open thread – November 12-13, 2021

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

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

{ 1,230 comments… read them below }

  1. Bob The Skull*

    A question about my insurance through my employer. I signed up to get full Insurance coverage including dental with my company when I was hired in May of this year (I’m in the USA). I got my cards and payments were deducted from my paycheck. I have a dentist appointment next week so a few days ago, I make sure my card is tucked in my wallet. I realize that I don’t have a card and contact the insurance company; they tell me I only have a vision plan with them, not a dental plan. I go to my HR and explain they say I’m not covered for dental despite the payments deducted from my paycheck. HR confirms that I completed the correct paperwork with them and I should have dental insurance. They’re following up with the insurance company to figure out what went wrong.

    So that’s still being sorted out and I don’t know where the fault lies, but now I want to know because I’ve been paying for coverage that I haven’t had for six months, would I have any standing to ask to be reimbursed for the payments these past months? Whether from the insurance company or my employer, I guess that would depend on who confessed to the error. Obviously I haven’t tried to use the insurance otherwise I would have noticed it sooner, but what if I’d had a dental emergency and discovered I didn’t have coverage. I was paying for a safety net that wasn’t there but a coworker who had been here for years says I’ll never get reimbursed from HR or the insurance company. Is this the kind of thing I should ask either my employer or the insurance place to reimburse me for the months I was charged for but didn’t have coverage? Or should I just be glad that I didn’t have to find this out from an emergency and be forced to pay out of my own pocket?

    1. BlueBelle*

      Likely it will be retroactive. They can show you elected for it and have been paying for it. You might have to pay out of pocket if it isn’t sorted by the time of your appointment, but it should be reimbursed. Good luck!

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        Exactly. I don’t think the solution is going to be “you didn’t have insurance after all so you’ll get a refund,” it will be “you had insurance after all so any expenses you incurred will be covered.”

      1. Formerly in HR*

        No need to go nuclear and involve the insurance commissioner , who might not even have jurisdiction if the plan is self -insured. There are provisions in the insurance contract which allow for “clerical errors” like this to be corrected retroactively. The employee’s coverage will be dated to begin retroactively when it should have and, if not already paid, the employer will pay the carrier the premium back to that date. He may not have used the coverage, he elected it to begin on that date as did many other employees; had he tried to use it earlier, the mistake would have been found sooner.

    2. Bean Counter Extraordinaire*

      I’ve never had dental or vision through the same company as regular medical insurance – for example, I have Cigna medical insurance (with a card), Delta Dental insurance (no card), and VSP Vision insurance (no card). Do you have any of your enrollment paperwork listing who the dental and vision providers are?

    3. Crazy Plant Lady*

      Once everything gets sorted out with your employer and the insurance company, they will probably retroactively update the start date of the policy to be when it should have started (e.g., May) rather than reimbursing you for those months.

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

      I believe what they would do, if you had had an emergency during that time, they would make the coverage retroactive to the date you started paying and cover any expenses including reimbursing you for out of pocket payments you made…theoretically. That’s probably what will end up happening; neither will admit fault, and they’ll simply mark you down as covered since X date.

    5. Hlao-roo*

      I don’t know for sure, but my guess is you should ask whichever party was at fault for reimbursement. If the insurance company was taking your money but not providing coverage, they should reimburse you. Likewise if your company was deducting the money but not passing it along to the insurance company somehow.

      One thing to ask yourself is how much effort are you willing to put in to the fight to get your money back? (I’m assuming it will take a significant amount of effort to see any money.) Might be worth the fight, might not be.

      And a parting thought: you can be glad you discovered this oversight in a non-emergency situation AND seek reimbursement!

      1. Formerly in HR*

        There is nothing to be reimbursed to the employee. The employer and the company providing the coverage are the parties to the contract, not the employee, and that contract has a provision which allows clerical errors like this to be rectified. The employee is being made whole because their claim, whether it had been incurred on the first day of the plan year, or the last day, will be paid

      2. CalypsoSummer*

        I used to work at a health care company. There would be no reimbursement for the months that the member wasn’t properly enrolled — his coverage would just be backdated to when it *should* have started.

    6. Cold Fish*

      Don’t hold your breath for reimbursement or coverage until next year.

      I worked with a gal who knew her son was going to need braces. She talked to the insurance agent and got supplemental insurance that was to cover the cost. Finally, three years later, goes to get braces for her son. Not covered. The insurance agent signed her up for the wrong coverage. Totally the agents error. Coworker was basically told “oops”. That was it. She was supposed to know that the agent signed her up for the wrong coverage. She would have been better off just putting that money in a sock in a drawer.

      Another coworker told me the story of how she paid for insurance for two years then found out she wasn’t covered. Upon investigation, the agent was a drug addict and was stealing payments to pay for drugs. Took him to court and lost. The insurance company (he was an AUTHORIZED agent for) wasn’t responsible it was she who should have known he was stealing the payments.

      1. Wow*

        I served as a civil jury foreman for a similar type of case – house burned down, agent had recently changed the policy on the house & its contents, homeowners had not looked over the actual policy and just assumed their coverage was the same. So I can see why the first person lost their argument. It’s on you to know what your policy covers.

        We found for the plaintiffs mostly because the local agent had done some other shady crap including swapping agents on and off and not providing them adequate training on their own organizational policies about notifications of policy change, so they couldn’t document anything saying they had permission to change the policy or had formally notified the owners that there was any need to review the change – but again, this was a civil case, and it took them 7 years and a lot of money to finally get a jury verdict (the house & its contents were worth $4.5M though, and their revised policy was capping them at $1M, so….. you can see why they fought it). I cannot believe your second story person lost their case, unless it only went to small claims and was only reviewed by a judge. I would have expected a jury to side with her.

        1. Cold Fish*

          Insurance is so convoluted and complex I don’t think an “average” person can really tell if they are getting supplemental insurance to cover orthodontia or supplemental insurance to cover dental work (which is supposedly what she ended up with) when the agent is telling you that yes orthodontia is what you are getting. The agent admitted she was supposed to do the orthodontia supplemental. As far as I’m concerned that stupid duck committed out and out theft by taking her money for three years and then denying her claim when the waiting term was over.

          As for the second case, the judge made the deciding determination not a jury. I don’t remember what coworker told me was his reasoning but drilled down to the same “she should have known” argument you are using for Coworker #1.

    7. Falling Diphthong*

      I have successfully reinstated coverage (for health under COBRA) and not paid for the missing months, but in this case I immediately caught the error (they stopped sending me bills) and had been trying to correct it. And I specifically argued that I was actively putting off optional health care for me and my child because “This will be sorted in another week” that took like 2-3 months. If I had only discovered the lack of coverage 3 months out when I tried to use the insurance, I don’t think the argument would work.

      1. Bob The Skull*

        And that’s where I’m at now with this. I had to cancel the appointment that I initially looked for the card for when I realized it was a problem, and now I’m on the verge of needing to cancel a second appointment. these were back to back appointments to treat gingivitis. So now I am getting a delay in treatment, and I’m wondering if that will assist with any kind of reimbursement.

        1. HoundMom*

          This is group insurance through your employer. It is highly unlikely that you will receive any kind of reimbursement for the error. I am surprised the broker was not able to get someone from the carrier to reach out to the dentist and let them know what happened and arrange for the care and payment. So, you would not have had to cancel the appointments.

          1. CalypsoSummer*

            The insurance company can’t make any promises about coverage and payment until the member (Bob) is properly enrolled, and HR will probably need to send them fresh copies of his info. Regardless of where the process broke down, the important step is to get him into their system; their investigation of what went wrong is secondary. (It’s important for them to find out what went wrong, but it shouldn’t be their primary focus at the moment.)

            Once he’s properly listed as having dental coverage, THEN the insurance company can verify to the dentist that yes, he has coverage via such-a-plan, and he can go in for treatment.

            1. HoundMom*

              Actually, I am a broker and this happens all the time for both new hires and errors like this. If HR informs the carrier that he should have been enrolled, the carrier will make the call to provider as a courtesy. If someone is enrolled on time, it takes 24 to 48 hours for it to be live in the carrier system. In this case, they are trying to retro back more than 60 days, it may a bit longer, but it should not take more than a week.

    8. Irish girl*

      Hopefully your company squares it away otherwise they will have a claim under their Employee Benefits Liability Coverage if they so purchased.

    9. Mimi23*

      OP, I can tell you that in my 30+ year HR career, this has happened a handful of times and it’s always, always been a simple fix. I suppose YMMV, but either you’ll get coverage retroactively or you’ll get your premiums reimbursed. Most likely, the coverage will be activated.

  2. Ms. Hagrid Frizzle*

    Seeking advice on being “out” as a disabled person at work, seeking ADA accommodations, and avoiding discrimination. . .
    Based on instruction from our HR director, I met privately with my boss to discuss ADA accommodations and had a letter from my doctor listing specific accommodations and their specific benefits. Boss refused to look at letter due to his concerns about privacy. HR is only supposed to be involved if Boss and I need mediation. Boss reluctantly agreed with my requests, but asked how the busy season will work. I suggested we wait to discuss summer after we (doctor, Boss, and I) assess the impact of these accommodations.

    Context: A third of our team have gotten ADA/FMLA accommodations this year. I’m the youngest person with my title and am the only one with a permanent condition. But I should be able to get over my problems ASAP since I’m not even thirty years old and they are an inconvenience to my employer(/sarcasm). (Boss is in denial about permanency of my health condition.)

    I would like an adjusted travel schedule for the next busy season. I was 1 of 2 staff members who traveled for 5 straight weeks earlier this year. The rest of the department traveled for 2 weeks or didn’t travel at all. We are all required to “provide support to X programs”, half of which are travel-free. Pre-Covid, we hired external contractors for the travel. I cannot repeat this year’s schedule, which caused significant deterioration of my health. I would like to travel for just the first and last weeks of next busy season, providing support from the office the rest of the time. Would our staffing situation make this an “unreasonable” accommodation?
    Boss also mentioned re-evaluating my job description with HR (it sounded really ominous). I’m very concerned about being pushed out or having my (already limited) growth opportunities reduced by management because of my disability. Relevant: higher job titles come with a big reduction in the tasks that I need accommodations for.

    I would appreciate guidance for future conversations about my ADA-accommodations, including specific language. Any advice on how to make sure I protect myself from illegal discrimination? Unfortunately, now is not the time to find a new job. There’s a good chance I will need to use FMLA before 2023.

    1. Rusty Shackelford*

      I was 1 of 2 staff members who traveled for 5 straight weeks earlier this year. The rest of the department traveled for 2 weeks or didn’t travel at all.

      Did the people who didn’t travel have the same job title as you? Or are their jobs otherwise considered equivalent to yours? If so, that could be a place to start – you would like to travel the minimum number of weeks that a Llama Groomer travels in your department.

      1. Ms. Hagrid Frizzle*

        Yes, they all have equivalent job titles but have been in the role for longer (when they were not required to travel because we hired outside contractors for that aspect of the work) and were very resistant to increasing their travel from zero.

        I really like the suggested language of “minimum travel for the role” – absolutely writing that down to use in that meeting. Especially because it will prompt Boss to look at big-picture of operational needs, not just how my needs are problematic.

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          I think “I don’t want to travel MORE than everyone else” is a pretty strong position to take!

    2. SlimeKnight*

      Your HR person is really passing the buck here. As a manager I have familiarity with ADA laws, but our HR Director is who actually has the knowledge to navigate those situations (both for the employee’s benefits and so we don’t get sued). Your HR needs to be more involved, especially if your boss isn’t taking the interactive conversation part of the ADA seriously.

      In terms of what is a reasonable accommodation: your age should not factor into this at all. What matters is the paperwork your doctor has submitted, your job description, and what people with substantially similar jobs to yours do. So if you have coworkers in the same position travelling 2-weeks versus your 5, then it sounds like travelling five weeks is not “essential” to the job. Especially if in the past they had other staff doing these tasks.

      1. Ms. Hagrid Frizzle*

        A complicating factor is that our HR director recently left the organization (on good terms) and they were actually our only staff member who handled personnel concerns. My organization interfered extensively with their work – including publishing a handbook with policies that go against federal law because they refused to consult with lawyers or HR to make those policies.

        Thank you for more clarification on what makes an accommodation reasonable/unreasonable. I hope we are able to hire in a competent, strong-willed HR director before I have to negotiate the schedule for the busy season so that I can get them involved.

        1. On the other hand*

          Honestly, though, based on what you’ve just described with the handbook and the rest of the history: one HR director cannot rewrite a dysfunctional culture all on their own. And it sounds like the organization might be very keen to hire someone who *wouldn’t* keep “getting in their way”….. If you have to depend on HR to be an umbrella protecting you, that isn’t a really secure place to be in, and it sounds like you might benefit from looking for other job opportunities just in case.

    3. Constance Lloyd*

      If you need legal advice and cannot afford it, I recommend reaching out to your state’s protection and advocacy agency. Each state has one, and they provide free legal advice (and sometimes representation, if needed) for folks with disabilities facing discrimination. They can also provide self advocacy resources, which can be helpful in initial conversations about ADA accommodations. These resources may even be posted on your P&A’s website, if you’d rather read up on your own time before speaking with someone. And of course, document document document. Save any and all written communication, summarize verbal communication by email, and send everything to a personal address.

      1. Ms. Hagrid Frizzle*

        Thank you. I didn’t think to look for a state advocacy agency, even though I myself am a state employee (head-desk).

        I’m making lots of internal notes, but Boss has a history of retaliation/blowing up when anything verbally discused is documented back to him via email. Do you think it would be okay to record our meetings on my phone? FWIW, I live in a single-party consent state and would make sure not to discuss any confidential client information while recording.

        1. Constance Lloyd*

          Fun fact! Each state has a P&A (laws differ by state, etc), but these advocacy groups are federally funded and explicitly independent from state control because part of their function is to investigate state-run facilities (such as prisons and schools) and bring legal action against the state if the state is in violation of disability rights laws. I’m also a state employee and one of my coworkers used our P&A to sue over ADA accommodations recently! So I hope you don’t need them for legal action, but they truly have a wealth of resources available if you want to go into these discussions armed with specific legal jargon rather than a general sense of right & wrong. Best of luck!

        2. Constance Lloyd*

          Regarding recordings, if it’s legal and your manager tends to blow up… in your shoes I would do it, and not bring it up unless absolutely necessary for legal action. But I am neither an attorney nor a manager so take that as you will.

        3. DrRat*

          I would be very wary of making phone recordings. My company has an explicit policy that you cannot make audio, video, or photo recordings of anyone at work without their explicit permission. Violating this policy is reason for instant dismissal. This means that if you’re taking a group photo at work just for fun you have to ask every person there for permission to be in the photo, even if they are all grouped around the birthday cake and looking into the camera. Watch your back on this!

    4. Annony*

      I think it is time to bring HR back in. Let them know that you are concerned by your boss’s comment about reevaluating your job description and be clear that what you are asking for is to do what many others with your job description do (less travel).

      1. Ms. Hagrid Frizzle*

        I’m definitely hoping to bring our HR person into the busy season conversation once we hire a new HR person. It’s helpful to hear that the commentariat think that’s a reasonable next step and not an over-reaction – which is what I was worried about considering my initial conversation with old HR person.

    5. Hellyeah227*

      I have a psychiatric condition that requires ADA accommodation. Typically, you would apply through HR’s process (our HR outsourced all of the paperwork to a third party contractor.) As part of the process, your doctor would fill out a form about your diagnosis and the accommodations you require and why. At my company, the third party contractor reviewed the submitted paperwork and would send a letter to your boss about the accommodations that you were granted. (No diagnosis information was included.) In my case, I was granted extra time off to go to doctor’s appointments and for mental health time, so I would report to HR if I took a day off as part of this accommodation. If your boss won’t let you use the accommodation, you would report that to HR too.

      I did not disclose my condition to my boss and coworkers. I would just say “I have a chronic condition that is covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act. It’s not life-threatening but requires intense management and treatment. In the past, this has included hospitalizations.” There’s a broad list of things covered by the ADA, so they won’t have any idea what your condition is.

      To use your accommodation, you would just tell your boss “As we discussed, HR has granted me X accommodation under the ADA. I will need XXX and YYY on these dates as part of this accommodation. “

      1. Ms. Hagrid Frizzle*

        I envy the clear, step-by-step process at your employer. I hope eventually we might get a bit closer to that sort of system.

        Unfortunately, a portion of my condition (the tip of the iceberg) is pretty visible and people keep assuming it is a short-term “sports” type of injury and quizzing me on the “end date” accordingly.

        I also have an ADA-protected psychiatric condition, but I have not pushed for my desired accommodations for *that* because I am managing to perform at an acceptable level for now. One of the accommodations my boss agreed to for my physical disability should also help me manage the psychiatric condition.

    6. LNLN*

      You can get advice and accommodation request templates on the Job Accommodation Network website. They help both employees and employers. There is a lot of information on their website, but you can get advice about your own situation as well. Good luck!

  3. Typing All The Time*

    Hi all. How do you handle coworkers who try to ruin your reputation when management seems to not want to be bothered with stopping the problem?

    1. Violetta*

      You’ll need to be more specific… What are they doing, and why? What did you ask of management and why did they choose not to intervene?

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

        Unfortunately THIS. If you have a good HR, and there are policies to back you up, you might be able to ask for mediation for bullying, but it likely won’t actually make it all better.

      2. AGD*

        Yeah, when this happened and my boss shrugged because apparently That’s Just Who Colleague Is or something like that, I decided it was time to jump ship.

      3. PT*

        Yes, because you can’t undo the damage to your reputation, even if that colleague is 100% wrong and you are 100% right.

    2. BlueBelle*

      Without knowing specifics, my biggest advice is document, document, document, document. If you hear them directly say something tell them to stop, then send an email saying “To follow up on our conversation regarding X today, I want to make sure we are both on the same page that xyz did/did not happen.” CC boss. If you hear through the rumor mill that they are talking about you, send an email to them (cc: boss) “It was brought to my attention that there has been a misunderstanding regarding X. I want to make sure that you are aware that X was completed (or whatever) on time. In the future, if you are not sure of the reason/outcome please make sure to speak to me.”
      Good luck!

      1. 30 Years in the Biz*

        Great advice! It worked for me recently. When this was happening to me and the bully went to my grandboss to complain about me, I had emails, Microsoft Team chats, and notes from interactions that supported that this person was badmouthing me and misrepresenting my demeanor and professionalism. There were also other people around who also worked with me and could support my good reputation.

    3. Generic Name*

      You take advantage of the employee side labor market and sell your services to a company where you won’t have to put up with crap like this.

    4. Daydreamer*

      Without more specifics, my answer is, in first instance, document everything. BlueBelle gives some great advice on this. CYA with a paper trail as much as you can.

      But, sadly, if your boss has shown signs of not being interested in dealing with this, it’s time to find a new job. In my experience, putting an end to behaviour like this really requires somebody higher up to put their foot down and say they won’t tolerate it. Otherwise, the saboteur tends to see they can get away with it and carries on. Sorry!

    5. tangerineRose*

      If you’re there when it happens, can you call it out? Even better if you’re on an e-mail thread and can send everyone proof .

    6. Seeking Second Childhood*

      One late thing to add in case you mean someone is talking about your *personal* reputation. All of these would be an HR matter: Your religion. Your sex life. Your choice to get married (or not), to have children (or not), to make friends of a different race/religion/sexuality. Your choice to break ties with an abusive family member.

  4. Goose*

    I had a great Zoom screen this week and already have a follow up interview scheduled. Yay! My first interviewer mentioned that she doesn’t care, but the next interviewer prefers a more formal look. I was wearing a blouse and cardigan–I’ll go with blouse and blazer next time, but are there other ways to make me look more polished/professional over Zoom? I stopped wearing makeup, and I’m afraid that might be a contributing factor.

    1. ThatGirl*

      There’s a “touch up” filter on Zoom that helps smooth out your appearance a bit, especially if you have so-so lighting. Good lighting in general can help, too. Also, if you’re anti-makeup but OK with a little touch-up, maybe some primer or tinted moisturizer, just to give your face a small boost. (I am not saying you need this, just that it might help you look more “polished” according to outdated standards.)

      Otherwise… maybe an accessory or two? (Earrings? Scarf? Necklace?) Make sure your hair is done?

    2. Ms. Hagrid Frizzle*

      You can check your lighting in advance – try to use lamps or desk lamps in front of you/slightly above you to give you more even/flattering lighting. For looking “formal” I like some classic jewelry – pearls, gold or silver metals, and/or simple shapes.

    3. Crazy Plant Lady*

      On Zoom/other video platforms, I would say having a tidy, uncluttered background (or using a virtual background/blur effect if that’s not possible) and good lighting (light source should be in front of your face ideally, not behind you) can really help.

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

      Good lighting, make sure your hair is “done”, make sure the angle of your camera is straight-on your face and not above or below (no one wants an up-the-nose view). You might need to prop a laptop up on books, or on a shelf while you stand.

    5. MoreFriesPlz*

      I think hair is a big deal for video – make sure it’s neatly styled. I feel like your background is now part of your appearance (background is the new pants?) so make sure that’s as neat and undistracting as possible. I would disagree with needed to accessorize. Keep necklaces and earrings small and subtle: small studs and pendants are fine (but not necessary). Scarfs are more a fun pop of color and I defiantly wouldn’t add one if you’re trying to look more formal.

      If you have a collard shirt that might read more formal on video than some blouses. It all kind of depends what the blouse is like.

      1. Goose*

        The blouse I was wearing had a collar! (A peter pan collar, but still) That’s why I’m super conscious about this next interview

        1. Loulou*

          A Peter pan collar definitely reads a little more casual to me than other collars, so I bet switching that + adding a blazer will make a big difference!

        2. Generic Name*

          As much as I hate to say it, but Peter Pan collars can read as “child-like”. If they want formal, wear a crisp white shirt with a sharp collar, blazer, and pearls. As I type this, I am thanking my lucky stars that folks with my job title are seen as a bit “weird” and dress casually. :)

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

        I agree with you on accessories, especially if they make even the slightest noise. In my experience, microphones tend to pick up the slightest thing and amplify it on the other end — so no clanky-clinky jewelry of any kind, and don’t tap on the keyboard or shuffle papers. I’ve been in so many Zoom/Teams calls where one person thinks they are quietly doing something/eating without going on mute, and all the rest of us hear is crinkle crinkle crinkle crunch crunch crunch.

    6. Observer*

      Makeup tends to be a big one. But if you don’t generally don’t do makeup, now is not the time to start.

      The things you can do are think about your hair and accessories. There are often ways you can tweak that to look more “formal”.

      1. allathian*

        Even my husband has taken to wearing tinted moisturizer, because he thinks he looks too red in the face otherwise, when he’s on video calls with external contacts. YMMV

      2. wittyrepartee*

        A little can go a long way. I don’t wear much makeup, but just putting on a bit of lip tint and brown eyeliner can do a lot (especially if you’re well lit).

    7. Notfunny.*

      Make sure you have neat looking hair and nails, maybe wear a little bit of makeup if you can muster the energy to do that, or at least appear the most groomed version of yourself? Lint brush, make sure you have no loose threads, etc.

    8. DrRat*

      I bought a cheap phone $20 tripod with a selfie ring light on it months ago and it REALLY makes a difference in how nice I look on Zoom.

    9. MissCoco*

      I love pearls for dressing up an outfit super easily, and a shorter string makes it unlikely that you’ll have issues with jingling or noise.
      I also don’t wear makeup, and having a bright light in front of me is critical to looking good on video
      I also put a lot of extra product on my hair to prevent frizz, which seems to stand out a lot, especially if you’re backlit

    10. Onthetrain*

      I don’t wear makeup usually; my skin isn’t great and wearing foundation makes it worse, but I do wear makeup for zoom calls, especially interviews. Just light foundation, powder, mascara and a little eyeliner. Otherwise the camera seems to pick up even the smallest blemish, and highlights the (natural) dark circles under my eyes, and I look way worse on screen than I do in person.
      If you can bear to, I’d suggest a little makeup for the duration of the call, and then you can scrub it off straight after!

      1. Product Person*

        I have a colleague who in internal calls uses no makeup. In a client call this eeek, the only thing she added was eyeliner, and wow! For some reason it made she look so much more “put together”. I don’t know how to describe the change, maybe it gave her face some more definition around the eyes that made her look like a serious, well-prepared professional even though she was still using a regular t-shirt like in routine calls.

        Something to keep in mind, sometimes a small change can make a big difference (especially if like my colleague you tend to look too young without makeup). I’d test screatinf a video call with just me in it, to check my appearance, and if you feel your face is too washed out, maybe try adding some tinted lip balm if you don’t have or want to use eyeliner.

  5. No Tribble At All*

    I gave notice this week!! Woo hoo!! When I told my boss I was resigning, he said “mmmkay” with the sort of disinterest you’d say when someone’s telling your their lunch plans. I’ve only been here 8 months, but jeeze, man, couldn’t you fake it a little bit?

    What bad reactions have you gotten when giving notice?

    1. Alice*

      My last manager, when I asked him if he had a moment, asked me in a joking way if I was giving notice. I said yes and he was shocked, even though I had already indicated multiple times that I was feeling unsafe working in the office with many unmasked coworkers (this was during peak pandemic) and I didn’t want to go through the internal transfer he was pushing for. It wasn’t terribly bad but it was a surreal situation.

      1. Be kind, rewind*

        Hahahaha same thing happened to me when I left my last job.
        Me: Can I talk to you in your office?
        Boss: What are you, giving your notice? /s
        Me: *awkward silence*

      2. Blomma*

        When I gave notice at my toxic job that’s basically what happened haha. I asked my manager and my supervisor for a quick meeting and as soon as we all sat down my supervisor asked something along the lines ‘what did you want to talk to us about? You’re not giving notice are you?’ And I said “well…” :D

    2. Charlotte Lucas*

      When I cc’d my grand-boss on my official email stating my end date for oldjob (standard in my office), my phone rang once. Caller ID showed her number, but I didn’t pick up & she didn’t try to contact me again. (We worked in different locations, so no chance encounters.)

      To this day, I wonder what she planned to say to me. But I never cared enough to try really hard to find out.

    3. I raddish the idea of salad*

      “YOU SAID YOU WERE GOING TO RETIRE HERE!” I was a military spouse and Reservist. The organization didn’t want to hire me if I was going to move. When I said we were going to retire there, they hired me, but we changed our mind. When I gave my notice, they were blue hot. Didn’t speak to me for the two months it took them to find my replacement.

      Another – well I burned a bridge with a blowtorch and they didn’t like that ‘notice’ either

      1. Database Developer Dude*

        Burned a bridge with a blowtorch? Oh please spill the tea! I’ll give you an entire box of Thin Mints Girl Scout cookies if you do.

    4. Lady Ann*

      I worked for a place for 4 years and on my last day the owner/manager didn’t say goodbye or even acknowledge that I was leaving or that it was my last day.

      I later heard that they were mad because they thought it would take me longer to find a job after getting my degree (it was 2008 after all) and they thought they’d have more time before I left.

      1. I raddish the idea of salad*

        After I gave notice at a non-profit, my supervisor and ED never talked to me afterwards. They weren’t present on my last day either. I found something in the handbook about last day paperwork and clipped my name tag to it and left it on the ED’s desk. My co-workers were there and they said good-bye. It was a terrible and unsecured departure; I could have left with all the socials of clients, computers and passwords. That’s how inept the leadership was.

    5. HerdingCatsWouldBeEasier*

      At ToxicOldCompany, ExcellentBoss left due to ongoing awfulness from SkipLevelBoss. Despite not knowing or caring what my department did, SkipLevelBoss decided we should all report to him so we could use the money to give raises to his cronies. So, when I found AwesomeCurrentJob I had to give my notice to FormerSkipLevelBoss. His reaction to the news was to tell me he wasn’t surprised, as I was too good at my job to be working for ToxicOldCompany and he figured eventually I’d figure out how much they’d been underpaying me.

      ToxicOldCompany went bankrupt a few years ago, and there are multiple lawsuits regarding the mismanagement of the place. FormerSkipLevelBoss is listed as a defendant.

    6. cubone*

      Also giving notice next week after 8 months! Curious how you approached it – did you have an out (eg new role) or “just not a good fit” or what? They have their heads in the sand to the challenges I’ve been upfront about so I know no matter what there will be some version of shocked/confused/judgemental and I’m trying to decide how “honest” to be (not “burn bridges honest”, but just clear that I’m leaving because of the fit issues/workload or some easy out like I’m going back to school – I will be taking a course but that’s hardly the main reason, lol)

      1. shep*

        Not the OP here, but I ended up giving notice at two months at a workplace. It was a wildly bad fit for me and I went home crying more days that not. I didn’t have to say this, though, because (un)luckily during my exit interview I was able to say, quite honestly, that the meager pay was the reason I was leaving. Luckily they understood, and my former supervisor told me later that they were able to use my exit interview to leverage a huge pay increase for my previous position.

        1. shep*

          (To clarify, I still would not have stayed with that pay increase–but I am glad that the next person in that position was able to be compensated a bit more fairly.)

      2. No Tribble At All*

        So I do have a new role at a different org — I was waiting until everything was confirmed until I gave notice. I knew the role I’m leaving would be a bit of a step backwards in terms of seniority/technical complexity, but the job could be done by a reasonably determined high schooler, and the environment was pretty bad. I realized it pretty quickly that this would be a dead end. I thought I’d stick it out for a year or two and try to network my way into a better job elsewhere in the org, but the more I found out about the org, the more I saw that it had a bad culture across lots of it. I didn’t think I’d be able to find a position there that I’d enjoy.

        They haven’t set up an exit interview yet (and I’m technically a contractor, so I don’t think my supervisor has any responsibility to make one for me) but it would be difficult for me to be honest with them without burning bridges. I kinda fundamentally disagree with all their “best practices” and methods, and they clearly aren’t self-aware of their other issues. After I’d been there 6 months, my supervisor commented “You know, since Tribble joined has been the longest we’ve gone in a while without any turnover!” for a team of 9. Buddy that doesn’t raise any red flags for you? That was the week I started really job searching.

        I’d recommend being as polite as possible. After 8 months, you probably don’t have much capital, so they’re not going to value what you say. It’s unlikely they’ll change based on one person, so don’t leave with a bad impression. Say “it’s not you, it’s me” even if it’s 100% them.

        1. cubone*

          Oh wow thank you. This is …. Like eerily close to my situation lol (contractor, massive staff turnover etc). All great points and I appreciate it!

          1. No Tribble At All*


            I’m starting an exciting new role with a HUGE pay increase on the 29th. So hopefully you get that part of the situation too!!

      3. I raddish the idea of salad*

        I gave notice, at my current role, at the end of three months. I don’t like the work and I didn’t ask the right questions, but I don’t think they understood the role in full detail either. They wanted both a donor database analyst and prospect researcher in one but the role is primarily database management (data entry, hygiene, reports) and very little research and prospecting which I like. In reality the roles are disparate and they’re trying to find someone who loves and can do both; I don’t love the database but I can do it. Plus they weren’t great at teaching me and gave me a horrible project that killed my soul and esteem bringing me to this point.

        I’m staying on, three months post notice to support through the mad holiday fundraising season while they hire someone. They’ve interviewed several people but didn’t like any of them.

    7. often trapped under a cat*

      At my first job, after 6 years, I gave notice to my boss–who had replaced the person who had hired me about three years earlier–and she said, “that’s okay, you can leave today.”

      Which meant I was in the office until around 8 PM, writing up “here’s the status of this project” memos for everything I was working on. I was so tired that I walked out and left all my personal possessions behind. I can back a week later after confirming that my entire department was at lunch and cleared out my office.

      Obviously there were no goodbyes; to the rest of the company, I simply vanished.

      1. Cold Fish*

        You are a better person than I. I would have spent the day packing up my things and they could figure out project statuses on their own!

        1. often trapped under a cat*

          Older, wiser me would have done that, but I was barely 25 and in my first office job, and felt responsible to my clients.

    8. Green Goose*

      I worked a large daycare about a decade ago and I learned pretty quickly after I started that the charming owner who interviewed me was a pretty scary person. Pretty much the whole staff was afraid of her and it seeped into our day-to-day and just made it pretty unpleasant. She would travel out of the country every year and I ended up needing to give notice to her second in command while she was gone.

      He said in a half-joking way, “you better sleep with one eye open!”

      And I had sort of fibbed about why I was leaving, I said I was going to graduate school the next month but my program wasn’t starting for about two months and I was just so unhappy that I needed to leave then. Over a month later I was at our local mall getting something and when I came out of a store I saw the empty parking lot with my car and the owners car parked right next to mine! It definitely freaked me out and I felt like it was her way of trying to scare me or maybe a coincidence but I booked it out of there.

    9. Alex*

      My last job–my manager tried to argue with me to get me to extend my notice period by WEEKS because “We won’t be able to hire someone at what we pay who does as much as you do.”

      Well hmmmm……I wonder why I’m quitting? So mysterious!

      1. JelloStapler*

        I heard through the grapevine later that my former boss told someone else they had to re-classify my old position down to make the low pay match the job description, they knew they would not be able to hire to keep another person with my degree and experience with what HR would let them pay.

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

      I got called into a meeting with my supervisor, the owner and his wife (small business) and he proceeded to try enumerate why leaving was a terrible idea and all that I was losing out on — like pen/paper/calculator trying to crunch the numbers with me so I could see how silly I was being. When I started to list the new benefits of where I was going, he grudgingly conceded I was much better off with silly things like full health/dental/vision insurance, a retirement plan, 2 weeks/yr paid vacation plus 2 weeks sick/yr, in addition to all federal holidays off/paid… none of which he offered at all.

    11. Transient Hamster*

      I left a job of almost 14 years. When I gave my notice to my boss, whom I’d worked closely with all of those years, he just shrugged and said, “It happens.” Then he asked me to hold off on telling the rest of the admin staff until he figured out a plan so I wouldn’t cause a panic. No problem. He then proceeded to tell them while I was out at lunch that day and I came back to an awkward, frosty reception from my co-workers. I’m still kinda annoyed about that last part.

    12. LL*

      2 years into my first full-time job I ended up doing two jobs unofficially for the salary of the lower position, so I initiated several conversations with my manager and grandboss about a promotion. They said the company wasn’t big enough to accommodate promoting me and basically offered me a desk in a nicer part of the office.

      So I started job searching and when I gave notice, my manager at first said she was happy for me, and when it sunk in, she launched into a 15-minute tirade about how I betrayed her even when she had gone to bat for me (the nicer desk). She ended up screaming, and the whole office could hear and see it through her glass window. I took it all wordlessly since this behavior was normal for her. I left 2 weeks later, glad to be out of there.

    13. Ripley*

      I worked at a library for a year and a half. Every four to five months, the director would purse her lips, shake her head, and say, “I don’t know if we’re going to have the budget to keep you here for much longer.” This was pretty jarring for me, so I began looking for other jobs. After giving notice, she told me, “Your timing really sucks!” Well, pardon me for leaving on my schedule and not yours!

      1. DrRat*

        Now I’m picturing Ted Lance “as Your Bartender” doing finger guns for the beginning intro of The Love Boat. And giggling.

    14. Confused Anon*

      No response from Grandboss, certain coworkers ignored me/acted weird when I came by their area. People from other departments would look at me, but not saying anything. Certain people gave me a high five that I was leaving, lol. On the last day, boss told me to say goodbye to people, FOLLOWED me around as I did, and then escorted me out of the building. (Literally followed me to the door. Surprised she didn’t walk me to my darn car!) Other people didn’t experience this. So glad I’m outta there. (Funny part? 6 months later, boss left for a new job!)

      1. the cat's ass*

        Oldjob was shocked when i gave notice. “But we’re faaaamily.” NO, we are NOT. My main boss went around butt hurt, the two principles i worked with ignored me. Main boss walked my out to my car for the last time in tears, stating, ‘this is a terrible mistake.” I got in my car and said, ‘not for me it’s not!”

    15. Pop*

      When I gave notice, my boss said “How did you get that job? I heard it was really competitive!” (It was at a partner organization, and someone he provided a reference for hadn’t gotten it.) I’m sure it was just surprise that I was leaving, but despite him not recognizing it, I AM good at my job!

    16. LoraC*

      She couldn’t stop smiling. Immediately cancelled all our meetings, took over the rest of my work and claimed credit for it. We never talked to each other again after I broke the news.

      I’d only been there for 6 months and the two hires before me only lasted 3-4 months. The person we were all supposed to replace had been there for years, was miserable, and wrote a very angry review on glassdoor after he left.

    17. Jack Bruce*

      Not a very bad reaction, but a “Well, I guess the next few months will be VERY busy for me!” said by my boss, upon my giving a generous month’s notice. Too bad, micromanager, you being busy was never my problem and became even less so when I handed over that letter.

    18. Tris Prior*

      This was years ago – I gave notice to my boss and he took it fine BUT there was much consternation about how to inform the company owner, who, to put it charitably, was a very emotionally volatile and unstable person and my main reason for leaving. It was a small enough company that i had to work directly with her sometimes. She was out of town at the time, and HR instructed me to tell NO ONE else that I was leaving because “we have to figure out how to manage the process around telling her so that she doesn’t get upset.”

      I decided eff that, that’s not my problem and I am done managing this woman’s emotions, and promptly told my team. I asked that they not tell Owner, and they were more than happy to comply, and it was fine.

      When Owner finally got back, she cornered me by the copiers and burst into loud hysterical tears and begged me to stay. I declined and tried not to laugh too hard in her face or say out loud “see, THIS is why I am leaving, I cannot manage your emotions any longer.”

      She also immediately pulled me off of my current project because I was going to a competitor so of course would immediately spill all company secrets re this project to them. OH DARN, what terrible punishment, how dare you take me off of this disaster of a project that had me working double my usual hours for months on end and put me on easy work for my notice period! :D

    19. RagingADHD*

      At my last office job, I worked for a team where I supported a senior partner and an associate, so Sr boss and Jr boss. Jr boss despised me (to be fair, he despised everyone including himself, so there wasn’t much to be done about it.) But Sr boss thought I hung the moon, so that’s all I cared about.

      Anyway, the day I gave notice, the unmitigated delight on Jr boss’s face was…a sight to behold. He said all the right social words about wishing me the best for my endeavors, etc, but with an unbridled enthusiasm that I hadn’t seen from him on any other topic. Not even when he was showing pictures of a once in a lifetime international vacation with his adorable children.

      He just couldn’t wait to be rid of me, and he was thrilled.

      (I heard they couldn’t keep anyone else in that position until he was gone.)

    20. Anne of Green Gables*

      When I left my previous job, I was on a team of two where the only full time people were me and my direct report and we worked pretty closely together. When I told him I was leaving, the first thing he said was, “Does that mean you don’t need to go to such-and-such meeting this afternoon? Because I want to go home.” Turns out he was sick and hadn’t called out because he covered the desk when I was at a larger monthly leadership meeting. Once he felt better, I teased him about the lack of “oh, I’ll miss you” or similar. It still comes up from time to time, because I actually hired the same employee at my current workplace about 6 months later. (And once I knew he was sick, I sent him home that day.)

    21. Pharma Isn't All Evil*

      My boss at ToxicOldJob was overheard by my entire department saying that she regretted hiring me (after I had called in sick one day). I was actively job searching, so it was no problem when I gave notice. She just said “good”. I’ve been at AwesomeJob two years now and it is excellent and I am appreciated.

    22. working mom*

      I called my manager to give her my notice, as we were both working remotely. When she came into the office the next day, she walked in, started yelling and throwing things at the wall near my head. She knew why I was leaving (upper management issues) and was upset. She barely spoke to me the entire two weeks’ notice.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          After reading AAM for so long I hope I’d now have the calmness to ask if that means she’d rather I leave today instead of wrapping up my prohjects.

    23. Dumpster Fire Survivor*

      My first job out of college was….A LOT. My field is a rather niche field, and I had no idea how to gauge professional norms in my field. I knew I was unhappy, but I put up with a lot because I was told it was normal and I should be grateful to have a job in the first place.

      5+ years after starting and 2 years after looking, I finally got a new job. I put in my 2 weeks notice, which is fairly standard. My boss at the time told me that it was “unprofessional” of me to just give 2 weeks notice, and 4 is expected. That’s not true.

      It gets better. After I started at the new job, I gloated a bit on social media about how I was happy to be working with professionals who take part in national organizations in my field. The wife of my boss’ boss send me a private message, whining about how I should again be “grateful” that her husband “took a chance” on a new graduate like me. Needless to say I am SO GLAD I am out of there!

    24. Daydreamer*

      Not exactly a bad reaction but one that left me a bit speechless was ‘is it about the money’. I’d been sort of unintentionally baited and switched into the job – think leading on a project which I think they genuinely wanted as described but then finding out once there that there was no buy in from grandboss to hire the trained staff the project needed, not being given the tools I needed to actually do the project because nobody else understood why said tools were necessary, and having a set of KPIs which didn’t match what I had been led to believe the project was trying to achieve – and had very clearly raised these concerns with the manager I handed my notice to.

      I think I muttered something like ‘No, no, it isn’t’ in the end.

    25. Choggy*

      I wonder, is your job the type where employees generally leave less than a year after starting? If so, maybe he is just used to it, so his response was lackluster?

    26. Florida Fan 15*

      This didn’t happen to me because I haven’t left yet, but when anyone would give notice to my old boss, he would would pull out the office group picture and mark through the person’s face. Right then, in front of them.

    27. Bluebell*

      One of my first jobs, my boss was kind and level headed, but the Associate Director, who I told afterwards, burst into tears.
      For a job not so long ago, where I had a bumpy relationship with the overly emotional boss, they told me that my 6 weeks notice “might not be enough” and then added that they had been just about to tell me they were planning to hire someone over me. In the end, a former colleague let me know it took 15 months to hire my replacement, and the replacement started 8 weeks after that.

    28. Speaks to Dragonflies*

      I told my last boss that I had accepted another job offer and he said that “They didn’t make counter offers. If someone thought they could better themselves somewhere else, they didn’t want to hold them back.” I guess he thought I was trying to finagle a raise out of them and he thought he was calling my bluff. Such a wonderful shocked Pikachu face when I replied with “That’s good to hear. My last day is next Friday.”

    29. WoodswomanWrites*

      I worked at a nonprofit for a decade and when I resigned, virtually everyone was really encouraging and supportive of my good news, from board members to managers to colleagues. My colleagues gave me a nice going away party. However, one board member was so angry that they called me berated me over the phone. It was terrible. I complained to my manager, who informed the CEO, who appropriately called me to say I didn’t deserve that.

    30. LifeBeforeCorona*

      I worked for almost 3 years at the same job while I was going to school. I never missed a day and stayed late when necessary to finish my work or help my co-workers. We were hit with a bad winter storm and as soon as I left my driveway I almost went into a ditch because the roads weren’t plowed. Rather than drive an hour on unplowed roads in the middle of a major snowstorm, I called in. The owner was furious. I was about to graduate anyway so I started looking for another job and found one right away. I gave my 2 weeks notice and then they kept asking me to extend my notice because they couldn’t find anyone willing to work the hours. After I left a former co-worker told me they churned through 3 or 4 people before finally finding someone who would stay longer than a month. It was when I got a similar job that I realized just how much I was working.

    31. Baloney*

      My former manager gave me a leftover half a sandwich after our final team meeting that I would be at (and the last time she would see me since I worked at a different site than her). As she handed it to me, she specifically called it my “goodbye present.” I didn’t need a present AT ALL nor was I expecting anything but to be given the only half sandwich leftover from lunch was just insulting.

    32. eisa*

      Not directly like that, but a funny story :

      Some time ago, I got a notification from LinkedIn like “look at this job they are now hiring for!”
      … The post office was looking for people to deliver mail.
      I found that amusing, because I am a) not really fit enough to do it (in my city, it involves going around all day pushing a heavy cart) and b) somewhat overqualified for it,
      So I took a screenshot and sent it to some friends with the subject line “Look at this great job offer I got from LinkedIn!”

      Due to inattention on my part and Outlook auto-complete, one of the actual recipients was not Susan-my-friend but Susan-my-friendly-coworker.
      Next thing, Susan-from-work replied all “Awww ! Can’t say I blame you, but I’ll miss you, hope we will see each other before you leave !”

      (No, she was not making a joke or being snarky, I think she had not looked closely at what the great offer really was)

      I don’t have anything to contribute to the actual question; the only time I gave notice I remember as unspectacular. The writing was on the wall there anyway; a year after I left, they closed the whole department.

      Not much of a job-hopper, me..
      Never been let go either (touch wood) and my only active job search was right after uni, like 28 years ago.

      Searched for quite a while after uni (with equivalent of master’s degree in a STEM field), job market was really bad at the time. I sort-of-fondly remember the old-fashioned grocery store I worked at to tide me over ..

      Found FirstJob
      Coworker Fergus from FirstJob left, went to Company X.
      Fergus contacted me whether I wanted to work for X too.
      Looked at it, finally decided against it.
      Met classmate Jon from uni in the tram, at the time working for VeryLarge,VeryDullCompany. He told me he was looking to change. I told him “X is hiring.” – Jon applied, went to work for X.

      A year later, Jon contacted me, asked me to come to work at X. That time, I did.
      Fergus had already left there in the meantime.
      Anyway, it was fantastic, still hankering after it ..
      Sadly, five years later X folded.
      RatherLarge,RatherDullCompany took an interest in X’ product, bought the IP and offered jobs to everyone. Some of us, including me, accepted. Still there now.

    33. BBB the cabinet builder*

      When I gave my two weeks’ notice (good fun job/toxic management) both supervisor and manager looked at me and said, “okay.” Next day the schedule changed to move me to night shift, working alone, for my final week. Yeah, guess who changed her notice to one week?

    34. Recent Resignation*

      I recently resigned from my job of 4.5 years. My boss was not in his office most of the day so I waited around after everyone else had left for the day. He came back about 10 minutes after and asked why I was still at the office. I responded “I need to talk to you” and he said “You’re quitting. I don’t want to talk about it” and walked into his office……

  6. Jane the wanderer*

    At the beginning of January I started a new job with the government. (I took this job because my previous one required me to work long hours and overtime – I was working 80 to 100 hours a week and it was affecting my marriage and my relationship with my kids and my spouse was ready to leave. My marriage and kids are back on track and I’m happier and so is my family. I hope to work here until retirement). I’ve been a manager before but this is the first time I have managed unionized employees. It is different than what I’m used to. Some examples:

    -I cannot promote, give more responsibilities or change job duties or upgrade titles. Job descriptions and titles are set as part of the collective agreement and all union jobs have hiring procedures. People can’t be promoted without a competition

    -I can’t give vacation time, extra days off or monetary bonuses. Again vacation time and salary is determined by the collective agreement

    -If someone comes in late I can’t just tell them to make up the time later. Their pay gets docked and overtime isn’t allowed because we don’t have the budget and it never gets approved. We are actively told overtime is not approved. I also can’t allow work to be done outside of business hours. Even if an employee wants to that’s a violation of the collective agreement. I’m not even allowed to contact my employees if they are off or it is outside of business hours. I was warned about this because the union takes it seriously. I can’t let people leave early or adjust their hours

    -If there is a job opening they first have to look at the transfer list to see if anyone of the same classification, then anyone who has the correct skills is on the list. If not they look internally before externally. Anyone who applies who meets the qualifications does what tests (Microsoft proficient, math proficieny, software proficiency etc). Whichever applicants passed the testing get invited to an interview. Then out of whichever people pass the interview the job goes to the person with the highest seniority. The tests and the interview are pass/fail. For internal jobs they don’t ask for references for union members and I’m not allowed to give my thoughts to the manager whose team the job is on

    -Employees have a file where any write ups or discipline go in. Managers who have an opening can look in those files but they can’t talk to the current manager

    -I can tell my boss an employee did well (ie John was great helping that client or Jane worked hard on XYZ) but it doesn’t get recorded anywhere, they don’t get an award or a bonus or anything.

    -So besides telling my employees good job I have no way to reward them. Now, all of my reports have been with the government between 12 and 29 years and on this team for 10 to 24 years. So they are used to things and happy with how things are. I am not anti-union. I think they are great and moral is higher here then at my last job. I’m also much happier here.

    Any tips for a manager who can’t do anything for her employees besides saying good job? I’m still unlearning habits from my past job so it still feels weird to me.

      1. Jane the wanderer*

        Currently I am not due to the pandemic rules. Right now everyone does one a day a week in office to do tasks that can’t be done remotely. I’ll look into bringing food once the rules are lifted. I would have to pay out of pocket but it’s something I totally can do. Thank you for your suggestion.

      2. Lizy*

        I was gonna say the same. Food always is good.

        Depending on your team’s culture, what about flex stuff in terms of “other” events? For example, OldJob was HUGE into March madness. They’d have TVs going non-stop during the tournaments. It wasn’t mandatory or anything, and no one sat down for 2 hours to watch a game, but staff were able to pop in and out to check scores or watch a couple of minutes. If it was a close game towards the end, there would be a small group that would watch until it was finished. If there were cheers (or groans) no one said anything, and staff liked the fun atmosphere.

        Other ideas could be silly things such as “hey y’all worked hard on project X so tomorrow afternoon we’re going to have a coloring contest” – provide some adult coloring books and colored pencils and let it be known that the day is basically a slacker day. No one HAS to participate in coloring – it’s more the idea that you can take a well-deserved break.

        Or do a coffee/smoothie/drink run. Mix it up so everyone has a chance to get their favorite fancy drink.

        For food – I know sometimes it can get expensive. Do smaller things instead. For busy times, having snacks available can be a good way of showing staff you care, especially if they can’t get away from the office for lunch. Rotate ice cream sundae bar, healthy snacks like cheese and crackers or veggie trays, chocolate everything…

    1. Colette*

      I’d say focus on specific feedback – not “good job”, but “thank you for handling that angry customer, I was really impressed with the way you listened to him and helped him calm down, and by the quick way you solved his problem.” “I was looking at the ticket you handled, and was impressed with how clearly you documented the problem. If this happens again, the next person will have an easier time fixing it thanks to your diligence.”

      1. uncivil servant*

        Absolutely. My husband and I both work in union environments and he’s most jealous that my supervisors monitor my work and appreciate my strengths. He works in healthcare and it really feels like as long as he doesn’t kill a patient, no one cares about his clinical skills. At his last performance review, the only positive feedback was on not abusing sick leave. I obviously don’t know if he’s good at his job but I know that he takes a lot of pride in his clinical skills, and not getting any recognition is demoralizing.

    2. LCS*

      I manage a union and also a non-union team. Options for the both groups include:
      – Reserve some time in your team / departmental meetings to formally recognize strong performance or particular improvement initiatives
      – Are there things that your team is doing that other similar teams could learn from? Write it up and share it with other relevant stakeholders, crediting the key folks.
      – Something as simple as bringing in coffee & donuts as a general morale booster or to highlight something that’s gone well.
      – I’m a big fan of personal handwritten thank you cards. These mean more to people than you may think. More than once I’ve seen cards that I wrote literally years ago still posted at people’s desks.
      – Give people flexibility where you can – treat them like adults and valued colleagues, not just interchangeable bodies. Is there a dress code that you can adapt that’s stricter than it needs to be? Is there a way to allow some flex within the system around lunch and break times to better suit the needs of individuals?

      1. Observer*

        On that note, I’m a bit confused about “If someone comes in late I can’t just tell them to make up the time later. Their pay gets docked and overtime isn’t allowed because we don’t have the budget and it never gets approved.” Telling someone to work this hour instead of that hour is not over time. Perhaps you could get some clarity on that?

        1. Jane the wanderer*

          Sorry for the confusion.

          Say an employee arrives 15 minutes late. At my other management jobs I would just say work another 15 minutes past your end time to make up the time. No docking of pay or discipline. Now I can’t ask an employee to work past their end time because it’s both against the collective agreement. So they would my late employee gets docked the 15 minutes. They have no chance to make it up to avoid being docked. Hope this clears things up.

        2. Loulou*

          It could be that hours worked after a certain time are automatically coded as overtime even if the employee only worked 7 hours.

        3. Fellow Traveller*

          In my union, it is written into the CBA that the working day ends at a certain hour (10pm) and if you work past 10pm you are paid at time and a half. Also the day cannot begin before 6:30pm so you can’t have them work if they show up early too.

        4. Iron Chef Boyardee*

          I’m in a civil service gig with a union. If we’re late the time is deducted from our time and leave. If we don’t have any time and leave left, then our paychecks get docked.

      2. N.J.*

        Along the lines of what you suggested. I used to have a boss that would write positive, specific feedback on these little tear drop shapes and call them “a drop in your bucket.” The concept and shapes were from a website, and it was a little “cute” but I actually really appreciated it. Something like that could go with the handwritten card idea.

        1. Nynaeve*

          One thing I have learned from being in charge of morale at a place with restrictions much like Jane describes, though it’s non-union, is that the stuff that seems super corny or trite in a planning meeting ALWAYS goes over better with the staff than you think it will. In some ways, the cornier the better. And I have gotten very good at doing morale stuff on a shoestring budget.

          Laminated cards, sometimes in specific shapes or with fun pictures, for everyone who goes above and beyond X-metric in a specific week or month are always a big hit. And I still see ones on people’s desk from years ago, proudly displayed. For awhile, pre-COVID, we did literal trading cards that we made up and gave out randomly for specific achievements and people would actually trade them to try and get a complete set. It was fun.

          Also, snacks and candy if you can afford it, themed dress-up days, more involved food activities (when allowed) like sundae bars, pancake bars, popcorn, hot cocoa, etc. all go over really well and aren’t too expensive.

    3. Observer*

      So besides telling my employees good job I have no way to reward them

      Don’t be dismissive of this. Letting people know that you see their good work is enormous. And, follow the advice that @Colette Gives on HOW to do that.

      Also, make your behavior such that your employees rarely need to talk to their union rep. Not in a way that the Union is Bad, but just that things run well enough and you are enough of a resource that they can come to you when anything comes up.

      Like, if someone needs an ADA accommodation work with them on it, and help them deal with whatever paperwork needs to be done. And go to bat for them if necessary.

    4. The Dude Abides*

      If they’re good at their job, then make it clear that you are there if needed, but otherwise do your best not to interfere with the day-to-day unless something isn’t as it should be.

      If your predecessor is reachable, then strike up a conversation with that person and pick their brain.

      If stuff is coming down from on high, do your best to keep your reports in the loop as much as you can.

      Also, Charlotte is right, free food is always welcomed.

      I will also be following this thread closely, as soon I probably will be managing the unit I left earlier this year.

    5. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

      I also manage a team in a highly unionized environment. What you describe is all very normal. I was reading, expecting the next bullet to be something egregious… but nope, all normal! I agree with the suggestion to be very specific in your verbal praise, which makes it more meaningful. I don’t love the food idea because of COVID right now, but I also would warn you (regardless of your gender) of taking on a parent-proxy/nurturing role. As a woman and a manager of 15 folks, I feel like there is a subtle drift toward this, at least in my group. My other suggestion would be to schedule one on ones with each of the staff (direct reports and skip level) to discuss their career goals and brainstorm how you can support them in reaching them. That will help build a relationship, and also help you get a better read on them as individuals. Some people won’t want to have this meeting because they don’t have career “goals” – they’re happy where they are and looking forward to retirement, and that’s fine.

    6. Forty Years in The Hole*

      Ah, “Public Service”… Do you have some sort of merit-based, vetted, official/internal rewards and recognition program? Something like a ED/DG/CEO-signed certificate, medallion or plaque? A yearly/quarterly town hall, where your employees could be publicly recognized by management and peers. An organization-wide newsletter where folks can be written up in a “well done to…” column?
      If there is a long service-type award scheme (for 10, 15, 25 yrs etc), make sure you initiate that thru HR for timely presentation. It’s not quite the same as rewarding for “job well done” but your employees who have been there for literally decades may get jaded with no recognition at all. Being unionized doesn’t mean there can’t be some sort of non-financial reward (keeping in mind some rewards/“gifts” may have tax implications, depending where you are)
      Yay union…(been there, done that, on both sides).

    7. Kathenus*

      I used to manage union employees in a very strong union situation, and remember all of this! The absolute best advice I have is document, document, document. That’s the good and the bad. Make sure you note on performance reviews or wherever the good stuff your employees do so it’s part of the written record – even if you can’t give them anything tangible along with it at the time – in many environments it can help with future promotions or opportunities.

      And most definitely document anything and everything for your employees who are not doing well, because it is the only thing in a strong union environment that you have to help manage them out if needed.

      You also have to be very consistent, you can’t ding a ‘bad’ employee for something but let someone else do the same thing and not note it. In addition to verbal praise to the employee and about them to others when appropriate (which as others have mentioned can be a strong reinforcement for some high performers), I was able to use performance as one factor in deciding on things like professional development opportunities or lead roles on internal projects.

      Lastly, if your management has any history of not enforcing the contract, or parts of it, at all or consistently between people, talk to a labor lawyer and find out how to ‘reset’ expectations. We did this, and in our case it was pretty simple. We noted, in writing, to the union leadership that XX part of the contract had not been enforced, or enforced consistently, in the past – but that starting YY date it would be. And from there we were able to start enforcing it again without having to deal with union pushback over ‘past practice’. I’ve seen union environments be held hostage to bad past practice, and was shocked how easy it was for us to reset the expectations legally on this.

      Unions have really positive and negative aspects both for members and managers – I’ve been on both sides personally over my career. But one thing they can be is pretty predictable due to the contract/collective bargaining agreement – learn it and follow it closely and consistently – and there is actually more power within it to help long-term with both great and not great employees than some people think.

    8. Nonny*

      You could always put up a suggestion box or similar (anonymous Google form maybe) and just … ask them what would be helpful or increase their happiness at work :)

    9. Stephivist*

      Government here too. My office does have a system to give time off awards, so I’m a bit ahead of you there, but here are a few other things I’ve done that have been successful. The key is to make sure it isn’t just a one time thing – keep it up and make it part of the environment. Also, one caveat here is that most of these assume you can afford to subsidize this out of your own pocket.

      – Food. Not exactly the best thing right now with COVID, but anything that you can bring in pre-wrapped will still be appreciated. I keep our break room stocked in oatmeal, little jams, and granola bars. Treating the team to pizza was always appreciated in the past and is something that doesn’t hurt the wallet too much. Also, don’t underestimate the importance of just spending a meal time together. Even if you are just doing a group order somewhere and not treating, the downtime is helpful.

      – Goodie bags. That sounds childish, but I’m talking about some little bags of candy, snacks, tea, coffee, etc. that you can give during a stressful time or at the conclusion of a big project. I recently did this when we returned to the office more regularly and it was much appreciated. I always try to include at least one non-food item. Since I buy in bulk, it usually costs around $10-$12 per employee for a good selection of items. I’ll add that I was very much against doing this kind of things in my previous managerial job b/c I didn’t want to take on that stereotypical role. There is very little other option in government however, so I’ve found a level I’m comfortable with.

      – Share good news/gratitude/etc. with your higher-ups to brag on your staff. For particularly successful work, ask your boss (or higher) to send an email recognizing the staff.

      – Institute your own office awards. I know one manager who gives everyone a fun award at their holiday party every year (best whatever, most something, etc.). Your staff will have to be into this kind of stuff though – it isn’t for everyone.

      – Grab on to any little flexibility you can offer. It sounds like you are pretty locked down, but anything you can given them some latitude on, try to do it. It is always appreciated, as is an acknowledgement of the impact of the restrictions.

    10. Siege*

      Are gift cards considered monetary bonuses? I work for a union and am unionized through a different union, so my situation is a bit different, since we are salaried and our CBA has different provisions. My boss has occasionally sent out $10-$15 gift cards for an extra thanks. Usually it’s to Kroger or Safeway since they’re union. The idea is that we can get lunch with that card as thanks.

      1. The Dude Abides*

        It is very much dependent on government policy and the union CBA. In my union, this is a huge no-no if upper management finds out.

        1. Siege*

          Yeah, I’m not in government, so I thought that was likely the case, but gift cards sometimes have this weird non-monetary status when they’re for a nominal amount like that.

    11. Missb*

      The part about non-flexible work hours sucks. My union/government job allows me to set my work start time and end time. For example, I can work 4-ten hour days, or 3-twelve hour days plus 1 four hour day or 5-eight hour days. I can start at the crack of dawn and end in the early afternoon. During weeks where I have a lot of personal appointments (dr, whatever), I can flex my time Monday-Sunday as long as I put in my 40 hour week and document what time I worked on my e-time sheet.

      My boss does one-on-one check-ins with all of their employees each month. It’s an hour long, scheduled in advance. They have a team of 15 employees so it works fine for them to give up that 15 hours a month to make sure we’re on track and have what we need to do our jobs. It’s a great hour to go over current projects, forecast any bumps in the road ahead and note processes that are not currently working. I know from talking with my boss each month that they are happy with what I am doing. The feedback doesn’t need to be direct – it just helps me to stay in touch with them once a month to go over things so no one is caught unaware of what I’m doing and how I’m doing it.

      Grandboss at one time had a suggestion box where you could write up a kudos for a coworker. If grandboss chose to recognize the kudos, the coworker got a 5×7 handwritten note from grandboss, thanking them for their specific work and noting how appreciative they were of the efforts. It was a nice touch, but honestly the box didn’t last long.

    12. Not So NewReader*

      Say “thank you” as you say “good night” when they leave. Even after a crappy day it sets a good tone for the next day.

      There are odd things that come up that you can do. I worked under similar rules. Twice the bosses helped me with my broken down car. I picked up a pet (baby- 6 weeks old) on the way to work that I was adopting, the boss helped me keep it safe during the work day. Other things were done, for example, if something was old yet still useful was to be thrown out, we were allowed to take it home. If an employee needed a week off, but only had 4 days covered the boss would jump in and show the employee how to get that 5th day covered. (By legit means, of course. Upset can cause the brain not to compute things very well. Thinking along with the distressed person can be super supportive.) In bad snow storms the people with the longest drives were allowed to sneak out 10-15 minutes early. This can mean that much more of their ride is done in daylight instead of after dark.

      Most of these things are tied to a specific situation, but you will find as you go along everyone has something that could use an extra hand.

      Make sure the workloads are fair. Just because Jane can do twice as much in the same time than anyone else, does not mean she should have to!

      Safety training. Not everyone knows how a fire extinguisher works. But there are other examples of things people should know. Don’t assume people know how to throw a breaker or turn off the water to an over flowing toilet.

      Make sure people have the supplies and equipment they need for their jobs. It’s not fun begging for pens. It’s misery to work with a slow computer. It’s hell knowing the computer could be replaced but the boss doesn’t do it.

      Don’t gossip. This translates into do not talk about other people who are not present. It’s a very rigid definition of gossiping- but they will notice that you do not gossip and quickly figure out that they should not be gossiping either.

      1. Also Cute and Fluffy!*

        The computers in my workplace are over ten years old. I can vouch for the fact that it is misery to work on a slow computer.

    13. CheeryO*

      State government supervisor here… this is all very normal! Chances are your long-term employees are fine with the system as-is. Presumably the benefits are worth the rigidity. Here are a few thoughts:

      -Positive feedback is still nice, even when it doesn’t come with a bonus.
      -Think about what you CAN do for people in terms of career development, not what you can’t do. Can you give them an interesting project or task as a reward for good work? Can you pay for them to go to a conference?
      -People above mentioned food, which I’d give a hearty +1 to, but nice coffee/tea go a long way too.
      -If your reports are birthday people, a birthday treat and card is always appreciated.
      -On flex hours, can your staff charge time in small increments? We are very flexible with approving small amounts of leave time, so if someone needs to charge an hour for an appointment or to leave early, it’s no big deal. As an employee, I honestly prefer it that way – I have plenty of PTO, and I don’t really want to make up time by staying late anyway.

      The fact that you’re thinking about this stuff means you’ll be a great government manager. Please don’t get discouraged by the rules and red tape!

    14. Green great dragon*

      Praise them to your boss and to their peers and to anyone else you can find (if deserved, of course!), in their hearing. Try to give them ‘ownership’ of their work – be supportive of course, but as far as possible, agree with them what is needed, then let them decide how to do it unless they ask for advice, and get them to present it to others when it’s done.

      Say thank you. If possible, be specific. Consider effort *and* ability. (One of our poorest performers got a small bonus while on a PIP, once. Because he went above and beyond to do [specific task] for a customer.)

    15. Ssqueakrad*

      We are very different people as I don’t see a problem with any of those . People in government jobs trade off easier mobility for stability.

    16. coffee*

      I am presuming you all enjoy better work-life balance, so make sure you’re supporting that (e.g. don’t send emails at 5pm saying you’ll discuss it at 9am tomorrow, give them some thinking time in work hours).

      There’s been research that people report more satisfaction with their jobs where they have a) at least some control over what they are doing when, and b) a sense of “psychological safety” (the belief that one can speak up without risk of punishment or humiliation). Those are both things that a manager has a lot of influence on.

  7. Potatoes gonna potate*

    Advice on questioning/negotiating a pay cut?

    I’m a contractor for my former employer. I get $80 per hour. They sent out their renewed contracts for us to sign and it said $50 per hour. I emailed the director of the program Bc I had multiple questions about the contract; regarding the pay, he said The $80 was only for this past year. All contractors are paid $50 per hour.

    I talked to at least 2 people, and both said their rate stayed the same, they were getting $50 last year and will be next year. So I am getting a pay cut.

    This is my first time as a contractor. Tbh I was pissed about it, I’ve calmed down now, BUT quitting and finding something else isn’t an option for me right now because there are other advantages to working there.

    Advice on how to negotiate or at least plead my case without coming across like I want to flip a table?

    1. ThatGirl*

      Wow, that’s a BIG paycut. Did you ask the director if there was any chance of putting it back where it was, or at least making the cut not so drastic?

      1. Potatoes gonna potate*

        That’s what I want to ask – how to get it close to what it was – posted here on how to negotiate successfully for it

        1. ThatGirl*

          Right — I was just curious if you had already brought it up at all.
          If not, I would just start there. “I was not prepared for this pay cut; you agreed that my work was worth $80/hr previously. Is there any way we can get it back up there?”
          Similar to how you’d negotiate at a new job, except you know they can pay it.

    2. mcl*

      Do you have a copy of your previous contract? Were there any statements laid out as to why the rate was $80/hr?

    3. Reba*

      Unfortunately if you aren’t willing to walk, you’re not really negotiating from a position of strength. (and it sounds like they aren’t interested in negotiating anyway!) Is there any way you could find out why you were getting a higher than others rate last year? or what did they say about that? Maybe there is something there to hang an argument on. Do you know what the FTE salary would be for an equivalent position? you could calculate an appropriate contract hourly rate based on that.

      And I mean, as a contractor you are supposed to set your rates (or at least, have a genuine negotiation where you agree to it!). But I know this isn’t always reality, in fact it never was for me in 3 different jobs I’ve had on contract.

      You could say that your performance is worth it and you are actually more experienced than this time a year ago! Or if you provide something more than comparable FTE’s or other contractors, point that out.

      Ugh! That’s really crappy.

      1. Potatoes gonna potate*

        a FTE doing similar work is around $55-60k no bonus. But they also have a million other things to do and a lot more client interactions, and hybrid remote & in office. And 60 hours a week

        When the opportunity came up, it sounded great to me so I took it , didn’t feel a need to negotiate.

        As a contractor, I’m limited to literally just doing one thing – and if clients ask anything outside of that I can’t advise them on it. Im eligible for a bonus (however small) And I’m 100% remote. Those are the advantages for me which is why I’m reluctant to leave

    4. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

      Sorry, you have to be ready to walk. It’s unacceptable to spring an almost 50% pay cut on you, contractor or not.

      1. Potatoes gonna potate*

        The new contract goes in to effect in January. I think I have time to look at other options.

    5. Annony*

      If the other people you talked to were paid $50 last year while you were paid $80, can you think of a good argument why you are worth $30/hr more? That will be your strongest argument.

    6. Prospect Gone Bad*

      It’s a big decrease, but it doesn’t sound like a bad gig? My ego would be bruised and the decrease in income would hurt, but it still seems good, especially since you’re still in line with everyone else.

      Leaving may feel good in the moment, but doesn’t even prove a point to management, since they’re still paying you the same as others.

      I’d think about it from a general perspective – you have a job in your hand that pays well and fairly. You have experience and some clout there, and the convenience of not needing to get to know a new company and system and rules. This stuff is all worth a lot, don’t throw it away.

      Especially since the $80 seems like a lot. One of my mother’s friends does consulting at the IRS after retiring from there, I know she was making $45/hr in 2010 which is close to $60 today. Just a data point to consider.

    7. Deanna Troi*

      Most people I know who are independent contractors charge 2.5-3.0 times their full-time employee rates to cover benefits, taxes, etc. My company paid 2.7 times. So, using that multiplier, $80 an hour would be around $30 an hour for an employee job, or around $62,000 a year, which seems comparable to their actual employees. $50 an hour as a contractor would be less than $19 an hour or less than $40,000 a year for an employee. That is probably the approach I would take with them if that is putting you below market rate.

  8. Ali G*

    Hi All,
    Does anyone have some good resources for pivoting training to virtual? We used to do an in-person training annually that was very expensive, and we pivoted to virtual this year. We’ve had an overwhelming response to the virtual option (like 35 ppl attend in-person and now I have over 120 attendees and had to add a second set of dates). We realized a hybrid approach would be best and are looking at resources to do this.
    I am interested in vendors, online resources, or anything that can help me put together a plan and budget on how to do this professionally and successfully.

    1. cubone*

      So… this is such a big tough question to answer and I lucked out a bit because a colleague did the bulk of the “pivoting” in 2020 before I joined the team, so my experience is more running virtual events. We also haven’t done hybrid so I am useless there. But here is a completely unfiltered brain dump:
      -go back to your core training materials/framework and center yourself in the goals/outcomes. What do people need to get out of this? Why do people attend this? If you have past evaluation or if you asked any questions in your registration, revisit those and really define for yourself what “success” looks like (what skills, knowledge, experience should they walk away with?). I find people are so overwhelmed by the phrase “virtual event” they gloss over the core of what they’re aiming to do

      -with that list think about what is extra difficult or not feasible in a virtual environment. Bucket things out like icebreakers, networking, training sessions etc. What stuff that needs to happen is similar to one another? Decide what can happen virtually with adaptations and what needs to be reconsidered entirely

      -virtual requires MUCH MUCH more technical and administrative support. Your lead trainer/facilitator CANNOT also be a tech person, available to answer all questions etc. We hired an A/V company to manage the tech stuff, this meant they were responsible for admitting people based on a list, troubleshooting all tech issues, creating zoom links, recording snd editing event videos. Invaluable for taking pressure off staff. I got quotes ranging from $5k – $20k for a weekend. I went with the $5k, not because of cost but because they clearly understood the flexibility required for our audience (youth and students), while other companies felt very rigid (like more for a board meeting or something). Do tech checks and dry runs

      -consider outside speakers and facilitators if you can. Variety helps and it takes pressure off people. Look for “virtual event facilitation” or people with “Art of Hosting” experience who would be worth hiring as MCs or “lead facilitators” if that fits your needs. I do this myself but I also am able to bring in others for the training parts (and doing it myself means I can’t do other parts like manage breakout rooms)

      -staff support: roles and responsibilities!! Make sure you have a Lead, a Second (who can jump in at any time), an Admin (eg chat moderation/tech questions), more Admins if you don’t have AV vendors. Do you want breakout rooms, do those rooms need staff support?

      -I honestly don’t have any specific resources to point to because there are so many. I would honestly consider asking for a PD training on running virtual events, something like “Technology of Participation” or just search for different “virtual facilitation” one day trainings. Or again, consider hiring a vendor who specializes in virtual event management, virtual facil, etc

      -honestly: set reasonable expectations which might mean lowering them. Virtual events are not the same as in person. They aren’t lesser, but they’re different. Don’t try to make it feel “the same”, it won’t (and how could it!) and don’t run yourself into the ground trying to perfect everything. Acknowledge zoom fatigue is real and affects women and marginalized people more (there’s research on this!). I am a huge fan of tools like Menti, Miro or other virtual spaces where people can collaborate and participate – don’t make “unmuting yourself to speak” the only form of “valid” participation

      -ask people their accessibility needs (a registration form if you haven’t already done so). Do you need live captioning, translation etc? Do your participants all have internet access?

      -consider a “training kit” that gets sent to them in advance or something like a gift card they can use for lunch. This helps make it feel “real”

      I will try to think of more but this is so long already, lol.

      1. SallyAnne*

        Creating virtual training is one of the things I do for a living as part of a custom learning solutions team.
        A couple of things to keep in mind:
        1) You cannot do a minute-for-minute transfer from in-person training to virtual training. Virtual training takes longer because of how detailed you have to be with your instructions for each activity. So you’ll need to figure out what you can cut.
        2) It’s easy for participants to get distracted in virtual training. To help limit that, you will need to come up with some kind of activity to engage them at least once every 2 to 3 minutes. If you just talk and talk and talk and talk and talk, you’ll lose them. This can be polls, questions to answer in the chat, interactivity involving the training whiteboard, discussion… There are all kinds of ways to solve this problem, but you have to be much less talkative and much more about facilitating interaction than you would in in-person training.
        3) You will definitely need someone to run the backend while someone else facilitates. Leading a virtual training is a really difficult thing for one person to do on their own.

    2. KuklaRed*

      Use Kahoot! or something like it to break things up with fun quizzes or games.
      Have people managing the chat room to gather questions so the trainer is not constantly interrupted.
      Don’t let the sessions go longer than 90 minutes without some kind of a break, even a quick bio break.

  9. PTO Benchmarking*

    Hello! I have a job that I’ve done five interviews for and I’m really excited about the job, team and industry. BUT I’ve been stressed about the PTO, I would receive three weeks of PTO. I currently get six. I tried to benchmark with my book club and neighbors and they all have five-six weeks or unlimited but a couple of friends receive three. What is realistic?

    I’m stressed because I would have three weeks spent before June with existing plans. Do companies actually negotiate PTO or
    is that a snub employees who have earned it with years of service? It’s an industry close to government defense, which is new to me. One of my interviews was with the VP of HR who mentioned offhand they would be updating the benefits but that they were already so generous. And they are, except PTO.

    1. Loulou*

      Unfortunately, I think your friends and neighbors are outliers if they’re receiving 5-6 weeks. That’s a lot more than anyone I know! With that said, are they all in your industry? If so, maybe that is a sign your industry is an outlier in offering more generous PTO and you should be asking for more.

      1. Loulou*

        And just to add, I get 3 weeks + holidays and family/friends considered that pretty good to generous when I was considering my offer. I would likely get a week more if I worked in academic libraries as opposed to public.

      2. Clisby*

        I agree, unless the 5-6 weeks is from one of those places that combines sick/vacation leave under one PTO umbrella.

      3. Quinalla*

        Many companies will negotiate PTO especially if you have years of experience. I negotiated PTO on my current job as there was no way I was coming in 2 weeks (1st year, goes to 3 weeks 2-5 years and keeps increasing, pretty typical for USA) when I had 13 years of experience and currently had 3 weeks, I negotiated for 3.5 weeks without issue, probably could have pushed for more, but that matched my PTO with my husband’s so I was pretty happy with that.

        Not all companies will, but it is worth asking. I’d ask for at least 4 weeks, maybe 5 depending on years of experience, and let them know you are coming from 6 weeks and with your experience it makes sense.

      1. Pop*

        Yes, my new job got three weeks PTO which I thought was low, until I learned that we had some separate sick time, in addition to more holidays than I used to have. We are also pretty flexible about using time off – if I come in late because of a doctor’s appointment, I don’t need to use any time, whereas my previous job would require me to use time off exactly. So even though it’s a decrease, it feels okay.

    2. Little Lobster*

      You can try negotiating for PTO! Honestly 3 weeks is pretty standard, that’s the starting amount I’ve gotten for every salary job I’ve ever had. I’d love to live in this world where 5-6 weeks is standard!

    3. Lizzie*

      Honestly, 3 weeks I think is pretty standard; My previous job, granted 20+ years ago, I got 3 weeks. When I came here, i got 2, until I hit the 5 year mark, and now am at 5, and will stay that way unless the policy changes. All those you consulted with, how long have they been with their employer? and more importantly, if they get more, but don’t have much time in, can they actually TAKE it all?

      So while you may not agree; i think 3 weeks to start is fairly realistic. I know many who get one or two weeks, and that’s it.

    4. Bean Counter Extraordinaire*

      I’ve never had more than 10 days PTO.
      At my current company, it’s based on years of service. (No rollovers)
      Newbies – 2 years get 10 days
      At the 3 year anniversary you get bumped to 13
      At the 5 year anniversary you get bumped to 15
      and then I think the cap is 10 years, 20 days.

    5. ThatGirl*

      Companies DO negotiate PTO — you may not be able to get back to 6, hard to say, but you can say “I’ve previously had 6 weeks of PTO; is there any way you can match that?” and then just wait.

      On a personal level, though, 3 seems standard/good for the jobs I’ve been in the running for recently; my husband gets 5 but he also works for a university and is very underpaid.

    6. Ms. Hagrid Frizzle*

      3 weeks is pretty standard, especially in state and federal government in my experience. Maybe you could try negotiating for one of your already planned trips to not count as PTO this first year? Like if you have a week-long cruise booked for March, maybe ask if that would be allowable as bonus or unpaid time? (Other commenters may have better suggestions on this sort of negotiation.)

      1. Sleeping Late Every Day*

        My husband works for a state government, and his vacation time gets increased depending on how long he’s been there. He’s been there for decades, so he’s up to about six weeks, plus ten or twelve holidays. Plus very generous sick time. He has so much sick time accrued he could go into a coma for months and barely make a dent. So, very generous time off. On the down side, the pay is total crap.

    7. Hlao-roo*

      I work for a company where vacation days are based on years of service. I get three weeks vacation (and five sick days). At a certain tenure, you get bumped to four weeks vacation and then eventually five.

      The drop in vacation could be because you’re changing industries, or because you don’t have any years-of-service at the new company, or both. You can ask about negotiating for more PTO, but be prepared to hear “our PTO rates are set.”

    8. Purple Cat*

      You can absolutely negotiate PTO. Some companies are more willing to do so than others. And “typically” more flexibility is given to exempt employees than non-exempt. Like every other part of compensation, just straight-forward ask for what you want and your relevant benchmark is what you’re currently receiving, not a straw-man

    9. LCS*

      Re: what is standard – depends what country you are in. My vacation + PTO allowance is currently a little north of 7 weeks and with continued years of service will get up to 9.

      I’m coming from private industry vs. government but in my world you can absolutely negotiate PTO/Vacation. I’ve had quite a few hires make the case that their years of service elsewhere contributes to an overall level of seniority that should transfer through to the new role.

      I’d also want to understand what your options are to take unpaid time off, if the negotiations don’t get you anywhere but it’s still a major priority for you to have more time.

    10. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

      I think we don’t grasp if it’s PTO meaning vacation + sick totalling 3 weeks, or if it’s three weeks of vacation, plus X of sick, plus standard federal holidays. If the former (one bucket for all leave other than federal holidays), that’s not enough. If the latter, yes that seems standard as a starting point but you should certainly ask for more and decide if it’s a dealbreaker for you if you don’t get it. As the fallback, I think it’s very reasonable to say you already have 3 weeks of existing plans in the first half of the year, so ask for those to be time off without pay (so they don’t count against your first three weeks).

    11. ATX*

      Is it possible that you currently get that much time as well as your neighbors because you have tenure? I don’t know many US companies that offer 5-6 weeks of vacation for new hires, the most I’ve seen is 4.

      1. PTO Benchmarking*

        I started with four weeks plus holidays and got another week when I hit four years. I’m in the utility industry now.

        1. PTO Benchmarking*

          And we get 40 hours of floating holiday time (instead of Christmas Eve, Presidents Day etc), hence the six week amount plus major holidays.

          1. ATX*

            Stellar paid time off! With my floating holidays and PTO, I get 21 days, and I just purchased 3 additional days for next year.

            I would be worried about the lower PTO offering from another company too, and likely wouldn’t do it.

    12. Saffie_Girl*

      I’ve found that it depends on the company. My current employer does not negotiate PTO at all and, until recently, barely negotiated salary. In recruitment talks with other companies some are willing to negotiate and have a system set up for that and others act like they’ve never heard of such a thing. It does not hurt to ask. 3 weeks is what I consider a standard amount for early/mid career. Also, I think if there is WFH, that plays a part in the equation. If I don’t have to take time off for for things like house repairs and dr. appointments, then how much PTO I need to get to balance my life changes.

    13. Red*

      You can totally negotiate PTO, but keep in mind they may have a seniority thing where PTO is determined by years of service and may be unwilling to adjust that for you. As for whether or not that’s too little, idk. I’ve never had a job with more then a week’s worth of PTO. At my current place you earn 7 days a year with no rollover until you hit 5 years and then it’s 14 days. We get three days of sick leave a year, no rollover (and only cause CA has a mandatory three day minimum to be offered by every employer).

      That said you can also maybe negotiate the existing plans with the understanding you won’t get six weeks regularly, but they will give you six weeks this year: 3 for the existing plans and 3 as your normal deal?

    14. Canonical23*

      I work in local government and 5-6 weeks of vacation is mostly reserved for people who’ve been working for the same place for 15+ years. Every place I’ve worked at has started at 2 or 3 weeks of PTO and has a schedule for when you get a “raise” – e.g. at my current job, once you’ve been there for 2 years, you get 3 weeks; 5 years, 4 weeks; 10 years, 5 weeks and that’s the cap on vacation.

      Check to see if PTO is interchangeable or if there’s a separate pool for sick leave. Some places seem to have lower PTO but it’s specifically “vacation” and then there is sick PTO.

      It’s definitely something you can negotiate – I’ve been in interviews where they’ve talked about how the salary isn’t negotiable, but they’d be willing to offer more PTO if it gets to the offer stage. Though, I feel like negotiating double the amount of PTO (3 weeks into 6 weeks) isn’t going to go over great. An additional week is usually reasonable for employers.

      Finally, just let them know you planned out 2022 in advance and it’s beyond their PTO policy. If you can afford it and there’s a good work/life balance culture, employers are usually okay with unpaid leave.

    15. ASW*

      I would guess that 3 weeks is more common that 5 or 6 based on what family members have gotten at their jobs. I had 5 weeks at my previous job (new hires got 4) but that included sick time. It was a small CPA firm. My current job is with a local government and everyone gets 2 weeks (plus separate sick leave). After two years, you get an extra day a year. I’ll have to be here 17 years to get back to the 5 weeks I had before. In general, there is no negotiating. The only exceptions that have been made during my 8 years here have been for our new CEO who is accruing leave at 3 weeks per year and a few recent engineering hires who were given an extra week at hire, (but then will accrue at the normal rate after that) because we were having trouble finding engineers willing to accept 2 weeks.

    16. Sure they do*

      Most companies in our field/area start new employees at 2 weeks PTO, 3 for more experienced positions. It seems pretty standard.

      5-6 weeks is for the C suite and for people who have been in their roles with company loyalty for ~10 years at least.

      Companies do negotiate PTO but it’s definitely worth a deeper dive into whether this is just a starting benchmark for posting the role, or there’s some company rule that limits it, or if they can indeed flex on it.

      Even if you come in at 6 and they come back at 4 that’s a week more than if you hadn’t asked :)

    17. Irish girl*

      I hate the PTO by years of service especially if you change jobs after a long time We start at 4 weeks PTO, no sick time. You can gain a few more based on longevity, i have 25 days this year and sine i hit 15 years next, I will get 27 days. Some levels can get more PTO as a new employee but that is Director or higher. They can come in at 5 week (10 years)

      1. Lizzie*

        I agree! when I came to my current job, i went from 3 to 2, and fewer holidays. Although I don’t remember if I got personal and floating holidays at my last job. I might have but i don’t think as many as I get here. I had to wait 5 years to get 3 weeks, and now at 20+ years, I’m at the max of 5 weeks. BUT, we are able to cary over, which is nice, and you can carry over as much as you are entitled to, so if i took nothing, i could carry 5 weeks, BUT i’d have to use it all in the following year. I carried two over last year and will again next year.

    18. DrRat*

      It 100% depends on the company and the industry. I would definitely ask if there is a sick day bank in addition to the PTO bank.

      We’re all different, but the generous PTO at my company is a big reason I won’t go elsewhere. 8 years in, getting 24 days PTO + 8 holidays, for a total of 32 days. Will get another 5 days PTO in 2 years. I think we max out at holidays plus 8 weeks off?

      Then I think of a crap job someone I knew had once, where he had to work 52 weeks in a row to get 5 whole days of PTO.

    19. Florida Fan 15*

      I’m in state government and we get 3 weeks annual leave & 2 weeks sick, both of which roll over if you don’t use them (there’s a cap on the annual; if you hit it, the excess rolls over into sick).

  10. Goose*

    Also! For jobs that have you travelling 25% of the year, what tips and tricks do you have? Travelling itself doesn’t stress me out so much, but I’m thinking more about pet and house care, keeping up with laundry, etc.

    1. mcl*

      I’m not traveling that much right now, but I would totally get a house cleaning service. No way you want to be spending your precious time at home cleaning. (I have lovely cleaners and it is money well spent on freeing up my time and energy!)

      1. Cold Fish*

        I adore my house cleaner. I don’t travel for work but it is totally worth it. It is my best spent monthly budget line item. I HATE house cleaning chores. Not having to worry about or dread doing it is incredible.

        1. Yay, I’m a Llama Again!*

          This is me too. Knowing I don’t have to spend hours of the weekend cleaning is so important. I used to work away more than I do now, and knowing I was coming home to a house than someone had done a good clean on was also so nice!

        2. ScruffyInternHerder*

          Same here. There’s currently minimal work travel in my life, and even so…house cleaners.

      2. Fellow Traveller*

        Yes! Having the house cleaned while I’m away always makes coming home from work travel so much nicer.

    2. Ms. Hagrid Frizzle*

      It really depends on how much of that time is consecutive. A few days in a row here or there is, in my opinion, easier to manage from a household perspective than multiple weeks in a row.
      For pets, find a reliable sitter or a boarding facility that you can help your pets adapt to. I find cats and other non-dogs do better when they can stay at your home and just receive visiting care from a familiar human.
      For mail and house security, see if you can give a friend or trusted neighbor a set of keys and have them pop by every other day or so to check on things. I also have found the timer plugs for lamps to be really handy in making a house look less empty.
      With laundry, again, that’s more an issue when you are gone for long periods of time. Some hotels have laundry facilities you can use, but you can also pack thoughtfully. Wrinkle-release and fabric-freshening sprays such as Downy or Febreeze can help keep clothing fresh between washes.

    3. Angstrom*

      For me, it was worth it to pay for some house chores, like lawn mowing. If you always come home to a long to-do list you always feel behind and never get a break. You can’t do house chores when you’re sitting in a hotel. Knowing they’re getting done — and not by your partner, if you have one — is a relief.
      Try to leave a neat house. It makes coming home much more pleasant.
      Keep a couple of non-perishable or frozen meal options at home so you don’t have to shop immediately after a trip.

    4. cubone*

      I did a 40% travel (up to 80% during busy months) and yes to things like laundry service, house cleaning service, convenience foods (eg meal kits or premade frozen meals from quality places). I think one of the biggest challenges for me was spending a week on the road eating takeout, getting home and being too exhausted to cook (and with an empty fridge), and getting MORE takeout. It can be really challenging health wise! I don’t have pets but in retrospect I almost wish I had negotiated a travel type stipend. Regardless, get VERY clear directions on stuff like per dorms, lieu time etc and track all of that methodically, especially if your workplace is loosey goosey on it.

      Other pieces that helped:
      -have some key things on the road that make you feel like you have more of a routine, eg. A workout/yoga practice you can do in a hotel room
      -NICE PJS. Some people I know bring their own pillows or pillowcases
      -It can be really helpful to have an “on the road” capsule wardrobe to minimize packing stress and laundry
      -I am a big believer in unpacking if I’m at a hotel more than 1 night and unpack within 24 hours of getting home, this helps me a ton
      -make a point to explore where you are, whether that’s a walk around the block, go to a museum or library, etc. I also developed a love for eating out at restaurants alone or going to the movies alone, this made it much more fun and exciting (bonus: I’ve become very comfortable with alone time and taking myself on solo dates)

      1. Not a cat*

        See if you can’t mostly stay at one chain that has a rewards program. I used to do 1 week a month in NYC. My company booked me at the Westin (W) and the hotel staff took good care of me because I was a regular.

    5. James*

      Transportable hobbies. I like video games, and councils are better for taking with me than a PC. I also crochet, which is easily transportable. Other people do things like sample local bourbons, or go rock hunting–stuff you can do anywhere.

      Books on tape. Libby is a fantastic app if you have a library card–you can borrow books for free, in e-book or audiobook format. Makes long drives and nights in hotels easier.

      Look for hotels with laundry facilities. You’re going to end up killing time in the hotel anyway, and you may as well listen to a book in the laundry room as in your room. Keeps the amount of “Now I’m home and have to clean up” chores to a minimum.

    6. DrRat*

      Last time I travelled extensively, I found a local laundry where I could drop off my stuff, and they washed, dried and folded it for me for a fairly modest amount. It was a lifesaver.

    7. A-Name*

      Things that worked well for me:
      – having a work uniform to wear when at client sites. I had 3 dresses that were my go to outfits with different jackets/ sweaters to change it up. I used to keep them together in my closet so I could just grab and toss into the suitcase. And it’s true that no once notices that you where the same black dress if you change up the look with a different sweater.
      – after work clothes like jeans so you don’t get your work clothes messy
      – overhead friendly roller bag
      – toiletries that were just for travel so I wouldn’t have to remember to pack my daily tooth brush. Travel size versions of skin care and make up.
      – power strip, sounds weird but it made giving trainings in rooms with limited plugs easier. Also if helped with some odd outlet placements in hotels. It just lived in the suitcase.
      – if you book your own travel and then get reimbursed a travel points credit card is handy to have.

      – If you’re in the US, USPS offers mail holds that you can schedule to start and end on specific dates. My house is also signed up for their mail scanning service so you get a summary of what is coming in the mail. I believe that UPS and FedEx also have an option to block out delivery days
      – have a trustworthy friend check in on your place while you’re gone

    8. vma*

      If your boss is open to it, getting a comp day either before or after your trip is helpful. It makes it easy to go do the errands you either need for the travel or catch up on stuff you would have been doing. I’m also much more protective of my weekends now and schedule travel only for weekdays as much as possible, which also helps with the time balance.

    9. Generic Name*

      Have you traveled for work before? One tip I heard from someone who routinely traveled was to take the amount of travel noted in the job posting and double it. So I would assume that you would be traveling half of the time. Some are fine with that, others would find that a massive disruption to their lives.

    10. tiddlywink*

      to ‘goose’: i worked for 16 years for someone who traveled. my whole job was living-in, caring for the unhealthy dogs, running errands, and housekeeping. i love autonomy when working, i loved the dogs, i loved the solitude. my compensation was having a small room/bathroom, a private entrance, and a small stipend. perhaps this idea helps? it isn’t for most people, but there are souls out there who would love a job like this!

  11. Pumpkin Fluff*

    I need to take an informal poll.

    Are there any experienced workers out there, without a degree, that have been able to apply for a job requiring a degree and able to get an interview or an offer?

    I haven’t job searched in awhile and am really feeling beaten down by my current job and all the postings that require a degree. People say “apply anyway!” but I’m guessing I’m not even making it through the ATS in some cases so… maybe I should change my strategy, I don’t know, but it would good to know if this is even possible anymore, to get a good job without a degree.

    Anyone out there make it over this mountain recently? Thanks.

    1. cmcinnyc*

      Yes. A lot of people are very down on cover letters lately, but if you are in any way “unqualified” or an outlier, I think a good cover letter is key. I don’t mention the “no degree” in my letter–I just write a really good letter tailored to that job. It has not come up in interviews.

      Of course, if you are in a field where there are certification requirements you need those. Don’t even try applying without the requisite training. Nobody wants a self-taught architect, thanks.

    2. Loulou*

      It really depends on the field. In my field the required qualifications tend to truly be required, and each application is judged against a rubric. If you don’t check off each of the required qualifications, you don’t get an interview. This is why cover letters explaining how you meet all the requirements are important.

      So if you apply for a librarian job without an MLS — nope. If you apply for a job that wants a BA “or equivalent work experience,” that’s more flexible.

      1. Sleeping Late Every Day*

        It depends on the library. I worked in two non-public libraries without a degree. I wasn’t trying to be the head librarian. At one, I was in charge of circulation. At the other, I was in one of the special collections doing reference/research for the public, plus light reference work in the main library to fill in.

        1. Loulou*

          Just curious, but feel free not to answer if this would give away too much personal information — was your title “librarian” in either of those roles? At all the libraries I’ve worked you HAD to have a master’s or PhD to get hired as a librarian, and there were often really convoluted processes for getting promoted when a staff member (who frequently had been doing a librarian’s job already….) finished their degree. My perception was that only at smaller public libraries could librarians by title not have degrees, so I’m curious to hear more about your uni library experience if you don’t mind sharing!

    3. L. Ron Jeremy*

      I don’t have a degree and had a career as both a Senior R&D Engineer and Senior Manufacturing Engineer. Many companies will substitute years of experience for a degree.

      Unfortunately, you will be screened out through a company’s website if a position requires a degree. You’re only alternative is having a company contact or someone in your network that will recommend you.

      1. Patty Mayonnaise*

        Yes this has been my experience too (in a very different field) – I’ve gotten around the degree requirement, but someone in my network recommended me for those positions. I think I would have been screened out by a company website.

    4. Can't Sit Still*

      It’s gotten more and more difficult in the past decade. I finally gave in and got my degree. I have found that experience + degree has resulted in a significant increase in income for me, as well as respect on the job (so annoying!). On the one hand, it was worth it for me, personally, on the other hand, it’s ridiculous that I needed a piece of paper to “prove” what I already knew.

      Places where a degree is nice to have but not usually required: universities and colleges, hospitals and health care, biotech, etc. Basically, anywhere that a doctorate or masters is required for a majority of roles, won’t care as much about “support” staff having degrees. Finance, accounting, law and technology companies tend to require a degree, regardless of whether or not one is needed for the role.

      I wish you the best of luck, and certainly right now seems like it would be a good opportunity for finding a job without a degree while it’s an employee’s market. I am hoping that millennials are more sensible about degree requirements when hiring!

    5. Khatul Madame*

      I’ve seen many resumes where the degree was “in progress”. I guess this helped the applicants get through the filters.
      On one occasion the degree listed on the resume wasn’t even started. Like, the person claimed to be planning to start school in 1 year.
      This practice has a lot of overlap with for-profit education establishments, so I am not a fan.

    6. kat*

      Yup. I’m a college dropout and I currently have a pretty good job that requires a bachelor’s, and I was headhunted for it. At this point in my career, experience has been more important than the degree, and the last two places I’ve worked including this one have not given a single damn that I don’t have a bachelor’s because I’ve proven that I can do the work.

    7. Red*

      So it can be difficult. In my case I’ve had interviews where everything was great and then they basically were rushing to push me out because I didn’t have a degree (which was insane because I wasn’t applying for jobs where a degree is truly a requirement: think sales or account management). However, the main reason I think I got to the interview stage was because I am currently pursuing a degree and I have that on my resume and the automated resume scanner system they all use can’t tell between graduated and graduating. So that’s one way to get past the scanner. I also made it through the screening call for all of the jobs I interviewed for because we went over my cover letter and my resume and generally my stuff was strong enough to over come the lack of degree.

    8. Hiring Manager*

      My company used to require degrees for positions where it wasn’t relevant; it was just “assumed” and in fact required to hire at a certain job title/level. I had someone referred to me who didn’t have a degree and I had to jump through ridiculous hoops even to get them interviewed (like my VP had to sign off on it). But I fought through it (both because I thought it was dumb and because I thought highly of the referral), and ended up eventually hiring the person who has been wonderful.

      The policy has since been changed and not all jobs at those levels require degrees unless there is a business need because so many people pointed out the way degree requirements adversely affect certain groups. I’m hoping we continue to see change in this area.

    9. Cold Fish*

      No advice, but I feel you.

      I just came across and applied for a position last week that I think would be great. But I’m pretty sure I was screened out because I didn’t meet their “requirement”**

      **The requirement was similar to 3 years grooming poodles which I don’t have but I have 8 years experience grooming schnauzers

    10. Ice Pop Party*

      Have any other AAM readers applied for the JET Program 2022? The deadline has just passed for people in my area! The confirmation email makes it sound like we won’t know if we made it to the interview stage until February. I thought it’d be mid-January…
      I’m pretty far into the interview process with my second choice dispatcher. Ironically I’d probably have to choose them over JET due to timing. Ugh, why must JET start later in the year than everyone else…?

      1. Ice Pop Party*

        I made this comment by clicking on “add one,” but for some reason it was randomly nested here….?

    11. introverted af*

      I’m gonna be honest, this just worked for me and has also worked for my 3 friends applying for jobs recently to increase their number of interviews – IF you are applying for a job that you are a fit for in terms of experience (not something that’s a stretch), then paste the job description in tiny font into the footer of your resume. It only works on robots, unfortunately.

      I know Alison and others would probably not recommend it, and I have been on a particular r/antiwork kick lately so that’s coloring my experience here. But I think you’re right that you’re probably getting screwed over by an automated system, and you need a job to eat so whatever you need to do to get in front of an actual person to have a chance seems ok to me. But again, this will only have a shot if you can demonstrate qualification for the position with your experience clearly in your resume and cover letter.

    12. Sleeping Late Every Day*

      Not current because I’m retired now, but I got one job based on an a cover letter that stated my desire to work in the field in almost evangelistic (and slightly tongue-in-cheek) terms. It got me the interview. I was third choice, but #1 didn’t work out and #2 lost interest. Next job I got based on that experience. When I applied for a better internal job that required a specific degree, the department head knew me well enough to tell me it could be waived. His boss was fairly new and did not know my background from previousjob, so I had to give an Oscar-worthy interview performance to convince him, and I did. I’ve always thought of interviews as acting jobs, and the improv classes from years ago in school were the best preparation for them. Even the department head told me after that meeting that it was the most impressive interview he’d ever seen.

  12. Interviewee Overthink*

    I had an in-person interview on Monday that went well. As I was leaving, the hiring manager requested some writing samples. I sent those on Wednesday and haven’t heard a reply. She’s been very responsive in our other communications so I’m worried the email size was too big and it wasn’t received. Or would I be notified? Sorry, typical interview overthinking! Do I send a follow-up email at some point asking if they were received? And if so, at what point?

    1. Charlotte Lucas*

      Most email systems will tell you if there was a delivery failure. She might also just have a lot going on & want to read when she has more time to concentrate.

    2. Purple Cat*

      You *should* have been notified if the email got rejected due to file size.
      10MB is a “typical” file size limit (obviously companies will vary), so if you were under that, you were probably okay.
      Personally, I would wait until Monday to confirm receipt. (and next time put a delivery/read receipt on a very important email like that if you’re worried it might not go through)

    3. Eliza Doolittle*

      After two weeks you can send a follow up email asking about any updates to their timeline (there’s examples somewhere on here), but you can safely assume they received the writing samples. If she hadn’t gotten them she would have reached out to you by now. Follow the tried and true AAM advice: put this job out of mind and continue your job search as usual.

    4. Moonbeam*

      +1 that you would have received a bounce-back error if the email wasn’t received. There’s a slim chance that something with their email client would prevent receiving it, or send it to Junk, etc. but that’s pretty slim. I’d say if you don’t hear anything by Wednesday of next week, it would be fine to send a polite email saying you just wanted to confirm she received your submission. You can just look for confirmation without sounding pushy, and that’s a super normal thing I get from candidates.

      Generally, though, don’t get too stressed about delays in communication from your contact (whether that’s the hiring manager, HR, etc). Even employers with the best intentions have natural delays between stages, and very frequently those delays are more than they intended or told you. If she was really responsive with interview scheduling, for instance, I’d expect more of a delay after a writing sample. That’s something that will be in review, and there will be other natural delays depending on where you are in the timeline of their overall candidate pool.

      Don’t fret, and best of luck!!

    5. Pip*

      Depending on how their email system is set up, the attachments may have caused it to get stuck in quarantine or sent to a spam folder rather than the inbox. So I’d send a brief follow-up in a couple of working days.

  13. Bye Academia*

    Anyone else feeling incredibly burnt out?

    I’ve been pretty lucky during the pandemic. I had covid in March 2020, but my case was mild and I had no lingering issues. I have a wife, so I wasn’t lonely during quarantine. No kids so I didn’t have to deal with child care issues or virtual school. While my job does require work in person, it is super flexible so I was able to commute before/after rush hour and work alone. I never lost any pay.

    But I am still so, so tired. All the uncertainty, decision fatigue, precautions to do anything…it’s been a lot. I find myself struggling to get to work every day and have been coming in later and later (the downside of flexibility!). I stay late to make up for it and still get my work done, but it feels like such a slog. Can anyone relate?

    1. Theo*

      oh for sure. I work in medical publishing so it’s been a slog since Jan/Feb 2020; I’m so burnt out. I just want the thing to be over.

    2. Pumpkin Fluff*

      Absolutely, totally exhausted even though I have been lucky not too deal with a lot of the additional pressures that others have had to manage (no kids, been remote since March 2020 so no long commute, etc.)

    3. BlueBelle*

      I am so worn out. I have WFH for years and rarely went to the office pre-pandemic. I am so tired of not going anywhere, the stress of what is going on in this nation, the increased workload. I am so worn out. I am tired of how demanding work has gotten, the pace at which they want things completed, the constantly changing priorities and goals. I can’t wait until Thanksgiving just to have a few days off.

    4. ThisIsTheHill*

      100%. I’m in the same situation – DINK, introvert w/ anxiety who weathered staying at home better than a lot of friends/family, permanent remote worker – and I’m exhausted. Every aspect of life feels like an insurmountable chore.

      You are most definitely not alone.

    5. Colette*

      Oh yeah. I’ve been blaming my tiredness/decision fatigue on the backyard project that’s not done yet, but I’m sure the pandemic is a huge part of it as well.

    6. Lady Ann*

      100% can relate. I’ve been super lucky. Nobody in my family has been ill, I was able to work from home during the worst of it, I don’t have kids and I have a partner and pets to keep me company.

      But I’ve had some symptoms of depression on and off, and I have a lot of empathy so hearing and reading about the people struggling really gets me down. It’s been tough to get out of bed some days. And then I feel extra bad because I feel like I really don’t have any reason to be so sad and tired because nothing really bad has happened to me personally.

      So I don’t have advice, I guess, but I do have solidarity.

    7. I am tired*

      I spent most of the pandemic as a healthcare worker, with a kid in (or rather mostly out of) daycare and a kid in (or rather mostly out or) school. Burnt out in the summer. Took a non-clinical job. I haven’t slept an untroubled night since February 2020.

      I am tired of the DISRESPECT. For healthcare workers, for parents, for disabled and ill people. I have been working nonstop with maybe a tenth of the resources I need to get by for a year and a half and I am TIRED.

      I am lucky. I am partnered, I am wealthy, I have close friends and family members for support, I went to therapy. I am exhausted and I don’t know how much longer I can do this.

      Wear your masks where appropriate. Get the goddamn vaccine. Stay home if you have the sniffles. And stop acting like caregiving isn’t real work, paid or unpaid.

      1. Jean (just Jean)*

        “…acting like caregiving isn’t real work…”
        where to begin with this?! I do my best to be respectful of healthcare workers clinical & non-clinical alike, but like most other people in this Pandemic Era I am way beyond depleted. Because the obligations are still present I need to redirect my motivation from running away from to running towards the to-do list. Maybe we should continue the non-workplace aspect of this discussion on the weekend open chat.

      2. Double A*

        I was talking to a friend about *gestures vaguely at everything* and going on about the interpersonal struggles and she summed it up concisely by saying, “I’m just tired of people being DICKS.”

        It feels like we all need so much gentleness right now. We need to take care of each other. And there are just so many people out there being dicks. Which then makes it tempting to, in turn, be a dick.

        I’m just trying to be really kind to strangers. And people I know, too. But man…sometimes it’s tiring to be even just be kind.

    8. Anonymous Luddite*

      Ayup. Right there with you, point for point (except I didn’t have Covid). Brain fog, decision fatigue, burnout with a side helping of IDGAF.

      Speaking for myself, the only thing that has saved me was a daily walk outside after work. Now that it’s the rainy season, I’ve been lucky that the gym I belong to (and never cancelled my membership to) now requires proof of vaccination AND 100% masking.

      Good luck!

    9. Sherm*

      I feel this. Would love it if someone told me “You don’t have to do any work for the rest of the year.” I dislike working from home, and we’re not coming back until March of next year — supposedly. The majority of my coworkers are A-OK with working from home and have zero desire to return, and my organization, which used to struggle to find parking and office space for everyone, definitely doesn’t have a problem with this. I doubt things will ever resemble old times.

      2020 and 2021 have been my busiest, most stressful, years. I mean, I get it — they aren’t paying me so I can nap on the sofa while they pat my head. But then they want me to Care. And now, 18+ months after the beginning the pandemic, they are making attempts to combat burnout and Zoom fatigue (while they expected us to adapt to pandemic times immediately). It leaves me thinking “Hmm, only doing this now because of all the people leaving and the possibility of many more?”

    10. Siege*

      Yep. I went remote in March of last year, I have a partner and I’ve been able to see my family (masked/distanced/outdoors at first, later unmasked after we were vaccinated), I celebrated holidays in a way I found more satisfying last year, I’ve been able to maintain several of my hobbies, no kids so no challenges there, I never got COVID and only had one coworker I don’t like who did get it, and I am exhausted. I’m sad and underperforming and tired and I could sleep for a week. Very little in my life gives me pleasure, or even doesn’t feel like a monumental task.

      I have depression anyway and I’m on a heart med with depression as a side effect, so that’s a big part of it, but I am so tired. So very, very tired.

    11. Bye Academia*

      Thanks, all, for your comments. It’s nice to hear I’m not alone. Sometimes I feel guilty for feeling just so burnt out when my situation has been relatively good…for a pandemic, at least.

      I’m debating taking a week or two off of work (I have the PTO available) to try to decompress. I’m not really sure it would help, though. I’m not burnt out on work, I’m burnt out on the pandemic, and it’s not like I can take a vacation from that.

      1. intl devt worker*

        You are definitely not alone, right down to the feeling guilty for feeling burnt out when your situation has been relatively good! (I’m in the same boat; flexible stable WFH job, partnered, no kids to worry about, etc.) The closest I’ve gotten to feeling normal since the pandemic began was taking some vacation and making a really, really deliberate effort to reactivate the “joy” part of my brain by seeking out new experiences- different hikes or wandering around new corners of my city, weird activities (like art class, axe throwing, escape rooms, geocaching, etc.), camping… stuff like that. I hope some of that stuff is accessible where you live! Good luck out there :)

      2. SallyAnne*

        I took a week off at the end of September. Four nights of that, I stayed at an Airbnb in the middle of nowhere that was also only a 2-hour drive from my major midwestern city. I spent my days hiking, visited aa different brewpub every night, and focused my mornings and my late nights writing and thinking. The stillness and the silence were so restorative. I highly recommend taking a couple of weeks off if you have the time and spend them doing the things you know will feed your psyche.

    12. fueled by coffee*

      As my therapist said, just because other people have had greater challenges than you have, doesn’t mean you haven’t had challenges.

      It is a global pandemic. People are dying. Everyone is stressed. Our social lives have been put on hold. We thought the vaccine would get us out of this and then Delta threw a wrench in everything. When we do choose to socialize, we’re knowingly running the risk of catching the virus. And through it all, we’re expected to keep working like everything’s normal and the world isn’t on fire.

      The “burnout” feeling is a stress response. We’re all stressed and your brain is trying to go through the motions while also processing an immense amount of trauma, even if other people are experiencing more urgent traumas.

      Sending warmth and empathy.

    13. Dumpster Fire Survivor*

      Me! I have a husband, no kids yet, and I am incredibly burnt out. My field got slammed with work since the pandemic started, so I am exhausted in all areas of my life. I could use a month sabbatical but those are not a thing in my line of work. I have a couple of vacations planned out in the upcoming months, so those will help. But I really want a long Staycation to decompress and enjoy my city without having to worry about work, the housework piling up, or catching a virus. I caught COVID AFTER I got vaccinated, which was even more frustrating.

    14. Choggy*

      Yup, completely relate. Not only that, but I feel like a number of people I work with have checked out, so they must be overwhelmed too. It’s frustrating because if they drop the ball, people come to ME to pick up the slack.

      I am starting to take better care of myself, eating better, exercising, trying to fully disconnect from work, but it’s a process that will take some time to get there.

    15. JelloStapler*

      Higher ed here- we are exhausted, the students are exhausted, etc. Our surge capacity is drained as the “surge” has gone well past a short-term stressful event.

      1. A Genuine Scientician*

        So much this.

        I’ve seen so many people saying things like “Well, this just goes to show that when they said they couldn’t do X, that was just because they didn’t value the people who needed X, since now they’re doing it.”

        I can go without sleep for a night.

        I cannot go without sleep for a month.

        What I can do to get through a crisis is a lot more when that crisis is for a month than when it’s for 2 years.

    16. A Genuine Scientician*

      I am just so tired.

      In a lot of ways, I’m fortunate. I’m salaried and with a contract. My job *can* be done remotely, it’s just more work and less emotionally rewarding. I don’t have kids. I’m an introvert who lives alone in a quiet, detached house, just me and a pair of hyperaffectionate cats. My job has been entirely remote since March of 2020, and will remain so through December (current statement is we’re back to in person full time in January, though cases in my state are currently worse than they were a year ago). I actually managed to find an online therapist with my insurance to deal with some long term anxiety issues I have. My boss is quite supportive, got me a variety of tech things that make my job much easier to do at home (though still not as easy as in person), and has actively told me to not worry about doing things ideally or perfectly, but to accept that there will inevitably be some errors and prioritize not burning myself out any more than is strictly required. I moved into a slightly different role for August – December this year than my long term role — and am actively looking forward to returning to my long-term one in January — as a favor, because someone had to do this one, and I was honestly the only plausible choice in my unit. I’ve been thanked repeatedly for doing this.

      But it’s still just a struggle to get through everything that truly needs to be done. Tasks that used to take me an hour can end up taking 3 because I can never really unplug, and so I end up less efficient. Parts of my job are actually less rewarding now than they were 6 months ago. (I teach college courses, and when everything was online, a substantial percentage would at least turn on webcams when in small breakout rooms with their long-term groups. Now, I suspect my classes are the only online class a lot of the students have, so it’s me talking at a sea of black squares and near total lack of responses when I ask questions, and no non-verbal feedback to let me gauge reactions and adjust my content/delivery based on student understanding.) Many of my hobbies just can’t be done over the computer, and surgery a month ago + the temperatures veering down in a place with a significant winter means I’m way less active than I prefer. I used up basically all of my mental and emotional reserves during the earlier parts of the crisis, and just don’t have more left to give now. As much as I cherish having some alone time to recharge, this ongoing complete lack of any physical contact with another human is not doing my psyche much good. And the students take out a lot of their honestly legitimate frustrations — with not getting the college experience they expected, with technology malfunctions, with their dorm internet being too slow, etc. — on me, when I have no control over those things at all.

      And I’m filled with this impotent, depressing rage that my local vaccination numbers essentially flatlined in April, and nearly the entire recent uptick in shots administered is just due to 5-to-11 year old kids of vaccinated adults getting vaccinated, while large numbers remain willfully unvaccinated. We’ve been in exponential case growth since late June, and so very few people seem to care.

      I am really struggling to see how this is going to end.

    17. Nynaeve*

      Yep, stick a fork in me – I’m done. I am over absolutely everything. And I know I’m comparatively lucky, which is so disheartening. I think most people are hitting their breaking point (or are way past it), but society as a whole is rushing to get things back to “normal,” a.k.a. back to being a cog in the machine. And we’re not machines. (And even machines need maintenance and downtime.)

    18. Quinalla*

      I have been pretty lucky in most ways too – I have kids, but not really young kids, none of us has been sick, my husband and I can WFH, etc. but I need a BREAK from my life. Work has actually been hugely helpful to keep me going, but I really need a real vacation not just from work but from my house and the drudgery and low level (sometimes spiking up) anxiety, etc. Exercise, getting outside, getting alone time and other things are keeping me going, but it is so hard. And it is hard for everyone, just hard in different ways depending on our individual situations!

    19. eisa*

      I absolutely can relate. I was going through the same thing myself.

      Similar situation to yours – married, no young children, stable employment. But starting I guess last spring, I fell into a black hole. “Depressed” (in lay terms, no clinical diagnosis). No energy, no motivation, no joy. Work felt like a drag all day, every day.
      Even when restrictions lifted, I could not be bothered – I had become quite antisocial.

      I am better now. The turnaround, I think, were some instances where I was “forced” to go out and socialize again (choir practice resumed, an invitation to a party that -because reasons- could not be refused..)
      I do more stuff now and there is even some pleasure in work again.

      The bad news is, where I live the writing is on the wall for the next lockdown :(

      I hope it will get better for you ! Hang in there !

    20. the cat's ass*

      I SO FEEL this! You’re not alone. I’m triple vaxxed and incredibly grateful, but also so tired. I never stopped going to work (healthcare), but that in itself has been exhausting. I love my work/patients/colleagues for the most part, but it’s an effort sometimes. Especially the ones who dick-nose their masks, won’t get vaccinated and are talky about it. Sorry, dude, pull that sucker up over your proboscis and don’t try to litigate your poor choices with me, which BTW, ENDANGER ALL OF US WITH YOUR STUPID NONSENSE.

      And I try to get out and exercise, get enough sleep, we do a treat ourselves to takeout every Wed, etc, and things are okay at home, too. But I’d adore a month off. In the meantime, I’m buying bagels for my fab colleagues, taking a rare mental health day here and there, and just keeping on hoping that we will be back in a place of relative normalcy next spring.

  14. Oh No She Di'int*

    tl;dr: what consumable expenses should be reimbursable for working from home?

    I have made the decision for my 8-person office that WFH will remain a permanent option. The office still exists for anyone who may feel more productive there, etc. However, any employee is permitted to work from home on a permanent basis.

    I am now updating our reimbursement policy to be more of a fit for permanent WFH rather than temporary. My question is around consumables. We reimburse (or purchase outright) typical stationery supplies such as pens, post-its, paper. We even reimburse for some consumables that may straddle the line between work/personal, such as if someone is using a personal printer. The ink would be reimbursed.

    However, the draft policy would not provide for reimbursement of non-stationery consumables such as light bulbs, bin liners, and coffee filters. My reasoning there is that the line is simply too fuzzy and these seem to be the kinds of things required simply to have a working home office (analogous to how daily bathing to work with others requires that you purchase soap on a regular basis).

    I received a bit of pushback from some staff over this. In particular, the question of an air filter came up. The employee wanted reimbursement because they said that breathing is required for the job, and an air filter is required for breathing in their small apartment.

    So my question is where have others seen the line drawn? By the logic of the air filter, does that mean we should be reimbursing for batteries in smoke detectors, replacement screens on windows, replacing worn carpet, and so forth? To me that seems over the edge. I mean, if someone has a potted plant do they get reimbursed for fertilizer?

    My hesitation is that nobody at this point is FORCED to work from home—putting aside childcare issues for the moment. The office is still here, and we’ve taken fairly extraordinary measures such that anyone in the office would be quite safe. (Each person has their own space with a closed door. Proof of full vaccination is required to be on the premises. There is liberal hand sanitizer everywhere, and a policy of masking whenever a door is opened.) So I wonder where the proper line is drawn.

    1. Colette*

      I think you have a reasonable policy. Breathing is required for work, but air filters are not required for breathing.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Eh, she could take out the company air filter and put in her own after the 8 hours is up. (not)

        I can see where the employee is coming from but I think it’s reaching too far. I would want expenses reimbursed that I would not have had if there were NO wfh. This could be faster internet or a landline phone. (Landlines get mentioned often in my area.)
        I know my heat and electric would go up because of being home, but I don’t think I would mention that as my transportation costs would plummet.

    2. Violetta*

      You need to tell them that you’re offering both options and everyone is free to choose whatever works best for them, and that you’re reimbursing clearly work-related expenses, but that you’re not buying them coffee filters.

      I mean, this is ridiculous. I love too so I am choosing to do the max WFH my company offers – but I realize that the many, many advantages WFH affords me does not include my company buying me bin liners.

    3. Lizzie*

      I’m not a manager, but I would think realistically only things that directly relate to the job or job function should be reimbursed. Like you said, stationary, pens, printer ink, etc. I don’t agree with light bulbs, bin liners, coffee filters, etc. because presumably people would buy those things regardless of where they were working. Same with the air filter. Again, working in the office means they aren’t in their home all day, but they’re there at night, weekends, holidays, days off, so my position is its up to the employee to pay for those things themselves. I wouldn’t even think to ask about being reimbursed for something like that. So I’d draw the one, as you say, to reimbursement ONLY for things directly needed for them to do their jobs.

    4. ThatGirl*

      I think your policy is reasonable too. Things like smoke detectors — those batteries need to be replaced regardless of how often you’re home! And a plant is not a work-required item. Etc.

    5. Turtles All The Way Down*

      Surely the air filter isn’t required for them to breathe solely during working hours, it’s a requirement of living in their apartment. As are functional lightbulbs, running water, safe flooring, legally mandated devices like smoke detectors…

    6. Mockingjay*

      YOU get to draw the line. You’ve polled your staff, got their preferences, now you have to balance what they want against what they need to do the job and what the budget can handle. It’s not unreasonable to have reimbursement limits. Just spell them out clearly. Several possible suggestions to handle:

      – Reimbursement limit per year. Set amount. They can use it for whatever they want, but when it’s gone, it’s gone.
      – Draw from supplies within the office. Likely they’ll have to come in at times; they can grab what they need then.
      – Set reimbursement for only certain office supplies. Printer paper, pens, notepads, mice, etc.
      – Online shopping cart for local office supply store or internal list on company server. Purchasing then submits the bulk order.
      – And so on.

      Whatever you decide, make sure the policy is clear and exceptions won’t be made. Again – office supplies are to enable a worker to do their job, not to supplement their personal household.

    7. londonedit*

      We can be reimbursed for certain office things – like an office chair (from a specific list), external keyboard/monitor/mouse etc (again up to a certain amount). Basically things that make your workstation health & safety compliant. We also get a working from home allowance – the same amount as HMRC give in tax relief for WFH but direct from the company rather than us having to claim as individuals through HMRC. But anything else that you might happen to want for your home office would be your responsibility.

    8. Purple Cat*

      “air filters”?? Wow, that’s some gumption right there.
      If for some reason the company required employees who WFH to have pristine air, then yes, the filters should be reimbursed, but not for any reasonable situation.
      Your line in the sand seems very reasonable to me. Light bulbs, bin liners and coffee filters are what people personally buy for their personal household. Unless you require them to make coffee as part of their job requirements – then it’s a personal expense, not a job-related expense.

      1. lost academic*

        Hmm, I disagree. When I am not at home because I am working in the office, I can set my HVAC system to run much more efficiently, not run the fans, etc. This generally means I do not need to change out the filters as often. Now that we’ve been working from home constantly, I have to keep the house at a reasonable temperature and airflow during the day and that’s an extra cost. But I do agree that it’s not a typical or entirely normal item for reimbursement – I can just see why it’s a cost that isn’t the same. I think for the most part people with access to a regular office where others are working should generally draw consumables they need for work from said office, where they are able to buy in bulk at lower costs and presumably from sources that can also offer lower costs to businesses.

    9. Rusty Shackelford*

      I think it’s reasonable to cover things that the employee wouldn’t need if they were just hanging out at home and not working during those ~8 hours. So. Printer ink, yes. Light bulbs, air filters, soap – no. They’d still be using the air filters even if they were watching Netflix all day.

    10. CBB*

      One company I worked for gave us smoke detector batteries to take home every year. (This was years ago before anyone was working at home.)

      Obviously they weren’t required to do so, but it was a relatively cheap way of showing goodwill and maybe helping to prevent a fire.

    11. Hellyeah227*

      You could just give a set flat fee per person each year and say they can purchase whatever office supplies they need to work from home. Some people could buy pens — others could buy air filters, some people could put an extra $200 toward their mortgage…whatever works for them.

    12. Anonymous Luddite*

      Just as a thought: My wife’s company provides a flat $40 per month. It can be for electricity or bin liners or save it and use it for a standing desk.

    13. introverted af*

      If they’re living in an apartment, shouldn’t that be covered by the apartment manager/etc. as part of regular maintenance on their HVAC system? Or is this some additional device they got?

      1. Oh No She Di'int*

        This is a separate device. But the overwhelming consensus seems to be that the air filter request was too much.

        1. I.*

          I live in wildfire country and I’d be mildly sympathetic to that request during forced wfh (staying inside with windows shut 24/7 sucks and you’re breathing worse air 5 days a week than you would be in an office). But it’s not forced anymore, they have the option to come in. A lump sum sounds best to me too, it’s a good way for employees to manage their own needs since everyone’s needs are so different. And you are not being unreasonable.

    14. Dancing Otter*

      Yeah, no on the bin liners. What next, sending the company’s janitorial service to clean for them?
      Would you buy that employee an air filter for their office? Do you provide free coffee in the office? On those, I’d try to parallel the in-office supplies as much as possible.
      What I hope you are already doing is subsidizing part of the cost of their internet service, and phone if they have a lot of business calls.

    15. RagingADHD*

      Why would they need air filters to work, and not to just be in the house without working? By that logic you’d need to reimburse toilet paper because they can’t use the office bathroom.

      There are certain costs associated with being at home more, but they are more than offset by the savings in commuting costs and other expenses associated with being away from home more (wardrobe, lunches or convenience foods, etc.)

    16. All Het Up About It*

      I like the flat fee option other have recommended here, as it simplifies things for the employees and employer.

      I have to say though, that I’m just shocked that you are getting pushback on these. Is there something else going on? Are your employees horribly underpaid so they are looking at any way to get money from the company that they can? Are they all working in tiny apartments and actually WANT to return to the office? Is wannabe air filter filer, just a difficult person who makes unreasonable demands any chance they get?

      It’s just so bizarre, it seems like there has to be some other underlying cause.

    17. Green great dragon*

      Yeh, flat amount for small consumables. Make it reasonably generous and most people will likely be quite content that they’ve enough to keep their kids in post-its too.
      Specific list of any things that can get reimbursed on top – eg specific task that gets an extra stipend because, say, it requires them to print inordinate amounts.

    18. AcademiaNut*

      Yeah, you don’t get reimbursed for coffee filters, bin liners, or the like, in the same way you don’t get reimbursed for your commute, office clothing, dog walker, or buying a slow cooker because you have less time to cook dinner. There are perks that come with the office like free coffee, and perks that come with working from home, like being able to run a load of laundry during your work day.

      I would say a small monthly stipend for incidentals, to be spent as they want (printer, ink, paper, pens, desk lamp, that sort of thing, without receipts required), an initial setup fee for office equipment like a desk chair (receipts/approval required), and a system for replacing worn out equipment for longer term employees.

      I would actually be interested in hearing from an ADA lawyer about how environmental accommodations would be handled. For an in office employee, a HEPA filter or a broad spectrum lamp might be a reasonable accommodation, but would they be required to buy them for a remote employee, particularly if it’s something the employee would need to own irrespective of employment.

    19. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Batteries make sense only for a company-supplied wireless device.
      Air filters only if they’re doing company woodworking projects at home.

  15. I raddish the idea of salad*

    Work from home desks: sitting or standing, but not both. Your experiences?

    We’re building a new home and moving in next month. I will finally have my own office and the goal is to work from home. I don’t like the ugly sit/stand desks and I don’t want a prop on top of a desk to make it into a standing desk. I have to decide: sitting or standing?

    Etsy has nice handmade standing or sitting desks. I prefer a handmade one vs those in big brand stores.

    If I choose a sitting desk, I have reasons to get up and walk around – 2 dachshunds.

    So, why a standing desk? I can also use it for my crafts and artwork which I can’t do as well with a sitting desk.

    1. BlueBelle*

      I have a standing desk and then I have a club chair with a rolling small laptop desk. I work from the standing desk and sit for some calls and meetings.

      1. I raddish the idea of salad*

        Hmmm wildly simple solution. Thank you. I didn’t want too many pieces in the room, it’s 11′ x 11′ and one wall will be a repurposed hoosier for my art supplies, but maybe that can go into the closet?

        Thinking, measuring, contemplating….

    2. Golfer Girl*

      I’d go with standing and get a high chair or stool in case you decide you occasionally want to sit.

      1. I raddish the idea of salad*

        A high chair/stool… another simple solution. This is why I come here! Thank you so much….

        1. Llellayena*

          Look at studio chairs to find adjustable ones that can go pretty high and invest in a footstool for when you use the chair. Dangling feet get very annoying very fast.

    3. Reba*

      I’m not sure what “ugly” means to you, but I have a motorized adjustable sit/stand desk, and it just looks like… a desk.

      You could do standing but also get a high work chair or stool, to get the flexibility that way.

      1. I raddish the idea of salad*

        Ugly meaning how sterile most of the desks look. My room is a bit small and multi-purpose (arts/crafts, work and fitness) Trying to keep it streamlined. But I 2nd the stool/high work chair option. Thank you!

    4. mcl*

      I have a sit/stand desk at work, and it’s literally just a tabletop with two legs that have hydraulics in them. It was a sit-only desk and then the magic legs were added on. It is not obviously sit/stand except for a small button that powers the lift. I guess I’m saying that you CAN have both! :)

      1. Lady Danbury*

        Do you have any idea what the brand/product name of the adjustable legs are? I’m trying to find something similar but so far the results have all been for risers that sit on top of a regular desk. Thanks!

    5. Colette*

      I have a floating desk, which I put at standing height. I use a drafting (higher than normal) chair when I want to sit.

      So I’d go for standing.

    6. Mockingjay*

      We bought a house six months ago and the previous owner made his own desk. He bought leftover stock kitchen cabinets from a home improvement store, set them against the wall far apart, and installed a laminate counter on top. The cabinets are tall, so I use a drafting chair to sit, but it’s also the right height to stand if I need a break. It’s a very long work surface, which I love, and the full size double door cabinets on either side have tons of storage, including top drawers within easy reach. He even drilled holes in the laminate top and added the plastic computer cord inserts to run cords to the plugs below.

      Only downside is finding a good drafting chair; I bought a fairly cheap model from Staples and the seat cushion is already flattened. Don’t skimp on the chair if you do something like this.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I did similar at one point — not built into a wall, but I basically built a big standing desk out of Ikea shelving units (at the time they were Expedit, now the equivalent is Kallax) and a countertop, and when I wanted to sit down I had a drafting stool that otherwise stayed tucked under the desk.

    7. cubone*

      I have a sit/stand and it is an absolutely gorgeous, reclaimed elm wood top (AnthroDesk). It was a chunk of change, but I’ve done the math on how many days I’ve had it vs cost and it’s at like $5/day (and only going down). To me that’s been extremely worth it.

      I do want to add, while I get it’s a huge privilege to have choice at all, I injured my back in the summer and my physiotherapist was very clear that the sit vs stand debate is about variety and change. No, our bodies do not like sitting at a desk all day, but they also don’t like standing on our feet nonstop either. Prior to the injury, I would stand for 1 hour twice a day; since this advice I’ve changed to swapping every 30 minutes. If the clock is at :00 or :30, I do the opposite of what I’m doing currently (obviously sometimes I choose to stay in one for longer, esp if I’m in a zone and don’t want to disrupt my focus, or somethings feeling more comfortable). This has been LIGHT YEARS better than sitting OR standing all day. Just something to think about! I think the advice of a standing desk + high stool would be the best if you’re tied to one or the other (get a good anti fatigue mat too).

      1. I raddish the idea of salad*

        I have scoliosis and your outline sounds very reasonable. A bad chair hurts as does standing all the time. You all make compelling arguments for the ability to do both throughout the day. I was sure that I only had one option in order not to make my office look like a desk store. Thank you.

        1. cubone*

          Yeah, I didn’t realize how badly I hyperextend my knees while standing, so that was causing some issues too. Good luck! I hope you find one.

      2. Quinalla*

        Yup, this is my take, you need to mix it up. I have a simple sit/stand desk at home and I love it so I can get some standing in at times, but sit when I need to for tasks or to switch it up. I would seriously consider a sit/stand personally if you can find one you like.

    8. Irish girl*

      I have nice desk that does not look like a sit stand but does both. Looks like a regular wood sit desk with drawers on the side but the top part can lift up.

    9. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Sitting. Plan ahead — you may someday have a sprained ankle or a medical issue. Maybe add a foldout standing station on a nearby wall, or occasionally work at a foldout quilting table–but don’t limit your future you to only days you can always stand 100%.

  16. Escaped a Work Cult*

    I have a new job!! I’m waiting for the offer letter and need to get through the background check and drug test. My new company is hoping for a Nov 29th start date but giving my two weeks would mean it happens today to meet that. It’s fine to push back on the start date? Should I cut my two weeks short?

    My current work has had my boss curse at me and I’m miserable. I’m getting advice to cut early but I really don’t want to burn a bridge.

    1. Chc34*

      Congrats on the new job! Definitely do not give your two weeks notice until you have the offer letter and have passed the background check and drug test. I would push back on the start date and tell them that you’ll be able to start after giving two weeks notice to your current job, which you’ll be able to do after all those have been completed. A reasonable company will be fine with that.

      I know you’re miserable, but if you can at all manage it, I wouldn’t cut your notice period short.

      1. L. Ron Jeremy*

        +100%. I waited almost 3 months to give my two weeks notice after I had my offer letter in hand while my new company completed the background check.

        Let them know you’re waiting until they give you the all clear before you give your two weeks notice.

        1. Escaped a Work Cult*

          I definitely appreciate this! Validates my feelings on this, especially since I’ve had a majority of people advise the other way. I really do not want to walk back a resignation since the consequences will be dire.

          1. CupcakeCounter*

            Yeah – definitely wait to pass everything to turn in your notice. As someone else pointed out, it could also serve as a bit of a red flag if the other company encourages you to not give two weeks (there are a few exceptions such as a set-in-stone kickoff of a large, preplanned project you will be a key part of or beginning of a term/semester but those would be rare and hopefully fully explained before hand why there is a very firm start date).
            If your current employer is the type to cut off their nose to spite their face, maybe they will perp walk you out the door the day you give notice so you can then call new place and let them know the new circumstances and you can start at the original proposed date if that still works for them.
            I also agree with another piece of advice given to take at least a couple days to decompress and refresh yourself between roles. I only took 3 days after a particularly bad job because of finances and timing of their fiscal calendar and it was rough. I was so busy those few days trying to cram in a bunch of appointments and shopping for the dress code differences between jobs that my brain and body never really got time to reset. I ended up getting sick within 2 weeks of starting the new job and having to take almost a week anyway. Would have been much better for all involved if I had just pushed for that week up front.

        2. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

          Agree 110%. I also think it’s important to take a little time off between jobs to clear your head and reset. Say a week, on top of the two week notice period. Any reasonable employer will understand this.

    2. Name (Required)*

      I would not cut your notice period short – it will indeed burn a bridge, most likely. Your new employer should understand that the start date will need to be pushed back in order for background check and drug test to be complete, you to get an unconditional offer and therefore able to give notice to your current employer.

      1. WellRed*

        It looks like you are waiting on an actual offer letter and background check so this, to me, doesn’t even count as pushing back.

    3. SofiaDeo*

      Unless the offer, background check, and drug test are all finalized today, if the new company tries to pressure or guilt you into the Nov 29 start date, take a polite ” oh I thought the 29th start date was based on everything being finalized 2 weeks before Nov 29. Since it didn’t, it will have to be 2 weeks from (whatever day they finally clear everything/give you the offer in writing/give you notice of clearing the background check & drug test). Maybe consider calling whoever is handling all this to politely mention that a Nov 29 start was requested, and things need to happen to meet that target. Everyone IS stressed/overwhelmed/forgetful.

    4. Observer*

      Push back. If they give you a hard time, that’s a sign that you may be jumping from the firing pan into the fire.

      1. Maxie's Mommy*

        If they want to push on someone, tell them to push on the person doing the background check. They don’t get to push on you.

    5. Purple Cat*

      Absolutely push back your start date!
      “reasonable” companies shouldn’t expect new employees to start sooner than 2 weeks from giving notice, which means 2 weeks from clearing background checks/drug tests.
      Check the archives for people who have been burned by giving notice before everything was officially tied off.

    6. Cod, Fire and Bees*


      What do you want in this situation? Seems like your choices are to make yourself miserable by pushing back the starting date so you can spend more time getting screamed at or leave early and possibly burn a bridge. Be aware that the screaming boss may not have you work your notice period anyway, so your financial ability to be able to be without pay during what you thought your notice period would be might be a factor.

      Personally, I would prioritize myself and the hopefully better job over a boss and company that are making me miserable.

      Resign in cod and run from the bees!

    7. AnonToday*

      My manager just told an incoming candidate (who has accepted the position pending HR) that they absolutely SHOULD NOT give notice until all the checks and steps are confirmed, and that they should give a full two weeks’ notice. We’d rather have them start a few days later than leave them hanging between paychecks if something gets delayed or takes longer than expected. Nor do we want to ask them to burn a bridge with their current employer.

      On a tangent, decades ago, I did hiring at a jobshop. My manager told me to try and convince a candidate to give less than a week’s notice to his current assignment so he could come work on ours. I was dumbfounded, and actually had the gumption to say, “But, but, [Name], that would be wrong. Would you want someone to do that to us?”

  17. anon3this*

    Have you ever been in a situation where it feels like you’re somehow expected to know information you haven’t been told? I’m newish to my job and performing a complicated series of steps (think 100+ pages of instructions) and our documentation is out of date in certain places. However, whenever I ask questions about a step, I feel like the response I get most often is ‘there’s instructions for this’ or ‘that’s in the documentation.’ I usually never push back and sometimes ask where I might be able to find this, but usually my manager doesn’t know (because we have many different documentation sources). Or they do find it, but it’s in a place I would have no idea to look (like a section of documentation that says “OUTDATED” in the section title. I worry I come off like I’m not trying, so when I ask questions I specify everywhere I’ve looked for help, but I still feel like this interaction happens a lot. And sometimes the answer is that the documentation doesn’t exist at all… I update the documentation as I go so this will be easier for newcomers, but right now it’s pretty slow for me to search several large documents / email chains for help, then ask for help, implement the needed step, and update the documentation to include this. I am encouraged to ask questions and encouraged to update documentation, but I worry I come off as incompetent or slow. Any advice?

    1. Goose*

      One of the big reasons I’m looking to leave my current job. Any documentation is “in the Drive” and then I’m scolded for not knowing something I can’t find. I’m hoping to leave my successor with more updated files…but I worry they won’t be able to find them because there is NO organization to the drive.

      1. anon3this*

        Yeah, in my case I’m not being scolded or anything. I think I’m mostly just worrying about how I come off and expressing frustration at systems that are disorganized and make me seem like I’m disorganized.

        Another thing that really annoys me is when documentation doesn’t match what I’m doing. For example, say I’m making a fruit cake and I need blueberries and the instructions say to pull them out of the fridge. When I look, they aren’t there but when I ask, I’m told “for this project, blueberries are on the counter. It says so in long email chain I forwarded to you” Not in an unkind way, just I feel super frustrated a lot of the time. How was I supposed to know?? Also sometimes we’ll be dealing with blackberries and there are no instructions at all for this but I’m supposed to know to treat them like blueberries. I’m sure this becomes obvious as you do the workflow more, but for me, it’s not!!

        1. Observer*

          I think you are over thinking this. Not the frustration- what you are describing really is crazy making. But as long as you’re doing reasonable things and you are getting reasonable responses, you’re fine.

          Do let your boss know that you are updating the documentation as you go along. That should help with any lingering perception issues.

    2. Rusty Shackelford*

      I’d approach it as “thanks for you continued help in updating the documentation. I’ve come to another point where the instructions are out of date/missing. Can you help update/flesh out this part?”

      1. anon3this*

        Thanks Rusty! I think I’ve done something similar sometimes (though I really like your wording). One thing I’ve noticed happens is my manager will want to do the workflow together quickly (she’ll direct me verbally with what the steps are) and I don’t have time to write them down. I do my best to add everything after the fact, but ideally I’d be able to find a way to say “sorry, I need to pause and write this down” and keep notes as we do the steps. But I worry because my manager’s time is more valuable than mine and she seems a little frustrated when I’m slow when she verbally directs me with the steps (not frustrated with me per se, but she always seems like she’s interested in doing things as quickly as possible).

        1. Documentator*

          Oh I totally feel you on the “can’t write fast enough”! I had to really get used to asking people to pause so I can write. In the end, it’s saving time so you don’t have to ask again!

          Also, I write absurdly sloppy notes, then type them neatly and in logical order when I’m not talking with others.

        2. Hlao-roo*

          In the moment, a “sorry, I need to pause and write this down” is a great thing to say if your manager is reasonable. If you have 1-on-1s with her (or any other time when you’re discussing work and projects more generally), I think it would be worth addressing the pattern. “Boss, I’ve noticed that some steps in the documentation are missing or outdated. When you walk me through the process, I like to take notes so I can update the documentation later. I just want to give you some context for why it might seem like I’m slow to work through all the steps.” It might also be a good time to ask if there is a better way to update the documentation. A peer who knows the updated steps? A standard written by a 3rd party you can use for guidance? I don’t know what it would look like in your context, but your manager may have some ideas.

        3. Observer*

          You could explicitly say “I need to pause to write this down so I don’t have to come back to you” or you can ask if she’d prefer that you record what she is saying and you’ll transcribe later. Either way, she’ll see that you respect her time and are tying to be mindful.

        4. Not So NewReader*

          Would she let you record it on your phone? Explain that you will play it back later and write it out because you don’t want to make her wait for you to write it.

          I have a friend who takes a mini-recorder into meetings. She takes the notes for the meeting. She puts down on paper as much as possible and then fills in the blanks later.

          I have been in this situation and it sucks. I think the best you can do is endeavor not to ask the same question twice. Keep a notebook at your desk for the random bit of YOUR job that you learn. (sigh, training, it’s a thing, bosses.) One thing I did that was helpful was put a date and subject for each note. 11/12/21 Llama shampoo. Use 1/4 cup per bucket of water even though the package says 1/2 cup. 11/11/21 Alpaca food. Report low supply when 50% of the food is used up.

          I did this for a while, then I decided to start a new notebook where I alphabetized the notes by subject. And I made an index as I went along. This is kind of like journalling but for work.

    3. Reba*

      “I usually never push back” so are folks aware that the documentation is outdated/wrong/non existent? Like, people are telling you to go to the documents, but do they know that this is bad advice? I feel like it’s important to clarify this with your manager or other people you ask for help. It doesn’t have to be like a conflict or complaining, but just being gently assertive about what you are dealing with.

      And/or, do you feel like you could have a chat with your manager in which you said some of this? “I realize I’m spending a lot of time updating the old documents and coming to you with what sometimes feels like a lot of questions. Would you say this is an expected amount of work to get up to speed on these things from zero? I do feel like I’m contributing by improving the quality of documentation quite a lot. But is there anything you would like to see me doing differently in this area?”

      1. anon3this*

        People are aware the documentation is out of date, though they probably underestimate how out of date it is. It’s a process that changes/updates a lot so it seems like some part is always out of date. When I get a specific “that’s in this document” advice, I’m not often able to open that while conversing with them, though I sometimes find later that it’s not there. In that case, I usually ping the person to say I couldn’t find it in the place they suggested, is there another place I should look?

        I have had one chat with my manager where I said something similar (feeling like I asked a lot of questions, feeling slow) and I was assured that asking questions is good, if anything ask them sooner, and speed-wise I seem fine. I haven’t asked the ‘is there anything you’d like to see me doing differently’ question but that is a great one and I will ask at our next 1:1.

        1. ecnaseener*

          Well, that’s good! Take your manager at her word that you’re doing fine. It’s definitely frustrating to not have the tools you need, but it doesn’t sound like anyone’s blaming you for that.

        2. tangerineRose*

          Sounds like you’re doing OK then. Taking notes, updating the documentation, and letting people know where you’ve looked for doc, asking a question about a specific piece of documentation (and referencing it so they know that’s what you’re asking about) are all good things to do, and you’re doing them. In a company with disorganized, not always up-to-date doc, all these questions from a new person are probably pretty normal.

    4. Anon for now*

      Have you ever been in a situation where it feels like you’re somehow expected to know information you haven’t been told?

      YUP. Response to me asking for help/training/more info? “You need to figure it out.”

    5. Documentator*

      At a previous job, I literally rewrote the training manual as I learned the job. I had to ask SO many questions, it felt quite awkward. I figured out that it felt better on my end if I approached with the existing pages (however out of date) with the missing info marked with sticky notes. Most people I asked didn’t need to see the old stuff though, it just let me feel like I had done my due diligence.

      It’s important to note that part of your job (at least for now) is to fill in this missing documentation! It might help you to consider asking these questions a job requirement rather than an imposition on others.

      Lastly, just for the sake of easy searching right now, can you create a new (digital) document that is just copies of all the different things you’re searching? Then the “ctrl-f” search function can look at all of them at once. (This might not be helpful if you’ve only got paper copies of some documents).

    6. Anonymous Luddite*

      Our local guy who maintains the intranet loves to get pissy and say it’s on the site.
      After about the 20th time, I told him that UI is like a joke: If you have to explain it, it’s not very good.
      In retrospect, it wasn’t the most polite way to tell him it sucked, but he’s finally taking steps to fix stuff.

      Were I in your position, I would print out the outdated instructions, write corrections, and ask who to submit the updates to. But that’s me leveraging my position as a degreed, middle aged, middle class, cis-, het-, white dude.

    7. CupcakeCounter*

      And then when I mention that the documentation is outdate of missing a step I get “Well the documentation is only a guide” or “I wasn’t responsible for keeping it updated” or “I understand it just fine so I’m not sure what your problem is”. Of course you understand it…you’ve worked in the system for 15 years! I got my password 5 minute ago.
      I started updating the docs the person lost their ever loving mind…how DARE I TOUCH THEIR PERFECT DOCS!…then tattled to my boss. (Did a file save as so her originals were not modified.)
      Luckily boss is working to manage that person out (incredibly smart and full of institutional knowledge but simply shouldn’t work with a team/subordinates) and has complimented my docs and I’m even getting compliments and requests for help updating other docs from coworkers. My favorite was the email to the whole team from a coworker (who just doesn’t give AF about Little Miss Perfect) thanking me for writing the updated doc, saving it in a common location, and commenting about how awesome it was to finally have someone on the team who understands that not everyone has the same familiarity with systems or Excel and really spells out instructions step by step AND puts some explanations and reasoning in the doc for why something is done one way for this data set and this other way for a different data set.
      Even better was it was after a team department meeting where LMP stated that documents and procedures are useless since everyone knows their job. Which also happened to be the day after she sent a scathing email to the whole department about how many mistakes she was finding in various file. The department had over 50% turnover (because of her) but in her mind she showed them once how to do it so now they are experts.
      Yeah…I get it

    8. Choggy*

      Yeah, I wish those types of jobs had descriptions that include “Need to be able to learn by osmosis”. But I’ve also been on the other side, training and documentation provided, but to no avail. I can teach you how to do something, but I can’t learn it for you.

  18. Ruth*

    I’m going to be job hunting in a couple of months and aiming for a 100% remote job. I’ve done remote here and there in previous/current jobs, but never see the default. I did get two degrees entirely online and know from that as well as the few remote periods at other jobs that i can work well remotely, but I’m not sure how to frame myself for that but resume/cover letter/LinkedIn/etc.

    I do also worry about navigating the social aspect of remote work as I get a lot of it being around people. I understand that is part and parcel of remote working and I accept it, but am still a little concerned.

    Any advice on either would be very much appreciated! This is such a great blog and community and I’m hoping to be a bigger part of it in the future!

    1. fueled by coffee*

      Rather than focusing on working well “remotely” (as in, away from the office), I’d focus on your ability to work *independently.* Lots of people are looking for remote work right now for very obvious reasons, and I think you just need to demonstrate in your materials that your supervisor can assign you work to do and you will be able to complete that work well and on time, regardless of where you are physically located.

      1. Ruth*

        I hadn’t thought of that but it makes a lot of sense, thank you! I’ll make a point of emphasizing that in my wording.

    2. Moonbeam*

      In your job search, you should seek companies that have either a good reputation for remote work, or have a good “pitch” for their remote work culture. Those companies will often be proactive in sharing those details with you (e.g. on their website or job ads), but if you’re looking for more assurance of that aspect of the position try tailoring your own questions to get a good sense of their remote work culture. Such as “how do you promote a healthy team culture for your remote employees”.

  19. The Smiling Pug*

    Does anyone know of any WFH jobs that are legit and geared towards those seeking to transition out of reception/admin work?

    1. Goose*

      Can you be more specific in what you’re looking to move to? Many jobs are remote at the moment, and your best bet is leveraging your current skills and write a great cover letter explaining why you want to and would be a good fit for transitioning to that new type of role.

      1. The Smiling Pug*

        Sure thing! Right now I’m looking to move to either full-time copywriting/editing or marketing. I’m also looking for something that doesn’t require me to work evenings and weekends, as I have a podcast and I’d like a life outside of work.

        1. Chauncy Gardener*

          I’m at a small company, everyone is remote. Up until recently, we had a part-time marketing person. Now we have one who is full time, and also 100% remote. We are a software partner company. We work 9-5, basically. We advertise on Indeed and also on job boards that specialize in fully remote positions. Hope this helps.

    2. RagingADHD*

      Check out the Mom Project (you don’t have to be a mom or a woman). I was looking for remote work before the pandemic, and there were lots of opportunities on there. None quite right for me, but some good ones.

      Since you mentioned marketing and copywriting, try Creative Circle as well.

  20. Author Lady*

    Whew, I’ve been waiting all week to come ask for advice and opinions!

    A couple of years ago, I voluntarily left the work force in order to start a family. My husband and I had been planning and saving for this for quite some time, and I knew I wanted to spend at least a couple of years raising my kids before rushing back off to work.

    During my time home, I have finally been able to follow an old dream of writing and publishing a novel. I’m at the beginning stages of publishing now.

    When I do go back to work, I have decided that I want to get a teaching license in my field and move into teaching (I’ve always worked in a more research-based role). Having kids has allowed me to realize how much I like working with kids.

    So, this is the rub: Will having this novel published under my name prevent me from becoming a teacher because it would be considered inappropriate? For context, my novel is an adult fantasy novel with adult themes and mild sexual content, but it is not erotica or X-rated or anything of that nature.

    What do you think? Will this be a problem for me? I’m still going to publish my novel regardless, and I don’t want to use a pen name, so if you happen to see it then you’d know it’s me. But would this get in the way of potentially teaching children one day?

    1. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

      I mean, hard to say. Why not use a pen name and then you never need to worry about this issue?

    2. Metadata minion*

      If you’re teaching middle-schoolers or older, I would just have a script in place for how you’re going to react when your students find your book. Because they will.

      Are you in a very conservative area? Whether parents/administrators are scandalized (they shouldn’t be! they shouldn’t be even if you wrote straight-up erotica! but yeah, people get weird) seems like it would vary pretty considerably by region.

    3. reject187*

      Yeah, as a current teacher, some places won’t care, and others will care a LOT. I’d use a pen name if I was going to publish something even remotely risque. You’ve heard the stories of teachers being fired for posting pictures on Facebook during summer with alcoholic beverages. On the other hand, my high school English teacher published a horse girl romance novel with a brief sex scene and no one rioted. But that was after he’d been teaching there for some time and had established his reputation as a good teacher.

    4. Nela*

      Someone I know is a preschool teacher and uses a pen name for her fantasy novels (YA I believe but not sure, I haven’t read them). She told me that she didn’t want principals to see it as a “liability”. I assume she meant that parents might find an issue with it – her students are too young to care.

    5. mreasy*

      I would use a pen name. It only takes one flighty parent with school board sway to cause trouble for you.

    6. Shiba Dad*

      First. congratulations on publishing a novel. That’s quite an achievement.

      That said, I’d recommend using a pen name. Parents can be extremely puritanical. For example, I know teachers who are worried about the scenario reject187 mentioned regarding alcohol.

      Also, if a kid doesn’t like you and finds the book, they or their parents could make a big deal out of it.

    7. Storm in a teacup*

      I guess it also depends on what future novels you want to write?
      Maybe using a pen name will mean you are able to have more freedom to write about what you want without worrying about the day job.
      Or if you have a common enough surname maybe just your first initial and surname?

    8. Write what you love*

      A published author friend is currently in a conundrum of trying to get a couple of forays into more adult fantasy themes that she published under a pen name, but are linked to her other author name by a trade article, erased from connection with her because they are causing issues for her own children and family and for a few other reasons. She had always intended to keep them separate, but they have been merged professionally because there’s an unbiased published source detailing the connection, so she can’t even get Wikipedia to remove those works she no longer wants to be associated with, from her primary professional biography.

      If you’re going to publish this novel then you’re going to have to accept that you – and the people who love you and are associated with you – will be connected with it in the future. Some of those connections will be positive, many will be neutral, and there will be some negative. If you are open about it, a resilient person and willing to own the consequences, I say go for it. Even a pen name may not be the shield others are offering, especially if your work is popular and gains a following.

    9. CupcakeCounter*

      What about using your initials and maiden name as a pen name? Its still you but harder to recognize.

    10. Dino*

      Yes, it will be a liability, or at least something you’ll have to worry about every time you job search.

      Not quite the question you’re asking, but enjoying working with your own kids is very different from managing 30+ random kids, plus having to deal with the adults you’ll be working with. If you really don’t want a pen name, and you don’t have experience working in schools yet (so you haven’t experienced it firsthand), I’d dig really deep into what the working conditions are for teachers to see if that’s the path you want to go down. There are other ways to work with kids that aren’t teaching.

    11. AdequateAdmin*

      I would absolutely use a pen name.

      I write queer fantasy and I write under a pen name. Mine’s purposely very gender neutral to make it even harder to link it back to me. People can be super weird about stuff and I like having the option to bring up my writing on my own terms if I feel like it versus being forced to because someone googled me. And like everyone else has brought up, people can be especially bizarre about what they think educators should or should not do in their spare time.

      But if you’re completely against a pen name, maybe consider changing up the spelling of the name you put on your book? Like “Kathryn Howerd” instead of “Catherine Howard”?

    12. A Teacher*

      This is going to depend very much on the location and type of school you want to work in. But yeah, it could be very damaging for a career in teaching, sadly, assuming your name is unusual or uncommon enough to as identifiable as you, and I’d strongly urge you to reconsider using a pseudonym. Otherwise, it’s always going to be an issue.

      1. A Teacher*

        Also, this line worries me a bit: “Having kids has allowed me to realize how much I like working with kids.”

        It’s not the same thing, at all. And unless you have experience of working with large groups of other kids, I’d be very cautious about assuming you want to be a teacher. Way too many people think they’ll like teaching for the wrong reasons, then flame out when they discover the reality,

    13. Anon for This*

      My brother published using his middle name in place of his first for similar reasons. Publishing your book under your own name may not prevent you from becoming a teacher as there is always a need (and given your research-based work, I’m guessing in a STEM field) but it could prevent you from working at the school(s) you prefer.

    14. NancyDrew*

      Where you live, this might be a bigger or smaller risk. But to be on the safe side, use a pen name.

      1. NancyDrew*

        And by the way — If you’re concerned about using a pen name because you want to be able to use your writing on your resume, you can still reveal that you write under a pen name in your CV materials. so if you want to include it as an accomplishment, you can — just not super publicly.

        I ghostwrite (as well as publish under my own name), and my agent absolutely has permission to reveal my ghostwritten books when she’s pitching me to publishers. I don’t list them on my website because I signed NDAs, but I’m still able to reveal to the appropriate people as needed.

  21. Lizy*

    Networking – I’ve reached out to a contact and she’s graciously offered to help in my search for a position. How often should I touch base with her?

    1. cubone*

      Is there any specifics of how she will be helping? Eg. passing along postings if she sees things that would be a good fit, mentorship, resume advice, etc.? I think the answer is really dependent about what you both understood “help” to mean in this context. If “I’ll help you search by keeping an eye out for positions”, I frankly wouldn’t touch base that often, since that to me is a “don’t call me, I’ll you” (in a generous, polite way!).

    2. TulipBird*

      This is kind of a strange request, I wouldn’t expect anyone to help me find jobs or search for postings for me. I wouldn’t contact her more than once to ask if she’s come across any job postings.

      1. Lizy*

        I had applied for a position with her company and basically just told her that and said if she wanted to put in a good word that would be awesome. She offered the rest.

  22. AlexandrinaVictoria*

    In the past year, my company has demoted me (same job description, moved from exempt to hourly with no overtime allowed), given me a 1.5 % “raise” to keep me in line with a new company we have acquired, and has gotten rid of my excellent health insurance plan, which leaves me having to pay more per paycheck for much less coverage. When I’m interviewing for jobs at other companies (which I will be doing, no fear), how to I spin this when answering the “Why are you looking for a new job?” question?

    1. cmcinnyc*

      Am I reading correctly that you’re company went through a merger? That’s an easy one: “My company went through a merger X years ago and I’m not feeling like the result has left me being a great fit there.” So many people have been there.

      1. ThisIsTheHill*

        This. When I left my last job for myriad reasons, all that I said was, “In the 5 years that I was there, we went through 4 reorgs & the culture changed to the extent that I no longer felt like a good fit”. If they asked anything further, I’d explain that we went from a collaborative to siloed environment. Anyone who’s worked in a company during reorgs or mergers won’t bat an eye.

        1. Chauncy Gardener*

          This totally. Everyone understands what mergers do the employee base. No other explanation will be necessary!

    2. Little Lobster*

      You don’t have to spin it. You can lie. “I learned a lot and now I’m looking for something more challenging” is a fine go-to, and it’s not entirely untrue.

    3. Shiba Dad*

      Been there. Many years ago small company I worked for (25-25 employees) was acquired by a larger company (700-900 employees). Eventually our insurance plan was dropped for what the rest of the company had. Like you, less coverage and more employee contribution each paycheck.

      As far as what to say in interviews, you can say any number of things about how this acquisition has changed the company and your place in it.

    4. Cat Tree*

      I think it’s better to frame it as why you applied to the job you’re interviewing for, rather than why you are trying to leave your current place. Most employers ask that question because they want someone who is at least vaguely interested in the work. It’s not usually intended as an interrogation where you have to just job searching in general.

      So go with a nice version of why you applied to that job. Even if your main reason is “I desperately need to leave my current situation”, you had *some* reason for applying to that specific one over the hundreds of other postings that you browsed through. It could be as simple as “this particular job looks like a good fit for my experience/ expertise but is also an opportunity to learn new skills” and just leave your current job out of your answer.

  23. Potatoes gonna potate*

    I hope a double post is ok – I’ve been itching to ask this, and it ties in to the pay cut post above, while that’s more direct and time sensitive this is more broad. I know I said I can’t quit my job over this but….I’m finding myself at a crossroads and just needing…I don’t know, an ear, guidance, opinions etc.

    Quick history–I worked at firm for a few years, started as a preparer and got promoted to management before being laid off at the start of COVID. Did an extremely short stint contracting for a company, stopped and began a new role in August where I was let go after 6 weeks. (I was also pregnant around that time and had my kid that year).

    For a while, I felt really proud of myself that I got promoted up to management in my longtime position. But then struggling at my contracting gig and getting let go from the new position after a month really killed my self esteem. It’s taken me a while to accept the hard truth that I’m just not as skilled and competent as I thought I was.

    I haven’t done much in career development since then I did a little bookkeeping here and there and then went back to former company doing returns as a contractor. Things were fine until the pay cut.

    If I did an honest assessment of my own skills I’d say I’m still at the junior level. One thing I have learned over the last year from being in different groups and working freelance is that there is so much I don’t know. I didn’t major in accounting – just minored in it and took extra courses – but even if I did, I graduated in 2009 and I don’t remember anything from my major. Everything I learned, I learned on the job and continuing education.

    So now…..eventually I want to apply for junior positions but I’m worried that it’ll raise a red flag and i’m not sure how to actually explain “I worked for 6 years and rose to management but turns out I don’t know shit.”

    Also,…..I just can’t do tax season anymore. Not hte 80 hours, the stress etc. I haven’t worked a full tax season since 2019 and tbh I’m not sure I want to go back just yet. But tax & bookkeeping is what I know and the field I want to stay in. I’m willing to start at the bottom except I can’t survive and support my family on a minimum wage salary, but I can’t afford to work 60 hours a week anymore. So I feel stuck

    1. Reba*

      This sounds very tough. I wonder if you are being too harsh on yourself. “Everything I learned, I learned on the job and continuing education.” This seems… good to me?

      Is there anyone in your professional network, maybe someone a little older, who you could ask for their assessment of your work and potential paths away from tax season?

      Would freelancing for smaller clients and building up a stable of ongoing but smallish, regular bookkeeping sound appealing or possible for you?

      1. Potatoes gonna potate*

        I don’t think I am – I see my peers and I know I don’t know as much as they do. What you put in the last para does sound appealing

        1. Reba*

          I used to work at a very small business (3 people) and we had these cool bookkeepers who were sisters who worked together, they would come by for a few hours 2x a month to go over the accounts, cut checks and so on. Most of their business was small clients like that.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          You are actually a very strong person with a strong work ethic. I would not have lasted as long as you have in tax prep.
          Where ever you go you are still that strong person with a strong work ethic and these two things will carry you though a lot.
          I think the bookkeeping suggestion is a great idea. I’d like to add that small municipalities around here are always looking for PT bookkeepers. (Rural area, less choices for hiring.) I also see plenty of wfh jobs.

    2. Aaron Burr, Sir*

      Sounds like a bookkeeping/accounting position in a private company would be better for you than working in public accounting. Tax season can be brutal and I have had many colleagues over the years who have left Public Accounting and moved to private. The quality of life is so much better from Jan-April.

    3. Hlao-roo*

      I don’t think applying for junior roles in necessarily a red flag. I think an explanation can be along the lines of “I tried management/80 hour tax season weeks and those just aren’t for me. I enjoy the individual contributor work.” Lots of people try management and realize it’s not for them. I assume plenty of accountants are also sick of the tax season grind and look for lower stress roles.

    4. SofiaDeo*

      I am wondering with the desperate need for workers, if you can do contract tax/bookeping work for a company and INSIST on time boundaries. When I got a health condition that necessitated my taking at least a long weekend if not a full week off a normal 40 hour week every 6-8 weeks, I switched to contract work. As a contractor, you can always say “sorry I am already booked for that (day, week, whatever)” or “I am unavailable that (evening, weekend)”. As long as you can say “no”. If you are a big people pleaser, this may not be a great choice.

    5. Merci Dee*

      I worked for a couple of years in a public accounting firm, and then got let go when they had to downsize. I did the tax seasons, and they were crap. I really enjoyed the auditing aspect of the job, though. My next job was almost exclusively auditing with a government auditing department, and that worked for a while until I had a daughter and realized that working from client job sites was going to be hard to do, especially since some of those job sites were in far-flung areas of the state and I wasn’t going to be home every night. I finally landed in a private industry job, doing sales/use taxes and fixed asset management. Considering the substantial experience that I had with auditing before I took this position, the job has steadily grown to include more and more auditing (for instance, now my job duties include a review of the majority of our monthly invoices, excluding certain groups of raw materials invoies, to ensure that sales taxes on the purchases are correct before the invoices are approved by CFO and set up for payment). So I get the best parts of the auditing job that I loved (reviewing source docs to determine correct taxes on purchases, and managing fixed asset acquisition), but without the constant traveling that would have made it impossible to spend time with my daughter. I feel like I definitely came out on the winning side by moving into private industry.

  24. I can't be the only one*

    Lately I’m just struggling at work. I’m a high performer as confirmed by my boss. I keep getting more work put on my plate and I just can’t do it all. I honestly can’t tell if it’s me (would I have been able to handle this level of work two years ago), or if it’s just too much. Like many folks, I think this last year + just took it out of me. How do you know when you have too much work to do, or if it’s you that isn’t performing?

    1. hamsterpants*

      I think the distinction doesn’t have to matter. It’s too much for you right now. Time to have a conversation with your boss about task, prioritization, your career, and additional support you need.

    2. T. Boone Pickens*

      When was the last time you were able to take some proper time off and unplug? As for your question about if it’s you that isn’t performing to you have any metrics/KPIs that you can look at and compare them to previous years? I sympathize with you as I’m in a similar boat with having a large workload and I’m still working hard I just….care less about it I suppose? I’m trying to push through these next couple weeks before unplugging for 2 weeks around Christmas.

    3. cubone*

      maybe I’m being a bit harsh, but frankly, a boss isn’t a very good boss if they are adding stuff to your plate without proactively asking you questions to determine if you can handle it (and not just “is there a spare 5 min in your day”, but a proper can you take this on and what would you need to rebalance to do so).

      Again, I could just be cynical, but if I had a dollar for every person I’ve known who said a variation of: “is it just me not being able to handle the workload” when the issue is clearly “the workload is beyond reasonable [and/or I’m not getting the right support/resources/training to manage this workload”, well, my bank account would put Jeff Bezos to shame.

    4. Dittany*

      Does it matter? The world is a more stressful place now than it was two years ago, and your workload has hugely increased. Of course you’re feeling burned out! Talk to your manager about lightening your workload, and take a vacation if you can.

      And don’t beat yourself up if you’re not the exact same person now that you were two years ago.

    5. Missb*

      I’m fully remote and confined to working 40 hours a week. I’m not allowed overtime. A person with the same sort of job description as me left their job and a big portion of their job has been loaded on to me “temporarily”. It’s been 6 months so far.

      I’m taking 10 days off soon and I just don’t care what happens when I’m gone. I’m hoping to forget my login details when I’m gone. I need a break.

      Also, my employer needs to hire someone to replace the former coworker, which they’re actively doing. It helps me to know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. You definitely need to talk to your boss about the increased work load.

  25. Frustrated Fox*

    My manager and I are supposed to have weekly check-ins, but he cancels them at the last minute at least 50% of the time. He is usually a bottleneck for my work and these check-ins are the only way I can ensure I get the information/approvals I need to make progress on my projects. Last week I met with him and shared a list of 3 files I needed him to send me this week so that I can move forward with my work. He said she would have no problem getting them to me on time. I then followed up directly after the meeting with an email so that he would have no excuse to forget. I have literally not heard from him since then!! We work remotely from different states, so if he doesn’t reply to my emails or texts, I’m basically at a loss. I was hoping to ask him about the files again at our check-in today, but he just canceled on me with no explanation. This is not the first time something like this has happened, and it throws off my projects every time. He’s very high up in the company and I’m the only person who reports directly to him. I feel weird going over his head to the CEO, but there’s nobody else above him, so should I just talk to the CEO about my frustration? It seems like such a petty thing to take to the literal head of the company.

    1. Rusty Shackelford*

      Keep getting everything in writing, and be very specific. “I still need X and Y files from you – I’m a standstill on project Z until I get these. Do you have an estimate for when they’ll be ready?” Or maybe “Since I can’t do any more work on project Z until I get those files, is there anything else I could be working on?” But keep in mind that it’s entirely possible the CEO is perfectly happy with the status quo, and your manager may be working on other things that have been deemed more important. (Sucks not to tell you, though.)

      1. Anonymous Luddite*

        I’ll add that assuming you send the questions via email, if/when you do have your check-in with your boss, you tell him, “You can now delete all the emails I’ve sent you this week” so they have a visual cue that you are not waiting on them for anything.

    2. Ginger Baker*

      Does he have an admin? If so, please loop the admin in ASAP! They can chase as well and likely have a system in place to prompt him for things.

        1. Ginger Baker*

          Also an admin and I tell everyone they only need to cc me on emails to BossMan they want a response to lol. (I keep a running list, review with him at least weekly, things stay on the list Until Completed, and I can and will chase him down for more urgent items. This is by far one of the most valuable services I offer him and the firm.)

    3. JustMyImagination*

      Instead of easily to ignore messages like email and text, try calling. Talk and stay with manager on the phone while they send you the files.

    4. Joy*

      I think going over his head would be nuclear at this point.

      A couple questions – you say he’s the bottleneck for your work. Is he not responsible for the work your work feeds into? Who is accountable for your deadlines? If he’s approving them, it should be him. Are other people not reporting to him requiring your work directly from you? Has he communicated to you his expectations about deadlines? I’m assuming from your comments that you send your work directly to other people, but you need information or approval from him you can’t access or get on your own. The only way around this is to make him accountable for the deadline in some way, really.

      I’d have the meta-conversation with him – schedule a meeting, call him directly, hijack your next meeting, whatever works. State that you’ve found it difficult to meet deadlines because, and that you want to make sure you’re prioritizing & communicating your requests to him clearly. Ask what *he* wants you to do if you don’t hear back in time to make your deadline, and then repeat it back to him as a plan. “Okay, so you want me to move forward with the information I have. I’ll share my partial work with Fergus and let him know the complete product will be pending your input.” Or “Okay, so I should re-schedule a meeting for the next available timeslot on your calendar? In the meantime, I’ll let Fergus know we’re waiting on your input to proceed.” Or maybe there’s actually a way for him not to be the bottleneck – maybe you can get those files from somebody else, maybe he’s okay not signing off on every product, whatever.

    5. Your local password resetter*

      Did you talk to him about the pattern? That seems like the next step before going over his head.
      Maybe ask what he wants you to do when you’re waiting for his input, or how he wants to receive that?

    6. Stoppin' by to chat*

      It sounds like they may be too senior in the company to manage an employee well, and you would be better off reporting to someone that has time to manage. Could you suggest that? Or even identify another place for yourself at your company?

  26. bee*

    Just a hypothetical, honestly:

    I had to deal with worker’s comp for the first time this week (tripped and badly sprained my ankle, I’m a librarian so injuries aren’t exactly an expected part of the job). I work hybrid, though, and was wondering how it would work if I had done the exact same thing on one of my two days at home? I had to fill out an incident report with security, and a bunch of other paperwork, and I can’t imagine doing that at home. Would it even be a worker’s comp issue, since I was technically not “at work” even if it happened during work time? (If this is the case, that would have been MUCH easier, we have really good regular insurance and I could have gotten to a doctor way faster)

    I feel like the answer is probably a big ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ but I’m curious if others have had to deal with this, and if so what happened.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      If you work from home your employer is not responsible for the safe working conditions of your home. While it may not be your employers fault you tripped (I have been known to trip over my own feet and get badly hurt), part of the spirit of workers comp is that it incentivizes employers to make sure your workspace is set up safely to minimize the likelihood you hurt yourself.

      Y0u probably also aren’t doing activities such as shelving books at home where you might get hurt (not that shelving is dangerous it’s just the first physical activity I could think of).

      Now if say…your work provided monitor exploded at home and you were temporarily blinded by the shards? That might be a case to be heard. But for the most part if you’re at home you won’t have a claim.

      1. Bryan*

        It’s actually more complicated than that (at least in the US). Here’s an excerpt from an OSHA response where they question was about a person injured because she slipped while teleworking as she ran to check on her crying child”. Was it covered? Answer: No.
        Section 1904.5(b)(7) states: How do I decide if a case is work-related when the employee is working at home? Injuries and illnesses that occur while an employee is working at home, including work in a home office, will be considered work-related if the injury or illness occurs while the employee is performing work for pay or compensation in the home, and the injury or illness is directly related to the performance of work rather than to the general home environment or setting. For example, if an employee drops a box of work documents and injures his or her foot, the case is considered work-related. If an employee’s fingernail is punctured by a needle from a sewing machine used to perform garment work at home, becomes infected and requires medical treatment, the injury is considered work-related. If an employee is injured because he or she trips on the family dog while rushing to answer a work phone call, the case is not considered work-related. If an employee working at home is electrocuted because of faulty home wiring, the injury is not considered work-related.

        1. Eldritch Office Worker*

          Thank you for correcting me – my last experience with this was pre-covid and I have a feeling the lawyers my organization at the time had were….not great.

    2. Panicked*

      Injuries while working remotely can, in some circumstances, be covered under worker’s comp. Our instructions from our WC carrier is to file a claim and let the adjuster determine whether it’s covered or not.

    3. JHB*

      The location doesn’t matter. Primarily it’s that the injury occurred while you were performing authorized work for your employer. I actually lived through this last year. We were at the end of a big project and I was working from home on a SATURDAY (normally M-F, 8-5 job). I was on a conference call, stood up from my chair, and managed to slip, badly spraining my knee.

      I figured between WFH and it being Saturday, I’d simply pursue it as a normal accident via my health insurance. No way. It was 100% a comp claim. My supervisor, HR, the questions on urgent care form. And be very careful. If there’s even a hint it is work-related, your insurance will not cover anything.

      1. Yep*

        That last sentence is the key. If you start out claiming it’s work related and are then declined, it is a fight x 100 to get your insurance provider to cover any claims or additional claims if an injury results in long term chronic issues.

        1. JHB*

          Frankly, I found the bureaucratic comp claim process a nightmare. But I was incentivized to see it thru. Mine was a really bad wrench that took almost a year to heal. I had been warned by several sources to be very careful what the doctor diagnosed and that the full remedy, recovery was completely documented. Otherwise any future problems with the knee – even years later – might be linked to this episode and regular insurance would refuse to cover treatment. And who DOESN’T have knee problems as they age?

    4. Miki*

      We just had a new/updated policies issued (like yesterday) and here is c/p from them about work comp:
      Injuries sustained by the employee while at their home-based work location and in conjunction
      with their regular work duties are normally covered by the university’s workers’ compensation
      policy. Employees working a remote and hybrid arrangement are responsible for notifying the
      university of such injuries in accordance with worker’s compensation procedures. The
      employee, and not the university, is responsible for any injuries sustained by visitors to their
      work site.

    5. Pharma Isn't All Evil*

      Worker’s comp would apply to whomever owned the property in which you were hurt. Recently, I stepped in a hole in the parking lot and sprained my ankle. My company leases so it was actually the property manager insurance that was looped in, not my employer. Had nothing to do with work at least in this situation.

      1. Delta Delta*

        Adventures in insurance subrogation! Your employer’s comp carrier would have sought reimbursement from the property owner’s carrier.

        Mr Delta is a workers’ comp legal expert. We talk about comp a lot at my house. A lot.

  27. BellaDiva*

    My husband is in IT. He is a team leader, and has one person on his team who has been there for about three years (“Nikko”). My husband likes Nikko, but is getting more and more frustrated with his lack of attention to detail and having to check his work for accurateness and completeness. He often has problems with his code, and Hubby finds the coding error within a minute (not exaggerated – literally a minute!) because he isn’t paying attention. Nikko only reads parts of emails, then replies with questions that are answered in that same email! Hubby spends at least one hour, often longer, per day going over code with Nikko, and then working late to finish his own projects. I’ve been trying to encourage him to loop in their manager, but he doesn’t want Nikko to lose his job because he’s a “nice guy”. What can I say to convince him that being a nice guy does not equal being able to get away with sloppy work?

    1. Reba*

      Well, he will keep making mistakes until one day he does a really costly one and your husband isn’t around… and then he’ll REALLY be fired. Whereas if he can implement some new habits with coaching, he probably won’t be!

      Jumping to the possibility of dude’s firing seems like catastrophizing — unless the mistakes are really dire, in which case it is actually irresponsible of your spouse to cover for him so much. It sounds to me like a lot of of this is solvable, and the parts that may not be, your spouse can’t be responsible for.

    2. Little Lobster*

      Nothing, probably. This isn’t your problem. Your husband is an adult and can make his own decisions when it comes to his job. Unless it’s directly affecting your relationship, let this one go. If the real issue is that you’re tired of hearing your husband complain about this person, tell him that since he doesn’t want to take concrete steps to fix the issue, you don’t want to hear about it anymore.

    3. Nicki Name*

      Standard answer: It’s not your workplace; it’s your husband’s, and he gets to make his own decisions and take the consequences.

      Geek answer: There are standard processes for dealing with sloppy code which it sounds like this team isn’t using. Peer reviews can catch mistakes without a manager having to get involved. Automated testing can look for newly introduced bugs. Yes, they add effort, but having Nikko micromanaged for an hour or more every day is taking time away from writing code too.

    4. CurtailedWhale*

      I’ll be answering this as someone who is a noob programmer (graduated 2020, been at this company developing software for 2.5 years). If one of my more senior coworkers consistently had issues with my work, I would appreciate it if they mentioned it to me for me to try and address by myself before bringing it up with a boss. It sounds like your husband is working with Nikko on individual problems as they come up, but maybe Nikko doesn’t see it as a problematic pattern. It’s possible your husband has already mentioned it or wouldn’t be comfortable having that discussion, and if that’s the case, it sounds like his options are to deal with things as they stand or bring it up to Nikko’s supervisor.

      Sidenote: showing your code to someone else and they find a typo in 1 minute happens to almost everyone. Sometimes you’ve been working on a problem long enough that it all just blends together and you need some fresh eyes. Just this week my team lead asked me to be fresh eyes on the problem and I quickly found a typo that fixed the problem.

    5. hamsterpants*

      If focus on the downsides to you and your husband. Is he working extra hours that take away from your time together or his responsibilities at home? Is he complaining a lot or unable to enjoy time away from work? Is his own work and career suffering? When Nikko finally makes a huge mistake that your husband misses (because it will happen), is your husband going to be in trouble?

      Right now I expect he’s treating this a victimless behavior, but it seems like you don’t see it this way.

    6. Observer*

      I’ve been trying to encourage him to loop in their manager, but he doesn’t want Nikko to lose his job because he’s a “nice guy”. What can I say to convince him that being a nice guy does not equal being able to get away with sloppy work?

      Maybe Niko is a nice guy and just incompetent, but he could also be not such a nice guy or a nice guy with issues that he’s not addressing, which is its own set of problems. I really do think you have to consider that when someone’s *behavior* is causing this much inconvenience for others, that maybe that person is not so nice.

      Why does your husband think that looping in the manager will mean that Niko loses his job? If Niko REALLY CANNOT do the job, then he needs to find something that he CAN do. But if he’s just being sloppy because you’re husband is covering for him, then he doesn’t have to lose his job. Rather, he can clean up his act, which is going to be FAR more likely once the boss gets looped in.

    7. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      I hate to say it, but my experience with Nikko’s is that shielding them from the consequences of their sloppiness and mistakes just delays their coming to see the light.

    8. BellaDiva*

      To answer a few questions, the manager has expressed that he is not happy with Nikko, and Hubby doesn’t want to be the final nail in the coffin, so to speak.

      One example on how it impacts me directly is a daily covid-related report that has to be submitted to a government department by 6 a.m. Hubby has been getting up at 5:15 every single day (including weekends and vacations) since March 2020 to run the report, as he doesn’t feel comfortable asking Nikko to take on some days.

      As for typos, it includes using the wrong search/commands, not just missing a semi-colon (sorry, my one and only programming course was decades ago, so my terminology isn’t great).

      It’s not that Hubby complains to me all the time, but the opposite – he tends to internalize it unless I ask.

    9. ADHD Coder here*

      TBH Nikko sounds like my partner and I who both struggle with ADHD.

      Proper medication and treatment for the ADHD did wonders that all the PIPs and yelling and threats of losing jobs over the years could not.

      This is not trying to diagnose Nikko but I see a lot of advice being given in the thread above that is well-meaning but would be more effective for a neurotypical person than someone with ADHD. Nikko is not required to disclose any underlying neurodivergence of course, but there are a lot of results if you google “coding with ADHD” that might inspire some additional ways to work with Nikko in strengthening areas they need to improve. If they are open about their ND they might qualify for accommodations that can help.

      1. Observer*

        If Niko has an issue – ADHD, GAD, whatever it may be – that is his problem. He’s not performing, he’s not shown any awareness that he needs to perform and he’s not shown any evidence that he’s trying to fix the problems (that he doesn’t acknowledge exist).

        It would be utterly inappropriate for the OP’s husband to try to manage Niko with the assumption that he is neurodivergent in any way or has any sort of mental health diagnosis. In fact, doing so could create some significant problems.

        If Niko is in fact neurodivergent in some way it is TOTALLY on him to approach Hubby / Manager / HR and say “I have an issue and this is what I need so that I can perform as I need to. I am working with a care team to mitigate it on my end, as well.” Now, technically he doesn’t need to say the latter, but given how bad things have gotten, he’s going to need to show that he is acting in good faith.

    10. Choggy*

      Doing the same thing and expecting different results…never works. Being a nice guy doesn’t give Nikko license to be a screw up.

    11. Not So NewReader*

      Ask your hubby if being nice will help him keep his own job?

      Pretty much this guy’s work has your husband’s name or endorsement all over it. Is this work your husband wants his name tied to?

      You can point out in his overboard effort to be “fair’ with Nikko, he is being UNfair to the rest of his team. Nikko is tying up time and resources that could have been used to do actual work.

      Another thing you can ask, is “How much longer are you willing to do this? Do you wanna go another three years of this?”

      Meanwhile, your husband is charged with making decisions for he company. Your husband’s boss could decide that your husband does not make decisions in the best interest of the company, as he would prefer to make decisions in Nikko’s best interest.

      Sadly this isn’t even in Nikko’s best interest. If your husband quits next week, the new boss will probably just fire Nikko and Nikko will be totally blindsided by it. If your hubby starts a PIP, Nikko can chose to quietly look for work elsewhere.

  28. Anonymousaurus Rex*

    I work for a Fortune 200 company. A little less than a year ago, our senior leadership created a new position of Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, and hired a fantastic person for the role. This was announced with a lot of fanfare. She hit the ground running and created diversity initiatives and employee resource groups centered around different equity topics including things like payscale data. The work was clearly really hard, and she got some pushback, but it seemed like she had leadership buy-in and things were really starting to look promising. My own role is not particularly senior, but part of my responsibility is creating cultural competency training (including things like training on implicit bias and other issues highly relevant to DE&I). So somewhat naturally, I became closely involved with the new DE&I director’s work, and she promoted my work which went from me creating training for one subsidiary of the company to creating training for the entire 10,000+ employees across the enterprise. I’m really personally invested in DE&I and I was feeling really hopeful that we would see some real change as a result of this new Director. 
    Well…then my company made an acquisition of a smaller (500 person) company, and as part of the acquisition a new VP of HR was created, and now DE&I would fall under his purview. The amazing Director, who has only been in her role 10 months, has now been sidelined into a customer experience position, having little to do with her DE&I expertise. I really wanted to give this new VP the benefit of the doubt, but a few weeks in, it is clear he is totally out of his depth when it comes to DE&I. He wants to make DE&I “fun” by focusing on “edu-tainment” and “fandom” like lunch-and-learns where you learn new recipes for unfamiliar cultural foods or cocktails from different regions of the world. This is not DE&I. This is window dressing. In addition the VP has repeated talked about how DE&I is important but we have to remember to focus on our day jobs. The employee resource groups are technically still in existence, but completely without power. They have no access to company demographic data, for example, let alone payscale data. I’ve been in several meetings with the new VP and I (and many others) have voiced our concerns, but he does not appear to be listening at all. Other than “this sucks” I’m at a loss as to what to do. I’m thinking next steps are to write a letter from the different workgroups to the Chief HR officer, but of course I’m concerned that this could backfire badly, and the workgroups who care about DE&I will be disbanded. Any advice on how to proceed?
    If it matters, the original director of DE&I is a cis Black woman, the new VP is a cis Black man. I am a cis white queer woman.

    1. LizB*

      What does the original DE&I director think about the changes? I assume she’s not thrilled about them, but are her plans more along the lines of trying to make change or trying to get out as fast as possible or just keeping her head down and being quietly disappointed? I know you say you’re not particularly senior, but you’ve worked with her before, so I think approaching her (maybe thorough non-work or non-written channels), expressing your dismay at how things have changed, and asking if she wants any support from you/running your idea by her would be a good first step.

      1. Anonymousaurus Rex*

        Oh, we’ve definitely talked about it. She actually called me yesterday after a particularly excruciating meeting with the new VP and we chatted for over an hour. She’s been actively attempting to hand off all of her responsibilities to the new VP and has done her best to make the transition smooth and get the new VP up to speed on the ongoing initiatives she began. However, she’s decided that after today, she is going to step back completely. She knows what a disaster the new VP is, and is dismayed by it, but feels that she can’t continue to hold his hand, especially because she really doesn’t want to have her own reputation tarnished by the new VP’s strategic direction (of not doing anything meaningful). And of course she has a totally new job to do. She’s the one who suggested that we go over the VP’s head to our Chief of HR, and to do so soon before the existing DE&I structures are completely dismantled. I just worry that’s a very risky proposition.

        1. Observer*

          What’s your alternative? Is a toothless window dressing group better than no group? Other than disbanding these groups, what other harm are you concerned about?

          It sounds like your new VP of HR has pretty much blown up the entire DEI effort of the company. All that’s left is the window dressing. To me it seems like a good idea to get rid of that window dressing, so that it’s harder for New VP to hide behind it.

          1. Anonymousaurus Rex*

            I agree. But the current workgroups are made up of people who know the work and are fighting for it. If the workgroups are disbanded I’m sure they’d be replaced by people who thought the window dressing is a good idea. The risk is that it becomes *more* toothless.

        2. LizB*

          I’m glad you’re discussing it! Acknowledging that I don’t know your workplace, I think I’d be inclined to try out her suggestion. Having toothless workgroups is potentially even worse than having no workgroups, because the company can brag about valuing DE&I without doing any of the actual work. It seems like one attempt at getting through to the Chief of HR would be worthwhile, along the lines of: “We were really heartened by the great DE&I work the company did after Director came onboard, but it seems like a lot of that work has been dismantled since the merger. If we’re actually committed to this work, then X Y and Z initiatives should be kept in place, and it seems like VP isn’t planning to maintain them. When we’ve discussed it with him, he’s said blah blah blah…” Just laying out the facts. It would be very weird if the response was to disband the remaining workgroups, but it would also give you your answer about whether your company is actually committed to this work in a meaningful way.

          1. Anonymousaurus Rex*

            Yes, but I worry that if they disband the workgroups of folks who understand the work, they’ll certainly be replaced by a more toothless version made up of people who don’t actually know the work that should be done. A lot of the work was only in its infancy, so there’s not a full workplan in place that we can point to disappearing, just a very different understanding of what makes up DE&I work. I think the reality is that my company is NOT committed to this work in a meaningful way at least at the leadership level. But there are lots of people like me at the company who are committed to it and want to put pressure on the company’s leadership to follow through on their initial promise.

            1. LizB*

              Then maybe an interim step would be for the workgroups to come up with some concrete plans/proposals, bring them to the VP, and then go above his head if he brushes them off?

        3. Mr. Shark*

          Who was the DE&I director’s previous manager? Is she still around and does she have any power to affect some change? I would go to her if she is still part of the structure, because she conceivably hired the DE&I director previously and bought into her vision for the company before the new VP came on board.
          Otherwise, yes, I think it’s worthwhile to go to the Chief of HR and maybe frame it as not necessarily that the new VP is bad, bad, but that the structures are not being supported and it’s frustrating since she was hired to do those structures and you were supporting them in your work.

  29. Jascha*

    Can I get a reality check on whether my work environment is good, normal, or toxic? I am in so deep that I absolutely cannot tell anymore and could really use outside input. Here are some highlights:

    – company is small (~100 employees distributed across several countries)
    – fewer hours in our work week than industry standard (but we are salaried and expected to work as many additional hours as needed to complete our work, so nobody actually uses this “benefit” and most of us work extended hours)
    – pay is industry standard (apparently, but employees generally “feel” underpaid and regularly leave for higher-paid positions in related, though not identical, industries)
    – hybrid working arrangement, with all employees in office a minimum of two days per week (more if desired); however, employees do not choose which days are in-office versus home-working
    – start and end times have approximately one hour of flexibility
    – provides basic health insurance to US employees and “wellness benefits” to employees in countries that have universal health care systems
    – company expresses interest in mental health, diversity, inclusion, etc., but actual delivery is minimal (e.g., not appropriately addressing employee mental health concerns when raised, unhelpful when existing employees need diversity support such as disability services or religious accommodations, refusal to allow preferred names or pronouns in employee profiles or email signatures)
    – company preferentially hires at entry level and seeks to progress employees internally
    – company has high turnover due to employee dissatisfaction, but also earnestly tries to identify gaps in staffing and hire to fill those gaps
    – when employees leave, exit interviews are conducted solo by HR manager (no witnesses or recordings); only record of these interviews is HR manager’s notes, which are not cross-checked

    Some good, some bad, some neutral. What’s your general impression of the overall picture here? I need to know if I should be happy, GETTING OUT, or somewhere in between. Thanks!

    1. Colette*

      This seems somewhat average (maybe a little below) to me, but the details matter. (Things like: How many additional hours on average? How’s the insurance? What’s it like to work there? How is your manager? Do you feel like you’re doing useful work? Are you gaining skills that help you move your career in a direction you’re interested in?)

      1. Jascha*

        Thank you for answering! Additional hours range from 5 to 25 in a week, usually reasonable (like a few hours after the usual end of the workday or an early start), but sometimes very long days (12+ hours) or very late evenings without a choice. Really, the most egregious part of this is that they tout the shorter hours as a massive work-life benefit for the company, but then make it impossible to use that benefit and think it’s funny that anyone would expect to.

        The insurance in the US is basic, but I’m not a US-based employee, so don’t have all the details. In our non-US countries, our “additional benefits” are essentially useless.

        Most of the time, colleagues are great and work has a good division between interesting and boring. One or two very high-level people at the company make life very hard for the rest of us, but when they can be ignored, it’s not so bad.

        My manager (who also manages multiple colleagues) is friendly and relatively effective when needed; however, gets extremely defensive anytime anyone questions a company decision or points out that something isn’t quite right or doesn’t meet the needs of the employees. Wants to be perceived as someone who has employees’ backs, but wouldn’t actually do so in practice.

    2. Princess Flying Hedgehog*

      This seems like a lot of really common problems, but that doesn’t make the problems okay. It doesn’t seem to rise to the level of toxic, though, at least from your description.
      HOWEVER, the job does NOT need to be “toxic” to justify you leaving. (And deciding you “should” be happy won’t magically make you feel happy, either.) You can simply decide it’s not a good fit and look for something that would be better for you.

      1. Jascha*

        Fair enough! This is exactly the kind of reality check I need, so thank you. Depending on how management have behaved, some days I look at my job and think that I’m pretty lucky; other days, I can’t understand how the company has survived with their attitudes and policies. You see why it’s hard to gain perspective from inside!

        1. Princess Flying Hedgehog*

          Which is why you should look! Looking does not commit you to leaving, and it will give you a better perspective about what your options are.

          1. Jascha*

            Thanks for the advice! Casual market searches indicate that we could absolutely be paid more, but it can often be hard to get information on benefits or gauge company culture from that sort of thing. I guess the next step is to get deeper into looking and try to get a few interviews so I can explore what other companies are actually like in those respects.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          This is not that hard because if you think of it as yo-yoing, good/up and bad/down, then it’s easier to see that there has to be something out there better for you. Work as well as life should not involve a lot of roller-coastering where it can be prevented.

          Going the opposite way, we read stories here of people how actually LOVE their jobs and yet they leave anyway. The job does not have to be horrible in order to move on.

          What are your short term life goals? Longer term life goals? Does this job fit in with you meeting these goals? I found that once I started figuring how a job fit into my overall “life plan”, I made different and stronger choices. (And life plan can be something like what you would like to accomplish in the 5-7 years.)

          Think of yourself at this job 5 or 10 years from now. Is Future You sorry you stayed?

    3. Taura*

      Neutral to bad, imo. I don’t think it necessarily rises to the level of GET OUT, unless maybe you’re in one of the groups that’s not getting the mental health/diversity/etc support you’d prefer (and if you’re not getting the support you NEED, that pushes it more toward get out). It sounds like the kind of place where you wouldn’t be best pleased by spending the rest of your career there, but it’s good enough to stay while you have a leisurely job search for something way better.

      1. Jascha*

        Thank you! All reality checks and perspectives are appreciated. I am in the somewhat more affected side of things, but I also want to make sure that I’m not being skewed too negatively by that – hence consulting others for outside opinions!

    4. Little Lobster*

      It doesn’t really matter if we think this is normal or bad or toxic. If you don’t like it, you should job search. You can quit a job for any reason! It doesn’t hurt to see what’s out there.

      1. Jascha*

        Definitely! I just don’t want to shoot myself in the foot if this is all stuff that’s pretty common everywhere. I have been in the corporate world for less than a decade (though working longer than that) and most of that time has been spent at one company, so I don’t have a lot of mental checks and balances.

        1. Paris Geller*

          I think it’s safe to say these issues are by no means universal! Common? . . I mean, yes, the issues you currently have are more common than I think most of us would like, but you’re not guaranteed to have them in your next job. I think if you’re not happy it’s a good time to ramp up a job search and really hone in on any future interviews to make sure (as much as one can) that you end up in a healthy place.

    5. Nicki Name*

      I’m not sure what the good parts are supposed to be? Nobody gets to use the fewer hours benefit, and all the eagerness in the world isn’t going to make up for high turnover.

      The main red flags are (1) the high turnover and (2) preferring to hire entry-level people. (2) probably means the company kn0ws it has a culture that’s hard to adjust to and it’s trying to get people who won’t notice how out of whack it is. (I’ve worked at a place like that.)

      As other commenters say, this doesn’t rise to the level of “run, it’s full of bees”, but you can probably find a better place.

      1. Jascha*

        Thanks – really useful perspective! I know that the high turnover is due to employee dissatisfaction (mostly with pay and culture), but I think the desire to hire entry-level people has two motivations: 1) a minor motivation: allowing people to progress internally, and 2) a major motivation: they can be had cheaply.

    6. Dittany*

      I don’t see any huge red flags, but that’s not really the issue. The question is: Are *you* happy there? Do the negatives outweigh the positives *for you*? A workplace doesn’t have to be objectively hellish for you to be allowed to leave.

      1. Jascha*

        Understood! And I think the truth is that I’m happy with some aspects, but possibly not enough to stay. Another reason for this reality check request is that I want to know how to approach leaving if I do – are these things I should bring up in an exit interview or are they pretty normal in the corporate world? So it’s really helpful to know that most people think these aren’t great, but aren’t terrible either.

        (I’ve been thinking that, if I do leave, I’ll decline the standard exit interview with no witnesses and request a conversation with my actual manager instead.)

    7. mreasy*

      Hello, this seems very bad to me, particularly around unwillingness to support trans, disabled, , or religious employees or those with mental health issues.

      1. Jascha*

        Yes – those parts bother me as well, but the company doesn’t seem to perceive that they’re not doing enough. I’d love to give some specific examples, but I’m afraid many of the worst ones are likely to be identifying. Think things like “we accommodate those with mobility problems because one of the buildings on site has an accessible restroom” and “we support mental health because we have a peer counsellor, but we don’t think actual work accommodations are necessary for mental health conditions.”

    8. mister potatohead*

      The description sounds fine to me but if you’re unhappy, get out. Who cares what it sounds like to me? If you have reservations, listen to your gut.

    9. RagingADHD*

      The issue I see in terms of looking for a better job would be that the stuff that’s easy for a candidate to see is pretty average or sounds good, and the not-so-good parts are hard to identify in a job hunt because they are the insider view.

      You’d need to look at a lot of employee reviews and work your network to get that same view as a candidate. And even with those, it can be hard to assess how accurate or relevant the person’s view is, unless you know them well.

      You can probably do better, but it’s going to take a good amount of homework to suss out whether a place is better or not.

    10. Quinalla*

      I would say slightly bad and I would encourage you to job search, but I think you can certainly afford to be choosy.

  30. Sandrilene fa Toren*

    Job hunt prep advice? We’ll be moving back to our home state on the west coast when my husband finishes his PhD in the spring (yay!) and I’m already itching to get going on the job hunt. What can I do now to help lay the groundwork for my own job search, since where we move specifically will be reliant on my husband’s job offers? I know I can’t directly apply to anything yet, but my planner nature is in overdrive.

    1. L. Ron Jeremy*

      Start searching for west Coast jobs now and seeing what the market is like for your skillset. You may also want to write several cover letters for the various markets you want to apply to as templates.

      1. Floating Shift*

        I second this — get your base resume and a base cover letter ready, so you can go in and quickly customize as needed. I have sometimes been in the bad habit of not updating my resume and then when I’ve seen something I want to apply for, spend too much time just updating it. Also, definitely see what’s out there now. Even if you can’t apply yet, it will give you an idea of positions/locations/etc. Good luck!!

  31. Anon Here Again*

    Is there anything to do or say if your boss gets snippy and/or raises his voice at you? I can tell that he’s irritated, but sometimes I’m just asking a question and he’s ready to bite my head off. I ask if it’s a good time or if I should come back, but besides that, I don’t know what to say or do. Boss is known for having a temper, but he seems nicer to managers and people that he likes. He’s always been this way with me though, since I’ve started in the position 3 years ago. He also acts like this with the admin assistant- he’s said some nasty things to her, I don’t know why she’s stayed so long.

    1. Little Lobster*

      Take the “gray rock” approach. Don’t react in any way to the yelling. Tell him you’ll come back when it’s a better time. Don’t ask; just leave. You can’t change him, he’ll be like this forever. The only way to make this stop is to leave this job.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Gray rocking, I agree.
        One thing I did in a workplace where everyone could be snippy from time to time was to remove the emotion from their comments and look at what was said. Did they answer the question as asked? Most of the times they had actually answered me, but it was the tone of voice that got me.

        Let’s say I asked, “have you seen X?” and I get the reply, “IT’S OVER THERRRE!!!”
        What I would do is make extra sure I did not change my own tone of voice- “Oh great! thank you!” And I’d walk away pretending not to even notice the anger.
        I honestly think that some of them got tired of me NOT reacting to their pissy-ness and after a bit I found I was dealing with less and less tone of voice issues.

        I believe that one way to get out of these situations is to show one heck of a work ethic. Be very work focused. It kind of scares these people into submission if the see you rocking the job day in and day out.
        Sorry, not an instant fix. It takes time.

        You may want to consider that this is not a healthy environment to be in.

    2. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

      “You seem upset. Would you like to pause now and continue the discussion about Customer XYZ later?”

      1. mister potatohead*

        “It seems like now might not be a good time” will go down better than “you seem upset”. The former is neutral; the latter is a value judgment/opinion on a person’s emotional state and if you don’t want to get yelled at (“I’M NOT UPSET! WHY WOULD YOU THINK I’M UPSET?” or “OF COURSE I’M UPSET, COME IN HERE AND LET ME RANT AT YIOU FOR 20 MINUTES ABOUT WHY!”) go with the value-neutral proposition.

        1. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

          I think observing that they seem upset is a lever for them to take a step back and pull their sh!t together; they may not realize how they are being perceived. Of course YMMV.

    3. Mr. Shark*

      Well, I don’t know if this will work in this instance. But I have had people who would get snippy or aggravated, and I once went back at them saying, “We are both trying to achieve the same thing here, there’s no need to get upset.”
      I think it startled the person I was talking to, but also raised his respect of me because I didn’t just sit there and take it.
      Of course, depending on this person, that type of statement could make it worse. But that approach has definitely led me to better working relationships with people who try to bully their way through work.

  32. H*

    So I have a phone interview today for a job I am excited about at an org I am excited about but several things have come up in the last 24 hours that don’t sit well with me and I just need to vent somewhere:

    I applied for a Director position with this org a few months ago and thought I was a great fit for that role. I definitely thought it would be competitive with a lot of interest so I wasn’t suprised when I got an email saying they had a lot of interest and I wasn’t being considered BUT they like my resume and wanted me to apply for upcoming openings (nonprofit with new funding to have staff and pay is actually decent and I really believe in the mission). I work in health care now.

    I applied for a new opening when I was alerted a few months later. The position reports to the Director role I previously applied to and has similar responsibilities. The pay being offered is my current salary exactly. I am really excited about the mission and work of this org. I get contacted this week about a phone interview. It has been a month since I submitted my resume. It is initially a Board member and another person on the email (I assumed another Board member) but then I realize (after doing a LinkedIn stalk) that this person is the Director they just hired. They are doing my phone interview.

    The person they hired as the Director (they said it was competitive)….. is getting their BA in 2023 from an online University and has worked in nonprofits in various roles for about the same amount of time as I have. I have a Master’s in my field as well as a special certification and license and have worked in nonprofits and health care and graduated for 2 different state universities…. Outreach and comms is also a part of this role and this person has 20 LinkedIn connections and I have hundreds… guess I am just shocked and wondering if this is a red flag or if I am being a supersob here.

    1. Colette*

      I think you’re overvaluing education, when in many cases, it’s almost irrelevant to the job. The LinkedIn connections are also probably irrelevant, unless the outreach is via Linked In.

      But they’re allowed to hire whoever they want to hire.

      1. DC*

        Agreed. Personal LinkedIn connections are, frankly, irrelevant to outreach and comms roles compared to actual experience with business accounts.

        I also think you are overvaluing education, and if you do truly want this role, need to make sure these feelings and this attitude towards the Director don’t show.

        1. H*

          Just for some context (though you might be right). I don’t have a random Master’s degree in something intangible. I have one in a field that often also requires state licensing for many of the roles and jobs we are hired into however the degree is versatile enough that many people with this Master’s aren’t always doing clincal work.

    2. The New Wanderer*

      It sounds like whatever impressed them about the person they hired as Director isn’t obvious from their LinkedIn profile. I understand your initial reaction, though. I’ve run into this myself, finding out that someone hired for a high-level role I applied to and wasn’t even interviewed for has a lower-level degree and less direct experience (per their LinkedIn profile). I would have thought based on the description of this specific role that they’d prefer someone with my kind of credentials, but I only had the job description and the chosen candidate’s limited-info profile to go on. Ultimately, all I know was that this person had something the company valued over what (they perceived) I had to offer.

      If this job sounds really good to you (and it seems like it does), I’d just see what the new Director has to say. It might become clear that the Director needs to lean heavily on this role (probably not great if you’d be shoring up a big lack of skills the Director should have) or the Director needs to focus on the other major elements of the role that play to their strengths, leaving some pieces of it to this position (better in terms of growing the role to your own strengths). Good luck!

    3. PT*

      I worked for a nonprofit that had a deal with three online universities to issue degrees aligned with the internal employee training system, so I am going to disagree with the consensus and say that the degree is a pretty big red flag. Unfortunately my experience was that the managers who got those degrees instead of traditional ones were missing a lot of basic information. It meant that their entire educational and career experience had been within the same organization, and therefore they had a ton of blind spots and lack of perspective as to how things operate in outside organizations, and how things could possibly be done differently.

      Additionally, and unfortunately, it was a career and degree path that was most frequently taken by people who had failed upwards. People who took a part-time gig as a young person and somehow found themselves running the show five years later because they were the only employee left when the whole rest of the staff walked out for better jobs, which was not an option for them. They were steeped in the dysfunction of the organization, and were not at all willing to work to build a functional workplace.

  33. DC*

    Both jobs from a few weeks ago that said they wanted to hire me but for a different role have sine rejected me for the original role (expected) and gone radio silent. So I’m back to the drawing board, and applying to as many things as my network can send me.

    In the meantime, I’m still taking freelance contracts. Any advice from fellow freelancers out there for how to market yourself when you can do a number of different things for people? What to call yourself? How to set rates?

    Just trying to stay afloat…

  34. HobBoglin*

    Not really a question, more like a complaint & a question. My colleagues are all doing 75 Hard as a team building exercise and some of our team can’t or shouldn’t participate. I just don’t want to. 1: I hate “habit hacks” in general and especially as team building and this one is by far the worst. 2: The department head hinted that it could reflect negatively on performance reviews. We don’t have HR, we have peer mediators (nightmare). Ideas?

    1. BlueBelle*

      I think this would be a great question to submit to Alison. There are so many red flags here, I would love to hear her advice on this. 75 hard can say it isn’t a diet program but it is. There are countless articles about it, and it shouldn’t be done at work!

    2. cubone*

      God I would probably write a 10 page diatribe of my disgust with this “team building exercise”. Or you could do a simple: “Hi, unfortunately I won’t be able to participate, as several parts of the program conflict with the recommendations of my medical team”. Or just wait for Alison’s great advice, because WOW this is bad bad bad.

        1. cubone*

          it’s SO egregious to tell people how to manage their food and movement (!!!!!) as a part of your JOB. My god. My heart breaks for, well everyone, but especially anyone there with any type of medical issue, disability, eating disorder experience, etc. What a nightmare.

        2. comityoferrors*

          The site I found about it stresses, in huge letters, that “THIS IS NOT A FITNESS PROGRAM” which is nicely contradicted by the disclaimer at the top of the page saying “You should consult your physician or other health care professional before starting 75 HARD™ or any other fitness program.”

          Lordy. I’d love to see Alison’s full answer to this.

          1. pancakes*

            Yeah, I’d never heard of it and just skimmed an article about it in Men’s Health. The guy who created it “is not a certified trainer, dietitian, or licensed clinical therapist,” and they didn’t have anything positive to say about it.

        3. Elizabeth West*

          *googles it too*
          What person who works has 90 minutes a day to exercise? *jumps on the Nope train to IDontThinkSo Town*

    3. Nicki Name*

      I just had to look up 75 Hard, and wow yikes what is this even doing in a workplace. Start polishing up your resume!

    4. Purple Cat*

      What in the world?
      I had never heard of this and looked it up, the “highlights” for those who are wondering:
      The critical tasks are as follows:

      Follow any nutrition plan designed for your goals, with zero alcohol and no cheat meals.
      Complete two 45-minute workouts every day, one of which must be outside.
      Drink a gallon of water every day.
      Read 10 pages of an educational or self-improvement book every day.
      Take a progress picture every day.

      None of this is work-related so why on earth should it be reflected in your performance reviews??

      1. Enough*

        A gallon of water? Half of that is the standard. Too much can cause all sorts of problems. And how does a working person have 90 minutes every day to work out? Especially with family responsibilities let alone with other interests.

        1. ThatGirl*

          I do not have enough time in my day to work out for 90 minutes AND drink a gallon of water; I’d be in the bathroom every 45 minutes!

        2. Not So NewReader*

          OMG- drink a gallon of water??!
          NO WAY!

          And this coming from the person who promotes drinking water and staying hydrated. No do not do this.
          I drink just over two quarts every day (appropriate for my body size and weight). If I drank a gallon of water there would be puddles on the floor. My kidneys would not hack this.

          What was that story about a talk show host who told people to drink a lot of water and a woman died?
          Oh crap. No. Just no.

        3. Clisby*

          Also, even with the half-gallon standard, the sites I’ve seen remind you that water doesn’t just come from the tap/bottle. Coffee, milk, beer, wine, fruit juice are all mostly water. Many foods contain water. (I feel pretty sure drinking 64 oz. of plain water isn’t likely to hurt anybody, but depending on what else you’re eating or drinking, it’s not strictly necessary.)

      2. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        Follow any nutrition plan designed for your goals, with zero alcohol and no cheat meals.
        Complete two 45-minute workouts every day, one of which must be outside.
        Drink a gallon of water every day.
        Read 10 pages of an educational or self-improvement book every day.
        Take a progress picture every day.

        Try to impose that on me and it’s a drinking game by sundown.

        1. the cat's ass*

          my response would be “go f&ck yourself with a tuba, sideways.” In Japanese. That’s massively intrusive. Kinda like the tuba!

      3. cubone*

        I know this isn’t the point to debate the efficacy of this program (since what matters is its wildly inappropriate use in a work setting), but can I also just say this sounds so … shame-y? And aggressive? Like if that’s what you want, fine, but I can’t imagine how damaging this would be on my self-worth and mental health. It just sounds like… “be a perfect, robotic human and make no mistakes”. Cool!

      4. RagingADHD*

        The closest one to a work-related thing would be reading. Some companies give time and budget for self-directed skills training or educational goals, so that one isn’t too egregious.

        But that’s 1/5.

      5. tangerineRose*

        Ask them if you can do all of this on company time. And a gallon of water sounds like too much.

        1. RagingADHD*

          If you’re a tall, large framed person working out very hard for 90 minutes a day in the heat, it might be reasonable. But in that case you’d probably be better off with some electrolytes in there.

      6. A Wall*

        I’m under doctor’s orders to drink way more water than normal and I still don’t get anywhere near a gallon of water a day.

    5. CatMintCat*

      The minute somebody starts dictating what I can read, I nope right out of there. High school scars run very deep.

  35. Eldritch Office Worker*

    I posted last week that I was bored and waiting for my job to pick up.

    Haaaaaa the universe heard me. Careful what you wish for! If you need me I’ll be mainlining coffee.

  36. Philly Redhead*

    I applied for a staff position (graphic designer) at a university. I had to list three references in my initial application, so I listed my previous manager, my current manager, and a co-worker who also acts as our team’s project manager. I didn’t list other previous managers, because those were production (not design) positions.

    I just had a third-round interview with the university, and they’re going to make a decision soon. Is it typical that they’ll let me know before they contact my reference? Or should I pro-actively reach out and ask them to let me know so I can give my current manager a heads’-up?

    1. Alex*

      You should reach out definitely. They might assume you have already given your manager a heads up and not notify you.

    2. ferrina*

      Yes, reach out and let folks know. I assume you already talked to them before you gave the reference list (as a general “I’m job searching, will you be my reference”, not necessarily for this position). Just give them a head’s up that this position is looking promising, you’re excited because they offer XYZ that you are looking for, and they may be contacting the references.

      Employers sometimes let you know before they reach out, but often don’t.

    3. Brick*

      I work on the administrative side of universities, and I have usually (but not always) been told in advance that they were reaching out to references. But if you’re at a third round interview, I imagine there’s a decent chance they’ll call your references, whether they warn you or not. I would probably go ahead and give the references a heads up, assuming they already know you’re interviewing. If this would require you to break the news to your current boss/coworker and you don’t want to do that unnecessarily, I might touch base with the hiring manager and ask if you should be giving your references a nudge. Good luck!

  37. Helenteds*

    What do you do with overly generalized application forms that have sections asking about relevant volunteering and also about relevant hobbies, activities, or educational experiences, but also ask for a resume and cover letter? I should add that these are mandatory sections on the form. I am a undergraduate applying for an internship, and I don’t have any real work experience, so my resume basically consists of relevant volunteer experience. I tried listing the most relevant volunteering in that section, though that is also listed on the resume I am going to submit (I haven’t submitted the form yet, still working on a cover letter).
    Also, it asks where you went to high school and Diploma? with yes or no options. However, I was homeschooled and hence don’t have an actual diploma. I listed Homeschool as my high school and checked yes for diploma as I do have sufficient documentation of my education for several colleges to accept me (they include University of Michigan for example, which doesn’t accept anybody who applies). I am also listing my current college attendance so this should hopefully be clear. I don’t want to be dishonest but I worry that the application system might auto reject someone if it seems they don’t have a high school degree.

    1. ferrina*

      If you’re running into these applications a lot, I’d keep a document with easy cut/paste answers. I started that after filling out my high school’s address for the fifth time (when I was already over a decade out of high school).

      Good question about the home school. I’d do the same thing that you’re doing- write Home School for the name, and yes for the diploma. If the program your parents used (customized or not) was to a rigor consistent with the state’s educational standards, then you effectively have graduated high school and all course requirements, though your high school format wasn’t what they were thinking of. You’re right that a lot of these systems are set to auto-reject if you say no to a diploma.
      If you’re worried about it, explain the situation in your cover letter.

  38. CraftingOwl*

    My workplace’s COVID rules allow people to take off their masks at their desks. I do this because I trust that the people who set the policy know what they are doing. (I won’t go into details but that really is a fair assumption — this is not just “Bob the CEO set policies because he’s the CEO” — there are health experts involved. And we have access)
    Some of my colleagues are unhappy that I’m following the policy and want me to wear a mask in our shared office all the time. But that’s not required.
    More context: I still wear a mask where it’s required (in conference rooms and walking around). I am vaccinated, and pretty much all the other employees are too. Our county has a mask mandate and “substantial transmission” but our workplace is doing a lot better than the county as a whole.
    I don’t want to wear a mask at my desk but I also want to have a good relationship with the colleagues who are upset.

    1. Colette*

      Which do you want more, to not wear a mask or to have a good relationship with your coworkers?

      Personally, I’m on your coworkers’ side; I don’t want to be around a bunch of unmasked people, even if they’re vaccinated – and if I am around unmasked people, I want to choose those people, not have them be random coworkers.

      1. ferrina*

        This. I’m the coworker who would really like my colleagues to mask up, even if they are at their desk. I live with family members who aren’t able to get the vaccine and I am extra cautious for their sake. I definitely appreciate the extra effort that colleagues give.

      2. tangerineRose*

        Neither vaccination nor masks will keep you absolutely safe, but using both improves your odds. In live, I like to improve my odds when I can. For example, a seatbelt might not be all that “comfy”, but I always wear one in the car.

    2. Reba*

      Honestly, I would wear the mask unless it’s truly, physically making you suffer. And if it is, talk to the coworkers about it so they know (or I guess, IM them or something!).

      A lot of mask discomfort can be mitigated. To me it would be well worth it to make coworkers more comfortable with being around me/being in the office. If you stand on principle on this one (and the principle is just “I don’t have to, you can’t make me”) I think it will cost you a lot.

    3. kicking_k*

      Hmmm. Different roles here, but I am still wearing a mask in communal areas and if I’m in a space with someone and cannot feasibly be more than 2 metres away with ventilation. I have a non-shared office though so it’s not all day.

    4. Dark Macadamia*

      I’m not a health expert but this policy doesn’t make sense to me unless everyone has private offices. You need a mask to walk down the hall but not for prolonged periods in a shared space? If I were your coworker this would negatively and permanently affect my opinion of you, but I wouldn’t say anything (because I’d be minimizing my interactions with you as much as possible, while wearing my mask).

    5. The New Wanderer*

      If I didn’t have colleagues who were asking people to stay masked even at their desks, I would take off my mask while at my desk. For context, ours were set up with every other desk blocked off to enhance distancing so it was at least 12 feet to the next seated person, and people were very good about donning masks whenever they had to leave their desks if they weren’t already wearing the masks.

      However, if I knew it was upsetting people, even if I didn’t agree with their risk assessment? I’d keep the mask on. They’re asking you (and everyone else) to do more because they’re clearly still uncomfortable with the required precautions. It’s a small price to pay to give others peace of mind.

    6. Purple Cat*

      How do you define the “shared office”?
      My company has an open floor plan, and when sitting at our cubes we are ~6ft from other people at their desks, so we don’t need to wear masks at our desk. If we’re in a conference room, however, we need to have our masks on.
      So when you say “shared office” – is this a small office that sits 3(ish) people – aka more like a conference room? Then “yes” I think you should defer to your coworkers feelings. If it’s a large office space then you have more standing to push back.

    7. A Teacher*

      Just because the rules technically allow you to do something doesn’t mean it’s a good idea.

      Wear the mask. Your colleagues will feel much safer around you. I teach teenagers six hours a day in a mask. You can manage.

    8. RagingADHD*

      I think this is one of those situations where both of the things you want are fine, but you probably just can’t have them both. I think under the circumstances you’re fine to follow the policy on principle, but it will likely cost you goodwill.

      How close proximity are you to the colleagues who are bothered? Could you put it on when they’re nearby and take a break when they’re away from their desk, or something?

    9. SofiaDeo*

      A cloth surgical type mask, that primarily prevents YOU from potentially infecting others (as opposed to the N95 type, which protects the wearer more) with head tie straps is much more comfortable to wear than the ear loop disposable type. I got a few different cute ones with pockets for removable inserts on Etsy. Even wearing one without a viral quality insert will protect surfaces and others from larger respiratory droplets. Perhaps this is a good compromise. Because unfortunately, this particular virus has asymptomatic transmission for an extended time period, compared to other common respiratory illnesses. With more people using monoclonal antibody treatment for things such as psoriasis and eczema, there is an increasing number of the population who is immune compromised without having traditional “cancer type” diagnoses. They don’t “look sick” like cancer patients often do. Not to mention if coworkers have kids or other at-risk family members.
      If one has trouble breathing due to COPD or other respiratory issues, then the rule “we can take off the mask at our desk” allows for that subset to remove a mask without a lot of fuss. But if you aren’t one of that subset, wearing one is definitely more “considerate of others”. Especially in a shared or open office; you aren’t in a room by yourself. I say this as a healthcare professional with a background in infectious disease. I will also comment that after a while you get used to the mask; initial discomfort generally goes away. So please consider finding a comfortable one that will make everyone happy.

    10. Mr. Shark*

      Ultimately I think it does come down to whether you want to keep things peaceful and have a good relationship with those people or value your comfort over that.
      I’m in an office in which if you are in an office with other vaccinated people, you are allowed to not wear a mask. But if you are in a conference room, or walking around, or at an open desk, you have to wear a mask, even if you are maintaining 6′ distance.
      I think many of these requirements are taking the conservative approach, but obviously that’s not the case for you.
      How big is your shared office?

    11. Undine*

      You say “most” people are vaccinated. Consider that among your coworkers, there may be people with compromised immune systems, who have limited response to vaccines, people with significant comorbidities or people who live with or visit people who cannot get vaccines or cannot produce an immune response. Add to that that a vaccinated individual is likely to be a silent carrier, and you may we’ll be putting your coworkers at risk themselves, or at risk of killing someone they love. And even if you are not, they may well believe you are. Add to that the unknown risk for long Covid, which can happen from quite mild cases and where the effect of vaccines are still not well understood.

      Now, as someone who needs glasses and who cannot wear contacts, I would struggle with onsite work on the computer, since my glasses would fog up. I wouldn’t mind wearing a mask (I mean, I wouldn’t like it but I would agree the benefits outweigh the discomforts) but I would mind wearing surgical tape every day since eventually it would injure my skin. What do people do in that case?

      1. MissCoco*

        I find the KN-95 are much better with fogging than surgical style masks or fabric ones, and if I am wearing my glasses with nose pads, I don’t get much fog at all as long as I put the nose pads on top of the tape (this can create a whole new issue if you wear progressives or bifocals and need them lined up with your eyes a certain way tho).

        Some people use anti-fog products, but I haven’t used any, so I can’t vouch for them.

        If you aren’t already using paper tape, definitely switch to it, it’s far less sticky than other types. I also use the 1/2inch tape as there’s less on my skin that way. I’ve also started tapping the tape on my clothes once or twice, it takes a lot of the “stick” out.
        Getting the tape as low as possible under the eyes puts less of your most delicate skin at risk, and I sometimes remove my mask off while leaving the tape on my face till I can get home and get the tape wet to easily remove it.

      2. RagingADHD*

        I experimented with different styles of cloth masks until I found one that fits really well underneath my glasses, and the bridge of my glasses holds it down well enough to prevent most fogging, without any tape.

        Now, it helps that I sew, so the experimentation was a lot easier. Finding a great fit is much harder with standardized styles, because there are a lot of nuances to face shape!

      3. Quinalla*

        I wear glasses, you really have to get the mask under the glasses and move the glasses down the bridge of your nose a bit. My Dad (dentist) and brother (works in a pharmacy lab) have glasses and wore masks daily prior to COVID so gave me tips and I eventually got it. I mostly WFH, but sometimes am on a jobsite for hours and wear a mask with no fogging issues just fine now. Better fit masks definitely help for sure and I prefer over the head for comfort for wearing a long time.

        I tried anti-fog, did not do much for long.

      4. Tali*

        Definitely comes down to the fit of the mask. I wear a paper/disposable surgical mask whenever I’m in the office, and the quality of the nose wire really varies by brand. Some don’t fully bend or stay bent, some are so weak that if you remove the mask to drink it no longer sits well on your face. Experiment there to find one that works for you.

        For me, the key to fitting a nose wire is to fold the mask in half to create the V that goes over your nose. Then pinch it around your nose and fold each side out and away from your face. This creates a smooth surface that hugs snugly to your cheeks and sides of your nose. In my experience, the sides of the nose are where the air escapes to fog up glasses–this folding technique keeps the mask right against your face there and greatly cuts down the fogging.

    12. eisa*

      You are of course well within your rights to tell them to take a hike. (Frankly, if it were me, I probably would .. except if at least one of them had a special reason for being super-cautious _and_ WFH was impossible for them _and_ they had explained all that to me. ) ( Yes, I fully expect to be flamed in the replies. But if they want me to accommodate them, it’s on them to persuade me why.)

      Working the logistics :
      So your office consists of
      1) people who don’t (want to) mask
      2) people who mask, but are not fussed whether others do
      3) people who mask and want everyone to mask

      How many people in each group ? Are you the only one in group 1 ?
      How many offices at your company ? It is not unlikely that the same situation is going on in other rooms as well. Would it be feasible to switch it up and create “mask-mandatory” and “mask-optional” offices ?

      If you end up deciding to mask:
      For FFP2 (don’t know whether this is the term used in US), I recommend a product called “Air Queen”, very light, practically no restriction to breathing, if you push the clip smoothly, no fogging of glasses.
      Or if we are talking only about “mouth coverings” made of cloth, you can get a very lightweight one as well.

    13. Secret Bear*

      I know I’m in the minority here, but if you’re working alone at your desk, I don’t see any reason, scientific or otherwise, why it would necessary to wear a mask in that situation. I think your coworkers are being unreasonable.

      1. A Wall*

        Because that’s not how airborne transmission works. It’s not a forcefield that only exists within a small radius around you that a mask turns on and off, it’s like cigarette smoke. If you’re sitting in a shared office maskless for a period of time, your breath and whatever is being carried in it are spreading all over into all that air that whoever else comes in there is going to be breathing. It’s still there after you put on a mask later, and it’s even still there for a bit after you leave the room.

        Some viruses are worse about this than others. We’re lucky this coronavirus isn’t like, say, the measles, which you can easily contract after walking into a room that someone with measles left more than an hour before, but it does linger and it is infectious that way. If you’re trying to decide if something you’re doing is a good idea or not, consider whether you’d be getting a facefull of flavor if the person in question was smoking or using some heavily fragranced vape. That’s how much of someone’s breath you’re getting in your own respiratory tract. Droplet masks only filter so much, and they are dramatically more effective when over the mouth of the sick person in question. So there is a reason (a scientific one, even, from me, an actual health expert) why they are asking for this, and they are not wrong.

    14. A Wall*

      Wear a mask at your desk. “Health experts” supposedly being involved (and I am dubious on that claim by your employer) doesn’t change the fact that being in an enclosed space with other people, even vaccinated ones, day in and day out is a highly risky activity. If your coworkers also didn’t care then it’d be all your own choices, but if they are uncomfortable with it they are coming from an extremely reasonable position. It is just a little piece of cloth, it is not a big deal.

  39. awesome3*

    From the book The Honey Don’t List by Christina Lauren, both main characters are kind of trapped in their employment situation. For James, it’s because the only work experience he has is for a company that went under for being super corrupt. That’s the only professional work he has to list on his resume, so he can’t get calls back about jobs. This is the only job he was offered, and he has the title of engineer but performs personal assistant duties. What advice would you give to James, on how to get a job after that kind of work history?

    For Cary (it might be Carrie, I don’t recall), she’s been working as a personal assistant since she was 16, but her job functions have begun to include designing furniture (for several years). She doesn’t have any formal training in designing furniture, but as it’s her bosses’ job, she’s gotten into it and now does the bulk of that work. If she were to want another job in furniture design, not being a personal assistant, how should she go about it? She has a high school diploma as her highest degree.

    1. Rusty Shackelford*

      I’d tell Cary to ask her boss to change her job title to Assistant Designer or something along those lines, and make it retroactive. Except that would probably signal that she’s looking for work. So I might just tell her to add those duties to her resume instead. I wonder if it would be dishonest to call herself just Assistant instead of Personal Assistant?

    2. Philly Redhead*

      Not only does Carey do the bulk of the furniture design work, but her boss takes credit for it! To tell prospective employers it’s really her means they either wouldn’t believe her, or cause a scandal if word got out (which it should, but Carey might not have wanted to deal with that).

      1. awesome3*

        I won’t spoil the ending in case anyone has been wanting to read it but hasn’t yet, but yeah I think that was a big part of what kept her from being able to apply for another job, the brand is in her boss’ name, so it would be her word against a famous furniture designer’s, and would be a fatal flaw to go into that world badmouthing her, even if perceptive employers believed Cary.

    3. Is it midterms time already*

      OP I cannot lie: this sounds like you have been procrastinating a paper for a book you had to read in class and now you’re asking this group to do your homework for you.

      1. awesome3*

        I wish romance novels were assigned in class! Alas, this is just a beloved book for me, and I really wonder about what Alison et al would say to these characters, because they both are super stuck in their work situations, which is why they stay in a dysfunctional work environment.

    4. pancakes*

      I don’t think the idea that everyone who works for an infamous employer is unemployable forevermore. Look for the recent-ish post on this site that was an interview with someone who worked for Theranos. There were comments from others who’d worked there too. The title is “when the red flags are even more ominous than you know…”

      I would think someone who is very skilled in furniture design but doesn’t have credentials would put together a portfolio of their work and circulate it to the same sort of design sites that feature the boss’s work. They pretty much focus on design, not on the designers’ credentials. Or put together a portfolio and apply to design schools, if that’s what they want.

      1. pancakes*

        Sorry, skimming past this again, I see I left out the words “is realistic” at the end of the first sentence! Not sure how that happened.

  40. Family Business "Heir"?*

    My family has had a trucking/logistics business for generations. My great grandfather started the company, my grandfather continued it on, and now my dad has been running it for a long time. He is preparing for retirement and has been growing it as much as he can before selling it all in the next 3-4 years, retiring, and riding off into his glory years with my mom, hopefully still in their prime.

    I am a highly emotional, sentimental person. I can’t imagine the thought of the family business dying when my dad retires. I don’t work for him, but I work in a related industry that uses his direct services all the time. We have always talked about (both seriously and joking) me coming to work for him. I have always said I want nothing to do with what he does because I have seen how stressed he has been for my 29 years of life. However, as I come into 3 years in my current role, the thought of taking what I’ve learned from my job and what my dad has taught me about the industry to a new role is becoming more and more intriguing. I do have an ultimate career goal that has absolutely nothing to do with my current job or my dad’s business that I haven’t started working towards yet…so this would definitely derail any timeline for that in the near future.

    I am pretty sure he would still sell the business regardless of I come to work for him or not.

    What are everyone’s thoughts on working for the family business, working for your dad, etc? Any other sentimental people out there that feel me on not wanting to see the business leave the family? Thanks!

    1. ferrina*

      It sounds like you’re struggling with the sentimental vs the practical. You’ve articulated what your sentimental perspective is, but I’m unclear what your practical idea is. Are you thinking you’d want to work for him for a little while before he sells the business? It sounds like you have no interest in owning the business- or do you?

      The trick here is to honor your feelings while setting reasonable expectations for yourself and others. If you are genuinely interested in perhaps taking over the business (and giving up your other career goal), talk to your dad about what you want and discuss what his timeline looks like. If you want to just work for the business for a couple years, then go back to your primary career, that is likely doable. Again, talk to your dad, be clear about your goals and timeline. If you just are sad that the business won’t be in the family anymore, that’s okay! Is there a small item that you would cherish that would remind you of this family legacy? A sign, or such?

      If you are struggling to figure out what you want, you can also bring in a therapist to help you just talk it through. That’s what their job is for.

    2. calonkat*

      Ferrina has really good advice.

      You say you “can’t imagine the thought of the family business dying”, but you also have a career goal that is NOT the family business. If your dad wants to sell the business, are you going to get loans to buy the business and give up YOUR career goal to live the life you did not want (and your father is apparently also fine with you not having)?

      A business is not a person. I really think you should start imagining the family business either having a new owner or becoming part of another business. And consider speaking with a professional to help work through issues you may be having with this if you really can’t imagine it.

    3. Annon Trucking*

      I can’t comment about sentimental aspects of a family business. I can comment about owning a small trucking company.
      You said it yourself, the stress is unbelievable. It’s not even explainable. The traditional aspects of business ownership compounded with the unpredictability of traffic, customers, as well as shipping and receiving and employee retention. The insurance rates are crazy, because the accidents and damage are crazy. Don’t even get me started on the scam accident reporting. When my agent calls and says “good news it only went up 25%” I really don’t take it as good as they do.
      Large trucking conglomerates are buying up small companies and shorting the drivers and employees. Holdouts are being forced out with newer technology that has nothing to do with safety and every thing to do with the bottom line, even when it’s not cost effective for the customer.
      OP your dad sent you to college right? He did it for a reason, we are doing it with our children too. Trucking is scrappers business and you know that one accident, can end it all. It has been a very stressful 20 years for us and we can’t wait to get out.
      If you want some kind of behind the scenes view of business ownership then shadow your dad. If you want a tangent of his business, go be a broker or freight manager at a large company and shut your phone off when you leave. Even the brokerage stinks, from both ends, trucker or broker.
      Your dad has probably said all this and more.

    4. Fiona*

      I think you should come up with a plan to honor/mourn/celebrate the end of your family’s tradition in this business. It could be a public party, a scrapbook, a storytelling video – but I don’t think you need to carry this tradition on just for the sake of sentiment. In your own words:
      – “I have always said I want nothing to do with what he does”
      – “I have seen how stressed he has been for my 29 years of life”
      – “I do have an ultimate career goal that has absolutely nothing to do with my current job”
      – “This would derail any timeline for that”

      I’m also a VERY sentimental person so I can relate to all your feelings. But you have one life to live – it’s okay to make it your own.

    5. Anonymous Luddite*

      All I can say is: I feel your pain.

      Previous Job was for a 120-year-old company. For the first several years I was there, I could roll a ball from my desk into the office of the grandson of the guy who started the company. He passed, sons inherited, and sold the company. We were all laid off with a VERY generous severance package.

      Fast forward four years: I’m at a new job and making -significantly- more money… and I’m still a little bitter that they sold the family business.

  41. Trying to Transfer*

    Hi all, for those with more than my mere 3 years of professional experience, how do you deal with the disappointment that comes from not getting a much-desired office-and-state transfer?

    Background: my company doesn’t actually have a formal transfer process, and only a handful of people of transferred between offices in the last decade, mostly to help staff new departments. I’ve been itching to move states for a long while now, but college and first-job opportunities didn’t grant that possibility. I have a good working relationship with my coworkers in the other state, and I have a pretty strong work history here. After I worked up the courage to ask for the transfer, there was a *lot* of back and forth between the two office managers, and after 3 months I finally told there just wasn’t enough workload to justify bringing in a new person.

    My office manager already scheduled a time for this next summer to revisit transferring, but obviously in the meantime, I’m… well, I’m crushed. I really wanted this, and I really believed it was going to happen. Now I’m stuck in this state for another year, no family nearby, all my friends have moved, and I’m really struggling to not let resentment build. How do I reframe this, so I don’t accidentally sabotage my chances from disappointment?

    1. JustAClarifier*

      I would make the transfer happen by transferring myself to a new job. Granted, that’s just me! But that’s what I would do. If you’re not happy with the environment you’re in right now, and you have 3 years (which is a decent amount of time at a position) at your current job, why not find something remote or located in the state you’d prefer?

      1. Trying to Transfer*

        Because this is a *very* good company to work for, in both states! Strong benefits, good culture, lots of flexibility, and we just ranked among Top 10 Businesses to Employees in one of the states! Which, I probably should have mentioned in my post – there is a lot of opportunities here, and I know I can keep growing.

        I just don’t want to be in *this* state. And I do plan on job searching if it seems like the transfer won’t work out again. But that’s still around 6 months away, which means I need to handle my emotions in that time.

        1. JustAClarifier*

          I hear what you’re saying, but there are also many companies that could probably also fit all of those criteria that would go hand in hand with the location you’d prefer. That being said, if leaving your company isn’t an option, you need to reframe your thinking as a conscious choice or a timeline for yourself: (1) 6 months isn’t that far away in the grand scheme of things, (2) If they don’t follow through on the request for transfer, you can make a decision about whether to go or stay at that point, as well, and (3) This is a conscious decision you’re making to stay with the company, regardless of location, for the reasons you listed above. And then stick to those thoughts with that timeline.

        2. Hlao-roo*

          If you decide to stick around for 6 more months to see if the transfer works out in the summer, really lean in to the place you are now. Living far away from family and friends is not easy, I’m in a similar boat and I get that. My strategy has been:

          – Join a meetup group or two. They’re a good way to be social without the internal pressure to make “real” friends/guilt that you may befriend someone and then move away after a few months. Depending on your interests/weather/COIVD, maybe you could also look for a local rec sports league.
          – Make a “bucket list” for all the things you can only do in your current state. Tourist attractions? Cool state parks? That coffee shop downtown you’ve heard good things about but never went to? Put them all on the list and check them off.

          Try to shift your mindset from “I’m trapped here for 6 more months, far away from all the people I love :'(” to “only 6 or so more months here, gotta do all the things I can only do while I’m here before I move away forever!”

          1. Camelid coordinator*

            I really agree with this! It puts the focus somewhere else (and bonus–somewhere fun) instead of stewing about the transfer that didn’t happen. And you would have mentally committed yourself to search for a new job if the transfer doesn’t happen next round. I am sorry it didn’t work out this time.

        3. Mockingjay*

          I think part of your discontent is that you’re ready for career progression and the first time you went for it, it didn’t happen/was delayed. Businesses are pyramids; there’s not always room (staffing, budget, planning) at the next level at the same time you’re ready to try something else – transfer, promotion, etc. Doesn’t mean it won’t happen, just not right now.

          Be patient; career progression seems like a tortoise sometimes. Slow and steady. As Hlao-roo noted, spend those six months wisely. I’d add that you should apply that dedication to work. Be the best employee you can be: work consistently, ask for stretch assignments, take training. Build those credentials so you become the first person management thinks of for an opening. It will happen.

          And if it doesn’t or you decide you don’t want to wait 6 months, go ahead and search. Maybe you’ll find a well-suited job in new location or you’ll prefer current job and location. No harm in looking.

          1. Trying to Transfer*

            Yeah, actually, I think you hit on a point I’ve had trouble articulating. I’m in a weird middle ground at this point in my career – to get my next “true” promotion I need to get my professional’s license, and I can’t get that without at least 4 years experience. The workload slowdown that stopped my transfer really highlighted a lot of the stagnancy I’ve been feeling.

            Luckily, I’ve had the opportunity these last couple weeks to help out on a huge project, which required learning a new program and process. Hopefully I can stay tapped into that side of things for a bit, because while I don’t want to do it forever, it is really interesting.

    2. Colette*

      Well, you’re not stuck, because presumably your new state has other businesses you could work at. You might still choose to stay with your company, but it’s a choice, not something you’re stuck with.

  42. StressedByTravel*

    Want some thoughts on this. I just started my job on August 30th as a full time remote worker. There is an enablement/gathering event in December that the remote folks have received permission to come in person to attend. I have three comorbidities for COVID and even though I’m vaccinated with booster (Pfizer), the thought of getting on an airplane to travel to the main office really worries me. I tried to go to the mall to see a movie a few weekends ago and had a full anxiety attack from how many people there were and had to leave, and I don’t want a repeat of that on a plane. I spoke with one of the event organizers about my anxiety, and he reassured me that it’s an optional in-person event and that if I was not comfortable traveling, they’d arrange virtual accommodations for me – but he seemed disappointed. I’m wondering if I choose not to travel if I’ll be seen as a non-team player? Or I’ll be left out of future events? I’m not sure what to do.

        1. Observer*

          Less is better. Let them know that it’s a medical issue, but don’t get into “panic attack” because that’s something people don’t really understand.

          “My doctor is recommending that I don’t travel at this point” is fine.

          1. tangerineRose*

            “My doctor is recommending that I don’t travel at this point” is great! If people don’t get that, then what’s their problem?

    1. WineNot*

      Is driving to the event definitely out of the question? I am sure people want to meet you and would be bummed if you didn’t go, but if they hold COVID concerns against and judge you for it…that doesn’t sound like great people to work for!

      I will say that I have flown on a few different occasions this fall after not flying since COVID, and they were great experiences. Is it possible to try to work yourself up to a point where you’re comfortable enough to make it through the airport and flight experience by exposures to crowds that start off small and increase from there?

      1. JustAClarifier*

        The organizer I spoke with recommended that, too, but driving to the event would take 8+ hours for a single day’s gathering and that doesn’t feel worth it to me. I’m glad to hear that your flying wasn’t bad; what airlines did you take? I know some have been worse than others.

        1. WineNot*

          An 8+ hour drive for one day definitely seems like a little much to me, too. You would also be flying for one day of activities?

          I flew JetBlue both times, and am flying JetBlue again in a couple weeks. Sure, I was surrounded by people I didn’t know, but if I thought about how I felt about flying (not ready to fly at all!) at the height of the pandemic and before I was vaccinated, my experience was a thousand times better than I could have pictured back in the winter. I was honestly relieved just to get the first flight over with so I could stop thinking about what it was going to be like and if I would feel comfortable.

          1. StressedByTravel*

            Yes, they want me to fly in for just one day of activities! It seems kind of ridiculous to me. I’d have to fly in the night before, participate in the day’s activities, and then fly out again the next morning. So I’d effectively lose 3 days of travel to one day of events. Glad to hear JetBlue isn’t so bad; I’ll keep them in mind if I decide that traveling is worth it!

    2. NotMy(Fancy)RealName*

      Is it a direct flight or multi leg? I have been traveling throughout the pandemic (carefully!) and the flights themselves are generally not at all scary. Planes have great filtration and the FAs are very much enforcing masks. The terminals are where people are not being supervised enough to behave themselves, but I generally can find a space far enough away from others if I have a longish layover.
      Decent hotel chains have good cleaning protocols and mostly won’t enter your room during your stay unless you tell them you need them to.

    3. RagingADHD*

      I think your brain is creating a no-win situation for you because that’s what anxiety does.

      The organizer said it’s optional. They are providing virtual means because they DON’T expect everyone to go in person.

      Believe what he said. Why would he lie?

      1. Mr. Shark*

        Yes, he’s given the option to not attend in person. I don’t think you should worry about that, quite honestly. There are a lot of reasons someone would not be able to attend in person, and it should not be a big deal to anyone who is reasonable.
        All that said, from reports I’ve heard, flying is pretty safe, due to the recycling of air. Everyone wears a mask on the plane. You can choose to sit by the window and not partake in any snacks or drinks. I’ve seen people wear gloves on the plan, wipe down their seats and trays before sitting down. No one blinks an eye at people who are more careful in these situations.
        For in-person meet ups, some people will just wave to each other, or fist bump for greetings, and it’s perfectly fine if you don’t want to shake hands or physically interact.

        1. Ashley*

          I would say skip the food court area if you are flying as people are rarely masked. If you are still thinking about flying, do you have public transport in your city as a test? Or maybe other small activities were people are mainly masked but there are people to try? A little like the letter write about their anxiety from COVID? At the end of the day if you don’t have to and you aren’t comfortable don’t. Take the out in part to help remind people this isn’t 2019 and COVID isn’t just over.

    4. Pam*

      Maybe you will be seen as a non-team player. You also won’t be risking your health, and possibly dying. I would stay home.

  43. DAMitsDevon*

    I mostly have a good relationship with my boss, but it’s become apparent over the past year that we have conflicting views on how to handle holiday PTO (different from vacation, sick, and personal days). For background, our administrative offices are closed for 13 holidays each year. Prior to 2021, this meant that all employees would also automatically have the day off on those holidays. However, in order to be more inclusive of different religions and cultures, this year our leadership started giving us the option of choosing to use that PTO on the holidays the office is closed for or using that PTO to take off for a holiday that the office doesn’t close for- so think a Jewish employee using holiday PTO to take off work for Rosh Hashanah and then working on Christmas instead of taking that day off.

    The implication from HR and senior leadership was that if you didn’t need or want to use holiday PTO to take off for holidays when the office is open, you should just stick to the normal holiday schedule and take off work on the holidays the office closes for. I told my boss at the beginning of the year that in order to keep things simple, I would be following the regular holiday schedule as in previous years. However, my boss seems to think that if a holiday happens to coincide with a busy period, we should go to work and take the holiday later in the year. Given the nature of our work and that deadlines can just be suddenly changed, these busy periods aren’t things that happen at the same time every year, or sometimes a busy period was supposed to end before the holiday, but then a deadline gets postponed so things are still busy even after I already made plans for the holiday. Also, in previous years, even during a busy period, everyone would still take the day off work for a holiday when the office is closed.

    I’m writing/venting about this today because it seems like my boss was a bit taken aback by me taking the day off for Veteran’s Day yesterday. On Wednesday, he even asked if I had plans for the day, and I assume if I had said no, he would have asked me to work that day. Part of me worries that I’ll seem lazy and that I’m not a good worker, but my boss is the only director at organization who does this. Everyone on else in our division, even other directors, follows the regular holiday even when they are busier than we are. I’m annoyed because I’m worried that I look bad even though I’m the one going with the company culture.

    I guess I wanted a gut check- am I being immature? Should I be working on these holidays?

    1. Colette*

      Personally, I’d be flexible when I could, and take the ones that were important to me. For example, maybe I’d work Labour Day if it happened to fall in a busy period, but I’d take Christmas, because that one is important to me.

    2. Rusty Shackelford*

      No, I’d be annoyed if every single holiday was considered “floating” and I could never count on being able to take them off when they occurred. I mean, there’s reasons they are national holidays. You’re following both the letter and the intent of the “law.”

      1. ferrina*

        Yeah, I’m with Rusty. It also sets a precedent of “But we’re buuuuuuusy!” which I’ve found is a very dangerous thing. People should expect to get time off and that they won’t be asked to move it around because “work is busy”. Yeah, in my industry, it’s always busy, but it’s the boss’ job to manage that without encroaching on work-life balance (fwiw, I’ve been the boss in this situation).

      2. Chauncy Gardener*

        I’m with Rusty too. There’s a reason they are federal holidays! And it’s very very nice to take the day off knowing that everyone else is off too

      3. fueled by coffee*

        Yeah, this. It would be one thing if your boss had asked you specifically about Veteran’s Day in advance – as in, it’s a busy period, technically it’s a holiday but would you mind swapping the day for Halloween or whatever. That would still have been mildly annoying, and you would probably be within your rights to decline, but I would understand the boss asking. But just assuming you would give up a planned paid holiday because work happened to be busy seems to misunderstand what holidays are for!

        1. fueled by coffee*

          Oops, I guess Halloween was a Sunday this year. Read this as “Halloween (observed)” on October 29th.

    3. Attractive Nuisance*

      WTF?!? I would assume the whole point of the policy to begin with was to allow people to celebrate holidays ON THE HOLIDAY, instead of having to postpone their Hannukah celebration to Dec 25.

      Your boss is bananas.

      1. Cold Fish*

        I agree with the consensus. The point of the policy is to allow non-Christians to celebrate their holidays on the holiday, not to create floating holidays that are dependent on if you are busy. Take the days, they are part of your benefit’s package.

    4. Florida Fan 15*

      No, you should not be working on those holidays. You’re following your company’s policy and, unless you work in a very specific field where people will literally die if you’re not there, the work can wait. (And even in those jobs, people rotate coverage.) Being a “good worker” doesn’t mean you have to be available at the company’s beck and call 24/7, and you’re not “lazy” for having a life outside work.

      I’d also caution against making decisions based on how you think people might be thinking. If your boss hasn’t come right out and said he has a problem, don’t ascribe one to him. Let him use his words, especially if his problem is against the grain. You say he’s the only one who seems to expect this; let him put that out there clearly and own it. My money says he won’t.

  44. Nonprofit Woes*

    Seeking advice on a new job:

    A couple of weeks ago, I started a new position with a nonprofit and was incredibly excited to start with this organization that’s relevant to my long-term career goals. I am a “basket weaver” and applied for the only job that was available at the time, “blanket knitter.” I am pleased to say that because of the advice I have read on this blog I was able to interview well and get the job despite not having the blanket knitter experience the posting required (I have relevant skills that are transferrable to the blanket knitter job).

    While I was interviewing for blanket knitter, the CEO of the nonprofit brought up a new position that was about to open up, “manager of basket weaving.” Obviously, as a basket weaver, this is much more relevant to my skills, interests, and experience than blanket knitting. After being chosen for the position of blanket knitter, I interviewed (a week into the job!) for the more relevant position and am waiting to hear back. The interview went extremely well and I am very highly qualified for the new role.

    However, since starting the first job as blanket knitter, I have encountered an avalanche of red flags, mostly because of the manager of my department who I am working with on a daily basis. My manager makes constant mistakes and always shifts blame to others, yells at me in front of people I am supposed to be managing, and puts off training so she can complete her heavy workload (I have some limited sympathy because she is currently doing the jobs of three people, but I still need the tools to succeed in my position). The problem is that this means I’m either left on my own with limited resources to train myself or I have to ask subordinates to train me in our department’s processes. My manager assigns me difficult, awkward tasks that she doesn’t want to deal with (such as calling an irate customer we accidentally overcharged) and doesn’t give me enough information to deal effectively with them, leading to me taking abuse from (understandably) angry clients who are speaking with someone who isn’t familiar enough with the organization to know answers to everything. When I speak with my manager about needing more support or training, she blames me for not speaking up sooner or not listening. She yelled at me the other day for missing tasks she assigned to me in an email chain of over a dozen replies and CCs.

    Furthermore, one of my blanket knitter coworkers warned me that I need to keep track of my hours because mistakes have been made with time cards in the past. Morale is extremely low among my department and people are constantly gossiping about coworkers behind their backs. My manager was complaining yesterday about how our new hire, a college student, was “infuriating” to work with because she was too stupid to learn the job (this is her second week). Also, the job was listed as 20 hours a week and my manager is insisting I work 30, telling me that “we just have to be flexible in this industry” when I voiced concerns about my schedule. I am having trouble sleeping and am experiencing physical symptoms due to the stress of this job, and it’s affecting other aspects of my life as I applied for a part-time job that has essentially turned into a full-time job with no benefits.

    Back to the “manager of basket weaving” position. This position is in a different department and the job is being vacated by a friend whom I used as a reference. She was SHOCKED to hear about the level of dysfunction in the blanket knitting department and assured me that she had never encountered anything like that in the basket weaving department. Additionally, this position involves cultivating relationships with famous basket weavers around the country and would be a huge benefit to my long-term career goals. This would all be great, except I am in an awkward position because the company wanted me to interview for it after I had been offered my current job. My current manager knows I interviewed and in the interview I was asked if I would be willing to do both jobs (I said that would be a conversation we could have once I understand the nature of the new role more). I am walking a fine line between being dishonest and not giving away too much information that would hurt my chances of moving to a role that’s a much better fit.

    So right now I am waiting on hearing back about the basket weaving manager position. The problem is I desperately want to quit the blanket knitter role, but I don’t want to hurt my chances of getting the basket weaver position and be seen as a job-hopper. How do I navigate the wait time? It could be a week or two more until they make a decision regarding the basket weaving position, and in the meantime I am being assigned duty after duty and am also concerned that my manager will see me as too valuable to let me go and tank my chances to get the new position. Should I say that I am planning on quitting if I don’t get the new role, or quit if/when that happens? I am resigning myself to burning this bridge in the worst case scenario because I cannot continue working weeks to hear back and then giving two weeks’ notice on top of that.

    Any advice on how to navigate this situation?

    1. ferrina*

      Hold on for a couple weeks. If it helps, think of these weeks as part of the basket weaving interview. Demonstrate how you handle challenges. Wait until they make the decision, and if the basket weaving doesn’t work, leave and explain the situation in the blanket knitter’s department in your exit interview.

      This sucks because you really can’t say “give me the job or I quit.” Even though it makes sense here, it’s just not a good look.

      In the meantime, find ways to make this bearable. Ask for training from subordinates- that’s actually not that uncommon. Demonstrate what a True Professional does by being kind, clear in your communication, good at your work, and generally a joy to work with. That will also lend more weight to your exit interview- it sets the context that you aren’t a “jilted jobseeker” but truly a concerned and reasonable professional.

    2. Sherm*

      Work gets easier after you give notice — your realize you’re getting out of there, bosses can’t threaten you like before (What are they going to do, fire you?) and coworkers who had issues with you stop caring. (And that’s assuming you really do have to give 2 weeks notice. Maybe not?) So that means only a week or two of this — not long at all! I would not tell your current manager that you’re planning on quitting. It might not reduce your workload and could backfire in many ways. (For one, she could give you MORE work because she wants you to get it done before you go.)

  45. Scorbunny*

    I just found out I have to have minor surgery for a recurring medical issue, and y’all, my boss is great. Last time I had to have the same surgery, I was much younger, more inexperienced, and in a close-knit workplace where everyone was prone to oversharing issues like this. (It was my first job with insurance through the job, so.) This led to my then-boss deciding she knew better than I did how much time I’d need to recover. Unfortunately, she’d had the exact procedure done years ago…which was nice at first because she did let me know what to expect, not nice in every other aspect of things. She was also demanding that I wait for our busy period to be over/a good time/basically to put the job’s needs above my own. Wasn’t a great experience, though I guess I did learn a lot about how to handle and not to handle medical issues in the workplace.

    This time around, I just said “Hey, I’m just letting you know I’m going to need some minor surgery and will be taking a few days off,” and he just said ok and to make sure I let his assistant know to put it on the calendar. That’s it, done, I’m scheduled, and he doesn’t seem too fussed about wanting any doctor’s excuses or interested in forcing me to come back in before I’m ready. No details have been exchanged. I’ve got the schedule for things laid out and it’s no big deal if I have to take more time off than I had initially planned. I’ll even have a half day to ease back into the flow of things and see how I do. It’s great!

  46. Nicknames at work?*

    I have a new coworker. He’d like us to use his nickname, and has updated his profile in as many of our systems as possible to display that nickname. It’s a stupid nickname; I feel dumb saying it. We’re not talking “Billy” for “William.” It’s more like “My name is Rick, but people call me ‘Maverick!'” Do I gotta?

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      I have a hard time deviating from the rule you need to call people by their preferred name. Maybe just avoid addressing him by name where possible?

    2. Colette*

      Yeah. That’s his name, you don’t get to decide to call him something else. The only exception would be if it was something like Master or SexyOne or something really rude.

    3. The Original K.*

      I think so. I worked with someone who exclusively went by her childhood nickname, which had nothing to do with her given name (e.g. Bitsy and her given name was Joan). I felt silly, but she truly did not go by her given name, ever – I didn’t even KNOW her given name until I went to an event in her honor. (She holds a very senior role so the name hasn’t held her back.)

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Seven years with my ex-in-laws tells me that it’s really easy to avoid calling people by name if you want to :) (They really wanted me to call them mom and dad and I really didn’t want to, so I didn’t call them anything and they didn’t ever notice.)

        1. anon24*

          I’ve been with my husband for over 10 years and I still don’t know what I’m supposed to call his parents – I’ve literally never addressed either of them by name.

      2. Observer*

        Deciding that you get to choose someone’s name / nickname comes off much the same way. BAAAD used of social capital.

      3. fhqwhgads*

        I mean…yeah I guess IF it is a fratboy nickname. I’m assuming your example was just an example, but fwiw I’ve known a handful of people whose given name is Maverick, and anyone calling them “Rick” would be doing the nicknaming. So unless this person is in some way being a boor about it, rather than only asking to be called it, you ought to let it go and call him the name he asked to be called.

    4. TiffIf*

      My grandmother had an unusual nickname–to most of the world she was known as “Honey.” It had started out as a term of endearment from her husband that then got picked up by her children (Pop calls her Honey, so that must be what she is supposed to be called) and simply became her nickname for the next 60+ years for EVERYONE–family, friends, co-workers. I promise you that as you use it more and more your mind separates it from being “weird” and it just becomes that person’s name.

      1. KMG*

        We had a co-worker whose nickname – and the only thing she would answer to – was “Sugar”. On the one hand, it made me feel creepy. But it was her name, so we used it.

        Had another that used a pretty mainstream name for the first few years (think “Lisa) but her actual birthname was Russian with many syllables and not easy for non-Russian speakers to say/spell so she never used it. About 4 years in, “Lisa” decided she wanted to celebrate her heritage and change to a hybrid version, which she made up. On paper, it looked like a relatively simple 4 letter, one syllable name. Unfortunately it was pronounced very differently. For example: think “Like” and pronounce it “Laykee”. Again, her name, her choice. But 1) it was a hard transition after we’d all called her Lisa for 4 years and 2) it was hard to understand the choice for an unusual spelling and sound when she literally made it up. The new nickname had a slight connection to her birthname, but was not a normal shortening. Again, we did the best we could to honor her request. But it meant explaining and spelling her name to others hundreds of times!

      2. Flower necklace*

        Exactly. You get used to it.

        Not exactly the same situation, but I have a coworker whose name is pronounced the same as a test given every year at my school (we are teachers). I actively avoided saying her first name after I met her because it always made me laugh inadvertently.

        Now, a few years later, I hardly think about it. It feels like I’m saying a different word when I say her name versus when I talk about the test.

    5. CBB*

      As dumb as “Maverick” (or whatever it is) may sound to fresh ears, if he’s been going by that name his entire life, it probably feels unremarkable to him and people who know him. You’ll probably feel the same way after a few months.

    6. Kesnit*

      I have a colleague who goes by a name that sounds very “redneck.” We work in a conservative field in a rather conservative part of the country. The nickname is not in any way connected to his legal name. He signs documents with his legal name, but everyone calls him by his nickname. I’ve known him long enough (and called him by his nickname long enough) that it would be very difficult to switch to using his legal name. (If he wanted me to, I would. But it would take time to remember to do it.)

      As others have said, this is the name your coworker uses. Go with it

    7. nekosan*

      I myself have a silly nickname that most everyone uses. If I see anyone looking uncomfortable with it, I try to be quick to say they can use my given name or some other variant. I’ve been happy with other names too, as long as they aren’t insulting. So, I’ll happily respond to “Katya”, but “Slimey” (“like Oscar the Grouch’s pet worm!”) is right out.
      You could try asking him gently. Or, just use the weird name and think of it as a personal challenge in treating people how they want, even if you think it’s silly.

  47. Pins&Needles*

    I had an initial interview for an HR Manager position on October 6. It went great, and I sent one thank you email to everyone on the interview panel.

    They then requested a second interview – I was not available for the initial time they sent, so requested a different time. They agreed, and I had my second interview on October 20. I again sent thank you notes, this time individual and customised to something that each person asked in the interview. I received responses back that were very positive, including from the ED.

    I heard nothing for two weeks, until I sent a “checking-in” email on November 2, expressing that I was still interested in the position. I received an apology email from the ED who said that they had not made a final decision, some meetings had to be rescheduled, that I was still in the running, and that they hoped to have a final decision on November 3.

    I still have not heard anything. I don’t know when to know if I’ve been ghosted or if I should reach out again next week if I haven’t heard anything or… when is it too many times to reach out?

    I am interviewing elsewhere but this position checked a lot of boxes for me personally and professionally. (They also don’t currently have an HR person, so that may be why things are taking so long…)

    Any advice?

    1. Mockingjay*

      Only what Alison oft reiterates: hiring decisions can take a very long time; don’t wait for the offer, keep looking (which you are already doing). It’s hard to wait when you find a role that really fits and you are excited about the possibility. Stay open for other positions; the next job opportunity might check even more boxes.

      (Fingers crossed for you.)

  48. N.J.*

    I have an interview next week for a job that’s a big deal for me. I work at a university in one area, but volunteer with a group at the university that does DEI activities related to gender and race. I’m interviewing for a director level position in the official DEI unit of the institution. Anyone who works in this area or has interviewed, any pointers as to how to prep beyond the usual? Questions that might be asked, things I should be doing?

  49. often trapped under a cat*

    Recently completed our annual ethics training. We do different subjects each year: bribery, confidentiality, gossip, harassment, etc.

    This year’s was on sexual harassment and hostile workplace, and it was one of the best trainings I’ve ever done. So many times the scenarios presented in these trainings are so exaggerated that it’s easy to tell when something has crossed a line; this time the scenarios were a little more subtly constructed (still easy to answer correctly for me, but at least some thought had to go into it). The language was more inclusive as well.

    I actually wrote to HR to tell them it was a good training, since I have complained about trainings in the past (like an earlier sexual harassment one where all the women in the scenarios wore tight little miniskirts and barely-buttoned buttondown shirts).

    Trainings have improved so much since the days when we’d sit in a room while lawyers lectured us on what not to do and inevitably some older cis het white man would start talking about how there was nothing wrong about complimenting a woman’s appearance.

    1. No Tribble At All*

      That’s great to hear! If you don’t mind sharing, what were some of the scenarios you thought were well done? (Hopefully because this is under a cut, people can scroll by if they don’t want to read this)

      1. often trapped under a cat*

        One scenario I liked:
        Woman is hired by a male manager to be part of an all-female team. Everything is great, but manager is touchy-feely…but with all the women, not just the newcomer. Newcomer is uncomfortable but everyone else is apparently fine.
        Several options offered for what she should do, including some discussion of “if everyone is okay with it, am I making a big deal out of nothing?” as well as, “maybe they’re not all okay with it but no one has said anything.”

        Also, trans issues, while not depicted in any scenarios, were explicitly included in the sections that talked about LGBT+ people.

    2. Training?*

      What training was it, if you don’t mind sharing? I’m in HR and always looking for non-eye-rolly compliance training.

      1. often trapped under a cat*

        Not sure if this is helpful, or not, but it’s on Cornerstone and the title was something like Workplace Harassment and Discrimination Avoidance.

        At least one other workplace it also using it–when I posted a couple of details on Fb, a friend at another company said they took the same training. They also felt it was a good training.

  50. Medmal*

    I have a job seeking question. I have an interview in a couple weeks for a job that I really hope to get (unless something comes up in the interview that makes me think it would be a poor fit, of course). My current employer gives me a lot of flexibility for doctors appointments. I have chronic health issues, so there are several days a month I leave work an hour early (I use PTO for it since I’m hourly) for medical visits. I see 2 specialists once a month and currently I see a therapist once a week but we will eventually taper to less frequency. MY QUESTION IS: if I ask about what sort of flexibility a New Job could provide me, should I wait to ask this until after I’ve received a job offer? I don’t want it to come across as a red flag for them during an interview, but I also don’t want to be hiding it.

    1. Purple Cat*

      You don’t (shouldn’t) reveal that you specifically need time off for a chronic health issue, but you should absolutely be asking about job flexibility during the interview process. Their response will tell you a lot about the company culture in general. If it’s a red flag for them that you’re asking, then it’s a red flag for you in terms of working there.

    2. Haha Lala*

      I’d wait for the later stages to ask the specific question, but it’d be fair to ask questions about what the regular office hours or what hours would be expected of the position. The interviewer might answer by telling you about their flex hours, or something similar that answers the question you haven’t asked.

      And when you get to the offer stage, you might also want ask for specifics about the insurance providers, so you can verify if your drs are covered or if you’d have to switch drs.

  51. Amy Farrah Fowler*

    Question regarding relationships with my husband’s employees: My husband is the manager (not owner) of an LGS (local game store). He’s always been very involved in the community and has been managing this location for over a year now. I play a little D&D and am an avid board gamer, but I’m not involved in Magic, Warhammer, etc. I like to spend time there, hang out with people, and I genuinely enjoy the company of both several of the regular customers and the employees working there. As “the boss’ wife”, what are my responsibilities? I make sure to be friendly to everyone, I don’t have “favorites” among the employees. I made a gift and made sure to give all of them one. I just want to make sure I respect the line and that I don’t ever make anything awkward either for them or for my husband. He and I have talked about this as well, and he thinks I’m doing well so far, but has some fears because one of the owner’s has a fiancee who does interfere with the business in ways he doesn’t appreciate. Any advice would be appreciated!

    1. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

      lololol as a parent of a Magic player this made me laugh because I can picture the setup at the store. But anyway to answer it from a professional POV, I think you should limit the time you hang out there to once a week, for your regular gameplay sesh. You shouldn’t be hanging out all the time, it could distract your husband and/or detract from the professional image his employees need to have for him. Don’t make his employees your friends.

  52. Ann O'Nymous*

    Suggestions on navigating the first few months of pregnancy in the office, particularly during COVID? I’ve done this before, but it seems so much harder during COVID – masks make nausea worse, coming to the office obviously not feeling well makes other people uncomfortable, etc. (Or maybe it’s just worse because I’m older. Or maybe I just forget how much it sucked the other times!) We are expected to be fully in-person, or I’d love to be home working on the couch in my PJs, masklessly nibbling crackers.

    1. Ann O'Nymous*

      Related: I’m only 6 weeks, but my pants don’t fit comfortably at ALL. This has not been the case this early in my previous pregnancies. If I start wearing maternity pants, will it be completely obvious? This is mostly a work question, because I can wear sweats and leggings at home.

      1. Haha Lala*

        I think this depends on your coworkers. I’m one of the only women in a office full of men— I’m convinced I could show in sweats and PJs for weeks and only the receptionist would notice.
        And where I am in the USA its also getting cold. Baggy sweater and layers can hide a lot (including the stretchy waistbands of maternity pants).

        As for navigating the office, do you think your manager or HR would be sympathetic or helpful if you tell them early? If your job can be done from home, maybe WFH part time would be a good compromise? I don’t think there’s an easy answer, but at least it’s temporary!

        1. Ann O'Nymous*

          I expect my manager (single woman, no kids) would be well-intentioned but possibly a little tone deaf. HR would probably be useless. They’ve been so strict about no WFH that it would be obvious to the rest of the office that something was going on if I didn’t have to come in every day. I doubt HR would even allow it – so far they have said that people could stay remote only by applying for an ADA accommodation, and I don’t believe I would qualify. (I might be able to get away with a few days here and there only if HR *doesn’t* know about it, actually.)

    2. Moths*

      I’m currently about 6 months along and remember all too well those first several months where I felt terrible. My situation may be a little different — I am lucky to have a private office where I could take off my mask and shut the door and put my head down for a couple of minutes if needed — but even still, I felt like it was pretty obvious to everyone that I wasn’t feeling well. And yet it caught everyone by surprise when I finally told them last week. Some things that I found that helped:
      Sucking on hard candies nearly constantly, especially peppermint ones. The smell of the peppermint off of them helped sooth the mask nausea.
      Likewise, putting just a little scented balm on the inside of the mask, especially with peppermint oil. Obviously, be careful with oils, but I found putting a little on the mask helped again with soothing my stomach a little while breathing.
      If possible, take your lunch break in your car and use that time to take a nap or at least just close your eyes and rest. I just keep a blanket in my car at all times for this.
      Also if possible, shift your day to start a little later if that would help you. I had a heck of a time getting out of bed in the morning and would need a slow start if I didn’t want to start the day over the toilet bowl. No one seemed to notice that I was coming in a little later.
      Take a few extra bathroom breaks and just sit and breathe and rest if needed.
      Definitely switch to the maternity pants now if you’ll be more comfortable. If you wear the right shirts over things, people will probably not notice.
      Blame a lot on covid/holiday stress. People seem to completely understand fatigue and snacking more and anything else you blame on it if you say that you’ve found things have stressed you out lately and that’s got you worn down/snacking/feeling exhausted.

      Good luck with things and congratulations!

  53. Orange Crushed*

    Besides leaving, is there any way to work in an environment where they expect you to read their mind, then get mad when you don’t know what they want? I was tasked with creating an inventory of teapots, but have never seen the teapots before or know what kind of teapots are there. My boss said to “do whatever”. I found an old inventory that I used, but when I told the manager in charge of it all, he seemed mad that I didn’t have it done. I showed him what I had and he said that it was just more like a general count of teapots and supplies. (I had a more detailed listing.)
    Also, if I ask follow up questions on how to do the work, they get upset/frustrated and/or ignore you, so either way it sets you up to fail.

    1. RagingADHD*

      Well, yes – but the only way to make it work is to focus on your paycheck, while you switch off the part of your brain that cares what they think or needs affirmation. They are unreasonable and obnoxious, so there is no way to “win” that scenario in terms of making them stop being obnoxious.

      The only way you win is by knowing what this job is doing for your personal goals, and take satisfaction in seeing your plan come together to move on into a better situation.

      You relentless behave in reasonable and professional ways, and let the obnoxiousness wash over you like noise. It isn’t easy, and it does wear on you over time, so it’s good to get that plan together and be ready to move on.

    2. vma*

      The worst jobs/managers I every had expected me to read their minds and were not able to be consistent or communicate clearly what they wanted. It’s a recipe for anxiety and my biggest red flag. You’re never going to be able to make it a good job, but if you’re okay just pushing through for a paycheck, that’s possible. My first job like that, I was young and didn’t know to get out so managed to outlast that manager who left after one year and things were much better with my next manager. But that’s no guarantee. The next time I encountered a manager like that, I got out at the first signs.

  54. JustaTech*

    A bit of levity for a Friday morning: I have a vendor who has decided that it is too much work to process a monetary payment for our (very brief) use of their fancy machine, and so they would like to be paid in donuts. (Or cupcakes, or pizza.)

    So the folks up at legal are drafting a rental agreement with payments in donuts.

    This is hilarious.

    1. Purple Cat*

      That’s awesome.
      I wonder if the specific flavors will be codified into the contract? What happens if the bakery runs out?!

      1. JustaTech*

        Thankfully there are at least two local donut chains with locations between me and the place with the fancy machine. And depending on how they feel about those donuts (for some reason most of the “fancy” donuts in this region are cake donuts, which I personally find deeply inferior to raised donuts), there’s another bakery with donuts closer to my house where I could pick up a couple dozen on my way in.

  55. reject187*

    Education is weird. Can I actually negotiate my salary? Should I be?
    I’ve been a teacher for 10 years and have had 3 classroom positions. I’ve never felt like negotiating was an option for pay scale because it looks like it’s usually either mandated by the union or government (in public schools) or limited by the budget (in private schools). I’ve never felt underpaid but I’m also one of those teachers who “doesn’t do it for the money” – and I’m married to someone who makes twice what I do. Plus as much as I’m run ragged and don’t have time for everything during a day, those vacations are a sweet sweet perk. I’m satisfied with what I have and where I am, but is there value in negotiating salary or benefits, and is it even possible at the high school education level?

    1. Pins&Needles*

      If you are unionized, the answer is no, those negotiations must be handled through the union.

      (And, fyi, employers can and should do wage adjustments mid-contract if they need to for hiring purposes – just reach out to your union and ask. I’m hazarding a guess that 99% of unions are not going to turn down increasing salaries/wages for their members mid-contract, although they may want it spread out more than you as an employer does…) ((20+ years of experience in unions here…))

      If you are not unionized, you can always try to negotiate a better salary or perks, but the employer can always say no.

      1. silver linings*

        This is not always accurate. Some educational union contracts have a band or range for a specific appointment, and if you demonstrate “extraordinary service” or whatever the contract language, you can apply to get a raise within your band.
        But your union is the best source of information – find your shop steward and ask.

    2. Pam Adams*

      My union- higher ed- allows for in-range progression: you stay in the same salary band, but are moved to a higher level; and changing to a different band- Level II to III, etc.

    3. Vermont Green*

      At the first interview stage with a new school board, I was able to persuade them to include my years of teaching Adult Basic Education outside of the K-12 system in the numbers of years’ experience they granted me. So if you ever switch districts, and if you have related, but not strictly relevant, experience under your belt, see if they’ll count it as experience.

  56. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

    Started a new job Monday. Technical field, lots and lots of information for me to absorb. So far so good.

    My question – how do I feel like I’m not pestering a few of my coworkers unduly?

    There are a couple of people who everyone points back to when I ask “hey, where do I find the llama database configuration file”, and I don’t want to be continually pestering them on Slack. Everyone else I get along with fine, we schedule 30 minute meetings to go over something, hand off responsibilities, etc. But there are 2 people that I’m worried about having to go back to over and over again.

    Any advice on (a) not being annoying, and (b) not *feeling* like I’m being annoying.

    1. Hlao-roo*

      When you’re talking to one of the two coworkers you ask questions to the most, you can bring it up. “Hey, for a lot of the questions I ask, the answer is usually ‘talk to Sam.’ Is asking you on Slack as things come up working for you? I don’t want to interrupt your workflow.” Then you can see what ‘Sam’ says. Maybe they’re cool with it. Maybe they’re prefer a standing 15-min meeting every day/week so you can ask the questions all at once. Maybe they’d like a bulleted email list. Who knows? So ask.

      And I suggest asking when you are talking to them, either in-person or over Zoom/Teams/etc (not on Slack) so you can hear their tone of voice.

    2. Dittany*

      No reasonable person will think you’re annoying for not knowing the ins and outs of a job you’ve only been doing for a week. (Think of it this way: Would you rather take five minutes to answer a basic question, or have to clean up a mess because your coworker didn’t ask that basic question?) Most people *like* feeling helpful and knowledgeable, as long as they’re asked politely and don’t have to do anything too horribly challenging.

      Apart from that:

      – Make sure that you used your non hitting-up-your-coworkers-on-Slack resources to see if your question was answered somewhere in there.
      – Be respectful of their time. (I.e., stick to the question without a ton of small talk or a play-by-play of your niece’s ballet recital.)
      – Take notes so that you don’t have to ask the question again.

  57. awesome3*

    As someone who probably wouldn’t be totally organized either, I think the only way it would work is if everyone exclusively used this software. So if you just gave it to this person and everyone else was still doing their own systems, for me, that wouldn’t work. I could see it working for me if the boss was like ok, this is the system we all use, here’s how we use it, and there were *no* other organizational systems in place (or if there were, it was explained to me how they tie in, like for paper files, or if the program was able to work with outside programs like meeting invites from other orgs, etc)

  58. Anonymous Pygmy Possum*

    Any ideas on team activities/outings that can be done during the workday/close to the end of the workday and aren’t alcohol-focused? My grandboss (company president) is trying to set up a couple of team outings before the end of the year, but the company culture (very small tech company, but not a startup, and not in the silicon valley) has been very “Let’s just go to a bar and get drunk!” for the past 25 years and he wants to move away from that. We went to a golf driving range a couple months ago, and we’re doing a brewery tour today (which does not help with the moving away from alcohol), but he wants ideas for the future. I suggested bowling and that went over well, but any other ideas?

    For the record, I don’t want suggestions on the line of “Just let people go home early!” – these team-building outings are truly optional and people who don’t go also get to leave early. (Also, for the record, they treat me very well. I have complaints about this job and the way things are run, but there’s great benefits/good pay/etc.)

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      How about a scavenger hunt. Divide up into teams – of people who don’t normally work together – and try to find oddball things in the office, or in a nearby park.

      Weather permitting, you can also do low-impact sports-adjacent stuff like frisbee, horseshoes, cornhole.

      Get somebody from the local historical society to do a guided walking tour.

    2. ThisIsTheHill*

      Work events I or my husband have gone to in the past: zoo, ball games, park w/ a catered picnic or boxed lunch, indoor bocce, fowling (may not be a thing where you live), & Dave & Buster’s (arcade geared toward all ages).

      1. ThisIsTheHill*

        Just remembered – I’ve worked for a few companies with mandatory volunteer hours. A few times a year, our department would partner with a charity & we had the option to work as a team during work hours while getting paid to fulfill the requirement instead of doing it on our own time. Examples: The company bought several bicycles for a non-profit, then broke us all out into teams to build them. We manned a soup kitchen together. We worked in the warehouse of a food bank stocking shelves. We even cleaned bus stops one time – the city had a kind of Adopt-A-Highway program for them. As long as it’s voluntary, it can be a nice change of pace from the norm.

        I’ll never forget the looks on those kids’ faces when they were brought into the room where they received their shiny new bikes. It was like Christmas in July.

    3. TiffIf*

      – Axe Throwing
      – Go Cart
      – Escape room
      – Miniature Golf
      – Top Golf
      – Bowling

      (These are all things that I have done with work teams. I enjoyed all of them.)

    4. Fun*

      Ok, at the risk of being silly…is there a merry-go-round in your city? Nothing like being a kid again to loosen folks up. And if it’s voluntary, those who think it’s stupid will opt out. Also: a trip to the zoo, a tour of a local notable or beautiful building, a food tasting walk, a trip to an ice cream parlor? Not sure if roller rinks are open, but if so, roller skating.

    5. Frideag Dachaigh*

      In the summer, a mid-day baseball game? Minor league ones are especially fun and cheaper than major league tickets. A trivia event? Something crafty- pottery painting/making, a paint and sip, etc.

    6. peachygee*

      Oops, just posted a reply to you but accidentally posted in the main thread – search “curling” and you’ll find it :)

    7. Observer*

      Board or party games (as long as you make sure that they are work appropriate.)

      Go to a place where people can make pottery / cook a meal / similar activity.

      Get a speaker in to talk about an interesting subject and then open the floor to Q&A.

    8. Purple Cat*

      My very large finance group did an escape room – well, 3 escape rooms because we have so many people. Then went out for drinks at the bar upstairs.
      My smaller leadership team did GoKart racing – SO much fun! And then went out for drinks at the bar across the street ;)
      A paint-night type event is also fun. Guys tend to complain about “painting” but a lot of those places offer wooden sign options too.

    9. JustaTech*

      This is a “really depends on your area” thing but in my city there’s a chocolate factory that does tours and that could be a lot of fun. We also did a distillery tour which ended up being a little weird for the distillery folks because we kept asking very technical questions about their fermentation process (we’re in biotech, so it’s surprisingly similar).

      We also did a chocolate tasting event (onsite) once where we had a ton of fancy chocolates with weird flavors (black rice and quinoa! caramelized sweet onion! root beer!) and we were trying to figure out what the flavors were.

    10. Camelid coordinator*

      My team is between 3 and 6 people, depending on whether we have temps or students. For the holiday we are going to go to an outdoor sculpture garden and then have a nice lunch at a restaurant on site there.

  59. Ann O. Nimitee*

    tl;dr: A toxic nightmare that I escaped is my friend’s dream job. How do I process this but still remain friends?

    I recently escaped a position that at first was a dream job, but over time it drained me dry. It was underfunded, a punishing workload, long hours, and worst of all, a boss who was chronically disappointed in nearly everyone and everything. But now I’m free!

    While I worked there, my office had a part-time employee for a temporary position. She loved the work but it also nearly broke her. Once her position ended, we became good friends. It’s a really small office, so she was the only person I could talk to who understood how bad that place was. I vented to her over the years. A lot.

    Now that I’ve quit, my ex-boss has tapped my friend for the role. My friend is over the moon! She wants to be in that line of work. But she also knows so much, both from working there before, albeit in a less demanding role, and from all the raging I’ve done over the years. I don’t understand it, but I’m trying my best to be a good friend and support her in her happiness. I don’t think the honeymoon period will last, and she’ll nearly end up having a mental breakdown like me. But I hope it doesn’t come to that, for her sake.

    The problem is me. Now that I’m out, I’m dealing with unexpected baggage. I’m rehashing old wounds in my mind. I also feel like maybe I failed at the job, even though objectively I know that’s not true — I succeeded admirably for far longer than most people would have. But how can something that was so horrible and that I shared so freely still be a dream job to someone else? I just don’t get it. I’m trying to process it all and move on. So how do I balance my own recovery with supporting a friend? How am I going to move on when I hear about the job from her? Can we still be friends?

    1. awesome3*

      At least for the time being it doesn’t sound like being the type of friends who chat about work would be healthy. Do you have other common interests that help you remain friends? If so, I’d center the friendship around that, and leave the work stuff out of the relationship for now. I’m sorry that this has been so rough.

    2. Cardboard*

      You can still be friends. Set clear boundaries. Congratulate her and tell her you’re happy for her but that you need to request to not discuss the job moving forward. There’s a possibility her experience may be better than yours for whatever reason (maybe it won’t), and if she seems happy it might burn you up a little. If she seems unhappy it’ll make you keep reliving your bad experiences, and your friendship may become focused around complaining. For now figure out how to structure your friendship around anything but work.

      Also this may seem extreme to some but you might want to see if you can find a professional to talk through all your work baggage. It’s valid, it caused you psychological distress for years and now you could probably use help processing it. It may also help you navigate any weirdness you feel about your friend taking your place there, without making it her responsibility. Good luck!

        1. DEJ*

          I don’t have any answers to your dilemma, but I feel a lot of what you said and love Cardboard’s advice. A ton of people have gotten out of my former industry and I want to scream at anyone still in it or looking to get in it ‘why on earth would you want to go into this/stay there?!’ I probably need to take some of that advice myself and talk to someone about it.

    3. ferrina*

      This is one of the reasons why Alison is wary of “dream jobs”. Just because it looks good doesn’t mean it is good, and deciding that it is a “dream come true” can blind you to the real issues.

      awesome3 and Cardboard have great advice. Good luck!

      1. Ann O. Nimitee*

        Good point, ferrina. I made that mistake, and I believe my friend could be making that mistake too. I’m also trying to accept that everyone has different preferences, and what was awful for me may not be for others, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Different strokes and all that.

    4. RagingADHD*

      I have plenty of friends that I don’t talk about work with. Y’all need to be that kind of friends.

      1. Ann O. Nimitee*

        Something to strive for, definitely. Thanks, RagingADHD. Part of my deprogramming from toxic, all-consuming job is relearning that there’s more to life! Hard to let go of bad habits.

  60. Cj*

    I made a comment on one of Alison’s regular articles regarding being put on a PIP because of my attendance, and had been gone for FMLA eligible reasons. I applied for FMLA, which was approved, met all my hourly and billable hours for the month, and still was fired because of a bogus performance reason.

    That was last Thursday, and the good news is that I had a new job by Wednesday night. Slightly more money, slightly fewer benefits. I sent six resumes through Indeed Monday night, and had four interviews set up by 4:15 Tuesday afternoon.

    Since I have a new job, I guess no advice for me needed. I’m just posting so others will know the jobs are out there, and don’t get discouraged if you lose your job or feel like you need to leave the one you are at.

    1. ecnaseener*

      Good luck in your new job. That stinks what happened to you, but hopefully it’s behind you now.

      1. Cj*

        Yeah I’m not losing any sleep over it. Especially since I got a new job so quickly. The firm I was fired from had a new initiative that I think will be fine in their metro locations, but don’t think as it’s going to go over so well in rural area I am in. I was kind of dreading that anyway.

  61. El Camino*

    Frustrated venting. I’m so burnt out and fed up with my job (nowhere as toxic as the last place I was but the work is similar and really stressful by its nature, and of course we don’t have enough staff to cover the heavy, intensive workload) that I am literally starting medication to help me manage my anxiety. Well Murphy’s Law, my coworker is out sick today and this morning asked me to help with a project due Monday and it looks like she hadn’t even started on it. I’ve got my own Monday deadline and a bunch of other high priority tasks but of course that’s all had to be shifted around. My boss is out on vacation til next week too, so I’ve had to reach out to my grandboss and coordinate what to do while also trying not to throw my coworker under the bus. Thankfully grandboss is helping out in a big way, and I’m not panicking but I’m just so frustrated. I’ve been driving myself crazy for months feeling super anxious, worthless, and incompetent at this job – a lot of it is anxiety-related issues that impact my confidence, and I’ve been seeing a therapist to work on that. But I’ve especially been struggling this week and am having a hard time finding compassion for my coworker (like, rationally I know you can’t control when you’re sick) because she dumped this project onto my lap with zero work started on it. I refuse to work late and work over the weekend on this (a regular expectation in this role and one of the big sources of my anxiety) so I’m dreading the fall out next week with whatever happens. Dreaming of a total career field change and this feels like a sign that I should pursue it.

    1. ecnaseener*

      Sending you all the best vibes and the comfort food/beverage/activity of your choosing once the weekend starts. (And yes 100% take your weekend!!)

    2. Kathenus*

      There’s a difference between not throwing your coworker on a bus and hiding the fact that the project is not even started. I don’t think you need to gloss over that part – because it goes to the reality of what has to be done for that project, and your project, with the Monday deadline. Your grandboss can help prioritize what has to happen but they should have the full information on what needs to be done to make an informed decision. Being honest where needed for the business reality is not throwing anyone under the bus. And kudos to you for setting good boundaries on not working late/weekend to do so, just make sure your grandboss knows what your available time IS so that they set realistic goals for what can be done in work time. Good luck!

      1. Chauncy Gardener*

        This. Just be transparent, but not in a vent-y way about your co-worker. They’re probably in exactly the same situation as you are.
        And do take your weekend and I strongly recommend using it to update your resume and LinkedIn profile. There are SO many jobs out there right now!
        Here’s hoping that you will be in Good News Friday very soon!!

    3. ferrina*

      Ugh, this is the worst! I’m so sorry!

      Having been there, done that, make sure to CYA. Get an email chain with your grandboss stating the priorities and reprecussions. “To recap, I’m working on Project B. This means Project A will be delayed up to 5 days, though of course as soon as Project B is done, I’ll jump back on Project A.”

      I’m so proud that you’re taking your weekend- when I was in this spot, I failed to set reasonable boundaries with my boss and never had any time to myself. You’re being smart and reasonable. Congrats, and good luck!

      1. El Camino*

        This is a fair question. Her message to me was “I need you to do this.” And while we have the same title and are the same level, to be perfectly honest, I don’t feel I have the power to say no. I’ve both witnessed and directly experienced occasions where our department doesn’t have capacity for a project and even when we politely but firmly say “sorry, can’t do it” it still falls on our plates and we just have to suck it up for the sake of ‘customer service’ to the other departments. Probably not a surprise that there’s high turnover in this role :(

      2. Mockingjay*

        This is a good point. It’s not unreasonable – to you or your coworker – to say no. Your own tasks come first. If you are uncomfortable saying no, redirect her to management. “I’m sorry I can’t cover for you today, I’ve got my own deadlines to meet. You should let Manager know that X won’t be complete.”

        And no compassion is needed for a coworker who didn’t do her own work AT ALL and dumped it on you instead. If I had offered to assist, as soon as I realized that nothing had been done, I’d have done a hard stop and brought in the boss – not to help – but to decide what needs to be done before I lift another finger. “Boss, I was going to finish up X for Sick Coworker, but it’s not been started at all. Even if I drop my own deliverables and spend all day on this, I wouldn’t be able to get it done by its Monday due date. As you know, my tasks A and B are also due.” Let Boss decide the course of action.

  62. Purple Jello*

    For various reasons, I’ve decided I’m going to retire within the next 6 months. I’m working on deciding the timing due to tax and medical insurance considerations. My department is already short staffed and is recruiting for two new positions; they will not be happy to see me go. I want to provide them with as much transition time as possible. It is hard to find people with my amount of experience for my position in this region.

    Now I’ve got to decide when to tell my boss.

    1. Hlao-roo*

      How has your company/boss handles retirements and long notice periods in the past? Use that information when making your decision.

      I work for a company that handles retirements well. I think around September or October last year, someone at my company told his boss he was going to retire in 2021. Around November/December 2020, he let his boss know his plan was to retire before April 2021 but was still waiting for some tax information before committing to a firm date. He ended up retiring in February 2021, I think with 2 weeks notice before his final working day. It was a good situation for all involved. He got to retire when it made sense for him, tax-wise, and because his boss had advanced notice the boss was able to hire a new person on to the team in January of 2021.

      If you think your company will be similar, you can tell your boss now that you will retire by X date but could be sooner and they can start the hiring process. But if you’ve seen any indications in the past that that will not go well, just plan on giving 2 weeks notice.

      1. Purple Jello*

        I’m not concerned about being pushed out, instead I think they’ll beg me to stay. I’m confident they’ll work with me. I don’t want to leave them in the lurch but don’t want to notify before I know what’s best for me. But if they do send me off before I’m ready, it’s really just the medical coverage I’m concerned about

        1. PollyQ*

          If you’re in the US and they do push you out, you should still be able to pay for COBRA coverage on the same plan, although it’s pricy. Alternatively, it would count as a material change, so you would qualify to sign up for ACA, even though it might be outside the annual enrollment period. Also not cheap, though.

          But on the larger question, given that you’re not yet sure what the best timing would be and what all the financial implications for you are, I’d wait until you have those issues solidified before I’d tell your employer.

  63. Lady Lia*

    I’m looking for insightful questions from the commentariat. Suppose you could as a prostitute about her life/the business. What would you ask? Simply put, decades ago, I worked as a prostitute and dominatrix and ran a prostitution operation. I’ve been meaning to write a memoir, and now that I work from home, I have endless hours to kill and no more excuses for not doing so.

    A little background, I’m middle class, college-educated, and have a 25+ year career as a graphic designer so this is no tale of woe from a life on the mean streets. The prostitution period lasted five or six years in my late twenties. It’s not something I’m ashamed of or regret, but it’s an endless source of fascination on the rare occasions I bring it up. To me, it was just day-to-day life, filled with mundane tasks like website administration and tracking my Google AdWords stats. Sure, there were numerous blowjobs with random strangers, but that almost seems like a minor footnote. I was running a business after all.

    Anyway, I’d like to solicit reader feedback regarding questions you’d like answered as it relates to my former profession. I’m not looking to be titillating or raunchy, but I find myself wanting an outside perspective. When it’s how you make your living, even the most unconventional situations become mundane. Please, if you’re looking to slut shame, DON’T. I contend that I acted with integrity, and I don’t regret what I freely chose to do. If you want to discuss the legality, that’s a fair point, but keep the moral judgements to yourself. That said, I open the floor to your questions…

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I’m curious about the logistics – was it entirely (oh god I don’t mean this as a dirty joke) under the table, or did you have some method of …would that be money laundering? I don’t know if it would, but anyway, did you jump through the hoops to report the income to the IRS, pay taxes on it etc?

      1. Lady Lia*

        I didn’t make enough money to necessitate money laundering. Everything was cash and I didn’t report anything to the IRS.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Yeah, I didn’t exactly mean money laundering like, the Cayman Islands or something, but example: I bought my house from an exotic dancer who incorporated, and had she been inclined to other pursuits as well, she could have run her income through her LLC to claim it legally, without elaborating on exactly how it had been earned. (Maybe that is actual money laundering? I don’t know, haha :) )

          1. Clisby*

            That’s what I thought. Money laundering isn’t hiding money; it’s channeling illegally acquired money through some legal enterprise so it’s not hidden. It’s deposited in bank accounts, you pay taxes on it, the whole 9 yards.

    2. Curious cat*

      There’s a memoir in the UK called Belle du Jour or memoirs of a call girl or similar which was a huge hit and became a tv show but I think it was more titillating than what you’re planning.
      So many questions – why you started and what led to your decision?
      How did you even begin? This is a question of any entrepreneur I think. What was the push?
      What were the best and worst aspects?
      Funny / memorable stories?
      What it taught you? Life and business lessons?

      1. Lady Lia*

        “How did you end up as a prostitute?” That’s the question I get asked the most. Most people assume a tale of abuse and poverty, but that wasn’t the case for me. People are comforted by the thought that it’s something only the most desperate woman would even consider. But someone with a university education and a conventional career as a graphic designer? If it could happen to HER, it could happen to anyone, even YOUR daughter. Perish the thought!

        Anyway, I’ve devoted entire chapter to the subject thus far. Any other questions?

        1. Hlao-roo*

          I would also be interested in why you decided to leave. What did you do next? How was the transition to a different line of work?

          1. Lady Lia*

            I was a big fish in a small pond (small town Indiana) so eventually I got busted. My legal difficulties slowed but didn’t stop me. I guess after a while, I felt I’d learned all I could and there was no to path to advancement. I was already the most successful madam in town. I was nearing 30 and tired of living in a small town, so I packed my bags and moved to Vegas. (Coal to Newcastle, I know) I’d always worked as a graphic designer, even when I was prostituting, so I just continued my career path.

            And no, I never worked as a prostitute in Vegas.

    3. ecnaseener*

      All the ways in which it was just running a business – super fascinating. I’d love to hear more comparisons to other businesses – how similar is the customer service philosophy? Especially if you freelanced in graphic design, what are the surprising similarities/differences there? On a personal/emotional level, was it similar to “normal” work – some days suck, some days are pretty fun, most are just whatever?

      Less related to the book – do you prefer the term prostitute rather than sex worker?

      1. Lady Lia*

        Personally, I prefer prostitute, although I understand sex worker is more politically correct. Sex worker is a catch-all, everyone from cam girls to streetwalkers falls under the heading, so prostitute is more specific. My tentative title is Whore in the Heartland, so I’m comfortable calling myself a whore. Kinda akin to homosexuals reclaiming “queer.”

        As for customer service, well that’s the long and short of it, isn’t it? But what set me apart and made me successful was an emphasis on customer service. Not the sex necessarily, but the overall experience. Things like showing up on time, remembering a client’s preferred drink, not discussing politics or religion, basically old-fashioned good manners. It’s what kept my clients coming back month after month.

        As for how it compared to working a conventional job? It depends on the day of course. While I thankfully never had any dangerous/traumatic encounters, some clients were better than others. But what I enjoyed was the freedom it afforded me. In couple days time, I could easily make the same money as punching a clock for 40 hours. My time was my own, and I spent little of it actually entertaining. Honestly, I easily spent as much time on marketing and website admin as I did on my back.

        1. thebakeisapie*

          Hey, you may have hit on a pretty good book idea–a business book but based on the lessons you learned as a prostitute. That would be pretty cool!

            1. pancakes*

              Melissa Gira Grant wrote about it from a labor reporter perspective, in a book called Playing the Whore. It’s a good read!

          1. anon today*

            A similar book actually has been written — Think Like a Stripper by Erika Lyremark does this. I read it and it is very thought-provoking and insightful.

          1. pancakes*

            That’s a fun title. One of my first literary thrills, along with Flowers in the Attic, was swiping my stepsister’s copy of the Mayflower Madam’s memoir (“Mayflower Madam: The Secret Life of Sydney Biddle Barrows”).

    4. calonkat*

      I confess to almost complete ignorance of how such things work outside of television cop shows. How does one become a dominatrix? How do you find clientele? If you ran an operation, did you manage others? How did you find them/convince them to work for you?

      How was safety (physical and sexual) managed? Did you have any dangerous situations, if so what happened? If not, was it because of safety precautions you had in place?

      Did you ever encounter anyone from your business in a more social setting? How is that handled?

      Since you didn’t report the income to the IRS, I guess there aren’t questions about handling expenses from that point of view, but did you track business expenses (clothes/supplies/medical) to make sure the profit margin was what you wanted? What sort of profit margin is expected? How does one find out, are there chat rooms/forums for discussion?

      Is there “professional development” (lol) or are all skills learned, um, on the job as it were?

      ok, I’ll stop now.

      1. Lady Lia*

        I know prostitution is portrayed in the media as inherently dangerous, but that wasn’t my experience at all. My approach was designed to ensure everyone’s safety at all times. I insisted on meeting new clients in public for coffee and I did all of my entertaining in my home. Everything was to my advantage. If a client wasn’t up to my standards, I could leave them sitting in the restaurant. In my home, I had the home court advantage. I knew it wasn’t likely to be a sting because the police would have needed a warrant to enter my home. I wasn’t putting myself in unfamiliar surroundings and clients tended to be on their best behavior being a guest in my home. Also, my boyfriend, former Army Special Ops, was always nearby, and I checked in with him via walkie talkie at the start and end of each session. Honestly, I was more concerned about a client having a heart attack than assaulting me. An retired executive in his late sixties had much more to lose than me.

      2. Captain Marvel*

        I’m in the same boat. I’d also want to know everything asked in the first paragraph, including how you vetted clients. Did you do referrals? How would that even work?

        I’d definitely read it.

        1. Lady Lia*

          Finding and vetting clients was pretty straightforward. There are myriad escort directories/review sites on the web. And I had my own website as well. And Google AdWords. And an ad in the local weekly paper. If you were looking for a hooker in my area, you couldn’t help but find me. I vetted clients by meeting them in public first. I only turned down a client two or three times. I occasionally vouched for a client, but given the very limited competition from other independent escorts in the area, the need wasn’t really there. Blackbook sites listing problem clients do exist, but I never found them helpful. My geographic area was too small and there were too few clients to make it worthwhile. And a problem client could just change his name/handle/email address and no one would be the wiser. Gut instinct was what kept me safe.

      3. Lady Lia*

        As for business expenses, they were minimal. The biggest expense as was advertising (website, ad in the local weekly newspaper.) But I did all of my own website development and graphic design, so those costs were reasonable. And it was also a source of revenue. In addition to my own personal website, I launched a website that promoted other local independent escorts (and earned me a conviction for promoting prostitution.) Many of the girls who advertised were former colleagues who’d worked at an escort agency alongside me. I charged a monthly flat fee of $200 for their own mini-website. I didn’t actively recruit girls and I didn’t manage their business. I tried to say well clear of their day-to-day as I have no stomach for drama. Personally, I was no more interested in their lives than if I had sold them an ad in the Yellow Pages. If you didn’t have my money at the beginning of the month, your website came down.

    5. It’s FriYay Ya’ll*

      There have been some really great documentaries about sex work in general in the last few years so I think a lot of people became more open to sec work during this time period.

      I’d think from a memoir perspective I’d want to know your reasonings for pursuing that line of work, how you kept yourself safe in those situations, did you bond/create any lasting relationships with either other people in the industry and or clients, how did you skirt the legal issues and deal with them in your current life (if you weren’t in Nevada).

      1. Lady Lia*

        Regarding relationships, I’m reclusive by nature, so the few friendships I had were with fellow prostitutes. We seldom discussed work, but we all had a shared understanding and could commiserate as needed. As for clients, the whole point of a prostitute is to avoid a relationship. The joke goes, “With a prostitute, you’re not just paying for sex, you’re paying her to leave.” Sure, I was on friendly terms, especially with regulars, but a relationship was out of the question.