open thread – September 10-11, 2021

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

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

Posted in Uncategorized

{ 1,204 comments… read them below }

  1. SuccessFail*

    Should I give two or three weeks notice when resigning? Should I give notice Friday afternoon or Monday morning?
    Background:
    Suffering from stress related illness (depression, anxiety flare up, hair falling out, extreme fatigue, etc.) worsened by a toxic workplace. Took one month of FMLA back in April, have back at work (remote) since May. I am also in a remote graduate program.
    I have a really good relationship with my immediate supervisor but have a challenging relationship with the leadership at the level above her. My fear is that the more notice I give, that either I would get pushed out early, or have more projects dumped on my plate. However, giving more notice would allow my boss more time to close out and transfer my work.
    I tried to resign once in the spring, but my boss convinced me to take FMLA and stay on. I have been putting off resigning because I really like my boss, my job, and my immediate team, but both my health and performance and my graduate program have been suffering with my health issues. And my work performance is also not so great. I feel like I should be able to do it all, but I really cant and that is frustrating and humbling.
    Any advice or feedback appreciated!

    1. another Hero*

      if they put more projects on your plate, don’t work extra. what are they going to do, fire you? just do what you can.

      it doesn’t matter whether you resign on a Friday or a Monday; if you’re in the US, two weeks is fine.

      1. MissBaudelaire*

        This was what I thought. So what if they pile on the projects? Time isn’t going to bend just for that. Do what you can do in your allotted time. If it isn’t finished, just say that’s going to have to be a duty for a colleague or your replacement. It isn’t your problem, OP.

        As far as the getting pushed out early–there’s really no preventing that. They all want two weeks but get baffled when people leave without giving it, because they push people out before the end date.

      1. Foxy Hedgehog*

        Seconded, do it today and not Monday. Just say something along the lines of “today is September 10, two weeks from today, September 24, will be my last day.”

        Best wishes & congratulations on getting away from a toxic workplace!

    2. StellaBella*

      As a person who once had a burnout, your health is the most important thing. Give two weeks, set firm boundaries on handover, do not do extra work, and get a good ref letter from nice boss. Move on. Rest, care for yourself too. Good luck.

      1. foolofgrace*

        I don’t know about a reference letter, but do get from him the assurance that he will be a good reference for you. Once, my boss left something really nice on LinkedIn.

    3. Been there*

      Two is typical. For Friday or Monday, it doesn’t matter. I’ve been in a position similar to yours and it was easiest just to say it and not back down.

      1. Blue Eagle*

        Resign today (unless you want to work 3 more weeks in which case resign next Friday).
        If you resign on a Friday, you can spend your weekend being relieved that in 2 more weeks you are out of there. If you wait till Monday to resign, you will spend the weekend worrying about resigning. Just do it – and move on. Good luck!

    4. Teapot Repair Technician*

      Two weeks.

      If you’re in the US, that is the standard, and all competent bosses are prepared to “close out and transfer” any employee’s work in that timeframe.

      Especially your boss who shouldn’t be the least bit surprised by your resignation given your previous attempted resignation.

    5. Properlike*

      Don’t sacrifice your health for your boss’s convenience, no matter how much you like her or how good a person she is. You’re not supposed to do it all! You will feel so much better once you’ve informed them of your decision and *stuck with it.* If you worry about being able to, imagine you are talking on behalf of your best friend who’s in your situation. If your best friend’s health were on the line, you would feel comfortable saying “no more.”

    6. Love WFH*

      Two weeks. Any day you like.
      I gave three weeks once, and by the third week I was so over it! It seemed to last forever.

      1. Ama*

        I had to give four weeks once because it was the requirement to get your vacation paid out and I had a LOT of unused vacation so I wasn’t giving that up. I really hope I never have to do that again, especially since it meant I didn’t get to take any time off between jobs (new job needed my help with a major event the second week after I started and actually sped up my offer so I could give the four weeks and still start by the date they needed).

        They actually treated me pretty well on the way out the door, but it was just so awkward to still be there midway through week three when I’d basically either wrapped up or handed off my longer term projects and could only do tasks that would be finished before my last day.

    7. Mr. Tyzik*

      I second the advice to do it today. Short and sweet, no explanations. You can’t control the reaction but you can’t let that detract you from doing what you need to do.

      I urge you to have a conversation with your immediate supervisor and let her know.

      I’ve been in your shoes. It put me in the hospital and I’m still recovering my health years later. Do what you need to do for you.

    8. Zorak*

      I was in a similar situation with my last job – I actually tried to quit 2 previous times and both times they talked me into staying. I say go ahead and put in 2 weeks notice today. Personally, I kept delaying putting in my notice because I was so stressed about them trying to convince me to stay again, and worried that maybe quitting was a terrible idea that would ruin my life. Turns out, I really wish I had quit earlier! Toxic workplaces can really mess you up, and I’ve been sooo much happier since I quit. Good luck, and I hope you’re able to get the rest you need to recuperate!

    9. Purple Cat*

      2 weeks and move on.
      As for Friday or Monday, whichever will generate LESS stress and disruption for YOU. It makes no difference to the company’s operations and moving forward plan. Personally, I would do EOD Friday, so I could drop the news and bounce for the weekend. But if that might open you up to a barrage of negative feedback over the weekend, then wait until Monday morning.

    10. JT*

      I would personally do it on a Monday. Since you like your boss, doing it on a Friday might just ruin their weekend with stress – and you’ll still be worrying about it, what thoughts/decisions might be happening, etc. On a Monday, it’s work stress happening during work time, and you’ll be easier to get in touch with if there are any questions to be answered while they’re making decisions about what the next two weeks will look like.

      1. Massive Dynamic*

        Do it today! This is a normal and expected thing for bosses to deal with – don’t worry about ruining their weekend. OP, it will probably stress YOU out the more you wait so you may as well resign now.

        Any decisions the boss wants to make about how the next two weeks will go that also need your input can wait until Monday.

    11. Haha Lala*

      Give your notice on a Friday, so you can enjoy the weekend without dreading Monday even more.
      But before you give your notice, be prepared to for that to be your last– in case they would rather you be gone than work the full two weeks. That’s easier if you’re remote, but still make sure to clean up your computer, copy any files, delete/move any persona files, etc.

    12. HR Exec Popping In*

      You need to take care of yourself and your health. And you manager will understand that. Give two weeks notice as soon as you can assuming that will not increase your stress.

    13. Kiwiapple*

      I gave 7 weeks notice (or standard is 4 weeks) to help with the transition and my boss has still not advertised the role even though it is all approved etc by HR. Give the 2 weeks and don’t look back!

      1. allathian*

        I hope you’ve told your boss that you won’t be available to help with the transition after you leave? Document, document.

    14. Quinalla*

      Yup give 2 weeks as soon as possible if you are in the US that is so standard no one will bat an eye, doesn’t matter what day.

    15. First Time Asking for a Raise*

      I personally did it as soon as I had signed paperwork, pretty sure it was a Wednesday. I worked two weeks, ending on a Wed, and had a long weekend before I started the next Monday. 2 weeks is 2 weeks. :shrug:

  2. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

    My husband is ready to start looking for new jobs, and I’m not sure how he should frame his interest in moving on.

    Here’s what happened: he’s been working at a university for over two years, and quite a while ago made a proposal to his boss that they could consolidate three positions into his one position, at a higher title and pay. The university is obviously in a budget crunch so they did decide to move forward with that change as part of a huge department reorg. However, the way they went about it was awful: they expected him to take on triple the work for an extra $1 per hour and no title change, they changed his boss without warning to anyone involved, and they tried to force his hand to agree to the new position the day before he left on vacation (actually, they made all the staff changes in one day and expected everyone to just agree with no negotiation or conversation). Everyone in the department is demotivated as a result, not to mention the stress from the constant supply and staffing issues plaguing many industries right now. In short, everything is a mess and everyone is stressed and unhappy.

    He’s been in this role for a few months and it’s increasingly clear this job needs to be paid 25-50% higher than what he’s making (which is what we expected based on market research for comparable roles). He’s done with the stress and ready to start looking for something that pays more in line with the market in our HCOL area. I think his skills and experience will be very attractive to new employers, but how should he answer the question “why are you looking to move on”? His resume will show that he’s just a few months into a promotion, but I don’t think it’s smart to cite the stress of his new role, especially since he’s not opposed to stressful roles if they’re fairly compensated. Can he simply say he’s looking to earn closer to market wage? Any other ideas?

    1. Nicotena*

      I don’t think it’s strange to say that X and Y duties have been added to his plate, but the salary/title don’t reflect the market rate for those wages. Particularly if they’re known big-ticket skills like fundraising, sales, or computer things that are typically better paid than his previous role. Most employers would understand this perfectly well, I think.

      1. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

        Thanks. I think I’ve been getting caught up in thinking “it was his idea, it will look terrible to walk away!” but n the context of low pay and low support, it isn’t a big deal.

    2. GigglyPuff*

      Seriously “New opportunities” is all anyone needs to say. I’ve barely ever had anyone actually ask me this, other than on the application. Probably more common question in other industries but I’ve applied for a lot of academic jobs and you’re much more likely to get “why do you want this job?”

      1. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

        That’s a good point, I’m also looking for a new role and I’ve only gotten “why this organization/this role”, never “why are you leaving”

        1. MissBaudelaire*

          Yeah, no one ever asked me “Why did you leave X job?” they didn’t care. They were more interested in “Why do you want to work here?”

      2. G*

        Thirding this. I was straight up laid off, its clear on my resume that the old position has ended based on the dates, and people have still barely asked me about it. Just why I was interested in the job I was applying for.

        I was pretty surprised, but that seems to be how it generally goes!

        1. Nicotene*

          I think it happens when you’re still employed and your resume shows you haven’t been at your previous job for very long. If it’s clear from your resume that you were laid off, I think it’s kind of crappy of an interviewer to focus on that.

          1. Quinalla*

            Yes, you will almost always get asked if you still are employed. They are looking for why you are leaving to make sure you hopefully won’t leave them for the same reason and also looking for obvious red flags. The reasoning of him getting tons of extra work with basically no pay increase is an excellent reason to give!

      3. Yorick*

        And interviewers aren’t gonna know that he’s choosing to leave after a “promotion,” which they might wonder about, since he didn’t get a title change that he’ll put on his resume.

    3. Teapot Repair Technician*

      When was interviewing, I said nothing but good things about my current employer to potential employers. I hated my old job and had all sorts of complaints, but I saw no reason to share them. The last thing I wanted to do was present myself as an employee with the potential to become dissatisfied to the point of quitting.

      When asked “why are you looking to move one?” by the hiring manager who eventually hired me, my answer was, “I want to work for a larger company, in city X, that manufactures more complex equipment.” All things true of that company (and true of what I wanted), which is why I said it.

    4. Thea*

      I was in a similar situation a few years back. I focused on why I wanted the new position I was applying for, and why I wanted to work for their company. When they asked why I wanted to move on, I lied. I said I hadn’t really been looking and that I liked what it did in my then current position, but that the position they had open just seemed really really interesting, sort of a reverse “an opportunity too good to ignore”. Which it kind of was, because it was at a company I wanted to work for, whereas my old company I mostly wanted to burn to the ground.

    5. RagingADHD*

      Due to the reorganization, he’s been given far more responsibilities without an appropriate salary or title adjustment, and he’s looking for a role where the title and compensation are commensurate with the scope of the role and with the market.

      Perfectly reasonable. This is exactly what enployers need to know to assess fit. He certainly doesn’t want to go through the hassle of interviewing if it’s going to be the same thing at a new place.

    6. Purple Cat*

      I think it’s perfectly reasonable to say “Three positions were consolidated into one, without a commensurate salary increase”.

    7. JelloStapler*

      As someone who works in higher ed, I can so relate to his issue. Is he looks in higher ed or in other fields? If the latter, I think he can say that he is looking to explore other industries. If the former, just keeping it open and saying what Nicotena suggested.

      Many HEd places are aware of the salary compression issue in the industry, and many are losing people due to this- it will not be surprised. Just approach it as “new opportunities to match experience with benefits” or something similar.

    8. ten four*

      He can absolutely say that he’s looking to earn closer to market wage! And you’re getting a lot of folks saying that it probably won’t come up, so I wanted to throw in my experience: I have absolutely been asked about why I was leaving before.

      In my experience the key to coping with this is to have an answer you feel confident in and delivering it with minimal fuss. I have definitely said too much in that situation! But I do agree that the overwhelming majority of interviewers are totally fine with a breezy, low-detail answer – he should just make sure he has one.

    9. HR Exec Popping In*

      He doesn’t need to give any real specifics and should not get into anything about “being wronged”. He can simply say he is looking for the opportunity to advance and as higher ed is facing serious financial constraints he doesn’t believe that is possible at the university.

  3. Part Time Question*

    If you work part time but salaried, let’s say 20 hours a week, so you usually don’t work Fridays – do you work Fridays on holiday weeks? Do you think a part time worker should work 20 hours in a holiday week, or are some of those hours “holiday” ? Maybe this varies by job. I don’t really want to bring it up because I suspect my boss hasn’t thought about it, but if asked, would say I should work on my days off during short holiday weeks.

    1. WellRed*

      We’ll do you want to get paid for 20 hours? Then you need to work them in somewhere. Could be Friday. Could work longer days ( if feasible).

        1. Nicotena*

          Right, it’s a salaried job so in theory the hours per week don’t matter, any more than it does for full time workers at 40 hours (they get holiday hours in holiday weeks). When I was full time, I didn’t like, make up labor day by working on the weekends and evenings until I hit my 40 hours. However, this feels different to me. I might try to stay later on the remaining days but if I always work Fridays on holiday weeks, that basically means I don’t get holidays “off.”

    2. ThatGirl*

      I feel like there should be existing policies about whether part time workers get paid holidays. For instance, if you usually work Mon/Tues/Wed and this past Monday was Labor Day, would you get paid for that? If so, you wouldn’t need to make up the hours. If not, I guess there’s your answer.

    3. Slipping The Leash*

      This is my situation. I’m on salary (paycheck and schedule never vary at all), with a 30-hour per week schedule. My company follows the NYSE holiday schedule. Same as with a full-time employee — if a holiday happens to fall when I’m not in the office normally, I don’t get holiday PTO. If it falls when I normally work, I get PTO for the hours I’d otherwise be working that day.

      1. Part Time Question*

        Oh, that’s an interesting model. I hadn’t considered that. In that case it was greatly to my advantage to pick Friday, not Monday, as my day off.

    4. Jancy*

      We give part time staff 4 hours of holiday pay for days off. So for Monday, if a part timer worked 4 hours on Monday then they got the day off no other issues. If they worked 8 hours on Monday, then they got 4 hours of holiday pay and needed to make up 4 hours during the week (or take 4 hours of vacation leave). If they don’t work Monday, then they get 4 hours of holiday leave to be used somewhere else during that week.

      1. JessicaTate*

        This is how we handle it as well. You get the pro-rated equivalent of the 8-hour day, and work with your supervisor to select a day in that same week to take it.

    5. Just Here for the Free Lunch*

      A few years ago I had 2 PT salaried employees in a job-share arrangement. They had a set schedule. They got the holiday off if it fell on a day they were scheduled to work. They did not have to “make up” the holiday on another day. It’s just cleaner that way.

    6. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I have a team lead who is 0.8 FTE and salaried, they work M-Th, and if they *wanted* to shift their hours on holiday weeks (for example to take Monday off this week instead of Friday) I wouldn’t object to that, but I wouldn’t expect it of them either. (In that case, they had Monday off as the paid holiday and then today as a regular day off.) That said – our “holidays” are added into our PTO bucket at 8 hours per, so if someone chooses to work on the holiday they don’t get holiday pay but they keep the 8 hours in their regular PTO bucket for later, so it’s not like they’re missing out on either holiday pay or extra PTO either way.

    7. OyHiOh*

      I am not expected to work Fridays in place of a Monday holiday. My boss decided I should get paid for holidays, and have the day off like everyone else in the org (who are all full time/salaried). There’s nothing that requires this arrangement, but also nothing that forbids it, so it’s what we do.

    8. Just Another Cog*

      My workplace prorates everything for part-time employees (except health insurance, which is fabulous). When I was part-time, I got a prorated amount of holiday pay for paid holidays.

      (But I was half-time every day M-F, so it was clearer that I also got those days off like everyone else).

      I’d argue that if fulltime workers get a paid holiday, that’s 20% of their week. You’d get 20% of your 20 hours as holiday, or 4 hours. So put in 16 hours that week?

      (Insert “seems legit” reaction gif here)

    9. Amey*

      I’m in the UK so maybe entirely different from you, but I work that same schedule (Monday-Thursday) and am the UK equivalent of salaried and I wouldn’t be expected to work an alternative day in a week with a holiday in it. Conversely, if the holiday fell on a Friday, I wouldn’t expect an alternative day off.

      Think of it this way – full-time people are getting their week shortened by a day because of the holiday, so are you! That’s fine! The holiday is meant to be a day off.

    10. Not So NewReader*

      My bosses expect me to take the day off without making it up later on the week.

      Reality is that I fall too far behind if I do that so I work the holiday or work extra hours on my regular work days.

    11. Windchime*

      I work part-time and am salaried. This past week was Labor Day on Monday, and I have Monday’s off. So I got a 4 hour holiday credit that I can apply to a day when I *do* work. I worked my normal 20 hours this week, and will apply the 4 hours to a day next week. I could have applied the credit to a day this week and then only work 16 hours, but I have plans for next week so I am choosing to use it there instead.

    12. HR Exec Popping In*

      Most companies have policies that dictate how holiday pay works. I would recommend you start there if your org has documented policies.

    13. Esmeralda*

      Check with HR or whomever is in charge of HR related functions in your department. There may be a rule or policy already that you will need to comply with.

    14. Chilipepper Attitude*

      Salaried and exempt are separate things. Exempt is defined by the federal govt and means that you get paid for the full week of work even if you don’t work a full week. Salaried just means they pay you for x hours every week but they do not have to. That is a simple explanation. So holiday pay for salaried workers (FT or PT) will vary by employer. There might be laws on this for your state but I think it is up to the employer.

      They could reduce your salary that week or expect you to work 20 hours (on the holiday or other days that week) or just pay you for 20 hours when you work 15.

      1. Part Time Question*

        Wow, that is a great point, I probably need to check if I’m exempt and what that means for me. I really thought non-exempt just meant you got overtime pay (which I don’t).

  4. Let me be dark and twisty*

    If someone pulled rank on you (and your company culture is one where that stuff doesn’t fly), does that change your impression of that person? And any advice for working with someone who pulls rank on his subordinates to meet his objectives?

    1. 867-5309*

      What do you mean by “pulling rank”? It is a manager’s prerogative to establish priorities and make decisions, even if it is not what the rest of the team agrees with. Sometimes it’s because they’re as ass and sometimes they have more information.

      1. Let me be dark and twisty*

        Here’s the context. I didn’t want to get into it in case it seemed like I was venting, as opposed to asking for advice (which would be breaking Alison’s rule) but I think it might help.

        A few weeks ago I asked for advice on how to approach Jan, who was assigning me work our admin assistant, Pam, used to do. I work for and report to David on special projects. Jan and I are colleagues in the sense we both report to David but Jan has is a VP and has a team of sales associates under her. I don’t have a fancy title and I’m not a manager. After Pam left, David had me take over her work till he decided whether to replace her. He decided not to, instructed me to stop Pam’s work, and notified everyone in the office that. Jan had delegated a task to Pam to monitor a report to track that her team was submitting their updates on time that she wanted me to continue doing. I pushed back. Jan pulled rank with “I’m the Vice President of Sales. You think your job designing teapots is more important that you’re going to make me do this?”

        I never responded (oh how I wanted to tell her ‘it’s not my job to manage your staff’) so the subject was dropped. Jan stopped asking me to do the task but her reaction left a sour taste in my mouth that I’m having a hard time getting rid of and I definitely don’t want that to come up when Jan and I are meeting with David.

        1. 867-5309*

          If she was crappy about it then I can see feeling irritated but the actual request does not seem out of line. She is a Vice President managing a staff, so offloading some administrative work task to the administrative assistant makes sense.

          1. The New Wanderer*

            That makes sense if there was still an admin assistant to delegate to. There isn’t, and Dark and Twisty isn’t expected to continue taking any admin assistant work per her (and Jan’s) boss. Jan should be delegating this task to someone in her staff, where she wouldn’t be ‘pulling rank’ but acting as a manager.

            We have this setup at my company – non-managers (usually in technical roles) and managers reporting to the same boss, so they are effectively peers. I can’t imagine any managers trying to delegate tasks to non-management peers when that isn’t part of the non-managers’ work statement or expectations.

          2. Jules the 3rd*

            Sure, it made sense when there was an admin assistant, but D&T isn’t one.

            When David announced there’d be no replacement for Pam, Jan should have checked for either another actual admin or within her mgmt line for the right person to do this. I’m assuming Jan’s seen D&T’s work with David.

            BUT D&T: Jan pulling rank once, in a situation where you’ve been temporarily doing the work, could easily be just a gut reaction to ‘oh shit that’s on my plate again.’ Take some time, sit back and look at all your interactions with Jan, and see if this is a pattern or a one off. If it’s one-off, cut her some slack, this is a stressful time.

            If it’s a pattern, or something you’ve seen from other people: ask David for a fancy title. Explain the work-related reasoning (it will make your position and duties clearer). Probably go over easier if you say you’re not looking for a pay bump, but if it’s time for pay review, wrap ‘fancy title’ into the conversation.

            good luck however you go….

          3. TiffIf*

            But OP isn’t the administrative assistant. They don’t have an administrative assistant anymore and OP is not Jan’s subordinate nor does it sounds like OP is someone she should be assigning that work to.

            OP: It would leave a bad taste in my mouth too, you were specifically instructed not to continue to do that work; Jan was notified of this and then still tried to bully you into doing it. Ultimately though, because she didn’t continue to make the request, I would let it go. If Jan does bring it up in a meeting with David, you can point to David’s specific instructions.

        2. Sandman*

          If David told you to stop doing Pam’s work, I’d definitely bring it up with him. Jan sounds like she’s overstepping and holding you responsible for a decision you didn’t make.

          1. Chilipepper Attitude*

            Just let David know! Tell him you are adjusting your priorities based on doing this extra task from Jan that Pam used to do.
            Or tell him Jan asked you to do x that Pam used to do and you asked her if you should keep doing it and she said yes and you want to let him know so he is aware of your work load.

            Or tell him you don’t want to keep doing this old task of Pams that Jan asked you to keep doing and is there someone else better qualified to do it?

            And feel free to keep thinking Jan is a jerk but a jerk you are paid to be cordial to. Or take the advice here about how to let that feeling go. Either way, focus on your own peace of mind.

        3. Hillary*

          So you mentioned you’re having a hard time getting rid of the feeling. I make up stories with kindest, most banal explanations and decide they’re truth until I learn differently. I do this for my mental health, not for anyone else’s benefit. I’m a happier person when I assume positive intent until proven otherwise.
          Maybe this will help?

          Jan was probably having a bad day. Maybe something went wrong right before she talked to you, a customer yelled at her perhaps. You (very reasonably) say no to something and she overreacts. After the fact she feels mortified, she knows she was in the wrong and that’s not how a manager is supposed to treat an employee, especially in your company’s culture. And she hasn’t apologized because she’s embarrassed.

          If the behavior is a one off the story might even be true.

          1. Hillary*

            I’m back and forth on bringing it up with David. If something like this happened to me I would probably talk it over with my manager, but only if it was with someone he didn’t manage. The conversation would be more about the org – did I misunderstand something? how does he want me to handle it going forward?

            But since you share a manager I’d leave it alone. If Jan did have a problem with you refusing to do this she already took it up with David and he backed you, which means he already knows about it. (I’ve never met a VP of Sales who would be able to sit on something like this – it doesn’t fit with the personality type that excels in those roles.) If she realized she was in the wrong she won’t let it happen again and your problem has been solved.

            1. Fran Fine*

              Your last point is a good one. Jan hasn’t come back and asked for this report again, so David more than likely already set her straight about the fact that OP should not be doing these admin tasks anymore. One of her direct reports probably is.

              OP, I don’t blame you for feeling some kind of way about Jan’s behavior – it was very gross and dismissive of your own position within the company. But I agree with others that if she isn’t generally like this, to let it go but keep a mental note of if so that if she does stuff like this again, you’ll know if you need to escalate to David.

        4. Teapot Repair Technician*

          I was wondering what you meant by “pulling rank,” and this seems to be a perfect example–someone not in your line of command gives you an order because they outrank you.

          My only advice would be to bring it up with David before Jan does. “David, Jan asked me to do task X but I don’t have time. Can you please assign it to someone else?”

        5. Qwerty*

          It sounds like you’ve gotten caught in a communication issue between Jan and David. Rather than not responding, I would have recommended adding David to the email chain so that he could discuss priorities with Jan. By not responding (and especially without knowing the wording used when you initially pushed back) this could easily look to Jan as you refusing to do the work rather the reality of David has not prioritized the work for his team and/or decided it was out of scope for his team.

          But all that is already done, so going forward I would loop in David that Jan is still expecting for Pam’s projects to be continued and have him follow up with her.

          As to the question of if it would change my impression of her – a bit, but I’d try to vent to a friend and let it go unless it became a pattern. Because I’m also judging David for not anticipating that stopping all of Pam’s projects was going to cause problems and having a contingency plan so that you don’t get caught up in the resulting drama.

        6. Not So NewReader*

          I can’t tell if David is your main boss or just your boss over special projects.
          It sounds like David is effectively your main boss.

          It also sounds like David and Jan may not get a long too well? But, hey, that is NONE of your concern here.

          Your only concern here is that David (immediate boss) said never do X and an upper boss said, always do X.
          Conflicting orders.

          Ideally, the thing to say is something like, “Has David been told?”
          But if you cannot pull that question up on the spot (as many people cannot) then the next step is to ask David if Jan’s orders have been discussed with HIM.
          In many instances that can cause a big “Hell NO” from the immediate boss (David) and you could be told to do nothing until you receive further word.

          Jan basically stepped around David and assigned work to someone else’s subordinate. This is so NOT cool. Judging from her testy response, she knew she was on thin ice from the start.

          Worst case scenario: I would do it the time she asked if I could not find my immediate boss to confirm with. This gets me out of being insubordinate IN THE MOMENT. And I can explain to my immediate boss that I could not turn down her directive and the immediate boss was not available to discuss the matter. This gets me off the hook for disobeying my immediate boss.
          It also can start a heck of a verbal fire. Let it roll, I say. It’s up to them to figure all this out, not you.

          Notice I did not mention Jan’s leadership style or her known reputation. None of that has any bearing. She overstepped. And that is the key here.

        7. Marillenbaum*

          I think you were right to push back, because David told you to stop doing Pam’s tasks. If Jan has an issue with that, she should have taken it up with David, not you, and anyone who feels the need to wave their title around at you as a means of pushing back is kind of a jerk. You got what you needed (her to stop pushing the task on you), but it seems perfectly reasonable to acknowledge going forward that Jan will absolutely be a title-waving jerk, and to factor that in accordingly when having to deal with her.

        8. HR Exec Popping In*

          Believe people when they show you who they really are. Jan is a B!+@&. Full stop. And it is not just ok but smart for you to understand that and treat her appropriately. I’m not talking about being rude to her but be careful and don’t trust her.

        9. Esmeralda*

          Kick it to David. He’s your boss, he told you you’re not doing Pam’s work. Is Jan in any way your boss? (Not the same as higher rank in company. For example: The dean of the liberal arts college has a much higher rank than me, but I’m not in the liberal arts college, so she can kick rocks if she wants me to write reports).

          I’d keep the feelings out of it though: David, I’m not sure how to handle this. Jan asked me to do the TPS reports Pam used to do; I explained…but she insisted.

        10. Curious*

          Jan sounds awful. I don’t blame you for the whole thing leaving a bad taste in your mouth – it would for me, too!

          I’d have a quiet word with David about it, if you’re worried about Jan bringing it up later to him, especially if she’s the type to try and weaponise every possible small thing that happens. David also really needs to remind Jan that he is your manager, not her.

    2. Littorally*

      I’m a little confused by the question. “Pulling rank” on one’s subordinates seems like part of management to me. At some point, you have to say — look, you may not agree, but I’m your boss and the direction I set for the work needs to be followed.

      What is the problem with the directives he’s issuing? If you need to push back on something, it’s probably going to be more fruitful to say, here’s the problem with the objective, rather than that you don’t like your boss reminding you that he’s your boss.

      1. Just Another Cog*

        If you read the update, you’ll see that 1) the person pulling rank is a woman, and 2) the person pulling rank is not her supervisor, and 3) her actual supervisor told her NOT to do the thing that the person pulling rank told her to do.

        1. Littorally*

          Yep, the update changes things noticeably from the original question. I stand by my response to ‘And any advice for working with someone who pulls rank on his subordinates to meet his objectives?’

          But, for the update, Dark & Twisty has a manager who is not this person, and who should be the one going to bat for them.

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

      Even in a culture where “pulling rank” overtly isn’t done, there is still a hierarchy and the boss typically still needs to be the ultimate decision maker. If he’s pulling rank publicly, it’s probably because no one is respecting that typically unspoken rule. Would I change my impression of my boss — IDK, depends on what he’s pulling rank about — the office coffee choice or the direction a major project goes. Advice to work with them…typically the only solution is to recognize they are in charge. Either cooperate and see if the sky collapses or find a new job.

      1. Bagpuss*

        Yes, this.
        My workplace is generally pretty informal. As one of the bosses, it’s very rare for me to to pull rank but if I do, it’s pretty much always either
        – because the thing that needs doing is really important / needs to happen right now (e.g. my objective is we stay in business / meet the hard deadline / comply with our regulator’s requirements) and there isn’t always time to explain why
        – because the person I am pulling rank on is ignoring the less direct directions / instructions.

    4. GMan*

      “Pulling Rank” is fine if someone needs to be reminded of the manager-subordinate relationship, which happens sometimes. Subordinates may get too friendly/too close with their boss, may try to push the limits of their position, or may spend too much time trying to change a decision already made. In those cases, pulling rank is fine.

      But I suspect when you say ‘pulling rank’ it’s actually about a manager using the corporate hierarchy to justify the deflecting questions when they make decisions without actually having a sound reason – eg. “boss, we’ve been doing X for very long and now you’re asking us to do Y, could you explain?” and the response is “I don’t need to explain I’m the boss” then I’d say maybe pulling the boss aside and explaining why sharing your thought process with the team is useful.

    5. RagingADHD*

      Having read your comment/update with more detail, yes, Jan was obnoxious and out of line and it would make anyone dislike her.

      If you haven’t yet learned to work productively and civilly with people you don’t like, now is the time to start. It is not necessary to have a good opinion of someone personally in order to get along with them appropriately in a work setting.

      Since the subject is dropped, and you aren’t required to do the report, the only way it likely going to come up in a meeting with Jan and David is if you bring it up. So, don’t.

      If Jan brings it up, you can just refer back to David. Doing that report is not an appropriate use of your time, and you have bern instructed not to spend time on Pam’s old tasks. Jan and David can figure it out between themselves. Perhaps Jan needs to advocate for hiring a new admin after all.

    6. CurrentlyBill*

      Jan isn’t even pulling rank well. You both report to David.
      David told you to stop doing Pam’s work.
      Jan told you to continue doing Pam’s work.
      Jan’s VP title is irrelevant here. (setting political niceties aside)

      Because Dan’s order trumps Jan’s.

      If Jan has a problem with that, she should talk to Dan.

      Complying with Jan’s instruction would be insubordination on OP’s part

  5. Coffee au Lait*

    I want to thank the poster who shared the MCU fan fic about the Worst (Best?) holiday date story shared here at AAM. I read it yesterday while getting my hair cut. I laughed so hard I cried.

      1. Coffee au Lait*

        It went well! I was actually getting a pixie cut (goodbye heavy long hair!), and the hairdresser was afraid I was crying because I what she was doing. I read the original story outloud to her because everyone should experience the worst-best date in the history of horrible party stories.

    1. The Vulture*

      I also appreciate that! It was amazing and I hope the person who wrote in was able to read the fanfic, because, wow, just how pure and hilarious to have made in into AAM lore AND THEN it turns into a MCU alternate-universe fanfic, my goodness, what a world we live in, I’m in awe, I truly think it’s so beautiful.

    2. Fanfic fan*

      Aw, glad you liked it! I was so excited when I stumbled on it that I had to share it with the AAM commentariat.

      I’m on a work computer so I don’t want to poke around on fanfic sites, but for those asking for a link it’s called “You’re Where You Should Be All The Time” by Laura Kaye, over on Archive of Our Own.

    3. Ana*

      I randomly found an Once Upon A Time fanfic based on that post as well, though I haven’t read it yet. Link in reply.

        1. Ana*

          Ah wait, I just took a look through my open tabs and there the link was posted on another AAM post a few days ago. Sorry, MJ!
          (I was legit randomly searching the Walsh tag yesterday but I probably followed your link to do it and just forgot.)

    4. Might Be Spam*

      Notice for Anyone else writing AAM fan fic, PLEASE let us know. I loved the two that were linked and I want MORE!

      1. Ana*

        Ask A Manager really should become a tag so the stories can be found! Though doing that might encourage more people to do it and it would be unfair for AAM posters to risk turning into “real people fanfiction” (I think is the term?)

    5. GoryDetails*

      Wasn’t it awesome? I’ve been sharing it with friends – both the original AAM letter and the fanfic – to the general delight of everybody!

    6. Chaordic One*

      That was a great story. It was the kind of story that should be told on “The Moth Radio Hour” show on NPR.

  6. TJ Anonymous for this*

    If anyone has any experience with leaving an employer (and career) you thought you would be at for the rest of your working days I would appreciate hearing about it. Also any tips for someone who has never had to do a resume or job interview are appreciated. Thank you.

    (For anyone who wants background my situation is this: I have worked at my current employer for almost 15 years full-time, plus the three summers as an intern while I was in college. Besides a part-time retail job when I was in high school and during college this is the only career/employer I ever had. I’m leaving because our hybrid work schedule isn’t being enforced. In this industry working from home 100% of the time is impossible. Because the pandemic was worldwide for a time exceptions were made but they were not sustainable. My industry has basically decided on a hybrid, once a week or once every other week in the office schedule. Public health and government limit how many people we can have in our building. So my employer made a schedule. But no one follows it and everyone comes in when they want. This means by the time I get to work, since I take transit, the building is at capacity and I am not allowed in.

    My commute is 30-45 minutes each way and being sent home is annoying. It also means I can’t get my in office work done. I have brought my concerns to management but they don’t care to enforce the schedule. I know of three other companies in my industry with similar issues. So I’ve decided to leave here and I will be applying for jobs in two other industries where my skills can transfer. But I feel so lost. I thought I would retire at this company. My retail job was through a family member, my internships were through my college and I got offered my job because of the internships. I’m 37 and I have never done a resume or had an interview in my life.

    I don’t care if my new job is remote, in office or hybrid and I know I need to leave my current job but I find the thought of switching careers and leaving here scary. Can anyone relate?)

    1. Amtelope*

      That’s extremely ridiculous of your employer, I’m sorry — surely if some people ignoring the schedule is making it impossible for other people to work in the office on their scheduled days, they ought to do something about that.

    2. Chauncy Gardener*

      I’m so sorry for this situation! It’s absurd the way your employer is handling hybrid work and being SENT HOME is just breathtakingly stupid and short sighted.
      That being said, please give yourself time to grieve the loss of what you envisioned your future career to be. And please, please read lots (maybe all!) of the Good News Friday posts as well as all of AAM’s job seeking advice. This is (in general) a wonderful time to be looking for a job and who knows? You could find something you like even more than where you are now! Please don’t be afraid! YOU CAN DO THIS!!!!

    3. Ali G*

      I can relate to the part about not knowing how to interview/do a resume etc. I got my first job out of grad school because my Master’s Project advisor said I should apply to a certain position. I did interview, but I didn’t know he was on the Board and recommended me until after I started working there. That was way back in 2003. 8+ years later when I was looking for a change, I happened to be copied on an email from my boss to a client I had worked extensively with that mentioned him helping the client seek candidates for a new position. Well I did my boss one better and went and filled the position my self :). My interview was basically “come talk to us so we know you are normal and let’s talk salary” and then I was hired.
      So, in 2018, when I was 39 years old, I was out a job (long story for another time) and I was starting a job search from scratch for the first time ever. I didn’t want the easy route, which was to stay in my industry and just take the same job somewhere else. I was done after 15 years.
      My advice is take ALL of Alison’s advice. Read her resources on resumes, cover letters and interviews and use ALL the tips. Once I revamped my stuff with her advice I started getting lots of interest. The job I have now, the HR person told me that as soon as she read my cover letter she knew I needed to be interviewed for the position. It took me about 6 months, but later this month I’ll celebrate my 3 year anniversary, and it’s by far the best job I ever had.
      Good luck! You can do it.

    4. AVP*

      My advice is to practice explaining why you want to leave this company/industry in a detached, non-emotional way. Your explanation here is extremely fair but make sure you can deliver it that way, and practice on a friend or partner if you can before your first interview just to make sure. It’s a huge decision and you don’t want to, like, tear up about it in front of a stranger.

      For resumes…find a model online that you like the look of, write it up, and send it to a friend or family member who is good at hiring to look it over. If you’ve progressed at your current job over the years, list it as separate jobs so it gives you some dynamism and doesn’t show one giant job listing. Good luck!!

    5. 1qtkat*

      AAM has lots of advice for job seekers about resumes and interviews. I would definitely search around the site. Good luck!

    6. Teapot Repair Technician*

      No advice, but I can relate. When I was in college and the couple years after I graduated, jobs just fell into my lap, the last of which I stayed at for almost 15 years before deciding to leave.

      In my late 30s, having to conduct a job search and face rejection for the first time in my life made me feel like a fish out of water. But it’s not impossible! I suspect everyone feels a little scared by the prospect leaving a job regardless of how many times they’ve done it.

    7. Malarkey01*

      I know you didn’t ask for advice about the hybrid situation but what would happen if you called your boss and said “I am standing outside the front door being refused entry even though I’m on the schedule. Would you prefer I sit here and read a book/ scroll the Internet/ work on my tan until someone comes out or should I take the day off with pay?” I just cannot imagine a scenario where an employee would be told to figure this out themselves.

      That said, this is all so new and so many of us are trying to figure this out on the fly. If you really dont want to leave, my next step would be to talk to my manager and say we have to figure something out and then have a little patience in the event this is no longer an issue for whatever reason in 2 months.

      1. TJ Anonymous for this*

        This has been going on since the hybrid model started in July. I have brought it to the attention of management several times. If anyone is refused entry to the building the only options are to go back home or somewhere else to work (and due to the pandemic it’s not like there are cafes and libraries open) or get in trouble for not showing up. The management refusing to deal with it is why I’m leaving. And I’m leaving the whole industry since there are the same issues elsewhere and I do not want to run into them again.

        1. Fran Fine*

          This is so shortsighted of your management to allow good employees to leave over something that’s so easily fixable. I’m sorry you have to deal with this stupidity and have to leave your whole industry because of it.

        2. fantomina*

          also, I don’t understand why the person enforcing the building capacity limits can’t also have a copy of the schedule and just turn away anyone who’s not supposed to be there that day? Perhaps suggesting a specific game plan would make more headway?

        3. Malarkey01*

          I am really sorry and this is so incredibly dumb it literally sounds like one bad manager. Honestly at this stage I’d just not do the part of the job that requires you to be onsite and when they call you on it, that’s fine, say I was unable to get onsite due to occupancy and I’m at a loss for how I can circumvent that. When you get in trouble for not being there say oh but I was. Here’s he email I sent you from the front door. Sure it won’t stop them from firing you if they really aren’t going to address this but if you’re on your way out over it I’d make it a little more difficult for them to continue to ignore.

          And if you haven’t, I’d write an email to HR and the leadership team above operating managers and spell out exactly what is happening and ask what the company is doing for people denied legitimate entry (sometimes things can sound like management and it’s only a few idiots- sometimes you do find a whole group of idiots that come together though).

    8. have we met?*

      If you really don’t want to leave this job, can you get to the office earlier so it’s not at capacity by the time you arrive?

      If not, how long are you willing to put up with the situation? It sounds like you have decided to move on. It also sounds like you are grieving. This is normal! Realize it’s going to take some time to work through the emotions of it.

      As for the overwhelming task of looking for something new, take it one step at a time:
      1. Get Alison’s book
      2. Update your LinkedIn and other professional profiles (Indeed, etc.)
      3. And just start. The first application will be the hardest application. The first interview will be the hardest interview. You don’t have to be perfect at applying for jobs. Just start.

      You can do this!

      1. TJ Anonymous for this*

        Thank you. Since I use transit getting in earlier isn’t an option for me, plus we gave set hours for business around what clients expect so those are the hours we need to work. It’s been going on since July and since management is doing nothing I am fed up.

        Thank you for the advice.

    9. Snow Globe*

      I’m going through this now; at the end of the month I will be leaving a company that I’ve worked at for over 30 years. Our company is trying to pare costs and has offered certain employees a voluntary retirement package. It was too good to pass up, but it does feel strange; I expected to retire here. The good news, I’m not actually ready to retire, so started looking for another job, and I’ve got one lined up to start the week after my last day. I was concerned that the combination of my age and so many years with the same company would make it tough to find something, but I got two offers within six weeks. A couple of people I interviewed with said they thought it was great that I had spent so many years with one company. And I’m now really excited about the new job; I honestly didn’t realize that I have been less than enthusiastic about work for a while now. I think once you make a decision and start acting on it, you’ll start looking forward instead of back, and that’s a good thing.

    10. Purple Cat*

      My husband just left his company of 22 years that he started at before we graduated college and it was SCARY for him too!
      Your feelings are perfectly normal. The days of working forever for one company are gone. Those of us with high longevity think we’ll last forever, but realistically, we won’t. So just try to embrace the change and find an opportunity you’re excited about! Read everything AAM offers on resumes and interviews, and PRACTICE with a friend!

      Good luck, you got this!

    11. Ashley*

      I spent close to 20 years in one job and recently switched. I had thought I would have retired from that place, but they took that to mean as they could just dump on me because I would never leave.
      I took the time to find the right place and life is so much better. I sleep at night. I don’t have the Sunday dread of the next day. There is a team to help out when things can crazy busy. I had something come up this week and my company has gone way out of their way to be accommodating despite not being there that long and it is something some places could have easily found the technicality to just be jerks.
      Take your time to find the right place (which is really hard once you realize you have to leave), but it is so worth it.

    12. No longer the old timer*

      I left what I thought was my forever job back in the spring after almost 20 yrs. I no longer felt valued and when I tried discussing career path options, just got a lot of corporate talk. One day a job posting came up for the exact role I wanted in our city but in a completely different industry. I was nervous and felt rusty with the interviewing stuff, but it worked out.

      I thought leaving would be harder but it felt right. The new company is an even better work/life balance plus better pay and I enjoy what I am doing so much.

      So short version – just go for it. When your gut is telling you it is time to go for whatever reason, make the jump. Lean on your professional experience and trust your instincts.

    13. ronda*

      there might also be some job seekers groups to join. This can help with practice interview, practice networking, etc.

      I was laid off from a job after 17 years and they had a paid service that did this kind of stuff for people they laid off for a number of months. Some of it was helpful, some of it was not. I did like that I had an appointment that I was supposed to get some stuff done by, but that depends on how self motivated you are.

      Also my university offered similar session to job seekers.

    14. Senioritis Spreadsheet*

      I can relate! I’ve worked at the same place for almost eighteen years, and expected to retire from here. They flubbed the pandemic reopening – not as badly as your company! – with an urgent recall to the office for work that needed to be done in person… and then the work didn’t materialize. So I’m sitting there bored and annoyed, with only work I could do at home. While everyone has reported being vaccinated, the office has no Covid policies – the pandemic is over and they do not want to hear about it.

      I am easing my way into job-search gear. I am reading a lot of AAM archives, and trying to take the very good advice there. I am also trying to switch fields – starting over with no seniority to do exactly the same work does not appeal at all. I’m being careful with my cover letters, to try to show that my experience is relevant. I had my first screening interview earlier this week, and it was not bad.

      Crossing fingers that both of us find something great!

    15. Triplehiccup*

      Definitely find a friend to practice interviewing with and to review your resume/cover letter. Ideally they’ll help you practice negotiating salary too. One of the real perks to switching companies, in my experience, is the opportunity for a pay jump, since so many places prioritize recruitment over retention when it comes to budgeting payroll. Don’t underestimate yourself! And if you’re in the US, try to be strategic about the logistics of leaving. Eg set your last day for the beginning of the month so your insurance goes until the end of the month; use up your FSA if you have one – you’re entitled to the full amount even if you haven’t paid the full amount for the year.

    16. Quinalla*

      I left a job after 13 years that until the last couple months I thought I stay at forever. I did interview for that job, but was quite rusty. I ended up going through a recruiter and using advice from here and one other website, the recruited helped with salary negotiations, the rest I knew as much or more than him and he thought my resume was great already. It was a bit intimidating, but it went just fine.

    17. Gelie Fish*

      I recently left a job of 14 years that I expected to be at possibly until retirement, but they were going to restructure. Follow the advice, remember interviews are opportunities to get to know each other. I also want to say, I am very happy with my new job. I am loving the new challenges and people. It can be a great opportunity

  7. awesome3*

    I realize that a lot of people are resigning right now, but it seems like most of them have new jobs lined up. So why does it feel like everywhere is having an employee shortage, when based on the logic that people are moving into new jobs, there should be some places doing a lot of hiring? In your city do you see the same amount of people resigning as being hired? Or something else? Thank you for any explanations

    1. irene adler*

      There may be an uptick in demand for product or service the business provides. So not only are they replacing those who quit, they are adding workers to meet the increased demand.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        In the case of my niche field, there is definitely a very recent uptick in demand for these skills. There are more openings than qualified applicants because there just aren’t that many people with senior-level experience and the appropriate background/education. I’m leaving for a better offer myself, while my company currently has multiple openings for my role at several levels (junior, mid career, senior) that have been posted several times over the past six months. They are hoping to hire up to 30 people, which is an unprecedented expansion, and so far have gotten maybe 10 and almost all at the junior level, none at the senior level.

    2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      There’s a big mismatch between employers and potential employees, especially in service jobs, especially especially in restaurants. I think that’s what you’re seeing. It’s not in every sector of the economy, and it’s not in every geographic region.

      1. awesome3*

        Thank you for the insight. I am seeing it in restaurants like you said, as well as nursing, non-profits, and my partner’s for-profit private company seems to be loosing a person a week. Everyone I’ve talked to is going somewhere else, not retiring or choosing another path, so it’s hard to figure out the logic where it seems like so many places are loosing people, when you’d think some places must be gaining people

        1. Siege*

          So, jobs that are badly paid and where the employees are often badly treated are losing jobs, but those employees are probably being absorbed into larger companies and potentially either freelance in a conventional industry or into a new or gig industry such as streaming content or Etsy-shop-owner. I would bet a lot of money that there’s a big bump in new users of monetized platforms like Twitch and DoorDash that would take out a lot of the potential pool for low-paid service jobs like restaurants. Not that those platforms are less abusive (in some ways, they are more abusive) but if you’re a nurse working on a COVID floor with anti-vaxxers as patients and coworkers, DoorDash has to look better to some people. At least there you know that you’ll have more than just jerks as clients.

          1. Theo*

            I actually know someone who left the nursing field to drive for something like DoorDash, because he couldn’t handle how vicious working with antivaxxers in an overtaxed field with no support was getting. He makes less money but he’s no longer having a mental breakdown so like….. there’s a reason some places are losing workers.

            1. Siege*

              Yeah, one of my sisters took a cut in hours in her job as a property manager and is driving for DoorDash, which also cuts down on her exposure to clients who may or may not be abusive.

        2. AcademiaNut*

          Restaurants lost a lot of people during shutdowns – the jobs vanished, and over a year and a half some people moved on to other jobs, some left the workforce (to stay with kids, for example), some retired, some want to come back but can’t yet (remote schooling), some died or are disabled due to COVID, and in urban areas, some had to leave because they couldn’t afford to stay. Now the field needs to hire a lot of people, but have lost a lot of their former pool of employees.

          Nursing – there was a shortage *before* COVID, now demand is up, and people have retired, or burnt out and quit, or gotten sick or disabled and had to quit.

          Warehouse and delivery jobs increased, and pulled a lot of the unskilled labour pool.

          Immigration decreased during COVID, and in some countries, (particularly ones that go by acronyms starting with U.) had been hampered by government policies before that, leading to a shortage of the kind of workers who fill a lot of low paid jobs.

          I don’t think it’s a coincidence that jobs that are hard physical work, have irregular schedules, irregular pay (in tipped jobs), few if any benefits, no paid sick leave, draconian absence policies, low pay, and involve getting screamed at by unvaccinated assholes, are somehow having trouble recruiting employees.

          Also, the labour force had gotten used to it being an employer’s market, after a recession followed by the COVID crash. They got used to expecting to hire overqualified candidates with crappy pay and benefits and have them be grateful for the job and are having trouble adjusting.

    3. Anonymous Educator*

      why does it feel like everywhere is having an employee shortage

      Is there an employee shortage? Or are places not offering a living wage complaining they aren’t getting applicants?

      1. awesome3*

        That’s true, I guess “higher than usual turnover in a ton of places at once” is more what I was referring to. But what about the places that are paying employees what they are worth? Are they loosing people too/doing a lot of hiring/stable at the moment?

        1. Quinalla*

          We pay competively and have a great new quarterly bonus program and good benefits. We’ve lost I think one person since COVID started and been trying to hire as we have more work than we have people to do it right now. Hiring experienced people is VERY tough right now, but even hiring out of college for the skills we need has been tougher than normal too. It depends on the industry, but mine is booming right now, I get headhunter/recruiter calls and messages several times a week now. Used to be a couple times a month.

      2. RJ*

        This. Or are they being crazy about qualifications? A few weeks back I got rejected from a job that I was more than qualified for – I did a take-home test for it, and they rejected me but “kindly” provided feedback. The feedback for why I was rejected was not about the actual job skills, but about the formatting of the document I submitted. The formatting is taught and/or provided in SOPs in the first week so either they weren’t honest about why they rejected me, or they have not adequately trained the people who “mark” the assessment on what to look for. A month after I applied the job is still posted and I am still unemployed.

          1. Ama*

            I forget where it ran, but there was actually an article somewhere recently where someone actually did a study of how many good candidates for jobs were getting rejected by automated application systems either because the requirements were too rigid or poorly set up (i.e. a hiring manager not realizing a particular job where they wanted either a college degree OR X years of experience was set in the application system to require the college degree AND experience). So I don’t think your experience is uncommon.

            Employers want shortcuts so they don’t have to spend staff hours on hiring, but they haven’t figured out yet that the more shortcuts you put in your hiring process the more likely you are to eliminate a candidate you’d actually want to hire.

        1. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

          I feel this about my current employer. We work in a field that requires excellent soft skills but the actual work can be taught easily, and there isn’t much of a path into this work – people tend to fall into it by accident. We pay quite poorly for our more entry level roles, and they just did away with some of the benefits that were actually competitive. Still, they refuse to hire anyone without direct experience, but anyone with experience is already making more than we pay! No wonder we can’t fill our open roles.

      3. Brandy*

        The government has given people the equivalent of $22/hour to not work. It’s not realistic to expect that wage or higher from service jobs, so people are choosing not to work. Hence, we have a labor shortage.

        You can have your opinion on whether the expanded unemployment benefits are a good or bad thing, but they are the cause of a lot of the labor shortage.

        1. pancakes*

          That isn’t necessarily correct, no. Have a look at an Aug. 20th article in the NY Times, which links to the federal Department of Labor study quoted here, and a couple others:

          “Data released Friday by the Labor Department provided the latest evidence. It showed that the states that cut benefits have experienced job growth similar to — and perhaps slightly slower than — growth in states that retained the benefits. That was true even in the leisure and hospitality sector, where businesses have been particularly vocal in their complaints about the benefits.”

          The title of the article is, “Cutoff of Jobless Benefits Is Found to Get Few Back to Work.”

      4. A Wall*

        That and companies seem to have just gotten very, very, very bad at hiring over the last decade. The friends I have who are desperately and unsuccessfully trying to hire are all tangling with some level or another of ridiculous bureaucracy and unreasonable standards from their companies’ management and/or HR. They are indeed struggling to find people to hire… Because they’re making a total mess of the hiring process. The amount of workers out there willing to apply has nothing to do with it.

        For example, one place’s initial phone screening for lower level openings includes assignment of a time-consuming project. You have to turn it in and be evaluated on it before they’ll schedule you for any actual interviews. Another place hasn’t even been able to start interviewing for positions that have been sitting open for many months because all interview candidates have to be approved by multiple layers of management first, and those folks are “too busy” to review any of the resumes that are sent to them, so they haven’t been able to interview a single person for any opening all year.

        The fact that anyone has the audacity to turn around from that kind of stuff and say “we just can’t FIND anyone!” isn’t surprising though, it’s the exact same thing everyone did during the recession. Companies will always try to claim their mismanagement is actually the fault of the workforce.

        1. Fran Fine*

          Omg, this! The problems in hiring you outlined have been issues in my own company (probably not to that extent – not interviewing for a year when there’s no active hiring freeze?!), so I know these claims are bull.

    4. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

      I’ve been wondering the same thing! Besides the obvious shortage in restaurant, retail, and healthcare, I’m experiencing staffing difficulties in fundraising, higher ed, and nonprofits. I think a big factor is people leaving for better offers and my employer isn’t competitive, but I’m also searching for something new and having a hard time even finding roles, not to mention getting interviews. So I guess it’s challenging on both sides of the equation right now.

      1. A Non iMouse*

        This. I keep hearing about employee shortages, but I’ve been diligently searching for over 17 months now without success.

    5. Ann O'Nemity*

      There’s so many factors contributing to the labor shortage. A ton of people left the workforce during 2020, and many of them still haven’t returned. A lot of the pre-pandemic jobs are returning, but not everyone wants to go back to those jobs. Some people have ongoing childcare and caregiving responsibilities. Some retired early. Some don’t feel safe going back. Some have decided to reassess what they want to do, and don’t plan to return to their old jobs/industries. Workers want better wages, better working conditions, and better work-life balance – and now they have the negotiating power to demand it. There’s many mismatches of skills, in which employers are looking for different skill sets than what available workers have. Now we also have the “Great Resignation” boom, with people resigning for better jobs, but that’s not fixing the labor shortage because it’s just moving existing workers around.

      1. Ann O'Nemity*

        Oh, and a lot of people moved during the pandemic. So some cities and geographic regions are really hurting from out-migration.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          And many people who did not die are still fighting long covid. Some of those people may never be able to go back to very physical jobs from food service to facility maintenance to nursing, and more.
          Their friends & families have good reason to avoid high exposure roles now too.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        I went to the tire store that I have been using for years and the gate was locked. I parked on the side of the road and walked on to the property. I found someone who said, “We can’t open because no one reported for work today. They say they are making more money on unemployment than they do working.”

        Indeed, I ran into a friend who manages a repair shop and he said that he was making almost as much as when he worked. He felt it was not worth it to go back to work.

        I am of the last of the boomers and my friends are commenting, “Gee, I was going to retire in another year. But I decided why not retire now? I won’t have to navigate the whole Covid in the workplace stuff and I can stay home and be safer. So why not retire now.”

        We are witnessing a huge change in our country and how we think about work. What’s going on now will cause many a book to be written for years to come.

        1. ThatGirl*

          The extra unemployment is coming to an end if it hasn’t already, and beyond that, if someone truly is making more on unemployment, to me that says the employer isn’t paying enough!

          1. Anony vas Normandy*

            Add to that the fact that
            A: the extra unemployment was $300
            B: if you’re on unemployment, you have to provide proof of job-seeking
            C: if you turn down a job offer, you have to be able to prove it wasn’t a reasonable offer (too far below your previous level, etc)

            Then those employers complaining about people choosing not to work are full of it. They’re either not offering jobs, or at a rate of pay so low that unemployment won’t ding a person for refusing it.

            1. Brandy*

              My BIL had an opening. 44 applicants. 5 offered an interview. 0 showed up. Their email from him was “proof” they were “searching for a job.”

              Complain about a living wage, perhaps, but the government was paying people $22/hr to not go to work. That’s significantly over what people are talking about with a “living wage,” especially in my area.

              1. pancakes*

                These numbers could just as well indicate that your BIL’s business has little success in attracting and/or identifying qualified candidates. Simply reciting them doesn’t supply context for them, let alone make them compelling evidence for what you’re claiming.

        2. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

          That’s baby boomers retiring early, and people leaving the paid workforce to care for partners or other relatives with long covid. And some who haven’t quite recovered from covid and saying “I’m retiring early” because that feels like a choice, in a way that “I thought I was recovered, but I’m not healthy enough to work anymore, and may never be.”

          Those aren’t specific to baby boomers, of course, but someone in her thirties whose doctors say maybe she’ll be able to work again, in four or five years, can’t call it “retirement.”

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

      The places where I’m seeing massive hiring and therefore a “shortage” are typically low-paid work: food service, hospitality, warehouse workers, etc. What I am seeing is a surge in gig work and I speculate that people who were forced out of their food service jobs transitioned to gig work and don’t want to go back…yet, maybe never. The warehouse work at least in my area is picking up massively because of how many people order online these days. The problem is that cost of living, especially rent/housing prices, has increased dramatically and therefore the low-paying jobs that people couldn’t live on before the pandemic, are even less able to cover the bills. Also, a morbid thought… death; those most likely to have died are low income workers who couldn’t afford to stay home or afford health care. They aren’t coming back to their jobs.

    7. Bethie*

      Personally, I think its not so much an employee shortage overall, but what types of jobs are not getting applicants. With DoorDash and other “work for yourself” companies, with people going back to school, with people moving to new jobs and people moving into those jobs….would anyone really want to work retail or service industry jobs and deal with the public? During a pandemic? In my town Amazon built a new facility – paying a minimum of $15 an hour. Who wants to go deal with the Karens when you can go get paid more and have a set schedule?

      1. Paris Geller*

        Came down to see if anyone said this. One would hope that potential employers would care about people dying just for you know, humanity and compassion, but 650,000 people dying is not good for the economy.

        1. Malarkey01*

          And excess mortality was way over 650k. Add it people that are still unable to work from long haul CoVid and there’s a large group missing from the workforce, even when accounting for the older age of early victims.

          1. Ama*

            Not to mention all the parents where one has had to quit their job to take care of the kids. I know a lot of schools are back in person but there’s still areas where that isn’t true or where kids with medical issues are still virtual.

            1. Fran Fine*

              Or where parents decided to opt out of in-person school altogether because they don’t think it’s safe and there’s no virtual option, so they decided to homeschool their children.

            2. Hallorie*

              Or kids are back in school but keep getting sent home for 10+ days to quarantine after a close contact. I have no idea how working parents are possibly juggling this without getting fired or burning through all their vacation/sick leave/etc.

        2. HereKittyKitty*

          I was just about to say that. Looking at yearly data from the CDC on Covid deaths, all sexes, 140,583 people died ages 18-64 in the USA. There’s a lot of factors- wages, safety, people moving into different industries, but I feel like a lot of people are forgetting the sheer amount of people that passed away the past year.

      2. pancakes*

        Particularly in the restaurant industry, which I see some people talking about the turnover in. There is some interesting research on that out of UCSF, among other places. UCSF found a 60% increase in mortality for line cooks during the pandemic, for example, versus 22% for everyone overall.

      3. Not So NewReader*

        With all these losses there comes a ripple effect, as the surviving friends and family find themselves thinking long and hard about what in life is important and what is not important.

        If we think of each person we have lost as having on average three people who were close to them (the average could easily be greater) then we are not just talking about x number of deaths but we are talking about 3 times x number of lives that have been seriously impacted and forever changed by the loss of their loved one.
        This looks more like a tidal wave.

    8. Frideag Dachaigh*

      I saw a comment online a couple months ago that stuck with me- though I don’t know the full statistical/economic background implications to know how much this contributes to overall shortages: yes there is a shortage of people who want to work certain jobs, and a shortage of jobs that will pay a living wage- but the world has also lost 4.5 million people over the past year and a half, with many many more unable to work due to long-haul symptoms. Even excluding those that were retired or not working, it really seems likely that at least a portion of those shortages have to be due to a sudden loss of a lot of people that no one expected or counted on.

      1. Gracely*

        Also, there are people who want to work, but don’t feel it’s safe to work. Immune-compromised people make up like 3% of the US population. That’s over 9 million people. Some of those people are children, some probably WFH or are retired, but that’s another sizeable chunk of the population a lot of people forget about.

        I personally know several people that’s true for. Even with the vaccine and the boosters for the immune-compromised, it’s still a risky proposition if their prior work involved close contact with people (especially in states with no masking mandates, etc.). Those people probably *will* return, but not until the vaccination rate is something much higher than it is now.

    9. pancakes*

      “Everywhere” isn’t going to be on-point due to the nature of what you’re asking—clearly it’s a massive generalization—but neither are anecdotal responses on a blog. This is not how well-formed assessments of the labor market are made. There are some good labor journalists out there – why not read their work instead?

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        That’s a little extreme. This is a very interesting topic for many people and I like hearing the points of you from people who I have been communicating with on this website for several years. You yourself commented more than once, so I suspect you understand the appeal.

        1. pancakes*

          My point wasn’t that there’s no appeal or interest in discussing these things – my point was that it’s not sufficient. Asking people for anecdotes is not an effective substitute for being well-informed. I’d say the same thing about relying on TV news. People find it enjoyable, but if they think it’s sufficient to keep them informed they’re badly mistaken.

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            There is room for research and journalism and open discussion among amateurs. It sounds like you did not intend it the way I read it, which was as criticism for opening the discussion at all.

            1. pancakes*

              Of course there is room for both, but it seems abundantly clear to me that people who are fond of making massive generalizations generally don’t also make a point of being well-read, or well-versed in nuance. Likewise people who affect to speak authoritatively about broad topics based solely on their personal experience, as several people in this thread have done. To say there’s room for both is beside the point that both approaches aren’t of equal value in understanding the world around us.

    10. Not So NewReader*

      For myself and in my own area, I see plenty of well-paying work around. But. It goes by word of mouth and in one-on-one conversations. This is interesting because our area really does not see boom/bust cycles. We are usually left behind when it comes to good economic times but conversely, when the economy goes bust, we seem to just continue on. Now construction is up and that in turn triggers a lot of other businesses into an upturn. There are discernibly more vehicles (work vehicles) on our roads to the point that people routinely comment to each other.

    11. Tabby Baltimore*

      Another reason that I suspect is driving workers from their jobs–especially those working in retail, restaurants, and non-profits–is the likelihood that their company/restaurant/non-profit is circling the drain, financially, and want to get out before the ship sinks. I hate to say it, but I’ve concluded from reading this blog for the last 5 years that a lot of small businesses in the U.S. were not/are not well-run, and so the pandemic is just hastening their demise. A business that’s gone out of business will not be hiring.

      1. pancakes*

        There is an interesting article in the SF Chronicle this week that I haven’t finished reading yet—it’s interviews with six people who left the restaurant industry—and that is indeed what some of the interviewees said. It’s called “Those Who Left,” by Tanay Warerkar, Janelle Bitker, and Elena Kadvany.

      2. Hallorie*

        I left my mid-size non-profit because they went through a round of lay-offs for a year; after they were “done” laying off, they fired everyone in a certain department and outsourced that work to an outside vendor; and, then they started talking about plans to cut group health insurance and have employees buy their own plans. Then, they announced that all COVID precautions were indefinitely lifted and everyone was expected to be back in person for everything, including mandatory massive get-togethers in small, indoor spaces with food, social time, and small group breakout sessions. So, great, if you’re not going to lay me off or fire me, you’re going to end my health insurance and then threaten to fire me if I don’t attend a superspreader event that could land me or a loved one in the ICU. Hooray!

      3. Chaordic One*

        With many small businesses, it isn’t necessarily that they are badly run, but that over time the marketplace has changed. Sometimes there just isn’t that much demand for their services any more. Sometimes they can’t compete with larger businesses. Sometimes they can compete, but they need to redirect resources into marketing and advertising in order to get enough business to remain viable and that can be problematic. There are an awful lot of reasons why even a well-run business may not be financially viable.

    12. Vesuvius*

      With regard to my field, in particular, a lot of mid and small-sized companies are truly horrible about work-life balance. I can’t speak to every field, but I know my field often has high turnover even without the pandemic making life worse for everyone. Work-life balance, you ask? (You are expected to do a lot of unpaid OT depending on your job description, and it is not always balanced out by benefits). If you aren’t going for a project management position, you often change what you’re doing. In my (limited) experience a lot of these places hire, work people into the ground, rinse, repeat. I’ve met several staff-level people who quit bad jobs within a year and went back to do something else. This is for competitive reasons (they have to be cheaper than bigger competitors, who can afford to invest in staff) and non-competitive ones, though, so I’m honestly not sure. I know you have to see how it works, boots-on-the-ground, for at least a year for places that pay well with good work-life balance to get anywhere. Or you need a masters’ degree, but often as not you need both.

      I left my mid-sized employer (private industry) over burnout and medical problems induced by working 50-60h/week and being harassed and abused by management and subcontractors. In jobs where you have to face angry, irrational people who are willing to scream at you for hours on end about one thing or another (i.e. restaurants, hospitality, service industries, construction), it’s hard to want to stay. I resigned without anything lined up because I was desperate. I think places like this are the ones with the bigger employee shortage occurring — if you know you can do better, you move on. This is, again, speaking from my limited experience.

      1. Alternative Person*

        Yeah, my industry in my area has been engaged in a race to the bottom for the past decade or so and it sucks. Like you say, ground people down till they burnout, rinse, repeat. Even the better companies (including mine) in the area are moving to functionally permalancing contracts, barely keeping up with cost of living and organizing away coordinator and supervisory positions. Most people aren’t going to want to stay in those jobs if they don’t see a path forwards/upwards. Add in clients who want silk purses out of sow’s ears and well, of course people don’t stay.

        One of my co-workers gave what I thought was a very pessimistic outlook on where the company is going and while I don’t think it will get as bad as he said, it definitely makes me cynical to both the company and the industry as a whole, especially when it is very clear that companies force people to come in to work despite of the current situation, whilst we can’t do things like say, take a mini-break a few cities over.

    13. anon librarian*

      We cannot hire or keep quality staff. I work for a non-profit – a city library.

      They raised the starting pay to try to improve the pool of applicants. But they did not raise current staff pay (beyond normal annual raises) so current staff are leaving because they make the same or less hourly than new staff who don’t have any skills yet. And most jobs are part time and we don’t provide a consistent schedule – basically staff are pawns to be moved around time slots with fairly short notice. That means many new staff don’t stay because they basically cannot have lives outside work and they want full time jobs.

  8. Justin*

    So, since I’m going back to the office next week, I figure I could start posting in these threads again.

    I mentioned this yesterday, but I got much more in tune with my own neurodivergence as well as what my strengths and weaknesses are. My open office situation is particularly bad for me, but I am going to try and find ways to really play to my strengths of occasional hyperfocus. I’m going to ask if my colleagues (who I really don’t like, but maybe they’ll be polite) can let me know via our Teams if they need me rather than popping up behind me. The stressful of having to always be ready to talk to folks was something I didn’t realize was a lot of work for me in all my years in the workplace.

    Additionally, I’m just done saying false hellos and giving surface smiles. I’m not rude, I’m just going to focus, and will hopefully engage more effectively this way. Essentially, despite putting a mask on all day, in another way I will be taking my “neurotypical” mask off. So basically, I’ll let you know here how it goes from week to week.

    1. foolofgrace*

      I’m all for working with your strengths and weaknesses, but I’m unclear on what you mean by not saying false “hellos”. I don’t think you mean to just ignore when someone says “hello” to you. I’m just curious.

      1. Justin*

        I do not mean that. I probably shouldn’t have used the word “hello.” I really just mean more small talk or anything that could be disingenous.

        1. Very anonymous thank you*

          Thanks for clarifying. I don’t mind people who are work-focused and otherwise silent, but I find I need at least “hi” on first contact for the day. Otherwise it feels like I’m getting the silent treatment in grade-school/middle-school or a bad relationship.
          By the way I’m also fine with people saying “I’m not much of a conversationalist” and leaving them alone except for work.

          And I highly recommend a mirror behind your monitor to show you the common paths of approach. Learned from my hyper-startle co-worker.

    2. All the words*

      Saying “hello” to someone is acknowledging their presence. That’s all. A curt nod is adequate if one doesn’t care to verbalize. It doesn’t require phony cheerfulness or affection. Ignoring a person’s existence is commonly perceived as a snub. Refusing to acknowledge people isn’t a passive act.

      There are reasons social ostracization was often the harshest of punishments a community would mete out.

      1. Justin*

        Whoa whoa no I didn’t mean ignoring hello or not acknowledging people. I meant that I’m not going to do a lot of the weekend-catch-up type stuff that I was always bad at. I’ve never ignored anyone in my life.

          1. Justin*

            Yeah, it’s a team where that’s sort of common, but I think I’ll be okay if I don’t really try so hard like I used to.

    3. HR Exec Popping In*

      Part of working in an office is being nice and acknowledging others exist. I’m not encouraging you to engage in chit chat if that isn’t your thing, but it is actually rude to ignore someone who speaks to you.

      1. Justin*

        Yeah i really worded this wrong. I am not going to ignore people. I meant I’m not going to go out of my way to make small talk.

        Though I would quibble with that being “nice.” It is absolutely polite, though.

        1. HR Exec Popping In*

          Perfect. As long as you are not rude, you do not need to pretend to be someone else. Good luck!

    4. Asper Usual*

      I’m sorry, I know how exhausting it is to be “on” all the time, and ready to potentially be interrupted at any time. I am very fortunate to work from home, and can effectively ‘cocoon’ myself against things and get work done.

      I think it would be worthwhile to ensure you set time aside to socialise with others, just to make sure you stay in with other people. It makes a huge difference to other people. I set aside time where I make sure to socialise with my colleagues, and then I can focus for the rest of the time. I hope you’re able to find something similar.

      1. Justin*

        That’s my plan, actually. There are a few people I really like and I plan to set up times to talk to them/eat lunch with them, etc.

    5. Unkempt Flatware*

      I can’t have people walking up behind me or watching over my shoulder. So I have a mirror placed so that I can see movement behind me and not get startled or I can head off those weird over-the-shoulder people at the pass. I once had someone walk up behind me silently and then slowly and loudly bite into a Snyder’s pretzel. When I turned around with utter disgust on my face, he was shocked that I would have a problem with any of it. Gah.

      1. allathian*

        Yeah. AFAIK I’m reasonably NT, but I definitely hate people sneaking up behind me. At the office, I sit in a two-person room, we sit back to back and have a 5 ft cubicle wall between us, so the risk is low. I can feel my shoulders hunching just at the thought of having to sit with my back to a door or a corridor, where people walk behind me all the time, a pretty standard setup in cubicle farms and open offices.

  9. Ann O'Nemity*

    What shoes are you wearing to the office these days? Now that dress codes have relaxed, most of my pre-pandemic shoes are dressier than necessary, not to mention more uncomfortable! I’d love to hear your recommendations for great shoes!

    1. avocadotacos*

      I have a pair of black slip on shoes that look like dress shoes if you’re not investigating closely, but feel more like sneakers than anything else (though I wouldn’t use them to play sports). I also had my cowboy boots re-heeled, in my region they count as work appropriate shows and are very comfortable and easy to work in. This was my first time getting work done on shoes instead of buying new ones, and I recommend it for any existing shoes you really like! The most comfortable dress shoes I know of are Clark’s, but it sounds like you can use something even more casual.

    2. ThatGirl*

      I have a pair of Allbirds (I got the dressier looking ballet flats) that are *great* – they’re not cheap, but they’ve held up well, they’re washable and very cute. I wear them with dark skinny jeans and a nice top. One caution of advice, the ballet flats don’t really stretch and they’re kinda snug, so if you’re between sizes, size up.

      1. Ann O'Nemity*

        I’ve wondered about Allbirds! I see the ads for those, Rothy’s, and Tieks on my social media accounts. My feet are a little wider with a high arch/instep, so some ballet flats just don’t work for me. It doesn’t mean I can’t wear them at all, I just have to be more careful finding a good fit.

        1. Slipping The Leash*

          I found a pair of flats by Dansko (the lovely company that makes killer kitchen clogs) — totally plain black leather, slightly pointed toe — they are super comfortable, would be a little too dressed-down for a full on suit, but fine for any lesser office outfit. Also — it’s fall — flat soled leather boots.

        2. ThatGirl*

          I actually requested them as a Christmas gift a few years back; I did some digging for reviews and comparisons between the Allbirds and Rothys and settled on the Allbirds. I know people who love Rothys, too, but they’re just a bit more expensive.

        3. Paris Geller*

          I’ve never tried Allbirds or Tieks, but I love my Rothy’s! I have. . . uh, several pairs. I also have wide feet and they’re great for that — they have pretty extensive sizing, though they do run a bit small so I’d size up half a size if you decide to look into them, at least for the flat & point ones.

        1. ThatGirl*

          Yeah, the sneakers and some slip-ons are wool, which stretches; the breezers (I just went and looked up the name) are eucalyptus and don’t. They have a bit of give, but they don’t stretch.

      2. Blomma*

        Do the Allbirds flats have as much support as the athletic shoes? I have one pair of the wools shoes and one of the eucalyptus shoes that are really comfortable and provide the support I need. I have been wondering about the flats though…

        1. ThatGirl*

          I haven’t tried the Allbirds athletic shoes. I’ve worn all manner of flats and pumps from ridiculously cheap to nicer dressy brands like Allbirds and Naturalizer. For ballet flats, the tree Breezers are pretty supportive, but I think it’s important to compare them to other ballet flats. They’re not Skechers or Naturalizer; I wouldn’t go for a long walk in them. They’re comfortable for work and my feet don’t hurt after walking around the office.

    3. Waffle Cone*

      I bought a pair of Sketchers woven black flats – they look super dressy but are comfy af. Highly recommend. Also Allbirds flats, but they’re a bit expensive.

    4. Crylo Ren*

      Pre-pandemic I wore a lot of low- to mid-height block-heel shoes – if you search “block heeled pumps” on Target the first few results are what I wore.

      Post-pandemic I’ve been wearing a lot more flat sandals and my one pair of Rothy’s points – I just can’t be fussed with wearing any kind of heel anymore. Though, that may have more to do with the fact that I got pregnant right around my return to the office in June, so my tolerance for uncomfy shoes is a lot lower!

      FWIW, I work at an extremely casual company where people generally wear things like Birkenstocks or Tevas on a regular basis and no one bats an eye.

    5. CTT*

      I hate shoe shopping so I am wearing the same thing as before – luckily black ballet flats can be dressed up or down!

      1. Happy Lurker*

        Hot Chocolates? I LOVE mine. I have flats. It took me 4 -6 wearings to finally get them stretched over my wide foot and growing bunion!

    6. JustaTech*

      I’m wearing the same Ecco 7 sneakers (in metallic gold) that I was wearing in the Before Times, but I work in a lab so it’s safety first, comfort second, looks third.
      (I actually need to get a new pair because I hardly wore my boots this winter and I think these sneakers are dead and starting to give me foot issues.)

    7. Ann Perkins*

      I’m a big Rothy’s fan. Points and loafers are nice enough for business attire, but comfortable and washable. My Allbirds are incredibly comfortable as well.

    8. Doctor is In*

      Hiking boots, now that it is cooler weather. I work in a medical office with direct patient care. We went casual with Covid and never went back. (Business casual before that).

    9. Hotdog not dog*

      Our dress code has devolved to “please don’t wear pajamas to work,” so I have been wearing sneakers or flip flops with my jeans and t shirts. Even so, I could easily win a “best dressed” contest if we had one!

    10. Siege*

      I wear a 13 women’s (currently wide due to cardiac issues) which limits my options. I’ve been wearing a pair of Clarks sandals that are about two years past replacement for spring and summer, and alternating with Torrid’s flat-heeled boots in fall and winter. The boots aren’t the best quality, but at my size there are not a lot of options, and the last time I checked Nordstrom Rack they were doing 3 inch skinny heels, which I can’t wear any longer due to about a dozen ankle and leg issues from RSIs and the above-mentioned cardiac issues. But they are pretty comfortable. I’m not really feeling the Clarks, though; part of why these need to be replaced is that the inner bed collapsed into the insole so I get this very uncomfortable pronation when I wear them and they exacerbate my other physical issues pretty quickly. But we’re still WFH (I think at least until February) so it didn’t seem worth it to spend the money on new sandals when I wear them so rarely – I’m maybe up to 4 days leaving the house on busy weeks. So mostly I wear Tempur-pedic slippers that I hate – the sole is so spongy I feel disconnected from the ground and unsafe when I walk. Do not recommend.

      I excitingly splurged on a 2″ block heel boot that will arrive tomorrow. TBD whether I’m going to fall off it and break my ankle or actually be able to wear it.

      1. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

        I am a 12WW, currently rocking a pair of Dunham men’s sandals. They’re not the prettiest things, but they’re well constructed and they FIT.

    11. Belle of the Midwest*

      Ann Klein sport flats. Look dressy, feel sporty. I have worn them for years and years. the only other shoes I ever wear are my exercise shoes, Clark sandals, and a pair of Birks.

    12. SpicyFriyay*

      I wear flats in the car, but have sort of taken work as a like “this is my only chance to wear my fun shoes anymore” opportunity lol. I don’t go out to anywhere I’d wear heels anymore (not eating indoors or going to indoors bars, def not going to clubs etc. etc.) so I’m just having fun mixing fancy shoes creatively with less fancy outfits! I feel so #fashion with the mix of styles, it’s working well :).

    13. Haha Lala*

      I love my Toms! I have a couple pairs of their flats (julie style) and they are super comfy once broken in, but still dressy enough to go with a suit when needed. And I’m currently wearing the classic Toms, but those are more casual than what I can get away with everyday.

    14. I like cute shoes*

      Hotter shoes. They’re not cheap, imported from UK, but they last really well & come in wide and extra wide and are very supportive. They’re like travel waking shoes. Look online. They tend to have some grandma shoes, but you can find some cute Mary Janes and other flats.

    15. HR Exec Popping In*

      I’m going with sneakers. I can put on long pants but I can not put real shoes back on. I’ve spent the majority of COVID in slippers for goodness sake!

    16. Trisha*

      Croc dress shoes. They come in a bunch of colours and styles and don’t look like the traditional clog crocs. When they need to be cleaned or they stretch too much and get loose, you can run them through the dishwasher! Super comfortable and love all of the colours and patterns.

    17. rarely comments*

      I recently fell in love with Ecco sneakers! They’re pricey (like $100+ for a pair), but super comfy after a few wears and aren’t too narrow. I have stupid small feet (size 5/35) that are a tad wide and these are amazing. I’ve given up on comfy flats (sooooo hard to find; you name it, I’ve tried and returned it) and heels. Now just trying to find cute booties for fall that don’t pinch and aren’t too big.

    18. Cute Li'l UFO*

      I have a taste for high end shoes but a fair number of my Ferragamo flats are second hand if that’s not a problem for you. One of my other favorite pairs I picked up new were my Sperry Top-Siders. I have a platinum leather pair and they are straight up sneaker comfortable.

      I found Toms (classics and the ballet flat) a little too delicate for my gait, but they are comfortable. I have a little bag of shoes I need to get repaired and I’m so ready for it. New soles and heels!

    19. Sasha Blause*

      Anything that feels as much like nothing as possible. My toes and forefeet started reverting to their natural shape so I’ve reverted to my hatred of foot-corsets, oops I mean shoes. Vibram Five Fingers V-Soul for the end of summer, and it’ll be Lems Nine2Five once the weather gets cooler.

  10. I don’t want to be fired*

    How do you decide if you should take a new job? I’ve recently been offered a job that comes with a substantial payrise ($30,000) and more responsibility but feel I may not be able to do the job well. The last time I was in a similar role I was fired and part of me feels like I wasn’t supported by my manager and that caused quite a lot of trauma but part of me thinks perhaps no was actually bad at the job and deserved to be dismissed.

    My current role is more like a consultant role. It’s quite strategic – which I’m good at- and I feel this role would be more operational and having to execute the strategies that I know well in theory but have never had direct responsibility for putting into practise.

    Any advice appreciated

    1. spinstah*

      Ask for another meeting with the hiring manager! There should be a way into a conversation about how they’d support you without making them think “uhoh, we should pull this offer.” They’ve made the offer, they want you on board, they should be open to talking in a little more detail about things that can get at what you anticipate you might need. Depending on what that is, you might ask questions about their availability and details of how they work with their direct reports, or professional development opportunities so you can make sure you’re completely up to date on best practices, or resources for using complex business systems, etc.

      I did this exact thing recently (though for different reasons) and the hiring manager was very willing to talk to me again. And the conversation felt much different than the interview, more like how I think it’ll be to actually work with her.

    2. Sunflowers*

      Ask the hiring manager what kind of support they will provide you. Ask what “success” looks like for someone in that role so you can determine if you could meet those expectations.
      Think about your past experiences- do you enjoy implementation work? Or do you prefer the strategic work only. How much of the job is likely to be strategic vs operational?
      Are there others on the team doing related work who could support you?
      These are the kind of questions I would ask.
      Maybe if you have a trusted person who knows your work and skills, describe the new job and ask their opinion.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Put the money to one side for a moment. That’s a nice little pot of money and it can make a person feel like they SHOULD take the job, because who doesn’t want more money.

      Do you want the job?
      See, no one does a job well in the beginning. But because they want the job they apply themselves in multiple ways in order to grow to fit the job. Are you willing to do the work necessary to grow into the job?

      I don’t blame you if you say NO. I have reached a point in my life where I catch myself thinking, I just don’t want to work that hard anymore. My era of 12-16 hour work days is OVER. There are other reasons why people say no. Some people work to live as opposed to live for work. Other people have life commitments that are more important to them.

      Part of deciding to take a new job is deciding to put the extra energy into the learning curve. In thinking about the extra energy, where does that put your thoughts?

  11. JHunz*

    I’ve been a software engineer for a while now. What is relatively new is being a lead software engineer and being expected to head up a small team of engineers. My technical skills are strong, I’m good at explaining things, I’m decent interpersonally, but I don’t feel like I really know what I’m doing leading a group of people.

    One of my goals for the next year is to take some sort of leadership training course. Does anyone have any recommendations for one they’ve done in the past that helped them out? I’m not looking at management track, so something focused on a small team would be ideal.

    1. Daughter of Ada and Grace*

      Watching this with interest, since that’s pretty much what my current role is. I’ve read a lot of the archives here, and I try to watch what other people at my company do and imitate what works (and avoid what fails), but I’ve never had any formal training.

      That said, the biggest differences when I’m the lead rather than an individual contributor are the need to make sure my manager is in the loop with where the team is in terms of scheduling (on track, ahead, behind) and resources (just right, too much work, not enough work), as well as being the one to schedule and lead any necessary meetings (decompositions and retrospectives, mostly). And that all needs to get done while still being a technical contributor on the project in question as well.

    2. spinstah*

      Not a course, but Rands in Repose is a great blog that talks about this kind of stuff. It’s written by a guy who went from being an engineer to leading engineers. It’s my other favorite management/leadership read, even though I’m not an engineer.

    3. Sunflowers*

      I’m taking a leadership course through Coursera from the University of Michigan. It’s excellent.
      5 courses in the “Leading People and Teams” specialization.
      There are also a ton of courses on LinkedIn Learning.

    4. JustaTech*

      My spouse said that reading “Managing Humans” was useful when he started, well, managing humans and not just servers. (He’s also had a lot more management training through his work.)

  12. No Tribble At All*

    Objectives on resumes are out of date and clunky when networking, right? Especially if I include that information in a cover letter or intro email?

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      I usually skip over objectives and summaries and go straight for what the candidate’s experience is.

    2. Sleet Feet*

      Yeah if you prefer to have something there a summary is better but you can also leave it off.

      I’m curious why you are doling out cover letters during networking. That’s odd.

      1. No Tribble At All*

        Ah, in this case I’m having someone pass on a resume to a coworker, who might be hiring at some point. So I’m definitely not giving a full cover letter! But I’d probably say something like “hi X, I’ve worked with Y, I’m interested in the Z that you do” which is basically a summary.

    3. Mental Lentil*

      Leave them off.

      A lot of the ones I’ve seen are so general (“I want a job where I can use my talents” blah, blah, blah) or so specific, I have to wonder why they are even applying for a job trimming a capybara’s toenails.

      A resume is a marketing document, pure and simply. If it doesn’t help you market yourself, it doesn’t belong on there.

    1. JHunz*

      I think it’s okay and sometimes even expected. It’s a lot harder to land a job before the relocation, although Alison has posted tips about making it easier a number of times.

        1. Delta*

          Then you’re likely better off to wait until you relocate. That way you’re able to interview more easily and not have employers push your resume aside because you’re out of state.

    2. Sleet Feet*

      Not sure what you are asking.

      Being unemployed makes it harder to get a new role. Sometimes spouses separate until the other spouse can find a job. Sometimes the spouse tags along and is unoloyednfor a while. What works best for you is a personal decision. Both approaches are common enough. There are advantages and disadvantages to both.

    3. Taryn*

      Of course it is. You’ll have a much harder time finding something when you’re out of state anyways- so go ahead and focus on supporting your spouse and coordinating the move, put in your notice, move, and then focus on finding work once you are there. “My spouse got a great offer in this state” is a totally acceptable answer to “Why did you leave your previous job?:

    4. Uranus Wars*

      As long as your spouses income can support you I don’t see why not. I did this. It took me 4 months to find a job but we were ok with that. Trying to search for a job from 1,000 miles away would have been to difficult (for me).

  13. Anna*

    I was laid off a few weeks ago and today is the day I receive my last bit of severance and will lose access to the HR portal etc. Am I supposed to get my W2 etc for this year now? Or is the company supposed to reach out to me next year? Want to make sure I have everything I need before I leave.

    1. T. Boone Pickens*

      By law they still have to mail your W2 to you for tax purposes. I had a similar situation happen to me in an OldJob in that I was let go midway through the year, my former employer physically mailed me my W2 for the year in January of the following year. I believe the deadline for employers to mail out W2s is January 31st.

      1. 867-5309*

        I’ve been laid off three times and as T. Boone Pickens noted, each time was mailed my W2 early in the year following.

    2. Irish girl*

      W2’s dont go out until next year for this year even if you leave a company. You should get it in the mail from your company. Just make sure you have your pay stubs and any info for Cobra and your health benefits if you have that. Same for 401k since you may need to move that.

    3. LCH*

      my former places of employment always send it at the same time they send everyone else’s. just make sure you keep your address updated with them.

      1. Mr. Tumnus*

        +1
        We mail ours out mid-January, and every year we have some returned because former employees didn’t update their address with us. It’s fixable, but it slows things down when they sit down to do taxes and realize they’re missing a W-2.

    4. Teapot Librarian*

      They’ll mail the W2, but if you don’t normally download your paystub, make sure that you keep your last one (at least). You might need the information on it when you’re applying for unemployment. Think about if there’s anything else you might need to download as well.

      1. What’s in a name, anyway?*

        Good advice! And download last plus one since last check often is prorated or includes payouts. The one prior would help you have an idea of your regular paycheck and deductions.

    5. HR Exec Popping In*

      They will likely mail it to you so make sure that they have your current home address and if you move, call them to update your address.

  14. SunnyGirl*

    Hello!

    Employee is turning 71 and MUST start collection pension payments. Employee is still working and has not given any indication they will retire. The pension plan provides a health care plan so that’s not a reason to not retire.

    Part of me thinks this is double dipping. Another part of me thinks, why not? But the employee is barely contributing of late.

    Should we push for a retirement date?

    1. WellRed*

      If the employee is not contributing, treat it as a performance issue. Forget their age and whether it’s double dipping.

    2. Blue Eagle*

      To me the main issue is that the employee is barely contributing. If the employee was doing a full work load, then the so-called “double dipping” isn’t really relevant. However, if lack of productivity is the issue, then might as well push for retirement and use the funds to hire someone to actually do the work.

    3. Littorally*

      I don’t see the double dipping. Okay, they’re required to start taking the pension. Does the pension forbid working? What is the problem with the employee receiving required pension payments and continuing to work to earn additional income?

      If they aren’t contributing, then it’s a performance problem, and treat it like a performance problem. Don’t treat it like they’re trying to get money they aren’t entitled to, because they ARE entitled to their pension and if they are employed they are entitled to receive wages.

      1. asteramella*

        100% agreed. The performance is its own issue. Treating their earned pension as un-earned is miserly.

    4. Retro*

      How would that be double dipping? They earned the pension, so they get that money. They earn their wage/salary, so they get that money.

      Separately, you should very firmly separate the ‘poor performance’ and the ‘everything else’ – in your mind and everywhere else – lest it shine through and you have an age discrimination complaint to deal with.
      Address the poor performance. Being around an age milestone may increase the appearance of age discrimination so you’d ideally loop in a lawyer and have them advise. (Or loop in someone sufficiently senior so that it’s not your fault if it goes wrong.)

    5. Nacho*

      Focus on the “barely contributing” part, not the age part. Treat him or her like any other employee, with meetings and performance plans that address the issues you’re seeing, possibly with accelerated timetables if it’s obvious that they’re not able to contribute at the level you need them to anymore, either because they’re too old or for any other reason.

    6. Ann O'Nemity*

      YIKES. So much of what you wrote here could be construed as age discrimination. The only thing you should be worrying about is this little bit: “the employee is barely contributing of late.” That’s a performance issue that can and should be pursued. Forget everything else you said about age and pensions and retirements.

      1. Mockingjay*

        Ann O’Nemity nailed it. Whether an employee collects additional income – from pension, rentals, side business, family trust fund, lottery – is irrelevant. This is a PERFORMANCE issue. Focus on addressing that.

    7. London Calling*

      I get a salary and a pension (could have retired when of pensionable age but didn’t) and I pay a shedload of tax on the combined incomes. If the person can work and be in receipt of a pension what’s the issue, apart from performance? frankly calling it double dipping sounds a bit mean spirited and as if you want to push this person out because they’re getting more money than you think they should.

    8. SunnyGirl*

      Hello again. You’re all correct – it’s the performance that’s the real issue and source of frustration. No one has properly addressed it in quite some time.

      I actually don’t care about her age. But looking again at my original post, that clearly didn’t come across that way.

      Thank you for that reality check. It was needed.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        In answer to your question, it’s not unheard of for people to fully retire, collect their pension AND work part time or work on special projects for their employer. This happens a lot.

        So yes this means they have two income streams from one employer. But if a pension is thought of as work in the past, then it becomes clearer that they have to be paid for work in the present.

        “Double dipping” would indicate fraudulent activities.

    9. Observer*

      Part of me thinks this is double dipping

      Why? I can’t see the faintest way this could be considered double dipping.

      If this employee is TRULY not contributing, then treat that as a performance problem. But their other sources of income are totally NOT your business. Given your attitude, I really wonder whether your judgement of his contributions is actually valid. You’ve got a lot of prejudice jumping out here.

    10. HR Exec Popping In*

      I don’t understand what your concern is. The employee has earned the pension. And they are getting a paycheck to do actual work so they are earning that as well. You can not tell someone to retire or try to push them into retiring. Are they doing the job? Is their performance acceptable? Those are your only concerns. Not someone’s pension draw.

    11. Admin of Sys*

      Note: there are some places this /is/ double dipping and is actively forbidden. In our state, if you on the state employees and teachers retirement plan, then if you retire, you are expressly forbidden from continuing to work the job you retired from and must take a break before returning to any position at the school. But that may be only because of the state funding, rather than a general rule.

    12. Anonymous technical writer*

      When it was announced that my VerySmallCompany was being bought by TwoVeryBigFish, one of my co-workers remarked “I retired from OneOfThoseVeryBigFish a few years ago. Let’s see how long it takes for them to realize I’m contributing to the VerySmall pension plan and collecting from the VeryBig pension plan.”
      One year, and he retired again, just before the plans merged.

  15. another academic librarian*

    Another Academic Librarian
    Thank you everyone for your advice on how to let go housekeepers who were unvaccinated for Covid-19.

    Turned out I was making much ado.

    I texted that I would no longer be needing their housekeeping service and the I would like to pay them for this week and receive back my key.

    They texted back thanking me for years of employment and that they would let me know a good time that they would come by for the checks and drop the key.

    I have since contracted with a neighbor’s cleaner who is vaccinated as are all of her clients. This cleaner is extremely professional. Provided me with a written statement of her fee, expectations, detailed list of expected work. They will begin bi-weekly then give a recommendation if I should go to weekly.
    One question. Do I continue my practice of paying sick leave, vacation leave, and holiday bonus?

    1. duck*

      Personally in those jobs I prefer an all inclusive higher hourly wage. Then I can decide for myself what happens with sick, holiday and so on matters.

      In my country we can often choose between permanent salaried with benefits or simply a very high hourly rate that comes with no benefits or protections. I actually find the high hourly better.

    2. Alex*

      If this person has her own cleaning business, I think she is the one who sets the terms of her employment, right? I probably wouldn’t think about sick leave or vacation leave unless the person is actually my employee rather than someone providing me a service through her own business.

      But a holiday bonus is always good (and, I think, expected in that industry).

    3. Mockingjay*

      If they are only coming in one day every two weeks, I’m not sure they would expect sick or vacation leave. She provided her contract to you and leave wasn’t mentioned in it. A holiday bonus is a nice touch, though, if you are satisfied with her work.

    4. ronda*

      I think if they gave you their fees, you are fine paying what they ask for.

      on a slightly different thing. I did have my lawn guy come year round even tho I probably only needed during growing season :)

      so if you have to cancel for some duration, maybe still pay your regular rate ?

  16. Sleet Feet*

    Anyone have experience getting better at not hating a boring job when your previous roles were more interesting? Any tactics for staying focused and not being so demotivated is appreciated!

    I am a high level professional who has a great salary and benefits. I was laid off in 2020 from a hospital and decided I was done with working in healthcare. I transitioned to an adjacent industry and am thrilled with the culture of the company. Honestly I didn’t think employers that were this good existed. I discovered working here that I have never been on a team that is appropriately staffed. Everyone here is cross trained and when someone is sick or has a family emergency everyone pitches in. There’s no sniping or pithiness.

    However the work I’m doing is very repetitive and set in stone. It’s a lot of push this button, save that file, email that person the file. Rinse repeat. I don’t get to create any new reports, or do any analyses. I’m busy enough with the work that I can’t pursue interesting side projects. My job keeps me busy full time it’s just not engaging at all. Usually I would automate these processes but due to security controls I cannot automate any of the reports I am running right now.

    I find myself making dumb mistakes. I’ll run and save the file draft the email and then forget to send it. I’ve also just forgotten to run reports a couple of times. It hasn’t been a big deal to anyone yet, but I don’t like that I’m making these careless mistakes. It’s very unlike me.

    So does anyone have experience trying to settle into a role that’s not challenging but is good for them in other ways? I want to grow my family and this is a team I can do that on and balance well. I also have a chronic health condition that was deteriorating while I worked at the hospital (ironic but sadly oh so common) that I’ve been able to work on in this role. I’d rather not switch teams and am hoping to make this work for at least a few years before going into a new role in the company.

    1. Purely Allegorical*

      Following. I just started a new job and the role is going to be very technical and repetitive, and I anticipate making the same mistakes. Would love to hear how people stay motivated through the tedium.

    2. LKW*

      Talk to your boss about opportunities within or across departments. Could be being the functional rep for a technology project or a cross functional process improvement or even improving training materials.

      I was in your shoes, I could do my work with my eyes closed. But, it was important work and I made sure that I kept up with it. But when there was an opportunity to implement some supporting technology, I jumped at the chance.

      1. ecnaseener*

        Sleet Feet did say “I’m busy enough with the work that I can’t pursue interesting side projects” so I don’t know if that would work.

    3. Picard*

      checklists. as someone who is ND and has the attention span of a gnat, I would be lost without my checklists. Every process has a step by step guide and a checkoff task list.

      1. Happy Lurker*

        Seconding this. I also have a 3 check rule. I check everything 3 times, because I am bored I get distracted a lot and start drifting away from my work.

    4. RagingADHD*

      I get a kick out of thinking about systems, processes, and workflows. I know you can’t automate, but there are other ways to design manual control-of-error steps into your process. You can also experiment with different ways to plan or approach the workday that will make the most of your ebergy cycles and periods of alertness.

      For me, this is a way of gamifying or making a “project” out of the work, and that keeps me interested.

      1. Sleet Feet*

        I’ll try that gameify approach to the day. Thanks!

        Yeah I tried some manual process adjustments but everything is so locked down. The minor improvements I suggested here and there were turned down because the amount of work it would take to test the process change and update all the manuals outweighs the improvement from the change (and I completely agree). So admittedly I’ve stopped looking for process improvements.

    5. higheredrefugee*

      My current job is very repetitive, I’m analyzing the same laws and regs in every piece of work, though I only do 20-30 pieces of work each month, and only about once a quarter do I deviate from that. The following I share as background to how I remain in my job, and my thought process.

      After 2+ years, it is getting boring some days but I took this job to be able to move back home, help my parents out as needed, and not have to supervise anyone or be responsible for other people’s actions impacting my success. My job offers sick time, generous holiday and vacation time, fantastic health care, and, on days I’m most frustrated, a job that is ONLY 40 hours a week and that does not prey on my mind outside those hours. I’ve never been able to leave work at work, and right now, that’s sufficient to keep me happy. I work out nearly daily, and while working at home, I’m eating healthier than ever and enjoying playing with recipes during lunch.

      So what makes me happy right now is having a super stable job that is truly 40 hours a week and supports my ability to have a broad, happy, healthy life outside of work. So I think that may be what you need to ask yourself – what trade-offs have I made? Are they worth it? What would make it not worth it?

      1. Sleet Feet*

        I’m in a similar position. Very happy with the non work tradeoffs and want to make it work. But I find myself being more and more unhappy with the work.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      I supervised people doing repetitive work and it was a common discussion about “how to stay awake”.

      Move around at preset intervals. Even if you think you do not need to stretch, take a minute to stand up and stretch.
      Change the order you do things. Let’s say you start every day doing task A, mix it up, start with task B sometimes.

      Dumb mistakes are the most challenging. In your email example, you could make it a habit to check your draft file periodically to see if anything is left behind.
      In other instances you may be able to set up a system of double checks. Run your reports then go back through and double check to make sure you sent them before moving on to a different task.
      Do you have tasks that you like better than other tasks? If so, great. You can alternate likable task, boring task, likable task, boring task.

      My next suggestion is an odd one. We have to feel a sense of purpose in what we are doing. Food service is hard because you do it all over again the next day- you just keep doing the same thing over and over. It’s hard to find a sense of accomplishment or even a point to the work. If this resonates with you, a tool you can use is Life Goals. Dig into your personal goals, make a chart at home, put it on the wall if need be and make note of your progress in your life goals. THEN, when you are sitting a work trying to keep your brain awake and connected to your work you can remind yourself, “And this job is what allows me to work on my life goals and have success in my personal life.” You can picture the chart or a list of what you have accomplished so far in taking good care of you. This can help.

      From a physical perspective, water, proteins, whole foods like fruit and veggies on a routine basis can help a person to stay connected and engaged with their work. Personally, I noticed if I eat chicken or salmon at dinner my brain works sharper the next day.

    7. cactus lady*

      Would focusing on creative pursuits outside of work help do you think? This is something that has helped me a lot in my professional life, especially when I was in roles where I didn’t have a ton of control over the work I did (sounds like the situation here). I started to need that less at work when I found it in my personal life. It can help with that balance too.

      1. Fran Fine*

        Same here. When I had this type of job, I started self publishing books and short stories – that made my day job infinitely more bearable.

    8. JT*

      Engage yourself in other ways while working.

      Parts of my job are very data-entry. Non-thinking, copy/paste data entry. If I just do that, my mind will wander and I’ll think “oh, I should Google that” or “I wonder what’s happening on FB right now…” every 5 minutes. So I need something else to occupy the thinking part of my brain. I listen to podcasts during these tasks. Podcasts that are fun and entertaining, like podcasts recapping my favourite shows.

      Another thing I do is race myself. Count things. “If I do this many in an hour, that breaks down to x per minute. I wonder if I can be just a little bit faster, or find an opportunity for efficiency, so that I can up it to x per minute and X per hour!”

    9. divinekittycat*

      My job is super super boring data entry… I can’t say I don’t make mistakes ever, but I found listening to interesting podcasts all day helps me focus so much more than anything else I’ve tried. I don’t know if this is an option for you, but pretty much anytime I’m not in a meeting or in training I’ve got my headphones on. My one great fear is running out of things to listen to now! For what it’s worth, I didn’t have much of a choice in moving from my interesting job to my boring one it was either move departments or move out the door, and my compensation and benefits made moving departments the sane choice. I’ve got security (to a point) and that’s made up for the tedium.

  17. RussianInTeaxs*

    Not really a question, but a story.
    I work as a customer sales rep. We are a wholesale business, off the street and via contracts, and as such, I don’t talk to the customers often, it’s all mostly done via e-mails and placed POs. Oh, and if you are one of the “off the street” person, and don’t want to sign a contract, you are in the first come first serve situation re: available inventory, we don’t reserve anything for non-contracted customers.
    Yesterday I got my first Drunk Customer Phone Call. During normal office times too. He is one of the “off the street sales” guys.
    He was ranting for good 10 minutes how we as a company “don’t like him (I personally don’t, but it’s neither here nor there), give his product to other people (you don’t have your product, you have what’s available), discriminate against the customers in the Valley (Rio Grande), how come he does see the product at the other distributors in the Valley (!!!), do we sell them and not him (yes! they have a contract), we are hurting him (he is free to buy from other vendors, no contract, our product is not rare), why don’t I answer the phone when he calls from Mexico (he uses various phones and they all get dinged as spam), and could I please do something! (I cannot).
    In the end he called me “mija”, and hang up. He used to try to flirt on the phone in the “I am flirty and hilarious, can you please give me a discount?” way, but drunk is the first.
    Last year I had to chase him for 3 months to get a late payment, and no, I do not like him.
    Have you ever had to deal with drunk customers or vendors?

    1. Josephine Beth NotAmy*

      Not a drunk customer, but a drunk boss who called late one night to vent. Not an experience I ever hope to have again!

      1. RussianInTeaxs*

        I talked to couple of coworkers and apparently my Drunk Customer is not the only one. Another small company owner calls my company owner occasionally to complain.
        And we have a warehouse in another state, their manager took it upon himself to call our admin on her cell, after hours, drunk, to complain we are not stocking up a lot (supply chain issues!), and we are going to drop them and how can we! We lease the warehouse, comes with the manager, so just like with the customers, can’t do much. At least won’t do much.

    2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Once upon a time, I ran a bar, so I had a lot of drunk customers. :-)

      My vendors were wine reps for a bunch of different distributors, and some of them did too much tasting with their other clients before they got to me on their weekly rounds, and it was not fun. They were lightly buzzed from 11am on, and so they were sloppy by the time they got to me.

      But I’d made it a point to be very firm with them from day one, as far as who ran the store (they often acted like they owned a particular shelf), so it was just second nature to ignore their ramblings. Ignoring their breath was another matter.

      And before you ask – they were never far enough gone that I worried about them driving. They’d just been drinking 2 ounces of wine an hour all day long.

  18. Mbarr*

    Any advice/tips on being a work mentor? I looked through the archives, but most of Alison’s advice is targeted at managers for their direct reports.

    A manager from my old team asked me to help mentor one of their new hires. Apparently the woman (fresh out of graduate school) is having some problems meeting deadlines. I don’t blame her – the managers/teams she works with needs to be babysat A LOT (as in, you CONSTANTLY have to follow-up with them and remind them that data is due, then beat them with a stick after the deadline passes to get the information you need). So sure, I can help pass along tips/tricks I learned for how to deal with them.

    But the other thing the manager asked was for me to help coach the person on some skills – like note taking and basic excel stuff. (The example I was given was that the woman didn’t know how to change the print area of a spreadsheet – who prints stuff anymore? Even I would have to pause and think about it for a second.) This woman has a Masters of Data Science. I sat in on her interview. We know she’s brilliant – she was referred to us by a colleague who was in the same classes as her. The manager told me, “I would hate it if my own manager sat over my shoulder to make sure I’m doing things right, so I don’t want do that to her.” Hence why I’m being asked to help out.

    I think the problem is just that she struggles a bit when having to make excel edits on the spot while sharing her screen. When she’s not sharing her screen, she knows exactly what to do, and is able to get her work done no problem. She’s been with the team for 2ish months now. I’m torn with how to help out with this aspect of things… I’m positive the woman is way more capable than me in Excel. I think she just needs more time to get used to her manager and the expectations the manager has.

    As for the note taking, I told the woman that as the most junior person, she should assume she’s the default note taker. I told her about various software available to her for note taking (e.g. She had never heard of One Note before). I gave her tips and tricks about how I used to take notes, etc. But since I’m not on the team anymore, how do I know if what I’m telling her is being used/helpful?

    1. londonedit*

      That doesn’t sound like mentoring to me, it sounds like training. The way mentoring works in my organisation is that it all comes very much from the mentee – they lead the conversation, they set goals for themselves and they decide what to focus on during the mentoring period. The mentor is there to bounce ideas off, provide advice based on their own experience, and offer support to help the mentee move towards the goals they set. It definitely doesn’t involve actually training people on things like note-taking, and it doesn’t involve someone being put forward for mentoring by their boss. I’d ask her whether she thinks any of this is helpful to her, and maybe focus on telling her that you think she just needs time to adjust to her boss, and giving her any hints and tips that might help her get used to their ways of working.

    2. learnedthehardway*

      I would ask the manager exactly what the employee needs to be better at in terms of note taking and Excel. As you mention, her skills seem to be strong in Excel, but she just needs to have some practice making edits while sharing her screen. Maybe there’s something the manager sees a need for that you don’t, or maybe the employee just needs to be coached to practice so that she’s able to manipulate the spreadsheet on the fly, while presenting about it. (If it is the latter, maybe she is just nervous and forgetting things when put on the spot – in which case, some practice and “cheat notes” might solve the issue.)

      1. higheredrefugee*

        Also, in my org, if we’re sharing screens and making changes on the fly, it is understood that it takes longer with everyone looking as you’re managing the tech and your IMs, etc. all at the same time. You might just need to coach her to take a deep breath and go about it methodically. Or if she has too many people chiming in all at once, maybe direct them to speak one at a time or use IM to make sure folks aren’t repeating each other.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      If her problem is that she freezes up when she has to share a screen, then why not have her share a screen with you and practice on not freezing up with you?

      On the other, you can ask her if your tips are helpful. But better yet, ask her what bumps she hit in taking notes this week. They say the devil is in the details. Sometimes people can have a problem with one little thing, but it’s disconcerting enough to throw a bunch of other things off track for them.

      My previous boss was a brilliant woman. She had problems with freezing up if she had to do something on the computer quickly while others waited. But in our private conversations, we found quite a few little things that she stumbled over. The more of those little things we fixed the less she froze up in front of other people.
      It could be that your cohort just needs to keep doing a variety of things and get a stronger feel for the program(s) she has to use.

    4. Jane of all Trades*

      Agreed with others that this isn’t really mentorship, more training. Although for mentorship pointers, I had a mentor at an old job who I’m pretty sure had a monthly reminder to check in with me, and I think took notes on things we’d talk about, and would make a point of following through if he promised to make an introduction/get me on a project, etc.
      For note taking in OneNote, I‘be found the following helpful: bullet 1 on any call/meeting is the attendees, and their abbreviation. If Monica Geller and Chandler Bing are on the call, I will indicate that they are MG and CB. Saves time on noting who said what. If we’re going through a list of things I’m sure to number the list and save the numbered list with the notes so I can always refer back and know the topic we covered – saves time to not have to explain what topic we are covering while we are taking notes. Rather I know we discussed item 1 and decided x, item 2 and covered t, etc. Finally, I color code action items as we progress through the call. My team’s items are green, the other side is yellow. This means that if we go through the to-do points at the end of the call I can immediately summarize who is supposed to do what.
      Just as importantly, if not more – I spend time preparing for calls (rereading notes, last week’s to do list, etc) and I spend time after the call. That’s when I go through my highlighted items and either fire off the relevant emails or calendar them or do whatever else needs to be done. I also keep a running open items list in OneNote, and if applicable I carry any to-do items from the call through to my to-do list.
      Monday morning or Sunday evening I spend some time running through the to-do list to make sure I’m on track. All of these things make it very rare that an item falls through the cracks. Hope this helps your mentee.

  19. Minimal Pear*

    I have a meeting in a little less than an hour where I have to deal with the fact that I made a big mistake at my new-ish job. I didn’t realize that I was meant to be doing a certain task as a recurring thing, and so I’ve missed it for two months in a row. Initially I was just going behind the woman training me and checking what she’d input, and I must not have realized (I unfortunately don’t remember the convos surrounding this) that I was meant to switch over and do the entire task myself. As soon as she brought it to my attention I started trying to make up the work, but I keep running into huge problems and now I have to meet with her to try and get it figured out so I can do this. I made a similar but much more minor mistake earlier, which was easy to fix and wasn’t a big deal. But I’ve been off my game the entire time I’ve been working this job, because I had a death in the family right after my interviews and have been grieving the whole time I’ve worked here. In addition, I am very neurodivergent, and I have that common ND issue of not understanding unclear directions or anticipating every single little step in a task I’m asked to do. Does anyone have advice on how to handle this meeting coming up? Thank you!

    1. Boba Feta*

      Typing quickly in the hopes you see this and it’s helpful:
      Step 1: Take a breath. Repeat.
      Step 2: Sit with a piece of paper and write out anything and everything you can remember from your training, the instructions that were given, what you were shown, etc. Doodle it rather than writing out a narrative if that helps.
      Step 3: Identify where along the way you lost track of the process – e.g. where you were not able to “anticipate a little step” in the assigned task(s). Highlight those or at least make sure they are in your mind.
      Step 4: Make sure you’re still breathing.
      Step 5: During the meeting, use what you wrote and what it helped you identify in terms of the relative success of your training to make specific suggestions on how you will approach things differently moving forward to improve and avoid future similar errors. For example, you can say that you reflected on what has happened and realized you need to take written notes during training (if you hadn’t done that before), or that you would like the opportunity to shadow your trainer while they do a task in a different way than what had happened originally, etc.

      Good luck!

      1. Minimal Pear*

        My comment got held in moderation for a while, so I didn’t see this in time, but it ended up not being too big of a deal! Thanks for the advice. :)

    2. Purple Cat*

      Good luck I hope you see this!
      Deep breath, and just acknowledge the facts.
      “I’m sorry I missed this, I didn’t realize it was on my plate. How do we fix this?”
      Moving on and getting it right is the most important thing, don’t dwell too much on what went wrong in the past.

      1. Minimal Pear*

        Unfortunately, my comment got held in moderation for a while, so I didn’t see this. But it ended up working out fine! I did basically say this and it wasn’t a big deal after all. Thank you for the advice! :)

  20. LTL*

    There’s been a lot of talk about a 4-day work week being more productive than a 5-day work week, and more generally about lower working hours increasing overall productivity.

    I’ve heard this applying to business, but does it apply to individuals? Is an individual who works 40 hours a week really more productive than one who works 50 hours a week? I know that no one is actually working for 8 hours straight. But then why do some people end up working 50, 60, 70 hours a week for certain jobs? The 40 hour work week is somewhat performative, but surely every single one of these jobs isn’t just a big show?

    I’m not sure if I’m making sense but I wanted to put this out there. I signed a job offer for a remote position that’s incredibly flexible in terms of hours. But I know I need more rigid boundaries for myself, so I’m trying to work out what the best hours would look like. Obviously I will take cues from the company and my team, but I did want to pose the question about productivity as well.

    1. Environmental Compliance*

      You might be conflating “more productive” with “jobs that require 60+ hrs of work as the employee burns out from sheer overload”… simply because there’s more work that physically gets done does not necessarily mean more productive. Heavy workloads have more output – of course – more in = more out. But that doesn’t make it a sustainable workload, and over time overall productivity is going to tank as you lose more and more employees.

      A sustainably productive work week/work load is going to differ by person, so I also think it’s difficult to pin down if that number is 30hrs, 35 hrs, 45 hrs, or if it’s 4 ten hour days or 5 eights, or if it’s 6am to 2pm or 11am to o-dark-hundred.

    2. Sleet Feet*

      For me personally I find that after 45 hours my productivity tanks. If I try to push on and work 50, 60 hours consistently, I will ultimately start to get less done then if I stick to 40 hours.

      For example let’s say a report usually takes me 2 hours to create. If it’s during a 50 hour week it may take me 2.5 hours.

      So a table of hours logged in to hrs work completed for me looks like:
      40, 35
      45, 39
      50, 41
      55, 44
      60, 46

      So I’m clearly getting less productive the more I work. I also tend to have an unproductive 40 hour week where I’ll get maybe 33 hours of work done, when I come back from consecutive OT weeks.

    3. Eden*

      Part of it is also people working at different speeds. I do waste a lot of time at work but I get shit done well, so my 40 hour week (including time wasted and hour long lunches) is plenty productive. Not all of my peers can produce work at the same rate so maybe they end up working longer for similar or worse results.

    4. Ali G*

      The point of the 4-day work week is to work less. You don’t work 40 hours, you work 32. The reasoning is people’s productivity dips after about 6 hours, so forcing people to work 8-10 a day isn’t helpful. Also it forces people to be more efficient with their time. Most articles I’ve read is a big thing that changes is people realize they don’t need as many meetings as they do.
      I work a 35 hour work week. I work a combo of 7 and 8 hour days Mon-Thurs and work about 4 hours on Fridays. We’ve discussed at my job going to a true 4-day work week (32 hours) but don’t feel like we can make that change now. We started with this 4.5 day option (it’s optional for employees) as a start.
      And no, people that work 50+ hours a week are not more productive, but they do comparatively more work. It’s just that a lot of it “emergencies” or stuff that comes up that has to get done now (I am married to one of these people).

    5. Apples*

      I work 30 hours and there’s only really about 20 hours of work per average workweek in most office jobs. I have no idea what the people who work overtime are doing. I’m constantly frustrated that my job docks my pay proportionate to my hours when it is literally visible in productivity stats that I’m doing more than people who work the full week. You could try to come up with some basic stats to measure yourself against and compare them across different working hours.

    6. Amey*

      Oh, a lot of people are not working as productively when they’re working 60 hours. They’re not working 60 hours because this is all productive working time, they’re working that many hours because even after 30 or so hours of peak efficiency and quality, their workload is still so big it can’t be completed in less. And there’s a culture in certain industries for that to be the norm. Most (not all, but the majority) of these people are majorly burnt-out.

      However, many people working 40 hours a week now could probably get the same amount of work done in e.g. 33 if they had a three day weekend to rest and revive – they’re more likely to be able to bring their best, most effective selves to work. At least, I think that’s the argument.

      1. Siege*

        I think mathematically it works out that your last paragraph is correct. When you look at how much time we spend on life-maintenance a week, it blows an entire day of my weekend and sometimes part of the second, leaving me with very little time to relax. A third day materially helps with that, and even a half-day Friday can help with that.

        To go to OP’s question, the times I’ve seen companies expect 40+ hours a week, it’s been times when the job should have been two people’s jobs. It’s very common in smaller companies (and non-profits particularly) to expect longer work weeks because you’re asking someone to do two jobs. I have several friends who’ve talked about how much time they work on weekends and how much time they don’t admit they work on weekends, but they refuse to push back on working on weekends. I work for a union, and you can bet your ass if I’m working over 40 hours a week, I’m getting that time reimbursed per our CBA. Very relatedly, this is the only place I’ve worked that does not expect (or at least reward) you to work 40+ hours. It’s a terrible, terrible metric for “drive”.

    7. Malarkey01*

      Productivity can also be about the best times to work and the length at one time. Just for the ease of example say my job is to process identical widgets that all need the same work and I need to get 100 done a day. I’m very productive in the morning but around lunch and then the afternoon sugar crash I struggle.
      8 am- 11 am I’m flying and get 20 done an hour.
      12-3 I’m struggling to concentrate and get 5 done an hour
      4-6 I want to go home and get a burst of concentration and get 13 done an hour.
      I worked 8 hours plus lunch.
      Now I can set any schedule I want as long as I get 100 done. I know I’m still great in the morning but I also get a “post kids in bed” surge so I decided
      8 am-11 am same thing 20/hr.
      Then I’m going to knock off for awhile, maybe take a walk, do chores, pursue a hobby, pick up kids at school, make dinner.
      8 pm-10 pm I’m back knocking out 20\hr.
      Now I’ve worked 5 hours and done the same output because I did it when I was at my peak and most productive.
      That’s really different than people who work longer because they have more work or widgets to do.

    8. Spearmint*

      In addition to the other points made about burnout and such, frankly I think people spend a lot of time working inefficiently or on low-value projects, and a shorter workweek forces them prioritize their work. I have a coworker who routinely worked 50+ hours a week while most of us work a standard 40. She was doing a lot, but to be honest she took on a lot of projects that were pretty low value relative to the effort required, and she was also very inefficient at the stuff that was important. She definitely wasn’t spending 50 hours a week on core responsibilities.

    9. AnotherLibrarian*

      There are jobs (and I am in one) where you are partly paid to be available. From 8 am to 5pm, there must be someone in our office. Ideally two people, so one person has back up. That means that regardless of how effective I am, I am putting in a 40 hour week, a minimum. Some of my work requires silence or I need to “get in the zone” which means I work more than 40 hours, because I don’t want to be obligated to answer the phone and that doesn’t happen until it is after 5pm or before 8am (or on a weekend.)

    10. Dino*

      If I have to be at work more than 36 hours a week for more than 3 weeks in a row, I’m gonna need at least one sick day to recover. I am disabled/ND and work in a field notorious for repetitive stress injuries, vicarious trauma, and cognitively tiring work.

      When I do try to help management and take OT, you can get more hours of me in my chair but my work quality suffers and I physically get wore out, am not able to do the life maintenance things I need to do to perform well, and need unexpected time off to recover.

      So work can have my 36 hours of accurate work under high-pressure conditions with a rested body and emotional regulation, or they can have ALL of the 40+ hours of worse work.

      If I could have a 32 hour work week and still pay my bills I would be *so much better* at my job.

    11. TechWorker*

      Another reason (not covered here and possibly not always clear in the discussions of productivity) is that for collaborative work, or ‘urgent’ work some of those 50,60,70 hours will not be spent productively but that doesn’t necessarily mean you can just shift it all into 30 hours.

      For eg, if something goes badly wrong where I work, I might have to work late to investigate and coordinate with people in other timezones. That work isn’t ‘full on’ in that I’m not fully productive whilst doing it but I also don’t have the option to be like ‘oh I’ll just sort this when I’m at work tomorrow’ :p
      I think that doubly applies to anyone working on things with very tight deadlines – maybe you only have actually 2 hours of work to do on it, but that work only comes in at the end of working day and realistically still has to be done. I’m not saying every job with long hours is purely fire fighting I’m sure it’s not, but some will be.

      Also obviously coverage based jobs are different. If you *need* someone on reception it doesn’t matter how productive they are, you still need to cover any time the office is open.

  21. Medical Mystery*

    Has anyone requested accommodations when their doctors weren’t sure what their diagnosis was? I have some kind of autoimmune condition, that is really affecting my day-to-day life. Apparently, it is not unusual to have to see a rheumatologist for a year or more before getting a firm diagnosis.

    Also, when I ask, should I approach HR first, or my direct supervisor? If it matters, the accommodation I want to ask for is being allowed to work from home one day per week.

    1. JHunz*

      Is your rheumatologist comfortable with documenting that you have some sort of condition that requires accommodation, even prior to formal diagnosis? An actual formal recommendation from your doctor would go a long way in making that request.

    2. Gipsy Danger*

      IME, you don’t need to talk about your diagnosis when asking for an accommodation. You just need a note from your doctor or something stating you are asking for an accommodation for medical reasons. I have worked a couple jobs where the employer actually had a form for my doctor to fill out – it never asked for the diagnosis, just for what accommodations were needed/what limitations I might have.

      I would say, go to HR first, because they’ll arrange things and then tell your supervisor what is happening. When I have needed accommodations, HR knew the procedure and made everything smooth. I would not have necessarily trusted by boss(es) to know what to do, even if they were good bosses otherwise. Generally HR knows how to handle these requests.

      1. stornry*

        This! For ADA accommodation, no one needs a diagnosis just how the condition affects your ability to do the work. Then, in an interactive meeting, you and the boss and HR can discuss what kind of reasonable accommodation you might need in order to do the work. Focus on the work — all they care about is how to help you get it done.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        Yep. No worries on a diagnosis. My doc knows I cannot sit for hours on end. I have to get up and move around on a regular basis. He had no problem putting that on paper and never mentioning what is wrong. His letter was accepted.

        1. allathian*

          Mmm, even without any documented illnesses, most people sit too much and could do with getting out of their chairs at least once an hour. I think it’s absolutely ludicrous that you’d need a doctor’s note to get that accommodation. I guess I’m lucky in that my employer encourages frequent breaks even at the office.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            It was a unique circumstance. Sorry, I can’t expand on that. But yeah, ludicrous describes it well.

    3. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

      You might get some useful ideas for specific accommodations from the askjan.org Web site, which was linked on an AAM post a week or so ago. (I forget who linked it but it’s a great resource, so whoever you are, thanks!)

    4. HR Exec Popping In*

      When asking for the accommodation you need to be clear what the issue is that the accommodation will help address. I understand wanting to work remotely but you should be prepared to indicate why that is needed and have a doctor agree that it is necessary.

      Just as a reminder, as part of ADA the employer can enter into an iterative process and recommend alternative accommodations that would address the issue. For example, an employee is unable to lift something more than 20 lbs. They ask for a hydraulic lift to be installed to handle things more than 20 lbs. The employer can say no, but we will modify your responsibilities so that you do not need to lift things more than 20 lbs.

    5. Can't Sit Still*

      It’s years later and I still don’t have a formal diagnosis for my autoimmune disorder, but my rheumatologist provides all the necessary paperwork for my ADA accommodations. Whenever a diagnosis is required on paperwork it’s listed as inflammatory polyarthritis, which is a symptom, not a diagnosis, but it’s fine for both work accommodations and a disabled parking placard.

      I recommend discussing accommodations with your rheumatologist before going to HR, since they may have suggestions that you haven’t though of yet or for what you might need in the near future. (Some medications have vicious side effects that take weeks to abate, for example, and you might need leave to adjust to them.)

  22. Watry*

    3/4 of my department is out with COVID or in COVID exposure quarantine. Please get vaxxed if you can and haven’t already! I’m sure I’m preaching to the choir here, but having two people out of eight running an office that’s open to the public 12 hours a day isn’t tenable and we’re very worried both about that and about our coworkers.

  23. Just Another Anon*

    During an interview recently, a potential employer asked if I was selected, how soon could I start. I live near enough that I could commute for a short time (1 hour to an hour and 20 minutes one way), but wouldn’t want to do so long-term. If I’m offered and decide to accept the job, we’d move about 30-40 minutes closer.

    So, knowing there’s no guarantee we could find/buy a house (especially as thoughtful, intentionally-minded first-time buyers) very quickly, what’s a reasonable timeline to ask for should they offer and I accept?

    1. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

      I would personally choose to start working and deal with the commute until I could move. The housing market seems to be cooling now (thankfully), but if I were the employer I wouldn’t be pleased to hear a potential employee felt they needed to buy a house before starting.

      Think of it this way: you’ll have the two weeks (or however long) of your notice period to start looking, but it usually takes 30-60 days to close on a house. Not to mention how long it can take to find a suitable house and get an offer accepted. I bought my house in 2019 in a cool market and it still took 3 or 4 months to get from contacting a realtor to getting the keys – my first offer was accepted but we had to pull out due to inspection findings, then start the search over, then what ended up being about a 40 day close because the seller needed time to find a new house. I wouldn’t want my new job to be dependent on a variable and unpredictable timeline!

      If the commute is intolerable for more than a few weeks, you could also look into moving into a short term rental in your desired area while you continue the house hunt. The timing of a house purchase doesn’t always line up with life circumstances, apartment lease end dates, etc, so it’s pretty common for people to take a month-to-month or 3/6 month rental. Good luck!

      1. Mockingjay*

        We just bought in a hot market. It took 6 months and 8 failed offers (houses were literally selling in 3-4 hours after the listings went up – by the time we contacted our realtor, these were gone). (We had to relocate otherwise I wouldn’t have budged from our old house – it was a horrible experience.) Don’t count on being able to find something quickly.

        Don’t want to be a downer, but the reality is that in many areas, the housing market is still brutal.

      2. fueled by coffee*

        Yeah, I would suggest looking into short-term rental options (or a year-long lease with a landlord who will allow you to sublet if you do end up finding a house in that time frame) and setting a start date based on that (that is, how long it might take you to find a rental – how long you’re willing to put up with a long-ish commute). You can always buy a house and move after you start working, but I wouldn’t risk missing out on a job offer because of your start date.

    2. 867-5309*

      When I am relocating, I give six weeks but I am usually a renter.
      – Four weeks notice to my current employer
      – Two weeks to relocate

      You can do that and move into temporary housing if you don’t find a place, which you realistically probably won’t, or just give your usual notice and move when you can get it coordinated.

    3. AnotherLibrarian*

      I think asking for more than six weeks would make most employers balk, unless there is a large move involved. (I moved literally across the country, so my employer was fine with 3 months, but that was an exceptional circumstance.) I would agree with others- finding a house, closing, all that jazz- you might be looking at a 6 to 8 month process easily. If you don’t know the area well, that’s also a factor.

    4. JT*

      Could you tell them that you’d like to start working in whatever time frame (2-4 weeks from now, etc.) and that you’ll be commuting while you look for a house, and try to negotiate a week of PTO for when you find a house so that you can do the moving without also working/commuting?

  24. Mental Lentil*

    Did anybody see the HBR post about “5 Signs It’s Time for a New Job”? (I’ll post a link in a follow-up comment.)

    Any thoughts? Is it accurate? Did it leave out anything?

    1. No Tribble At All*

      Big mooooood lol. I’d say this accurately describes being stuck in a dead-end job with no opportunities for growth. I like that it points out that you aren’t doing well because you don’t care and no one expects you to do well.

      There are other reasons to quit jobs, of course— there’s the opposite of this scenario, the one where you have too much work, too high expectations, and are running yourself ragged.

  25. Meep*

    I have been with my company for 4.5 years (including an year-long internship). It is a small start-up of less than 10 employees/contractors and was formed in mid-2016 so I am a year shy of being a “founder” but I am the employee with the longest tenure and most knowledge about our product. The Manager of Human Relations is the kind of lady who would dangle “carrots” in front of your face to try and motivate you on top of pretending to be a mental health advocate (by this I mean she encourages vacation days publicly and then goes out of her way to pester people on their day off and will guilt-trip them for taking vacation as “our clients come first” – all well taking week-long vacations every three months and saying she deserved it as she hasn’t had a vacation in “forever”). She made me a lot of promises in my time and delivered on none of it. I have only received one small $2k raise that covered health insurance and the logic behind that was “we are a new company but you will get equity”.

    Well, equity came and it is less than my other coworkers. To give you an idea, the second-longest tenure is 2 years while the shortest is 3-months. Everyone got stock. The other for less than 3 months. So I decided to start job searching. But to prove to myself that despite all the praise, I asked for a raise for the first time in 4.5 years – meanwhile, my coworker with the second-longest tenure had raises without even asking.

    She wasn’t happy I asked for a 25% pay raise, but the owner of the company agreed with the case I made. Cue dragging her feet for four weeks as I tried to get it in writing (or even an agreement to discuss the raise in writing). Well, it finally happened a week ago.

    Now she wants to be praised for “advocating” for me and putting in the pay raise that I asked for. She is also unhappy and thinks because of it I should be appreciative of the stock options and not ask to discuss it with the owner (there is a non-compete, it is a 4-year vesting period, it does more harm than good for me to sign it right now).

    How do I proceed with someone who is telling literally everyone that she fought “tooth and nail” for my raise and I should be appreciative? I am not going to try and flip the narrative, because that would come off as petty and enough people have her number. But I cannot even muster up any fake appreciation for this lady after finally having to fight for what I was promised for years.

    I have an interview today, btw, so good vibes would also be nice!

    1. Nicotene*

      Mm, I guess if it were me I wouldn’t get hung up on being “appreciative” or not. You don’t really know what happened behind closed doors, maybe she did advocate for you (or not). I’d say I appreciated it as often as necessary – that costs me nothing and wouldn’t hurt my pride, personally – but I wouldn’t fawn over her or anything, and I wouldn’t let it stop me from asking for other things I needed.

      1. Reba*

        I mean, you could coolly repeat “I appreciate the raise” and that would be true.

        It sounds like the options stink, I wouldn’t go hard on negotiating them since it’s time for you to move on anyway. Good luck with your interview!

    2. LKW*

      I had a boss that would go on and on about he fought for me to get a raise when I went from part time retail to full time back office. That raise? 50 cents and hour. Even 25 years ago it was an insult. But, I would say “thank you for fighting for me. Now I can make $xxx a year!” basically rub it in his face that he did me no actual favors.

      So come up with some phrases that sound like praise but aren’t. Like “Yeah, after working her for 4.5 years I really appreciate you going to bat for me this one time.” or whatever.

      Good luck on the interview.

    3. HigherEdAdminista*

      I’m not clear from this… is she like a co-owner of this business or is the owner in support of what she is doing? Do they know she pressures people not to take time off or goes out of her way to interfere with their time off? Did they explain why you received less equity or was it the decision of the HR person? Do they know she held off on implementing your raise?

      I have never worked at a start-up, but either the owner is aware and approves, but is happy to have her be the face of unpopular decisions, or this person doesn’t know what she is really like and has him hosed. If he seems unaware, it might be worth mentioning. If this is a relative or something that he has hired, I would say you might be better off looking. If you were underpaid by 25% it sounds like there are a lot of issues here!

    4. RagingADHD*

      You are way too invested in what the HR person thinks and feels.

      You know she’s posturing. Everyone else knows she’s posturing.

      The owner AGREED WITH YOU and gave you the raise you asked for. That means you have clout and she does not.

      Her posturing is no threat to you. Ignore it and evict her from the rent-free penthouse apartment you’ve been giving her inside your head. Focus on your interview, and good luck!

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Adding stock options are something close to nothing. I think I would just smile at her ignorance in thinking stock options are a bfd. I guess she will learn at some point… many years from now.

  26. Amber Rose*

    So my old manager was let go last week and this week we had a meeting to discuss how we’re dividing up her work amongst us and how that’ll impact our current work and it was extremely straightforward for everyone except me. Because I don’t have a specific role. We have purchasing, shipping, receiving, procurement… and then me, the “mortar between the bricks” according to the COO. I help everyone, I train everyone, I know a lot of things, but mostly what that translates to is that I float around filling in gaps and I don’t have a specific role. Jack of all trades, master of one (because I’m still the only safety person.)

    Which they hate, because it’s problematic for many reasons, but they won’t define anything for me or let me do so, they just keep adding random stuff into my job description.

    Anyways the short version of this story is I’ve accepted one more role on top of my existing 4 (safety, quality, HR, sales): Defacto database manager. Our procurement/purchasing/shipping people will control physical inventory and I will control digital inventory. I’ve been given the go-ahead to rampage through the database and do whatever I want to fix it.

    I’m happy to have power to fix things, I love power, because going mad without power is way less fun than going mad with power (obviously). I’m less happy that my job is to just take on more and more and more and more and more. Where does it end?! I’d really like to offload some stuff. D:

    1. Purely Allegorical*

      This is a dangerous position to be in. If I were you, I would start writing your own job description of the things you currently do. Add hour estimates to each role. Prioritize the stuff you like. Then go to your manager and say “hey, I know we’ve discussed me being the mortar between the bricks. In practice that’s looked like this rough job description I’ve pulled together — in particular I really enjoy XYZ work and would like to continue doing that and growing in that area. I do want to flag that I’m about at capacity though, so if there are more duties you’d like me to do, let’s discuss what needs to come off this list or what I need to de-prioritize in order to get the higher priority items done.” And eventually this could help make the case for bringing on another team member, should you need it.

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

      You sound like an office manager or operations manager position if you are the mortar between the bricks. I agree that you should document all that you do and use that info to research that you are adequately compensated. As for offloading — if you’re going mad with power :-) what’s to stop you from delegating or hiring an assistant? Real speak though, if you document everything you are doing, you may convince them that one of those areas you are covering for needs another person and then you can offload onto that person.

      1. Amber Rose*

        I want to be a manager. It’s a bit exhausting for me to have power but no authority. I’d happily take on all this stuff if I had the title, because honestly I’m good at my job and I basically like doing it. But because I have no authority, I can’t make anyone do anything or hire.

        I’ve tried on three occasions to offload something or other, and every time the person I teach gets promoted into some other role and the job falls back on me.

        I’m too good at encouraging people to step up.

  27. Paralegal Part Deux*

    I had to give an update. I asked for advice on how to get my bosses to hire someone to help out at work since I’m by myself and overworked. Y’all! I went in, laid it all out on the table in a matter of fact way in what I could and could not do, and they hired someone. She starts Monday. It’s part-time, but I will take it! Thanks for the advice! I truly appreciate it.

  28. A Mechanic*

    I’m not really looking for help/suggestions, just wanna vent a little… I am one of two (TWO) women at the branch where I work and… she consistently calls me the wrong name. It’s kinda a variation of my name? Think my name is “Adorabelle” and she keeps calling me “Bella”. (So does one of the other colleagues, but he legit thought “Bella” was my name in the beginning, and these days he’s kinda switching between Bella and Adorabelle, plus he’s like a year from retirement and I don’t see him all that often, so idgaf) I KNOW she knows my name, because everyone else is using Adorabelle, SHE used Adorabelle in the beginning AND she’s the one who does the paperwork… (We’re not all that many people.) So my only conclusion is that… she just doesn’t care all that much? It’s driving me around the bent! On top of that her name is an uncommon variation of a common one and you’d think that result in her taking care to call people the correct name? Everyone else gets addressed correctly, including the guys with unusual (for here) and/or longer names…
    (I have, btw, tried gently correcting her, but it does. not. take. and I don’t want to get more heavy handed because I am rather junior and she has been with the company forever, has connections everywhere and apparently does not do well with other women. Or so the gossip mill has told me.) (Btw, blue collar workers? biggest. gossips. everrrr.)

    1. ferrina*

      That’s annoying. Is she generally a nice person? You said you were gently correcting her, but what if you position it as a favor? “Hey, I know this is kind of weird, but I have a weird reaction to “Bella.” I just love my name and like being called “Adorabelle”. I don’t know, I guess it reminds me of a French painter. Anyways, can I ask that you call me Adorabelle? I’d really appreciate it! Thanks so much!”
      If you and her are generally friendly, she’s just stuck in her ways a bit, this can work wonders. Particularly is there is a slight condescending aspect, positioning it as a favor to you can fluff their ego. And gets you what you want.
      (Note that this doesn’t work when there is active malice)

      1. A Mechanic*

        Honestly, I’d hate doing that – I don’t particularly feel like grovelling to get some basic decency! But also idk that it would work, because some days I get the impression that she does not particularly like me – telling me, specifically, that the working day starts 7am and I should be in work clothes and ready to start at that time… when I was talking to colleagues who equally weren’t in work clothes yet. I am also 10-15min early every day and usually a couple of minutes before 7a in the work shop, unlike my exact equal, who tends to run late (like walking into the changing room at 7.00-7.10a…) AND the law actually requires the time to change to be work time, so… Or picking out me for being on my (work issued!) phone during work hours, while a) I was doing work stuff and b) two of my colleagues regularly spend time on social media during work hours… Sometimes I feel like I cannot win with this woman.

        1. ferrina*

          I was assuming she was generally well meaning, but it sounds like she’s holding you to a different set of standards from your colleagues. If you are literally the only person she’s doing this, it certainly smells like sex discrimination.
          I’d start documenting for a couple weeks just to get some clear dates and times (which you’d likely be asked for), then go to her boss.
          It sounds like the name is just part of a bigger issue (though you can certainly document that you asked her to use your name and she did not comply).

        2. Not So NewReader*

          Is she just doing this to you? How does she treat the men?

          I had a woman boss who hated having female subordinates. She BRAGGED about wanting only men to work under her. omg. She pulled every stunt in the book, like you show here she out-and-out lied to make me look bad.

          I would have reported her because her harassment was based on the fact that I am a woman. But you know what, my give-a-damn died. I left the job instead. Pay attention to the rumor mill they are actually helping you by giving you the heads up on what is happening here.

    2. Samantha*

      Stop being gentle. “My name is Adorabella. Please do not use Bella.” Send any incorrect paperwork back. Correct her EVERY time. She’ll get the hint.

      1. LKW*

        Yup. Every time. And if she asks why “I prefer Adorabella” and if she continues “I won’t be responding to Bella anymore. Please use my full name, it’s what I prefer.”

        Document it if you need to.

      2. LCH*

        agree. possibly she is one of those people who doesn’t respect others when they are too gentle/nice. or maybe not! but what you’re currently doing doesn’t work. anyway, good luck.

      3. The New Wanderer*

        I missed that she was doing this on paperwork too. That is not okay and potentially rises to something to take to her boss if she persists, as I assume it affects your files, accounting of work product, and/or pay. And absolutely correct her in the moment whenever she calls you by the wrong name. “I’m Adorabelle, as I have mentioned many times now.”

        1. A Mechanic*

          Sorry I was unclear, she’s not doing it on paperwork! My paperwork is all correct, happily. I’m just annoyed that she apparently can’t bother with my full name…

    3. Charlotte Lucas*

      Yep. Be matter of fact about it. I have a cousin who goes by two names (in a part of the country where that isn’t too common). Only certain people are allowed to drop the second name when addressing her. When people complain it’s too long, she says, “Take it up with my mother.”

      FTR, we would love to see the fallout if anyone did try to talk to my aunt about this. She does not suffer fools gladly.

      1. Need More Sunshine*

        Oh man, my sister has a double name but now only goes by the first because her kindergarten teachers told her it took her too long to write her full name and she had to only go by the first. The two names together are not any longer than a longer solo name like Catherine or Alexandra. My parents were PISSED when they found out, but by the time they did, sister was used to going by just the first name. It still gets my mom riled, 30 years later.

    4. CreepyPaper*

      ‘That’s not my name, please use my name.’ The times I’ve said this to people, so I absolutely feel your pain. Gosh. My given name is an abbreviation of a common name and people always assume that I’m actually called the longer version.

      Strange that she used your proper name in the beginning and then switched. I wonder why? Is there another employee with a similar name who she could be getting you confused with?

      1. A Mechanic*

        Oh man, I *wish*. As I said, there’s only her and me at the local branch, and she’s in the office and I’m in the work shop… And I think its possible to count all women in the work shop(s) in all our branches (1000+ employees!) on one hand… I’m basically one of a kind ;)

    5. LZ*

      Definitely correct every single time. My name is an uncommon name that has a very similar spelling to an extremely common name (think “July” vs “Julie”). I correct people neutrally, but immediately, every single time: “Hi Julie!” “It’s July”. It’s a pain but it will eventually work with even the most “forgetful” people. And by all means do not feel like you need to be gentle or apologetic about wanting to be called by your given name!

    6. Camellia*

      Also, just me, but I would be inclined to mis-name her in return. You say she has an uncommon variation, so, there you go.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        That’s tricky because this other woman is more senior. It comes across as insubordinate.
        I have in the past said something like “Could you use my full name? I’ve always gone by (Wilhelmina), and I just don’t realize people mean me when they say (Mina). Especially because that’s my mother-in-law’s name.”

        1. allathian*

          Is she really more senior, as in higher up in the org chart? Or just more senior in the sense that she’s been at the company forever? If it’s the latter, then they’re effectively peers and the OP can tell her to stuff it.

          I don’t generally recommend passive-agressive behavior, but in this case it might work. Just stop responding to Bella, and when she gets mad, tell her “there’s no Bella here, my name’s Arabelle.”

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            That’s a good point. We read it differently. I’m looking at it thinking that someone who has been in administration for many years may really have authority over someone newly hired in the factory.
            A Mechanic* will have to decide that.
            Also, if she does have authority, she’s still abusing it. It’s at least worth talking to the senior manager who is trying to learn the correct name, and asking for that person’s advice.

  29. Part Time Question*

    I posted a more specific question above, but I’m wondering if anybody else has worked a part time salaried position and if so, how it worked out for them. I’m only a few months into my new PTS role and finding it a bit strange. People warned me before I took it that “there are no part time jobs in nonprofit, only part time salaries” and I’ve been concerned about this. It’s hard to navigate when to pitch in like I usually would in a full time role, versus push back or decline because I’m not getting benefits (the salary is actually fairly generous for the hours, I know people working FT who make less, so I’m not necessarily complaining). Sometimes I almost wish it were just hourly as it would be cleaner!

      1. Part Time Question*

        I guess it’s easier for them to budget for too – they don’t have to pay me more on busy weeks and less on lean ones. They probably thought it’d be appealing to me for the same reason, which is true; I know they were hoping someone would stay in the role. The main reason it’s not full time is just to save them some money, I think.

    1. Alexis Rosay*

      I did part-time salaried for years. It can definitely be done, but some people will eagerly take advantage of you so be firm about your boundaries. On days you are not working, do not check your email, do not check slack, and do not respond to texts/calls. I gave folks a Google Voice number instead of my real cell number and would actually delete / reinstall the Google Voice app on my phone on days I was working vs. days I was not working (until people got trained not to contact me).

      I got a sh*tload done in my PT hours because I was a very fast worker. I was also willing to be flexible with my time–to stay late or start early when necessary–on the days when I was working. But the days I was not working, I would not do anything at all related to that job.

      1. Part Time Question*

        Yeah I think I made a strategic error almost right away because they asked me to work four days a week, so it ends up extra slippy. And sometimes I rearrange my hours to be available for afternoon meetings etc., because I feel like the position would be low-value if nobody could have meetings with me except during one limited window. But I only have one day truly “off” so I get extra snippy if they end up needing me to cover a meeting or file a report that day or whatever. That said, the salary is fairly generous; they probably could have almost gotten someone (else) full time for what they pay me.

        1. Alexis Rosay*

          If I were you, I would avoid rearranging my schedule unless it’s something really unusual. For me, for example, I would rearrange my schedule to come in for our twice-yearly massive events (they were always on Thursdays and I didn’t work Thursdays). But just because it would be more convenient for someone else to meet with me on Thursday was not a good enough reason for me. YMMV. Part of having a part-time employee is not having all days/times available. If they wanted full-time availability, they should have made the position full time.

        2. Esmeralda*

          If you’re important to the meeting, and they know your schedule, they can schedule that meeting for when you are there.

          Have set hours. Make sure everyone knows them (post on your office door, block out your off hours on shared online calendar) and do NOT work during your off hours. They’re not paying you for them. If they need you to work more hours, they can pay you for it.

          You have to be really tough about it. I would not shift hours around or pitch in for extra unpaid hours more than once or twice a year. Seriously. Otherwise you will not be working part time and they are then STEALING your time. Not in an evil Snidely Whiplash sort of way, but that’s what’s happening nonetheless.

    2. Amey*

      I am part-time salaried but in the UK where this is very common and normal. From reading AAM, I assume this is quite unusual in the US so setting boundaries might be more difficult.

      It’s hard! I think you have to be upfront and breezy and not move your schedule around constantly for things that aren’t really important. So for a meeting, I’ll say something like ‘Oh that’s outside my working hours, could we move it an hour earlier?’ If they’ve recruited this as a part-time role, that has to be expected. I would also try to make sure you have set hours and days – if you have to work over a bit on some of your working days that’s fine (part of being salaried) but try not to work on your non-working days. I’d also phrase it like that ‘Oh, that’s my non-working day’ not call it your ‘day off’. You’re not just taking random vacation days when things are busy – you’re only employed to work 4 days.

      Your job will try to be full-time on a part-time salary, you do have to protect yourself from that as much as you can. The best way is to be breezy and matter-of-fact but firm.

      1. Imprudence*

        I am part time salaried in not for profit, also UK. It’s education related so I regard my 60% contract over a whole year. I work out at the start of the year how many hours they can have, and keep records. I work 4 days a week during busy times, and 2 days, or less, other times. I *do* say “oh I don’t work Fridays” from time to time, but I also sometimes just do an odd hours one day and then less at another time

        They employed me part time, and that does mean something s just don’t get done (specially when a pandemic comes along and adds another 4-6 hours of work to my week). My boss knows that, and I am up front about it. ” I have made no progress on project a, because I have been focussing on project b, which we agreed was more important. There is always next year “

    3. Snow Globe*

      As a manager, I had a part-time salaried person on my team. Key was having the work days set in stone; she did not work on days off, if an emergency came up we’d handle it without her, just like we would if a full time employee was out sick. We had to figure out areas of responsibility that she could manage in 4 days so she did not have the same amount of work as the full time members of the team. Goals were set up that reflected part-time status. If everyone else had to groom 20 llamas a week, her goal was 16 alpacas, since we had fewer alpacas come through.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        This. I work part time at a job that could easily be 40 or more hours per week. I deal with time sensitive stuff and fires then I go home. Anything I did not get to- I make sure I leave a note on it.

        The trick is to set that hard line. Once you start doing it then it becomes easier and easier to keep to it.

    4. Might Be Spam*

      Back in my IT Cobol days I was offered part-time hours when I came back from maternity leave, I didn’t even have to ask. I still had to come in for middle of the night problems on my assigned system. After a few months my supervisor remembered that I had experience on most of the other systems because they interfaced with mine and started putting me on the call rotation for them when people went on vacation.

      The last straw was was in a group meeting to discuss the on-call rotation for the entire department. Each system had its own call rotation because each team had different numbers of people. In the meeting, she put me on every single system call rotation, meaning that I would be ALWAYS on call and sometimes for multiple systems at the same time. I was speechless. Fortunately one of my coworkers pointed out that I would be on call more than any of the full-timers and she backed down.

      This was the same boss who wouldn’t let me have any growth opportunities (before maternity leave) because she didn’t want me to leave. I’m not in IT anymore.

  30. Anon for this*

    I’m a manager working on hiring a junior level position. Our HR has been…odd…throughout this process and I’m curious to see if anyone else thinks I’m off base in how they’re handling this hire with me.

    I found a top candidate and extended an offer. She asked for a few days to think it over (totally fair), and our HR followed up with the total offer package. The candidate asked to negotiate the start date (she hadn’t named one before HR printed one in her offer letter, and the date they set didn’t work for her for totally reasonable reasons), and asked if it was possible to negotiate a higher salary and PTO (in this case…no). All of these negotiations were with HR directly–they made it clear to her she was not to discuss these matters with me–her hiring manager. HR called me and was ‘taken aback’ that she had tried to negotiate and made it seem like it reflected poorly on her. They even said they had never had anyone try to negotiate these things with them before. I was kind of shocked they were so annoyed–I mean, they’re in the business of hiring and onboarding candidates–surely they’ve encountered attempts to negotiate before, even if we can’t give what she’s asking. I asked them to read the emails she sent–in case her tone or approach was concerning–and they were all pleasant, warm, civil, and…fine. I was a little disturbed by their take on this situation, and especially when they asked me about her [insert protected class status here] for reasons I’m not sure about.

    I said to them that her attempts to negotiate didn’t concern me. But am I off base on being weirded out by HR’s response to what I think is a normal part of hiring?

    1. LKW*

      Yes. Either they don’t understand how hiring works or maybe they don’t understand how hiring women works.

      I suspect, but have absolutely no indicative information, that if this were a man negotiating, HR might be less aghast.

    2. Nothing Rhymes With Purple*

      I think you are sensible and humane and HR is overly rigid. But I am only a worker and have never hired anyone.

    3. T. Boone Pickens*

      You aren’t off base at all, this is all pretty standard stuff in my opinion. That being said, I’ve seen some HR departments take these weird stances when it comes to negotiations, they somehow get it twisted that the company money is somehow ‘their’ money and they fight tooth and nail. It’s so strange…the money isn’t coming out of your budget?!

    4. Nans cat*

      I have experienced the same type of reaction from our HR. In our organization, about 95% of the new hires are entry level with little experience and no degree required. There is little negotiation for these positions- the starting pay is $X , the benefits are Y, two week start date. My particular department though has professional level, degreed new hires with experience. Up until recently we had little turnover, so our HR staff weren’t used to dealing with counteroffers, which are normal in my field, but unusual for the vast majority of new hires they dealt with. Could this be the case in your organization?

      1. The New Wanderer*

        Not the OP, but I was the candidate in a similar situation – in my conversation with the hiring manager where I got a verbal offer, the HM let me know she wouldn’t be able to talk to me until things were settled with HR. That turned out not to be entirely true since we did touch base several times during the process but I think there were some restrictions on what we could discuss, for example I wouldn’t be negotiating with her but with HR.

        However, HR being *shocked* that a candidate would negotiate at all is really weird. Even if the HR person is brand new (which could explain why they’ve never had this specific experience with a candidate), that doesn’t make it abnormal.

        Asking about the protected status sounds like it might cross a line, especially if it wasn’t made absolutely clear that there was a legitimate business reason that explains they were asking. This might be something to pursue with the HR person’s manager.

        1. Fran Fine*

          I would definitely bring this to the HR manager’s boss’s attention. Why in the world would she have needed to know the person’s protected class status?!

    5. pancakes*

      Yes. It sounded off-base even before you alluded to HR asking something about this person’s protected class status. At best this reflects a disconcerting lack of familiarity with very basic norms – negotiating a start date, for example, is very, very common and unremarkable. It’s hard to get a sense for how bad this really is, though, without more information on what they were trying to ask about protected class status. “What an odd question, why do you ask?” might’ve been a good response to that.

    6. Grace Less*

      This might explain why my company’s hiring barely outpaces resignations, despite having a 1:175 recruiter:employee ratio. (Notably, HR for the suckers who do sign on is more like 1:600.)

  31. Apprentice*

    Kind of a weird question here…

    I qualify for a state-run program where I can collect unemployment without job searching because I’m in an unpaid apprenticeship for a new job.

    However, the state unemployment agency is very behind and slow to get through applications. I’ve been informed that it could be months before I’m approved. In the meantime, in order to continue to qualify for unemployment, I have to “job search”.

    The thing is, my apprenticeship will lead me to a new, good job so I’m not actually free to take the jobs I’m applying for. I’m trying to only apply for jobs I’m not qualified for so my application will be thrown out quickly, but this week I was invited to an interview even though I didn’t meet the qualifications in the listing at all. I turned down the interview because I didn’t want to waste anyone’s time, but it’s risky to do that because it could also jeopardize my unemployment.

    So I guess my question is…does anyone here have experience applying to jobs where you’re trying *not* to hear back? How do you make yourself look unattractive as a candidate, while also not embarrassing yourself? I think I’m afraid of submitting something too terrible because it’s kind of a small field and someone could say to a former colleague “Hey I saw a terrible cover letter from your old employee….”

    1. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

      That’s definitely a thing people do when they’re attempting to meet the job searching requirements but not actually get a new job. Do you have to apply to jobs in your specific sector? Applying to a huge corporation like a bank would be a great way to get applications in that aren’t noticed, ha.

      I think ways to not stand out as a candidate in your field would be to not complete the application (like not include a cover letter or just write “see resume” instead of filling out an online application); apply to jobs that are far above your ability; and apply to jobs outside your geographic area. I would stick to big businesses as much as possible; they’re much more likely to have an HR team look at the applications rather than the actual manager.

      Also, I would check in with your program and see what they recommend. Maybe there’s another way to get your benefits without wasting everyone’s time in the process!

      1. Apprentice*

        Good tip about big businesses. If I were offered an interview with a big business, I wouldn’t care about wasting HR’s time that much either. I am supposed to be applying in my field according to unemployment reqs, but I think I need to broaden my definition of ‘my field’ to ‘management’ rather than managing a specific type of llama.

    2. Looking for change*

      This may vary by state, but when I was unemployed and needed to hit my quota for the week (because I couldn’t find enough jobs I legitimately wanted to apply to that week) I just applied for non-entry level jobs outside my industry using the “quick apply” option on sites like zip recruiter. No tailored resume, no cover letter. Also, if you target postings that are more than a month old, you’re less likely to hear back.

      If you do have to turn down an interview offer, well yes, there’s a risk you could lose unemployment if the agency ever found out, but realistically they’re so understaffed and swamped that they are not going to go hunting for people who turn down a single interview. They’re more focused on people not applying for jobs at all, or people who are so disadvantaged they may literally not know how to apply for a job using a computer. If a job you are blatantly unqualified for reaches out for an interview, it’s probably safe to turn it down, and it’s unlikely to happen often.

      (Obligatory caveat: this varies by state and there’s always *some* non-zero risk).

      1. BalanceofThemis*

        I’d be careful about applying for jobs you are way over qualified for. In some industries, food service and retail, for example, they will call you. I think it was McDonald’s that was reporting people for turning down interviews and jobs.

    3. pancakes*

      Job searching and completing job applications aren’t necessarily the same thing. The former is a much broader category. It can’t hurt to take a closer look at the state requirements. In my state, things like “Attending job search seminars, scheduled career networking meetings, job fairs or employment-related workshops that offer instruction to improve job-hunting skills” are among the activities that meet the requirement of job searching.

      1. Apprentice*

        That’s a totally fair point. I’ve just found that applying to throwaway jobs is the fastest way to complete the requirements since I’m in a full-time apprenticeship + study the material on nights/weekends as well. But I’ll keep an eye out for opportunities that would allow me to make contacts in the industry I’m moving into.

        1. pancakes*

          That is probably fastest, but yeah, you might be able to find options that are a little less fast that you actually get something out of.

    4. Red*

      Just apply to big corporate jobs where you’re obviously not qualified/have the wrong background. I would apply to kmart, target, bank of america and meet my quota.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      A friend was having difficulty getting unemployment. She emailed our local rep to state congress. That congress person stepped in and everything got straightened out.

      1. ecnaseener*

        Yes, definitely try that. Whenever I send a form letter to my state rep, I get an actual non-form response, even if just to say “yep I’m already a cosponsor of that bill” (a few weeks later, but that’s better than your current estimate of months).

    6. Speaks to Dragonflies*

      This sounds sketchy as heck to me. An unpaid apprenticeship? Are you doing any work for this company or are they just teaching you how to do the work so you can do the actual work in the future? I thought apprenticeships were set up so you could learn to do a job, but you were learning as you did actual work. If this is whats happening, you may want to look into the legality of it.

  32. Dumpling*

    So….question for all here/gut check? 

    My thinking is that a good manager chats with their teammates and if their person brings up something about another worker that’s relevant to their performance etc, they should raise it with that person’s manager, even if that person wasn’t complaining, just sharing. It should not get to the level of a formal complaint.

    Basically, my manager is being bashed and I’m thinking this is being blown way out of proportion and I’m super annoyed by it. 

    I left a company before COVID and came back a few months ago, this time as a remote worker. I am 100% remote as are my teammates. When I came back, I was under my former manager, Larry. The team split off into 2 and a former peer, Moe, was promoted to manager and my new manager. After I had left, they were the only two people I stayed in touch with. I got along well with both and had no issues. Chatting with managers and colleagues about non-work related things, sharing (safe) memes etc is completely normal for our company culture.

    Curly is a fellow remote employee who started around the same time I did this year and remained on Larry’s team. We began chatting bc we found out we had a few things in common, including the city we grew up in and family matters. Curly would ask me questions about the process and systems at our work which can be a little complicated so I was happy to answer those and in turn he would answer my questions about the non-work things.

    I was chatting with Moe and mentioned that I chat with Curly and that he asks me questions about our processes; it was part of a bigger conversation about how working remotely is different from being in person. I didn’t know at the time, but Moe mentioned this to Larry and Larry told Curly to stop asking me and come to him.

    A few weeks later I was chatting with Curly and he mentioned what Larry had said to him about coming to me with questions. I spoke to Moe and told him that when I shared that with him, I wasn’t complaining and didn’t know he would share it and that I hope no one was in trouble. Moe said that it’s not a big deal, I had my own work to do and that Curly should be following up with his team lead, not me.  

    It’s been a few weeks since then and I was talking with Curly about some other things and he mentioned again how Larry had told him to not ask me questions. I felt like he was hinting at something, so I told him that I had mentioned it to Moe as part of a casual conversation. 

    Well….this is where things got kind of hairy. Curly got really upset! He was bashing Moe a lot, questioning why he would tell Larry what I said, and told me not to trust him etc. I tried to stay neutral and say as little as possible and change the subject several times. Eventually I told him to just drop it, it’s not that serious.. He wasn’t upset with Larry at all, only at Moe but it was definitely awkward. 

    So….I dont’ blame Moe at all. He’s on vacation and I’m not going to bring any of this up to him. I wasn’t upset when I told him about Curly, it was just… a “whoops didn’t think that through” kind of thing. and I don’t think he did anything wrong at all by telling Larry.

    I also don’t blame Curly (up to that point) for asking me questions b/c while yes you have your team lead, sometimes it’s easier to ask a peer that you have a rapport with than to constantly ask your team lead questions, you know? 

    From what I heard, Larry’s directive was really informal and casual and they were laughing about it afterwards. I worked under Larry for years so I knew exactly how he could give feedback and that’s something I always appreciated about him. 

    I don’t think anyone did anything wrong (well Curly up until he began bashing Moe) but I feel that’ Curly blew it way out of proportion. I’m just really annoyed that things went this way because otherwise I haven’t really spoken to anyone aside from my two managers the entire time I’ve been back. 

    1. Need More Sunshine*

      Agreed that Curly is really the only person who did something wrong here when he bashed Moe. None of this even seems like negative feedback that he got from Larry, just a simple “Hey, bring these questions to me instead.” Curly is taking this whole thing really personally when it’s really just a normal re-routing related to doing business. You did nothing wrong here, and neither did Moe or Larry.

    2. RagingADHD*

      Curly overreacted.

      He’s relatively new, right? Does he have a rapport with Moe at all? If they don’t really talk much, he may be projecting some baggage from a bad past experience and think Moe was trying to “get him in trouble” and Larry “stood up for him. ”

      Or maybe the way Larry framed it gave him the wrong impression.

      In any case, if the subject stays dropped, maybe he will get a chance over time to become more comfortable with the open & informal communication style your team has.

    3. PollyQ*

      I don’t love Moe’s initial response. My preference would have been for him to coach you to push back on Curly’s requests for help first, before bringing Larry into it in a more formal way. That said, I also don’t think it was terrible, and Curly’s reaction really was over the top.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Curly is making mountains out of mole hills. It’s fairly normal to go to your own supervisor first and foremost.
      The boss is just asking for a normal thing.

      My take on this is that Curly has a temper issue and it might be a good idea to keep Curly at arm’s length. I’d watch for other signs that Curly does not do well with people in authority- I think you may have an early warning sign right here.

      The thing that jumps at me here, is that the boss did not say not to talk to you. The boss said to ask him for instructions as opposed to asking you. It’s a small request- which makes me think that Curly was using you to avoid interacting with his boss. You don’t wanna get in the middle between a boss and an employee who has problems with authority.

    5. ecnaseener*

      Yeah, this reads to me like Curly just had an overreaction in the moment. He’d been upset to be corrected over something he didn’t know was a problem, maybe hurt that you’d complained to the bosses about it – and now this revelation that it wasn’t even a complaint. In his mind it felt like “so I got scolded because Moe went and tattled to Larry over something Dumpling wasn’t even complaining about?” Hopefully he will cool down and realize that’s an overly dramatic way of framing it.

  33. Anon former employee*

    Hi. I haven’t followed along too much lately but was this ever discussed? An HR exec in Florida trashed personnel files and deleted resumes after being fired and is now facing prison. I’ll link in the comment. This is actually my former employer! I was really shocked to read about this as I had left around that time but had no idea that this had even happened until now.

    1. 867-5309*

      WHAT? Can’t wait to read the article. I would have expected a civil suit but the prison part surprises me – was it destruction of property?

      1. Anon former employee*

        As far as I know, the company stopped doing background checks before I arrived.

        I’ve read about this in other spaces and – as expected – everyone is applauding her for doing this as she’s living out some disgruntled workers fantasy.

        I wasn’t there when it happened, but from what former coworkers told me, it was a pretty BFD.

        1. pancakes*

          That’s pretty messed-up. Fantasizing about quitting emphatically, spontaneously, etc., can be fun, but that’s not what this was. This was self-sabotage.

      1. Anon former employee*

        I wish I could answer more about that particular incident, but I don’t know much either nor am I in touch with anyone who does. I will say though, they have 2 offices. I worked in the other office and anytime a termination happened, they were immediately walked out. From what I heard and experienced myself over the years, majority of the Florida office where this HR exec was were…unprofessional at best.

        1. RussianInTeaxs*

          I sent the article to my partner who is a cyber security engineer, and he said his group actually discussed this situation at their departmental meeting yesterday!

        2. ecnaseener*

          Wow, I always thought it was overkill to walk people out immediately, but I guess this is what it’s meant to avoid…

    2. ecnaseener*

      FIFTEEN YEARS?! For two counts of damaging computers??? Holy crap.

      (clarifying, she’s facing *up to* 15 yrs, sentencing is later)

      1. RussianInTexas*

        No, she is facing that based on the unauthorized data access, not physically damaging computers. Once you do intentional unauthorized data access, it becomes federa crime = hacking.

        1. ecnaseener*

          That’s not what the article says: “Calonge was convicted of two counts of damaging computers after a six-day trial in New York and faces as much as 15 years in prison when she is sentenced on Dec. 2.”

          I understand that “damaging computers” isn’t limited to physical damage.

          1. pancakes*

            The DOJ press release has a bit more info about the charges. “Damaging computers” is underselling it a bit – per the DOJ, “the company had invested two years and over $100,000 to build [its computer system]. During the next two days, CALONGE rampaged through System-1, deleting over 17,000 job applications and resumes, and leaving messages with profanities inside the system. Ultimately, CALONGE completely destroyed all of Employer-1’s data in System-1. Employer-1 subsequently spent over $100,000 to investigate and respond to the incident and to rebuild System-1. To this day, Employer-1 has been unable to recover all of its data.”

  34. Albeira Dawn*

    Does anyone have advice for using the Pomodoro method in an office? In school when I was working by myself in my room, I would use a kitchen timer instead of my phone to avoid temptation. Now I work in a small office where everyone would go insane if I had a timer going off every 25 minutes.
    My attention span is really flagging and I definitely need some kind of structure that won’t annoy everyone else.

      1. RagingADHD*

        Or use your phone set to vibrate.

        Or you can use a computer based one that will put a silent popup on your screen.

    1. Need More Sunshine*

      Wow, I’ve never heard of this method before, but it seems like something I could really benefit from. Going to give it a try! Thanks for mentioning it!

    2. Caboose*

      I’ve used timeme dot com for this at work! It’s just in a browser tab, and I think you can do it without any sound so it just has a popup instead, but I normally have headphones on so it’s not a huge issue.

  35. Mrs. Hoover*

    It’s been a stressful week in managing my direct reports. Two of them seem unaware that the fact they simply do their job does not warrant some kind of pat on the back and that if I give them constructive feedback it’s not an invitation to reinterpret it to make themselves feel better. And another direct report is dealing with a nightmare project with an outside partner who is treating everyone poorly, so I’ve been trying to help her navigate that hideousness.

    I feel like in addition to the anxiety I feel about managing well and working on my own projects, I’m absorbing my direct report’s anxiety about this nightmare project, and trying to keep a handle on all of it while I update my own manager. I know I need to let go of some of this tangential anxiety. But I don’t know how to take a step back from my direct reports and just accept that I am doing the best I can and let them do the best they can.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      What are the two reports doing that show they want a pat on the back and how often does this happen?

      How do you respond when they reinterpret their constructive feedback?

      It might be time to drag your own boss into the problem with the outside partner who is treating people poorly. Your boss should at least be aware of what is going on.

    2. Speaks to Dragonflies*

      Maybe Im missing something, but whats wrong with coming to work and simply doing your job? What kind of “pat on the back” are the 2 employees looking for? If they’re doing good work- no mistakes, deadlines met, just average output, I dont think there’s anything wrong with a “Thanks for taking care of that” or “Good job” every now and again. If they’re wanting a parade complete with a marching band and floats…yeah, thats over the top. When you say you give them constructive feedback, what does that mean? I’ve only heard the phrase used when someone is telling someone else what they could do better. Its not a bad thing…its always good to improve on what you do. But if they do something good, do you, let them know? Im guessing they are doing an average job,meaning no problems, but nothing great either.( I dont remember reading about any performance issues in your post) Sometimes its nice to know that the hear that you’ve done something good along with the criticism. If they are doing the best they can as your direct reports, only hearing the critical side can be demoralizing.

    3. Chaordic One*

      Not to be rude, but I think you’re wrong about the two direct supports not warranting some kind of pat on the back. You seem unaware that your treatment of them can be seen by them as taking them for granted and making them feel unrecognized and unappreciated. You might be so preoccupied with your other report’s nightmare project, that you’re neglecting the other ones. We’ve read a lot in this thread about the “great resignation” and problems with hiring new people. Have you ever heard the old Joni Mitchell song, “Big Yellow Taxi”?

    4. allathian*

      There’s nothing wrong with an occasional pat on the back for a job well done, even if it’s just “thanks for the TPS report, the C-suite loved it”. If you never acknowledge the work your reports are doing and only talk to them if you have “constructive” feedback to give them “your TPS report was two days late and full of typos, here’s an edited version and I don’t want to see those typos again next month,” they’re going to resent it, and rightfully so.

      That said, too much positive feedback can feel infantilizing, as in, you don’t have to be excessive in showing your appreciation, because that can feel like you’re expecting your reports to fail to meet expectations and are surprised when they do in fact meet them. But a simple “thanks for the TPS report” is probably all the pat on the back your reports want.

      Someone who can’t give any positive feedback ever, and who thinks it’s completely unnecessary, IMO should get out of management ASAP. I certainly wouldn’t want to work for a boss like that.

    5. First Time Asking for a Raise*

      Um, why doesn’t doing their job warrant a pat on the back? I’m assuming we aren’t talking full on recognition and/or money. I tell my team they are doing a good job all the time, I certainly don’t want the only feedback they get from me to be negative. I know I love to be appreciated, so why wouldn’t my reports?

  36. Lucky*

    I don’t understand the concern about how vaccinations will be verified. Schools and health care facilities do it all the time. Show me your vax card, I’ll add your name to the list. No vax card, send me your weekly test results or stay home. Keep the list with some level of security, same as other employee personal info.

      1. Transient Hamster*

        Yes, this. My husband has an acquaintance who printed his own fake vaccination card so he could get into a concert without having to provide proof of testing and wear a mask. I have no who we could report this information to so I’m sure he’ll continue to use his fake card as needed.

      2. Esmeralda*

        My university is verifying fax cards. They’ve caught a few fakes but not many. They do have ways to verify, it’s not a quick process but it is very accurate from my understanding.

    1. pancakes*

      Schools and health care facilities also ask people to put on a mask all the time. Maybe you are not in the US, but it is an inescapable fact of life here that not only do many people refuse to comply, a number of them become irate, or even violent. I am not trying to suggest that this is a good reason not to ask for verification – my point is just that you seem to have a lot more faith in people being cooperative and civic-minded than is warranted.

  37. Concerned Academic Librarian*

    For any of my academic library colleagues out there, just how necessary is Linked In? For some time I have felt it’s more of an annoyance than a useful tool as far as me keeping an account and a profile. But before I delete everything, is this something I should keep?

    1. AnotherLibrarian*

      I really don’t use it. I have a profile. I update it when I make a job change, but I really don’t pay much attention. I’ve never used it to look up a job candidate and I’m not a big on social media in general. I don’t think it is needed, but maybe more important if you’re in a specific field- like business librarianship. It has been handy to keep track of a few folks from grad school I barely talk to.

    2. Also an Academic Librarian*

      I’m an early-ish career academic librarian and I’ve never had a LinkedIn. No one’s ever asked me about it! I don’t have social media either, but if someone was really curious they can find me on the web pretty easily (which is another issue!)

    3. Kimmy Schmidt*

      I’m an academic librarian and I don’t use it. I have an account, I’d probably update it (minimally) if I was job hunting, but it’s never really come up in a job search for me either as a candidate or on a search committee.

  38. LadyByTheLake*

    Ever have one of those days where you just feel like a punching bag? It’s not my manager — he’s very supportive. It is all of the business units I support — they want what they want, and they want it NOW and if I point out that they can’t necessarily have what they want (because that’s literally my job — to impose some controls and order), but here’s this slightly different thing they could have that’s really close, they scream and moan and run to my boss and say I am not being a “partner” and on and on and on. Some level of pushback is in the nature of my job, but most days and most people are willing to work with me to figure out what we can do, and then there are days like today where I just want to chuck it all and tell them to all go F*&^ themselves.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      You can report rude behavior to your boss for her to handle.

      I do think that people are getting a little fried because of the world events. Maybe you can say something like, “we are all in the same boat together” and get them to think before yelling. Or maybe you can get your boss to agree that you can immediately end any conversations that dissolve into yelling. I think I’d aim for this solution. “Bob if you are going to yell at me, I have to end this conversation. We can come back to it when you have your thoughts collected.” Don’t reward their yelling by giving them what they want on the spot.

    2. Silence*

      Second being allowed to hang up on people who yell.
      Can you or your boss do a document or workshop to other departments specifing what you do and don’t do as there has been recent “confusion “

  39. Keslie Lnope*

    I’m at an impasse at work.

    A month ago my company announced we are going 100 per cent remote and there won’t be a physical building any longer. We have been remote since the pandemic hit. We were asked to go into the portal to sign up for a day to bring our things home and trade in our laptops for the new ones from our new IT outsource firm.

    One of my employees was an essential worker and he was the only employee in the last 18 months to go in daily because it was needed. Between the law that regulates our work changing to allow working from home for all, and now our company going 100 per cent remote he will also transition to remote work.

    The issue we are having is that he doesn’t have internet at home and he refuses to purchase it. He says the company should be paying. The company refuses. He is supposed to begin remote work on October 1 when the new regulations kick in and the physical building lease ends. He is a good employee and things without him will be hard. There will be struggles. Neither side will budge and as his manager I feel stuck in the middle. I know there is no way the company will make an exception for him because there are hundreds of employees and they can’t buy internet for all. His LinkedIn makes it look like he is job hunting. I’m not sure if I can even do anything.

    1. Irish girl*

      I would be pissed the same way he is if I was in that situation. Your company not paying for something he doesnt have at home to do his job sounds like a pay cut for him. If others already pay for and use internet in their personal lives and he doesnt, i think there should be some consideration for paying for it. What if he lived in an area that doesnt have reliable internet?

      1. Keslie Lnope*

        I see your point about not having internet in his area, but in this case we live in one of the largest cities in the country. I live approximately 5 minutes away from him and high speed fiber internet is the norm here. Per his salary band he earns between 20 and 25 per cent higher than the median salary for our area so the company feels he should be able to afford it.

        1. Irish girl*

          Why should the company care if he can afford it or not? That should not be their worry. DO you pay him a adequate salary for his work? You are making a change to his job description and requirements and now requiring him to pay for something that was previously paid for by the company. Did the change in requirements come with a change to the salary that could make up for the cost of getting internet? The cost of getting the internet per month, set up cost, cost of a modem or router and any other cost to maintain that now comes out of his pay. That is a pay cut. It has nothing to do with the median salary of your area.

          What about his work required him to be in the office as an essential worker? Was it jsut that he didnt have internet at home?

          1. Keslie Lnope*

            I see what you are saying. In fairness the change was made by the CEO, the president and the owner. They decided to go fully remote once the new law passed. They also decide the salary bands, but as I said I do know based on his he would earn 20 to 25 per cent above the median salary for the area and above marker rate as well. I have no control or say in either of those which is why I feel caught in the middle. I’m trying to find a solution doing what I can.

            He was essential because we are in a healthcare adjacent industry and his job could not have been done from home (internet or not) until the new law was passed. His job is crucial to health and the pandemic response. All of ours are but his especially. If the law had been different when the pandemic started he would have been home at the beginning like the rest of us. The company says saving on costs like gas/commuting, work clothes and other expenses plus the flexibility should make up for it but my employee believes it is an expense the business should pay.

        2. Moths*

          Honestly, I don’t think your company should be taking into consideration how much he makes and if they feel he should be able to afford it. The question (to me) is whether an employee should have to pay for a tool the company requires for them to do their work or if that’s something the company should cover. I lean strongly in the direction that the company should cover it if they suddenly require it when they didn’t before. I understand not wanting to make an exception, but making an exception doesn’t mean that they have to do it for everyone else. It’s the same as any other request an employee makes for a tool to get their job done. Just because my company purchased a larger monitor for one person who needs to be able to see multiple documents at once doesn’t mean they automatically need to go out and purchase the same monitor for everyone. It’s about treating your workers equitably.
          And again, the company has zero idea about an employee’s expenses and living situation. What his salary is should have no impact on their willingness to cover the tools they’re requiring for the job. Lots of companies pay for cell phones for their executives. Surely most people making an executive salary could afford a cell phone bill, but the company pays for them anyways because they’re a tool needed to do their job.
          I know that you’re not necessarily on one side or the other, just trying to retain your good employee, but I would recommend going back to the company and strongly advocating for them to cover this for your employee. He’s been a good employee and you acknowledge that losing him will be difficult. In the grand scheme, the company covering this one expense will likely be a good investment on their part to retain a solid employee. However, that being said, the way the company has already approached it may mean he’s going to leave no matter what. He went out of his way to be available and to go in whenever needed. The company is repaying that by refusing to make the slightest exception for him to be able to do his job without essentially taking a pay cut (by having to increase his expenses). If you really want the best chance to hang on to this employee, please fight to do what’s right by him in this situation.

          1. Fran Fine*

            All of this, though I agree with you that it may be too late to retain this employee. The company won’t even offer him a reimbursement option for his internet costs? That’s crazy to me (as someone who works for a company that gives remote workers either a company-issued cell or internet reimbursement up to $75/month).

            1. ecnaseener*

              Unfortunately it’s not uncommon – I also work for a healthcare org and they are giving us zero assistance on wfh – no internet reimbursement, no phone, etc. Very jealous of you!

              1. Fran Fine*

                My company had this policy in place long before Covid was even a thing, so they just expanded it for everyone once offices closed down.

        3. Teapot Repair Technician*

          I looked up the median salary for my area: $52k. A family with that income here would barely qualify to rent a two-bedroom apartment and would likely struggle to cover a new $50/month bill.

          Your company should consider paying for his internet or giving him a raise.

        4. WellRed*

          I see why you’re stuck here but really, the company doesn’t get to decide what employees can or cannot afford nor how they choose to spend a single dime.

          1. Fran Fine*

            Also this. They have no idea what his expenses are or what he can realistically afford, nor should they.

      2. braindump*

        I’d be pissed too (and did switch jobs after my own role went remote), but ultimately the company can decide what roles are needed.

        I don’t see paying for one person’s internet as feasible just to keep them – it would be like offering only one person childcare or one person a professional wardrobe stipend. Having poor internet in one area is just like saying someone lives far away from the city but no car or public transit for a role that requires one to be onsite – not quite the employer’s problem.

        What IS the employer’s problem is not having a backup for a so called essential employee. I hope OP is willing to give a good recommendation to the employee when they do leave.

    2. braindump*

      I assume you’ve asked him to document his essential job duties? Do those still exist if his job is now remote?

      “Things will be hard” – sounds like your management should help your shoulder that burden if you can document what will be difficult. I do agree with management that paying for one person’s internet is not feasible.

      1. Keslie Lnope*

        He did make a document with everything he does. But there is so much else, institutional knowledge, client relationships and all the stuff you pick up after being here/in this line of work for 12 years that we will lose if he leaves. I don’t think the company realizes how this will go if he leaves but I also agree that paying for his internet isn’t something they can do.

        1. braindump*

          You’ll need to ask your company how to navigate those changes. Not in a “we need to keep this specific employee” kind of way, but it is your job as a manager to communicate what that unfilled role means to the company and what you are able to do with that role empty. Perhaps the company doesn’t think he is essential as you do?

          1. Pocket Mouse*

            I’d be mad in his shoes too. It’s a basic, relatively low-cost tool necessary to do his job, and the powers that be have expressed retaining him is not worth it to them to provide him with that tool. As braindump mentioned, leadership does not see him as quite so essential as you do. You have some power and, I’d argue, responsibility—to both him and your employer—to convey the exact likelihood and consequences of losing him.

            Either way, you need to spend the next three weeks operating under the assumption he will not be working for you anymore come October 1. As is often mentioned here, all employees eventually leave, and it is rarely convenient. But you know it happens eventually, you have good reason to believe it will be soon for this employee, and you have some time to act accordingly.

    3. Paris Geller*

      It sucks that this is going to impact you but I totally get it. He doesn’t normally have internet & doesn’t want to pay for it. By closing the building, the company is redirecting a lot of overhead cost to employees. I know this has been a debate for the past year and a half–some people have said money by always eating lunch at home when they could go out and not having to commute, but some people haven’t spent more on electricity, internet, heating, etc. I’m sorry because it’s absolutely not your fault but I don’t think he’s being unreasonable.

      1. Paris Geller*

        Ugh, typo. Some have HAVE spent more on electricity, internet, heating.

        I’m with a lot of the other commenters–the org is shifting the responsibility onto its workers. They’ll save a ton of money, they should be shelling out for internet.

      2. Paris Geller*

        Ugh, typo alert. I meant some (by which I mean many) HAVE spent more on electricity, internet, heating, that normally companies would have to pay for.

      3. Speaks to Dragonflies*

        To add to the points being made about the employers expenses being passed on…I dont know for sure and maybe Keslie can let us know. But Im going to guess that along with electric and water, the employer also had to pay for…internet access… for the business to funtion. If so, then this expense is being passed DIRECTLY to the employees. So not only the cost of the internet, but all the liability for security of company infromation. The way I see it, the company should be footing everyones internet bill, seeing as how they needed it anyway. In the event that the internet want necessary for the business to operate, since they went 100% work from home, its necessary for it now, so they should still be footing the bill. Bit thats just my opinion.

    4. Qwerty*

      The company is forcing him to take on a business expense. They are getting rid of the building to save a ton of money and expect employees to eat the cost.

      He shouldn’t have to purchase it on his own expense for the same reason that the company provides computers, headsets, and other items essential to doing the job. If you see internet as such a small expense for him, then why is it not trivial for the company to cover it?

      Keep in mind that this guy came to work everyday for 18months in a pandemic while everyone got to stay safe at home!!! He put himself at risk by having to commute and go out into the world. If I was him, it would seem like the company is saying “screw you and all your hard work”. Would it really be that hard to give him a merit-based raise based on all the hard work he’s done in the past 18months and to cover the cost of relocating him to a different office (because you’ve just turned his home into an office). Of course he is looking for another job, this one clearly isn’t valuing him.

      1. ecnaseener*

        This. It’s not infeasible to pay for only one employee’s internet when you have a ready-made justification – he’s *been* an exception to the rule the whole time.

    5. Teapot Repair Technician*

      Could you offer him a $1000/year (or $0.50/hr) raise? Where I live, that would more than cover the cost of internet service.

      1. Snow Globe*

        That’s what I’d recommend. Then the company wouldn’t have to deal with an expense reimbursement that they don’t want to provide to everyone.

      2. Happy Lurker*

        TRT – I don’t mean to be a jerk, but I cannot get internet in my suburban town for less than $100 per month (including taxes and fees). I have tried pricing out the only 2 providers in my area. It is a pretty big pet peeve for me. I totally see employees POV and feel for OP and employee.

          1. Fran Fine*

            Yup, that’s how much my area’s basic internet only costs – I had to upgrade to get a better connection for Zoom meetings for school, and now I’m paying $100/month for just internet. It’s ridiculous.

            1. WellRed*

              We had to upgrade for work and school. The other thing: the amount of time spent calling about options, troubleshooting issues (crawling on my 50 year old knees), buying additional equipment, waiting for internet guy…

    6. RagingADHD*

      I find it surprising that they are not paying a lease or any expenses for a physical building (including internet, insurance, utilities, security, or whatever else it entails) big enough for hundreds of employees, but that savings doesn’t translate into enough money for even a partial stipend for the employees’ internet service? That must have been one rock-bottom cheap, all-inclusive lease.

    7. Ali G*

      Why can’t they buy internet for all? They should be. They are saving tons of money by closing the office. They should be giving each employee a monthly stipend for office expenses.
      Sorry your employee is right and you are going to lose him.

    8. T. Boone Pickens*

      The fact that your company won’t shell out the roughly $100/month the internet will cost despite the fact the business will be saving probably 50x-100x that on a monthly basis by discontinuing the lease is low key absolutely hilarious to me.

      I hope your CEO is able to see the light. If not, I hope the transition to finding a new employee is a smooth one Keslie Lnope.

    9. Coverage Associate*

      In my state, the employer should be paying a stipend to everyone who uses their own phone or internet for work. Ours is $40/month, which is about a quarter of my phone and internet bills, but it’s something.

    10. AndersonDarling*

      It seems straightforward to me. He never needed internet at home so it would be an out of pocket expense that he would need to pay monthly just to work. It would be the same if I had basic internet but it wasn’t enough to have high speed zoom meetings and my office required me to spend an extra $70 a month to get the premium package. I would not fork out $840 a year for the privilege of keeping my job.
      It’s a different situation from the standard employee, so it’s not an exception. If there are other employees that never had internet, then they should also receive a stipend for internet service.
      It would be the same if the employee was being required to use an ap on a smartphone for network double authentication but they have always had a flip phone. The company would provide a smartphone or the employee would be reimbursed for purchasing a smartphone. Employees that already have a smartphone don’t need need to be reimbursed for something they already have purchased and use personally 99.9% of the day.

    11. Purple Cat*

      I think your company is in the wrong here. yes, MOST people have internet access, so in general, it’s a given. But in this case, this employee doesn’t and would only be getting it for his job. he didn’t ask to go remote, and it sounds like he doesn’t even WANT to be remote, the company is forcing him. Since the company is forcing the change, they should be responsible for covering the expense associated with that change. To force an effective paycut on him while the company saves all the money from cutting their business lease is lousy.

      1. Fran Fine*

        This right here. I could see if he chose to go fully remote, then yeah, maybe your company would be in the right to not provide a stipend for internet. But when he didn’t even ask for this and his job was essentially shut down because of something outside of his control (COVID)? Yeah, that’s shitty the company’s quibbling over such a minor cost per month for a long-time employee who seemed to go over and beyond during this strange (and dangerous) time.

    12. Not So NewReader*

      What about other office supplies? What do employees do if they need paper/pens and other basics to do their jobs?
      Does the company tell them they are on their own for that also?

      Just lay it out in living color to TPTB, if we do not provide internet for this person, it is very likely that this person will quit.
      Then to him say apologetically, that you are doing everything you can think of to salvage the situation, but it’s not looking good.

      Situations like this can have a ripple effect- where other people see what is happening and they start getting restless to leave also.

    13. The New Wanderer*

      I think the company is facing the one exception to the paying for internet rule. This one employee was the only one to not need internet at home when everyone else was able to go fully remote. In fact, he couldn’t go full remote when everyone else did. Now he needs internet at home because the conditions of his job were changed by the company per the new law, and he can’t perform his job in the office as before.

      I vote it’s a unique business expense for this specific employee’s role and the company should pay, but only in this one case. However, that’s unlikely to sway your company and short of being able to give him a raise to offset the cost of internet (and not in lieu of a merit raise), I think the most likely outcome is that he’ll leave.

    14. Thinking Cap is On*

      Some solutions that may work:

      1. the company pays for a spot at a co-working space for him to use. It would likely end up being more than internet service and could set a precedence. But, it offers a solution for him and it might end up being so annoying to him to commute and pay for bus/parking that he chooses to end that after a few months.

      2. have him tether to his work cell phone data, I’ve done it before, it can be done and is fast and reliable enough. If he has a work cell phone plan/bill that is covered, it’s a solution. Yes, it could be expensive for the business but it’s a short term solution depending on data rates/plans.

      3. explain to owner/ceo/bosses that the company should be offering a percent or stipend of internet access for all employees or an annual bonus of say $500 to all employees to offset the cost. Yes, some employees would be paying for it otherwise, but others would have to increase their service to accommodate full time work from home. And yes, employees are saving on commuting and clothes to offset, but it’s hard to quantify this.

    15. BRR*

      Can you get him a raise with the agreement his job requires internet? You could point out the cost of turnover?

      It sounds like your company’s leadership won’t change their minds but the point is for this employee it’s essentially asking him to take a pay it.

    16. Anonymous Hippo*

      I can’t imagine someone not having internet at their home. However, I don’t know how the company can expect him to pay for something he doesn’t already have when they changed the terms of the arrangement.

      Things don’t have to be even to be fair. Everybody else already had internet for their own use, so why would the company pay for that?

    17. Delta*

      Some of your internet usage should definitely be covered by the company – is this not standard? I know that where I live, I can claim a certain percentage of both my phone and internet bill on tax if my employer doesn’t provide it.

  40. baroncorbin*

    I walked out of a job 2 weeks ago. I know it’s bad. I could not deal with all the drama there. I never had a chance to fill out the w4 forms. It’s been 2 weeks since and they still have not paid me. Should I keep bothering the guy or take it up with the labor board?

    1. Eden*

      Have you said something like, “As you know [state] law requires the last paycheck be paid by X”? My Alison-senses tell me this is a good thing to try before involving the labor board. Not that you shouldn’t do whatever it takes to get your money, it just seems more expedient.

    2. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

      How long were you on the job? They really should have collected that from you on Day 1. I would send an email to whoever manages payroll stating that you have been requesting to fill out a W-4 to allow you to collect your payment, and if they don’t respond by X date you will be filing a complaint with the state Department of Labor.

      1. baroncorbin*

        I was there for 2 days. This place is a poorly run local business run by 2 people. The guy said he was going to bring a w4 for my first day but didn’t. How long should I give them?

    3. RagingADHD*

      You don’t need them to give you a W4. You can fill it out from the IRS yourself, send them a copy, and ask when your check will be mailed.

    4. Chaordic One*

      Take it up with the labor board. It’s no big deal. That’s what they’re there for. I had to do this a couple of times. It might vary from state to state, but in my experience it got pretty quick results and I was paid what I was owed fairly quickly. (Like within a week of filing the complaint.)

  41. Malarkey01*

    Once it’s an OSHA safety requirement though, companies who don’t follow it will open themselves up for workmen’s comp and liability lawsuits related to CoVid. This also gives companies that want to require it but are nervous a shield against enforcement liability.

  42. Looking for change*

    I have recently decided that I don’t want to stay in my current job much longer (at most 1 year more) and am looking to make a career change.

    Here’s the problem: for practical reasons, I’ll probably be in this job for another 6 months to a year. How do I stay motivated at work in the meantime? For context, I work remotely and fairly independently with little day-to-day accountability. I’m doing just enough to keep the gears turning and meet deadlines with good but not great quality work, but no more than that.

    1. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

      I’ve been in this boat many times. I try to focus on the kind of person/employee I want to be. Do I want to be/be known as the lazy coworker who barely does the minimum? Is that attitude going to get me the kinds of jobs I want? Also, what kind of reference will I want to get from this boss in the future?

      Good luck in the future job search!

  43. Mr. Tyzik*

    A local arm of a large nonprofit posted two positions for the type of work I do. Two colleagues and I applied for both positions.

    For one position, none of has heard anything. For the second, my colleagues got auto-replies within 24 hours but I heard nothing. I had submitted a cover letter with my resume which my colleagues did not. It’s been a week since we applied.

    Can I read anything into this? My assumption is that the ship has sailed, but I’m not sure. The postings are still open and promoted on professional sites – could it be that I won’t hear till they go through all applications? I’m trying not to go nuts. This is not a dream job, as it’s the same stuff I do now, yet I’m drawn by their mission, involved with them personally, and would love to work directly for them to help with their vision.

    Any advice or thoughts?

    1. Hellohellohello*

      I think a week is so short that it probably means nothing right now—from my nonprofit experience it was usually 2-4 weeks before we reached out to anyone who wasn’t an autoreject.

    2. PollyQ*

      1) I don’t think you can read anything into it; one week is nothing.
      2) Best advice is to assume you won’t get the job & keep searching. If they do get back to you, it’ll be a pleasant surprise.

  44. Ellis*

    How would you frame “I really wanted to work in X, which my employer is growing in, but after two years they’ve not provided me an opportunity” as a reason for leaving in a cover letter?

    I come from (let’s say) Teapot Painting and wanted to get into Teapot Consulting. I signed on to my current company because they were well known for Coffee Consulting and growing their Teapot Consulting arm and really talked up the opportunities for early-career people to pitch in, but after two years I have not gotten an opportunity to work in Teapot Consulting. I’m getting pretty fed up with trying and want to apply to a dedicated Teapot Consultancy, but that specialty can be very competitive.

    The specific company I want to apply for is very big on cover letters and really talks up passion for tea and teapots as the main thing they want to see in those letters. How do I explain my total move (seemingly) out of teapots and my lack of teapot consulting experience in my current role with tact?

    1. Countess of Upstairs Downstairs*

      For a cover letter, I think it’s better if you can focus on why you want to be in teapot consulting, and how your coffee consulting experience and teapot painting will contribute to to the new position you want.

      You would want them to understand your motivations for applying, and get them to see the values you can bring to the company, so they can be interested enough to move you to the interview stage. It’s not necessary to justify, explain, or defend your lack of experience or previous career moves in a cover letter. If you get to the interview stage, they might want to discuss that with you, but including it in the cover letter would be premature.

      1. Fran Fine*

        This. Explain what about that particular company interests you. Why are you passionate about teapot consulting? What transferable skills do you have and what kind of projects would you like to work on with this new employer? Keep it positive and then you won’t have to worry about spinning a negative in your cover letter.

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      In addition to what was already said, consider something about having a background in teapot painting and coffee consulting. And when you had a chance to do a little teapot consulting, you realized that you want a 100% focus on teapot consulting.
      Like the others have said, it’s a positive. You have something you are going towards and looking for, so you are safe with that kind of language.

  45. Oxford_Comma*

    Apologies, this is long. I work in healthcare as a full time clinical staff member, working a set schedule. I’ve been with the company going on 4 years. Our entire department has had a contentious relationship with our manager and director for years, long before I got here. Our director was forced to take us on in addition to his own department, and doesn’t have much contact with us besides signing off on things at the end of the day. I thought I had a reasonably respectful relationship with Director as I’m well known as a hard worker who goes above and beyond for the department. But last week I had to take two sick days: A scheduled one on Monday for a procedure, and an unscheduled one on Tuesday for some unforeseen complications. We’re only asked to provide doctors notes for scheduled sick days so that they are excused and don’t count against us – I provided one for Monday. I saw another doctor on Wednesday to make sure everything was fine, and since I was already feeling better I return to work that day. I provided a second doctors note from my visit on Wednesday for my absence on Tuesday, but it wasn’t really necessary since our policy is to not require doctors notes for single unscheduled sick days. My Director for some reason still got hung up on the fact that I saw the doctor on Wednesday for a sick day the day before. He kept pressing me for more information, but when I pushed back and said it was sensitive health information he backed off a little. However he then implied that my note “wouldn’t cut it with HR”. HR usually doesn’t get involved in these things, so I immediately got concerned and asked him why HR would need to be involved, and if I was in trouble. He again backed off, but was visibly annoyed and left in a hurry. He did this in front of our entire department, which was pretty embarrassing. I’ve had pretty bad chronic health problems this year, but before this I had only called out three days before: one in June and two in February. How should I proceed? Address this with him one on one? Or just don’t get into it with him and quietly file for intermittent FMLA? I’d like to preserve the relationship if possible, but also don’t appreciate being treated like an errant teenager.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Since he backed off it looks like you made your point. Believe it or not you handled the situation quite well.

      You say the director’s relationship with the department is not good to begin with. So rather than framing it as an “errant teenager” which personalizes things, I’d try to move toward framing it as a “crappy, overworked boss” and realize he is just treating you the way he treats everyone else.

      I’d try talking to him one more time. Depending on how that went I might go to HR, just to get a solid feel of where things are at.

      As far as preserving the relationship, I’d let go of that goal as it’s probably not realistic. This is a person who has zero interest in having a good relationship with anyone, figure on not winning here. Keep in mind that he feels dumped on and stretched, he probably does not have brain space to be personable…. especially with his attitude.

    2. Fran Fine*

      Quietly file for FMLA. Yes, he backed off now, but do you really want to go through this every time your chronic illness flares up? Get it on record with HR what your issue is, what kind of accommodations you’ll need, and then if he starts acting up again in the future, direct him straight to HR to only confirm that they are aware of your doctors appointments and you don’t need to do anything further.

  46. Escaped a Work Cult*

    More of a hooray but I’m terrified about networking and I finally managed to send 1 email out to connect with someone new. It worked! Holy crap I did it!

  47. Alex*

    I’m really irritated about something that always happens on my team, and happened again this week. I’ve worked really hard over the past few years to understand and be able to troubleshoot and work in one of our systems for work. This is a really important for how our work has evolved. Mysteriously, no one else on my team, including my boss, has made much of an effort to learn this. They keep asking for “classes” they can take…but there aren’t any classes for this kind of stuff. You just have to sort of teach it to yourself. They will all make a plan for a few weeks to study it but rarely do any follow through.

    Anyway, whenever I’m asked for help, or have given help, my boss and teammates refer to my “magical” abilities to understand this stuff. When my boss requests my help, she will refer to me as “the oracle” or some other mystical being, rather than a hard worker who saw that this was important and made a big effort to learn.

    This language really bothers me because it implies that I have some sort of advantage that my colleagues couldn’t possibly be expected to have. It raises expectations for my work that aren’t commensurate with my pay (I’m not paid more than anyone else in spite of having to do all the troubleshooting and cleanup, on top of the same or larger workload. In fact, I’m paid less.) It’s almost like “Oh, well, this is easy for Alex so we will just let her do it, because we just don’t have the same innate knowledge.”

    Would it be petty for me to bring this up with my boss? I have gently pointed out to her a few times when she said “Oh, you magically fixed that,” and I said, “actually, I worked on it for a few hours and that is how I fixed it.” My colleagues just don’t want to be expected to put in any effort, and I feel like my efforts are invisible because they are all just “magical.” Am I being too sensitive about this?

    1. WellRed*

      Yes, you are being too sensitive. Is there something else going on instead that makes you feel undervalued or unappreciated and that’s why this bothers you?

    2. LimeRoos*

      Oh gosh no, bring it up. This happened with my husband, his ex-manager kept on calling him magic, without understanding what he did, and it hurt his standing with other higher ups because while magic is cool, they had no idea how much work and effort and whatnot hubby put into the process. So yeah, I’d definitely mention it once, and gently remind people that you worked to get this knowledge.

      1. Brownie*

        This. So much this. If it looks like magic to people because they don’t know about the time and effort it takes behind the scenes they start taking the magic for granted. My grandboss has always viewed me as working magic because I support 2x-5x the number of people compared to my coworkers. Earlier this year I had to sit down and tell him how much overtime I spend each week setting up and preparing to make things look like magic because otherwise he was going to add even more people to my support list, specifically the ones who demand fast turnarounds and hand-holding, because in his eyes my magic meant I must be able to take on even more work. Now I’m up for a pay band jump because he recognized how much work I was putting in.

        OP, speak up! I have never seen something like “Oh, well, this is easy for Alex so we will just let her do it, because we just don’t have the same innate knowledge” end well, in fact it usually ends with the person doing it being overwhelmed and burnt out, possibly even leaving for another job. If your boss and coworkers are not taking the gentle hint please stop being gentle and start being more direct. Make your effort known, don’t downplay all the work you put into learning!

        1. Alex*

          I definitely don’t downplay! I’ve tried to advocate for a promotion for myself, citing all the extra work I do because I’m called upon to do it. I’ve tried having it officially added to my job description.

          My boss claims she hears me, but tells me promotions, raises, and changes to job descriptions are impossible. She also tries to tell me to just not do this stuff (but then when things go sideways, she always runs to me for help, as does everyone else, and I can’t really say no about fixing a broken product for our customers). I think the “magic” part bothers me because it implies that my coworkers shouldn’t be expected to do these things, and honestly I think that those expectations should be for everyone if they are using them for me.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Your answer is right here.
            You can say out loud that everyone has the same things expected of them so everyone should be able to do this terrific feats also. Everyone can learn to do this so you don’t have to.

            And you can also say to your boss that she runs to you whenever there is a problem even though in conversation she tells you to say NO. Ask her point blank, “Do you mean that I should say no to you, my boss?”

            I will say this- you can start telling people that you will guide them through the process but they need to do it themselves so they can learn how to do it.

            I hope you find a better job some where else soon.

          2. Juneybug*

            Could your boss be lying about promotions, raises, and changes to job description being impossible? Maybe she rather not do the supposedly hard work so that’s her excuse? Would there be a way to talk to your support staff or HR to see what steps are needed?

          3. Workerbee*

            You CAN say no. After all, your boss has said no to you ever being anything other than you are, right now. Plus has in effect said no to her own edict of telling you to not do the magical stuff! Why is this okay with you?

            In fact, you must say no, for your own sake. You are letting “but it’s for the customers!” override your own well-being. Instead, let your amazingly helpless colleagues do something for a change, and use the time you will have freed up to polish your resume and get out of there.

    3. Reba*

      I think the pay and work distribution are the actual problems here, and that you are getting stuck on the terms of praise — which to be clear, I get that they are annoying! — but it’s sort of a minor part of the situation.

      Do you think you could raise this in a more big-picture way, like:
      “Hey Boss, thanks for the praise that I get for doing things with our system. But, because no one else has put in much effort with it, I feel like issues with the system A) always get pushed onto me, even when my plate is already full. And then B) as I’ve mentioned before, I feel the effort I’m putting in is dismissed when people say I’m magical, as if this work is easy to do. When these issues come up, it usually takes me X hours to solve, which I’m able to do because I’ve developed this expertise myself over Y years. I would like to talk about having this aspect of my responsibilities reflected in my next raise. And/or to take a serious look at my workload and whether this duty can be shared so that this is more sustainable for me.”

    4. Girasol*

      I used to document troubleshooting procedures. It generally needs a flow chart. Is this happening? Yes/no. If no, is that happening? If yes, then do this. I had one so complicated that it ended up five pages long and I didn’t understand the half of it, but I knew that it correctly reflected what I saw our magical troubleshooter do. Our team knew less than I did about the system and they could solve almost all the problems by following it, taking her out of the loop so she could do project work. Can you write such a chart, or team up with someone in documentation who can watch you work and create one from seeing what you do? Then you should be able to get away from being the magical go-to person.

    5. Dancing Otter*

      Late to reply, but I hope you see this.
      Since you said no training exists, why not write your own System XYZ guide? Before putting too much time into it, go to your boss and offer to conduct training. Say there have been repeated requests for recommended classes (including from her, if I read that correctly), and you would be willing to prepare and teach one in-house.
      Yes, it’s extra work NOW, but saves you time in the long run.
      They won’t need to bother you as often if they learn to do (most of) it themselves. Or else, they will see for themselves how difficult it is, and at least respect you more for your demonstrated expertise.

  48. duck*

    This is a bit of a philosophical discussion. Did anyone grow up in a vaguely equality based environment but not really delve into the issue, now older realising just how bad the woman career track is? And they may have gotten trapped on it?

    There was a few articles recently that pointed out fewer men are going to college. A rebuttal argument was written that yeah women go to college but they still earn less. Actually, women frequently end up in jobs that require advanced degrees but pay very little. I see this all the time – why do admin roles, non-profits, communications, publishing, marketing and so on require a graduate degree?

    I’ve always been drawn to woman centric jobs and I wonder if that was my interests or a societal push. I don’t have kids but if I had a daughter I’d be seriously sitting her down and saying – these are the jobs that pay. You can of course pursue your dreams or interests but at least you want do it cluelessly.

    It is really disturbing me how many women are working in professional roles that require only a modest amount of knowledge and you have to have a graduate degree. Who is putting in place these expectations? Are we doing this to ourselves?

    1. Alex*

      I think these are two separate issues. First, roles traditionally held by women are often lower paid regardless of skill or knowledge needed. Is teacher pay commensurate with the work and skill level needed? I don’t think so. And caregiving jobs, though hard work and incredibly valueable, often pay minimum wage.

      I think, though, that the list of fields you put out there as needing a graduate degree need on due to the high interest in those kinds of jobs. I work in one of those fields, and most of the jobs at my workplace do not REQUIRE a graduate degree…but most people have one anyway, because those jobs are so highly sought after that almost everyone is overqualified, and if you don’t have a graduate degree, there are going to be a large number of candidates who do have one and will get picked over you. So, it’s not really about those fields “needing” the degree, but rather, too many people have these kinds of degrees.

      1. duck*

        You mention teachers. There’s a good example. You have it listed I think as a traditionally women’s job. Men used to teach in large numbers. They left when the pay stagnated.

        I just wonder if maybe women should stop waiting for the world to change for them and be more proactive. Stop doing jobs that don’t pay. I know someone has to do that but if women went on strike from doing low paid jobs then things might change. We’re like lemmings off a cliff containing to go into professionals like teaching when the pay is in the toilet. It’s not enough to be paid in loving what you do. Men might be onto something in their continual push for good paying jobs.

        1. Sutemi*

          I think you have cause and effect reversed here. When women entered the field, the pay dropped. Its been documented in many fields (teaching, computing, secretarial, etc)

        2. Chaordic One*

          I’ve read that back in the late 1800s and early 1900s it was supposedly fairly common for secretarial and clerical support jobs to be held by men, but that when women were recruited to fill those positions at lower levels of pay, it drove down wages for men and they left the field.

      2. Spearmint*

        This. I don’t want to downplay societal sexism’s role in this, but a large part of this phenomenon is simple supply and demand. For whatever reason, the demand for many male-coded professions that require a 4-year degree outstrips supply, whereas the reverse is true for many female-coded professions. This isn’t always true, though. Video game development is a heavily male-coded field that also has lower pay and poor working conditions because so many people want to work in it, for example.

        1. duck*

          I don’t think it is a coincidence that male dominated jobs are higher paying. Men are avoiding college at a higher rate, yet still managing to be paid more than women. Women continue to go to college year after year to obtain advanced degrees in low paying fields. We should ask why this is and what we can do about it.

            1. AcademiaNut*

              You can see this in reverse as well – as a field gets more prestigious and lucrative, the percentage of women in it drops. The fraction of women in computer science, for example, actually decreased as it became a better paying, high status job.

      3. Fran Fine*

        I think, though, that the list of fields you put out there as needing a graduate degree need on due to the high interest in those kinds of jobs. I work in one of those fields, and most of the jobs at my workplace do not REQUIRE a graduate degree…but most people have one anyway, because those jobs are so highly sought after that almost everyone is overqualified, and if you don’t have a graduate degree, there are going to be a large number of candidates who do have one and will get picked over you.

        Is this communications by chance? Because I’m a comms manager, and none of the roles I’ve seen advertised or applied for have required an advanced degree (though a lot of the ads said a masters would be a “nice to have”) – but many of my colleagues have a masters anyway. I think your analysis for why that is is spot on accurate. The only reason I finally managed to snag a comms position is because I was an internal hire who did a job that was tangentially related. I have no advanced degree and don’t intend to get one, so it’ll be interesting to see what my job prospects will look like when it’s time for me to move on.

    2. Anonymous Koala*

      I think it’s mostly due to the reality that the workforce is still not set up to function well for dual-income families, and women often bear the burden of that gap. I knew a lot of women in grad school who decided to pursue higher ed because they were told they needed a degree for the career they wanted. Fast forward a few years, and many of these same smart, well-educated women are burnt out trying to care for their children, manage pregnancies, run their homes, and have demanding careers. So they compromise and scale back, and a lot of the time their career is the thing that takes the hit. So now you have a bunch of well-educated women looking for lower stress positions with flexible hours, so you end up with over-qualified underemployed women. You could argue that in a dual income household, men and women should equally share childcare and household duties, but that’s just not the reality for a lot of families – especially at the pregnancy/baby stage, family life takes a lot out of the parent who carries the child and most employers aren’t very accommodating of those needs.

    3. Reba*

      You might be interested in the work of Tressie McMillan Cotton on credential seeking — her book, “Lower Ed” about for-profit colleges as well as her blog and various things around the internet. There is also a classic sociology book, “The Credential Society” by Randall Collins, that argues that higher education has not reduced inequality but instead created more rungs on the ladder of degree inflation.

      1. duck*

        I see it as a tax on entering and being part of the middle class or upper middle class.

        In my country to enter into elite circles you basically have to pay a tax in the form of private school, elite college, right expensive hobbies like skiing, right outfits and so on, travel etc. Then to stay in the upper class you must then pay out the same for your kids. You can’t just get a high paying job out of nowhere and keep all the money and live frugally, you will have to give a portion of it over to the norms or you will be excluded from said high paying job.

    4. Girasol*

      I just read an article that pointed out that there are good jobs for men in trades that don’t need a college degree. There are few such jobs for women, it said, so if they want to be paid well, they must to go to college. And that results in college enrollment skewed to women. I read this without noticing at first several logic gaps. Women can be skilled plumbers and electricians too, of course. And if they do go to college they can end up being well educated but badly underpaid teachers, etc. I think the biases and illogic about the career world do need to be spelled out for girls in detail. When I was a senior in high school an advisor suggested that with my grades I might consider going into engineering. I thought that was pretty funny because anyone knows that girls don’t drive locomotives. The cluelessness of all kids, but most especially girls, with respect to careers should not be underestimated.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      I think people try to help their kids in the ways they know how. For his era my father was radical. He informed me that I would be taking 4 years of science and 4 years of math in high school. (yikes!!!) I had an uncle who said education was wasted on women because women were not teachable- so you can see how “out there” my father was for his time.
      He used to tell me I could be anything I wanted to be. BUT that was all he said- that one sentence. It did not give me a lot to go on. People who don’t know, can’t teach their kids.

      Once in school and dealing with other places for career counseling- I got the standard, “You are a woman so you can be a teacher, a nurse or a secretary.” I listened to this crap all the way up to the 1990s. I just took it as, “I have no clue how to help you!” I did not waste time with people who said this stuff.

      I do think that schools could do more to help women become more aware of what is out there and how to find something that would mesh with their skills and abilities. Personality tests are NOT the answer. This takes the hard work of one-on-one conversations.

      My own conclusion is that it pours in from every angle. The problem is staggering. I worked in a nursery while I was in my 20s. A woman customer came in and told me- that it was biologically impossible for me to understand plants. This is because as a woman part of my brain is missing. It was a male dominated field and the customers both men and women would frequently ask to speak to a man. Most days there was a 45 minute wait to see a man. After a bit we stopped telling them what the wait time was and just said, “Oh okay.” After waiting 45 minutes my male colleague would finally get to the customer and then say, “Oh NSNR knows more about that than I do.” The sexism among the customers was rampant and there was no good way to fight it.

      More recently, I worked in a low level management position in a grocery store. The story that went around there was if you are a woman you are not safe with your cohorts on nightshift. The standard advice was to keep your cell on you at all times. This rumor was shared by men and women. (wtf)

  49. Sara without an H*

    This is a thought exercise: What would you do if you found evidence on social media that an employee of yours had behaved badly, although not criminally, in public?

    A friend of mine and her husband attended the opening home football game of our state university. The stadium is open-air, but the crowds were pretty dense, and my friends decided to wear masks, even though they are both fully vaccinated. Some woman came up and harassed them verbally for wearing masks, saying they looked “weird.” She did it more than once and, while not threatening, she was pretty obnoxious, and my friends finally went and got the security guards to intervene.

    I found out about all this via my friend’s post on social media, which included a good, clear photo of the woman who harassed them. Several people around my friends also, apparently, took photos or videos of the incident.

    Now just suppose I saw my friend’s photos, or any of those taken by bystanders, and recognized the culprit as someone who reported to me. What would be an appropriate response? This isn’t in the same category as finding out via social media that you knew one of the rioters at the Capitol back in January. On the other hand, it would concern me, and I’d have doubts about the employee’s maturity and judgement.

    Any thoughts?

    1. Rusty Shackelford*

      Harassing people for wearing masks is a pretty big deal. This isn’t just refusing to wear a mask herself, or griping about it on social media. She went out and verbally assaulted people. What would you do if your hypothetical employee had harassed people for any other reason? What’s the difference between harassing mask-wearers and harassing people entering Planned Parenthood?

      1. Picard*

        As repugnant as I think either types of harassment are, I don’t think you should do anything. This is activity done off from work. She was not arrested. She was not wearing your company tshirt (I assume) I guess it also depends on your company and their mission statement. If you guys were a health company, it might fall a little worse to have someone shouting anti-vax sentiments ya know?

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          Okay, but she’s not just out there on her own shouting anti-vax sentiments. She’s harassing someone in public, to the point that security guards were called to step in.

          1. T. Boone Pickens*

            I really don’t see how this is any different than if someone was drunk at a sporting event and got caught being escorted out by security. It’s not a great look by any means and probably merits a conversation but I can’t see any way this is a fireable offense unless the company handbook specifies something like this. It would definitely make me question the employee’s judgment though and make me rethink promotional opportunities and other chances for this person to get ahead at work.

            1. pancakes*