my employee wants flexible hours in a job that doesn’t allow it

A reader writes:

I manage an employee who is a hard worker and great with our patrons. She is also a single mom, so I worked with her to create a customized schedule that would accommodate her parental responsibilities. However, she has interpreted my initial flexibility as flex scheduling and now she comes and goes whenever she pleases. The has created an issue with scheduling and coverage. When I explained that she would need to get permission to adjust her set schedule, she was taken aback. She feels that since she is a diligent, hardworking, and self-motivated employee, it shouldn’t matter when she is at work, as long as she gets the job done. But we do not have flex scheduling because it would be a nightmare to ensure we had adequate coverage, nd I cannot make an exception for her. Do you have any advice on how I can handle this issue?

I answer this question — and four others — over at Inc. today, where I’m revisiting letters that have been buried in the archives here from years ago (and sometimes updating/expanding my answers to them). You can read it here.

Other questions I’m answering there today include:

  • Our employees are apathetic about our company-wide meetings
  • I’m nervous about managing a smart intern
  • What should I say about a shady former colleague?
  • Should we refund vacation days if the office closes for weather?

{ 265 comments… read them below }

      1. RJ*

        “Don’t they realize how lucky they are…” is such an entitled response, especially when it is exceedingly rare for employers to realize how lucky THEY are that people are willing to trade the majority of their working hours for a set wage to make the company rich or work on the founder’s dream, or whatever it is.

        LW: Take “Don’t they realize how lucky they are” and replace it with “Don’t you know who I am?” in a customer service situation and reflect on how gross that sounds.

        1. e271828*

          A 30-minute all-hands status update meeting (that could be covered by a well-written short email of bullet points) is wasting how many person-hours? Figure at least 45 minutes per person to allow for the interruption and meeting, and odds are good the meeting runs over a bit too…

          1. Kate*

            Exactly that. No one needs this meeting! This is the exact example of “this meeting could be an email.”

            How OP “feels” about her work, and how she wants employees to “feel” about their work is getting prioritized over actually working.

        2. BabyElephantWalk*

          This is an employer who thinks their employees should be falling all over themselves to thank their company. An all hands meeting just to update on how well the company is doing and show off? Make that optional.

          I also suggest really looking at who benefits from these meetings. Do they genuinely do anything for the employees who attend, or do they simply feed egos of a few people. If it’s the second, they are a waste of everyone’s time and need to be rethought.

          1. Grizabella the Glamour Cat*

            If these meetings did anything much for the employees, I would think they’d be a little more interested in attending. I think that’s your answer right there! 8-D

    1. Heidi*

      It sounds like the LW might be conflating “engagement” with “ostentatious enthusiasm.” I kind of want to shake her by the shoulders for being upset that her employees want to do their work. I’m also not sure where LW is coming from with, “does that passion only thrive in stressful environments?” Is she saying that the stress creates the passion? I think that it’s more likely that the passion compels people to put up with the stress.

      1. Mongrel*

        “I kind of want to shake her by the shoulders for being upset that her employees want to do their work.”

        Another question that never seems to be answered from on high, How will this help me do my job?

      2. RebelwithMouseyHair*

        conflating “engagement” with “ostentatious enthusiasm” is about it. I had a boss who would suddenly snap his fingers and expect us to drop tools and go drink champagne to celebrate an order coming in. But we didn’t want to go back to work after that: alcohol doesn’t actually help in our line of work! I expect he thought we were ungrateful too.

    2. Foxy Hedgehog*

      LW 2: LOL at “passion”.
      Please note that being “passionate” about your job is almost never measured well by the desire to attend weekly company-wide meetings. I might even suggest that the two are negatively correlated: the most passionate employees have the least desire to attend weekly company-wide meetings.

      1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

        I like doing the work I do. My interviewer asked if I really wanted to do llama grooming for an entire day. I assured her I did. That was twenty years ago. I still like doing llama grooming all day. I do not like sitting in a room full of vaguely familiar faces waiting for the part that I understand which ultimately consists of “the llama groomers will continue grooming.”
        Why am I not excited about doing my job?
        Know your audience.

        1. Quickbeam*

          I’ve worked for the past 20 years at a company that requires attendance at manadatory meetings due to the org chart, not what I actually do. It’s painfully tedious. I filled whole sketchbooks with doodles. It’s as if it is a check box on the manager to do list.

      2. ecnaseener*

        Right?! Maybe they don’t want to leave their desks *because* of how much they care about the work being done at said desks.

      3. Ama*

        Also I can’t think of a job where *weekly* company wide updates are necessary when you have more than about a dozen employees. I’m at a company of about 35 and monthly all staff meetings proved too much. Giving really granular detail about every single thing that was happening was just turning into information overload.

    3. Aphrodite*

      This is probably THE irritating thing about some management that really gets to me. It is a job. It’s work. It’s not a passion, it’s not overly interesting. I care very much about doing an excellent work because my ethics are strong. I strive to always do my best. BUT I do not “care” about the job beyond my desire to do it well. Repeated attempts to force cheerleading do not work. Please, just stop it! and cut the damn meetings back to those strictly necessary and not any more.

      1. James*

        I have more or less the exact opposite view of my job–it’s a passion, it’s something I feel very strongly for. I still hate meetings like this. I’m passionate, but I’m passionate about doing the thing, not having done the thing. Cheerleading seems pointless, at least in large meetings like this. If you want to say I’m doing a good job give me a bonus, a raise, something material.

        1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

          Same. If you want me to feel like a valued part of the company, it will be through something specific to me or my group. A shout out at a company wide meeting has that MLM sell vibe.
          Some people are inspired by that. I’m inspired by an email from my supervisor saying Jane in X department said I did good job.
          That’s about me.

          1. Kate*

            This is how I feel about award dinners. Please, for the love of gawd…the amount you spent to fly me two states away and back, to put me in a hotel for two nights, the cabs, the per diems, and let’s not forget renting out the restaurant and the BIG DINNER and toasts with a desk trinket at the end?


            1. ostentia*

              I felt the same way about my old company’s Christmas party. Every year they rented out a gigantic nightclub, book a live performer (in 2019 they had Tom Cochrane), fly dozens of employees from the US to Toronto and put them up for two nights, and everyone gets a gift worth hundreds of dollars (in 2019 it was brand new airpods). It’s an obscenely expensive party. It’s a fantastic time, but I mean…I would rather have a big Christmas bonus.

              1. Catt*

                Want to hate that party even more? If you are Canadian, the party and gift can be considered a taxable benefit and is reportable on your T4! Such fun!

        2. Sad good security analyst*

          My job actually gets worse the more attention we draw because if we draw attention we end up in the news and if we end up in the news there are people who go ooooo they got an award time to mess with them. All company meetings are cringey exercises in oh great what are we going to be targeted with now?

          I love my job. Hate meetings like this

          1. Chilly Delta Blues*

            Also what’s stopping them from doing monthly newsletters? They can put all the updates in there and even link back to info that better explains the overall goals they’re working towards.

            We do those now and I’m way more likely to read them during slower moments each month than be super pepped for a big monthly meeting I have to schedule around.

            1. ThisIsTheHill*

              Or, you know, a conference call that employees take at their desks & pretend to watch a PowerPoint while actually working? If I had to physically attend every meeting I’m invited to, I would never get anything done.

        3. JB*

          ‘If you want to say I’m doing a good job give me a bonus, a raise, something material.’ – exactly.

          I think a lot of management misses this. They think gathering everyone in a room and saying ‘look how great we’re doing!’ will be heard as a celebration of the workers.

          That’s not how it comes across, though. It comes across as a self-celebration by management. Unless you’re naming some specific people to applaud their contributions, it feels like you’re taking everyone away from their actual work so they can clap politely while you pat yourself on the back.

          1. Arts Akimbo*

            This! Right! Here!

            This is the perfect distillation of the problem with this kind of meeting– management views it one way, workers another, and then management expects the workers to cheer.

          2. Sandangel*

            Even then, it’s still pulling people away from their work and leaving everyone else bored and annoyed. The store I used to work at did that a lot, and every time I was just waiting for it to be over so I could get back to my department already.

        4. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

          I absolutely love being in IT. Computers are my passion and I get a thrill every time I solve a problem – then I go home and tinker with my home PC.

          But I don’t like meetings unless they are well planned, structured and have a clear purpose and short. I try to keep the number of meetings my staff have to go to to a minimum and I’ll run a mile from any expectation of showing active enthusiasm about something. Then again, I’m British and we do tend to shy away from seeming too enthusiastic about anything.

          1. lailaaaaah*

            +1 to all this. Also, because I work in IT, I usually need to work through meetings and training sessions to make sure everything’s still functioning okay; we don’t stop getting calls because some member of senior management has decided we absolutely *must* have a presentation about the direction the company is going in.

      2. RB Purchase*

        I feel kind of “passionate” about my job in the sense that I really enjoy the work, I think I’m very good at it, and I can see myself staying happy with it for many years to come. I don’t feel “grateful” for my job because I know that they are getting at least as much out of me as I am from them. That’s how jobs work.

        A *monthly* company-wide meeting about the status of the company is something I could not force myself to give one single sh*t about.

        1. Artemesia*

          We had an annual meeting like that — status and expected changes in the new year — and that was tolerated, even maybe enjoyed because refreshments and seeing folks you usually didn’t get to see often. ANNUAL. More often than that. Nope.

      3. BlueKazoo*

        I used to work in biglaw and we had occasional “state of the firm” meetings (supposed to be quarterly but biglaw). They were optional but most of us went because we got info that wasn’t public, was unavailable outside those meetings, and often impacted us.

        Also there was always a Q&A session. Which was sometimes eye rolling, but was taken seriously by the chair of the firm. He’d look into some things and report back. I appreciated it. For instance, in the remodel of our floors a layout issue came up that seemed arbitrary and got old fast. He actually went with the building people and they measured and explained why it happened. No, it didn’t fix it but at least we knew he cared enough to look into if it was fixable.

    4. STG*

      Yea, this reeks of ‘You should be thankful that you have us’.

      Uh…we came to an agreement together that I would do X and you would pay me to do X. I don’t need to be extra thankful just because we came to that agreement.

      1. Autumnheart*

        Also, if we, the workers, are making you, the company, pots of money such that you’d like to celebrate all the money you’re making, maybe you should be the thankful ones.

      2. Grizabella the Glamour Cat*

        Yes, well, the LW literally said, “Don’t they realize how lucky they are…”

        Any time a boss says those words about his/her employees, it’s cringeworthy and gross, imo. I don’t even much care what the rest of the sentence consists of!

    5. laowai_gaijin*

      Yeah. I happen to be lucky enough to be in a job I am passionate and enthusiastic about. Meetings are still exercises in boredom. That’s life. Death, taxes, boring meetings.

    6. Girasol*

      I worked for a company that held “coffee talks” about once a month. Our IT department would pile into the cafeteria and hear a summary of the company’s financial health, which we cared about because we had a good profit sharing program which could be a real wealth builder if the company did well. In addition, each month some expert from another department would come and present something that he cared about. R&D explained what new discoveries they made and what products were coming down the pipe. Finance would get into the nitty gritty of cash flow or investment. HR would explain how they compared compensation for each job category with other companies to be sure that they paid among the leaders. These folks didn’t drone out some dumbed-down sanitized slide set, though; they talked like a friend might tell about something he was really interested in, and that and the profit sharing made most of us care too. But the culture was different, perhaps. They always made it sound like they were lucky that such great people as we were worked there. No one ever said we were lucky. We just knew we were.

    7. The Price is Wrong Bob*

      Seriously, they should be grateful I just want to do my work? And to maintain business continuity? Unless the announcement is extra days off, money they will give me, or some kind of actual benefit that happens on company time onsite, it’s probably something that could have been an email or a company intranet blog post. I go to the webinar with things like quarterly financials because I am interested but that is also recorded and not mandatory. So I can split it up, or watch it on a day when I don’t have an urgent task come up. People hate pointless meetings, they mind less when they feel they get more out of the meeting than if they had not had one. If the employees en masse feel it is pointless, it is probably hindering operations instead of helping them. It goes back to Alison’s excellent point about toxic positivity!

  1. Dust Bunny*

    LW 3: Cut back on the meetings. Seriously, my job only does company-wide meetings for screaming emergencies or big huge good news. So, maybe once a year? Monthly is way too often. Send out a monthly report or have meetings by department as needed or some other much-less-onerous thing.

    1. Lucious*

      Id like to clarify something: Companywide meetings are perfectly reasonable (and even operationally necessary ) IF they contain relevant and valuable information everyone should have at the same time.

      If companywide meetings are instead used as a vehicle for Management to practice monologues on off topic tangents with a captive audience, yeah. Those should be fineable OSHA violations.

      1. anonymous73*

        Management’s reasonable can be different from employee’s reasonable. Unless there’s a change or update affecting me personally, I don’t care about all the other BS they want to tell me about. Send an email. If I want to read it, I’ll read it. And a monthly meeting is excessive.

      2. Excel Jedi*

        Agreed. We have 30-40 staff and an ambitious strategic plan. Monthly all-staff meetings are a minimum for us, because otherwise we’d be having 4 or 5 meetings with the 25 folk on each of our initiatives. It’s literally easier for us to get it all out of the way at once, and we find it’s good for everyone to know what’s going on, even if they aren’t directly working on it.

        That would not be the case at my last job, which had closer to 500 employees. When we had company-wide meetings, it was usually a lot of ego stroking and company “pride” nonsense, which none of us staff wanted to witness.

      3. Bubbly*

        I worked for a university and our quarterly department wide meetings would be an excuse for the dean to give us a 20 minute POWERPOINT lecture about his daughter’s accomplishments. They ended up starting to take attendance because people just weren’t showing up to these droning, end of the day meetings.

      4. NotAnotherManager!*

        This. I am not a fan of having meetings for the sake of having meetings or having meetings for company rah-rah time. We have full-organization meetings for large announcements that affect everyone (the office is moving, the CEO is changing, this big thing happened and we want to forestall rumors and give a forum for questions, we’re changing X policy) or we might have a drop-in event celebrating certain accomplishments or as a thank you to swing by and get a treat/sandwich/swag/etc.

        My department has 50 people in it. The biggest get-togethers we have are lunch and learns or an annual, catered appreciation lunch – both of which are entirely optional. We may have a drop-in breakfast if we’ve had a bunch of new people start and want to give people a chance to meet (in non-COVID times). Nearly everything else can be an email.

        My question to OP2 is what is the point of these meetings and what do the employees get out of them? It sounds like they want the employees to at least want to attend, if not be excited about attending, but what do the employees get out of (or what does management think they get out of) these meetings?

      5. Momma Bear*

        We do company meetings as-needed. In between there are top level manager meetings. Things discussed there that affect the masses are expected to be disseminated down from their department manager. IMO that’s called leadership.

    2. James*

      Agreed. I’ve been to precisely two company-wide meetings that I thought had a chance of being worth attending (been with the company more than ten years), and neither one actually fulfilled its promise. If they required even monthly office-wide meetings it would be a giant pain and would be resented by pretty much everyone. I can’t think of anything that would be said in such a meeting that couldn’t be addressed adequately in an email.

      Obviously all companies are different–I’ve seen companies where three people meeting in the breakroom counted as a company-wide meeting. But if staff resent it it’s likely that the meetings aren’t helping the company much.

      1. Environmental Compliance*

        As a timing thing – yeah, monthly scheduled meetings as a concept aren’t too horrendous.

        But as with any meeting, if it could have been an email – yes, it’s awful.

    3. Joielle*

      We do them quarterly, which seems reasonable. There are usually a few workplace updates (COVID-related plans, introducing new staff, etc) and then we focus on a different topic each meeting – one meeting was an update from our DEI committee, one was on some new legislation in our field, etc. There usually are some pat-ourselves-on-the-back-type updates, but only a couple of minutes’ worth. They’re fairly interesting and I don’t mind attending a few times a year.

      1. Sorrischian*

        My employer does something similar – and because we’ve got people spread across the whole US with all sorts of different schedules, they do it as a webcast that’s posted on the company intranet the next day, so the only reason you’d absolutely have to join live is if you wanted to submit something for the Q&A.

    4. Olivia Mansfield*

      Yeah, monthly is a LOT. I’m in higher education, so we have a big college-wide meeting once at the beginning of the fall semester and once at the end of the spring semester.

    5. Lenora Rose*

      I was with a company until 2019 that did a quarterly meeting for all staff at that location to give us updates on the company’s other locations, highlight the most important current location-specific cool stuff we might not otherwise know if it wasn’t our department, award workdate anniversaries, and show off baby pictures. They’d use one a year or so to highlight charitable work people could sign up for (You got paid time if you decided to go package hampers at Christmas or join a Habitat for Humanity work site for a day or such)

      Once a quarter, complete with popcorn and/or pastries, was definitely often enough. And a lot of people were honest they went for the popcorn. And these seem a lot less onerous than he kind of meeting this was talking about.

      Just a straight “Here’s stuff we do” meeting once a month? No thanks.

    6. Clisby*

      Before I retired, we might have had one or two company-wide meetings a year. Weekly? How much can happen in a week? Send out a weekly newsletter. No, wait, even that’s too much. Make it monthly.

      1. Tara*

        Worked as a temp once for an organization that did weekly meetings. Absolutely soul crushing for the most part.

        1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

          I once worked as a temp for a large bank that did daily, scripted meetings (very much reminded me of daily announcements in school). At least I was paid hourly rather than salaried.

    7. Ace in the Hole*

      We have monthly all-staff meetings about status updates, major organizational/operational changes, policy updates, etc. Once in a blue moon they might congratulate or praise staff for something exceptional… for example, last week’s meeting included a few minutes of thanking staff for great emergency response when the building caught on fire earlier in the month. The meetings take about 10-20 minutes at most and are scheduled right at the end of the day so they won’t interrupt anything.

      These meetings are useful for us. Written communication skills are not a job requirement for most of our staff so just handing out a memo and expecting people to read/understand it is not reasonable. But management doesn’t expect any kind of enthusiasm or excitement for these meetings. Showing up, listening attentively, and answering any questions you’re asked is all that’s required.

      1. Your local password resetter*

        That must be a very well run meeting!
        It seems like a big part of the success of these meetings is how short they are. Most people won’t mind 10-20 minutes, but will rapidly zone out once you’re over an hour in.

      2. Death by monthly meeting*

        This sounds delightful compared to my companies monthly meeting. We get a quick update on how the company is doing then go round robin around the table and each dept head drones on about whatever they feel is important that month (there is no schedule or agenda). Which always leads to chit chat/bs-ing between 2 or more people about different projects that don’t apply to 90% of the group. This continues for the next two to three HOURS. They don’t even talk to anyone from my dept but we are all expected to just sit there and act interested while we slowly die inside. Every. Month.

    8. ClaireW*

      I used to work for a company that had these WEEKLY, it was ridiculous – Friday afternoons UK time, Friday mornings US time. They introduced new staff and then random managers would get up to tell us about their team sales targets or marketing events or whatever – rarely relevant to us engineers. It was mandatory and absolutely painful, we (UK) all just took it as the end of our work week.

    9. Alex (they/them)*

      mine does them every week. Eeryone has them running on Microsoft Teams in the background while they do their actual work.

  2. Alex*

    Bring in food and drinks and people will come. Attendance at conferences dropped significantly once the food was no longer provided. All of the conferences could have been an email.

    1. UKDancer*

      Definitely. I’ve a friend who works as a trainer for various companies and she said her evaluations are always better when the course is somewhere which provides biscuits than somewhere which doesnt.

      1. Lyudie*

        Hahaha I’m getting masters in training and bringing food to training sessions was literally mentioned in one of my textbooks.

        1. UKDancer*

          Yes. It shouldn’t be a major factor in the evaluation of training but people are happier with training / corporate events if there’s food provided. I guess people like to feel they’re getting something in return for their time. Even if the event is something they attend as part of their work, getting something for it even if it’s a biscuit makes them happier to do it.

          Also give people a toilet break often enough. I was at a conference pre-Covid and the conference ran from 9.30 to 11.30 with back to back speakers and no breaks. Most people want the loo more often than that so they were getting up and leaving anyway when they needed to, which caused disruption to the other people seated around them. Even if they don’t want the toilet, people need a break if they’re to be able to stay focused and alert.

        2. A Feast of Fools*

          It’s even better if it’s food people want to eat. I cry a little inside every time I show up to a training/meeting that’s first thing in the morning (“breakfast provided”) and the food tables are loaded with sugary pastries and donuts.

          Would it kill the planners to have a couple of hot trays full of *any* savory protein options? Or, if Sterno cans aren’t an option, a selection of meats and cheeses, and maybe some fruit and a veggie tray? Hardboiled eggs?

          1. Environmental Compliance*

            YES. Even just put out bagels or toast or something with the Sugar Bombs. And an easily available water option, not just coffee.

            1. EchoGirl*

              I agree with bagels. Most of the things I can think of as far as hot protein options (either meat or eggs) would tend to require more effort and could create other issues (e.g. keeping a tray of meat hot could make the entire room smell like meat, and some people would find that intolerable), but it’s simple enough to put out a tray of bagels and cream cheese next to the donuts and pastries. (And this is as someone who would personally be perfectly happy with just the “sugar bombs”, but I’ve done just enough event organizing to be aware that some people really need something other than that.) If you have access to a fridge to store excess, individual cups of yogurt also springs to mind as a possibility.

          2. Freya*

            And if you want to have sweet things, a fruit bowl for the diabetics, please? And one for all the people who just want some?

            (this message brought to you by a large number of conferences where they ask people for food issues, confirm them, and then don’t supply anything I can eat)

            1. Freya*

              Ever had to explain to a conference venue that sandwiches that have butter on are not lactose-free?

        3. Mockingdragon*

          My boyfriend tells the story of taking a business/presentation kind of class in high school, for which they all had to give small group presentations as a final project. His group was the only one to bring donuts, and the one that got the highest grade. When other groups complained about the “bribery” the teacher just pointed out how much he’d emphasized feeding your audience!

    2. T J Juckson*

      Yes! Make events ones you would want to attend yourself! When I had the chance to organize a symposium, I built in more short coffee breaks with a wider variety of snacks. I got pushback initially during the planning stage, but the event itself was widely praised and people specifically lauded what a relaxed and pleasant time it was. NOBODY, not even very eager academics, want to sit through 3 hours of nonstop talks. In a workplace situation, to me that would translate as a) decent food/drink, b) brevity, c) not having to come in early/stay late, d) awareness of workload so not scheduled during a crunch period or when it will cause people to fall behind.

      Also, way back in college, departments would advertise their majors & courses with “get to know us” events, and those that offered pizza or substantial food were always the best attended. (I do not know if that translated to more students enrolling, but whatever. Maybe some people did randomly become physicists after being lured by pizza).

      1. e271828*

        A place I worked had to institute Firm Rules about when the cookie spreads provided for talks could be approached!

    3. Rosemary*

      Also: schedule them towards the end of the workday! My team does bi-weekly “demos”, but it’s always scheduled for 3pm on Friday, and you’re encouraged to show up with a fun beverage of choice (currently all wfh and doing it over zoom, so no company-provided treats). It’s much harder to get people to attend an “optional”, essentially team-bonding meeting if it’s 2pm and they’re in the middle of their work groove or thinking about having that report ready for their other meeting at 4pm. Pick a time when people are winding down, but haven’t yet clocked out.

    4. BlueKazoo*

      Yes, food. And maybe some bling. I know not everyone likes it, but I really enjoy getting things like water bottles or reusable bags or whatever. Is it necessary? Of course not. But it’s more likely I’ll stop by if they’re giving out something.

    5. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

      This was quite a while ago but in an engineering firm I worked for they had to have cross-department planning sessions to schedule the engineering works around each other. Attendance was poor as these would go on for hours and were very brain intensive. Then suddenly everyone wanted to go to them.

      The meeting organiser had arranged with the staff canteen to have bacon butties and hash browns delivered to the meeting.

  3. Dust Bunny*

    LW 1: Yeah, and?

    Lots of us are diligent, hardworking, and self-motivated but that doesn’t magically change our jobs’ coverage needs. My department is staffed by four people: Three recent Employees of the Year and one new guy who hasn’t had the chance to earn it yet, but we still have core hours.

    I’m not sure what the question is here, really. You worked with her to tweak her schedule but the needs of the job aren’t endlessly flexible.

    1. henrietta*

      I had this happen to me. I re-hired a former employee (who left for non-work reasons), and since they already knew the job, I thought I could be a little flexible with scheduling. Sadly, this led to them thinking it didn’t matter when the work got done, and could skive off for a week at a time. My ‘no, that’s really not how this works’ meeting got me another resignation. Which I fully expected, and I realized the fault was mine for not being firmer from the (second) jump. Lesson learned.

    2. A*

      Exactly – the business needs are the business needs. Sounds like they are in a function that requires coverage so it’s understandable that flex scheduling isn’t a viable option. If they need that flexibility, they need to look into lines of work / positions where coverage is not an issue and flex scheduling is an option. I’m not passionate about my line of work, but chose it in part because I prefer to come and go as I please and complete the work on my own schedule – but that preference also eliminates a lot of career paths. It’s all about planning ahead.

      1. Librarian of SHIELD*

        I have a coverage based job, and I tend to think of my job as having two basic requirements. #1 is that I complete a certain set of tasks during my work week and #2 is that I am present in the building for a set period of time each day in case someone needs me for something. There are weeks when I could finish the assigned tasks with plenty of scheduled hours left over, but that doesn’t mean I can go home because requirement #2 didn’t stop existing.

        1. A*

          Exactly – I was in the same boat prior to switching lines of work. It’s coverage + presence / set work hours etc.

        2. Analytical Tree Hugger*

          Yes, this! The employee LW1 wrote in about is NOT “getting the job done” since the job requires coverage.

        3. starsaphire*

          Yep. I had a couple of these back in the day, that I used to call “Minesweeper jobs.” (Am I dating myself?)

          I was at the desk from 7 to 4, or 8 to 5, or whatever. I answered the phone when it rang, typed anything anyone handed me to type, and played a lot of Minesweeper. Or Solitaire. I only got up from the chair when my relief showed up. She put my Dell Crossword magazine into the drawer, took her Vogue or People magazine out of the drawer, and that was about as exciting as it ever got.

          Sometimes the butt in the chair is the point of the job.

          1. lailaaaaah*

            Not quite on this level, but I definitely get Minesweeper days – 90% of the time it’s frantically busy, 10% it’s relaxed enough that I can read a book at my desk, but I never know which it’s going to be until I show up in the morning.

        4. Me*

          Yup, as a librarian, that is absolutely part of my job. I’m there for when people need me. Like today, I spent the first three hours of my shift doing some of my actual tasks (our monthly newsletter social media, answering the phone). Then I spent the next hour and forty five minutes doing not a whole lot (reading tumblr, having a root beer float with a colleague to celebrate her birthday, staring off into space). Then three people showed up with 15 minutes to closing and I had to help all of them. Sure, in another scenario I could’ve left three hours into my shift. But that “wasted” hour and forty five minutes was also just so I would be there for the last 15.

    3. RB Purchase*

      To it it kind of seemed like maybe the employee wasn’t aware that this is a coverage-based position because of LW’s openness to work with her specific needs. Or maybe she’s just not as great of an employee as she thinks she is and has taken a mile from the inch she was given.

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        I wonder if the employee was aware of the coverage aspect but thought that it didn’t apply to her because the supervisor had worked with her on the schedule? Sort of an unintentional take a mile when given an inch situation?

      2. Dust Bunny*

        “I worked with her to create a customized schedule that would accommodate her parental responsibilities.”

        That sounds like the employee was well aware that her situation was an exception.

        And she might be an absolutely stellar employee, but that doesn’t change the needs of the specific position.

        1. TiffIf*


          I’ve worked a customized schedule that in no way meant I could just work whenever I wanted. When I was in college, I worked in a number of on-campus student positions and all of them were customized to my class schedule–and all of them had set coverage. For a while in one of the roles I was senior and so I got to gather everyone’s class schedules for the semester and create the schedule to make sure we had coverage for the office during open hours. Occasionally, there was no one who could cover the office because we all had conflicting classes; in those rare cases, we would close the office, and put up a sign telling people to go to the department head’s office if they needed assistance (department head was the only full time, non student employee position and their office was down the hall).

          Anyone who mistook the customized work schedule for flexible “come in whenever you like” would have been let go fast.

    4. Momma Bear*

      Agreed. Even in a job with flex, someone probably needs to know where you are some of the time so they can plan or get your help. I know that some times of the year I cannot be too “off” my regular schedule and may even work a weekend or two. That’s a job. The employee has already received a custom schedule and is simply being asked to follow it. Reiterate why she can’t flit about. She can decide to stick to the agreement or find a more flexible job.

  4. Dust Bunny*

    LW3: Both my current supervisor and I are probably objectively smarter and better-educated than our previous (shared) supervisor, but he had a lot more experience and a slightly different skillset, which was why he was in that job and we weren’t. It’s not a straight line.

    1. mcfizzle*

      The art of managing is definitely a different realm. The best supervisor I’ve ever had was supportive when needed and did a great job of advocating for the team. I couldn’t have cared less that she didn’t have a degree and we all did.

    2. Bamcheeks*

      I think one of the fascinating things about growing older is leaving behind that school mindset of “cleverness” being on a single dimensional scale. Twenty five years ago when I was at school and we were all doing exams and we were all being ranked all the time, and it was logical to believe in a scale of smartness with some at the top, some in the middle and some at the bottom. Now? It’s completely irrelevant that I was better at maths than R when she’s got a doctorate and fifteen years project management experience, or B who has has taught a couple of hundred children to read, or S who has run health engagement programmes with budgets of hundreds of thousands, or J who can point at a building in their city centre and tell you which bits he built—

      1. Bamcheeks*

        (And you know, I also have my current-stage-of-life friends who haven’t worked-for-money for fifteen years but who have brought up four kids or supported their community of disabled folk or spent ten years in a theatre group on the punk/DIY scene or organised Pride events or — )

      2. fhqwhgads*

        I mean…some people are smarter than others, but in most situations it’s not relevant. Whether the intern is smarter than the LW is unknowable by us, but it also doesn’t matter. I think the LW is thinking of intelligence and knowledge as interchangeable and they’re not.

    3. never mind where I work*

      Once upon a time, I was attending a talk where the speaker was going on about Socrates, whom the speaker said was the wisest man who ever lived. A sailor got up and said “I don’t know much about this Socrates guy, but if he were on my ship he wouldn’t be able to tell the mainsail from the poop deck.”

      I made that up, of course, but where I work, lots of people are really, really smart. They wouldn’t have gotten to the point they have if they weren’t. But if I asked them to tell me the difference between an 050, an 060, and an 082 field, they’d be completely confused. (They’re the tags for LC, NLM, and DDC call numbers in a MARC record. Still confused? They’d be too.) Brilliance doesn’t equal ability or education. The best manager I worked with hadn’t been beyond high school. The worst was getting a PhD in management.

      And if your intern brags about being smarter than you, she’s really not all that smart.

    4. Sleepless*

      My boss and I went to school together and she is convinced that I am “smarter” than her. I’m not, though sometimes I think my brain works in a more linear fashion than hers and doesn’t get ensnared in stuff on the way to a conclusion. But she’s a much better strategist than me and she certainly has better communication skills. There’s a reason she’s the boss and I’m a valued individual contributor.

  5. Dust Bunny*

    LW5: My job never makes us “pay” for inclement weather days. If it’s not safe to get to work (or it might not be safe to get home) people shouldn’t feel forced to come in.

    1. RJ*

      I agree. If everyone else gets a “surprise” day off, it may be legal to make someone use a scheduled vacation day, but it’s a sh!tty thing to do. Besides, if the weather was bad enough to close the office, it might also prevent a person from doing the thing they booked off for.

    2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      My employer gives us a choice on inclement weather days – work from home or take the day off completely (using PTO). It’s not perfect, but it’s definitely better to work from home than potentially getting stuck because of bad weather.

      1. Autumnheart*

        I’m completely happy to work from home on inclement days. It’s not the idea of working that I object to, it’s the 1+ hour commute in each direction, white-knuckling it on black ice in stop-and-go traffic, that I don’t want to do. Let me just hop on the VPN and have a whole day of productivity at home! Please!

        1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          Exactly. My shift supervisor is back to “encouraging” everyone to make sure you are taking your laptops with you nightly in order to be prepared if bad weather hits. I’m just glad they finally got the whole staff a laptop finally.

  6. Pinkbasil*

    I’d lean towards refunding the vacation day because unless the plan was to stay at home and watch it snow they may not have been able to do what they’d wanted to do that day.

    1. yala*

      That’s a good point. If they needed that day off for a specific thing and a hurricane or a bad storm hit, then they’ll have to use an *additional* day off later to do the thing.

      For the sake of moral, it just makes sense to refund the day.

    2. Sincerely, Raymond Holt*

      We had this come up at my last company and they didn’t allow you to get your PTO day refunded. The company was in the upper Midwest so lots of snow and this came up a surprising amount of time. The thought was that you had already submitted and gotten that day off approved, maybe the company had to arrange coverage or divide workload for you, and you knew in advance that you got the day off. Those employees who did come into work got the surprise day off, but it didn’t impact whether you were off or not.

      We had an employee who was in Cancun and came back to find that her branch closed 1/2 day and demanded the day off. I mean, come on, you were on a beach in Mexico! Part of the benefit of getting the 1/2 day paid is to get yourself safely home during severe weather. Must be present to win.

      1. Pinkbasil*

        I think that’s the difference between a snow day happening in the middle of someone’s vacation versus happening on a single vacation day. Definitely Cancun lady wouldn’t qualify!

  7. anonymous73*

    #2 – I can’t stand company wide meetings, especially when they happen on a monthly basis. They are a waste of my time and unless there’s a company update that is going to affect me directly, I DO NOT CARE.

    1. The New Wanderer*

      Same. I’ve never learned anything useful from a company executive-level meeting. I stopped attending early on and would ask the people who did go (who did so because they enjoyed these meetings) and still would not learn anything useful to me personally. The important stuff was almost always communicated by email anyway.

      Lunch-and-learn type meetings, where people discuss a project in detail, are typically useful and optional. People are only expected to go to the ones that are relevant to them. A monthly all-hands meeting that is just status updates on a bunch of projects (most of which probably aren’t relevant to most of the audience) isn’t going to hook the audience.

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        I have never been to a companywide meeting where the information conveyed was anything other than “We have done great things in Q2, and will be doing even greater things in Q3!” even when the company was about to collapse and everyone in the room knew it. It is always the pep talk.

        1. Ace in the Hole*

          Interesting. I’m sure this varies by industry, but our all-staff meetings are typically more like “we’re doing a compensation study to adjust the pay table, this is Susan who will be interviewing various employees about their job functions,” “we are making X program closure permanent for ABC reasons”, or “we’ve had several llama escapes in the last two months, it’s critical everyone locks the llama pen after exiting. Let Bob know immediately if there are any issues with the lock.”

          1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

            I think it might vary by company size. When it gets to the point where the people who organize the all-staff meeting don’t know what the staff does, the meetings become a lot more generic. We still discuss the llama pen locks, but in team meetings.

            1. Your local password resetter*

              Bigger companies also means that you have a lot more to talk about, and any subject will be less relevant to any particular individual.

    2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      If there actually exists a hell, I’m convinced that it is a conference room where round-the-clock companywide meetings are happening 24×7. Oh my god I cannot stand them. Thankfully, every single one I’ve ever had, everywhere I worked, has been optional. At one workplace, we were all on an on-call rotation and I may or may not admit to faking a support call to walk out of a townhall meeting that had gone bad. (Blackberry in hand, whispering worklike things into it, mouthing to my coworkers “sorry, got a call” as I walk past them to the exit.)

      We once had a mass walkout after the CEO had us all stand up, put our hand on our heart, and recite a pledge of allegiance to (our division of Company) that he’d written. Suddenly *everyone* got a support call.

      But, like, seriously, what is the value of having everyone together in one room, eyes glazed over, pretending to look at a powerpoint that could have been emailed to all of them? Especially if they all say they would rather do work. I mean, would not their leadership *want* them to do work? And how safe is it to have everyone in a conference room now that we have a pandemic? just email them the presentation and call it a day.

      1. KateM*

        “Revisiting letters that have been buried in the archives here from years ago” so, it’s probably not a pandemic-time letter.

      2. laowai_gaijin*

        “If there actually exists a hell, I’m convinced that it is a conference room where round-the-clock companywide meetings are happening 24×7.”

        Yes. The room is alternatively too hot and too cold, someone keeps farting, the coffee is bad, and the pastries are stale.

      3. Meat of the matter*

        If you drag an employee away from their work, it feels like you’re saying to them, “the work you are doing is not important”. Very demotivating and demoralizing.

        1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          Right? And then to turn around and ask why they aren’t passionate about their work? They are. If they weren’t, they’d be happily dozing off in the meetings and not complaining about their work being interrupted.

    3. Sharon*

      I agree leaders need to do a better job at communicating with lower-level staff. Often this type of meeting is to communicate high-level things that are important to the leaders, but without tailoring the message to the audience. They need to explain why this information is important and how it will impact the audience.

    4. Dust Bunny*

      I’ve been at my current job over 15 years and the company-wide meetings I can remember are:

      1) Changing health plans
      2) Changing health plans again
      3) No, we are not laying anyone off in 2008
      4) Beloved long-time employee died suddenly
      5) We fired the executive director

      I missed #4 with my supervisor’s permission because we needed coverage. Everything else has been “we’d like you to be here if you can but you don’t have to be”. Updates on projects? That’s an email.

      1. TiffIf*

        At my company not even the Health Plan changes are company-wide meetings. Company has offices in different states and countries so most of the time the health plan info is specific to your office and not applicable to the entire company!

        This morning we had a company-wide meeting to discuss data security. There has been an uptick in phishing attempts so they were re-iterating what to be on the watch for and how to handle anything suspicious. All of which is covered in our yearly training and multiple emails. I left after half an hour for a different (much more productive!) meeting.

    5. Rayray*

      My company does monthly company wife meetings BUT it’s done virtually so you can just get on if you so choose and watch/listen but we aren’t forced to. I like just having it on one of my monitors so I can listen as I work for any important news or updates and then stay on if the rest of it is interesting. Usually they get some motivational speaker or do some kind of panel or presentation which isn’t all that interesting so I typically log off. This is the way to do it in my opinion. Make it optional and virtual. I suppose it does depend on the size of your company, I work at our corporate office worth about 500 employees many of which are either remote or hybrid if not in the office full time, and then we also have branches throughout the country so the virtual meetings work well for us.

      Sometimes meetings are just torture if they add no value to your work. We had a team meeting this morning that absolutely could have been an email or Teams chat but instead it was half an hour of wasted time while 3-4 people re-hashed the pain staking details of something funny that had happened between them that morning.

  8. Lucious*

    “ I want to grab them all by the shoulders and shake them! Don’t they realize how lucky they are to work in a place that cares about their well-being, where everybody goes home at 6 (unheard of in our industry)? ”

    Based on that quote, I’m sure the meetings LW2 runs A) go far longer than 30 minutes and B) are ego posturing sessions for the management, LW2 included.

    Let it be known that living to work may be someone’s value decision; but that doesn’t give one the right to force it down anyone else’s throat. A management role doesn’t change that.

    1. too many too soon*

      Maybe these lucky folx actually carefully chose those working conditions, assuming they were baked into the employer’s cake, not special favors or magic or…luck.

    2. Unkempt Flatware*

      “Doesn’t management understand that we are valuable and hardworking people who are dedicated to the work and we don’t want to stop to have a 30 minute coulda-been-an-email-cheer-session?”

    3. laowai_gaijin*

      Yeah, that rubs me the wrong way. Great, you’re being decent to your employees! That doesn’t make them “lucky,” it makes them not unlucky. Don’t expect slavering gratitude for meeting a simple standard of decency.

    4. BlueKazoo*

      Right? They’re lucky to work someplace that treats people decently? I mean that’s what they should do. It’s like they want a medal for being an okay place to work. The reward for that is having good retention.

      1. LifeBeforeCorona*

        That’s because the bar is set so level. It’s either “the beatings will continue until morale improves” or it can be “Your team did a great job, everyone is getting a gift card as thanks for the extra work.”

  9. KHB*

    #5: “She got the benefit of being able to plan around having that day off.” That’s not that much of a benefit, when it’s very likely that whatever plans she had would have been scuttled by the same inclement weather that made you close the office.

    1. Dust Bunny*


      When we close, it’s usually for heavy rain and flooding. I am not going anywhere and there’s a reasonable chance the power will go out all over the neighborhood.

    2. anonymous73*

      I get what you’re saying, but to me it falls under the “don’t be a hard ass” category, like if you go above and beyond when needed, and your boss lets you leave a little early on a Friday. It’s a kind gesture that would go a long way with an employee.

    3. Ben Marcus Consulting*

      That’s not necessarily true. An office in Chicago could close because of heavy snow, while this employee is happily sipping a jippers on a beach somewhere.

      I think it is a straight forward answer when it is a day, maybe two, that we’re talking about. Just credit them back. It’s not worth potential morale issues or the argument with the employee.

      More than that and I think ready and willing to work should come into play. Yes, the expense to the business is the same in either capacity, but the employees not on vacation were ready and willing to work and the business closure meant they couldn’t. An employee on a weeklong vacation isn’t ready and willing to work and reasonably isn’t credited for that business closure.

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        I think that’s a reasonable compromise to the when to give the time back. Honestly most of us aren’t going to try and telework from the hotel room in paradise (whatever that looks like to you), so if your preplanned week off overlaps with a pair of snow days….yeah that’s the price of being “off in paradise.”

  10. CatCat*

    My management team and I like to do a monthly companywide meeting to show everybody the progress on current projects, as a way of keeping everyone in touch with the direction the office is going (it’s doing very well).

    Sounds like something that could be an email.

    1. PJS*

      Exactly what I was going to say. Don’t make me sit in a meeting for 30 minutes when I can read an email in two. Someone in our office threw out the idea of doing videos instead of written emails when an organization-wide message needs to go out. I don’t like that idea for the same reason. I can read a lot faster than most people talk. Don’t waste my time.

      1. Kiko*

        So, producing company-wide videos as a form of communication is literally my job. My org finds people are much more interested in this information when it’s done in an entertaining way. Think sketches, animations, etc. I think it’s hilarious and very well executed at my org. We’re over 10k people, so we need to find ways to communicate effectively.

        But I can imagine the same work could be super-cringey at another company. It really just depends on culture.

          1. Kiko*

            Oh, I’m sure plenty of people within the org hate it, but they’re in the minority. We track views vs items read, and the numbers are what they are!

            1. Bagpuss*

              Do you offer both? I’m another who would both prefer to read and find it much easier to take in the information.

              1. Kiko*

                Yep, all videos will offer a link to our company’s “blog” where you can read up on the announcement. It’ll also offer FAQs, direct you to Slack channels where you can ask questions, etc.

                1. allathian*

                  Thank you! Videos are cringe. They can be entertaining, but for me, visual media = entertainment, which means that my brain thinks it has permission to forget everything once the video is over. I don’t retain information that way.

                  Even seminars/webinars/presentations are only worth it if there’s a Q&A at the end. If not, give me the same material in written form and I’ll absorb it much faster.

        1. Kiko*

          And we usually keep them short. Our team will cut out the execs’ random ad libs so you don’t have to hear it ;)

        2. Your local password resetter*

          Ah, but you can skip through text as well. And it’s generally easier to scan for relevant info IMO.

          1. allathian*

            Yeah. That said, providing essential information in multiple formats is crucial, because so many people have some kind of reading difficulties.

            “According to the U.S. Department of Education, 54% of U.S. adults 16-74 years old – about 130 million people – lack proficiency in literacy, reading below the equivalent of a sixth-grade level.”
            –Forbes: Low Literacy Levels Among U.S. Adults Could Be Costing The Economy $2.2 Trillion A Year (google it)

            Those statistics are shocking, and no doubt similar in many other Western countries as well.

            My department has monthly all-hands meetings, but our department director is sensible, and uses the meetings to inform us about things that are useful to know, and there’s also an opportunity to ask questions. Sometimes we have guest speakers from other departments informing us about changes that will affect everyone. In two weeks, we’ll have a session on my employer’s covid exit strategy, which will be useful.

            At these meetings, new hires to our department have an opportunity to introduce themselves, and this has been really great, especially now that our department of approx. 100 employees has had a turnover of about 20 percent during the last 18 months (mostly due to people retiring), so there’s going to be a lot of new faces when we return to the office as a part of our hybrid strategy.

    2. Sara without an H*

      Yes, from what the OP said, it sounds like this could be handled in a monthly email/newsletter/post on the company intranet.

      I once worked at for an organization that was really into frequent meetings. As speakers droned on and on, I started amusing myself by estimating the hourly salaries of the people involved and trying to guess how much the meeting was actually costing the organization. (Hey, these meetings were REALLY dull, and I had to do something.)

    3. Batty Twerp*

      I can guarantee that if this is a company any bigger than about 50 people, these meetings are a waste of time for about 50% of attendees. The progress of current projects will be of absolutely no interest to the office admin whose mainly responsible for ordering pens. Different teams don’t really care about projects that have no overlap with their own. The accounts assistant just needs to know that expenses are within policy.
      And is really significant progress being made in _all_ projects on a monthly basis for everyone to need an update?

    4. Rayray*

      Definitely sounds too like 5 minutes < of useful information and then 40 < minutes of management and executives putting theirselves on the back.

        1. KateM*

          “Five minutes greater than of useful info and then 40 less than minutes of management and executives putting theirselves on the back”? I think I get the general meaning, though.

          1. JB*

            Look at where the symbols are pointing and you can extrapolate the meaning. 5 > x can also be expressed as x < 5, and ditto/vice versa for 40 < x.

            So what's being said is 'less than 5 minutes of useful information and then more than 40 minutes of (back-patting)'.

  11. A Genuine Scientician*

    A lot of people get way too hung up on intelligence.

    I know I’m smart. All that really means is that I’m good at learning things and seeing patterns. Despite being smart, what I also am is ignorant. About many things. I know a good number of things, but there is just *so much* knowledge out there that I am absolutely ignorant on a lot of other things. Ask me what steps need to be taken to hire someone in my organization, and I’m going to know way less about it than the departmental admin, because….she does that, and I don’t. Ask me how to do one of my job functions that she doesn’t do, and I’ll know more about that one.

    When I am new to a job — as an intern almost certainly is — one of the key things I need to be doing is learning about that job. Being smart means I am likely to learn about it faster than the typical person. But even if someone isn’t very smart, if they’ve been doing that job for a while, they are far more of an expert in it than I am. Therefore, I am in a position to learn from them. Being smart doesn’t mean I’m an expert in all things.

    You don’t have to be smarter than someone to be in a good position to be teaching them something.

    1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      A lot of people get way too hung up on intelligence.

      A lot of people conflate wisdom, intelligence, and experience, too. They’re not interchangeable.

      1. Butterfly Counter*

        I agree. In school, being smart just really means that you can remember things reliably. I’ve always been called smart because I had a great memory for things I read. But I really had to be hand-held to get to the next step of processing what to do with that information as I got older.

        It does sound like the intern could be well-rounded with the variety of classes she’s seemingly taking? Which is something that might be good for the OP to use to the benefit of the company. And it could show ways in which the student can further use her education in the business world outside of some of the more straightforward “marketing degree = marketing job.”

        1. Beany*

          To me, being smart has zero overlap with memory. It’s not your ability to ingest & retain information, but how you understand that information, and what you can do with it.

          1. LifeBeforeCorona*

            I can remember trivia and retrieve it at a moment’s notice. I used to be the local Trivial Pursuit champion. But when I’m learning a new job or skill it takes a while to develop the smarts to do it competently. People often mistake a steel-trap memory for intelligence, it’s not the same thing. Yes, I know who won the gold medal in downhill skiing at the 1976 Olympics but I’m still staring at my laptop trying to understand the basics of Excel.

      2. NotAnotherManager!*

        Oh, so much this.

        I once had to fire a summa cum laude Ivy League grad who apparently got a perfect score on some standardized test (SAT, GRE, GMAT, LSAT, something, can’t remember). They could not meet the most basic requirements of the job – following instructions, turning in written work product that was to be published on time without glaring typos, I mean, basic, basic stuff). Literally every single PM who complained to me about the poor quality of their work led off with, “I just don’t understand! They went to Harvard and got a perfect score on [whatever it was]!” Right, but they aren’t giving you usable work product and have not course corrected with coaching and feedback…

        Also, in my professional-degree-required, academic snob industry, my three best performers have no college degree, have only an associate’s degree, and went to a no-name university few people have heard of. I have not found a huge correlation with someone’s academic transcripts and their ability to do the job well.

    2. RebelwithMouseyHair*

      Yeah. Heck, I’ve had students and interns who are smarter than me and produce better translations than me in certain subjects. But they still needed to benefit from my experience on other scores: how to deal with difficult customers, how to negotiate your rate, how to estimate the time something will take when putting your quote together, resources for when you just can’t find the right word to translate something obscure or jargon peculiar to that firm or niche industry. And of course learning those office norms, as beautifully illustrated just recently with the interns who campaigned to change the dress code, brought in their own bed for naptime, made out with their BF “because they loved him” and so on.

    3. Ann Nonymous*

      Hard agree with you here. I am also very smart, but I’m also smart enough to know that I don’t know everything and don’t have many skills. And being smart is certainly not a guarantee of anything. I’d probably swap my smarts to be able to sing professionally or being super athletic; I’m smart enough to know I’d be richer that way! Smart people know to listen, read, observe and take things in. EQ is at least as important as IQ most of the time.

  12. The New Wanderer*

    When asked if I know a former colleague that I didn’t respect (for professional reasons), I usually pause and say something neutral like “I’m familiar with X.” Usually I am just confirming what the person asking already knew or suspected, because X’s reputation typically establishes itself pretty quickly. On the rare occasion that the person asking is a fan of the former colleague, it also makes it clear that I am not a part of the fan club but could answer any further questions from a strictly work-based perspective.

  13. Rachel*

    Regarding the LW5 with the question about the vacation day when the company was closed, I agree with Alison that the best thing to do would be to “refund” the employee’s vacation day. My mom used to work at a place that would close the week between Christmas and New Year’s, but the agreement was that three of the days were “freebies” and employees had to use vacation days for the other two days. I always thought that was terrible – the office was closed, and even if it wasn’t, maybe some employees would have preferred to work rather than use those days, especially if they did not celebrate Christmas. My mom found my objection strange and said that “no one complained,” but I can’t imagine that was true. If the office isn’t open, you shouldn’t have to use vacation time.

    1. doreen*

      I don’t know what sort of business your mother’s employer was in – but I can easily imagine the lack of complaints. It’s not uncommon in certain businesses to either 1) Have no actual vacation time that you can take at a time of your choice – the business is closed the last two weeks of August, you get paid for it and that’s your vacation for the year or 2) The business closes down every year ( say between Christmas and New Year’s ) and you are expected to either save a week’s worth of vacation to take at that time or take the week unpaid if you chose to use all of your vacation at another time of year.

      1. Marzipan Shepherdess*

        I can easily imagine the lack of complaints, too. It’s because no one wanted to be labeled a troublemaker and thus scratched off the list for promotions, raises and bonuses and put on the short list for “people to fire ASAP.”

        Many people also don’t complain when their colleagues innocently assume that workplace Christmas trees and Santa Claus decorations are “really secular now and aren’t really Christian symbols anymore.” They keep quiet because they don’t want to be labeled the company Scrooge and hater of the holiday, not because they agree with that sentiment.

        Silence does NOT always equal assent – especially when people depend on their continued employment for their livelihood (which is almost everyone!) Something to keep in mind before blithely assuming that if no one objects then everyone agrees.

    2. MissBaudelaire*

      It’s so irritating, and that way at my job. We’re contracted, and if our docs choose to close clinic, we’re out those hours. We can use our PTO, if we’d like. So what happens if we get sick and need to take time off? We don’t get paid! We lose pay either way, through no fault of our own.

    3. Ben Marcus Consulting*

      On the flip, I’ve had employees complain that they’re paid when the business closes for a holiday. They’d rather ‘save’ that time to take off later in the year.

        1. Ben Marcus Consulting*

          Yup. I’ve had this asked a few times and I’ve never been able to understand why you would want it. Your employer isn’t a savings account, why would you delay any payment you could be do?

    4. Ann Non*

      At the public universities I have worked at in my country, they would close the buildings and turn off the heat between Christmas and New Year’s. You were supposed to take vacation days for the week between (it usually worked out to be only 3 days you had to take off, and we got 30 vacation days, so this was not as terrible as it sounds), but you could special request to work from home which was not a problem. I think that is a good way of dealing with it in countries like mine where the vast majority of people travel (either to see family or to seek a warm beach) for the week between Christmas and New Year’s.

    5. londonedit*

      So 20 days’ holiday plus public holidays is the legal minimum where I’m from (and that’s holiday, not a time off bucket – sick leave is completely different). The way it’s worked in my career has been that if you’re in a company that gives you 20 days, it’s customary to close the office between Christmas and New Year and not require employees to take that time out of their holiday. You might not get to choose those days, but they’re extra on top of your holiday allowance. In companies that have given 25 days’ holiday, some have closed between Christmas and New Year and required people to take that time as holiday even though the office is closed. Which isn’t great, but you still get 22 other days to do what you want with. Thankfully where I work now, I’ve struck gold and we not only get 25 days’ holiday, but the office shuts over Christmas and we don’t have to take those days out of our holiday entitlement.

    6. RebelwithMouseyHair*

      There are companies here in France that close for that week in winter and for four weeks in August, thus using up all paid leave. We have five weeks paid leave minimum, but it’s the boss who approves the time off and can force you to take time off when they want you to do so. Of course apart from the firms that schedule company closures, and schools, most people get to choose when they take time off, and just need to get the boss’s approval before actually buying any plane tickets. But it states clearly in the French labour code that the boss gets to decide.

  14. doreen*

    Monthly 30 minute long meetings? That almost sounds like the definition of a meeting that should have been an email. And showing people the progress on current projects – that sounds like the currently monthly conference call I have. The first 30-60 minutes is the head of the agency and his deputies giving us information – which could have been an email, but apparently the commissioner sees some sort of value in talking at us by phone (because there are no questions or comments). The next ninety minutes or so is fifty people giving updates on their individual offices – they completed this project or they have two vacancies in that title. The people on the call who are need to know that the Buffalo office has two Teapot Painter vacancies already knew that before the call – and the other 45 people have no interest and are doing something else while half-listening to the call on speaker. The only thing that could be worse is if this meeting was in person.

    1. PJS*

      We have monthly meetings that can be an hour or more and until COVID, they were in person. It was a huge waste of time. It’s literally all of the department heads giving updates on their department. It’s just like you said, the people who need to know probably already know. The rest of us don’t care. I recently found out that one of the departments also has a separate monthly meeting with the people who need to know the things they’re talking about. If everyone who needs to know is going to be in this other meeting, what is the point of telling the rest of us at this meeting?

    2. Canadian Valkyrie*

      I used to work for an org that had a 2 HOUR meeting every 2 WEEKS for a status update on everyones work. My god it sucked!

  15. Bean Counter Extraordinaire*

    Maybe if the management team from Letter 2 structured the meetings like the pep rallies the LW thinks they are, they’d get all the rah-rah and cheering enthusiasm they’re looking for. Something, something, pieces of flare?
    If a monthly meeting only takes 30 minutes, it can be a couple paragraph email. And honestly, I don’t really care what other departments are doing, just tell me when something is going to impact me!

  16. AvonLady Barksdale*

    While I think LW2 is a bit much, I have to say that I don’t get the general meeting aversion that’s coming up. If it’s a small company, everyone’s contribution is important, and it can also be really helpful to know what’s going on. If you know the progress of a project, then you’ll know why, say, a task related to it has to be prioritized.

    I don’t like all meetings, for sure, but 30 minutes a month is… part of a job. I used to have to sit in on a weekly 60-minute that had 5 minutes of direct relevance to me and 55 minutes of congratulating people on things that usually made no sense to me. But hearing “we signed this major client” or “you all need to hustle to make your goals” put a ton of things in context, even if they weren’t my goals or my individual hustle.

    1. Zephy*

      It really depends on the meeting and the overall vibe. My team meets weekly, but (1) there’s only 6 of us plus our manager, and (2) we have the kind of team dynamic/rapport that allows us to actually bring up issues and discuss them in a productive way, which does not hold true for all-staff meetings.

      1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

        yeah, at one point we had weekly meetings where the boss simply read out a list of all our wrongdoings committed since last meeting. We’d already been reprimanded when our wrongdoing was discovered, so this was really pointless. And because we were all great workers, the list was really petty: Rebel forgot to put the folders back into the “current projects” box again (because Rebel would forget that it was a current project needing supervision if it wasn’t on her desk), F came in late on Tuesday, M didn’t answer the phone on 10 am on Thursday (when she was trying desperately to finish up the job and knew the client was calling to see when it would be ready and the time it took to tell them how long it would take she could have finished the damn thing)

        1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

          (And F would definitely have stayed late on either Monday or Tuesday so it’s not like she was cheating the boss out of those ten minutes)

    2. Tara*

      I agree. It’s wrong to do a show and tell from the management team but it’s a normal thing to have monthly meetings!

    3. Alianora*

      Yeah, I really don’t think 30 minutes once a month is a big deal. My organization has an hour-long all-staff meeting every two weeks. Not that anyone’s super enthusiastic about it like the LW expects, but it’s not a huge burden. And the advantage of meeting in person vs email is that more people actually retain the information. Plus, I see my coworkers that I otherwise have almost no interaction with, and it’s good to be able to make that connection.

    4. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      I am all for a meeting with a clear agenda, where only the people relevant to the agenda are invited, and, by the time the meeting has ended, something has gotten done that wouldn’t have, or would’ve taken longer, without the meeting. A 30-minute pep rally is none of those things.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        LW2 describes the meeting as an update or a progress report, hardly a “rah-rah” pep rally session. “… show everybody the progress on current projects” sounds pretty useful to me. I don’t think everyone has to be super pumped about it, but it’s 30 minutes of information once a month that keeps everyone in the loop. I just don’t feel the distaste.

        1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          And all that information can be an email.

          Also, my experience is kind of in line with Andy’s on this. It is never the real updates on current projects. It is always about how great we’re doing, even when we’re not.

    5. Andy*

      I think that reason is that these meetings rarely provide information about what is actually going on. And even less useful information. Way more likely, they are optimistic pep talks, super high level overviews and generally are focused on making employees think how great everything is.

      You don’t learn actual progress of the projects on them. You won’t learn about actual issues we have nor how they were solved. You won’t learn enough to be able to tie anything to prioritization.

    6. Nethwen*

      “I don’t get the general meeting aversion that’s coming up.”

      True story: My staff of less than 10 have asked for months (years?) that we have a weekly all-staff meeting and we finally figured out how to make that happen in a way that was fair to everyone. So far, everyone seems to like those 30 minutes every week. For context, much of the time is taken up with discussing how professional theory plays out in reality in our specific organization or how to apply policies to an actual situation that required judgement, so maybe the staff-initiated, actual-events training component makes the difference.

    7. James*

      I already have two weekly hour-long meetings with the stakeholders on my larger projects, a bi-weekly meeting going over the big-picture context of my work, a weekly hour-long meeting with the client and stakeholders, daily half-hour long meetings with the teams working under me, monthly hour-long meetings with my grand-boss….. At a certain point you reach a point of diminishing returns. The information that can be provided in a company-wide meeting is either already covered in one of my dozens of other meetings that month, or is irrelevant to me.

      Granted, every company is different. But I doubt my situation is unique, and it provides an example of where this hostility towards this sort of rah-rah cheer-leading meeting comes from. Unless there’s a compelling reason to have it, it’s a waste of time–and I already waste more than enough of it!

    8. anonymous73*

      Because I just don’t care. Unless it’s a major company update that will directly affect me, I don’t care. The company is on the verge of bankruptcy? Yes, have a meeting and let us know what’s going on. Providing us with extra benefits? Awesome! Tell me more! Telling me about a project that I have zero involvement in that doesn’t affect my job? Don’t care. Most of the monthly company meetings I’ve attended in my career are a waste of my time and pointless to the majority of staff. I’d rather sit at my desk and get my work done, than hear about the C level executives ramble on about stuff that bores me.

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        We had a department head who, weeks after coming on board, hired an offshore company. Then offshored all new development behind everyone’s backs. Then, at the all-hands department meeting six months later, showed us a powerpoint where he listed all the new projects (that no one in the room had any idea about) and talked about what great progress we (“we”) were making on them.

        I sat next to a friend of mine, whose team, that he was the manager of, would’ve been doing that new development under normal circumstances. The look on his face I will never forget. At least the meeting was interesting, I’ll give it that.

  17. Zephy*

    Monthly all-staff meetings are excessive and could in 99% of cases absolutely just be an email. What happens at these meetings that is actionable for the rank-and-file employees? Policy/workflow/personnel updates? Individual recognition for specific good work, even general (but genuine!) appreciation from management for handling specific challenging projects or a busy season? Or is it just managers reciting numbers and everybody clapping for an hour?

  18. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

    LW2, what are you doing to make the meetings relevant and engaging to your people? Some ideas:
    * Delicious food.
    * Choose 5 employees of the month to honor with Visa gift cards (with the taxes absorbed by the company). Invite staff to nominate people who are doing a great job and contributing to the company’s success. Use the opportunity to encourage people who are demonstrating the qualities you think will be most valuable in the next phase of the company’s existence.
    * Announce things employees will like, such as an extra day off, new training opportunities, or new employee perks.
    * On no account omit the food.

    1. Sara without an H*

      I spent my entire career in higher education. The first law of higher education is, if you want the faculty to show up for anything, provide free food and lots of coffee.

      After 5:00 p.m., provide free food and lots of wine.

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        They close at 6 don’t they? There we go. A 5:30 meeting with free food and lots of wine. Heck, even I would show up, and I don’t work there.

        1. Gumby*

          I do know one person who told me that while he job searched after he graduated from college he ate only meeting leftovers from various places on campus (IIRC he also claimed he couch-surfed for the whole next academic year too). It did not sound entirely unbelievable to me… You have your staff meetings, your faculty meetings, student group meetings, open-to-the-community meetings. You could probably score at least one meal a day w/o too much effort.

    2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      Oh oh I got one. At the beginning of the meeting, give each employee a raffle ticket. At the end of the meeting, do a drawing.

      1. SimplytheBest*

        If the major argument against having this meeting is that it’s a waste of time, I don’t see the point in adding additional time wasters. I’d far prefer to receive the pertinent information the company has to offer and then get back to work. Not sit through a nonsense drawing.

  19. James*

    “Don’t they realize how lucky they are to work in a place that cares about their well-being, where everybody goes home at 6 (unheard of in our industry)?”

    That sort of attitude is likely contributing to the apathy. “Don’t they realize how lucky they are” is a warning phrase, one that indicates you’ve made a mistake in your thinking. You are, in fact if not in intention, calling your employees ungrateful. That’s a pretty serious accusation.

    I’d also look at what you mean by “cares for their well-being”. If you mean that your monthly half-hour meetings are caring for their well-being, to be blunt you’re wrong. If you mean letting them leave at a reasonable time, again, you’re wrong–that’s normal business practice. Unless you have a robust employee wellness program that employees are actively participating in, you don’t get to accuse your employees of ingratitude.

    “I’d expect our team to be passionate about their work, but does that passion only thrive in stressful environments?”

    They ARE passionate about their work. They are expressing it by trying to actually do the work. I get that praise and discussion of how great the team is is valuable to some people, but a lot of people consider such stuff to be irrelevant. Talk is cheap, after all. It’s a personality difference that you need to account for as a manager.

    I’m one of those people. I’m incredibly passionate about my work–to survive in my field you need to be, it’s not an easy one–but if someone wanted to sit down and talk about how great my month has been I’d think they were insane. I want to talk about the issues I see coming up–staffing, scheduling, supplies, the things I need to do my job. If you want to cut into that time for a half-hour pep rally I’m going to find reasons to miss it. Doesn’t mean I’m not engaged; in fact, given my personality, it means the opposite.

  20. Gerry Keay*

    I love our monthly, hour-long all hands where team leaders just brag about themselves and do internal marketing/politicking because the information is barely relevant to me and I get to spend lots of time browsing Ask a Manager.

    1. Bamcheeks*

      The two-hour committee meeting and the all-department quarterly update going online have truly been the blessing of the last eighteen months.

      1. Bamcheeks*

        (We had one two-hour academic committee where the meeting finished with, “And Joyce? Have you anything to update?” “Oh sorry, I’ve been making spaghetti bolognese. It smells wonderful!” Legend.)

  21. Jean*

    LW2, you need a reality check. No one likes working for a manager who demands performative enthusiasm about things like compulsory meetings. Evaluate your reports on the quality of their work and not on how “passionate” they seem to you, and you will eliminate this totally unnecessary source of stress from your life. Best of luck.

    1. allathian*

      Hear, hear.

      Passion and a professional, healthy, enjoyable working environment are mutually exclusive for me. I’m passionate about quite a few things, but none of them have anything to do with my job.

  22. Beautiful, talented, brilliant, powerful musk-ox*

    2. Uhhhh…it IS just a job. There are plenty of hardworking, high-performing people who don’t get super jazzed about their jobs. They are giving you something (their work) in exchange for money. That’s a job. If part of the job requirement is to be completely excited about everything about the business at all times, you should probably put that in your job postings, but also accept that people will find this totally out of touch and untenable.

    I like my company overall and I’m happy with my work, but if I was expected to be super excited about monthly update meetings, I’d just be annoyed. Interested? Sure, maybe. But…also…sometimes update meetings just aren’t interesting to entire portions of a company. And that’s okay.

    If you need more engagement for legitimate business reasons, then it might be worth looking at what’s lacking on your end to cause limited engagement. If you’re just wanting everyone to be perpetually excited in the same way you appear to be, you need to adjust your expectations of humans in general.

    (Heck, a bunch of us don’t show excitement or get excited easily even if we have generally positive feelings about something. I don’t know what the expectation is here, but it might be worth examining.)

    1. Tuesday*

      Especially agree with your last point… people could be excited and very engaged in their work and still not be like, “YAY, companywide meeting!” Their attitude toward these meetings should not be used to gauge their overall outlook like this.

      1. Paulina*

        People could indeed be very engaged with their work, and wish they were back at their desk getting something finished instead of having to stop everything so they could go to a meeting.

    2. allathian*

      Yeah, I guess I’m glad that whatever their faults may have been, I’ve never had to work with a manager who’d conflate excitement and engagement. I’m engaged the vast majority of the time I’m working and interacting with my coworkers. I’m pretty much never excited at work, about anything, unless it’s an absolutely awesome positive change. The last time I definitely remember being excited at work was 7 years ago, when we had an organizational reform, and all of us got laptops and the ability to WFH at least occasionally. Shortly before the reform, my then-manager (who along with dozens of other middle-managers got demoted to senior IC in the reform), as one of her last decisions as my manager, told me that she wouldn’t approve the switch from desktop to laptop when my old computer’s lease ran out, because she straight up told me that she didn’t trust me actually work at home. To be fair, I think she’s much happier as an IC than she ever was as a manager, and she’s certainly a lot more pleasant to deal with now. So to get that decision overturned a few months later had me jumping up and down with glee, and I actually hugged my laptop when I first got it…

  23. Annie J*

    @lw1: I really hope your company made it very clear to the candidate during her interview process that her schedule would not be infinitely flexible, I know a lot of companies don’t do that, they have flexible working but they don’t explain it to the employees for some reason.
    Also, why not just explain to her that you need to ensure coverage on certain days?
    I don’t understand why some managers think all the decisions need to be made in a black box, most employees are smart enough to understand why decisions are made but they need to be explained first.

    1. WellRed*

      I don’t understand the thought process that goes into thinking “my job requires coverage to do X but yeah, let me just show up whenever it’s convenient for me and that’s OK.”

      1. AcademiaNut*

        It often comes from a lack of perspective/imagination. The person is looking at it only from their own point of view – “This works better for me, therefore my employer should allow it.” – without understanding how it fit into business needs or the needs of other employees. I know some very competent, experienced people who are fundamentally unable to grasp that in a workplace of 200 employees, with legal and practical restrictions on how things are done, they can’t expect to have everything arranged around their own desires.

  24. learnedthehardway*

    OP#4 – I’ve run into this sort of thing occasionally. Since Shady Sally is a competitor, you could say that you don’t feel comfortable commenting on a competitor’s business, either negatively or positively, because competitor. That might seem a bit stiff, but it’s one option.

    You could also say (legitimately), that you never managed her work, and that they should talk to FormerEmployer to get their perspective. Perhaps direct them to FormerManager at FormerEmployer.

    Or you could be very non-committal – “I know Sally, but we haven’t worked together since FormerEmployer.” and then segue over into another subject.

    1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      I really like options two and three here. It’s nice and neutral, and feels like a really normal response.

  25. whistle*

    “it shouldn’t matter when she is at work, as long as she gets the job done.”

    If the position is coverage-based, she quite literally can’t “get the job done” if she’s not there when she’s scheduled to be. The customers who need help at 10 cannot be helped by someone who comes in at 11, even if that person gives amazing help to the customer who needs it at 11:15.

    1. goducks*

      I’ve certainly seen people whose jobs aren’t strictly coverage based be told they can’t just willy-nilly swap their hours around. If their job involves being available to customers (whether internal or external) putting in a bunch of hours when the customers aren’t around isn’t the same as working when they are. If a production scheduler doesn’t work overlapping hours to the production team, then any communication is by nature asynchronous and can cause serious delays in resolving issues. Even if the scheduler’s job doesn’t dictate that they’re the sole coverage for a period. If production works 6-2, and the scheduler works 3-11, the necessary collaboration is impossible.

      1. A*

        Your point is well made, and I think are good examples – but like with most things, it’s not entirely that black & white. I work in production planning and have a true flex schedule but that’s because I work with a global supply chain across three time zones so we always have differing schedules. I sought out my current employer specifically because I wanted that flexibility and previously was at an employer that had the requirements you spelled out for exactly the reasons you pointed to.

        Just want to call that out because it isn’t always a matter of function / they don’t necessarily have to switch lines of work to achieve that flexibility. They might, we don’t know what field it is in, but it’s a possibility.

  26. tg*

    For question 3, one of the reasons for having interns is to hear about new stuff that’s being done in college. This is a chance for you and your company to find out about new topics, and maybe have the intern do a project incorporating these topics/areas. We also have interns do a presentation on the project they did at the end of their time with us, but you could also get the intern to do a presentation on a subject you don’t know too much about but are interested in, if the intern is willing and other people are interested.

  27. Anon for This*

    Regarding managing a smart intern, you need to make clear from the start that you are the boss. I have had a number of interns from prestigious schools come in the door and think that I work for them. I know a lot of people with very impressive resumes and credentials that don’t have any common sense at all. They often are not superstars in the workplace, and people with lesser credentials run rings around them.

    You already have the job, and the intern will work for you, so clearly you know something – probably a lot of somethings – that they don’t. So clearly you are smarter!

    1. Sleet Feet*

      Whoa. Why assume a problem before it starts. Just lay out the criteria and expectations as of they were going to be the world’s best intern.

      No need to go on the offensive.

      1. James*

        I’ve worked with some people with more education than me (I’m not sure they’re any smarter, but they’ve got PhDs), and there can definitely be an attitude of “I’m smarter than you” from some of them. It’s a very real worry.

        My way of dealing with it is the same as my way of dealing with people that are exceptionally less educated than me, or people with my same level of education: We’re all here to do a job, and I can’t afford to have people doing pointless jobs, so if you’re on my project it’s because we need you and value your skills. Some things you need to make the call on, some things I do; it’s nothing to do with intelligence or education, just who wears what hat.

  28. goducks*

    I don’t understand why so many people say the monthly meetings “could be an email”. I’ve always worked for smallish (100 or so employees) manufacturing companies, and those that have done these meetings have found them hugely helpful in making sure that everyone has the same information. Generally, they relay information on the financial performance of the company (good or bad), welcome new hires and introduce them to everyone, recognize people for achievements, and convey some other source of information (one company liked to do short info on how our customers used our products—something that was otherwise so far removed from the production staff that they just knew they were building widgets. Seeing how those widgets went into machines that helped people was super interesting to them). Finally, it was an opportunity to ask questions of the CEO. Those ranged from “can we get different vending machines in the breakroom?” to “I see our sales are trending downward, what is the plan to reverse that trend? Is my job secure?” And they’d get answers from the CEO that were as honest as could be (sometimes the question was so out of the blue there was no info for the CEO to provide, but he’d get back to them once he could). None of that would happen in an email (and frankly a lot of employees didn’t have email–bringing production staff and office staff together for the meetings was valuable in building a culture where all jobs in the company were valuable).
    I don’t like the LW’s expectation that people should be jazzed… She should be shooting for a meeting that they feel is informative and useful. But monthly half-hour all-hands meetings are certainly not in and of themselves the problem or inherently time-wasters.

    1. Anon this time*

      I’ve always worked for smallish (100 or so employees) manufacturing companies

      I’ve always worked for similar companies, and I agree that companywide meetings can be valuable. Maybe it’s different in a company with a diversity of workers (material handlers, machinists, supply chain specialists, engineers, graphic designers, accountants, sales reps, etc.).

    2. Bamcheeks*

      I don’t think I’ve ever worked anywhere where those kind of meetings are *universally* loved though. I generally find that kind of thing pretty interesting too, but I’ve colleagues who *hate* them. And it’s not necessarily a junior-senior or on-the-ground/management split either: some managers find them appalling and some shop-level people find them fascinating. It’s really more about the kind of person you are and whether you like seeing the bigger picture and how you like getting information.

      If OP’s company is wedded to this as a method of disseminating information, they should know *why*. Are they trying to make it a two-way session where people can ask question? Does the CEO just like to see people’s faces? If it’s a really critical part of the business strategy to have these meetings, can they make it more attractive with good coffee and biscuits? Is monthly too frequent and would quarterly work better? There should be a business need being satisfied here that goes beyond “we want people to perform gratitude”.

    3. James*

      ” I’ve always worked for smallish (100 or so employees) manufacturing companies…..”

      The company I work for has something like 90,000 employees on almost if not all continents. A company-wide meeting can’t be relevant to all of us. All the info you’re talking about is handled by the office managers as they see fit. And since I work extremely closely with my office manager (she’s involved in all my projects) I already have that information anyway.

      That’s why I keep saying “This is just my experience” and the like. Obviously a smaller company will work differently–you don’t have 16 levels of management between you and the CEO. For many of us working for larger companies or government entities the substantive portions of an all-hands meeting are already covered, several times over.

    4. agnes*

      “This meeting could be an email” except our company tried that and nobody read the email. So much for that.

  29. warEagle*

    LW 2, I want to say “bless your heart” but I don’t mean it in a snarky way. It’s just a job. I literally do not care how my company is doing. I just want the money. If I hear the company is doing well, I’m going to also want a raise. If getting off at 6 is considered a bonus, well, I’d just find a new job. I hate going to meetings that aren’t 100% necessary for my job (and only my job. I don’t care about my coworker’s jobs). I know this is a very “millennial” attitude but I am a millennial. I don’t consider being treated well at a job a perk. It’s expected or I wouldn’t be there.

    1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

      No, it’s an old man’s attitude, too.

      Sort of.

      I care very much how my company is doing. Especially if I held stock in it. If the company’s not doing well, people’s employment – including mine – could be in jeopardy. Then again, I don’t want to hear horse***t at review time “how everything is bad, the sky is falling…” at raise time, when the company is indeed doing very well.

      But I never liked (most) company-wide meetings and incessant pep talks.

    2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      I do want to know how my company is doing. I’ve got to know if we have a mass layoff coming up, or benefit cuts, or every key expert in the place has unbeknownst to me given notice and their last day is next week. But a monthly companywide meeting, that the meeting organizers say they expect me to be passionate about, is the last place I’m going to find that out from.

    3. anonymous73*

      It’s not a generational thing. I’m Gen X and I feel the same way. I don’t care about company updates unless they affect me personally, and I can’t force myself to care.

      1. allathian*

        Amen to that. I guess I’m lucky in that my employer’s never yet expected performative excitement, engagement, passion, or whatever.

  30. BlueKazoo*

    I’m smart. I am in the process of switching career fields and I’ll be honest that one thing I will miss is that my current profession is one where everyone is smart and some people are straight up brilliant. It’s been nice not having to code-switch to avoid sounding “too smart.”

    That said, there are different kinds of smart. I’m pretty hopeless with the details of finance or accounting. One project involved very detailed analysis of spreadsheets and equations and yeah I struggled. I felt like they should have put more thought into who they put on that one. The other person my level looked more dedicated but when I looked at his undergrad it was in that area. So yeah…of course he showed me up.

    And then there’s the common sense intelligence. Which sometimes drives me nuts. I don’t care how smart you are if you’re junior to me and have to come show you how to use the scanner. There’s just not time for that in a high pressure environment. Senior level people who are technology challenged is obviously an issue too, but at least my job is to help them and not the other way around. Although the one who kept printing things out and then faxing them back w/ badly written hand markups about drove me bonkers one weekend…

  31. Annie J*

    I want to push back on the don’t they realise how lucky they are comment.
    In most cases, in a business relationship, an employee exchanges their time and labour for money, and the employee is usually worse off because they are in debt to the employer until they get paid, luck has very little to do with it.
    It’s akin to saying doesn’t the company realise how lucky they are to have employees who do the work they are paid to do and arrive on time it just doesn’t make sense.

  32. bumbleblue*

    LW3: You don’t learn workplace norms or best practices in a classroom setting – books can tell me that it’s important and can describe it, but learning through observation and first hand experience is invaluable. I have more degrees than my previous manager, but he taught me things I couldn’t have learned otherwise.

    In the two years we worked together, we learned so much from each other and were both promoted as a result. He credits me for his promotion, and I credit him for mine. Growth can be a two-way street.

  33. RedinSC*

    Oh, IDK, re: the all hands meeting.

    I hate them, I dislike going, and have been happy that since March 2020 we haven’t had one.

    On the other hand, I work with so many people who are SO SAD that we haven’t had an all staff, they feel disconnected that we haven’t heard what everyone else is doing, they feel neglected that we haven’t kept people informed. Even though write up a monthly email with input from all departments and mail that out as well as print it and post it in areas.

    I think this is a no win. If the LW stops their 30 minute all staff, some folks will be pleased, but then you have the rest of the office who will feel disconnected and neglected.
    I don’t know what the best answer is here. Perhaps make them quarterly, make them mandatory, but less often.

  34. Daffodilly*

    You want monthly meetings with cheering? You want employees to feel lucky?
    It sounds like you want/need more praise and validation in your life. But that is not something your employees should provide for you. That’s more of a personal relationship thing, and your relationship with your employees is a business arrangement. (I sure hope you don’t think it’s a personal relationship!)
    You need to work on why it’s so important to you that your employees enthusiastically cheer for you on a regular basis. Because that’s….odd.

    1. The Price is Wrong Bob*

      Maybe the OP should watch the WeWork documentary. I had someone suggest I should apply there and as soon as I heard about the whole mandatory Monday 5-7 pm onsite every week nonsense meeting, I didn’t even bother sending a resume.

  35. agnes*

    Absolutely refund the vacation day. It has great value to the employee and is no cost to you, as Alison explained in her response. Goodwill goes a long way.

  36. Lady Meyneth*

    LW #3, classwork subjects almost never matter in an internship. Or really in the majority of jobs. Instead of feeling intimidated by this intern, remember how lost you felt when you were just starting out (because we all were, right? Right?) and try to pass on the stupidly valuable experience you’ve accumulated.

    Story time: 3 years ago I mentored an intern who was absolutely increadible. On paper, sure, but that translated to his work too even though he was raw still. Dude was a born leader, and he had a brain to match, he could look into a procedure and ask a question most employees took 2 years to think about. After 2 months of working with him I told my own boss I could well be looking at our future director, and it didn’t feel like I had much to add to his development. He was hired full time on graduating, and since then he’s done some very high profile projecs and done them brilliantly, and we still talk pretty regularly.

    Today he was doing a company wide, global presentation on a big one, and he stumbled at one point before remembering what he needed. And then he joked that “he needed another lesson from Lady Meyneth on being prepared”, and told the entire flipping company how I’d taught him everything about organization and best work practices. I never thought I’d added much to his work, but he viewed it totally differently. Maybe your intern will think the same of you someday.

  37. RagingADHD*

    LW2: Employees would rather focus on their work than attend monthly pep rallies for information they probably already knew.

    And this is supposedly an “engagement” problem?

    Wouldn’t an engagement problem be when they *aren’t* focused on their work, and are constantly looking for excuses to hang around doing nothing?

  38. Pocket Mouse*

    #5 – One day of PTO can really make a difference to an employee. It may mean she gets to be with family in a crisis for three extra days (if the PTO day means she didn’t have to return to work a Friday, say) or if it’s paid out at the end of employment, could give her a longer break if she’s heading to a new job, or mean she can make rent an extra month if not.

    It means almost nothing to the employer, but it could mean a lot to the employee, and you don’t want to be in a position where she really needed it and didn’t have it available- a huge morale killer.

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