I stole my coworker’s food, high school workers keep no-showing, and more

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

1. I accidentally stole my coworker’s food

What do I say to a coworker to make amends for stealing some creamer and a Lunchable? I really thought it was mine. I replaced the items, but what can I do to appease her?

This is a thing that happens in communal office kitchens; sometimes someone mistakenly thinks something is theirs and eats it by mistake. That’s different than intentional food theft! When it happens, the right thing to do is apologize, explain what happened, and replace the items as quickly as possible. That should take care of it.

Is your coworker giving you the sense that you need to do more to appease her? If so and there’s not further context to explain that (like that you’ve done this repeatedly and your claim that it was a mistake isn’t plausible because she put enormous labels with her name on her items), then she’s being unreasonable. You can try apologizing again and saying that you’ll be more careful in the future … and if you really want to lean into the apology, you can bring her some additional treat beyond the food you replaced … but after that it’s really on her to find the inner strength to leave the crime against her Lunchable in the past.

2. Is my company stringing me along about a promotion?

I’ve worked for the same organization for almost seven years, all in the same position. But in those seven years I’ve learned a lot and have been pulled into additional work that is not in my job description, including handling all invoicing for my department and creating/tracking my department’s annual budget (10 cost centers with a combined value of over $500k). Last September I participated in a mentorship program through a professional society where I am a member, and my mentor strongly encouraged me to apply for jobs elsewhere; he said with my skills I could get a higher paying job with another company and if my employer isn’t going to pay me what I’m worth, I should leave. My organization has a lot of benefits that appeal to me (pension plan plus 403(b), all the time off I’ve accrued, and, most importantly, parental leave, as I am now pregnant with my first child after years of fertility treatments). I did look at a couple jobs, but the pay wasn’t so much more than what I’m currently making that it felt worth it to leave.

So instead I asked my manager for a promotion. That was also in September. She hemmed and hawed and promised nothing. Then the first week of January, she said we would update my job description and send it out for review. This is the process my organization uses for promotions. First you do all the work of a higher paid job, and then they spend months saying your promotion is “in review.” They use an outside firm to review job descriptions and set grade levels, but they only do that twice a year. In February my updated job description was approved by my VP and sent to this outside firm. When I asked my manager for an update in April, she said she hadn’t heard anything. When I asked for an update in May, she said the job description was due to be reviewed in June.

At the end of June, I asked for another update and she said she hadn’t heard anything. I’ve been doing all this extra work for at least two years, and it’s been almost one year since I first asked for a promotion. I doubt any raise will be retroactive.

Before coming to this organization, I worked for five years in the same industry for another company. I received three promotions there, and I was never expected to do the work before getting the position. This feels wrong to me, but with only these two jobs as experience, I don’t know which practice is more common. Was my previous employer just being generous in giving promotions and then giving the new work? Or is my current organization abusing its employees by expecting them to do years of higher paid work while stringing them along with the prospect of eventually getting higher pay?

Your employer is exploiting you (and other employees, if this is how they normally operate). It’s not uncommon for organizations to want to see you do the work of a higher-level job before they promote you, but that should be for a limited time, not two years. Two years is more time than some people stay in a job before leaving the company altogether! This is BS. And there’s no reason it should take eight months to review a job description either.

They’re stringing you along. That doesn’t mean it will never happen if you wait long enough, but it does mean that this is unreasonably long, they’re taking advantage of your work meanwhile, and it’s awfully interesting that they didn’t give you a realistic timeline at any point since this all started. It would probably be worthwhile to talk to coworkers there who did eventually get promoted and find out how long it took and how much they needed to push to make it happen.

Meanwhile, though, look around at other jobs again. The market has changed since you last looked and you might find a different landscape than you did last time. If you find something you like better while they’re still dithering, they’ll have brought that upon themselves.

3. High school workers keep no-calling, no-showing

I’m part of a team of 10. We’ve had problems with call-outs and being understaffed. There have been a few times that the new hires were no-call and no-shows. I understand that the job gets annoying dealing with a few particular customers and that it pays low wages ($15-18/hour), but we can make up for it with commissions.

We haven’t had this problem with no-call, no-shows until we brought in the last four new hires. Three of these new hires are fresh out of high school and they don’t give us enough courtesy to let us know they won’t show up even when given one week’s notice of the next week’s schedule. Sometimes they are late. Is it normal for high schoolers and freshly graduated high schoolers to be late or not inform us ahead of time if they’re not coming in?

It’s normal for high schoolers and freshly graduated high schoolers to be totally unfamiliar with workplace norms; part of the deal in hiring them is that you’re going to have to teach them. Also, keep in mind that people in that age group have had a very weird last two and a half years; because of the pandemic, they’re less likely to have worked other jobs than they would have been in the past, and they’ve missed out on other experiences we’re used to considering typical for that age group. Then consider the job market right now: if they’re seeing lots of local low-wage businesses desperate for labor, they’re not going to be as concerned with keeping the job as they might have been previously. So what you’re seeing isn’t surprising for the current moment.

If you’re not already, start spelling it out for new hires really clearly from the start — “if you can’t work a scheduled shift, we count on you let us know as early as you can so that we can find someone else to work then,” etc.

4. Quitting right after a promotion

I’ve been a high performer at my company for three years now. At my 2.5 year review, I asked for a promotion and was denied. Now, at my three-year review, I asked multiple weeks in a row about the promotion and pushed pretty hard for it, and I was told they’d get back to me. At this point, I started applying for other jobs.

I received news that I got the promotion about two weeks ago, but in the meantime I received an offer from my dream job. I have no idea how to quit my current job, especially after how hard I pushed for the promotion that I (eventually) received, and I believe my manager had to go to bat for me with upper management. I feel incredibly guilty and undeserving, even though I know I shouldn’t, but I truly don’t know how to broach the impending “quitting” conversation with my boss. Any tips?

This is natural consequence of the type of situation in #2 above — while they were dragging their feet in responding to you, someone else made you a better offer.

It’s not ideal to have to quit right after your boss spent some of her own political capital to push your promotion through, but if she’s a good manager she’s not going to be surprised that this is a possible outcome when companies are slow to move. You could say it this way: “I know you went to bat to help me get promoted, and I’m so grateful. During the time when it looked like the company wasn’t going to promote me, I talked to some other companies so I’d know my options and one has just made me an offer I can’t responsibly turn down. This has nothing to do with you; I’ve loved working for you, and I appreciate that you fought for me.”

5. I don’t want an elaborate going-away party

I recently accepted a new job with a different company and will be leaving my current team in a few weeks. I have been in my current job for 2-1/2 years, and in that time have attended a few going-away parties for other coworkers. The going away party always involves speeches from every person on the team, followed by the entire team singing “The Goodbye Song” to the departing employee. The speeches portion of the party normally lasts for at least 45 minutes.

I am a very quiet person and get very bad stage fright. Also, the speeches are often very heartfelt and make me emotional. I am so nervous about the idea of crying in front of the team on one of my last days. The whole event is always uncomfortable for me, and I do not want to be the center of attention at one of these parties!

I’ve mentioned to my boss that I do not want a big going-away party at all, and also that I am afraid of crying in front of the team since the speeches are so heartfelt. I don’t think he is taking me seriously. Is there anything else I can do? I would like to suggest a different option for a party that doesn’t put me front and center while the entire team sings at me while I’m crying.

Go back to him and say, “I think you might not have taken me seriously, so I want to make sure you know I really am not up for a going-away party. I wanted to confirm that we won’t do one, so that I can just focus on my transition work during my last two weeks!” You could add, “But if the team wants to do something, it would mean a lot to me to get a card that people could write their own messages in.”

If your boss were writing in and had a team of people who really wanted to do speeches, I’d suggest to him that they just individually record them for you so you could watch them privately on your own time. (I have witnessed some truly hilarious and heartfelt goodbye videos — and even goodbye Powerpoints — and people seem to love them as long as their experience at the organization wasn’t terrible.)

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{ 380 comments… read them below }

  1. Ask a Manager* Post author

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  2. anon mousie*

    #5: if the worst case happens and they somehow throw a party for you after you’ve made it clear you don’t want one, remember you can physically leave and will be in the right to do so. They cannot force you to attend. (What are they going to do, fire you?)

        1. Emmy Noether*

          I don’t think the concern is that the reference will say something about the party in particular, it’s that they would say something vague and general. Like “LW was kind of stand-offish and did not integrate well with the team”.

          I don’t think it’s a big risk, because it would be a very petty thing for the reference-giver to do, but then again, some people are petty.

          1. irene adler*

            Hopefully the reference checker will ask some follow-up questions to clarify what “stand-offish” and “did not integrate well with the team” really mean.

            In which case, the reference can only cite the ‘scrammed during the good-bye party’ as evidence of of these comments. Rather thin evidence for such strong conclusions. Hopefully the reference checker will recognize for what it is.

          2. Mockingjay*

            It is a risk, simply because the last impression can be what a boss/coworker remembers distinctly, which can paint all of OP5’s history in a less flattering light. Most of us don’t remember fine details of our work performance a year ago; we have to look at emails and reports to jog our memories. But we sure remember Stan’s antics at the holiday party and Maria’s abrupt departure from the going-away luncheon.

            I second Alison’s advice to request a low-key departure. Maybe add an time urgency: “I only have two weeks left and I really want to focus on a smooth turnover. Don’t want to leave you all in the lurch on the Widget project!”

            1. Scout*

              Yes, the commentor did not disagree with asking for that, they stated what the LW could do if they threw the party anyway.

              She’s moving to a new job that will be her next reference. Is there a small chance that jobs even further in the future might contact this company as well and get a ‘stand-offish’ comment? Eh, a pretty microscopic one.

              I don’t think people should live in such fear of the corporate overlords that they give in to doing things that make them horrifically uncomfortable and are also not at all related to the job.

          3. Rose*

            Exactly. People who are unreasonable and don’t respect boundaries aren’t going to be like… we’ll I was unreasonable and didn’t respect boundaries and it went poorly!

        2. jasmine*

          The problem is that it’s a party centered on and for the OP. So yes, OP can just leave saying “I said I didn’t want a party anyways” but it’s perfectly reasonable to think that doing so will negatively affect their reputation. It’ll be the last impression OP leaves behind.

          1. jasmine*

            OP, if they throw a party on your last day, you can say you’re not feeling well and skip out that way (which I assume wouldn’t be a lie because it sounds like the thought of this party does make you feel horrible!)

          2. Esmeralda*

            It’s a party centered on and ostensibly for the OP. But if people insist on an event that the guest of honor explicitly says they don’t want, then it’s really not for the OP — it’s for the co-workers.

            Which is a legit purpose of such events, it’s just that, it shouldn’t be the most important purpose.

          3. MCMonkeyBean*

            Yes, the “last impression” bit is the key part for me–if they end up throwing one anyway I wouldn’t just nope right out of there as that might then become the main thing people will remember about you after you’re gone! I’d stay and quietly mingle for a little bit and then if you worry you’re starting to tear up then politely excuse yourself with something like “hey everyone, I really appreciate you all but I’m getting too emotional so I’m just going to excuse myself now” or something.

            But hopefully all that can be headed off. I think the most important thing is when you talk to your boss make sure you have *not* framed it like “oh, I don’t want you to have to go to the trouble” or something. Be very clear that you actively do not want a party at all and would feel very uncomfortable. Offering the card as an alternative as Alison suggested is a great idea.

      1. hbc*

        Anyone who would switch from a bad reference to a good reference over non-attendance at a social event (that they already said they didn’t want to attend) is not a solid reference.

        1. A. Tiskit & A. Taskit LLC*

          True enough, but a potential employer wouldn’t know that the former supervisor giving a chilly reference is unreliable, petty or both; that employer would only know that they’ve just gotten an unenthusiastic reference letter from the applicant’s former supervisor.

          1. Scout*

            But she’s moving to a new job, so this job will now be a former-former reference.

            Is it possible that both thing would happen? That a future-future potential employer would check both references, and that this supervisor will be enough of an asshat to give an unenthusiastic reference for this reason?

            I mean, anything’s possible, but I think people are making too much of it and the effect it might have. LW will presumably have a positive, more recent reference if/when they choose to move on from the new job.

            The type of fear being shown in many of these comments is middle management’s wet dream.

        2. Sparkles McFadden*

          You don’t always get to choose your references, as HR or hiring managers doing due diligence may contact a previous manager who wasn’t listed as a reference.

        3. Rose*

          It doesn’t matter, at all. The manager isn’t going to eat “hey BTW I was going to give a great reference and this is all over a petty fight where I was in the wrong.” And many companies will want to speak to the most recent manager.

      2. ferrina*

        Just give an excuse! “Oh, thank you so much, this is so sweet of you! I’m actually in the middle of [WHATEVER] right now- maybe we could do a really quick party afterwards? Honestly, I’m not much of a party person, so this would suit me better anyways.”
        Framing it as them doing you a favor/playing to ego can help with mitigating unreasonable people (and if they really are that unreasonable, then GOOD CALL to get out!!)

      3. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        Wow people seriously do that? When I get a call for a reference, I’m assuming that the caller wants to know if the candidate will do a good job and work well with the team, and that is the information I give them. “She left a going-away party in her honor right after it started” does not provide answers to either of those questions. I get it that someone might spin it into “not a team player”, but I assume OP knows not to use those coworkers as their reference. I only use people I can trust not to say something wacky to an employer.

    1. Books and Cooks*

      LW shouldn’t just tell their manager. Tell co-workers, too. Spread the word. Then, if people try to plan the party behind LW’s back, there ought to be at least a few people who will push back for them.

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        Yup – this is what I would do as well. Find the biggest “sharer” on the team and let them know that you’re really uncomfortable with being the center of attention, and don’t want the normal big goodbye party. And encourage them to share that you’re not comfortable with being the center of attention too.

        1. KimberlyR*

          Agreed. And like someone said above, suggest something else like a card or pre-recorded vidoes. The LW doesn’t have to watch them (or can when she is alone and not worried about crying/laughing in front of people). But in a culture where they do a big send-off, saying you don’t want anything at all might look a little odd. Giving a suggestion of what you could deal with that also gives them a tangible thing they can do for you is a good compromise.

          1. JustaTech*

            The card/video could also be framed as “so I can remember all your kind words”.
            That takes the pressure off the OP to listen in the moment, their coworkers to perform in the moment, and is flattering to the coworkers to think that the OP might want to hear/read their words again.

    2. Nanani*

      This. As the meme goes “if it sucks, hit the bricks!”

      They have been warned that you dont want it. Maybe also tell your colleagues in addition to the overzealous party planner and enlist some “that’s weird, LW doesn’t want a party” energy.

    3. Office Lobster DJ*

      I would be concerned about a sour final impression as well, so I wouldn’t advise the OP to skip the party.

      I’d say, if your efforts to stop the party don’t work, just go and not worry too much if you get a little emotional. If you have to leave because you’re a little teary and feeling overwhelmed, the lasting impression will be that you were visibly touched by your co-workers’ efforts. If this team is into heartfelt speeches and “The Goodbye Song ” (what?), they will LOVE that you were touched.

      1. Scout*

        LW doesn’t WANT to be teary and overwhelmed. It’s kind of gross to say that it would be fine if that happens, because it would make those people happy – the people who are (in this scenario) doing something she doesn’t want and asked them no to do.

    4. pinetree*

      If there’s a meeting invite that goes out, you can decline and give a written reply to the organizer and your manager (if not the same person) saying you can’t go and that’s there no need to reschedule.

    5. Melissa*

      This is very similar to what I made clear when leaving a previous role, some staff had previously had ‘surprise’ leaving presentations which raised my anxiety. I explained that I would prefer not to have a large presentation and just a small meeting with our team and if a surprise presentation was to happen I would leave immediately. (I sat with my car keys at my desk on my last day just in case – thankfully they respected my request)

  3. Angrytreespirit*

    In reference to LW2: This is highly dependent on what kind of organization you work for. I told my boss a year ago I was in final consideration for another job and between management, the union and our completely dysfunctional HR department, it has taken that long for his “promotion” to be posted so I could apply. Weigh your options.

    1. Jj*

      I want to add to this. My job had to be reclassified (vs a literal promotion into a new role) and the process was just so difficult that my boss really dragged their feet because they simply weren’t priortizing all the paperwork involved with HR, the state, and the unions. I eventually took another job, about 9mo after having a child.

      Honestly, if I was LW I would stay put but try to back off on job responsibilities (if possible). Stability going into my parental leave was so critical. It was one less stressor. And I knew I’d probably be quiting within a year so I cut back in the “above and beyond” type stuff I was doing.

        1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

          It also isn’t the time to risk a gap in any kind of insurance/benefits. Some places sick leave and health insurance don’t kick in until 30-90 days after start. I’ve never been pregnant and have no kids, so salt accordingly, but I wouldn’t want to risk any insurance gaps for my own peace of mind

          1. l k hieronimus*

            Yes, don’t chance the insurance gap. And FMLA only kicks in at a new employer after 1 year of employment and after you meet a threshold number of hours worked for the year. Look for a new job near the end of your parental leave in current job.

            1. Scout*

              Just to clarify, there are several ways to solve a potential insurance gap: COBRA, spouse’s insurance, healthcare marketplace.

              The enrollment period won’t generally apply to getting on a spouse’s insurance when there is a qualifying life event, which most times includes the other spouse changing jobs.

      1. Temporary Blues*

        My position is on year three of a reclass (I’m government and union, and this is through an outside contractor). We filled out the paperwork in April 2019, I was interviewed about my position last June (2021), and apparently my organization has had radio silence from the contractor. My position pays well and I love what I do, so the reclass hasn’t been a factor in my job search. Being on my second “temporary” manager in my second “temporary” location over four years has. If I was in the LW’s position I would definitely ramp up the job search.

      2. Knope Knope Knope.*

        Yeah I agree with staying put until after baby comes. I hate to say it because this job is 100% exploiting her, but if I’m honest, it takes way longer than the paltry mat leave most companies offer (here in the US anyway). Being able to scale back or go on autopilot is honestly a thing that needs to happen for a while. 3.5 years after my first pregnancy and now a mom of two, it would have been VERY hard to start a new job during that time in my life. That said, I was hired pregnant, took 2 full maternity leaves and still got promoted in that time frame, so good companies do exist! OP should find one after exhausting her parental leave (and making sure she doesn’t owe any back when she quits).

        1. bamcheeks*

          This depends very much on the job, though. My children are 7 and 4 and I’m on my fourth employer since the eldest was born.

        2. ferrina*

          Yeah, this is definitely something to consider. I’d also think about how draining the job is now- is that something you want when you’re sleep deprived/keeping up with the quickly changing needs of a baby?
          I got a new boss while on mat leave, and she had ridiculous demands on my time. What should have been a 40hr/wk job quickly ballooned into 50-60hr/wk (with no pay adjustment) and I had two little ones. It was hell, and took me over a year to recover when I finally got out.

      3. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        And you also don’t want to be in the “do not have enough time in to be eligible for parental leave” camp while expecting a baby.

        But yeah – I’d also be easing up on the extras that boss wants me to volunteer to do. Sorry, but not sorry, this is what happens if you string along an employee with regards to raises and promotions.

        1. JustaTech*

          I recently had a recruiter contact me about a job and I told them straight up that I was going to be going on mat leave soon, and would the company accommodate that?
          I haven’t heard back, so I’m guessing no, but sometimes the answer is yes. (I don’t care because hoo boy do I not want to work at that place.)

  4. Anomie*

    I also do not like parties for me at work. I would call off on my last day if I felt they were throwing a big thing despite my pleas not to. I would make it very very clear you want nothing done.

    1. Asenath*

      And I’d also speak to whoever organizes the parties, who probably isn’t your boss, to ensure they aren’t making preparations. Be crystal clear – “I don’t want a party” and not “I’d rather not have a party”. And you can walk out of the party. I really don’t think that “having to leave your own farewell party a bit early”, which is how you could explain it, would affect your reference.

      1. Empress Matilda*

        >>Be crystal clear – “I don’t want a party” and not “I’d rather not have a party”

        Also, don’t use the word “big.” “I’d rather not have a big party,” and even “I don’t want a big party” suggest that you’re still open to a *small* party. So if you don’t want a party at all, you need to say exactly that!

        At the same time, there will likely be a few people who want to do *something,* so it might help to give some alternatives. Do you want (or are you willing to put up with) a group of just your teammates, some cake, and no speeches? Lunch with your boss? A farewell card and a donation to your favourite charity? If you tell them specifically what you *do* want, it’ll make it easier for them to understand what you *don’t* want.

        Good luck!

    2. Bagpuss*

      I think it’s worth saying that to your boss – that you would find it so stressful that if they can’t guarantee it won’t happen you will be so stressed that you will end up calling out or having to leave. If your immediate boss is not taking you seriously is there someone more senior you can speak to?

    3. BethDH*

      I don’t mind a goodbye party but I would hate this one!
      OP can very reasonably say they don’t want a party and their boss should listen, but it might be useful to suggest what they would appreciate instead. Seeing recorded speeches as already mentioned, or just cards or people signing a banner? A shorter party with no speeches? Lunch with the closest members of your team? Snacks in your honor in the break room for people to grab on their own?

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        Yeah – a quick cake to say goodbye and give me a card in the break room – I can handle. But even I who am fairly outgoing would be driven to active flight by what the OP is describing as their goodbye party.

        Get with the boss again, reinforce that you are serious and don’t want this. But also get with whoever is the party planner and let them know that the normal plan is way too much for you – and you really don’t want something that big. And yeah – get with some of your coworkers as well to reinforce the “the normal party is far too much and makes me very uncomfortable” message.

    4. KRM*

      Yeah, if I knew they were throwing one of those parties for me even though I said I didn’t want one, I would straight up not attend it at all. I told you I didn’t want it, you didn’t listen, and I know you’ll be surprised when I’m not there even though you should not be.

    5. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      I also dislike parties and being the centre of attention. I wouldn’t call out, though, but I would be mentally checked out once I realized it was happening.

    6. AnonInCanada*

      My sentiments exactly. I would have to be the centre of attention in any circumstance, let alone when everyone’s gushing over you. I hope OP#2 makes it crystal clear to everyone on her team, not just her boss, that she doesn’t want any farewell party. And if they still throw one, leave.

    7. MigraineMonth*

      I’m a bit of a drama llama and love being the center of attention, but I’d still find the described party over the top and embarrassing. Heartfelt speeches from every team member? Singing? Please no, just a card and cupcakes is plenty.

  5. TheTickMS*

    A goodbye song? 45 minutes of speeches??? For 2 and a half years? That sounds like my anxiety nightmare.

    1. DrunkAtAWedding*

      It is kind of sweet that people leave the company so infrequently that they have time to do all of that.

      1. JustaTech*

        We didn’t do this much when our very long time head of R&D retired. Heck, the last time we did anything like that was when one person who’s department was mostly at another site retired.
        People who left for other jobs? That was usually an off-site happy-hour type thing (that upper management eventually tried to ban because we were “being happy people were leaving” (no, we were happy they were getting out when we were in a bad place), which resulted in upper management not getting invited anymore), not a during-work cake and stuff event.

    2. Person from the Resume*

      I think that’s one of the problems.

      I’m also an introvert but was fine with the farewell lunch that had maybe 5 minutes of speeches and a farewell gift.

      I was agog at the existance of a “The Goodbye Song” being sung except in an environment full of children younger 7.

    3. Antilles*

      The 45 minutes of speeches is what gets me. Like, what do you even talk about for 45 minutes with someone who’s been there only a couple years?

      If I had to be part of this, I’d absolutely be fighting for the chance to give my speech very early in the group because heaven help the guy whose speech starts at minute 40 and has to come up with something new to say that hasn’t already been “taken”.

    4. Elizabeth West*

      It does seem like a lot. A shorter presentation with fewer dramatics would be better.

      A very old job did this for me; the talkity part of the gathering was just a few minutes, like “Good luck, we’ll miss you, let’s eat!” lol. Then we just wandered in and out of the break room stuffing our faces.

      I did enjoy it because leaving days were potluck days and we had some spectacularly good cooks on our staff. They were pretty nice. Some of them were still there when I temped for them part-time a couple of years later to cover someone’s maternity leave. In fact, 9/11 happened during that period; being at work on such a scary day helped us all, I think.

    5. Not a mouse*

      This sounds like hell to me even if I was not the honoree. I rarely want to listen to 45 minutes of speeches about anything, but speeches about a departing coworker are just about guaranteed to be boring.

  6. Observer*

    #4 – One thing your boss might think about is using the fact that you got a much better job as ammunition in the future. Your boss sounds like a reasonable person, so it could be useful to them to be able to say to the higher ups in the future “Last time we stalled so hard over a deserved promotion, we lost a really good staff person. Let’s not make the same mistake again.”

    Not that it’s your responsibility to worry about your (soon to be ex) boss’ future negotiations with the hierarchy at this organization. But it may make you feel a bit better about quitting just as they went to bat for you.

    1. Chevron*

      Totally agree with this – I once left a job where I was doing the work of the higher level, was one of the top performers even amongst the people officially on the higher level, but there was a lot of feet dragging and moving goalposts over promoting me to the level I was working at. After I left they had to hire someone at the higher level to replace me.

      A couple of my old team who’d been in a similar situation and also working at the higher level received bonuses and promotions in the following months. My old manager used losing me as an example to get the rest of the team what they needed so they didn’t lose anyone else. I loved my new job and also loved my old colleagues so it was a great outcome all round!

    2. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      Yes, this was my first thought. Maybe boss gets to go back and say “I TOLD YOU SO”, or use you as an object lesson next time they get similar situations.

    3. Lab Boss*

      Yup. In the boss’ shoes I’d be angry about this outcome but not at my departing employee- at the company for making me work hard to keep someone while they strung it out so long I lost my employee anyway. And I absolutely would be using that example as a hammer in all future negotiations.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Same. In fact, if the company kept doing this, I bet the boss would be putting out their own resume before long.

    4. cardigarden*

      I found myself in a similar situation, but it was stellar applicants turning down the open position in my department because they pay was too low for the mandatory qualifications (I fought hard to raise the pay before the announcement got posted, but that decision was made wayyyyyy up the org chart). I was able to use “no one with the qualifications you’re making me ask for is accepting the salary you want to pay” as a way to get an increase for the position and they gave me a raise too.

    5. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

      And it can totally make a difference. I worked at a place that was awesome, but you were more likely to get retirement before promotions due to the 14ish step promotion process managers had to walk your application through that could drag. Me leaving before my promotion process was done (I was on step 8 or something) allowed my boss who was on her last nerve (and lost 3 employees in the past 2 years because of this) and advocated to change the process. Policy got revised. Steps went from 14 to 4 and a timeline for decisions (90 days). My leaving sucked for my old boss in the short term, but it has made her life so much happier in the long-term that she even uses the tale as part of my reference* when asked “Would you hire her again?”

      *We are friends and still work together as stakeholders so we are actually references for each other at this point. If I ever move back to the area I’d totally work at that org again

    6. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      Absolutely, once the boss gets over their upset at loosing a good employee (which as a human it’s okay to be a bit upset, it’s in how you manager there upset that determines your professionalism) use this as an example – or to some of the other posts just above this one, yet another example – of what the company will deal with because their process for promotions/raises is so drawn out. Long processes lead to brain drain because the best employees have always had options, and companies ignore that at their own peril.

      1. The Real Fran Fine*

        Long processes lead to brain drain because the best employees have always had options, and companies ignore that at their own peril.

        Someone needs to print this on a shirt and sell it to every company, especially in the U.S.

    7. Rain's Small Hands*

      They might also be able to use the work to have the job reclassed (or at least posted with a higher salary) when hiring your replacement, making it easier for them to find someone. It isn’t wasted work.

    8. JustaTech*

      I literally watched a VP say this to our CEO just the other week.
      Hopefully the CEO will listen (and be able to do something, because he’s still not the top of the heap at this company).

  7. AnonRN*

    #3: even when given one week’s notice of the next week’s schedule.

    Look, your employees *do* need to be told that missing shifts isn’t okay and can culminate in termination, but…How much *less* notice could you give them?! I get about a month’s notice for my schedule (shift-work, essential worker, 24-hour coverage), and *that* makes me antsy! I know it’s really common in food service and retail but people need time to plan other things in their lives, whether it’s “important” (child care/elder care, major exams, medical appointments) or “pleasure” (family BBQ, sportsball tickets, etc). Giving employees only one week’s notice of ther work schedule effectively means that you control *all* of their time. They can’t plan anything more than a week in advance. If there is any way you can alter this, I think you should, either by creating fixed schedules or by giving more notice.

    Also, examine what’s involved in getting coverage for a shift they want to change…can they just swap with a co-worker? Are there a lot of hurdles? What if someone wakes up truly sick (no time to swap in advance)? Are they expected to find their own coverage in between trip to the bathroom? (A former co-worker had this experience at a food-service job [pre-Covid]. And when she couldn’t find someone they threatened to fire her so she came to work with a high fever…to prepare and serve food.) What I’m getting at here is that if it’s too onerous to find coverage, it’s probably easier for them to no-call/no-show and apologize later.

    1. Amy Farrah Fowler*

      Yeah, I think there needs to be some balance here. If you’re not able to provide the schedule significantly further out, maybe you CAN have a system where employees can let you know in advance when they are not available, so when you’re making the schedule you’re not scheduling them for times they have other plans. I also think that for new workers, you have to really spell it out – “We need x number of people here because when we have less, it’s too much work for everyone. We count on you to reliably be here and if you can’t to let us know as soon as possible, so we can find coverage. If you are not reliable it can result in losing this job.” And then hold them accountable as Alison has discussed in many MANY posts.

      1. Lab Boss*

        Ditto on the advance-notice system. My church uses one for the people who assist at services- an online portal where you can check which time slots you’re willing to fill, which jobs you’re trained in, and can set aside unavailable dates. Simple, easy, and could absolutely be directly converted for job scheduling- and if we’ve figured out how to set it up, any business should be able to as well.

      2. KatEnigma*

        My BIL works retail and he likes the week out system because he CAN request the days off he needs before the schedule comes out, which is easier than finding someone to switch.

      3. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

        And remember that these are HS age folks. They are going to need way more than a week notice and flexibility because their schedule is still under the control of their parents and school. If you are going to have HS age staff, always hire and schedule 20% more people per shift because your employee has no control over a parent getting the, “My work called me in and you have to get your siblings to daycare/take care of sibs” or similar calls.

        This happened to me a lot in HS because I am middle sib with a 6 year gap between us. At 16 I missed so many shifts because I had to help my folks by watching my 10 year old sister.

        1. Captain Swan*

          One week ahead scheduling has been around for minimum wage jobs fir decades, I don’t think that will change. But some places do it better than others.
          My daughter (19) works in a restaurant and they give out the schedule one week in advance. For her and most of the HS/college students that work there that’s fine because they are really consistent about putting them on the same shifts every week. If she needs a specific day off, she can request it in the online schedule system up to three weeks before the week of. Daughter has changed her overall availability 3 times since she started working there. She has even told them the day before that they put her on to start at 4 and she can’t get there until 5, they just change it to 5 and keep moving. Heck she’s called out sick before her shift and they tell her to feel better and they find a sub. So done right a week ahead system can work.

          1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

            See, I think that might be the key. Consistently giving people approximately the the same shifts every week and then only releasing the final schedule once a week is fine. That allows people to roughly plan ahead. It is a whole different ball game when week to week you have no idea what shifts you will be given which happens A LOT. I know so many people who have absolutely no idea what their schedule might be week to week. Definitely delightful when the scheduling algorithm/manager assigns a person on Saturday closing with a Sunday opening (BTDT, it sucked)

            1. Lydia*

              Oregon has a law that retail (and I think shift work) schedules have to be provided at least two weeks in advance. Too many people finding out the day they’re off that the schedule changed that day and they were supposed to be at work. Screw that.

    2. Graflex01867*

      At the company I work at, we use an app called “crew” for scheduling shifts. You can request time off, and request coverage for a shift with one click of a button. That way, everyone knows there’s an open shift if they want to pick up extra time. It’s another click for the boss to accept the swap, and it’s done. I think the app shows my manager how many hours people have been scheduled for/worked, so they can make sure people don’t go into overtime accepting an extra shift here or there.

      I’m pretty sure we’ve got about 20-30 people in total that we’re scheduling, so it might be a bit overkill for an office of 10, but I’d bet there are programs or apps out there to make scheduling easier.

      1. ferrina*

        I love this! I hated when my manager made me responsible for filling my own shift- I didn’t have anyone’s phone number, and even if I did, I was the most junior person so most of the senior folks already had the shift they wanted and wouldn’t switch. When I was sick, I wouldn’t always have the focus to jump through the hoops.

    3. Pam Adams*

      Also, it sounds like you have the kids’ selling stuff, maybe even cold calls, since I see you pay commission. That was a tough skill for people to learn in the Before Times. The Dollars are likely to walk on and find something more comfortable to do.

      1. Lydia*

        Yeah, that kind of work is not really suitable for this age group. They’re figuring things out and a lot of them haven’t learned how to deal with anxiety like talking on the phone.

        I would add that I appreciate Alison’s advice to let new hires know if they can’t show up for a shift as early in the process as possible, but knowing this age group as I do, that will only help a little bit and you have to continue to coach them on it. It’s really not enough to let them know; you have to be willing to repeat it, remind them, have some (a little bit) of forgiveness once or twice when it happens, and then give them a final warning before letting them go. Working with high schoolers means being much MUCH more forgiving than if these were full grown adults who had jobs before doing it. People who hire high schoolers and think they come with a well-formed idea of how things work are in for a lot of frustration.

    4. Mid*

      I had all the same questions. In high school, I had a job where if I called out sick, I would be berated, pressured into coming in, and threatened to have the missed shift taken out of my pay (!) if I didn’t find coverage.

      While this was only one extremely bad boss, giving 1 weeks notice for the schedule is a concerning flag for the work environment LW is running.

      What is the call out procedure? How do they book time off? Are those things clear? What happens if a shift isn’t covered? Why are shifts only posted a week before? Is there a work app people can use to swap shifts? Who covers shifts if someone can’t make it? Are there policies in place for late and no-showing, with reasonable consequences for repeated behaviors? (Do people strictly need to be in and working at a certain time or can they have slightly flexible shift starts?)

      While new to the working world employees should always have the details laid out clearly, because you never know what their background is, I also wonder if there are business practices that can be changed as well, to make everyone happier.

      1. Jack Straw from Wichita*

        And this: “I would be berated, pressured into coming in, and threatened to have the missed shift taken out of my pay (!) if I didn’t find coverage” is why it’s just easier to quit and get a new job rather than deal with that manager. I dealt with–and did–the same thing when I was a teenager.

    5. Bilateralrope*

      I also do shift work. Sure, sometimes the roster for one week only goes up a few days before that week begins, but my regular shifts are very predictable. There is a set rotation that’s likely to remain unchanged for years.

      Then there are extra shifts. I get as much notice there as my employer can give but, when the reasons include a coworker going to the er instead of their shift, short notice is understandable.

    6. Nameo*

      One week’s notice for schedules is really normal — and in fact helpful — in the kind of workplace that hires high schoolers. When it’s done right, employees can easily ask off with little notice, because the schedule hasn’t been made yet! High schoolers often have multiple commitments with uncertain or variable dates/time commitments (sports, schoolwork, etc). It’s way easier for employees than having to ask for time off multiple weeks in advance, and it’s easier for the employer because they don’t have to constantly change the schedule around.

      1. askalice*

        One weeks notice for hospitality rosters is beyond normal, I’ve worked Australia and UK in many places and this is standard. As nameo says, it offers flexibility to staff and management. In hospitality (in these countries anyway) the staff are usually at least half students/artists/musicians/travellers who want the flexibility to tell their boss weekly availabilities. When I was a manager, I’d get all requests by a certain cut off day, and then I’d do the following week/fortnights roster. Plus I’d look at major events/functions/bookings and have to put extra staff on. Rosters for hospo would be useless if you made them a month in advance. Yes providing reliability where you can, people get approx the hours they want across their preferred days. It’s a balancing act.
        It’s true there are many toxic places like those mentioned above where horror stories about covering your own shifts and going in sick (I’ve experienced workplaces where that happened to me, and worse). And any experiences of toxicity I definitely recommend anyone walks, it’s a weird industry and can really mess with your head.
        I guess my advice with high schoolers would be to make sure that their experience was really good, professional, with lots of training, so that they saw the value in staying. But simultaneously holding them to the same standards of professionalism as the rest of the staff. And definitely offering rostering flexibility/regular hours.

      2. doreen*

        I think that people who think it’s terrible that schedules change and are only posted a week in advance for retail/hospitality jobs don’t see the flip side – which is that if I am to have my schedule four weeks in advance, that means Penny can’t ask for a day off only a week in advance. There are lots of jobs where everyone can have a fixed schedule and leaving some work for the next day is OK and if someone wants a day off, it doesn’t require scheduling someone else to work. But retail/hospitality jobs often don’t allow for that – if the business on a Friday night requires six cashiers, you can’t get by with only four. If you provide the schedule four weeks in advance, and Penny is scheduled for the fourth Friday, what do you do when she asks for the day off only a week in advance? Do you tell her she has to find someone to trade shifts on her own? Do you give her the day off and schedule Bernadette to work with only a week’s notice? Do you have a policy that all schedule requests must be submitted by the 25th of the previous month ? There is no perfect solution – either schedules get changed on short notice or people have to find their own replacements or people can’t request a day off on short notice.

        1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

          I think my bigger issue is that employers are often quite crap at keeping track of when HS kids said they can work. Where I am some schools are year round and some have summer breaks. If you schedule Lazlo and Nadia for 9 am on a Wednesday during the school year or during summer school, they won’t be able to make it. The LW might want to double check that they are not booking student employees for times they are in school

          1. J*

            I know I’d definitely get calls to work during school or I’d send a schedule for my theater pit crew rehearsals and performances as soon as I got them and then somehow I’d end up scheduled for 50% of those dates. It taught me some really bad work habits to try and appease a boss who cared nothing about my life outside work or the fact that as a 16/17/18 year old I might actually want to finish high school.

      3. Laney Boggs*

        Yeah this is so weird. For 9 years I worked at a restaurant that released the Monday-Sunday schedule on Saturday. It works fine.

      4. The Other Dawn*

        Yes, one week’s notice for retail, food service, and other jobs along those lines is very normal. When I worked at a grocery store, our schedule went up on Tuesday for the following week.

      5. Dust Bunny*

        I was going to say: This was normal when I worked a shift job. Granted, we tended to be schedule for the same, or similar, shifts each two-week period so if we had to call out we could loosely predict when we’d need to get someone to cover for us–if the LW’s workplace scatters peoples’ shifts all over the place they should make an effort to stabilize that. But one week’s notice for scheduling was expected.

      6. Rain's Small Hands*

        Yeah, I can’t imagine my high school kids (now young adults) being able to commit to a work schedule MORE than a week out. Two weeks out you don’t know if you’ve made the team/been cast in the play. The rehearsal schedule doesn’t go out that far. You don’t know if your friends will be getting together or not.

        My youngest had a high school retail job and they kept scheduling them when they had class (they were taking college classes) and over their rehearsal time (they’d been cast in a play), even when they had blocked that time as unavailable. And I had that happen to me as well in college back in the dark ages. Keep schedules as predictable as possible and don’t schedule people to be at work when they aren’t available. Because the manager at my youngests job said “this job should be your highest priority” – to which my high school student taking college coursework laughed. High school kids are generally not feeding themselves and paying rent from their wages – they are using them to maybe put gas in the car and pay for insurance, but in a lot of cases its money for buying Starbucks, clothes, and hanging with friends. The job is quite possibly their lowest priority after friends, school, extracurriculars, family, social media.

        And yes, this makes it difficult to run a business with high schoolers.

        1. Curmudgeon in California*

          Because the manager at my youngests job said “this job should be your highest priority” – to which my high school student taking college coursework laughed.

          I actually laugh at that now at full time, professional jobs. Because no, a job is not higher priority than my health or my family. I’ve tried the sad thing of putting my job first, and got the layoff anyway, while straining my family relationships and ending up with burnout.

          1. Rain's Small Hands*

            Agreed. For me as a working professional, health and family have always taken priority. That comes with age. For the youngun’s it can be hard to get them to prioritize family and their health over their friends – MUCH LESS a stupid retail job paying $10 an hour where you can quit on Thursday and be working at a new place by the following Tuesday.

          2. Irish Teacher*

            Yup, when I had to have an operation 2 and a half years ago and mentioned this to the deputy principal, his response was “well, the job comes a long way down the line after your health.” And this was a teaching job with kids who depend on us, not a part-time high school job that…definitely isn’t as important as health, family, schools, friends, etc.

      7. Janeric*

        I agree about how normal this is — in fact, we usually got less than three or fours days notice with some pretty variable shift scheduling, which was exhausting. It’s not great for many reasons, it’s nearly impossible to combine with childcare — but a set schedule less than a week out is pretty normal. (I think a few years ago Starbucks was giving less than 48 hours notice of new schedules, I’m not sure this is still true.)

          1. Lydia*

            It’s required in Oregon now that retail and food service get their schedules at least two weeks in advance.

      8. Jack Straw from Wichita*

        It might be helpful “workplace that hires high schoolers” aka the employer, but not to the actual high school workers. I taught HS students for years and most were busier than I was as a 40YO with kids, career, etc.

        It’s also a misnomer that they can ask off if the schedule hasn’t been shard yet. Before I became a teacher I was a retail manager for several years, and the schedule was typically done a week or more before I was posted. Multiple levels of management had to review it before I got the okay to share with employees. (Also, many retail/food service/hospitality/etc. managers are… jerks. Have you ever asked one to move a shift wit a week’s notice? It’s not pleasant and I’d rather quit than deal with some of the folks I worked for back in the day. Especially when I can literally go across the street and get a job starting at another restaurant that afternoon.)

        1. Irish Teacher*

          Oh gosh yes, Leaving Cert. students here (equivalent to 12th graders) are recommended to do at least 3-4 hours homework and study each night and more at weekends. So if they are in school 9-4ish, that’s a 35 hour week, then say 15 hours homework from Monday to Friday and another 10 hours on the weekend, that’s a 60 hour week. Well, it’s a bit less, because the school day is more like 9-3:30, but you’re talking a minimum of maybe a 55 hour week. And most kids get grinds (extra tuition) in at least one subject, so that’s another hour a week and probably another hour doing the homework for THAT.

    7. sswj*

      I work retail, and mostly we schedule one week out, occasionally two if it’s a busy time or the manager is traveling.

      What works for us is the understanding that it’s on the employee to find coverage if they can’t work their scheduled times. In an emergency the manager will do it (sudden illness or other immediate and unforeseeable crisis), but otherwise it’s up to the employees to ensure there is someone in their slot if they can’t be there. We have a system to request time off, and unless it’s a VERY last minute thing or it’s a mega sales time like holidays your time off *will* be on the calendar. Frankly that’s just good management.

      No show/no call gets one pass with a verbal reprimand/warning. A second gets a formal write-up, and a 3rd will generally end in termination. The store will bend over backwards to accommodate last minute changes whenever possible, but the employee has to put in at least SOME effort at notification!

      1. Cthulhu's Librarian*

        See, the problem is that what “works” for you is literally terrible management practice, where the manager offloads their responsibilities to ensure adequate staffing for the facility on their employees. It definitely creates situations where someone who is unpopular with their coworkers can’t find anyone to cover their shift, and so can’t take days off (unless your work place is starving everyone for shifts, so people are desperate to grab whatever becomes available – which is quite common in retail, but also terrible). This leads to all sorts of negative behaviors, like people coming in ill, not being able to take car/doctor/etc appointments at convenient times (which increases the likelihood of an easily preventable catastrophe wrecking their lives), and so on.

        Even in retail, it is possible to put together a monthly calendar. I know because I did it, and a preliminary one went out by the 15th of the month before, and a finalized one by the 24th. That gives everyone plenty of time to ask for any changes they might need/want – and they didn’t have to go begging a coworker for coverage, because I could just post a list of the extra shifts in the break room and let anyone who wanted to sign up for them.

        I did have the good fortune of having enough staff and an employer who supported cross training, so when people did call out sick, we could cover all the major functions of the store without terrible difficulty, and I know there are a lot of retail locations where that is not the case. But scheduling is really, honestly, NOT all that hard – and doing longer term schedules tends to result in folks gravitating towards a preferred/fixed set of shifts that they have arranged to make the rest of their lives easier. Whether that is working a second job, arranging child care, making appointments, taking classes, or what have you, it’s easier to live and have a plan around “I work Thursday evenings” than it is “I have no idea when I might need to work next weeks.”

        It also made working with their life changes simpler, because when someone started a new semester of school, and their schedule changed, they would just say to me “Cthulhu’s Librarian, I won’t be able to make it in on Thursdays for the next 4 months.” Even hiring for replacements became a lot easier, because I had a pretty good idea of what holes were in my schedule, and actually could use availability as a filter for applicants in a targeted way (ie: “I need someone for Tuesday night and Wednesday morning), rather than just looking for someone with the most availability.

        1. Queen Esmeralda*

          Yeah, I’m a retail manager and I make monthly schedules. I work for a family business, not a chain, so I’m sure that helps. I also concur that it’s the manager’s job to find coverage/schedule switches, NOT the employees.

        2. Not Your Admin Ass(t)*

          +1,000,000 to every single word of your comment. Putting the work of finding coverage off on the employees is a terrible practice–as is not scheduling as far in advance as possible. Even high schoolers with busy schedules can find some general patterns in their availability. So what if you make a schedule in advance and then have to tweak it because someone’s availability changes? That’s just a given when you work with other people in a society. Be responsible, be flexible. If your business can’t manage that, the problem isn’t with the high schoolers’ fluctuating schedules outside of work.

          1. doreen*

            So what if you make a schedule in advance and then have to tweak it because someone’s availability changes? I mentioned this in another comment, but I’m going to ask directly here – how do you tweak my schedule because my availability changed without changing someone else’s schedule?

            1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

              By having a shift covered to the degree that missing one person isn’t going to impact work. I’ve heard it referred to as “ideal staffing” (e.g. coverage+buffer) vs “optimal staffing” (e.g. coverage with no buffer)

              1. I.T. Phone Home*

                This is goofy. Ideal staffing isn’t so you can publish a schedule a month in advance and spend the next four weeks poking holes in it. It’s to cover for unexpected absences — illness/childcare/car trouble etc. Nobody would ever write a schedule with a bunch of padding so that they have room to introduce holes into it weeks in advance. So what? We double pad? Padding for the late PTO requests and padding for the call outs? You’re going to schedule 7 cashiers for 5 registers 100% of the time for the 10% of days when you end up short staffed? All in service of getting the schedule out earlier?

                How would your boss reply if you said, “Things would run a lot smoother here if you added 40% more labor”? Stores, just like offices, have revenues and costs and budgets and figure out how much labor of different types they need and can afford, and then hire/schedule with that in mind. The schedule in a retail business isn’t written on vibes and guesswork. It’s a real job and a real industry run by people with specific applicable expertise. It has its own set of challenges and constraints and it’s pretty arrogant to look in from the outside and say, “I could solve this better than the people who have spent their careers there.”

                1. Lydia*

                  I feel like this whole weird, defensive post can be summarized by “it’s always been that way, so why change.” You change because how it’s always been isn’t great. There’s no way to guarantee you won’t be short, but most staffing as it currently stands is done at a bare minimum to keep those labor costs down. I know in large retail stores managers get dinged for labor percentages, which means if an emergency does come up at the last minute, they’re understaffed or frantically calling people to come in. That’s not the smart way to do it, either.

                2. I.T. Phone Home*

                  @Lydia I’m not anti-change. I’m saying virtually all of the changes suggested in this comment thread, including yours, are goofy. Pretend for a second it’s not retail. Pretend it’s any other kind of job. If you had employees routinely not showing up without so much as a call, would your solution EVER be to to add more people to compensate? Or would it be to find people who were willing and able to show up and do the work?

                  Retail is just another type of job. Why do jobs have problems with retention and effort and showing up? Culture and compensation. If the money exists to add all that redundant headcount, use it instead to increase wages, increase benefits, increase training. Develop people. Give them real skills and expertise. Show them how their work contributes to the success of the business, and how that makes its way back to them in the form of increased pay and opportunity. Let them find efficiencies, then have them train others. Create advancement plans and follow through on them. Make real, sustainable careers that people want to stay in.

                  If you have someone who’s great behind the deli and cheese counter and finds that work interesting and rewarding, don’t make her spend 20 hours every week doing a half-assed job cashiering because you refuse to hold no-shows accountable. Fix your cashier problem, then teach her to make made-to-order charcuterie boards. Teach her to pair wines with cheeses. Let her get deeper into the work that she likes and she’s good at. In time, she’ll drive more sales and her orders will be more accurate and she’ll shrink less product. And as all of those skills and efficiencies come together and her labor generates more revenue for less cost, reinvest that in her and the rest of the staff.

                  So yeah there are a lot of things I would like to see change in the retail industry. But not by hiring more of the cheapest labor you can find just so you can have enough that it no longer matters if people no-show.

              2. T_rex20*

                I work in a restaurant…my tipped employees (and yes, we pay over minimum wage, not the tipped minimum wage) would make *significantly* less money, and/or I’d need to send people home very early, meaning they gave up their day/drove to work, etc just to get cut right away. One of the hardest part of building my schedule is making sure we have enough coverage so service runs smoothly for both workers & customers, but not so much that no one makes money.

            2. Cthulhu's Librarian*

              It is dependent on whether it is a short term schedule change, or a long term one.

              Most short term changes can be worked around with minimal disruptions to the majority of people on staff – it is uncommon to really need to adjust 5 people’s schedule because one of them said “Oh, I can’t work that Tuesday cause I need to attend parent/teacher conferences.”

              For long term changes, yes, changing your schedule probably does impact other people – which is precisely why it is so vital that I communicate that with everyone ahead of time, with as much notice as possible. Knowing that you aren’t available on a given day anymore lets me know that I need to ask around, and find out if others can change their regular schedules to accommodate that, or if I needed to hire another person to ensure adequate coverage.

              1. doreen*

                I’m not saying you have to adjust five people’s schedule because one can’t work Tuesday but there’s a difference between minimizing changes and not having any changes. I will use an example from one of my high school jobs. There were two people working the counter at the donut shop from 4pm to midnight. There was too much business to schedule just one person but not enough to justify three. If the manager puts out the September schedule on August 24 , what happens when someone finds out on September 10th that they can’t work on Sept 17 ? Either someone gets their schedule changed on a week’s notice (maybe voluntarily, maybe not) or the person doesn’t get the day off. There aren’t any other options except to have only one person work that day, which might be unavoidable if they woke up sick that day or had an emergency but I’d be pretty annoyed if I ended up working alone because the manager didn’t want to change someone’s schedule on a week’s notice.

                1. Lenora Rose*

                  Where did it say you couldn’t accommodate changes a week out because the schedule as a whole is set and has been set for a while? Nobody here said not allowing any changes.

        3. I.T. Phone Home*

          So people needed to know by July 24th if the needed off at the end of August — 5-6 weeks notice to get a day off — but still only got 7 days notice on the schedule for August 1st? This sounds like the worst of both systems.

      2. Snow Globe*

        I don’t like the requirement that it is the employee’s job to find coverage. It reminds me of the letter from the manager whose employee quit when they couldn’t find coverage to go to their own college graduation. If coworkers won’t agree to swap shifts, why should that be the employee’s problem to solve?

        1. Nesprin*

          Meh, it makes sense for a SMALL number of positions. In my college job where coverage was 100% needed (teaching swimming) and a significant portion of the staff were likely to wake up hungover for 7am Saturday shifts, we had to find our own covers. Management came in at 7, by which time everyone either had found coverage or showed up, or got fired.

          Management made it as easy as possible- there was a list of all people who could cover with stars next to people who wanted extra shifts and most employees lived within walking distance of the pool, and if things truly went sideways, there was always one extra floater on every shift who could teach if necessary.

        2. Le Sigh*

          I once woke up with strep and had to call in with two hours’ notice for my morning shift. I was told to call around to get my shift covered — I had an active fever and it was hard to talk. I was also trying to find a doc who could see me on short notice. I never, ever called out and was pretty irritated that I had to spend an hour finding someone to cover my shift when I should have been getting rest.

      3. hbc*

        I think the “find your own replacement” actually works *against* the store getting notice that there’s a problem. If I know I can’t make a couple of hours of my shift next Tuesday at a place where the manager fills slots, I let them know immediately. The manager only contacts the people who potentially work Tuesdays. If they don’t get anyone, the manager decides if it’s worth me working a short shift or offering extra pay or something.

        If I’m finding coverage, I’m contacting literally every coworker, and none of them are going to feel as obligated to tell me “no, can’t” as quickly as possible. So I burn at least a couple of days waiting for responses, maybe another day trying to negotiate with the least firm “no,” and since I’m new to the workforce probably another day dithering to give the boss the bad news. All so my manager can annoy people who already said “no” by asking again, and be left with the same options three days later.

      4. Observer*

        What works for us is the understanding that it’s on the employee to find coverage if they can’t work their scheduled times.

        Actually, it may work for the managers, but it doesn’t work for anyone else. This is the type of policy that contributes to things like people coming in sick, because they can’t find coverage. And it means that a lot of people will nc/ns, even if it endangers their job. Because even if they DO call in, there is no guarantee that the manager will consider it enough of an emergency and won’t care if the employee trued and couldn’t get someone to do them the favor.

        We have a system to request time off, and unless it’s a VERY last minute thing or it’s a mega sales time like holidays your time off *will* be on the calendar. Frankly that’s just good management.

        This definitely helps. And I totally agree that this is just simple good management, but it’s shockingly rare. Notice how many people just on this thread have shared experiences where managers ignored time off requests or well know schedule constraints.

        1. I.T. Phone Home*

          It works better for the person receiving the request. It’s really, really different to get an “optional” request to trade shifts from a peer than it is from your boss. Who is it easier to say no to?

          Neither system is perfect, but it’s silly to pretend that one is great and the other is exploitative or stupid. There are tradeoffs with both.

          1. doreen*

            Not only is it easier to say “no” to a peer, when I had those jobs being asked by a boss didn’t involve a trade. It involved just picking up a shift – most of the time I preferred to be asked by Jane to take her Friday shift in exchange for her working my Saturday shift. If the manager called and I said “yes”, I would have been working both shifts. ( and Jane would have lost one, which she may have wanted to avoid)

            1. Observer*

              Sure, it’s easier to say no. But it means that an employee can be left without options, which is not right.

              The solution is not for employers to just pile on added shifts on others. But although it is a good idea to ALLOW shift swapping, ultimately it HAS to be the manager’s responsibility to manage staffing and make sure that shifts are covered.

              1. I.T. Phone Home*

                I think the fundamental disagreement here is that you’re seeing this as onerous and I’m seeing it as accommodating. In a workplace with a variable schedule that comes out a week or two in advance, this only comes up when someone is making a request after the schedule is locked and posted. If the request had come in before, and it didn’t conflict with other earlier request, the manager would’ve written it into the schedule. (Incidentally, this is the tradeoff to writing a schedule farther in advance — requests have to be in earlier.) So instead of a flat “No, this request came in too late” the boss is allowing the employee to figure out a way to make it happen.

                Every job has a policy on how much notice is required to request off. Every job will tell you it’s contingent on approval. Retail is no different. In an office job, if you make a late request for PTO your boss might ask you if you’ll be able to hit a deadline earlier so it doesn’t slip until after the time off, if someone else on your team can handle the Wednesday meeting, or if a client is willing to reschedule. And the boss might decline your request off based on your answers.

                In a retail job, your boss is going to ask if someone will trade shifts. And if not, the answer might be, “Sorry, no. Next time please make the request before the schedule is posted.” Because you’re right, it is the manager’s responsibility to make sure everything is covered and the policy on requests is written to ensure that. But like the office example, retail managers want to work with their employees to get to yes. It’s the same principle, even if there are some different norms around it.

                To be clear, I don’t think the employee should be responsible for finding emergency/illness coverage. I’m talking about, “Something came up; can I change my schedule?”

      5. Anon all day*

        I honestly don’t get the pushback on one week scheduling notice for this for these types of retail jobs. If someone was complaining about a requirement to request PTO more than one week in advance, I bet most people would say that that requirement was reasonable. This is the exact same set up.

        (And before anyone “what about’s” me, sswj does include sudden illness or some type of crisis as an exception, and I agree that for this policy to be reasonable, those exceptions are needed.)

        1. Le Sigh*

          I don’t think there’s any one perfect system, but one-week notice does create challenges for the employee. It’s one thing if you’re pretty consistently working MWF, for example, or have some kind of consistency you can plan for. But for lot of my retails jobs, the schedule was all over the place — 15 hours one week, 37 the next, days/evenings were never consistent.

          That sort of thing is a huge issue for one of my relatives, who is a caregiver who has to schedule ongoing PT, OT, and doc appointments weeks in advance. They don’t need PTO, they just need to be able to schedule the appointment around their shift. But the employer also gets irritated when they frequently have to ask for schedule changes. It’s to the point where they’re trying to find another job bc they have to work, but this system is making it impossible for them.

    8. Cat Lover*

      I agree overall.. but like you said it’s normal in many industry’s to have 1 or 2 weeks notice of shifts. And not just for younger people, either. I know multiple adults that have weekly scheduling jobs.

      1. Observer*

        I think that the scheduling per se is not the biggest problem. What *IS* an issue is that the OP seems to think that this is a a lot of notice. It’s not. There can be good reasons for this kind of notice, and it actually can work well for people, but understand that is IS short notice.

        The other questions that are posed here are also really relevant. If you don’t take into account time off requests or don’t even make it clear and easy for staff to put in those requests; if you make them find their replacements; or if you make it hard for them to call in either because you have overly rigid and difficult processes or you give them a hard time, you WILL have this ongoing issue.

      1. Be Gneiss*

        But if you’re scheduling a bunch of high schoolers, sometimes it just isn’t possible? Both of my kids have summer jobs. One gets his schedule a week out. It’s a restaurant, and they have something like 75 high school and college kids. They use an app to put in their availability (oh, this week I’m at dad’s house Wed-Fri and can only work mornings; next week I have sports practice Monday and Thursday so I need the day off…). He’s never been scheduled for a time he put in as unavailable. But he’s a kid and he forgets sometimes…and then it’s on him to swap shifts (again, in the scheduling app, and it’s easy). On the couple rare occasions that he’s been sick or had something important come up, the managers have…managed? They’ve found coverage for his shifts or filled in the gaps.
        I can’t imagine trying to build a regular schedule – months out – for 75 people with constantly changing schedules, and just assuming it will all come out sunshine and lollipops.

        1. Be Gneiss*

          Also…my other high-schooler works at a customer-service-type job in a seasonal industry, and she *does* have a regular schedule…but every single week they are all swapping shifts to cover for sports or events or family plans. They have a small team and it pretty much works out, but it ends up being on the employees to find coverage anyway, so I’m not sure it’s better.

        2. Nanani*

          If anything it’s MORE doable with people whose lives run on a semseter model? “Constantly changing” is not the norm. They actually change very predictably – and can be expected to be unavailable during exam periods.
          Places hiring students need to stop pretending to be surprised by this.

      2. Valancy Snaith*

        In many cases it is impossible. Set schedules for retail or food service are almost always not a thing due to the changing, flexible nature of workers and and business needs vs worker needs. Statistics show that mid-August is usually a quiet time so you’ve scheduled fewer workers, but end-August picks up and September is busy so you schedule more hours. Automatically someone is not getting their set schedule. Perhaps Mary who has worked there for 15 years always works Mon-Fri 7:30-12:30, great, she gets her set schedule. But Mary is going to go off on sick leave for three weeks because she’s having surgery and there must be a fill for her spot, but no one else is available those exact hours–now you’re cobbling together her 25 hours out of other people’s schedules. Darius can’t work mornings but wants as many evening shifts as possible, while Sarah wants as many hours as possible and doesn’t care, so even if Sarah usually works mids, she’s going on mornings to cover for Mary and Darius can pick up some empty evening slots. This is not even getting into the kids whose schedules change every semester with classes, sports, clubs, etc., and everyone who goes on vacation, has an appointment, or when the business has to be all-hands-on-deck because it’s back-to-school or Christmas rush or whenever the busy season is.

        1. Nanani*

          “It changes every semester” means you have several months of clear unavailability communicated to you. That’s the opposite of constant change.

          Also if you’re the management -its your job to figure this out-.

      3. I.T. Phone Home*

        Do you think retail managers spend a couple hours every week writing a unique schedule because they got too good at sudoku and are looking for a bigger challenge? Or do you think possibly they are trying to accommodate the most possible schedule requests they receive in a given week while still being able to cover all tasks?

      4. Jack Straw from Wichita*

        Yeah, the number of folks saying it’s fine is mindboggling — it *IS* normal, but that doesn’t mean it’s right.

    9. Katie*

      It’s been a while since I had shift work, but I honestly hated schedules that came out much before that. For real plans, it would mean me making plans weeks in advance. I was a high schooler/college student and most stuff didn’t happen like that.
      It helped that I basically knew the shits I was going to work though.

    10. cardigarden*

      When I worked retail, I had 1 maybe 2 weeks notice for my schedule. Regional Grocery Chain did a pretty good job of keeping the schedule relatively consistent, but National Clothing Retailer was so bad that there were days I didn’t know I was on the schedule until that morning– I was late to a few shifts because of that BS. I see other people in the comments work for companies that schedule way further out than that and I wish I could have had that.

    11. Erin*

      Also, there are scheduling programs/phone apps that allow scheduling and shift swapping/calling out that might be more aligned with what younger workers are used to in terms of scheduling and communication. Implementing one could get them up to speed on the importance of being reliable.

      Also, my teenage step daughter in Georgia would be thrilled to make $15-18 per hour!

      1. Ama*

        $15 an hour is minimum wage in some states, though. So whether or not this is a better than average pay is going to be very location dependent.

    12. AdequateArchaeologist*

      At my last retail job we always got our schedule two weeks ahead of time, and our manager followed a particular pattern when making the schedule so you could guess when your next day was if you really wanted. I’m pretty sure that was her secret to loyal employees in a minimum wage position.

    13. Verthandi*

      How much *less* notice could you give them?!

      Previous job posted the week’s schedule on Friday evening. The schedule started Saturday morning. If you didn’t work Friday, it was your responsibility to call to find out when you’re working next. We all complained and it didn’t change.

      I got another job as soon as I could.

      1. fhqwhgads*

        That sucks, and also isn’t legal a bunch of places. I like that there seems to be some (minor) movement toward requiring minimum notice for schedules. Some places it’s a week. A two-week min was floated where I live a few years ago, but I don’t think it passed.

    14. Avril Ludgateaux*

      Long ago, I had a part-time retail job long ago where, by the end, we weren’t even informed of our schedule; we were told we had to come or call in by Sunday to know the next week’s schedule. This was a job I did for fun/extra money/the discount on top of my full-time job.

      We had a previous manager who would give advance notice and make a point to notify us of our schedules (rather than leaving it to us to call in), and I got used to it. She made the schedules 2 weeks out, so that was as far ahead as we would get, but she also knew when certain big product releases were happening that would need more staff, so she would clue us in well in advance. And she was very respectful of people’s other obligations. She knew I worked full time and was less available than some others, and always asked if I could come in, offering me specific shifts before making the schedule. She respected other part-timers’ school schedules and other obligations the same way.

      Then she moved on to better things, and soon after, our store closed and we were all relocated. But because I was only working part-time and intermittently at that, I wasn’t there when the closure happened, and nobody told me I was still on the roster. I assumed with the store closure, I was out of a job, and because it was only a part-time gig, I admit I did not prioritize it. I did not even know where I would have been moved to call, and I didn’t think to ask around.

      Apparently I was not only still on the roster, but I had been scheduled for multiple shifts that the other location’s manager never notified me of. I only found out when a work friend from the former store, called and asked “are you coming in today? You’re on schedule in an hour, and you missed your last shift” and I was literally in a different state. It wasn’t even the manager calling, but an old buddy, also a PT sales associate.

      I got used to having a great retail manager who went above and beyond and didn’t realize that the latter (no warning or communication about scheduling, very short notice, expectation that you followed up on your schedule rather than being informed of it) was the norm in the industry. By comparison, this guy was a terrible manager, but in practice I was an absent employee!

    15. Alex (they/them)*

      yea I worked at a lot of grocery stores during college and always had at least two weeks notice for shifts???

    16. My Useless 2 Cents*

      As much as I dislike working with the public, the one-week ahead schedule notice was the #1 reason I hated working retail. Like AnonRN said, it just felt like I couldn’t plan anything since I never knew what hours I’d be scheduled for next week.

    17. T-rex20*

      I work in the restaurant industry, and in my experience getting the schedule a month out rather than a week out is worse because it’s also hard to plan much of those things (especially social things) that far out. Now I’m in a management position and do the scheduling; many employees have set days off, in that they set their availability so they cannot be scheduled on certain days- this way they know when to schedule appointments and such. They can also request time off- if it’s done 2 weeks or more in advance, no discussion needed unless too many people have requested that same time off. If it’s less than 2 weeks but before the schedule is released, they just need to talk to me personally so I can make sure it works.

      If the schedule came out a month early, planning things that come up would be much harder and I would likely have more call-outs.

    18. HoHumDrum*

      lol when I worked in fast food it was super common to get less than a day’s notice. Schedule went up Saturday afternoon, so if you weren’t already working that day you’d have to drive over to the store in the evening to find out if you had the Sunday morning shift. Same store also had me work while sick when no one was willing to cover me. This experience was how I knew covid in the US was gonna be bad.

    19. Cringing 24/7*

      Wow, yeah – one week’s notice is absolute BS (totally missed that point on my first read-through). OP3, that’s just not okay – you already admit to low pay and annoying customers, but ALSO your employees don’t even know their work schedule more than a week out?! Your employees are basically just mirroring the lack of respect they’re receiving.

    20. Jack Straw from Wichita*

      Dear lord, THANK YOU. I didn’t even finish reading the rest of the column before I had to comment on this: “even when given one week’s notice of the next week’s schedule”

      One week is RIDUCLOUS even for a current high school student. I know, I taught them for years and some were busier than I was as a 40YO adult with children, a 7-4 teaching job, a second (and sometimes third) job, and weekly volunteer responsibilities. Seriously. They were busier than me. And those busy students are the ones you WANT working for you.

      And just because it’s common in XYZ industries doesn’t mean it’s okay. Be the job people stay with because their needs are taken into account. Be the place people are fighting o work at because their employers are reasonable and treat them like human beings.

      1. Jack Straw from Wichita*

        ETA: I know one week notice is “normal” but that doesn’t mean it’s the best thing (either for the employee or the employer). There are so many comments here that reek of it’s-what-we’ve-always-done-ness it’s mind boggling.

      2. Katt*

        I feel like a lot of jobs are looking for the superstar employee who is willing to put up with low pay and poor conditions for “experience”… but especially in this job market, those employees have options and are not sticking around at a job that doesn’t respect them at all. I know sooooo many people who were in food service or retail who have either made the jump to better positions at better restaurants/stores, or have been able to leave the industry completely.

        Jobs that don’t respect their employees should probably not be surprised when the only people willing to work for them are ones that display the exact same mindset.

    21. Cheerfully Polite Grey Rock*

      “How much *less* notice could you give them?”
      Well I once worked somewhere where the roster ran from Monday to Sunday, and was usually released by around Thursday of the previous week. One week we received our roster on Tuesday. For the week that had started the day before. So at least they got more than -1.5 days notice?
      I agree that more notice is better, especially if you have staff that are new to either the job or the workforce in general, although high turnover definitely makes it difficult to plan too far ahead. At the very least, part of the induction should include something along the lines of “welcome to the work world, here are the general expectations for professional environments, including the expectation that you turn up for your shifts, but if something unavoidable comes up here is how calling out and swapping shifts is handled”

    22. Katt*

      I worked at a grocery store years ago and the schedule would come out on I believe Thursday for the week starting the Sunday. So, essentially, you had 3 days’ notice – and that assumed you were already at the store on Thursday to begin with. People would often drop in between Thursday and Saturday to see their schedule for the next week if they weren’t working, or they would get coworkers to send it to them.

      It sucked. There was also a risk that you’d book time off and then somehow end up scheduled on only those days (and no other days!) anyways. They also insisted you find your own coverage or come to work sick – so I worked with migraines and bad colds, even a flu once, because I couldn’t find anyone willing to take my shift. There was no way to know in advance if you were getting your booked time off, either – which made it quite difficult to book things in advance since you would only be finding out less than a week before.

      I have a friend who is always stressed out because he gets his schedule a week in advance. Can’t say I’m surprised people are just not showing up if they have that little notice. They might be making the mental calculation that if the place is understaffed anyway, they’re unlikely to be fired, or maybe they don’t care about the job anyway and are okay with that. When you treat employees like this, it shouldn’t come as a huge surprise that you get bottom-of-the-barrel people that don’t care – the good employees who have options move on to jobs where they are actually appreciated. My current job is fantastic for that, and every day I am grateful for it, so I put in a lot of effort to make sure I am reliable.

  8. Tussy*

    LW 2: Don’t job hunt now, if you are pregnant put the search on hold and take advantage of that maternity leave!! Save the job search for near the end of the mat leave or when it ends! If you time it right you just don’t return from mat leave and the person they just keep on the person they used to backfill your role. You’ve worked hard and they haven’t rewarded you properly so at least take that benefit you are entitled to from them before you leave!!

    a) it’s going to be way harder to job search while you are pregnant because you will have to go on extended leave early on in your tenure and b) it’s nowhere near a guarantee you will get better maternity leave.

    Take that leave and then focus on the job search.

    1. Jennifer*

      I agree! I can’t even imagine job searching while pregnant, and especially a high risk pregnancy. This LW should cut way back on the work they do, as much as they can reasonably get away with in the last couple months before leave and try to remain stress-free until the baby comes.

    2. TG*

      Yeah I was going to say jump ship but you’re pregnant – leverage all that time off/maternity leave and see what happens before or when you’re back and you can decide if you need to search elsewhere

    3. Cat Tree*

      I disagree. There are some companies that have good parental leave policies that apply on your very first day, and won’t hold it against you for actually using it, even early on. If LW has the time to do it, it’s worth looking. Finding a place like that would be wonderful.

      1. Jj*

        This is highly industry dependent. There is no way I’d get any leave at under 1yr tenure anywhere in my field.

          1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

            I’d also hesitate to switch because what do you do if it is a different insurance carrier and your preferred birthing staff and hospital are now out of network. I’d definitely wait through at least a few months postpartum before changing

            1. The Real Fran Fine*

              Yeah, I don’t play around about insurance so that’s another thing that would make me stay put. It’s possible OP’s partner (if OP has one) could also have OP added to their own employer-provided insurance (if they have one) in the meantime, but again, not sure how long the waiting period would be once that process is complete (I’ve never had to or known anyone who has done this before so not sure if the coverage would be automatic).

            2. J*

              And adding in deductibles and such? I have almost always stuck with bad jobs for a bit longer if I’m in the middle of an ongoing treatment. The exception sometimes being if the insurance year changes and I’ll be on the hook for a new deductible anyway. But I still have to tie that to FMLA protections.

              As a disclaimer, I hate this current system as a disabled person but I’ve learned to work inside of it very carefully. I think people who aren’t often dealing with insurance and leave might not be aware of how many consequences can come of not thoroughly planning around this.

      2. Emmy Noether*

        I think there’s no harm in low-key looking, with the understanding that you are looking for a (unfortunately) rare thing. If you find something with a good policy, awesome! But don’t take just anything just to get out.

        If it gets too stressful on top of the pregnancy, stop (with the caveat that newborns are even more all-consuming than pregnancy for a lot of people). If nothing works out, take the maternity leave of oldjob and quit just after with a clear conscience.

        1. mlem*

          Yeah, just getting a sense of the field now isn’t a terrible idea. LW doesn’t actually have to apply, or agree to interview, or accept offers, etc. I’m not saying “go to interviews for practice!”, just … if you can start getting information now, it’s probably a good idea. Might line you up to accept a position that starts right after the mat leave ends.

        2. MCMonkeyBean*

          I agree–I think what I would do is:

          1) mentally decide that you are definitely going to leave this place long term–even if they do eventually give you a promotion, the way this process has gone so far is terrible and you don’t want to go through this again in a few years!

          2) also mentally decide that you’re not likely to make a move soon because it can be hard to get a new job and/or find one that will offer you parental leave right away

          3) start looking around now to get a sense of what the field is like and what kinds of things you want to look for

          4) have your baby (congratulations!)

          5) take your parental leave and then extend it with most of the other leave you have saved up (though probably keep some for interviews and in case of sickness w/ a new baby around!) Depending on how much energy you have now post-baby maybe start the job search more in earnest during this time as well.

          6) go back to work and put job search mode in full throttle

          Also–a pension is a good benefit for sure, but definitely consider your current salary versus what you can get at a new job. If you get a big enough salary increase you can make up for the pension by investing some of the extra salary.

          Good luck!!

      3. Meow*

        Maybe I’m too paranoid, but (assuming they’re from the US), I don’t think I’d ever want to risk not being covered by FMLA, no matter what my employer says. I’ve heard too many horror stories of people unexpectedly having to bring their literally still bleeding butts back into the office at 2 weeks.

    4. Stevie Budd*

      I also agree, and in addition, you might appreciate coming back to the job you’re used to post-pregnancy rather than a new job. I was glad to be in a low stress comfortable job post maternity leave.

    5. LW2*

      Thank you all for the comments! I’m glad to know this frustration is warranted (sometimes you wonder if it’s just you). Right now I’m just about 5/6 weeks away from my due date, so I pretty much decided to do what most of you suggested – search toward the end of my maternity leave. If I don’t find anything suitable right away and do end up returning to this organization after leave, I’m going to step back from some of the management responsibilities I had been fulfilling (like budgeting) but for which I’m not being paid. I think the time away will be a good reset for me and, like some of you suggested, will show my manager the extent of the work I’m doing. She’ll actually be the one doing most of my coverage, so it could be a very eye-opening 12 weeks for her.

      1. A More Brilliant Orange*

        “…will show my manager the extent of the work I’m doing. She’ll actually be the one doing most of my coverage, so it could be a very eye-opening 12 weeks for her.”

        Yea, it will show her what a great financial deal they have been getting by not paying you. Why give you a raise and promotion when they could just keep you where you are at and pocket the difference?

        1. The Real Fran Fine*

          Well, hopefully OP finds something else while on leave and this will be a moot point.

    6. fhqwhgads*

      I got a little confused by this letter because at first it seemed like the pregnancy was close to the end when the person was telling them to job search initially…which would now be two years ago? The timeline within the letter is fuzzy to me.

      1. LW2*

        Hi, I was actually still in the first trimester (and not disclosing my pregnancy) when the person/mentor was suggesting I look for a new position (the mentorship program was Sept 2021 to March 2022).

    7. PassThePeasPlease*

      Was just coming to the comments to say this! I was surprised it wasn’t mentioned in Alison’s reply but it’s obvious that this LW should take advantage of ALL the benefits before leaving for a better job

  9. Aggretsuko*

    Well, one of my coworkers had an outdoor pettiing zoo party (she found a portable petting zoo! seriously!) and she said that was a lot better than speeches and microphones….

    I also had a coworker who went into work Monday and then Tuesday we were all emailed, “he just retired, his last day was Monday.” He kept that secret from everyone but his boss, I think. He was probably the MOST “oh, I don’t want to make a fuss,” no party person ever, but people were still a bit bummed to not get to say goodbye.

    1. Healthcare Manager*

      Also people need time to mentality prepare for change in staff and understandably want to know what’s happening to the workload/ who to contact etc. Bad call by management.

    2. Not a new thing*

      Someone at my office began vacation in early October ’21, then extended it, then while on vacation announced they would be retiring at the end of the year and extended their vacation to cover that exact amount of time.

      No party; no handover. They returned to pick up their gifts (we did a collection) and to return their laptop and work-related stuff. This worker was also so little seen by others that months later, I’m still getting asked, “Wait, X retired? When?!”‘

      And X was the type of person that would have 1200% booked off their day had there been a party planned. They booked off for any kind of gathering or celebration before they retired.

    3. Jay*

      I retired at the end of December. I love parties. I like songs. I am a total extrovert and I am an amateur performer so I don’t mind the spotlight at all. And my final team meeting where they did the farewell PowerPoint and people said nice things was EXCRUCIATING. I think this was in large part because I was already feeling All The Things and also because it wasn’t my last day – our team meetings fell on Tuesday and I worked through that week.

      I knew it would be difficult and I didn’t try to talk them out of it because I knew the team wanted to do it. We hadn’t had an in-person meeting in nearly two years and I hadn’t had the chance to talk to the folks in other territories. It was important – and in the end I also found it meaningful and appreciated what people said, so it was worth it to me.

      The best thing was the cross-stitched YASS QUEEN emblem one of my staff dropped off for me as a goodbye present. It came with a note thanking me for my support and advocacy for the team, and that meant the world to me.

  10. Anonymouse*

    LW2. Strings. Lots of string.
    Take maternity leave. Do not answer phone calls and email from the office.
    When, or if, you come back, you will be surprised by the number (greater than 2) people it took to temporarily do your job.
    There will be slush pile of work. Start with the oldest and work your way forward. They may have rush items but remind them not all your work was done when you were away.

    1. Jj*

      This is a good point. I think my boss learned a lot when seeing all it took to cover my duties while on leave.

      1. Cat Lover*

        Smaller scale, but I have covid last month and was out of the office for a while, and I think a lot of people I work with had more appreciation for what I do.

      2. A More Brilliant Orange*

        That doesn’t mean they will give her a raise or promotion.

        It will just make them realize what a great deal they are getting paying her rock bottom wages.

  11. Eyes Kiwami*

    I really don’t understand the thinking that a worker must already be performing at a certain level before being promoted to that level. In my experience the difference between roles is either skill-based, in which case it’s a long journey of improvement and there’s no reason to believe someone will be ready April 1 but not March 1; or task-based, where roles or responsibilities need to be reshuffled and it wouldn’t be appropriate for a worker to start taking on those responsibilities before the promotion. Requiring this means that no one can ever be promoted to a manager role unless they really overstep their boundaries with their coworkers.

    The only way I can see this working is someone is performing at a high level for a few months and then they are promoted during that year’s review cycle. But to counterpoint, a manager could see someone improving rapidly and promote them a few months before they’re “ready” so that they learn the specific needs of that role, or because of an upcoming project or opening, or as a retention measure.

    1. Testerbert*

      There’s two lines of thought going on with it.

      First, in a world where promotion = pay rises, the company doesn’t want to start handing out more money without knowing that they’ll be getting their moneys worth from the person. It also avoids allegations of unfairness etc if a manager isn’t able to ‘just’ promote a favoured worker without a papertrail.
      Second, there’s every incentive for a business to suppress said promotions; after all, is promotion = more money, witholding a promotion saves the company money if the work is still getting done. This is a short-term view, however, as invariably people will burnout/leave, and the organisation finds themselves in the lurch when they can’t find a single person who is a trained Llama Teapot Groomer Analyst willing to work for the insultingly low pay they were giving the previous occupant.

      1. Antilles*

        The counter-argument to the first point is that for many roles, it’s not a particularly great way to check – for example, there’s usually a sizable difference in authority and autonomy between being the “interim department manager” versus having the real title.

        1. The Real Fran Fine*

          That, and also going from an individual contributor to a people manager role – those skill sets don’t always overlap. Using my most recent promotion as an example (which ended up with me getting the people management pay raise, but the wrong title and then having to wait four months for HR to correct the latter and make the org chart change in our internal system – grrr!!): I went from a program manager-type role to people management. When my manager was monitoring my performance and thinking about how to restructure our team, she didn’t ask me to start taking on people management responsibilities (e.g., performance evaluations, time off approvals, development conversations) to prove I could handle it – that would have been wildly inappropriate and confusing for my teammates/current direct reports.

          Instead, she asked me to sit in on their team meetings and provide guidance as needed when they ran up against roadblocks and escalate to her if something major was happening that she wasn’t aware of and my teammates couldn’t solve on their own. Then she went to work on getting this promotion/reorg underway.

          What my manager promoted me on was the good work I did as a program lead and the potential I could have as a people manager of other future program leads. She didn’t have me pretend to be their manager with no real authority to manage them first and then start the process because she didn’t think that would be fair to me or my direct reports. We’re all taking a leap of faith that I’m ready for the people management track (because again, I was a program manager as an individual contributor and that’s a totally different thing), but that’s what happens any time you hire or promote someone I guess. It’s not an exact science.

      2. A More Brilliant Orange*

        “… the company doesn’t want to start handing out more money without knowing that they’ll be getting their moneys worth from the person.”

        So, does that mean they never hire anyone off the street?

        1. So they all cheap ass rolled over and one fell out*

          That’s what I don’t get. An employer will hire a lead or a senior off the street based on nothing more than a resume and a few hours of talking. But they will require an existing employee to work months or years in the position before they will give them the title, pay, and authority to match.

          One time I was trying to get promoted to a Senior and they had two freshly hired seniors working under me (not reporting to me, but I was leading an effort with the three of us) for months. And I actually ended up in the exact situation of LW#4 – I went back to my manager one more time “what’s the status of my promotion” and got told “We’re still working on it.” So I accepted the job offer I had received with the Senior title and a decent pay bump. I didn’t see until the next business day that he had finally gotten me my “promotion” – in scare quotes because he didn’t even give me a raise with it. And he was quite mad that I had ‘leveraged the promotion just to get a better title somewhere else’ even though I had done no such thing. He was, in fact, not a very good boss, though he was far from the worst boss I had at that dysfunctional place.

          1. The New Wanderer*

            Same thing happened to me. My company hired a new guy with fewer years of experience than me into my same level and immediately fast tracked him to three (3) promotions over me that I had either been doing the work for or had the most direct knowledge about and the years of rave reviews to back it up. For almost a year I kept doing the majority of the higher level work on behalf of new guy because his management said he was “too busy” with other obligations except… he wasn’t. My feeling was that mgmt wanted his face in the higher level roles but my brain doing the actual work.

            For reasons, my own promotion petitions had moving goal posts and “maybe next year”s and what eventually came out is that the senior manager with promotion authority just didn’t like me, so it was never going to happen. I too accepted the outside job offer.

          2. Elizabeth West*

            Your first paragraph makes me think of cable companies giving massive discounts to new subscribers but then shafting all their current customers with price increases. It’s almost like corporations hate their customers as much as they hate their employees.

            1. Antilles*

              They do that because they know most people will just swallow the price increases without hesitation – sure a small percentage of people will call and complain till they discounted down to the “introductory rate”, but the vast majority just sigh and pay the extra money. And the same applies to customers who were on the introductory rate but stay on it afterwards; you’ll just notice the bill is increased (maybe) but just shrug it off and pay it.

              So even though it seems counter-intuitive to treat your existing customers worse than newbies, it’s sadly logical.

    2. FashionablyEvil*

      My company wants to see you performing at the higher level in at least some domains of your role before they promote you. I don’t love it because you end up with internal inconsistency across managers about what “ready for promotion” means. My team has generally been more open to promoting people, but I know of other divisions where they kind of pat people on the head in the, “there, there, you’re not quite ready, dear!” type way.

      Also, there’s the major wrinkle that men tend to be promoted on potential and women and people of color tend to be promoted on performance. It’s not a good look.

    3. The Real Fran Fine*

      Yeah, I never understood this either and, thankfully, none of the companies I’ve worked for ever did this (I’ve been promoted multiple times at two different companies). Even with my most recent promotion to a people manager role, my manager asked me to unofficially mentor the specialists I’d be managing, but she made it clear I should not be performing actual management duties until HR officially changed my title and made the reporting change in our internal system (which took almost four months! – thankfully, my increased pay happened as soon as my manager approved the promotion and took effect Day 1, long before my title change).

    4. miss chevious*

      My company does this to some extent — you don’t have to be performing at the next level, but have to have demonstrated some of the skills needed for that next level — before you’re promoted, and I don’t mind it. It shouldn’t take as long as it’s taking for OP, of course, but there are two people on my team looking to advance and it’s nice to be able to give them exposure to the next role and provide training and coaching for that role so that we can both evaluate whether that’s a good fit for them or not.

      For this to work, though, the culture of the organization has to be reasonably healthy, and that includes the managers’ attitudes towards promotion and advancement. That’s a BIG caveat.

    5. anon for this*

      We ask people to demonstrate they can handle a sampling of the breadth of skills needed for more senior management roles because it feels like there’s a significant change in pressure (political pressure). I am dealing with this right now — an employee is not really happy with this “perform at the next level” strategy. But I am confident this employee has little idea of the pressure that will come her way at the next level, and I want her to be able to deal with that head on when she gets there, not also be dealing with the first time hiring/first time scoping out a project/first time giving direction to others who don’t report directly to her/etc. Moreover, I want to see in lower-stakes situations how she deals with the pressure that will come her way. If she’s promoted prematurely and flames out on a very public stage, how does that serve any of us well?

      It’s a catch-22 though, with her mode of thinking, because I think she feels that this is already a lot of pressure and that she’s not appropriately compensated for it, and so she’s starting to make decisions that make me worry she’s not ready for the promotion (de-prioritizing projects that are really high priority because it’s too much work, etc — the appropriate response is to manage her team to do the work, not say it’s too much for her personally and say no). Her reasoning for this is based again on what she sees others doing, not what they are actually doing. I’m having trouble getting her to understand the full contours of the job she wants, I guess. I want her to practice different parts of the job because it’s so complex. If she keeps it together, she’s basically guaranteed this promotion, and we’re talking 6-8 months here not years.

      That’s the difference, I suppose, between the situations. We have a clear path over 6-8 months and a set of skills to develop and situations to manage through, rather than stringing someone along for years to just have them do more work. I think it’s hard for employees to see the difference sometimes, though in the LW’s case it is not hard to see what is going on!

      1. So they all cheap ass rolled over and one fell out*

        The path and timeline seem clear to you, but apparently not to your employee! Have you directly told her about them?

    6. Birb*

      At every company I have ever worked for, when I had a management level position to promote someone to and suggested a woman who was already capably performing those dudties, the higher ups insisted on a trial period before the pay went into effect. When it was a man, the promotion always went through with no arguments or “testing”. Any time I brought it up I’d get gaslit about it. It felt really validating to see the 2019 Frontiers study “Overlooked Leadership Potential: The Preference for Leadership Potential in Job Candidates Who Are Men vs. Women” that confirmed it wasn’t just me.

      I can’t remember the exact quote or where I heard it, but “Men are promoted based on potential, women are promoted based on performance”.

      1. Curmudgeon in California*

        At one job, when I was asked about my career plans, I said I wanted to go into management. My very condescending grandboss said that I should go into “project management” (a very non-technical role with no people responsibilities) first. I’m AFAB.

        Yet not six months later a man who had been there less time than I had was promoted to manager from IC, with no side trip into non-technical project management. One woman there did take the detour into project management, and finally made it to real manager – of other project managers, most of whom were women.

        Officially we even had a nice ERG for women etc, but the reality was embedded sexism of the worst sort.

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

      Sometime last year, my org made an announcement (mostly targeted to supervisors) that no one was allowed to unofficially be promoted or made an interim…they had to get HR sign off and payroll in place. I really appreciate that the org did that, but I also know it was a rampant problem to just start calling people “acting” or “interim” without any compensation and then leave them like that without posting or interviewing for the job. Now, if someone is made an interim, they get the pay associated with the job but it isn’t officially their job — it will still be posted and interviewed for. Nine times out of 10, the interim gets the job, but there is room for finding the best candidate. That’s the way to do it IMO.

  12. John Smith*

    #5. Any chance an email to everyone is in order saying that while you know its customary to have this nightmare, sorry, leaving party, you’d rather not? You could ask for a card or maybe a donation to a charity? At least that’s what happens where I work and everyone is fine with it (asides Annoying Annie for who the only reason people would attend her leaving do is to make sure she actually does leave).

    1. Asenath*

      Each small workgroup in my last job had an admin among whose many duties was handling this sort of thing. She’d ask well in advance what kind of party you wanted, and pass on whatever you said, including “nothing”, to anyone who asked. There might be questions because there were a range of options – management chose something from a set list of rewards to present (or drop off for you) depending on the length of time you’d been there, union similar, and it was fairly common for the people you worked with directly to give you a card and collect money – some money went on flowers (or towards the party if you had one), the balance was slipped into the card in cash. You could also have a kind of reception to which every employee in the place was invited, although a very low-key soft drinks and snack affair was far more common. Hardly any speeches were expected – if you chose the party option, someone would say something nice about you and hand you your card, and you’d have to make a brief thank-you speech, saying how much you’d loved working with them all. The event described in the letter sounds like a nightmare.

    2. Excel Jedi*

      This is what I thought, though I was thinking to talk to people about it – particularly if you can get the loudest person in the department on your side.

      It might be easier to have allies if/when the boss does schedule something. It would also be helpful for the department to know you don’t want something BEFORE they realize they’re not getting an invitation to a party, so no one’s misinterpreting it as a slight against you or something equally awkward.

  13. Stitcherly*

    # 3 High Schoolers no-showing :
    Look at your training policy’s and procedures for new hires. If 3 of last 4 have ghosted you- something is wrong with your systems. New hires aren’t that flaky. Look for the patterns. Do they leave after training with a specific person? Do they leave after doing certain tasks? Are others in the department open and available for a newbies questions, accepting of errors or slow work, training and coaching when needed? I’ve seen some departments that were almost hostile and territorial so new hires had to work at breaking-in and being accepted.
    Being understaffed isn’t a new hires problem. That’s on management to adequately staff their department.
    How much training are they getting? Is it appropriate, relevant, hands-on and job specific.. or mind numbingly boring, generic corporate training videos? Are expectations clear, realistic, and achievable? Was the job listing correct in the duties of the position? Or a bit of a bait/ switch happening?
    How often are a higher up swiping what should be the new-hires commission? And do they know it’s a base + commission job, to make up for the low pay?
    Giving just 1 weeks notice on a new schedule is terrible. Fix that now. People need to be able to plan for events in their lives. Have they been hassled when asking for a schedule adjustment, or flat out denied? With new hires, you have to assume they already have events planned out for at least the first month of a new job. If I had a schedule conflict with an existing event, and my new job said they could not work around it… I’d probably leave the new job.
    If you want them to take the job seriously, the employer and team needs to take the new hires seriously as well. It works both ways. Invest the time, energy, and resources, into bringing new hires into the department. Old business practices are rapidly changing as younger people have very defined boundaries and just won’t accept bad policies. Somewhere else has a better environment for them. I don’t blame them for looking for better opportunities.

    1. Hlao-roo*

      I agree with Stitcherly’s advice here. If you dig into the training a little bit and looks for patterns, you may uncover something as simple as “it’s John’s first time training new hires and he never went over the call-out policy” or a run of bad luck. Or it could be any one of the causes Stitcherly mentioned, or something else entirely. But you won’t know unless you spend some time investigating.

  14. Allonge*

    LW3 – as these are people fresh out of high school, I would even be particular about ‘how’ you call in sick – give them a script and the channel / contact info at the same time you are explaining they need to do this.

    1. Be Gneiss*

      And have that information easily accessible for later. Especially if it’s one of your first jobs, there’s just SO MUCH to soak up the first day that remembering how to call in sick isn’t at the top of people’s list to remember.

    2. CharlieBrown*

      Yes, this. Not “be sure to let us know”, but rather “You need to pick up the phone and call or text your manager at least two hours in advance, and if you text us, you need to make sure you get a text back.”

      For a lot of newish workers, “letting the boss know” could be interpreted as “Well, I told Dave, who was working during the same shift” but Dave may not remember to say anything. I’ve seen this happen.

      1. J*

        Yes! Be precise.

        Who do you call out to, confirm that said person will notify others on a shift so they don’t expect that’s your job too.
        When should you call out and how much notice helps, and does that change with illness.
        What are the consequences of not calling out? What happens if they just no show?
        How many call outs lead to discipline?

        And make this a conversation, not a lecture or handbook speech. What questions do they have about the process? What barriers might they face in sticking to a scheduled day/time? Start that communication early. If they say “I have to babysit if my mom has to work late” then that might tell you more about scheduling them than their listed availability includes.

        1. Curmudgeon in California*

          Also back up the conversation with a written reference cards with all those phone numbers on it, when to call, etc. Because even in high school I couldn’t remember crap like that.

    3. Alexis Rosay*

      Yes! This. Having worked a lot I’m with high schoolers, there are a good number who get overwhelmed or paralyzed by any kind of ambiguity—even situations that don’t seem ambiguous to adults.

  15. Frally*

    #5, I feel your pain. That party would be a nightmare for me too. I like the idea of everyone writing messages in a card, that’s something I’d enjoy reading on my own time.

    1. Bagpuss*

      Yes. What we tend to do (We had a long serving staff member retuire last week) is that staff will organise a card and usually a gift, the person leaving may suggest going out for lunch / ordering in and eveyone who wants to joins in, but it’s very much their call.

      If it is something like a retirement (rather than leaing for another job) then typically mangament will seperately provide flowers and a gift (usually vouchers of some sort) and will pay for a cake and drinks .

      Withthe one we just had, we provided enough champagne for eveyone to have a small glass, plus non-alcoholic fizz as a alternative, those who wanted to ordered food so they could all eat together (and as a manager, I covered the retiring person’s lunch) I presented a bouquet and gift from the business owners, the head of department gave a very short (2 minutes?) speech / toast and then upper management discreetely faded out, those who wanted to remained to eat lunch together and chat to the retiree and we turned a blind eye to eveyone having a rather longer lunch break than normal.

      For someone going to a new job it would usually be a card and gift organised / circulated for signature by the person’s closest coworker and then the person leaving may suggest lunch out, or meeting for drinks after work, so they can to decide how much fuss they are comfortable with. When I’ve had someone in my own department leave I will normally give them a card separate from the joint one, in my capacity as their manager, but management normally only get formally involved if it is a big event like a retirement.

    2. Delta Delta*

      I left a job 6 years ago and got the passed-around card. It was such a dumpster fire of a job that I still haven’t read the messages, and that’s A-OK with me.

  16. Allonge*

    LW1 – this may vary by jurisdiction but what you describe is not theft where I live.

    I am sharing this because I would suggest you rephrase the incident to ‘I accidentally took someone else’s food from the common fridge’ with a helping of ‘I will be writing my name on my food from now on to be extra sure this does not happen’ if applicable. Rephrase it to yourself, and if your coworker would still be annoyed about this, mention it to her too. Both of you will need to let it go.

    1. Still*

      I don’t see what jurisdiction has to do with anything. It’s not like the coworker was going to call the police! The coworker still has the right to be upset about their food going missing. But I do agree that “I’ve taken the food by accident, I’m sorry, I’ll make sure it won’t happen again” is all it should take to put the matter to rest. In the coworker’s shoes I’d be relieved that it was a one-off and not a case of somebody I work with being selfish and disrespectful.

      (Btw, Alison, it’s such a relief for the eyes to have the old font back, thank you! Will the font size in the comments be decreased to match the size in the main body? If I understood correctly, you were gonna make comments and posts the same size, so I just wanted to flag that comments are showing in a much bigger font, at least on mobile.)

    2. Not So NewReader*

      I am not sure why OP feels she still has to appease her coworker. Is the cohort still making a big stink? Or is OP just mortified by the whole incident?

      OP, you replaced her lunch. She does not get undying servitude from you this isn’t how this works. It’s a lunch.

      I do agree that you can put your name on your own food or use a particular container that is unique to you. Your coworker might appreciate that you are taking an extra step to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

    3. MsClaw*

      If LW1 is feeling really really guilty, then buy a couple extra lunchables for the coworker or something like that. But otherwise, you apologized, you replaced the items, it was a genuine mistake. Don’t dwell on it.

  17. Anna Badger*

    at my first professional job, my wider team (circa 30 people) had a birthday and leaving tradition that was literally called “the awkward shuffle”, where everyone would creep up silently on the birthday/ leaving person. you’d look up from your computer and find 30 silent people ranged around you. it was horrible.

    after my first birthday there I told my manager very firmly that people were not ever to do this for my birthday again. this caused actual tension! like, people were actively weird with her for just handing my birthday card over! and this wasn’t some tiny faaaamily company, this was part of the HR division of a FTSE 100 company!

    for my leaving card, she dropped me an IM to say that she had tried but she could not get me out of the awkward shuffle, so please could I pick a time for it and just pretend to be surprised. bizarre how deep people’s attachments to these rituals run.

    I would absolutely not be able to cope with 45 minutes of speeches. Good luck, LW5.

    1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      I saw this on Twitter and came here to say that this is level 80 bananacrackers.

      Your old coworkers wouldn’t have liked me as their teammate, I jump and gasp involuntarily when startled, can’t even imagine what I’d do if I looked up to see that 30 people had quietly crept up on me from behind. I’d probably scream loud enough for them to start questioning if the tradition is worth continuing.

      1. Anna Badger*

        ha, I have now found it on twitter and was not expecting it to resonate quite as hard as it has

  18. Other Alice*

    #2: you say the pay at the other jobss wasn’t so much more than what you’re currently making, but you have to take into consideration that your current workplace is being unreasonably slow. It’s hard to know from the outside if the other jobs would have promoted you or given raises more quickly. But if they do (and really taking 8 months to review a job description is nonsense), it means that in a couple of years your pay would be significantly more. Staying in a job that doesn’t promote you and doesn’t give you the associated pay bump doesn’t just mean you’ve been underpaid for the past months: it’s also going to affect your income in the future as well. You may want to stick with this employer a little longer to take advantage of the parental leave, but I hope you’ll be looking elsewhere after. Even if you get the promotion today… How long will it take to get the next one??

    1. Cthulhu's Librarian*

      As Other Alice points out here, there’s a compounding effect based on delaying your promotion – if future jobs you apply for want you to have 2-4 years experience doing the things the position they would be moving you into should do, you may not be able to get current company to vouch that “oh, while they were only in a teapot painter position, they also organized the workflow for the 20 person teapot painting division for four years.”

      What they are doing is shortsighted, bad, and unethical. You deserve an employer who isn’t any of those things.

  19. nom de plume*

    Just to say thanks so much for the return to the previous font, Alison! I’m sure it must have been frustrating to deal with So Many Opinions and to give up on a style choice you’d obviously thought about, but this really does read better — to me at least.

  20. Irish Teacher*

    I teach secondary school kids and would say that for many “don’t draw an adult’s attention to your mistakes” is the norm. If kids are late for school, they aren’t going to call, they are going to try and sneak in a side door so the principal doesn’t see them arriving late and if possible, try and convince their first teacher that they were on time and another teacher stopped them in the hall to discuss something with them or whatever. So I can well imagine them bringing those habits into their first job.

    Not saying they are not coming in is weirder though, but I still think it might be partly a result of seeing the boss as “the adult who’ll give out to me, so I don’t want to talk to him/her directly. Maybe they’ll forget it by the time I come back.”

    As Alison has said, also, schools have given a LOT more leeway for absences these past two and a half years. If a student says they are sick, we really have to let them go home, even if they have a tendency of claiming to “feel sick” the class before an exam. In the past, we might say “well, just give it another class and see how you feel then,” but with covid, we couldn’t risk it. Same with the kid who has been out sick numerous times. In the past, there’d be some questions asked, but over the past couple of years, the assumption is that they were close contacts or had covid.

    And things like work experience has often been cancelled as we have been trying to keep students with the same groups of people. Last year, work experience started again in Ireland, but kids who should have done it the year before (or possibly the first year of the pandemic, depending on what time of the year it should have taken place) missed out.

    1. ScruffyInternHerder*

      Exactly. There’s such a huge disparity in how the “rules” of school function vs. the “rules” of workplaces in many cases.

      Freshly minted HS grads may not even be aware that they *need* to call out sick. In high school, we were not permitted to call ourselves out prior to age 18, our parents had to. Even at age 18, most of the time, that was handled by a parent.

      When you get in trouble for being late (in school) by being given detention or something similar, why on EARTH would you consider letting your boss or supervisor know that you’re late? You wouldn’t, because it doesn’t register that they’re not going to give you detention.

      On the flip side, employees frequently take things that should be handled amongst themselves to the boss/supervisor because that IS what you do in school. Not doing so gets you in trouble in school, so why wouldn’t you?

      I wish I had some suggestions about how to fix any of this.

      1. Nanani*

        Yes, this. When parents handle everything, it’s an adjustment to realize that telling mom you’re not going to work doesn’t fly. You have to call your work. Even when its for a reason that would be good enough at school – missing sports practice because of detention or missing class because of a sports tournament happen in high school without much work by the student to explain, after all.

        1. Irish Teacher*

          Yes, when there is a school event on, it is generally considered to be the responsibility of the teacher organising it to let other teachers know which students will be away for the day. Now, I have had some very responsible students who will call in beforehand and tell me, “Miss, I’m going to play in a match so I won’t be here for English this afternoon,” but those are the minority and it isn’t expected of them.

          And as ScruffyInternHerder said, there are some things we actively discourage students from doing themselves, either because they are too much responsibility for a teenager or because we have access to resources they don’t or because of the possibility they will make things worse.

          Yes, there are some situations we want to encourage students to handle by themselves so they can learn to do so in a protected environment, but it still isn’t going to be the same expectation as there is in a workplace.

    2. Just Another Zebra*

      When I was in high school *coughs* years ago, we got a new principal who wanted to cut down on lateness. Being late once was a warning, twice was a write up, three times was a detention, five times was ISS. The policy around absences was unchanged. The result was a lot more absences, because students just wouldn’t show instead of being 5 minutes late. This policy didn’t last long.

      All this to say, high school does very little to prepare young adults for the working world. Expectations and consequences need to be spelled out a bit more clearly, especially now.

      1. J*

        I left another comment and then realized I totally neglected to address lateness v absence. So many things in school punished students more if they were late versus absent. Or name badges, we’d get in school suspensions if we didn’t wear a name badge 3 times whereas it took 10 tardies to get to the same level. If a teen is supposed to clock in with a badge and realized they forgot it, they might think the penalty for not having the badge to clock in is worse than being late or no showing. Schools literally teach kids that if you can’t go to the bathroom in passing time you probably can’t ever go because no college professor or job would let you just get up and walk out…which we all know is a lie. Students are just taught this whole world of norms that can be opposite of job norms and they sell it as preparing you for work rather than classroom management.

    3. Books and Cooks*

      That’s a really good point, especially with the responses below about how kids can’t call themselves out of school. When my daughters need to miss a day or a class because of illness or an appointment, I have to handle that, and until they were in their early teens I don’t think they even realized I did it.

      My younger daughter was sick recently, and she felt really awkward about calling out sick (messaging, actually) at her job–I finally sat next to her and told her what to type, and how to respond to their questions. I’m sure if/when she needs to do it again, she’ll be able to handle it herself, but if some of these kids don’t have a parent sitting there saying, “You need to message them now, here’s what to say,” they might not have any idea how to do it, or that their parent hasn’t just taken care of it for them.

      1. Irish Teacher*

        We had an older teen student who was sharing a flat with his brother and his year head had to tell him to get his brother to call in for him – think a 19 or 20 year old getting his 22 year old brother to get the school to excuse him – because the school was set up with the assumption that students were minors.

    4. Humble Schoolmarm*

      Where I teach, we’re also having a struggle with lateness and equity issues. If a kid is responsible for getting younger siblings off to school, is it fair to punish them for being late? (Keeping in mind that ‘go to the office and get a late slip’ counts as punishment in the heat of the moment for a young adolescent). On one hand, no, we don’t want to come down hard on kids who already have extra responsibilities, on the other, early career jobs are often pretty inflexible and arriving on time is an important skill. A number of place tend to address the equity piece by not enforcing the rule for anyone which, as LW 3 shows, has the unfortunate problem of kicking the problem on the the workplace.

  21. Abby*

    The high school workers no-showing is no good, but I agree that it’s part of the deal with hiring cheap, young workers. The reason they’re cheap is that they’re still learning, which is also the reason more experienced people get paid more. If you want more experienced people with a more well-developed and mature work ethic, pay accordingly. You can’t pay a bus fare and expect a chauffeur in a Bentley.

    Additionally, what sort of contract are they on? Is it zero-hours/”casual”? If so, they can stop showing up just as easily as you can stop giving them work. When I was in high school and heading away to college, I “quit” a crappy service job with no contract by just not showing up any more. When they called to complain, I said – it’s casual work, you can off me at any moment, it works both ways. If you want 14 days or whatever notice, give people a contract. It was perhaps a dick move, but they were a dick employer.

    1. FG*

      In the US we don’t do employment contracts except for sometimes very high level positions. Your point stands, but contracts just aren’t a thing.

      1. Cthulhu's Librarian*

        While contracts aren’t a thing, many types of at will employment have an explicitly agreed upon number of hours a week the employer is expecting from the employee, rather than the zero-hours/on-call mentality that seems to be common in restaurants/hospitality. I need X hours of employees to work a cash register, Y hours of break coverage, and Z hours of unloading time – So I hire each employee for 20 hours a week, of which 12 hours will be cashier, 4 will be on break, and 4 will be in the loading dock.

        The casual employment style that seems common in restaurant/hospitality often is “Yeah, I might schedule you, and you’re expected to work all those hours, but I also might not, and you’re expected to be fine with that also” which is exploitative, ridiculous, demanding, and just all around unpleasant.

        1. Abby*

          I worked part-time jobs while I was studying and came up against the same attitude, too. There was very little flexibility from their end – it was expected that you just came in at short notice.

          Like, guys, I’m literally in a part-time job because I have other things going on in my life. I can’t afford to live on just your part-time job – people are in them because they are studying, or working more than one job, or have caring responsibilities. Expecting me to be able to be “available” (i.e. sitting at home) for what amount to full-time hours just in case you need me in is unreasonable. They want someone available full-time and they want to pay them part-time.

    2. Alex (they/them)*

      the only time I quit without giving notice was when Major Retail Chain assigned me only seven hours for an entire week. screw that.

      1. Abby*

        I bet the seven hours were spread over five days, too. They like that sort of trick. Make it as hard as possible for you to do anything else with your life.

  22. Testerbert*

    LW3: Echoing what other people have said upthread, what is the process for calling in? Do you expect them to chase other staff to find a replacement? Is there a clear pattern for which shifts are getting missed (shouldn’t have to ask, but are you scheduling people who may not drive shifts which begin or end after public transport stops)? Also, are these people missing individual shifts, or are they no-call no-show quitting (aka they simply stop showing up at all)?

    Also, low pay with annoying customers with the carrot of commissions will never beat a reliably higher wage. You are in a competitive market for labour, so compete.

    1. A More Brilliant Orange*

      Many companies have a policy that if you call in (even sick) that you have to find your replacement.

      It may be easier to not call in at all than to jump through hoops trying to find someone to work your shift.

    1. Bagpuss*

      if it’s not home made, by mistaking it for the simialr stuff you bought (or possibly meant to buy but forget, or bought ut left at home)
      e.g. – I currenly have several indivdual yogurts in the fridge at work. If someone else regularly buys the same kind they might easily take one of one by mistake, and migt not realise until they got home and saw theirs still sitting in the fridge at home . Heck, *I* forgot I hd bought a 4 pack and brough a single in yesterday

      Same if you have microwaveable meals, or soup, or pot-noodles, or typically buy a sandwich / packaged salad from a local sndwich shop or supermarket.

      Much harder if the food was homemade although I suppose possible, especailly if you have someone else at homewho makes your lunches for you

      1. I'm just here for the cats!*

        Heck, you can have the same food in the same container. I have these little rubermaid containers with green lids and I was cleaning out my stuff from the fridge at the end of the day. I saw the container with the dip and though, oh I must have leftover dill dip and brought it home. I later find out that it was my bosses. She had brought dill dip and has the same containers. So unless your name is on the food you can very easily eat someone else’s food. Especially things like coffee creamer and a lunchable.

    2. Asenath*

      Well, er, I did it once. I kept bottles of my favourite soft drink, which no one else seemed to drink, in the little office fridge. So as not to monopolize the space, I never kept more than 2 or 3 there, but I didn’t keep track of exactly how many I had at any given moment. And then, one of my co-workers brought in a bottle of exactly the same flavour and size drink, I assumed it was mine… oops. She knew it was missing, which is probably the only reason I realized my mistake, I apologized profusely, and I provided a replacement immediately, from the spares I’d brought in for my own use, but hadn’t put in the fridge because of the limited space. That’s really all that needs to be done. Apologize, immediately (or as soon as possible) replace the item, and be more careful in the future. If the person whose drink or food was taken is still annoyed, that’s their problem; there’s nothing else the thief (or accidental thief) can do.

      At the opposite end of the spectrum, in the same place, the tiny freezer compartment was occupied long-term by a couple frozen meals. It took many months, and someone deciding that the fridge needed to be cleaned out, before we realized they must have been left behind by someone who had retired! That was not an office with a big problem with food theft.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Something like Lunchables could be mixed up. The coworker has a specific one because it had x in it and OP’s did not have x, so the coworker knew her lunch was gone. OP may or may not have noticed and just assumed she did not purchase the meal she thought she had.

    4. Lynca*

      With pre-packaged food it happens because you confuse it with something of the same brand you brought in. It’s why it’s typically recommended to put your name on it or put it in a lunch box.

      I’ve had people accidently eat one of my Lean Cuisines before thinking it was one they brought in. Generally they either offer to replace it or offer me the one they brought in.

      I really hope that OP is just really embarrassed and the coworker isn’t legitimately that upset about it. It does happen accidently.

      1. doreen*

        Or even a different brand. I once went to the refrigerator at lunchtime to get my Pepsi. There was no Pepsi – but there was a Coke. I assume someone who wasn’t particular about the brand brought in a Coke and took my Pepsi.

    5. Falling Diphthong*

      In this case: It was a lunchable. (Charcuterie plates for kids, or for young adults according to mine.) So theoretically there should have been an identical lunchable to hand over when the error was discovered, but I could see a case where LW put 5 in the fridge and so thought any ham and cheese lunchable must be them but they had eaten the last one and this was coworker’s.

      Spouse thought he was grabbing some of the leftover catering from yesterday, but it was a coworker’s takeout leftovers. He apologized and bought the coworker lunch.

      1. Birb*

        Yeah, that was my immediate thought. What are the odds of this kind of mix up with lunchables and creamer and then OP doesn’t have either to share with the person whose stuff she took? OP should have been able to say “Oh sorry, mine was shuffled to the back so I thought yours was mine, but you’re welcome to use / eat mine! In the future let’s put our names on things and I’ll be more careful since we are buying the same brands.”

        Also people are pretty used to seeing what’s regularly in the fridge. If it was an issue of there usually being a stack of 5 of them from one person, then saying “Oops didn’t realize I’d run out and sorry I stole yours!” sounds plausible. If OP DOESN’T usually bring a stack of lunchables, or has never been seen eating them before… Yeah I would see why the person was suspicious.

        I would definitely be suspicious if a coworker took my lunch and used my creamer and was just like “oh my bad I thought they were mine!” without being able to then offer up theirs as a trade. That just sounds like “I thought the odds of this being noticed were small and assumed people would believe my feigned ignorance”. I had a roommate who did that to me ALL the time despite us having separate shelves and me labeling my food. She just thought that most people wouldn’t kick up a fuss.

    6. KRM*

      You brought the same thing in for lunch yesterday and your brain decided that it was actually today you brought it in. You have the same frozen meal as someone else and don’t recall that you ate the one you brought in last week. It’s not that hard to picture–OP literally said it was a prepackaged item, so it’s not like she went into someone’s lunch bag and took it out. In this case apologizing, buying a new one, and promising to write your name on yours from now on should adequately take care of the issue.

    7. Person from the Resume*

      It was a lunchable and coffee creamer. Both packaged foods.

      “Oh, great, I do have a lunchable left in the fridge from last week.”

      It’s so easy. Given how easy it was it’s obvious both the LW and their coworker failed to write their name on the packaging. So now that they know they’re both bringing lunchables for lunch, they both should write their name before putting it in the fridge.

      1. Ama*

        Yup this happened to me once. One day I happened to bring in a microwaveable meal of the same brand my coworker ate every day. Unbeknownst to me I also put it in the exact same place in the freezer where he usually left his — he tended to bring in a couple week’s worth at a time but was currently out. So he assumed he still had one leftover meal and it wasn’t until I went to look for my meal that he realized his mistake.

    8. JanetM*

      Some years ago someone in my department sent out an email to the effect of, “To whom it may concern: I apologize; I accidentally cooked your turkey frozen dinner thinking it was my chicken frozen dinner. You can have the chicken dinner if you want, or I will pay for you to have lunch somewhere, and I will bring in a turkey dinner tomorrow.”

      It happens.

      I once unwrapped a package in the office fridge thinking it was leftovers from our open house. It was actually someone’s sandwich, so I wrapped it back up and put it away.

    9. Just Another Zebra*

      Very easily!

      For a while it seemed everyone in the office was bringing Chobani yogurt for breakfast / morning snack. A coworker accidentally took mine (vanilla) instead of hers (coconut, which I’m allergic to). When we realized the mix up, she apologized and ran out to Wawa to get me a new yogurt. It happens, and if rectified properly is really no big deal.

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

      For the creamer, really easy — there are 3 bottles of the exact same creamer in our office fridge right now but each one has a name. It would still be really easy to be in a pre-coffee morning brain fog and think, “mine is always next to the hinge on the second shelf” and just grab it without really looking at the name. BUT it would also be unusual or anyone to notice a splash of creamer is missing one day, so …I’m wondering about that one. Has the OP just been using someone else’s creamer and got caught, or did they really have their own and just mixed up the bottles one day?

    11. RussianInTexas*

      When you and two of your coworkers eat Lean Cuisine, wild things happen.
      Speaking from experience.

    12. HoHumDrum*

      It happens easily in places where there’s a lot of communal food and people don’t label. At my old workplace it was super normal to have lots of treats and snacks and leftovers from meetings tucked into the fridge that were up for grabs. The rule was if you brought something not communal you needed to label it, and invariably people would not do that and then get mad when food went missing (and yes, masking tape & marker was provided next to the fridge).

    13. Elizabeth West*

      Frozen meals that look similar or are the same kind. That exact thing happened to me at Exjob. Someone ate the Lean Cuisine I’d put in the freezer, probably thinking it was theirs. I hadn’t written my name on it but started doing so afterward and it didn’t happen again.

    14. beach read*

      I used to work with someone who would take a bite out of their sandwich just so no one would ever mistake it or steal it.
      The lean cuisine thing is real, if you forgot to write your name on it, you’d never get to eat the one you brought. Or remember the one you brought.

  23. Ellis Bell*

    LW5, you’re allowed to have preferences! What might be working against you, is an assumption that people don’t mean it when they say they don’t want a fuss (yes it’s crazy, but it’s common). The other problem is they already have their “goodbye” routine down almost as a tradition and he might not want to rethink it, or do nothing, when he likes what this plan does for the team. So, instead of saying only what you don’t want, be specific about what you do. Say that you only want messages in writing, or video, or to say your own goodbyes one on one. You should definitely get that goodbye song on film though because someday you’re going to have to prove its really a thing and you’ll want to show someone!

    1. Birb*

      I think our society especially expects women to be modest and downplay what they want, which in turn makes people feel justified in fully ignoring our plainly and firmly stated preferences and expectations. Older generations especially seem to have high expectations, but downplay them. “Oh no don’t fuss over me…. I can’t believe they didn’t do as much for MY retirement as the last retiree!” Then they project that onto others. “I know she SAID she doesn’t want a big fuss but she’s just being MODEST, of course she does!”

      Or they just really like having the parties, and its more about them than you and nothing you can say or do will keep them from having the party anyway or resenting you for not letting them have “their” party.

  24. a raging ball of distinction*

    OP5, can you come up with any pretext to make your sendoff virtual? That way you can turn your camera off if you cry, step away to do something else during the Goodbye Song (BTW I think we all want more details about that. Melody? Lyrics?).

    I believe you deserve to know how awesome other people think you are. Whether it’s through a card (this place sounds like it would be a book), pre-recorded shares as Alison suggested, or something virtual.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      OP, you could tell the boss that a card would be okay. You can take the card(s) home with you as a keepsake.

      When I left one place after many years, I found lots of stuff on my desk- cards, candy, little knickknacks. even flowers. It was three trips to my car. A bit extreme, but there were a number of people. They made their point without causing discomfort.

    2. triss merigold*

      I definitely want to know what this song is because right now I’m imagining it as ‘Goodbye So Soon’ from the Great Mouse Detective.

      But I definitely second the virtual or book idea. I get intense embarrassment at this type of sincerity (I don’t understand weddings, how do you not shrivel up with everyone’s attention on you like this?) but crave it all the same, so I like the idea of having a more controlled setting for it. Hopefully that’s manageable for the OP and gives the team a chance to get their feelings out.

    3. WellRed*

      Yes is there an actual Goodbye Song? Is it specific to your company (which is horrifying on another level).

      1. Phony Genius*

        I tried to Google it, and there were way too many songs with that title to know for sure what this is. (Although, I’m picturing “So Long, Farewell” from The Sound of Music because that’s the most absurd one I can think of.)

        1. KoiFeeder*

          I see your “So Long, Farewell” and raise you “Goodbye So Soon” from The Great Mouse Detective.

      2. metadata minion*

        There are a ton of songs fitting that description that are more typically associated with groups of people under the age of 10.

  25. Jessica*

    My department has a tradition of farewell extravaganzas. When my old boss (a highly valued, very well-liked employee with long service) retired, her party included a series of speeches, performances of original songs and poetry, a skit, a slideshow, a dance number with the entire department, and maybe more that I’ve forgotten. She’d said a pro forma “oh, you don’t have to make a fuss” to me at some point, and because I knew her well and felt confident she’d actually enjoy it, we did it and she did actually enjoy it.
    But if I thought she genuinely did not want it (or if I didn’t know her well enough to feel confident and she spoke to me in a serious way about it), I absolutely would have squashed the plans. I suggest going to the chief party planner(s) and trying to get across that you really mean it. If you can suggest something else you would like instead, that will probably help. A video seems like a great idea—everyone who cared about you gets to express themselves, and you get a souvenir you can enjoy in private (or take home and drop in the trash if that’s really what you prefer).

    1. English Rose*

      #5 This would be an absolute nightmare for me too. We had a colleague where I work who had a quiet work with her manager and explained – nicely – that if a goodbye gathering was held, she would leave the room. No-one held it against her, she received a card and gift privately and left at the end of the day.
      Because we’re a multi-site organisation I’ve seen a few examples recently of someone lured onto a Zoom call by flimsy pretext, with loads of people already logged on ready to yell surprise and share stories. That would be another nightmare for me, but some people seem to enjoy it.
      Personally, I just want to draw a line under each job I leave, move on and forget it, and quiet goodbyes work for that.

  26. Seeking Second Childhood*

    OP1 ‘s co-worker might be reacting strongly not because OP#1 has repeatedly taken her food, but because other co-workers have been doing the same.
    (Or she was low blood sugar or having a rough day or simply doesn’t have the money to replace a treat.)
    I like the idea of bringing a little extra of your own next treat to share with her. (Knowing what food disappeared certainly simplifies questions of dietary restrictions at least.)
    It also might be worth finding out if the office has a larger problem of theft–food or personal items. And take it on yourself to bring that issue to management. That is really particularly helpful if you are more seniors than the person whose food you accidentally ate.
    If you ARE management, look into things the company could do to address the problem. There’s a lot of possibilities depending on the actual issue you discover in the building. Placing smaller refrigerators in individual departments. Replacement keys for desk drawers that haven’t locked in years, or lockers for workers who don’t have desks.
    And if you have input into the company’s next logos swag giveaway…good lunch boxes with refreezable ice blocks and a Sharpie for people to write their names. (Alison has had discussion of lockable lunch boxes in the past, but that would be pretty expensive swag.)

    1. I'm just here for the cats!*

      Years ago at a former workplace, a coworker who was not in management saw that there was a lot of lunch theft. So she talked with management and they started a lunch cabinet where people could donate lunch items and anyone could take them. There were things like cups of noodles, granola bars, and soup. It did help with the lunch thieves and she actually got an accommodation at the semi-annual townhall

    2. NotRealAnonForThis*

      I considered that there might be an outside reason for the reaction.

      I blew my stack once when someone accidentally grabbed my (clearly marked, I thought) lunch. With my medically necessitated food restrictions, its not as if I can just go to the nearest fast food joint; it very much put me at an inconvenience to have to go track down food that I can eat, and it irritated me to have to spend extra to do so on top of the inconvenience.

      My lunch stays at my desk now, policy against it be d@mned.

  27. KRM*

    LW#2, I just want to point out that your mentor from the program you took encouraged you to look for a job with more responsibility elsewhere. This indicates to me that the mentor knows something about how your current company works, and doesn’t see you getting what you deserve from them. Generally if a company is good or the mentor doesn’t really know anything about it, I’d expect them to say “with your skills you should be asking for a promotion or moving to a role with more A and B”. But if they’re straight up telling you to look elsewhere, and now you’re having this experience with them dragging the process…it’s a sign, I think. Stay for the maternity leave, do some casual looking beforehand so you have a sense of what’s out there and how the companies function, and then if you get back and it’s same old same old–kick the search into gear and get out. As others have said, they may pay you more now, but if they never promote you and raise your salary accordingly (or only do so every 8 or so years!) you’re actually going to miss out.

  28. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

    I was in a similar situation as OP #4. My promotion had been in the works but with an acquisition by another company, my old boss really had to push to get it done. But for other reasons (the acquisition and personal) I was interviewing elsewhere. It was about 6 weeks later I gave notice. I did feel bad because she really did the best she could. When I gave notice I did stress I appreciated it, and was grateful for all the opportunities she gave me. She was very understanding and happy for me.

    And really it wasn’t as much of a thing as I thought it would be in my head. My company sent out an email for every promotion and every time someone was leaving, and I was worried how it looked. But everyone who contacted me got it. In face no one mentioned that I just been promoted.
    It will be fine, and congratulations on your new job.

  29. Alex*

    LW2 I’m just going to assume you work in higher education…because I could have written this myself, except I’m not pregnant so I know it wasn’t me.

  30. Mr. Cajun2core*

    #3 – I do not know where you are located but I will say that $15.00 to $18.00 for fresh out of high school is a huge amount where I live. I make just over $15.00/hr. now. I am a mid-level administrative assistant/bookkeeper with 10 years at my employer and office experience.

    Granted, my employer is known for paying low but we do get an enormous amount of time off.

    1. Vintage Lydia*

      For many cities $15-18/hr is poverty wages and may at or barely above the minimum wage for the jurisdiction, and that’s especially if they’re part time (and this sort of shift work generally is.)

      1. Mr. Cajun2core*

        I have no doubt that you are right. I should have added that caveat in my original post.

      2. Hlao-roo*

        Just to illustrate how benchmarking off the minimum wage for the jurisdiction changes the perspective of the wage, $15/hr is:

        – more than twice the federal minimum wage of $7.25/hr
        – only 13% more than the New York State minimum wage of $13.20/hr
        – the minimum wage in New York City

    2. I'm just here for the cats!*

      Same. I work for a little over $15 but not in a super high cost of living area. I work in higher ed so there’s that.

      1. Mr. Cajun2core*

        I also work in higher ed at an SEC school. Now, my university just raised the minimum wage for the university to $15.00/hr. as of 10/1/22.

        1. Irish Teacher*

          Wondering what SEC means (I’ll try googling in a minute) as here it means the State Examinations Commission.

          1. Hlao-roo*

            SEC in this context stands for Southeastern Conference. It’s an athletic conference, so athletic teams in the SEC play each other during the sports season.

  31. Workfromhome*

    #2 If your new job description for your promotion has been waiting over year for approval (but you are dong all the tasks) maybe go to your manager and say “i’m concerned my new job description (and thus promotion) has not been approved. I think its best that I go back to doing the duties of my current job description to avoid any issues.” “There must be some issue with these new duties for it to take so long so to be safe I will only do my “old job” until im sure the new one is OK and approved”
    see how long it takes to get them approved if the stuff is no longer getting done.

    1. LW2*

      I like how you worded that! Right now I’m about 5/6 weeks away from my due date, so I’m planning to do some soft searching while on leave. If the promotion hasn’t come through before I leave, I was planning to back away from some of the extra work while job searching more earnestly, and your suggestions are very helpful ways to do that. Thank you!

  32. Cpt Morgan*

    LW1: Why didn’t you just give the person your lunch, since they were supposedly identical? If you both stole their lunch and still ate your own, leaving then SOL on their lunch, then no wonder they’re pissed. I think it’s a bit unfair for Alison to present it as if the coworker is definitely out of line without that key bit of information.

    1. I'm just here for the cats!*

      We don’t know that the OP didnt give the coworker their lunch. They say they replaced it. It could also be that the OP brings several Lunchables for the entire week. Thought she had one more, saw a Lunchable and figured it was hers, but then realized afterward that she had ran out the day before.

      The coffee creamer I think is kind of different. Like, unless she used the last of the coffee creamer why does it bother the coworker that she used some?

      1. EngGirl*

        It probably wouldn’t bother coworker if someone used some *once* but the coffee creamer specifically is probably one of those things that a lot of people use *once* and coworker has to keep replacing it and their own cost. Like coworker A comes in and realizes their out of creamer and says “well I’ll just use this one” and then the next day coworker B does the same thing, and then coworker C mixes them up, and coworker D decides they want to try that new flavor and the person who it belongs to won’t miss enough for one cup of coffee… the next thing you know it’s Wednesday and the person who owns the creamer doesn’t actually have any for their own coffee. That would actually frustrate me more than the lunchable thing lol.

    2. Anon all day*

      Because if someone made an honest mistake and made it right (not sure why you’re implying that OP didn’t when they explicitly said they replaced it), it is unreasonable that OP has to do something more to “appease” the coworker. Mistakes happen. It’s fine to get momentarily annoyed and upset if someone eats your lunch, but you should get over it relatively quickly if you’re made whole.

    3. SarahKay*

      More likely LW1 brought in a few Lunchables boxes to last them x amount of time, and lost track of how many they’d eaten over that time period. That doesn’t help co-worker on the day, but it’s an honest mistake by LW1.

  33. EngGirl*


    If your coworker still seems miffed it’s probably one of a few things

    1. This is something that happens way too frequently (whether it’s always you or some other coworker) and this is the straw that broke the camels back

    2. Because you accidentally took their lunch it caused them to have to go without food for the work day. This is something that can happen if you’re in a more rural area/food desert and it’s not feasible to get replacement food during your lunch. They’ll get over it eventually but it would explain some added grumpiness.

    3. Your coworker has come kind of medical issue and this caused some kind of issue that you aren’t aware of and they are unfairly holding it against you.

    4. Your coworker was already having a bad day and/or is just a generally grumpy person.

    At the end of the day it was an honest mistake and you rectified it. They will eventually let it go or they’ll hold on to if forever, but if they do it’s not your fault.

    1. Sparkles McFadden*

      A lot of times it’s not the lunch theft itself that’s the problem but the “Hey it’s no big deal” reaction after that fact that rankles most people. The worst people are the ones who say “yeah but I was really hungry and too busy to go out” as if you’re not busy too. I’ve stopped people going through other people’s lunch bags and gotten the response of “I’m not taking the whole thing so it’s fine.”

      I’m not saying that’s the case here, as the LW wrote in to ask how to make amends, but maybe the person whose lunch was taken is just fed up (no pun intended there), or maybe it’s all OK by now and the LW is just worried about ruining a relationship with a coworker over this.

      Replace the lunch and add a nice treat. Doing that IS making amends. If the person is reasonable, you’re all set. If the person is unreasonable, you can’t fix it any more than you have, You can’t make someone else not be mad about it.

      1. All Het Up About It*

        I have to say my biggest question with this one is about why the OP thinks they need to make amends? Like is the co-worker still acting annoyed, for any of the legitimate reasons listed by EngGirl or other commenters. Or is our OP just one of those people who carries guilt more than they should? Having worked with these people before I can totally see someone fretting over this and how “to make amends”, when the co-worker has totally moved on.

        I just want an update to tell us if we are dealing with an overly grumpy co-worker (even if its for a reason) or an overly guilty OP.

  34. irene adler*

    For #5- I’m with you. Not comfortable with being the center of attention like that.

    Our CEO did one better than speeches and singing:

    At the good-bye luncheon, the CEO announced that everyone was to tell their most embarrassing story about the soon-to-be-ex-employee. Idea was that throughout the hour, there would be all these funny stories.

    The room went silent.

    We all just looked at each other, amazed at how bad an idea this was.

  35. Shuttle Dancer*

    Your company may be dragging its feet on promoting you because:

    1. If they know you’re pregnant they may worry that you’ll quit to become a
    SAHM, they’ll be out one higher-ranked employee and they’ll have to start
    all over again to replace you.

    2. By your own description, they’re getting the cream, cheese and yogurt for
    the price of skim milk. Why should they pay for the first three when they
    can get them all for the much cheaper price of the fourth?

    1. A More Brilliant Orange*

      Being pregnant puts the LW in a vulnerable position. Companies aren’t supposed to discriminate against pregnant women in hiring, but we know they do.

      But, a company I worked for about 10 years ago hired a woman who was at least 6 months along, so I know it happens.

      The LW has nothing to lose by looking. If nothing else, getting her resume up to date, updating her LinkedIn, and practicing interviewing now is good preparation for job hunting in the future.

  36. Not Your Admin Ass(t)*

    I’m just here to say that I am sorely tempted to make “Lunchables Crimes” my new username. (I won’t, but I’m amused at the visuals!)

    1. Amber Rose*

      The Law and Order sound effect played in my head after I read this and I would honestly watch that show.

    2. Esprit de l'escalier*

      I never heard of Lunchables until today’s letter and I keep seeing as “Lunchtables,” speaking of visuals.

  37. WantonSeedStitch*

    Oof. I love parties and enjoy being the center of attention, but the party described by LW #2 sounds miserable to me. Way too much. One speech by a direct manager or close coworker, presentation of a gift, and plenty of goodies to nosh on while everyone chats is our standard, and I like that just fine.

  38. I'm just here for the cats!*

    #5 is it normal for these types of goodbye parties for people who have only been with the company few years? I could see a party like this for someone who was there 10+ years but would the team have that much heartfelt and touching material for each person on the team to make a speech?

    This is so strange, I can see having a going away cake or something where its very small and people pop by your desk or something. But speeches??? wow!

      1. I'm just here for the cats!*

        Still I don’t see how you could have these types of big heartfelt speeches by everyone and a goodbye song? You wouldn’t have gotten that close with someone you worked with for a few years, not like you do when you’ve worked someplace for decades.

    1. The Original K.*

      For FORTY-FIVE MINUTES? What do you even say? Someone at my employer left after 8 years and we didn’t do all this. My mother’s retirement party didn’t do all this and she worked there for 30 years.

  39. Nanani*

    For #3 – with a cohort like this, you also need to remember that availability might be entirely up to them. When they’re dependent on parents for rides, or have stuff like school and sports with a higher claim on their priorities, they might (entirely reasonably! in the frame of their life so far) miss a work shift because of an extra football practice and think its fine because “i was at football” has always been understood as a good reason.

    You, as the employer, have to spell out in detail what you need.
    That they need to contact you (not just tell their parents), in advance (not after the fact) is a thing they will need to be told. Some of them will already know, but for others it will literally be a new way to proceed. It’s not because they’re young, it’s because everyone is new at first.

  40. A More Brilliant Orange*

    #2: is your company stringing you along? Yes.

    Unfortunately, this is now SOP for many companies and one reason “quietly quitting” is becoming a thing.

    I wish working hard, going above and beyond, and giving your all guaranteed you would move up the corporate ladder, but that’s no longer true. You are just as likely to be laid off due to corporate “rightsizing”.

    If you want a raise and promotion, the most efficient way is to switch jobs. The way to work yourself up the corporate ladder today is by switching jobs every few years.

    I wish it wasn’t this way. I wish you could dedicate yourself to a company for life and they would reciprocate, but those days are long gone. Rather, your goal at your current job should be acquiring the skills and experience that will make you a desirable candidate to other companies, so that when you go looking for your next promotion/pay-raise, you’ll be ready for it.

    Cynical? Yea, but I’ve seen far too many people who have busted their ass for the company (often for years on end) being escorted out of the building on the day they were laid off not to be cynical.

    1. Cats on a Bench*

      I saw this somewhere else and thought it makes a lot of sense and now must spread the idea of reframing “quietly quitting” to “working your wage”. It has a more positive connotation and people shouldn’t be judged for just doing the work they’re paid to do and nothing beyond.

  41. Ada*

    #4 Happened to me recently. Old Company strung me along for the better part of a decade, substantially underpaying me and working me into the ground all the while. Got a job offer with a 70% pay raise, better benefits, cheaper insurance, and more interesting work at a company that so far seems to really value work life balance. Literally the next morning Old Company gave me the promotion I’d been trying to get for the last 7 years or so, along with pay bump less than a third of what the new company was offering. Couldn’t turn it down because I hadn’t finished finalizing everything with new company just yet, so I ended up putting in my notice about a week after the company-wide “Congratulate Ada on her promotion” email went out.

    I pretty much gave a variation of the speech Alison suggested about and the were disappointed and tried to talk me into staying, but ultimately seemed to understand.

    Congrats on the new job, LW!

  42. El l*

    OP #4:
    If you ask multiple times for a promotion – as you did at 2.5 years, 3 years, and then 3 years+ – they have no right to get mad at you for testing the job market. Perhaps at time #1, but when time #2 came around they had to know that they risked being too late.

    Look, having been in a similar situation to both #4 and #2, you’re dealing with a common type of corporate culture. Some organizations just gear themselves to have employee career progression measured in decades, rather than months. Easier ongoing admin for management – but they pay a price in losing people and a sense of inertia.

    1. Cthulhu's Librarian*

      Not even at time #1. One thing I really hope dies in a fire in the next few years is the idea that companies and managers ever have a ‘right’ to be mad about employees job searching. You don’t want folks hunting? You offer a term employment contract that everyone agrees to. You want at will employees? You accept that they can and should continue job searching throughout the time they’re employed with you.

      1. El l*

        Actually don’t disagree with this. Maybe less, “They have a right to be mad,” and more, “I can find temporary managerial consternation understandable.”

        As for people who hold a grudge over employees leaving? Time for them to start blaming Jack Welch and his followers. We live in a world where for the last 30+ years management regularly lays employees off even in good times and with adequate performance. That’s what loyalty means now.

        Can’t blame employees for finally getting that memo and acting with minimal reciprocity.

  43. A More Brilliant Orange*

    It doesn’t matter if LW #1 “accidentally” took their food, it’s still just as deflating to find your food missing.

    When someone rear ends your car, do you feel better because it was a careless accident–that they were looking at their phone instead of watching the road? Does their saying “I’ll replace the damaged parts” really make it all alright, or is part of you still angry that their carelessness caused the problem to begin with?

    You should be going above and beyond to make this up to your coworker. Yea, replace the items, but also do something extra to show you are sorry. Buy them a gift card or a 6-pack of Lunchables.

    1. Amber Rose*

      There is a huge difference between being careless in a 1000 pound chunk of metal that regularly kills people, damaging something people rely on to function day to day and potentially injuring them… and accidentally taking $10 worth of food that looks the same as other food.

      It’s concerning to me that you think they are the same.

      1. A More Brilliant Orange*

        The operative word here is careless.

        The carelessness of the driver resulted in someone else being without their car for a week or longer. They eventually fixed things, but they made the other person’s life harder.

        The carelessness of the LW made someone go without their lunch for a day. They eventually fixed things, but they made the other person’s life harder.

        Sure, there’s a difference of scale, but not of principle. When you do something that makes another person’s life harder because of your carelessness, you don’t just say “sorry” and move on. That’s a jerk move. You do something extra to demonstrate you really do regret your actions.

        1. metadata minion*

          I think this is going to vary by person. If someone accidentally took my lunch, I’d absolutely accept a “sorry” and replacement lunch/cost of lunch. It’s an understandable mistake and while I’d be pretty cranky in the moment about the missing lunch, if anything I’d be kind of uncomfortable if they tried to do anything extra beyond maybe offering to buy me coffee next time they went to the coffee shop or something. If they bought me *six more lunches* I’d feel like now I had to manage their emotions about something that was really not a big deal at all.

    2. MissElizaTudor*

      I actually would feel better to be rear ended in a careless accident than if someone purposefully rear ended me. The former is upsetting and inconvenient, the latter is kind of terrifying.

      It’s similar here, I would be less upset to find someone accidentally took my lunch than if they stole it from me on purpose. It doesn’t give me my food back for the day, but I wouldn’t expect them to do anything but apologize and offer to replace my lunch. Holding a grudge over it happening once doesn’t make sense, nor does expecting someone to go above and beyond apologizing and replacing the lunch.

    3. Boof*

      I mean, people are going to have whatever feelings they’re going to have, but yes especially for minor problems in an ongoing relationship, intent can matter a whole lot – not the least because it gives you an idea of whether it’s going to be a problem again in the future???

  44. kiki*

    It is normal for younger workers, especially those in or fresh out of high school to struggle with seemingly basic work things, like calling out or timeliness. And like Alison said, the pandemic may have interfered with the ways young people typically picked up workplace skills and norms. I wonder if this your first time hiring employees without much work experience and did you adapt their training to account for this? My first official job was in high school at a grocery store. Because so many of the employees were high schoolers, the training had to spell out so many things I’m sure older employees rolled their eyes at.

  45. Honest Worker*

    #5 Ask if you can prepare your own speech for the speeches portion, and take 15 minutes to bring up every grievance you’ve ever had against anyone. That should give them pause about throwing over-the-top parties to departing employees.

    1. a raging ball of distinction*

      Oh wow I love this. “I got a lotta problems with you people, now you’re gonna hear about it!”

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

      snort…will there be feats of strength too? A legitimate “roast” would actually be really funny at a retirement, but it’s difficult for most people to do well.

  46. Delta Delta*

    #1 – I once put a frozen burrito in the freezer at work. Coworker inadvertently heated and ate my burrito. I was bummed out, but I found a different lunch and moved on. Coworker felt bad and replaced my burrito with an even better frozen burrito from a brand I’d never tried, and also a frozen tamale because he felt bad about the mixup. All was forgiven and I got a bonus tamale.

    Long story short, replace the Lunchable, maybe with 2 Lunchables, or throw in a gift card or something else to sweeten the pot, and just make sure to mark your food in the future.

    1. Koli*

      I don’t get it – how does one “accidentally” heat up and eat a burrito? It reminds me of those elaborate TikToks where the person “falls down” and like, puts on an entire outfit that belongs to their sister. *mouth full of burrito* How did that get in there?

      Maybe I’m just super stingy and aware of my surroundings, but I honestly cannot imagine accidentally eating food that isn’t mine. But then again, I also keep my work food twisted up inside a Target bag, even inside the fridge, because I’ve been on the wrong side of many “accidental” consumptions over the years. So it’s pretty clear what’s mine.

      1. Ada*

        Could be a case of someone who keeps a couple spare burritos in the freezer in case of emergency and forgot they ate the last one.

        1. Delta Delta*

          That’s exactly what happened. Turned out Wakeen and I both like the same burrito brands. He remembered putting one (or some, idk) in the freezer and when he looked, he saw one and thought it was his. Turns out it was mine that I had put there that morning. I was bummed but I sorted out a different lunch. He felt bad and compensated me one burrito and one tamale, and if I might reiterate – Bonus Tamale!

  47. Jake*

    #3 is so interesting to me. After years of employers being in the driving seat and treating people like they are expendable (and workers complaining of said behavior), we finally see that it really doesn’t matter who is at the advantage, whoever has alternative options will treat the other entity as if they don’t matter.

    1. metadata minion*

      Or they’re young people who haven’t learned employment norms yet. Has there ever been a time when you could expect perfect attendance and diligence from high school students at an entry-level job?

  48. Grey Panther*

    #5 About the Goodbye Song: Well, maybe it’d be okay—but only if it’s sung as everyone at the party marches out of the room to go home, the same way the von Trapps disappeared from the stage as they sang it.

    Okay, maybe not.

  49. Just Me*

    #5 reminds me of the somewhat recent case where an employee was awarded a substantial sum after their request to not have a party was ignored and the employee had a panic attack from the attention. Maybe print a copy of that decision out and leave it on the appropriate person’s desk?

    1. Churpairs*

      This happened to my friend (well, not the lawsuit). His wife orchestrated a surprise birthday party for him, complete with his friends that drove in from his hometown four hours away. He had to go lie down in his car for an hour before being able to come back in to the party.

  50. Parenthesis Dude*

    #4: That happened to me also. I explained to my boss that I was thankful for the promotion and wanted to stay, but couldn’t turn down the extra cash. I told them a few days before I was going to accept to give them a chance to make a counter offer. Everyone understands that you’ve got to feed your family, and that it’s a bad sign about your prospects if it takes a long time for a promotion to go through.

  51. MIW*

    The big party for departing employees reminds me of the scene in “The Rest Exotic Marigold Hotel” when the barrister stomps out and quits rather than be subject to a party for himself. If you were retiring, that would be a great solution.
    Since that’s not the case, one suggestion would be for them to have the usual do (office culture, etc.), skip out (sick?), and request they forward you video clips “to enjoy forever”. That should obviate any concerns about not being a team player.

  52. MKinCA*

    For #5: my team used “Kudoboard” for goodbyes during the pandemic when in-person goodbye parties weren’t possible. I think it would be the perfect suggestion to make to your team & manager for a heartfelt but private way to celebrate you. It’s a virtual card/bulletin board where people post memories, photos, etc and it’s lovely.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      Kudoboards are a great idea we’ve used them to replace a lot of things that might have once been a lunch or something similar

  53. Killer Queen*

    #1: lol one time my brother took one of his coworkers small coke cans cause he had a headache coming on and needed the caffeine. He brought her a full box of coke the next day to make up for it and she wasn’t grateful at all and was all huffy cause she only likes the small cans. Sometimes you just gotta let them be mad haha.

    1. Koli*

      So your brother stole something and thinks the person shouldn’t be mad because he replaced it with something different. Yeah he totally has the moral high ground here!

      1. OP*

        Well he didn’t realize that she only liked the little cans. I think he did replace the little can after he found that out. Also I mostly thought it was a funny anecdote, not saying he was in the right because he did not take it on accident and shouldn’t have taken it in the first place.

  54. o_gal*

    If she only likes the small cans, then she has the right to be huffy. There is a reason why she only has the small cans. Replacing them with regular sized cans is not the same. I am on her side, although I would have thanked him for at least trying.

    1. Boof*

      To be fair, if someone needed my [easily replaced consumable] because they’re were going to suffer physical distress I wouldn’t be huffy about it, just let them know to please just replace the [desired thing] if it happens again
      Now if the problem was I needed that [consumable] to avoid my own physical distress, well then yes, I’d let a bit of huff show!

  55. Endorable*

    Who the heck has going away parties with 45 minutes worth of speeches for someone who has only been working there 2.5 years? That sounds more like a retirement party to me! 2.5 years gets the ‘there’s cake in the breakroom’ treatment :)

  56. Boof*

    LW2 – if a major part of the reason you are staying is good parental leave benefits that you expect to use, please go ahead and use them to the max! You’ve proven yourself; give yourself permission to relax with BB and post BB. Give your boss a heads up if you think that will be helpful that you plan to take it slow after especially since it’s outside of your actual scope.
    Feel free to keep looking around at other jobs, whether you’re on leave or after, if you feel up to it. Just give yourself permission to relax, and if your company still doesn’t promote you that is entirely on them and at least you aren’t still doing free extra work in the meantime (and keep looking around for other jobs)

  57. Chris Hogg*

    OP5 — About your going away party.

    You do you, no matter what … but you might think about this:

    The going away party seems to be almost more for the benefit of the attendees than for you. If this is the case, could you find the strength to attend, for what, 2 hours or so, as a favor to your boss and to affirm your coworkers? Even if it turns out to be 3 hours, in the grand scheme of things, that’s the blink of an eye.

    But again, you do you.

    And I must ask, what is so terrible about crying at a going-away party? It shows your true emotions, it validates the people who are saying nice things about you, and I almost gag while writing this, but it is being “authentic” in that you’re simply being you, and if crying is what you do, then simply let the tears flow. Even Jesus, the Son of God, wept in public (John 11:32-38).

  58. gawaine*

    On the high schoolers… building on the “they haven’t had a normal two years”, one thing I’ve noticed is that the trend that kids were already going towards of expecting push notifications for things (text, snapchat, calendar entries with reminders) vs. pull (reading through emails to find the right now, having to go look at/find a calendar) has accelerated. Even with college hires, I often find I need to text people rather than emailing them.

    I know my own kids have messed this up twice this summer. Once, not going back and looking at the calendar for their job again to notice that it was changed. The other time, not seeing the email asking for a change in the policy of how early they had to block off unavailable times.

    Not defending them for it, but it’s a reality that’s frustrating those of us who are parents and used to reading our email, too.

  59. OP 3 from https://www.askamanager.org/2022/08/can-i-bring-my-dog-on-a-business-trip-manager-made-up-fake-reasons-for-a-firing-and-more.html**

    For this post’s OP 3 (as well as Alison and anyone else reading I guess): I can say that behavior isn’t just for high schoolers or people just out of high school, but is very much behavior I’ve seen with people who have bachelor’s degrees at minimum. Had a previous workplace where that happened very frequently with certain coworkers in another department. Seemed like a good amount of them showed up only when they felt like, and if they didn’t feel like coming, they just wouldn’t.

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