how can I hire people when my company won’t negotiate on salary or remote work?

A reader writes:

With the Great Resignation going on and employees having more negotiating power than ever to go after what they want, how does an HR person recruit when their company isn’t willing to negotiate?

I am an HR generalist, a department of one in a design and manufacturing company. Hiring is tough right now obviously. What makes it even more difficult is that my company requires all office staff to be on-site, except the 15 or so employees who live out of the area and have always been remote. About 40% of the company is office based and 60% is manufacturing. During the height of the pandemic, nearly all the office people went remote. I was in the office every day, because that is what the management wanted and I felt like I needed to be there to support the manufacturing employees. It would have been nice to have a hybrid schedule since I had multiple children to support with online school during that time, but I did it anyway, which was extremely stressful.

We required everyone to come back in office earlier this year. We gave a month’s notice for them to transition back and there was some clear resentment both from the employees who had no choice but to work on-site all along and whose jobs were made more difficult by supporting the employees at home, and the ones that were made to come back after being remote for well over a year. We also had some issues with poor work quality/quantity with the remote employees, as well as some dishonest ones who ended up being let go due to literally not working or being online at all while they were being paid. So the trust level with management for remote work in general is not there. It has been stressed over and over that our company works much better in person due to the fact that we work in manufacturing.

I have asked and recommended multiple times that we offer hybrid work as a option for office employees and as a recruiting strategy, especially since with inflation growing so quickly that our wages are now on the lower end of the pay scale, making it even harder to attract candidates. I have been told that hybrid absolutely will not be happening, because it didn’t prove to be successful or productive last year. Also complicating recruiting is that we don’t post salary info and I do not have permission to do so, partly because we are somewhat flexible in certain roles and it really depends on the candidate, i.e., we will pay higher than our normal range for the right candidate and/or modify the role for them.

I don’t agree with the ban on remote work or salary transparency and have conveyed my opinion, facts, research, etc. as to why we should allow remote/hybrid work for the majority of office positions and also advocated for raising wages and posting salary info. But the reality is that it’s not up to me to decide that! And I am left trying to explain to candidates why we can’t give them what they want, or to make excuses. Candidates are being abrasive about it and can be flat-out rude at times. I pass on the feedback, but my hands are tied. The company has so much to offer, but does that really matter when the two things that candidates really care about (along with the rest of the workforce) are not in place? I totally get why candidates are asking for what they want in order to have a better quality of life.

I love my job. I like the variety of being a generalist and the work that my company does. I love the culture and support here. I enjoy the executive team immensely and value the employees. I don’t want to leave my job. But the day after day grind of interviews where I can’t promise something that candidates want is wearing on me. Do you have any verbiage for how to handle this sensitive subject with prospective employees? How can I reconcile my own feelings about it versus what I have to relay due to my job?

Sometimes the most effective thing you can do is to let a person (or in this case an employer) experience the consequences of their actions.

Yes, you need to hire. But you can’t care more about hiring than your company’s management does — and right now they’re telling you that they’re more invested in not budging on salary and remote work than they are in filling open positions. Alright then — that’s their call. Your role is to make sure they have the data on how that’s playing out on the ground and what impact it’s having.

So be as transparent as possible with candidates! Be very, very open about the company’s stance on remote work, as early as possible in your conversations so that they don’t waste their time if it’s a deal-breaker. And while your company won’t let you post salary ranges, are you explicitly banned from answering when a candidate asks for the range? If not, go ahead and provide that info when you’re asked — or say, “I’m sorry, I know this practice is changing but we’re not there yet and I’m not authorized to share our range.” Let candidates draw their own conclusions. (That said, the more info you can find a way to give them, the better for both of you, so that neither of you is wasting your time if you’re too far apart on salary. So you might consider saying, “If you give me a sense of what you’re looking for, I can tell you how it compares to our range.” That’s still not good, but it’s better than nothing.)

And if candidates drop out over either of these things, log that. Report periodically to your leadership on what you’re seeing — that you lost X good candidates because of it or Y% of your applicants or you’re unable to find acceptable candidates for the Z opening who are interested under the conditions offered. Let them decide if they’re okay with that or if they’d rather make changes.

Meanwhile, don’t take candidates’ reactions personally. If someone is rude about it, they’re not upset with anything you’ve done; they’re expressing disagreement with the same practices you disagree with too. Log it as further data for your management (“multiple strong candidates expressed disgust” or whatever is true).

Ultimately, though, like with anything where you disagree with your employer’s approach, you have to decide how much it bothers you. Can you make your peace with this part of the job by knowing you’re at least being forthright with candidates so their time isn’t wasted, and find some satisfaction in reporting dispassionately to your management on the effects of their policies? Or is it going to eat away at you and make you miserable? Either of those is a legitimate response; you just have to get really clear-eyed about what you do and don’t feel okay about, and make your choices accordingly.

{ 228 comments… read them below }

  1. SushiRoll*

    If the details at all matched up I would have thought one of my recruiter colleagues wrote this. They often share with me their struggles.

    This is a really bummer situation. It’s basically “do your job badly (in management’s eyes), be frustrated, alienate candidates, pray things change” or “quit” – and quitting is NOT ALWAYS AN EASY DECISION.

    1. Saffie_Girl*

      I have been trying to hire a role for about 6 months now (as the hiring manager) and it has been one crazy thing after another and we have similar restrictions placed on us by executive leadership. The internal recruiter has been an absolute champ. The sad thing is that she has thanked me for being so patient throughout the process. None of it is within her control, I expressed this and her reaction let me know that others have not been as understanding. It is not an enviable position to be in and at this point we all need to figure out what is best for ourselves. It’s unfortunate, but it is the only thing we can control. LW you are not alone!

    2. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

      Not only that, but also to be blamed – by current overworked employees and would-be candidates who don’t accept the employer’s rules – when you can’t fill the openings due to reasons completely beyond your control.

      1. Merrie*

        And to have your performance review be affected by the fact that your department’s numbers are poor (because you’re shorthanded, because you can’t hire anyone, because corporate tied your hands), aka story of my life.

    3. LinuxSystemsGuy*

      I feel like OP being in manufacturing is definitely not helping their cause. Since 60% of the workforce essentially *has* to be in the office, it can be harder to justify why the office staff want to be different than everyone else. Even if the bosses were totally open to remote work, they have to consider the optics to the front line assembly people that a bunch of people who are probably already perceived to have “easier” jobs “not even bothering to come in”.

      Add to that a few bad experiences with remote workers, and I can definitely see their perspective. I don’t *agree* with that perspective in any way, but I can see it. That said, all the more reason to offer a bit more money than the competition to make up for it.

      1. BronzeCat*

        To be fair, though, office personnel and manufacturing personnel already have different rules that apply. From attire, to strictness regarding timeliness, expectations regarding communications…The list goes on. Having worked in both sides at multiple firms, I think it is well understood that office work and manufacturing work have different privileges and expectations.

        1. Doug Judy*

          Yes this. My husband works at a manufacturing company, one that I worked in the business office of for many years. I hadn’t worked there for a few years before he stated, but I was surprised how different the manufacturing side was. Medical benefits were the same but vacation accrual, bonus pay outs, and a few other things were quite a bit different.

          That being said, it seems as if all the business employees have returned to the office (maybe some hybrid) for similar reasons of optics. While again, I do not agree (and I cannot see myself personally every working in the office again) that seems very par for the course in that industry.

        2. Anon because I'm being specific*

          I agree with LinuxSystemsGuy that this is about optics. I work for a large public utility and the majority of our employees have to be in the office (you can’t run the electrical grid from your living room), while those of us who could work from home did from March 2020 until July 2021, and then again for the last few months due to surges related to Omicron. While the company as a whole obviously understands that there is a difference between “has to be on-site” and “can be remote” work, we have been told flat out that our company will not go to full remote for those whose jobs can be done remotely.

          It isn’t that the company doesn’t *understand* there’s a difference, it’s that when you add “can be remote” to the list of other privileges that office folks have it was apparently a really sore spot for 75% of our company. When it comes to that, yeah, the company’s going to decide not to let the minority go full time remote.

          1. Software Engineer*

            You certainly could run the grid from your living room. You just need to set up the backend systems to do so *securely*. However, IT security is usually not a priority in public utilities.

                1. Anon because I'm being specific*

                  Depending on the office job, yes. Fun fact: lineman are DESPERATELY needed across the entire country and if you know a high school senior who isn’t interested in an office job, they would have a financially secure future if they went into that work.

                2. Christine*

                  Yes— this… if the linemen want to be able to WFH like office staff, maybe they should apply for those jobs instead. Oh. Doesn’t pay enough? Requires more or different education? Well then, there are tradeoffs.

                  As a knowledge worker, I am 100% not okay with being forced into a pointless commute to do a job I can do better from home. “Because other people have to come in” is not a sufficient reason.

                3. Anon because I'm being specific*

                  @Christine, the tradeoffs go both ways. My company would say to you “don’t want to commute? Oh. Well, that’s the tradeoff of working for a public utility.”

                  Look, I think the whole “75% of the company has to be onsite and are annoyed at y’all who have been working from home” is a lame reason that I have to go into the office. But this job is incredibly stable, I’m paid a competitive salary, work-life balance is fantastic, vacation is generous, sick leave is unlimited, health care and retirement benefits are amazing… tradeoffs.

            1. Anon because I'm being specific*

              IT security is 100% a priority at my utility, thanks for your concern. However, in addition to IT security, when you are operating something that interfaces with the Bulk Electric System you have to also be concerned with PHSYICAL access to the components, including the computers that are used for operating the BES. If you want your electric bill to skyrocket because the utility had to create a space within each control room employee’s home where those NERC, FERC, and state regulations regarding physical access to the BES and its components are followed so that those employees can work from home while ensuring the safety, reliability, and security of the electric grid, please contact your State Corporate Commission and let them know that — make sure you include that you welcome any increases down the road when someone leaves their control room job and a new person’s home has to be modified to meet the same criteria.

              But considering that public utilities are tasked with ensuring the safety, reliability, and security of their utility at a rate the public doesn’t scream about, it is certainly much more efficient and fiscally responsible for there to be a centralized location where the grid is run…like a control room.

            2. LinuxSystemsGuy*

              I’m no expert, but I’m pretty sure they air gap most of the sensitive systems in grid management. No matter how many layers of firewalls and VPNs you put in, nothing prevents intrusion from the Internet like not being on the Internet.

              Like classified government systems or some medical devices, I’d assume that anything that can take the grid down is either on an isolated network, or no network at all.

      2. MusicWithRocksIn*

        I don’t know – I’m in manufacturing and on a certain level it is safer for people who need to be in the building if the rest of the workforce is work from home. The more people that are home, the less people who are using the kitchen and the bathrooms and the hallways and breathing the same air as them. The more people who are home, the less chance someone will be infected at work and spread it around.

        1. SarahKay*

          This. I work in an office attached to a workshop; approx 60% of the site staff are manufacturing and can’t work from home. As many as possible of the other staff are not only allowed but required to work from home to reduce the number of people coming in and spreading germs, and increase the amount of space for the on-site people to move around in.
          My company is just starting to allow people back in a 3-day-in/2-dayWFH pattern but only in the office-only sites. All the sites like mine with any manufacturing on-site are still very definite that we can (must!) just stay home and keep our virus-y selves away from the manufacturing teams.

      3. rolly*

        ” it can be harder to justify why the office staff want to be different than everyone else.”

        You “justify” it by describing reality: people are not taking the jobs, so the position has been open for a long time. If that’s worth it for the morale of employees who have to be in the office, so be it. But the costs have to be described.

        1. WindmillArms*

          Very good point. Sometimes the answer to “How come they get to!?” is “Because otherwise, no one would agree to do the job and we’d be doing [tasks] ourselves.”

      4. Office Lobster DJ*

        OP says outright that the on-site people have had their jobs made more difficult by needing to support people at home. Two years of that, I assume. We can call some of it optics, I guess, but let’s not dismiss it or construe it as something on-site people should just get over.

        1. Worldwalker*

          Supporting people at home might be a changed element of the job, but that’s what the job is, much like, say, if they had to support people at client sites, or support people in the field, or supporting people in any other way.

          1. Office Lobster DJ*

            I’d say there’s a vast, gaping chasm between someone’s role including supporting people at client sites and “Surprise! Your job is now to put your life on the line to do your job and parts of mine so that I can stay safe at home. For at least two years. Most likely without recognition.” The resentment OP mentions is real.

            Using “optics” dismissively is my issue here, because it really minimizes what on-site employees have been through for the sake of their jobs.

            1. LinuxSystemsGuy*

              I can see that though it wasn’t my intention to be dismissive. I used to be the communications officer for an Artillery Battalion that deployed to Iraq. Due to the nature of our work myself and my team rarely had to leave camp or go on patrols. This understandably created some low key resentment. It wasn’t a problem per se, most people understood that the work we did was important, and there was a reason we weren’t assigned to patrols, but there was occasional mutterings about us being “safe” all time.

              So my NCOs and I often talked about the “optics” of specific things and how setups “looked”. Not because we didn’t know and appreciate that we were in fact in a safer situation, but because we didn’t want to unnecessarily rub anyone’s nose in it.

              1. Rosalind Franklin*

                “we didn’t want to unnecessarily rub anyone’s nose in it.”

                This is such a big deal. Those of us in operations have been on site since day 1 – we have to. But it killed morale when the office folks used our company chat to CONSTANTLY post pictures of their pets, with tags like “oh my coworkers are so cute!” My team understood why they had to be in person, but there’s no need to brag that you don’t.

                And then we got to the point last year when they required all supervisors to take a development course, in person on site in a single room. The facilitator…was clearly in her living room. That was not a cute look.

              2. Office Lobster DJ*

                That makes sense, LinuxSystemsGuy, and acting from a place of empathy for your co-workers and genuine consideration of how your actions might affect them is the opposite of being dismissive.

      5. LiteBriteExpert*

        I feel like it’s this 100%. In the field I work (residential care) none of my staff are able to be remote–it’s simply not possible. However my particular job could be done remotely. I’ve worked at home a very small handful of days over the last two years because I’m not going to be the jackass that sits at home while everyone else has to go in and risk COVID. It is actually logical given the realities of COVID? No. But it’s how a lot of thinking like this goes–we’re in this together and I don’t want you thinking I think I’m better than you. And for a manufacturing company where those doing the manufacturing already probably have some resentment towards their office staff? I get why the managers are trying to do this.

      6. RebelwithMouseyHair*

        And it’s not even a thing that’s applied consistently in that there are a handful of remote workers, the ones who were already remote before covid.

  2. Liam*

    That’s pretty tough. I understand why people would distrust WFH because it’s been abused, but the reality is we can never go back. Anyone that has had a taste and likes it won’t ever go back. Unfortunately it appears the company is going to have to experience that when they don’t hire anyone because of a lack of good pay and mandatory attendance.

    If you treat employees like children, they won’t stick around long

    1. 2cents*

      I’ve been working from home for the past 8-ish years – and I can tell you with absolute certainty that working from home during these past two years was NOT the same as before. Companies that did not have remote work before the pandemic are ruling it out now because it was “not productive” are seriously lacking perspective – the reduced productivity was due to everything else that was going on, not due to the remote work itself. I really wish more companies understood that.

      1. I'm just here for the cats*

        I thought that was such an odd detail too. They have some staff who were already remote and so it has obviously been working at some level. It’s not like this was a vacume or something where there was nothing else that could get in the way of the remote work.

        And really, it sounds like the LW isn’t even asking for fully remote, just hybrid. I don’t think most people would slack off working from home if the next day they had to face their boss or their coworkers in person.

        1. AVP*

          Honestly, the way the OP says they made online school “work” for their kids but was still int he office the whole time sort of makes me suspect that the company is reacting to parents’ lack of productivity this year. I’m sure there’s some abuse, and plenty of people who don’t like wfh anyway – but having results bad enough that you tank the whole program makes me suspect it’s more than just wfh they’re objecting to here.

          1. Nanani*

            I wonder if some people had advantages that others didn’t – a spouse with the flexibility to care for kids full time, grandparents nearby and able to help out, or straight up higher pay enabling them to hire nannies – and the ones that didn’t are (rightly) resentful of being held to the standards of someone who literally didn’t have the same constraints.

          2. A Wall*

            Absolutely this and also, for god’s sake, it’s a a pandemic. A lot of people were sick and/or still have ongoing illness for months and/or had to care for sick people and/or have had to deal with a lot of deaths of people they cared about.

            Like. This is a lot, a LOT of hurdles that can obviously hamper productivity. And they’re not evenly distributed! Not everyone has kids at home and the ones that do don’t all have the same number or the same ages or the same specific needs or the same possible arrangements to have dealt with the last two years. Not everyone has been seriously ill but others have been extremely sick and some of them have been sick for weeks or months. Not everyone has cared for a sick person but others have had their entire household go down or end up in the hospital. Not everyone has lost anyone but others have lost someone new every month.

            It’s extremely frustrating that this all is happening and then employers now are trying to hold everyone up against each other and go hmmm well, some of you aren’t productive enough through all that, and that’s not fair to us as a company, so we need to crack down. Do you really? Does that actually make sense?

        2. Vertically Challenged*

          If it’s anything like my old manufacturing job, it was mainly the sales force that was already remote. Everyone else was almost always in the office.

        3. RebelwithMouseyHair*

          Yes. I think it’s important to remember that remote work is not for everyone. People who can work just fine in an office and were made overnight to WFH, obviously had difficulties adjusting and I think it’s perfectly normal. Those who were already remote before the pandemic knew what to do – they already had the right mindset.

      2. SpaceySteph*

        This! People who were simultaneously trying to provide childcare or support remote education, dealing with illness of themselves or family/friends, or just generally living with existential dread were not going to be the best, most productive employees if they were coming into the office either. And rather than being a few employees here and there for a short period of time which you can work around, the collective whole of society was going through that at the same time.

        It’s not the remote work causing the decrease in productivity, its .

      3. Wendy Darling*

        Yeah, it seems like a lot of places are going “Hmm, we asked our employees to work remotely during an unprecedented global disaster, without the appropriate equipment, without any time for us to set up the systems they needed to do their jobs off-site, and in many cases without childcare/while trying to homeschool their children, and productivity went down! This is DEFINITELY because they weren’t in the office and not any of those other things!”

        I’d worked on a whole team that was 100% remote for 2 years pre-pandemic and our productivity tanked in spring 2020 due to all the ambient chaos.

        1. Christina*

          My husband had been on a remote team where everyone worked from home for two years pre-pandemic and yep – productivity took a hit in 2020. And the vast majority of his colleagues are white men in late middle age making good money – they aren’t the ones struggling with trying to keep second graders on task to remote learn.

        2. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

          Preach. And also that many of us were managing our regular work and trying to handle all the COVID-related crises that came up.

      4. Ace in the Hole*

        This is a really good point.

        I was on a 60% “work from home” schedule for the first 6 months of lockdowns. Except I don’t have the space or equipment necessary to work from home. My employer wasn’t prepared for this change so I couldn’t get access to a lot of the files I needed. Plus, about 75% of my duties can only be done on-site, even though I was only allowed to work on-site two days per week. And those days didn’t overlap with any of the people I needed to coordinate with.

        Obviously this meant I was extremely unproductive on my remote days. On the other hand, none of it would apply to a flex schedule designed for efficiency instead of isolation. My role is pretty independent as-is. I could easily work from home 1-2 days a week and be very productive… but you’d never know it if you just looked at the pandemic lockdown experience.

        1. All Het Up About It*

          a flex schedule designed for efficiency instead of isolation

          THANK YOU for this beautiful phrasing. This is the perfect thing I need when discussing changing/expanding our flex schedule when it comes up. We’ve been coming a few days a week for awhile now (excluding during big spikes) and we have a mix of people in the office who want everyone back on site 5 days a week and those who don’t see the purpose of coming in at all. I think this helps illustrate that a blanket rule one way or the other might not work, but once we are really on the other side of the pandemic, then an actual designed flex schedule might be a compromise both sides of the coin can work with.

      5. Karia*

        Yep. Especially anyone who has to deal with any third party vendors, which I imagine is common in manufacturing.

      6. Nanani*

        Not to mention a lot of people were very, very sick. That seems like a noteworthy detail that somehow OPs management isn’t noting

      7. A Wall*

        Absofreakinglutely. “People weren’t productive when they all suddenly had to work from the same home as everyone else they live with including children in remote school and had no time to prepare for it and also couldn’t leave the house and also likely had illnesses and deaths of people in their family or social group, so we think remote work doesn’t work.” Like, you don’t say?

    2. MusicWithRocksIn*

      We had some really bad snow here last week, and a few district schools said that the kids would just do remote learning so school wasn’t cancelled due to snow. I actually felt really sad that snow days weren’t a thing anymore – it felt like such a hallmark of my childhood. But you are right, the world has changed and there is no going back to how it was before, we know we can make this work, so there is no reason not to when we are in a pinch.

      1. anonymous73*

        I’m thankful that my county school district is doing everything they can to keep the kids IN school this year. Instead of a blanket closing/virtual learning across the county, they are only closing schools as needed when there’s a major outbreak. Some parents are losing their minds over it, but they NEED to be in school. We’ve had some bad weather in the last month and the kids have gotten their snow days. Of course this means they probably won’t finish until July, but I’m just happy they’re not going virtual for every little thing.

        1. Zelda*

          “they are only closing schools as needed when there’s a major outbreak.”

          Aka, closing the barn door after the horse has escaped.

          Sorry, I have friends who are teachers, and the way their lives are being risked in my school district is unconscionable, so I’m a little tetchy here. May both of our SDs be luckier than they deserve.

          1. anonymous73*

            I saw the mental toll virtual learning took on my teenager. He needs to be in school. COVID is not going away and keeping things closed forever is not the answer.

            1. Working Hypothesis*

              I’ve got one teen who’s in in-person school (though we kept him out for two weeks after Christmas break until he could get his booster shot). He’s being careful with his masks, and he’s thriving there. The other teen is doing remote learning because it suits them better. Different kids are different; why do we assume they’ll all be best served by the same kind of schooling? Options are great, for both employees and students.

    3. Karia*

      Yep, I had a situation in a job where the previous employee had slacked off and had (potentially) falsified timesheets. As a result I was watched like a hawk over time management, task labelling and hours. I *understood* it, but it was exhausting, wearing and ultimately insulting. Conscientious workers ultimately won’t appreciate being tarred with the same brush as their co-workers.

    4. Gary Patterson's Cat*

      It sounds like those people were caught and dealt with, which is good. Yes, unfortunately it will happen, and WFH needs to be managed. Many places weren’t prepared for that.

  3. Data Bear*

    OP, is management at your company prone to saying “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it?” If so, they’re not going to change anything until the system has caused them enough trouble for them to realize that it’s broken.

    People don’t move when they’re comfortable. Let the problem cause them enough discomfort that they’re motivated to make changes.

    1. 3DogNight*

      ^^^This! People don’t move when they’re comfortable.
      And don’t try to reduce their discomfort. I know you have a job to do, and you should do it, to the best of your ability. Just don’t sugarcoat things because management has no interest in changing. The discomfort may be what’s needed here.

  4. SouthernDrone*

    My job is having this problem right now as well, but it’s interesting because we’re a union environment. So we can’t raise/negotiate salaries (although they’re above market average at least) or negotiate remote work until our next contract. It has still made hiring hard, even with our good benefits/salary package, because people can afford to be pickier on lifestyle things right now. We’re still figuring out how to work with those restrictions.

    1. LinuxSystemsGuy*

      That’s an interesting conundrum, the union is, potentially at least, inadvertently depressing salaries. Of course, they’re likely depressing salaries for new hires in the interest of making sure that existing employees don’t get screwed, but it’s still a weird situation for them to be in.

      How much influence do you have on decisions? Could the company afford across the board wage increases for critical roles and go to the union for an emergency contract adjustment? I find it hard to believe that the union wouldn’t agree to “Look we need to *increase* the salary range on positions X, Y, and Z, and of course we’ll increase current salaries to match”

      1. Krabby*

        I’m pretty sure SouthernDrone is saying that their wages are actually good, the issue is that they don’t offer wfh and that’s something candidates are prioritizing over salary right now. My husband works for a union and is in a similar situation. They have great salary/benefits, but their contract renews every four years so they’re only getting to discuss the long-term possibility of wfh this year at contract negotiation.

        1. Krabby*

          To clarify, they’re wfh now due to covid but management has historically been against it, so the union is waiting until bargaining so they have more leverage to get what they want.

    2. Audiophile*

      Sure, but I hope you’d share with candidates that those things (salary/benefits) are tied to union contracts. That’s understandable.

      I spoke with a company last year that had opened new office space early last year and required everyone to go back to the office. It definitely gave me pause because vaccines weren’t even widely available at that point. They were very clear that management from the top down distrusted remote work and would not be allowing it at all.

    3. Cthulhu's Librarian*

      Whoever has said you can’t negotiate until your next contract is lying to you – a contract can be renegotiated or amended if both parties agree, and are interested in doing it.

      That does mean your negotiating position as the union is not as strong (since management can always say ‘naw, we’re happy’), and you may have to make concessions to get the changes you want – but that’s part of the structure of negotiations.

        1. Cthulhu's Librarian*

          Negotiations should still be possible; the difficulty that you are likely to encounter in getting the agreement from union members to negotiate changes in government union contracts tend to be larger, however. This is because you often have many different employees within many different roles and agencies which are bound by the terms of the negotiated contract – If you had a bunch of social case workers, unemployment technicians, and nurses who are all part of the same contract bargaining unit, for instance, it may be hard to convince the nurses and social case workers to entertain changing the contract, particularly from a weaker bargaining position (which usually means you will have to make more compromises to get what you want), for benefits that will only be available to the unemployment technicians.

          And elected officials are often unwilling to renegotiate early, for a whole separate host of reasons.

          Additionally depending on how close to renegotiation you are, it may not make sense to try and get changes made at this point – most government CBAs are 3-5 year terms and if the negotiation process is going to eat 6+ months, it may not make sense to bargain from a weaker position if there’s only 12-18 months left in the current contract.

        2. Free Meerkats*

          I was a government union worker for 40 years in 4 different entities in 3 states. IME, government union contracts can be renegotiated during the term of the contract if both sides agree. Getting both sides to agree to open the contract is the big rub.

        3. Worksforbutnotthema*

          My government agency specifically renegotiated the part of our contract covering WFH two years into your contract, so its between your agency and your union. Mine did a great job considering senior management in DC “wasn’t comfortable with a full WFH staff”. Buddy what do you think we’ve been doing for two years?

    4. Divergent*

      I’m in a government union job that’s similar; historically did not allow work from home, we’re doing covid work from home not, and some hybrid may be allowed post-covid, but what you might think of as “normal” work from home (move lunch ten minutes earlier, step out for a minute during the day but work later to make up for it) is explicitly forbidden by the union contract despite our jobs not needing coverage etc. I’m interested to see what comes out of contract renegotiation.

    5. Nanani*

      You can be up front about what’s going on and why. Talk up the advantages of the union – I’m guessing it has negotiated better than average perks somewhere. What are those? Vacation time perhaps?

      And letting people know how likely it is that the union will negotiate across the board pay increases will likely help too.

    6. MigraineMonth*

      Interesting. My union* has been actively negotiating all of the changes in response to COVID. So when management decided to allow WFH or offered COVID leave with certain conditions, we had all sorts of back-and-forth to ensure the leave also covered daycare closures and such. I’m surprised other unions aren’t leveraging their growing power.

      * Public-sector unions (except police and fire) are banned in my state, so it’s technically an “employee group” that acts exactly like a union.

  5. Snarkus Aurelius*

    I work in public health. We got a new boss who is old school in every way, and he hates the shit out of teleworking. He brags that he never teleworked during the entire pandemic as if that’s a badge of honor. Keep in mind he’s married to a SAHM and all of his children are grown.

    To my boss’s credit, he’s not making up any BS. He simply hates it and doesn’t want people to have it, yes, even though we work in public health and have positive cases in the building every week or so. When he sees telework in one of our job descriptions, he will not hide his feelings. “People are starting to think they’re entitled to telework, and they’re not!”

    This guy is STILL sticking to his guns even though: we will lose a large part of our workforce because they’re out of state; it will cost a crazy amount of money to bring everyone back because he’s doing a 180 on his predecessor’s plan; it will cost a crazy amount of money to replace the people we lose; we will not be able to recruit as well as we have now; and more people means more cases in the building. He doesn’t care despite what all the evidence points to.

    It’s not my job to protect him from himself. Same goes for you. Your employer will either learn the hard way and adapt or they won’t and positions won’t get filled by good candidates.

    On a related note, I’m sick of this shit.

    1. Not a cat*

      Snarkus, Talk about cutting off your nose to spite your face. Sometimes the public sector attracts these types, no? Any chance he’ll take early retirement?

    2. the cat's ass*

      Bosses like this deserve to fail. The problem is that this sort of clownery takes so many folks down the tubes with them.

      1. HigherEdAdminista*

        Seriously! Honestly hope this guy is fired and loses whatever reputation he’s built over this. He’s literally costing the organization money so he can live his bootstraps fantasy. What a jerk.

    3. Notfunny.*

      I worked for one of these people and it was infuriating. There is a reason I don’t work there anymore, and that was just the tip of the iceberg.

      In municipal public health, one of the few things that a workplace can offer is flexibility, since the pay isn’t anything to incentivize great people. I seem to recall a NACCHO report that basically said this, and it was promptly disregarded at my workplace because people couldn’t be trusted (which was complete bs, I’ve never seen my coworkers work harder than we did from home during a global pandemic).

      1. Snarkus Aurelius*

        I know of that report!!!!

        The irony is people screw around at work all the time. I suspect it doesn’t get noticed as often because, you know, the person is physically IN the office. If you’re going to screw around at home, then you’ll do it at work too.

        The most egregious example is a couple I knew of who didn’t have matching wedding rings. They’d separately go to conferences, no show, and then they’d do their affair activities. And they never worked from home!

    4. Macaroni Penguin*

      I have to wonder, WHY doesn’t said boss care? In the face of all evidence, why doesn’t he care? Because he just doesn’t like remote working? But…. *gestures at the More Expensive Evidence in confusion.*

  6. AdAgencyChick*

    In this sort of situation I think the best thing you can do is arm yourself with numbers. If you can go into senior management with statistics like “this is the mean salary candidates ask for for this position,” “this is the number of people who cited remote work as a reason they didn’t want to continue after the initial phone screen,” etc., that might be convincing. It especially helps if you can attach a number of money lost or money that could have been made. I say it *might* be convincing because I’ve been in situations where the data gets presented and management still doesn’t see the light. But at least you’ll have tried.

    1. Abogado Avocado*

      I would add, OP, that you also should strongly consider documenting in writing the hiring results in a monthly or quarterly report to management. This doesn’t have to be a multi-page memo, but it should state, by job you’re hiring for, how many people applied, were interviewed, the quality of the applicant pool, who (in general terms) got the offer, what it was, whether it was rejected and, if it was rejected, why. You can provide cumulative data on a quarterly or half-year basis.

      In other words, don’t make the hiring difficulty (due to management’s intransigence on WFH and low salaries) YOUR problem; make it MANAGEMENT’S problem by putting it in writing so management can’t say they didn’t know, didn’t understand, etc. Sometimes, what people need to change course is to understand a trend and the simplest way for people to understand a trend is to have it placed before them in writing.

      1. Alexander Graham Yell*

        I might also consider adding in notes about anybody already in those roles who quits due to overwork – if there is a negative impact on the remaining team and it’s bad enough to cause people to quit because they’re not hiring, I’d highlight it. Just to show if the issue is compounding.

    2. Hippo-nony-potomus*

      You can see on LinkedIn how many applicants there are for roles at other companies. So if you were to say, “Our payroll specialist ad received 14 applicants; however, the three nearest manufacturing companies to us posted hybrid or remote roles, and all got over 100 applicants.”

      I mentioned this to a few people – the disparities are really amazing.

    3. Sleeve McQueen*

      Ooh and don’t forget the costs of hiring and training new staff, so you can show how people leaving the business for a more flexible employer is costing them a well. Include how much time other employees need to invest in training new people when they could be doing other work.

    4. Barry*

      The best thing is to arm yourself with another job. That way you don’t have to persuade management to change in a direction which they do not like.

      The second best thing is use numbers, because that assumes that management will go for numbers over ego.

    5. anonymous73*

      That’s a lot of extra work for OP when it’s clear that she hasn’t been able to convince them that their hiring practices are the problem. I would suggest keeping track of all the reasons people are declining to move forward in one place and provide that to the powers that be, but the other stuff is kind of pointless. As Alison said, OP can’t care more than those who are making the decisions.

    6. SomeoneWhoIsAlwaysWillingToPutOnASweaterAndSlippers*

      I came here to say this. Data and documentation are your best weapons when it comes to changing a practice that isn’t working.

  7. Lady Danbury*

    Whenever I see complaints about remote workers over the past 2 years, my first question is were you having issues with remote workers being less productive or were you having issues with remote workers being less productive during a once in a lifetime global pandemic??? Obviously that doesn’t excuse the workers who completely slacked off, but there were definitely employers who had completely unrealistic expectations or didn’t know how to manage well and then blamed any and all issues on the fact that workers were remote. Either way, you can’t force your company to accept that market expectations have changed. Hopefully they’ll be able to pivot once they realize their difficulty in hiring quality candidates.

    1. OP*

      You are right on. There is definitely a learning curve for managers who are used to managing in-person employees vs. remote. Part of the problem, in my opinion, is that not many of the managers have figured out how to do that. If I thought that we would move towards remote (even hybrid!) I would track down some management training resources, but at this point I’m too busy recruiting to do that.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Besides, it’s literally not your job to make sure that managers are competent, that’s up to their direct supervisors! To be fair, if they understood that, they would probably also know how to supervise people remotely. Anyway, since it will make your job easier, you can try to push for management training anyway. Good luck!

      2. Generic Name*

        OP, I can tell that you are a very conscientious person. Are you a part owner of the company? Do you get a portion of the profits through large bonuses? If not, I don’t see why you would care more about the success of the company more than the people whose job it is to manage the entire company. Do the job you are charged with to the best of your ability, and if that means nobody accepts offers of employment, that’s on your bosses.

        1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

          GN, if you’ve worked in the private sector/working world for any elongated period of time, you’d know that SOMETIMES managements don’t do what is best for themselves.

          And when they don’t, and the company goes either into “bail the water out” or paws up – the conscientious people , such as the original letter writer, go down with the ship. In fact, they go down before the bosses do.

          1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

            Hmmm when you read that an alarming majority of bosses prefer the worker who has to stay late every night (showing dedication to the job but lacking the ability to work fast) over the worker who’s got all their work done flawlessly by 4pm and is out the door at 5pm on the dot (showing a definite ability to work very fast, and not demonstrating any lack of dedication)… that word in caps is rather too kind.

    2. JelloStapler*

      Or are they really still productive (if not more) and some managers don’t know how to manage without hovering over people butts-in-seats?

      1. dresscode*

        When I worked remotely I was absolutely more productive, I also worked longer hours. We still went back into the office, mostly because they felt like it hurt the ‘culture’ to have people work remotely. Meaning they didn’t like the culture of not physically seeing if people were working.

        I ended up leaving that job after 10 years and now… they have to hire someone to work remotely for that job because it’s been open for 6 months and they couldn’t find someone to do all the things I was doing who would be willing to move or be local.

  8. The Cosmic Avenger*

    “I have been told that hybrid absolutely will not be happening, because it didn’t prove to be successful or productive last year.”

    It wasn’t successful for your company. A lot of other companies are successful in going hybrid or fully remote. I would push back if people are dismissing it out of hand because “it didn’t work”. I’d say well, then, is there something we can do to make it work better? What were the issues we faced? With the people not working, that’s not a problem with remote employees, that’s a problem with a lack of work goals, supervision, and management metrics.

    1. Lady Danbury*

      Completely agree! Too many managers use butts in seats as proxy for actually managing their employees. Obviously there are reasons why remote or hybrid may not work for everyone but at least some of the issues above seem to be management problems, not solely remote vs in person issues. And of course management’s tone deaf response to market changes only strengthens the case for management issue.

    2. hybrid manager*

      Personally I think it’s easier to manage people remotely because basically all you can judge them by is the work they do. I have started to wonder how many people can hide their unproductivity in the office because it’s easier to “look” like you’re working, because they bring bagels every Thursday, or they like to chat. Take those things away, and they can’t hide what they’re not doing.

        1. Charlotte Lucas*

          This! And I have a job where distractions like my fellow human beings can interfere quite a bit with my productivity.

        2. anonymous73*

          Exactly. But “butts in seats” managers can SEE them so it doesn’t matter. Makes me rage-y.

      1. J*

        My workplace eventually moved committees virtual and now that’s where all the fake workers are. My colleague spent 1 hour in the trauma-informed committee, then an hour in the workplace trauma committee (where you talk about your boss and coworkers and how they cause you trauma…which shouldn’t be happening but I guess it is? and we endorse it by having a committee?), then 1-on-1s with members of the committee to follow up on comments they said. He billed 12 minutes of work that day (we bill every 6 minutes of our day) while I sat there waiting for him to send me a document that he never drafted. Like, good on him for figuring out a scam but I am not nearly extroverted enough to play that game. I don’t know how he has the energy. I’d rather just do the work than be tortured with so many meetings to avoid work.

    3. anonymous73*

      I don’t know if we can even say it was unsuccessful with OP’s company. Based on the attitude of those in charge of hiring, I’m guessing they look at productivity as black and white. They aren’t considering that people had to WFH suddenly and without any prep, parents with small children no longer had daycare, parents with school aged children had to assist with online learning, not everyone lives in a home with comfortable office space, people were getting sick and dying, the pandemic was scary and affecting people’s mental health, etc. It my have been more challenging for this company because of the manufacturing aspect, but the bigger problem is management and their attitude about it.

  9. Librarian of SHIELD*

    Would your bosses approve you creating a survey for people who have dropped out of the process or declined offers? It’s one thing if you keep saying “another candidate dropped out because we don’t offer remote work,” but it’s a different thing altogether to show up with pie charts that say X% of people who dropped out of the process did it for Y reason.

    1. OP*

      Yes! That is a great idea. I have been doing something similar…usually once I complete a phone screen, I won’t pass the info on to the manager if the candidate doesn’t meet the position’s skills/pay/schedule/etc. requirements, but over the past few months, I’ve been sending my notes from every single phone screen through. They need to see why we can’t find anyone…and see that I am working hard on their positions without success. The managers have been taking that info up the ladder too, which is helpful because then it’s not just me saying there’s a problem.

      1. I'm just here for the cats*

        This is a great idea OP. If I understand it sounds like you give feedback as it comes in. I would also recommend compiling the feedback, amount of people who dropped out, etc. By doing both you are bringing attention in the moment to the issue but then at the end of the month (3 months whatever time frame you want) you can pull all the feedback and info. This would show a bigger picture.

        In my experience (not in HR but working with customers who complained about stuff) by giving feedback just as it happens it can seem like its not as much of a problem as it is. They see a few emails a week and think oh that’s not too bad. But if they see that 80% of your candidates in a month complained and/or dropped out because of XYZ and they all gave similar reasons to why. That might be a bigger shock.

        1. OP*

          Thank you so much for pointing that out. I hadn’t thought of that but you’re totally right. I will get it in a report!

      2. A Wall*

        Definitely do this. It might not change their minds about remote work but they might learn something from a pile of notes that boil down to “met all requirements, but declined to proceed with us.” And at least it leaves a nice big paper trail for you to say, folks, I did my best with what you gave me.

    2. Trout 'Waver*

      I, as a candidate, absolutely would not fill out such a survey. If I’m dropping out because a company is unreasonable, I wouldn’t want to document that, because they’re unreasonable. No sense burning bridges and getting on a blacklist because someone doesn’t like what I put in the survey.

    3. WellRed*

      It’s hard to get people to fill out surveys and I really don’t see why they would take the time for a company they aren’t going to work for,

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I feel like I spend a significant portion of my time refusing to fill out surveys, and that’s for businesses I actually like.

        Between a) it asks effort of people who don’t want to work for you, and b) Trout’s point about getting on a blacklist for your refreshing honesty, I don’t see surveys working.

  10. Mannheim Steamroller*

    Ah, the “everyone must be in the office because we can’t micromanage people remotely” mentality.

    If OP’s superiors don’t learn the error of that soon, it could well cost them the whole business.

    1. Batgirl*

      I understand that OP loves their job, but these people are not good managers if they need people under their noses in order to get work out of them. I wonder if there’s a competitor in their area and industry doing things any better: offering a truly attractive deal, choosing trustworthy people from the pile of applicants and being able to monitor remote work well.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        I think part of it might be the fact that they want to manage office staff the way that the manufacturing staff is managed. If I leave the line when I’m not on break, it can mess everything up & even be a safety issue. If I leave my computer for an unscheduled break when nobody expects me to be in a meeting, etc., it just means I have to rearrange my own schedule for my tasks.

        I’ve seen this before where management doesn’t get the difference between job types & categories.

  11. AndersonDarling*

    I’d send surveys to candidates and include an open ended question “Explain in your own words why you were not interested in pursuing this position.”
    If management is good at ignoring the OP’s suggestions, then they’ll also be good at ignoring the OP’s personal tally of reasons candidates are dropping out. But if the results are coming directly from survey results, it’s harder to ignore. And if you give the candidates the opportunity to write in comments, then you will get some doozies! Hearing professionals shaming the wages and wfh restrictions is your best chance of getting leadership to change.

  12. EngGirl*

    Is there anything your company does competitively for your area? As an engineer in manufacturing I’ve been onsite this whole pandemic. I might like the option for remote work, but it’s not a deal breaker for me. How are your benefits and PTO? I wouldn’t be willing to take a huge paycut but I value my personal time and would maybe be willing to consider a lower than planned salary range/offer of other things made it worth it!

    I would also take a look at how this is affecting your current staff who are already frustrated and likely overworked. And don’t suggest a pizza party for morale lol

    1. Miel*

      That’s a great point. Generous PTO, health/ dental/ vision, etc could make these positions appealing to some candidates.

      1. Ayla*

        My husband’s company has brought everyone back to the office and is currently refusing to consider hybrid options. He’s currently looking elsewhere. However, he’s about to hit the 5-year mark at this company and move from 100 hours of annual PTO to 150, which is more than anywhere else around here seems to be offering. If somewhere closer to home, or offering a hybrid schedule, or a slightly higher salary, or basically anything slightly more convenient also offered at least 3 weeks of PTO to start, he’d go.

        1. Curmudgeon in California*


          I currently have 120 hours of PTO at my fully remote job, and I consider it too little. My last job had 80 hours sick and 120 hours vacation, but was hybrid in an open office.

          I want 160 hours PTO, because I use sick time for doctor and dentist appointments, and vacation for… vacation.

  13. Greymalkin*

    Just a small suggestion – if you pass on the candidates’ feedback as it happens, it may still feel “incidental” to management, even if it does happen often. It’s good practice to continue this, but also consider framing a bigger picture approach with data to back it up, if you haven’t done so already. So, compile some statistics and say “out of X candidates we had last year to whom we made an offer, 60% declined the offer due to lack of hybrid work, another 30% declined due to our low salary range, etc. We spent an extra $$$ in recruiting resources trying to fill these roles, as well as lost $$$ due to not hiring for these roles in a timely fashion. If we had diverted X% of these funds to higher salaries / hybrid work adjustments, we would not have the hiring difficulties that we are experiencing right now”. Or something along those lines.

  14. irene adler*

    Another metric might be to track how long it takes to fill any given position.

    Let management know “job X” took 3 months to fill. Further, manufacturing dept might be able to provide information about the length of delay time in filling customer orders created by this unfilled position.

  15. WomEngineer*

    “We don’t post salary info… partly because we are somewhat flexible in certain roles and it really depends on the candidate, i.e., we will pay higher than our normal range for the right candidate and/or modify the role for them.”

    This doesn’t sit right with me… A lot of companies use criteria for salary levels and unconscious bias training to prepare offers. This one sounds less than equitable…

    1. irene adler*

      Soon the follow-up letter will appear.
      “My company hired someone at higher salary than I make, and with less experience than I have. And I’ve been here 5 years…”

      1. All Hail Queen Sally*

        This was the situation at a place I used to work. New people all got higher salaries than the people who had been there longer. No wonder they had such a high turnover.

    2. Rana*

      It’s true that there are ways to use more objective criteria for salary levels, but it is also true that flexibility about levels for a particular hire makes it difficult to give a salary range. I work at a similar company and while we may think we need a Junior Hardware Engineer (which comes with one salary range), if the right candidate came along we would consider changing the role to Senior Hardware Engineer (which comes with a different salary range). If you are truly open to both levels, one way to do it is to post a job for a generic Hardware Engineer, and then determine the level and thus the salary range once you’ve picked a specific candidate. It’s a bit of a shortcut maybe but I could see a smaller company doing that. In which case, the salary range for the position as a whole is so big as to be useless. It would also be common to have an overall salary budget and the flexibility to move that budget around, so that if this hire ends up being a Senior Hardware Engineer your next hire has to be a Junior Software Engineer and vice versa. So you can’t fall back on an absolute budgeted amount.

      Another thing that very often happens in smaller companies is that there is only one person/role in a particular specialty. So if you are hiring for your first and only Specialist X Engineer or whatever, you probably don’t have a firm idea about what the different levels in that specialty would even look like, so it is very hard to come up with objective criteria to place someone in one level or another. The salary offer then becomes much more fluid as you try to figure out a fair salary in real time.

      None of this is to say that these are good practices! But in a small company, it really might not be worth the time and energy to figure out a whole schema of levels and exactly which you need and what the respective salary ranges are ahead of time. It can be much more efficient to interview candidates, and then based on the type of people you are getting, determine what you really need and then what a fair salary would be. Then you finally get to the stage where the candidate expresses what they want/need in terms of salary and that can also throw a wrench in things. If you only really got one good candidate for the Specialty X position and you really need it, you may go above what you originally thought to get that person. In a smaller company there is just not as much slack to leave a position unfilled and keep searching, especially if due to budget or otherwise you left that position unfilled until you really needed it.

      All that to say, it can be really hard to provide a good salary range if the company is not otherwise equipped with standard levels/ranges/requirements for the particular role. Again, not the best practice but you deal with a lot of less-than-stellar practices when you’re a small company and don’t have the time or resources to do everything as meticulously as a big company.

      1. Barry*

        Rana, the problem is that you are being coy in a situaion where 99% of the time people are coy to push the applicant dowm.

      2. anonymous73*

        It may make it more difficult, but it’s not impossible. Your reasoning is really just an excuse to evade a simple question. If you can’t give some idea of what you’re willing to pay me to work for you, I’m not wasting my time moving through the process. And I’m willing to bet I’m not in the minority.

    3. introverted af*

      I don’t disagree, I would also be hesitant about this, but there is the flipside where a company is legitimately willing to hire at any level (barest entry level all the way to highly experienced individual contributor) and they have a range that reflects that. However, I think at that point, in a phone screening hopefully the interviewer would be able to tell you, “given your experience, you’d fall into X title (i.e. engr 1) and therefore we’d be looking at $y-Z salary range. Does that make sense?”

      But in total fairness, you would also still have a hard time getting me to apply to a job like that just because that’s not the norms I’m used to in my field.

      1. Your Local Password Resetter*

        Wouldn’t it make sense to post separate ranges for the different levels then?
        Nobody is forcing them to use a single range covering every possible position.

    4. Nanani*

      In other words, the white dude who negotiated got paid more and everyone else got marked down as (insert gendered or racialized bias here) for daring to negotiate and is paid less.

    5. Gary Patterson's Cat*

      Eh. That’s pretty normal I think. But most companies still have a salary range in mind for a position. Depending on the candidates they get, a person might be offered the lower or higher end of the range.
      And some roles really might need this depending on years of experience or technical qualifications.

  16. CatCat*

    If you can’t put salary in the job listing, can you put that the position is on-site only every day and telework is not permitted?

    That would at least let folks who care about that self-select out without wasting anyone’s time due to that particular piece.

    1. Kiko*

      I really like this idea from the perspective of protecting the candidate’s time, but if OP is at all interested in convincing leadership that they need to consider hybrid work to stay competitive, knowing that people dropped out due to their in-office requirement is extremely important for their case.

      1. CatCat*

        I don’t know that they need to waste candidates’ (or their own time) time to get this info.

        “We started specifying in the advertisements that the job is on-site only with no telework permitted. We’ve seen X impact on the number of applications received.”

  17. Massive Dynamic*

    Here’s one thing you MIGHT be able to push your employer on: “we will pay higher than our normal range for the right candidate and/or modify the role for them” – OK, so why not post the “right-candidate” range and be more strict on hiring? The right-candidate range should be the normal range and then you should have a greater choice in who you hire due to multiple interested candidates.

    Best of luck to you; it’s probably best if you move on as well.

    1. OP*

      Interesting. I guess we would have to decide what type of recruiting strategy would work best, ie: get the most eyes on the job posting and get the broader range of candidates, or if we want it to be more specialized and target very specific skill sets. Thanks for something to think about!

      1. Anon because I'm being specific*

        I wonder if you could propose doing this with one or two listings as a pilot, especially if it’s one that you’ve had a lot of trouble filling. Add that to your report and it may be compelling enough to get them to at least seriously consider it.

      2. HelloHello*

        I’ve seen job postings that include multiple salary ranges, which I always appreciate as a way to walk this line. Saying “we are looking for either an entry level or mid level candidate at X or Y pay range, depending on experience” feels both transparent and likely to get more eyeballs on it.

    2. Hillary*

      This one can create the opposite problem – it means people targeting above the range (who may be highly skilled and worth the extra money) won’t apply at all. The “normal” range for my title in my area is $65k-$130k depending on experience and responsibility. The range is huge because someone can be responsible for $1m spend at a small company or $500m at a big one. If a small manufacturer posts the job as $65-$80k, they’re not going to get as many applicants even though they might be willing to pay more.

      For me the most important thing is being willing to disclose the range during the initial screen. I’ve declined to move forward in more than one process because we weren’t in the same ball park. No hard feelings since they didn’t waste my time and vice versa.

      1. Chriama*

        Why can’t you just post 65-103k in the job ad and specify that this range is highly dependent on level of experience? You could even say something like “the top of this range is reserved for candidates with x years of experience in y key tasks or z metrics”? Why assume people aren’t capable of logical reasoning?

        1. Tired social worker*

          Right. I’ve seen lots of job postings with very wide ranges that are broken down later in the posting according to level of experience/expertise. Anyone worth interviewing will have read the whole posting first, so I’m really not convinced by the hand-wringing about applicants automatically feeling entitled to the top of the range. If that happens, it’s because you either didn’t explain it clearly enough in the posting or you’re not doing proper phone screens before interviewing.

        2. Sacred Ground*

          Experience of the last 2 years has taught me that the capability is much less common than I’d previously thought.

        3. Hillary*

          Probably too late here, but the challenge is that the range is for the role as a whole, not any individual company. LittleManufacturer pays $65k while HugeConglomerate pays $130k. If LittleManufacturer’s listed range is $65-$80k but they would stretch to $90 for the right person, anyone targeting over $80 won’t apply.

          Reading comprehension in general sucks – a lot of people believe they should come in at the top of the range because they’re awesome. Reality is new hires are very rarely at the top of the range because very few people actually exceed expectations for the first year or two and being too high makes it very difficult to give them raises later.

          1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

            “If LittleManufacturer’s listed range is $65-$80k but they would stretch to $90 for the right person, anyone targeting over $80 won’t apply.”

            Right – they won’t waste THEIR time, nor YOURS. Why manufacturers post jobs and invite candidates in that they KNOW won’t accept the job wastes time. For everyone.

  18. Middle Name Danger*

    Are you sure you actually love your job, OP? You sound resentful. I don’t blame you for that! But I would take a really good look at what you want from your job. If management tying your hands and not listening to your expertise is fine with you, good, but the things you like, like the scope of being a generalist, can be found elsewhere.

    1. Kiko*

      My exact thoughts.

      OP, something you wrote stood out to me:

      ” I love the culture and support here. I enjoy the executive team immensely and value the employees.”

      Do you, though? If you were supported, wouldn’t you be able to make changes to better recruit individuals? If the executive team really valued their employees, why are they paying at the lower end of the pay scale?

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Yes, I had trouble reconciling that statement with management not listening to any of the fact-based, on-the-ground, “Here’s why we can’t hire fast enough” data.

      2. irritable vowel*

        Yeah, that also struck me. I know from experience that it’s possible to love a job while really, really not loving the culture or people in a workplace – I would suggest that OP consider whether they might love this job more if it were in a company that was supportive of its employees and actually made OP’s job easier rather than more challenging.

    2. L'étrangere*

      It sounds like there are many things you like about the company OP, but that’s different from liking your own job within that company. And it sounds like the gap between these is where the dissonance lies. So by all means follow the good advice here on data gathering, helping the candidates bales sooner, and feedback to management. But you might also simultaneously survey the field and see whether you might be happier elsewhere

  19. KWu*

    I’m sorry about the candidates that are being abrasive or rude to you, especially when what they’re unhappy about are policies you’ve specifically advocated against. I’m also sorry the decision-makers aren’t weighting the research and recommendations you’ve presented to them more heavily.

    I think the important thing is to think of your job less as making candidates happy and more that your responsibility is to get to the point of figuring out if it’s not a mutual fit faster. The stance on remote work not being an option seems like it should go in the job ads, or at least in any emails you send prior to scheduling phone calls. The questions around salary ranges not being public seem like something you can come up with a standard response about and stick with that. You’re communicating company policy, rather than having to defend a policy you don’t even agree with, and it should end there. Your own performance evaluation should also be against realistic expectations given these restrictions. With all that, if you are only 10% effective as opposed to 50% effective if they had taken your recommendations, if you’re measured against the expectation of 10% effectiveness, that’s a business strategy The Powers That Be are entitled to make.

    1. Esmeralda*

      Right. AND this is an employer who insisted OP had to be in the office everyday, needlessly.

      Your employer has shown you who it is, OP. To you, to the other employees, and to every candidate who applies. Maybe everything else about the job is really great. But to me it sounds like this place is crushing your soul and not allowing you to do good work and not really in line with your values. Easy for me to say, find another job. But maybe, do some looking around?

    2. OP*

      This is so helpful, thank you. I do try to send the salary range and on-site requirements in my very first email. I am hyper-aware of what job seekers are publically saying in all of the articles floating around the web and am determined to do what I can to be transparent (and not waste anyone’s time) while still working within the guidelines I’ve been given. But your answer goes beyond that and it’s helpful!

    3. Anon because I'm being specific*

      I was on an interview panel recently and the hiring manager spent the first 10 minutes of the interview talking about our work schedule (3 days required in office, 2 days telework if you want to — schedule isn’t fixed and you can change from week to week as needed, but we will never be full remote), our actual office (think airplane hanger with low cubicle walls), and covid protocols (masks required for everyone; if you’re vaccinated you can be unmasked at your desk, unvaccinated you can only be unmasked when actively eating or drinking). I really appreciated that that information was presented up front so that if anyone wanted to go “nah, I can’t work like that” they and we didn’t go through the whole interview before getting to that point.

  20. PT*

    I am going to bet this ends with OP not being able to hire anyone because of the mandatory onsite/unposted salary/below market rate salary that senior management put out, and senior management will blame her for “interviewing the wrong candidates” or “not finding any candidates” and fire her.

    Source: I had a boss who wanted me to hire people at below market rate wages that almost no one would accept, and also he wouldn’t sign off on finalizing any of the hires when I got someone to agree to work there, and then blamed me for “not working hard enough to hire people and sabotaging things.”

  21. Just Another Zebra*

    So, I actually work at a place similar to OP. We also have a 40% office / 60% tech split, and techs can’t work from home. The owner was VERY against remote work. Part of that is because he’s good at work/ life balance, and wants us to maintain separation. But he’s a bit old school, and thinks being in office is the way to go. We all excepted it.

    Until December, when one of the field techs brought COVID to the office and half our office staff (7 out of 15) all tested positive. Those of us left in the office were frantic at the thought of covering for our absent coworkers for 2 weeks (before the new rules went into effect), and those at home – most of whom were asymptomatic – didn’t want to burn PTO and lose pay because of this. Faced with this choice, the owner (who was also positive, FYI) opted to let us try working from home. It’s not perfect (our industry doesn’t really allow for 100% remote), but we’re allowed to WFH “as needed, with cause”. Parents, in particular, are thrilled because now instead of losing yet more PTO / money for yet another school closure. There’s a general understanding not to take advantage, but we’re all so relieved by this that no one is complaining.

    OP, I truly understand the tough spot you’re in. But I agree with Alison – document why your offers are being rejected, and also document current employee complaints about the impact being understaffed is having. Are deadlines being missed? Has morale tanked in a tangible way? Keep track, and maybe they’ll see reason.

    1. SpaceySteph*

      “Part of that is because he’s good at work/ life balance, and wants us to maintain separation.”

      I would not give him credit for this. He has a very narrow definition of work/life balance and he’s good only at his version, not at giving people what they actually need to achieve balance. Some people prefer separation, but many people find work/life balance by reducing commute or by throwing in a load of laundry on their lunch break, etc.

      1. Ashley*

        +1. My work life balance has improved tenfold since working from home. Less time commuting (approx 60-90 mins per day), more time with my husband, more time to do small chores during breaks during my work day thus freeing up a good portion of my weekend. I’m fortunate to be in a job and have space in my home where when the work day is done I turn off my computer, close the door, and don’t think about it again until the next morning.

        1. anonymous73*

          Same here. I do miss being in an office with people (sometimes – I don’t miss office politics or drama), but WFH is so much better for me. In addition to all the reasons you gave, I can sleep later which is not only beneficial to me but to others.

  22. Recruited Recruiter*

    I had this issue at my previous employer. I documented the reasons that (ALL) of their best candidates were turning down offers, and provided this to the higher-ups. Nobody cared. Instead of matching market rate for wages and offering improved schedules, it was demanded that I lie to my candidates and make promises about guaranteed raises upon completion of 5 (important) trainings. But the raises weren’t real. As a result, I quit with very little notice. Last I heard, they had to close down two locations because of lack of staffing.

    1. irene adler*

      Good for you for standing up for decency and getting out of there!
      Gotta wonder, did they sincerely think employees wouldn’t react -in some way-at being cheated out of a promised raise? Maybe even quitting as you did? High turnover gets costly in so many ways.

      1. WindmillArms*

        Companies used to be able to get away with this all the time (hands up if you’re ever been promised a raise that never came, or came late?). People, myself included, used to be more willing to sit and wait and hope. It’s delicious hearing that companies’ lying is coming back to bite them.

        OP, I think as long as you’re telling everyone the truth, you’re doing what you can. Tell candidates the truth about the pay and no WFH, and tell the executives the truth about the results of their restrictions.

  23. Krabby*

    I’m thankfully on maternity leave right now, but my workplace brought everyone back 2 days a week in November and it was the stupidest thing I’ve ever been a part of. My co-workers in recruiting are dying. I just don’t understand ppls stubbornness about this.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      In a “humans being human” sense, I am also agog at how there is a clear solution to the problem, it’s having a huge negative impact on the business–but leadership teams will continue on blithely insisting that one should only hire workers who don’t even care what the salary is going to be because they’re just that passionate about the work.

      1. Krabby*

        Right!? It’s mind boggling. And on top of that, we didn’t even have any of the issues that OP did with ppl taking advantage of wfh (which would make me more understanding of that viewpoint). Most employees excelled.

  24. learnedthehardway*

    OP, all you can do is keep track of the data and present it as needed.

    One thing I wanted to point out, though – candidates who are rude or abrasive about this – that’s uncalled for, and perhaps you’re dodging a bullet with these people. You didn’t make the policy (and even if you had, there’s no call for being rude or hostile about it). A professional person would be able to be firm on saying that they disagree and won’t work for a company that doesn’t allow remote work, without being rude about it.

    1. Archie Goodwin*

      I have to agree, this jumped out at me. There’s no excuse for abrasiveness or rudeness on the part of the job-seeker. If they’re not able to remain professional even when they’re disappointed, that suggests some troublesome possibilities.

    2. birb*

      I would mostly agree, with the caveat that MANY have experienced bait and switch job listings SPECIFICALLY because businesses know that a lot of the best candidates won’t even click otherwise right now… so they list a higher salary or that the position is remote when it is not. If your company is actively misleading candidates about the salary or job expectations in postings, people will be understandably upset.

      In my area right now, if I filter by jobs tagged as remote a HUGE number of them have “NOT REMOTE” buried somewhere at the bottom. I wish that recruiting pages were doing more to protect applicants and to restrict access to companies who are found to consistently lie in their posts.

      1. Working Hypothesis*

        The companies pay for the use of those sites. The applicants do not. It’s a classic case of “If you aren’t the customer, you’re the product.” I wish they’d protect the applicants too, but I know they never will, because it would be protecting the people who don’t hire them against those who do.

  25. Daisy-dog*

    Are you presenting the benefits of the company to these candidates? I know that some people would prefer to work for an organization that has an executive team that they like & trust. Find ways to describe the culture in the most appealing ways. I know in 2019, I struggled to find people because we had some new sites for major orgs open in the area and were paying way more. But there were still people who wanted to work for a small organization where the leadership team would actually know who they were.

  26. 15 Pieces of Flair*

    Totally agree with Alison on documenting your results. If you can show data on how their decisions are impacting hiring, management may reconsider.

    Several years ago I was a sales manager for a national (US based) corporation. Corporate changed the training program for new sales reps from a 2 week offsite program to a 4 week offsite program requiring candidates to travel 3+ hours to the training location and stay overnight M-F. I understood that 4 work weeks away from home was an onerous, if not impossible, requirement, but senior management would not allow any exceptions.

    Unsurprisingly, the training requirement was a no go for every single viable candidate. After discussing the situation with my director, he asked me to document the results of my interviews. I demonstrated via the number of offers declined that the training requirement was preventing me from hiring and highlighted that I had a qualified candidate ready to accept if I could train her on-site. After seeing the facts, senior management relented and allowed me to train new reps on-site. (This was still a crappy resolution as other regions certainly had the same problem, but the offsite training program was scrapped entirely shortly afterwards when the company’s acquisition was finalized.)

  27. Trout 'Waver*

    Why, oh, why are you blaming employees and candidates for management failures?

    If some remote workers are delivering poor quality work or not working when they say they are, that is a management failure. Managers need to do their job by setting measurable work outputs and disciplining (up to firing) the slackers. Bringing everyone back because “We work better on-site” really means “We have lazy manager who can’t manage remote workers”.

    Also, in this day and age, if you tell candidates “Even though this job can be done remotely, we don’t trust you to work remote, and no we won’t tell you what the job pays,” you’re the one being rude and abrasive. Not them.


    1. Curmudgeon in California*


      I was at a company several years ago that made the press when it pulled all of its remote workers back in-office at headquarters, moved us all into cramped open plan, and fired those whom wouldn’t move back. Why did they do this? It turned out that some remote people weren’t actually working at all – never logging in to the bastion hosts or VPN. But instead of framing this as a management issue and training all the managers in how to manage remote people, they literally yanked the privilege from *everyone*.

      The company had been slowly circling the drain for a while, and they had something on the order of two or three CEOs while I was there. The newest management was supposed to turn it around. Instead they made it *more* toxic and abusive. The company has now been broken up and sold.

      Refusal to tolerate remote and adequately manage remote employees is now a big red flag for me, along with refusal to give salary ranges, bait and switch on salary, and open plan offices.

  28. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

    You’re a steward on the Titanic. Management is telling you to rearrange the deck chairs. Once you’ve told them a dozen times that there’s an iceberg, there’s nothing much else you can do. Once their shoes get wet, things might change. As Alison says, don’t take the feedback personally; you’re not steering the ship.

  29. TW1968*

    Would it be possible to document your results as Alison and many commentors have noted, AND include info from other HR people you know? “We’ve had candidates drop out because (reasons you’ve already stated). However, I’ve been asking people in my network/association/etc that are also in HR, and they’re telling me they’re easily able to fill positions, and their candidates have told them that posting the salary range and allowing remote work (for positions where it’s reasonable) are the reasons why. No one likes to waste time coming to interviews only to find out the salary is less than they’re making now, and they’re getting upset with me as a result of your policies on that.”

    There’s some comment I keep seeing stating “jobs in my area paying $25-30 an hour–those companies have no problems filling positions. Jobs paying , are having lots of trouble filling positions”

  30. AthenaC*

    One thing that jumps out to me – regardless of how out-of-sync your company is, there’s no excuse for being rude. So for those candidates who you mention as being “abrasive” or “rude” … frankly, your company dodged a bullet with those candidates.

    I’m not unsympathetic to your company’s position, particularly since they have had some actual struggles with people working remotely, but you (and Alison) are right that that approach simply isn’t going to work anymore. Your company is going to have to figure out what exactly needs to be done in the office, how to manage people remotely, and also consider the morale of the floor people who literally can’t be remote. Maybe your company can give people sliding bonuses based on how much they are on-site? Hopefully the floor people cleaning up on site time bonuses will mitigate some of the resentment for the flexibility of the office workers.

    1. anonymous73*

      I would never be abrasive or rude, but if they buried the lead I would be pissed. And I would let them know about it. A lot of companies are using the old “bait and switch” approach and people are sick of it. Not saying that’s happening here, but if it is, the candidates attitudes are more understandable.

      1. TimmyTim*

        I’m wondering if the OP is confusing “to the point” with “rude”?
        When I’m contacted by a recruiter for a new role now, instead of beating around the bush my first question is “What is the budgeted compensation range?” Turns out 95% of the roles I’m contacted about lately pay less than what I’m making now. I’m direct. I’m sure some people think I’m being rude. I’m not sure I care anymore. I’m done wasting time after beating around the bush with 30 min calls with recruiters for roles similar to my current role only to find out that they want to pay 20-25% less than I’m already making. I like to think I’m saving both of us from wasting time.

        1. anonymous73*

          Yeah I wondered the same. I am also a very direct person and not one to sugar coat anything (although I don’t use brutal honesty as an excuse to be a jerk). I was out of work for 9 months last year and I’m done having my time wasted.

  31. Bookworm*

    Thank you for writing this, OP. It was useful and interesting to see this from your POV as a jobseeker. This has been super frustrating to me when job hunting and I agree: if you can, please be as honest as possible about everything you wrote. Show management that while their stances are understandable (ie you don’t have people who aren’t productive at WFH then that’s definitely an issue), a lot of people will be looking for salary transparency, WFH/hybrid options now if it’s a job that’s doable and that they will have applicants who will pass or you’ll have trouble because people will leave and/or accept a job that fits to their parameters a little more closely.

    As a job hunter and as an employee who knew nothing would change unless I (and others left), it is/has been TOUGH. None of should be having to make those sacrifices–management needs to be more flexible and/or do more to make WFH work.

    Good luck, OP! I hope you can make some change.

  32. RJ*

    OP, my own industry (design/architecture/engineering) has been experiencing a similar situation as some companies have embraced remote first/hybrid work and others are strictly enforcing on site work only. One particular company has been attempting to fill open accounting positions for nearly 18 months. Benefits are great. Hours are flexible. They refuse to allow remote work for administrative or financial roles however and the salary bands are …not great. I have been contacted by their internal HR specialist as well as four different recruitment agencies and can sense the frustration and annoyance in their voices when I get to the salary/remote questions. Two of my friends in the industry have been contacted as well and have all turned them down. Word gets around pretty quickly in my finance network.

    You’re fighting a losing battle, I’m afraid and unless your company changes or resets their work mentality not only will they not successfully fill the available roles, they will begin to lose their top performers.

    1. WindmillArms*

      I’m in a field that’s very short on staff right now, and I get contacted by recruiters regularly. If salary and WFH aren’t mentioned in the initial message, I don’t even reply. I know that means I won’t like the answer!

      There are some people who prefer working from the office; we hear from them here often in WFH-related threads! I wonder if you’d have any success trying to find someone with that opinion by making the on-site work requirement front and centre? I filter for WFH jobs, so surely there have to be some people filtering for the opposite?

    2. Curmudgeon in California*

      So, if the pay is worth it for a local company, I will go onsite. But that differential is at least $20k/year for me.

      IOTW, if you want me to commute and sit in an open plan with other people who might be contagious, it’s $20k/year more to cover commute time, fuel costs, and the sheer number of N95 masks I’ll have to buy so I don’t kill my immune compromised roomie.

      If they are paying below market and want onsite it’s going to be a hard no.

  33. Anon today*

    Numbers don’t lie. Keep records of all the interviewee numbers and feedback and keep presenting it to management, along with whatever turnover there is.

    My office is going through this now because of a number of reasons, but a huge factor is our payscale is linked to one part of the public sector and our partner organisations are linked to another, with pay at lateral positions being significantly higher and huge hiring campaigns happening.

    Funnily enough people are leaving in droves and no one is getting hired…

  34. cmcinnyc*

    Sigh. My workplace is having a similar dilemma, though not quite as stark. It’s very, very difficult to sell candidates on “this is honestly a great place to work except for the pay and baseline working conditions.” There really are some major pluses to working here, but if I were picking and choosing right now, it would be very tough to believe that any of those things were going to outweigh salary and WFH. Many of our new hires recently are referrals who have a friend or close colleague who works here, so they have an honest inside view of the place. Without that, people are declining offers.

    1. AnotherLibrarian*

      I have recently had to hire at a place where we can not negotiate on salary (union contract), but we do post the band (everyone comes in a bottom which confuses the crud out of candidates) and the work I hire for cannot be done from home. But our benefits are stellar, it’s a non-toxic place, and there are some nice perks if you look for them. My rule has been to be as upfront as Alison suggests and try to always mention the perks as well. It’s a tough situation to be in, but since our work can’t be remote, we just have to be honest about that. We do have a vaccine and a masking policy in place, so at least we have that.

  35. Falling Diphthong*

    OP, I notice that you are focused on how to say things to job applicants that will get them to take jobs, rather than focused on how to say things to management that will get them to make those jobs appealing to people with other options.

    They’re more invested in not budging on salary and remote work than they are in filling open positions. Alright then.
    Alison is right here. These are the consequences of management’s current policies: people will turn down your job offers and go somewhere else. Try to stop eating that stress yourself, and start passing it on to the leadership behind these policies.

    (I’ll particularly point out that the low salary bands are also secret–I think workers now are pretty clued in that if a prospective employer won’t give you a salary number, that isn’t because the number is so awesome it could cause cardiac arrest. And those applicants will focus on companies where whether the salary makes this worth their while is a question answered up front.)

  36. Junior Assistant Peon*

    As a hiring manager, I’ve had to make a few recent hires with a disappointing salary range I had no control over. My boss didn’t want to put the salary range in the ad, but I pushed back on him with the argument that someone already at the title we were hiring for could be making 50% more in their current position and we were going to waste a lot of time interviewing candidates who would ultimately say no. My boss relented, we put the salary in the ad, and it wasn’t a dealbreaker for anyone in the smaller applicant pool I got. I hired the best applicants I could at the salary range I was given.

  37. Karia*

    I’m sorry candidates are being rude to you; none of this is your fault, and they should be asking politely. I will say that if there’s no salary range, I typically don’t apply. I’ve been burned before and I don’t want to waste my / your time if it’s not going to be financially feasible for me.

    1. cmcinnyc*

      This is a place where “old school” is going to bite people. When I started my career, nobody posted the salary. It was a whole dance to get a number at all, and it never came in the first interview. In fact, old advice stressed never, never, never asking about salary or benefits until very late in the process because companies regarded candidates who did so very negatively. So glad to see this changing. If I were interviewing now and someone got huffy over a frank salary question I would get up and walk out. There is absolutely no point in spending my time on seeking a job that doesn’t pay what I need or want.

      1. Karia*

        Definitely, and it goes both ways; salary band often indicates seniority and expectations. A lot of job descriptions can be quite vague, with tasks somewhat interchangeable between levels. The salary can be a good indication of the experience and skill level they expect you to bring to the role.

    2. Kevin Sours*

      I can’t help feeling some sympathy for candidates getting a little cranky over going through an application process only to find out that the company isn’t serious about hiring. It’s no excuse to get belligerent but they should legitimately be annoyed. It may not be OPs fault that they’re required to do it, but they’re still blowing smoke in the candidates direction.

      1. Karia*

        The annoyance is very legitimate. But I do feel for OP; i’ve been in a similar position to her before, as a hiring manager – the company was offering below market rate, no flexibility, they even had a strict dress code. (They were also perpetually confused by their low hire and high turnover rates).

  38. T.*

    Manufacturing is hard. We’re 100% on site for exactly the optics of disparity and resentment that you described. I recruit and my manager and I have been talking about disclosing salary earlier in process even though we have to toe the line and not put the #s in the actual job ads. We’re trying to get creative in our pitch to attract candidates to all of the other nice things about working here (because it is nice). We don’t get enough candidates for any of our roles, entry level to high paying. I try not to stress because management will eventually see our struggle and their hand will be forced. We can only do our best with the tools they give us. They get what they get and can’t get upset with us when it’s not the results they want.

  39. SnowyRose*

    OP, I think you’ve received some good advice on documenting reasons why candidates decline positions or withdraw from the process when you have that info, so I’m not going belabor that point any further. I do want to offer something else for you to consider.

    You’ve received a lot of “management sucks” or are “bad managers,” and maybe that’s true, but maybe it’s not entirely accurate. It’s really easy to jump on that bandwagon without really considering your specific situation. The fact of the matter is, *your* company really struggled—likely for a variety of reasons—with your office staff working remotely to the point where the trust level is no longer there.

    If I’ve understood your letter correctly, you had around 15 employees who were remote pre-COVID, so your management does have some points of comparison. Between that and other considerations, they’ve made their decision for the time being. Continuing to push right now will likely come off as tone deaf and might be hurting your cause more than helping it.

    I get it. I really do. I’m a remote employee in an organization where probably 95% of the staff will be returning to the office for good and valid reasons. I’m not saying give up, just that you probably need to cool it a bit and rethink your approach. Some things for you to consider and maybe keep in your pocket to incorporate later.

    1. You’re company has been burned a bit, it takes time to rebuild that trust.
    2. Avoid focusing just on individual productivity. You’ll hear a lot of “I was so much more productive WFH!” but that might have been at the expense of something else. Make sure you understand the impact on overall productivity, company culture, and perception.
    3. Don’t discount the burden WFH placed on others who had to take care of those in office tasks.
    4. Keep an eye on what other companies in your field and area overall are doing. I.e., those who you’re competing against for employees. It may be easier to show down the road that A, B, and C manufacturing companies have taken X approach, and in order to remain competitive, it might be time to rethink the company’s approach.
    5. Finally, keep in mind there is no one right way and you might need to reframe your thinking a bit. Just as WFH may be a great fit for some people and not others, it’s the same for companies.

  40. David Levine*

    I’ve never heard of companies banning posting of salary range. I suppose they just say competitive salary. It will only work if people are desperate. Sounds like you’re just going to get bottom level hires.

    1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

      You are doing them a favor – you bring them in, and give them a base from which, after 3-5 months, they continue their job search.

      If you can stand the turnover. Turnover is costly, but many managements are blind to that reality.

  41. A Wall*

    Everything else I would like to say has been covered well by others here already, but I wanted to add one thing. I have seen a lot of this description of necessarily in-person workers being pitted against optionally remote workers. Either it’s people saying it’s not fair that some folks want to be remote right now while others don’t have the luxury because of the nature of their jobs, or it’s some of those in-person workers resenting remote colleagues as getting a massive perk, or it’s the attitude that anyone insisting on being remote still is entitled because remote work is a privilege not everyone can get.

    None of that makes any damn sense, for one big reason: The whole point of keeping in-person work as limited as possible is to prevent the spread of a deadly airborne disease. The people working in person are safer when as many of their colleagues as possible are working remotely! You want your workplace to have as few people in it at any one time as is possible. Literally everyone in society, including people who do not work at your company, benefit from that arrangement because it slows or stops the spread of this virus. And the pandemic is as big of a problem as it ever has been, regardless of how tired we all are of dealing with it.

    For some reason a lot of people have decided that something being a privilege means that you are wrong to have it. So yes, people whose work can be done remotely now have the (potential) privilege of being able to be even more safe by working from home. But that’s a good thing! We want people to stay remote as much as possible to minimize the spread of covid! They aren’t rubbing in-person workers’ noses in the dirt by doing it. They are in fact removing many potential exposures from their in-person counterparts’ risk calculations. Does it still suck for people who have to be in person to inherit more risk and also miss out on something many consider to be a perk? Yes. Does that mean we should up their risk even more by cramming everyone possible back into the building? No, because that doesn’t make any sense! It doesn’t benefit anyone! It only soothes out some bad feelings that aren’t nearly so important as people’s actual physical safety is.

    And as a last note I do also keep seeing people saying we should all get back in person because we all know how to protect ourselves now. That’s also goofy, because the #1 best and simplest way most people (and especially people who are high risk or have high risk people in their household, which is the literal majority of people in America) can protect themselves is by minimizing exposures like this. “You should expose yourself to more danger because you now know how to theoretically expose yourself to less danger.” Make it make sense.

    1. Alice*

      Not only does it reduce the risk to each person involved when we all share indoor air with as few people as possible; it also reduces the risk to the company of an outbreak. If an outbreak does happen in an environment where people have been coming in unnecessarily because of “fairness,” then quarantine and isolation will keep many people out of the office at the same time with very little notice. Good luck with continuity in that case.

    2. anonymous73*

      I had a similar thought but not for the reasons you mention. Some jobs just can not be done from home. If I’m able to work remotely, I’m not going to rub it in anyone’s face, but I shouldn’t be made to feel guilty because I have that ability. And the people who can work remotely shouldn’t be brought back to the office because “it’s not fair” to the ones who can’t do it.

    3. Gary Patterson's Cat*

      None of that makes any damn sense, for one big reason: The whole point of keeping in-person work as limited as possible is to prevent the spread of a deadly airborne disease.

      You’d think huh. But some states and companies and their executives never believed in that “deadly airborne disease” from the get go.

      1. A Wall*

        Everybody in the country, across the board, seems to be suffering from some kind of delusion that you can’t contract or spread a virus if you feel like you had a good reason to do the risky thing you did. Whether it’s taking your mask off to eat in a restaurant or photo or something like this, where your workplace is insisting everyone needs to have casual access to each other in person or the place will burn to the ground. It is not safer just because you have a compelling reason for why you want to do it.

        Everyone understands this but decided last year to start pretending they don’t.

    4. Mannequin*


      There are far too many people who think the pandemic is “over” or that if they just act like it is, it will be.

  42. Louise10021*

    Yeah, but here’s the problem with a situation like this (and I’m in one, jobs at my org go unfilled for months because our pay is so low) — executive leadership is usually not affected. It’s the employees in massively short staffed departments that have to work weekends and late nights trying to finish projects. Leadership do not experience this in the same on-the-ground daily way that everyone else does.

    1. Mannheim Steamroller*

      Leadership WILL be affected when (not if) more underpaid and overworked employees leave for better opportunities.

    2. Gary Patterson's Cat*

      These are usually the type of executives who cry on television or to their Congresspeople “People are lazy and just don’t want to work.” Wahhhh!

      1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

        Regurgitated theme, Cat. A few years ago it was “we need more immigrant visas, we can’t find technical workers”….. of course “unless we pay a living wage” is left off that crocodile teary cry.

  43. anonymous73*

    Put what you can in the job description. If remote work is not an option, say that in the ad. And while I know this isn’t you, the reason for you not being able to provide a salary range is BS. You say they’re willing to pay more for specific positions/candidates. So you say here’s the range and mention it’s negotiable based on experience. I know I’m not the only one that would nope right out of there if you couldn’t give me some idea of what you’re paying for a position. If you haven’t already, start keeping track of the reasons people are taking themselves out of the running for jobs in one document/spreadsheet. Maybe if they see all of it together on a piece of paper, they’ll start caring about why people don’t want to work for them.

  44. Gary Patterson's Cat*

    In this situation all you can really do is work with what you’ve been given.
    Be very clear in the job postings there is no chance of remote or hybrid work so those applicants will self-select out.
    Keep track of responses. Keep track of people who drop out of the hiring process for those reasons. Collect the numbers. Your employer won’t change until this begins to hurt them and they get enough of a clue in their brains (or hire an expensive consulting agency) to tell them why.

    I was curious about this comment though: “What makes it even more difficult is that my company requires all office staff to be on-site, except the 15 or so employees who live out of the area and have always been remote.”

    So why are these 15 employees exempt? Are they executives? Are they remote sales?
    Because it’s really difficult to tell employees they all have to be in the office every day if there are exceptions for some people (with the exception of sales or maybe field staff because they really do need to live in another region).

  45. Veryanon*

    I feel for this HR person – so many times in HR, we are tasked with implementing or carrying out policies that we just know are not going to work. I hope the LW has updated their own resume and started putting out feelers for a new position with a more enlightened organization.

  46. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

    Ah, I feel badly for OP.

    Because if they can’t, or refuse to pay prevailing market wages, and refuse to provide reasonable accommodation for remote work, Economic Darwinism is going to take the company down and out. And OP with it.

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