open thread – April 23-24, 2021

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

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

{ 1,216 comments… read them below }

  1. LI quirks*

    Every single week when I get the LinkedIn notification about my profile coming up in X number of search appearances, my own company in is the list. So somebody at my company is looking for my job title, literally weekly. We are not hiring, as far as I know (I’m in a department of three). Anyone have insight on what’s up with this?

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Two thoughts.
      1) They could be using your profile, instead of a resume on file, in order to work on the personnel section for proposals and bids.

      2) LinkedIn’s algorithm is crappy, and what’s happening is that people are visiting their own profiles and their connection lists, and pulling up that list counts as a ‘search’. I don’t have proof of it, but I see similar weirdness on my account.

      1. BadWolf*

        Yeah, I feel like LinkedIn sends me weird stuff. And recommends odd links/people/skills/etc. I wouldn’t assume that you can draw a straight line between what LinkedIn claims is happening and someone intentionally searching on your title.

      2. Haven’t picked a user name yet*

        I get them too. It just means you showed up in a search (I think that is how it is worded). So either it is a new colleague (or existing connection that wants to quickly find my profile) or someone searched “senior teapot designer” in the Boston area and I popped up.

        It doesn’t really mean anything. They just send us the emails hoping we want more details and will subscribe to premium.

        1. Coenobita*

          I look at LinkedIn all the time to remind myself of the answer to things like “wait, is it This Colleague or That Colleague who used to work at Partner Org?” or “was That Other Colleague working here yet when we finished Big Project?” It’s faster than asking them and the information is more detailed than our externally facing staff pages. I’m sure those searches lead to all sorts of notifications!

      3. The New Wanderer*

        My money’s on lousy algorithm. I don’t have Premium so I only get the first 5 companies that “found” me that week and not the individuals who ran the search. And the very few times it tells me what search term found my profile, it’s totally generic. “Engineer” or “software” or “manager,” none of which have anything directly to do with my work but are words that exist in my profile.

        Even when I had the free Premium trial, the number of times “this person viewed your profile” was someone I knew or had any reasonable connection to my work was very, very few. It was helpful when I was actively job searching because I could see if a hiring manager or someone at a company I applied to viewed my profile, but otherwise I really don’t care if Sales Manager Joe happened to receive my profile in a quasi-random keyword match.

    2. Lucy McGillicuddy*

      Could someone be searching for you, specifically? Maybe to look at your contacts or something (that could be a non-creepy reason).

      1. Can Can Cannot*

        It’s helpful that LinkedIn tells you how people have found you (via search, the home page, etc.).

    3. Caterpie*

      My school’s career department suggested we find a superstar in our field who we want to emulate, and model our LinkedIn profile after theirs (but gave us the name of someone who previously agreed to have their page shown as a model).

      Maybe someone at your company really likes the way you’ve done your profile and keeps coming back to it for inspiration as they work on their own?

    4. JitzGirl11*

      I’m relatively new to my position at work, having started last summer. I have not met any of my new colleagues in person yet. I will sometimes look at LinkedIn profiles to remind me not only what their role is, but how long they have been with the organization, what other skills they might have that could help me continue to onboard, get an idea of someone’s expertise if I haven’t had a meeting with them yet, etc. It’s a good information gathering tool for me since I don’t have the regular options for getting to know colleagues in-person yet, especially since our department restructured recently and there are more overlapping projects getting started.

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

      Maybe someone who ONCE worked at your company is searching for your job title, and LinkedIn decides that counts as someone currently AT your company because the company is listed in their profile. maybe???

      IDK, HR might be doing a review of job descriptions and wants to compare with other Llama groomers

    6. 3DogNight*

      I check co-workers Linked In before I set up meetings, or if they send me a meeting invite. Our company directory tells me their title, but nothing else. That may be all it is.

    7. Mantis Tobaggan, MD*

      My previous job title always shows up in my “people who searched you” list. Its definitely my looking at my own profile

    8. WellRed*

      LI is always telling me I appeared in X number of searches. People are definitely not searching for me that often.

  2. Noncompliance Officer*

    So I work in a female-majority workplace (literally the ratio is maybe 9:1). Our dress code is business casual and our (outdate) HR manual specifically forbids athletic or leisure wear; however, tights and leggings have been allowed in the past as long as your butt is covered (long tunic, dress, whatever). Over the years and especially in the last year apparently it has become an issue that people are wearing leggings without having their butt covered. This has created a rift in the office, mainly between the younger and older workers. My boss and the HR director are to the point where they are just going to ban leggings, tights, etc. because they are athletic wear.

    We have been asked to “keep a look out” for employees dressed inappropriately and to send anyone home to change. I am one of only two male managers. Both of us don’t feel comfortable inspecting the fit, fabric, etc. of our female employees daily. Neither of us was aware this was even an issue. We have been told if this problem doesn’t go away in a month then the ban will go in effect.

    Where does the community come down with this? I am clueless about this. For context, we just did an employee satisfaction survey and probably the number one complaint was the way some workers dress. At the same time blanket bans like this tend to hurt morale.

    1. Tek5508*

      I think you might explain to all employees about the upcoming ban, and that it WILL go into effect if the leggings issue isn’t self-regulated. Or , as an alternative, is there a female manager who can speak up about this?

      File this under “this is why we can’t have nice things”

    2. R*

      Leggings aren’t appropriate in a business casual environment. Put the ban in place already and stop asking men to look at women’s butts to make a judgment call on ‘appropriateness’. I mean, give people warning that the ban is coming so they have time to get new clothing if required. But otherwise, just make a rule and stick with it.

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

        I agree with R. Just ban leggings and yoga pants

        Tights is a strange thing to add to the list…are women really walking around with ONLY tights on?

        1. New Job So Much Better*

          My question also…. tights are only for under skirts… not as outerwear….

        2. Rusty Shackelford*

          I don’t think we’re all using the same definition of tights. Because if we are… yeah, yikes, that’s not okay.

          1. londonedit*

            Yeah, the UK definition of tights is something with feet, ranging from quite sheer to very opaque. You’d absolutely wear tights under a dress but there’s no way in the world you’d wear tights with a t-shirt.

            1. Rusty Shackelford*

              In the U.S. the definition is very similar, except that tights are opaque rather than sheer. But yes, they have feet and they’re meant to be worn under a dress or pants.

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

            I know that tights can come in a variety of material and sheerness, but once an item has feet, it’s now hosiery and that’s never worn alone. (rhetorical question to the universe, not you specifically, but can you imagine someone thinking pantyhose are pants?)

            1. The Rural Juror*

              I mean…have you seen “Robin Hood: Men in Tights”?

              In all seriousness, I agree with you. To me, tights=pantyhose/hosiery

            2. Quandong*

              I’ve seen multiple women wearing semi-sheer tights in the CBD of a large city. They were worn as though they were leggings.

              This was at least 10 years ago before athleisure became accepted as regular street wear.

              1. Quandong*

                To clarify – these were worn as the sole layer on the legs, in lieu of a skirt or trousers, and also not in the presence of a long tunic. The women looked from the waist up like office workers so I can’t speculate on profession.

          3. The Original K.*

            Exactly. Tights are thicker pantyhose, to me. They are hosiery, and thus sheer, and thus not to be worn by themselves. I wear tights under skirts in winter. I might wear tights under pants in winter, if it were really cold. But wearing tights by themselves is akin to being pants-less, to me.

            1. I'm just here for the cats*

              I think if someone is using leggings in place of pantyhose it should be allowed. Pantyhoes are sheer and worn under a skirt or dress. In the winter I would wear leggings over pantyhose because they are warmer.

              Instead of banning them all together couldn’t they just make a rule that leggings must be worn with a top that goes at least to mid-thigh or fingertip length, or whatever covers the woman’s butt?

              Also, if they are banning tights, that’s odd because tights are just like pantyhose. They are usually not as shear and sometimes a bit thicker (I’ve had flease lined tights for winter.)

              I do think that its odd that they are asking male coworkers or managers to report on what their female employees are wearing. That just seems wrong and if I were you I would push back. I’m sure someone could look at that as being sexual harassment or something.

              Furthermore: is there really a need to police the dresscode to such an extent? If your business casual, I don’t see that having leggings on under a skirt is a big deal, even if your customer facing. Is it just this one HR person who is so old school and can’t get off their high horse and see things change.

            2. Momma Bear*

              Agreed. Tights are great in cold weather when your legs will freeze. They are not pants by themselves.

          4. Haven’t picked a user name yet*

            I don’t know. They are often just leggings. I have tights I wear under dresses and I have running tights, which are leggings.

            1. Haven’t picked a user name yet*

              I should have added I only wear tights under a dress to work! :-)

              1. NotRealAnonForThis*

                Oh no, I have some running tights that are absolutely worn under plain dark dresses and skirts because the patterns are awesome AND I’m not hitching at the stupid waistband all day.

            2. TechWorker*

              Yes, running or cycling leggings sometimes get referred to as ‘tights’, but that probably doesn’t change the rule (I think it would be fairly clear to people that skirts with hosiery type tights are fine..)

          5. The Man, Becky Lynch*

            The definition varies regionally.

            Here “yoga pants” are the new term for it but when I was younger you called them tights, spandex or leggings. All of which are the same.

            Pantyhose are pantyhose, not tights.

            It’s just a word jungle.

            1. Yorick*

              Tights, spandex, and leggings are not the same. Spandex is a fabric so tights or leggings could be made out of it. Tights are similar to pantyhose and leggings are similar to sweatpants in a way but they are thin and tight.

            2. Rez123*

              I feel like the term yogapants has changed. When that concept first came mainstream here they were tighter sweats that look a bit more together than the grey sweats the kids wear now. Now yoga pants seem to be leggings.

          6. Oxford Comma*

            Yeah, if we’re talking thick versions of pantyhose, those absolutely should not be worn without the butt being covered.

        3. Dust Bunny*

          Yeah, what?

          Unless people are either unclear on or dickering about the difference between tights and leggings?

        4. kiki*

          I’ve heard some people refer to what I’d call leggings as tights– usually in the context of running. If you google “running tights” the results are generally what I’d call athletic leggings.

        5. RagingADHD*

          At my last office job I did in fact see a couple of people walking around in very, very thin clingy spandex bottoms that looked like tights, with only a shirt, not a skirt or dress. I can’t vouch for whether or not they had toe seams, but they were not substantial enough to be what I would call “leggings”.

          Over here in the US we also have “footless tights”, which are intended as tights but are more comfortable to wear with socks and boots because they stop at the ankle. I suppose some folks confuse them with leggings.

        6. Seeking Second Childhood*

          We had someone at the office who wore leggings of such thin fabric that I suspect they were better called “footless tights”. Underwear color was discernible. And that was the hook to get the problem solved, because our handbook says no visible underwear.

        7. hamburke*

          My running leggings are sometimes called tights and they are very opaque. I think that’s what it’s addressing.

    3. costume teapot*

      This is pretty up there so far as “things that don’t affect your work,” alongside “what someone else eats” and “what car someone else drives.” I can’t believe people are so bothered by the clothing on anyone else’s body. Is it because it’s “against the rules,” or they truly have a problem?

      I would consider giving your team a blanket heads up that a potential ban is incoming. You have the heads up, and this would put them on notice without you having to inspect anyone’s clothing. I would definitely be skeeved out if my boss told me that too much of my butt was uncovered by my blouse.

      1. Dust Bunny*

        From an observer’s perspective: Far too many wearers of leggings believe that leggings are more opaque than they actually are. Leggings stretched over your hand to check for opaqueness? Pretty opaque. Leggings stretched over my rear end and thighs? Much, much, less opaque, especially if they aren’t brand new.

        1. OhNo*

          The opacity issue could certainly be making people uncomfortable. Another thing I’ve heard mentioned when leggings-bans are brought up is how visible underwear lines can be – I could see that making people uncomfortable as well, though ideally no one would be looking for that sort of thing.

          If either of those was the case, though, I would see that as more falling under a “no visible underwear” rule, and it wouldn’t really require a separate ban on leggings. It seems silly to ban a specific item of clothing just because some people wear it in a less-than-professional fashion.

          1. Kt*

            Honestly I think it’s ok for a workplace to request that one cannot easily tell the color, pattern, and cut of underwear. If I can tell you that you’ve got a turquoise dino-print thong on and that you do or don’t shave, that’s too much info for the workplace.

            But I would not outlaw simple VPL. I try to avoid VPL (visible panty line) but with some cuts of pants, with some fabric, with some undies, you can tell that I am wearing underwear at certain moments. You can’t tell what color, brand, print, or cut for sure — but you can tell there is another item of clothing covering things because of a little ridge when walking but not when still, for instance. And that shouldn’t be a shocker.

      2. Hei Hei, the Chicken from Moana*

        Thank you. This is so incredibly sexist and plan absurd. Push back and say that you’re not going to police clothing b/c you aren’t a jerk.

    4. Anonymous Educator*

      Who are the people pushing for this? Can those people be in charge of enforcing it? Do they really want you to say “Hey, you need to cover your butt” to your co-workers or direct reports?

      1. Fran Fine (formerly Diahann Carroll)*

        Right. They are putting OP and the only other male manager in a really awkward position. HR just needs to send out an email saying that due to the increasing laxness in employee attire, they’re no longer allowing leggings or tights to be worn as pants in the office starting X date. And if they care that much about ensuring people are actually following this new mandate, they need to figure out a way to monitor for this and enforce the new rule.

        1. Anonymous Educator*

          Honestly, I know the workplace isn’t the same as a high school, but I used to work in high schools, and there were always a set of teachers (private school, public school—doesn’t matter) obsessed with policing girl students’ dress, and it just seemed extremely sexist to me (and to the students). I’m not saying workplaces can’t have their own dress code standards, but the policing, particularly of female dress rubs me the wrong way.

    5. StripesAndPolkaDots*

      I find it confusing that the number 1 complaint is about how other people dress. Unless some people are wearing literal see-through tights as pants and you can obviously see their underwear I just don’t understand the outrage. This is coming from a woman who has worked in multiple professional jobs where people generally dressed business casual but no one cared if you wore leggings. They’ve all been majority woman workplaces. Also I’d be pissed if I couldn’t wear leggings even while covering my butt with a dress or tunic. I don’t even own pants without stretchy waists anymore.

      1. StripesAndPolkaDots*

        I also wonder if these people are in customer/client facing positions or not. If not I extra don’t see why anyone would care. When you’re at your own desk all day why does it matter?

      2. Cat Tree*

        Yeah, this is a weird hill for the coworkers to die on. Sometimes people wear clothes we don’t particularly like, but if it doesn’t affect my job and isn’t harassing to me, I don’t press the issue.

        This sounds like either a control freak power trip by the older coworkers, or they have nothing better to occupy their minds.

      3. Generic Name*

        Because some people seriously lack judgement around this issue. I worked with a woman who regularly wore leggings as pants to work. One particular pair had a white pattern on it, and her underwear was visible through her pants. One of her peers discretely told her you could see her underwear (I saw her myself; you could totally see her underwear) and this coworker said very loudly, “No! You cannot seem my underwear!!”.

        1. Generic Name*

          I forgot to add that HR added “leggings worn as pants” to our very sparse and lax dress code.

        2. pancakes*

          And? I see people wearing all sorts of clothes I consider a poor choice. Personally I really dislike the look of bras with lumpy lace or appliqués under fitted shirts. Unless someone asks whether I think their look flatters them, though, why make a point of telling them so?

          1. RagingADHD*

            Because most people would consider it a kindness to be told that they are showing things they didn’t mean to show and can’t see for themselves, like having their dress tucked into their underwear, or having spinach on their teeth.

            With stuff like the texture of a bra or visible nipple piercings, it’s safe to assume they know already.

            1. Nettie*

              Sure, it would be a kindness to tell someone their pants are see through…but I would never complain about it on an employment satisfaction survey. That’s just really weird for me.

          2. Sylvan*

            I and I think a lot of other people would want to know! I’m not trying to show that to anyone who doesn’t want to see it! I’d tie a sweater around my waist or something right away.

      4. Rusty Shackelford*

        I find it confusing that the number 1 complaint is about how other people dress.

        Yeah, there’s got to be something extreme going on. Either people are dressing so badly that their coworkers are angry about it, or people are so uptight about what other people wear that they’re angry about it. Or half the staff are allowed to wear whatever they want and half are policed more stringently by their managers and they’re angry about it.

      5. pancakes*

        +1. What is going on in this workplace that this is anyone’s top concern, let alone many people’s top concern?

        1. JustaTech*

          In my experience, in some environments, during times of high stress people will fixate on deeply, deeply petty “rule violations”. Nothing genuinely serious (health and safety, laws or money related), but stupid things like Arial vs Times New Roman, or the placement of trash vs recycling bins, or sock height.

          It’s not logical, it’s not useful, but it can be a sign of people who are under a lot of stress and don’t feel like they have any control over their work conditions.

      6. Confused*

        Same. Unless I was directly blamed or had my work significantly affected by the way someone else dresses, I can’t imagine caring even a tiny bit, whether their clothes were appropriate or not.

        I wonder what industry this is. It seems really weird and kind of busy body to be bothered by this. There are so many actual problems to complain about.

    6. Escaped a Work Cult*

      The first thing that comes to my mind is talk to the HR Director about the optics of you as a male manager policing the dress code in a majority women company. Like, not to go into fear mongering, but I’m really concerned about the look! I think by framing it that way it could help with the pushback.

      My other suggestion is to have a quick team meeting and collectively address it. Lean into phrases that indicate that you know it’s unpopular but unless the change happens, nobody gets to wear it and that’s the worst outcome.

      The whole thing stinks and I wish I had a better thought on it.

      1. Bostonian*

        I agree with this approach. Just give people as a group the straightforward facts, expectations, and consequences. No need for singling people out or looking at anyone’s butts.

      2. JustaTech*

        One year my all-girl’s high school decided that they would crack down on uniform violations by giving all the teachers rulers to measure how high above the knee our skirts were.

        This lasted about two weeks before several of the men teachers said that they were *not* going to be touching the students to measure their skirts.
        (The students complained vigorously, as expected, mostly because even with rulers it was possible for a teacher to measure a skirt of a girl they didn’t like to be “too short” by changing where they defined “knee”. It was very stupid.)

        1. MacGillicuddy*

          A friend who went to catholic school said they had a “knee length rule”. You had to kneel on the floor, and if your skirt didn’t touch the floor it was too short.

        2. CatMintCat*

          They did this at my all girls’ high school in the 70s. We had to kneel on the ground and our hems were measured from the ground.

          We had almost no male teachers and the couple that were there were never involved in the measuring.

          Afterwards, we hitched our skirts back up under our belts and went on our way.

        3. LifeBeforeCorona*

          When thongs first became popular at a local girls school a few girls were deliberately flashing men. The school decreed that shorts had to worn under the skirts. It was mainly 13-15-year-old girls testing out their newly discovered sexuality. But the shorts rule was easier than teaching girls about their power and vulnerability.

      3. Sleeping Late Every Day*

        I’d also worry about an outright ban because some religious/ethnic dress includes a modest, knee-length (or longer) garment worn over opaque tights or leggings. This could get messy, as most bans do.

    7. londonedit*

      I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect people to cover their bottoms if they’re going to be wearing leggings (but then I’m firmly in the ‘leggings are not trousers’ camp). I suppose the problem is that every time this subject has come up here in the past, it’s led to a big debate about the sort of leggings that do and don’t cross the line into ‘you’re going to need to wear a long top over these’, and people seem to have wildly differing views. And there’s certainly a difference between the sort of ‘squat-proof’ leggings I’d wear for running, or those ‘jeggings’ trousers, and the sort of thin ‘thermal’ leggings that have the look of really thick tights. So that’s where you’ve got to make a decision about whether you’re going to institute a blanket ban on anything that isn’t an actual trouser – and I wouldn’t blame you if you did, because otherwise it is a minefield. As an employee, I wouldn’t have a problem with you giving a month’s notice – either everyone starts covering their backside if they’re wearing anything that could be considered a legging, or if we’re still getting complaints in a month’s time, we ban all leggings altogether and everyone has to start wearing actual trousers.

    8. Reba*

      I mean, I think “sending home to change” feels like middle school, that’s my first reaction. I totally get your discomfort and I congratulate you for feeling uncomfortable, in a way. Ha. I just mean I’m glad you feel it’s not really right to inspect where your employees’ tops fall in relation to their thighs. Do you think this is a situation where sending an email to your reports, or addressing them when you’re in a meeting together, just reiterating the dress code and that it is going to be enforced more strictly would be apt?

      Also “probably the number one complaint was the way some workers dress” ????

    9. Cat Tree*

      Personally, I would just let the employees wear what they want. But that’s not an option for you because it’s coming from HR. They’re all adults, and part of being an adult means not ogling a coworker’s butt because she’s wearing tight clothing.

      Banning tights under a dress is ridiculous though. Does that mean women just can’t wear dresses at all during cold weather?

      1. Dust Bunny*

        Conversely: Being an adult means being willing to not wear something that shows your coworkers your underwear/anatomy. Asking wearers of leggings to cover their rears is really not that big an imposition.

        1. pancakes*

          Nope, not every adult agrees that it’s shameful to have a visible butt or be known to be wearing underwear.

          1. RagingADHD*

            Who said anything about shameful? What’s appropriate to wear on a social occasion isn’t always appropriate at work. Shamefulness has nothing to do with it.

            1. Hei Hei, the Chicken from Moana*

              Because that’s the implication here. If Cindy Crawford were in an office wearing leggings and top that didn’t cover her bottom, would people be complaining? No. My fatphobia alarm bells are ringing.

              1. TechWorker*

                Tights leggings would not fly in my also very casual office, and yes this applies equally to skinny people. There are lots of things that come from fatphobia, I do not think ‘don’t wear leggings as trousers’ is always one of them.

                1. pancakes*

                  I don’t have a problem with a workplace rule prohibiting leggings. I don’t think it’s an uncommon rule, either. What I have a problem with is people sniping about their coworkers’ clothes instead of making a clear rule (which seems to be happening in this workplace), and people making huffy comments about women’s clothes not being “adult,” etc. (which is happening in several of these comments).

              2. RagingADHD*

                That may be your inference but it’s not at all what’s being implied. If you hear “shame”, you brought it with you.

                Of course grownups know that everyone has a butt (and a navel, and nipples, and pubic hair). The whole point of a dress code is that it’s supposed to apply equally to everyone, and it draws some kind of lines about which of those universal pieces of human anatomy are visible at work.

              3. Blazer205*

                Yes! This is what I came to say. It’s far too subjective and personal of a subject imo. If someone is on the heavy side, they may find anyone slimmer to be inappropriate when dressing in figure flattering or trendy clothing. Conversely if someone has “fat-phobia” they may find larger people dressing in the same way as inappropriate. Personally, I’ve worked in my offices that slack on the definition of business casual attire for heavier body types yet hold others to a different standard. For example, if may be acceptable for someone who’s considered obese to wear sweat/lounge type pants because presumably it’s harder to find dress slacks in their size. Point I’m trying to make is dress codes are antiquated, sexist, and borderline discriminatory and should be a non issue. Make the company provide uniforms if it’s that big of an issue .

          2. ilikecoffee*

            Some leggings show off distinct genital outlines. I really don’t want to see that at work. But I don’t think leggings deserve to be singled out, either. You often can see male anatomy outlines through pants with softer textures, too. I wish people would cover up but I find it deeply awkward that it’s being policed.

            1. pancakes*

              Pants that don’t fit well do that, too. I can certainly understand why either might make someone uncomfortable, but making a point of saying so seems like something only a busybody would want to do.

        2. Cat Tree*

          Meh, why not just make a rule about no visible underwear? I’m certain the vast majority of these complaints are about opaque leggings, not the sheer ones. And if you have a coworker who inadvertently wears something that is more see-through than she realizes, maybe politely inform her instead of having a little tantrum with HR?

      2. Pickled Limes*

        My office is cold all year long, so if leggings and tights were banned altogether, I’d never be able to wear a dress or skirt. The leggings are there to keep me warm.

        I’ve always hated the “these three people do it wrong so now nobody can have it” method of management, so I’m side eyeing OP’s boss and HR really hard here. Leggings and tights aren’t athletic wear, they’re undergarments. They shouldn’t be governed by the athletic wear portion of the dress code, they should be covered by the undergarment portion, which should indicate that undergarments designed to be partially visible, like leggings or camisoles, should be covered in certain areas at all times.

        And OP, I agree with the people who have suggested asking a female colleague or HR rep to talk to the dress code violators on this. Having a male boss indicate that he’s noticed my butt in the workplace would make me feel so self conscious and awful.

    10. Dark Macadamia*

      This sounds like a problem of definitions! To me, tights are definitely not athletic wear OR pants – I find it hard to believe anyone is showing up in literal tights with a shirt because that’s just… not how tights work, lol. Leggings CAN be athletic depending on the material but you can
      usually tell just by looking at them. Some are thick enough to be completely appropriate as pants (jeggings, leather, thicker fabrics) and some are more like tights and should have a tunic/dress over them.

      I’m guessing if there IS a dress code problem it could be that your pro-leggings employees are wearing cheaper, thinner leggings that are “technically” pants but should be treated like tights, or they’re wearing ones from athletic material. That could be managed by clarifying that pants must be a thick, professional fabric and not skin-tight/stretchy. Have someone familiar with women’s leggings and tights show some examples.

      The other explanation is just that the anti-leggings folks are overreacting to reasonable clothing choices because they think anything tight-fitting is inappropriate. The fact that this is the biggest complaint anyone has about your workplace but you haven’t noticed any outrageous clothing choices makes me think this is the more likely issue.

      1. TWW*

        As someone who usually wears men’s clothes, but sometimes wears women’s trousers and jeans, I’m not 100% sure where the line between leggings and trousers actually lies. I have garments that look like trousers, but are made of stretchy fabric and are no less form-fitting than yoga pants. (No, they aren’t “jeggings”–they don’t have printed-on pockets.) Would those be allowed?

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          (No, they aren’t “jeggings”–they don’t have printed-on pockets.)

          That’s not the definition of jeggings. Jeggings are leggings that look like denim.

          I don’t think there *is* a bright line between leggings and trousers, but being stretchy definitely doesn’t make your trousers into leggings. All of my trousers are stretchy, even though they have buttons, zippers, belt loops, etc.

          1. PeteyKat*

            I think leggings are a “style” of “trousers”, trousers being defined as an outer garments covering the body from waist to the ankle, with a separate part for each leg. Like, bell bottoms, culottes, etc. are styles of trousers.

        2. Dark Macadamia*

          Yeah, it can be a tough call but the fact that they’re equating leggings and tights makes me think they actually just don’t know what they’re talking about (I wore capris to a job where I didn’t realize capris were against dress code and never got called out – I’m pretty sure they thought capris were shorts so my mid-calf pants didn’t read as a problem). It seems excessive to go to a blanket ban rather than just enforcing the tunic/dress rule!

          I would hate to be the pants police. I think if yours look like trousers despite being stretchy they would be fine unless you’re getting obvious underwear lines or awkwardly clingy areas. I have some that are opaque and thicker than tights but still form-fitting enough that I wouldn’t wear them as pants.

        3. Qwerty*

          The line is completely blurred. It is more of a spectrum.

          Really it comes down to how revealing the fit is. Too many people get caught up in whether it “technically” is trousers, yoga pants, leggings, etc. The reality is, how tight are they and how much do they reveal what is under the fabric? If you were to cover up the waist/pocket area, do they read as being in the yoga-pant family from the thigh down? If you are wearing a normal shirt with it, how much can other people tell of your undergarments (be pessimistic in this one!) I’m not just referring to thin fabric that lets you see color, but also outlines of what is underneath.

          For your example, since you say it is at the same level of form fitting as yoga pants, then they are basically yoga pants / leggings.

          Sometimes with super stretchy trousers that you want to wear as trousers, consider going up a size. I love the Old Navy Pixie pants, but if I get my proper size they become form fitting like leggings. If I go up one size, they look like slacks because the fabric doesn’t conform to my body.

        4. pants are overrated*

          Honestly, women’s pants can be a minefield because of the cheap stretchy material! I err on the side of caution with tight/stretchy pants (even if they have pockets/zipper/belt loops… the hallmarks of pants) but that’s my personal preference. I can see it being hard to find the line, especially for younger women who are more used to wearing leggings and such. On the flip side, older generations can have some pretty firm ideas about pant categories! See: when my mom tried to help me shop for my first professional wardrobe. She insisted a pair of black pants were officially jeans because of rivets on the back pockets.

          1. kiki*

            It also seems like a lot of women’s clothing that is sold is defective or involves user-intervention in a way you wouldn’t see for men’s clothing? Like sort-of-sheer shirts that aren’t intentionally sheer. Why are these sold? Who wants their shirt to be see-through in only some lightings? That doesn’t fly with men’s shirts, but it’s such a common thing in women’s clothing. And the expectation is that women will just have an assortment of nude layers on underneath, just in case. No! I want an opaque shirt! I want opaque pants and skirts!
            My boyfriend orders clothes online all the time and when he tries them on at home, all he really has to do is make sure they fit. Not too tight? Not too loose? He’s good to go. When I order clothes online, I have to do an assortment of tests to determine that there’s no wrong lighting or angle or body contortion that could cause the garment to become sheer. Since it’s springtime, I also want to bring up the issue of white pants for women– why do retailers sell white pants that are not opaque? Nobody really wants see-through white pants, do they? Then why is it nearly impossible to find and opaque pair??

            1. They Don’t Make Sunday*

              Hear, hear! I want opaque clothes too! And even if they’re going to sell something obviously sheer, they ought to be obligated to sell the nude-colored tank or whatever that you wear under it. Because underwear/baselayer departments in department stores do not stock every kind of camisole in all seasons!

    11. TWW*

      Just don’t do it. If you get called out, respond, “Oh I didn’t notice.” It’s can’t possibly be wrong to fail to pay attention to your coworkers’ backsides.

      1. RecoveringSWO*

        Yeah, this doesn’t seem like the worst approach. Plus, leggings are going out of style, so this problem may fix itself without you having to deal with the touchy subject.

        1. Kimmy Schmidt*

          So not the point, but leggings are going out of style??? This is news to me! If anything, I thought leggings were more in style now than ever before due to a year of WFH where so many people wore leisure and athletic wear.

          1. Rusty Shackelford*

            Is this part of that ridiculous “millenials or gen x or whoever said skinny jeans and side parts are out of style” meme?

            1. KittyCardigans*

              It was Gen Z saying that about/to millennials, but it’s an overgeneralization on all sides at best, and shameless clickbaity nonsense at worst.

              In any case, I work at a high school and leggings are definitely not out of style with the zoomers I’m around. Most of the girls I just saw at lunch were wearing leggings and sweatshirts.

              1. TechWorker*

                Teenagers where I live are wearing mom jeans, crop tops and oversized fleeces. (I think it’s quite a good look really and probably quite comfy, but did have a chuckle to myself when I realised that from the back it read like ‘middle aged woman popping to the shops’ :))

            2. Fran Fine (formerly Diahann Carroll)*

              Right. None of this is true (said a millennial who loves leggings – in certain situations – skinny jeans AND side parts).

          2. RecoveringSWO*

            I don’t think the change will happen instantly, but it seems to me that wide-legged pants are being pushed in women’s clothing sections. It’s crazy to think about, but I’m trying to place when leggings (+ uggs, thanks New England!) started trending and it’s been a good 12 years or so in my memory.

    12. Jules the 3rd*

      Combo of some of the other answers: I (a female) would
      1) Send a blanket email to my reports reminding people that legging tops must be covered by a garment that reaches the thighs. ‘HR has informed me that this guideline is not being followed and continuing to not follow it will drive changes to the dress code prohibiting leggings.’
      2) Ignore individual expressions of it. Your job should not require you to check out women’s butts.

      Yeah, I know blanket emails suck, but in this case, it’s what you have to work with that isn’t borderline sexual harassment.

      1. traffic_spiral*

        Also in this case a blanket email will serve to let any complainers know that their concerns are being acted on.

    13. mreasy*

      These types of dress codes stipulations tend to be enforced more rigidly for women who are very curvy or who are fat. Women’s bodies seem to offend many people for some reason, especially when they aren’t thin – I would look into who is complaining and who they’re complaining about before assuming their complaints are valid and updating the code.

      1. Fran Fine (formerly Diahann Carroll)*

        OP isn’t the one updating the dress code – HR is. He has nothing to do with this and needs to determine whether or not it’s worth it to be the enforcer (I wouldn’t, but then again, I don’t know how his HR department will handle that and if there would be blowback for not reporting code breakers).

    14. Anne of Green Gables*

      I think there is a HUGE difference between “no tights or leggings” and “no tights or leggings as pants.” The issue isn’t the leggings, it’s that they are being substituted for pants. If there is a ban, I think HR needs to be clear on which it is.

      1. Dark Macadamia*

        +1 the simplest fix here is to reiterate that form-fitting bottoms require long tops and address it with individuals if needed. “No tights ever” is unreasonable.

      2. Fran Fine (formerly Diahann Carroll)*

        Bingo. Tights/leggings aren’t pants and shouldn’t be worn as such in the workplace. Do whatever you want at home or the gym.

    15. Wool Princess*

      Imagine if we put the same effort we use to police women’s bodies and clothing choices into…I dunno…teaching people to mind their own business?

    16. Qwerty*

      BOLO for butts – Terrible, terrible policy. How does HR not realize this? When you push back on this policy to HR, be very clear that they are instructing male managers to look at the butts (and crotch – bodies have two sides) of female employees and that you will not participate in creating a hostile work environment.

      Legging/Tights Ban – This is really going to come down to phrasing. The blanket ban is going to go over very poorly because you’ll be telling women that if they wear a skirt or dress, they must have bare legs. Tights are hosiery, not athletic wear. It is one thing to say leggings are not pants, quite another to ban tights.

      This is a media storm waiting to happen. I can easily see the headlines about the company instructing managers to stare at women’s butts and banning wearing hose with a dress. Also, please document this for future reference in case it comes out later that HR has been giving women inappropriate and/sexist feedback – I doubt this is the only seriously misguided idea they’ve had.

      I’ve been trying to come up with phrasing to warn your team of the upcoming ban without it sounding creepy and I think at this point the message should come from HR. It’s just too weird for you to stand up and announce a reminder about the dress code and try to fumble your way through explaining how you aren’t looking at their booty. I really don’t get why HR doesn’t just have a discreet 1×1 conversation with the worst offenders, except I feel like your HR department would bungle that.

      1. Robin Ellacott*

        Yes, a boss telling staff members “I have been examining your nether regions and deem them insufficiently covered” is just best avoided.

    17. Noncompliance Officer*

      OP here:

      – I am going to meet with my staff and tell them about the new rule. I don’t have a problem with that. I don’t *think* any of my staff are the ones doing this.
      -However, I have no intention of inspecting any employees. The other male manager and I brought up the terrible optics of this and she agreed.
      -I don’t think it’s the opacity of the leggings so much of the form-fitting nature.
      -Tights vs leggings vs jeggings….the (female) managers got into a log debate about this during our meeting and honestly my eyes glazed over.

      1. Confused*

        OP, why do other employees care so much about this? I could understand if it was managers complaining that their employees were making them look bad in front of customers/clients, and if the clients had complained and it came back to the manager. Otherwise, what does someone wearing leggings have to do with anyone else? Like who is so bored at work they have to micromanage someone they don’t even supervise’s outfit choice?

        1. pancakes*

          I’m wondering this too. If there’s some weird bullying going on here, tuning it out because it’s tedious isn’t going to cut it.

        2. Qwerty*

          If it’s the form fitting nature, it’s possible there are people who are revealing way more than they think they are. I’ve worked some women whose leggings showed Everything despite being opaque. I should not know so much details about my coworker’s preferences on undergarments down to cut/style, fabric, or none at all. I saw so much about their butt and crotch situations that really is not info that I want when I’m just trying to fill out my Excel sheet (they were generally always standing in my line of vision when I was sitting at my desk, so I really couldn’t avoid this view). Some leggings provide the same amount of concealment as body paint.

          I’ve also worked with men wearing leggings and the issue with leggings as pants becomes obvious very quickly.

        3. Noncompliance Officer*

          I wish I could tell you why people care about this so much. It mainly seems to be a generational thing? We have a mix of 20-somethings and then a lot of 50+.

        4. Sue*

          At my office the older employees (I’ve been there 23 years and for most of that was a relative newbie) dressed professionally. Over the last few years, there has been a lot of turnover with retirements and the demographic is now much younger. I have heard a considerable about of grumbling about the clothing worn by some of the newer employees. I have nothing to do with it and have not engaged but I think some of this is generational about what is office wear appropriate. Not entirely, as my daughter had observations about some of her coworkers attire that she was surprised by, but I think as society has become more casual, some struggle to adjust.

        5. Kitten Caboodle*

          I only care about what I’m wearing, so this is confusing to me. I came up in business with the school of thought that you dress for the job you want not the job you have so I am very aware of my own appearance and how “I” present myself in the workplace. The end result is positive. I stand out. Many of the corporate big wigs know my name – not so much the names of the hoodies and leggings crowd, so their idea of business casual is working in my favor. No complaints here.

      2. kiki*

        I think this is the best route possible for you. It’s really strange to me that this is the number one complaint in the office– it really seems like small potatoes.

      3. Bernadette*

        This seems like a good strategy! I’m a woman and I would not feel comfortable inspecting the fit of anyone’s garments, or sending them home to change unless they showed up to work topless or something.

        These people need to get over it and learn to trust the judgment of fellow adults rather than be so invested in policing women’s bodies.

    18. Cricket*

      I would actually go back to my manager and tell them that you will enforce any policy put in place but you will not be policing people bodies (butts no less!!!) Gender aside asking people to do that lands on so many sides of wrong!
      I feel gross just thinking about looking at people’s derrieres or them looking at mine! At work??? Ewwwww.

    19. Not So NewReader*

      So when we studied work groups in college, it was noted that when groups bicker among themselves that the problem may not be with each other. Their problem might be with the bosses instead, but it is much less risky to bicker with a peer. We can see similar patterns in families, where the siblings bicker but the actual problem is the parent(s).

      What I see here is that management had a policy regarding attire and failed to enforce it after a bit. Older (longevity) employees had initially been informed, but newer employees not so much. Why does one group of people have to follow one set of rules and another group of people have a different set of rules?

      I think that the big boss and HR should band together to announce what the rules are. HR can handle questions that come up. A good thing to do, IMO, would be to clearly state, “We have had this dress code and we have not been enforcing it. But starting [one month from now] we will be following the dress code. Those with questions/suggestions can contact HR [add contact info here].”

      I also think it would be extremely wise to openly address other issues that are also mentioned in the survey. Paying particular attention to problems with toxic bosses and cohorts.

      Again, just my opinion but I think the double standard with a set of rules for longer term employees and a different set for newer employees is at the heart of the problem. I think they are angry with management more and not so much with each other.

      It’d probably be good to review and update the dress code before proceeding also. The question that should be asked is how does this policy help us do business better? And that answer should be shared with the employees.

    20. Birdie*

      It’s not clear to me if all the employees are aware that they’ve decided to crack down on this rule or if they’ve just started randomly enforcing it. If the employees have not been collectively and explicitly told that they need to follow the butt-coverage rule or risk getting leggings banned entirely, that should absolutely be step one, and it should come from HR or the big boss, not OP. If it continues to be an issue and they decide to implement a ban, I think HR should be in charge of announcing and enforcing the policy.

      But I am wondering what they have in mind when they say they want to ban leggings and tights. If they literally mean “no one can wear these items of clothing in any context,” that’s frankly absurd. If you told me I couldn’t wear leggings or lined tights under my work dresses in the winter, I would have nothing to wear since I don’t own dress pants and bare legs aren’t an option. But if they add in a stipulation allowing tights/leggings under other skirts and dresses, aren’t they just circling back to the butt coverage rule that already exists? If they want to change what people are wearing, I think the best option would be HR setting clear expectations for the rule and enforcing it consistently moving forward.

    21. Them Boots*

      For your situation, where you don’t want to come off as a creeper, I’d suggest calling a meeting with your team -preferably a regularly scheduled one- and as one of the topics, bring this up, explain what the Powers That Be are planning to do about it, take no comments and move on with the meeting. -You could state that in lieu of verbal comments in the moment, people are welcome to email you their concerns after the meeting. That way they can feel heard and you can set up a brief stock answer to reply that won’t drag on like a verbal fightfest will. AND they can self-police and you can step away from a situation where your company is trying to get you to start leering at your employees’ legs. Ugh!

    22. Artemesia*

      You might send out one last notice that tights can only be worn under dresses or tunics and that if people continue to wear them as pants without long tops, they will be dropped from acceptable business casual wear. (which is insanely stupid now that I read it). This is not a subtle thing like judging a too tight blouse; I would have the managers, men or not, send anyone home who shows up with yoga pants or tights without long tops. The people who are dressing appropriately should not be penalized for those pushing the rules.

    23. Momma Bear*

      Years ago we lost Casual Friday because it got too casual. Allowing leggings in the first place is more than a lot of companies would and people should just wear longer shirts or choose alternate pants. If they won’t, then let them face the consequences and lose the option. We had a shared office space a couple of years back and there was one woman who not only wore leggings, but wore too sheer versions and it was frankly unprofessional. Tights should NEVER be pants. Save the leggings with short tops for your own time.

      Not enforcing a dress code if people are complaining about it also hurts morale. Draw a line and stick with it. It would also help you as a male manager b/c you wouldn’t feel like you have to be the judge of someone’s attire. Let HR/upper management make that call to everyone. They have a month to shape up or wear pants. I wouldn’t cater to fashion trends.

      To add: we have a fairly casual office. Even the CEO wears polos and jeans. But there is still the expectation that you will look clean and professional. Button down shirts and slacks show up when there are client meetings. Sales crew has a “uniform” for events. You dress for the occasion. No different than anything else in life.

    24. little k*

      So I never understood the problem with leggings because I’m the sort of person who wouldn’t notice if someone isn’t wearing a bra unless I really stare.

      But today, a tall woman was walking in front of me and she was wearing salmon-colored leggings, and suddenly I understand why leggings are NOT pants.

    25. allathian*

      I don’t think it’s unreasonable to ask people to cover their butts. The easiest way to do this would be to require a long top garment, no matter what you wore underneath, and the only exception to that would be slacks that actually look like slacks, not leggings masquerading as slacks.

      Banning tights or leggings altogether, even when the butt is covered, would be tougher, especially if you’re in a colder climate. Even in a hot climate, air conditioning can make people feel cold at the office. I’m in a temperate climate and it rarely gets too hot for me, but even so, in the summer at the office I keep a wrap that I wear at work and take off when I go home.

    26. H*

      This guidance from HR has the same energy as high school vice principals who stop female students in the hallway and prevent them from getting to class because their shirt has come up in the back and their leggings-covered rear end is visible, or because their shorts *might* be shorter than fingertip length. The justification for these interactions is almost always that “you’re distracting other students.” I simply cannot buy that it is worth preventing people from doing their jobs just because there’s a perception that someone else might have a problem with an employee’s clothing. As someone else said, these kinds of rules also get applied far more strictly to plus-size or fat people. The feeling of having your clothing choices monitored by someone who has power over you (whether it’s a vice principal or a manager) is a very, very uncomfortable one that I always hoped was more or less left behind after high school… I would also add that it’s challenging to find an affordable and flattering pair of women’s “work” pants that aren’t pretty tight around the rear end, at least in my size range. I know all tight-fitting pants aren’t in question here, but if people who wear leggings are being told they’re objectionable because they’re tight in the rear end, they might also be concerned that all their pants that are tight in that area are subject to monitoring and changes in dress code policy!

  3. Roxie*

    Does everyone know of a coworker who didn’t get a promotion they wanted and responded by acting poorly? All it does is show why that person shouldn’t have been promoted!

    Anecdotally, I have someone on my team (higher than me but I don’t report to him) who has been with the company for years. Last year apparently he wanted to be promoted to the director of our team, but my direct supervisor ended up getting it (because he is actually director-level material). This past year the other guy has been a pain to work with because he’s withholding information, being passive aggressive and isn’t a team player. Getting information out of him is like pulling teeth. I guess I just don’t understand that mentality.

    1. Smithy*

      I’ve certainly seen this a lot – and there are always people who are just inclined to publicly pout and express disappoint that way. However, I often think this kind of behavior happens most often with really bad management around staff development and growth.

      I’m in a sector where some people are able to receive multiple promotions and growth within one organization, but many more simply are not. It may be that the the level of experience between junior/senior staff is so great – that junior staff will just never be quite ready for promotions. And also don’t have the benefit of even seeing what midlevel growth would look like. I’ve also met manage managers who are only comfortable talking about professional development and growth within what they can offer at X job, and not discussing a range of growth paths either in other internal departments or externally.

      As such, people get fixated a very narrow range of options – either promotions to roles that don’t exist/aren’t needed, or that the few options that do open are their only hope. And then if those opportunities don’t come through, the disappointment is greater because the belief exists where that was their only hope for advancement.

      I’m certainly most sympathetic to this attitude with people newer to the workforce – and it’s never fun to have a coworker openly pouting. But I no longer think this an issue that 100% rests with the person who wasn’t promoted. Certainly a manager could be doing all of that, and someone can decide there’s only one growth path they’ll ever want. But more often, I think it’s a dynamic that is a bit more two sided.

      1. Anonym*

        This is such an interesting perspective – it’s easy to see this sort of thing as an individual problem, but I’ve also seen other outcomes from this type of structure and management, where employees are very frustrated (though not acting out). As you describe, there aren’t actual pathways for them to advance (or they’re rare), and the org/managers aren’t doing enough to realistically explore people’s career paths, which will pretty much have to involve leaving the organization for a mid-level role. The result is morale that’s lower than it should be.

        There’s a larger picture that may fuel the managers’ point of view – the workforce is changing, it’s realistic to move around to grow a career, and people WILL leave, and that’s okay. But the old school view is “never allow/encourage/even WHISPER about the possibility of leaving, and view any attrition as failure.” Realistically, if you’re honest with people about their options and support their development, they may eventually leave but you’ll have better morale, more trust, likely better performance, and definitely a better reputation as an employer. And they may come back in the future with all the experience and knowledge they gained at a competitor. ;)

        1. Smithy*

          Acting out, low morale, checking out, bad attitude, etc – I think a wide range of those sentiments come across from staff in those positions. And absolutely, it’s easy to peg this as an individual problem, it’s not being professional, etc etc etc. But I think it’s an issue where managers and employers are more involved than they’re often willing to admit.

          The workforce has not only been changing but I think it’s going to continue to do so in ways where telling a direct report or peer what you did ten or even five years ago may be a lot less applicable. Therefore, engaging a bit more proactively and honestly about growth that may both involve staff leaving in more positive and productive ways, but also being a touch more mindful with hiring.

          1. Fran Fine (formerly Diahann Carroll)*

            I agree with this entire thread – it’s spot on accurate. I’ve only seen people act out like this in the workplace when they’ve been very clear with management that they want to progress, but management ignores them. No one wants to feel basically dismissed.

        2. Alternative Person*

          There’s definitely some frustration from some of my co-workers because the promotion ladder is all but stalled for a long list of understandable and/or frustrating reasons. And yeah, there’s a good argument that some of those people need to do some serious work before they become managers, but there’s also a lot of good people who not only deserve the chance to move up, but really need that first step or two on the promotion ladder for career reasons.

          But the big thing managers seem to forget is the economic reality. As much as my colleagues and I want to progress our careers up the ladder because of the kind of work we’ll be able to do, we also need those promotions in order to be able to afford things like buying our own houses, a realistic level of savings/pension contributions, a family and all sorts of long term things.

    2. Cat Tree*

      Not exactly the same, but I had a coworker who was frustrated about not getting in the top bracket for a performance review. The main reason was because he wasn’t completing his routine trainings on time. Sure, those trainings are tedious, barely relevant, and nobody enjoys them. But it’s half an hour a week, the expectation is made super duper clear, and everyone up to the director manages to get them done on time.

      The way that resolved is that he found another job in a different department. The training expectation is still the same, so he’s presumably having the same issue, but it’s not our problem anymore.

      I have no practical advice except to hope your difficult coworker leaves. He’s unlikely to meet his goal of a promotion with this behavior.

    3. Kiitemso*

      Yep, we have one such case at my company. I came into the company in 2018 and knew this guy was a grump, asked some people and found out this was why.

      But plot twist, he got promoted in 2020 and it’s gone terribly. They are now looking to demote him.. Or fire him. I’m not even in his department anymore, not sure why I know this. Gossip gets around I guess.

    4. LKW*

      If I had to guess it’s a matter of unrealistic expectations and general immaturity (which can be displayed by people of all ages). I suspect that the people who do this also over inflate their experience and competency. They may not have received meaningful feedback OR they have selective hearing when getting that feedback. As a result, since they believe themselves to be obviously competent, everyone else must be a moron or someone else made a deal/put the fix in and that’s why they weren’t selected for the promotion.
      So while it’s completely counterproductive, this is where the immature side takes over, and decides that “if they don’t realize how awesome I am, then I’ll make their lives harder.” A choice that absolutely does not lead to their desired outcomes but some people just can’t see past their own disappointment.

    5. TWW*

      Is he being purposefully difficult or did he lose his mojo?

      If the latter, I can sympathize with him. After getting your hopes up about a promotion and being disappointed, I think a lot of people would have trouble keeping their head in the game.

    6. AppleStan*

      Oh….yeah…..

      A co-worker, John, and I went up for an internal promotion to manage our unit. It was a weird scenario, when our boss left, grandboss met with the 6 top senior members of the team to handle certain aspects of boss’ job because grandboss didn’t have a clue (was upfront about it at least). In that meeting, John handed grand-boss his application materials for the job (the rest of us didn’t even see it advertised). We left the meeting immediately after, and as grand-boss was walking with me to the coffee machine, I told grand-boss I thought John would be great at the job.

      Most of these senior members (including me) talked openly with each other about putting in for boss’ job (the ones who didn’t blatantly stated they were not interested). I waffled back and forth on it, because we recently got raises that meant my salary would only be about $3K less than boss’ salary…why would I want to do that extra work for very little extra pay? In the end, only three senior members (John, Jane, and I) put in for it, Jane withdrew her candidacy during the interview process, and I ended up getting the job.

      Cue an 11:00 pm text rant THAT NIGHT that started with “I’m soooooooooo pissed with you” and just kinda got worse from there. As John and I had been good acquaintances outside of work (not friends, but definitely did things together) and I had never been a manager/supervisor before, I actually responded and tried to reason with John, instead of just ignoring everything altogether (I mean, I was now this person’s boss, so the entire thing was extremely inappropriate — but I hadn’t discovered AskAManager yet, so I didn’t know how to prepare to supervise friends).

      The conversation went badly, but I was too locked into making John feel better instead of realizing how wildly inappropriate this entire line of conversation was and how I should have just ignored it completely. John had been offered a similar position but heading a different unit, which he turned down, and I suggested he reconsider. Long story short, what was a $3K salary jump for me was a $13K jump for John, and he took the new job. Unfortunately, the same things that would have made John a bad manager for our unit made John a bad manager for the other unit, and John was fired 9 months later.

      And I learned a TON of management lessons from this experience – not the least of which was (a) don’t entertain crap in the interest of making someone feel better and (b) I didn’t know *jack* at the time about what would make someone a good manager, because I truly thought John would be excellent at the job and he was…not.

    7. LadyByTheLake*

      Yes, I was once hired from outside to be a manager. Unfortunately, one of my reports thought that the job was hers (in fairness to her, the previous grandboss might have given her that impression). In any event, while she was frostily polite to me, she made it clear with every fibre of her being that she did not feel like she owed me anything (trying to get information out of her was like pulling teeth). She continued to do an excellent job with her work, but when in her first review I noted that she needed to share more with me regarding what she was doing and generally needed to be more of a team player in assisting her colleagues (with specific examples), she went running to her grandboss (my boss) to complain that I was being wildly unfair and that I shouldn’t be the manager and I was incompetent if I thought that she was anything other than perfect. This despite the fact that she got the highest marks of anyone on my team (although not perfect) and the highest raise and bonus! Grandboss looked right at her and said, “Thank you for confirming that I made the right decision when I didn’t promote you.”

      1. AppleStan*

        That is *EXTREMELY* satisfying to read!

        Did her attitude get worse or get better after that statement from Grandboss?

        1. LadyByTheLake*

          It stayed the same, in fact, she continued to complain about me to Grandboss even though the complaints went nowhere. She finally moved to another section (different manager). I note that although it is now 12 years later and there has been a lot of turnover and upward movement, she is still in the same (non-manager) level. There’s a reason for that.

    8. DG*

      Yes, I’ve seen it happen twice, including once with someone I directly managed. He was passed over for a promotion that ended up going to a much more skilled and qualified person. He turned completely hostile, almost (but not *quite*) bordering on abusive. I could share some really unbelievable details about some of his actions and accusations, but they are so absurd that I would be easily identifiable to my former coworkers.

      From the day he become hostile I told myself that if I ever felt even an inkling of those feelings toward a job I would quit immediately, regardless of other factors in my life, even if it met selling all of my possessions and living on friends’ couches until I got back on my feet. That would still be preferable to being completely consumed with hate 24/7 and burning every bridge in my professional life in such a humiliating fashion.

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

      I worked with one like this. The ‘promotion’ he went for was a more senior, higher paid job in a completely separate department (rather than e.g. becoming a supervisor of someone with his previous position), it came down to a decision between him and another internal candidate and he lost out. He put this down to the fact that he’d been at the company only a few months compared to the other person’s several years, although I don’t think that was the main reason.

      After this rejection he was convinced that he was “worth more” so didn’t really bother applying himself in his current job, was constantly visiting our manager’s and HR’s offices complaining that the salary for this job wasn’t enough and it would serve them right if he left (!) etc.

    10. Lizy*

      Well this is timely. Today, my coworker started off a group text response – with our boss – saying “I’m not really that concerned with upper management and here’s why…” aaaaaannnndddd that’s why you didn’t get the job.

    11. Chaordic One*

      Back at “Dysfunctional Teapots, Ltd,” we had several people who were passed over. They tended to pout and act up a bit, but generally speaking they continued to churn out the work. They usually left for greener pastures and then, after they did, their replacement would flounder and eventually we’d have to hire 2 or 3 people to do the work of the disgruntled former employee who left.

      1. allathian*

        Ha. You can’t manage people’s feelings, and in this case, I think that leaving was definitely justified if they felt they were passed over.

  4. Now In the Job*

    Does anyone wear orthodontia at the office during pandemic times? I’m not sure whether to let my boss/HR know that I’ll be taking my mask off to brush and floss throughout the day.

    1. Ya Girl*

      Do you have private restrooms? I just take mine off in the single stall restroom and brush after eating.

      1. Now In the Job*

        No private restrooms. They’re all 3-stalls with a tiny vestibule common area that has the 3 sinks.

        1. TWW*

          Would it be possible/permissible to occasionally lock the door so you had the whole place to yourself for a few minutes?

    2. Reba*

      I mean, you’ll be doing that in the bathroom, no? I don’t think it’s an issue that you need to preemptively alert HR to.

      1. Now In the Job*

        My concern is the intense “pre-return training” we had made it abundantly clear that the only place you are permitted to remove your mask is if you’re in a private office at your desk with your door closed, or socially distanced in the cafeteria and only then while eating. I’m worried about being called out/reported up the chain for being in the public bathroom arguably actively producing more aerosols for what someone might think is an unnecessary thing to do during a pandemic.

        1. Pickled Limes*

          Can your dentist/orthodontist write a letter to your workplace requesting an accommodation?

        2. JustaTech*

          At my work we have the same rule, but several women on my floor brush their teeth at work, so they just put a packet of cleaning wipes in to wipe down the sink when you’re done. But we also have very few people on site so it’s more likely than not that no one would even come in the bathroom while you’re brushing.

        3. I'm just here for the cats*

          I think it would be OK , especially if you had cleaning supplies so you could clean the sink area before/after. And if there were others in the bathroom ask if it was alright, or wait until they were done.

      2. Julia*

        Since we know the virus can spread through aerosols, I’d be extra cautious if the bathroom isn’t well-ventilated, though. And how would someone who, for example, has to go pee now feel about running into an unmasked co-worker in the bathroom?

        1. MsClaw*

          I would hope that most coworkers would realize Now is performing a normal hygiene function and either ignore it and go about their business or pop back into the hallway to politely wait three minutes for Now to come out or use the restroom on a different floor if they are uncomfortable being in the bathroom while Now is brushing.

        2. Reba*

          Oh, I was imagining a single bathroom (based on nothing)! Good point about it being a shared space that all employees need at some point.

    3. straight teeth*

      I wear braces… and I have to brush floss during the day. I’m not really sure of why your boss needs to know? surely you’d be brushing/flossing in the bathroom, no? Also, how much will you be doing it? Getting braces certainly taught me (former grazer) to eat three meals a day, and stick to that. It’s a pain to brush/floss through braces everytime you snack.

    4. SomebodyElse*

      If you are allowed to take your mask off to eat and drink, then you’ll be fine to do it to brush and floss. You are overthinking this :)

      1. pretzelgirl*

        I agree, you will be taking it off for a few minutes tops. I honestly would’nt think twice about it, even now.

    5. introverted af*

      I’m in a similar boat, and one thing I’ve done is go to the less used bathroom in my building and brush in the toilet stall. I can imagine some people would be grossed out by that, but it works for me.

  5. Amontillado*

    How do others create vacation request policies that balance the needs of planners vs. others?

    I had a discussion with my boss last week (I am also a manager) about aligning on how we make decisions to grant time off. As part of that conversation, I mentioned that some people always put in for time around xmas/Thanksgiving (we get the actual holidays off) at the very beginning of the year, which could make it harder for other people to take time off around then.

    And then… he literally said that everyone else needs to be better about planning their time off in advance because people who have kids do plan in advance, and it’s not fair to them to ask them to put in for that time later.

    I just don’t agree. There should be a system that works for everyone. So, give it to me: what rules/guidelines around time off have worked well in your experience? (How many people can be off at once, how far in advance people can ask off, special considerations around holidays, etc.)

    1. Procrastinating at work*

      I think a big part of this is making sure the same employees don’t get all of the big holidays off. So you can’t take Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year off at the start of the year. If those holidays are still open as you get close to that date then that person who has the other holidays can take it. But a lot of people can’t plan a year in advance and it isn’t a fair policy to give the best time off to people with kids

      1. Pickled Limes*

        I had a direct report at a previous job who would request time off before or after EVERY holiday closure. President’s Day, Memorial Day, all of them. I ended up telling him that since we get 10 paid holidays each year, he was allowed to choose no more than five that he wanted to extend with his vacation time, because other people should have the chance to extend some holidays as well.

        Also: I’m a planner, and if it were up to me I’d already know the dates I need to take off for the winter holidays. But my extended family are very much not planners. Most years, by the time I know when my relatives are free to celebrate the holidays, it’s too late for me to get those dates off because of the people who requested them months ago. That’s not my fault, but it means I’ve missed a lot of quality time with my family over the years while my coworkers had long holiday visits. It’s pretty hard not to be resentful of that sometimes.

    2. JustTellMe*

      At past workplaces I had been at, I don’t think it was a rule but many people seemed to operate by it – if you request extra time off around Thanksgiving, you don’t request extra time off around December holidays, and vice versa. And then the following year you might do the opposite where you request more time off for December holidays and not Thanksgiving. This lets everyone have at least one big winter holiday with their family and changes it up year to year so it kind of balances out. But in the end I’m up for as many people taking off as possible – how many people do you TRULY need to operate during those days? Is it more for appearances or do they actually serve a critical function? Maybe you don’t need as many people as you think.

      1. a thought*

        Yes, this! I think in many, many offices it would be okay for almost everyone to take the same days off. In my line of work, it’s actually desirable – if 1/2 the people are there but the other half aren’t, we can’t accomplish much so we might as well all be gone at the same time.

        Obviously that’s not true of some places! But I think really figuring out the minimum number of people needed and then also closing for a decent stretch (e.g., close Thanksgiving and the day after, close for Christmas Eve and Christmas) if possible both help a lot.

        1. Cj*

          I’ve worked at three CPA firms over the last 12 years, and they all close the day after Thanksgiving. Everybody wants one last long weekend before tax season, and there really aren’t any client emergencies that come up without a tax deadline looming, so they just close rather than trying to decide who gets to take the day off.

      2. Smithy*

        I think this is a really important piece. There’s both the factor of how many people you really need – but also if it might be possible to utilize more of an “on call” method? This certainly depends on the nature of the work, but for a holiday like Thanksgiving – might having staff being remote and “on call” work for the Wednesday and Friday?

        While there’s the larger benefit of being totally unplugged, for others – being able to work remotely/be on call from where their family can actually offer a lot of flexibility.

      3. 3DogNight*

        For our company, if you had the holiday off last year, you need to allow others to request it this year. If there is availability (coverage) and you want it, you can still take it, just has to be offered to those who worked last year first. That works very well here.

    3. DistantAudacity*

      Well, do you need to have a “first come, first serve” policy?

      Why not have a deadline X amount of time ahead of major holiday periods where everyone puts their request in, and then you balance it out (based on whatever rules you deem fair – who has recently had all of their requests granted, did they get another major holiday same year, etc).

      For context, in my non-US situation, the 3 weeks summer holidays are managed like this: By april 1st you have to put your request in. By May 1st, everyone gets their schedule back. Our rules say that everyone is entitled to 3 weeks continous vacation between mid-June and mid-August, but the employer can decide when (it can of course also be granted outside of this period!). This ensures that coverage is managed, or if there is a period where everyone is out, or whatever is the business need.

      1. BottleBlonde*

        Often the motivation for requesting specific days off early in the year is to make travel arrangements though. I always request off for the holidays near the beginning of the year so I can buy plane tickets to travel and visit family; it’s the only way I’d be able to afford traveling home every year. So if the deadline wasn’t far enough out from the date in question, that could have big financial implications for some.

    4. Healthcare Worker*

      When I was a manager I had to staff 365 days a year. I always scheduled as many per diem staff to work as possible. Then twice a year, about 3 months before the season, I had employees submit time off requests for the holidays. The first was for Thanksgiving/Christmas/New Year’s and the second for Memorial Day/July 4 and Labor Day. Employees ranked their requests for time off in order of importance to them. I then approved requests based on: seniority and days off in prior years. So you knew if you had Christmas off last year, you would probably work it this year. Staff would discuss with each other how to make it work, which was very helpful. Staff and I found the system fair and didn’t penalize individuals who didn’t know their plans in January. Good luck!

    5. Ashley*

      I think the number one thing is to be clear about what coverage is needed. And is this an actual issue or a perceived issue? The current system could mean new employees never get the time off which can suck but it happens with no seniority. The other thing you want to watch is a policy across the company that doesn’t make sense for all departments because of coverage needs. My department is dead at the holidays, but accounting is slammed.
      Personally I have to plan a year out because of travel arrangements. Part of the family lives in a tourist trap and you have to book your hotel a year out to guarantee a room. I need to know early if I can or can’t travel so don’t punish the planners in the process of trying to be fair.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Absolutely agree be clear about what coverage is needed. I worked in one retail job that really did great with this. They went as far as creating a schedule and everyone filled in which shifts they were willing to cover.

        Going one step further, because I volunteered to work a double on Christmas my boss took me off of other holidays. (This worked out well on my end.)

        This is a reverse approach because we tend to say “who wants time off?” and that assumes everyone will work. Why not assume no one wants to work instead and ask who wants to volunteer- “we need x people for each of these days.”

        In my setting an odd thing happened, there was enough coverage. It kind of proved to me that all the haggling was preventable if the problem was handled well.

        1. Midwest writer*

          I was at mid-sized daily newspaper years ago that used the volunteer first approach. One editor sent out an email and asked every to rank the top three holidays they wanted to work and the top three they absolutely did not. And he was clear: you had to volunteer for at least one summer holiday and you couldn’t have all three of Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s off. Then he sat down and wrote out a schedule. In January. It provided coverage for the actual holidays and let people know which holidays they’d have available to ask for extra time around. It seemed to work well.

          1. Clisby*

            I used to work at newspapers and it was similar to this. We also had the rule that if someone had to work Christmas or Thanksgiving one year, they absolutely didn’t have to work it the next year. (Maybe New Year was like this? I’ve never cared about New Year, so can’t remember.) I used to volunteer to work on Christmas in exchange for getting Christmas Eve off, which worked a lot better for me, and almost always meant the bonus that I didn’t have to work Thanksgiving. We didn’t go by seniority, or who had kids, or whatnot. If it wasn’t your turn to work the holiday this year, it would be your turn next year.

    6. Emma2*

      I worked in an office that had announced timelines for major holiday requests (eg all Christmas holiday requests submitted by 18 September will be considered together and approvals shared by 1 October). This worked reasonably well and holiday allocations from the prior year were taken into account (ie the same people would not be rejected two years in a row).
      The one issue was we had a lot of international staff who wanted to fly home and ideally you would book Christmas flights in August/September due to pricing. I think dealing with the requests one month earlier might have provided a better balance between recognising not everyone can plan their holidays a year in advance (often driven by different life circumstances) and giving people enough time to make arrangements given the number of people we had who needed to book flights.

    7. Elliot*

      Copying an email I sent to my old boss when we redid our policy!

      “I don’t know if it’s too late for suggestions, but my husband’s job does holiday PTO in a few ways –

      First, they have every employee “rank” the major holidays in terms of importance for time off, and turn this in to a coordinator – They do Thanksgiving, New Years Eve, and Christmas. This way, one employee can not take off a ton of time for Thanksgiving AND Christmas, just because they requested early.

      Then they try to give employees their top picks, but if there are too many who want say, Christmas Week off they do it based on 1) First come, first serve of requests and 2) seniority.”

      When my own company implemented this, we ended up making the holiday ranking due on a specific day – mid-March for summer holidays, and September for winter holidays. Then employees would get an email a week later with which holidays they were granted. If there was extra time off for a holiday, we’d do first come first serve at that point.

    8. SarahKay*

      We’re a UK-based company and because of the nature of our work we have to have two thirds cover at Christmas and New Year (and the three days in between) so the managers track who had to work those holidays in previous years. People can request holiday at any point, but requests for the Xmas/New Year period only get approved in September, and priority is given to those who worked the holiday the last two years.

    9. Bloopmaster*

      It sounds like the underlying problem to the organization is one of coverage (rather than planning vs. not planning). And that would only matter when coverage is an absolute necessity–otherwise, just let people take off when they want. So definitely think about whether your office truly needs to be open on say, Boxing Day. Limits around holiday PTO (no more than X consecutive days, can’t take days both before and after the holiday, etc.) are one way. But would it be possible to actively incentivize some employees to work those weeks? Like give an extra day of PTO or some other benefit to employees who volunteer to work the week of Thanksgiving or the week after Christmas? Maybe that would create less of a rush for holiday PTO and also maintain a minimally acceptable level of coverage during that time?

      1. Midwest writer*

        I worked a place that categorized all holidays as simple time off with pay days, so if you worked a holiday, you got a full 8 hours to use whenever you wanted during your vacation calendar year. It made working on holidays much nicer, knowing you were banking vacation hours for later. We were a small department and needed coverage on all holidays, so we did end up working a lot of holiday shifts, with all those sweet vacation days to use whenever we wanted.

    10. BRR*

      First it’s to figure out what coverage is needed. From my own experience, it’s been to divide Thanksgiving and Xmas. So if you want off it would have to be one or the other. Other than that, you have to hit a middle ground with planners and others. Many many many people don’t finalize plans at the start of the year like who is hosting. On the flip side, you can’t wait and figure it out if one person won’t know until early November. I think it’s fair in mid to late September (early October at the latest) to ask people to start figuring out their plans.

    11. Not playing your game anymore*

      We are an academic library, and are closed for major holidays. Christmas, Thanksgiving etc., but open the week of Christmas, etc. Open for lesser holidays like Labor Day, but staff get a comp day if they have to work. We have a small staff of 10 and had a problem, years ago, of the same people stretching all the holidays, while others NEVER got time off for coverage reasons. So, we instituted a policy of
      1. You can request time off around any major holiday but
      A. only one major holiday can be a “firm” request, others are standby, i.e. wait and see if anyone else wants it.
      B. if you had one of the biggies last year, you can’t make a “firm” request for the same holiday this year. So yeah you can pin down Christmas, Thanksgiving, New Years, 4th of July etc. but only one of them and if you had Christmas last year you’ll need to take New Years or Thanksgiving this year.
      We let up to 1/2 of the staff take any given holiday, so if only 3 people have asked for time off at Christmas, and you had it last year, or if you have New Years, etc., you can add it standby this year. But if 5 people who didn’t get Christmas last year have all requested it, you’re out of luck. (We’ll do a “last call” a few weeks before the holiday if we have people on “standby”)
      2. Everyone gets scheduled to work a couple of the lessor holidays. If you were scheduled to work Presidents Day, and want it off, trade with someone who is scheduled for MLK day. etc.,

      Everyone is in the rotation from the director to the newest clerk.

    12. Marzipan*

      I think to some extent the kids part is a red herring. I absolutely agree that it’s not fair or reasonable to have a policy (implicit or explicit) that people with kids should get first dibs on time off at the expense of those without kids, but – and I say this as someone who really doesn’t naturally plan their holiday time in advance – it’s also not reasonable to make everyone wait until close to the date before knowing whether or not they’ll be able to have time off. Many people do need to plan what they’re doing in advance in order to liaise with friends and family, book travel at affordable prices, sort out accommodation etc. People with kids are possibly more likely to fall into that category, but I’d encourage you to look at it more as ‘how can we accommodate some people’s need to plan and other people’s preference for being more spontaneous, in reasonable balance?’

      I’m not a fan of just making it first come first served for everything; that does tend to end with a few people snaffling everything good. You could possibly allow people to book one prime period of time off initially, and only let them have a second if others don’t want it. But at some point you do have to warn the less schedule-oriented people (amongst whom I absolutely count myself) that if they don’t book it, someone else will. It’s also worth discussing with staff what their priorities tend to be – some people may have very different preferences and requirements around what matters to them in terms of time they’d like off.

      1. Littorally*

        Agreed.

        I don’t have kids, but I’m a early planner because I have family in wildly different parts of the country. If I don’t buy my plane tickets at least a few months out, I will be absolutely hosed on prices.

        Because of this, I have very little patience with employers who want to wait til the last minute to approve vacation. I’m not paying $500 extra on my plane fare because Jane wanted to hem and haw until December 12th about whether she’s taking off the week of Christmas or not.

      2. Sparrow*

        I agree with you. And this was kind of funny to me because I have 3 siblings with kids and they NEVER plan ahead for the holidays. I live in another region of the country and have to fly in – if I waited until they knew what they were doing, I’d be buying a ticket no earlier than Dec. 15. Obviously I can’t wait that long, so they end up planning around me (the one sibling without kids) instead of the other way around.

      3. LifeBeforeCorona*

        An old workplace policy was you either worked Christmas or New Years’ but not both. A co-worker always worked Christmas because he had no family. Finally, he got married and had a kid and put in for the time off and naturally, it was granted. Another parent with late teen kids tried to bully him into taking the shifts because she maintained his kid was too young to remember Christmas anyway. And that’s why the policy became very strictly enforced.

    13. SomebodyElse*

      Here’s how I do it on my team.

      Normal non-holidays – Everyone just schedules their vacation and works it out amongst themselves if too many people are already out. I have a no more than 2 out at any time rule, if a 3rd needs the day off then they need to plan with the person left behind to make sure the impact isn’t too much and the 4th is ok with the additional workload (Great team that works together, this has never been an issue).

      Holidays- Everyone can put their request in but I won’t approve anything until ~1 month prior to the holiday (I would make exceptions to this if things like airfare or travel arrangements come into play).
      I’ll plot out the schedule based on requests and see where the coverage holes are. Then we sit down and talk about it like the adults we are.
      -I relax my no more than 2 out rule
      -Most of the time teammates are flexible “I really need that Tuesday off, but Wednesday I don’t really have plans” “Oh, I really need the Wednesday, but the Tuesday I can totally cover”
      -If we’re really in a crunch, I’ll offer additional flexibility “Ok, check email once every couple of hours or so and/or be available for urgent/critical issues (as defined by me who has no problems with realistic prioritization and telling people ‘no’) and you don’t have to use PTO for that day (I think in 10 years I’ve only had 1 urgent/critical issue come up in this situation).

      I never got complaints, everyone seemed more or less happy with the arrangement, and the work was covered. I’m not silly enough to think this method would work in all cases, jobs, and teams but I’ve found that when otherwise reasonable people sit down together to work things out, it can generally be done without too much pain.

      The only time I ever really had a problem was one team that everyone asked for the same random day off (think Tuesday May 12th and you get the idea). Turns out that on my team of 4 everyone was celebrating some type of milestone (b-day, anniversary, etc). It actually made me laugh to ask the team “Ok guys, is there a party I’m not invited to?” I honestly can’t remember how I worked that one out, I think I just told everyone to take the day and next year see if you can pick another day to celebrate… That day hurt a little and boss gave me grief, but it wasn’t the end of the world.

    14. TWW*

      I’ve been lucky enough to work in places that never denies vacation requests (as far as I know). My current employer closes down completely between Christmas and New Year’s. And the week of Thanksgiving the place is like a ghost town.

      If the business is such that there must be people working at those times, maybe offer them a bonus to make them want to volunteer?

      1. Chantel*

        Yep – same here; vacation requests don’t get denied.

        I just put in for the same time every year (usually mid-Dec. to early Jan. only) and let the boss sort out any potential conflicts with others’ requests.

    15. Policy Wonk*

      We make an announcement in the early fall that we need all requests for Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday times by (date) and we will make decisions on who gets the time off then. So requesting it earlier doesn’t give someone an edge, but employees have some predictability.

      Ditto shortly after the new year we note that people should plan ahead for summer vacations. We don’t have a deadline there, but by flagging it early, or noting that we already have e.g., 3 requests for the week of July 4th, people can see we are trying to be fair.

    16. Zephy*

      My workplace’s PTO bank resets on the employee’s hire date, rather than everyone’s PTO running 1/1-12/31. That addresses the issue of having everyone making a mad dash to “use or lose” their PTO in the last few weeks of the year, if you don’t roll over year-to-year.* It doesn’t address the fact that there are Important Family Holidays all clustered together in those weeks, which is arguably the bigger problem. Maybe just a blanket policy restricting PTO requests to no more than 3-4 months in advance? The planners are gonna plan, so I’m sure they can also plan to submit their PTO request for Christmas on August 1 instead of January 1, and that gives the non-planners (or, more likely, people whose families are non-planners) time to hammer down details on a more reasonable-for-them timescale.

      (*we don’t, although new for 2021 they are allowing us to roll over unused PTO into an FMLA bank, so we can get some paid time while on FMLA leave if ever the need arises – previously unused PTO just expired on your hire date, poof gone, sorry bout it).

    17. theletter*

      From what I’ve heard of industries that have been doing this for many years, seniority applies in deciding who gets first pick of the holidays, with specific tradeoffs – if you ask for Christmas, you have to work Thanksgiving, etc.

      Vaction times are planned as a group annually or biannually, so everyone just knows when they need to wait to plan and when the plan is set and can’t be changed unless somone is able to trade.

      To me, though, this speaks to the challenges of capitalism. What’s stopping the company from hiring enough working that shift coverage isn’t hard to find? Conversely, is your business/office/department/team doing the kind of work that needs coverage on the day after Christmas? because I know mine is NOT, and yet, somehow, we’re all trying to organize coverage for that last week of the year, when there’s never any work to do because no one else is working.

      1. Artemesia*

        I think seniority is fundamentally unfair when it comes to the major family holidays, Christmas and Thanksgiving. People should take turns. If Senior VP got Christmas last year, they get Thanksgiving this year. People with young kids particularly value Christmas; waiting till you have been there 15 years to get it misses childhood. It is good if the whole company can shut down that time of year as some can; it is great if you have Jewish employees who are happy to do Christmas in exchange for some other perk. But when you have more people who want it than you can have out on leave then, some sort of turn taking is fairer. You don’t get it your first year of employment — but it is your turn next year.

        1. Clisby*

          I agree. It’s not enough to say “if you ask for Christmas, you don’t get Thanksgiving” – it should be “and you can’t have Christmas next year.”

    18. DAMitsDevon*

      At the company I work at, we can’t submit vacation requests for the week of Thanksgiving-New Year’s until the end of September. If anyone wants to take off during that period of time, we have between the end of September to mid-October to put the request in not just with our direct supervisor, but also our administrative manager and deputy director by. The last two then look at the requests from everyone in our program to make sure that there aren’t any coverage gaps and to figure out how to fairly divvy up vacation days if there are gaps. So far as I know, no one has had their requests declined though.

    19. Sled dog mama*

      I’m lucky enough that most of my career I have worked on a team where the policy was figure it out between yourselves and that worked for us. The general rule was that 2 of the 3 had to stay in town for the holiday (we were on call for 2 sites) and if workload allowed those 2 could take a day or two off during that period. What this effectively meant was that the person who’s family was all in town volunteered to work every holiday to get away from family and the other guy and I alternated holidays where we were out of town with family.
      Looking back it was pure luck that this worked and I wish there had been a formal policy on it (beyond “play nice”). This was a health care organization so a lot of the holiday staffing policy revolved around nursing and who got premium pay for working the actual holiday and what that premium was and if there were an excess of volunteers how those shifts would be assigned. It ways a little like no one had ever considered that there were people who did not get scheduled for shifts and might want days off around a holiday. Yet another example of that place adopting a one size fits all policy that really didn’t.

    20. Techie area*

      In my department, we have to have one person from each team be available (either in person or in the case of one team, just checking in from home) each day. There are 16 people total across 3 teams.

      During the regular year, it’s never been an issue.

      Over the holidays, team leads send out a Doodle poll and ask people to fill in (by half day morning/afternoon) whether they plan to work, could work if needed, or can’t work particular time slots. As far as I know, between “plan to work” and “could work if needed” we’ve always found our minimum coverage.

      This allows people to book flights in advance (they put “can’t work”) and allows other people to take time off too if someone else is at “plan to work”. There’s also a fair amount of discussion/coordination among teammates in advance and people do tend to not plan to be away for December holidays more than a couple years in a row.

    21. CupcakeCounter*

      My mother worked at a hospital where coverage is essential. Basically they had the major holidays – New Year’s Eve/Day, Easter Break, Memorial Day, 4th of July, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve/Day. Everyone in the department had to rate 1, 2, or 3 which holidays they would like off that year and you couldn’t pick the holiday’s you had off the previous year. From there, management would assign holidays using seniority and desirability of holidays you had the previous year/selected this year to make it as fair as possible. New employees would inherit the departing person’s holidays and were told up front during the hiring process.
      My mom built up a ton of goodwill after my sister and I moved out and before my son was born by volunteering to work the Christmas and Easter holidays.

    22. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      We’ve got rules in place because we’re unionized, but here’s how we do it, which I think can be used in various locations:
      Every 2-3 months we get an office-wide email with a deadline of X to submit vacation requests for the upcoming 2-3 months. The management team then reviews coverage with a goal to deny as few requests as possible. There’s a seniority rule for priority in those cases.
      Any requests out of the request period are considered separately and the priority thing doesn’t count (so people can’t get bumped).
      The teams that work well together tend to consult each other informally before submitting to make sure that there aren’t too many overlaps. If someone has something big and hard to reschedule (like a family reunion or once in a lifetime vacation), they can let their team know so the timing works out.

      November and December vacation requests are in the same batch so that it can stay balanced.

    23. I'm just here for the cats*

      I think there should be some sort of check and balances so that the same person doesn’t get all of the holiday time. So if someone wants extra time between Christmas and newyears they can take it but then they shouldn’t be able to take an extra few days off for easter.

      I’ve been in situations where I’ve been with a major planner and it made me feel like I couldn’t take time off or I had to know 10 months in advance.

    24. Momma Bear*

      Our boss announced a month or two in advance (so maybe April for summer or October for Nov/Dec) that if we were going to take time off, we should pencil it in on the department calendar. Our schedules might change, but we needed a ballpark idea of who wanted to be out when, since we had to ensure coverage for the department. If everyone wanted the same day(s) off, we could negotiate amongst ourselves or the boss could talk to us and try to figure out a reasonable compromise. Maybe it was just that we were a small team, but it always seemed to work out. The bigger issue was Christmas Eve and NYE, not summer. Even though I don’t have the same restrictions here, I’ve already talked to the person I work most closely with to discuss our collaborative projects and when would be best/worst for us to be out this summer. I don’t have a trip planned, but I know what timeframe I’m aiming for.

      If the issue is putting in time 11 months in advance maybe “open” the time for that request in the fall, not spring or allow people to schedule time off requests no more than 6 months in advance because you also don’t always know what the work priorities will be.

    25. Decidedly Me*

      Our policy is mostly first come first served with the longer you need off, the more time notice you need to give. It’s incredibly rare for time to get denied. For end of year holidays, Thanksgiving is easy, as my team is spread out across the world, so not everyone celebrates or they have it on a different day (CA vs US). Christmas/New Year’s is tougher. Everyone’s preferred/required dates are gathered at once a few months prior and then a schedule is released. We do require coverage, but at a lower capacity, so people tend to get the dates they want.

    26. fhqwhgads*

      Is coverage necessary? Because the answer here really depends on your business. I think 75% of my coworkers were off the entire last two weeks of December (and more the final week) and there was not remotely a question of who gets approved. It all was. The business assumes people just won’t be around at times when it’s predictable most people will want to be off. The handful of people who have on-call type jobs know way in advance, and that’s what they signed up for, and there’s a set rotation. And still – it’s on call, not “definitely working”. So as long as they have their phone, it’s fine.

    27. Quinalla*

      I think you make it clear how far ahead you are allowed to lock-in time off and yeah maybe you make it so that if you take extra time off at a preferred holiday that you are then considered behind anyone else who wants first dibs on the other holiday.

      I’ve not had this issue at work, but I have had it with my sister “reserving time” with my parents 6+ months out and then leaving no time for the rest of us that don’t/can’t plan that far ahead. I find this much easier to negotiate at work :)

  6. Maisie*

    For people-managers: how involved is your boss with your direct reports?

    I’m getting a new direct report soon, and I’m noticing my boss (her soon-to-be grand-boss) is adding her to meetings, getting her set-up within our platforms, etc. I’m still trying to get clarity on the expectations of her role vs. my role, but it seems like he’s doing a lot of the onboarding processes I should be doing. Am curious at what y’all think.

    1. Aquawoman*

      I’ve had 3 people start in the past 2 years. Some of it my grandboss does because he has hiring authority/works with HR/etc and I don’t have that role as much. For me, that process is completely separate from day to day work. Re the meetings, I could see him adding them to any regular departmental meetings that include all staff, but we don’t have those.

    2. A penguin!*

      My boss adds any of my new employees to standing meetings he’s running that would include said new employee, if any. Everything else is done by me, HR, or IT.

    3. WellRed*

      From outside, I think it’s a bit weird if he is doing a bunch of onboarding tasks. That’s a bit in the weeds for a grandboss. is this a new role for you too? Or your first direct report?

    4. SomebodyElse*

      Talk to your boss now and get that clarity up front.

      Is your boss a new 2nd level manager? I’m afraid old habits die hard, so they may just be doing it because the are used to doing it. If this is the case then a good conversation with them on the front end is going to remind them that you should be the one doing the hands on management of the new person.

      1. Artemesia*

        This. It is undercutting your authority with your new hire. Talk to the boss about which of the tasks you should take on as the supervisor. I have worked with someone who meddled in the management tasks of subordinates and it creates gaps where things fall between the chairs and it undercuts authority. (In my case, the new boss had a problem becoming the big boss of all the departments and still governed from their old departmental ties and habits; it was dysfunctional and she didn’t have the kind of authority and respect she should have had if she had stepped up and stopped doing her old job instead of her new one)

    5. Not So NewReader*

      I’d talk to my boss if I were in your shoes. She may just be doing it so you don’t feel buried in work.

    6. Anhaga*

      Definitely talk to your boss about it–knowing what the process and protocol will be going forward is immensely helpful. In my workplace (a very small start-up), my boss takes care of the equipment set up and connects new hires with HR, while I focus on getting the new person set up in the digital tools that we use in our jobs and in training them in the job. All of my responsibilities are directly tied to what my team does on a daily basis, while the boss and HR do the bits that are simply related to being an employee, no matter the team.

  7. Confused Anon*

    I’m in a toxic environment and am looking to leave. I had an interview for a position in my field, which is exciting, but I’m not sure if it’s genuinely a better fit for me or if I am just desperate to leave my current situation. 
    Some concerns about the place that I interviewed with are the following: I only interviewed with the director. The position supervises 2 part-time employees, yet I didn’t meet with them or anyone else and the director didn’t share much about them. I also didn’t meet any of the other staff. 

    The director was very upfront about people not being happy with the salaries (ie: they’re not high enough.) She also said that there is no custodian and no IT dept or person. (There is an IT consultant, but I don’t know where he/she is located.)

    I desperately want to get out of my current situation, but don’t want to be in another bad situation. 

    Any advice? Am I overreacting? 

    1. Student Affairs Sally*

      As someone who just left one miserable situation for one that has been significantly worse . . . if anything is giving you a red flag or an ooky feeling, listen to that. That being said – are there additional interviews planned? Can you ask to meet with any other people at the org, including the people who’d be reporting to you? Can you ask about some of the other concerns you have? If this is the only interview, I would be very concerned, not just because of the problems you’ve already mentioned.

      1. Fran Fine (formerly Diahann Carroll)*

        All of this. Ask to speak to the people who would report to you – they could offer you insight on this role and company you wouldn’t otherwise get.

    2. Dave*

      I would ask to meet with the staff you would be managing before accepting anything.

      The IT consultant is kind of normal IME for smaller outfits. If you aren’t tech savy it can play a bigger role, but if you can do basic troubleshooting yourself or call and have them walk you thru the issue it isn’t as bad. This is assuming it is a legit IT consultant and not someone’s buddy who has a fully time job.

      The custodian thing isn’t always fun but I would ask them how they handle cleaning bathrooms now and see how their response feels for what you want to deal with.

    3. Kiitemso*

      The lack of a custodian would be a red flag for me because it usually means “people who care have to clean, those who don’t will make double the mess”. So much easier to just hire somebody, even if they only come in once a week to save money.

      I would ask more questions if you do get an offer.

      1. Joan Rivers*

        It sounds like a non-profit. It’d be interesting to have someone pose as a client and see what they pick up on. Sometimes just sitting in a waiting room gives you info. Staff will actually talk sometimes in front of clients. Or the agency vibe is obvious just from observing, or talking to other clients.

      2. The Rural Juror*

        Yep. We haven’t had a custodian for a while, but only because we haven’t hired someone to come in weekly since we’ve been back in person in the office. My office is across the hall from the kitchenette, where there’s a pull-out trash can. I can usually hear someone open the pull-out, grumble that the trash is full, but then close it and walk away. I can tell exactly who never bothers to take it out, even though the dumpster is literally right outside the back door and you barely have to step outside to toss it in. There are only 5 of us in the office, and 3 out of 5 actually bother to swap out the bags (which really only needs to be done like twice a week with so few people here). There are some people who will never help if no one makes them do it.

    4. TWW*

      Proceed with caution. It sounds like where I work (and am increasingly anxious to leave): Understaffed, underpaid, everyone desperately scrambling to get things done and heavily relying on the part of our job descriptions that says, “other duties as required.”

    5. Yellow Warbler*

      No custodian and no IT? Those departments do more to keep a business running than anything else. Hard pass, screaming and flailing, Kermit-style.

    6. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Sounds like any other small office to me.

      I personally don’t want to go back in time when we didn’t have a weekly janitor though, no thank you on that end. But that’s because I’ve stopped having the energy to take trash out, I don’t like doing it at home and I certainly don’t like it at work.

      But I’m not sure why it would matter about IT, lots of small and medium businesses just have consultants. That depends greatly on what your scope and the mission is. The only reason I need IT right now is because they have permissions I don’t for security purposes, given our size, it’s understandable now. Back in the day, it was like four of us, why would I need to hire someone to do basic updates and troubleshoot? I didn’t. If something went seriously wrong, we’d call someone in.

    7. Smithy*

      When I was in my most toxic workplace and struggling to leave, the best thing that ever happened to me was during an interview process that I made it all the way to the end. During my very last interview with the CEO he said he didn’t think I was actually a good fit for the nonprofit’s mission and should go home and seriously think about it.

      It was the best thing that anyone could have done for me in that moment because I was so unhappy and so desperate to leave that I was applying for jobs with far too wide a net. It was a real wake up call that as painful as more months at my current job might be, fleeing to end up somewhere else bad in its own ways was not the answer I was seeking.

    8. Quinalla*

      Fine to not have a custodian on staff, they should have a cleaning service though – especially now! IT consultant is also fine for a small business.

      Definitely request a meeting with folks you’ll be managing before accepting an offer.

  8. Mask Wearing in the Office*

    I am about to start a job in person after being WFH for COVID, but I am a few weeks from being fully vaccinated. I wear a mask (sometimes two) if I am not in my house / yard / car so I am normally a strict wearer that I know may not be fully reasonable in the office because I know talking on the phone with a mask on can be muffled and difficult. What is considered normal mask wearing etiquette when you work in cubicles? Some of this is what can I expect from my new co-workers.

    1. Susie*

      When I teach over zoom with a mask on, I have a headset with a good microphone. So for calls, maybe see if your company will spring for them?

      1. LosingMyMarbles*

        I’m planning to do that too when I start teaching in person in June. I found a microphone and attached portable speaker on Amazon for 36.00 that was recommended by another professor.

    2. ThatGirl*

      Your workplace should have rules in place for this, ideally. But at my office, the capacity is at 50% and desks are pretty big, so if everyone’s seated they’re much more than 6 ft apart. So the rule is, you can take your mask off at your desk, but if you’re walking around or someone is coming to talk to you, put it on.

      1. Miss Bookworm*

        This is how it is at my office. We have fairly high high cubicals (for example I’m 5’3” and the top of the cubical hits about mid-forehead. Depending on how the desks are configured we have also added plexiglas on top to give extra height: my desk faces the back of another desk = no plexiglass because the person in that cube is facing away from me and the normal height of the cubical + distance between me and that person’s back should be enough. My cube and the person to my right, our desks face each other so we have extra plexiglass on top of it. I only take my mask off when I’m eating, drinking, or on the phone. The rest of the time I wear it.

    3. Generic Name*

      I would ask about your office’s mask policy. My office’s policy is that you must wear a mask at all times unless you are in an office by yourself (we all have offices shared with 2-3 people) with the door closed.

      1. PostalMixup*

        My company, you even have to wear a mask in a private office, because otherwise you fill it with aerosols that will expose anyone who comes in. The only time ANYONE is allowed to take off their mask is eating or drinking.

    4. MsClaw*

      Ask your new boss or whoever you’ve been interacting with in the hiring process. Some offices are masks all the time no matter what. Others have reduced capacity or shiftwork so people can be more than 6 feet apart and you don your mask when you get up to move out of your cubicle.

      Talking on the phone with a mask is really not that difficult. (I’ve been in the office this whole time). I notice people generally tend to speak much more loudly because they *think* they’re muffled but most masks are just not that thick. If you generally find talking with a mask on difficult, you might need to seek something with a different fit. Also…. no chin breakouts from the receiver pressing against your skin.

    5. Anon for this*

      Ask! Ask what their policies are.
      We still have a strict mask policy and I keep mine on 8 hours a day, talking on tje phone or in Zoom meetings is not an issue. Everyone is just a little more patient.

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

      If it’s something you are concerned about, you could ask about using a plastic face shield where a headset-microphone fits underneath the shield. In sports, like the NFL, this is an option that some of the coaching staff used. I know things are getting more relaxed as vaccination efforts are rolling out, but even a cloth mask doesn’t FULLY protect because eyes are an entry point for infection.

      1. Student Affairs Sally*

        Face shields don’t protect others from *your* aerosols, though, so it would still need to be paired with a mask.

      2. KAZ2Y5*

        Face shields only protect your eyes. They don’t stop you from either spreading Covid virus if you are sick, or breathing it in from someone else who is sick and near you.

    7. introverted af*

      This really depends on the office. My office, we have cubicles that don’t go all the way floor-to-ceiling and closed door offices. If you’re in your workspace, you can have your mask off but anything outside of that or with other people you have to put it on.

      My husband’s old office was relatively open office, with some dividers between desks, and they had to have them all the time.

    8. Amtelope*

      We are requiring that masks be worn in hallways or if you’re in close proximity to someone, but you can take your mask off at your desk in your cubicle (they’re pretty big cubes, so people are more than six feet apart even if they’re in adjoining cubes.)

    9. I'm just here for the cats*

      A family member works at a call center. She is able to WFH But there are those who don’t have internet or for other reasons chose to stay in office. They must wear the mask the entire time, except while eating and while on the phone. They have larger cubicals with high walls, so it’s almost like a mini office. When someone comes into the cubical they have to announce themselves (knock) and then both people where the masks.

      Even nicer headsets can still cause muffling on phone calls. I would check with your employer and find out what they suggest.

    10. calonkat*

      They make these cage like contraptions that go under a mask (usually called lipstick protectors and similar). They keep the fabric away from your mouth, which really helps a lot with enunciation.

    11. rear mech*

      Soft-spoken person who has been working a hotel front desk throughout the pandemic here. The answer is that you get used to talking on the phone with a mask after a little practice, and you will just get way, way better at enunciating clearly. Just channel your inner NPR or BBC radio announcer – speak just a *little* slower and more crisply than feels necessary.

      1. Jennifer @unchartedworlds*

        Indoors, I wouldn’t rely on 6-foot distancing as enough protection by itself. Outdoors in a breeze that’s reasonable, indoors it’s risky. The virus floats in the air like smoke, and indoors it can travel through the whole space. So a good mask will still reduce risk even when you’re 6 foot apart.

        Some short animations here:
        https://www.phc.ox.ac.uk/research/resources/aerosols-and-making-spaces-space
        (although I think with the present evidence on transmission from surfaces, it’s overkill to wash your hands every time you take off a mask.)

  9. JustTellMe*

    How do you deal with a boss that is indecisive and not confident in her own decisions? It drives the whole team crazy and makes meetings very tense as people get frustrated that she can’t just make a decision. Decisions take too long to make and when she finally does settle on something, she often second guesses it or otherwise doesn’t know how to confidently carry the decisions through.

    1. Gone Girl*

      Out of curiosity, is it a matter of her choosing between different options? (I.e. “should we go with option A or B?”) Or are they more open-ended decisions? (“What should we do?”)

      As much as I think a manager should be decisive regardless, I can see how more open-ended decisions may cause some hesitancy. If they’re more options, maybe backing them up with your reasoning will help her come to a decision faster (“I think option A is best because of XYZ”)

      (Unfortunately I had the opposite problem where it was Boss’s way or the highway, lol)

      1. JustTellMe*

        I’ve seen it with both kinds of decisions, closed and open ended. I respect that she wants to take our feedback into account, but when coworkers disagree on the best path that leads for a troubled decision making process as we need a leader to bring it all together and ultimately decide which way we will go.

        1. Joan Rivers*

          Sometimes taking a vote or going around the table and each commenting could help. Watching two debate the pros and cons might clarify because they can ask each other questions to clarify their reservations.
          Or not.

    2. LKW*

      Well you can’t necessarily change your boss, but you can give your boss enough information so that she understands the potential impact. When I find someone is struggling with a decision I rely on my handy decision matrix. I list the options, then lay out the benefits, risks (or pros/cons) and other considerations. You can think about time to implement (H/M/L if you have limited info) or overall costs (H/M/L if limited info).

      Usually people only have one or two really important criteria for making a decision. Is this within my budget? Am I taking on too much risk? Can I get this done in time? Will this cause an impact to other teams? If you can help clarify what her major criteria are, you can frame the options so she can make an informed decision. Quick example, if her motivation is cost – then she might lean to the lowest cost option. But if the lowest cost option will cause down stream costs or will need to be replaced faster because it can’t hold up to wear and tear better than the higher cost option – feed that in.

      1. JustTellMe*

        Thanks, I like the idea of solidifying her criteria and being more clear on the risks/benefits. Thank you!

      2. Chantel*

        “I rely on my handy decision matrix. I list the options, then lay out the benefits, risks (or pros/cons) and other considerations.”

        To me, this is what the boss should be doing.

        In my previous job, I had a boss who simply didn’t make decisions. Just constantly had to have his hand held about decisions he was supposed to make, and, rather than working out things and then asking the team for input, he’d start fresh with all of us and brainstorm, write down what we suggested, sign off on it, and hand if off to grandboss. It was so frustrating, and I finally stopped talking because it just wasn’t my job to do his job for him.

        It was a main reason I left and have never looked back.

        1. Dramamethis*

          I saw this in my last company and it was because the c suite head of the 2 depts she managed would not allow her managers or supervisors, including one who was a VP, any auton9to make decisions without her Express approval.

          And yup, that bottlenecks everything.

    3. Msnotmrs*

      A tactic that works a lot for children who struggle with decisiveness is giving them a really limited set of options to choose from–red shoes or blue shoes today? Then they have ownership over the decision, but don’t get overwhelmed by options. Could you do something like this? Or even present the options in a way that makes it APPEAR you’re doing this?

        1. Chantel*

          Oh, boy. *sigh* I’ve always wondered why people like this get themselves into leadership roles when they’re so clearly uncomfortable in them.

  10. New Hat Today*

    I am the newest member of a four person team (under a year). Three of us are managers, and we have no director, so we report to who would ordinarily be the grandboss. The team has been without a director for several years, and grandboss has referenced it “being hard” without a director, but there have been no indications that there are plans to fill that position.

    However… I also get the feeling that I am being groomed for that position. The three manager roles are disparate, and I am the only one who has familiarity with all three roles, as well as that of the administrative person on our team. Grandboss keeps tapping me to work on things that could belong to the others, or to review things that the others have done. I get the feeling I have an easier time working with grandboss than other members of my team.

    I would love to be the director one day. That’s my long term goal, and I would love to see that happen here. But I don’t know what, if anything, I can do with the feeling I have right now. And again, it’s just a feeling: nobody has said this role will be filled, and nobody has indicated to me that I might be considered. But is there anything I can do to make it more likely that, should it come up, I would be considered? I am worried about stepping on the toes of my colleagues. I do not think either of the other managers would want the director role, but I don’t want to bolster a hypothetical director application in the future by overstepping on their projects now (even though grandboss sometimes asks me to).

    Any advice or insight is appreciated!

    1. Reba*

      I think the main thing to do is talk about it! Get those “feelings” and suppositions and maybes out in the open!

      Do you have one on ones or periodic reviews with the Grandboss? At some time when it would make sense to talk about your progress and development, just name this. “Boss, you’ve said a few times that the lack of director is challenging for the department. Could we talk about if there are plans for that position? I know I haven’t been in my current role long, but I wanted to say that being in a director role is my long-term goal, and I’d love to be considered for that here if it becomes possible.” Then maybe you could talk about these stretch responsibilities and what it would take to get to the director level?

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yep, this. You can ask about learning/doing more in preparation to be eligible for consideration.

        “I am worried about stepping on the toes of my colleagues.”
        That’s kind of you. If you are a woman it will not serve you at all. I’d suggest a shift in focus based on merit. Focus on what you can do now to earn that position. I am not suggesting anything cutthroat rather I am suggesting an inward assessment of what skills and knowledge you will need to gather to do the director’s job well.

        1. New Hat Today*

          97% of my organization is women, and if I were the director, I’d be in charge of the people whose toes I am currently trying not to tread. As for skills and knowledge, I’m very confident there– the only skill I can’t get is direct supervision of others, but neither of my colleagues has that, either.

      2. New Hat Today*

        Thank you, Reba! I do have regular check-ins with Grandboss but I have a work anniversary coming up, so I will take that as an opportunity to schedule an evaluation conversation and mention that as part of the conversation. Grandboss appreciates transparency so I think they’d respond well to me stating I’d be interested in stretch responsibilities.

    2. Binky*

      Can you ask your grandboss for a meeting to discuss your career progression? You don’t have to ask for the promotion straight out, but you should definitely express your interest. And you can get a timeline, and indications of what areas you can work to improve on/gain experience in.

      1. New Hat Today*

        I was just talking to a colleague about the norms around performance reviews, and I’ve decided I’m going to ask for a review soon. I’m going to identify a few different career progression things and have that be one of them. Thank you!

    3. BRR*

      Ask if there are plans to fill the role and depending on the answer you can mention you’d be interested or float the idea of stepping into that role or if it’s possible adjust things to sort of oversee what you’re currently overseeing and what the director’s oversees.

      I can also tell you what not to do. Don’t only wait for them to approach you and don’t assume your colleagues aren’t interesting in the role. A lot of people won’t say no to more money even if they wouldn’t like the job otherwise.

      1. New Hat Today*

        I wasn’t so much thinking about waiting for them to approach me, but more waiting to see if the topic of adding the position comes up. Does that not seem wise?

        (As for my colleagues… One of them is not qualified for the position [not a judgment, they’d agree if asked]. The other one could probably make a compelling argument, and I’m 80% sure would not want the job, but you’re right, that’s not 100%.)

        1. BRR*

          I would casually ask what the plans are for filling the role. It sounds like there are a lot of natural opportunities to ask about it b

    4. VI Guy*

      You have been there only a year. You can be direct, but “I am enjoying this type of work, specifically . Can you recommend training or other ways in which I can improve so that I could do more in future?”

    5. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Talk to your boss about it. And stop viewing them as the grand-boss, they are the one you report to, they are your boss until a director is put into place to report to if that happens.

      Be aware that this may not be grooming for advancement, it may be them taking advantage of you and giving you more work just because they know you’re capable. If they’ve gone this long without a serious look into getting someone in that role, they are finding ways to continue to keep that cost out for a reason.

      So be up front that you want that role and if it’s possible that it’s going to be added. But again, be cautious because a lot of places are unscrupulous and will set you up to take on director functions while paying you a manager salary.

      1. New Hat Today*

        Thanks for your concern. I don’t actually view my boss as my grandboss, I just didn’t want to be too specific about what role that person has. I am not worried about being taken advantage of; I’ve been there, and this is very different. It’s the most supportive organization I’ve ever worked. But you’re right that it might not be setting me up for that position, so I will just have to talk to my boss. Thanks!

  11. SA*

    Tips for coming off like a well-balanced person when I’m waiting to get into therapy?

    I’m in a grad program, have access thru my school, and I’ve reached out –– but I’ve got a month or two before I’m able to get in / actually get help / maybe possibly see changes. I’m trying not to fall apart in literally every email I send but it’s tough not to come across as panicky and weird

    Suggestions are welcome!

    1. StressedButOkay*

      I’m not sure how good or actually useful they are, but I have been seeing a lot about therapy apps! Maybe take a look to if something is a good fit as a stop gab measure while you wait for the ‘real’ therapy to begin. Other than that, I also suggest Headspace and breathing apps.

      1. The Original K.*

        This is exactly what I’m doing. I’m on BetterHelp while I search for a local therapist, because I needed to speak to someone sooner than my search allows (therapists everywhere are swamped and I was getting a lot of responses from people not taking new patients, or just not hearing back from people at all). I’m using insurance so my options are more limited than they would be if I weren’t using it.

        Thankfully I have a virtual appointment with a local person next week, so we’ll see how that goes.

        1. Joan Rivers*

          How old-fashioned am I? I was going to suggest you read some books!
          But there are books on a variety of emotional / therapeutic topics. And they’re free at the library. Just because it’s not brand new doesn’t mean it won’t be helpful.
          Look at what you think your issue are that you’ll be talking w/a therapist about and browse the books.
          And, re: therapy, I discovered when I had a mediocre, always-late therapist that it was the PROCESS more than her “wisdom” that was key. So I learned to focus while waiting for her, to prioritize. That alone told me some things were less important in the grand scheme.
          Therapists don’t give you magic answers, they can be really helpful but it’s the work you put into it and the answers you decide are correct for you that count.

          1. Joan Rivers*

            Even an old, “simplistic” book like “What Color Is Your Parachute?” might help by triggering “Hey, we know THAT!” You can get inspiration from sources that aren’t brilliant, it can remind you that many of us have problems, some just have different ones.
            And a book about family dynamics or Adult Child of Alcoholics or other family of origin issues can be as helpful as a book about work.
            Asking those you respect what books they’ve found helpful might be illuminating too. Or email your future therapist and ask if they can recommend anything to read?

          2. UpwardSpiral*

            I’m starting to read “The Upward Spiral” while in a similar spot. Not far enough in to recommend, but a book to look into.

    2. Procrastinating at work*

      Take a few minutes between typing and sending the email. If you can walk away from your computer for 2 minutes to get a glass of water or just pace a few circles near your work space. This should help you calm down a little bit and allow you a chance to reread your email and see how it sounds the second time

    3. Tuckerman*

      That’s rough. You might check in with your advisor to see if there are options like semester leave of absence or a reduced credit load. You can be vague.

      1. Ashley*

        Or even if you can take a week or two off. Not having the normal breaks in the school calendar doesn’t not help one find balance. See if you can take some time to do what you need to recharge like curl in a ball on the couch and read favorite fun books or watch mindless movies.

      2. Thorisa*

        I used to work in a university mental health clinic (not as a therapist!), and I would advise against this – or at least ask the clinic if you would still be eligible for their services. Usually, students on official leave of absence are not eligible to use many school resources, and the clinic I worked in was only available to full-time students who paid a specific student services fee. If you do need to take a leave or reduced credit load, instead ask the school’s clinic if they can provide community referrals. They usually have well-kept lists of low-cost or sliding scale options nearby that might be able to get you in sooner.

        In the meantime, definitely take the advice to step away from emails if you get overwhelmed. I find it helpful to handwrite notes about what I want to say before actually putting it into an email. Once I get all my anxious thoughts out on paper, I can pick out what I actually want to say and arrange it in a logical way. Good luck! Grad school is hard and stressful, and you are definitely not alone.

        1. Tuckerman*

          It’s tricky. I’m an academic advisor and while it’s important to have access to mental health resources, I’ve seen students fail out of their program and I wish they had taken a medical leave. At our University, students enrolled in the student health plan stay enrolled for the full enrollment period, so even though they lose access to the student health center, they still have coverage and assistance finding local counselors.

    4. OneTwoThree*

      -This is a season. You are in a season of “panicky and weird” right now. You are seeking out therapy and are on your way into a new season. I find comfort in knowing good change is coming.

      -Remember, the tone is hard in emails. You may read something with a tone the person did or didn’t mean when they wrote the email. Also, even if you are panicky in your tone in your head, it might not come off to others that way. Assume the best case senario.

      -There are worksheets online about working through what you think you know to what you believe is true. You might search terms like CBT Anxiety Worksheet and find one that works for you.

    5. Reba*

      There is an old Captain Awkward post called “How to tighten up your game at work when you’re depressed.” Are you familiar with that one?

      1. Keymaster of Gozer*

        That post was absolutely brilliant for me. I struggle a lot with severe depression (and a few other mental issues) and have to stop my staff finding out 99% of the time.

        1. Reba*

          Yeah, it’s so good because it’s just “lock down these few, key, actionable details” and then your public face will be set. You can deal with the emotional stuff outside of that, but you’ve got a professional armor in place.

      2. RagingADHD*

        That post is great advice for anything that might take your executive function or general coping ability down a notch – depression, anxiety, EF issues, exhaustion, illness, overwhelm/burnout, long-term situations that might cause distraction or high stress (even if it’s good stuff), you name it.

    6. Binky*

      For the email part, write what you need, then take a step away. After a bit, come back and see how much stuff you can strip out. Are there unnecessary apologies/explanations/self-deprecation? Shorten your emails as much as possible (without excluding basic hi/bye etiquette) and you’ll probably reduce any weirdness.

      Best of luck with the therapy.

      1. MissCoco*

        This is great advice. Even with my anxiety very well controlled my email default is still apologetic and wordy
        Taking out exclamation marks goes a long way as well.

        I’ll also add grounding and breathing exercises are key for me when I’m writing and editing an email that’s pushing my nerves

    7. Elliot*

      I’m sorry you’re struggling! I hope therapy is helpful!
      I very frequently wait 15 minutes – an hour before typing an email and sending it. I’ll stand up, stretch, have some water, and then edit and hit send :)

    8. RagingADHD*

      I often ask myself , “How can the reader use this comment or information? What can they do with this info on a practical level?”

      It helps me find the right boundary of what to share with whom. My nearest and dearest can respond to my feelings by giving me a hug. My supervisor really can’t. Conversely, my supervisor can adjust my deadline on a project, and my loved ones can’t.

    9. Not So NewReader*

      Panic and fear say, “I am alone! There’s no help insight!”

      Balance says, “Help is coming. It’s choppy right now, but there’s a plan and help is coming.”

      I have mentioned a few times that I am a fan of extreme examples because it really makes stuff obvious. A friend did a tour of duty in Vietnam. He said he was taught to tell the wounded, “Help is coming” even if he could not see any help coming. The reason for this is because injured people can be calmer and more cooperative if they believe others are coming to help also. It’s that sense of being alone or being without the right resources that can really push our buttons.

      This rule of thumb is good for day-to-day situations, not just times of violent warfare. Constantly remind yourself that you have a plan and help IS indeed coming.

    10. ScreamingAtTheAbyss*

      There’s no one good answer but:
      – Write your emails but don’t send them. Instead take a break to meditate, breathe, do some meditative like chores (folding laundry, doing dishes, repetitive work type things). Something that’ll distract you from that panicky state. Come back and tweak anything that is coming off as hyper stressed. The emails can wake 10-20 mins for you to send them.

      – It sounds cliché but start “journaling”. I mean this in the sense of a feelings dump. Even if it’s as simple as “I am so gosh darn panicky right now and everything is going wrong and I’m going to get fired and the world sucks.” Getting those feelings down somewhere open up some space in your chest once you have it off. Alternatively, you can do this aloud to some random inanimate object if you hate writing.

      – Set aside time in a regular cadence to pull yourself out of the world and focus on nothing. I’m talking every couple hours take 15 mins to yourself. Go for a walk, stare at the popcorn ceiling and find patterns in it, breathe in the smell of the wind. Something that’s removing you from the chaos of the world and reducing it down to appreciation of what you can pull in through your senses.

      – Self care. Watch videos that make you happy – I like John Oliver’s Salmon video as a quick pick me up. Listen to music. Read something exciting. Curl up under a pile of blankets with a favorite drink. Sit in a hammock. Find a neighbor with a pet to say hi to as they’re out on a walk.

      You can get through this. It sucks, and your work isn’t going to be perfect, but find a routine to just maintain yourself until you can get there.

      Most of all: Be kind to yourself. Just like you would be if you were going into work every day with the flu.

      Take care, I am hoping good things come your way soon.

    11. Esmeralda*

      If you can afford it, my college age son used BetterHelp while waiting to get in to see a school therapist (I believe it was about $300 for a month — your insurance may cover it, if you have insurance. I think they do discounts if you have financial need). He called and set up the account on a Friday, had a telehealth the following Tuesday. Really needed someone sooner, but that was the fastest turnaround we could find.

      As for the emails: don’t send anything immediately. Write your response, let it sit for at least an hour or two. Or longer if possible. I myself will do this when I’m feeling pissy or stabby — remove the recipient’s email address tho so you don’t accidentally send it. Remember to keep things shorter, no need to go into long explanations or detailed apologies, use bullets (I find bullets make me stick to actual points). Have some templates or standard text that you can rely on to be bland and professional and even-toned. If you have someone on Team You who is good at this sort of thing, have them help you set it up and/or look through your drafts. You may be doing better than you think!

      Good luck — be kind to and patient with yourself!

      1. Lizzie*

        I often put ‘Santa’ in the address line before composing my emails, so if I do get distracted or whatever and accidentally press send, it won’t go anywhere.
        Of course, if it did magically go to Santa, I am sure he and Mrs Santa and the elves would be sympathetic and might even send a consoling little gift to a frazzled email writer.

  12. Fluffernutter*

    Any tips for internal interviews? My parent company owns a bunch of locations. I have an interview coming up for a job I applied for at another company owned by them. We’re pretty much completely separate except that I am considered an internal applicant since our parent is the same. Should I just prepare as I would for external positions?

    1. Pickled Limes*

      My biggest tip for internal interviews is don’t assume the people interviewing you know anything about you or your past performance. Say everything you would say to an interviewer who’s never heard of you. If you assume “everybody in the company knows I got the X award” and don’t mention it in the interview, then it’s possible your interviewer won’t know an important thing about you that could sway their decision.

    2. LimeRoos*

      Yeah, prep the same as for an external interview. I did the same thing in my last two jobs – job 1 was working for one healthcare non-profit that recently expanded their footprint by purchasing other local healthcare systems. When I wanted to leave, I was able to see all the internal postings for each of the other systems and when I wasn’t able to get interviewed for anything within job 1’s system, I started applying to the other ones. It worked out well, I prepped for the interview like it was external, but I think knowing that I had already been vetted with main company did help my chances.

    3. Smithy*

      I agree about largely treating this like an external interview, but I also think it helps to have a few transition phrases in mind if there are systems or structures that they probably know. If you’re trying to talk about work that might connects to the parent company, using phrases like “As you may be familiar with Parent Company HR Platform, I XYZed…” I’ve found it’s a good way to call out some common ground, and if it so happens that this company or this person isn’t familiar – it’s a moment for the interviewer to ask for more detail.

      I find that phrases like this help identify areas that your interview has a lot of common ground with, but also a way to save face for someone who’s not. If the interviewer uses the Parent Company HR Platform once a year, it can be a way to ask for more detail as the interviewer. It can help you tease out if there are any shared moments, and if there aren’t – it’s not overly familiar or presumptuous.

  13. BadWolf*

    Just things that are awkward. I have to take some time off soon to help out my mother after surgery. My new-ish (to me) manager often uses “mommy” when talking about how she’s doing and my upcoming time off. I’m in the US and where I live, usually only children use “mommy” versus mom or mother so it feels really weird when he says it. He says it in context of supporting my time away, so I’m not generally complaining. I just hope none of my coworkers think that I’m also calling my mom, mommy, at work (if he’s saying “BadWolf will be helping her mommy next month so we won’t be putting her on the Llama project until later” to my coworkers).

    1. Ya Girl*

      Yikes! Is this the sort of thing he does often? If so, I’m sure your coworkers will know this is a him-thing. Otherwise, just call her your mom or mother with your coworkers and I’m sure they’ll figure it out pretty quickly.

      1. Fran Fine (formerly Diahann Carroll)*

        Right. That is a very weird (and infantilizing) tick your boss has, BadWolf. I’ve never called my mom “mommy,” even when I was a kid, so it would be weird as hell if a stranger referred to my mother that way.

    2. JustTellMe*

      Jeez that is awkward. I would probably try to sneakily address it by responding and slightly emphasizing “Mom” when I say it. “How’s your mommy doing?” – ” Thanks for asking, my *Mom* is doing well.” And just trying to repeat Mom more than I usually would to see if he picks up on it. Or you might even go more formal just to draw more attention to it and say “My Mother is doing well.” And just continue to use the word “Mother” in work communications about her.

    3. TWW*

      For purposes of leave requests, everyone in my personal life is a “family member.” If I have to be more specific for FMLA reasons, my mom (whom I call Mummy BTW) is my “parent.”

    4. Not So NewReader*

      If you can pull it off, you can softly chuckle and say, “Oh my! I have never called my mother “mommy” and each time you say that I have to remind myself not to laugh.”
      Alternatively, “I stopped calling her “mommy” once I hit kindergarten.”

      Yeah, it’s weird but so far it seems pretty benign, or is there something else running concurrently?

    5. I'm just here for the cats*

      I’m wondering if he calls his own mother Mommy? Is he trying to be funny or is this some sort of underhanded way to undermine you. If anything I would bring it up with your co workers. if you’re all having a conversation and boss isn’t around ask, I’ve noticed that Boss keeps saying Mommy instead of parent or mother when referencing my upcoming time off. Has he said similar things with you?

  14. Crystal Waters*

    I saw a post on here a few weeks ago, and it got me thinking about my own situation.
    I’m graduating college next month, and will be job searching soon. I have a non-binary gender, I use they/them most of the time, but I also use (and prefer) neo-pronouns in close circles. (Sea/seas/seaself) I don’t really expect many people who I’m not close with to use these, it’s too much of a pain to inform everyone, and many people don’t take my gender seriously. I would love to come out once I start working full-time, but I’m wondering if it’s realistic to expect companies to be progressive enough to use my pronouns, or if we as a society just aren’t there yet.

    For reference, I majored in finance, and will probably be working in a professional office environment, I can’t really imagine feeling comfortable coming out in an office, but maybe it will be fine, who knows?

    1. Web Crawler*

      My gut says that the finance industry as a whole isn’t quite there yet for neopronouns. But once you get a job, you can get a feel for whether your specific workplace or team might be open to it. (I’m basing this off of my own experience where I’ve seen two people total using they/them in my large company, and no neopronouns, even within the LGBT resource group.)

      1. Joan Rivers*

        “I don’t really expect many people who I’m not close with to use these, it’s too much of a pain to inform everyone, and many people don’t take my gender seriously” —
        Not trying to nitpick, but if you say “it’s too much of a pain” for YOU then you have to expect that the rest of the world may see it that way too.
        The more you show self-respect the more others will respect you too. But it’s not easy to do this, I’m sure. But industries are made up of people and they vary. Good luck.

      2. Haven’t picked a user name yet*

        I work for a top North American bank and it is completely normal to see pronouns in signatures. It is a very inclusive environment. Inclusivity is something you can screen for in interviews without self disclosing. Finance is a very broad industry, and I have worked in public accounting, private companies and now a large bank and there are firms across finance, including the big four that are progressive and inclusive. It might take a bit of screening but they are out there.

    2. Keymaster of Gozer*

      It depends a lot on geographical area too, I’ve noticed. There’s some firms I’ve worked at in London that’ll be okay with neopronouns (long as they have a pronounciation guide) – but the places outside a major city are definitely not. They’ll accept ‘they/them’ but sadly not anything else.

      Best advice I can give is to get a ‘feel’ for the general office culture/see if there are other non binary staff and what they use before coming out. I believe we’ve got a way to go with neopronoun acceptance I’m afraid :(

      ‘They/them’ is accepted is our office and I work in a highly conservative industry (IT in the heavy engineering sector) though. Definitely best of luck mate!

    3. MMMMMmmmmMMM*

      I hate to say it, but unless you’re in a very progressive city, neo-pronouns will be think it is weird in the finance sector. I think, unless you’re somewhere very, very conservative, the they/them should be okay. But! It all depends on the workplace. Get a feel for it in the interviews, maybe?

    4. RabbitRabbit*

      It definitely depends. I work in a large hospital in a large US city, and one of the new lab techs was introduced at a departmental meeting as being non-binary and using they/them pronouns (in-person meeting pre-pandemic). I’m unsure how good their direct coworkers are at using the correct pronouns as I don’t work in that division, but I’ve been seeing even cis- people (mainly women) listing their pronouns in their email signatures – which I think is helpful to avoid ambiguity as well as support normalizing declaring your pronouns.

      1. RabbitRabbit*

        Forgot to add – neopronouns will probably be a stretch except (or even in) the most progressive workplaces.

        1. Dwight Schrute*

          They said they’re listing the pronouns in their email signature, so I’d assume that’s how RabbitRabbit knows people are cis

          1. ecnaseener*

            …how does that tell you a person is cis? “She/her” doesn’t mean I’m cis or trans, unless I write “she/her (which is new for me)” or “she/her (as I’ve been all my life)”

        2. OhNo*

          Maybe I’m reading too much into it, but your comment reads like you might be trying for a “gotcha” here. I gotta say, though, it’s really not that weird to glean such info from conversation, especially if you’re in a workplace where talking about gender is welcomed. Sometimes people outright identify themselves as cis, sometimes they make comments about what they have/haven’t had to deal with that casually outs them as cis, and sometimes you can get a pretty good feel from the questions they ask or the way the approach the topic whether or not they are trans.

          Is it still based on assumption sometimes? Sure. And there are definitely stealth trans folk who have perfected the art of coming across as cis. But as someone who is trans and has had to watch their language a lot to try not to out myself as such, you’d be surprised how many hints there are in perfectly normal conversation that can give you a sense of someone’s gender journey, if you’re looking for them.

          1. ecnaseener*

            Wasn’t trying for a “gotcha” (and I hoped the “just wondering” softened it enough) but yes my hope was to gently point out to Rabbit and anyone else reading that *if* the statement was based on an assumption that you can reliably tell who’s trans by looking at them or chatting with them in a workplace environment, that’s incorrect and it’s worth reevaluating those types of assumptions.

            1. OhNo*

              Ah, understood! I’ve been on the receiving end of those “did you just assume my gender??” non-jokes from transphobic people often enough that I worried you might be going for that sort of vibe. Obviously not the case here, so thank you for clarifying!

              I agree, though, that it’s important to point out that there are often assumptions that go into how we identify others’ gender. It’s also worth remembering that we are usually basing that assumption on something, and it can be helpful to pick that apart (if for no other reason, then to make sure we’re not leaning on stereotype or bias to make that call).

    5. ....*

      My honest answer is that people will not respect or respond positively to the Neo pronouns. Not saying that’s right just how it is. Especially in finance. Also not sure where you are in the US but that comes into play too. Sorry. I would stick with they/then at least at first.

    6. Jules the 3rd*

      I agree, society is not all the way there with you yet.

      I am working hard to keep up with changes, and work for a fairly progressive (Fortune 100 tech) company. I have heard of nepronouns, but have only seen ‘xe/xem/xir, ze/hir/hirs’ in use, and ‘Sea/seas/seaself’ is totally new to me (though wow, the ‘Pronoun Provider’ tumbler looks pretty thorough, must dig more…). My employer encourages people to put their pronouns on their Slack / email sigs, and I assume that people who do understand at least the basics of neopronouns. In the US, we have about 30% posting pronouns. Among managers, it’s higher, about 40%.

      My impression is that ‘they’ or ‘xe / ze’ would fly with only occasional questions in my company, but that people would always ask about any of the other neopronouns. You run the risk of being known as ‘the person with the neopronouns’ in either case, so definitely check out the office culture.

    7. Theo*

      From one nonbinary person to another — I’d stick to they/them at work. The level of acceptance of that is a lot higher in office environments! It does depend, though, if you’re sort of willing to be the sacrificial nonbinary guinea pig; do you want to break them in for neopronouns? Do you want to have the same kind of conversations over and over, potentially dealing with judgmental BS from coworkers? Do you to hold sea/seas as a good, affirming thing for a small group, or are you willing to potentially take nonsense in order to be fully seen? The great thing about the latter is that you might be setting up a better environment for the people who come after you! But it might be at the expense of your own exhaustion. There’s nothing wrong with just wanting to go to work and not give them access to the deeper levels of yourself; if they/them is comfortable, you might consider using that professionally (the same way someone might be Molly with friends and family but use Margaret at work). But there is ALSO nothing wrong with insisting on the most accurate words for you! You just have to internalize that it might be a long road, especially since the familiarity with sea/seas is going to be even lower than, say, Spivak.

      If it *is* really important to you to use sea/seas, and it will really wear on you to not, another option is to look for positions with queer and trans focused organizations! They could often use a really good financial brain :D

      1. nonbinary writer*

        This last point is a really great one! There are lots of lgbtq orgs and nonprofits who certainly need good financial stewardship, and that could be a great place to look for jobs where you could truly be your whole self.

        I’m hoping the world gets there with neopronouns! I use two sets of pronouns (they/he) but even at my progressive workplace I’m hesitant to how folks will react to that/implement that, so I stick with they/them. Fingers crossed 10 years from now they world will be more open to the multitude of pronoun options.

      2. GS*

        Yes, another nonbinary person here to say– will it feel worse not to try, or worse to try and be (ignored/put down). This differs between people, for me it would be harder to have someone gender me incorrectly after I’d asked them to, because it feels like deliberate disrespect, whereas if I don’t tell them I can keep believing the best of them.

        Other folks will feel just the opposite, that not speaking up for themselves chafes even if the outcome isn’t great.

      3. Cj*

        I think I could pretty easily get used to using they/them for non-binary person, as they are well known pronouns, and are used in the singular when you don’t know the gender of the person.

        I know you should refer to people like they want you to, but if there are a lot of people that start using different neopronouns, not just a standard set of the like ze/hir/hirs, I’m going to have trouble remembering who uses what. I’ve never heard of “seas” before.

        1. Quandong*

          There are plenty of ways to keep track of what pronouns to use for people, CJ. I’m sure there will be many unfamiliar neopronouns coming your way in future, and of course you would not like to cause distress to people you work with, or clients, or friends. I hope you can come up with a few cool memory aids that suit you for this purpose.

            1. Cj*

              No apologies necessary! It was actually just my computer automatically switching to lower case for the second letter, and I never bothered to change it!

          1. Cj*

            I’m just not sure why there needs to be many neopronouns in the first place. I understand that language changes, and can see where non-binary people would want their own set of pronouns instead of just using “they”.

            We have “he” for men and “she” for women, not numerous sets of pronouns for each. I wish there could be agreement on one set for non-binary persons. Or do each of these neopronouns indicate where on the non-binary spectrum a person is?

            I would use whatever pronouns a person requested, because that is the right thing to do. (Although I’d have a little trouble calling a person “it” like the kid wanted in a recent Dear Prudence podcast on Slate.) I’m kind of confused why there are so many different ones. I’m not saying it’s wrong, just confusing to me.

            1. Cj*

              I wanted to add that this is all pretty new stuff to me (considering how old I am) and I live in an area where if you are non-binary, you don’t announce it. I don’t know any (out) trans people, and do not know anybody who uses pronouns other than he and she. But I’m trying!

            2. Director of Alpaca Exams*

              The nuances of neopronoun choice are best understood like the nuances of shirt choice. Some people like button-downs, some like blouses, some like t-shirts, some like tunics, some like sweaters… what you put on is an expression of who you are that feels right to you, is all. There’s a variety because people are varied.

              There’s no code to it—I mean, you might be able to guess a bit about someone because they use zie/hir or fae/faer, just like you could guess a bit about someone because they wear Renaissance garb or French-cuff shirts, but your guess might be wrong, and you’ll learn much more from actually talking to the person.

              1. Calliope*

                Yeah but other people don’t have to remember what shirt each of the people they occasionally interact with is wearing and use it without a reminder each time.

                1. Director of Alpaca Exams*

                  That wasn’t the topic under discussion, and it’s a bit rude to go out of your way to mention how inconvenient nonbinary pronouns are in a thread where a nonbinary person was asking for advice and support.

              2. Kt*

                I think this is an interesting analogy because we have many workplaces with strict dress codes, where the response to “well I like (x shirt)” is “wear it on the weekend”. And Theo a few posts above says, “There’s nothing wrong with just wanting to go to work and not give them access to the deeper levels of yourself.”

                It reminds me of many other conversations about bringing one’s authentic self to work. We seem to toggle back and forth between “work is for money and you need to be pleasant, rather than authentic” and “work is a part of life, and you should be allowed to be your full self”. From clothes to hairstyles to swearing to gender presentation (both questions of binarity and older questions of “can women present a court case in pants rather than a skirt and hose”).

                As I’ve aged I’ve gone different directions on parts of these questions. I’m far more conformist in some ways (not worth the bother) and far less conformist in other ways (no f*(&s left, not willing to compromise). It will be interesting to see how this all shakes out.

        2. allathian*

          Yup, same here. I try to respect each person for who and what they are, but anyone who wants to use pronouns other than she/he/they will probably be labeled as difficult in my head, at least until I get to know them. I’ll try to use the pronouns people consider to be the correct ones for them, but if it’s something other than the three standard alternatives, I’m probably going to think less of them (you know Lee, the one with the weird pronouns), because remembering the pronouns is just going to be more effort than I’m willing to make for a casual acquaintance, which is how I think of most of my coworkers outside my team that I don’t interact with daily or even weekly. I’m also not willing to be an ally to the point that I’d want to start explaining the pronouns of someone else to people who are even less aware about these things than I am, especially if it was likely to come up often.

          To be fair, I’ve never worked with anyone who is out as trans or who I couldn’t instantly categorize in my head as either male or female passing, so it’s entirely possible that if I found myself working with someone with unusual pronoun preferences, I’d just do it without thinking because I’d have a personal relationship with that person. That said, my attitude is probably somewhat influenced by my main working language, Finnish, because it doesn’t have gendered pronouns, so misgendering someone is unlikely to come up. My second working language is Swedish, which has the gendered pronouns han/hon and the gender-neutral hen, which is used like they in English both when you don’t know the gender of a person and to describe a non-binary person. I haven’t met anyone who uses hen/hens as their pronouns yet, but I doubt I’d have any trouble getting used to that.

    8. meyer lemon*

      You may be able to feel out your particular office environment a bit more once you’re in it. You might end up with a similar situation to your non-work life, where there is a small group of trusted coworkers who you can ask to use neo-pronouns, but for clients and whatnot, it may not really work.

    9. Firecat*

      I recommend TD Bank as a great place to work in finance. They were totally fine with women on full suits and ties 10 years ago so I imagine they are accommodating gender fluidity well today.

      1. Maggie*

        There’s a pretty big area between being OK with women wearing suits and referring to someone by the pronouns sea/seas/seaself

    10. endlessscroller*

      Unfortunately, I really can’t see the finance sector (at least in my city, NYC) being particularly supportive of neo-pronouns at this point. Maybe I’m wrong, but as someone who is also graduating college next month and who goes to a school where about half of people are going into finance careers at very prominent financial institutions, the industry is slow to adapt, even tho NYC is generally pretty accepting.

    11. BB*

      Nonbinary here, also with two sets of pronouns (they/them and ze/zir/zirs) in a fairly progressive city and profession (education). Don’t use the neopronouns at work – just getting people to use they/them will be a daily issue. Just speaking from my own experience, having different professional and personal pronouns could also serve as good mental “boundaries” between your professional and personal life.

    12. Loredena*

      You might have to do a little teaching if you opt for neo-pronouns, so I suppose think about whether or not you are comfortable with that. (For context, I am a cis woman who has been putting my she/her pronouns in my sig to normalize that, but had never heard of neo-prononouns until your letter. I think it’s a stretch to expect most to recognize that even if comfortable with using they/them)

    13. TheFrenchImpaler*

      I unfortunately don’t have much advise, but I had never heard of neopronouns before, and I wanted to thank you for teaching me something today! I had heard of non-binary pronouns, but the term itself was new, and I had no idea there were so many.

      I consider myself fairly progressive, but evidently I need to read less nineteenth-century literature and get out of the house more (safely/virtually, of course!)

    14. Director of Alpaca Exams*

      Many offices are pretty comfortable with they/them pronouns. Your best bets are very large companies that see DEI as part of corporate culture and very small companies with a queer/trans focus. I’ve had pretty good luck getting people to use they/them in both of those settings over the past ten years.

      Neopronouns are a harder sell, unfortunately. Maybe once the New York Times writes about them, it’ll be easier. I feel like the first NYT article on singular they marked a major shift in people being willing to accept and use it. Hang in there—the culture will catch up!

      As for how to find a company where they’ll be accepted, one option is to put them on your resume and LinkedIn, sign your cover letters “Sincerely, Crystal Waters (they/them)”, and otherwise be up front about it. Places staffed by bigots won’t interview you—problem solved. Another option is to ask in interviews about companies’ DEI efforts or whether there’s an LGBTQ ERG, which are perfectly ordinary things to inquire about. And look on Glassdoor for info on the corporate environment and how trans-friendly it is or isn’t.

  15. Thoreauvian*

    I have a skill that isn’t common. I work as a freelancer in this skill (though not exclusively, because jobs are few and far between). When I do these jobs, I’m paid well. I mean, very well. I mean, if I had regular jobs using this skill, not only would I be able to rely just on that income, but I’d be making a LOT of money to save.

    I got an email a few months ago, from someone at a company I contacted in the past. I offered my skill to this company, and got the usual lukewarm response. This employee, though, sounded very interested in my skill. The person asked me if I’m still in [my location], and if I’m not, would I be willing to relocate? This all sounded very good to me. Then came the killer question:

    How much would I charge per hour?

    I thought about it. I thought about the rate offered by another client. I thought about jobs I’ve done in the past. One job paid me by the unit rather than by the hour. And they paid a lot.

    So after thinking about it, I replied that I would charge [very large sum indeed] per hour.

    I haven’t heard anything from the person since then.

    Did I ask for far too much? Should I email the person again and pretend that I wrote the wrong amount by accident, and reduce the price per hour to one-tenth of what I asked? [Even one-tenth of the amount is still far above the minimum wage here, but the cost of living is far too high to survive on minimum wage.]

    What is to be done?

    1. Fabulous*

      I would probably reply explaining how you’re normally paid (stipend, unit, or whatnot) and explain how you came to the number you did, but that you’d be open to negotiating if they had something different in mind.

    2. StudentA*

      I don’t understand why you would email and pretend you wrote the wrong amount. You wrote that amount because you knew that’s what you are worth. There is nothing wrong with that.

      If anything, just email after some time and “check in” like you would with any other contact. Be confident in your proposal. You’re good at what you do, aren’t you? OK, then. No backpedaling!

      1. AndersonDarling*

        Yeah, you have to be confident in what you asked for. If you go back now and pretend it was a “mistake” or “joke” will look really poorly.
        I absolutely get it though! I feel crazy asking for consulting fees because they seem really inflated compared to regular employee rates, but people who use consultants know how it works. I assure you that you didn’t shock them or offend them, unless they thought they were going to get you cheap. And in that case, you prop don’t want to work with someone who wants a cheap deal.

    3. Weekend Please*

      I wouldn’t say you asked for too much if that is the going rate. But I do think it sounds like you are far outside their budget. I think that the chances of getting this client are slim. The company was not that excited about your services and this one employee probably won’t change their mind, especially since you are expensive. It has been a few months so they have likely taken the project in a different direction now. You could reach out and ask if they are still interested and let them know your rate is negotiable and that you are also open to charging by unit instead of by hour. But I have inquired about services in the past that ended up being more expensive than I thought and I just found another way to get the end result I needed.

      I don’t think you want to suddenly slash your rate by such a large amount for one potential client. If it got around your other clients may start feeling like they are being over charged. Depending on what you do, you may be able to come up with a “budget version” that is faster and less in depth that you could reasonably charge less for. In that case, you could contact them again and let them know about your new offering which may fit their needs.

    4. RagingADHD*

      I wouldn’t reduce your price radically, but if you do a follow up, you could include more information about deriving that number: the going rate for working per job vs. per hour, how many hours an average job takes, and what’s included. Then you can offer to discuss their needs, and see if there’s a way you can maximize their value by including different options or giving a discount for a guaranteed minimum number of hours, that kind of thing.

      There are always lookie-loos when you’re freelancing. People often have no idea what things cost, and you’ll always encounter people with champagne tastes and a beer pocket book who just can’t afford you. It’s part of the business.

      For the long term, you might come up with a range of packages or services that would let you bring people in at a lower price point. Like, if you did pressure washing you could have a set fee for doing just the driveway and front steps, or just the deck. But for the whole house it would be hourly.

    5. TWW*

      If you’re willing to come down to one-tenth of your initial quoted rate, it sounds like you highballed them by *a lot*. I don’t blame them for not responding.

      If someone contacted me for tech writing services, and I said my rate was $200/hour, I’m telling them either, “I don’t want to work for you,” or “I think you’re a sucker.”

      1. Technical Writer*

        …Does this mean you bill your tech writing at $20 an hour? That’s really low.

        1. TWW*

          I don’t do freelance right now, but if I did I would bill $50/hr for the type of work I do.

          I chose the numbers above trying to guess a what OP’s amounts where. $200 would be too high for most writers (unless very specialized), and $20 would be not much above minimum wage.

          If I were hiring a writer, and they quoted either $200 or $20, I would immediately conclude that they weren’t they type of writer I needed.

    6. Yellow Warbler*

      From one freelancer to another:

      If they instantly agree, you didn’t ask for enough money.
      If they take time to think about it and then agree, they will probably be a good client who values your work.
      If they don’t agree, you would have hated working for them. Price nitpickers are never happy.

      DO NOT go groveling back and change your rate, or reply again to ramble an explanation. Stay silent. Be firm and confident in your actions, even if you’re sweating behind the scenes. Wait them out.

      1. Filosofickle*

        +1

        It can be hard to build up a sense of confidence in pricing, especially high pricing. 18 years of freelancing and I still flinch when I give people a number! But this is what my value/skill costs. Most people won’t hire me because of it, and that’s ok. In the future, though, it can be better to provide a range. I typically work on project fees (not hourly rates) and prefer not to give specific numbers until I know what the actual work entails.

        1. ilikecoffee*

          I find this so interesting and don’t have experience freelancing. Why do you charge by the project and not the hour? I thought that there was a risk of clients always wanting additional work and that hourly rates could encourage clients to say “good enough” vs a project fee that they feel comfortable always asking for more? Just curious!

          1. Filosofickle*

            Sure. I do it for a few reasons.

            The primary one is simply a philosophy. Pricing by the hour devalues what I do. I mostly work on high level, strategic projects that cost tens of thousands at least. My work is not about time. It’s about the thinking and the output. Whether it takes me an hour or a hundred hours, the value to them is the same.

            The second is that I find negotiations about money very stressful. We do it once upfront, then drop time and dollars from our conversations so we can focus on what matters. I never have to justify how long something did or didn’t take.

            Third, I can charge more. Think of it this way — when you hire a home contractor, aren’t you always a little afraid they’re going to nickel and dime you? That they’ll lowball the estimate and then give you a surprise bill? I learned early on (when I was a graphic designer) that I could charge more upfront as long as they had peace of mind that I wouldn’t blow up their budget.

            A few things, though. You HAVE to charge high for this to average out. Sometimes you’ll be under and some over but you absolutely have to come out ahead a good part of the time or this doesn’t work. Even more critical, you have to set clearly defined limits on the project scope — X number of revisions, X number of weeks/months, X deliverables — with the ability to charge more if things expand or go sideways.

            There are definitely exceptions, for either bigger or smaller work. I’m doing some work for a client right now and he wants me to write his website. Copywriting is fiddly and has lots of moving parts, not something I’m going to commit to a project fee. I think we’ll end up structuring it as a bundle of hours for the basics + hourly beyond that. I also run into really big projects that are almost impossible to envision in advance and I have a few options there. My favorite is to only commit to a small project upfront to get started and learn what’s needed, and at the end we’ll scope the rest.

    7. BRR*

      “Did I ask for far too much?” We can’t say. Honestly, I’m pretty confused why you’re not sure what to charge; especially since it sounds like you’re reaching out to these companies. If I’m understanding the timeline, you replied to them a few months ago. To be frank, if someone reached out to me months after their last email and offered me the same service at 10% of what they originally offered I would be very wary. That’s an astronomical discount. I would think something is wrong with the work product or wouldn’t trust the person’s judgement.

      You could possibly email again and offer like 5% or 10% lower. But I’d probably forget about this company though and focus on future opportunities.

    8. Thoreauvian*

      Having read your replies (thanks!) here are some answers.

      This potential client is a multinational company with lots of clients of its own. As far as I know, the client itself does not need this particular skill of mine for its own purposes. Its clients, however, do. So it’s not a case of this one client wanting my skill; it’s a case of their clients wanting/needing it.

      One client paid me a damned good amount per unit right from the start. I did a fair amount of work for them, and then the worked tapered off. A few years later, someone from the company contacted me to ask how much I charged per unit. I gave a price that was double what they had paid before. They agreed, and I did more work for them. The original rate per unit that they gave me was more than five times the minimum hourly wage here (gross wage, not net). So yes, people are willing to pay well – and it was their suggestion, not mine, as to how much I would be paid per unit.

      And to Weekend Please – they didn’t contact me for a single project. They wanted to know my rates in order to enter the information in the system. They also wanted to make sure I’m still available as a freelancer (always a bonus, because then they don’t have to hire me as a regular employee and pay taxes and such). It isn’t that they weren’t enthusiastic about me to begin with; they just didn’t have clients who were looking for that particular skill. It’s highly unlikely that word would get around about my rates – generally, people looking for this skill already have a budget that is set, and they ask me if I’m willing to do Project X for Rate Y.

      Raging ADHD – I’m going to have to steal your “champagne tastes and a beer pocket book” comment. That’s great!

      TWW, the rate I gave them per hour is less than I have earned from another client by doing work per unit. I just looked up the rates per hour generally charged for this skill, and it was lower than I thought – but when I went to a website where people with this skill sign up to look for work, the rates there were MUCH more than I had stated to this potential client. So it’s not something that is easy to gauge.

      One thing I did do, after reading the initial comments, was to email this employee (who appears to be in a high management position) and offer to send samples of the work I do.

      1. TWW*

        Translating between an hourly rate and a per unit rate can be tricky.

        My hourly rate is $50, but if I had to quote a flat price for a document that I expected to take a week, I would in some cases charge more than $2000

      2. boo bot*

        If they asked your rate to put it into their system, they might have just entered you into the system and moved on, not realizing you were waiting for a response; they’re probably figuring they will reach out again when they do have something to hire you for.

    9. Not So NewReader*

      A subject near and dear to my heart.

      A friend asked way too little per hour for his work. I suggested a $5/hr raise. He actually could have easily jumped $10/ hr. And we argued, you’d think I had called him a rotten name. Eventually he did increase his rate.

      What happened next was interesting. He ended up getting serious jobs with people who actually made sure he got paid. This was a change. I saw first hand that we can telegraph to others how to treat us by stating our labor rate.
      His previous work was difficult for too many reasons and the icing on the cake came when people tried to avoid paying him. All these problems disappeared once his labor rate went up.

      It’s been a decade now. And my friend is very comfortable saying that he gets 2.5 times what he did when I met him. Just as an aside, he is still well-below going rate. He could increase his rate by 40%.
      He works less now because of the higher rate and he can pick and chose the jobs he wants. Overall, I think my friend is in a bit happier place. I offer to pay his going rate and he knocks $5/hr off whatever his current rate is. We both win.

      Chin up, hold to your rate of pay. It will work in your favor in the long run.

      1. Thoreauvian*

        A big part of my problem is that over the years, either I’ve charged much too little for a lot of work, or I’ve charged too much. So either I’ve been taken advantage of, or the work I did wasn’t worth the money I was asking.

  16. Ask a Manager* Post author

    Hi! I’m planning to do our periodic “how much money do you make?” spreadsheet next week. Some changes this year:

    – I’m asking about gender and highest level of education completed. (I want to keep it simple so I’m not adding some of the other suggested additions but I think these two will be of interest to the greatest number of people.)

    – I’m categorizing industries with a dropdown multiple choice selection so those are more standardized than in years past.

    – Instead of asking for annual salary, I’m asking for total annual income from this job (so including bonuses, overtime, etc.) with a field to provide more context if people want to.

    Anyone see problems with that last one? Last time, when it just asked for salary, there was confusion from some people about whether or not to include bonuses, which can be a sizable portion of compensation. But I want to make sure I’m not introducing different problems by doing it this way. (Really, I think there will probably be some drawback no matter how I do it, at least if I try to keep the survey short and easy to complete, so even if there *are* problems with this format, it still might be the best choice — but I want to make sure I’ve thought it all the way through and won’t have an “oh crap” moment after it goes live.)

    1. Now In the Job*

      Would you be looking for bonus potential, or discreet dollar amount? My company is salary + 20% bonus potential, but only expect to see 17.5% on a good year because nobody gets the full 20%. But there are also years where you might only get 10 or 12%. So it’s a little hard to calculate a discreet amount.

      1. RecoveringSWO*

        Obviously I’m not Alison, but I would prefer what you actually made last year. I’ve been “bait and switched” by a sales commission potential that was very clearly unrealistic once I started working. I wish I had responded by asking for the average annual commission/bonus per employee instead of relying on the potential figure. Also, getting the actual bonus/commission amount for 2020 and 2021 could be useful information for people looking into how the pandemic has impacted compensation in particular industries/occupations.

    2. Tek5508*

      so, instead of saying “$XX.000 annual salary”, I would say “annual income is $XX.000 salary + 2% COL bonus”?

      1. Julia*

        Yeah, country or region should be an item on the list, otherwise you’d get very skewed results.

    3. GG*

      Will you separate out salary and bonus or show it as one number? I got a significant bonus last year due to unusual circumstances that I don’t expect to happen again (it was a stay bonus after half my team left!), and if it was one number I’d feel like I was misrepresenting things.

        1. LK*

          I don’t have a bonuses – but my company earmarks so much money they spend on health insurance for each employee and if we don’t use the whole amount they put the balance into our 401k (split between each paycheck). So I have my base salary and then the additional amount they put into the 401k. I don’t know if this is super unique or if this would be something else others might report on, also.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Hmmm, I had it combined. Maybe I do need to separate it out — one field for salary, and one for additional cash compensation such as bonuses, overtime, etc.

        1. Ashley*

          I think that would be helpful. To me bonuses and OT are never a guarantee for my income so I never factory them into my budgeting.

        2. cimorene*

          another +1 for keeping them separate. I also am eligible for bonus but its not guaranteed and amount can vary. I would still want to be able to see and compare base salary separately.

        3. e*

          How would you think about including equity and income that vests over longer periods of time? I would suggest public stock grants go in the “additional cash compensation” category (e.g. expected value of risky income) and private equity / carried interest / other in comments, but it can be pretty misleading not to include deferred compensation up front for some very highly paid positions. (Niche concerns, but potentially very meaningful for those who get it.)

        4. Miss Bookworm*

          My bonus has never been consistent. For example for three years it was $2500, then because I questioned my salary one year (I learned someone was making almost $10k more than me with much less experience and no formal education) they gave me an off-cycle bonus of $5k and then a few months later I got another bonus of $5k (plus a really good raise) during my annual review. Since then my raises have varied, one year it was $4k, another year it was $8k. So it definitely varies a lot and not everyone gets one.

        5. Can Can Cannot*

          I’d also suggest breaking out stock. Equity can be tricky to quantify since vesting can take time, so when you earn it isn’t necessarily when you see the value. It might be good to get an average annual number rather than the most recent year. And for equity, it would be good to know if it is a publicly traded company or pre-IPO.

        6. Anonymous Hippo*

          I personally think having the bonus in a separate category is a good idea, and maybe the ability to put a range in that particular field.

        7. Ella*

          I would separate this out – this is really great data for benchmarking salaries, and I think bonuses and other compensation are good data points in themselves, but not super helpful if you’re trying to understand broad salaries in a field based on location and other factors.

        8. Firecat*

          I like this approach.

          My Salary on paper is $73k but with OT and Bonuses is closer to $80k. However they can take away OT and bonus at any time.

          1. Fran Fine (formerly Diahann Carroll)*

            Right. I just got a raise according to grandboss (it still isn’t showing in our intranet portal), and my base salary will now be $71,400 while my quarterly bonuses will now bring my total yearly compensation to about $84,600 (up from $82.3ish). Grandboss usually gives me 100% of my quarterly bonuses; however, because of Covid, last year our bonuses were cut significantly (we’re back to getting the full amount should our managers allow it) and I only ended up making $80k instead of my $82k. They could do this again at some point, so I now don’t factor in my bonuses for discussions on salary.

    4. MedGal*

      If you are intending it to be salary negotiation tool, I would keep them as separate questions but all visible at the same time so people know what to include and where.

      1. Fran Fine (formerly Diahann Carroll)*

        Agreed, since many companies don’t even offer bonuses (I get them, but I have friends/family who do not).

    5. kittymommy*

      I think that works well actually. Would you also like us to include how much benefits are (health ins, retirement, etc.) to get a total picture?

      1. Llellayena*

        Not everyone will know what the value of their benefits actually is, though a “notes” column that lets you write in the types of benefits you get could be useful for people using this information to negotiate.

      2. Firecat*

        I was going to suggest this as well… While I made more on paper at my old company the out of pocket I paid for benefits was much higher and my insurance was much worse…however quantifying that would be a nightmare.

        Maybe both companies laid $400 a month towards my insurance but if one plan had a higher deductable how would I quantify that as a benefit?

        Then throw in our group auto and home discount insurance plans, the on site consultant who will look up contractors and travel plans for you…and it gets muddy fast!

    6. Fabulous*

      I wonder if it would be beneficial to indicate whether you’re working in the same field as your education. Because I have a Master’s degree in a completely unrelated field to the one I’m working in and I don’t think it affects my salary at all.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Similarly, whether the job actually requires that level of education. I have two masters degrees because I like being in college (I know :P ) but they’re not only not required for my job, but also not for at least two levels up (my boss has an associates degree and my grandboss has a bachelors – my great-grandboss might have a masters but I don’t remember for sure). My counterpart in my role doesn’t have any college education at all, “just” high school and fifteen years of experience.

    7. Llellayena*

      Does the spreadsheet style you use allow you to have a column for “base salary” and “additional compensation” and automatically add them for “total income”? Bonuses and overtime are not going to help people who are trying to compare salaries when their company may not have the same bonus structure or who may not be able to put in overtime (or that much overtime). Also, I know you’re trying to simplify, but location/region/metro area by dropdown menu would be helpful too.

    8. OtterB*

      I agree with the person who suggested one column for base salary and one for additions (bonus, overtime, etc.) Not sure how that works for people who are on commission, though.

      1. Llellayena*

        Either base salary is zero and everything is under additional compensation or the average yearly commission gets put under base salary with anything over being additional. (A notes column, as I suggest elsewhere, could provide a place to clarify if it’s a commission job)

    9. Cat Tree*

      I know you don’t want to make it too convoluted, but could you have two separate columns for base salary and bonuses? The reason is that my bonus isn’t a set number. It starts as a percentage of my salary, but has modifiers (usually increase but could hypothetically be decreased) based on my performance and the company’s overall performance.

      It’s also given once a year, so I don’t factor into my monthly budget. As an example, 100k straight salary and 90k salary plus 10k bonus will affect my budgeting even though the total number is the same.

    10. Em from CT*

      Out of curiosity, would you be asking for highest level of education *in the field you currently work in*, or highest level of education regardless of field?

    11. [insert witty username here]*

      Would it possible to have two columns that sum together for a total? So like a base salary column and an “other” column (bonuses, commission, whatever – but folks would need to put a dollar amount, not a percentage) that add together for total? So people could look either by base salary or by total.

    12. Magc*

      It would be difficult but also incredibly useful if there was a way to indicate benefits: PTO (sick / vacation), paid leave, medical/dental insurance available / cost, retirement matching, &c. Pay alone doesn’t give the full picture.

      Maybe next year?

      1. GS*

        The value of medical benefits would definitely vary by country, since I believe many US health benefits are basically resident rights in many other countries. However, if there’s a country field too this could be separated out.

    13. Coldfeet*

      From a data analysis standpoint – it would be much better to ask two separate questions regarding compensation – 1) annual salary and 2) other bonus or incentive compensation. Since bonuses can fluctuate widely, this will allow people to clearly delineate the two types of compensation. You can also certainly have a calculated column adding the two together. This will be more helpful to people who are using this for salary negotiations/market pay comparisons. It would also be helpful to ask everyone to convert their currency into US dollars, just for consistency’s sake. I still think it will be super easy for people to fill out (gender, edu, industry, salary, bonus) is only 5 questions!

      I would strongly advocate for location, years of experience, and race/ethnicity questions – since issues of equity are at the forefront of salary conversations – but I’m sure you’ve already considered those! 8 questions could still be filled out in 1-2 minutes!

    14. introverted af*

      I love that you’re categorizing industries, super excited for that!

      One thing that I couldn’t do on the old spreadsheet was filter the columns or sort by A-Z/0-100/etc. If you can set it up so that’s possible that would be great. It would be really helpful to be able to filter to just “finance” salaries for example, or at least sort the data so I can find them all at once.

    15. Anonymous Educator*

      Is it possible to ask for the two separately, so we can see the base salary, and then the bonuses/overtime, etc. as a discrete addition?

    16. LDF*

      In my industry, options or RSUs are pretty standard, so would be good to have guidance on how to enter that or not. They’re obviously really unpredictable and spread out over time, but can be a huge source of income so would probably be good to include somehow.

      1. TechWorker*

        I also have a reasonable amount in RSUs but vesting over different periods/worth nothing if you leave before that so q difficult to quantify.

        (My company also did v reduced bonus and no raises/promotions, but is trying to keep us happy by doling out stock RSUs, so this year is possibly not representative anyway…)

    17. TWW*

      Number of hours worked would be interesting (either weekly average, or total for the year).

      I work strictly 40 hours/week (my employer does not authorize OT), but some people are incredulous when I say that because there’s a common myth that jobs like that no longer exist. I, on the other hand, can’t fathom how anyone is OK regularly working 50+ hours/week.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yes, number of hours. My main job is part time. I could really skew the results if I answered these questions and could not indicate PT or number of hours.

    18. Technical Writer*

      Given the state of things for the year, would it be useful to add an extra column for Covid-related stipends or expenses people have received? I received a “set up your home office” budget in 2020 that is not a normal part of my annual income.

    19. Llama face!*

      Are you looking for gross (what’s on my tax form) or are you looking for what I actually take home? There are a lot of deductions so they differ a fair bit.

      1. BRR*

        I would go with gross because that’s how salaries are usually discussed and deductions are going to vary person to person.

      2. MinotJ*

        I wondered this too. Could you make it obvious that you’re asking for gross? I feel like I’m exaggerating when I say my gross salary – because what ends up in my bank account is waaay less than that. Thanks for doing this, Alison!

        1. Fran Fine (formerly Diahann Carroll)*

          Lol, I have that same problem. Like, I don’t possibly make that much – but I do.

    20. FD*

      Personally, I’d say wages (salary or base pay + OT) could be one thing but bonuses should be separated because bonuses aren’t guaranteed. It’s a huge difference between making $50k as a guaranteed base and up to $20k extra if the business performs well and making $70k as a guaranteed base.

    21. BRR*

      The only potential problem I could see with the last one is people being unsure of what to put if their bonus/overtime varies year to year and if it was substantially lower in 2020/2021. I think instructions that clarify “2020 income even if it was lower” or whatever should help.

      For the first one, what about listing race as well?

    22. Emmie*

      It would be helpful to separate salary and bonus into two columns. (You could even have a columns for salary, and for total compensation then let bonus auto-calculate with a formula.) The salary piece is helpful because that tells me what range I should target when company’s ask.

    23. Pocket Mouse*

      I’m in favor of splitting out salary (and specifically official salary rather than earned salary, given the past year) versus other compensation.

      Also—forgive me for forgetting if you already do this—can the survey split out profession and sector into separate fields, especially if we can only select one? My profession/role exists in government as well as academia, non-profits, and elsewhere in the private sector, and too often I see ‘government’ lumped in the list with other professions.

    24. part time student*

      Would tuition benefits be covered, too? Personally my salary is on the low end, but my employer is paying for my master’s degree in full. If you add in the cost of tuition then my compensation is actually a little above average, so it’s a very different picture when you add that in! Plus it get taxed as income over a certain amount

    25. Unfettered scientist*

      Alison, are you still going to have a field for position name in addition to industry/field? Broad fields tend to not be super useful in science (e.g., biologist means 20 different things) and specific position names would be way more I think!

    26. Coggleshah*

      I do this type of work and so I understand how difficult it is to get people to categorize themselves. Definitely provide a lot of options on drop down, make text entry exceptionally difficult and limited. I do think you need hours/week as that can skew and perhaps years in field. That and highest educational degree should give you decent scatter plots. It might be interesting to know if people think they are under/overcompensates compared to others with their training, experience etc in their community. Some survey tools are automatically gathering GIS info as well which, depending upon your N can be valuable.

  17. anonymuss*

    I had a phone interview this week for a job with a large genealogy company. I applied thinking from the posting that it was remote (it’s not and I’m not in a position to relocate). We established that in the first five minutes. The HR person proceeded to interview me for 40 minutes _anyway_ and told me basically I need to 1) start charging clients money for the work I currently do for free and 2) perhaps look at leveling up my educational credentials but basically there’s no reason that the 10 years of experience I have as a hobbyist + search angel/and DNA solves I’ve done that I’m not an excellent candidate for them. Oh, and she highlighted my cover letter: “It was so tailored! It explained exactly how your non-genealogy day job intersects with the skills you need, and you addressed the qualifications with examples of cases you’ve solved. Most people send the same cover letter they send to every job.”

    1. JustaTech*

      Well boo on keeping you on the phone forever, but yay for praising your cover letter?

      People are strange.

      1. anonymuss*

        Oh no, I really enjoyed it! Definitely not a complaint at all. I was so pleased she wanted to find out more about what kind of candidate I might be for other things.

    2. Emma2*

      Does the job absolutely have to be in-person? If you are interested and think it could be done remotely, why not send her a thank you email, tell her how interested you are and tell her that, if they would consider allowing someone to fill that position remotely you hope they would consider you. It sounds like she actually thought you could be a good candidate, and you probably can’t lose anything by giving it a shot (I would probably acknowledge that they are looking for someone who can be in the office, and not go overly pushy, but just put it out there in case it makes her reflect on it again).

      1. anonymuss*

        It seemed like that wasn’t in the cards at the top of the conversation. I.e. this (giant, uh really really big) company never hires Assistant Level Whatever position as remote, the team wants them onsite for training/observing their work, but higher level roles they do allow remote hires for. I wish, though!

  18. Stuckinacrazyjob*

    Latest confusing work thing- let’s have ” fun” and meet our coworkers. We’re having a picnic today and I said I’d come( regretting that now- I overslept and I actually have something tonight so I can’t work as late as I should) and next week, we’re going out for a happy hour? I’m like do these people not get stressed out by the work that’s piling up while we make small talk? ( and I gotta make up some normal sounding stories too and that’s a bear)

    1. Web Crawler*

      I’m with you- making up normal sounding stories is stressful. And when I try to make my life sound SFW, people ask questions about it and I freeze up.

      Like, on weekends I do “jail support” for people getting arrested at (usually illegal) protests. And I run a tabletop RPG game, but the system is called “Thirsty Sword Lesbians”. And I’m in a poly relationship. So my normal stories are limited to hiking and my cats.

      1. Calliope*

        Do you work in a super conservative place? Because volunteer work with people who are arrested and a game night with friends, where you may or may not go into the details of the game, seems like pretty normal things to talk about.

      2. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        I wish I could play Thirsty Sword Lesbians but I have no one to play it with. The big irony is with the pandemic and my job knocking out all my free time- I don’t even have hobbies to talk about!

    2. Generic Name*

      Maybe think of a few “safe” hobbies/topics to discuss with coworkers? I’m a pretty mainstream person I guess, but even I have a handful of topics in my back pocket I know that nearly everyone in my area can carry on a conversation about (I’m a woman, and my 3 topics are kids, dogs, and hunting). Or maybe pick a part of an offbeat hobby that is safe for work to discuss. Like say you keep a greenhouse of poisonous/deadly plants (hey, they’re cool!) but you could discuss generic “gardening” with folks. Or you paint erotic dino-art and you could discuss your “painting hobby”.

      1. Web Crawler*

        Question- what do you do in that situation if somebody’s also into gardening and they ask you which plants you’ve been growing? This is where I tend to stumble, because gardening is such an innocuous topic that people don’t think twice about asking specific questions, and all attempts to change the subject or redirect the question come off really weird.

        1. Nettie*

          Unless you’re growing illegal drugs, you could probably just answer the question honestly. Most people may not have even heard of the plants you’re growing and are just asking to be polite. You raise a good point though, it’s a bad idea to bring something up if you wouldn’t be willing to answer a follow-up question.

        2. RagingADHD*

          You do exactly the same as for any topic on earth – give a generic answer and ask them about themselves.
          So the poisonous plant greenhouse might be “I like to collect plants I’ve read about in books” or “mostly exotic ornamentals”. And if you actually collected them, there would surely be a way to talk about individual specimens without bringing up the common thread if you didn’t want to, like “Oh, I’m very proud of my oleander this year, it’s blooming better than ever.”

          Or with the dinosaurs, it would be “Oh, I paint miniature figurines.”

          The key thing is “how about you?” The easiest and most pleasant way to avoid questions is to be the questioner. Most people like talking about themselves, and like people who demonstrate interest in them.

          1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

            That’s true. I actually went to the picnic and everyone was so busy soothing my boss about her purse being stolen and my boss’ boss about the food taking forever I mostly made a few comments here and there and was able to leave.

        3. GS*

          “I like the really exotic ones such as (use brief boring jargon/terminology that only people familiar with the hobby would know, such as the latin name of a plant or “games with story-based consensual resolution mechanics”).” This usually bores people who don’t care, so they start to talk about other things. On the off-chance the co-worker is also into the same thing, they’ll let you know and you can talk freely.

      2. Zephy*

        If you’re an artist that posts your art on the internet, and you have even the tiniest qualm about family or coworkers seeing your art for whatever reason (maybe it’s got dicks in it, maybe you just don’t want to cross the streams of meatspace/cyberspace), you should probably never mention it and not attach your real name to your art. You can’t unring that bell – if you mention you do a creative thing and publish it somewhere, someone IS going to Google you and try to find that art/writing/whatever.

    3. Nettie*

      Obviously everyone is different and you don’t have to find it fun, but it’s a little concerning to see you put “fun” in quotes like this. Many people genuinely DO find it fun to get to know colleagues in a more relaxed environment. And making small talk instead of working every minute is actually healthy and appropriate.

      Maybe I’m misunderstanding and these are mandatory events, which would be weird. But if they’re not, you can skip them or just make a brief appearance to say hello if you don’t enjoy them. In my experience some people tend to talk less about themselves and it’s not seen as strange unless that person generally comes off as unfriendly.

      1. peasblossom*

        Yes, perhaps I’m misunderstanding things, but a picnic and happy hour sound very normal. It’s ok if you don’t like those things! But they aren’t inherently strange or unbearable.

        As someone who is highly introverted but works in a career where I have to perform extroversion routinely, I like the advice above about cultivating some go to talking points. It’s work to build them up at the start, but there’s huge pay off for this down the line as it makes events like these easier (and, honestly, more enjoyable), and I’ve found that it can make the rest of my day-to-day work better (people get to know me and are more willing to go out on a limb for me or collaborate or put my name up for awards/bonuses/promotions).

        1. Nettie*

          Yes, I totally agree with your comment! Also, while I sympathize with the concern about needing to come up with work appropriate talking points, I think people sometimes overthink it and believe they need to come up with a whole fake life they can discuss at work. That’s really not the case. I don’t know much about what my coworkers do outside of work, instead our small talk tends to be like “oh did anyone else see that interesting article in [magazine]” or “I just saw this really fun movie.” I guess if you exclusively read and watch NSFW content that could be an issue, but I think most people would have something that’s fine to discuss at work.

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            I realized a while ago that I could talk about the documentaries I’m watching on TV or articles in history magazines, and substitutes nicely. That’s my go-to when I realize I’ve been babbling too much… some fun fact and then a question veering off away from it. “I started watching a TV show about archaeologists building a medieval castle in modern France, and now I keep thinking about travel. What’s the coolest place you’ve ever been?”

        2. Stuckinacrazyjob*

          It’s normal, but like it’s ” normal ” to enjoy watching football and I don’t like that either. It’s like if a bunch of football fans decided to ” improve morale” by getting us tickets to the big game without realizing that the game wasn’t accessible to people with disabilities and that going to the game us cutting into work time because there’s too much work!

      2. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        It’s just that I’m like I gotta work til 9 instead of 8 to make chit chat? What am I not getting done this month to have this fun? I’m going, but it’s just like why? We don’t have time.

        1. Nettie*

          It sort of sounds like the real issue is you’re overworked in general (either you, meaning your team, or just you) and the social things are a red herring. Like if you have so much work to do that a happy hour cuts into the time you would normally be working late and causes work to pile up, that’s a problem no matter how much you do or do not enjoy the happy hour.

          1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

            Yea, I was really annoyed that we have so much work and they are trying to cheer us up with socializing, but that doesn’t help the too much work.

            1. Quinalla*

              Yeah agreed that your annoyance is probably more from being overworked than the actual event. I get that, there should be some thought put into when social events are planned.

      3. Workerbee*

        There is still generally a veneer of professionalism that can be as wearing on the psyche as Zoom calls, I’ve found.

    4. Lemon Zinger*

      It is extremely normal to have social activities with coworkers. You don’t have to attend if you don’t want, but it may impact the way they view you. I say this an an introvert who hates this stuff, but does it anyway for the sake of my reputation.

    5. Filosofickle*

      Do you have to attend both the picnic and the happy hour? Maybe if you just did one it would feel less daunting.

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        Yes, I’m at the park for the picnic now but I can’t find anyone so I’m just going to go home, having only wasted a lunch breaks worth of time. I may be too busy for the happy hour too- it’s on the last day before our deadline- i.e. time when I should be working

        1. Malarkey01*

          Is it that you have a different workload or deadlines than others at work so others might not realize “oh this is closing weekend of course Stuck and her coworker can’t come” or is it that you think everyone should be busy? If it should be everyone you might want to look at why you’re the only one who feels like they should be working and don’t have time for a happy hour.

          It may not be the case for you, but we had someone on my team that was always stressed and would say she didn’t even have time to get a drink of water or lunch and resented all of us for going to a normal lunch break. In actuality she was putting way more pressure and different expectations and it was a matter of helping her figure out what was overwhelming and readjust. Might not apply to you though.

          1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

            Thinking about it- everyone has a different workload, but end of the month documentation is the same. Also everyone’s speed is different- Ive timed myself doing some of my tasks and for the same task,, it’ll be anything from 15 minutes to a whole hour. I can see a lot of variation happening between people. I might not be the only one who is pressed for time at this time of the month,either.

  19. Ya Girl*

    What do you guys do with downtime at work? My workload heavily depends on other people (I’m the person who schedules tea pot paintings, but I have to wait for the specific teapots to be crafted before I am able to schedule them correctly), and there aren’t really trainings that are appropriate for my type of position. I am in school so I do sometimes do coursework on the clock, but I feel guilty about it. I truly don’t want to be a slacker, I have just literally done all I can do sometimes.

    1. JustTellMe*

      In the past things I’ve done when I had more time: Work on a process to make it more efficient, organize electronic and physical files / purge files that are past their record retention date, ask others if you can take something off their plate and help with it.

    2. Web Crawler*

      I do non-work things. I justify it by the fact that my work uses a lot of my brain, and I think better when I’m relaxed and comfortable.

      I often read a book in short bursts while waiting for my code to compile.

      1. Nacho*

        Same. I work in customer service, and I can tell you my people skills are a lot better when I’m happy and entertained than when I’m bored.

      2. TheFrenchImpaler*

        This is what I do too when I can. My natural work cadence is very burst-y, which was great in school, but has been a bit of an adjustment in entering the office job world.

      3. SophieChotek*

        Yes I do too. I also have a few random, endless back-burner projects that I will work on sometimes too; I’m in a very very slow period right now and my boss knows this; I literally could do all my work for a week in 1 day and he’s okay with me doing other stuff as long as I’m discreet about it

    3. Ashley*

      I read AAM a lot. On the more productive side I have gone around and asked co-workers if there was anything they needed help with while I was waiting on X.

      1. Ya Girl*

        It’s a little tricky since I’m non-clinical staff in a medical setting, so I’m not qualified to do much that isn’t already my job. I think that’s where I struggle, I see people around me hustling but there isn’t anything I can do to help them out.

    4. Kiitemso*

      Things I have done to kill time: write up instructions/manuals for processes to help people during my vacations when they cover me, do something related to some task I very rarely have to do to further familiarize myself with the process. And if push comes to shove, I will read news online.

    5. Nacho*

      I browse Askmanager (and other websites). For instance, I started work 20 minutes ago, and here I am.

      There’s nothing to feel guilty about. Your work pays you to be there if needed because that’s important. Even if you’re not doing anything productive half the time, the fact that you could be if something came up, and that you’re available right away, without any kind of delay, is worth the salary your work pays you.

    6. LKW*

      I go to relevant organization websites and read documentation. Study up on standards and white papers. Take additional training. And I offer up my time if there are small projects or internal activities that can use some support.

    7. Sunflower*

      Listen to podcasts, plan vacations, budget finances, work out, do a yoga class, clean the house, run errands, things like that. I never feel bad about it, as long as my work is done, I keep my laptop close by so I can check email/teams messages every 20 min or so.

    8. Nettie*

      We all read the news a lot. At least in my job, staying on top of cultural matters is informally considered part of the job. So it’s totally typical for people to openly read the paper.

      My rule of thumb is only do stuff with downtime where I would feel comfortable saying to my boss “oh, I was just reading X in Y.”

    9. Technical Writer*

      What I actually do: background research for my creative writing. For example, I was recently working on a story that required a lot of knowledge about concrete and cement (my antagonist is a serial killer using it to hide victims) so I read up on how they are made/different formulas.

      What I should do: learn coding languages and make my skillset more competitive.

      1. Fran Fine (formerly Diahann Carroll)*

        I’m teaching myself product/food photography and editing at the moment since I think I want to get into a more design focused role down the line.

    10. Lemon Zinger*

      I work in higher ed, so I read the Chronicle of Higher Education and InsideHigherEd a lot. Staying on top of industry-specific news is really valuable.

      1. Camelid coordinator*

        That is what I read, too. And our student newspaper when I get a chance. It is surprising what I learn from that source.

    11. allathian*

      I’m rarely completely out of work, but until early this year I had an important but not urgent project that I worked on whenever I had some extra time. My org is also really good about understanding that people in knowledge work can’t be fully productive all the time.

      I work in bursts too, and my favorite thing to do between bursts is to come here, but I also read our intranet to keep up with things. I also do trainings when I can.

  20. TWW*

    I had a promising initial interview the other day for a job that I think I would be perfect for. I’m keeping my fingers crossed, but in the meantime coming to work every day at my current job has become almost unbearable. How do you simultaneously feel enthusiasm for a prospective job while not checking out from your current job? And if I don’t get an offer, how do I get me head back into the game at my old job?
    Having to suffer through this dilemma every time make me want to give up job hunting. Words of wisdom please!

    1. Nikki*

      I think Alison’s advice about this kind of thing is great. She always says that once you’ve applied for a job or had an interview, tell yourself you didn’t get the job and put it out of your mind. If they get back to you, it’s a nice surprise, but otherwise you’re not torturing yourself agonizing over what’s going to happen next. Easier said than done, of course, but as you can see from your struggle with this, it’s not doing you any good to spend so much mental bandwidth fretting over it. That said, I hope you get an offer soon!

      1. Chantel*

        Seconding, and also, keep searching hard. The couple of times I’ve been absolutely miserable at jobs, knowing that there is another horizon to work toward did wonders for helping me get through it. Create a long view for yourself and remind yourself as much as you need to that there is light at the end of the tunnel you’re in now. Cliched, yes, but in my experience, it works!

    2. Joan Rivers*

      I suggest letting yourself feel proud that you did all you had to do to apply for that job, and just relax a little in the job you have. Slow down a touch — don’t put your feet up on the desk but pretend you like your job and do what you can get away with doing that will help you dislike it less. Think of ways to be good to yourself that won’t get you fired.
      Keep looking at jobs, and know that the process you just had may help you w/insights for the next one. Good luck!

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Look around for really great things to do at this job which would be perfect to discuss on an interview. Then do those things.

    4. Seeking Second Childhood*

      All of the above, especially to keep job hunting. I will add, take some time at work to document your process, clean up your archives, and if you are on site, start bringing home some of your stuff. (At this point if anyone asks, you’re just cutting down on things to clean in covid.)

  21. Professor Plum*

    I just saw a job listing for 30 hours/week that includes benefits—in a field that aligns with my skills. This sounds like exactly what I want—I’ve done the 40++ hours per week as a manager and don’t want that any more. I’ve been freelancing for a while after not working because of caretaking, but realistically need more than what I’m earning now.

    How much do I emphasize in my cover letter that part time plus benefits, as an individual contributor, is a major appeal for me at my current life stage?

    1. BusyBee*

      I would say that highlighting that only makes sense if you think your previous role/qualifications would make you a bit overqualified for this role. For instance, you’re currently managing a team of 10, and this is an individual contributor role with less responsibility. In that case, I do think it’s mentioning why that appeals, but really focusing on the work itself vs. the schedule.

      1. Cj*

        I agree. The advice here is usually to use the cover letter to tell them why they should want you, not so much why you want to work there.

    2. Fabulous*

      Maybe like this:

      After working as a manager, I understand now that my strengths more align as an individual contributor. And after working long hours, often upward of 40 hours, a 30-hour week excites me!

      1. Firecat*

        Hmm. In my experience the 30 hour a week schedules are often the worst of both worlds. It’s not part time enough to feel rested, and often times you don’t have a set schedule either.

        My spouse quit his 30 hour a week job because it was just taking up way more then a full time job would between alternating nights and weekends and never knowing when he was going to have a 8 hr or 12 hr day. I remember one terrible week he was scheduled Fri- Sun full time and was supposed to work either Tues or Thurs half time. We scheduled something for us on Wednesday since Thursday – Sunday was essentially blocked by his part time job. Well they called him in Wednesday. He worked a full 8 hrs so they took him off the schedule for Thursday – too late for us to plan anything and refused to budge on the weekend hours “those are your core hours!!”. Well Friday and Saturday was busy so he worked over and they sent him home after 1 crappy hour on Sunday after we had declined all plans because they didn’t want him to be classified as full time.

        1. Professor Plum*

          Thanks. Will definitely be asking about scheduling of those 30 hours if I even get an interview.

    3. Alexis Rose*

      I don’t think you need to emphasize it, just state it normally. Like ‘A .75FTE position is exactly what I’m looking for.’ We recently posted a .5FTE position and only one person mentioned in her cover letter that those were actually her preferred hours, so it made her stand out. She didn’t even give a reason, but it was reassuring to know she wasn’t going to jump ship for a full-time gig if it came along.

      1. Joan Rivers*

        Yes! Sometimes the hours or whatever are exactly right for someone’s life. They can put up with a lot to get such a good fit.

      2. TWW*

        This seems right to me–keep it positive.

        Otherwise you risk saying something to the effect of, “I know you think I’m a bad fit because [insert not-that-bad reason], but I’m not!”

        It’s tempting to preemptively address your own (perceived) red flags in a cover letter, but the risk is that you put up red flags that would otherwise have gone unnoticed.

    4. Nettie*

      I’m not sure I would mention it. Those are the hours they’re offering, so I think they would assume that anyone who applies wants to work those hours. Focus more on why you want this particular job than the hours, I think.

      1. AcademiaNut*

        I think I would mention it. For less than part time hours, particularly a bad job market, it’s not unusual for people to apply for the part time job when they really want full time, keep looking, and bail as soon as they find what they want (ditto for applying for jobs they are over qualified for, or well out of their previous job areas). The motivation is understandable – some work is better than none – but it’s not in the employer’s best interests. So mentioning that you specifically are looking for less than full time work could give you a boost to the interview stage over similar applications.

    5. Professor Plum*

      Thanks for all the suggestions—you’re helping me to not overthink—which is my default!

    6. BRR*

      I wouldn’t emphasize it and probably wouldn’t mention it at all unless you’re resume means you need to throw in a few words indicating you know it’s 30 hours. Saying you’re interested in a roll because it’s part-time plus benefits doesn’t strengthen your candidacy. Mention what interested you about the position’s responsibilities and focus on what makes you stand out as a candidate. Good luck!

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

      Is it hourly? If it’s salary but with a 30 week expectation, and paid accordingly, be careful that a “part time” job doesn’t just become full time for less pay…

      1. Professor Plum*

        From the job listing I believe it’s hourly. Lots to discover if I get an interview.

  22. Green Snickers*

    I’m wondering if anyone works at a company outsourcing their support services to clients?

    I work for a professional services consulting firm- imagine Big 4. I work in a support role in our marketing department doing events. Part of our new business model is selling our support services to clients- for example, my team would plan an event for a client that doesn’t have an events team and the client would pay the firm X. So far, any proposal for my team have been too expensive for the client but I understand some other teams such as Professional Development and Graphic Design are executing contracts.

    My understanding is this would be part of our roles and we would not receive additional compensation. I’m not sure how to feel about this as we’re frequently told the reason we aren’t paid as much as those that bill is because we aren’t working directly with clients. Also, my team is only 8 people so taking on a client project would take a decent chunk of our resources.

    I’m wondering if anyone works at a company that does this and how it work? Do you think that structure is fair?

    1. RagingADHD*

      I currently work with an agency that does flat-fee services for clients, and my hours (or an allowance for average expectations for my hours) are built into that fee. When I worked for firms that did hourly billing, our support hours were also built into the billing rate.

      But in neither case do we bill clients for our hours directly, because adding more support hours doesn’t change the rate charged to the client. It just ate into the profit margin.

      Unless of course, the scope of the project expanded beyond certain milestones. Then they add an upcharge to cover the additional hours. But my rate stays the same. That seems normal to me.

      If you’re getting more duties added to your role, or a heavier workload, they are either going to have to add resources (like another person on the team) or pay overtime. You could ask for a raise if it’s a significant addition to your job.

      But I don’t think there’s an assumption that you should become billable or automatically get paid more because the service model changed. Your employer has always done things for clients and charged them money — and your hours have always been part of the overhead. That’s not changing.

    2. Consultant*

      Consultant here (at a smaller, scrappier company), and I’ve seen this happen a few times.

      For example, if an engagement has a communications component, we’ve occasionally asked our internal comms folks to bill some hours to support that. Generally it’s on the internal comms person to set clear boundaries around what they will and won’t be responsible for, the number of hours they’re limiting themselves to each week, what *won’t* get done in their day job as a result, etc. The person I’m thinking of who set those boundaries has a lot of clout and is able to be firm about their limitations without repercussion, but that’s obviously not the case for anyone.

      I honestly think it’s a lose-lose situation – the internal comms person is pulled away from the job they actually want to do and feeling overextended/underappreciated, while the client-facing team is not getting the amount of support they actually need.

  23. Newbie*

    I’m in the third month of an internship and one of my fellow interns, Tom, has repeatedly pronounced my name incorrectly in Zoom meetings. When we started he pronounced my name correctly but over time he started pronouncing it wrong (not sure why the change??) It will always happen in this context: us interns get pulled into a meeting , we all sit there on mute, nodding along and unmuting when necessary. Tom, will then be asked a question about our intern project and he will unmute and say “oh yes me and *incorrect pronunciation of my name* have been doing x, y, and z”. I have not jumped in to correct him bc it seems awkward when I’m on mute and he’s addressing other people. A few weeks ago in an intern check in with my boss, she stopped me to ask how to pronounce my name bc she had her someone pronounce it differently (TOM!) and wanted to have it right. I Told her she was correct and pronounced it clearly (tom and another intern were also on this call so he 100% heard me say it). That was a few weeks ago and he still says it incorrectly despite EVERYONE else pronouncing it correctly. We have less than a month left in our internship, do I just let it go?

    1. Tek5508*

      NO!. You need to politely but firmly tell Tom that he is mispronouncing your name.

      It is either blatant disrespect or a power play on his part

      1. Fran Fine (formerly Diahann Carroll)*

        Yeah, at this point, he’s doing it on purpose and it’s disrespectful as hell.

        1. Firecat*

          Ehhh.

          Some folks have a weird muscle memory issue with that. Or a problem with their brain that makes it so that once wrong info gets in their it’s prioritized.

          I have that issue with homey and homely. I can never get it right no matter how many times it’s said so I just don’t use those words anymore.

          I’m like that with names too. Once I get a wrong pronunciation in their, even if know the new one, it’s like the moment I start to say the right name my brain goes ABORT wrong pronunciation now!

          It’s also completely feasible that Tom didn’t hear this exchange where you corrected everyone’s pronunciation. There are plenty of distractions that can crop up on a zoom call that impacts your ability to hear a meeting. The fact that Tom had made a point of naming you and giving you credit leads me to believe he’s a decent person and not purposefully saying your name wrong. So many people don’t bother to give anyone credit on shared work that it stands out to me as a sign of integrity on the workplace.

          1. pancakes*

            Yes – I’m generally pretty good with names but always have a hard time with Kristin and Kirsten, for some reason. I’ve known both over the years, and I know my brain is going to stumble on either.

    2. CatCat*

      I’d have an individual conversation with Tom about it so he has a chance to correct himself.

      “Tom, you may not realize, but you’ve been pronouncing my name incorrectly. You’ve pronounced it as X, but it’s actually pronounced Y. I and others have noticed this so I wanted to let you know.”

      I definitely would not assume something rude or malicious on Tom’s part here. Just a simple and correctable mistake. He may not realize he’s doing it.

      (My own name has multiple possible pronunciations. I find well-meaning and polite folks will slip on this and sometimes start defaulting to a different pronunciation than I use.)

      1. Fran Fine (formerly Diahann Carroll)*

        He knows he’s doing it – OP said he pronounced her name right the first time he said it and he’s heard multiple people pronounce her name correctly at this point.

        1. CatCat*

          My literal EXACT experience with this issue is folks not realizing they’re doing it.

          But assuming instead that OP’s colleague is just a dick, how would your advice differ?

          1. Chantel*

            Same here, CatCat. My experience, as well, so I generally give this kind of thing the benefit of the doubt.

        2. I'm A Little Teapot*

          I have a neighbor who’s name is “Apple”, but I’m almost positive she pronounces it “App-lei”. As an example. I simply can’t remember, and I’m getting messed up by the normal pronunciation of apple. It’s not deliberate. I’m avoiding calling her by her name out loud.

          Don’t attribute to malice what simple error can account for – until and unless you have evidence it’s malice.

    3. Cat Tree*

      It’s definitely weirder over Zoom, but I think you should make a quick, polite comment in the moment. “Oh, it’s Saaa-ra not Sah-ra” is plenty polite. It’s hard when you’re young and an intern but you deserve to have your name pronounced correctly. It doesn’t have to be a big deal, and if he seems miffed that is on him.

    4. Alexis Rose*

      Definitely say something politely but firmly. This is weird and for sure rude but I wouldn’t assume it’s a power play. Some people have really low phonological awareness and don’t necessarily pick up on the difference between how they’re pronouncing it and and how others pronounce it.

      1. LadyByTheLake*

        This is me! I’d never heard the term “low phonological awareness” before, but I am so going to use that. I just don’t pick up well on things that I hear — can’t discern song lyrics, can’t pick up on anything but the base meaning in what I hear, and I struggle even with that unless they speak like an NPR newscaster and often miss out on group announcements unless something is done to draw my attention. I have to strain to glean the meaning when someone is speaking, I absolutely am not going to pick up that they are pronouncing their name differently in a group setting (particularly a work one where my brain is straining to pick out the critical “to do” information. However, if someone takes me aside and says “oh, by the way, it’s pronounced Ahn-DRAY-ah” I will definitely remember that and pronounce it correctly going forward. And it needs to be said to me directly. In a group setting I might miss it unless someone says “Here is an important announcement”

      2. Loredena*

        This is me! I tend to put the accent on the wrong syllable, and I’m poor with names to being with – and once I’ve done it a few times I can’t keep straight the correct pronunciation. It’s worse with a coworker whose name is routinely pronounced differently by different people in the office. She once told me it’s pronounced the same as an actress, which might have worked out better if I’d been sure about the actress’s name…

        It’s embarrassing enough that I rarely directly use her name, I promise I’m not doing it on purpose! {I do this with a lot of words I originally learned by reading, it’s not just a name problem. But it’s names I’m embarrassed by!}

    5. Helvetica*

      Anecdotal: I have a difficult first name for English speakers – I don’t live in the US but work in English dominated workspace – and I have heard so many variations that I have kinda let it go. This is especially because I have realized that what people hear when I say my name might be very different because their own language and phonetic background influences it a lot. For example, the second letter of my name is “a” but for many people it sounds like “o”, unless I put an unusual for my own language emphasis on the “a” and then they can hear it correctly.
      This is not to say that there aren’t often racial undertones to people mispronouncing names but many people don’t have the ear for phonemes. And in this case, it depends a bit on how differently he pronounces it but I see nothing wrong in you telling him in a kind tone how your name is actually pronounced. Not in a group meeting but one-on-one.

    6. Policy Wonk*

      I’d let it go, since the boss already confirmed the pronunciation. This is making Tom look bad, not you.

    7. Qwerty*

      Tell him! It doesn’t have to big deal. Either in the moment say “It’s AN-drea” or just privately when it’s the two of you “My name is AN-drea not AHN-drea. At some point you switched pronunciations”.

      The why doesn’t matter – Somehow he got the wrong pronunciation stuck in his head and kept using it. Maybe someone was mistaken and informed him to use the wrong, maybe he’s watching a show where the main character has the wrong pronunciation, maybe he just said it accidentally once and it stuck. He is putting zero thought into this but it bugs you, so you get to correct him on saying your name properly.

    8. Anonymous Hippo*

      Some people just get a thing stuck in their heads and can’t get it out. Yes, you can totally correct him, but I personally would let it go. I work with a man right now, who is perfectly kind and nice, and is horrified and apologetic every time someone points out he says my name wrong, and yet, every single time he says my name he says it wrong. It has gotten to the point everyone in the wrong will be it complete stitches when he is talking to me because he just keeps doing it. Nothing wrong with wanting your name pronounced correctly, but you don’t have to get upset about it either if it doesn’t actually bother you.

      1. Joan Rivers*

        Sometimes it’s cause he just doesn’t care. But these days there are lots of individual details that we didn’t used to have to remember about people. Their preferred pronoun is a serious one. But their diet preferences or name pronunciation or preferred form of address, there are more of them than there used to be. We don’t always know the person that well so we have to make an effort to remember. Sometimes someone has more than one of these details, too.
        We need to respect people but I hope someone isn’t offended if those who don’t really know them make a mistake. And to clarify: One’s gender identity is a lot more serious to me than one’s diet even if that person acts like it should be uppermost on my mind.

        1. Firecat*

          Well having the wrong food can kill someone. While being referred to as Ze instead of Sea will not. Your last point comes across as if people who are serious about their safety are somehow being precious.

    9. BRR*

      Having the third party, outside perspective advantage here. You’re over thinking it. When he does it, send him a private IM in the zoom chat or email him with just, “hey by the way my name is pronounced X, thanks!”

    10. *daha**

      The next time someone else addresses you (correctly) in his presence, say “Thank you for getting my name right. *correctname* is correct. Then go on to answer the matter at hand.

      1. Firecat*

        Honestly my thought if you said this to me would be “I’ve been saying the name wrong??? When???” I think this risks a lot of people around the table thinking the person you said that too has been mispronouncing your name. And Tom may not even pick up on it. Best to be direct and polite with Tom.

    11. Not So NewReader*

      Send him an email?

      I had a situation where the leader actually could not say my name. We had another person whose name was similar but had one more letter. Our two names worked into tongue twisters for the entire group because the leader could not say my name without stumbling into the other person’s name.
      I said something once. But I could see that I would just make it worse if I kept mentioning it.

      1. Merry, Mary, or Mari*

        When I was young and dirt was new, a freshman writing class was assigned a TA who could not hear or say the difference between several girl names in the class: Merry, Mary, and Mari. He had to use last names or point. He was US born white guy…just really really bad with names.

        1. Loredena*

          That’s actually a known regional thing, interestingly enough! They are barely different in sound to me.

    12. Zephy*

      Mispronounce his name when you say your goodbyes at the end of the internship.

      Actually don’t, that’s petty as hell, but it’s OK to fantasize about it.

    13. Esmeralda*

      Correct it every single time he mispronounces it. He’s been told. He did it right at first. Either he’s doing it on purpose, or he’s incredibly oblivious, but in either case, he needs to pronounce it correctly. Especially since your manager asked — I think she did it to help you out with this issue. Take her cue!

      Unmute yourself pronto and say, “Just let me pop in to say my name;s pronounced XXX. Thanks!” or “sorry to interrupt, but my name’s pronounced XXX. Thanks!” or “Excuse me, Tom, as I mentioned to Manager-Name the other day, my name’s pronounced XXX. Thanks!”

      Be cheery about it.

      And if he doesn’t do better, I’d be tempted to start calling him TOOM. Or TOE-MASS.

    14. Quill*

      Is he otherwise treating you respectfully and professionally? If yes, then I would let it go.
      If not, then I would focus on trying to resolve the main issue(s).

      signed/someone whose name is often mispronounced.

    15. CatMintCat*

      My name has three possible, widely accepted pronunciations, and is only one letter different from another common name in this area.

      I pick my battles. If this is somebody I am going to be dealing with long-term, then they get corrected until they get the right one. Someone I won’t be dealing with often or for long. Meh, I let it go. I worked once for a man whose wife had the same name, pronounced differently. I lost that battle – he was well meaning, but that pronunciation was engraved on his brain.

      I do wish my mother hadn’t done this to me. Ann is nice, and doesn’t have multiple pronunciations.

      1. allathian*

        I have a similar name, but honestly, I’m not bothered. Maybe it’s because I’m bilingual from birth and learned English as a preteen, and my name exists in all those languages, and it’s pronounced differently in each language, I can deal with different pronunciations without getting annoyed by it.

    16. GirlWithTheMispronouncedName*

      Correct it very matter-of-factly.

      This is the best example of how to neutrally, without assigning motive or intent, to the error.

      From the always brilliant and apropos The West Wing:

      WILL: Excuse me, Josh.

      JOSH: Yeah, you’re Bill Bailey, right?

      WILL: Will Bailey, yeah.

      JOSH: I’m surprised we haven’t met.

      WILL: You’re pretty busy.

      JOSH: We talked on the phone.

      WILL: Yeah. You now, you get a pretty good aerobic workout talking to someone in this
      building.

      JOSH: I’ve heard the jokes. What do you need?

      WILL: Uh, well, I’m working with Toby Ziegler on the Inauguration…

      JOSH: Bill, I know who you are. What do you need?

      WILL: Okay, well, it’s Will and I’m in a legislative section talking about …..

      Matter of fact correction, twice in ten seconds.

      It may be just Hollywood, or the way the characters are written, but I never get the sense that it ever crossed Will’s mind to let Josh keep calling him Bill.

      1. Newbie*

        I’m a west wing super fan! Actually just watched this episode – you’re right it is a polite correction!

    17. Workerbee*

      Correct him each time, politely but firmly. He has a responsibility to remember, just as he does to come in to work, get his tasks done, etc.

      Besides…you may run into him or work with him at other points in your career. Don’t suffer the mispronunciation eternally!

    18. Newbie*

      Thanks everyone for your advice! I think I will say something either directly to him in the Zoom chat or one on one after the meeting and mention it very matter of factly / politely. It is something that has been bothering me every time it happens. Tom has also been slowing down my work, missing deadlines, and promising to finish things that then never end up being finished so I think his incorrect pronunciation of name is just the cherry on top of his missteps in my eyes.

  24. LilyP*

    Hi everyone! I’m a relatively new manager and one of my direct reports recently let me know she’s pregnant and expecting a baby in the fall. I’ve got the basics of leave and coverage handled with HR but I’d love any tips on things to do or not do to support her or advocate for her that I might not think of. Like, is it polite to ask about it or better to not mention it unless she brings it up? If we do gifts or a party should that be right before she goes on leave or earlier? Is there anything you wish your boss had done differently?

    For context, we’re both women in a male-dominated industry, and I do have quite a bit of capital at this company I’d be willing to burn over this kind of stuff.

    1. StressedButOkay*

      Following because I’m in the e x a c t same boat minus being in the male-dominated industry! I’ve been encouraging her to think of how much time she’d like to take, if she’d like to take more than what we offer (using her leave, etc) and if it’s more than what we offer, to let me know, so I can figure out how to have that handled by the company.

    2. Tuckerman*

      Follow her lead. My co-workers threw me a surprise shower, which was really nice because I was new to the area and didn’t know many people, and we were a tight knit group. But I had a co-worker once who was very shy/private about her pregnancy so I made sure to ask, “We’d like to get cake to celebrate your upcoming leave. What do you think?” And she really appreciated the gesture and we had a nice little celebration.

      I’d do the celebration a few weeks early, since sometimes people go out on leave early .

    3. Stratocaster*

      I have been pregnant twice at work, but not managed someone who was pregnant. But here are a few things to keep in mind:

      – Figure out lactation spaces and provide that info to your employee. You do not need to ask her if she’s planning on nursing – just make sure she is aware that lactation spaces are available if she needs one. if there is no lactation space, work with facilities to set one up (it could be her own office, a spare room, etc, just anything non-bathroom with a lock).
      – Treat her like you normally would, and not Super Delicate Pregnant Person Who Might Break Any Moment. It’s fine to ask an occasional “how are you doing today?”, but let her decide how much she wants to share. If she looks like she’s having a really rough day or something, it’s fine to ask, but in general, I appreciated my current boss not making A Big Deal of my pregnancy.
      -Related: my former boss made a lot of really awkward comments during my first pregnancy. I did not ask him about anything, he just launched into Opinions about women’s bodies and breastfeeding and the “best” way to give birth and raise children unprompted, and it was awful. Please don’t share opinions unless asked, especially around sensitive topics.
      – Ask her if she’d like a party or gifts at all! If she would like a party, ask when she’d prefer it happen. Again, follow her lead.
      – If the job allows for it, give her some grace about being on time, especially around doctor’s appts. Some OB/GYNs (like mine) are extremely busy and often called into emergency surgeries, so my appts got really out of whack.

    4. Reba*

      I think you can ask her! Like, “would you like to chat pregnancy updates sometimes, or would you prefer to pretend it’s not happening unless we are specifically discussing leave/accommodations?” “Would you be comfortable having a small party here?”

      Same for the accommodations. There was a letter a while back from someone whose boss had pulled a lot of strings to get the employee a certain amount of leave and other options that the employee did not choose to use, and the manager resented her for it! So I think not making assumptions is the most important thing. You sound like a good boss!

        1. Keymaster of Gozer*

          The ‘how dare she not breastfeed after I told her several times she could!’ bit in that really got me annoyed. By all means, make the facilities available, but remember that each pregnant person’s decisions regarding their pregnancy/birth/post birth/parenting are their own.

    5. JustTellMe*

      During my pregnancies I usually did not want it to come up much at work, as it’s pretty personal and involves intimate things about your body; also you can accidentally tread into “well meaning but actually discriminatory” behavior if you, for instance, insist that she stop doing certain physical aspects of her job to “protect her” or any other job modifications she did not explicitly ask for. As the manager, I think it’s a fine line to walk between showing care for your employee and not delving too much into personal matters. In my experience it’s best to take cues from the employee and not really bring it up unless she does first, unless you have a legitimate reason (work related) to bring it up. For instance, if you notice she looks green in the face and miserable, ask if she’s feeling ok and discuss if she needs time off or any other accommodations. All that said, I think an unprompted “how’s everything going” every now and then is fine, as going too “cold”and completely ignoring the pregnancy would be weird and might give the employee the wrong impression.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        A former boss informed a pregnant employee that a chemical we were working with was rather toxic and she could do something else. Boss provided the MSDS for the chemical. Employee chose to stay put. My boss let it go at that.

        1. InsufficientlySubordinate*

          There was a huge argument about sexism some years back on another board about the boss singling out the one (non-pregnant) woman in a meeting to let her know that a specific chemical could affect a fetus but…it also had unpleasant effects on male reproduction.

    6. Fabulous*

      I’ve been pregnant twice (in 2018 and 2020) and can weigh in on some things. I don’t know your work situation, but my first pregnancy I was SO grateful that my boss finagled a way to get me a laptop computer so I could start working from home. It made life, and going to appointments, so much easier. Since my team was/is all virtual (we work in different offices across the US), we never did a party for either pregnancy.

      I remember doing one years ago for a coworker in a different job though, so it’s probably all dependent on your office’s culture. We basically all chipped in for a carseat and had a mini baby shower for her during lunch before the baby was born.

      Last think I’ll say is my last pregnancy was a bit more difficult so I had A LOT of appointments, like 2-3 a week toward the end. So, just be flexible and understanding that she probably doesn’t have a choice with what appointments she has to go to. Start filtering her work maybe around the 8-month mark and make it easy for her to go out on leave, and try to help reduce stressors as much as possible. It’s no fun trying to work through contractions (which I’ve done)!

    7. Dark Macadamia*

      If your office doesn’t already have a designated place to pump, figure out how you’ll accommodate that. ASK if she expects to need it and DON’T be pushy about how she answers. If she needs it, make sure it’s set up when she comes back to work so she doesn’t have to wait/wonder/ask about it.

    8. lost academic*

      You should both follow her lead and do a little quiet research on your own – for instance, if she is planning to pump at work, she may not realize or have the ability to question or address certain things that might need some lead time to be addressed. Focus on work accommodations for her pregnancy, time off and time back and less so the social aspect of having a baby. Help her schedule work handoffs, meetings and trainings that need to be addressed before she leaves so she isn’t cramming it all in with her regular work in the last month. Everyone’s pregnancy is different, but consider how you might accommodate her need for additional rest in the third trimester and how you can provide a ramp up period on her return. Help her navigate the leave documentation largely by making sure YOU understand it in case she needs help.

    9. Cat Tree*

      I’m pregnant now, and most people (including my boss) just ask how I’m doing or how I’m feeling. It’s open-ended enough that I can answer however I feel comfortable. Sometimes I answer “excited but nervous”, or sometimes more about the physical aspect of it like “so many monitoring appointments but everything is smooth so far”.

    10. FlyingShrimp*

      I’m currently 36 weeks pregnant, and overall have really appreciated that my manager and grandboss really let me take the lead on when I’d tell more colleagues, asking before having a staff celebration and encouraging me to fully disconnect for my full leave. I do wish that they would have initiated more conversations about what my return to work will look like, like about a being able to pump at work (pumping location, blocking time off on my calendar for for that purpose and whether those breaks will be paid or not). Like other’s have said, I’d take your report’s lead on everything, including this, but if that’s something that she’d like to pursue when she comes back to work, I can see that being an area where you could use some capital to help her, especially in a male-dominated industry.

      To answer your specific questions, I was okay with my boss asking generic “how are you feeling” questions that let me share as much detail as I’d like, but not pushing for too many details. We did a staff celebration about a month before my guess date, which seemed to work well timing-wise (I’m planning to work as long as I can).

    11. Professional Nerd*

      I feel like I can speak to this because I just had a baby six weeks ago, so all the “pregnant while working” stuff is fresh in my head, and I had my first child when I was working in a very male dominated industry (I was active duty military). As far as how to support her, just let her know that you do support her 100% and to please let you know if she needs anything. That way she can bring things to you as they come up. Each of my three pregnancies I needed different accommodations and types of support. I wouldn’t do a party but would collect voluntary contributions to a gift card to wherever she’s registered, that way no one feels pressure to contribute, and I’d give it to her during her last week before going on leave. Having a baby shower with my mostly male coworkers would have been really awkward for me.

      The biggest thing my bosses did for that pregnancy and my most recent was just being really flexible with my schedule and duties because of doctor’s appointments and physical limitations (all of my pregnancies have been high risk). And for this last one, they were also extremely understanding of me needing extra precautions because of covid (I’ve been working in person since August).

    12. Cimorene*

      what flexibility can you offer to ease her return to work? when i had my first kid my boss and org were very open and supportive of working from home the first couple of weeks back (this is when i worked an in office job), having a lighter schedule the first couple of weeks. Basically they really recognized how tough the transition can be and were super flexible in letting me ease back. I didn’t end up fully taking advantage of it but it was super nice to know i could. Also, helping think through a transition plan and document that can be shared on who to go to while she is out. Or talking about her preferences on things like whether she wants to be included on emails while she is out. She should certainly be encouraged to be completely off and not check email but some people want to still be cc’d on things that will impact them that they can ready when they do return.

    13. *daha**

      You can start working now to find out which department can requisition the 80 pounds of Tannerite you need for the gender reveal. It isn’t always obvious who can order it for you.

    14. Ranon*

      I would have liked to have had my manager participate in my hand off prep earlier than two weeks before my due date, people have babies a lot earlier than that sometimes and it’s nice to slow transition rather than feel like everyone is in denial that you are going to have this baby and not be there for a while. Around week 30 was when I was ready, took until week 38 or so for my boss to be on board.

      1. Quinalla*

        Yeah, week 30 sounds about right for this prep, agree 100%. I’d talk to her about how she wants you to handle it, but yeah I’d also make sure a place to pump is available as that is often overlooked in male dominated work places.

    15. Policy Wonk*

      Don’t make assumptions or decisions for your employee. Ask what she needs/wants. Don’t presume she can’t do part of her job, or can’t travel, or… Follow her lead. Otherwise treat her like you would any other employee. Plan for her maternity leave as you would for anyone else leaving for a few months for some personal reason.

    16. Double A*

      I’m about 36 weeks pregnant, 2 weeks out from going on leave, and something that’s been helpful for me is discussing coverage and documentation early. I’m now in the home stretch of getting it all finalized, but knowing that I can run it by my supervisor and she’ll give me feedback on it periodically is helpful.

  25. BusyBee*

    It’s been a weird week. I had written in to the open thread at the end of last year about being unhappy with my role, and you guys had some great advice. I ended up switching teams in January, only to have our marketing director, and his two direct reports (who I had really good relationships with) quit. I tried hanging in there in my new role, but it was pretty bad. I ended up finding a new role and gave notice this week, only to have my two peers also give notice! So the entire marketing team is gone, literally nobody left. It’s a little bittersweet because we had been a really strong team for a few years, so it’s a bit of a sad way for things to end. I hope I enjoy my new role, and my former colleagues also find success in their new adventures.

    1. Fran Fine (formerly Diahann Carroll)*

      Wow! Losing the whole team is nuts. Congrats on getting out from what sounds like not a great place to work.

  26. RMNPgirl*

    What do people think of when non-profits are mentioned on this site?

    I’m curious because I’m in the healthcare field and everywhere I’ve worked is a non-profit. But when I read Alison’s responses or comments on this site it appears my experience of non-profit is not the same as what is being written. My current company pays very competitively compared to local hospital systems and offers great benefits. We do still have a strong emphasis on our mission but not in the same way it’s implied some non-profits are.

    I’m just curious what people are thinking of when non-profits are mentioned. For example, I think of something like Sierra Club and not my healthcare field.

    1. many bells down*

      I’ve worked for two, and I volunteer at a third, and they’ve been my favorite places to work.

    2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      When I hear ‘non profit’, my default is an advocacy or human services organization of sometime. Anything from PETA to Doctors without Borders to a local housing organization.

      There are hospitals and other medical providers that are non-profit, but that’s not what I think of. If you work for a hospital, you’re almost certainly going to be doing the same things whether the hospital is for-profit or non-profit. But if you work at the Humane Society, you aren’t doing a job that’s similar in any way to General Motors or Sears.

    3. BusyBee*

      I worked for a non-profit health system, and though it’s technically a non-profit, it definitely didn’t seem like a typical “non-profit” environment. I think because some health systems are so huge, with such a diversity of roles, that you get away from the mission-based mentality. Not that healthcare workers don’t care about patients, but the diversity of work makes the mission less potent, somehow.

    4. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Pretty much like you – I think of the Humane Society, etc.

      There are plenty of hospitals and other medical providers who are organized as non-profits, but what you do there as a nurse or doctor or whatever is pretty much the same work you’d do at a for-profit hospital. But there’s not nearly the same kind of overlap of jobs between, say, Greenpeace and Sears.

      1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

        Sorry for the double post.

        Submit button & refreshing the page acting wonky for me…

    5. Charlotte Lucas*

      I worked for an insurance company that was a “not-for-profit.” Unless you were an executive or in IT, the pay was terrible. But I never considered it anything like the actual non-profit (charity arm of a business) that my mother worked for when I was growing up.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        The insurance company did healthcare, so fell into a similar model as a clinic or hospital.

    6. Binky*

      I do think of medical non-profits as being significantly different from NGO non-profits. Just like most of academia is its own beast. I think the big split is between non-profits who depend on grants/donations to function and those that receive revenue in exchange for services with some grants/donations to permit provision of services to those without money to pay. When you’re entirely grant/donation dependent, I think that changes how the institution runs.

    7. JanetM*

      I think of “anything that isn’t for-profit” — could be a charity, or an activism / policy group, or a not-for-profit organization like some healthcare, or a union, or a museum or other educational organization. I probably think of policy / activism first, though.

    8. RabbitRabbit*

      I work at one as well – our institution clearly specifies that we are a “not-for-profit”, which I think helps distinguish between the classic “non-profit” (charity organization, maybe flying by the seat of their pants at times, probably/sometimes/possibly poorly paid) versus a for-profit institution where the CEOs are maybe raking in big bucks and costs are absolutely passed on to the consumer/patient.

    9. working for the weekend*

      Also non-profit hospital based healthcare system. I’m actually part of our development office, so my department related stuff is definitely more like a traditional non-profit, but our system as a whole feels a lot more corporate.

      When I hear nonprofit on this site, I’m thinking arts & culture (museums, local orchestra, etc) or social welfare organizations (shelters – human or animal, civic groups, etc).

    10. Jules the 3rd*

      I worked for an educational non-profit, and AAM’s experiences have been very much in line with that company. My impression is that the category of non-profit that includes arts and education are generally where these things happen. Not too surprising, we don’t pay teachers or social workers enough either.

    11. Anon librarian*

      I work for a city library so when I hear non-profit, I think of city jobs and more traditional “charity” jobs like Sierra Club or a local arts organization.

    12. OyHiOh*

      There are charities (provide a short term solution answering an immediate need – think Toys for Tots or winter coat drives), non profits (organized for exempt purposes according to the IRS and earnings do not inure to shareholders or individuals), and not for profit businesses (NOT organized for exempt purposes according to the IRS AND earnings do not inure to shareholders or individuals).

      From the IRS website: “The exempt purposes set forth in section 501(c)(3) are charitable, religious, educational, scientific, literary, testing for public safety, fostering national or international amateur sports competition, and preventing cruelty to children or animals. The term charitable is used in its generally accepted legal sense and includes relief of the poor, the distressed, or the underprivileged; advancement of religion; advancement of education or science; erecting or maintaining public buildings, monuments, or works; lessening the burdens of government; lessening neighborhood tensions; eliminating prejudice and discrimination; defending human and civil rights secured by law; and combating community deterioration and juvenile delinquency.”

      I’ve served on the board of an arts non profit (“education”), worked for a theatre non profit (“education,” “underprivilaged,”) and currently work for an economic development non profit (“lessening the burdens of government,” “underprivilaged”). I don’t have any particular expectations of what a non profit may or may not be.

    13. Lemon Zinger*

      You just can’t generalize– “all non-profits” or “most non-profits” etc. It’s simply not useful. They’re just like any other organization in that there are good ones, bad ones, ones that pay fairly, ones that don’t, etc.

      I work in higher education (only non-profit schools) but colleges are very much profit-driven. How much they act like a for-profit business depends on the school.

    14. Maggie*

      Honestly after reading this site my opinion on non-profits is “Run as fast as you possibly can in the other direction”

      1. Quandong*

        I was going to post this reply too! With the addition of ‘a workplace that takes advantage of people who have strong feelings of obligation to help people or animals or the environment, and very likely to cause burnout & churn through workers every year.’

    15. I'm just here for the cats*

      Yeah, when I hear non-profit I think of the following
      1. Environmental conservancies or stewardships like the one I interned at in college
      2. religious organizations with specific missions such as homelessness
      3. Programs that help low income families with rent assistance, parenting classes, etc.
      3. rotary type of programs like food banks.

      I think there are just so many different types of non-profits that it really depends on each person’s experience. I wouldn’t ever think of healthcare as a non-profit unless it was the specific free health clinic in my area, (which is actually run by a religious organization.)

      I don’t think all non-profits are like what’s written on AAM. We just hear about all the bad ones, because that’s what this site is mostly about. Bad employers/employees and trying to get help.

    16. Skeeder Jones*

      I think there is a difference between a “non-profit” and a “not-for-profit” type organization. I work for a healthcare company and we are “not-for-profit”. We have services/products that we receive payment for (health insurance such as benefit plans that employers and individuals pay for, health care such as copayments for services) but we take the profit we make from these services/products and reinvest it in our community. A “non-profit” generally has items and services it provides to a community at no charge.

    17. Jean (just Jean)*

      Other types of nonprofits: Professional associations, membership of which can be individual professionals (Society of Professional Teapot Painters) or entire organizations (European Association of Llama-Grooming Regulators) or both (the National Council of Chocolate Melters, membership levels of which include student, young professional, basic professional, retiree, and institutional).

      Nonprofit office culture for will vary depending on the organization’s focus (investment banking or vegan baking?) and size and mission (200 people who run an annual meeting attended by thousands, or 1 soul with a card table, a land line telephone, and a twice-yearly photocopied newsletter?). Some are completely devoted to political activity, some do a small amount, and some do none at all.

      Most nonprofit professionals take pride in contributing their labor to a cause in which they believe. You won’t earn the last dollar in the world but you don’t have to be exploited, either.

    18. Chaordic One*

      I’ve worked at nonprofits that were a private school and a private college. (They both considered themselves “elite,” and the college really was. Unless you were in administration or a department head or in I.T. the pay was terrible and they didn’t treat their workers very well at either place.

  27. Fellow Traveller*

    I read this insightful article “Write better job adverts” by an organization that (in addition to other things) runs a job board for people in the arts. They talk about reasons a job ad might be rejected by them for publication and also give language that organizations can use in job ads to encourage a more diverse applicant pool.

    I would be interested in hearing what people think, and also was wondering if there is other language that people have found encourage a more inclusive hiring process. Or, language that you’ve seen which might also be particularly restrictive to underrepresented populations?

    https://www.arts-emergency.org/noticeboard/21/04/write-better-job-adverts

    1. Not So NewReader*

      This is really great. I’d like to see what Alison would add to this.
      I went right down the list say, “Yep, that’s right. Yep, that one is right too! Yep…”

  28. Domino*

    I have a close work friend. They’re the only one I feel comfortable venting to about the stupid politics of our workplace. My work friend just got offered a new job elsewhere and will be leaving me soon! I am thrilled for them, but sad for me.

    How have you dealt with this? And has the departure of a work friend ever motivated you to find a new job?

    (P.S. Apologies if this appears multiple times… the Submit button is behaving oddly for me today!)

    1. JustTellMe*

      For me it has helped push me in the direction more intentional job hunting if my mindset was already there and perhaps I was already casually looking. But usually it takes several good people to leave before I’m really feeling like “I gotta get out of here.” But as far as work friends to vent to, over time I’ve learned that it’s usually not a good idea to vent unfiltered to anyone, even if you think they are “safe”. So during times when I feel compelled to vent or gossip, I usually just send a wall of text in a message to a personal friend about it, even though my friend doesn’t know the details of my workplace, they can still serve that purpose of listening and agreeing with me on how stupid something is.

      1. Domino*

        That’s definitely good advice! I should have specified in my message that this person is also a good friend outside of work, and they vent equally to me.

        I used to have more close friends at work, but this is pretty much the last one standing… There are other people I like, of course, but no one I ever talk to after 5 PM. So yeah, I’m really feeling like “nothing’s keeping me here” at this point. I’m dreading not having someone to side-snark with during all-staff meetings, sigh.

    2. Lemon Zinger*

      I *was* the work friend whose leaving got others to leave! I was sad to leave my workplace and colleagues, but I was going to a job with much better pay and more autonomy, so I knew it was the right thing. Showing that the grass really is greener seemed to inspire some folks in my office, and several of them left in the months after I did. If you’re actually genuine friends, you’ll maintain that friendship outside of work.

      1. Fran Fine (formerly Diahann Carroll)*

        I, too, caused a mass exodus at my last company (whoops), but I don’t really keep in touch with my former work friends anymore.

        Domino, if you feel like it’s time to go and your work friend’s leaving has given you that push you didn’t know you needed, it’s okay to follow suit. It happens.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Most definitely it motivated me.

      But the raw truth is that losing the friend was the last straw. It’s all the problems that we complained about that were the real cause of my leaving.

    4. Your Local Cdn*

      Yes & yes! The work friend was also the only effective supervisor left and the way they were treated was kind of like a look into the future for me so it was a combination of that with not having a trusted person on the team anymore. We’re both much happier for leaving and still very much in touch.

  29. Anon, y mouse?*

    Hello all,

    I’ve been dealing with a situation since I started my current position (~1.5 years ago) that I was hoping to get your perspective on.

    Historically at my company, there was Group A and Group B. Groups A and B handled the same responsibilities, but for different product lines.
    When I started, it was right when a reorg was happening where Group A now took all of the responsibilities for both product lines and Group B (the group I joined) took the responsibilities of manufacturing both product lines (a responsibility I held at my previous job). This reorg resulted in a much cleaner divide of responsibilities, in my opinion.

    The issue is that my boss has been constantly fighting this division of responsibilities since it happened, has been calling the reorg a ‘demotion’ of our group and has been trying to claw back responsibilities held by Group A.
    This has resulted in confusion of responsibilities, tension between teams and demoralizing our team as our boss has perpetuated the ‘demotion’ mentality.
    I know that the responsibilities held by our group are crucial to the success of our business and am proud to be a part of Group B.

    How do I get my boss to understand that a) this reorg is not a demotion b) we have enough work with the as-defined responsibilities of Group B without trying to steal back responsibilities held by Group A and c) what they are doing is hurting morale and the team?

    I don’t know if my boss would be open to a conversation about this or if a conversation would be enough to change a mindset that has lasted this long.

    What do y’all think?
    Thank you for your help!

    1. LKW*

      Don’t get involved. This could be a demotion for your boss in that his expected track to career progression has more layers or isn’t as clear cut. Or it’s put the person that used to be his peer at a higher point in the org chart.

      Do your work, coordinate as expected by your boss’ boss – keep your head down. Your boss will either come around on his own, have expectations laid out clearly if he can’t come around on his own, or he’ll leave and the new person will be fine with the org structure.

      1. Anon, y mouse?*

        Thanks for your response!
        In the org chart, my boss and the Group A counterpart are on the exact same level… which is where it was before with no more levels in between. So this really isn’t a demotion… the redistribution of responsibilities just rubbed them the wrong way (I think because they see the other team’s responsibilities as being more ‘high profile’).
        I appreciate your advice though – I guess I’ll just continue as I was!

    2. KitKat*

      I disagree somewhat with the other commenter. This isn’t yours to fix (repeat that to yourself 100x! Not yours to fix!) but I think it’s worth mentioning *once*, in private.

      Boss: Ever since the demotion, blah blah blah
      You: You know, I actually really enjoy working on the manufacturing side and don’t view it as a demotion at all. It can even be a little demoralizing to hear you refer to it that way! Anyway, to answer your question…

      That way you are signaling that you’re not on board with his language and that it might even cause problems for the team, without putting yourself in a position of trying to convince him of anything or make yourself any kind of squeaky wheel.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Not your battle. You are fortunate to have a clear handle on things and that will serve you well in the long run.
      Just my opinion, but if the boss does not change his thinking you can probably expect to see that boss leave in a bit.

  30. Alice*

    I *literally* just got a call from a company I interviewed for. I was their second choice… but they liked me so much, they’re opening a second position for me!! I have to wait until next week for a formal offer, so I’m staying quiet until then, but unless there’s anything glaringly wrong with the contract I’m going to take the job. My current position turned out to be totally different from the job posting and with tons of management issues. The only snag is my contract (EU-based) requires me to give 45 days notice, but I’m excited to go back to doing what I studied for :)

  31. Mischa*

    Do any attorneys/paralegals/other legal professionals have any tips on maintaining digital research files/notes? My current method is pasting case excerpts from Westlaw to a OneNote file, which is fine…but it could be better.

    1. LadyByTheLake*

      I would love to hear — when I first started out of course I had to photocopy everything from the books and then used highlighters and post-its. Now I save the Westlaw cases to a folder (and still highlight the sections I want). Most of my research now is statutory and regulatory, so now I just tend to save the sections I want in a Word document (along with my notes of what I looked at and what was (or wasn’t) there.

    2. RecoveringSWO*

      I experimented with putting notes in OneNote or the research website’s notes option, and then reverted back to using a Word document due to formatting issues. I found myself frustrated and wasting time needing to change the copy and pasted case law into whatever format the Court/style book requires (especially if for some god awful reason it wouldn’t change or would mess up spacing or something…ugh!). I’ve noticed that other attorneys will have one huge word document with all sorts of case law, but I try to have separate Word docs based on the issue and save that in a folder with finished cases touching on the same issue. It’s certainly not high tech, but it’s more efficient for me.

      1. Glomzarization, Esq.*

        I have a similar scheme. I maintain several folders, each covering a different topic, in which I save cases, data, and forms for the work at hand. Some materials are duplicated across more than one folder because the information applies to more than one topic.

    3. Anonnington*

      There is an entire profession devoted to this: digital asset management.

      There is free and low cost DAM software out there. I would do some googling and find something. There are options designed to be used by a single person, like what you described.