hiccups in a meeting, hybrid work but no equipment for home offices, and more

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. Hiccups in a meeting

Recently at my internship, I was invited to sit in on a meeting with a client. I was sitting off to the side, observing quietly … until I suddenly caught a very loud, very squeaky bout of hiccups. I was able to flag my mentor’s attention and step out, thankfully, but it had me wondering, what should I do in the future if something like this happens during a meeting I can’t leave?

You can almost always quietly step out of a meeting if you’re having a bodily attack of some sort — whether it’s a sudden, urgent need for the bathroom or a hiccup besiegement or a coughing fit or so forth. If you’re playing an active role in the meeting, it can make sense to say, “Excuse me, I’ll be right back” … but if you’re not leading the meeting and you’re one of many people there, often you can just quietly duck out without any announcement at all.

People have bodies and this stuff happens; you’re not expected to tough it out (and often trying to can be distracting to others).

2. Can I help younger coworkers understand how fantastic our benefits are?

I’m in a very high-stress, high-burnout field, and my problem is a bit of a unicorn: is there a way to give younger coworkers perspective on how objectively fantastic the benefits here are? Our management has clearly put a ton of thought and effort into mitigating the inherent stress of the job — they pay 100% of health insurance premiums, truly competitive pay, retirement savings matching (unheard-of in this field), incredibly generous anniversary recognition, regular bonuses, and unprecedented mental health support including full-time on-site counseling services. It’s as if the management has read your archives all the way through and implemented everything you’ve suggested for employee retention and burnout prevention.

Due to the nature of the field, a lot of our employees are right out of high school or college and have never held another job, and there’s a lot of “grass is greener” employee turnover. Many of them wind up returning in short order once they realize that the benefits offered here are nowhere near standard — but that still means that we spend a lot of time hiring, training, and covering shifts. Those who have been in the field for a while, or in the workforce for a while, have a different perspective on how unusual the support here is — there’s a pretty clear age divide between the ones who take advantage of all of the benefits and those who take them for granted. It sounds like an old-fogey thing to ask, but this isn’t a case of “back in my day…” Is there a way to give some of that perspective without having to do the hire/train/rehire cycle so often?

You can try! It could be useful to talk with less seasoned colleagues about what your experience has been with other companies in the field, framed as “This is something I wish people had talked more openly about when I started my career” and “Transparency around this stuff, especially when you’re new to the field, is useful when you’re trying to figure out your worth and to assess how good any particular offer is.” And the more you can share specifics about benefits packages you’ve had other places and what’s considered standard, the more effective you’ll probably be.

But sometimes (a lot of the time) this is something people have to figure out for themselves, often by trying out other workplaces so they have a larger frame of reference to use for comparisons.

3. Hybrid schedules but no equipment for remote work

I’m a manager at a mid-size company that’s been fully remote for the past two years. Management is reopening the office next week, and all members of my team are required to come in at least two days a week. The issue is that they said the equipment they provided us to work from home now needs to be returned to the office — which is definitely going to make remote days of the hybrid environment difficult. For context, in March 2020 the company did not provide stipends for home offices but instead loaned out monitors, chairs, mouses, keyboards, etc. to employees. Now people are going to need to bring their work from home monitor/chair set-ups to put back in the office, but they’re not going to have work materials for their remote days. Can the company do this?

A lot of my team also uses public transportation or has relocated since the onset of the pandemic, so I don’t even know how office chairs or monitors would be returned. It seems ridiculous. Management has been extremely stringent and inflexible on the remote policy, as well. They explained they prefer full-time in office, so this equipment policy seems to be promoting people to come in five days per week. Any tips on how to push back on the policy and get the resources we need?

They’re essentially saying that if you want to continue working from home some days, they’ll allow it but you’ll be responsible for providing your own set-up there. It’s not inherently outrageous that they don’t want to outfit two separate work locations for each employee (and this wasn’t an uncommon way to handle it prior to March 2020). Especially if they’d rather have people back in the office full-time, I don’t think you’re going to have much luck pushing back on that part.

That said, it’s unrealistic to expect people to bring chairs and monitors on public transportation! It would be reasonable to explain you have X number of employees with no way to transport those things and ask whether the company wants to pay for shipping, an Uber, or whatever makes sense in each individual case. As long as the company shoulders the costs of getting things back, that part isn’t inherently unreasonable either; it likely would have had to happen at some point anyway since if an employee left the company, they’d normally return their equipment at that point (again, at the company’s expense).

4. Is disorganized scheduling a red flag when you’re interviewing?

I’m a young professional applying for jobs in a large field. Within that field, I’m most interested in organizations that take a specific, niche approach to their work (there are >5 organizations in this category). I got a first-round interview with one of these organizations and the job seemed great. There’s lots of room for growth and advancement, more than I think would be typical for someone still early in their career. They’re willing to adjust my work a bit based on my interests and experiences. The salary isn’t posted, but I’m pretty sure I’d be making quite a bit more than I am now. I’ve heard good things about this organization from others who know them. And their work is highly aligned with my values, which is important to me.

The first interview was somewhat disorganized as the interviewer (David) was traveling internationally for a work conference and jet-lagged, but I saw no major red flags. On the Monday two weeks after the first interview, he emailed to say I got a second/final round interview with his boss, Maria, and asked me to find a time on her calendar using an online scheduling tool. The link he sent didn’t work, so I emailed him back to let him know and said I was excited to talk to Maria. He thanked me for letting him know and sent me a calendar invite for a call this morning (Tuesday — so, about 12 hours notice), then immediately cancelled that and sent another invite for Wednesday morning. I emailed that the Wednesday time didn’t work for me and he said no worries, he’d check back Tuesday to find a time on Friday. I thanked him and said I was free all day Friday except for during two one-hour blocks of time. Tuesday he sent me a calendar invite for an interview on Friday in one of the time blocks when I said I wasn’t free.

I’m planning to email him that I’m not free at that time on Friday and try to reschedule. But I’m wondering, is this a red flag? To send calendar invites without checking whether I’m free at those times feels disrespectful of my time and the fact that I have a full-time job right now. At the same time, I know the team is busy right now (that’s why they’re hiring!) which probably makes them more scattered, and asking for interviews on very short notice isn’t uncommon in this subfield. This is only my second job out of college and I’m not sure how big of a deal this is or how seriously it should change my thinking.

This is weirdly common — so common that I wouldn’t consider it a red flag unless you see a larger pattern of disorganization from them. And if he’s traveling internationally, that could explain the whole thing.

5. Invited to apply, then rejected without an interview

I’m trying really hard to get out of a toxic higher-ed environment. My area of expertise is pretty niche, so it’s not been as easy to find opportunities as one might think in this job market. Recently, I applied for a mid-level position that really fit with my somewhat niche experience. Almost immediately after applying, the hiring manager emailed me, saying that I wasn’t quite the right fit for the position since I didn’t have the managerial experience they were looking for, but that she was going to post a position on the team that I would be “an ideal candidate for” later that week, and that I should apply for that. Sure enough, later that week, the position was posted and I immediately applied. It did look like a really good fit, and I was excited about it. That was about two weeks ago. This morning, I received a form rejection email with nothing other than “we decided to move forward with other candidates.”

So in summary: they asked me to apply for the job, an application that included five open-ended questions with at least 200-word answers (so an application that took a fair bit of time), and did not even do a phone screen before deciding that actually, no, they didn’t want me. What gives?

Why on earth would they spend time referring me to another job if they were going to reject me without any further scrutiny? And is this jerk behavior, or just normal? Am I within my rights to be pretty pissed and feel like my time was wasted by this company?

Well … yes and no. It’s definitely possible to think someone would be a strong candidate but then realize they’re not at the top of the pack once you assess them against other applicants … and/or it’s possible that your written answers didn’t match up strongly with what they were hoping for. If they realized at that point that you weren’t going to be competitive with the rest of the pool, it wouldn’t make sense to spend their time or yours on a phone screen. But since they personally invited you to apply and said you seemed like an ideal candidate, they should have sent a more personal rejection than the one you got. So, I’d say the outcome was reasonable, but their delivery was bad.

{ 368 comments… read them below }

  1. Trixie the Great and Pedantic*

    OP3, is it possible to have shared equipment in your office? My company has been largely remote since before the pandemic, but managers and supervisors generally work a hybrid schedule, and when they do, they basically remote into their work equipment from the office. If scheduling the in-office days is done right, that might mitigate the cost of in-office work equipment somewhat.

    1. GythaOgden*

      Yup. One of the orgs based in the office I do reception for has gone over to hotdesking for anyone who wants to work in the office. One colleague needs a specific chair and is worried she’ll have to put it back in the pool or basically come in every day, and it would be difficult for her to lug it in and out if she did decide to work hybrid.

      However, our companies are all under the public healthcare umbrella and management knows what it’s doing when it comes to health and wellbeing of its employees. The organisation this lady works for is pretty much /discouraging/ in-office work as well, with the hotdesking move meaning everyone had to come in and collect their personal stuff so the desks could be assigned to others. A booking system in place if they want to come in.

      This is why I’m applying for admin jobs elsewhere in the public sector, fully based in the hospital or wherever as a gofer or clerk or general dogsbody penpusher. As someone dependent on public transport I’m already at a disadvantage if it came to having to transport stuff in and out of work, and I like seeing the people I’m serving in person. (It makes me feel more valued as an employee if the nature of my job is full time in the office but the people I’m administrating for are the people providing the service themselves and also at the coalface alongside me. Surprise surprise — the admins are the ones who have come back almost every day now anyway while more senior staff are still working remote…) I use a laptop at home anyway as desktops are power-hogs and I prefer flexibility in where I can sit and game or browse or whatever, but I’m not totally sure how I’d manage ergonomically sat all day at one not just gaming or goofing off.

      All in all, though, this is pushing me in the opposite direction — to get a job where I see the people I serve face to face and not have to worry about transporting my equipment everywhere (or like this week when some idiot dug up the local internet ‘ring main’ during roadworks and there’s been no broadband service for eight days while the copper wiring is repaired. Fibre is back online but not the bog-standard service I’m oop). Feels like a silver lining to me to not have to worry about it as much.

    2. High Score!*

      That’s a concept called hoteling. Or company does that and allows people to decide when they want to come in. While some people resisted not having their own space at first, this has worked really well for us.

    3. DrSalty*

      This is what my office does now, basically. We call it hot desking. It works great, but the office is rarely full and most people work from home full time.

    4. Observer*

      I’m going to push back on this. Sure, desk sharing can work, but it takes a fair amount of work to get it right.

      Also, if I’m understanding what you are suggesting, this is a nightmare for any company dealing with sensitive information, that has concerns about privacy and security and / or just needs to think about connectivity.

      1. DrSalty*

        It’s not a security issue. You bring your own laptop and connect it to the monitors in the office. You use the same machine at work and at home. You’re not sharing computers, just peripherals and desks and chairs.

        1. Observer*

          That’s not what @Trixie described.

          But what you describe can also be a serious security issue. Unless the laptop is controlled by some sort of MDM system and people are never saving data on that laptop, but always saving stuff (even work in progress) on a managed server, that is a security issue waiting to happen.

          Laptops get lost. Laptops get stolen. It is how some of the largest breaches of large scale systems have happened.

        2. NotAllWorkIsOnTheComputer*

          It is a security nightmare for people whose secure information exists in physical form, need consistent secure physical storage space for it, and don’t want to be hauling entire file cabinets back and forth across the building every time they come in and are assigned a different desk.

          1. pancakes*

            Are there many people in that situation? I suppose there are in government, for a start, but in my private sector experience that stuff is in the cloud, and you log in via VPN.

            1. Ellen*

              Anything even remotely medical would be impacted, anyone who does anything associated with medical industries, defense industries, governmental industries- it is a LOT of not small industry people. I work in a nursing home, essentially just serving patient meals, and my considerable computer use could not be done remotely.

              1. Migraine Month*

                My organization is setting up “hoteling”, and we work with private health information. We just keep the records virtual and never print to hard-copy. There’s nothing inherently insecure about working remotely or using the same monitors/chairs as someone else.

                1. Observer*

                  Remote work and hotelling can be secure. But they need to be set up properly. Allowing people to transport a laptop with information around *is* INHERENTLY insecure. So is the suggestion at the top of the thread unless you take a lot of measures to secure stuff.

          2. High Score!*

            It’s 2022, storing secure info in physical form is not good. It’s a eco disaster and there’s better ways. Our IT dept has secure facilities and servers on and off site to store our data. Our laptops are equipped with company software that allows secure communications and storage.

            1. pancakes*

              Yeah, it seems like more of a risk to me for people to have to be on-site wherever the data is to access it. Having been through Hurricane Sandy in NYC, that does not seem optimal.

          3. Saberise*

            But are those even the people that we are talking about in this letter. They are people that have been working full time from home. They likely don’t have entire file cabinets of confidential documents in their house. And most offices I have worked in confidential documents other than the ones you are actively working on aren’t kept in you personal office. We share desks but we all have a locked drawer or overhead we can put items in to secure them.

        3. anne of mean gables*

          As a bike commuter with ADHD, let me tell you how much I hate the “just bring your laptop back and forth!” solution. The extra weight, the security risk (I have enough to worry about in the event of a crash; I don’t want to also have to worry about the government’s property getting damaged/destroyed), and the near-certain eventuality that I will at some point forget my laptop at home or work. I fought tooth and nail through the pandemic to keep my current “VPN from personal equipment at home” solution, and feel like my employer can afford a second $500 Dell laptop if they truly need me to use their equipment.

          1. High Score!*

            While the solution doesn’t work for you, it does for most people. Just request a second laptop or use the office. We have lockers at our office when we need to leave things overnight.

          2. Saberise*

            Not all require a laptop to be taken back and forth. I work at a hospital and none of the work provided computers/laptop allow items to be stored on the computer. “Desktop” is virtual and move with you. Everything is on the network. So we just used shared desks that have PCs when we are working onsite.

            1. Observer*

              Yes. This is pretty much the only way to do it if you are desk sharing or having people do any level of remote work and you need some level of security.

              The thing is that this costs quite a bot and it requires a fair amount of resources to make it work.

              1. pancakes*

                I don’t know anything about the cost, but it seems like an essential cost of doing business if the materials people are working with need to be secure, which they often do. Anything involving personally identifying information, for a start. It doesn’t seem terribly expensive to have someone set up a basic VPN system that keeps all content off people’s own computers, and where saving to your own computer is not an option at all. Of course that requires reliable internet, though, which I know some areas of the US don’t have.

                1. Observer*

                  Trust me, if you are doing it right, a good VPN setup is not cheap. But, you are completely correct, that one way or another, keeping information secure is simply a cost of doing business. But I can see why a company might not want to pay the cost of doing it to enable WFH.

                2. pancakes*

                  Rent isn’t cheap, either, in many places, but it’s essential to pay it if you want to run a business open to the public, and/or one people come to work in.

          3. Another Cyclist*

            Same problem here, which is why (after begging to be allowed to have a second computer and being refused) I ultimately declined hybrid and took 100% in office instead. It’s particularly frustrating because I had both a laptop and a desktop before the pandemic, but as part of making us all hybrid they surplussed all the perfectly functional desktops we already had in our offices.

          4. Lea*

            This is how I started the pandemic, remoting in from home through personal equipment.

            Some people drug home furniture and stuff from the office but I used equipment at home. Seems like a good set up provided you have equipment at home

          5. pancakes*

            I would assume any employer issuing equipment has insurance on it. It would be silly not to, even if it never leaves the office – spills, etc.

      2. Lana Kane*

        It’s not inherently a security issue. I work in healthcare and prior to covid, we had WFH and an in-office rotation schedule. We had hotel stations for the people coming in that week. we had strong IT guidance on protecting PHI, plus individuals were logging in with their own credentials and only able to access their own files. With a well thought out schedule for hotel stations, it works fine. And it gave people the WFH option that they wanted.

        Now after covid, we’re all remote permanently but the hotels are still there for anyone who needs to come to the office for any reason.

        1. Aitch Arr*

          I worked for a healthcare system from 2007-2016 and this is how we handled things back then.

      3. Trixie the Great and Pedantic*

        For what it’s worth, my company is healthcare adjacent and deals with PII on a regular basis.

  2. Ann J*

    #3. How was the chairs and monitors moved out of the office? I assume the company arranged that? Then everything should be repeated the other way. If not, I agree with AAM.

    1. allathian*

      I work for a government agency with lots of employees who work in the field for much of the time, so remote work was a thing long before computers became the ubiquitous tools they are today (centuries rather than decades). Office workers have been able to work remotely at least occasionally for as long as laptops have been cheap enough, i.e. about 10 years, so we were hybrid before the term existed.

      WFH was completely voluntary, which meant that it was up to the employee to ensure they had adequate working conditions at home if they wanted to work remotely. When the pandemic hit, WFH was no longer voluntary and most of the equipment at the office would sit unused anyway, so employees were allowed to borrow monitors, mice, keyboards, etc. to use at home. When the WFH mandate ended, employees were given a few months to return their equipment. I never borrowed anything, but I had a spare keyboard and mouse, and the monitor I’m using is also connected to my own computer, so I didn’t have to spend anything extra to set up my office at home.

      1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

        This is how all my jobs that allowed remote/WFH in the before times worked. You signed an agreement that you had adequate equipment to work from home. The employer provided nothing. After the pandemic, at least 2 of the 3 places let people bring equipment home (3rd didn’t) for their home offices and then had people bring back what they took if they wanted it in the home office. Come to think of it, our office team in this job had the same set up before the pandemic (I’m 100% remote since 2019).

        LW, my team had the same dilemma and they worked around it by picking the 1 or 2 days to all go into the office and have meetings/do anything where not having a great set up wouldn’t be an issue. Thus far, as far as I know, it has seemed to work OK, albeit with really long days of back-to-back meetings/face-to-face strategy sessions.

        1. pancakes*

          Mine too, though the equipment requirements tended to be set out in the job description at the start rather than being a separate agreement. I think they’re included in the employee handbook documentation as well.

    2. Other Alice*

      It could have been that the employers had transported their own equipment when setting up the home offices at the start of the pandemic. I can understand being willing to do so in order to continue working from home under unusual circumstances, but being now reluctant to go to the trouble/expense when it will mean that they will be in effect unable to work from home. The company should just figure out how to transport the equipment and cover the costs.

      1. kiki*

        Agreeing with this. I’m car-free. At the beginning of the pandemic, I went out of my way to make arrangements to get equipment from the office at personal expense to myself. The early pandemic was an emergency situation– I felt lucky for the opportunity to work from home when so many people lost their jobs or were frontline and had to go in, so I didn’t mind doing what I had to do to get my stuff. Being asked to do the same to return the stuff on my own dime… I would be frustrated.

        1. Lea*

          I mean, surely someone in the office has a car, even a manager.

          I totally get bringing home monitors but people who took actual furniture home? Just because the company let you take it in an emergency doesn’t mean they ought to have to bring in movers to get it back.

          it seems like you could probably figure out how to bring it back, coordinating with friends and coworkers

          1. kiki*

            I wouldn’t expect movers or something on that level, but some sort of offer from the company for assistance moving things back would be appreciated, even if it’s just coordination with a manager who has a car or a reimbursement for lyft/uber/taxi.

            I know I could arrange with a friend to borrow their car or have them give me a ride, but it would irk me to have to call in a personal favor like that for work stuff. And with gas prices as they are, there would be a not insignificant expense involved.

            I wasn’t trying to say getting my stuff back to the office would be impossible to figure out on my own, but I would be irked to have to, if that makes sense.

    3. Gnome*

      I was wondering that too. I get that if folks’ circumstances may change (sold a car because they aren’t using it as much, move to a new apartment, etc.) But it seems one direction was not a problem and the other is, which doesn’t make sense to me. Then again, sending chairs home doesn’t make sense to me since most people have chairs.

      1. Mary Jane*

        It might be that employees were willing to deal with the inconvenience or expense when it meant they could work home, but don’t want to go out of their way now to lose a benefit.

      2. Enginarian (Canada)*

        People have kitchen chairs, laz-y-boy chairs, occassional chairs, etc. Very rarely do they have a 8hr $800 desk chair.
        Working at the kitchen table with a kitchen chair breaks your back.

        1. Not This Again*

          My actual desk chair costs nowhere near $800. Not everyone buys Herman Miller.

      3. Hi, Hello, Good Morning*

        I also wonder why they thought they’d get to keep these chairs, monitors, and other stuff when the company paid for them? How were they planning on returning them if they got a new job or quit for some other reason? Like Alison said, before lockdowns, it was on the employee to set up their home how they wanted when they worked from home. (Usual caveats for work that was always 100% remote and the such).

        1. Alpacas Are Not Dairy Animals*

          My partner lost a job during the height of the pandemic and it was absolutely on the employer to arrange return shipping for their equipment, that was never questioned on either side. (In this instance it did not include a chair but it did include multiple large monitors.) All partner had to do was submit the tracking number after they were picked up.

          In other instances I know of companies have decided that the shipping costs aren’t worth it on older equipment and let the person leaving keep it all.

        2. JustaTech*

          I didn’t get the impression that the employees think that they can keep their office furniture forever, just that they should be allowed to keep their WFH setup while they’re hybrid rather than having to go back to working on the couch 3 days a week.

          When my company went WFH back in 2020 we got spare monitors, keyboards, laptop docks and mice, and we left our desks set up as they were, so I still have the monitor, keyboard and dock at home for WFH days, and also have a full setup in the office. (We can do this because a lot of people had left and we hadn’t gotten around to getting rid of the extra IT equipment yet.)

    4. Purple Cat*

      Well, I think there’s a big difference between employees voluntarily taking on the annoyance of bringing equipment home when there was a global WTF is going on situation and then the company refusing to assist with getting their own equipment back because they’re being heavy-handed about their return to office plan. Employees should never have had to bear that burden themselves.

    5. I should really pick a name*

      If the company arranged it, I’m guessing it’s easier for a company to ship a bunch of equipment to several different locations than it is for them to have a bunch of a equipment shipped FROM several different locations.

      1. I should really pick a name*

        The company should still cover any associated costs, but I can understand if they’d prefer to have people just bring the equipment back themselves.

      2. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

        It shouldn’t be THAT hard. I ship ridiculous things back to the home office all the time and they just preprint the label and I box stuff up. If it is huge they just have me arrange a pickup under their account number.

        1. I should really pick a name*

          Yeah, but if you’ve got a bunch of employees and you don’t necessarily know how much equipment each one has, I could see it being a headache to sort out.

    6. Allura Vysoren*

      At the start of the pandemic, everyone in my office had desktop computers and at least two monitors. If you wanted to be able to work from home, you loaded all of that into your car and you drove it home (although, as far as I’m aware, no one took their chair). It wasn’t until about a year after we’d been forced back to the office that corporate faced the fact that remote work isn’t going anywhere and provided us all with laptops.

  3. Ginger Pet Lady*

    OP5, been there and it really stinks. Friend knew I was looking, told me about an opening, copied me on the email she sent to the hiring manager recommending me, I spent hours on the application process (application + essays + personality test!) and….
    Until 18 months later I got a form rejection.
    Hiring manager emailed me a year or two later asking me to apply for a similar position, I declined.

    1. Tinkerbell*

      Sometimes this happens because they had a better applicant pool than they were expecting. Sometimes it’s because the hiring manager has someone specific in mind for the role and not everyone else knows that. Sometimes it’s because the company is terribly disorganized. It’s hard to tell which one it is from the outside :-\

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        And in a world of overworked people, it could be that a clerk doing rejection emails for last week’s interviews has noticed the same name on a list for this week’s interviews and “fixed” what they thought was their mistake.
        This is one time when I would write a rare follow-up note for a rejection — and send it directly to the person who suggested I apply for the second position.
        It would be really short, just something like “Thanks for suggesting me for this role even if it didn’t work out. Please keep me in mind if you see more similar opportunities in the future.”

    2. Tin Cormorant*

      Reminds me of something that happened to a friend of mine. Invited to apply, from the way the recruiter spoke it sounded like she was perfect for the job and they were really excited to have her apply. She goes to fill out the online application, and immediately gets an automatic rejection for “not meeting qualifications”.

      She emailed the recruiter to ask what was happening, and they apologized profusely and pushed her through the system manually.

      1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

        That happened with a friend. The ATS rejected him for not having the correct education. He called HR and they told him it was because he didn’t have a Bachelor’s degree. He has a PhD. Their ATS only asked for highest degree obtained and rejected him because he picked something other than Bachelor’s and the HR department had no idea that was happening. He ended up getting the job and they fixed the ATS. Bad systems are bad.

        1. Dragon*

          This is where a system designer also understanding the business comes in. I heard of a CPA who applied for a job through an an ATS, just as an experiment.

          He was rejected for not having a certain certification, Level 6. But he did have the certification — at Level 8.

          All the difference difference between = 6 and =>6.

    3. RC Rascal*

      This may have been an HR decision and not a hiring manager decision. This has happened to me. Suggest reaching out to the hiring manager, let her know you were surprised stop be rejected and ask if anything has changed since she asked you to apply.

      When I did this I got the interview for the job. I also had one very hostile phone screen from the HR person who failed to notice the hiring managers reference on the application.

      1. Lady_Lessa*

        Something similar happened to me as well. I was initially rejected, even though I used all of the buzz words in the listing. A co-worker knew who was looking for help, and so I sent my resume directly to him. I got the job.

      2. Loulou*

        It might make sense to do that if the hiring manager had personally asked you to apply (OP’s situation) but in this case, OP’s friend (we don’t know their role in hiring) is the one who did that. Contacting the hiring manager would strike me as pretty pushy and out of touch in the second situation.

        1. the cat's pajamas*

          This happened to me once, but in reverse. The job I was rejected for was a brand new position. I got the sense from the interview that they weren’t entirely sure what they wanted. I was rejected but then referred to another position. Higher ed hiring is weird in general. Hang in there.

          1. LW 5*

            Thanks. Part of the problem is that I’m really trying to break out of higher-ed, but all my experience is in education. It’s been really hard to get employers to take me seriously in the private sector, even with my portfolio of relevant projects. I just can’t afford to stay in this field when I’m working 55 hours/week and barely paid a living wage. This job was EdTech, so it seemed like such a good fit! Woke up to 3 more rejections this morning, so it’s just really tough to move on from :(

            1. Jora Malli*

              Oof. I feel you LW. I’m trying to change fields too, and it sucks to know you have all these incredible skills that can transfer to other kinds of work and never get a chance to prove it. I’m hoping you get an interview for something sometime soon!

              1. Emdash*

                Hi LW#5 and Jora Malli,

                I am rooting for you both. And I know how much job rejections can sting (I’m applying as well).

                I wonder if sometimes an organization’s needs change btw when they post something v. in screening. I mention this because sometimes in an interview I have been told “X skill that was listed lower on the list of responsibilities actually now is a bigger need.” It can be so hard to know what goes on behind the hiring curtain and I have had times I thought it went great only to be rejected and other times not-so-great and got to the next round.

                This week I was contacted by a place I had previously applied and got a personal message about a new job. I applied and was rejected less than 12 hours later.

                Have you heard of EdSurge? They have job listings there. https://www.edsurge.com/

                I’m off to decompress by rewatching Schitt’s Creek but sending you both all the good luck vibes.

      3. Ama*

        I will say that once when I was an admin on a hiring process at a university, the person running the process was confused as to why the applicants HR was recommending after conducting the phone screen weren’t suitable — it turned out HR had screwed up somewhere and written down the exact OPPOSITE of a couple of yes/no criteria the hiring committee had requested (for example the criteria did not want candidates who had primarily worked in a certain field and HR had written down that it was *preferred* that candidates work in that field). I believe it took a similar situation to the OP’s, where a committee member recommended a candidate that they knew matched the committee’s actual criteria only to have HR say they didn’t pass the screen, before someone finally asked HR to spell out what they were screening for and the error was discovered.

        That said, at a different job when I was the hiring manager I was constantly having coworkers in other departments forward me people they thought would be good for my positions and they were usually completely wrong. My department at that job had a very different workflow and required skillset than most of the other departments and most of my coworkers outside our department just never quite understood the difference.

        1. Cascadia*

          Yes – my friend runs a preschool through a major state run university. Hiring is a nightmare because everyone has to be screened through HR, and HR seems incapable of figuring out how to screen candidates to be an early childhood educator. When another friend who met ALL of the job requirements was automatically rejected my friend finally reached out to HR to find out what was going on. They just simply didn’t understand that what the requirements are for a preschool teacher since they are so different from requirements for most jobs in higher ed. They eventually requested that HR not screen out anyone and just send them every single applicant because they were getting terrible applicants sent to them as ‘approved’ and having good quality people ‘rejected’.

      4. Smithy*

        Whether it means reaching out to the person who referred you to apply (the OP) or the hiring manager (if they referred you to apply), I do think it’s worth it.

        If this is a job with a larger organization, their HR system might be somewhat or heavily automated and these kinds of rejections can happen entirely accidentally or due to the system being designed to weed out candidates they don’t actually want to weed out. Also, the one role where the hiring manager was specifically very encouraging of me to apply – every HR interview/interaction was lukewarm at best. Any time I connected with HR, I was thinking that maybe I misread the hiring manager’s enthusiasm about my initial application. Ultimately my candidacy and the job have been great – so the HR weirdness in this case has not been indicative of anything else problematic. But I do think in a case where you feel you’ve genuinely received mixed messages (i.e. asked to apply and then not asked for an interview – and not told you gave a great interview but not ultimately hired), it’s worth one follow up.

      5. Lea*

        This si true. We’ve had people screened out by hr as unqualified or not highest who were highly qualified.

    4. Glomarization, Esq.*

      Doesn’t the hiring manager’s action mean or at least strongly imply that they were unable to hire you the first time around, but that they were impressed enough with you application that they wanted you to apply again, because you likely had a very good chance at landing the job?

      1. Ginger Pet Lady*

        Maybe, but also if their hiring process is that screwed up it does not speak well for their organization and by then I had another job I was very happy with. So no way was I going to go through the crappy process AGAIN. I don’t enjoy doing that to myself.
        Had they not required that much work (including a much debunked personality test) before the interview, I might have been more interested. If they had not ghosted me for 18 months, I might have been more interested.
        I love how everyone is saying “might have been…..” something else. As if the entire hiring process is not something that can be problematic. I don’t care if it was the ATS, or HR, or the hiring manager. It’s all the same organization, and it all matters when I’m deciding if I want to work there or not!

    5. Bunny Girl*

      This just happened to me this week. I was approached by my manager to apply for a promotion in the office. I hesitated at first because it was working with someone that I really, really cannot stand. But I am making below market rate at my job and struggling so I applied and was interviewed. They gave the job to another person and have never spoken to me about it since and are acting like they never interviewed me. I found out when they sent out a group email saying who all the new hires were. I’m kind of relieved but it’s definitely cemented my decision to move onward after I graduate instead of trying to stay and move upward. Professionalism is really important to me and they showed they don’t have any.

    6. Migraine Month*

      I was once invited to apply to a job that listed several years of experience in the PHP programming language as a requirement. I pointed out I had zero years of experience since I didn’t know the language, but the recruiter assured me that was fine and I should apply anyway.

      Part of the application was a small project written in PHP. I offered to do the project in a language that I knew, but no, it had to be PHP. She reiterated that I didn’t need to know PHP to get the job, I just had to learn enough to do the project before my application would be considered.

      Dear Readers, I did not.

    7. Fluffy Fish*

      Tangentially related, I was sent a job opening by a former boss I respect.

      He knew there was an internal candidate (I did not) who would be selected. Vey niche, so he and I were literally the only 2 candidates. 2 rounds of interviews including having to take off work to drive an hour away.

      I (obviously) didn’t get the job.

      He sent me another job posting a few months later. I will never apply to work for him again.

  4. Eyes Kiwami*

    #2 I wonder also how much of it is different priorities, and changing ideas on what is/should be standard for companies. I think many aspects of benefits (like covering all healthcare costs, retirement planning, parental leave, caregiving/nursing leave) may not be big priorities or be heavily utilized by younger workers, who may be healthier with fewer caregiving duties, compared to older workers, who may be more likely to have children/elderly parents/etc. So those might not seem like such an important upside compared to the heavy stressload and high burnout rate! Perhaps you could emphasize other areas like mental health support (which can ease that stress/burnout), pay, and whatever else might be more relevant.

    I’ve also noticed a general trend as workers gain more power and society grapples with inequality… “great benefits” are now treated like a standard expectation. What used to be “exceeds expectations” is now “meets expectations”, and so it’s not met with the same level of gratitude and enthusiasm. I don’t think this is restricted to younger workers–everyone seems to be raising their standards. Even if they can’t find something that meets them and they need to compromise, workers don’t feel like performing gratitude/being loyal just based on something companies are SUPPOSED to do. Maybe this trend is also present in your team, so you may need to recalibrate your expectations on what “understanding how great the benefits are” looks like.

    1. Atm*

      The point about priorities is a good one – in my country healthcare costs aren’t an issue, but I haven’t had any reason to access healthcare since before Covid, so I can see for some younger staff without children the healthcare costs might seem like a perk that isn’t super useful yet (yes, you could get hit by a bus tomorrow and go into hospital, but famously there is a tendency for the young to think they’re invincible).
      I also think that to an extent this is just the nature of hiring to entry level positions.

      1. Irish Teacher*

        Yup, in Ireland…well, to be honest, things are so complicated with our healthcare system that you’re basically guessing what might be necessary, but it was so common for people in their 20s and 30s not to get health insurance and to rely on the public system until they reached an age when they were more likely to need health insurance that a “lifetime loading system” was introduced, where you pay more for your health insurance if you are getting it for the first time after the age of 35. I realise health insurance is more necessary in the US – here, it’s more a “good to have, but you’ll still be OK without it” – but I can still see younger people prioritising less stressful work or other things over it, even if it might be more important in the long term.

    2. Tumbleweed*

      This is definitely worth considering…it’s also very possible to have good pay/benefits/etc for the industry you are in but still have them be objectively poor (compared to other industries or just to, as you talk about, what people’s expectations or opinions on ‘how it should be’ are)

      Plus, personally, standard non-US based response to “we have great benefits: lists some stuff that doesn’t meet minimum requirements in lots of other countries” because this point seems particularly relevant to somewhere where saying you give two weeks of vacation is notably good – it’s still just objectively not very much time to get off even if no where else is offering more than that near you.

      1. Irish Teacher*

        We also live in a global world now and people have friends from all over the world, so people might well have friends in countries or industries where such benefits are more standard or which are higher paid (or even be friends with a lot of older people who have higher pay and more benefits due to having achieve more senior positions) and therefore not realise how good the benefits are for their area and field.

        I know when I started secondary, I was disappointed not to have “free classes”/”study periods” because all the school stories I read were English or American and I didn’t realise that such things didn’t exist in Ireland.

        Not sure if this is really actionable, although I guess it might be helpful for the LW or somebody to let them know the norms of the specific industry, but whether or not they would listen, I don’t know. It’s also possible some of them might be leaving because they are burnt out with the whole field and not just the LW’s company, especially if it is a very high-stress environment. I know I wouldn’t find “we have mental health counselling if the stress gets to you” very reassuring; I’d rather work in a field where I wasn’t getting seriously stressed. But that’s a priorities thing and not everybody will feel that way.

        1. A Simple Narwhal*

          Super anecdotal, but I’ve been in the US my whole life and I never had free periods or study hall! It blows my mind to this day to hear people talk about just being able to leave school, or do homework in the middle of the day, etc.

          Maybe my high school was weird, but we were always required to have a class at every moment of the day, there was no free periods or any non-class time other than lunch. And this was just the local public school!

          Looping back to the question at hand, it’s also really hard sometimes to believe a company when they say that their benefits are great – perhaps it’s my skeptical nature but hearing “our benefits are awesome!” makes me think, what, like you’d openly tell me they were bad? So the harder you try and sell them, the less likely you may be believed.

          1. Bongofury*

            My high school never had free periods or study halls either. This was back in the 90s, maybe it’s changed? But yeah every semester your class schedule was decided by the school counselor and “free periods” were not a thing. I assumed it was only real in movies/tv shows were they needed a set piece.

            We did have homeroom the first 15 minutes of every day. Attendance was taken, the announcements were read over the PA system, that kind of thing.

            1. not a doctor*

              I never had study hall, but I did have free periods. Then again, I went to a hippie arts-focused private school, so we did plenty of things that were out of the norm. I wouldn’t be surprised if that was rarer than I thought it was.

            2. pancakes*

              My high school had them in the 90s, but it was a private school. You could leave campus if you made the headmaster’s list.

            3. The OTHER Other.*

              US public high school in the early 80’s here, it was a fairly large school (maybe 1800 students?), no regular home rooms. No study halls; whether you had free periods or not depended on how many classes you decided to take. I rarely had free periods and stayed busy, some people had a lot and just did the minimum to graduate, especially if they were not planning on going to college (90%+ were, but my school had little to offer beyond college prep).

              If you had a free period you could come in late or leave early, but once you left you couldn’t come back. Just before I got there it used to be an open campus where you could come and go at any time for a free period but this was discontinued because people were skipping their classes after lunch, or coming back stoned. The 70’s!

        2. Tumbleweed*

          I went to school in England (and Wales) and didn’t have free periods/study hall at secondary school either, until we got to A-levels then they do start to exist. (Particularly if you do X subjects in the first year then X-1 after AS levels, you end up with some study periods in there)

          Maybe free periods for high school is only in made up films and TV land? (Or just much longer ago than when I went to school)

      2. Loulou*

        But it doesn’t really matter to my decision making if my benefits would be objectively great in another country — I can only live and work in my country, so what I care about is if I could have better *at another job in my field, here.* It’s sort of like saying my completely free healthcare through my employer isn’t great because if I lived in the UK I’d be covered by the NHS. Sure, but I don’t so I’m going to hang onto my healthcare.

    3. MK*

      The benefits the OP mentions are objectively above average though. And while workers are expecting more about benefits nowadays, they are also usually aware that most companies aren’t offering much.

      The point that young people might not find the benefits as important is valid. And in general, different people will have different priorities, those who don’t value the benefits the OP’s company is offering aren’t necessarily wrong.

      1. The OTHER Other.*

        I think the issue goes beyond young people; too frequently I have seen people talk about a job they’re considering and the number one, two, and three thing is the salary, and vacation time or length of commute are distantly tied for number four. Benefits are often an afterthought, and it doesn’t help that virtually all employers describe their (often poor or mediocre) benefits as “competitive”, and the whole discussion about them generally comes very late in the hiring process.

        Benefits are probably about a third of a job’s total compensation and it’s smart to consider them when comparing jobs.

        If OP’s company truly has great benefits, by all means trumpet them (with specifics; no one is shouting “crap benefits” even if they are) but it may be an uphill climb to get younger folks to consider the whole picture. Maybe a young employee could address this topic in orientation?

    4. Snoozing not schmoozing*

      The benefits sound great unless your top priority is to not be worked to death in the first place.

      1. KRM*

        This. Having mental health counseling on site seems great, but the fact that you have that because everyone works objectively long and stressful hours and thus can expect to suffer from burnout, thus necessitating the trip to said counselor–not so great. I’m not interested in working myself to death just for 100% of my health premium paid and an excellent bonus. I’d rather have a mid tier bonus and less stress, and I bet a lot of your new employees find that same thing as well. I’m sure when they take the job they’re thinking “oh great benefits! I can tolerate the hours! How bad can it be?” and then they find that no, it’s not a worthwhile tradeoff.

        1. EPLawyer*

          My thoughts exactly. What is NOT mentioned in this list of benefits is time off you can actually take. Who cares if you have mental health benefits if you can’t take the time to talk to someone. Who cares if health insurance is 100% paid if you can’t even get to the doctor.

          Now, people are coming back and presumably staying so maybe its not all that bad. But how long are they staying? Do they burnout but keep going or start looking for a new job and move on? Or is the only way to get promoted is to go elsewhere and then come back at a higher position with more pay?

          Or quite frankly it could be something as simple as people don’t stay in the same job forever anymore. They move around and sometimes back and then move on again.

        2. Bongofury*

          Eh, maybe it’s something the company can’t change. My first thought was it’s a medical residency. One company/hospital can’t change the rules for doctor’s residencies. Or even the FAA air traffic controller employees, they can’t change FAA requirements and they’re stuck. So they do what they can.

          Maybe it’s none of those, something like FAANG or the Big Four. It would be nice to have more info on WHY the employees are treated so poorly.

          1. Le Sigh*

            I agree with other commenters that it’s possible OP is overestimating just how great the benefits are, esp. since the standards have changed in the last several years. I certainly wouldn’t take on a high-burnout job for benefits unless I had to. But I’d be curious to know the field or what the nature of the stress is. I have friends in medical and social work fields who have needed mental health help even pre-pandemic because of gnarly things they saw on the job (and that can’t really be avoided). I have a few others in advocacy and frontline justice work in the U.S. and it’s a really hard time for this, because rights are falling left and right — and not only are they trying to help clients or others, they’re seeing their own rights demolished.

            That doesn’t make it good or healthy and many people do leave because it’s too much — but there are some fields where those kinds of stressors can’t be avoided.

        3. gmg22*

          Yep. I am in the process of transitioning out of my current job (basically I’m here until they hire a replacement, doing a combo of job hunting, thinking about freelancing and maybe being OK with a few months off), and the really good benefits were definitely a thing that made the decision harder. But when I considered that all my vacation time, for example, wasn’t doing me a lick of good if I could never actually feel rested and ready to go back to work after taking vaca? Yeah, that was a wake-up call.

      2. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

        There is something to be said for a job that doesn’t push you into needing onsite mental health services.

        1. QuickerBooks*

          Well, hold on. People can need mental health services for a huge variety of reasons, personal and professional. And often the need arises from an unforeseeable and unpredictable confluence of the two, a confluence that nobody can control and is nobody’s fault.

          Onsite mental health services is positive resource for employees in the same way that tuition reimbursement is a positive resource. Suitably healthy workplaces should have them in the same way that suitably healthy workplaces should have comfortable chairs and free coffee in the break room. The way it’s being discussed here is really starting to be slightly stigmatizing.

          1. KRM*

            I would argue with that strongly. Mental health benefits? Awesome. Preferred. ONSITE mental health benefits? Speaks to a burnout culture that doesn’t even give you enough time out of the office to find someone offsite to talk to.

            1. Jackalope*

              I was interpreting it as being related to the field. For example, I’ve heard that many counseling fields – therapist, crisis line worker, and so on – require you to go through talk therapy as a response to your job because it for sure WILL be stressful to your mental health at some point. Think of working for the National Sexual Assault Center. Or the Suicide Prevention Hotline. Or to take another stressful field, imagine emergency services – I know that EMTs (emergency medical technicians, for those outside the US; they work in ambulances) tend to burn out because they see so much awful stuff. Or firefighters, or someone below mentioned social workers. I mean, it could be a totally unrelated field that involves long hours and impossible deadlines, but there are lots of fields where the job itself is challenging to your mental health no matter how hard your employer tries to offset that. And where it’s better to have a pre-established way to deal with that so you can unload at the end of your shift, for example, and so be less likely to take it home with you.

              1. Anon this time*

                I work a job similar to your those in your first sentence of examples. And yes, it’s high-burnout, and it’s stressful even though my employer treats employees quite well (it’s not true that we’re required to go to talk therapy though – there could be fields where it is, but while we’re required to have clinical supervision, that’s not therapy even though it’s done by a therapist).

                I don’t think I’d want onsite mental health services though. It would be convenient, for sure, and it’s an interesting idea, but I’d be concerned about possibly having the same therapist as my coworkers, just as I’d be concerned about having the same therapist as other people for whom it’s very plausible that we could be talking about each other to the therapist. Plus, if I switch jobs, I then have to get a new therapist, and build rapport with them. What I WOULD like is insurance that covers my actual therapist, but I mostly blame the insurance companies for that.

              1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

                I totally meant it in this sense. I love good mental health benefits, and oh my corn do I need them, but a job that pushes folks to burnout so much that onsite MH care is needed? I don’t know about that.

                1. pancakes*

                  To me the implication of on-site care is closer to “it’s convenient when you want it” than “people here are worked like oxen.” If the workplace is closer to the latter, I wokld expect there to be other signs of that, not just one vague possibility.

                2. Le Sigh*

                  LW2 commented a little further down that the work is inherently stressful (e.g., emergency healthcare), so if that’s the case, onsite might actually make a lot of sense. I have some friends in that field who have seen some awful things and providing mental healthcare is pretty necessary, in their view (both on and offsite). Which isn’t to say there aren’t improvements needed in the field, just that onsite might be a good thing here.

          2. Jora Malli*

            In a general sense, yes, more companies should make it easier for their employees to have access to mental health care. But the way OP talks about it makes it sound like the on-site counselors are there specifically to combat the high stress requirements of the job that are causing burnout. So yes, easier access to counseling is great. But it’s not better than reevaluating the work and figuring out a way for it to cause less burnout in the first place.

            It reminds me of that letter from a few months back about the office that had no heat and an unsafe parking lot, and the bosses thought what they really needed was a game room and free candy. It’s not actually fixing the problem.

          3. RebelwithMouseyHair*

            This might be a culture clash but the thought of talking to someone about mental health issues when that someone is also employed by the same person as me (directly or indirectly), is kind of yucky. Confidentiality is paramount. The mere fact that my director might see that I have an appointment with the work therapist would freak me out completely. My boss might ruin my health, he has no business knowing what I do about it.

      3. The Original K.*

        Totally agree. If your priority is to avoid “high stress, high burnout” (which I think is becoming more common), benefits don’t matter as much. (Comp might; people might be willing to gut it out for a bit if it’ll drastically improve their finances.)

      4. kiki*

        +1 Yeah, I was picturing a situation where folks weren’t leaving because the benefits weren’t good enough, rather that they were looking for an environment change. Maybe a lot of folks return because they find out other places have the same (or more!) environmental issues and fewer benefits, but when I’ve been burnt out, just the power of leaving feel so good. Being *done* with all your problems and worries from one job feels amazing. Experiencing that exquisite feeling is important.

    5. AcademiaNut*

      Here, however, many employees are leaving the company for a new job, and then returning soon after, when they’re realized that the other employers don’t offer as much. So that implies that their benefits really are good, at least by the standards of the industry. The LW is frustrated with having people leaving, hiring new people, having them leave, and then having the old people come back, which is a lot more disruptive than hiring and keeping people in the first place.

      I think I’d look at what the other employers are offering that is encouraging people to quit. Are they offering something appealing that the OP’s employer could match as a retention strategy? Or are they misrepresenting something, which the OP’s employer can’t do anything about?

      1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

        Personally I’d recruit people from other companies where you know the benefits are worse if you want to avoid to leave-return thing. I’m wondering why the LW’s job is attracting primarily new career professionals rather than folks who have been there, done that, and know that the LW’s benefits are better?

        1. A Simple Narwhal*

          Oh that’s really smart. Sometimes you can’t really gauge how good or bad something is until you’ve lived it.

        2. The OTHER Other.*

          You are asking a really good question. I was assuming people were being lured away by higher salaries but later realizing the total compensation was not as good as the original employer’s. But that may not be the case, or at least not the whole picture.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      It takes a lot to counter balance a high turnover and high burnout rate. I find it interesting that there’s no mention of culture. Are people decent to each other? Are bosses reasonable?

      Maybe new hires could benefit from mentors, someone who feels like they are helping the new hire to settle in and feel anchored even though everything appears chaotic.

      Not everyone can work under high stress. What can be done to screen more for this when hiring?

      What I see here is “the job is a beast, but hey we got great benefits”. What can be done to lower the stress and chaos? It seems like there is an odd acceptance of “yeah, it’s a mess” and it could be that people are hearing, “Yeah, it’s chaos here. And that won’t change.”
      From the management side, I am not sure having a group of people who are just there for the benefits is a strong plan that will play out well over time.

      1. Napkin Thief*

        But based on OP’s description it sounds like that’s the nature of the field, not specific to this job. I don’t see anything about the workplace being chaotic, just that the job is inherently stressful – which some are! Not everything is asynchronous, could-be-done-today-could-be-done-tomorrow-or-next-month-or-never office work, and yet needs to be done and some people want to be the ones doing it. After all, it doesn’t sound like people are permanently leaving the field, either. I think we should take OP at their word that people who leave end up coming back because they realize this the GOOD version of this job in their field.

        1. Purple Cat*

          I think it might be a case of new employees thinking this high-stress, high-burnout is unique to this COMPANY, they go elsewhere and realize it’s the FIELD. So some come back. This feels like a personal life lesson that people need to figure out on their own as deal-breakers are very individual.

      2. LW2*

        I maybe should have clarified further in the letter – the field itself is inherently high stress (think emergency health care), and no one comes into it without that awareness. Most people who leave and come back are moving between positions with identical responsibilities and stress. Within those constraints, and compared to other companies in the field and out of it, the benefits are fantastic.

    7. Ketall*

      I think this is very true for young people – a lot of the benefits won’t pay off for them until much further down the road.

      A few other things to think about:
      – How is the pay? Retirement matching is meaningless if you’re not making enough to contribute significantly yourself. Maybe they should consider student debt payment matching.

      – What are the opportunities for advancement? Are people leaving for jobs that are a step up the ladder?

      – is there a mentorship culture? Do entry level employees feel like cannon fodder?

      1. Gothic Bee*

        Yes to all of those points, especially pay and advancement. And just culture in general, if coworkers suck, it’s rare that the benefits are good enough to make up for it.

        I also think there’s something to be said for the fact that if these people are fresh out of school, they’re still likely going to be adjusting to life after school, figuring out what they want from a job, etc. So I really think any job that recruits new graduates will inherently have a higher turnover even if it’s the best job ever.

        And regarding the specific benefits, I just think a lot of those aren’t that attractive to young people. Retirement matching is great, but even if they get paid well enough to contribute, lots of young people won’t. Health insurance may be good, but if they’re under 26 and still on their parents insurance, they won’t need it. Anniversary benefits are fine, but “a year from now you get [insert thing here]” isn’t that motivating for younger people (heck, it’s not that motivating for a lot of older folks either). The benefits sound nice! But they don’t necessarily strike me as things that younger people will consider make-or-break when deciding whether to stay or leave.

    8. FYI*

      Maybe I am in a weird bubble, but those benefits don’t sound all that extraordinary to me. They’re good, don’t get me wrong, but out-of-the-world, once-in-a-lifetime amazing? Almost every place I’ve ever worked has had these same benefits.

      1. Baby Yoda*

        Same here, except for the employer paying 100% of insurance premiums. That’s unique to me.

      2. Leonineleopard*

        That’s awesome, would you be willing your field/weird bubble? Not having to pay for health insurance sounds amazing, I’d really love to get insight on situations where it is a standard benefit!

      3. Tech Worker*

        Probably depends on your industry. In tech these benefits are all fairly standard and would mostly be met with a shrug.

        1. Clisby*

          Agree. Not clear on whether the OP means employer pays 100% of the premium for a family plan, or just 100% for the employee. If it’s the employee, NBD. I don’t know how many tech companies pay 100% for an entire family. My husband has worked for 2 companies that did that, but not sure if it’s really widespread in tech.

    9. Colette*

      Yeah, sometimes how great the benefits are depends on what you’re looking for. I’ve worked at places with pensions; I’ve worked at places that had programs where they donated money for the hours you volunteered. Both were great, but not for everyone. Some people care more about the medical benefits, some care more about retirement, for some getting your gym membership paid for is a great benefit … there is no one-size-fits-all benefit package that will please everyone.

    10. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

      Why should workers be grateful for benefits? I’m glad I have mine but I’m certainly not “grateful”. I give my employers my time, labor, and experience. The least they can offer is a system that allows me to do this to my fullest potential for the longest time, which is what benefits are intended to assist with.

      1. The OTHER Other.*

        I don’t think the issue is employees needing to be grateful so much as the OP thinking they may not be considering the quality and cost of benefits when they are considering a new job. A $5,000 raise may actually mean you are worse off if your health insurance costs increase and/or employer retirement contributions vanish.

    11. NotAnotherManager!*

      I see a lot of this – many of my recent-graduate employees are still on their parents’ healthcare plans (until 26 under the ACA), their high rents in our area can leave people in a position not to be able to take advantage of matching programs, and “competitive” based on market surveys is not always competitive with specific opportunities.

      My employer is generous on a number of levels, and a lot of my more experienced manager peers can become frustrated about the same things – they’ve worked at terrible places that don’t do reviews/annual raises, have crappy healthcare options, don’t do any retirement, etc. They think that the newer folks just don’t appreciate how good they have it, and they’re not always wrong, but it’s not really something you can talk people into/out of.

      In my experience, people typically leave jobs because they are unfulfilled in what they’re doing, have issues with their boss, or for substantial pay increases. Someone suffering under an awful micromanager daily may be willing to give up “excellent” benefits to work somewhere they’re not constantly under the microscope. Someone who is bored to tears by their workload isn’t going to stay, especially early in their career, for even the best of benefits.

      And, anecdotally, my mom told 25-year-old me not to leave my steady, well-paying job with excellent benefits to move into a position in an emerging industry no one has heard of. I did a couple years at a place with mediocre pay, terrible management, and truly awful benefits – and ended up in an industry that had immensely more growth and earnings potential. My original employer eventually created a team for what I’d moved into, and they hired me back after I had the experience. I make nearly double now (with the same benefits) what I would have made had I stuck with my original job, like my mom insisted I should do.

    12. Migraine Month*

      I’m going to gently push back on the idea that employees should be grateful or loyal due to pay or benefits. In most jobs, the pay/benefits are an operating expense in order to recruit and retain people who will make the company even more money. Employees should be satisfied with good pay or benefits, not grateful, and shouldn’t be more loyal to the company than the company is to them.

    13. Starfox*

      Yeah, don’t get me wrong… benefits are important! I definitely look at health insurance and retirement matching when I’m looking for a job.

      But when your salary is low and your struggling with the day-by-day, reminding yourself that in 30 years you might have a decent retirement fund isn’t always that helpful!

  5. nnn*

    #2: Separately from trying to convince them of the quality of the benefits, you could also mention how many people have left and then come back. With names, if everyone knows each other and the fact that they left and came back is public information.

    Depending on personalities and general vibe, if you feel that their hackles would be raised by an old fogey telling them not to do something, you could even frame it as “Oh, Jane, Manuela and Clementine all spent some time working at other companies, you could talk to them about their experience!”

    1. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

      Agreed. Or you could offer advice on how to ask about culture and benefits when they interview elsewhere.

      1. Hlao-roo*

        Yeah, I think there might be a place to say something along the lines of “while we hope you stay at [company] for a long time, we understand that people change jobs. Because you’re early in your career, I want to make sure you know to look at more than just salary when considering an offer. You can ask for benefits information, such as vacation time, health insurance premiums, etc. so you can consider the full offer when you make your decision.”

        1. Irish Teacher*

          That actually sounds like a brilliant way of addressing it. Rather than telling them your company offers better benefits, encouraging them to check it out for themselves.

    2. Persephone Mulberry*

      If anything, I think LW (or whoever is in charge of hiring) is the one who should be talking to Jane, Manuela and Clementine about their experiences and asking *what the company could have done differently* to keep them from leaving in the first place.

    3. NotAnotherManager!*

      I’m a person in my office who left and came back. I left for an opportunity I couldn’t get in house, made a move into a related industry, and returned when my employer added a group that did what I do. I liked the employer a lot, but I didn’t like the job, even though the benefits were excellent.

      I’m happy to talk to people about leaving and coming back, but I’m not going to dissuade someone over the benefits, if that’s not what’s causing them to leave.

      1. Returntogreenerpastures*

        Similar experience here. I liked the employer, I moved for other reasons. I am back in a different job than I had before. It is a very good fit. The benefits were not great before, but they have become very very good. In fact, one employee was considering leaving, but has found no one else hiring in our field in our area can match or exceed our benefits. (The hours were not great this spring, most of the time they are reasonable, but we work events, so nightwork and weekend work comes and goes. We also had just come off our biggest event time of the year when they expressed this interest – we were so busy that our next payroll had a 4 figure bonus for everyone, we are actively hiring to lighten the load as it was/is not sustainable.) The good part about my employer is they are learning and growing. It’s not a “we’ve always done it this way” but more “how can we do this better?” It’s not always roses and sunshine, but we have decent health insurance (our employers use it as well and want it to be affordable and good for individuals and families), life insurance (paid by company), 401K matching, generous PTO and holidays.

    4. Van Wilder*

      Another thing that I think builds credibility is acknowledging what actually sucks about your job. Bad things are: long hours, stress, whatever it is. So that when you talk about how above-average the benefits are, there’s some context and believability.

  6. Sleepy cat*

    #4 The human brain is a funny old thing. If you say you’re free except for these times, it’s very easy for people to misread that as meaning you’re only free at those times (for reasons other than intelligence or organisation).

    1. Felis alwayshungryis*

      It’s a bit like telling a child, “don’t touch that” – their brain filters out “don’t” so all they hear is “touch that”. That’s why you say “keep your hands by your sides” or something.

      So I guess here it might be more beneficial to say “I’m available between 9-11, 12.30-2.30, and 4-6.”

      1. Bongofury*

        Anecdotally and not relevant to the LW, but I’ve heard the same thing about telling a kid Don’t Touch That. So with my niblings I say “Give me attitude!” and they have to put their hands on their hips and pose. That way I know they’re not touching or reaching out for something.

    2. Sparkly Unicorn*

      I was just coming here to say that! It feels so weird to me, but I often have more success with something like “I’m free 8am-2pm and 3pm-4pm” than “I’m not available 2pm-3pm” even though the second one is shorter and seems more clear to me. People latch on to the numbers and lose the context of the words, so better to make the times when you are available.

      1. ferrina*

        Seconded! I was coming here to say the same thing. Use the exact language that Sparkly Unicorn recommends.

        One of the things I was taught in grad school is that the brain tends to cut out the word “not”. So even though we say “not available” the brain latches on to “available”. Same way that saying “don’t worry” almost always triggers nerves.

    3. High Score!*

      I’ve learned to always say when I am free vs when I’m not. So many people just do not read that well. Yes, this has happened to me and I had to explain my email stating when I was not available bc the office assistant could not understand the word not.

      1. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

        It’s not just a reading thing: emergency responders are told to say something like “stay where you are!” or “hold still” instead of “don’t move!” A spoken “Keep the door closed” works better than “don’t open the door.”

        It is also true that many people don’t read well or with attention–I’m noting this because the same problem can happen if you leave someone voicemail. If you’re speaking in real time, it’s a lot easier to clarify: “no, those are the times I’m not free. Do you have anything after 2:00?”

    4. Antilles*

      I’ve especially seen this problem if it’s a group email trying to schedule with several people.
      I send out an email to A, B, and C requesting a meeting. A does a reply-all with a list of times that don’t work for them. B separately does a reply-all with a list of times that *do* work for him. Then when C is trying to cross-compare two separate times, he sees “3:00 to 5:00” on both emails and just stops right there – not really reading that B’s 3-5 is available while A’s 3-5 is unavailable.

    5. Fluffy Fish*

      I try to go with half days when ever possible. If I already have something booked from 1-2, I will say I’m only available in the morning.

      This tactic wont work for people who have lots of meetings of course.

      1. Daisy-dog*

        Same – it’s easier to just say that I’m available in the morning or afternoon. Or just a half requirement – I’m available after 10 on Friday.

  7. CatsOnAKeyboard*

    On #5 – if it’s a larger organization, there may also be filtering/HR issues in play.

    I was in a situation where I contractor *doing the job* that I’d applied for and when they added an additional FT position that was internal rather than contract, my boss mentioned it to me as an option. And I applied – but it was a giant organization and the first layer of HR was completely separate. They never passed along my resume/application to my then-boss/hiring manager and gave her a bunch of other ones instead. She finally at some point had to insist they stop pre-screening and just pass along everything.

    1. Rayray*

      This was my exact thought. Many companies have software that will filter out resumes or applications if they’re missing certain keywords or if it can’t read the file correctly. It’s a major downside to the technology that was supposed to make hiring even better.

    2. Overeducated*

      YES! I’d recommend reaching out to the hiring manager just to say “thanks for letting me know about this opportunity, I did apply at your recommendation and received the news you are moving on with other candidates, hope to cross paths again in future.” It might sound a little passive-aggressive but if the hiring manager did *not* actually receive your application because HR filtered it out, she’ll have the information to figure out why and determine whether it’s a stage in the process where you can still be considered.

  8. My Boss is Dumber Than Yours*


    Really sorry this happened to you. I had a similar situation…the night I defended my Ph.D. I got a text from someone I thought was a friend saying “if you can sober up enough to fill out this application and write a cover letter, I’ll recommend you for this job” only to get a form rejection two weeks later and never hear from this person again. Turned out, after talking to other contacts at the organization, that they had a particular candidate in mind but they wanted a certain number qualified (in this case Ph.D.) applicants in the pool before they closed the process. It really sucks, and did a number on my confidence and trust for a bit. Best of luck to you, and I hope everything works out long term.

    1. Hiring Manager*

      This can be a tricky situation when you’re a hiring manager, if colleagues outside of your department recommend someone without fully understanding the nature of the role or the field. I’ve had colleagues put forward candidates who from the outside might seem like a good fit, but in reality aren’t competitive for that particular role. And as you mentioned, sometimes the department already has a particular person in mind. It’s hard not to get excited in a job hunt when someone advocates for you as an applicant, but their support generally matters more the closer they are to the hiring process.

      1. My Boss is Dumber Than Yours*

        I agree with all of that. In this case, however, the person who recommended me and told me to apply was one of two hiring managers for the position and had held exactly this position a year before. They new my exact qualifications, as well. And even if all of that is true, they could have done me (and the manager in this question could have done OP) the simple courtesy of personal communication.

        1. Lea*

          That sucks.

          But ‘there might be someone already in mind’ is why I never take random rejections personally. There are all kinds of back room reasons you might not get a job that have nothing to do with you

  9. John Smith*

    OP#2, I’m probably alone in this, but your description would really put me off as it comes across as a sales pitch for the job rather than a description of the benefits and seems a bit… desperate? I get that you want to promote your organisation, but if the benefits are truly unparralelled, amazing, unheard of etc etc, that should be evident from the figures themselves and not require superlatives. I also hope in detailing the benefits, you are also detailing the stress and burnout aspects as well if they are not already apparent. Contestants in The Squid Game also left and came back!

    1. MK*

      That’s a bit unkind. The OP doesn’t sound desperate, she sounds exasperated: it’s pretty frustrating to go through hiring and training someone, only for them to quit a bit later, many times bragging about the small raise they got by doing so, and then have them come back when they realize that they haven’t calculated the benefits.

      That being said, I don’t know that it’s the OP’s place to lecture their younger coworkers about how great the company is. If it comes up organically, sure, mention that one should consider the compensation package as a whole.

      1. Bluesboy*

        I’m not sure that John Smith means that OP is actually desperate. He might mean that it would come across as desperate to an employee, and feel like OP is desperately trying to convince them to stay.

        It’s not quite the same, but I used to work in a seasonal industry – September to June. My company offered a lower hourly rate than some of the competition, but on full pay for twelve months. Now obviously, if you don’t need to work over the summer, or want to travel, or get a different job for those three months, our competition would have been a better fit for you.

        But you would be amazed at the number of people who turned down or left jobs at my company because there was an extra euro an hour somewhere else, only to come back begging for a job in June because they realised they had no pay over the summer and couldn’t cover their rent. I couldn’t recruit in the summer, so would offer them a job in September and then they would stay for years – but they needed that first summer to really discover for themselves that our company had that advantage. And when I tried to explain this in interviewing, they thought I was hard selling.

        I guess some people just think that they will put money aside, or won’t get sick, or aren’t ready to think about retirement matching or mental health support just yet, and they need to experience life without the benefits to realise how much they appreciate the benefits. Just like we don’t appreciate our running water until we have a problem with the plumbing and have to try living without it!

    2. Snoozing not schmoozing*

      I got the same vibe from the over-emphasis on benefits and under-emphasis on the lack of work-life balance. I don’t see how the employees would have time to use any of those great benefits.

      1. GythaOgden*

        Depends what the industry is. If it’s a normal job, like llama herding admin, it might be tough conditions there. If it’s, like, nursing or healthcare tech distribution or maintenance management for hospitals which have to stay open 24/7 (the guys in my office work weekends because getting phones out to dozens of people at a time so they can see patients and do their paperwork ASAP is something they need to do on a tight deadline; let’s assume that the bosses know what they’re doing here) … then that’s what the person signs up to. There’s been an accident here which ripped up an internet ‘ring main’, whereby my town and its hospital and two other hospitals sharing the same network were out for the count. You better believe the guys from the internet company were out there fixing stuff over the weekend to get things back online as soon as possible in order not to disrupt emergency care. This is probably where benefits come in — they get time off in lieu (comp time in British) for overtime or extra pay or whatever, but the job can’t wait for Monday morning, because hospitals need internet access on the weekends and overnight.

        Not all jobs are strictly 9 to 5, not even jobs with a white collar or admin element. I’m interviewing on Tuesday for a full time hospital admin position that is marked up as ‘not normal office hours’. I’m widowed, so there’s no-one but me and the house to take care of, and a good transport system to get me home at any hour. But I know going into any on-site hospital admin position that it’s not an ordinary 9 to 5, so to baulk at that sort of thing would price me out of my particular sector. And I honestly love working for the NHS and so that’s part of the trade-off I’m making for doing that job in a sector I enjoy working in.

    3. Anon all day*

      See, I read that letter wondering just how the comments here are going to skew it, because good workplaces just aren’t allowed to exist. OP listed out the benefits like that so that we would know that they are, not because they’re sales-pitch-y. If they didn’t, every comment would be, “you say you have good benefits, and this is actually seen in action when people come back after leaving, but have you ever considered, you don’t have good benefits.” Now, only half the comments are like that.

      1. L-squared*

        I honestly felt it was a bit of a sales pitch too. Its one thing to tout your benefits during the hiring process. Another for someone senior to do it, unprompted, to a bunch of younger employees just so they won’t leave at some later date.

        I assume people have a list of the benefits, so they can decide if those things are good enough for them to stay or not.

        I also think she is assuming the benefits are the reason. Sometimes, especially when you are younger, you want to try out other things. Yeah, the grass may not always be greener, but you at least want to know what you may be missing. Does management in other companies treat employees better? Do people in general get along more? I think it makes total sense not to be a “lifer” at your first professional job

        1. Loulou*

          But it’s not a sales pitch. We have no idea where they work and they’re not trying to recruit us. They are listing them for our benefit because we don’t work for the company and don’t know.

          1. L-squared*

            Sure, but she is also writing in about wanting to to sing the praises of the company to new employees totally unprompted. That is what makes it a sales pitch.

            1. Anon all day*

              I mean…so what if it is a sales pitch? There is an actual pattern of people leaving and then returning (“Many of them wind up returning in short order”), so OP is asking if there’s a way to both benefit the company and the employees are leaving by somehow explaining that they actually have it pretty good at the company. This isn’t her just bragging about the company, nor is it unprompted. OP seems pretty darn reasonable in their question, so I’m sure they’ll take Alison’s valid response to heart (essentially that they can try, but unfortunately it likely won’t convince many people until they actually see the other side). I just don’t get why you think this is so bad beyond a general “no workplace can actually be a good workplace”.

      2. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

        I’m just curious why the good benefits aren’t attracting more folks from other employers. Sure people new to the workforce might grass-is-greener, but if the LW’s workers are going to other orgs and folks at the other orgs aren’t trying hard to get to the LW’s org, there is something else going on. It could be benefits are better but salary is lower, other perks that LW doesn’t have that keeps folks at other employers, etc.. LW might want to gather a group of the returners and work with them to develop an employee retention plan. They may have an idea of what made them want to leave in the first place and might be able to help come up with a plan to get folks to leave other orgs and come to theirs?

      3. Asbestos Underpants*

        You know… you are on to something. I come here to get a very particular perspective on my own workplace. I find the commentariate here to generally be among the more skeptical, cynical, anti-workplace destinations on the web. Whenever I think about introducing a new policy or a change in communications at my office, I come here to see if something similar has been tried elsewhere. That gives me a good sense of how those at the more negative end of the spectrum are likely to react.

        1. Julia*

          That’s surprising to me! Where else do you typically go online? The only other forums I know of that regularly have employment discussions are subreddits like r/antiwork and r/workreform, which are I think pretty objectively way more skeptical/cynical/anti-workplace than this blog and its commentariat.

          1. QuickerBooks*

            Not having been to those subreddits, I take you at your word that that’s true! I guess I was comparing it more to something like an HR industry blog or something like that. I find the tone to be different here. All I know is that quite frequently, I’ve gone through comments here and been surprised by people’s reactions to things that I find either totally normal or in some cases even mildly beneficial. For example, the disproportionate number of people here who are angered and annoyed by parties and gatherings of all kinds… it’s not representative of employees in general, at least not in my experience.

          2. Irish Teacher*

            It’s surprising to me too. I thought this site very pro-workplace. Yeah, people criticise toxic elements, but I don’t see any of the “all bosses are just out to do you down,” “everything is a conspiracy to make workers’ difficult/cheat them out of something” that you see elsewhere.

            I really feel that the more negative people I’ve worked with (not in my current job, thankfully) would be very much called out here. I don’t see much support here for the sort of “any change to work conditions is clearly an unacceptable abuse of power by management and employees should simply refuse to engage with it.” I may be exaggerating slightly, but some people seem to fall only slightly short of that.

        2. Anon all day*

          It really can be. From what I’ve seen, a lot of it is based on a strong position for workers’ rights, which is good. I’ve seen comments here that have made me challenge my own thoughts about what employees “owe” their employer. However, it can also result in comments jumping on anyone seen to be in a position of power at a workplace, whether they’re actually a boss/supervisor or even if they just have seniority. And then it often doesn’t matter how much info that OP provides that demonstrates a reasonable, fair workplace, there will also be a vocal section of the comments convinced that every higher up deserves to be in the running for the bad boss of the year award.

    4. RC Rascal*

      Don’t underestimate a young workers ability to make poor choices in the workplace. I started out in Big CPG and had several coworkers leave quickly for not very substantial reasons, i.e. unhappy boyfriends and because they would rather travel Europe for the summer. While I’m sure these choices were later regretted sometimes people need to learn the hard way.

  10. Waving not Drowning*

    OP3 – we now have a hybrid model in our workplace (before it was uncommon, but now, I work from home 2 days/week, and in the office 3 days). When it was compulsory to work from home, my workplace provided my monitors/chair/headset/mouse/keyboard. However, now that I’m working a hybrid, I take my laptop home the days that I’ll be working from home. I had to purchase the home monitor/headset/keyboards/mouse myself (well, the monitor was a birthday present from my husband, but I had hinted a lot for it!). I could bring mouse/keyboard/headset home each time I work, but it was a PITA to do, and I’d find I’d leave one of them either in the office, or at home, so it made sense for me to do a home set. I can claim part back on my tax.

    We had a lot of staff layoffs (voluntary redundancies in the most part, but also contracts not being renewed) which meant we had an excess of office furniture. We have a recycle site for furniture, but I’d heard that we had an over supply of office chairs, so I asked if I could take one of the excess chairs home for my home setup – it was approved, on the understanding that I bring it back if I leave the workplace – that might be a possibility for your workplace?

    1. Hlao-roo*

      My company has a “we outfit one workstation per person” policy, so on-site workers have company-provided monitor/chair/keyboard/mouse/headset at the office, full-time remote workers have company-provided monitor/chair/keyboard/mouse/headset at home, and hybrid workers can choose to have their company-provided monitor/chair/keyboard/mouse/headset either at the office or at home. Most hybrid workers choose to keep the company-provided equipment at the office and then either work from just the laptop at home, use monitors etc. that they already own at home, or buy more equipment for their home set-up.

      FWIW, a “one set of company-provided equipment per person” seems fair to me, though I do say this as someone who already owned my own monitor, keyboard, and mouse that I use on work-from-home days.

      1. High Score!*

        That’s where hoteling comes in handy. Shared chairs and desks at the office and then everyone gets a home set up.

        1. Person from the Resume*

          Not everyone thinks hotelling is the best. Some people hate not having their own desk and setup to return to. Some people have unique equipment needs.

          Plus someone has to control “room reservations” or some people can show up one day and there’s no more desks available that day. Middle of the week days are usually most popular to go into the office if you have too. Given two days work from home a week nearly everyone will pick Friday and the majority will pick Friday and Monday for WFH.

        2. Observer*

          Hoteling is a system with a lot of down sides. Even more structured desk sharing where people always use the same desk can be problematic, but although it takes more scheduling it does tend to work better.

          The more standardized desk set ups are, the more likely this is to work. But even then, it’s not always so simple. There are a lot of reasons why people may need to be in the same place whenever they come in. There are a lot of reasons why it may be a bad idea for people to be in one part of the office vs another. etc.

          I’m not saying it never works and is never appropriate. But it’s important to really understand the limitations of either approach – ESPECIALLY of hotelling before jumping in and making a huge commitment.

          1. High Score!*

            This was all brought up when we moved from cube ville to hoteling. So many people wanted hybrid that it didn’t makes sense to pay for all the real estate for everyone.
            So, or hoteling office is a third the size. There are lab areas assigned by projects with only active projects having lab space. There is a large area for those who prefer am open office, a more closed off quiet room where desks are more private and phones must be muted, and our cafe area has power at all the tables for those who like to work in a cafe type environment.
            Our company took the time to understand everyone’s needs and even those who originally resisted love it now.

      2. MistOrMister*

        My company was apparently considering allowing us to start working remotely 1 day a week some time in 2020. I guess they had been purchasing more equipment with this idea that people would have a set for home and a set for the office. Although we were only going to be allowed to keep one monitor at home (almost everyone in the office has two because of the nature of our work). I suppose we lucked out. I had assumed that most places that have a remote policy would provide equipment for both in office and at home. I was actually miffed that they were only going to give us one monitor at home and planned to cart my extra monitor back and forth on my remote days!! When they originally sent us home for COVID they told us we could only take 1 monitor. Many people took 2 and no one said anything, especially as the pandemic dragged on. Now that people are back in the office or fully remote if they do choose, we have both home and office set ups, all company provided. At the very least our computer part has to be provided to us since we use a specific terminal, so people would need to buy their own monitors, keyboard and mice. I am glad they just give it all to us and save the hassle of me having to figure out what monitors work with their terminals.

      3. Observer*

        FWIW, a “one set of company-provided equipment per person” seems fair to me,

        It’s fair if, and ONLY if, the hybrid work is voluntary. If the company is requiring people to do the hybrid ting for whatever reasons, they don’t get to push that expense on to the user.

        1. Hlao-roo*

          Ah, good point! Yes, part of the reason this seems fair to me is that there is a 2 day per week minimum requirement to be in the office for hybrid workers, and no maximum. So an employee classified as “hybrid” can choose to be in the office every day and not have to buy any equipment for their home.

          “One set of company-provided equipment per person” would definitely rankle if I had to work both at the office and at home.

    2. High Score!*

      Wow. The organization I work for supplied everyone with a WFH office set up that we choose from a catalog they put together, they even hiredv people to set them up for us if we wanted with the stipulation that if we left the company within a year then we’d have to return it otherwise it is ours to keep. Now everyone is hybrid, deciding for themselves when to come in. Profits are at an all time high.

    3. Person from the Resume*

      I agree. LW3 seems unhappy to return to the office and a bit unreasonable about it. My experience is my organization provides us all a laptop and a docking station and monitor, keyboard, mouse. If you work hybrid you pick where you leave the generally imovable stuff and just carry the laptop back and forth.

      This business wants the employees to work from the office. It makes sense that they only supply the equipment once. If someone wants against the businesses wishes to be work from home, they’ll allow it without taking a cost it to supply two offices for employees. Because the business preference is that everyone comes in everyday.

      One funny thing is that we got headset and mics for the office only. They dumbly IMO (but it was GSA standard) designed a low-cubical wall open office plan for people who spend all day in teleconferences, and they realized we needed headsets to avoid disturbing others, but they didn’t let us bring those pricey headsets home.

      Most people buy their own headset or mic, but I live alone and make do without a headset or mic. I have bought my own monitor and wireless mouse. I don’t go into place that supplies my IT equipment than once every several years; although, it’s very nearby. I shared my personal extra monitor and wireless mouse (they gave me a wired one years ago) with work. And now I no longer share the monitor because I barely use my personal laptop anymore and certainly don’t need two monitors on it.

    4. Daisy-dog*

      My office is the same – we get 1 workspace. If you come to the office at all, then the company-provided equipment is there. We do have a handful of fully remote positions who use the company equipment at home.

      I was able to find my monitors at a used office supply store. They were $40 each and are really nice. They also had chairs, desks, bookcases, etc.

      Logistically #3 situation is difficult, but certainly understandable.

  11. TechWorker*

    #5 doesn’t seem that unreasonable to me – the stuff lent out to take home was presumably never intended to be used at home forever, it’s still company property. How did people get chairs and monitors home in the first place?

    1. Staja*

      I agree – I’ve had the option to WFH since before the pandemic (invaluable in bad weather!) and my company provided a laptop and headset only, versus my full docked setup in the office with double monitors. We were not allowed to take our beloved Herman Millers. I think the company was concerned they would never come back.

      My company did announce in the past few that for anyone permanently moving to a WFH situation could get manager approval for a WFH kit, which includes a monitor, keyboard, and mouse. But, they still issue only one set of peripherals to a person. I’m hybrid, so I’m in the office one to however many time I want to into the office, so my dock and monitors live at the office. I don’t have company issued monitors or a chair at my house.

      As far as who has the responsibility to bring the lended equipment back to the office? I know if someone terms, the company will generally want the laptop back and if it needs to be shipped, should be at the expense of the company. If the employee terms, the company may not require any additional wfh gear to be returned. But, if it’s a current employee who wrangled their chair into an Uber to get it home, I think the employee should do whatever they need to do to get it back.

    2. Person from the Resume*

      That’s my question. If the company transported, it’s their responsiblity to get it back. If the individuals transported home somehow, it’s their responsibility to get it back.

      The LW doesn’t make that clear. Surely these employees’ transportation options haven’t changed that much. If they relocated with company loaned equipment, they knew they still need to return it at some point. (If it’s too far to drive, it seems like theat employee will also have trouble with coming into the office 3 days a week anyway.)

      If the company shipped monitors and chairs (!!!) well the company should be willing to ship back, but there’s definately logistics issues. Pickup at one location versus many. Random employees boxing up monitors (not too hard) and chairs (hard) for shipping versus those trained to do so with access to large boxes.

      1. Antilles*

        (If it’s too far to drive, it seems like that employee will also have trouble with coming into the office 3 days a week anyway.)
        Not necessarily. If you live in an urban environment, it can be very easy to come in to the office by riding the bus or taking the train or biking…but none of those options would allow you to bring along a full size office chair.

        1. Person from the Resume*

          But if you can take public transportation to get there, it’s not too far to drive for one day to bring things that were loaned to you back to the office. It’s just not the most convenient way to get there especially on a daily basis.

          I was referencing the alot of my team “has relocated since the onset of the pandemic.” If they relocated so far that they can’t bring equipment back then how are they going to make it to the office two days a week as being required.

          1. KRM*

            I mean…you can relocate so that your public transit commute is now 45′ with a train and bus instead of just a bus for 10′. And you may not mind this commute 2x a week. But it does make it much harder to drag office equipment back on your now longer/2 forms of transit commute.
            And you may not even have a car! I didn’t have a car for years and took public transit everywhere, including when my commute became longer. And if I then had to wrangle an office chair down my steep hill and onto the bus, then onto the second bus…no thanks. I agree that the company isn’t being unreasonable in asking for equipment back, but they have to make arrangements for people who can’t just throw something in a car and drive it back.

          2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

            What some of us are trying to say is it can be perfectly possible to commute the way we always commuted – via public transit – but that it’s very hard to use public transit for things like commuting back in with all your peripheral equipment. I am guessing that some sort of arrangement was made to get the equipment to people’s homes, so if company wants everything back they just need to set up the reverse, as that is a business expense.

          3. Jackalope*

            A lot of people who live in areas with quality public transportation don’t even own a vehicle. It’s not that it’s less convenient, it’s that it’s completely not an option.

            1. Person from the Resume*

              See my intial post all of you: “If the company transported, it’s their responsiblity to get it back. If the individuals transported home somehow, it’s their responsibility to get it back.”

              If a person uses public transport and/or doesn’t have a car, how did they get the equipment home in the first place? The employee should use a similar method to get the equipment back.

              And once again in case you still haven’t read everything I’m saying: if the company transported or shipped or delivered the equipment to the employee’s home, it’s the company’s responsbility to get the equipment back to the office

              Seriously you people are claiming I’m unreasonable and don’t understand that some people don’t have cars / prefer public transport when I already added some caveats to my intial post allowing for that. But if an employee transported equipment home in the first place, they should accept the responsibility for getting it back. There are rental cars, ubers/lyfts/taxis, friends with cars, and shipping companies that are options.

              1. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

                Here’s one thing I haven’t seen mentioned about getting that equipment & furniture home from the office in the first place: in my metro area, it was a bloody ghost town in late March and April 2020, and I think that was true in lots of places. Yes, lots of people were deemed “essential” and still had to go to their workplaces, but the roads were relatively empty and you could even drive and park in usually-crowded downtown areas where a lot of office jobs are located. So that’s one factor of it being a lot easier to get things FROM the office 2 years ago than it will be to get things TO the office today.

      2. Elenna*

        The letter specifically says that many of the employees take public transit, so they don’t have any trouble coming into the office but bringing monitors and chairs would be very difficult.

    3. anonymous73*

      This. I’ve worked from home since Feb 2020 with 2 different companies. I was sent a laptop and a monitor. I set up my own office (desk, chair, mouse, etc.). If they’re using laptops (does anyone use desktops anymore??) they’re easy enough to carry back and forth. If employees need a monitor, then yes the company should provide one, but anything in addition to that is a bonus. WFH is a benefit to an employee. A company shouldn’t have to provide a full office setup. It was different at the start of the pandemic because everyone had to make changes quickly and adjust.

      1. Observer*

        does anyone use desktops anymore??

        Not only do we still use desktops, since the pandemic we’ve been putting more of them into people’s homes – prices on all equipment has gone up, but desktop replacement quality laptops have gone through the roof.

  12. Blue Moon*

    OP 2- Even if the benefits at your company are objectively great compared to other companies, that doesn’t mean they’re great for the individual circumstances of every employee. Having my health insurance premiums 100% paid for sounds good on paper, but if I’m too burned out by my job to enjoy my off time then it means very little to me. I’d rather pay a portion of my insurance premiums and have the time and energy to play with my children when I get home.

    1. Raboot*

      Yeah, OP mentions all these benefits as something that somehow combats burnout, but they don’t seem to have anything to do with stress or workload or anything like that? Retention, sure, but health insurance and bonuses don’t do jack for burnout. The only one related to burn out is the full time mental health on site which actually sounds extremely concerning to me, more of a warning than a perk.

      1. GythaOgden*

        I suspect other companies in the same field have the same situation as regards working. Some jobs — hospital admin like a job I’m interviewing for, accountancy in tax season, tech distribution or software development at crunch — may just be that way and so OP’s firm makes up the difference in benefits. The employees sound like they know what they’re in for when they chose to go into the field and are coming back to OP’s company, so I suspect it’s not work-life balance that’s a problem for this kind of work.

      2. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

        Yeah I noticed that and parsed the benefits as:

        Free mental health intervention when sooner or later money doesn’t solve the problems of burnout and overwork

        1. Anon all day*

          I think it’s a bit disingenuous to not recognize that, for many people, “money, money, money, money, money” is a benefit that outweighs high stress environments. As said below, burnout and high stress is just a thing in some fields, and if employees generally want to stay in that field, it’s reasonable for OP to ask how they can explain to newer employers that their company is one of the better ones in that field.

          1. GythaOgden*

            Yup. Marketing and PR are two other white-collar environments where you’re pretty much always on. I wouldn’t go into them, but they’re jobs which require those levels of service.

    2. MK*

      That’s great if you have this choice, butin some fields long hours are the norm whether they offer extra benefits or not. I read the OP’s letter as their employer offering the benefits as a counter to the long hours while others in their field aren’t doing that. And if the hours were more reasonable in other companies, would so many people come back?

      1. High Score!*

        Maybe it’s time to research ways to reduce the hours: can they use technology to do some of the simple tasks or assist staff? Can they hire more people? Can you give people long vacations so they have time to refresh?
        Shockingly, people don’t enjoy spending all of their life force at their jobs. Maybe if you manage to improve the working conditions or reduce the hours, you’ll draw more people into the field this lessening the burden on everyone.

        1. KRM*

          This. If I’m going to be burned out in 5 years at a high stress job, it doesn’t matter how good the benefits are. If my benefits are slightly less good and I can actually enjoy vacation time, take off a random Friday, and not work till 8PM trying to get it all done…that is preferential to me. But not a lot of people thrive on a high stress high burnout workload!

      2. doreen*

        The OP described the field as “high-stress, high-burnout” – but I didn’t see long hours mentioned. Some jobs are inherently high-stress, high-burnout – I worked in child protective services for a few years and that would have been high-stress. high-burnout even in a 35 hour a week position ( which did exist in my agency).

    3. Gothic Bee*

      Plus if these people are under 26, they may still be on their parents’ health insurance. And high-stress, high-burnout sounds like a field where turnover is probably already higher than average. New people to the field aren’t used to it and may have to try other places before they decide (1) that this is the norm for the field and (2) that they want to stay in the field.

  13. ceiswyn*

    Hey, everyone who thinks that candidates sending calendar links is weird and presumptuous – see #4? That’s why.

    1. Hiring Mgr*

      Do you mean like Calendly or similar? Why would people think they’re weird – those are extremely common..

      1. Persephone Mulberry*

        Previous letters and the ensuing commentary have made it clear that there is a strong divide between people who love calendar links and people who loathe them, and never will the two groups see eye to eye. :)

        1. Hiring Mgr*

          That’s interesting….i’ll have to dig in to the archives but right now I can’t think of a downside

        2. Julia*

          *Candidates* sending calendar links is a little odd. The employer doing it makes more sense, IMO. They’re trying to play calendar Tetris with a bunch of candidates whose availability info is trickling in at different times, whereas the candidate has only her own schedule to worry about.

          1. KRM*

            No, I think a candidate sending them makes plenty of sense! If someone says “when are you free for an hour phone screen?”, I can send my calendar and the employer can match them up and put a hold on my calendar. Whoever sends the calendar first doesn’t matter! It should then make it easy on everyone. This is because if the employer says “when can you do a phone screen” and I email back and say “I’m free X and Y and X in the next 3 days” but none of those work because someone already took X and Y, now we’re playing e-mail time tag, which is bad for everyone. If I just send my calendar, the employer can see that I’m free in 5 days and given their hiring timeline that’s totally fine, so they just pick it and schedule, done.

    2. Voluptuousfire*

      I schedule candidate interviews for a living and I love when candidates send me Calendly links. It makes my job easier.

      1. moonstone*

        Eh what? If you’re the one inviting people for an interview you should be doing the admin work behind that.

    3. Saraaaaah*

      The issue in that question wasn’t the calendar scheduling/ availability software…. It was that he was just sending calendar invites without asking for availability or ignoring availability. Sounds like OP didn’t ever actually use a scheduling link– probably would have solved some of the issues here actually.

      1. Observer*

        That’s the point. If the calendar link had worked, the whole comedy of errors would have been avoided.

  14. Esa*

    #1 this just happened to me today but it was a coughing fit! I couldn’t even step out quietly – it sounded like I was about to die, but people honestly get it and no one blinks an eye when it happens because it happens to us all!

    1. LK*

      Have to agree! I once had a coughing fit at a funeral, and the only thing to do was step out till I had it under control.

      1. Anonym*

        Also, OP1, there is no such thing as a meeting you can’t leave!! Please know and remember this! Even if it’s important, even if you’re leading it, it’s okay to step out and very preferable to do so when the alternative is being very uncomfortable (which makes everyone else uncomfortable). Even just raising a finger to indicate “just a moment” and walking out is okay.

        You can leave!

    2. Cat Tree*

      Since LW1 is an intern, I wonder if their question is partly due to recently being in school. In most high schools and even a few colleges, students need explicit permission from the teacher to leave the room. For many people it’s an adjustment to be at work where you’re treated like an adult and can just step away from a meeting if necessary, without anyone’s permission. It was definitely weird for me at first, and I’ve seen some colleagues have a tougher time adjusting. It can feel weird to do even when you know you can.

      I’m glad LW1 asked the question and hope it’s helpful to others who are probably wondering the same thing.

      1. EPLawyer*

        I think #1 handled the situation as it arose exactly how it should be handled. Great job. How she handled it this tmie is how she should handle it going forward. her innate sense of handling something that is unavoidable is right on.

        1. Cat Tree*

          I agree. They handled it correctly but then seemed not 100% sure afterward and wanted confirmation that it was correct.

      2. MsClaw*

        I was going to say that exact thing. I absolutely had to adjust to the idea that I could just… go.

      3. Retired (but not really)*

        As a fresh out of college office worker, I thought I could only go to the restroom at break time or lunchtime. Sometime in my second week I asked the team leader if I could go to the restroom midway between break and lunch. She looked at me like I was crazy and asked me where I thought others going in and out at various times were going. I naively said something along the lines of figuring they needed to take something to another office or something. She assured me it was ok to go whenever I needed to. Newbies really don’t know these things!

  15. Posilutely*

    LW1, you have my every sympathy as this happened to me a few weeks ago but not in a meeting – I was part of a team resuscitating a patient! I was mortified but there was absolutely no way I could step away as we each had our own crucial role; unfortunately with healthcare staffing the way it is there were no extra colleagues who could take over. I apologised to my colleagues afterwards (there were no relatives present and the patient was unaware of their surroundings) but in the moment just had to ignore my awful hiccups and carry on. (I’m happy to report the resuscitation was successful.)

    1. Chilipepper Attitude*

      Why would anyone care that you were hiccuping while resuscitating a patient? Is there a medical reason that is a problem?

        1. Lysine*

          I mean, it would be distracting or hard to follow if someone was giving a presentation solo and they suddenly had very bad hiccups. It’s not like, a capital offense, but I might be think “it’s ok to pause for a few minutes, have a glass of water rather than power through hiccups and talking at the same time.”

      1. Nightengale*

        When I get hiccups my body tends to jerk and I don’t speak as fluently, neither of which are ideal for a resuscitation situation and could be distracting for others on the team. But yes that is one of few situations you can’t step away from. I have very rarely excused myself from less emergency patient care situations for bathroom or blood sugar issues

      2. AnonRN*

        There’s not a good way to describe it if you haven’t done it, but resuscitations tend to be high-focus, high-adrenaline events. They can either leave everyone a little punchy and/or lead to high tempers. In the former, the normal amount of nervous laughter might cascade if someone had uncontrollable hiccups. In the latter, someone trying to hiccup as subtly as possible while the providers and the respiratory therapist argue about ventilator settings is just going to be awkward. (I know no one wants to think about there being anything funny about saving someone’s life, but the high-adrenaline punchiness is a real thing.)

      3. ArtK*

        If Posilutely was resuscitating a patient and “there were no extra colleagues who could take over,” it means that the patient could have *DIED* if Posilutely stepped away. I think the patient and their family might care in that situation.

        1. Anon all day*

          I think Chilipepper essentially meant what you just said, that because of the dire circumstances of what Posilutely was doing, Posilutely hiccuping wouldn’t even be noticed by anyone, so there was no reason to worry what anyone thought.

      4. Posilutely*

        It wasn’t that I thought anyone would care, or that there’s a medical reason for it to matter. It’s that when I get very bad hiccups they’re really loud and squeaky and I sound like a demented guinea pig. It’s comical and a life and death situation is not one where you want to introduce comedy or seem to be taking the situation lightly. It’s also difficult to speak clearly if you hiccup in the middle of words and communication is critical.

  16. Peachtree*

    LW4 – Is there a non-movable reason that you can’t do the times suggested? At present you’re unable to make two interview dates/times that he’s suggested. Hiring is a bit of give-and-take – if you are given another time, I would ideally be pushing almost everything else out of my schedule to make it. Not because you’re not in the right – yes it’s frustrating that he ignored your Friday unavailability – but for the optics.

    1. Purple Cat*

      Hard disagree. Yes, a job searcher needs to have some flexibility, but pushing back when the person schedules during the time they specifically said they were NOT available, will not reflect poorly on the candidate. And if it does, well then that speaks to a rigidness and lack of flexibility on the organization’s part, which isn’t a good look.

      1. KRM*

        And it can be matter of fact, like “oh I’m sorry, X and Y times are the times I’m NOT available, so we’ll have to reschedule that”, because we’ve all done the “read that person isn’t free from 11-1 and then say oh perfect I can schedule it for 11:30”. Sometimes your brain just glitches.
        OP I’d say just write back, say you’re not free that time, and say specifically when you ARE free. As some pointed out above, that can help people’s brains interpret correctly, especially if they’re juggling scheduling for multiple candidates. I also wouldn’t read too much into Maria’s meetings being cancelled in the first place–sometimes higher ups are free, and then they have to go to an investor meeting last minute, or talk to a candidate for VP that is coming on site, or many other things that get put on their schedule that take precedent over a candidate interview.

  17. Napkin Thief*

    Op#2, I think the challenge is those benefits are very difficult to grasp without life experience (and a fully developed prefrontal cortex)!

    They don’t have a frame of reference for how insurance premiums impact their take home pay, (they may even be tempted to forego insurance if up to this point they’ve been healthy – in our mid 20s the only reason my husband got on his job’s health insurance is because I insisted!), retirement AND work anniversaries seem very far away, and if you haven’t seen how work could bring you to the edge of a breakdown without support it can be easy to underestimate the value of having that support provided.

    You would have to find a way to paint the picture in a way that will seem relevant and accessible for them.

    Probably the best folks to speak to this are those who have left and come back. What was attractive about the jobs they left for that they realized was not worth the switch? What was the real life impact of losing those benefits? What is the value (in tangible, bite-size terms) to a young, healthy, energetic employee with plenty of time between now and retirement to stick it out here?

    Potential examples: Salary seemed better at new job, but after they took premiums out it was actually less, so your pay goes way further here. Retirement may seem far away, but you don’t want to be in your 40s playing catch up – the matching here is basically free money! May help to show them the estimated figure they’ll need, factoring in inflation, to retire comfortably at 65 – that’s what kicked my butt into gear and got me finally contributing to my 401K.

      1. NoviceManagerGuy*

        Agreed, 22 year olds are not little children. (Many have children themselves!)

      2. Nanani*


        Also like, great retirement benefits mean little if you’re underpaid right now and cant put anything in that retirement fund, just to pick one example.

        1. ThatGirl*

          At my first job out of college I remember being told how great it was that I had a 401K available to me, because the earlier you start the better blah blah blah.

          Which is true, but … I made $20k a year at that job. It was only through the grace of god and not having student loan debt that I was able to save anything at all for basic things like car repairs, forget retirement!

      3. Julia*

        I’m not sure I see what specifically is pinging your condescension radar – to me it just seems reasonable to say younger people lack the experience to evaluate benefits. Maybe the prefrontal cortex thing is a bit condescending, but it’s also true…

        1. NoviceManagerGuy*

          It’s true that the brain continues developing through one’s early 20s, but that doesn’t mean that people in their early 20s don’t have the capacity to make adult decisions.

          1. MsClaw*

            They are making adult decisions, they may just not be making the optimal ones. Or they may be focusing on the next 6 months instead of looking at a 30 year horizon.

            I was a relatively together, mature, considerate 22yo when I entered the workforce — but I still made a few decisions that 45yo me looks back at and shakes her head.

            I’ve worked with a lot of interns and people fresh out of school and a lot of them make great decisions. Some of them also *have* to make decisions that bow to reality (like not putting much money away for retirement at first because they have to pay down student loans). On the other hand, I had a guy who didn’t sign up for one of the company health plans when he started because he was *sure* he could get a better deal on the open market. With serious pre-existing conditions. Pre-Obamacare. By the time he actually did the research and found out that it was going to cost him $2000 more per month than the company plan, he’d missed his window to enroll. This was an otherwise brilliant guy, great at the job, absolute ace. But he just rolled his eyes at all us ‘olds’ begging him to sign up for the health plan before his time ran out.

            So I can totally image that OP might work somewhere that sees people leave for $5k more in salary and THEN realize that they now have to pay $450/mo for their health insurance.

          2. Eyes Kiwami*

            Older people continue to use “tHe BrAiN iS sTiLl DeVeLoPiNg” as reasons to treat people under 25 as if they’re babies or mentally handicapped or too stupid to make decisions for themselves. If you had a time machine and spoke to those same people at 21 they would rightfully be offended. As you say, many people in their early 20s are perfectly capable of making adult decisions and simply may not have the priorities of older people.

        2. Fluffy Fish*

          Its the assumption that without experience young people are just to dumb to figure out if a benefits package is good (for them) or not so good.

          Anyone of any age may be perfectly capable of reading the material on benefits and making the best choice for them. Or they may not.

          I assure you when I started my first grownup job at 20 I was perfectly capable of understanding the benefits. And I’ve stayed at the same employer albeit in different roles. Twenty years later my evaluation of the benefits has not changed.

          1. Not This Again*

            I see letters on this site all the time about helping those new to the workplace learn the norms, and giving them the benefit of a doubt when they make poor decisions. Why is the assumption on this thread so different? Now, 22 year olds are perfectly capable of seeing the long term benefit of low-cost insurance and matching 401k contributions.

            I was 22 once in my first professional job after college graduation. I switched companies many times and never considered the benefits except did they have heath insurance. When I ultimately landed in Federal service, I was shocked to learn that the health insurance was so expensive! I made a ton of mistakes in my early career years, didn’t have professional parents to guide me. So OP is not at all being condescending to point out the value of benefits, which can be as much as 40% of payroll.

  18. LW 5*

    I’m the OP for letter 5. I’m still really disappointed as in the 3 days since I submitted this letter, my current job has deteriorated even more. I really have to get out. This was also one of the only good prospects I’ve had in months. So it was pretty upsetting not to get any info about why I was rejected. But some further details:

    -The open-ended questions I answered on the application also appeared on the original application for the management-level job (after reviewing that, they immediately suggested I apply for the 2nd position, describing me as an “ideal candidate.) They forgot to even change the job title in the 2nd application, so they were EXACTLY the same. My responses were similar, though not exactly the same, given that it was a slightly different position, and I didn’t have a way to save the original answers. But there wasn’t any new information about me in the 2nd application that they didn’t already have. That was the main reason I feel so jerked around.

    -It’s a pretty small organization, about 30 employees, and given that I got a personal response from the hiring manager with my first application, I don’t think this is an ATS thing. It’s an organization that likes to hire people with personal experience in the adversity their clients face, and while I have tons of professional experience in the field, I don’t have that personal experience.

    -I did end up responding to the hiring manager and asked politely for any feedback she can offer, but I’m not hopeful I’ll hear back.

    Thanks for answering my question, Alison!

    1. ecnaseener*

      I’m sorry this happened to you! Unfortunately I think you just have to chalk it up to careless wording on the hiring manager’s part, saying “ideal” when what they really meant was “at the right stage in your career and generally qualified.”
      Crossing my fingers and toes for you to find something else soon.

    2. Persephone Mulberry*

      Hindsight is 20/20 and all that, but (and perhaps you did) I might have spoken up when I got the “new” application materials that were a duplicate of the ones from the first position, and made sure it was actually what you were meant to receive. I could see a busy hiring manager/HR person seeing your name and the job title and going “no, this one is already in the ‘no’ pile” and overlooking that it’s supposed to be in consideration for Job B not Job A.

      Regardless, I hope the hiring manager does get back to you with some feedback!

      1. LW 5*

        I did double check with them, but as it was an application posted on their website, it was pretty clearly what they were referring to. At this point, I feel like I did everything I could have reasonably done, and it just didn’t work out. It’s particularly upsetting because I’m the primary earner and extremely underpaid (like, degrees and certifications and 7 years of experience and only making 45k a year underpaid) and this job would have almost doubled my income and changed our lives. It just really sucks to lose that, you know?

        1. KRM*

          It is frustrating! But OP, remember, you don’t know what their candidate pool was like. They could have seen you as a great fit, and then in the 25 others who applied, there were 3 people who were a better fit! Or had more experience in X than you did. Or two have Y experience that they didn’t think about that much but having seen that, wow, wouldn’t that be AMAZING in this job??
          So yes it’s very frustrating. Nobody likes losing out on a job, esp one that will be so life changing for you. But you only know bits and pieces, so just chalk it up to “you never know” and keep looking, because you sound like a catch!

    3. anonymous73*

      You’re making the assumption that the hiring manager is the only one looking at your application and making decisions. I know it sucks, but you need to take emotions out of job searching (and I know, easier said then done specially when you’re miserable in your current role). The hiring manager rejected your first application because you didn’t have the right experience. There was no indication that anyone else had reviewed it. Maybe the hiring manager sent your second application to others and they didn’t agree that you were the right candidate. Or a myriad of other things could have happened.

    4. Hen in a Windstorm*

      Have you looked into Technical Writing? I’m in a group on LinkedIn that has a lot of former teachers. It’s called Technical Writer Forum. Over 40k members.

      1. LW 5*

        Thank you for the suggestion. I’m not recently out of the classroom and looking for a new field, though. I left the classroom several years ago, and have spent the last 5 or so years becoming very good at what I do now, something that transfers pretty easily from my higher ed staff position into the private sector. I’m not sure I have the time or energy at this point to pursue yet another career! I already work 2 jobs in order to make ends meet. Maybe other teaching professionals will find this helpful, though. Thanks for sharing!

    5. River Otter*

      It is especially annoying when you get rejected from a position that you were invited to apply to, much more so than when you get rejected from a position that you applied to of your own initiative, but they are not doing anything wrong by rejecting your application. An invitation to apply to a position is like being asked on a date. It doesn’t go any further than the application (or the first date). There is no implied commitment to going further in the process/going on a second date.

      “I didn’t have a way to save the original answers”

      Yes you did. You could have saved them in a text file or Google document. Lesson for the future: always keep copies of your answers to essay questions (and your cover letters and everything you submit as part of an application). You never know when you might want to crib from them.

      1. LW 5*

        Are you suggesting that if I had saved my answers (that were not significantly different from my second go round) and used those, I suddenly would have made it to an interview? Because no, that’s not what happened here, and I think you know that. That sort of comment really isn’t helpful, and it’s coming across as really condescending here. Hindsight is 20/20, and yeah, I wish I had taken the time to do that, but these application questions were very specific, situational questions for a position that is really niche. Even now, I don’t imagine that I will use those responses in an application at any point in the near future.

        To clarify: At no point did I think I was entitled to an interview just because I was invited to apply. I’m a professional adult and can handle not getting a job. I do think I deserved more than a form-letter rejection, given that they solicited my application. That’s what I was frustrated by, and what Alison spoke to in her response.

  19. Irish Teacher*

    #2. I think you will find it easier to do this if you are more in a peer role than a management or trainer one. To be honest, if a manager puts too much emphasis on how great the benefits are, I always wonder why they are so anxious to keep me, so to speak. It comes across like a bit of a sales pitch and that always makes me wonder does this company find it difficult to find or retain staff and if that is the case, then why?

    Reading your letter, it seems that in your case, people are genuinely underestimating how good your company is in comparison to others, but people who don’t know that aren’t necessarily going to realise it because they are told it by somebody who works for the company, especially if that person is in a position of authority and possibly has a vested interested in keeping them – not having to train new people.

    If you are more of a peer or have seniority but aren’t a boss or on a par with their boss, then I think you could well speak of this to them, focussing more on yourself. “It’s great how we have x benefit here. My previous employers didn’t offer that at all and while you don’t always realise when you start your career how necessary it is, I’m really grateful for it now.”

  20. Michelle Smith*

    #5 I went through 3 rounds of interviews with an organization and was told that I would be moving on to a final round interview to be scheduled in 2 weeks. Instead, a week later I received an automated rejection email and a very gentle and not at all confrontational email to the person I’d been dealing with went unanswered. I’m telling you this for two reasons.
    (1) People suck sometimes. They get things wrong or they tell you one thing and do another. It’s not uncommon and it doesn’t mean there’s anything at all wrong with you.
    (2) At least they only jerked you around for a week and not months on end! Better to know as early in the process as possible that this is not the place you want to work.

  21. Anon scientist*

    #2 – if you’re in the US and in an office job, there’s a good chance that your under 26 year old employees are in their parents’ health insurance, which may be free to them. So why would they care about your health insurance?

    But if your benefits are so great and everything else is at industry standard such that you have so many boomerang employees, why not leverage your network to treat your departing employees well, keep in touch, and give your current employees a referral bonus? Boomerang employees shouldn’t need much retraining and you already know if you want them back, so that would be a great problem to have. Err, you are paying your slightly above entry level employees a decent salary, right?

  22. Shiba Dad*

    OP2 – You apparently have info that your benefits are much better than your competitors. Could you compile a comparison so it can be presented to candidates during the hiring process? That may plant that seed and aid retention.

    Also, in your post you do not mention raises. Are bonuses in lieu of raises or are your raises in line with your competitors? I’m assuming that they are not significantly better or you would have mentioned that.

    1. Abigail*

      I would not suggest the comparison charts of benefits offered by other companies.

      If I was interviewing, I wouldn’t like that at all.

        1. Abigail*

          First, I think it would be difficult to get a full benefits package from other agencies or organizations to even accurately compare. I mean, what are you going to do? Call them up and say “hey, send me your complete benefits package” and they will say “oh yes, right away, seems normal.”

          Second, it would feel like a sales pitch normally reserved for paper towels.

          I would rather an employer tell me, straight forward, what they can offer. And that’s it.

      1. anonymous73*

        I wouldn’t like it either. I would feel like it’s a sleazy sales pitch TBH, and be highly skeptical of anything I was being told about the position and the company.

        1. Clisby*

          I wouldn’t necessarily be skeptical of anything I was told about the company I was interviewing with, but I’d be entirely skeptical about whether they were giving me good information about what other companies offered. It seems like a strange tactic, to me.

    2. Wilbur*

      I wonder if they spell out exactly how much the health insurance costs. That might help a bit.

      Also, 401k matching unheard of in your field? To think we went from pensions to “You’re lucky if we decide to contribute to a 401k.”

      1. Clisby*

        Yeah, I’m in the US and would have thought 401K matching was very common, and 100% employer-paid health insurance fairly uncommon, especially if the employer is paying 100% of a family policy.

        1. Overeducated*

          I Googled this and found: “According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the typical or average 401K match nets out to 3.5%. Their National Compensation Survey found that of the 56% of employers who offer a 401K plan (a sad statistic in itself): 49% of employers with 401K plans match 0%”

          Also, my limited experience is that it’s very uncommon for employers to pay 100% of employee health insurance, especially for a family plan, but I couldn’t find a stat on that quickly.

          1. Clisby*

            I suspect it’s very uncommon, too. My husband’s employer pays 100% of the health care premium for our family, but that has definitely not been my experience generally.

    3. Springtime*

      I worked at one company that really emphasized benefits, and they outsourced the management of them to an outside consultant. I don’t know whether or not it was the standard practice for that firm, but every year we had a meeting where the consultants came and outlined what the benefits would be for the coming year. The purpose of the meeting was to give everyone a chance to ask questions about the various health insurance plans, etc., but it did also remind everyone of all the benefits and provide some limited comparisons. For example, when the consultants said, “This is a great benefit; of all our clients, only this company offers it,” it was persuasive, even though most of us probably realized that we didn’t actually know how many clients the consultants had, whether the other clients all sucked, or other necessary information to evaluate the claim. We’d have a staff lunch afterward, and there were usually a few informal conversations among staff that provided more information-sharing, like “I wish we’d had x benefit 20 years ago when it would have helped me, but I’m glad that we at least have it for others now.”

      Obviously, it helped that consultants could just come and do this, but it’s something that could also be instituted in-house.

      1. linger*

        The ideal time would be when onboarding new hires, in which case the framing could be “we have [benefit]; here’s what it applies to, here’s how to access it, some of you may think this is obvious, but we find we have to explain it because it doesn’t work so well at many of our competitors”.

  23. L-squared*

    #2. I understand your point. But I also think there is something that seems a bit fishy about someone who has been there a long time or possibly in management (I can’t tell your role) having a whole conversation with younger people basically saying “You don’t know how good you have it here”. Even if thats true, it comes off kind of manipulative in a way. Especially since you seem to have a selfish reason for doing it, since you don’t want to expand effort hiring and training new people, just making them stay. Also, benefits are great, but the best benefits don’t mean people want to stay there. Also, you have to look at the ages of people. Certain things just aren’t as big a deal to a 22 year old as they are to a 40 year old. If someone asks your advice, by all means give it to them. But I don’t know that I’d proactively bring it up.

    #3. Not getting much sympathy from me here. Not that I’m a person who sides with management. But its also weird that you’d expect your company to pay for 2 office setups for people. If they want to work from home more often, they can pay for it. Otherwise they can come in. And for people who CHOSE to move further away, that is on them. I agree with Alison about being able to ship things back, but I also have to ask how they were able to get that stuff home in the first place. If they figured out how to get it home, I feel like they can figure out how to get it back.

  24. Yellow*

    LW2 I can’t help but read your letter as – our company knows that we destroy the health & personal lives of our employees why can’t they understand how great it is that we do all this stuff to mitigate how bad the injuries we inflict on them are.

    There are some industries where high turnover because of/to prevent burnout are not that avoidable (eg lawyers dealing with rapists). But many times that burnout is a workplace injury that is avoidable.

    Maybe your staff leave a lot because they need time genuinely away to recover? I don’t know why they come back, maybe it’s because what your company does is worth it, maybe the high income is worth it for what it buys them despite the problems in the company.

    Honestly, before you focus too much on teaching the young ones why your benefits are objectively good – you need to understand why your company is objectively bad. If your staff are repeatedly harmed by your practices that is objectively bad.

    Instead of worrying about how you can sell your benefits package to drop the turnover, focus on what your company can do to stop the widespread burnout so people don’t need to leave to protect themselves! If your work is inherently high risk, and you’re already doing what can be done – just accept that people need to come and go to stay healthy. This is a cost of a high risk industry.

  25. Persephone Mulberry*

    FWIW, if I as a parent of a young adult learned that my offspring’s new job paid 100% of their premiums, I would be sitting down with my kid and giving them a crash course in how to compare health plans (e.g. the coverage they get on my plan vs the coverage they would get on their employer’s plan), and kicking them straight off my plan – er, encouraging them to sign up with their employer’s plan – if the numbers make sense. I’m sure my employer is like many where they cover a high percentage of the employee’s premium but little or none of the spouse/dependent premiums, and I see no reason to pay $$$/month to keep a kid on my plan until they are 26 just because it’s permitted, if they can get affordable, satisfactory coverage elsewhere.

    1. SpellingBee*

      This is exactly what came to my mind as well! Plus some employer plans require that if a covered dependent has coverage available through their own employer (mostly spouses, but this may apply to adult children as well) they’re required to take it. This is the way Mr. Bee’s insurance worked.

      1. Persephone Mulberry*

        My anecdata is several years old at this point, but when I was married my now-ex’s insurance added a surcharge to cover a spouse who was opting not to use their own employer’s plan. It surprises me not at all that these days some plans just say nope, not eligible.

      2. Fluffy Fish*

        I’m actually curious about this if any insurance expert wants to weight in.

        I believe when it comes to insurance children are in a different category than spouses. My understanding is by law children up to age 26 have to be able to be covered by their parents – I don’t think employers can refuse to cover them if they can get their own insurance.

  26. Johanna Cabal*

    #2 You mention it’s a job heavy with burnout. That may be playing a role. If staff are slammed with seemingly never-ending tasks, stressful situations, little autonomy, etc., the benefits may not be worth it in the end. I moved on from a firm I liked that had great benefits and perks (summer Fridays off) but constantly being slammed in a department that needed additional staff (and every year my department head would hear “next year you’ll get some additional staff”) pushed me to look elsewhere.

    Also, those staff members who went elsewhere and came back? Maybe for some of them it was a way of getting a break for a bit.

    1. Purple Cat*

      Yeah, it feels like employees might think it’s just this FIRM that is high-stress, high-burnout. So they go elsewhere, and then realize it’s the FIELD.

  27. FashionablyEvil*

    My company has actually decided not to have people bring chairs back—I think they decided the amortized costs plus the logistics of getting them all back just wasn’t worth it. (You still have to bring back your tech set up, but that’s at least a lot easier to manage than a chair, especially on public transit.)

  28. I should really pick a name*

    If you’re getting a lot of turnover, find out why your employees are leaving. Can your company provide whatever they’re leaving for?
    To you, the benefits are a good retention strategy. They are not for these employees (at least at first) so I think the focus should shift away from explaining how good the benefits are, to finding out what it is they DO want and seeing if the company can provide it.

    That’s a lot of work for an initial application

  29. Abigail*

    LW2: I work at an agency like this.

    Benefits are great. They also are not money. If I was in private sector, I would make way more money. So I’m not going to have forced gratitude or guarantee retention at your agency because you got something right.

    This is less about being young and more about being the type of person who doesn’t like it when people piss on my shoes and tell me it’s raining.

    1. Chapeau*

      Yeah, my benefits are great. Wonderful. Amazing. My benefits that are quantified on my paycheck (health, dental, vision, life insurance, employer pension contribution, something else that I can’t remember) actually cost my company more than my gross pay every single paycheck. And if I were the sole income source for my family of 3, we’d qualify for food stamps based on my salary, so clearly I stay for the benefits. Even if my partner’s job isn’t great either, at least with both of our salaries we do okay.
      I’d actually be pretty happy with a less-fabulous health insurance plan that gave me more pay, but I suspect I’m in the minority on that one. Not that my employer ever asks. And in 38 months when my pension vests, I’ll start applying for those jobs with less-fabulous health insurance and hopefully more-fabulous pay.

    2. Julia*

      Well, LW does say the pay is truly competitive. Beyond that, actually most of the benefits LW listed do boil down to money – in fact other comments in this thread are calling out LW for just giving her employees more money instead of less work. Your situation re working at an agency instead of the private sector may not be what LW is dealing with.

    3. Tired of Working*

      “Benefits are great. They also are not money.”

      Yes, they are money! At least health insurance is money. I’ve applied to numerous companies for jobs and found out that they did not offer health insurance. Moreover, the interviewers were bewildered when I withdrew my candidacy for that reason, because they acted as if they had NEVER heard of companies providing health insurance. They thought that it was preposterous that I was looing for a company that provided health insurance.

      Another company where I applied for a job said that they don’t provide health insurance until an employee has worked there for one year. The interviewer said that it was because they didn’t want people to start working there and leave very soon afterwards and expect to get COBRA.

      Health insurance IS money. I don’t know how big a salary I would need to justify (to myself) not having health insurance.

    4. Lysine*

      Benefits are money though, especially depending on the benefit. If my work place gives X paid days off and pays a smidge less than a place that gives no paid days off it does amount to more money made unless you can somehow never never need time off.

  30. Hiring Mgr*

    #2, I wonder if the stress and burnout is so bad in your field that even though you have these benefits people just need to bounce around.. You mention that departing employees return, but there need to be openings for them to retunr to, so others must keep leaving as well?

    So perhaps it’s just the nature of the job that people need to move

    1. Oakwood*

      Burnout was common in IT for a long time.

      I can remember any number of people leaving good positions simply because they needed a break.

      1. Johanna Cabal*

        My last job I was so burnt out I was happy to have to take a day off for an outpatient procedure where I was put under.

  31. Oakwood*

    You can argue that the benefits in the army are great too.

    Yet, many leave the military after one tour because they say to themselves “I can’t live the rest of my life like this” (working in a war zone; away from home months on end; on call 24 hours a day).

    The desire for a work/life balance is a real thing–and probably the biggest benefit you can give an employee.

    Unfortunately for you, unlike the military, you can’t draft people and force them to be part of your organization.

    1. Persephone Mulberry*

      Aside, now you’ve got me wondering how common it is for people to enlist, do a single tour, leave, and then re-enlist sometime down the line.

  32. Purple Cat*

    I’m really curious how much people pay for their health insurance premiums.
    I only pay $160/month for a family plan with $2,800 deductible, but $1,000 contribution to an HSA.
    Spouse plan would be $400/month family with $4k deductible, and $1k contribution to HSA.

    For my plan a single person would pay $50/month. So the OP claiming “amazing benefits” for paying in full, REALLY might not be as much of a benefit as they think. Unless they are in an industry/locale where employees typically carry the brunt of the costs.

    1. anonymous73*

      I paid my health insurance as a single for 20 years and I can tell you I NEVER paid as little as $50/month for my health insurance. And my last 2 jobs were high deductible plans so the premium was cheaper.

    2. Shiba Dad*

      I’m on my wife’s plan, so I’m not 100% sure what it’s costing us per month. I suspect it’s in the $500 range per month with a $700 deductible. When I was on my own at my current job it was around $140/month with a $1500 deductible. At this job I do have a lower deductible option available as well as a higher deductible HSA option.

      At my last job the company offered an HSA plan with a $1500 contribution and a lower deductible plan with available FSA. I was single at the time. I don’t think the HSA was as low as $50/month but it less than $100. The lower deductible plan was $150ish/month.

      I was originally on the lower deductible plan but, succumbing to the temptation of the lower premium and contribution, I switched to the HSA. That was a mistake for my situation as I take prescriptions, which now had higher copays. One of my meds went from $40/month to $260/month AFTER a $200 manufacturer’s rebate.

      The job prior to that was up to $70-80 per month, with a premium split of 80%/20% between company and employee until about 2010. Then they start passing along most or all premium increases to us. When I left it was around $130/month for a single employee. Married employees had to eventually pay full premium for their spouse, which cost an addition $500/month, IIRC.

    3. Anon Fed Spouse*

      So we’re on spouse’s insurance, two adults with kids on a family plan and our copay for health + vision + dental (and the top option vision and dental because glasses and braces for kids) works out to $425 a month.

      I’m not on the insurance at my job because spouse’s plan is just so much better. If I was on the insurance at my job I’d be out $350 a month for just health, without the vision or dental coverage.

    4. Fluffy Fish*

      I pay about $30 biweekly ($65/mo) for a high deductible parent/child plan. My deductible is $2800 and my employer contributes $2000.

      When I previously had a no-deductible parent/child ppo plan it was about $100 biweekly ($216/mo).

      I work for government which traditionally is considered to have excellent benefits.

    5. Irish Teacher*

      I’m in Ireland and our system is completely different but I’ve just checked and I pay €87.23 a month. I did have a cheaper plan but decided I wanted greater benefits. This is for a single person. My employer has no involvement; I don’t get my health insurance through work. So I guess I carry all the costs, but…like I said, completely different system.

  33. Delta Delta*

    #1 – The thing about hiccups is that they’re random and unpredictable, you never know when they may show up, you don’t know how long they’ll last, and you can’t really make them go away. I’ve had it before when I’ve gotten a bout of hiccups while teaching a class, and I’ve just had to say something like, “well, we all know how this goes – eventually it’ll stop!” or something like that. Otherwise, just step out. Hiccups, sneezing, coughing fits, etc – these are all things that happen to people, and just acknowledging and moving on seems the best way to deal with it.

  34. Oakwood*

    I normally fall on the employee side on work-from-home questions, but I can understand a company not wanting to outfit two sets of offices.

    WFH is a huge benefit. It saves the employee time and money. The costs associated with the employee outfitting a home office (desk, monitors, keyboard, mouse, chair, etc) are quickly offset by the cost of fuel and wear and tear on their vehicle. Even if you roll the entire cost of their internet service in they are probably still coming out ahead financially.

    Personally, I don’t know why companies would want to maintain more office space than is required, which is what hybrid schedules do. Office space is expensive. If you have a hybrid schedule that requires everyone to be there Tuesdays and Thursdays, then it’s no less expensive than having everyone in the office 5 days a week.

    A pool of non-assigned desks would seem to be a better solution than making EVERYONE haul their equipment back to the office. Then you can rotate groups (some TT, others MW, leave Friday for overflow) and cut your rented office space in half.

    1. Delta Delta*

      Depending on the WFH office setup needs, some of the peripherals can be obtained pretty inexpensively – some of it you can even get secondhand. Heck, my neighbor tried to give me a monitor he didn’t want anymore, but I didn’t have use for it.

  35. doreen*

    OP#2, I agree with Alison that this is the sort of thing that people often have to figure out for themselves. Thirty-plus years ago I worked for a government agency that had great benefits even then – one of my choices for health insurance cost nothing, and the others cost maybe 20 per month , three years of child care leave for either parents (unpaid of course, but job protected ) lots of vacation time, a defined benefit pension. People constantly complained about benefits and pay ( which is sometimes less in government jobs but not always) but after a while, I realized why. Many of my coworkers didn’t know anyone who worked at a private sector, non-union job and they thought that all jobs had similar benefits and working conditions to what we had. Specifically, they were shocked to find out that my husband was fired because a new boss didn’t like him and they thought that every assistant manager at McDonald’s got inexpensive health insurance. ( that was a specific conversation) I’m not faulting them – I might have thought the same way if my husband didn’t work in the private sector. But if everyone you know has certain benefits, it’s very easy to think everyone has them.

    Sometimes it’s hard to calculate how much some benefits are worth. I tried for years to figure out how much I would have to save on my own to have the same income my pension will provide. Finally, this year I found a calculator – I would need over 1.5 million to buy an annuity providing the same annual income as my pension. The people I know who thought our pension was terrible because we had to be 55 with 30 years of service to get a full benefit would probably be shocked to realize that even in the private sector most of them would not be paid enough to accumulate that much in retirement savings.

    Hearing these things from me and people who left and returned probably didn’t change any minds- some times, experience really is the only teacher.

  36. NoviceManagerGuy*

    LW1 – in my first business trip as an intern, I swallowed wrong at lunch and uncontrollably spewed water on the lunch table. I was mortified, obviously, and apologized profusely, but everyone just moved on and nobody said anything about it ever again. They brought me back for a second internship and full-time when I graduated.

    Bodies just do stuff sometimes and everybody’s been there.

  37. Nanani*

    #2 – Not to doubt your sincerity or your company, but do make sure the great benefits are great -right now-.

    I have in my work life seen a lot “great benefits” that, say, only kicked in at a certain level of senority, or hours worked, or type of job.

    We have great retirement benefits* and we have amazing healthcare**
    *for people who started before the recession you graduated into but oops we had to slash them
    **for people working here at least 10 years

    has been played before.

    1. Ginger Pet Lady*

      I work a full time job and pick up some hours at another job if they need extra help. Even though I’m very happy with my PRN job where I don’t work many hours, it still stings every single year when I get the annual letter about how great their benefits are – with the insert that I don’t work enough hours to get any of them. If you can go to the trouble to add that insert…..just don’t send me the letter bragging about how great the benefits are!!

    2. Meep*

      I am in this “young employee” demographic and have worked for start-ups for most of my career so, in many ways, I have the “worse case” scenero, but I also know a lot of my fellow graduates. I am very fortunate in that I don’t have student debt and actually came into my working career with quite a bit of familial wealth.

      Watching reason graduates in their 20’s and 30’s struggle, I can say, no one cares about 401K matching if they cannot pay their bills. No one cares about health insurance if they cannot find the time to go to the doctor or dentist because their employers refuse to give them the time. PTO is nice, but not if it is accompanied by guilt-tripping and the stress of falling behind.

      Heck, I find offering free unlimited snacks, frequent meal comps, and flexible hours do a lot more for morale. And even that is just peanuts.

  38. That One Person*

    1 – I really like the phrase “a hiccup besiegement” – certainly describes the feeling well. Usually I just get a singular, harsh inner jerk rather than full-on hiccups, but yeah if I got more than one I’d excuse myself for a moment. Moving around and getting water (or whatever your preferred trick) are better than throwing off the meeting with the noises. Sounds like you did well OP!

    3 – I would bet that the company forgot that they’ll likely be culpable for the return process as not everyone’s going to have a car or truck. Definitely use the air of “of course its the company’s responsibility” when asking who employees should reach out to arrange pick ups and/or reminders for reimbursement for any rented pick up trucks. For the monitors it may fall to the mailroom team to send out boxes that have packing material inside and a return label to the employees’ homes – in which case as someone who works in one I know I’d appreciate the heads up to make sure I have the necessary boxes and supplies on hand or to get ordering them. Would check though as it may just be easier to have a moving company pick up the chair and monitor at the same time rather than separating processes.

  39. The Other Dawn*

    RE: #3

    “They explained they prefer full-time in office, so this equipment policy seems to be promoting people to come in five days per week.”

    I would agree this is exactly what the company is saying without coming out and saying it. We have the same thing at my company. Hybrid is allowed, but anyone who wants it has to outfit their home workspace on their own dime. They’re not going to pay for two sets of office furniture.

    1. Observer*

      And I honestly do not blame them.

      OP, if that’s what is going on forget about trying to convince them to allow people to keep their office equipment. There is absolutely no upside to them in that. And, to be honest, there isn’t even a moral / ethical argument to be made here, either.

      The only thing that you can, and probably should, argue for is assistance with the moving process.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        I don’t blame them either. I agree with it. I had to explain it to my team when they were upset about returning their cube furniture, extra monitors, etc.

    2. MapleHill*

      #3 I think people are going to have to suck it up in terms of supplying their own WFH equipment unless they want to lose the opportunity to WFH at all. The company is allowing them to WFH 3 days, even though they really want people in the office, so there’s no incentive for them to pay for extra equipment for employees to work where they don’t really want them.

      Honestly, I’m happy to pay for my own office set up if it means I get to continue working from home. Yes, it’s an expense, but for me, the tradeoff is worth the money & hours spent commuting and all the benefits that WFH affords me. I imagine most people who want to wfh feel the same; if not, they can return to the office FT…which I imagine is how your company feels as well. Unfortunately, there’s a power dynamic in play which can tip easily against us employees who enjoy working at home.

      My company provided everyone laptops when the pandemic hit (some already had them). Some people did borrow equipment from the office, but have been expected to return it now. I bought my own desk chair & external keyboard, I already had a mouse & used a table as a desk; a family member had an unused screen I’ve been using. If people are worried about the expense, there’s lots of furniture & equipment that can be found cheaper on facebook, even free on neighborhood pages, and they can ask friends & family if they have any extra stuff going unused.

  40. Should I apply?*

    #2. I haven’t seen mention is the possibility that workers think to get a promotion or raise that they need to leave. I know at my old company there was a definite belief that you could get much better raises or promotions if you left for a couple of years and came back. I never came back so I don’t know how true it was but it’s something to consider.

  41. Jake*

    #2, I doubt you can truly make people understand. My first job out of college had good/great benefits and was mediocre in terms of the actual work and management. Unless you have a great management team and they truly enjoy the work, I don’t think you’re ever going to prevent the grass is greener stuff, especially in a field that is already high burn out.

  42. Sunflower*

    #1 I bring a drink with me to all meetings because my stomach seems to growl only at meetings. It’s like it knows. LOL.
    A drink may not work for all stuff our body does but it may help. If it doesn’t, I think everyone will understand if you excuse yourself.

  43. Daisy-dog*

    #2 – Your insurance broker should have access to stats on what similar sized companies in your industry offer. They can provide data as far as how “rich” the plan is (I hate this term) in comparison to those companies by percentile. Ask your HR team to reach out to your broker for this data. The broker should want to provide this type of information because it is also a demonstration of how good they are at their job. Add this data to the new hire orientation and spend some extra time explaining why it’s so great.

    1. Daisy-dog*

      To add – this may not work. Some people are seeking different priorities and at least need to spend some time outside of your organization. But using hard data with real numbers may sway some.

  44. JJT II*

    Re- excellent benefits.

    My employer offers better benefits than most in our field of work. But honestly I would rather not be working every Saturday to spend time with my family if I could eliminate some of the benefits that don’t necessarily benefit me.

  45. Observer*

    #4 – You’ve just provided a perfect example of why people prefer the scheduling tools. He tried to work with your schedule but the tool wasn’t working. And I’m betting that the international travel bit was directly tied to his mis-reading your email and thinking that those were the two blocks that you WERE available. But if the tool had worked, none of this would have been an issue.

    I’m not negating your frustration. It’s just a comment on a conversation that has come up here on several occasions.

  46. FashionablyEvil*

    Benefits are great. They also are not money.

    Oh, but they are, especially with generous health insurance and retirement plan contributions. There have been any number of letters here from folks over the years who switch companies for a higher salary only to find their take home pay is actually lower because they have to pay a larger portion of their health care premiums and costs.

  47. QuickerBooks*

    #2 Re: Benefits.

    Personally, I think the answer is “no”, you can’t make people who don’t care about benefits suddenly care about benefits. Presumably when they leave to take another job, they have seen the benefits offered by that other job and are in a position to compare them directly to what they are leaving behind. Seeing those two things against each other, they are nevertheless making the decision to leave. By definition, that means that the benefits are not the deciding factor for them.

    As you’ve stated, certain drawbacks are endemic to your industry or your field and are not unique to your workplace. To me that means any communication needs to emphasize that wherever they’re thinking of going, they are likely to discover the same drawbacks they are trying to get away from. Although I personally doubt this would be effective. More likely people have to discover this sort of thing for themselves.

  48. Eagle*

    For OP #1, I don’t know why it works, but saying the word “purple” stops hiccups in their tracks. Say it silently in the meeting, think it, watch the hiccups stop.

    1. Lana Kane*

      This sounds way easier than my current method of drinking a glass of water from the opposite side of the glass.

  49. Grey Panther*

    #1 Every time I’ve gotten hiccups in a public setting they’ve generated commiseration that, in most cases, deteriorates into unanimous sympathetic giggles. I mean, we’ve all been there, right? No one has ever been rude, unkind, or dismissive about it, at least not in my presence.

    I actually have a hiccups cure that I do for other people (have had 100% success with family, friends, even strangers in public—after asking permission, of course) using a specific pressure point on the person’s hand. I’ve always wanted to try it for someone who’s had the long-term hiccups that can be so physically debilitating.

    Unfortunately, I can’t self-cure with the pressure-point thing so my own usual cure is to take eight consecutive small sips of water.

    I think hiccups are just more evidence that the cosmos likes to mess with me.

    1. PSA*

      Decades ago, I learned that placing butter knife or spoon horizontally in your mouth and sipping water slowly never fails at getting rid of hiccups. That said…for sure it’s best to leave a meeting to give that one a whirl.

  50. Stuckinacrazyjob*

    #1 I burped in a meeting on Tuesday and am still dying on embarrassment today. I’m just hoping thar everyone will forget by next Tuesday

    1. Fluffy Fish*

      I promise no one cares. We all burb. We all burb an inopportune times.

      Anyone who heard it in the meeting spent exactly 2 seconds registering you burped and then promptly moved on.

    2. Purple Cat*

      They probably forgot as soon as the meeting ended. If it even really registered at all. I mean, it happens.

  51. Fluffy Fish*

    #2…..I suspect most people already know the benefits are very attractive. Unless you live under a rock, you know employers don’t generally pay for the entire insurance premium. Which means people are leaving because they do not like the work.

    You’re basically trying to tell these kids – hey the work is terrible and will suck the life out of you but if you can tolerate it you’ll win a prize.

    Some may come back, but I suspect it’s a bit of a selling your soul for the pay and benefits rather than actually wanting to work there. And that’s a problem. You really don’t want people settling for work because of the benefits. And frankly what’s attractive to younger people* now is work-life balance, more than high pay/benefits. *yes it’s a generalization that won’t apply to everyone and yes there are older employees that value that too – generalizations can be useful for evaluating general attitudes towards things and can be useful when trying to determine how to be competitive employers.

    Maybe I’m wrong, but it seems a lot of times people talk about high-stress, high-burnout jobs, it’s a business choice to make it that way. Such as having employees work 80 hour weeks instead of hiring more employees and spreading the workload.

    You’re the only one who knows if that’s the case here. But regardless, Id argue if you want to retain employees, you need to figure out how to make the work itself not turn people away.

  52. A Becky*

    Hey, I know this is pretty minor but Alison please consider not using “an Uber” to mean “a taxi”? It’s needlessly non-generic and implicitly endorses a business model that’s somehow even worse and more exploitative than taxis already were.

      1. Rectilinear Propagation*

        To be fair, Uber also doesn’t want their trademark becoming a general term either.

    1. Fluffy Fish*

      You do realize there are places that do not have taxis but do have services like uber/lyft?

      What word would you suggest? Taxi is not a general term.

        1. Fluffy Fish*

          lol fear not it’s not an age thing :)

          what has happened is in more rural areas that traditionally lack public transportation in general, you can find uber/lyft drivers.

          urban areas where there were always taxis, still have them. or at least I don’t know of any where rideshare services have put taxis totally out of business.

          1. Meep*

            I travel quite a bit and I disagree. It used to be there was at least one taxi in small towns. I know they were replaced with ubers/lyfts, but taxis used to be the norm everywhere. Remember, Ubers didn’t exist until the mid-2000’s.

            1. Fluffy Fish*

              I live in a county outside DC/Baltimore metro area. Parts are rural, some small towns and one city. The city is the only place that has ever had taxi service and in fact still does to this day. In the past if you need to get somewhere else and don’t have a car or a friend with a car, you were sol. Now there some rideshare availability. It’s actually a something we take into consideration when planning certain public services – utter lack of transportation options.

              It’s a stretch to say taxis were ever the norm everywhere.

            2. Observer*

              but taxis used to be the norm everywhere.

              Nope. I’ve been places (and not a 3 street village in middle of nowhere) that had no taxis. The closest they had (and most of them still have, in addition to Uber / Lyft) is people who you can call to arrange a trip and / or corporate services.

            3. Rectilinear Propagation*

              Taxis have been refusing to drive out to the neighborhood my mother lives in since before Uber was a thing.

      1. bamcheeks*

        Wait, what does taxi mean to you if it doesn’t include services like uber? It would never occur to me that Uber wasn’t a taxi service.

        1. Rectilinear Propagation*

          Uber isn’t a taxi service because they do things to get around (or just ignore) the regulations that taxi companies are subject to.

        2. Not This Again*

          Uber is a ride share service, as is Lyft. Taxis do not use individually owned personal vehicles.

      2. Rectilinear Propagation*

        Taxi at least doesn’t reference a specific company but more generic terms could be:
        – personal driver
        – ridesharing

  53. Meep*

    OP#2 – Your younger coworkers probably realize that those “fantastic” benefits should be the bare minimum an employer provides. I don’t blame them for thinking it isn’t that great and it is sad your company is the only one even close to being decent.

  54. Avril Ludgateau*

    #4, I swear some people see “I’m available any time EXCEPT 1:00-2:00pm and 4:00-5:00pm Friday” as “1:00-2:00pm and 4:00-5:00pm Friday”. I encounter so many people who don’t seem malicious or careless but they severely lack reading comprehension skills when it comes to e-mail. There are specific individuals I work regularly with for whom I have to limit my emails to one very narrow topic at a time, and even when I restrict myself to one sentence, I still often have to resort to highlighting to make sure they get the appropriate message.

    Recently somebody wrote in complaining that interviewees were being overly specific/narrow with their availability, and aside from other context specific to that letter, it occurs to me that the frequency of misunderstanding (or straight disrespecting) people’s availability could be another reason for it.

  55. Ms. K*

    #1 I see where you’re coming from though. High school and college are full of mixed messages about whether you’re an adult (You’re responsible for your own homework. No reminders about due dates, etc.) or still an (extremely untrustworthy) child who requires a bathroom pass to deal with bodily attacks. It can feel like you’re doing something wrong if you step out of meeting, but it truly is Ok!!

  56. Jessica*

    I am laughing so hard at #3 that I wonder if it’s one of my coworkers. The suggestion I got for returning my chair was basically: wheel it across the city.

  57. Rectilinear Propagation*

    I maybe should have clarified further in the letter – the field itself is inherently high stress (think emergency health care), and no one comes into it without that awareness. Most people who leave and come back are moving between positions with identical responsibilities and stress. Within those constraints, and compared to other companies in the field and out of it, the benefits are fantastic.

    LW2 – Does your organization do training? If so, do they do benefits training?

    I think, done correctly, a training module on how to navigate your company’s benefits can also explain to employees why the benefits are particularly good. It’s not unusual for “how to do the thing” to be preceded with “why should yo do the thing”. It’d probably be most convincing if you can show the numbers (i.e. “Most organizations in our industry cover X% of healthcare, we cover 100%” or even better “The average [your industry] employee is paying $X for healthcare coverage. Our employees pay $0”).

    The problem is folks new to the workplace haven’t had those costs deducted from a paycheck before and if they’ve had their parents paying for their healthcare so far, they probably haven’t seen the actual numbers for reaching a deductible. So even if they do understand it won’t be free elsewhere (and I’m betting some of them don’t if they’re not being told this isn’t typical of the industry) they likely don’t realize how much they’ll be paying.

    This may even be helpful with a few of your more experienced employees: I knew private sector insurance isn’t great but it was still incredibly jarring signing up for medical insurance once neither my spouse nor I was working for the government.

  58. Cheezmouser*

    LW4 – scheduling and then rescheduling meetings, getting availability wrong, etc, is incredibly common, especially if there are multiple people/calendars he’s trying to work around, the calendars are very full, the international travel is throwing his time zones off, etc.

    I have to play calendar Jenga regularly due to all of the reasons above. We have team members in 5 different time zones, meetings overlap, everyone is busy, so this week (mid June) I had to book a meeting where the first available date when everyone was free was in August.

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