of them more understanding of your former coworker and (eventually) of you.

            2. sacados*

              Seconding Sam. Not sure if this is something that would come up again in conversations with coworkers, but if it does… might be good to try and counter some of that negative perception with folks who don’t know the details.
              Something like “Wow, really? That’s so interesting, in the US two weeks is standard, I don’t know if I’ve ever heard of an employer willing to wait three months for a new hire to start…” that sort of thing.

      2. Union Maid*

        yes, coming here to say this – I am a US person in the UK and would love to leave my employer in the lurch by leaving with two weeks’ notice, but I signed a contract that says 2 months. In return for that, I get sick pay, 33 days of annual leave, carers’ leave, compassionate leave, etc.

      3. Not sure of what to call myself*

        Yep, and if its a professional role (office based or manager in Blue collar) it will be 4 weeks notice. And most senior positions (manager and above) have notice periods of longer. Senior positions and everyone in financial services start at three months. Its the norm and its in our signed contracts. And you are expected to stick to it, although you can sometimes get a bit of leeway on the longer notice periods.

        One thing I’ve seen here before is the statement that notice periods are to tidy up your work so that someone can take it over after you leave. In the UK notice periods are often to tidy things up, transition the work to another colleague and hire someone else (they may not start during your notice period if their notice is longer but the person you train can train them). Its all about making sure the transition is as smooth as possible.

        I’d check your contract and speak to your boss because if you walk out with two weeks notice you should realise you will be burning bridges and your reference will reflect that. I’m assuming as a UK based company they gave you the usual multi paged contract to sign us the weighty company handbook with all the rules etc.

        1. allathian*

          Yes, this. Sometimes it’s possible to start a new job before the notice period runs out, because often the employer will require you to use up all the time off you’ve earned before you leave officially, because they won’t pay in lieu of time off if they can possibly avoid it.

        2. OP3*

          No contract as my official employment is through the US arm of the company, although I work with the UK team only. So technically I *can* leave with 2 weeks, but I would be concerned about burning bridges. My boss was shocked we didn’t have contracts. He is aware, so it’s more about how to not burn bridges with others. The flip side of that is he thought it was amusing that he could fire me at any time for any reason, as that’s unheard of in the UK…

          1. Storm in a teacup*

            Does that mean you don’t get UK benefits like more annual leave days and paid sick leave etc..?
            I work for a US company in the UK and I know our UK and EU based staff annual leave allowance is greater than our US counterparts.
            It was quite annoying when I was negotiating my offer that they wouldn’t budge on leave days and I had to go down by 8 days.

      4. Not sure of what to call myself*

        Yep, and if its a professional role (office based or manager in Blue collar) it will be 4 weeks notice. And most senior positions (manager and above) have notice periods of longer. Senior positions and everyone in financial services start at three months. Its the norm and its in our signed contracts. And you are expected to stick to it, although you can sometimes get a bit of leeway on the longer notice periods.

        One thing I’ve seen here before is the statement that notice periods are to tidy up your work so that someone can take it over after you leave. In the UK notice periods are often to tidy things up, transition the work to another colleague and hire someone else (they may not start during your notice period if their notice is longer but the person you train can train them). Its all about making sure the transition is as smooth as possible.

        I’d check your contract and speak to your boss because if you walk out with two weeks notice you should realise you will be burning bridges and your reference will reflect that. I’m assuming as a UK based company they gave you the usual multi paged contract to sign us the weighty company handbook with all the rules etc.

    6. Mx*

      I live in the UK. I always had to give one month. I never heard about having to give 2 weeks notice in the UK.

      1. Ponytail*

        Me neither. I gave one week’s notice at a particular job but I’d never signed a contract and as the shop where I’d been working had been held up by men with shotguns, there was no way my employer was going to make me work a longer notice – they were lucky I even returned to work for that last week !

      2. inspector parker*

        Same, a month has always been standard for me in the UK. I’ve never held a particularly senior role, I imagine contracts might stipulate more notice, but outside of probationary periods I’ve never heard of less than a month being any kind of standard. (Having run around like a headless chicken for my whole notice period every time I’ve left a job, I don’t really know how anyone wraps stuff up to hand over in the space of a fortnight, but that might just be me!)

      3. Clewgarnet*

        Another UK person, and the only time I’ve given less than a month’s notice was my Saturday job in a supermarket as a teenager.

        OP3, I’m afraid you really would be burning bridges if you left with only two weeks’ notice. However, depending on your seniority, a month should be okay. At my last UK job, I was able to negotiate down to a month’s notice, despite my contract saying three.

        I currently work in Germany, and the standard here seems to be six months, which makes hiring a nightmare.

        1. Myrin*

          Fret not, the German standard definitely isn’t six months. From what I’m reading about the UK in this thread, it’s basically the same as/very similar to Germany: the standard is three months but it isn’t uncommon to have only one month. (I have encountered the six months situation but that’s normally for a specific reason.)

            1. Myrin*

              That is quite unusual, then! Do you only hire very senior people/those with very specialised and in-demand skills? Or maybe it has to do with your specific industry? Or who knows, maybe someone in your company has decided they want it that way? But really, three months is definitely the norm in general.

              1. Clewgarnet*

                Very specialised and in-demand skills, especially in the city we’re based in. However, as we’ve proved that we can work fully-remote with no issues (I haven’t even been in the same country as my office for over a year) we’re being given a lot more flexibility in hiring. Huzzah!

        2. AVP*

          I’m in the US but have family working in the Netherlands, and the standard there was 3-4 months. Basically, you give your three months notice but it only starts on the 1st of the next month – so if you resign on the 15th, you’d end up with a 3.5 month notice period.

          This made it very hard for the worker to come back to the US when she wanted to leave that job, as the notice period makes it impossible to job search US-style (as OP is now realizing). She ended up taking on a few contract clients that she was able to set up during her notice period and worked with them at whatever rate she negotiated while she arranged her move home and job-searched for real. It wasn’t exactly like having a full time position but she was lucky that it worked for her and bridged the gap.

          1. C*

            As a Dutch person: that’s not standard here, at least not now. The standard is one month, so a full calendar month. Some people have longer notice periods in their contract, others shorter, but the large majority of people I know have a month.

    7. Birch*

      It is in some fields! I encountered this as well, and the good news is, you can always negotiate. Especially in HR departments that are used to working with international staff, they know this causes a lot of difficulty and is just not possible for many people. Sometimes it’s even one of those things where it’s written but nobody follows it to the letter. You’ll just have to discuss it at that point.

      What you can do is when you start looking to move jobs, get your projects in order. Get a head start on all the documentation for your position, maybe think about creating extra training documentation if needed, so as part of the negotiation you can say that your projects are in a good shape to hand over and the necessary training of your replacement should only take a month.

      1. London Lass*

        I agree 100% with this. My experience has been very similar to what others are mentioning here – typically 1 month for junior roles (at my current place, that is two weeks for the first six months while on probation) and going up to 3 months and maybe even longer for more senior positions where continuity and smooth transitions are highly valued. At the same time, a good employer wants to part on good terms and knows that it can help to be flexible.
        I think the advice to have everything as well-organised as possible so you can make the case that you have done everything you can to minimise the disruption to your colleagues is exactly right. It will strengthen your negotiating position and increase the amount of goodwill they are willing to provide in accommodating your needs in return.

    8. Nic*

      I’ve never heard of two weeks notice in the UK in any kind of professional, office-based role. It’s one month for more junior staff, three months for more senior.
      That said, OP, they will be prepared for you to negotiate notice period, because that’s what pretty much everyone does. The contractual notice period gives managers an option to keep resigning staff that long, but often it makes more sense for them to go once they’ve tidied up work, if both parties agree. I think the only time I’ve actually worked three months notice was the time I quit without a full-time job lined up and it was helpful to me to work the full notice. Every other time I’ve moved jobs and had this length of notice, I’ve worked around 6-8 weeks (i.e. 50-65% of the contractual period), by mutual agreement.

    9. zozzle76*

      It depends on your contract and industry in the UK – a notice period should always be specified in your contract of employment. 1 month has been standard in every office based job I have ever worked in. At more senior or specialist levels 3 months is not uncommon, and sometimes even 6 months at CEO levels or in some academic settings. As most employers expect you to handover work and use up any annual leave entitlement, a month’s notice goes by pretty quickly!

    10. Jon C*

      Three months is absolutely standard for a lot of skilled and managerial posts over here, including my last three jobs. Some jobs require four weeks or a month, but thirteen weeks is not strange.

      1. Tired of Covid-and People*

        This is one area we have it better in the US. If I was leaving a job because I hated it, I would be so depressed at having to spend another few months doing it.

    11. Goreygal*

      It is in some industries. I have and always have had 3 months notice period and new employers don’t bat an eyelid as they have the same expectation of their employees.

    12. Forrest*

      A month is standard for most jobs, with three months for more senior roles. (I only had one months’ notice until I got to the £30k+ salary band in the public sector.)

      That said, it’s usually negotiable and any annual leave you have left will often be built in to your notice period. It wouldn’t be at all unusual to give three months notice, but then negotiate with your manager that you’ll officially finish after two months, with your last day in 6 weeks time and then taking the last two weeks as annual leave.

      GIVING a month’s notice when you are on a contract obliging you to give three months would be bad form. Giving a nominal three months and then negotiating with your boss to bring it down to 4-6 weeks + annual leave would be extremely normal and shouldn’t leave a bad taste anywhere. As long as your boss is happy, everyone else will be— the details of what you’ve agreed will be assumed to be private. If someone at a senior level leaves with apparently less than three months, it’s usually assumed that their managers knew earlier and they were just delaying the official announcement for whatever reason, or that you’ve negotiated a shorter leave for whatever reason.

    13. EvilQueenRegina*

      A month has been the usual for me, but it does vary depending on someone’s actual role/company – I’d probably need to know what OP actually does before I’d be able to say whether it was weird or not, but 3 months is definitely not unheard of.

      1. The Rural Juror*

        I once left a company (in the US) and gave 4 weeks notice. I was a salesperson/sales manager and had a lot of clients to close out projects for and offload onto other salespeople. Plus, I didn’t want to miss out on some of the commissions for projects I was wrapping up. Might seem like a lot, but I needed all of those 4 weeks and felt rushed at the end. So, totally agree with you that it depends on the role.

    14. Media Monkey*

      i don’t know what industry you have experience in, but in the uk i have never had a contract with less than a month’s notice period and at manager level and above this can often be 3-6 months. this is for office type work – in media/ advertising.

    15. Phoenix from the ashes*

      OP #3 – former uk worker here. If I had a colleague who only gave 2 weeks notice, I’d be shocked, not that you were letting the side down (lol!), but that you’d either been fired or were being treated very badly (long notice periods can be a big status thing in the UK – I wouldn’t even blink at notice periods of six months or a year). Obviously, from reading AAM I know better now, but just to control what your colleagues think of you, it would be good to give a month’s notice if you can; if you can’t you’ll maybe want to think about minimizing any damage to your reputation in the eyes of your UK colleagues?

      1. Kaiko*

        It’s weird the way status can manifest in ways that seem totally reasonable to insiders and baffling to outsiders. Stay at a job I was leaving for an extra year? And see it as a good thing? No thank you, ma’am!

        1. Forrest*

          It’s a recognition that you’re harder to replace and that the employer had made a much bigger investment in you— but yeah, put like that it’s pretty weird! (Also works the other way around, of course— if you fck up and the company wants you off the job ASAP, you’re still going to get 12 months’ pay.)

          And of course, it’s very much negotiable— generally the only place where I think someone would actually announce that they’re leaving and then not go for another 12 months would be retirement.

          1. English, not American*

            Or like a former boss of mine, transitioning to running their own business. Though he didn’t inform anyone outside of his boss and HR until they were interviewing for his replacement.

      2. B.*

        I’ve had situations where someone has a month notice but they have annual leave they want to use up, so they set the official end date a month out but then take annual leave for 1-2 weeks, which makes the last working day effectively two weeks. OP3 could potentially do something like this if their employer let them.

        Usually when someone gives what appears to be two weeks notice in the UK I think this is what’s actually happening.

      3. OP3*

        Thank you! I think that when I do resign (not planning on it soon, but this bothered me after hearing that conversation and I had to know), I will have to give at a MINIMUM of one month. Since it’s an insular industry, the reputation is important, and there would be a chance I would see these coworkers in the future. It’s a bit of culture shock honestly, but mostly has been awesome working with the UK team. I live in the EST time zone, so I have a good amount of overlap. Since everyone is remote too at the moment, it doesn’t even feel that odd for me!

      4. SimplyTheBest*

        Can’t they just say in their announcement to the rest of their colleagues, I put in my two weeks notice which is standard in the US? Is that really going to burn a bridge?

        1. Phoenix from the ashes*

          “Is that really going to burn a bridge?”

          Yes, probably? It just looks very wrong from a UK perspective. It’s the sort of thing that would raise eyebrows in any company I’ve worked in. Saying it’s normal in the US won’t stop the gossip because, well, if someone *had* been sacked that’s exactly the sort of face -saving thing they’d say, right? If OP3 wasn’t staying in the industry it probably wouldn’t matter, but s/he is right to consider the optics.

    16. Teapot Wrangler*

      I think it is pretty standard. In all of my professional roles, the standard has been 1 month for junior staff and admin and three months for everyone else – maybe six months for senior people. Obviously, the amount of notice you actually work can be negotiable and there’s a legal requirement for a week of notice per year worked if you don’t have something in writing but I think it is a sensible general guide

    17. Former call centre worker*

      2 weeks in the UK is basically unheard of. 4 weeks is standard for more junior roles and 3+ months for more senior. Sometimes an employer will agree to let you work a shorter notice period once you have an offer. I also find it very unlikely that this person is working for a UK company without a contract.

      1. OP3*

        I am working without a contract, as my official employment is with the US arm of the company, although I only work with the UK team. My “contract” says that my employment is “at-will” and I can be fired at any time for any reason!

    18. Tara*

      I’ve never had less than one month notice in a professional role, and it’s typical for three months once you’ve most out of the more junior end of the employment spectrum in my industry – with my last pay rise I had to resign a contract with a three month period. Which industries only have two weeks? I haven’t seen that anywhere my friends or family work, so just curious!

      1. OP3*

        In the US, two weeks is standard for all industries as far as I’m aware. Many people are afraid to give more because they worry their employers will ask them to leave right then and there! I gave 2.5 weeks before this job because I knew my boss would appreciate the extra time. Would have given 3 weeks if I could, but no more than that.

    19. londonedit*

      Two weeks is not normal in the UK. I’ve never had a job with less than one month’s notice period, and I’ve had two jobs where the notice period has been three months. I’ve never heard of anyone having a standard two-week notice period.

    20. Bobina*

      My experience of office based jobs in the UK begs to differ, outside of your probation period a minimum of 1 month is absolutely standard and my previous company had it as 4 months. But as everyone else has said, this varies by contract.

      Now for the actual question – Alisons advice is best – just ask what the expectation is. And while most US companies dont do contracts, considering yours is UK based – if they didnt give you one, I’d expect that they at least have an employee handbook which outlines what should happen.

    21. 123Rew*

      I’m elsewhere in europe and our standard is 2 weeks under 5 years and 4 weeks after 5 years. May wary a bit depending on union contract, bit that is the general guideline, not a lot of deviation. C-suite or maybe a step below has upto 6 months.

      However, my bf is british and therefore have work/studied/been involved with this and I’ve noticed that the practice varies a lot. Bf workd in finance (not management) and his last 2 contracts have stated 1 week notice. When we first met, the contract stated 8 week notice period but they agreed 2 weeks. I’ve noticed that most people have something in teh contract but a lot of people don’t serve the full time.

      1. English, not American*

        1 week’s notice is common in probationary periods and shorter term contract roles. A permanent job after the first year with only a week’s notice period would be very strange.

        1. londonedit*

          I agree. It’s common in probationary periods (which usually last three months, and for the benefit of non-UK readers are totally the norm when starting a new job in the UK) for the notice period to be two weeks on either side. It’s basically a fallback option in case things don’t work out from either the employee’s or the employer’s point of view, because once you pass your probationary period, various bits of employment law come into play. However, once you pass your probation, the notice you have to give your employer will be whatever is set out in your contract – usually one month for more junior positions and three months for more senior ones. Obviously this differs between industries, but it’s what I’ve experienced in my career.

          1. English, not American*

            Are they usually 3 months? I’ve only had jobs with 6-month probationary periods, and one where it was a “fixed term” job for a year but a permanent job was all but guaranteed at the end, so it was more like a probationary period than a contract role.

            1. londonedit*

              Not sure, three months’ probation is standard in my industry but it probably does differ across the board.

        2. B.*

          Yeah, temporary roles are different. We manage temp contracts and you can leave or be asked to leave frm them with no notice. We’re supposed to only do temp contracts for 3 months though, once it’s longer than 3 months it should be permanent or fixed-term.

    22. mreasy*

      My UK-based employer had 60 days written into the contract which, luckily, I “forgot” to ever sign. By the time I left I was so burned out I could only manage two weeks’ notice.

    23. Jason D.*

      Uh, nope. I’m in the UK, and I’ve never heard of anyone having less than two months as contractual, with three months being the standard. There may be some industries or fields where two weeks is typical, but that is far from commonplace. I work in finance, and anyone giving less than three months would be burning the bridge in a big way!

    24. Foxgloves*

      It really depends on the industry. I’ve never had a notice period of less than a month, and have had a notice period of 3 months in my last three jobs. When I moved *within my organisation*, I was still made to do a three month notice period. I honestly have never come across a two week notice period, and think OPs organisation sounds exactly like mine.

    25. Bagpuss*

      I am in the UK and 3 months is definitely standard in my field (Law). I’ve seen situation where for the more senior staff (Salaried partners, for instance) it’s 6.

      Support staff typically will have a 1 month notice period.

      I’ve only ever come across as little as 2 weeks for people in jobs like retail or food service., and very occasionally for an initial probation period.

      Part of this is because we also have statutory notice periods, which an employer must give if terminating an employee’s contract, which are 1 week per year worked up to a maximum of 12 weeks. Statutory notice for an employee to give when they resign is capped at 2 weeks but most employees have a written contract, and contractual notice is normally longer and usually (but not always) the same for employee and employer.

      OP – as your employer is UK based, do you have an employment contract? Check it, if you do, as it would normally include details of your contractual notice requirements.

      That said, even if you do have a longer period it is often possible to negotiate to shorten it, and you can ask (when you hand in your notice) to use up any remaining holiday instead of working your notice and being paid for your accrued holiday, which might mean your last day in the office would be earlier.

    26. Bonky*

      I’m a UK employer, and two weeks is unheard of. A month is pretty standard for junior staff; those in executive positions are likely to have longer notice periods of three months and up.

      Notice periods will be written into OP’s contract (everybody has to have a contract here. I understand that’s not the case in the US), so this should have been transparent from the start. It’s possible she’ll be able to negotiate a shorter period, but I wouldn’t count on it; it’ll be in the contract, it’s customary, and unless an employee is leaving on bad terms they’re usually expected to work out their contracted notice.

      1. OP3*

        I don’t have a contract, and legally I would be fine with 2 weeks. This is mostly about being kind to my employer and team and maintaining a good relationship. Interesting for me to learn the norms between the US and the UK…

    27. OP3*

      This is good to know… sometimes I wonder if I’m out of touch with UK norms or if my company is just weird….

      1. Ro*

        I’m in the UK, we all have contracts (at least in my experience) and most notice periods are 4 weeks as a default (though can be longer three months seems excessive but is industry dependant) the trade off for longer notice periods is that you get the same amount of warning if they decide to make you redundant I am contractually required to give 6 weeks notice but this is considered a minimum it wouldn’t be weird for me to give longer (in my industry employment is often offered conditional to passing security clearence, criminal record checks, qualification verification etc and this often takes several weeks) but on the flip side they can’t make me redundant with less notice than 6 weeks ( I could be fired with immediate effect but I’d have to do something like be caught stealing or punch someone).

        Perosnally I think you’re being exploited a bit. If you are not getting the benefits of UK employment norms but you are personally expected to uphold them. Either your company doesn’t expect you to uphold UK norms and you are over thinking it or they do know there is a double standard and don’t care because it is in their favour. Any UK worker with brains will ensure notice periods work two ways in their contract and negotiate if they don’t. I don’t see why saying “I’ve given two weeks notice as my contract is under US employment norms and that is standard” would burn any bridges with anyone reasonable. If they want more time they should have put it in your contract.

    28. Djuna*

      I always thought it was related to pay cadence somehow. When I got paid fortnightly, it was 2 weeks notice, and when I got paid monthly, it has always been one month’s notice.
      I’m in Ireland, so different laws and norms to the UK, but I would consider a 3 month notice requirement as only being applicable to senior, hard-to-replace roles.
      Today I learned!

    29. Tabby_Mc*

      When I left my management position in 2016, I had to give 3 months’ notice – this was standard for all positions in the FE college where I worked, once you were past the probationary period.

    30. Another British poster*

      “I want to make sure you know that our resignation periods in the U.S. are generally much shorter; two weeks is the standard here. I don’t have any plans to leave, but assuming it will happen at some point down the road, I want to make sure our notice periods won’t be a shock to anyone.”

      For the love of God, don’t under any circumstances say this to a brand new British boss unless you want to get fired on the spot.

    31. Flabbernabbit*

      Not withstanding contractual obligations, don’t forget that the idea of a notice period is based on reciprocity. The OP said that there is no contract. A US employer is not obligated to give 3 months notice. The notice period can’t weigh heavier on the US employee. Allison could have touched on this. Also, I believe that even though the OP works for a UK company, they fully reside and work in the US, meaning they are subject to employment law and norms in the US. Should check with HR or a lawyer. I’d be surprised if the OP’s employer is blind to this as they have offices in the US, even if this office is in the UK. It will probably be fine.

  3. Heeryor Lunboks*

    LW5 – The LinkedIn message is blaring “English is this person’s second language” at me. There may be cultural issues at play as well. Something may very well be lost in translation here.

    1. Edwina*

      Yes, me too. That may give LW5 a different way to approach it, if she can find that out. (“Here in the U.S., we do things a bit differently, if I can offer some advice” sort of thing.)

      1. I should really pick a name*

        That’s not going to go over well if the person is actually from the US.
        Making assumptions about nationality isn’t a great idea.

        1. Jennie*

          of course, but you can often tell from their schools and prior experience on Linkedin what country they have been studying and working in….if that country isn’t the US then you have some basis for saying “in the US we do things this way”, right?

          1. I should really pick a name*

            To me, it still feels kind of condescending, and I don’t think it adds any benefits. You just let them know how you expect things to be done in a kind and respectful manner and leave it at that.

            1. Jennie*

              Fair enough, and from the OP’s other comments clearly there was enough going on with this person that cultural differences weren’t the main barrier to them fitting in.

    2. Double A*

      It’s possible, but I’m a high school teacher and this is a pretty plausible message from a teen (or recent teen) who’s first language is English. There are a lot of students who really struggle to write with a different tone than they speak in, even when it’s pointed out and explicitly taught.

      You’d be amazed how many literary analysis essays I get that begin, “Hi, my name is X and today I’ll be writing about….” It’s something I correct but it’s a habit a lot of kids revert to again and again.

      1. Anon for This*

        I cannot defend the typos, or the emoji, but my manager repeatedly instructs us to soften our language with familiar language such as “Hello!” and “Hi!” and lots of exclamation points, “please”, other conciliatory friendly language in general, all in the name of sounding not condescending (we do a lot of telling people who think they can ignore the process/policy that, in fact, they can’t ignore the process/policy) and I’m not even sure that one of us would write anything even close to that, even out of habit.

      2. GL*

        It’s not just the tone, though – the thing that said “probably ESL” to me most strongly was the language “I had just given my phone interview yesterday.” Is “give an interview” standard in any non-American English variants? And the tense is definitely wrong – lots of English speakers get tenses wrong, but in my experience past perfect is more likely to be underused than overused.

        1. Jennie*

          Yes exactly this – this plus ‘have chat’ plus the ‘x’ reads to me like a young European (of which I work with many) not a young American. Nothing to do with the typos, emojis, punctuation.

          1. Catwoman*

            Yes, this syntax is very British and the type of message I would expect from a British teenager. The “x” is very common in British texting syntax and is more to show friendly affection than any kind of romantic overtone.

          2. Aldabra*

            I agree, my British and South African colleagues cannot text without adding x’s to the ends of each text. It’s super weird and jarring to me, even after all this time, but totally normal to them.

        2. Hamish*

          Also, the x at the end of the message is much more standard in a lot of European countries. When I lived in the UK I might be talking to a perfect stranger on facebook marketplace about selling my sofa and they could end the message with “xxx”. That definitely flagged as “not American” to me.

      1. LovesAnEmoji*

        I was gonna say – I’m 21 and type like that (although never in a work context!!). Could also be a British thing – for some reason, we use xx a LOT, so maybe she did it reflexively.

        1. Caterpie*

          This was my thought – I read a lot of British novels and whenever characters text/email each other, it seems they always end it with ‘x’. I didn’t know if that was a thing real British folks do, but apparently so!

      2. Elenna*

        Yeah, I’m 24 and a native English speaker, and except for the x at the end this sounds like a message I could reasonably type in a place like, say, Discord or Facebook.

        Given that, I’d focus less on “this job requires good writing skills and your message is full of errors”. I have a good grasp of spelling/grammar (if I do say so myself), but I don’t always bother to correct typos or use perfect grammar in casual settings. The problem here is that the intern in question doesn’t seem to realize that LinkedIn isn’t a casual setting.

    3. academicadvisor*

      I came here to say this same thing! I work with many ESL college students and this message reads exactly like emails I receive everyday.

    4. Shakti*

      It reads like a pretty standard casual message from an English speaker to me. It honestly sounds like me if I were messaging a friend/acquaintance on social media. I’d never ever write that way to a professional I wanted to work with, but my guess is they’re just unacquainted with professional norms

      1. allathian*

        Yeah, this. I wish high schools and colleges spent more time on writing cover letters and on how to approach potential employers on LinkedIn or other social media.

        It’s also entirely possible that the internship candidate would have been less casual if they were writing an email to somebody. In any case, it would be doing this young person a favor to offer to coach them a bit in professional norms…

        1. Sssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss*

          In our province, there is a mandatory half-credit course that covers cover letters and resumes and career planning.

          For any kind of “professional” or “serious” email, my son will ask me to look it over first to make sure it makes sense and looks right, because he knows full well how you write to your friends is not how you write to your prof asking for an extension or to your boss informing them that you’re quitting. He’s 19 and I don’t mind doing a review, helping him learn.

          Besides, I tell him, once you’re in the working world, a lot of what goes out has been reviewed by a lot of people already. For some emails at work, depending on the topic and how many people it’s going to, I draft it up first and get my boss to approve. That’s not much different than getting mom to proofread at home.

      1. IchKriegDieKrise*

        That was my thought, too. My British colleagues use “x” alone to means hugs, not kisses (“o” is kiss), and will sign things like birthday cards with their name and two x’s. So I wonder if the writer meant hugs, not kisses. Either way, it’s still too casual and I think it’s worth pointing out.

        1. Not Australian*

          Ummm, I hate to be picky, but I’ve *never* known a British person to use ‘x’ to represent a hug. xxxxx is *always* kisses, in my experience, and I’ve never used ‘xo’ at all. Source? Several decades of living in the UK and having British relatives.

          1. IchKriegDieKrise*

            Yeah. I just double-checked with them. Turns out my colleagues are kissing me every time they sign a card for me (not quite sure how I misunderstood or how I should feel about all the kissing). But it still seems more typical in some settings (like my British colleagues using it with friends/family), so not romantic kisses necessarily. I’d address it as an issue with formality as a whole in the message, rather than specifically pointing out kisses are inappropriate.

            1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

              Yeah, it’s a kiss, but it doesn’t mean “kiss” so much as “cordially, message ends”. I would expect to put a kiss on any text message or instant message to any (female) acquaintance in a non-professional context.

              That last part is crucial: non-professional context. Kisses would only appear at work in a birthday card or something!

              1. inspector parker*

                Yes, this is super normal and I sign off with one or two kisses to most female acquaintances, from my own mother to people I would NEVER physically kiss. It’s more or less the ‘kind regards’ of personal communication. (I don’t actually love that this has become so normal for everyone up to and including people I only know because we have kids in the same class or whatever. But it has, and now I look brusque if I leave them off, so.) I would never in a million years use it on a professional message.

            1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

              when I was wee and first asked my mom why x and o were hugs and kisses, she told me that x was hugs because crossed arms and o was kisses because pursed lips, but I’ve always seen them used together so it didn’t much matter which was which :)

        2. I heart Paul Buchman*

          I think the X is a kiss and the O is a hug. Your colleagues are signing off with kisses (and is always plural where I live Xx or xxx – never just X). The O is never used alone but you can do xoxo of you are aged about 9 or a Nanna.

          1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

            I think a single x is essentially punctuation, and only multiple xx or xxx indicate actual affection.

            1. Forrest*

              I said on someone’s Facebook the other day that I use M. for quick casual emails in a professional setting and Mx if you’re a friend or I feel sorry for you. MOSTLY joking, but —

          2. Former call centre worker*

            I’m British and yes, x is a kiss and o is a hug. X is never a hug. Pretty sure I’ve seen people sign off particularly casual work messages with an x.

      2. Gen*

        I’ve worked with British (mostly) women in their 50s/60s who use Xx at the end of all IMs and text messages. It seems to me that they do that because it’s a form of correspondence and they feel like it should have some kind of formal ending like a letter or email would. I’m pretty sure they don’t mean it as kisses, it’s more like ‘best wishes’ or just ‘I’m not mad at you’ because it’s on everything.

        1. Sanders*

          This. I have British friends who end every text with an “x”. It’s the norm and does not mean a “kiss”.

          1. It's the little things*

            Yep, I’m a Brit living in the US and have had to train myself out of ending every text with x, as it has always been seen as snippy or rude to not do so. Ironically now I communicate ‘US style’ my Brit friends and family often think I’m in a bad mood when I am texting. Now that is different in the workplace but its such an ingrained habit its hard to not do it, it’s also not an age bound thing, I don’t really know anyone back home who doesn’t do it. I also realized as I had it pointed out to me a few times, we don’t use xxx in the UK unless its for a partner, it’s usually x for regular comms and xx for close friends and family, xxx for bf/gf/spouse

    5. RoseDark*

      I live in the college district of Austin and this sounds like every Zoomer kid I’ve interacted with in the last five years. I don’t think it’s an ESL thing, I think it’s a failure to code-switch.

      1. Birch*

        Yeah, regardless of whether it’s an age thing or an ESL thing (sometimes it’s both! I have gotten used to emails from some of my international students beginning “hi dear, you are lovely if you can help me with this…”) it’s definitely a failure to code-switch.

        But…. I don’t think failure to code-switch is something people should be punished for if the worst consequence is sounding a bit over-enthusiastic or naive! Of course communication from interns is going to be unprofessional in some way–they’re not professionals yet! And I honestly don’t think this is that bad… especially if it’s as it sounds, messaging someone who works there in order to get their opinions on the workplace. If OP is in a position where that makes sense to chat with an intern applicant, that would be a good time to give this advice about how to sound more professional. But she didn’t insult anyone, she began with a greeting, clearly stated her status and her goals for the interaction, and gave an ending salutation. It makes me start thinking of times when I have responded to something in a way that’s culturally very natural and polite to me, that has turned out to be perceived as extremely rude. Code-switching is hard. Of course professional cultures are a bit different because they’re all sort of artificially constructed, but I think we would all work more effectively together if we could have more patience for each other’s quirks of tone and habit in communication, as long as the message is still getting across. Which is to say, I think OP should take the meeting, and ask if the applicant wants some advice about professional communication in their field, if they can give it in a way that is helpful rather than punitive or condescending.

      2. Grace Poole*

        We just had a pretty long discussion in our work slack about email tone. A lot of my younger colleagues, even those who have been in the workplace for several years, read a lot of tone into emails that I miss as a GenXer. I was really surprised to learn that many of them think ending a sentence with a period instead of an exclamation point is rude. Even in a professional email.

        1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          But, like… how do you end every sentence with an exclamation point? I get throwing one exclamation point in there to show the reader that you like them, but no periods at all seems overkill?

          1. Grace Poole*

            I don’t know if you can use that many exclamation points and not sound deranged, but I learned there’s a world of difference between “Thank you for your email.” and “Thank you for your email!” The former is perceived as judgemental and cold.

          2. Sheldon Cooper Doesn't Represent Me*

            Millenials and Zoomers, but especially Zoomers, have texting as their frame of reference for all communication, and especially written communication. They don’t talk on the phone, so all the tonal context comes from punctuation and word choice. Texts are typically one sentence, and a period is seen as being short with someone. Mostly they just don’t end with punctuation at all. So they are taking their text communication skills, which we have to remember are quite sophisticated given that it’s their primary communication form, and applying them to emails. Unfortunately, text-speak doesn’t translate well to email, and that’s where the misunderstandings arise.

    6. LDF*

      This was my first thought as well. Some people are saying they know native speakers who sound like this but it’s not just that there ARE grammar errors, it’s that they are literally the same grammar errors I hear from many of my ESL coworkers. I also work with new grads and interns regularly-ish and still this absolutely feels like an ESL thing, not a kids-these-days thing.

    7. LetterWriterFive*

      I am the OP for number 5 and I’m not too sure if English was their second language or not. It wouldn’t surprise me based on their application but I didn’t dig further to be able to confidently confirm this. As others have said, this could just be the way some teens speak!

      I did end up responding to them but not to comment on the “unprofessional” nature of their message. I gave them a generic “Thanks for applying! We’re looking through a lot of applications right now – I suggest routing any questions you have about the role to our recruiter. Good luck!”

      She responded to that with a bombardment of other messages and also said that she had been speaking to several of my other colleagues on LinkedIn too. I ignored this.

      In the end we did not take the application further – we give all interns a basic written test of a few questions to answer, and she failed it. The recruiter gave her some friendly feedback about this and specific action points on her spelling etc.

      Have yet to receive any more LinkedIn messages but I think the feedback our recruiter gave her should be some good advice for her future applications.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Thanks for the update, OP! I hope the recruiter addressed the excessive levels of follow-up. For all we know, that kid could be uncomfortable with it, but dutifully following advice from someone with an outdated reference point.

      2. Cat Tree*

        Oh, the aggressive contact is really concerning. I’m glad her application didn’t progress because it can be really hard to work with someone like that. I hope she gets some good job-searching advice and decides to follow it in the future.

    8. Elle by the sea*

      I don’t see anything that indicates that English is the intern’s second language. I keep seeing these kinds of messages from people in their 20s and 30s as well. But the kiss is a bit too much. I see more and more people who barely know me sign emails with x, xx and multiple other variants of the same thing, which creeps me out a bit. In the olden days, x and xx were added to indicate that you are illiterate and can’t sign your name – that cracks me up every time I see it!

    9. Tara*

      I wouldn’t say necessarily not a native speaker, but likely doesn’t have much exposure to professional workplace norms. I don’t think it’s fair to punish an intern for this (provided they learn quickly once they have the role). I think it would be good for LW to point this out in a quick email back, just so the poor prospective intern doesn’t step on toes doing the same thing again! It’s a difficult world to navigate when you don’t have any guidance, and they may have a weekend job or something similar now where people speak more casually, so is mistranslating these norms to the messaging here.

    10. sad maths student*

      infact I had just given my phone interview yesterday

      This is the part that makes me agree it’s non native English. It’s such an unusual way of phrasing it that it does sound like a direct translation, rather than just overly informal. I know that language teachers often either teach very formal or very informal language, so she possibly just didn’t know what was informal. (I know I was taught very very formal French at school.)
      The x? Could be that she’s seen it’s a typical British thing, or reflexive as other countries use it too. (I have used it in entirely inappropriate situations essentially out of muscle memory…)

      1. sacados*

        That really doesn’t read as necessarily non-native to me tho. With how frequently you see things mistakes “alright” vs “all right” lately, this is very much in that same vein.

        1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          Yep, to me this seemed like a grammar error a native English speaker would make. Infact, I see it alot! heh heh

    11. Asenath*

      Not to me. The spelling errors look like common typos, and the gushing prose, punctuation and emoji look like younger native English speaker writing very informally, as she would to a friend, not a potential boss.

    12. Gray Lady*

      It reads like poorly educated (both in writing skills and business norms) younger American to me, not ESL at all.

      1. Teapot Dome*

        Agreed. This may just be me, but the applicant seems to have confused text communications style for business style. Although her email has caused me to wonder if emojis will invade the world of legal communications and, if so, what that will look like.

      2. Homophone Hattie*

        Not necessarily poorly educated in writing skills, just unused to code-switching from informal everyday writing to business writing. (I mean, it’s possible, but we can’t know. This person may be able to write a decent essay for school but not be aware of the formality required for business communication.) But I agree, nothing about this indicates ESL to me.

        I would be shocked if this person were much older than their early 20s, though.

        1. Gray Lady*

          Not knowing that infact is not a word is a sign of an inferior education. I don’t mean “stupid,” I mean has not received or assimilated a good education in writing skills for appropriate contexts. Knowing how to write for the context is part of writing skills; knowing what the appropriate context is a part of knowing business norms.

    13. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      English is *my* 2nd language and that was not my impression at all. You know the stereotypical, overexaggerrated sorority sister type in movies and shows (I say movies because hardly anyone is that extra in real life)? That was how the message read to me.

    14. RagingADHD*

      It doesn’t sound like idiomatic US English, but there’s nothing that flags it as non-native speaker to me. Could easily be non-US, or a US native who is young and trying to sound professional but failing.

    15. Homophone Hattie*

      I doubt it, to be honest. The last sentence, in particular, ‘what all you did’, is pretty colloquial and would probably only be used this way by a native speaker from the USA.

  4. Aglaia761*

    LW1, can you “refer” or sign up several of the higher ups and HR into her affiliate system? Although who knows…it may backfire.

    1. What's in a name?*

      I would reply all with something saying “I am not interested in this program and would like to be removed from the distribution list.

      1. the cat's ass*

        Thanks! I’m LW#1, and she’s besties with HR so HR has probably got the app already. We are not a huge company and I’m leaning towards a benign, “thanks, we’re good” because she does not do well with a direct approach. It sucks and is certainly an abuse of the position, but she’s that kind of person.

        1. Richard Hershberger*

          What jumped out at me from the OP was the word “evangelical.” If this is being used in the religious sense, and not merely a metaphor for being pushy, I would think this would raise religious discrimination issues.

          1. AKchic*

            That stood out for me as well. And the “gun-toting” to go with it. Was that the organization The Cat’s Ass works for, or the app that the manager created and is hawking to the employees? In either case, those words are very… telling.

            Since she is besties with HR, HR is presumably going to be no help here. I would treat the emails as auto-generated and reply back with a “hi, I didn’t see a link to unsubscribe to the mailing list, can you just remove me? Thanks!”
            Make sure to bcc a personal account when you do, so you have *proof* you’ve done it, in case she refuses to do it, or if she decides to act pettily afterwards. If everything goes well, recommend to the other employees your tactic. If it doesn’t go well, take your email and what’s been going on over her head and how you don’t feel comfortable with reporting it to HR because of their close relationship.

            I am curious to know if the upper management actually is aware of this app and approved all of this, or if they know the extent of the “advertising” to the employees. This may be a Guacamole Bob-like situation. My Conspiracy Theory Brain (total trademark label getting slapped on that puppy, hoo doggy!) wants to say that anyone who uses the app will have their information data mined so the manager can deny raises to people because “if you just budgeted better…” or “according to the app, you’re doing great financially”.

          2. Frank Doyle*

            Wow, I think that I had previously thought that the word “evangelical” was like . . . the adjective version of “proselytize,” that it was used in religious context often but not necessarily so — but that’s not its definition at all! I am very grateful to know this now before I made a fool of myself someplace else! Thank you, Richard!

            1. Richard Hershberger*

              “Evangelical” comes from the Greek for “good news.” “Gospel” is the Old English version of the same thing. It has been repurposed many times since then. The common modern use is for a branch of Protestantism that arose in the early 18th century in both Britain and in Protestant parks of the Continent. Its major characteristics were a strong emphasis on personal conversion (hence “Born Again Christians”) and on spreading the message (hence the “proselytize” sense of “evangelize”). This contrasts with older state churches which were taken as the default. If you were an Englishman, you were a member of the Church of England nearly automatically.

              The history of Evangelicalism in America is complicated, and often not pretty. The way it fell out by the mid-20th century was as a split between Evangelical and “mainline Protestant” churches. This seems pretty straightforward, but which is which, and how they got there, is not. See “Presbyterian,” or even “Baptist,” on a church sign and you don’t know whether they are Evangelical or mainline. You need more information, and a decoder ring.

              Then there was the Evangelical entry in the 1980s into secular politics. Most of the associations people with with “Evangelical” or “conservative Christian” date from the Reagan administration, running a straight line through the Trump administration. Hence the reaction of non-Evangelicals.

          3. The cat’s ass*

            Hi! I’m LW#1 and should clarify that I researched the company behind the app and THEY are the evangelicals.

        2. Aglaia761*

          Ugh that sucks. Can you at least set a rule to send them directly to the trash?
          Bonus if you have outlook you can share the rule with other people

          1. Pilcrow*

            Yeah, if the pushiness is purely email, just set up a rule/filter to toss it in a different folder and be done with it.

            If it’s in person, go with a bland “I’ll look into it” answer. Rinse and repeat.

        3. Thechairisnoonesson*

          Is it Smart Dollar? We also have had emails from admin about this. Not daily or anything close to that, though at the very beginning there were several emails in quick succession. It’s a “benefit” as advertised by admin, but the emails looked spammy so I ignored them.

        4. yala*

          Ugh, that really does suck.

          Could you maybe make a filter for those e-mails? Or does she put them in with actual work stuff you need to read?

  5. TheLinguistManager*

    It’s worth considering that, very recently and for younger generations, “x” has stopped specifically meaning a kiss and has become more of a fossilized sign-off for a chat message with no meaning other than its function as a closer. Think of it much the same way as you would consider that no one actually means “G-d be with you” when they say “goodbye” at the end of a telephone call – it just means “the call is now ending”.

    Of course, using a personal register in a message in a professional context isn’t great, and they’ll have to learn that at some point. But my comment is more about the fact that it is not really accurate to interpret the “x” here straightforwardly as a kiss.

    1. Double A*

      I don’t use the x, but I learned that the x means kiss from this letter. And I’m an older millennial who might be expected to know such things.

    2. allathian*

      Very good point! It’s even possible that the young person would be mortified to learn that x means a kiss to many older people.

      My husband and I routinely end our Whatsapp messages with xoxox, even if we’re more likely to greet each other with a wave than a hug or a kiss, never mind multiples, now that we’re at home all the time.

    3. Jennifer*

      I was going to say the same thing. The other errors and casual language are bad enough but from what I’ve seen around social media I think the x just means “thanks bye” and not a kiss.

    4. AGD*

      Had the same reaction. It just sounds like a probably young, probably British person saying thanks. Discourse pragmatic change, at a guess.

    5. LetterWriterFive*

      That’s really interesting to know! I’ve only just turned 30 so I don’t consider myself to be “old” but certainly feel like I’m not down with the kids anymore! In my day, an X at the end of a message definitely signified a kiss. I remember even poring over the number of X’s you got at the end of a text message from a boy to determine how much he liked you!

      1. skipping girl*

        It’s very common in Australia to end all casual texts with an x or xx as well.

        For example, when the former President of my org was running a bit late to meet me for lunch, she texted me “Be there in 5 min xx”

        It basically means “end of friendly message”

        1. londonedit*

          I had no idea there were people who didn’t know ‘x’ meant a kiss! Even way before electronic messaging I’ve always known ‘x’ to mean a kiss, or ‘xxx’ to mean ‘kisses’, in things like birthday cards or at the end of letters, or whatever. I agree that ‘xx’ is a standard way to end a friendly message (at least where I live/among my age group). I wouldn’t end an email to my boss with ‘xx’ but there are people on my level at work who I interact with regularly, and we often sign off emails or messages with ‘Thanks! x’ or whatever. It’s absolutely a way to say ‘end of friendly message’.

          1. Forrest*

            My six-year-old is just learning to write and is signing all her cards with “cisisisisis” (= kissessessess) which I think should be the new standard. :)

        2. Asenath*

          And I’ve just learned that to many people X is a way to end a text! I’d have said it either meant “kiss” or was another typo like “infact”, since people who use X to mean “kiss” often put down several of them or the classic “kisses and hugs” xoxoxo

          1. nona*

            +1. Its like putting “stop” in a telegram? or saying “over” on the walkie-talkie/CB radio?

            Do people do this because punctuation is too aggressive? To keep people from expecting more texts? to alleviate the concern of a half-delivered message? How did this even start?

            1. Sheldon Cooper Doesn't Represent Me*

              “Do people do this because punctuation is too aggressive?”

              Infact, yes. GenX and older, and some older Millenials, translated their written communication skills into texting. For younger people, texting evolved to have its own set of norms and etiquette. A period at the end of a text is curt and rude. Either there is no punctuation, which is neutral, or an exclamation point, or emojis as smart phones came into prominence. I guess the x evolved to fill a punctuation need, sort of like eom (end of message) when you send a super short message over email, probably from your phone.

              Communication norms evolve as communication media does. It’s fun to get all “Back in my day, we used punctuation uphill, both ways, in the snow!” But it’s more fun to watch evolving norms with curiosity and excitement.

            2. Jennifer Thneed*

              Within my family, we often use one of the heart emoji’s to signal “that’s the last thing I’m sending to you, so you can put your phone down now”. It’s useful because there can be such weird pauses in text/chat conversations. (And I’m an Old, and totally use xoxo for kiss-hug-kiss-hug but I would not have interpreted a single x to mean a kiss, and I’m not sure why not.)

        3. Mockingjay*

          Amusing anecdote: there’s a verbal equivalent of “x.” People in Teams meetings and teleconferences have suddenly started using the word “over” when they finish speaking and “roger” when they agree with something. It’s bemusing. We’ve been doing these remote meetings for years and it’s always been perfectly clear who’s speaking. Not sure why they’ve started doing it the last few months. I have images in my head of 10-year old kids playing spy or soldier with walkie-talkies.

          1. comityoferrors*

            Hahaha. I’m sure this would drive me crazy after a few meetings but I would LOVE to hear the higher-ups start saying “over” and “roger” suddenly. Maybe I’ll try to sneak it into my meetings…

      2. Richard Hershberger*

        “I’ve only just turned 30 so I don’t consider myself to be “old”…”

        Embrace it. I found it quite liberating standing in a checkout line in the supermarket to realize that not only did I have no idea who those people were, on the magazine covers, but that I did not care that I didn’t know who they were. 23 skidoo!

    6. Homophone Hattie*

      Yep. I’m old enough to remember when an x meant specifically a kiss and was reserved for loved ones and maybe close friends, but it’s just such a common sign-off these days that I had actually kind of forgotten that fact. It doesn’t surprise me at all that a younger person might not even be aware that an x meant a kiss not so long ago.

    7. Anononon*

      Hah, it makes me think about that post that goes around on buzzfeed lists where someone wrote about a student (or other young person, can’t remember) asking him why he had 3D print of the save icon. He was talking about a floppy disk.

      1. Forrest*

        I am vaguely fascinated by how many icons and symbols are petrified as “how these things looked in 1990s even though they don’t any more”. Like, the camera symbol, phone symbol, and battery symbols on my phone look *nothing like* what my kids would associate with “camera”, “phone”, and “battery”.

        (We do still have AA batteries for the kids’ toys, but the vast majority are internal rechargeables that nobody ever sees!)

          1. D3*

            pssssst…..he was replying to a comment about the floppy disk icon. That’s why he didn’t include it.

    8. Box of Kittens*

      Came here to say this! I am not a linguist but I am a xillennial and that is how I read the x too.

    9. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      I think x means kiss only inasmuch as “Dear [Recipient]” means the recipient is actually dear to you.

      But I’m also fascinated by how heavily gendered it is. I wouldn’t expect to see x on communications with any man I’m not related to, but I would be slightly surprised not to receive an x at the end of a message from a female acquaintance.

      For example, I’ve worked for my (male) boss for over a decade. I only ever get x in writing from him when his wife (whom I’ve met maybe five times, totalling under an hour) sends a Christmas card.

    10. MCMonkeybean*

      I agree, I think they’re reading too much into it. I actually didn’t think this message as a whole was wildly inappropriate coming from a college student. I definitely didn’t think it was bad enough to hold against them–I’d probably ignore it for now and if they do end up getting hired just make a note to include communication as part of the coaching.

    11. WhoKnows*

      I work in PR – every email I receive from a publicist is signed with “x.” Doesn’t seem so off to me.

  6. Tussy*

    Aw, I kinda find that LinkedIn message super endearing. It’s awkward but they are clearly young.

    It’s interesting, I was chatting to my Gen Z’er neighbour the other day and she was saying that when she is doing “professional emails” she always has to go back through and make sure she hasn’t accidentally put emojis or exclamation points in by habit. I don’t know if she was exaggerating as a joke but I found it interesting that growing up with email and text communication being a social and informal form of communication, it might be hard to make the switch over.

    1. Elementary Fan*

      Agreed. They are clearly excited about the role and trying to network!

      I think exclamation points are friendlier than periods so I leave those in professional communication when it makes sense.

      1. allathian*

        Me too, and I’m a Gen X-er. But never multiple exclamation points!!!! :p

        My boss, who’s an older Millennial, routinely uses emojis in her emails. Not in every message by a long shot, but when it makes sense. She’s especially likely to do it when she’s forwarding some positive feedback that she’s received for us from other departments in the organization, it’s just her way of being friendly. I like it.

        1. RoseDark*

          Younger Millennial here. I only ever use multiple exclamation marks in either super casual messages with my best friend of 10 years, or in texts to my boss, an older Millennial who regularly sends me long texts where every other sentence ends in !!! or several emoji. (I do not understand her. She texts like a 20-year-old.) Emoji / emoticons I use frequently to express tone or body language, but I leave them off professional work — except, again, with the weird boss who uses them liberally.

          1. Ayanimea*

            Middle Millennial here. I use emoticons and exclamation marks (one at a time) in professional emails, depending on context.
            Not emojis. I don’t know how they will appear on other people’s screens and I don’t like that. But I wouldn’t be shocked by someone using them. They have been hugely popular for, what, a decade now? More, maybe? On professional but relaxed emails, I don’t see them as an issue.

            1. Zephy*

              Middle Millenial here as well, I put the occasional :) or exclamation point in my emails to colleagues – usually in closing-the-loop type communications. Context is something like “Hi Tangerina, please see attached :)” or “Hi Fergus, great, thank you! Have a nice weekend :)” You know, just injecting a little humanity.

          2. Forrest*

            Back in the early 00s when text messages were just taking off (actual SMS, not WhatsApp or other platforms!), me and my brothers and our friends were in our twenties, and most wrote emails in full sentences or with very specific in-jokes. My mum was a school counsellor and used to text with her students, and she picked up all this teenage slang and abbreviations that she thought were just How To Text, so we’d get these texts from my 60something mum that were like, “Hi, fanx 4 callin spk 2moro!!!! xD”

            1. Homophone Hattie*

              Oh my god. I love this so much. Your mum was fantastic, picking up the language for the medium (as she thought, anyway) so well in her 60s! I hope my brain is as adaptable when I’m that age!

        2. inspector parker*

          Older Millennial here and I love an exclamation mark or an emoji in work emails. I wouldn’t put them in anything formal, of course, and people entering the workplace need to understand that. But when I freelance for agencies we’ll often be smily-ing back and forth at one another – as you say, it’s just a way to signify that this is all friendly. An efficient way, too. You can spend ages perfecting your word choice to make sure it comes across warmly enough but is still succinct and clear – or you can whack an emoji in and call it done. I find it very effective.

          1. Blisskrieg*

            Most of us at our company work remotely and always have. IMO, exclamation points and :) if they are not overdone help to convey friendliness when the message could go either way. I am in senior management and I use them–judiciously, but I use them! :)

          2. Jay*

            I’m a tail-end Boomer and I use emoticons in casual work Email and emojis on Teams. I’m a cis woman and have been criticized in past jobs for “acting like you are in charge” when I was, actually, in charge, so now I bend over backwards to soften my written communication when I’m asking someone to do something. It’s always to my younger, more junior team members. I don’t do it with my peers or anyone above me in the hierarchy.

    2. Elle by the sea*

      I get a good vibe from it, too. The tone is very enthusiastic and friendly. But it’s slightly boundary-crossing with the “kisses”. (But as others have pointed out, this person might be too young to know what it literally stands for.) It’s too casual to use when you don’t know the person yet. I wouldn’t use it with my current or prospective manager, but would probably use it with colleagues I have a friendly and non-hierarchical relationship.

      1. pugsnbourbon*

        Once upon a time I reached out to a couple professors prior to starting an internship (I’d already been accepted). I got a stern response from the internship director not to “mass email” staff and I genuinely wanted the floor to swallow me up in that moment. I still full-body cringe to think about it, but I’m grateful the director gave me feedback instead of either kicking me out or saying nothing.

    3. Cat Tree*

      Maybe it reminds me too much of guys I went on one bad date with who suddenly thought we were basically engaged, but I don’t find this endearing. Based on OP’s update upthread, it just seems really aggressive. In any case, I don’t necessarily want to work with someone who is endearing.

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        It’s the request for OP to tell Sansa “what all you did in order to land this amazing job :)” that pushed it over the line for me. Like what the heck? And then OP’s update pushed it over the line even farther. Honestly to me, from the message and the update, Sansa came across as someone controlling, boundary-crashing, with no understanding of the word no, that I will not only never want to work with, I might start looking just to get away from a coworker like that. I could’ve let one letter slide, but not the rest. When you tell you who you are, believe them.

        1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          When they tell you who they are*

          I’ve been waiting forever for this comment to come out of moderation to fix this.

      2. Tussy*

        It’s really nothing at all like a guy you went on a date with though because this is job hunting, not dating. One overly-friendly LinkedIn message from a job seeker who made a misstep in tone is not creepy and really has nothing to do with your dating life or experience with men.

        A Gift of Fear does not apply to people who want jobs from you.

    4. Grace Poole*

      In a discussion with some younger colleagues, I recently learned that my ending an email with “Thanks,” is perceived as hostile (?) but “Thanks!” would be fine.

      1. OtterB*

        Late Boomer here.

        Uh oh. I end many emails when I’m requesting/acknowledging receipt of information with “Thanks, [my name]”

        I put an exclamation point after Thanks if someone’s gone out of their way to help me, and I use the occasional character-based :-) in an email. I use actual emojis in our Slack but we’re entirely informal there. I wouldn’t use them in a work email.

        Interesting how things change.

  7. Emily*

    In Spain it is customary to give one month notice and some companies can legally make you payback your wages for the company for your early resignation, which is unfair.

    1. allathian*

      It’s what people are used to, and I don’t think it’s particularly unfair. It’s only difficult to switch from one system to another, especially if your new employer is used to a shorter notice period and you need to give longer notice to your old employer.

      If you’re senior enough, and the new employer is determined to get you to work for them before your notice period ends, it’s entirely possible to negotiate for the new employer to pay a sign-on bonus to the new employee that is equivalent to the payback.

    2. MK*

      Not from Spain, but there is no way a company can make you pay back wages that you worked for, it would be against EU law. If you mean that the employee has to pay severance in lieu of notice, a) I doubt that’s legal either, b) even if it is, it’s not unfair, 8f severance is the legal norm, and c) from a practical point of view, employers rarely bother to ask for it, let alone pursue it legally, because the sum of money is too small for them.

      1. Ayanimea*

        Well… French law fines you up to twice the wages you would have earned during your notice period if you leave without notifying your employer.
        Your employer cannot fire you without notice, but you can’t leave without them knowing.
        I’m not sure EU’s law forbids it at all.

        1. MK*

          It absolutely forbids paying back wages you earned. Individual countries may impose fines, and it might not apply to other compensation, like bonuses etc. That’s what I meant by “even if it is legal”, an employee might find themselves owning money for leaving early, but not having to pay back wages, though I get it’s probably a distinction without a difference. I still don’t think it’s fair, and I have never known a company try to enforce it for a regular employee in my 20 years in the legal field.

      2. Bagpuss*

        I don’t think it’s unfair that an employee who leave without (normal) notice should have a financial consequence. I agree that not paying them for the time they have already worked is unlikely to be legal, but a penalty for breaching their contract is perfectly fair.

        Here in the UK, it would be open to an employee to sue for payment in lieu of notice – I believe that legally the company would be entitled to recover any actual losses – for if they hire a temp to cover the time between then you left and when your notice period expired, they could sue for the cost of that temp (including any agency fees etc) less the amount they would have actually paid you if you had worked your notice.

        I think in *most* cases a company won’t pursue it, because it’s unlikely to be worth the hassle, but they legally can, and occasionally do.

        1. Eirene*

          Yikes, what? No! There are so many reasons that a person might need to leave a job before their official notice period is up or might need to leave a job abruptly without giving notice at all. Slapping them with a financial penalty isn’t fair in the least.

          1. A name*

            Well, if your employer agrees to it then it’s fine. And they can only recover actual damages – most of the time this wouldn’t be worth them trying to get, but sometimes you leaving without notice will cost them a lot. It’s not really a special employment thing – there’s a contract between two parties (you and the employer) with penalties for breaking it. Same thing happens with buying a house.

  8. Chocolate Teapot*

    Where I live, notice periods are based on how long you have worked with a company, so up to 5 years is a month, 5-10 years 2 months and over 10 years is 3 months.

    1. WorkingGirl*

      That’s understandable. I’m in the US and ended up giving 6 weeks notice to a job i’d been at about a year, because (1) i had the flexibility with my new employer (2) old job had to search for my replacement (3) i wanted to stay on good terms with old job (which was a good idea as i continued to do some freelance work for them!).

      1. OP3*

        When I quit my job to come here, I gave 2.5 weeks. My boss couldn’t fathom that! He was so surprised I was able to come join the team so early. Had I known about the typical notice periods, I’d have taken more time off between jobs! I was so worried they wouldn’t let me start a month from my offer, but apparently my concerns were unfounded lol

  9. Jo*

    OP #3, if your company is UK-based, did you get a contract? If so, it will probably mention the notice period you’re expected to give (e.g., my notice period *by law* where I am is 4 weeks, but my contract stipulates 3 months, if I stay with my employer longer than 5 years, my notice period increases to 6 months; however this also means that they have to give me 3 and 6 months respectively before letting me go), so that may also give you some indication.

    In general, if you can I would give as much notice as possible. If the company expects it in the UK, then you will also not be pushed out early. Depending on your industry, maybe you have a longer lead time for being hired anyway but I realize this is very industry-specific.

    1. Honoria, Dowager Duchess of Denver*

      But this is the thing – I’ve had to give 2 months notice to an employer before, because I had a contract that obligated me to do it, in return for other benefits. It’s not a social custom or anything. I’m not giving 8 weeks notice out of the kindness of my heart. It’s because if they want to get rid of me, they have to pay me 8 weeks notice as well.

      I think if the OP just explains that to colleagues that they don’t have a contract, then people would understand why the 2 weeks. To be fair, without a contract, any notice you give is a benefit to the employer in my opinion!

      1. Not sure of what to call myself*

        But they might well have a contract. My employer gives all employees contracts, UK based or otherwise. We have to. They get audited as part of our annual audit process so we can show we are following all UK and overseas tax laws.

        1. Cheese Cheese Cheese CHEESE*

          Same with everywhere I’ve ever worked or audited. Frankly I’d be astonished if the LW doesn’t have a contract, and if they do then that, not local custom, will dictate the notice period.

        2. Jo*

          This is what I meant. I may be that the employer has a US entity, in which case the OP may not have a contract (my US colleagues to me knowledge don’t have one but the HQ location HAS to give it to everyone working in that country), but if they have a contract then it is a different topic entirely.

          1. OP3*

            Exactly this! I’m hired through the US branch of my company, despite only working with the UK team. They have many US employees so some branches of the company must be aware of short notice periods, but there aren’t many in my team, which is what prompted the q.

            1. Jo*

              Thank you for the clarification! Some of my local colleagues are always very surprised when colleagues in the US leave on very short notice and I usually have to explain how that is normal in the US and that we can’t measure by our local (HQ) standards. But it doesn’t go to the level of being offended.

              Also thank you for the perspective, it’s always good to have this.

        3. OP3*

          Even if I did have a contract (I don’t), legally it wouldn’t be enforceable in the US. However, I try to be a good person and just don’t want to screw people over like that! The awesome commenters as well as Alison have given good advice– try to give at least a month if i can.

  10. tra la la*

    #2: Zoom mandatory fun is different from a preCovid happy hour in that essentially only one person can talk at a time. I’m an extrovert who HATES mandatory work fun — but at least if I had to go to a happy hour, I could choose who I talked with because multiple simultaneous conversations were possible. Zoom fatigue for me is in part because it turns every gathering into a meeting where one person holds the floor. I have friends at work and I’m in contact with them (several of us have been meeting outside for masked walks) but I don’t need forced fun via Zoom time with people I’m not actually friends with.

    1. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

      Agreed. I tend to enjoy office happy hours — but I like to sit with a group of 1 – 3 people and have a more focused chat. The giant meeting feeling of Zoom Happy Hours is exhausting and doens’t leave me feeling more connected to anyone.

      1. allathian*

        Yeah, I hear you. I haven’t used Zoom, but if there are separate rooms you can go to chat with a few people at a time, it’s probably more fun. It’s not that simple on Skype, you need to issue separate invites to each room. Not sure about Teams.

        Somehow I get the feeling that the boss is only interested in having a captive audience… I may be uncharitable but that’s the feeling I’m left with.

        1. tra la la*

          But with videoconferencing you have to *plan* to go into the separate rooms, and if the boss is really using these Zooms so that they can see everyone and “chat” (at my workplace they still want to use these things as “mental health check-ins” which, don’t get me started) and as “team building activities,” you can’t really actively self-select to a smaller group of people without drawing attention to yourself for it.

    2. UKDancer*

      Also a moderate extrovert who hates mandatory work fun. Just because I type as extrovert doesn’t mean I want to spend time with all my colleagues socially. I would always choose something quieter with people I’m closer to.

      I try and show willing by dialing into some of the zoom happy hours but I find them exhausting and somewhat stilted because only one person can talk at a time so there’s either one person holding forth or an awkward pause. Real happy hours at least allow you to break into small groups. I much prefer being able to socialise quietly over coffee (virtually) on a 1-1 basis with people I like on a personal basis.

      My solution is to go to some of them, to be seen as a team player but not to go for all of them.

    3. Not sure of what to call myself*

      I work for a great company who put on lots of lunchtime calls and online tutorials for team building and healthy workplace habits etc. All started when we went 100% remote.

      And I’ve never been to one. I like my colleagues but I need my lunchtime to be MY lunch time, without them. Luckily they are non compulsory. I get that some folk like then but it’s just not my thing and luckily the company let is opt out. These things that eat into your personal time should be optional.

    4. Damn it, Hardison!*

      There are usually enough people at the Zoom happy hours at my job that I can join, turn the volume all the way down, and do something else the entire time without anyone being the wiser. Only works with large groups, though.

    5. BHB*

      Yes, the nature of zoom doesn’t really work with gatherings of multiple people. Not work related, but my group of friends/acquaintances use to get together in a pub once a week in the beforetimes. It was fun, you could sit and chat to whoever you wanted, move around the room a bit and speak to other people, and there was no one person who was centre of attention. When lockdowns started, they moved to a weekly zoom hangout but it just wasn’t the same. It became the same handful of loud people essentially holding court, and there was no way to mingle and chat with others. I stopped attending after a few weeks because I found it quite stressful; I was either fighting to get my voice heard in the conversation, or just sitting and listening and not participating.

      And that’s not to mention the occasional lag, meaning some people would unintentionally interrupt others because they were a second or two behind; or the endless “you’re on mute” or microphones not working or whatever.

      1. Cat Tree*

        Yeah, I have a friend group that used to meet monthly in person, and now it’s monthly on Zoom. We make it work and I generally enjoy it, but it’s not the same. There is one particular person in this group who is an attention vampire. He acts like he’ll die if someone isn’t paying attention to him. In person it’s not as obnoxious because he’ll distract one or two people won’t the rest of do things. On Zoom, he tries to steer every conversation back to him.

    6. Anon Comment*

      I’ve been to a group’s happy hour that used a new platform (it might still be Beta) called Toucan. It’s set up so that you can see all of the “cocktail tables” in the virtual space, with people’s little icons moving around. You can pop into one, and then it opens up the “zoom room” of everyone at that table and you slide into their conversation. Moving around is encouraged. The one I went to put silly topics on each table as convo-starters / an excuse to move around. And you can also hang out for a while in the ether watching dots move around, if you just need an introvert break.

      It’s yet another new platform to navigate, but it was CLOSER to a real happy hour experience. I agree that a Zoom room with everyone is very different because of the entire group in one convo factor.

    7. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      Oh and another thing about virtual events that I hate? that everyone’s face is close up. In most large groups I’ve been in, while I’m happy to see mostly everybody, there are people I don’t get along with, or have bad history with, or they just plain annoy me and wear me out. In pre-Covid times, at a gathering, I could go off to talk to somebody else and avoid Annoying Fergus for the entire evening. Now Annoying Fergus’s close-up is right in my face and there’s nothing I can do to get it out of my line of vision. Big reason why I couldn’t attend my book club when it went virtual. There was a guy there I didn’t want to see, and he was just… there. Larger than life. I lasted a half-hour into the call and then bailed and told the organizer that I’d lost my internet connection.

      1. tra la la*

        I work in a dysfunctional department that insisted on having daily Zoom meetings back in March and I really struggled with having to have the department bully a) “in” my home and b) up super close. We still have these meetings, just less often, and some people (including me) keep their cameras off, but I’ve learned to break out the chat box and superimpose it (or any other window I have open on the computer) over the faces.

    8. RagingADHD*

      One person has the floor, or more frequently several people start talking at once and you have to go through five minutes of
      What?
      Huh?
      Who?
      No, go ahead.
      No, you…
      Really, it’s fine!
      Go on!

    9. Cassidy*

      >When he was promoted, he said one of his biggest achievements was getting his entire department to attend after-work happy hours.

      What a low bar for accomplishments.

  11. Erika22*

    #3 – American in the UK here – when I landed my first job here, my contract gave a three month notice period. Though I thought that was long, I knew that notice periods abroad were generally longer than two weeks so didn’t ask about it. It was only later that I learned from my colleagues that they all had one month notice periods so my three months was actually unusual at our level (one step lower than the first manager-grade level in our dept). I asked my manager about it, using a similar script to what Alison suggested about not intending to leave but wanting to have my notice period reduced to match everyone else’s. Really it was fine, he contacted HR and they amended my contract. I ended up getting a new job about 8 months later and actually still gave almost two months notice anyway due to the timelines at the new job. Unless you’re a director level or above I can’t imagine why they wouldn’t be ok with one months notice, if you can swing that from whatever new job you start. Good luck!

    1. Charley*

      Yeah, it’s completely fine to negotiate notice periods in the U.K. if your contract states longer than 1 month. One month is standard. I work in the U.K. and my company increases notice periods with length of service but these are never enforced, everyone seems to give a month’s notice, sometimes less if HER allows holidays to be used in lieu of notice.

    2. Weegie*

      Agreed – it’s all totally negotiable. A month is the usual notice period for office jobs in the UK. I’m in a field where 3-month notice periods are common at a certain level, but it’s also not uncommon to negotiate an earlier departure if you want/need to start a new job sooner. A reasonable employer won’t hold you to your full notice, especially if you discuss it first.

      I gave my previous job 6 weeks’ notice, having agreed this with my manager. Completely bizarrely, my very first, very junior job required 3 months, but I could only give them three weeks (my new job was overseas and the offer came at short notice) and they didn’t bat an eyelid.

      1. Batty Twerp*

        Hubby Twerp once worked somewhere with a contractual notice period of one week per year of employment. This was normally a high turnover company, so 2-4 weeks was the norm, but Hubby was in a more unique position (for that company) and had worked for them for over 9 years. His boss (the owner) was vindictive and threatened to make Hubby serve all 9 weeks notice, essentially destroying his chance of securing another job (he’s not senior – no junior role is going to wait over two months for a tech support engineer, even one with experience).
        Hubby explained that it was unenforceable (for reasons including such unreasonable employment practices that the company actually had a budget line for “tribunal payments” because it happened so frequently!) and he would be serving 4 weeks notice.

        Note, this is unusual, even in the UK. Generally speaking, unless it’s a zero-hour contract (please, PLEASE let’s get rid of these), a month is the standard contractual amount of notice, with 3 months (sometimes including a gardening leave period) for more senior positions.

          1. londonedit*

            Gardening leave is mainly common in industries like finance, or anywhere where an employee is senior enough to be able to take company secrets/inside knowledge with them when they leave. The idea is that when you resign, you’re still technically employed and paid by the company for three months or whatever, but you’re sent home on ‘gardening leave’ so that you’re no longer privy to any meetings or discussions that you could potentially pass on to your new employer. It’s not at all common in my industry, but I had it once where my boss was so pissed off that I was leaving to go to a rival (small ‘family’ companies, don’t you just love them…) that he told me to work a week to tidy things up, not come to any meetings, and then take the rest of my notice as gardening leave.

        1. doreen*

          I’ve been wondering for a long time – what is a zero-hour contract? As far as I have been able to tell, it’s a “contract” where the employer doesn’t guarantee any minimum number of working hours and the worker doesn’t guarantee to accept any work. Which doesn’t seem very much like a contract to me – at least in part because the employers I’ve heard of who use them don’t strike me as providing more than legally-mandated pay or time off so those items wouldn’t really need to be in a contract.

          1. londonedit*

            Yeah…that’s a lot of the problem with them. Basically everyone who’s employed in the UK has to have some form of employment contract, and has to be entitled to basic employment rights like statutory annual leave, rest breaks, health & safety considerations and at least minimum wage for the hours they do work. So a zero-hours contract is a way of employing someone when you don’t need them on a regular basis, usually for ‘casual’ work, things like seasonal or temp work, and the employer can absolutely choose not to give you any hours at all. They do offer flexibility for workers, because you’re entitled to do other work elsewhere and theoretically you can work as many or as few hours as you choose, but in reality it means a lot of financial and job instability – there’s no notice period on either side, and I don’t think you’re entitled to sick pay. And there absolutely are employers who put people on zero-hours contracts when they shouldn’t (they shouldn’t be used if someone is needed for regular work – that person should be an employee).

            1. UKworker*

              Zero hours contracts are used a lot in hospitality/food service and healthcare. They’re often _slightly_ better in healthcare, and they do make sense. The hospital where I work has a core of contracted staff (I’m on full time hours, others work part time or three quarters), then there is a big register of bank staff. Some of them work more or less full time anyway, others will tell their managers their availability week to week, so can fit their hours around family commitments, dentist appointments or whatever. Writing a rota to ensure coverage when all the staff on it are bank, and Fred only works mornings, Freda only works Tuesday and Wednesday, and Ethelbert won’t work with either of them but wants as many hours as possible can be tricky!
              In quieter times, bank staff can lose out as there isn’t the demand for their work, but a lot of those who work for us are also on the bank at other hospitals.

          2. Forrest*

            There isn’t really any possibility of legally employing someone in cash and without paying national insurance and tax. Plus we’ve got the hostile environment, which means all employers have to check someone’s legally allowed to work in the UK and can be prosecuted if they don’t. So even if you want to employ someone on a casual basis of a few hours every six weeks, it’s pretty much necessary to form a legal employment status.

            That said, I’m pretty sure employment law considers an employment contract to be established if A turns up and does something and B gives them money for it even if it’s not written down. So I’m always slightly confused by the American assertion that you have no contracts because AIUI an implied or verbal contract is still a contract.

            1. Bagpuss*

              Yes, an employment contract doesn’t need to be in writing (and the legal requirement in the UK, or at least in England, is that the employer has to provide written details of the key points / terms, it’s not actually a requirement to have a formal contract signed by both parties)

              The difficulty of course is establishing the terms of an unwritten contract.

            2. doreen*

              You are probably correct about the implied contract being a contract and certainly a verbal one is – but when Americans say very few people have contracts , what they really kind of mean is that they don’t have contracts that extend beyond today. If I have a job paying $70K a year , I suppose that technically I have a contract and my employer must pay me that amount – until they unilaterally decide that effective on some future date (which could be tomorrow) I will be paid less. And they can do that with virtually any condition of employment- they can decide that starting next month I will accrue only one day of vacation per month rather than two , or that there will be fewer paid holidays in 2021 than there were in 2020.

  12. There's probably a cat meme to describe it*

    Re: OP1… Would it be bad to just reply-all with “Thanks Jane, I think we’ve got all the information we need now to decide whether we’re interested in the app or not. I’d like to opt myself and my team out of future emails about it – thanks” ?

    I wouldn’t do that with my boss, but she’d also never do something obnoxious and tone-deaf like this.

    1. the cat's ass*

      Thanks! I’m Lw#1 and this boss is famously tone-deaf and would be so offended by a direct approach. I’m going the “Thanks,we’re good.” route.

      1. Mockingjay*

        If that’s the case, would it be better to suggest to your team that they just ignore the emails? If Boss asks, then they can do “thanks, I’m good.”

        Ugh. This is one of those situations that you have to waste time tiptoeing around Boss’ ego – and it has nothing to do with work. Thanks for taking care of your team!

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

          It sounds like OP’s team can’t really ignore the emails though. The letter says that the younger ones especially are intimidated… I can’t imagine they’d be comfortable with telling her “thanks, I’m good” themselves.

          Have you ever had a good, gutsy, fed up boss step in between you/your team and a crappy higher level boss who’s doing something awful and witnessed the stare down? It’s a beautiful, awe-inspiring thing.

  13. L6orac6*

    What is about people who don’t understand once you have finished work for day or at the end of the week, most people just want to go home! Now because alot of people are working from home, they think you want to hang out with them on Zoom for another hour or so, um that would be no, this would be cutting into my weekend time as far as I am concerned. I wonder if people are telling boring stories, to bring this Zoom socialising to an end.

    1. Charley*

      I know! There was always someone in the office who wanted after-work drinks on a Friday, I always thought I’ve just spent 40 hours with these people, I want to go home!

      1. allathian*

        Yeah, me too, at least most of the time. That said, the occasional happy hour with a drink in hand can actually be fun. It’s just that I don’t think the experience can be replicated virtually.

        1. Allonge*

          This is where I am – of course right now I think a real happy hour would be heaven, but that’s more because it’s impossible. I assume there will be a period of all the happy hours post-plague, and then things should go back to previous levels.

          Nothing on Zoom ever came close though – we had secret santa, lunch, yoga, drinks, games… just, no.

        2. doreen*

          A non-work group I’m part of tried to socialize via Zoom. It’s entirely possible that none of us knew what we were doing – but I’m very happy that all 50 or so people who were invited didn’t show up. Because it was not like a happy hour or other gathering where I might talk to Andy for a few minutes and then wander off to talk to Ken and then start talking to Karen on my way out of the restroom. It was one single conversation with all ten people – I think it would have been awful with 50.

        3. Qwerty*

          I’ve been part of some great virtual experiences that were fun in a different way. It requires a moderator, an activity/discussion that is easy for people to duck out of, and a focus on lighthearted ways to have people smile/laugh. The Drawasaurus website (basically Pictionary so its interactive despite your camera being OFF) and playing virtual Werewolf have been popular ones that get requested to come back. Stuff with short rounds so people are really only committing to the next 5-10min and can leave early / arrive late / be in observer mode as they please.

    2. twocents*

      In the before times, I had a couple of coworkers that went across the street to grab after-work sushi and sake. But they were legit my friends; it wasn’t the whole department awkwardly entertaining the boss.

      And I’m not sure we ever did it on a Friday. Everyone wants to peace out to home asap on Fridays.

      1. JustaTech*

        I once had a boss who decided we would do journal club (where you read and rip apart a scientific paper, they can be very interesting if they’re set up well and you pick good papers), on Fridays at 5:30.

        He had never noticed that the lab was completely abandoned by 4pm on Fridays. “I’ll bring beer!”
        He’d also never noticed that most of us didn’t drink beer, or that we weren’t allowed to have beer in that space.

        Needless to say, journal club didn’t happen.

        1. Ro*

          Journal club sounds like an interesting idea but it sounds like something you to on thursday lunchtimes for example, not Friday evenings.

  14. Anonymous Mouse*

    RE OP 3. If you work for a foreign company’s foreign branch directly, are you not subject to the employment laws of that country rather than your own, or does the company have to abide by the laws of whichever country an employee is physically based in?

    In the UK, 1 month is standard, and this should have been explained in your contract (if you work for a UK company, you should have one of those). 3 months is typically only for certain roles that are higher up the totem pole

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      You’re subject to the employment laws of the place where you are working, so in this case U.S. laws and the laws of the OP’s state would govern.

      Most U.S. workers don’t have contracts. It’s possible the OP does since she’s working for a UK company, but I wouldn’t count on it.

      1. Anonymous Mouse*

        The way I understand it (living in the UK) is that if you continue to work for a certain time period (2 months I believe) you are deemed to have accepted the terms of the contract. However, I don’t know how that stands if the company drags their heels and refuses to issue one where one should exist. I had this issue in a previous job, and it turned out to be the very tip of the iceberg there.

        Turned out that the reason they “didn’t do contracts” (allegedly what they told a colleague of mine) was so that they could play fast and loose with the rules later on. Never before or since have I left a job with a reason of “shrug”…

        1. fhqwhgads*

          That still would not apply to someone working for the company in the US. If the OP had a contract, of course they’d be bound to it, but if they do not, then all local to where the person is doing the work laws apply. Nothing about the UK laws on employment contracts applies.

      2. hallucinating hack*

        Digressing a little but this is hugely interesting to me as I recently discussed this with a lawyer specializing in cross-border employment! Apparently employment laws for remote working can get weirdly complicated if the company sends people abroad or if they move abroad themselves (with or without the company’s permission), especially if they stay long enough to acquire local employment rights under the foreign country’s law. And then a governing law clause might come into play if there’s a contract.

        OP’s situation is the simplest, though, since the U.S. is both her home and host country (i.e. lives there, is hired to work there).

    2. Deejay*

      I’m in the U.K. and once worked for a branch of an American corporation that fell foul of this. In late December 1999 some of our staff were told “Be in at midnight on the 31st to check for Y2K errors”
      “Sorry, we’ve made plans. You should have asked sooner”
      “We’re not asking. If you’re not there at midnight don’t bother coming in ever again”
      “So you’re going to summarily dismiss us for a single instance of refusing to work outside our contracted hours AND on a public holiday? See you in court for the unfair dismissal case. I believe the term you use is ‘slam-dunk’?”
      The American bosses had no choice but to back down at that point.

      1. Anonymous Mouse*

        An acquaintance of mine worked for an American company and the stricter employment rules here did their heads in. They kept trying to fire people under “at will” laws, even though that isn’t a thing here (although a former boss of mine got away with it by preying on young workers who didn’t know their rights. I should have noticed that the only people who lasted there were long-standing workers who he was frightened of)

        1. UKDancer*

          Yes one of the major causes of failure of companies trying to establish overseas is not understanding the legal situation in the country they’re establishing in. Another part is not understanding the cultural differences.

          If you’re setting up a branch in country X you need to know what the local rules are and abide by them or you’re sunk. This is one of the reasons for the failure of Walmart in Germany (which I’ve had to study as a classic example of market entry failure). They did not understand the legal structures there before arriving so some aspects of their corporate culture were declared illegal (like obligations to report whether your colleagues are in a relationship or predatory pricing). They also didn’t understand the role of the unions in Germany or the way in which German shoppers preferred to operate.

        2. Ganymede*

          Two people in my family have worked in the UK for American companies, one a large multinational and one a smaller tech concern. I’ve watched the stress piling onto them – the US bosses are relentless with pressure, seemly unaware of anything to do with morale, and really – well, miserly sounds too rude, but they really wring their staff out for every drop. I’m not saying that UK companies are all wonderful but the difference in culture is really clear.

          The relative working for the multinational ended up doing 2 people’s jobs, being pressured never to take his rightful time off and crashing out with stress, high blood pressure etc. after giving years of high-quality service to the company. I’m sure they’re not all like that but the experience would make me wary.

          1. Yola*

            “the US bosses are relentless with pressure, seemly unaware of anything to do with morale, and really – well, miserly sounds too rude, but they really wring their staff out for every drop.”

            I’ve worked in both the US and the UK and while there are some jerk bosses with unreasonable expectations, this is certainly not the norm. While on the surface, there appears to be huge differences between US and UK employment, I’ve find that in practice, on a day-to-day basis, the differences are pretty minimal for middle class office jobs.

            1. I’d Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

              I agree. The comments section on this blog sometimes gives the impression that the UK (and perhaps EU more broadly, but I think there’s a larger contingent of UK commentors) is very worker-friendly and has legislated away many explotative practices. So I was a little surprised when I moved to the UK four years ago and….did not really observe that. There of course are a lot of things that are better about the UK in terms of quality of life. But my experience has largely been that at least for white-collar jobs, it’s very similar and company/industry culture seems to matter a lot more than country.

              1. English, not American*

                In my admittedly limited experience (and that of friends/family), if the company is American and just operating in the UK a lot of the US work culture filters down, especially if it’s not a separate subsidiary but has UK employees reporting to US middle-management. While European-owned or UK-owned companies put less life-and-death importance on things. Which isn’t to say they’re good, among my friends the non-US companies tend to be characterised by a kind of “fingers crossed and it’ll all work out fine” attitude bordering on incompetence at times, but that could also be because they’re a lot smaller than the big multi-national outfits we’ve worked for.

              2. UKDancer*

                I’ve not worked in the US so can’t comment on what it’s like to work there. I can say that I don’t think the UK is in any way perfect as a place to work. I think it’s done a lot over the years to improve things for workers but there are still things that can be improved on. I do worry about the “gig economy” and there is still a long way to go on diversity and inclusion. I’ve worked in other EU countries and none of those have been perfect employee heavens either.

                I think you’re probably right that there is more similarity between companies in the same industry.

                1. Ganymede*

                  The gig economy and zero hours is just a recipe for exploitation. Policymakers point to the minority of people for whom the gig system works and discount all the rest.

                  I realise Anecdote is not Data, and agree there are plenty of negative things about the UK workplace, and I think it will get worse now we’ve left the EU. So much depends on the character of your boss(es) and the firm’s individual culture.

              3. TEW*

                Agreed. UK commenters have a tendency to really overstate how great the UK is for workers. I wish it was as great as people describe here! 

                1. Forrest*

                  Our floor is a little higher up, that’s all. Which makes a huge difference in terms of things like maternity provisions and gross misconduct, but outside those two areas the vast majority of things discussed on this blog in white-collar roles fall under the heading of good and bad management and organisational cultures, and fall far short of the places where legal rights come in.

                2. TEW*

                  I’m not sure that the floor is higher, just different. Americans get paid a lot more for the same work and seem to have some flexibility that we don’t have, so there are some trade offs.

              4. Anonymous Mouse*

                It does very much depend on who you work for. I worked for one company that engaged in practices I can only describe “as preying on the young workers who didn’t know how to handle themselves”, (the MD ordered the firing of someone for not smiling enough) as the only workers who survived were the older ones who were not afraid to tell the MD to **** off, sometimes literally. He was frightened of them because most of them could rip his arms off in their sleep.

            2. Teapot Wrangler*

              I tend to agree. I think we (in the UK) get away without the worst examples e.g. no maternity pay, no or very little sick pay, hardly any annual leave, being sacked for nothing, health insurance being tied to your job and so expensive. But I also don’t think we’re spectacular. Many industries (including mine) regularly get people to opt out of the working time directive (so that you can work over 48 hours per week), lots of protections don’t kick in until you’ve been employed for two years and we look over at the continent with envy – so much holiday! Plus having legal protection doesn’t always translate into things being better in practice especially with the decline in union membership.

              1. londonedit*

                I agree. Obviously I’m pleased that I can’t be fired for no reason, that I don’t have to take health insurance into consideration, and that I have 25 days’ holiday a year. I’m also very fortunate to work for a company with excellent employee welfare policies, generous sick pay over and above SSP, and a culture that promotes leaving work at work. However, there are plenty of terrible employers in the UK. And while in theory, yes, you can take your terrible employer to an employment tribunal if they do something awful, in reality that’s a time-consuming option that many people don’t take because they’re worried about their future reputation in their industry, or because they’re burned out and don’t want a drawn-out reminder of their awful experience, or any number of other reasons. And there are plenty of ways for terrible employers to ‘bend the rules’ or get away with skirting the very edge of the law.

                1. leeky*

                  I’m in the U.S. and I get 30 days of holiday and can’t be fired for no reason. That’s another common misconception about U.S. employment. Just because those things are required by law doesn’t mean that no one in the U.S. gets them. Good employers that compete for good employees will offer great benefits.

                2. Hemingway*

                  Indeed leeky. I have 35 days PTO, and have great benefits. It’s a long process to fire someone because they dont want to get sued, but you totally can if you need to!

                  I’m in the US in Virginia.

  15. LDN Layabout*

    Yup, it all rests on your contract (usually around 1 month for more junior positions, 2-3 months for mid-level level/senior, for very senior/leadership it can go higher), if you have one.

    I wonder what kind of annual leave allowance the LW has, since it’s a UK company. If they offer more, there’s also the option of using that as part of your notice period e.g. give four weeks notice, last week use your accrued leave.

    1. OP3*

      I have 2o days and 10 US holidays. I think that if/when I quit, I will have to give 1 month minimum if I can. So different to the US!

  16. Keymaster of Gozer*

    LW1: had a notorious boss who genuinely thought she was doing the best for her staff by hawking some kind of weight loss/health supplements constantly. With added emotional stuff like “this’ll make you healthy and provide money for me to take care of my elderly relative”.

    Very difficult series of emails ensued. I asked her to please stop with the emails because at this point we could all recite them verbatim, we know where to come if we change our minds.

    “But when I stop the emails fewer of you buy anything! You’re not interested in being healthy unless you’re reminded”

    Same reply to basically everything we thought up. What we should have done was take it higher in HR (local HR said just delete the emails), what we actually did was work with the IT security group (we were local IT) to get any emails featuring that specific link for purchase blocked from being sent by our servers. Turns out our IT terms of service had a ‘don’t use company servers to send spam’ clause.

    1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      I think this is a very useful suggestion. There’s probably also a “don’t use company resources for your side gig” clause lurking there somewhere to fall back on.

      1. Keymaster of Gozer*

        Definitely is in my contract: big bit about not working a second job or money making enterprise at the same time as doing work for *employer*. From what I’ve heard they’re okay with fundraising but anything that brings you money personally is out of line.

    2. the cat's ass*

      thank you for responding! I’m LW #1 and as our HR is besties with this particular boss, no joy there. I’ve been encouraging colleagues to just delete, and i’m going to send a ‘thanks for the info, we’re good.” And see what happens.

      1. EPLawyer*

        Make sure your newer/younger colleagues know it is okay to delete. They may be afraid of the boss retaliating. So just keep encouraging.

        Also, lots of people on this list suggest setting up a filter so those emails go right to the spam folder. Don’t ask ME how to do it. But someone on here can you tell you how to do it so those emails go and not ALL emails from your boss.

      2. meyer lemon*

        I wonder if it would be possible to set up your email filter so anything with certain keywords from the email (the name of the app, maybe) gets redirected as spam.

      3. Keymaster of Gozer*

        Query: do you have an IT department? Maybe drop a few words in a sympathetic ear there?

        (As an IT professional we hate people spamming crud on our servers)

    3. the cat's ass*

      Thank you! I’m LW#1 and this boss is easily butt-hurt AND tone deaf. I’m repeating the mantra, “Thanks. we’re good.”

    4. Cat Tree*

      Ha, that reminds me of a scammy snail mail I got once. It was an optional sales pitch thing that they tried to make sound mandatory. I was reading the complaints on the BBB and the scam company’s replies. At one point they had agreed to add a disclaimer to their mail, but then they stopped doing it because the scam didn’t work as well then. If you have to be unethical for your thing to work, you probably shouldn’t do that thing. But amazingly, some people don’t seem to understand this.

    5. Cassidy*

      “You’re not interested in being healthy unless you’re reminded”

      ———————-

      Whoa. What the WHAT?

  17. NewHerePleaseBeNice*

    Presumably in return for UK levels of notice (4 weeks minimum for most junior roles, contractually rising to three months or even more for higher level roles or longer service) LW3 is also receiving UK levels of annual leave (a minimum of 28 days including bank holidays, probably more) plus sick pay, access to a pension contribution etc.

    I think LW3 needs to read their contract of employment… preferably before they sign it?!

    1. Mx*

      I was going to say the same thing about having the same rights as UK employees. Also the right not to be fired without a good reason (not doing one’s job, or gross/illegal misconduct for instance).
      OP may not have received a contract at all since they are in the US, even if the company is UK based.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        The OP is subject to U.S. laws, not UK laws, because she’s U.S. based. But she may have those protections via the company’s own internal policies.

        1. Annisele*

          I’m not sure it’s quite as simple as that.

          I appreciate that “what my employer did” isn’t necessarily “the way things should be done”. But I’ve been an employee of a UK based company with overseas employees, and we arranged things this way:

          * The applicable employment law was the employment law wherever the employee was based.
          * If the applicable employment law conflicted with our standard contracts, we’d amend our contract for that employee so it complied with the employment law – and then we’d expect the employee to sign it before they started working for us.
          *If the employment law didn’t conflict with our contract, then we’d just issue our standard contract – and we considered those contracts to be binding on both parties, just as any other contract would be.
          *(If the employee lived somewhere where their employment law conflicted in an irreconcilable way with UK employment law, we’d just decline to hire that person.)

          I don’t think there’s anything in US law that prevents a 3 month notice period; it would just be weird. So if OP did have a contract with the UK company, I see no reason it wouldn’t be binding on OP. But since OP doesn’t have a contract, I can’t see any legal worries. But I can see potential damage to OP’s professional reputation if they just skip out on the UK company with two weeks notice – and I very much like Alison’s scripts in her post for dealing with that.

          (Even if I’m entirely wrong about how the law works – that is, even if a UK employment contract wouldn’t bind a person in the US – a person with a non-binding contract who failed to follow it would likely still suffer professional damage. Alison’s scripts would work for that person too.)

          1. Faye*

            I work for a UK company with an office in the US. We don’t do contracts in this office because we are not required to by either government and its just easier on our US employees if we follow US employment norms.

    2. OP3*

      I do not have a contract, and my benefits are interesting–hybrid of US and UK norms. I have 20 days of holiday with the 10 US federal holidays. That’s a bit more than most US companies. I have US insurance and access to a 401k with no match. I think I have sick days, but it seems on my team no one officially counts them. It’s a bit of a culture shock for my UK team, as they’re used to distant US team members, not embedded ones. But it’s been great so far. Since COVID and everyone’s home, it makes me feel way more normal, you forget I’m in the US! (till I open my mouth and decline 4AM meeting invites haha)

  18. Jopestus*

    2# the simplest way to make it stop is by starting to bill hours of those “social events”. People seem to get the hint fast.

    Caveat: Works perfectly in finland, but might do some serious harm to your career in different cultures.

    1. allathian*

      I’m also in Finland, and the vast majority of my employer’s social events, with a very few exceptions, are on company time.

  19. Niii-i*

    LW 3:
    I would talk to your boss about it. And make it an actual conversation. Like telling them what you heard, explaning the standard norms in US and start the conversation on how notice period should be framed and handled internally in the future.

    I would think this is the sort of thing that should be planned ahead and announced. If it was my company, I would like to make sure that we understand the norms in different countries and are operating legally in each country and towards every employee. And then maybe try to set up some norms that we would like everyone to follow.

    Haha, and yeah,maybe all of this is not your post, but the first part: asking the questions and giving context, would maybe help you whenever you decide to move on.

    1. OP3*

      Thank you! I am just nervous talking about it because I don’t want to make it seem like I’m gearing up to leave–I’m not– but it seems necessary. I like the idea of announcing it bc that definitely helps my reputation. Also yes, context is always helpful haha

      1. Cats on a Bench*

        I wouldn’t bring it up since you’re not actually looking to leave and you said your boss is aware and you’re mostly concerned with colleagues’ impressions. I would just look for opportunities like the example you gave to mention the US/UK differences.

        When you are leaving and announce the last day, then you could add something along the lines of “I know this seems like a short notice for the UK, but the standard notice period in the US is only 2 weeks and my new employer couldn’t wait any longer than this to bring me on board.” This being however long you give them. If you give a month, say they couldn’t wait longer than a month or whatever. If the announcement comes from your boss, then make sure you have conversations with your coworkers about your leaving and you include information that you regret having to give a shorter notice than they would expect, but…..

    2. Hillary*

      There may also be an opportunity to talk about it socially with colleagues, or if you’re closer to someone ask them to spread it for you. We’ve had conversations here about how different tea break norms in the UK are compared to coffee norms in the US, that could be an opening.

  20. Niii-i*

    And btw, regarding no 2:
    How does one get away from these casual meetings?
    I hate them, but I do try to visit one every once in a while. But I always struggle to get out! I mean, it’s somehow more intense than IRL, when you can just make an excuse to the few people you have actually been talkin to and give a brief bye to the rest. But on zoom, I feel like there is one or two people making heated convo, rest of the people are quiet and it would feel like I stepped on a ladder if I announced my leaving out of the blue. Last week I just left, but I felt I was being rude….

    1. EventPlannerGal*

      If there’s a chat/messaging function (Zoom and Teams do, I’m not sure about Skype) can you drop a message in that? “Don’t want to interrupt but I’m heading off now, see you Monday!” And then just quietly leave the call.

      1. UKDancer*

        This is what I do. I put a message in the zoom chat saying something like “I need to go now, have a good weekend and stay safe” and then leave. It seems to be a fairly common thing for people to do in my company.

    2. The Prettiest Curse*

      For leaving video calls where you can’t get a word in or don’t want to turn on your camera, I will always send a message via chat saying “have to run now so that I can do X”, then log off right away. (You can invent something urgent-sounding for X, it’s not like anyone will know the difference.) That way, people know you’re leaving so you’re not being impolite, but they also can’t talk you into staying because you’re already gone.

    3. Niii-i*

      Thanks you all! I’ll have to do IT. We’r on Skype. There is a chat nyt on my company its seksin used so i didn’t Even remember. But i think IT would Be totally fine to do :) thanks!

    4. Kiki*

      Yeah, I usually drop a message that I need to go in the chat or, if I know in advance that I’m not feeling up to a whole long ordeal, say that I have to leave at X time at the beginning of the chat.

    5. twig*

      I ghosted out of a virtual happy hour early on in the pandemic when one of my coworkers started going on about how divorce is too easy and people just don’t try hard enough these days.

      I was 3 months out from my divorce after “trying” for 24 years in an abusive* relationship. I turned off my camera and went to get a glass of water and calm down. Then I just ducked out of the meeting without saying anything.

      *It was post on Ask a Manager that made me realized that I was being gaslighted in my relationship, by the way.

  21. Teapot Wrangler*

    LW3 – I notice that you say “While I know employment in the U.S. is at-will, and I’m not contractually obligated to a notice period of a certain length” so I’m going to work on the assumption that you don’t have a contract but I think that’s very unusual so I would double check that you definitely didn’t sign anything when you joined.

    Have a look at your HR materials – they’ll probably give you an idea of the amount of notice you would be expected to give in any case. Your role might be a four weeks rather than twelve weeks one which is obviously less difficult.

    As a UK organisation, I assume you’re getting 25 days of annual leave a year – definitely see if you could use some of them in lieu of notice. Also, notice is almost always negotiable but I’ve rarely seen it reduced to the level that would be most useful for you. For example, I’ve definitely seen people negotiate 3 months down to 6 weeks but rarely less.

    Finally, (once you’ve checked your terms of employment) I’d definitely mention the difference in notice norms in passing to your team “I’ve just realised you guys have a three month notice period in the UK – that sounds great. It must be really nice to have so much time to do handovers and tie up loose ends. We only give two weeks here which means there’s no chance of meeting the person who’ll take over from you.” Obviously speak to your manager too but seeding the difference now (rather than when you leave) and then being apologetic if you do hand in a short notice period should help your overall reputation.

    1. Bagpuss*

      In fairness, there’s rarely the chance to meet the person taking over from you in the UK , either, as they will typically *also* have a three month notice period. It does give more time to tie up lose ends, notify relevant people etc. but normally there’s no overlap with your replacement.

      1. Teapot Wrangler*

        True. Or at least, I’ve never managed it. But people always seem to hope that they’ll find the magical person who can start immediately or is on one month notice (and that HR will post the advert quickly enough that you can be done with interviews quickly enough to make the dates line up).

    2. OP3*

      Thank you for the kind response, I appreciate it! I get 20 days of holiday and 10 US federal holidays. However I can roll some over, so that would be key if I plan to leave. I’m not planning on it soon, but just wanted to have this knowledge for when I need it. And I do not have a contract since I am employed by the US branch of the company *technically*.

  22. JM in England*

    A bit late to the party, I also believe that mandatory fun events do discriminate somewhat against us introverts and those who want to physically disconnect from our jobs at the end of the work day/week.

    At OldJob, got the impression that my manager, who arranged such events, was giving me subtle signals of disappointment/disapproval for my non-attendance….

    1. Suzanne*

      I also wish that people would stop assuming that people who live alone are about to die from loneliness. I mean, come on.

        1. AGD*

          I love my house and love having my own space, and I never go outside much in the winter. I’m capable of getting lonely but not with this many Zoom meetings. Looking forward to things reopening and being able to take part in the energy of the office again, but the flip side is that I feel a whole lot less drained.

      1. I’d Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

        Yeah. I’m not sure the introvert vs. extrovert positioning is useful to these discussions. Everyone should be allowed to use their free time as they wish, regardless of personality type.

        1. UKDancer*

          Definitely. When we are forced to suffer MBTI at work I always type as extrovert. That doesn’t mean I want to spend my evenings socialising with my colleagues. Getting energy from being with people doesn’t mean being completely indiscriminate as to which people I want to be with. I prefer to spend my time doing things I enjoy (dancing, theatre etc) with people I have things in common with. In the before times I went to work drinks occasionally and briefly to show my face before going on to do something more enjoyable.

          Now we’re on zoom I do the work virtual drinks etc from time to time but not always.

          I don’t think it’s an introvert / extrovert thing. I think it’s a whether you find zoom socialising with colleagues enjoyable thing.

          1. ashie*

            Agreed. I’m an introvert but I hesitate to tell people that because they always think Introvert = Shy. I’m not shy, I’ll talk to anyone about anything, I just don’t feel personal gratification from doing it.

        2. Gray Lady*

          It’s absolutely not. I’m an introvert and much as in-person socializing can be challenging for me, Zoom socializing is absolutely horrible. All of the benefits introverts derive from socializing are gone, and frankly I can’t see what’s in it for extroverts either, other than seeing human faces (which I acknowledge does have benefit, but that’s about all it is.)

          As an introvert, my preference would be occasional in-person socializing (when and where that was possible). Given the choice between a lot of Zoom socializing and very little socializing, I’d rather have little socializing. In fact, I’d rather be alone all the time. Zoom socializing is an emotional tax with no benefits attached.

        3. Librarian of SHIELD*

          This. I’m an ambivert who sometimes really enjoys socializing and other times really does not, but even when I’m all in for some social time, the who/when/how of my social time should still be up to me and not my workplace.

        4. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          Hear, hear. I’m literally at 50% I-E on every MBTI I’ve ever taken. During this pandemic, I started signing up for regular blood donations, one of the main reason why I keep coming back every 2 months being that I get to chat with new people when I come in, and I miss that from the pre-Covid times. I’ve been known to enjoy an outing with work friends in the before times. And I would hate mandatory management-organized happy hours so much; virtual or not. The part where OP’s leadership follows up and asks people why they didn’t call in had me hyperventilating.

          1. Librarian of SHIELD*

            Same here. I’ve taken the test 2 or three times, and I’m always right at the center between I/E. The biggest difference I’ve ever had was 51/49.

    2. WorkingGirl*

      I’m an extrovert and my coworkers are nice people whose company i enjoy, but work is not my life and after work i’d rather talk to folks i hadn’t just spent a full day with / talking to!

  23. Seeking Second Childhood*

    US comments for OP3 — If your recommended contract/HR check shows you’re truly a US-law at-will employee, maybe bring up & discuss the differences the next time someone anyone leaves in either country. Or instigate a generalized conversation about UK/US/EU differences. I think that would make it even less likely someone will worry you’re job hunting.

  24. Ganymede*

    LW4 – this lady has a kind heart, which you recognise, and from what you say she doesn’t seem like she’s pushing things, it just comes naturally to her to comment so it’s hard for her not to. She will understand if you say “Colleague, you are a kind person. Can I ask for your kindness to take the form of not commenting on my health again? I would really appreciate that”. If she demurs just reinforce it “I really mean it – the best kindness to me would be your not mentioning my health, I know you will understand”.

    Hopefully she will take that as a compliment and will try to live up to your positive description of her as someone who behaves understandingly, not just unthinkingly sprinkling “kindness” even when it’s being received as intrusiveness. Good luck!

    1. highbury house*

      My reaction to those unwelcome-but-kindly-meant comments would be to return in kind. For example: “Oh, you’re walking so well today!” “Wow, so are you!”
      I might say it with breezy good cheer, or I might fix the other person with a hard disapproving glare before replying, using an ‘are you kidding me with this?’ tone of voice, depending on the circumstance.
      Either way, a subject change would follow immediately.

    2. Reba*

      Yes! I have found that appealing to the desire to help can be a great way to change the dynamic with an aggressively caring person like this.

  25. Workerbee*

    #2 If they really wanted to do a leadership lunch that draws interest, they could turn it into an optional monthly Lunch n Learn where they actually talk transparently and honestly about issues impacting the company or recent triumphs, and cater lunch to everyone (a la UberEats if remote) who attends. Or invite other departments to share updates. That MIGHT increase participation…but otherwise, and given my abhorrence of most meetings and past and current experience, a bunch of leaders sitting around yakking about how to make a meeting be a meeting is sadly a little too apt.

    Bob needs to stop projecting and start listening.

  26. Seeking Second Childhood*

    Avoiding abbreviation is a good lesson to give interns in general. Added to my mental list.

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      And as soon as I sent that, I realized it’s a good lesson many upper managers too. So much business jargon gets shortened to abbreviations and acronyms and then gets pronounced as a full word, leaving even longtime professional employees confused. Do they mean IM as Information Management, installation manual, or instant message? I have been with my company 20 years, and I keep seeing new crops of acronyms. I shudder to think of someone trying to figure out business history from our correspondence in 150 years!

  27. DiscoCat*

    The 3 months notice period in Europe is also to protect employees, if they do get fired they have 3 months buffer to find another job- that is assuming the current employer doesn’t bleed them dry in their hand-over time… But in Germany people often go on sick leave citing stress.

  28. AlexandrinaVictoria*

    As an observant Jew, I would have a REAL problem with mandatory Friday night happy hours!

  29. Katherine Daly*

    I doubt LW1 knows the meaning of “evangelical”, or they would not be making assumptions and disparaging remarks about someone’s religion.

    1. Asenath*

      Well, “evangelical” does have a perfectly secular meaning of being enthusiastic, with the implication of “overly enthusiastic”, about promoting something. I don’t know LW1’s thinking or usage well enough to decide whether it was a religious or secular usage.

      1. UKDancer*

        I had assumed the OP meant evangelical in the secular context, i.e. that the company was overly pushy/ into a heavy sales pitch. I didn’t think they were implying it was evangelical in the religious sense of the word. But rather that the company was one of those that went in for a very strong sales pitch (along the lines of people selling Amway or trying to flog their latest wheeze without listening to whether you were saying yes or no).

    2. Sam*

      If they actually *are* referring to Dave Ramsey – which I suspect they are, given the reference to “gun-toting” – they’re almost certainly using it correctly.

      On the other hand, you do know that evangelical is just… a word, right? A descriptive term? Plenty of people self-identify their religions as evangelical.

      1. Librarian of SHIELD*

        And Ramsey’s company isn’t the only religious-based money management program. It’s the most well known, but there are several organizations that offer these services that are quite vocal about their connection to evangelical christianity. Reading that line in the post, I assumed that this was an app created by a religious group, but even then, OP’s not casting aspersions on anyone’s religious affiliation, just saying how annoying it is to keep getting emails from their boss about a product they don’t intend to ever sign up for.

        1. Richard Hershberger*

          I took it not as an app created by a religious group, but as an app created by a business that uses conspicuous Christianity as part of its marketing. I avoid those businesses. The most generous interpretation is that they suffer from deep theological confusion, believing that Jesus died to provide them with a marketing opportunity. The possibilities after that go downhill fast.

      2. RagingADHD*

        If they meant Dave Ramsey, why say “think”? Why not just say that it was?

        You don’t obscure a name by using the name.

      3. Emi*

        Wait, what does Dave Ramsey have to do with guns? There are a number of enthusiastic Ramseyites in my neighborhood but this has never come up.

    3. PT*

      We just had a letter the other day about Dave Ramsey’s financial planning business, which is faith-based in Evangelical Christianity. So it is entirely possible that the boss is spamming them with that particular company and LW opted to not mention it by name.

    4. Tolerance Includes Things I Dislike*

      I came here to say: I didn’t appreciate the references of “evangelical” (which I read as religious) or “gun-toting” despite being neither an evangelical or a gun enthusiast. *Any* flavor of budgeting tool spammed to workers by a boss would be an abuse of power and irritating as hell, so bringing your feelings on guns or religious moniker seems unnecessary. Or, as the kids say, weird flex but okay.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        She’s allowed to object specifically to being spammed by an organization that holds viewpoints she finds offensive. Tolerance means accepting their right to exist and pursue their goals; it doesn’t mean she has to welcome them into her inbox or can’t share her own opinions on their stances. (And frankly, “tolerance” isn’t the right move in every situation anyway; I don’t know why it sometimes get held up that way. There are lots of things we shouldn’t tolerate.)

        1. Tolerance Includes Things I Dislike*

          I agree, Allison. I was attempting, and failing, to articulate something like what Observer said much more neatly below about not sidetracking. It seemed likely to me, given how LW has described her boss.

          Also, TIL “evangelist” is apparently sometimes a term in software. Thanks, JustaTech!

          And yes, my meme game is terrible. At least I won’t use that one improperly again,Nanani!

      2. Nanani*

        Except people have explained that the company is both religious and repped by a gun enthusiast.

        Also your meme game is weak (that’s not what the flex phrase means at all)

    5. JustaTech*

      For the record, “evangelist” is/was a job title at some software companies; a person might be the Ruby on Rails Evangelist – the person in charge of spreading use of this programming language by talking it up enthusiastically all the time.
      I think it got dropped because of the strong religious connotations.

  30. Roquefort*

    This makes me grateful for my own company. They actually just started a program where we can work an extra half-hour Mon-Thurs and take off two hours early on Friday, “so you can get a head start on the weekend.”

  31. The Spinning Arrow*

    OP2, I feel your pain. One of my bosses recently requested that I set up some “optional” weekly lunches with them and rotating, random members of the full staff. It’s such a shame that other high priority projects have really come to the fore now that just haven’t allowed me the time to follow up on that request….. ;)

  32. B Wayne*

    LW5 an overly enthusiastic and unprofessional intern: After I read the example email my immediate thought was we’ve all watched a comedy movie or two where the slacker guy is forced to look for a job and does it 100% wrong. Deliberately, usually to stay on some sort of dole or just because they’re too lazy, high or both. I swear this feels the same way but in real life. “Gosh Mom and Dad. I tried! Now, can I go to the beach house with you guys this summer?”

  33. Lord Peter Wimsey*

    Re #5: I have a similar situation, one of my direct reports seems to almost default to exclamation points in emails.
    (Like: Hey Bob! I’ll set up some time with you to talk about this project! Thanks!) Not sure if it’s just a personal style issue or a generational one (I’m GenX, they are GenZ), so I haven’t said anything, but I’m interested in the replies to this question too.

    1. MCMonkeybean*

      I think the exclamation point debate comes up here fairly often. I actually had to make an effort to start using them more at work. I got comments in a review once that my email communication style was lacking, so I started using exclamation points more to make my emails come across friendlier and it seemed to work ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

      1. Lord Peter Wimsey*

        Spot on, of course–Bunter would never misuse punctuation (particularly exclamation points) unless it was absolutely necessary to an investigation.

  34. blink14*

    LW #4 – In my honest opinion, I think at some point you just have to accept people’s kindness in forms of well meaning comments or asking about your wellbeing.

    I started my current job in the midst of trying to rehab a freak injury. I limped, I was constantly in pain, and people asked about it. Did I like that? Not particularly. But I realized that it was quite obvious and so I started to give some detail, and I found that worked to my favor – less questions because the information was already out there. I had surgery several months later and was out for several weeks. When I returned, it was very obvious I had a knee high walking boot on and was using crutches the first few weeks back. People asked, I explained, and that was that. Even now, several years after, people I haven’t seen in awhile at work will comment that I’m walking so much better or something like that.

    I also have several chronic conditions that resulted in being ill for quite awhile before figuring out a treatment option. People constantly asked me if I was ok, because frankly, I didn’t look ok on some days. My boss checked in on me when she noticed I wasn’t feeling well, and I didn’t want the attention, but it also was just a human to human connection of this person looks ill and I’m going to check in because I care about their wellbeing.

    I’m a pretty private person and I try my best to keep work and personal separate, but it’s not always possible. Because you are a person and you have a life, and your co-workers are likely going to be decent human beings who will have genuine interest in how you are doing.

    1. RagingADHD*

      I think this is a good comment. At some point we all have to deal with the fact that people can see us, and we can’t control every word that comes out of their mouths or every thought in their heads.

      There’s a certain level of attention, connection and interaction from others that is just part of life, and when people are looking out for your well-being, it’s a generally positive and pro-social part of life. The world would not be improved if nobody ever expressed concern or caring for an injured person.

      Life is like a crowded bus. People are going to bump into you sometimes, even when they aren’t doing anything wrong.

      1. blink14*

        100%. And sometimes, a person’s concern can make all the difference to someone. It would be a really, really sad world if no one could show their concern or react in a way to help another person.

    2. Rational Lemming*

      I agree with blink14.
      If OP4 is a private person, their manager may just be looking for *something* to connect on (consciously or not). If you got a puppy, and the manager had a puppy once that would probably dominate the conversation. Your injury may be the thing that she knows about you right now so it’s the topic of conversation.

      That’s my take based on personal experience of having a manager assume that I was WAY into yoga because I brought a yoga mat into work once a week for a work-sponsored class. I thought she was weirdly fixated on me doing yoga until I realized she didn’t really know anything about me other than I did yoga once a week…

    3. Emily*

      I agree with this, to an extent. I had a torn ACL a few years ago, and while it could be a little tiresome to field the same questions over and over about what had happened or how I was doing, I understood that most people were just curious (understandable!) or trying to demonstrate concern.

      I do think, though, that it’s reasonable for the LW to ask their boss to knock it off (in kinder words than that, of course). Daily comments from someone who saw me often enough to have at a general idea of my injury and recovery progression would have made me feel like I were under a microscope! Plus, it sounds like the boss is trying to respect the LW’s wishes and might be willing to further adjust her behavior if she knows that she’s making the LW uncomfortable.

      1. blink14*

        I agree – I think there’s still room to nicely ask the manager to cut down on the comments, but realistically, it just may not happen to the degree the LW seems to want.

  35. JxB1000*

    #2 I sympathize that too-frequent socialized Zoom meetings are annoying, but I was intrigued by the idea that “happy hours are discriminatory”. I’m not a big drinker, usually limiting to one or none. If I attend a happy hour, I choose what I drink, which is often non-alcoholic. Frankly, I’m more interested in the appetizers! And if virtual – I definitely have control over whatever beverage I consume. Bonding over food and drink is pretty fundamental when it comes to socializing. Do you feel pressured to consume alcohol?

    It is good they are soliciting feedback about works (for the leadership luncheons). Allison gave some good advice – be gracious but stand your ground, set limits, provide suggestions for less events. It’s so hard right now for everyone. I see our own management struggling with finding ways to foster interpersonal work relationships and arrange events without driving everyone crazy! I’m a semi-introvert, but husband a serious introvert. Things where I’d just go for 10 minutes or log on and coast, would drive him bonkers to be expected to attend. Yet others would LOVE same interaction. Best of luck to you!

    1. Librarian of SHIELD*

      It would depend on what reasons people have for not drinking. A recovering alcoholic, for example, might find it incredibly difficult to visit bars on a regular basis for work purposes. I was raised in a very conservative religion that didn’t just forbid drinking alcohol, leadership heavily discouraged members from spending time in bars or going to cocktail parties, even if you weren’t planning to drink while you were there. And in either case, I can imagine a person not wanting to tell their boss why they don’t want to go to a work happy hour every week.

    2. MCMonkeybean*

      I think for in-person happy hours it can be discriminatory because you are asking people to go to a bar, which may be an issue for some recovering alcoholics. It sounds like right now though they are doing these virtually, so I really can’t imagine that argument would hold much weight.

    3. JustaTech*

      It also depends on what is served at happy hours. For a while when we had on-site happy hours the only beverages were beer, or water out of the tap. Many people complained about this: the people who didn’t drink any alcohol, the people with celiac disease who couldn’t drink beer, the people who didn’t like beer.
      So the person putting on the happy hours asked around and we got some cider and some wine and some soda and some flavored sparkling water. And a lot of the non-drinkers started showing up again, because there were choices and it wasn’t just about drinking.

    4. Jennifer Thneed*

      Employees under the legal drinking age might have trouble, especially for events held in public bars. (The problem is always, always, that if only some people have access to socializing with management, that can create problems or the appearance of them.)

  36. Hiring Mgr*

    For #3, I’ve been the first US employee a couple of times, once for a UK co, once for an Israeli co. Both times everything to do with my employment was US based – so no contract, no long notice period, normal US pay periods, etc.

  37. Jennifer C*

    LW #1: Set up a filter on your mailbox so that your boss’s annoying emails go straight into a subfolder and never appear in your inbox. That way, you’ll have all the emails saved in case you ever want to go read a specific one in order to pretend to your boss that you’re reading them regularly. You can also check the subfolder occasionally to make sure no other emails are getting caught by the filter.

    1. MCMonkeybean*

      I was thinking this too, though it is risky with the boss’s emails. If she always sends these sales pitches to the same distribution list and doesn’t otherwise send a lot of mass emails that should definitely help prevent filtering out too much though.

  38. Creative Cat*

    OP3: The norm for UK company employees to give notice is usually a month. We also usually have contracts that will stipulate the notice period and terms. The exception to this would be very senior level employees who will usually have to give longer notice periods. I’ve never heard of a 3 month notice period as standard in the UK and I do live and work here!

  39. MCMonkeybean*

    The best way to increase office happy hour attendance is to start it *during* work hours rather than after! Once the work day is over, let people leave! But offering the occasional chance to cut out a little early is much more likely to make people go, even virtually. This probably would have to go hand in hand with switching them to monthly as I suppose signing out of work early EVERY Friday might not be great.

    At my office we usually have happy hours when an employee is leaving, and then occasionally random just-for-the-heck-of-it social ones. The random virtual socials usually start around 4, and if it’s because someone is leaving then they usually start at like 3.

    1. Happy Half Hour*

      Or start the happy hour on the clock. This is what my employer is doing for virtual get togethers. We had one for the holidays, and one today, actually, as our CFO is retiring. Get together starts at 4:30, we are encouraged to “bring” whatever drink we wish to toast the CFO, I’ll probably officially clock out at 5:00 (even though I officially work until 6:00) and the whole thing will start to peter out after that.

    2. Des*

      This! If he wants people at work to socialize, let him schedule it during the work hours. It might still be boring, but you’ll get paid for it and it won’t cut into your free time.

  40. lilsheba*

    I can’t stand forced socialization. I don’t want to go to any event involving work, let alone every week. I don’t NEED to get together with these people to avoid isolation, I prefer isolation just leave me alone. My last job, pre pandemic, was always doing these “team building” events which were little more than exercises in humiliation with childish games that I refused to participate in. They were always hounding us to “get a best friend at work” …in a call center, which is known for high turnover, no thanks I don’t need that stress. My job now is gathering free and I will happily live with that.

  41. RagingADHD*

    You don’t need permission to opt out of spam messages. You can set up an email filter for the name of the program, and/or the domain it links to, and never see one of these again.

    I doubt the boss is actually sitting down to email these every day. They’re likely automated.

    Let the bots deal with the bots.

  42. ConsultingIsFun*

    Hello OP3!

    I recently went through a similar situation, but mine was slightly worse. I worked for a French company in the US, and they had us sign a contract agreeing to a 60-day notice period. Most people it was never enforced for, but my manager decided to try enforcing it when I quit.

    I weaseled out of it by laying the facts on the table: That kind of notice outside of very senior leadership is bizarre in the US, and no company would let me wait 2 months to start. I also said if it started to spread that they were forcing people to stay 2 months when they wanted to quit, their client delivery would suffer (it was a management consulting firm! Why would you want someone client facing for that long after they quit??) and their reputation could take a hit. We eventually agreed on me giving a month’s notice (I originally planned on giving 3 weeks).

    You have a lot better than I did since yours isn’t contractually enforceable, but you have to make it clear that 3 months in the US is ridiculous and will repel talent.

  43. Todd*

    For the sales pitch emails I have a simple solution.. I have an outlook rule that if the content of the email has “make money fast” (or whatever the program he is pushing) is in the body of the email, move it to the trash.
    In my case there will be something like a fundraiser “cake auction” where people reply with bids. The majority of the users don’t know the difference between “reply” and “reply to all” so when they have one of these auctions, I know I’m going to get 50 emails with bids…ug! Outlook rules are very effective!

  44. Observer*

    #1- Allison’s advice is excellent as usual. I want to emphasize something. Her framing here is extremely important. This is not about the rights or wrongs of this particular organization. It’s about the fact that your boss does not get to tell how to spend your time and money outside of work, and doesn’t get to tell you what non-work goods or services you need to use or buy.

    I hope you can push back if you get pressed as to WHY you don’t want to use this app. But if you find that you have to share something, I would also moderate my language. “Gun toting” comes of as very disrespectful which is likely to sidetrack the conversation in ways that are not going to be use to you.

    1. CS*

      I’d be on this side as well if the candidate had a conversation with the opening. I rather not reply if the candidate was rejected at an earlier stage. The tone and the language of the reply need to be crafted carefully not to give the company any trouble.

  45. Chinook*

    OP #2 – if you are uncomfortable with lying to your boss (which I am because I have a hard time keeping lies straight), schedule a “Book Club” event into your calendar for that time every week and remember to invite members of your household to it. Those can include individuals with four legs and fur, no legs, scales, green leaves and/or an electrical cord (because what book club meeting is complete without at least one Mr. Coffee or Ms. Tetley)

  46. Temperance*

    LW2: my husband’s org does monthly “team building”, but they get together and play a game like Among Us. They do have occasional “happy hours” via Zoom, but those are bimonthly and he skips most. We also do a biweekly trivia game with friends, which does use Zoom but isn’t as exhausting because a.) they’re people we like and b.) we have a fun activity.

    People who are extroverts and love Zoom genuinely don’t understand Zoom fatigue. It’s like a worse version of going to an event with strangers, because at least during those, you can move around, talk to different people, leave for a quiet break. These are like an hour plus of forced eye contact while pretending to care about something boring.

  47. Lecturer*

    For those who think the intern is from a different culture – that doesn’t match what happens with degree level students. A chunk of them can’t write. They write emails with odd sentences, short hand, whole paragraphs without one full stop and on and on. Even when someone contacts you (without the necessary qualifications so you need to impress) they write like an idiot. It’s something I repeat to students over and over again, focus on your writing.

    And the whole ‘what do I need to do to be someone like you’? Start by thinking about the message you’re sending….

  48. Natalien*

    LW #3 (notice period) – is this person who groused even your manager? I hope you would have mentioned that if it was.

    If it’s just some random colleague, I don’t see that you need to do anything? Someday, whenever you leave, you may give less notice than they approve of and they may complain about you. That’s fine. You don’t need to do anything to try and head this hypothetical situation off at the pass.

    1. Des*

      They could lose a good reference if they cause their manager/team hardship. It is always better to be upfront.

  49. agnes*

    #1 I sure hope your boss isn’t getting a sign up fee for this–that would be so unethical!
    Here’s the flip side of that coin—we are about 1000 people in our organization. We are constantly being told by our CEO that we need to communicate more about employee benefits because employees keep saying “I didn’t know anything about that.” This despite sending emails they don’t open, posting posters they don’t read, putting notices in their mailboxes they don’t read, and having employee meetings they don’t attend. I feel a lot of pressure to send out more and more information and to repeat it over and over, because I am being held accountable by MY boss for making sure employees know this information.

    I can’t make people read things or attend meetings–…. But I can document how many times I have sent an email or a text.

    1. Lecturer*

      It’s the same with degree level students. They ignore everything then pop up months later to say ‘I didn’t know about this’. The decent students are fed up of us repeating ourselves.

        1. caradom*

          That’s what happens when you work at a university like mine. We’re so impressed with good work it skews reality! Just today the team had to stop a lecturer from handing over an identical report (as an example) to the one they are being assessed on! He’s also very liberal with grades.

  50. Des*

    FWIW, my offer in Canada included a “4 week notice” statement, although my company is flexible about this in the individual cases.

  51. OP #2*

    One positive update since I sent this letter.

    We also have a formal mentor program, and I mentioned these social activities to my mentor. She was horrified.
    We work for the federal government so there are some different rules than private sector companies.

    1. Having so many alcohol focused activities is considered discriminatory to employees that don’t drink. They don’t even need a reason not to drink (not that the reason should matter). They can just not like to drink and complain. Then the manager would get in trouble
    2. Having contractors participate (which Bob was) when it’s not part of their contractual work causes a lot of legal issues. Forcing federal employees to work outside their hours is also problematic, but I think the contractor issue is bigger
    3. There is a lot of policies against perceived favoritism. So if I attend the happy hours and get promoted, and someone that can’t attend isn’t promoted, there can be huge problems. Apparently managers and reports that both smoke aren’t even supposed to go down and smoke together. Therefore, the managers shouldn’t really be attending these happy hours and socializing with direct reports anyway.

    So the good news: My mentor is very good friends with the Director in charge of HR policies. They are going to update training and talk to all managers about social activities during COVID. They are going to start making sure no other managers are doing the same thing to their branches and hopefully have Bob change that way.

    I also talked to one of the managers between my level and Bob’s level that helps coordinate the happy hour. He still wants to keep it weekly, but made it very clear it’s not mandatory and I believe will talk to Bob if Bob tries to make it seem mandatory. I started grad school anyway and have been using that as an excuse.

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

    OP4: “Wow, you’re walking so well today!” etc.

    I know! I guess those 5g nanotronic implants are actually effective after all, huh!

  53. Stina*

    If it’s mandatory doesn’t that mean employees must be compensated for attending? I suspect these events could affect OT or PTO accumulation.

  54. Sarahnova*

    I’m a UK person working at a UK-headquartered global company as part of a global team.

    Personally I’d agree with those who say 1 month should be fine and that one month is standard for junior office roles in the UK, three months for more senior. I’ve been on a three-month notice period for about the last 8 years of my career across three companies (consultant/skilled individual contributor). Fwiw, my company’s employees in the US do get some UK-style benefits e.g. days of holiday, but they are also employed under US at-will terms even though the US is our second largest base of operations so they’re hardly an afterthought. I’m familiar with US employment practice and two weeks as standard notice from TV, movies and sites like this; I don’t think anyone in my global team was surprised when a US member recently left only 5 days or so after her leaving was announced, as we were all aware of the difference. It made us sad though! I find it weird that you can work daily, closely, with someone for years and then they can so quickly be gone, but there you go.

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