open thread – August 19-20, 2022

It’s the Friday open thread!

The comment section on this post is open for discussion with other readers on any work-related questions that you want to talk about (that includes school). If you want an answer from me, emailing me is still your best bet*, but this is a chance to take your questions to other readers.

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

{ 1,170 comments… read them below }

  1. Mary*

    When interviewing for new jobs and they ask you why are you looking for a new job, how can you best spin: I’ve been working at a higher level than my current role for awhile, but management won’t even talk to me about what I need to do to get promoted, meanwhile coworkers with less experience and who are responsible for less are getting promoted over me”?

    1. Melanie Cavill*

      “It was a great experience because [compliments about X company here], but I feel as if I had hit a ceiling at X company and am looking for something with more opportunities for internal growth.”

    2. Llama Wrangler*

      I would just say something along the lines of – “I’m looking for more opportunities for growth than are available at my current job.” Or, if you’re really just looking for one step up – “I’m ready to take the next step in my professional growth, and that is not possible given the structure of opportunities at my current job.”

    3. TooTiredToThink*

      I would think you could just say something like, “There is very little advancement opportunities with my current organization.” And leave it at that; don’t talk about other people being promoted over you.

      1. Clock Watcher*

        Yeah unfortunately what’s crappy about interviews is, if you get into how junior people are being promoted over you, the interviewer will probably figure there’s at least a 50/50 chance that this is your fault – just because they don’t know you and don’t have any context, and most people are unreliable narrators. Ideally you could point to some growth opportunity specific to the new role that your old company doesn’t offer (“I really want to develop my skills in international llama trade, which was my focus in grad school.”)

      2. londonedit*

        I think it would be good to mention that you’ve already been doing some of the higher-level work – you could say ‘Over the last few months I’ve had the opportunity to stretch myself by working on advanced llama grooming projects like hoof care and fleece management, and I’ve really enjoyed doing this and discovered that I’m a quick learner when it comes to picking up some of the more advanced techniques. I’m now looking to move into a position where I can continue to develop these skills and grow into a more senior grooming role, which is what really interested me about this job’.

      3. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

        Yeah that is a satisfactory answer. Most aren’t looking for anything too deep here.

    4. Generic Name*

      Don’t go into all that. Say you are looking for new opportunities and you found their job posting very intriguing.

    5. ursula*

      Be less specific! “I’ve grown a lot in my current role and I’m ready to move to the next level, but there isn’t a realistic path to advancement at my organization.” Leave out the part about your unqualified coworkers – it will sound like sour grapes, whether it’s true or not.

    6. Purple Cat*

      “Looking for new opportunities to advance my career that I haven’t been given at OldCo.”
      No need to get into the details.

      1. Ann Ominous*

        I would caution against saying “opportunities that I haven’t been given at” – just because the interviewer may wonder if it’s OP’s fault they haven’t been given those opportunities. I think saying they aren’t available may be better, and I really like some of the scripts provided. It makes LW sound enthusiastic and yellow-flag-free.

        1. Prospect Gone Bad*

          So true! You’re looking for reasons to exclude people. This is a time I’d include maybe a white lie like “was given the opportunity to do higher level work, did it, but they didn’t need/want someone to do it full time”

        2. OrdinaryJoe*

          This! It also sort of implies that it may be a budget issue at Soon-To-Be-Old Company, which is very valid for many companies.

    7. Echo*

      I’d say something like this, if it’s applicable: “While at Current Company, I’ve had the chance to do a lot of the work of a Senior Job Title as a stretch role, like Skill X and also Responsibility Y. And these have been some of my favorite parts of the work. Now, I’m looking for an opportunity to take on a Senior Job Title role more formally, and that’s why I was so excited to see Your Company just posted a Senior Job Title role.”

      This script 1) explains why you’re leaving, 2) explains why you want THIS job specifically, and also 3) communicates just how high level your actual work is while still 4) putting it in a positive light.

    8. Dust Bunny*

      For the record, at my job, if I were looking to move up, there simply are not any higher positions open, and no need to create any. We’re not that big and don’t have a lot of turnover so if I wanted to move up a level I would have to go elsewhere. It would have nothing at all to do with weak performance on my part or my workplace being obstructive or incompetent–we just don’t have that many positions. So somebody saying that wouldn’t raise eyebrows.

    9. Silver Linings From Dreamland*

      Something general along the lines of “my current company is very slow to promote people”?

      1. The Real Fran Fine*

        No. If OP couldn’t say this in a completely emotionless way – and I doubt she could given the tone of (understandable) frustration at being passed over by juniors expressed in the post above – then it will quickly sound like sour grapes and possibly borderline negative. You shouldn’t bring that kind of vibe into an interview where you want to make the hiring manager excited about working with you. “No advancement opportunities where I am” conveys the same thing in a more neutral, and safe, way.

    10. Pisces*

      OT, but a friend said that interviewers ask “Why are you looking for a new job?” because they want to confirm you won’t bad-mouth them down the road, when you’re looking to leave them.

      This as opposed to, “What interests you about our opportunity/company?” Especially if you were recruited for the position instead of applying for it directly.

      1. Mztery*

        I have a little bit of an issue with most of these responses. I wouldn’t chalk it up to any particular issues at my current job, but focus on what about the new job is a serious interest. Maybe link it to what you’re currently doing, but I’d stay away from implications that your current company wasn’t willing to help you move up. Because that could be seen in a number of ways.

        Or maybe focus on what you are doing now that you really like, but how your company doesn’t have the ability to move you into that role on a full-time basis.

  2. Roxie*

    I’m a Llama Groomer Manager, when I’m asking my boss about a promotion plan to get to the Senior Llama Groomer Manager level, is tacky to ask what the salary range is for the next level? Roxie

    1. Clock Watcher*

      You can ask, but even better is to get the current Senior Llama Groomers to share their salaries with you privately. Then you’ll know if you’re being offered a good deal or not. Workplaces and our culture make it weird to ask, but I’ve had very good luck asking for a general number (“in the high fifties? In the low forties?”) and of course I don’t tell my boss who told me what, or even get into having asked. It’s backpocket info for me to use in my negotiation. And then pay it forward!

      1. Be kind, rewind*

        Yes. I like the tactic of “you don’t have to give a number, but I was thinking X: is that reasonable?”

      2. MigraineMonth*

        As a culture, USians need to get over the idea that it’s awkward to ask about pay. It’s a federally protected right to discuss pay with coworkers for a reason: it increases worker pay and reveals discrimination.

        So share your salary, and see if others are willing to share theirs.

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

      Not tacky and I agree with what everyone else has said. On top of asking what senior groomers make I would also do your own research. Whats the market value and what to other Senior Llama groomers in your area make. That way you can have a good overall idea

    3. Prospect Gone Bad*

      The question isn’t whether it’s tacky or not, it’s whether you can make it sound like you’re purely interested in the position because it interests you, or because of the money. If it seems like all you care about is the money, there isn’t a huge rush to put you in there.

      1. Carol the happy elf*

        “At my experience level, my employers want me on the upper administration track and I would rather chew my own foot off.”

        (Do NOT actually say this; it worked for someone I know, but she’s a research rock star.)

        1. NoIWontFixYourComputer*

          Reminds me of a time when my boss (who was actually the company owner) asked me if I would be interested in a “lead” (aka management type) position. My answer?

          If you want me to, I’ll do it. I’ve done it before. You won’t be happy. I won’t be happy. I know my strengths, and this isn’t one of them.

          Fortunately, he understood what I was trying to get at, and wasn’t offended. I’m not organized enough to really do management stuff. If I was in the same position today, I’d be more diplomatic, probably leaving out the “happy” crap, and just say, “I don’t believe it’s in the company’s best interests — my strengths do not lie in that area.”

  3. Melanie Cavill*

    Short version: the director of HR is implementing an IDP for me and I am in a state of confusion.

    Slightly more detailed version: I had an internal interview with my company where I was the number one runner up (or so HR told me), but ultimately did not get the role. The interview was already full up on pressure because the hiring managers came to speak to me, as opposed to the other way around. And now HR is reaching out to me for a (1) formal interview post-mortem between myself and one of the hiring managers; and (2) a meeting with myself, my team lead, and the aforementioned director of HR with the goal of creating an IDP.

    I feel like there’s this spotlight on me and it isn’t necessarily uncomfortable, but it is greatly puzzling. I am planning on sitting down with my lead and discussing this, of course, but like – is this good? Is this bad? Am I being used as a guinea pig in the director of HR’s new employee improvement initiative? Or is this a step above putting me on a PIP for some unrealised, undisclosed faux pas? These are the thoughts that I am currently thinking with my mad, bad brainium.

    tldr I applied for a job and now everything is weird.

    Has anyone been on an IDP – or something similar? Does it generally yield good results for career development or is it more like HR checking a box for the sake of it?

    1. Clock Watcher*

      I would ask HR and your boss! I bet they’d be horrified to realize you see this as a PIP and are worried about leaving. I’m guessing they did this because they worry you’ll leave after not getting the promotion, and they want to encourage you to stay and develop with them. But I don’t know for sure.

    2. ZSD*

      I can’t speak to how your employer uses the term, but in general, IDPs (unlike PIPs) are not considered at all punitive or an indication that the person using the plan has done something wrong. When I was in higher ed, we recommended that all grad students have IDPs. It’s mostly a tool for developing specific actions you can take to achieve your broader goals. If anything, I’d take this as a sign that they want you to be growing because they see potential in you!

        1. Melanie Cavill*

          Individual Development Plan! Google was a bit nebulous when I went there first so you’re not alone.

      1. Nesprin*

        Yep- IDPs are supposed to be your plan from good to excellent whereas PIPs are the improvement plans from bad to decnet.
        So IDPs include things like if you want to manage in 5 years, what training/opportunities can you take on now? If you want to be the world’s greatest teapot painter, what extra painting challenges can management offer you? What conferences should you go to? What should you spend extra time on etc.

    3. Littorally*

      Given the context, I would be highly surprised if they were going to be treating this like a PIP. You were just recently the 2nd choice for what sounds like a promotion, and a 2nd choice they were highly interested in. Then they want to meet with you and discuss developing you — to me, that sounds much more like they saw a lot of potential in you and want to nurture that.

      I don’t blame you at all for being rattled, though. That is a heck of a lot of attention all at once.

      1. Clock Watcher*

        Also I’d be somewhat on the lookout for IDPs that involve a lot of work on my part to show I’m ready for stretch assignments, but don’t actually compensate me any more money. I’m not a fan of doing higher level work for the same pay, although I know it’s a common scheme. If it’s like, ‘we’ll pay to send you to this training’ – great!

    4. lime*

      I’d think that the IDP is supposed to pre-empt any “I didn’t get a promotion, so I’m going to quit and look elsewhere for growth opportunities” urges on your part. It’s a way for them to show you that there are still growth opportunities at your current org even if you didn’t get this specific job.

    5. ThatGirl*

      IDPs are supposed to be growth opportunities – help you figure out where you want to go next. It’s a good thing!

    6. CatCat*

      It sounds like they are trying to put a plan in place to incentivize you to stay with the employer rather than quitting for an opportunity elsewhere because you didn’t get promoted.

    7. Hillary*

      It’s almost certainly a good thing – the goal is to help you develop so you get the next promotion. Probably also show you they value you so you don’t quit. ;-)

      At my current company everyone who has an email address has an IDP – the goal is to ensure everyone is talking about next steps with their managers.

    8. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Everyone at my org is supposed to have one. A lot of the ICs on my team don’t really want to advance, they just want to keep doing what they’re doing until they retire, so their IDPs are things like “keep meeting my metrics and improve my handle-affixing skills,” but I have a couple folks who have specifically expressed that they’re looking for opportunities to work on special projects, maybe work on their leadership skills, shadow other teams to learn more about what those areas do, etc etc. My most recent team lead was an IC who was promoted as a result (partially) of discussions and opportunities that came out of her IDP, and when I was a TL, my IDP helped identify specific areas that my management team wanted to see me either work on or display strengths in, knowing that my goal was to be promoted to join that management team. (And it worked!)

      1. Rain's Small Hands*

        At one of my jobs, people were identified for IDPs who the company wanted to develop. More of the limited training dollars went to those people, and you understood you had a future career path with the company. Not having an IDP communicated that you weren’t likely to get promoted OR fired, and if you were looking for more opportunity/a higher salary you should be looking outside the company. But, as you said, a lot of ICs aren’t looking to advance, so not having an IDP was not a sign of shame or anything – only about 10% of the workforce had them.

        It was a problem if you were on an IDP and then not promoted – and removed from having an IDP. That meant the company decided you didn’t have the potential they thought you had.

        And then training dollars dried up and we cut layers of management in the dot com bust and no one had IDPs anymore.

    9. Tris Prior*

      I was required (by my great-grandboss) to be on an IDP to even be eligible for a promotion. It was a hoop to jump through but not punitive in any way. It was literally “how would you like to grow, what skills would you like to develop.” Like not even “how to improve my weaknesses,” it was more focused on things I would like to learn.

      So maybe it will be something along those lines?

    10. Mimi too*

      In my org an IDP is good news, it shows your manager is interested in helping you upskill. Way different than an PIP. We use an annual IDP as a part of our goal setting and performance review process.

    11. Snarky McSnarkerson*

      Now I work in academia, so take this with a grain of salt, but EVERY employee in my unit has and IDP. We call them “Employee Development Plans” though. They are a collaboration between the employee and management and typically list skills that the employee would like to work on, or skills that the employee should work on. In fact, the director of the unit insists (!!!) that everyone has an EDP.

      YMMV in the corporate world. To me it sounds like you have some of the skills, they like you for the job, but maybe you need a little nudge on some skills. I do not think it’s one step above a PIP.

      1. Another Academic Librarian too*

        Yes, we have to create these every year as part of performance reviews.

      2. Haven’t picked a user name yet*

        I work for a very large bank. Every employee has a CDP – career Development Plan. It is separate from our performance appraisals and is updated annually. It is a very good thing.

    12. Usernames required*

      In my company IDPs (individual development plans) are used to identify and provide the training needed for an employee to be promoted. I’d read it that they want to support you for the next time round.

  4. Amy*

    Does anyone have any satisfying stories about a deeply entitled coworker who gets a reality check? Or a coworker who gets away with not doing their job (aka weaponized incompetence) who finally gets held accountable?

    1. the cat's ass*

      Maybe this was a small victory, but the chief mansplainer at my office got his comeuppance at an all-department staff meeting where the CEO finally had enough and called him out in front of the whole company. After that, no one really felt like we had to listen to him any more and he ultimately slunk off, unmissed, into retirement. Sweet!

      1. MigraineMonth*

        Wow! Was he mansplaining to the CEO and she called him out? That’s supermansplaining.

        1. the cat's ass*

          He was just generally going over EVERY. ITEM. ON. THE.AGENDA. As he was wont to do (every meeting he attended ran over because he would never shut the eff up). Her explosion was delicious.

    2. NewJobNewGal*

      I was an admin at a real estate company and the sales agents were arrogant jerks. One was also shady as heck and he would throw a fit if he had to do any paperwork or documentation, even the paperwork to get his commission! He would complain about filling out a one-page form so he could be handed a check!
      So one day a client calls and asks about a listing. The receptionist says we don’t have that listing on our list so it may be with another company that has a sign like ours. Well, it was actually a big bucks customer calling on his own property that has been listed with us for months and there hasn’t been any activity. Jerky sales guy never did any of the paperwork to put it in our system, all he did was plop a sign out front of the property. In the meantime, customer has been paying $$$$ for marketing packages that never went into production.
      Customer calls the jerky sales guy and blows his top. Then customer calls our CEO and blows his top again. Then the CEO yells at jerky sales agent.
      Jerky sales agent is so stressed that he pops a blood vessel in his eye and is walking around for days with a blood red eye. He had to go meet clients with that creepy eyeball!

      1. Rose*

        He wasn’t fired?? Did he have ANY consequences, aside from being yelled at by the CEO? I truly hope that customer took his business elsewhere.

        1. works with realtors*

          Agents are usually 1099 employees who work on 100% commission – why fire them when you don’t have to pay anything, and in the off chance they do randomly sell a home, you get a not-so-insignificant chunk?

    3. TheReportWillBeLate*

      I had a team lead who was quietly sexist and prone to claiming other people’s work. I transferred offices in part because there was concern he would become the new boss. When I got to my new office, there was a plum assignment that was work he was dying to do. I found out about the possibility he’d applied and, only one month in to my new position, had a quiet word with my new boss, who trashed his resume before I walked out of her office.

    4. Constance Lloyd*

      Well, I once had a coworker who started making several false complaints about me to HR. If true, these offenses would have been grounds for immediate termination. HR investigated, which was incredibly stressful for its own reasons, but was even more distressing because a very close family member had recently died. Okay his coworker was one of my closest work friends and had even attended the funeral. Anyway, I was cleared and life moved on. Except this coworker kept making new and escalating allegations. I think she genuinely believed them, but there was absolutely no evidence to back them up because they weren’t true. Finally, she made a call at work to demand answers for their inaction, furious that I hadn’t been fired. HR had had enough, and told her in very clear terms that her accusations were unfounded and if she didn’t stop harassing me with false accusations, she would face discipline. Just like that, she got off the phone and gave her immediate resignation without notice. We had a team meeting to divvy up her tasks m, which promptly devolved into an impromptu pizza party when we realized she’d already pawned her assigned work off on everyone else and had been spending most of her days on Facebook.

        1. Constance Lloyd*

          Okay, the answer to this is SUPER gossipy, but here goes. She had started dating a coworker. He was really needy, she was really insecure. Before all of this HR nonsense started, she shared with me that he had recently told her when he started at the company, he decided he was either going to date me or her. As if that’s something he can just unilaterally decide for himself? I felt like he was trying to be manipulative and told her as much. She stopped talking to me after that.

          I eventually moved back home to be closer to family (because of the recent death and all). This was only a couple hours away from our office and I was a top performer, so I was allowed to work remotely. I think she thought this was unfair, and she started making reports that I either wasn’t working or I was working from a state where the company was not licensed to operate. My productivity doubled when I went WFH and I never took more than 5 minutes to respond to an email or IM, so they knew I was working. The state of operation accusation was more stressful, because they refused to check my VPN to determine location. I was staying with my parents at the time, and they still had a landline so HR called me at home and considered the matter settled. When mean coworker started making complaints of favoritism, they told her to knock it off and that’s when she quit, and 10am on a Tuesday.

    5. My Useless 2 Cents*

      Don’t know if they got a comeuppance but we still laugh about it at this office.

      I’ve spent years creating and modifying an excel spreadsheet for use in my job. Several years ago my office and another branch both had departments doing the same type of work and this spreadsheet was shared for use. It was easy to use and had a lot of internal formulas and such that made it a lot quicker and more accurate than the way the other branch was doing the work.

      Big boss decided to bring other branch to office for a big department meeting to create department wide standards and finalize all processes we would follow from that point on. The other branch were all excited about this spreadsheet they created that they were going to share. Time comes… yep, they pull up my spreadsheet with minor changes. (I’m talking *minor* changes, like fill color and font style.) At one point they were trying to explain what it was doing behind the scenes and I looked at the guy talking straight in the eye and said “Yes, that’s how I designed it to work.”. Flustered the hell out of them and the conversation quickly moved away from “their” great spreadsheet. I believe they thought that they could take credit for my work and I wouldn’t say anything. I may be shy and soft spoken, but hell no, I don’t play that game!

    6. Heather*

      I’m a nurse and i was working a tiny clinic one weekend where there were three employees: Me, a doctor, and a medical assistant. The MA was tasked with screening people at the door (this was back when people were doing temperature checks etc) and doing some other tasks before they came back to see the doctor. She kept trying to make me do her job, I kept getting irritated because I was busy, etc. The next day, she went to our manger (I had been planning to let the whole thing drop, but she had other plans). I responded by saying that she had been sitting at a desk all day watching YouTube rather than working. She denied it. Eventually her boss pulled security footage (I had no idea we even had cameras in the lobby) which showed that, indeed, she spent the whole day avoiding doing any real work. It was sooo petty and satisfying when she got in trouble.

      1. The Real Fran Fine*

        That’s not petty at all – she opened the can of worms by going to management with a lie and got caught.

    7. Warrant Officer Georgiana Breakspear-Goldfinch**

      The time I called out the mansplaining, tone-arguing, gaslighting jackass I had to work with ultimately didn’t result in anything changing, because I ended up finding a new position before I could really hold him to account, but I did make him endure multiple uncomfortable conversations about how I had documented everything I was asserting and was behaving professionally, while he visibly panicked. So it was satisfying to me even though he did not experience any actual consequences.

    8. Back up! Back up!*

      Back when computers were terminals in one room (way back. It was all new) the IT was a jerk. I had been working on a project for 3 hours and I got up to leave the room for a minute. I came back & he had unplugged my terminal. I gasped, and asked what happened and that was 3 hours of work. He smirked & asked if I had backed up my work before I left. No. I hadn’t. Didn’t know I needed to. He had unplugged my terminal on purpose to teach me a lesson. He smirked again & told me I’ll never forget this lesson to back up. He could have just TOLD me to back up often. We were all smart enough to absorb this lesson without having to lose 3 hours of work. I was pissed. Later, he did something similar to the CEO and was immediately walked out of the building (they didn’t want to risk sabotage on his way out). I wish I was there for that to tell him he’ll never forget this lesson. But it was still sweet karma. I am loathe to admit that I still back up all the time…

      1. goodbye bitcoin guy*

        We had an IT guy in a previous job who never seemed to be available when we were having problems. If we did manage to find him, he acted very put upon that we expected him to come and do his job and fix computer problems. Finally, enough people complained that the head of IT checked the work logs and saw that this guy was completing way fewer tickets than all the other techs, so he pulled the guy’s computer activity logs. He’d been doing almost nothing but trading bitcoin from his first day on the job. He was fired for repeated violations of the “use of workplace computers for personal business” policy and walked out of the building. As he walked past staff he said something along the lines of “I don’t need this job anyway, I’m getting rich on bitcoin!” To which a manager standing nearby replied “It’s not real money!”

        Spoiler alert: He does not appear to have become rich from bitcoin. The last I heard of him he was hitting up former coworkers on LinkedIn asking to be recommended for jobs.

          1. MigraineMonth*

            Yeah, I wish they’d just switch to monopoly money; they could play with their fake money *without* destroying the environment. Blockchain seems like it could have interesting applications, it’s a pity it’s being used for a pyramid scheme.

    9. Irish Teacher*

      Not sure if it WAS a reality check for him or not, but when I worked retail, our branch was a training hub for managers. So we had this one guy who was training and when he’d been there about 3 weeks, we got some more trainees. Having been there a few weeks, he was really showing off and even dismissive or a bit mocking towards them if they made a mistake.

      The issue was that he was only there a few weeks himself so he’d be like “oh, I’ll show you how to do that,” then realise halfway through he wasn’t entirely clear himself and have to ask me. (I wasn’t even a manager, but knew the stuff from watching.)

    10. Ann Furthermore*

      I was the Accounting Manager, and the Accounts Payable team reported to me. The Purchasing Director was a sneaky, smarmy little weasel that I just couldn’t stand. One of those people who would try to make himself look good by making other people look bad.

      I got an email one day that took my AP staff to task for not paying invoices promptly. One of the buyers had tried to place an order and had been told our account was on hold because of unpaid invoices. He wrote a dissertation in which he very sanctimoniously lectured me about how important it was for my team to pay invoices in a timely manner, that it was critical to maintain positive relationships with our suppliers, that a supplier placing us because of past due invoices was completely unacceptable, and so on. Copied on this email were my boss, my director, his boss, the CFO, and everyone else he could think of.

      Well. I went into the system and pulled up the invoices in question, and it turned out that the invoices had been entered by my team as soon as they had been received, as per department policy, and were immediately placed on hold because the buyer had not completed the receiving transaction like they were supposed to do according to his department’s policy. Had he gotten of his a** and walked the 25 feet from his office to my cube, we could have figured it out in about 5 minutes.

      Never before and never again has clicking “Reply All” ever given me such vindictive glee. I told him that all the invoices were on hold pending action by a member of his team. I told him to let me know as soon as the receiving transactions were completed and I’d have the AP team do a one-off check run to pay the invoices, and then also told him I’d be glad to leave the check at the reception desk if someone wanted to come by and pick it up.

      He never tried crossing me again.

      1. London Calling*

        As a variation on this – colleagues who used to forward me emails from suppliers complaining they hadn’t been paid and demanding to know WHY this very important invoice was STILL unpaid. My stock response – ‘when did you give me the invoice?’

        Crickets….because they hadn’t. I think six months was the longest someone sat on an invoice before forwarding it to me – and then of course it was always mega urgent for payment because guess why? it reached the point that my manage told me to keep a log of this happening and see if we could spot the people who kept doing this.

    11. An Australian In London*

      Junior colleague hired to complete specific tasks. I was not their manager but was effectively their team lead and mentor. Junior colleague had zero initiative; if they got stuck on something, they just sat there and did no work whatsoever until our joint boss, or I checked up on them.

      This is not something we were asking them to guess about; we repeatedly counselled them to let one of us know as soon as something blocked them because we cared about them being unable to progress approximately 250 times more than we cared about being asked a question.

      I was leaving for a three-week vacation and left them a VERY DETAILED set of instructions for a 20-step task we expected them to complete while I was away, and was very clear that they were to ask our boss if anything got in their way.

      I returned and found that they had stalled on step 2 of 20 and had done nothing for three weeks. It seems they’d sent our boss one email and left it at that. Admittedly my boss was juggling many balls, and it’s on them that they didn’t reply, but junior colleague sat there with zero work output for three weeks by not following up.

      They were put on notice for that, and we were both very clear about how we would have preferred them to handle the situation. They then completed the whole 20 steps, appropriately asking questions throughout. These steps included comprehensive testing that what they had produced (a software package) was correctly installed, worked, etc.

      I handed their work product to end users, who started reporting bizarre errors. In my troubleshooting, I tried to replicate the 20 steps (I could do it in about 1.5 days, so this was feasible) and realised I couldn’t find some necessary resources. I asked junior colleague where these were. They didn’t have them.

      But how on earth could steps 13-20 have been completed without them? It turns out they were not completed (impossible to achieve). Instead, junior colleague faked test output purporting to show that all tests succeeded. Apart from anything else, this would have taken a lot of effort to produce manually; we’re talking many days.

      Junior colleague did not seem to understand that they’d done anything wrong. They seemed to think the desired output of their effort was a test result we could wave at anyone who came asking. They genuinely didn’t understand why a fake product with faked tests was an issue. (A bright future awaits them in medical science, I assume.)

      I kept it simple and produced the evidence, including emails from junior colleague where they outright admitted that it had all been faked. Their contract was terminated immediately, and this was in the UK, where that is not a simple or fast thing to do.

      I later tried to imagine what sort of workplace cultures, professional or even personal traumas they had endured for them to genuinely be perplexed that their behaviour was problematic. They did not understand why they were fired for professional misconduct. Also relevant: this was in an international bank and there were potential regulatory breaches involved (the sorts of things that lead to hundreds of millions in fines). I suppose it’s on me for not confirming that the reported tests were genuine or that the software package worked at all.

      1. KoiFeeder*

        Ye gods. I had to take a moment to sit down and process this one. Talk about a reality check through the skull.

    12. Green Goose*

      I had a former coworker who was so entitled and was really nasty to his boss. He literally would not show up for 1:1s with his meek boss and then when the boss quit he thought HE should get the role. When he wasn’t even offered an interview he went non a smear campaign of the new boss and was so horrible to her that she literally quit within a week.
      He then called clients and trashed the company before finally leaving. He was very convinced ge had done nothing wrong. Well he kept up the same stuff at his new place and was fired within a year and I think he’s Jon hopped a lot since then. I wonder if Noé ge realizes how easy it was for him and how he totally burned a bridge.

    13. Lora*

      This happened about 6 years ago now. Mansplainer / bully had a litany of complaints to HR about his rotten behavior – in addition to hating many (though not all) women, he routinely stole parts from the warehouse for his projects, engaged in shady accounting, sat on his thumbs when projects were due and blamed other people who had nothing to do with it, was sleeping with a documentation employee and often altered documents to his benefit or sometimes to sabotage other people’s work. Many, many complaints, but he was buddies with a VP who was sleeping with the HR lady (that place was a disaster) who deleted every paper trail that would have led to him being fired.

      Our boss was told by the VP that he was not allowed to fire Mansplainer. Boss agreed to this…then it was time to set the annual department goals for the next year. Our department goals were such that 50% of our review would be based on communication efficacy and collaboration skills, since our department was central to so many other functions and interacted with a lot of different people. This would be scored, in part, by 360 degree reviews. Half-year review time came around, and Mansplainer was not thrilled with his review. So unhappy that he immediately called his old job and they offered it back to him…at the same salary that he had 10 years previously. Which he took, because it meant he could work in the back of the office and never have to speak to another human very much ever again. He’s still there.

      1. GingerNP*

        poetic perfection, honestly. Nobody fired him but he’s still gone. Congrats to you and the rest of your colleagues.

    14. cardigarden*

      I had a nemesis at OldJob (my nemesis because he threw me under the bus for his own massive screw up while I was on a cruise ship in the middle of the ocean, probably BECAUSE I was in the middle of the ocean and unable to defend myself). We’ve both been at different jobs for ages now, but I just learned that he recently got fired from Prestigious Job People Would Do Unspeakable Things To Have for having an awful attitude and pulling sh** like that too many times.

    15. Wolverine would be best possible ESA*

      One colleague I work very closely with had a very informal hybrid schedule that included WFH to accommodate his late arrivals and early departures to pick his kids up from school. Likely the main reason he got it was because he wouldn’t give up pestering our supervisor for it and she gave in to keep the peace. She finally caught on that he really wasn’t doing the work that he was expected to be doing and took it away from him this spring. It shouldn’t have been a surprise to her that he wasn’t doing the work, because he even admitted that he had been spoken to by our previous supervisor for not completing work, both routine work and projects, in a timely manner in his last annual review.

      Her expectations are that he’s in the office during core business hours with some leeway for late arrivals and early departures. She also wants him to use his online calendar more consistently, which also isn’t as unreasonable as he thinks it is. She gave him more than enough time to figure out a plan for how to deal with getting his kids to and from school. She’s also a parent with younger kids than him who can’t be left alone. She’s also made observations about how him calling to check in on the kids multiple times a day is taking away from him doing his job.

      His reaction to her decision is to paint her as lacking compassion for his preferences and choices and to question her competency for her job in general. Staff meetings with all of us are becoming increasingly weird and awkward with him doubling down on his preference for a return to a hybrid schedule and her taking away work from him and reassigning it to me. She’s ended discussions that turn into arguments between them because he gets too aggressive and heated. I’m sure our staff meeting next week with school starting soon will not be a good one.

    16. Grey Panther*

      Maybe not exactly “comeuppance,” but:

      In the Dark Ages (i.e., pre-computers), I worked in a small independent business, about 15 people total, and I was the only person who did my specific job.

      Without giving too much detail, all of the work that the six executives did every day had to be recorded in individual files. Each exec saw 15-20 clients per day, and tape-recorded notes on each meeting. Every morning I received six tapes, each one accompanied by a file for each client seen by that exec on the previous day.

      My job was to transcribe the notes from those tapes into the appropriate individual’s file, and to make sure the transcribing was completed and all files were returned to the main office by the end of the day so they’d be available in case the exec needed to review them or the clients called in with questions before their next visit.

      If I didn’t get everything done in a single day, it could cause real problems; my job had definite potential to be a bottleneck. (Sometimes I felt like the maiden in Rumpelstiltskin, spinning her pile of straw into gold every day.) But I enjoyed the challenge, and always met it successfully.

      I loved the company, my colleagues, and the work I was doing, and had friendly professional relationships with everyone there—except Flossie, the only snake in the garden and one of the receptionists. Flossie had decided for some reason that I was the source of all evil in the world, but she was easy to … maybe not ignore, but certainly to treat politely/cordially and then set aside.

      I’d been working there about 18 months when, one Friday afternoon, after I’d finished transcribing the previous day’s work, I was called into the office manager’s office. This was a new manager, who’d been with us for less than a month.

      He announced that my employment was terminated, that day, that minute, and handed me a check for the last two weeks’ work plus accrued vacation and sick pay, etc.

      I was gobsmacked. I’d only ever received compliments about my work from all levels in the company—and if I’d ever caused a problem, ours was the kind of office that would’ve addressed it immediately.

      Stunned, I returned to the office I shared with the accountant. One of the execs was there, chatting with the accountant about her vacation plans. When I came in, he said, casually, “So, [me], you gonna play in [local sports tournament] this weekend?”

      I blurted out, “Uh, I’m not sure. I just got fired.”

      “Whaaaaaat?!?” He was as stunned as I was. “Why?”

      I shrugged helplessly. “I don’t know!”

      I gathered my gear and left. My job was no longer mine.

      Over the next week, at home, in shock, I received phone calls from coworkers at my level expressing shock and outrage at my firing. None of the execs called.

      Ours was a small town, but I found work so quickly that by the time my first unemployment check arrived I sent it back unopened—I didn’t need it. I enjoyed my new job, and figured that my dad was right; he’d always said, “Living well is the best revenge,” so I did.

      One evening about six months later, Fergus, one of the execs I’d particularly enjoyed working with, phoned to tell me the business was in a mess and to ask if I would come back. Flossie had apparently assured the execs that she could easily handle my job, but was completely incapable of maintaining the necessary pace and accuracy. My unvarying 24-hour file turnaround had become 72 hours or more with her, and current client information was seldom available from the files when it was needed.

      Fergus noted that if I did return, it would be at a significantly higher pay.

      I thought for a minute about how much I could use that higher wage, then said, “You know, Ferg, you guys [the execs] knew my work and my reliability. None of you ever said a word to me about anything I did being unsatisfactory, because if you had, I’d’ve corrected it. And when I was shown the door—no reason given—not one of you said a single word on my behalf.

      “And now you want me to come back and straighten things out? Respectfully, that’s not gonna happen. I stood up for you guys in the work I did, and you never stood up for me. So I’ll be happy to say hello and chat if we all run into each other around town [not an unlikely possibility], but you all have shown me that I’d be stupid to trust you again.”

      Some time later I found out that Flossie had been campaigning heavily to get rid of me for a while—she was tight with the previous office manager, but apparently the previous manager wouldn’t dump me. So Flossie had oozed all over the new manager with “Hi, welcome to town,” etc., and convinced him that I was inaccurate, unreliable, and useless; and thus I was out.

      Sometimes it’s satisfying to think about that conversation with Fergus—but I really had enjoyed that job, and could happily have stayed with it until I was old and gray … or until computers changed things. Never did have any further contact with Flossie—or Fergus!

    17. Elle Woods*

      My first job out of college was a department coordinator. As part of my duties, I worked with three analysts who spent most of their days on the phone answering product questions from field reps.

      A couple of weeks before I started, the analysts went from doing paper call logs to electronic ones. Two of the analysts had no trouble getting the hang of the new software. Despite receiving the same training as the other two analysts, the third one (“Ron”) kept using the paper logs. This wouldn’t have been a problem except that the VP and EVP for our area wanted to get statistics about the calls (number, length, topics, who called, etc.) so they could get a baseline assessment of things.

      It all came to a head in a department staff meeting. No one had ever really stood up to Ron because he was, by far, the most tenured member of our department, had encyclopedic knowledge about products the company sold, and usually put up such a fuss that people caved to his demands. At this meeting, Ron claimed he didn’t understand the software, it was too complicated to use, he preferred to keep written notes for calls, it was a waste of time, there was nothing wrong with the old system, and so on. “Jane,” our boss/VP, was relatively new to the department and was having none of it. She ordered him to attend an intensive three-day training workshop on the software and upon his return, discontinue use of the manual logs.

      He did the training, worked for a few more months, and then retired shortly after his annual review.

    18. turquoisecow*

      I worked (technically still work) with an arrogant jerk who thought he knew everything and loved to tell me what I was doing wrong and also refused to teach me things so that I would do them correctly. He wasn’t my boss but we were supposed to be working on a project together and in the project meeting one day he blew up at me and yelled at me saying that I was wrong about something (which I was not wrong about anyway). Several people immediately defended me and when the meeting was over the VP who was running the meeting asked him to stay after, and basically told him that behavior was unacceptable. Never got an apology or anything but it was good to know the VP was on my side, (and my boss relayed that this happened as he had also stayed behind.)

      Another coworker on the same project replied to an email with a really snarky comment implying that an error made was the result of my laziness and incompetence (it was not). My boss saw it and was furious and the same VP again had my back. My boss later forwarded me an email from the VP to the snarky coworker in which he told the coworker that civil behavior was expected.

      I do my best to not interact directly with either of them nowadays, but thankfully everyone understands why, and I don’t look like a special snowflake.

    19. Girasol*

      We had a terrible condescending middle-aged know-it-all who mansplained to the women and patronized the younger men. One day he didn’t come in. Word got out that his wife had divorced him and he had quit with no notice to go home to live with his mama. (While there are all kinds of good reasons to live with one’s mother, given his character, we all chose to imagine the worst one.)

    20. Throwaway2*

      A few jobs I worked in higher ed graduate admissions. Due to a reorg, programs had requested separate application materials for different concentrations. My job was to build the application and then make sure all apps were reviewed. One specific program was brand new and I had no content or instructions for the application. I sent an email to the program advisors outlining what I needed in March. Immediate response was a thanks and saying they would get back to me after the semester was over, a little over a month later. This timeline came and went with no content. I reached out a few weeks later, no answer. I followed up on the first and fifteenth of the next three months, always with no answer. Went to the department head in this timeline and was told to wait on the content. No problem.

      About six months after my initial email, I was cc’ed in an email from these department advisors to the department head with me and my boss cc’ed, complaining about a lack of applicants for their program. It was incredibly satisfying to reply that application wasn’t live yet because I was waiting on their content with the exact dates I had reached out. My boss backed me up 100%.

  5. Llama Wrangler*

    TL;DR: When are leggings appropriate as office wear in a semi-casual office?

    I recently started at a new job that has the most casual dress code of any office I’ve worked in – jeans and sneakers are explicitly allowed except when meeting with clients. The dress code also explicitly names leggings as not-allowed clothing. Last week, I saw two different people wearing leggings – both under tunic (not dress) length tops. 

    Should I interpret that to mean that leggings are, in fact, acceptable if you’re wearing something that covers your bum? Are people maybe being more casual because it’s the summer? Should I give it more time to establish more credibility before moving into legging territory? Are there other leggings considerations that you keep in mind?

    1. Melanie Cavill*

      Leggings are technically disallowed as per my company’s dresscode but my supervisor wears them all the time. Personally, I only wear them once a month when biology is a ravaging hellbeast and I’m too uncomfortable for jeans – but that’s just because I like jeans better. If you see other people wearing them without penalty, you’re probably free to do the same!

      1. Melanie Cavill*

        Replying to add: my wearing leggings has never been remarked upon, even though it is technically against the company’s official dresscode. I imagine a 2022 update would be reconsidering that bit at the very least.

        1. Clock Watcher*

          I also think there’s a range of leggings. I’ve worn sort of jeggin-y black leggins that were thicker material and nobody has ever given this a second thought, or you could be in lulualtheticwear that is a bit see-through and looks like it belongs in yoga class and people might give you the side-eye.

          1. Agile Phalanges*

            This. The pants I wear to work every day are probably technically leggings, because they’re stretchy. But they’re full length, straight bottomed (so don’t cling at the ankles) have four pockets, and even have a seam to simulate a fly. (Not that most folks see the latter few features, because my shirts always cover them.) I’m fat, and find jeans and other un-stretchy pants uncomfortable, but these simulate slacks enough I feel that they’re fine for work, and no one has ever said otherwise (and I sit in the same office as HR, so I’m sure she’d tell me if needed).

            But at home, I have leggings in all sorts of wild colors and patterns (for horseback riding, for lounging, for funsies), and I wouldn’t dream of wearing THOSE to work, unless we were having some kind of themed day. We DO have Hawaiian Shirt Fridays, and I still wear black pants with my crazy shirts.

          2. MigraineMonth*

            Huh, I’d never really thought of my yoga pants as “leggings” before, but the internet seems divided on the subject. (I’ve always thought of them as light-weight sweatpants, so not business casual but also not particularly tight/revealing.)

            I don’t think I’ve worn jeans for 4 years now.

    2. Kimmy Schmidt*

      When was the dress code last updated? Things might have relaxed since Covid and a return from WFH.

      I’d probably wait and observe for another couple months before donning legging myself, and I’d also try to ask around about written dress code vs. dress code in reality.

      1. Llama Wrangler*

        The handbook was last reviewed in 2020 (when they started bringing people back to the office) – no changes were made to the dress code at that time, as far as I can tell – but they share it pretty proactively so I am assuming (maybe incorrectly) that management is thinking of it as current policy.

    3. Stuckinacrazyjob*

      Tbh I wear leggings under tunics and it’s allowed except for court. My company is way too formal for its industry.

      1. Rain's Small Hands*

        My line as well – does it cover your butt. AND, make sure that they are leggings that have a little heft – and not heavy duty footless tights (or some other form of not opaque enough for public leggings).

        Also, and this is reality – NOT how it should be – if you are a little (or a lot) on the heavy side, your workplace may find leggings OK for a thinner woman, but not for you. They likely won’t SAY anything, but it could affect how you are perceived. Again, not how it should be, but work life isn’t always fair.

    4. lime*

      I think wearing leggings with a tunic-length top takes them more into “pants” territory, in many peoples’ perceptions. I think the weight of the leggings are also important: thin, cotton leggings are probably a no all the time, but thicker ponte leggings are probably ok.

      1. Shhhh*

        I agree that the weight matters – I’m currently wearing leggings at work, but they are pretty thick and pant-like (Eloquii’s Miracle Flawless Leggings for those interested :)). I do wear them with longer tops. No one has ever said anything, but I do work in a pretty casual environment (a university library) so YMMV.

        1. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

          Yep. I have some very comfortable leggings but they become stretched out and not cute very fast. Those are my at home leggings. Any leggings I would wear outside the house are thicker and have more structure so they look more like slim dress pants.

    5. Paris Geller*

      Man I personally love how leggings feel but I hate how much they have to factor in workplace dress code discussions (for so many reasons!). I think one thing is people can’t even agree on what leggings ARE. Like, yes, some pieces of clothing are clearly leggings but if you have some tight but stretchy and soft pants that are a bit thicker–are those leggings are just pants? yoga pants? are tights leggings? (I say no). I feel like that’s probably one reason the leggings in the workplace discussion comes up so much. I do think it’s probably more likely that leggings are not OK in the place of pants you would wear with say, a blouse, but are OK with dresses or tunics.

      1. Person from the Resume*

        Ha! I was about to say some of what people described, I wouldn’t think of as leggings for example Agile Phalanges … they’re full length, straight bottomed (so don’t cling at the ankles) have four pockets, and even have a seam to simulate a fly.

    6. NewJobNewGal*

      The line may be how tight the leggings are. If they are skin tight where you see every nick and cranny, then that is probably a no-no. But if the leggings aren’t that tight and could possibly be interpreted as pants if you didn’t see the waistband, then they are good.

    7. I watered your plants while you had covid*

      At my current job (and several I had before this one) leggings were explicitly only allowed if there was another garment that covers your rear – one job even said it needed to meet your fingertips if your arms are at your sides.

      Its tricky because covid changed a lot about how dress code was followed in my office, even if the code itself remains. But my employer has recently started sending out emails with the dress code attached basically saying “hey remember this”

      I do tend to dress more formally when I start a new job, until I get the feel for my supervisor and how much they care.

    8. My Useless 2 Cents*

      If more than one person are wearing leggings, I think you’d probably be safe but I’d give it a couple of months or so if you are new to the job, wear a longer tunic or dress to be on the safe side, and make sure they are a thicker set of leggings (fabric wise).

      Growing up leggings were barely a step up from nylons. Even a good set of leggings would leave you with a very VPL. Modern leggings are a closer equivalent to the 80’s/90’s stirrup pants or what I always knew as “elastic waist pants” if they didn’t have the little stirrup at the bottom. More like pants than nylons with a thicker material that leaves more to the imagination than leggings of yore. But evolution of the wording has left “leggings” on the no-no list at work. Anyway, that’s just my take of things.

    9. pbnj*

      I only wear leggings to work if I’m wearing something that covers most of my butt, and if they’re leggings that are more pants-like then something super tight that you would wear to work out in. Since you’re new, I’d give it a little more time to observe others. Are their leggings more pants-like?

      1. Llama Wrangler*

        One was a ponte-style thicker legging (but not anywhere close to jeggings); one was classic athleisure leggings (shiny, bright solid color) but worn under a long, flowing top in a matching color – so it looked like a casual and put together outfit.

    10. Hillary*

      Are the people you saw at your level or higher? Every office has a few people who push the envelope on dress code (strapless sundress lady ten years ago, looking at you). They’ve probably been talked to and decided they don’t care. They do good enough work that they’re not going to be let go for dress code, but they’re also not going to be on the promotion list.

      1. Llama Wrangler*

        My company has a pretty flat structure, so they’re on my level on paper – but have more seniority.

      2. Westsidestory*

        Ah pushing the envelope! One summer a few years back I recall the rather young HR director coming down to see me about something. She was wearing a romper. I said nothing of course.

    11. aubrey*

      I think with a top that covers your butt, leggings that are thicker and not see-through, and a general outfit that looks put together for work, leggings are should be just fine. Maybe err on the dressier side for a bit. But in this kind of casual environment I’ve found the dress code is mostly a safeguard against someone showing up in something VERY inappropriate, and if you’re technically not compliant but within the spirit of the dress code (i.e. don’t look like you’re on your way to yoga or like you might have worn the same outfit to sleep in) then you’re fine.

    12. Rain's Small Hands*

      I do want to rant a bit.

      Audrey Hepburn wore a post WWII version of leggings in Funny Face, and her “pedal pushers” were a standard of 1950s attire – they are a little different, but then, we hadn’t the access to lycra and spandex in the 1950s yet. If style icon, WWII resistance warrior and decent human being Audrey Hepburn could wear leggings as pants back before my mother was in high school, its time to end the “leggings aren’t pants” argument once and for all – that was decided SEVENTY years ago. They were pants for Audrey, that’s good enough for me.

      1. HBJ*

        No, those weren’t leggings. What makes leggings leggings is the stretchy fabric. Pants made of woven fabric are not leggings.

      2. I'm A Little Teapot*

        I suspect that if you compared what Audrey Hepburn wore to modern leggings, you would be rather surprised. They are not the same thing at all, though the appearance may be similar.

    13. Silver Linings From Dreamland*

      I haven’t worked in an office in over a year and have no plans of doing so anytime soon but I am also not a fan of jeans so I’d say it’s no big deal if these people wearing leggings have on professional-looking tops/perhaps a blazer or cardigan combo that cover the bum.

    14. Grey Panther*

      How about checking this out with another employee—a coworker with more tenure, maybe, or a supervisor—that you trust and have a good relationship with?
      Rules about things like this differ so widely in different working situations … I’d want to ask someone who’s been there for a while.

    15. Epsilon Delta*

      We have a similar dress code. Jeans are ok, leggings aren’t. It means you can’t wear leggings *as pants*. You can wear them as a substitute for tights. If you replaced the leggings with a pair of tights, is the outfit still office appropriate? Then you can wear leggings.
      (Most of my pants are leggings post-Covid, so I’m not saying this is how I think things should be or whether I personally think leggings are pants. Just saying how we enforce the policy.)

    16. Cacofonix*

      Honestly surprised there is a debate. If leggings aren’t allowed, don’t wear them. Seems a bit grade school to say… well Susie is wearing them, why can’t I? Ask for an update to the dress code if it’s giving that much angst and no one is following it. So many professional pants have good stretch in them that makes them just as comfortable and far more work appropriate.

      1. Llama Wrangler*

        The discussion above seems to suggest that there’s pretty some range in what people consider to be leggings.

        Similarly, the dress code bans “t-shirts” – but I’ve seen plenty of people wearing what I would classify as a t-shirt. I didn’t ask that question because I don’t wear anything that could be considered t-shirt – and I think the norms around tshirts are substantially less gendered.

    17. SimonTheGreyWarden*

      At my work, we can’t wear leggings-as-pants, but we can wear them under dresses or long shirts. I wear popfit leggings under my clothes (shorts in the summer under my dresses bc I hate chub rub, full leggings in the winter) and no one has ever looked askance. I basically treat them as if I were wearing stockings.

  6. Question for Federal Workers*

    Federal workers: do you have any advice on negotiating an increase in vacation time (“annual leave”) earlier than three years in?

    I joined the federal government a year ago after more than ten years of professional experience elsewhere. They based my federal salary on my previous salary (grr, but that’s another story), but they didn’t take my work experience into account when assigning my annual leave. I took a cut from 24 days of paid vacation to just 13, and it’s killing me!
    They counted enough of my prior work experience as relevant that I’m eligible to apply for promotion after just a year and a half, rather than two years. If I get the promotion, I won’t be able to negotiate the amount of the raise (grr again), but I’d like to negotiate to get an increase from 13 vacation days (4 hrs/pay period) to 20 days (6 hrs/pay period) at the time the promotion kicks in, rather than waiting for three years of federal service.

    Has anyone done this? Any tips?

    1. Person from the Resume*

      As far as I know neither salary or leave amounts are neogiatable. I do know on hire you can neogiate a higher starting TIG based on experience to have a little bit of impact on salary, but I think time in federal service is the only number they use for calcuating leave.

      I was in the military and then got a federal job so I’ve just always accept what they tell me (so I might be wrong), but I’ve also maxed on the amount of leave I earn. I will say, though, I LOVE the transparency that a non-neogiable salary based on grade and time in grade provides. And I love that I have never had to neogiate my salary and still feel I was fairly paid since I was paid the same as every other person of my rank/grade and time in service. I don’t think that it’s a bad thing at all.

      1. Velociraptor Attack*

        I’m technically a government employee and at my office, they have a system where your pay is determined by years of experience and internal equity, so let’s say they hire me as a Program Director and determine based on my resume that I have 5 years of transferable experience in that type of role, my pay is the same as every other Program Director with 5 years of experience. They stated upfront it was nonnegotiable and like you, I love it just for the transparency aspect.

      2. Drago Cucina*

        I know it’s late in the day and you may not see this Person from the Resume. Did you buy your military time for the retirement system? At the end of this month I move from being a W2 contractor for one federal agency to being a GS employee with another. I’m thinking of buying my 6 years of military service. Did you come across any negatives if you did this?

        I’ll confess I didn’t negotiate for a higher salary. I’m already getting a 57% pay increase.

    2. higheredrefugee*

      It stinks, but yes, this is the way it works in the US, and there’s no wiggle room without previous military or federal civil service experience that provides some more time in service credit. At best, your agency may allow you to work comp time/credit hours, though usually not in the first year. I just passed the 3 year mark, but continue to use credit hours for longer weekends, take off early on Fridays, etc. I’m a bit shocked at how much faster time accrues now though.

      This job is my first professional, full-time job that I only work 40 hours per week and can’t take work home,so I accepted that as my trade offs. I also love what retiree health care looks like!

    3. Ness*

      I’ve never heard of anyone negotiating leave outside of when they were initially hired. Not to say you shouldn’t try, but I wouldn’t have high hopes.

      1. Ann O'Nemity*

        I’ve seen it happen successfully in the private sector, but the government is a whole other animal.

    4. Fed lawyer*

      At my fed agency, it’s a strict non-negotable formula. 4 hours per pay period until your 5th year of federal service (so your 13 days), 6 hours per pay period for 5-15 years (or is it 20?) and then 8 after that. It definitely sucks those first few years, especially since you have to use annual for normal holidays like the day after Thanksgiving. But the president often gives Christmas Eve off and we get random federal holidays like Veterans Day, Columbus Day (yes, they still call it that) and MLK day off.

      1. Jzilbeck*

        Probably won’t get Christmas Eve or New Years Eve this year since Christmas and New Years both fall on a Sunday, but in other years it’s been authorized as federal holidays if it falls mid week. Last year Juneteenth was added to the federal holiday schedule with nothing removed so that’s now an extra paid day off. Additionally, when a president/former president dies, federal offices are closed for the day of the funeral and it’s considered a “National Day of Mourning” but that’s also paid. This last happened when George Bush Sr died. Jimmy Carter is pushing 98, so…might have another one of those soon.

        The inability to negotiate additional vacation time in a federal job sucks, but am upside to federal service is that you aren’t expected to work outside your normal hours, making it easier to request comp time when need be.

        Also, side note: federal employees finally (!!!) got paid parental leave (12 weeks paid) October 2020 though like most employers, you need to be there a minimum of 1 year in order to be able to utilize the benefit.

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

      I work in state government and it’s not negotiable and it’s so frustrating. Even when HR screwed up and told me that I had 104 hours of vacation time per year but it was actually 80 hours because I didn’t work 12 months only 10 per year. Even after several people, including my manager, said that this was wrong, they made the mistake and should at east give me the 2 days I was asking for while my office was closed for the holiday. But they wouldn’t budge!

    6. Just Your Everyday Crone*

      Agree with others that annual leave is set based on years, but we get time off awards, maybe you could look into that.

        1. The New Wanderer*

          Yes, this is how I’m managing the cut to vacation when I joined the federal gov’t after 15 years in industry. During the offer stage I asked if there was a way to get more annual leave up front and nope, not for my agency (or any other, from the sound of it). However, I did ask my manager about time off options, which are leave without pay, accrued comp time in lieu of overtime, alternative schedules, and occasional discretionary time off awards.

    7. Twisted Lion*

      I do know someone who was able to negotiate their salary prior to starting (basically they started at a higher step) but it was a big THING to get it done. The days after being hired…. I’ve always been told it means you need to apply for a new job elsewhere. As far as the days off…… for end of year its common to get days and maybe some $ as a bonus. But Ive never heard of someone negotiating successfully after the fact.

      1. Just a name*

        I regularly advised candidates I hired to request the ability to earn more hours of annual leave based on their non-government experience. As an example, if you had 10 years of private experience that was relevant, HR could bring you in at the 10 year level for the purpose of leave. But the candidates had to know to request it during the hiring process. Once they were onboard there was no way to retroactively fix it.

        1. Person from the Resume*

          I didn’t know this!

          And the only reason I knew that you could start at a higher step based on experience is because someone I know who was both prior military and a state government employment did it. I have no idea how anyone finds about that in advance of being hired. It’s very much not common knowledge.

    8. Policy Wonk*

      You cannot negotiate leave in the Federal Government – it is all set out by OPM. This is always an issue with people who come to us mid-career from outside of government, or those who retire from the military and then start over in the Civil Service. With regard to a promotion, if you have superior qualifications you can request additional steps within your grade, but given what you have laid out here I would be surprised if this would be approved given that you will be an internal candidate.

      What you can do is seek an alternate work schedule, such as the 5-4-9 where you work nine hours per day for five days one week, four the next. Or you could seek a flexible schedule where you can take a couple of days off and pay the time back later.

      Welcome to the Federal service – we need good people!

    9. I'm Done*

      You can’t. It’s non-negotiable. Leave is earned according to years worked in federal service. It goes from four hours per pay period for the first three years, to six hours per pay period up to year 15, to 8 hours per pay period after 15 years of service.
      Also your pay is based on a pay schedule. You get paid according to your location, grade and your in-grade step. I don’t know what you mean that you negotiated a promotion after a year and a half. If you’re in a career ladder position, you can be promoted after one year. Step increases also take place after one year unless your manager decides your performance does not warrant it. If you’re not in a career ladder position, you do not get automatic promotions. You have to apply competitively. I would recommend you check the OPM (Office of Personnel Management) website for more detailed information.

      1. ZSD*

        Thanks! At my agency, the first promotion is normally available after two years in the entry-level position, but if you come in with at least a year of relevant work, you can apply for promotion after just 18 months. Yes, it’s a competitive promotion process.

    10. August nineteenth*

      The phrase you want to research is “creditable service.” Not sure if it applies for promotions. New hires can request it before their firm offer is extended.

  7. Clock Watcher*

    I am part time, but salaried, which is a somewhat unusual set up and one that find prone to exploitation. My salary is for an expected 20 hours a week and includes no benefits – my schedule is typically set (say, Tuesday-Friday 10-3) – but like a regular salaried job there’s an expectation is that you will go above and beyond as necessary. In theory other weeks you may work less than 20 although we all know how that tends to play out. The reason I get a bit salty is because at my company 30 hours a week would qualify for benefits. So I want to keep strong boundaries around my 20 hours.

    My boss often sets meetings outside my core hours, so I’ll get an invite for a 4PM meeting. Do you think ethically it’s okay for me to shift my hours around, without asking permission? So on a day when she invites me to a 4PM, I just automatically don’t start working until 11 (other than keeping an eye on my email via phone)? This has been my approach so far and I don’t feel guilty, but I also am aware that I haven’t explicitly asked her about this and I’m not sure what she’d say. I worry she’d say that salaried roles don’t work that way and the extra hours are expected.

    1. Accounting Gal*

      Ethically I think this is fine. In a salaried job it’s more about whether the work is getting done than the exact hours you’re doing it, so I see no problem with this. If they were worried about the exact hours, they should have set you up as hourly non-exempt.

    2. londonedit*

      I can’t speak to the salaried/not part of this, because we don’t have the same system where I live, but I absolutely think you need to speak to your boss! She may simply have forgotten that your hours are 10-3 – that sort of thing happens all the time. So first of all I’d speak to her and ask whether it’s a) critical for you to attend the 4pm meeting, as it falls outside your normal working hours, or b) whether if it’s a 1:1 you could move it to a different time, or whether you can/should flex your hours on a day when you have a late meeting. I wouldn’t just go ahead and flex your hours without asking – or without checking that there isn’t a simple solution that means you don’t have to work late!

      1. Chilipepper Attitude*

        I don’t recommend asking the boss. It opens a can of worms that you might not want to deal with when she says, no, stick to 10-3 AND attend all meetings outside those hours.

        Be prepared, if she ever says anything, to say, in a tone that says, of course this is normal, “oh, I was flexing my time so I could attend the meeting”

      2. Blue Balloon*

        I agree! If she’s reasonable, and even if she’s not, you can approach this like a normal work question, which it is. “Hey [boss], I notice you scheduled our meeting for 4pm tomorrow. As you know, my hours are [9-1], so I was wondering how you’d like me to handle these kinds of things that fall outside my working hours.”

        It’s probably a simple oversight, especially if your ‘unusual setup’ is also rare in your workplace. And if not, you can set the tone by assuming matter-of-factly that of course you can’t work above your hours, and letting her decide which of the many options londonedit suggested might work (or another option). I think a good manager would appreciate you flagging this! Salaried isn’t supposed to mean “available all the time,” it’s meant to reflect the type of work you do (professional, administrative, executive, computer-based, etc).

        It sounds like you’re facing constant pressure to put in extra hours. I don’t want to assume you haven’t asked, but if that’s the case, it might be worth having a separate conversation about changing your FTEs to reflect the work you’re being asked to do (and qualify for benefits!!). I would also be salty about what you’re describing, and I’m sorry.

    3. CatCat*

      What about talking to her with a genuine question of, “I’ve noticed you’ve been scheduling a lot of meetings at 4:00 when my hours are 10-3. Should be revisit my scheduled hours?” And see what she says.

      Also, if you use Outlook or anything that shows your “status” in the office for scheduling, be sure it shows you as out during any time during what would be a regular FT workday, so like block yourself as out from 8-10 and 3-5 to prevent this kind of thing. I work a shorter day once a week and blocking off my calendar in the afternoon in this manner really helps.

    4. fhqwhgads*

      The expectation you mention for “a regular salaried job” is really more an expectation for a regular exempt job. Just because you’re salary doesn’t mean they don’t need to pay you more if you work more hours. If you don’t want the more hours, and they keep scheduling things outside yours, either shift your hours to accomodate the timing or decline the meeting, citing ooo. It’s very reasonable what you’re doing – and it’s a bit crappy that they know you’re part time but aren’t respecting your set schedule, if they want you to have a set schedule. If they don’t, then great, you’re already adjusting your schedule as needed.

    5. Alexis Rosay*

      I used to work in a salaried part-time role, and I would strongly suggest declining meetings that are outside your core hours. Your boss should know your core hours and schedule accordingly. They do not get to pay for part-time hours but get full-time availability and flexibility. If you haven’t been doing that up to now, it may be a tough transition for your boss, but I suggest imagining that you have non-negotiable other work or childcare duties. You can say something like, “I’ve been flexible with my core hours up to now, but due to some commitments I have, I’m now only able to take meetings from 9-1”. Your other commitment can just be to yourself, that’s totally valid!

      1. Camelid coordinator*

        Thanks for this comment! I have a job that is considered to be 20 hours and hadn’t thought about the expectations around my availability and flexibility, especially for evening meetings with volunteers. Any other tips or suggestions about this kind of arrangement are welcome!

        1. Alexis Rosay*

          How frequent are the evening meetings? If this is a weekly occurrence or a core part of the job, you might want to actually set aside 1-2 evenings per week and make that part of your core hours. If they’re more ad-hoc, I would just send a quick message to your boss saying, “Since I met with volunteers for 2 hours last night, I’ll be starting at 11am tomorrow.” A heads-up to your boss can be a courtesy if they might be trying to reach you during that time, but it also depends on your boss–some just want you to manage your own time and don’t want to know the details. You might ask your boss how they prefer you to handle it.

          In my salaried part-time role, we did have to attend community meetings in the evening every two months or so. I would make an exception to the “no meetings outside of core hours” policy for this because meetings with the community were an important part of the job and realistically I could not ask the community members to meet while they were working other jobs. But there is a big difference in my mind between a meeting that can *only* happen in the evening and is important to the work, and my boss simply scheduling meetings outside of my workday because it’s easier for him.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          I don’t know how the number of hours fall for you. But at some point maybe you could say, “My hours are going about 25 to 26 hours per week. This is very close to a 30 hour a week position for which the company offers benefits. The position offered to me is 20 hrs/week and no benefits. If something has changed perhaps we should sit down and talk about a new position for me. However, if nothing has changed I would prefer to stay at the 20 hr level as we agreed when I was hired.”

          What you don’t wanna do is paint anyone into a corner. So build an “out” into what you say. In my example here, you offer to sit and discuss a new position in the company. It is a viable option, just because they probably do not want to hear it, does not make it less viable. You don’t want to hear that you have to work more hours than you are paid for- so there is that too.

          I think I’d be tempted to say, “Okay I will stay for today’s meeting but I will need to leave at 2 tomorrow to make up the time.” You’ll find out how important these meetings are, for sure.

          And don’t be afraid to answer when they say, “Well you have been doing this right along!” You can reply with, “Initially, I thought it was just a one-off and I am willing to pitch in once in a while where necessary. But I envisioned this as a rarity, now I see that it’s a regular thing which is not doable for me.”

    6. Oh Snap!*

      I manage salaried employees, some of whom are part time. I expect them to manage their own schedules. Ie, shift hours if they want to, or decline meetings, or ask me to reschedule. I can’t keep track of everyone’s schedules and I don’t need them telling me they are taking a long lunch for a dentist appointment and then staying later, or leaving early to pick up kids or whatever. Just communicate if there is an issue.

      You would probably know if your boss is a micromanager, if not I’d just shift your hours and not think twice.

    7. RagingADHD*

      If you are part time without benefits, there is (or should not be) any expectation that you will work more than your contracted number of hours per week.

      If your employer expects this, they are playing fast and loose with labor law.

      Keep a record of all the hours you work. If you are being paid on the presumption of 20, they get 20. If they want you to work unpaid overtime, they can make you full time exempt with benefits.

  8. Development resources*

    My company suffered a catastrophic equipment failure at one of our facilities, and the fiscal budget is now in crisis due to needing funds to perform the required repairs and environmental clean-up.

    We are all being asked to re-write our development goals for this year, because the budget for classes/trainings has been slashed to zero. I am floundering, because my usual resources are now out of bounds.

    Can anyone in the fields of UX writing, content design, or technical writing suggest some development resources that are inexpensive or free? We don’t have any freshers, so assume 3 years of experience at minimum.

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Have you considered just doing round-robin lunch-and-learn style development? The person who knows the most about, eg, multilingual considerations teaches everybody else on the team about it. Then the person who knows the most about adaptive design shares their knowledge.

      1. CTT*

        Seconding this. We have a budget for training, but still do internal lunch-and-learns like this a few times a year. It’s helpful to hear colleague’s expertise. We also do a fair amount of “I know we’re all familiar with how to do [X], but you may not know why we do it this way or the background, so let’s go over that,” or “boot camps” on how to work with a particular client.

        1. Mac (I Wish All The Floors Were Lava)*

          Thirding this. I’m not in tech, but in literally every job I’ve had, I learned the most from the lunch breaks at trainings when all my peers were in the same room together at the same time and we could ask each other questions about whatever we wanted. (I’ve mostly worked in positions where there was a head office for admin staff but myself and all the other frontline staff worked alone at satellite sites, so a chance to talk F2F with multiple other folks doing the same job was rare.)

      2. Ann Ominous*

        This is great – and you setting up this lunch-and-learn paradigm can also be included in your development goals.

    2. Hen in a Windstorm*

      Company membership to LinkedIn Learning? (Used to be and has an archive of videos on all kinds of topics.)

      1. Esmae*

        If the company doesn’t have membership, a lot of libraries have LinkedIn Learning available as well.

    3. Shuvon (Wakeen's sister)*

      Ginny Redish is an expert in UX – her website is redish dot net with lots of good resources. Highly recommend her book as well.

    4. The Real Fran Fine*

      Coursera is a good start for free training in all of these areas. YouTube also has great UX training videos you can peruse.

  9. Platypus*

    Question for anyone else out there in biotech:
    I’ve been working at the bench ever since graduating, roughly 3 years now, and I’m starting to reach the point where I’m getting burnt out on working in the lab for half to most of my day, and I’d like to transfer to a more office based job before I’m 30. I have some experience enforcing documentation compliance and lab organization policy, but not enough to qualify for jobs focused around it.
    I’ve checked out a few roles in qa/qc, but everything I’ve seen pays a lot less than what I currently make in the midwest (~75k). Is there any sort of lateral move I can make that will allow me to retain the same salary, or at least something close to it? Or am I just going to have to go back for another masters at some point?

    1. JMA*

      If going back to school is in the cards, a law degree might be a good idea. There’s always huge demand for patent attorneys in the medtech/pharma/bio sphere.

      1. Platypus*

        to be honest, I’d prefer not to go back to school, but if that’s what it takes then that’s what it takes! That’s a good suggestion, thank you

        1. JMA*

          Ideally, if you can get in with a company that offers tuition reimbursement you could have them foot the bill.

        2. higheredrefugee*

          Or you could see if you qualify for the patent exam now, take it, pass it, and go work for a law firm. The large ones in big cities will pay you well without the law degree (and for Midwest, I’m talking Chicago, KC, Minneapolis, Milwaukee, Indianapolis, lesser so in Omaha, Des Moines, St Louis, but there are possibilities there too). The Chicago law school night programs usually had some students who were already working for a firm for a few years before they came back for school, with the law firms paying anywhere from half to all the tuition, and then those students would double or triple their salaries as soon as they passed their state bar exam.

    2. Lora*

      QA/regulatory work pays more than QC, QC is mostly straightforward lab work. There’s also people who specialize in document control and compliance and work on stuff like regulatory submission prep, and they make very decent money.

      1. Platypus*

        That sounds like exactly what I’m looking for- any tips on transitioning into those fields? My current company doesn’t allow a lot of opportunities to learn things outside of the lab

        1. Lora*

          Oh gosh, I mean you’re not far from entry level stuff which should still pay in your range. I would look for jobs like “QA specialist” or “regulatory specialist” where the job description is document review, auditing support, doc controls, using Veeva or Documentum – even at entry level, they will train you how to use those programs regardless for GMP purposes because their implementation will be slightly non standard anyways. Look for the big companies or CMOs, they will have openings like that.

          1. JustaTech*

            Seconding this! QA, regulatory and document control are all more office-based (QA and Regulatory will make more use of your bench experience, and if you’re good at reading regulations you’ll probably do well in Regulatory).
            If you’re working in a GMP/GLP lab you can start by checking your documentation for which parts of 21CFR you’re already under (the Code of Federal Regulations), and you can practice reading those online (the whole thing is available on the FDA website).

            I’ve seen a lot of folks transition from manufacturing to QC (so, still lab stuff) to QA to Regulatory. Or straight to QA. From what I’ve seen the people who thrive in QA are people with *excellent* attention to detail (so, not me).

            Veeva as a software is less evil than some of the other systems I’ve had to use for document control, but I don’t know what their training is like (I’ve only done internal training).

      2. Be kind, rewind*

        I was coming to suggest the same thing! Regulatory publishing and TMF Associate are specific roles where even entry level can make decent money and there are transferable skills.

      3. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

        Lab safety is another option. I know some folks who switched over to it when they started developing allergies to their specimens.

      4. 30 Years in the Biz*

        I agree with this as well. Becoming a quality engineer or QA specialist is a strong path. Taking courses (BSI has some great ones) to become an internal auditor will help. Internal auditors seem to be in demand. You can perform internal audits, supplier audits, and assist in external audits with FDA and third party auditors. Promotions upwards toward a quality manager position are a possibility.

    3. irene adler*

      Might visit for some breadth on the QA and QC fields.
      There’s also regulatory compliance.
      Some positions might ask for certifications- which ASQ can help with. And, many employers will pay for the program to earn the cert.

      1. Platypus*

        Oh that’s great to know! I’ll look more into certifications on ASQ, thank you for the advice

        1. irene adler*

          Might see if there is an ASQ section local to you and reach out to them for job suggestions in the local market. And for networking opportunities!

    4. JMR*

      Biotech person here. Have you considered roles in clinical trial management, regulatory affairs, medical affairs, medical writing, etc.? These are all extremely different fields, but they all require a scientific background. Some of these roles do require PhDs, but most don’t. Before heading back to school, I would recommend learning more about these different types of roles, because for some of them, a PhD will be helpful, and for some of them, additional education would be so useless it would be an actual setback. Generally, in biotech, you’re better off spending 2-3 years in a lower-paying, entry-level role and working your way up to a more senior role than spending those 2-3 years earning a Masters’, because the Masters’ will not automatically propel you to the more senior role – the only thing that gets you the seniority is experience, not education. Some roles (like clinical trial management) do require additional certifications, but these can be earned while working full-time in another role.

      If you’re already working in biotech, you have a unique opportunity to find people in your organization who would be willing to tell you a bit about what they do and how they get into their current role. I’d take advantage of that, because it’s much harder from the outside! Find someone friendly and ask to chat with them for 20 minutes over coffee, and decide what sounds most interesting to you! Don’t fall into QA just because you have some experience in it, because there are a lot of non-bench-science roles in biotech, so take the time to find out what you really want to do before you make the leap.

    5. JustMyImagination*

      Around the 3-year mark is when I made the switch from bench work to QA. I was able to emphasize reviewing paperwork, writing deviations, and being audited to show that, even though I didn’t have direct auditing experience, I was familiar with what it entailed.

      There are different branches of quality beyond just auditing or quality control. You might look into vendor management, document control, CAPA management. My company (pharma) also uses project managers and study monitors that are office-based jobs but require a few years of lab experience.

    6. Trotwood*

      I’m in QA for pharmaceutical manufacturing (midwest here too) and we’re definitely looking for people with experience like yours. Salary for someone coming in with 3 years of post-bachelor work experience would probably be in the low 70s, I don’t think 75k is out of the question. I know that bench analyst sorts of QC jobs can be somewhat poorly paid, but it doesn’t sound like you’re looking to run HPLCs all day anyway. So you could look for a role that would make you more of a technical expert if there’s a certain analytical technique you have a lot of experience with, or a QA role overseeing lab or manufacturing work. In some industries QA and QC aren’t valued as highly, but in pharma it’s highly critical and we’re definitely valued highly.

      P.S. don’t go back for a masters unless you’re going for something like an MBA. A masters in chemistry/biology/etc. won’t really make you any more employable than you are now.

    7. Emilia Bedelia*

      I am in regulatory affairs and work closely with QA/doc control/compliance. Personally, I think any role in that area would be fairly easy to transition into if you have a background in GxP. I started at 70k straight out of college in a HCOL area so I think you may be able to find something in your ballpark.

      If you can write protocols/reports, I would suggest looking into a big lab testing company – many device companies work with labs that do biocompatibility, material testing, sterilization validations, etc and they need people to write reports and analyze data. There are often in-house sterility/biological departments as well for bigger companies.

      I don’t think a Masters degree is necessary at all to move into any of these fields. I think a BS/MS in biology, microbiology, etc would be sufficient to get you in the door as long as you are a bit open minded about where you are starting from.

    8. Fig*

      Also in biotech. I strongly agree with what others have said re: QA and RA. It’s a pretty natural transition, coming from the lab side of things. I started in QA right out of college, and made it to management level. But then I got frustrated (my last company was a mess) and left to become a project manager instead – same industry. So there’s that to consider, too.

    9. Nesprin*

      Off the top of my head, occupational health and safety compliance, or biosafety officer come to mind, with project manager, lab coordinator, and document specialist as other options.

    10. Slightly Less Evil Bunny*

      Depending on your interests, you might look into becoming a biosafety officer, or environmental health and safety officer. Those are lab-adjacent but definitely more office-oriented.

  10. irene adler*

    I’m curious how the management side is viewing the “Great Resignation” developments.
    Any insights?

    Given the responses to yesterday’s “Let’s talk about workers taking power back for themselves”, what lessons have managers/employers learned? Do employers believe this is simply a “phase- best ignored” or will they enact long-term changes? If so, what changes have you seen employers make?

    1. Justin*

      Well. My employer proactively responded to the pandemic by offering many different options, some of which they had started beforehand. So… the employers that were inclined to be proactive and supportive are probably becoming even more so, and the stubborn, more exploitative ones are probably just resisting.

      I am skeptical you can change the nature of an institution, basically.

    2. ursula*

      As the relatively new ED of a very small non-profit, the popular conversation about this is giving me ammunition to push the Board to accept long-overdue investments in our staff, including salary and benefits. We are terrified of losing strong staff (who will have other appealing options) and so I’ve been able to force a good conversation about our sustainability. There has not historically been an appetite for automatic cost of living increases, raises tied to clear performance metrics, or comprehensive health benefits (!!! we are Canadian, this is bad !!!), but I think this year we’re getting all three. It is going to create a lot of challenges with our budget, but that’s my problem to solve, not the staff’s responsibility to subsidize by being grossly underpaid.

    3. Llama Wrangler*

      At old job, management was well-aware of issues that were leading to staff turnover, but did not make changes, both because of entrenched culture/practices that there was limited bandwidth to address, and because of certain things that were constrained by organizational budget (non-profit with a lot of government contracts – so not a lot of flexibility).

    4. JMA*

      My company is actively courting robotic process automation as a means to reduce department headcount, so I think they’re viewing it as they always do.

    5. Generic Name*

      Management at my company is concerned on a couple of levels. 1- they are concerned because they don’t want to lose good people and it’s very difficult to replace mid-upper level people, and 2- they are concerned from a perception standpoint internally. They worry that people see that people are quitting and workers may get concerned about company health, and 3- it’s just hard to find ANYONE in my field right now. We are able to hire entry level folks much easier, but we have fewer and fewer people to manage projects.

      We’ve given “cost of living” raises in addition to our usual merit-raise cycle, and we have ramped up giving people “spot” bonuses (gift cards up to $500- so it’s a token but a decent amount). My company has long been seen in the industry as a great place to work where work-life balance is encouraged. (I’ve been here many years and typically work a 40 hour week).

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

      A little bit “this is a phase and will pass” and a little bit, “we realized that permanent remote work and more flexible schedules are good for employees and productivity.” Salaries are still low (and due to inflation, getting lower in the sense of not keeping up) because I am in higher ed and there has been a profound drop in enrollment numbers across the nation, and it probably won’t recover for years.

    7. Irish Teacher*

      As I mentioned on the thread, probably veering off topic a little, our government in Ireland has made a number of legislative changes on working rights over the last two years. This includes the right to disconnect, the right to request work from home, increases to parental leave (this is separate from maternity or paternity leave) and talk of changes to the minimum wage, setting it at a percentage of the median wage rather than a certain amount (that said, the last is to be introduced gradually and we were promised changes to healthcare within 5 years back in 2011 and those haven’t happen, though they are still being worked towards). So all of those are probably going to force some changes on employers.

      Apart from this, a fair few companies seem to be introducing work from home off their own bat. I think this is partly for their benefit – less costs, etc.

      I really think our tánaiste (deputy prime minster) learnt something from the pandemic. He went from being the TD known for his “welfare cheats cheat us all” campaign to “you can’t expect people to live on social welfare as it currently is” overnight, once he saw that middle-class people could actually lose their jobs.

    8. Doctor is In*

      Small business owner here. I have increased pay for existing workers without them having to ask, and have increased pay offered to attract workers. I pay 100% of their health insurance which is not cheap. Still not easy to find people, one person only lasted a week and another accepted the job but then changed her mind 3 days later when she got a counteroffer.

      1. irene adler*

        So you are being pro-active. Good!
        A friend at another company watched his co-workers leave- one by one- for better salary and conditions.

        Somehow HR caught wind of his being unhappy at his job so they sat him down and offered to give him his annual raise 3 months early. And to address some of the issues he had with things (which, for the record, they actually did resolve!). Reason: they wanted to stem the exodus. So he stayed. He was glad he did.
        I’ve never seen that happen before.
        (100% of the health insurance paid by employer- nice!)

    9. Gracely*

      My employer is mostly happy about it, from what we can tell, because they want to downsize without explicityly firing more people. They’re anti-remote work, and *also* increasing the costs of working here–even people who bike or walk to their office are being charged for parking now via payroll deductions. Meanwhile, we are hemorrhaging talent/our best people in every department (anyone who’s not tied to the community or whose work is capable of being done remotely is leaving), and those left behind are doing twice/thrice/quadruple the work, because we’re not allowed to replace anyone. Which only motivates more people to leave.

      It’s a textbook example of all the things *not* to do to retain or entice employees.

      I’m staying mostly because I am tied to the community, I do still enjoy the work I do, and because my boss and grandboss are great.

      1. Rose*

        Wait – people who don’t use parking are being charged for parking? How exactly does that work?? Is that even legal?

        1. Irish Teacher*

          As somebody who gets a train to work, this would REALLY annoy me – paying for the train fare AND then for parking I don’t use.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            It would be interesting to see if all the spaces are full in spite of your car not being there. I don’t see how you can sell something that is not available to the person anyway.

            1. Gracely*

              There are definitely spaces available–it’s a college campus. But a lot of the spaces SUCK if you’re not working in the upper admin or business buildings.

          2. Gracely*

            To be fair, there is no city or area-wide transit, so most people do have to park.

            But before, my husband and I used to share a parking pass because we could commute together; now we both have to pay individually for a pass, and they raised the cost of the pass. And a lot of employees do live close enough to bike or walk, so they’re pissed about it.

        2. Gracely*

          They’re calling it “Parking and Transportation” now, and since we all theoretically have the student transit available to us to use, that’s how they’re getting around it.

          It’s shady AF, and also anti-sustainability, but we can’t do anything.

          1. WellRed*

            Well actually, people are doing something. They are leaving, maybe not specifically for this but consider it the cherry on top. I’m surprised there is no union if it’s a college campus.

            1. WellRed*

              Is there a Student newspaper? Give them a heads up! Student journalism lives for this sort of thing.

          2. Foley*

            Oh, this sounds like my graduate school. They had the shadiest policies for charging non users for everything PLUS huge tuition.

    10. Lora*

      CEO believes everything is just a phase and we’ll be back to 2015 ANY DAY NOW. He lives in disappointment. Even his CFO has only been on site in his nice office about twice this year, though the COO comes in about once every two weeks to check on us and say hi.

      The rest of us have basically accepted that if we want to retain people, we will need to, as OldJob director put it, “prioritize and preserve our working relationships”. There just isn’t that much value in going to the office in person, unless we are doing lab work – we go in once in a blue moon. My boss, the department head, has been in about three times this year and all three times sort of made a day of it, brought in pastries and coffee for everyone. It’s too hard to find good people, hire them away from someone else (they often have competing offers), and keep them anymore. It’s not worth it to me to complain about how my employees get their work done, and risk alienating them – as long as the work gets done.

      My big headache with the Great Resignation is actually being able to hire enough people to do the work, period. I don’t want to burn out my staff, but there are a LOT of financial goals tied to lab output milestones that we need to hit over the next two years or else the company stops existing, and we literally cannot hire more people. We post openings and get about five applicants and all five will be either missing really core competencies we can’t just not have, and can’t train for (these are upper-middle management roles which require specific experiences, not something you’d study in a Master’s program or learn on the fly). We’re willing to pay more than the typical salary for the job, we use headhunters and have internal HR recruiters, we’ve reworked and re-leveled to try to make something that sort of fits the available talent pool better, we do nationwide searches and obviously pay relocation.

      I don’t think our competition is routinely out-bidding us, but the problem appears to be that, some of these roles (regulatory, commercialization) are inherently sort of stressful and tedious. People would rather switch fields than take on those tasks, and that’s what makes it hard to find candidates. Unfortunately there’s not a lot we can do to change it, other than what we already are doing (re-leveling jobs to be more applicable to the available talent pool, paying more than enough).

      Mostly I see senior management gave up on trying to get people back in the office. They said themselves they would come back to the office “soon” and they just don’t, because there’s not enough private offices and they’re on Zoom meetings all day anyway so they aren’t getting the benefits they were hoping for regardless. For a while they tried to have ice cream trucks and free tacos and stuff for people who came in to the office and it just didn’t work – a handful of people showed up for free stuff and went right home. They’ve tried on site massage therapy, mani-pedis, free bike tune ups, fancy coffee, free food, blood drives, gift cards, nicer office furniture, none of it works. A few people who don’t have a good home office setup come in a couple of days per week, and they make a point of staggering their hours to avoid traffic.

    11. Riot Grrrl*

      I have somewhat mixed feelings. My fear is that a rational set of reactions against crappy, mainly large-scale employers begins to metastasize into smaller business and/or businesses that don’t really “deserve” it, so to speak. I particularly worry about younger employees who don’t actually know the difference.

      I own a very small business (under a dozen employees). I’ve always tried to stay ahead of the curve in treating employees well. The pandemic did not change anything. Currently we have above average salaries for our industry, full WFH, flexible schedules, pretty good benefits (admittedly not top shelf, but pretty good), extremely generous leave policy (like extremely), manageable workloads, home delivered snacks, reimbursement allowances for increased wear and tear on home, and a few other fringe benefits.

      I believe our low turnover speaks to people being generally happy with the arrangement. However, I feel that the recent “quiet quitting”, “great resignation” type talk may be having an effect. A subset of employees seems to have checked out somewhat and performance has lagged. The quality is comparable to what it’s always been, but these employees are producing 60-70% of what would have been produced 18 months ago. It’s ok, but as a company we are somewhat losing our competitive edge. My fear is that all it will take is for another company to put in a little more effort and we’re toast.

      So I’ve been making up for this by taking up the slack myself. It’s draining, but I also don’t want to go out of business. So I’m in a wait-and-see mode to just try and go as long as I can as things develop. I feel somewhat constrained in my options.

      At the same time though, I am excited to see employees taking more power and hope that people are able to find a healthy work/life balance.

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        “My fear is that a rational set of reactions against crappy, mainly large-scale employers begins to metastasize into smaller business and/or businesses that don’t really “deserve” it, so to speak. I particularly worry about younger employees who don’t actually know the difference.”

        Yep. I’ve had the most issues with hiring people who are applying to my very small firm as their first job. We have great benefits and the pay is about market average, but given our sector and our size there are limits to how flexible we can be overall. When we post entry level jobs we’re getting maybe 10% of the applications we did pre-pandemic. It’s a real problem. We’ve raised salaries as much as we can, beefed up the already generous benefits, broadened our reach…it’s just a tough market.

      2. Bamboozled*

        I share your mixed feelings. Only mine is a parfait of mixed emotions doused with rainbow sprinkles. I’m a key employee with seniority at a small business. We are a small business with a variable income stream. Some years, we make all our money in one month. To be viable, we have to watch our overhead.

        Busier than ever, we started interviewing for an entry level administrative assistant. The workload would be light, but having these little tasks off my plate is not nothing. Finding enough for them to do is a concern. Advancing is a matter of training, an activity would fall to me. I simply don’t have the capacity to take on more at the moment, but hopefully in the future.

        We advertise the range of what we pay, and what we’re offering is respectable and competitive in our market. We’ve made a couple of offers, but each candidate asked for a starting salary above our advertised range and about the same or above what I make. Two asked to be salaried exempt for 30-hour work weeks.

        They’re just not bringing enough potential value to the company to make this an enticing proposition. Maybe this is the new normal, but I also wonder if they aren’t getting bad and/or naive advice somewhere along the lines.

        1. Westsidestory*

          Consider targeting older workers – it sounds like a retiree could manage the light schedule you propose, and would have the necessary office skills. I know AARP in my state has its own job board. If someone is on Social Security (US) there is a limit to how much more can be earned.

      3. Fikly*

        I am deeply skeptical of this. First, because the only people I see concerned about this are the small business owners, not the small business employees. The employees often have a rather different opinion.

        Second, because in the US, at least, there has been (and still is) the idea that having a small business is a right, and thus must be protected to the point of being exempt from the vast majority of laws that protect workers, and thus employees of small businesses have been screwed over and continue to be, without most legal protections.

        Maybe you treat your employees well. Maybe you don’t. But you can’t evaluate that. It’s like a white person declaring things aren’t racist. It also doesn’t matter, really, if you do, because there’s nothing there to protect your employees if you don’t, other than your employees protecting themselves, just like the employees of companies of all sizes are doing.

        If you refuse to consider that maybe you do deserve it, then you will not fix the problems your business has. You can’t fix a problem until you admit it exists.

        1. Riot Grrrl*

          Can you suggest some dimensions or domains I may be overlooking? I can’t control things like “the overall business environment”. But what might I be overlooking within my own business?

        2. RagingADHD*

          Okay, look. You’re entitled to your opinion about the value of policies that give leeway to small businesses. But the reason for the policies has nothing to do with protecting the rights of business owners over the rights of workers.

          It’s because starting and growing businesses is usually better for the economy overall, better for the consumers, and better for communities, than allowing large corporations to dominate all the markets.

          Workers are also consumers. They also live in communities. Have you ever been to a town where there is one huge corporate employer and few to no small businesses? I have. They are dystopian wastelands.

    12. Annie*

      Worried but unable to really act. We are a very small business (less than 20) and have lost 3 employees recently, all after less than a year. I get that it’s their right to leave whenever, but it’s hugely frustrating because we are in a highly specific industry and have a small hiring pool, and we rejected other qualified people, who are now not available anymore, to hire the individuals who are leaving after less than a year. I feel like they don’t connect with the fact that it means we made the wrong choice by hiring them. I definitely don’t expect sympathy, but it is hard to hire right now and it worries me because if we lose a 4th person, our turnover will be at absolutely crazy levels. Then I worry about a landslide effect where everyone starts to leave. We pay more than the big players in our industry but less than other small players (who are going out of business at a scary clip, maybe because their wages are so high?). Health insurance costs are rising 9% in the next month when our renewal hits and we won’t be able to cover 100% anymore so also afraid of turnover from that. We have given raises to everyone we could afford to give raises to and we give spot bonuses when we have a good month (so hearing the boss describe a successful month is accompanied by being handed an envelope of cash). I truly don’t know what else we can do to retain employees. Somewhat separately, I keep seeing people giving advice to job hop for more money on LinkedIn and other platforms and that “only the bad companies will care that you’ve had a lot of jobs.” It’s simply not true and people are being given bad information, not knowing that their resume will forever look a little worse and make them less employable because they’re leaving places after less than a year. It’s not necessarily that people SHOULDN’T hire job hoppers, it’s that factually, many companies won’t. So people are hearing lies (usually from recruiters who benefit from jobs turning over quickly) that will damage future prospects. It’s so, so frustrating.

      1. Canadian Librarian #72*

        Did the people who left share with you why they did so? Is there anything actionable you can do to retain your employees?

        1. Annie*

          They all received offers that they felt fit better with their career goals. One was a marketing employee who left for an agency job. One was a customer service employee who left for a marketing role (the timing was just before when we knew we were going to have a marketing role open up, so it was frustrating, but he didn’t have as much experience as we need anyway). One was a production worker who left for more of a fabrication-based role. They all said they enjoyed working with the team and liked our culture.

      2. WellRed*

        Is it good health insurance? Paying 100% of a crappy plan isn’t necessarily money well spent.

      3. mewtwo*

        I mean…if you can’t attract or retain good workers, you don’t deserve them.

        And most people aren’t stupid. They aren’t job hopping because of silly LinkedIn advice – they’re job hopping because it makes financial sense and they get bigger raises that way. The trade off is worth it. If you want to retain workers, make it more expensive to leave than to stay.

        If thousands of employees start job hopping as a primary way of increasing their wealth, then employers can’t afford to be overly selective about “job hoppers”.

    13. Sundial*

      I left my job in the spring due to the company requiring RTO and paying way under market, both of which I explicitly communicated in my exit interview. I recently heard from the brother of one of my former team members (small towns, you know?) that she got a 10k retention bonus right after I left.

      I’m glad the company made a tangible change, but it was a one-time payment that has strings attached. Now she’s trapped for a year or two (brother was uncertain), while my new job is paying me 50k more annually. If she was planning to stay anyway, this was great for her. But she could get a lot more elsewhere.

      TL;DR: even “good” changes are not seeming all that great, in some cases.

    14. An Australian In London*

      I’m a reasonably senior IT freelancer seriously considering moving into Big Tech because the UK is a terrible place to be a contractor right now.

      Almost all Big Tech are cutting expenses, going into hiring freezes, or actively laying off. Anyone currently in Big Tech does not seem to regard this as any kind of Big Resignation, and many fear their jobs.

      In my freelance world, though, there seems to be no change in my clients. I had to grit my teeth hearing my direct manager at one client complain in a meeting that they’re having tremendous problems hiring for an under-resourced project. I wanted to say, “you’re paying at the low end of the market; you’re forcing contractors onto payroll; you force everyone to work in the office minimum of two days a week where no one but me wears a mask, and there are always a minimum of four people on the floor coughing constantly. You are desperately out of touch, and I’m only here because the whole finance and banking industry is as short-sighted and greedy as you are.”

    15. Anon for this*

      I work in hiring, but not at the leadership level. I have pushed as hard as I can to increase pay rates and to encourage our company to provide additional perks. I haven’t been successful at getting perks, and the pay rates are being called “temporary rate increases” internally (as in, if things change, we could drop down our advertised rate, not that anyone hired at a particular rate would see a pay cut). I’ve also talked to management about reimagining some of our roles, but we’ve been slower to respond than I’d like. It has made it increasingly difficult to hire, but all I can do is document, document, document, and hopefully make changes in the coming months.

    16. Rutherford B. Crazy*

      Middle management here, worried and stressed.

      We are losing workers to jobs in different industries with huge leaps in pay and permanent remote work, and we’re a small business in an industry that has to be in person for a lot of positions. We hear from these employees that they like working here and our benefits are good and the work is in line with what they want, the workplace/team is great and they feel empowered and have opportunities to advance, etc, but that basically we just can’t match the crazy salary offers or permanent WFH of other industries they’re getting poached by.

      I feel like I am letting down my team and becoming “that” manager leaving them overworked. I know we need more help and are understaffed, and I’m trying so hard to get new people on board and trying to beef up our offers, really sell our company to applicants, lower our standards, and move faster hiring and reach out in new places and new ways, but it feels impossible to get anywhere.

      Upper management is barely present as it is and completely oblivious. They won’t listen to me when I try to explain to them how the job market has changed and that no, it’s not going to be easy to hire people, and we need to do more and need more resources to make it happen. They think everything is exactly like it was before the pandemic and that it doesn’t make sense we can’t get new people and that employees are leaving. They don’t want to face reality.

    17. Gnome*

      I’m not management, but my company moved annual performance bonuses up by a couple months, announced a new (slightly) improved vacation leave policy early (implemented Jan 1 2023, but they NEVER announce stuff like that this early). In addition, there have been several, I guess, bonus rounds maybe? for referral bonuses… right now they are double – and payout went from half 30 days after start and half at one year to ALL at 45 days. And parental leave just became A Thing.

    18. SockKnitter*

      I interact with a manager who thinks the “Great Resignation” is a phase that will only end in the “Great Regret,” at which time everyone will come back to the office. This is also a person who thinks that the supply shortages are so bad that we are reliving the stories of the 1980s Soviet Union.

    19. Chauncy Gardener*

      So. My last two companies have been fully remote from the get go. We provide a laptop as well as an annual home office stipend. Plus a monthly telephone/internet allowance.
      We do a 2-3/year team meeting/whole company meeting, but with the understanding that if you can’t come for whatever reason, IT IS OK and we record it and/or conference folks in. And we request that everyone book refundable plane tickets (even though it costs more, gasp!) in case we lock down again.
      Other executives please note: THIS IS NOT BRAIN SURGERY.
      Needless to say, we are not experiencing “The Great Resignation” although it is super hard to find qualified folks in our space. And we are hiring like crazy.

  11. Optimistic Prime*

    Does anyone have any examples of contracts or invoices (with stipulations/requirements) for freelance work? I have been doing some work for someone I know and it was never an official thing. She is starting to help me find new business and I want to make it as professional as I can with these people that I do not know as well. What do you use? She told me to put together a document listing my terms, rates, etc and that they can sign it as an acknowledgement. I want to know some of what you do.

    1. lime*

      You can find a lot of examples online if you do some Googling, especially examples that will be more specific to the type of freelance work that you do.

      When I was doing copywriting, the things that I found helpful in terms of invoicing and contracts: to price by packages of work (e.g., 4 blog posts up to 500 words each or 200 product descriptions with X rounds of revisions) rather than trying to do things hourly; require 50% deposit to get work started, and then the remaining 50% is due upon delivery (so even if the client kills the project in the middle of things, you’re guaranteed some payment. I’ve seen other types of writers include a kill-fee to cover this); and including a late-payment fee (I never really enforced this, but it was good to have as an option for folks who were chronically late on payments). I also included language in the contract that helped me retain the right to use the work in my portfolio. Caveat: I am not a lawyer, but these were all tips I came across in my research when I started doing this.

      1. Isben Takes Tea*

        You absolutely should have a signed agreement for each project before you start work. Even if (and sometimes especially because) it’s someone you’re familiar with: it’s a really good idea to be very explicit about scope and expectations. Some people feel using a contract is adversarial, but if you present it as “of course this is a normal and good thing to have us all clearly on the same page,” it’s the foundation of a good business relationship.

        I use a one-page contract that briefly lists discussed scope of work, deadlines, and payment terms. (I would agree when possible to price by the project with stated rounds of revisions and kill feels.) I modeled mine off of ones for my industry that came up in a Google search.

        I always include a late payment policy/fee in the contract, though whether or not I pursue it depends heavily on the working relationship with the company. I once hounded a company for 8 months and threatened them with small claims over a $40 late fee, because their response (after a lengthy payment delay) was “our AP department decided we aren’t paying late fees” and this is a line that is frequently used to BS freelancers. (After I reminded them that I thought the court system would pay more attention to a contract signed by the CEO than the AP department’s internal policy, I got payment in 48 hours.)

    2. RagingADHD*

      If you only have a few clients, there’s a free time-and-billing service called Harvest that is easy to set up and use, and generates professional looking invoices. You can bill by task or by time.

      You can always upgrade to a more complex one if you need to.

    3. Westsidestory*

      I have one I’ve used for decades but it’s only for my book freelancing work. As others have said, there are templates online that can be adapted.

      One recommendation if you are in US: put in an arbitration clause and make sure the venue for the arbitration is your home city. (You can get sample clauses for your contract from the American Arbitration Association website).

      Why am I recommending this? I’d been adding an arbitration clause to my freelance contracts for more than twenty years, but actually only ever used in once – in 2021, when a company refused to pay for milestones completed on a certain project. In my state, AAA charged me a small business fee ($300) but charged the other company $1900 because they were a corporation. It took about six months, but once the offensive company realized how much it was going to cost them in time and penalties, they folded like a cheap lawn chair and paid what they owe.

      In short, once a client signs an arbitration clause they can’t really sue, and AAA rules favor the small businessperson over larger firms. I learned a lot in the experience, even after so many years running a freelance business.

  12. Llama Wrangler*

    Second question about new job – This is the first job that has had an referral system – you can directly enter referrals or create a link to a posting. I shared a link with someone I was hoping would apply to the role, and it seems like he passed that link on to others – now I have a “referral” in the system from someone who is part of my extended network who I don’t actually know. Should I proactively reach out to HR to let them know I don’t actually know the candidate?

    1. ThatGirl*

      Couldn’t hurt. I think our system is similar where if someone stumbled across a personalized link, I would get credit for it, but that hasn’t actually happened to me yet. Hey, you might still get the referral bonus if that random person gets the job!

    2. Ness*

      A referral isn’t a recommendation. If HR reaches out to you to get your thoughts on the candidate, you could explain the situation at that time (“I don’t know him personally; another person I referred shared the link with him”), but I don’t think you need to do anything proactively.

      1. Llama Wrangler*

        That’s what my spouse (who has worked many places with referrals) said – but I wanted to get confirmation.

    3. The Lion's Roar*

      My last job had a referral system (with accompanying bonus if they were hired and made it to 90 days) and flagging it to HR wouldn’t have been necessary there. There wasn’t any expectation that a referral was an endorsement, it was just an incentive for us to get the word out if we knew anyone who might apply. Most of the people I worked with who were referrals were referred through people they knew socially, and not necessarily all that well – someone’s sister’s friend, someone’s roommate, etc. Occasionally someone didn’t work out but that didn’t really reflect badly on the person who referred them unless there was some perceived unfairness (a hall of fame example would be my manager referring and hiring her boyfriend’s buddy, who was terrible in the position but not so terrible that he didn’t last long enough for her to collect the bonus).

      You could always run it by someone you work with who’s been at the company long enough to have a better handle on the culture and get their take on what the expectations/connotations around a referral are, if you want to be extra sure.

    4. Purple Cat*

      Referrals are different than references.
      It sounds like your company’s system is kind of like GoFundMe’s when they track how many “other people” donated based on the link you shared. I don’t think it’s broken and doesn’t require you reaching out to HR. I think the system is working as designed.

      1. Roland*

        Yes, it would take a lot of incompetence on their part not to realize that links can be shared. You are fine OP :)

  13. Rey*

    My new company is hosting a week-long conference in my state. Last year (before I was hired), it was in a city about 20 minutes away from my home. I assumed it would be in the same city this year, so I planned on commuting each day instead of having my company book me a hotel reservation with the out-of-state employees (and said as much to my boss). Yesterday they announced the conference hotel and it’s in a different city that’s at least a one hour drive each way from my home, but closer to 1.5 hours during rush hour. I’m the furthest in-state employee, so there isn’t anyone I can carpool with. I’ve also heard there will be several evening networking and social activities so I could be driving home significantly later than I’m used to, but they haven’t released a detailed schedule yet so I’m not 100% sure. Should I ask for a hotel reservation at this point? Or ask for one right now with the caveat that once I see the schedule, I might only need half the week and we could cancel the other days to save my company money? I want to be at my best during the conference, but I don’t want my boss to see me as high-maintenance or needy.

      1. Chauncy Gardener*

        Yes! Ask for the hotel.
        No one needs to to be traveling back and forth like that and be exhausted and not at their best!

    1. Free Meerkats*

      We have a set distance for hotels, 60 miles from the office. A few years back the national conference was at a hotel 58 miles away. I had to pay for my own hotel because there was no way I was going to spend the 90-120 minutes driving each day in rush hour traffic.

      I asked and was turned down, but there shouldn’t be any harm in asking.

    2. BCC*

      I would send a note to your contact/the organizer or whomever you originally told you didn’t need a hotel room and ask if they have any details about the schedule. Explain (briefly) I noticed that the conference is in X this year, which is a bit further away than I had expected when you previously asked about hotel arrangements. Would it be possible to get a copy of the schedule and, depending on the timing of events, might I still be able to request a hotel room?

    3. RagingADHD*

      Of course you should get the hotel room. The location changed completely.

      I wouldn’t bother with the “half a week” business, either. That’s just going to create hassle. Don’t nickel-and-dime yourself. It makes more sense from a business perspective to book a set of rooms than to spend time tracking who checked out early.

      If the company needed to scrimp on 1 room for 2 nights, they can’t afford to host a week long off-site conference.

    4. Just stoppin' by to chat*

      Asking about accommodations for a work conference is not being needy! It’s just a part of doing business. Are you able to book a hotel directly? I would just give your boss a heads up, and then use whatever the company process is for booking work travel accommodations. Your boss would much rather have you staying near by for the evening activities, AND be well-rested for the following day’s activities, then we driving home late, then having to drive back maybe only a few hours later. Book the hotel!

    5. Katie*

      It’s reasonable to ask for a hotel room. Its reasonable for a work event to ask you to travel 3 hrs for a one day event but as it’s 5 days (15 hrs!), its appropriate to get a hotel room.

  14. Stuckinacrazyjob*

    I am supposed to say what sort of things I want to learn to my boss next week. I don’t know since I’m unable to learn anything( I need a UBI) but I don’t want to bother my boss.

    Also how do you feel around for whether unpleasant work events are mandatory or not? ( crowds of thousands! Now with disease!) . It sucked before but then the only way you’d get too sick to work was if you did something inappropriate with the other workers…

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      Generic soft skills to learn: Time management, communication, leadership, interpersonal skills, adaptability, organizing,
      Generic hard skills: financial stuff, computing, marketing, research, writing, analytical research,
      For a boss meeting if you can relate to specific job tasks (not generic) that would be better, “I’d love to learn how the financial side of XYZ project is run” or “I’d love to learn more about the software we’re using on ABC task”. Then they can send you for courses or online training easily and mark you off as engaged in the workplace and for professional development.

      For work events ask around and see whose going – if not mandatory some won’t be. Also can just ask your boss, “hey I might be busy that day is it okay to miss or should I try and make it?”. And wear a mask if around 1000s. Saves you from covid as well as regular cold stuff.

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        Hm…I’m only interested in one bit of my job. I think I’ll go with more technical issues because those sound teachable ( for me )

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

      Sorry, but what is a UBI and why does that affect you not being able to learn anything? I tried a basic google search and all I come up with is Universal basic Income. Which I don’t understand how that would affect what you want to learn next?

      Is there anything that you are interested in?

      I think for the crowd thing ask your boss if it is mandatory. If you have a good relationship with your boss and you don’t do well with crowds tell them. Especially if there are a lot of things you could do to help out with the event before hand.

      I’m not sure what you mean by your last sentence “It sucked before but then the only way you’d get too sick to work was if you did something inappropriate with the other workers…” Are you saying that before Covid when there were these events you had to work even if you were extremely sick, and the only way you couldn’t is if you did something like binge drinking with coworkers beforehand. I’m very confused.

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        I need a UBI since there are no jobs I can work but I must do this horrible charade of pretending I can

        Before covid the only way you’d get super sick is to get a STI lol Now you can get covid and be unable to work for two weeks if you don’t get any after effects. The calculus has changed completely

        1. ThatGirl*

          I mean, that’s not true, there are plenty of viruses that can get people sick for a few weeks.

          From what I remember of your posts, you are capable of working, but maybe not in your current job without any accommodation or support. Maybe you should focus on what supports you would need to succeed.

          1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

            I don’t actually want to get fired. I can be mostly remote, I’m allowed to wear a mask ( my body does not listen to the news!) , I have health insurance.

        2. Vinessa*

          I’m interested in hearing more about how the only illness you could get from a coworker before Covid was an STI. That sounds like an unusual point of view.

        3. Nancy*

          What? There are many, many viruses and bacteria that can make you ‘super sick’ without being ‘inappropriate’ with coworkers. If you managed to never get very sick before, than you are very lucky.

        4. MBAir*

          I’m sorry but WTF

          Look, if you can post on AAM all day, you can hold down a job. You’re not required by law to stay in this current job since it’s clearly not working for you. But like, there are other jobs out there. Maybe go find one of those for a bit.

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

            To be fair to Stuckinacrazyjob that comment is ableist. It is not physically taxing nor as mentally taxing to read and comment on a blog post as it is to do even a remote job. And that’ not even getting into that some people have good days and then have really bad stretches of time that it’s hard to complete even basic tasks. So saying “if you can post on AAM all day, you can hold down a job” is not helpful and we don’t know what their struggles are. And saying just get another job is not always feasible.

        5. I'm Done*

          You do know that thousands of people die from the common flu every year, don’t you? So yes, you could certainly get really sick from your co-workers without sleeping with them. And what does UBI stand for?

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

          1. as others have commented you could get really sick from coworkers before covid with things besides an STI. And in fact there are people who have STIs who still work. So I don’t know if you are just trying to be funny or what but it’s not coming across that way.

          2. I’m still not understanding what UBI (Universal Basic Income?) has to do with learning new things? At first I thought you meant you had some type of learning disability which may make it harder for you to take classes or something. But that doesn’t seem to be what you are talking about. Is your boss wanting you to do something specific, that would be like taking a class and you are physically limited?

          You said it another comment that your job is mostly remote. surely there is something you can learn. Even something like time management skills for working remote, or better customer service skills. Linked in has a whole bunch of training.

    3. Sabine the Very Mean*

      I’m sorry but I don’t understand any of the questions you’re asking. Could you start over, by chance?

  15. ThatGirl*

    How do you help yourself fit in at a new job? Have people’s social skills atrophied a bit over the last two years? What if your new coworkers keep leaving for various events without you? I am assuming it’s not personal, but it’s still frustrating to feel left out, especially in a small department.

    1. Accounting Gal*

      This is so hard! Following because I started in a new job/department this year and there is only one other person in my department (she’s been here 15+ years) and it is clear she doesn’t like me. It sucks to feel isolated at work!

      1. Anon today*

        Mine definitely have as well. I am also far less tolerant of annoying workplace things that fall under “that’s the way it’s always been.”

    2. SansaStark*

      Ugh I feel you on this one. One thing I’ve done is find a specific nice-seeming person whose office is close to mine and drop by like a half hour before the event for a very quick chit-chat where I mention the event later in the day and say something like ‘let me know when you’re heading up to the brownie sundae thing upstairs and I’ll walk up with you. I’m still learning where things are and don’t want to get lost!” A light joke and reminder that I’m still new. It also sometimes helps to find another new(er) person since they’re either in the same boat or remember feeling that way. You’re doing great by reminding yourself that it’s not personal!

    3. Books and Cooks*

      1. Maybe, next time they’re leaving for something, you could say something like, “Oh, that sounds fun!” Not with any sort of wistful “You should feel bad you didn’t invite me,” tone, but making it clear that you might enjoy an invitation next time. It’s possible the person you replaced didn’t like doing things with them, or doing the things they’re doing, so they just got used to thinking, “We’re the only ones who want to do this.”

      2. Try inviting them to something yourself? “Hey, guys, does anyone feel like going for a drink after work today?” or “Has anyone heard anything about that new restaurant on Delmar? I was thinking of going there to try it out, and thought maybe you guys might like to come?” Again, if the lack of invites to you has been an oversight or assumption that you don’t want to go, this will help set them straight.

      3. If there’s one person there who you feel you’ve connected with more than the others, try saying something to them or directly asking if you can go. “Hey, when you guys go out for pizza next time, would it be okay if I came along? I’d really like to get to know y’all better.” I’d bet that when you do this, the person will be surprised and say something like, “Of course you can, we didn’t realize you didn’t know!” Or you could ask that one person to go to lunch with you and cultivate that friendship, which will likely expand to include the others, instead of trying to “attack them all at once,” so to speak.

      4. Make more of an effort to make and/or get involved in small talk or general conversation overall. “Sorry, I couldn’t help overhearing you guys mention TV Show/Movie/Band/Hobby? That’s my favorite thing! What do you guys think of [recent event on show/movie’s ending/latest album/new product line or technique?” Or, on Monday mornings, “Did anyone do anything fun this weekend? I did X.” (Or, “…this weekend? Since I’m new here, I still don’t really know anyone, so I’m not sure what kind of stuff people do/if there’s a good bakery/grocery store/laser tag arena/water park/shooting range nearby.” [Bonus points if one of the activities you mention is something you’ve heard one of them mention before.])

      5. Along those lines, you could ask that “friendliest person,” or all of them, something like, “So do people here go out together after work a lot?” as a way of introducing the fact that you’re new and don’t know anyone at the company. If the office is a place that does cakes or something for birthdays, you could use that as a springboard to ask about how “social” the company is, which is a way to mention that you’d love to know them better and/or be included more.

      If it helps, I’m sure that you assumption that it’s not personal is correct. My guess is that it’s something similar to what I mentioned above–“Jane never wanted to go out with us, so we just got used to not inviting anyone else,” or something like, “We all go to Bible Study every Thursday, so we never thought to invite someone who isn’t a member of our church”–rather than a deliberate, “Well, we’re not gonna invite /her/,” or some sort of weird, “We only try to get to know people after they’ve been here six months at least.” I’m sure they just don’t realize you want to be included, that you want to be friends with them–most people don’t see themselves as That Cool Person Everyone Wants to be Buddies With, and assume everyone else is much busier and more popular than they are, so they might even be not inviting you because they think you have other stuff to do all the time. My guess is that once you start reaching out and showing interest in them, they’ll respond in kind.

      1. ThatGirl*

        These are like, work events (a meeting in another building, a cookout for employees), not after hours kind of things or lunches off-site. But, thank you for the ideas.

        1. Velociraptor Attack*

          So is it a situation where you’re all attending the meeting and they leave and walk over as a group and you go over solo?

          In that case, I think this happens completely by accident when you’re new so I usually just say “Oh, are you guys headed over to xyz? Give me just a second to grab my stuff and I’ll walk over with you.”

          1. ThatGirl*

            Everyone has all separate offices and the rest just took off. I agree that being more proactive is probably the answer, but it still stings.

            1. allathian*

              Before the pandemic, when WFH maybe once or twice a month because I didn’t have a decent home office setup, I experienced something similar. I and my close coworker share an office, but most of the rest of the team are in another office. Often, those people would just go to lunch whenever it suited their schedule, without thinking to ask if I wanted to go as well. There was no point in being annoyed about it, I solved it by asking them if/when they were going to lunch, and then I usually joined them, or if they were going later than I wanted, I’d pick up a sandwich and eat it in the break room, because I could almost always find someone to talk to there.

              I very rarely went or go to lunch with my close coworker, because we have very different schedules; I’m a morning person, almost always at the office by 8, while he’s rarely there before 9.30 unless we have an early morning meeting. I want an early lunch, usually at 11 or 11.30, whereas he’s rarely hungry before 12.30 or 1. Sometimes I we go to lunch together, and when I do, I’ll have a small snack with my morning coffee at 9 to tide me over until 12.

              Now that I’m going to the office once every two weeks or less, I always try to schedule lunch with others who are there. I basically go to the office to socialize with my coworkers, although I make sure that I share the load by not taking too much of any particular person’s time. Sure, I get some work done, but not nearly as much as I would by WFH. My manager has clearly said that she values collaboration, networking, and community building enough that she doesn’t mind if I take two 30-minute coffee breaks (company time) and a 90-minute lunch hour (off the clock) on the days that I do go to the office…

            2. Mac (I Wish All The Floors Were Lava)*

              Uff, I totally empathize– I am always the daydreamy person who looks up and realizes that everyone else left without me. I second all the folks saying it’s almost certainly not personal– unless there’s some serious Mean Girl energy going on in this office, in which case, run! But if it’s just people not realizing they’d left you behind and they otherwise seem nice and fun, honestly, if it were me, I would probably go full goofball about it, like trotting after them saying, “Waaaaaiit! I wanna hang out with the cool kids too!” Sometimes saying your real, vulnerable feelings but in a goofy way can help clear the air.

    4. OyHiOh*

      There are two low key, involves food events that occur nearly weekly at my work. The food trucks all pull up to a park nearby once a week and there’s usually a group of us that wander over there at about the same time. There’s also an established precident of a weekly walk to a nearby good restaurant (we have lots in our downtown) for lunch on a specific, not-food-truck-day day. Both of those have really helped my social skills and connection to new work group!

  16. Dil*

    You guys have any advice for dealing with a coworker who works as front desk and loudly complains when people dare to call? She’s getting on my nerves, unfortunately.

    This is a medical office, I work as a non-phone person, ftr.

      1. Dil*

        I personally haven’t. She’s not a great personality, tbh. Slams down the phones and just now I heard her shout, “Oh my god! Stop calling, people!”

        I don’t think her anxiety and general difficulty to work with are going to change, I just want to know what I can do to endure it better, I guess.

        1. DisneyChannelThis*

          I mean asking her not to shout seems pretty reasonable. “Hey Steve, I know the phones are annoying but can you not shout, its disrupting my focus. Thanks!” Also RIP if any of your clients can hear that too. Does she report to you? That lack of professionalism needs to be addressed by her manager too.

          1. Dil*

            Alas, management is aware of the situation and not doing anything. :,)

            I’ll try out your script though! Thanks!

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

          If it’s her job to take calls, and she is at the front desk and saying these things, I would bring it up to your manager or her manager. Especially if this is within earshot of patients. This is not ok in a business setting its especially not ok in a medical office. Of course, people are going to call because they need to make appointments.

      1. Dil*

        Oh, is this a normal thing, then? TBH this is my first medical job so I don’t know what’s normal.

        1. asteramella*

          I worked in a clinical setting and now call medical practices regularly for my job. It is not (and should not be) normal for reception/check-in staff to be rude on the phone.

          1. tangerineRose*

            That’s not true everywhere. I’ve gone to doctors offices where the receptionist/secretary is perfectly nice.

        2. RagingADHD*

          No, it’s not normal. But when a medical receptionist goes off, they do tend to go waaaaay off.

  17. WellRed*

    I just wanna give a shoutout to all the teachers headed back to the classroom. Your job is one if the toughest and it’s not getting easier. It’s because of teachers recognizing my own personal talents that I am on the career path I’m on.

    1. Turtle Dove*

      I’ll second this! A few special teachers made a big difference in my childhood. I like the way you phrased that about recognizing talents. I went into math and IT because some teachers recognized my strengths and challenged me to grow. I am grateful.

    2. Irish Teacher*

      Thank you very much. I actually just got our schedule for our first week back, which begins on the 29th of August. Students will fully return on the following Friday, which again I just learnt for sure this morning.

  18. It's Always Adventure Time!*

    Any good stories from people who just one day decided to do something different and leaped on the chance for a brand new job in a virtually unknown field? :D

    I realized that in my mid-40s, long past when I thought I’d be out, I have instead been stuck in one hated office admin job after another for decades. All because I had to just take the first job offered and never got the chance to experiment when I was younger, and find out what I actually enjoyed doing and wanted to do long-term. I’m in the fortunate position where I can experiment now. White-collar office jobs are absolutely not for me. I’m looking into working in the greenhouse center for a local large farm and learning about horticulture and sustainable farming practices. (I grew up in rural farmland, so this isn’t a total stretch for me–but I’ve never made a job out of being on farms before.) About as far from despised front desks in fancy office buildings as you can get! And if this job isn’t for me, well, I’ll just keep bouncing around and experimenting until I find where I belong. I refuse to work myself to death at job I hate, doubly so considering I will never make enough to retire from my current position at $3/hr over minimum wage. If I’m gonna have to work until I die or my health gives out, I can at least love what I do.

    What kind of wild leaps have you made to find your niche?

    1. Pivotttt!*

      Hi! I just left higher ed and teaching (after nearly 20 years) to work in digital marketing. I was afraid that since I’m 41, it was now or never. The first six weeks were wild, but I’m settling in now, working from home, and loving it!

      My attitude was similar to yours – if I hated this, I’d stay a while and then move on to something new. And who knows? I still may do that though I’m not planning on it.

      Regardless, best of luck in your journey! I hope you find something you enjoy.

      1. It's Always Adventure Time!*

        It sounds like you are living the dream! I really do love to hear it. Thank you for chiming in. :D

        1. Pivotttt!*

          I came at it in a pretty roundabout way. I did a little of everything in the program I directed including branding and social media then volunteered for an org where I did the same thing. It worked! I built up a portfolio and was able to show some measurable success.

    2. With a Z*

      I bounced around during/after college… worked at a zoo, a casino, a museum, and then found an industry that I never knew existed but actually is a perfect fit for me and that I love. Unfortunately that industry took a big hit during the pandemic and I was laid off, but I’m about to switch jobs and re-join it, at a 38% raise from my current position! Sometimes life works out in funny ways, you just have to keep flowing with the river.

      I commend you for your sense of adventure to find happiness! My partner is in the same boat as you – NOT an office kind of person. And “field” work of any sort is often limited in advancement opportunities or manual labor. He’d love a career – not just a job. However, he is one of the most risk-averse people I know and bouncing around is not his style. What other sort of things have you considered? I’m trying to help him think outside the box for career options. (Note: he has a military/security background.)

      1. It's Always Adventure Time!*

        Okay! So, my thoughts might not be helpful for him because I’m looking specifically for jobs that won’t terribly aggravate my anxiety disorder, but here’s what I’m looking at. These are all often part-time positions, which will give me the opportunity to try multiple new things at once and decide what I want to stay with, if any.

        Plant merchandising (where you stock and arrange the plants in sales displays for a plant company): you’re not really expected to interact much with people, just do your job with the plants. Get in, get things done, get out! Usually flexible schedules where you have a range of time to complete your work rather than a set schedule, so it can often work around other jobs.

        General farm help: I’m trying to get into this to just learn as many different aspects of farm work as possible. I’m pretty certain I want to work with the natural world, I’m just not sure in what way.

        Safety patrol: I am already doing this as an evening side gig and LOVE it! I basically just walk around a building and the outdoor area every hour looking for potential hazards to report, then spend the rest of my time each hour relaxing. I have been doing this for a few months and no hazards have come up on any of my shifts, and only once on someone else’s, so it’s been fantastic. Since I’m not a security guard, I’m not expected to do the kinds of safety and emergency services they may be expected to provide, so it’s very low-stress. There are different kinds of safety watches, like for fire, flood, ice, etc., so he should definitely search around for “safety team” or “safety patrol” or “fire/flood watch” etc. positions if that sounds like something he’d like to try out. :) Not always the best-paid jobs in the world (our patrollers get $20-40/hr depending on which shift they’re working; night and Saturday is time-and-a-half, while all of Sunday is double-time), but it’s good for extra money, or for an interim job while you’re figuring things out.

    3. Admin of Sys*

      Wasn’t me, but years ago, a friend and coworker just up and left IT one day to be come a jeweler. Mind you, they had family contacts in the field and some base knowledge – but they said they never regretted dropping out of a well paid industry for an artistic focus, even if it meant some pretty serious lifestyle adjustments. I’m pretty sure they would have made the switch years earlier if there wasn’t such a gab between pay in the career choices – so if you’re currently doing something you hate for not much money, it makes sense to change things up!

      1. It's Always Adventure Time!*

        so if you’re currently doing something you hate for not much money, it makes sense to change things up!

        This is something I hadn’t thought about! I’d been a little hesitant about making such a drastic leap since I’d be sacrificing various benefits from the day job I loathe (and, possibly, a bit of pay, since most of what I’m looking at is even closer to min wage than I get now). But overall, I wouldn’t be losing THAT much, and much of what I’d be losing could be covered elsewhere. And some of what I’d be losing…isn’t really all that necessary, just nice to have. So why NOT make the jump, with so much more to gain in terms of quality of life and new learning experiences?

    4. BalanceofThemis*

      I’m actually looking to make a leap out of my current field (museums), into something completely different (tech). Wishing you great luck and a career that makes you happy!

    5. California Dreamin’*

      Yes! I got my degree in film production and worked for years in the entertainment industry. I loved my job, but once my oldest child was born, it became clear to me that I couldn’t put in the hours required and also be the mom I wanted to be. I took several years off when he was born and then started thinking about other options. I heard that a friend of a friend was in court reporting school and it was apparently a job with lots of flexibility. I knew exactly zero about what court reporters do having only seen them in courtroom scenes on TV. But I talked to the friend of friend, went to an open house at the court reporting school to find out more, and enrolled for the next semester when I’d wrap on the movie I was then working on. I loved my old career, but it was such a great decision! I’ve now been a licensed court reporter for over ten years (freelancing taking depositions only) and have total job flexibility… can work as much or as little as I’d like and have the ability to make a very high income. And the job is endlessly interesting because every day is literally a new case. (Don’t get me wrong, some depositions are contentious and awful, some are really boring, some are pleasant and/or fascinating, but each day is new so if it’s an awful day, tomorrow is different.) I’m so, so happy I took that leap of faith!

    6. Shoot for the moon*

      At 41,I left 15 years of working in a laboratory to do an office job in medical billing. I took a big pay cut to jump into a different field, but made up the difference in about 4 years. I am doing well in the field, but it’s not my dream job. I do miss the lab world where my brain got a good workout daily, but the hours worked were taking a toll. Try something new, you never know what else you might enjoy.

    7. Kayem*

      I went from field geologist to theatre scene design back to geologist when I came to my senses, only to take a left turn in my late 30s to be an archivist. Since archivist jobs are…lacking right now, I’m working K-12 school data analysis and strangely, I enjoy it, despite the low pay, occasional 70 hour weeks, and lack of steady work.

    8. Dragonfly7*

      Tech support was a small percentage of my last job. I applied for a position doing it full-time in an entirely different industry that I had thus-far avoided, was hired at a 44 percent higher salary, and successfully completed my first very basic solo customer service calls today. I know I won’t stay forever, but they are willing to train me, and I am getting some much-needed financial stability.

    9. ESus4*

      In my twenties I left my university library job (with paid tuition for library school) and moved to a large income-sharing community aka commune. I lived there for three years, did lots of different jobs, and ended up managing the book indexing business…which has been my successful freelance career for the last thirty-six years. I never knew this career existed but it fits me perfectly. You never know!

      1. It's Always Adventure Time!*

        I am checking back here late because I’ve been ill, so you have probably moved on, but indexing sounds fabulous! Had no idea it was its whole industry–I always assumed indexing was done solely by the authors or internally at the publishing house. I’m a serial data organizer who would’ve loved to do data entry for a living, but the jobs are so hard to come by and what you find are largely scams. Might look into indexing as a second gig (I don’t like working only one job–what happens if you lose that one job?)–any advice or recommendations?

  19. Marie*

    I’m turning in my notice today! I took this job (Manager at a 50 person software company) six months ago because, although I liked my previous job, I needed to go somewhere else to grow my skillet. I’ve learned a ton in the last six months but my current CEO runs hot/cold, is verbally abusive when he’s mad, is terrible at laying out expectations even when directly asked (thus, is frequently mad because he thinks no one listens to him and does what he expects), and only judges performance by # of hours worked (despite saying that the company is all about work/life balance). That’s definitely not the only dysfunction that’s been happening over the last 6 months, but it’s the biggest elephant in the room by far. I realized that I don’t have to put up with this environment and life is too short to suffer in this job, so I’m quitting! I’m sad the job didn’t work out, because I have learned a ton and I like my co-workers, but after asking around I’m the sixth person in this position in two years and the past five have all quit because of the CEO’s behavior.

    I’ve already got some leads on where I could possibly work next, and I’m not worried about finding something between my skillset and my network. I’m so grateful that AAM and the AAM community has led me to realize that it’s totally OK to bail out of an abusive job situation!

    1. It's Always Adventure Time!*

      I’m here to congratulate you on escaping! But also because “grow my skillet” gave me the amusing image of someone starting a job with a tiny cast-iron skillet that you’d use to fry a single egg, and then receiving a steady line of ever-bigger skillets the more you learn, until you quit with one of those massive ones that’s just a step below a Dutch oven and a lethal weapon in its own right. May your soon-to be-ex-boss never graduate past an egg skillet!

      1. It's Always Adventure Time!*

        P.S. I have now typed the word “skillet” so many times that it has lost all meaning for me. XD

        1. Margali*

          Sorry the skillet/skillset typo is cracking me up! Picturing you entering your office with a little 6-inch frying pan and leaving with a giant paella pan.

      2. Specialized Skillets*

        Yesterday’s worker thread gave me my new username! Something about that unexpected “skillet” just cracks me up.

      3. LittleMarshmallow*

        I also enjoyed the skillet typo! My coworker has a tiny skillet (trophy from something I think) at his desk so now I’m wondering where he grew his skillet!

    2. Agile Phalanges*

      I recently quit a job after 9 months because of very similar circumstances, and was a little pickier finding my next job, and am MUCH happier here (7 months in). Good for you for not putting up with a demoralizing environment.

  20. Cruciatus*

    Does anyone have experience working for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania? There’s a few jobs in my county for the Commonwealth that aren’t my dream come true (clerical), but I feel may be a good change from my university staff position (it’s for a Big 10 school, but at a smaller campus where opportunities aren’t plentiful and now we’re in a hiring freeze for a year and I’m starting to get antsy for something else).

    I realize one person’s experience could vary wildly from another’s, but I’m just looking for experiences of people who have worked there because I don’t know anyone who does/has.

    1. Mirve*

      Look for the interview with a prison librarian on this site (under “interesting jobs” category.

    2. Citizen of the Commonwealth*

      I do think experiences will vary wildly, and by department. Are there specific concerns you have, maybe around promotion/advancement, culture, expectations, etc? The pay is mediocre for most entry-level jobs but you get tons of days off, the expectations are generally low, and you get a pension after only 5 years. Are you looking for a job change, or a career move? If you like your industry or you want to become more expert in your field, it probably isn’t worth it. But if you aren’t loving your current situation and you don’t have any path or goal you are working towards, I say jump and see what happens! Sometimes change leads us to surprising places.

      1. Cruciatus*

        Well, I don’t have a career plan or anything. I just go from job to job and apply to stuff I’d hopefully like. I’ve been at my university 7 years, first in an administrative support position, and now as a library staff member for the last 5 years. I do like the library but there’s nowhere for me to go (and I don’t want to be a librarian). I also don’t want to be a 30thousandaire forever, which is what my employer seems to be planning on. They think 2% raises are good. Well, they are if you already make a ton of money, which I do not. Does the Commonwealth treat people better than that? Is there a crazy annual review system like there is at my current employer? We have to jump through hoops just to, in the end, “meet expectations” and get our 1.5% raise or whatever it is.

        I’ve been having issues just finding some basic Commonwealth info like…how much vacation time do you get, even Indeed and Glassdoor showed crazy variations. I get 18 days a year now, and in 2 more years I’d get 24. I want a place I can get more money because they have more opportunities, good vacation time, good benefits. And I don’t have to love what I’m doing as long as I like it and when I punch out at 4:30 (or whenever) I don’t have to think about it again until the next day. I do want a good culture fit, though I realize that can vary by department to department because even at my current employer, my last department was awful and the current one is (mostly) great. No one had to ask why I was leaving the former department….

        1. Gracely*

          You’re totally justified in wanting to find something else, but as one university library staff member to another, I would *love* getting yearly 2% raises. We get maybe 1% every 4 or 5 years.

        2. With a Z*

          I mean, the legislature is about to get an automatic 8% raise…. *snort

          I don’t think there are many consistencies across jobs, other than government holidays off if you work in an office. (My partner works for the federal gov’t and doesn’t get holidays off due to the nature of his job.) Sounds like you are interested enough to at least apply. Asking about vacation and pay raises aren’t great questions for a first interview, but you could find out more if you made it to Round 2.

      2. Chapeau*

        The pension has changed significantly. When I started with PA, it was 10 years to pension, not 5, and it changed again 2 or 3 years ago.
        The benefits are pretty good, although they can vary by agency. My particular agency has amazingly ridiculous benefits (seriously, as a PA taxpayer, it makes me angry how little we pay and how much my agency pays for my health insurance), but if my husband was a child instead of an adult with a job, my 3-person family would qualify for food stamps because my pay is so low.

    3. Marketing Unicorn Ninja*

      My husband works for the Commonwealth! I can try to answer your questions, or ask him and get answers for you.

      1. Cruciatus*

        I guess it’s just things like–benefits, are they good? Meeting needs? Is there any idea of vacation time? It seems there is no one answer, but I saw one thing that said “one week a year” and I thought, seriously, that’s terrible? Does your husband feel he has opportunities elsewhere if he wants to go that way? Are raises a thing? What is the annual review process like (my current employer has a ridiculous system that ends with somewhere between a 1-2% raise. Whoop-de-doo). How scary is it when budgets aren’t passed in the state? And I know this might vary by department as well, but how was he treated during the pandemic? So that kind of thing, I’m sure there’s something I’m not thinking to ask right now. Thank you!

        1. Marketing Unicorn Ninja*

          The benefits are great; I can’t complain about medical/dental/vision. He’s in a sector that was the last group to come in under the traditional pension scheme, so after 10 years, he’ll be vested.

          He gets a ton of vacation, as well as other holidays (MLK Day, Juneteenth, Primary/General Election, Black Friday, etc.). Government exempted itself from the requirement to pay overtime rather than comp time, so he does earn comp time, which is nice — he’s currently sitting on a bank of something like 40+ days he can take.

          Annual COLA raises (as well as additional merit-based raises) are a thing; he’s gotten raises every year that he’s worked there (both COLA and merit-based; one was $10K).

          He doesn’t really want to go elsewhere (he really, really likes what he does), but there’s definitely room to move around and up if you want. Several of his colleagues started out in other positions and worked their way up to the position he holds.

          In the time he’s worked for the state, the budget has been late three times, and it hasn’t impacted us. He still gets paid, because of what he does (basically, he’s not high-enough ranking to have his pay yanked for failing to pass a budget on time.)

          WRT the pandemic… Prior to Friday, March 13, 2020, the party line from his department was ‘Government work cannot be done at home.’ Then Gov. Wolf shut down the state and by Monday, March 16, 2020, his department had figured out how he and all his co-workers could, in fact, work from home. He worked remotely through most of 2020; in 2021, they started coming in in stages (everyone was in 2 or 3 days per week, 2 days one week, 3 the next, but assigned based on where they sit so they had enough space between them).

          He’s now back in the office basically full-time, but they haven’t been able to put the genie fully back in the bottle; he and his colleagues are permitted to WFH under certain circumstances and during certain times of the year.

          I have another friend who works in state government, in a different field to my husband, and she’s been fully remote since 2020, and still is, with very limited needs to go into the office. That part really depends on whether you work for a political side of government (one of the caucuses, one of the row offices) or whether you work for a fairly apolitical state department (PLCB.)

          1. Cruciatus*

            Thank you so much for responding! I think I’ll definitely at least apply to a few of the jobs I’ve seen lately, though I think I have to take an exam and pass that, of course. It’s just weird because I don’t hear much about Commonwealth jobs. I guess I just don’t know anybody in one so it never comes up. Everything I know is mostly from pop culture/TV shows, like Dan on Roseanne trying to get a job with the city for the benefits.

            1. Marketing Unicorn Ninja*

              You’re very welcome! The position Mr. Marketing Unicorn Ninja holds did not require the civil service exam, so I can’t speak to that at all.

              I live in a part of the state where there are A LOT of Commonwealth jobs (think right near Harrisburg), so I’m familiar with a lot of people who work in a lot of different areas of Commonwealth jobs.

              I had a friend of a friend who wanted to work for DCNR but ended up having to start in a state store (?!) after taking the civil service exam, but he was able to make the transition.

              Good luck to you!

    4. Lifelong student*

      My spouse is retired from the Commonwealth. Don’t know how things have changed- but pay was fine, benefits were outstanding, and the pension is not to be sneezed at. Job security is high- assuming this is a Civil Service position. At the time, there was tuition reimbursement for a Master’s degree.

      There are so many state jobs that the day to day experience can’t be evaluated. There will be good and bad co-workers, good and bad offices. YMMV.

    5. Fig*

      If you end up working in Unemployment, can you check on my claim? Lol I kid!
      I know a lot of people who work for Lehigh and Northampton counties, and they have great benefits and decent pay. I’d think Commonwealth level jobs would be pretty similar in that regard.

      1. Cruciatus*

        LOL, that actually is one of the departments that has a position available. I’ll do what I can!

  21. Combinatorialist*

    How do you get better at knowing what level of detail someone needs when delegating?

    I have recently reached a point where I am delegating technical work to individuals with a wide variety of skill levels (I’m not these people’s manager but it is definitely understood that I’m charge of these projects). I work with interns, entry level hires, experienced people who are doing something new, and experienced people in the field. I don’t want to be condescending and break things down too far, but I also want to give people enough so that they can be successful.

    Often times I give a task that is too high level, the person makes no progress, I find this out a week later (even though I asked them to let me know if they get stuck), and then I break the task down farther. Sometimes this repeats a few times. Given that my projects are often short term (a few months) and the interns aren’t around that long, this wastes a lot of time and I think leaves all of us feeling frustrated. I have tried being more explicit in the beginning, but I don’t seem to be getting tons better. Does anyone have any tips on how to know?

    1. Hlao-roo*

      A lot of people at the intern/entry-level/trying something new for the first time are in a place of “I don’t know what I don’t know.” So they aren’t necessarily going to know what help they need to ask for and when to ask for help.

      Can you follow-up sooner than a week? Maybe stop by their desk (or schedule a 10 min zoom call) the next day to ask “how’s the project coming along? what progress have you made so far? what are the next steps you’re planning on taking?” And then if that conversation reveals the need for more details/direction, they haven’t been spinning their wheels for an entire week.

      1. Combinatorialist*

        That isn’t really our culture, but I think is a good and necessary step. In that vein, it might help to explicitly ask them to come up with a few concrete steps they are going to take for next week (not necessarily on the spot) and then send them to me so I can check them (with the instructions that if they can’t figure out the next steps, to let me know).

    2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Do you have documentation from the past on similar tasks that you can refer them too? That way they won’t feel condescended to, you won’t have to spend hours breaking things down, and they can read as much or as little as they need for their own purposes.

      “Fergus, I need you to put together the posters for the November Llama Groomers conference. The marketing materials for the last 6 years are in this filing cabinet, feel free to use them as examples or inspiration.”

      “Regina, we need to build a new software module that handles maintenance for the new teapot styles. The last time we did this kind of thing in the spring of 2020, there was a good discussion in Slack/our project planning tool/Google Drive about edge cases and caveats.”

      And then schedule followups that are appropriate to the experience level of each person.

    3. kiki*

      Is it possible to follow-up after a day rather than a week later? I feel like sometimes it helps to give interns and junior employees a day to look at a problem, see what they do understand, and notice what they don’t understand. That way, in your in next conversation, they’ll have their own questions that will indicate how much info you need to provide.

    4. Don't Call Me Shirley*

      Frequent checking (daily 10 minute all hands stand up?) and frequent explicit directions to come ask after being stuck for x time. I’m in a similar role, but for a multi year project.

    5. Combinatorialist*

      Something I left out is that everyone is generally working on these projects only part time. But I think the advice to check in much more frequently is correct and I’m going to try that. I’m going to ask them when they plan to work this project and then schedule a follow up for like halfway through that period and repeat. At least until they get going enough on their own that they are able to ask me questions when they get stuck without prompting or can go a week making a week’s worth of progress.

      1. JessicaTate*

        That sounds really good. I would add to it, especially for interns who are there to learn, adding in explicit coaching that it is a critically important job skill to know when you’re stuck, identify what you’re struggling with, and ask for help (rather than flounder about or procrastinate). Help them see early that naming your struggle and asking for help or a thought-partner is a strength, not a weakness.

        I’ve been finding with a number of junior staff lately this tendency to refuse to raise an issue or ask for help proactively. They’ll just spiral on something, not making any progress, kind of aware they’re spiraling, but not doing anything about it. Sometimes it’s afraid of admitting they’re not able to do this thing; sometimes it’s as if they can’t even identify what has them stuck. I’m not clear why they don’t realize that not making progress is ultimately worse than being straightforward with someone, but I’ve seen it enough to know it’s real.

        I’ve come to realize in my department the self-awareness and confidence to do those three things I described above is as much of a core competency as technical skills. It would be a favor to an interns to help them name that skill they are building as a strength, and that it is something to cultivate and tout with future employers.

    6. Parenthesis Dude*

      Is often times thirty percent or eighty percent? If it’s thirty percent, then more frequent follow ups may be the answer. If it’s eighty percent, then it’s your explaining abilities that are lacking and you need to break it down as far as possible.

      I wouldn’t worry about being condescending. I would break it down pretty far with people to start, and then do it less based on their track record.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      Why not involve them in the layout of the work?
      Can the interns assist the permanent people rather than having their own assigned steps?

      When I supervised people one the biggest frustrations was all the little things that came up that stopped progress. The machine broke. The outlet smoked. The machine caught fire. We were out of X. We were out of A, B and C. They can’t find D but we know it’s here somewhere. Key person for that step got sick and went home. One day a big hairy spider brought a whole area to a screeching stop.
      We’d be here all day long if I gave you just a well-rounded list of the types of things that came up.

      What are you doing to walk beside the project? I think you know you can’t just hand out work and come back later. So what are your steps in between? Asking them if they are stuck does not work 99% of the time. So this is not unique to your work place.
      I was lucky enough to be able to just walk over to them as they worked and see how it was going. When the work is right in front of them is when I’d get the best conversations for troubleshooting.

      You say you are not their manager, so do you loop in the manager so she knows what they need to do? Does their manager load them up with other work so they can’t do yours?

      If the people constantly change this makes thing much harder. Does the whole group change or just the interns?
      You could pair the interns up with those who are permanent and let them work things out together. But if the whole group is new each time, then I’d recommend walking around and looking at what they are doing.

    8. Rutherford B. Crazy*

      Some things that have helped me in situations like this:

      *Break down a project into a checklist of tasks or steps that need to get done. You can even have the person working on this project draft the initial checklist to see if they have a good idea of what steps need to be taken to get to the end result, and then a revised version of the checklist can be used to help see how far along things are and where the gaps are in what needs to be finished.

      *Instead seeing the project as one thing with one deadline, establish smaller deadlines for different steps along the way. People who aren’t used to being given a big open-ended task with one final deadline can sometimes struggle to have a metric for how far along they should be at what point and don’t know how to gauge their own progress. Setting up smaller deadlines for chunks of the work will make it easier for them to know what to expect and to help make sure they don’t fall too far behind when you check in for these deadlines.

      *If you’re going to have a lot of situations like this, work on putting together some kind of basic/generic documentation that you can use to save yourself time as a starting point to set up expectations and outlines for the people working on the projects.

      good luck!

    9. Gravitas Optional*

      You say you don’t want to be condescending about giving detailed instructions, but maybe you could *offer* detailed instructions. “ok so you’re going to do X task with the goal of Y by next month. Maybe you’ve got everything you need, or if it would help, I could spell out what I think the steps are to get started with X, or we could talk about ways you can error check to be sure Y is going to happen. What kind of information would be most helpful?” And then if they truly know everything they’ll say so. Even as a semi-expert, though, I often find that knowing how I want to do something doesn’t mean I wouldn’t benefit from hearing somebody else’s approach. It only gets micromanagey if I’m expected to use their approach whether I feel it’s stronger than mine or not. So in short, offer a couple of specific types of help and see if they’re interested.

  22. FourHornedBrother*

    Man, I don’t think I’ve ever been less surprised to see somebody outed as a predator than Dan Price (the Gravity Payments guy who made gushy, widely-shared LinkedIn posts congratulating himself for paying all of his employees a living wage). Almost from the moment I saw people start sharing that guy’s content I was like mmmmm something ain’t right here, this guy is a prime candidate for a milkshake duck. It was definitely worse than I imagined it would be (serious CW for assault if you look up what he did), but that guy was pretty much the tip-top of my Inevitable Fall from Grace list.

    1. kiki*

      There have been rumblings about him for years- it’s interesting it took this long for a story to come out.
      It’s also unfortunate that people like him use genuinely good, pro-social ideas to cover for abysmal personal transgressions. I hope people are able to hold in their mind that Dan Price was bad but paying employees an actual living wage for your area is good.

      1. Warrant Officer Georgiana Breakspear-Goldfinch**

        Yeah, I thought he’d already been mostly-outed as an abuser? Apparently my whisper network treated his behavior as established fact and the NYT is bringing the news to the masses.

    2. Ray Gillette*

      Was there anything in particular that tipped you off? Or is it more a case where there have been too many examples of wealthy, powerful men who talk a big game about how good and progressive they are in public to hide the fact that they treat people poorly in private?

      1. Books and Cooks*

        I have literally never met or read/heard about a man who talks big about his feminism, progressivism, social-justice ideals, social-awareness etc. etc. who did not turn out to be an absolute scumball under the surface. (Come to think of it, I don’t know of any women publicly “loud” about those issues who wasn’t the same, actually.) They’re not necessarily always hiding actual sexual harassment or whatever behind those shiny Protective Coatings, but scratching the surface always reveals some pretty nasty grime.

      1. Ray Gillette*

        It’s an internet term for when something/someone initially appears to be charming and wholesome but is revealed to have something nasty hiding behind the curtain.

      2. RagingADHD*

        It’s a joke about something that appears undeniably wholesome, later being revealed to have a shockingly dark past.

      3. Gipsy Danger*

        If you google it, there is a good explanation (not trying to be snarky, just hard to paraphrase here).

    3. Sundial*

      I remember the articles back in 2015-2016 about him. How he managed to cover up *waterboarding his wife* I have no idea, the dude should be a cleaner for the mob.

    4. JessicaTate*

      Agree. I always felt his self-congratulations about taking a low salary as CEO to be utter BS. It’s a private company that he owns, right? If it makes a profit, that money/equity is his, regardless of his “salary.” Hell, the low salary is probably a way to avoid a hefty chunk of payroll taxes. I mean, sure, the living wage for everyone else is great. But don’t pretend that you aren’t making a massive take-home profit off the whole thing.

      So finding out he’s a big ol’ creep? Totally tracks.

  23. Jenny2321*

    I’ve been casually looking for remote positions to advanced my career (in the pharmaceutical biotech industry). I wouldn’t be opposed to working an “on-site” job that required relocation, however, my husband is finishing out his doctorate of physical therapy. So the idea of having two seperate living places halfway across the country sounds pretty atrocious.

    The position listing didn’t mentioned any location requirements, so I thought it was an actually remote position.

    What’s the best way to inform the recruiter that I am not looking to relocate currently? I also am not particularly fond of the idea of living near Boston, the housing prices are insane by comparison to what I’m used to.

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      “hey I’m not currently looking to relocate outside (State name). Thanks for thinking of me for this role though. Good luck in your search!”

    2. Ness*

      I don’t think you need to beat around the bush. “When I applied for this position, I thought it was remote since no location requirements were listed. I’m currently only looking for positions that are remote or in the X metro area. Please keep me in mind if you have any positions that fit those criteria!”

  24. Someone*

    I’m freaking out a little. I lead a small team, but lots of other employees regularly work with us for brief periods. I heard through the grapevine that one of these workers has requested not to work with me anymore, but I don’t know why. And my teammate who told me about this was asked *not* to tell me about it by his own direct supervisor. If I ask my own supervisor, then it may become clear that he told me.

    I just want to know what I did wrong so I can try not to do it again. Why are they hiding this from me?

    1. fueled by coffee*

      TBH this sounds so vague that I wouldn’t worry about it until someone brings it up with you. Given the range of letters we read about here, this could be literally anything from “the way Someone types is annoying to me” to “Someone keeps a collection of hair by their desk” to “Someone’s workflow stresses me out” to “I don’t like Someone’s level of covid precaution” to more serious issues.

      If this were me, I’d maybe document my interactions with the employee in question just in case this becomes a bigger issue, but otherwise unless you’ve actually been behaving badly I wouldn’t worry about this. Your teammate may have been told not to tell you about this precisely so that you don’t freak out over this!

    2. DisneyChannelThis*

      Ask your supervisor if there’s any areas they think you should work on or could improve in. Phrase it like wanting to check in after so many projects recently. If there’s an issue relevant then they’ll bring it up. Might not be you, might be random coworker didn’t get along with someone else on your team, or might be they didn’t like the type of task your team does. Might be you but something extremely trivial (she eats peanut butter everyday and I cannot stand it).

      And if your teammate who told you brings it up again, ask them what they thought bringing it up to you but telling you not to tell anyone would do – they may just be a drama pot stirrer. When you supervisor tells you not to tell someone something you really gotta wonder why 1 they immediately told you, 2 the supervisor told them in the first place. Sounds like a lot of gossip flying around. I’d be very careful what you tell these people, clearly some discretion not present.

      1. RagingADHD*

        Yep, you always have to consider the source.

        “I heard Sarah Jane tell Bobby to tell Sam that she doesn’t like you, but I’m not supposed to tell you, so don’t say anything to Sarah Jane, or I’ll get in trouble!”

        This is not the way professional collaboration works.

    3. CTT*

      I can see how that would be worrying to hear! But I agree with fueled by coffee that it’s too vague at this point to be actionable. My first thought was maybe this person hates the work your team does and “I don’t want to work with Someone” really means “I don’t want to work on the type of projects Someone leads.”

      1. Someone*

        It’s definitely not that, because we do the same work that all the other teams do. I think what’s really unnerving is the sense that I’m being kept in the dark. Why would that supervisor tell my teammate who works with me every day, but not want me to know that there is even a problem? How many people know about this? How many of them know more than I do? Do all my bosses know? Are they having a meeting about me right now, trying to decide whether to fire me?

        I always tend to worry that I might inadvertently offend or anger somebody. This has just got me in a stew. I know I need to just let it go, and assume if there’s a real problem they will talk to me about it. But it’s hard to stop thinking about it.

    4. Mockingjay*

      Likely it’s them, not you. I’ve had “loaner” team members before and there’s always one who doesn’t like it, mainly because they are slackers who actually have to do work on my programs. Or as CTT said, they just don’t like the kind of work you do. Check in with your supervisor if you want, but I wouldn’t lose sleep over it.

    5. Sundial*

      I once asked not to be paired up with a colleague for a mentorship training because he was a doppleganger for an abusive ex, and he made me so uncomfortable I couldn’t function. My boss gave him an excuse because of how personal it was. Sometimes it really isn’t anything you did. (NOT saying this is your reason, of course, just giving an example.)

    6. The Other Evil HR Lady*

      I’m late to this party, but this is how I see it: the other supervisor didn’t want your colleague to tell you because: (1) it’s nothing you can fix or nothing that needs fixing (e.g., you’re more adept at holding people accountable and that person says you’re working them to death); and/or (2) it’s something so silly, that it’s more about the other person and not you (e.g., you wore a Harry Potter shirt one day and they’re against witchcraft, I dunno!). If your own supervisor doesn’t bring it up, don’t worry.

  25. Cruciatus*

    And another question, does anyone have experience working at a correctional facility? There’s a library assistant position in my area for a prison, and you can retire with a pension in like 10-15 years. I just wonder if I’m crazy for even thinking about it. I know someone who did work at a prison and said the problems are going to be more from the corrections officers/other staff than the inmates themselves. I’m still just information gathering, so if anyone has any experiences with that I’d love to hear them.

    1. Generic Username (UK)*

      If you search the archives you’ll find a great interview Alison did a few years ago with a prison library

    2. Hlao-roo*

      Check out the Ask A Manager “Interview with a Prison Librarian” post! I’ll put the link in a follow-up comment.

    3. Paris Geller*

      I don’t have any personal experience, but I have a few family members who have worked in prisons in different roles (all health though–one dental assistant & one RN). They both actually love it–the benefits are great and they’ve never had any issues. I think it probably depends a lot on management and the state you’re in (assuming this is a state facility).

      1. Ditto*

        I worked in corrections for several years, though not in a facility. I also have several family members who currently work in facilities.

        The working conditions are highly dependent on the agency and location. However, if you remember that those incarcerated are other human beings and treat them as such you typically won’t have issues. Librarians are usually pretty popular.

        A former boss of mine used to regularly say, “They’re people just like you and me. They just got caught doing something they shouldn’t whereas no one found out the things we’ve done.”

    4. SnappinTerrapin*

      There is a wide range of working conditions in Corrections. The most important factor is which institution you’d be working in, even in a jurisdiction that is fairly well financed and operated. The specific job also has a lot to do with what your working conditions are.

      Having said that, the higher the security level of the institution, the higher the base-stress-level of the atmosphere. Inmates, security staff and support staff will all feel more stress in a maximum security prison than in a work-release facility. It’s literally part of the atmosphere. Even when you (sort of) know you’re going home at the end of the shift, you know that you aren’t leaving early on a whim, and there will be security delays coming and going.

      When the count is off, everything is disrupted. (I lost an afternoon one time, working for the parole board, when the institution I was visiting counted “too many” inmates.) Realistically, the people you spend the time with have a lot to do with your stress level. An old convict told me his time in prison wouldn’t have been so bad, if it weren’t for the people he had to associate with. In fairness, not all of the people who add to your stress will be inmates. There are some unpleasant people who are drawn to jobs where they have authority over others. That includes security staff and supervisors/managers. Not saying all of them are bad, but there are some.

      Ask a lot of questions during the hiring process, and read between the lines. It can be a good career, and you can do some good, too. You just have to maintain a higher level of alertness for safety and for manipulation than in the average job in the free world.

      We need good people working in that sector, but it’s not for everyone. Honestly, I found the environment oppressive, and I was only there a couple of days a week, and was in a position of relative influence with regard to both the institution and the inmates.

    5. Mac (I Wish All The Floors Were Lava)*

      I have volunteered in a women’s correctional facility here in PA, and found it incredibly rewarding. I do feel like being staff is a whole different thing, in terms of feeling a lot more complicit in the carceral state (for me, at least), but at the same time, during my time there I saw what a difference the education/enrichment staff were able to make people’s lives, just by being positive and encouraging and humane. I had to stop working in the prison system once covid started, and I’ve missed it terribly ever since. It’s a very strange environment to work in, but it is absolutely a place where I felt like my less resume-able skills (patience, open-mindedness, nurturing) were really useful and valued.

  26. TheReportWillBeLate*

    For four years I’ve been trying to get back-up and some additional help for one aspect of my job. I have explained what is involved, I found out last year three people in most of our branches handle this duty and now I just found out that my boss thinks it involves answering some easy questions on an infrequent basis, one hour a month of training, and some report reviews. This aspect of my job takes over everything for three months a year. How do I explain that this is not a simple little side task?

    1. Ann Ominous*

      Can you quantify it, and then give anecdotal examples to make it stick?

      “I’d like to revisit the workload associated with Llama grooming aspect of my role. It takes 120 hours per week during the busy season Jan-April. I have broken out the major tasks below to give you a fuller picture, and have outlined some staffing proposals.

      Branches x and y handle the workload by having three people in my role year round.

      Another option is for us to hire surge help for 5 months a year (they’d need to go through the 2-week training and be granted llama access in December, and then work till two weeks after Llama-con to help with filing all travel vouchers and cleaning up hoof clippings). It may be more cost-effective to hire an additional person full time than to license and train a new groomer each year.


      1. Grooming llamas: 18-24 hours a week, at 3 hours per llama, 6-8 llamas per week (surges to 12 llamas during the period leading up to the World Llama Shows – Llama-con?; 36 hours a week for three months)

      2. Venue reservations: 40 hours each cycle (3 quotes, two state-mandated inspections for each, and 3 briefings with contracting)

      3. Admin and follow up: 48 hours at 1 hour per llama per week (emailing owners, filing their travel vouchers, answering their questions).

      [Short phrase, time required, how you calculate your time, some examples.]

      Good luck!

      1. TheReportWillBeLate*

        In a happy(?) turn of events, the “easy” job description was really just my boss’s attempt to sucker my coworker into signing up to learn how to do the llama grooming. I’ve been looking for a new job, and she knows, so they need someone who can be the certified llama groomer in case I abruptly leave.

        After my (very polite) email that pointed out that she may be underestimating the llama grooming that I do and promising to create appropriate “how to groom llama” documentation (in whatever free time I can find) my boss sent three slightly panicked emails. I’ve now been promised that the new hire will be an assistant llama groomer after she gets a handle on alpacas.

    2. Cheezmouser*

      Do exactly as you said: explain that this takes up 3 months and it impacts your ability to do X, Y, and Z during those months. Ask your boss if they want you to delegate parts of Mega Task to someone else or parts of X, Y, and Z.

      Presumably you’ve been doing both Mega Task as well as all your other tasks each year, so you’ve made it not your boss’s problem to solve this. From your boss’s perspective, things are fine as is because everything is still getting done. Time to escalate the problem by making it obvious that Boss has to find resources because you can’t continue to do both.

  27. Chidi has a stomach ache*

    I need some cover letter advice! I’m trying to switch career sectors, from teapot designer to llama groomer. I have a PhD, so I have a lot of hard research skills that llama groomers use, even if my degree name is “PhD in teapot design.” I do use some of my research/evaluation skills in my current position, but I’ve also been picking up some small pro-bono projects as a llama groomer to better understand the field.

    Right now, my cover letter structure is:
    Intro + connection of teapot design to llama grooming
    How I use llama grooming skills in my current job
    My training in llama grooming in my PhD
    My pro-bono work
    Conclusion, etc.

    But, this means the work that is most relevant to positions I’m applying for is at the bottom of the letter. Should I talk about that first? Or is it weird to talk about side projects before my full time job?

    1. BCC*

      Make your intro state your interest generally. Then demonstrate that passion- mention the pro bono work and relevant PhD elements as part of the intro! They demonstrate interest and passion.
      Then go into how you connect teapot design skills with llama grooming and all of those llama skills you already use in your current role.

    2. Reba*

      Intro + longstanding interest in llama grooming
      How I use llama grooming skills in my current job
      My pro-bono work
      My training in llama grooming in my PhD

      I would not worry about drawing the connection between the two fields (in like, a abstract way? Of course I have no idea of your actual letter contents :) ) They don’t need to know if the fields have many parallels, they need to know how you *specifically* are prepared to make this switch.

      OTOH If teapot design is truly very different from llama grooming — or if few llama groomers tend to have PhDs and you would like to underscore its relevance — then I could see saying a bit more about the connections, worked into your description of PhD training. e.g. “I started my graduate studies in teapots, and found much of that training relates to the camelid field as well. I took X courses in llama and alpaca issues, developing research skills etc etc”

  28. ER*

    Anyone who does recruiting / hiring:

    How frequently do you reach out to candidates who applied? What method do you typically use?

    For my entry level production position: I used to call candidates and if I didn’t hear back the next day I’d follow up with an email. Lately I’ve just been sending 1 email before figuring the ball’s in their court.

    There’s always been a huge % that apply and then disappear and it doesn’t seem to have gotten worse since just reaching out once instead of twice. But I’m worrying if I’m being too harsh and should try to reach out more.

    1. Combinatorialist*

      You don’t necessarily have to do the same thing for everyone. You could send the 1 email to most of your candidates and follow up additionally on your strongest batch / the ones you are most interested in.

    2. Weaponized Pumpkin*

      I’d worry less about harshness or the norms and more about what serves your recruiting process. If you’re getting the candidates you need through the process, then what you’re doing is enough. If you aren’t getting enough / good enough, consider if another kind of outreach would get you better results. (On a personal note, I’d prefer the other order. Email first, then call. Or two emails.)

  29. tiny_strawberries*

    I sat in on an interview for a different department and we ended up hiring someone largely becuase I was a tie breaker. Now I’m not sure that was the right decision and I am feeling so anxious about it. Anyone have any advice or ways to feel better about this?

    1. WellRed*

      Remember: you might have been the tie breaker but you aren’t solely responsible for hiring this person.

      1. Be kind, rewind*

        Exactly. The hiring manager has the final say. They are 100% responsible for that decision. As long as you were honest/transparent about your assessment of the candidates, you have nothing to answer for.

    2. ecnaseener*

      Am I right in thinking that since you were sitting in, you might not otherwise have gotten a vote if not for the tie? (If you were always going to get a vote – don’t think of yourself as THE tiebreaker, if the votes were cast in a different order it would’ve been someone else.)

      Ultimately they needed to make the decision one way or another. They decided to be okay with letting you, a person just sitting in, have a vote – they’re not expecting you to have definitely made The Right Choice, they don’t know what the right choice was either! Hiring is never a perfect science, if this person is a bad hire it won’t be your fault by any stretch.

      1. tiny_strawberries*

        I said ‘sitting in’ becuase I wouldn’t be directly iinvolved with this person’s work, but I did have equal say as the other two people in the interviews. So this is a helpful way to frame it!

    3. Doctor is In*

      Hiring the right person is always tough. You can do the best interviews and check all the references and still not end up with a good hire. Ask me how I know. Try not to worry.

    4. Pool Noodle Barnacle Pen0s*

      I once lobbied for a certain person to be my replacement when I left a previous job, and found out later that he was a disaster. Like ended up getting criminal charges filed type of disaster. I did feel bad, but ultimately I made peace with it knowing that his bad actions were not my fault. I lobbied for him based on what I knew of his work, which was exemplary. Sometimes things don’t work out the way you think they will. It’s life. No one knows what the future holds, we’re all just making choices based on what we know at the time.

    5. Toxic Workplace Survivor*

      I would bust out the classic “You were acting as best you could with what you knew at the time,” which is a huge part of hiring. There definitely are people who interview well and are not great performers, but ultimately when you meet someone, talk to their references and maybe as around informally if that’s appropriate, there isn’t much more you can know before they actually start the job. It can happen! That’s why probationary periods exist.

      When there are two strong finalists, choosing between them is very difficult and it is natural to have second thoughts. Try to let it go, knowing that you can’t always get it right and that it’s okay, that sometimes happens. Not helpful necessarily to their current performance but hopefully it helps you detach a little.

    6. LittleMarshmallow*

      If it were a tie for the rest of the team then I wouldn’t worry about it. When candidates are close like that the dumbest things can tip the scale when it comes down to the final decision. Mostly they probably won’t even remember than you were the scale tipper. We just did a round of interviews for temps where we had different people in several interviews because of some difficulties with scheduling (I was the only one in all the interviews) and honestly… the chosen ones haven’t even started yet and I already don’t even remember which interviewers met with which interviewees.

  30. Minimal Pear*

    Is it a bad idea to pay my friend to clean my house?
    Some important info: she offered (but she’s one of those people who volunteers for everything–I’m the same way), and I should be able to pay her well.
    I’m disabled and really need to clean and organize my whole house. I can do it on my own, but it’ll be slow and unpleasant. My friend said I could pay her to do it, and I’m interested, but I’m worried about it making our friendship weird. I have a family member who’s done this with one of her friends and it definitely impacted the dynamic.
    I would probably be cleaning alongside her in some capacity (maybe just lying on the floor telling her where to put stuff, maybe doing one task while she does another). I wouldn’t ask her to clean the bathroom because I can do that just fine.
    But is it too likely it’ll impact our friendship in the same way that it can in a workplace?

    1. WellRed*

      Don’t do it. What if she breaks something? What if she doesn’t clean to your standards? How would you handle that conversation? “Persephone, I noticed dust in the corners, can you pay a little more attention this week?”

      1. WellRed*

        Oh wait, did I misunderstand the question? If it’s for a specific task, like getting organized it might be IK but only if you know for a fact she’s naturally organized and will stick with it.

        1. londonedit*

          Oh wait, I replied along very similar lines to your comment, but agree that if this is an ‘I’ll pay you to help me do a major clearout next weekend’ rather than ‘I’ll pay you to be my regular house cleaner’ then that’s a different dynamic.

          1. Minimal Pear*

            It would probably be more than a weekend, but yeah, I would NOT ask her (or anyone, unless I get a LOT more disabled!) to be my regular house cleaner. I can keep up okay with day-to-day cleaning usually. Right now I’m a little behind on some of that because I’ve been using all my cleaning time/energy to deep clean one room that really needs it, so other rooms have gotten dirtier than usual. The things I need help with are:
            1. a little bit of deep cleaning–I’ve already done a lot and can do it in the bathroom, but there’s some left in one area that I am DREADING doing on my own
            2. a few cleaning related errands that would be massively easier if she could drive me
            3. several areas of my house that need better storage and organization (see example of sorting and displaying beanie babies below)
            With a lot of these, it’s just that I tend to get too tired and sore to keep going pretty early on in the task, and I’d really like to just… get the whole thing done all at once, without being in screaming pain afterwards. I’m also currently in the middle of some medical stuff that makes one of my disabilities a little worse.

            1. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

              As an aside, there’s not a threshold of disabled that you need to hit before it’s acceptable to hire a regular cleaner. My husband is on disability and he did the bulk of our cleaning. However it is getting difficult for him to keep up and when he does clean, he’s exhausted. I had to convince him that while technically yes he still is able to, it’s something someone else can take on so he can spend what energy he has on recovery/PT/getting out of the house. That and having the house clean is something that makes us both feel better.

              If you want to do the cleaning yourself because that will make you feel better that’s valid, but don’t feel you can’t hire someone just because you aren’t that bad yet.

              1. Minimal Pear*

                Oh I know! Normally I really am able to keep up with the basics, and I think it’ll be easier once I have all this crap deep cleaned and organized.

              2. Eldritch Office Worker*

                Absolutely. Meet yourself where you’re at. I have a disability where I can work full time, but it takes all of my energy and I have a really hard time functioning on the same level at home. My coworkers don’t think of me as nearly as disabled as my husband does – and neither of them are right, I’m the only one who knows the reality of the situation. You figure out what you need outside of any labels or diagnoses.

        2. Minimal Pear*

          Yeah, it wouldn’t be “clean my whole house every week” it would be more “be my more-able-bodied hands while I get some crap organized and up off the floor, because my back starts screaming after a few minutes of picking stuff up”. I’m not sure that she’s naturally organized but I would be in the same room also doing organizing/cleaning at the same time.

    2. Eldritch Office Worker*

      It sounds like you’re looking for help with a big project as opposed to having an ongoing working relationship? I think that’s totally different and wouldn’t be a big deal. Could you engage her to get things in order and then hire someone else to help with light maintenance?

    3. Hlao-roo*

      Before you start, you and your friend need to agree on a rate and a scope. The scope could be “every room in the house except the bathroom” or the scope could be “however much you/we can accomplish in four Saturdays.”

      The things I would seriously think about before starting are:

      – do you like the way your friend has organized her house?
      – do you forsee any bad dynamics? (I’m picturing you feel your friend is pressuring you to throw away all of your important possessions/your friend sees you as unwilling to part with unecessary junk that is cluttering up the house as a likely possibility but I’m sure there are other ways this situation could sour)

      Is it possible for her to start with organizing just one room so you can both get a trial run of “will this impact our friendship dynamic?”

      1. Minimal Pear*

        I haven’t seen much of how she organizes her house, unfortunately–we were casual friends before the pandemic and became much closer during. When we did hang out in person, it was at my place. It wouldn’t really be a situation where she’s making big organizational decisions on her own–I know what needs to happen, it’s just physically difficult for me to do it on my own.
        I don’t think she’d judge me or anything, that’s actually kinda why I’m tempted to go with a friend. It was her idea in the first place, and I know she won’t be crappy about me letting things go a bit due to my disabilities. I would HOPE a professional cleaner wouldn’t do that, but who knows? I’m also not sure this is a great fit for a professional cleaner, because very little of what I need to do is actual cleaning. It’s mostly, I don’t know… this is a made up example, but think something like sorting and displaying my beanie baby collection.

        1. Hlao-roo*

          Ah, if this is more of an “I already know how I want my beanie baby collection sorted and displayed, I just need someone to do the grunt work for me” type of situation, I think it has a high likelihood of success!

          It still might be good to start with one room, with the option to do the whole house if both of you are feeling good about the arrangement. Just in case either one of you discovers something that isn’t working, it will let you stop when the bad feelings are smaller and easier to recover from. (And easier to save face if you both know the “quit after one room” escape hatch is available.)

    4. londonedit*

      Yeah, I think it would make things too weird. It sounds like hiring a cleaner is a great idea, but if you have the money to pay your friend well then I think it’d be better to use that to pay someone from outside your circle of friends, ideally a professional cleaner with excellent references. There’s just too much risk with a friend – what if she flakes out on you, what if she breaks something, what if she accidentally finds something really personal…it’s too much of a minefield!

    5. DisneyChannelThis*

      Nah not weird. Especially for a one off task. I’m the organizing friend in my group and when one friend was getting married we spent a saturday sorting out her closets so the husband would have space to move his stuff in. It’s more fun to do with someone you know than a stranger, also don’t have to worry about them stealing stuff.

      1. Minimal Pear*

        lol honestly she could steal stuff and I probably wouldn’t be mad, part of my problem is that I have Too Much Stuff

    6. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

      We are hiring a cleaner starting in a few weeks for similar reasons. I don’t think I could hire someone I knew outside of that arrangement.

      I see this might be more of a one off, which is totally different. More like friends helping out. But if you do decide that you need a more regular cleaner, even if it’s just monthly, hire someone who does this professionally (insured/licensed)

      1. Minimal Pear*

        Yeah it felt like a “friends helping each other out” thing when she mentioned it–she has a much more functional body and needs money, I have a much less functional body but do have money.

    7. Hungry Librarian*

      I think it VERY MUCH depends on the friend and their attitude. I’ve been the person to help multiple of my friends do a.) big clean-outs and b.) clean the house occasionally. However, I sat down with the person before hand, went over exactly what needed done, agreed on a rate (this includes whether snacks/takeout are included in the rate, or if you have to bring your own).

      Is your friend open to doing that? If there’s weirdness there, I would suggest not moving forward. But if they’re cool with nailing down boundaries and outcomes beforehand (or bring it up themself!), I’d go for it.

      I’d also suggest that you do some internal work about the organization/clear out first. You need to have a hard sit and think about what you want done, and how you are going to handle someone else in your space touching your stuff. Because we absolutely can get emotional about things, even if we’re not expecting it. I would say, pick a small corner or a book case, or set of shelves or a junk drawer or a jewelry box or something you can comfortably and safely tackle yourself and see what emotions come up. Because that end of things is on you to manage and prep for.

      I only mention this because I’ve had to on-the-fly manage my friend’s reactions to me helping them do a clear out/organization. I was absolutely fine taking on that work, but my friend was VERY surprised at their own reaction and had to deal with those emotions plus guilt/frustration at me having to react to their emotions.

      Note: I’m not implying you haven’t done this piece of mental work already, but I would highly recommend doing it if you haven’t yet.

      1. Minimal Pear*

        Her main (low-paying, hence her suggesting this) job is very much independent contractor-esque so I assume she’s very used to that kind of “negotiation” beforehand.
        The stuff that I need help organizing isn’t stuff I’m very emotionally attached to, and I wouldn’t be fretting over whether or not to get rid of it. Heck, “organizing” might make it sound too complex, it’s mostly “pick it up from piles and put it on shelves”. Plus the aforementioned other stuff.

    8. PsychNurse*

      I would definitely never. If you want to hire someone, hire someone you aren’t friends with! There are so many possibilities:
      She’ll realize it’s more work than she thought, and therefore she feels she isn’t getting paid enough
      The pay is plenty but she just realizes she doesn’t want to do it, but now she feels obligated
      You’ll realize she doesn’t do a thorough enough job for the amount you’re paying her
      You’ll realize she’s working harder than you expected and you feel bad for taking advantage

    9. Asenath*

      I wouldn’t hire a friend for exactly those reasons – that it might spoil the friendship. I was once asked to work for pay for a friend and it put me and her in a really awkward position because I felt that I had to decline and then felt guilty even though I didn’t change my mind about my reasons for refusing. And she, of course, still had the problem of finding help. A friend might help you out for free, or you might think of hiring someone who is more of an organizer than an cleaner, if that’s what you need. Another friend of mine hired someone to help her de-clutter and organize things.

      1. Cordelia*

        I wouldn’t. I would feel more awkward about potentially being “judged” by a friend than by a professional cleaner, even if I know deep down that a friend wouldn’t judge me. I really don’t think a professional cleaner would either – I doubt my place is the worst they’ve ever seen – and if they do, well I would care less about that than I would about what a friend thought of me.
        But also, to me you are describing two different things. One, deep cleaning the house – if you can pay someone, pay a cleaner, keep it impersonal. Two, reorganising and decluttering – do you have a friend who would help without being paid?
        One friend and I – both tidy people who like organising – sorted out another friends kitchen cupboards for her, throwing stuff out, reorganising, etc. She is very much not a tidy person, also has some health conditions, and had let everything get on top of her. She ordered and paid for the takeout, and sat and watched while we did the work, she had power of veto on our decisions – it was actually fun! I would enjoy helping you reorganise your beanie babies, but unfortunately live in the UK!

    10. Katiekins*

      If you think she’d be helpful, it would be enjoyable for both of you, she offered to do it for free, and you want to compensate her because you recognize the value of her time and effort, but she’s not expecting compensation, I would do it, and instead of cash or a wage, give her a gift card to a favorite restaurant or grocery store, or offer her any of the things you’re decluttering, as well as your profuse thanks. And maybe just do one afternoon.

      1. Minimal Pear*

        She didn’t offer to do it for free, she offered to do it for money. Her job pays very little, so part of the reason I’m so interested in this is because it would help her out as well. Here’s how the conversation went:
        [Friend is over at my place, drops something on the floor, and cleans up the spot.]
        Me, obviously joking: No no, keep going!
        Her: Honestly, if you weren’t broke right now and you could pay me for it, I would totally clean your house.
        (I was able to clean that floor just fine, and have done so. And I’m not broke anymore/have a way to pay for it.)

        1. Katiekins*

          In that case, if it would be of benefit to YOU, maybe suggest doing a trial two to three hour session of her picking up things from piles and putting them where you want them, and see how it feels (does she follow your instructions well?) and if it’s worth the money to you at the end.

          My concern, as someone who likes organizing but also has very particular ideas about what works and has a hard time not imposing my view on my partner when I offer to help them organize, is that your friend will want to suggest systems that aren’t what you want, or will have a hard time following your instructions because they have feelings about how it could be done better.

          Hope you come to a decision that works well for you!

        2. Not So NewReader*

          I’d ask her if she was still up for that idea.
          Talk about pay and hours. I know of a setting where the friends set a four hour limit and x per hour. It seems to be going well, at then end of four hours both are tired and had enough for one day. As you say, the friends work along side each other. This reduces the awkwardness factor a lot.

          Figure on at least $20 per hour. If she brings her own tools or supplies, toss in something extra such as ordering lunch or giving her a few items in near mint condition that she would get use from. Eh, toss in these extras anyway.

          Then I’d start with one or two projects such as put the beanie babies on the shelves. See how things go.

          Make sure you have enough tasks lined up to fill time time. Stop half way for a coffee break.

          I have a friend who helps me here. Sometimes it specific like put the snow thrower on the tractor. Other times it’s odds and ends- like change the light bulb waaaaay up there, help mice-proof a cupboard, fix a troublesome lock and so on. He helps maybe three times a year. I make breakfast or lunch for us. I usually have a couple things on hand that I know he’d like such as a special cheese etc, that he can take home. Plus I pay him. It usually is a nice time.

          I find that I over estimate how long things will take so when I make a list I add on a couple optional, less important things in case there is time. He always wants to go over the list so he knows what tools to bring. If it’s outside work he wants to check the weather as he withers in heat. (Me, too.)

          One time I had a tree limb that was way too close to a wire. The situation came to a head when there was a bad storm and even the neighbors were worried. My friend is super familiar with tree work and saw that the limb was not actually on the wire, so he said he would get it. And for that I deliberately over paid him- factors included dangerous work and the work had to be done immediately not at a time of his choosing.

          These are some of the many ways to show consideration. And it’s in that consideration that the friendship is protected and preserved. It’s work. One friend cuts out relevant articles or coupons to give her helping friend with her own concerns. I have seen instances where a friend dug out a specific item she no longer used and knew her helping friend was looking to purchase. She just gave the helping friend the item by introducing it as, “IF you would like this one you can have it.” This gave the helping friend an easy out, “Oh no, thanks, I actually wanted this in purple, not green.”

          Friends do work if both friends are in a mindset of constant consideration for each other. If you have special knowledge in something that your friend might need help with you can also offer to time swap. You will spend x hours helping her and she will spend the same number of hours helping you.

    11. Onwards and Upwards*

      Hello! I’ve two experiences of this, one bad and one great:
      1. Before I was disabled, a disabled friend offered to pay me to help for 3 days. I needed the money and was glad to be of use to her, so I set aside 3 precious freelance work days to work with her. It was hard work because it was heavy emotionally for her. I did it well and was tired afterwards. Then she paid me…£30 for 18 hours work. I was so taken aback I didn’t know HOW to ask for more, especially since she was vulnerable. And I did come away a bit annoyed and it did affect our friendship. Obvious lesson learnt: make a contract beforehand:)

      2. Later, disabled myself, I contracted a friend who I knew (having worked with her professionally) would be straight with me, would assert her boundaries if needed, and would be kind and patient with my illness. We are both frank people and chimed well together when working out a contract, a risk assessment (including a Covid safety policy) etc. She worked in my house every few days for a few months and it worked really well and I was very thankful for it. And now we’re back to normal, good friendship!

  31. Moosed*

    I have a question about getting locked in as an overachiever in a fairly rigidly bureaucratic organization. tl;dr: is it even possible to ramp back down or should I move forward and get the pay raise?

    I’m a federal employee who’s been continually assigned more and more responsibilities and stretch assignments as I’ve moved up the ranks. I’ve never asked for more, I just get assigned it and then I do a great job (as I am often told), so I never stay in my comfort zone very long at all. After my last promotion*, I expressed a desire to stay working at my actual grade level for a while, and so naturally I was assigned to take on a higher-level thing within months. This is largely perceived of as a good thing, as I’ll need to do higher-level work to get a promotion to that grade level in the future.

    Thing is, it’s really stressful – but I’m also killing it. My boss and grandboss routinely tell me I’m doing a great job. But it’s a ton of work and it really stresses me out. My grandboss is already talking about making sure I have a spot whenever I get promoted. But… I’m not sure I want to be promoted yet. I would still like to perform at my actual grade level for a while! What I’m concerned about, though, is that I could stay at this grade level and still get roped into doing stuff the next level up, because I’m great at it – while missing out on the 20k/year pay difference. Once I move up a level, it’s possible but difficult to move back down. Losing resources because of government priorities means it’s almost guaranteed I’ll be pressed into the max level of contribution leadership can wring out of me.

    So my question is, do I pursue the promotion and give up on what would now be a pretty easy level of work for me to achieve, and try to get the sweet, sweet cash in exchange? If not, what do? How can I dodge the constantly-churning requests for fill-ins, rotations, and other stretch assignments? I’ve always been a high achiever and frankly I don’t know how to even begin turning things down.

    *Promotions are super bureaucratic – I have to compete against my peers at grade level and career field across the entire agency to earn a “promotable” status, THEN find and apply for a higher level job. There is *no* workaround.

    1. Emby*

      i’m also a fed, and i totally understand what you’re saying. i know this is way, way harder than it sounds, but you just need to start saying “no” to things. first for new things, say you don’t have the bandwidth to take them on. and to back out things you’ve started doing but don’t want to continue, meet with your supervisor and explain that while you were glad to help out, you realized that it’s too much for you to do and you want to stick to the tasks that are actually in your job description/in grade. if they push, keep saying that you are in a place right now where sticking to grade-appropriate tasks is vital

      1. Moosed*

        It is definitely harder than it sounds! My immediate leadership has been very supportive of pushing back on things and saying we don’t have the bandwidth for X and Y, not just for me but for my whole team. But higher-level leadership is going on about “doing more with less” and it’s just an endless struggle to try to balance. If I did manage to back out of the higher-level stuff, eventually I’m pretty sure I’d get swept up in one of the many “opportunities” that become non-vol assignments or rotations, even though I have no desire to do them. Sigh.

        1. I'm Done*

          For one thing, do not volunteer for anything that isn’t of advantage to you and that you don’t want to get stuck with for the long run. Also, practice expectation management. Always add additional time to your projects even when your 100% sure that you’ll be finished in half the time. Don’t care more about things than your leadership. This last pearl of wisdom I had the hardest time with and it cost me the most. It’s okay to fast track but don’t allow yourself to be burned out in the process. I went from a GS11 to a GS14 Division Chief within seven years but I didn’t heed my own advice and four years later was totally burned out.

          1. Moosed*

            Yeah that latter is where I’m trying to make the choice of less burnout but I’m not sure which that choice is! I’ve gone from GS-9 to 13 in 4 years and am acting in a 14 role—managing my branch’s output but not doing my own projects. I really think I’ll miss being an individual contributor if I go straight to 14, assuming I could get promoted, but… that also assumes I’ll be allowed to go back to that level of contribution one day, and that’s what I just don’t know. Even with the best intentions of setting boundaries (me) and respecting them (leadership), scope creep has become such a thing in my particular area that it seems unavoidable.

            1. I'm Done*

              No, that is unlikely to happen. The only agency that I’m aware of who has GS14/15 individual contributors, is DoD who has analysts with those grades working at the Pentagon but I don’t know of other agencies where that’s the case.

    2. CheeryO*

      Are you me? I am in a very similar situation at my state agency, and I plan on going for the promotion. If I turn it down and stay at my current grade, I am inevitably going to continue to be a point person for higher-level assignments, which I don’t really mind since the work is more interesting and varied, if a little more stressful.

      I don’t really want to get a reputation for hoarding knowledge or being uncooperative, which I have seen happen with others at my grade, whether that’s fair or not. Also, if an external candidate ends up being hired for the promo, they’re going to end up relying on me to learn the role, which would definitely make me resentful (especially if they’re a man – not sure of your gender, but I do feel like it plays a role for women in these situations).

      It does make me nervous since I don’t feel completely ready to formally take on the responsibility. I also have plans to start a family in the next couple years, and I’m skeptical that I will have enough energy to go around, but at the end of the day, I want to get paid for the work I’m already doing and will realistically continue to do.

      In the interim, I would definitely recommend drawing whatever boundaries you’re able to draw. I recently deleted my Outlook app from my phone, so I am just done at the end of the day. I also try to take my lunch every day to get out for a walk. My boss and grandboss know that I’ve been doing a ton of work and are super happy with me, so if a ball gets dropped, it is what it is. You can only do so much.

      1. Moosed*

        “I want to have energy for my personal life” is a HUGE thing in my perspective on this as well. I’ve had so many instances of days where work just drains all my mental energy for the day. Fortunately my workplace is good about encouraging work/life balance and I can’t take my work home with me at all, but that only goes so far when I also don’t get to take my energy home with me. Good luck on going for the promotion and I hope it works out well for you!

    3. Anon For This*

      Be careful what you wish for. I opted not to apply for a promotion because I had a good gig and wanted work-life balance. Figured I was safe, as I was very well regarded. Well, the person who got the promotion was very threatened by me, worked hard to make my life difficult and clearly was trying to force me out. So I had to go get a new job anyway. I’d recommend you seek the promotion but once you get it start turning down the requests for fill-ins and stretch assignments saying you need to learn the job first. As time goes on, figure out what you can manage and act accordingly. Good luck!

      1. Moosed*

        That’s a crappy situation, I’m sorry! We have an upcoming reorg that’s making me a bit nervous about who I’ll end up working for and with, but I think there are enough people in leadership who would go to bat for me if needed and who understand what I bring to the table and don’t want to lose it.

        1. Anon For This*

          It was a crappy situation when it happened, but turned out for the best, as the new job I got was great and gave me decent opportunities for promotion. I am now in a position where I can make sure that no only me but my whole team can have work-life balance. So it worked out.

          Thanks for the sympathy, and good luck to you!

  32. Cross Training Questions*

    How would you go about cross training in a job duty when the person you’d learn from isn’t ideal?

    My workplace is really great about allowing us to learn other roles, sometimes even switching functions entirely. There’s a role related to mine that I’d like to start learning, but my only coworker that does that seems to do the minimum required to keep the job, and I struggle with his communication style in addition. I’ve seen job searching stuff on his screen share, so having a second person who can do that work would benefit my company if he does leave.

    It will seem strange to him and others that I would want to learn primarily through other sources. How can I broach this with our boss without bringing up my issues with him? (I would leave out the job searching stuff I saw regardless). I don’t want to cause trouble for him over this, because while I consider his work less than stellar, it doesn’t impact my current job duties, but I would really like to cross train on what he does.

    1. BellyButton*

      “I find that our communication styles are so different that I am having a hard time learning.. I was thinking that I could learn about XYZ from SOURCE, and then could have him supervise and check my work when I do it. Do you think this is a good approach?”

      1. Not So NewReader*

        You can also frame it as wanting to learn what is new once the training has stopped, so you can keep yourself current and relevant to the company.

  33. Flowers*

    Workload for a new employee

    As a new employee what’s a reasonable amount of work to have in your first few weeks? And how does this play out if you work remotely 1-2x a week?

    For employers what are your expectations of new employees when things are slow?

    I’ve had varying experiences. At my last job was slammed from day 1 onwards with little training. There was no remote work at the time though.

    at my current one, it was really slow for the first few weeks. The days i worked from home I had very little to do. I had considered not working from home at all. But It is picking up now

    Curious about others thoughts & experiences.

    1. TheReportWillBeLate*

      It’s ok to ask if the slowness is normal. About 10 years ago I had a new person I was training and she waited until she was in a panic thinking we had no work and would fire her soon. Ever since then I have remembered to let new folks to our office know that the first couple weeks will be slow until you’re in all the systems and we can assign you work without having to teach your 14 new things every day. The slow beginning for us is deliberate! We want our people to have confidence in their first task before we give them the next.

    2. CheeryO*

      Ask your supervisor! A good boss will want to assure you that whatever you’re experiencing is normal (because it probably is) and will give you ideas on what to do next. If they’re swamped, they might have one of your colleagues work with you directly on a task or project, but I wouldn’t put a call out for work without discussing it with them first. They might have plans that you just need to wait out.

      I’ve onboarded three new employees over the past year or so, and things were slow for them for the first 3-6 months. It takes a long time to get up to speed in our field. If you’re in a field with billable hours or other pressure to meet metrics, YMMV.

      1. Flowers*

        Oh yes, definitely billable hours. I have A LOT of “general admin” (non billable) hours on my timesheets, and I was always scared I’d get a “talking to.”

        I had one job for about a month where we used billable hours and when something was taking me 6 hours to do what they had budgeted for 2 hours, I was talked to and fired for being too slow. I’m sure eventually it would have taken me 2 hours but not on my first or second week.

    3. Cheezmouser*

      We’re onboarding a new person right now. The first few weeks are often intentionally slow in terms of real work tasks for the reasons mentioned by others above. We don’t want to overwhelm people as they get familiar with our internal systems, jargon, products, processes, and policies. I second checking in with your boss. Not only will this let you know if this slow pace is normal, it also lets your boss know that it might be okay to accelerate the process a bit. Feedback like that is important for your boss, since people learn and acclimate at different speeds, and you may be moving faster than expected. Your boss will want to know so they can make adjustments.

      If ramping up faster is not possible and you are twiddling your thumbs looking for things to do, you might try the following (run this by your boss first):

      1. Use the down time to continue familiarizing yourself with internal systems, jargon, products, processes, and policies. Do the stuff now that you won’t have time for later, like reading the employee handbook, watching that training video, reading the process documentation, going thru the user manual, etc.

      2. Get organized. What projects did the previous person in your position work on and what’s the status of those projects? What’s your department’s roadmap for this year and how does your role fit in? What do you need to put on your to do list now and what do you save for later?

      3. Get to know people. Who’s been there the longest, who usually organizes the happy hours or birthday cards, who has kids/pets, who do you have common interests with, who’s the expert in X on the team, etc. Obviously you don’t want to pester people who are busy with questions about their favorite TV show, but if Sally is the expert on X and part of your role will involve X, maybe you could request a training/meeting with Sally to learn more about X and also more about Sally. Rinse, lather, repeat with every colleague on your team or others you might interact with on a regular basis.

  34. Cute Li'l UFO*

    How do you keep your spirits up after a horrific layoff (35% of the company) and a really botched offboarding process (incorrect paperwork, etc) and the subsequent hunt? I’ve gotten to final stages with two companies (one I REALLY have a huge interest in, and they create niche products I’m knowledgeable about) but a week after my technical interview… poof. I sent a follow up Wednesday and I’m obviously keeping my options open, but it’s rough. I’ve been through this so many times but it doesn’t get easier!

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Make sure you are doing a lot of self-care. Rest, hydrate, good foods fresh veggies and fruit.

      Create a time out space at the end of each day where you read an interesting book, watch a movie or something totally unrelated to jobs/work.

      Touch base with friends and loved ones. They can help keep us grounded.

  35. Preggo Pants for the Office*

    I am currently 14 weeks pregnant, and my normal pants are reaching their end of usefulness. I have been struggling to find maternity pants that are business casual appropriate. Everything seems to be leggings, jeggings, or sweatpants. I’ve tried some pants from Amazon and Old Navy, both pairs were too tight. Not in a size way, but in a tighter than I want to wear to the office way. Any recommendations out there?

    1. Emby*

      are they just too tight around the belly, or also in the legs? because if it’s just about the belly, try out pregnancy belly bands. they allow you to keep your pants unbuttoned/unzipped without the falling down. it gave me so many more weeks in pants i loved. the one note is you can’t tuck in a shirt when wearing a belly band

    2. DisneyChannelThis*

      Try targets maternity section. They’ve some really comfy stuff that still looks non PJ like. And its cheaper than higher end stores.

    3. Murphy*

      I don’t know how comfortable you are with secondhand clothes, but there’s a thriving market for secondhand maternity clothes. Many in great condition because they weren’t worn all that long. So I’d try thredup/Poshmark/Ebay.

      I can’t remember all the brands I had, but I do remember that I had a pair of work pants that I bought secondhand that was from GAP that I really loved. Not tight at alll Target had very little maternity clothes when I was pregnant but at least in my local store, that section is a whole lot bigger now. I haven’t personally tried it, but I’d look there if I was pregnant.

      1. Foley*

        I second this. I got mine from a friend who is a doctor (PCP) so were suitable. There were also public mother/baby sales for this fairly often in bigger cities where I’ve lived. I was pregnant before SM was big, but there are tons of mom groups on FB, so I’d join some and check there. It’s an evergreen topic in the groups – also a great place for second-hand baby clothes as well.

    4. Pregnant a long time ago*

      Hopefully this is not outdated, but I found some good professional maternity things at Motherhood Maternity and Japanese Weekend. The best piece was a pair of black pants that had D ring adjustable tabs on both sides of the waist that lasted me until the end. I paired it with different tops or open blazers (that still be it). Same with a neutral pencil skirt with maternity elastic panel. If you have time, resale sites like Poshmark might be a good option

    5. Carlottamousse*

      Seraphine has some great professional maternity wear (they’re on the more expensive end, though), and Pinkblush., which is such a resourceful site on pregnancy and beyond, has a good round-up of recommendations on professional maternity wear, too.

    6. Katie*

      I know it’s not pants, but I found switching to dresses worked best for me. I generally didn’t even get maternity dresses.

      1. Dragonfly7*

        Yes to this! Those stretchy jersey skirts were wonderful, too, and my manager said black ones were totally acceptable with my uniform shirts.

    7. Churpairs*

      It’s been 8 years since I was pregnant, but my favorite maternity clothes came from Ann Taylor Loft.

  36. kiki*

    What are your thoughts on napping during work hours? Even before the pandemic, I noticed nap pods popping up as a perk in offices. Now that more folks are working from home, it’s easier than ever to squeeze in a little nap. I don’t do it regularly, but there have definitely been days where I didn’t sleep well at night and nap over my lunch hour. Or if I really need to, block out 30 minutes on my calendar as “busy.” But recently a more junior coworker straight up said in a meeting that he was going to nap afterwards. We’re a flexible work from home environment– it’s normal for people to step out and take a walk or run an errand. But something about my coworker explicitly calling out that he would be napping during work hours made me grimace for him. I don’t really care if he naps or not, it just seems like a strange thing to announce to everyone, but maybe I’m out of touch with new norms? What are other folks’ thoughts?

    1. ecnaseener*

      I agree it’s a strange thing to announce if your office wasn’t one with napping pods. But I don’t think it’s a bad thing to do, assuming you’re not paid hourly & being immediately available isn’t a key requirement of the job. Like you said, it’s no different from taking a walk if it’s what you need to recharge.

      1. allathian*

        Yeah, and even if you’re hourly, if you get a whole hour off for lunch, most people don’t spend all of that time on actually eating. If you cook a simple lunch and eat it in 40 minutes, you then have another 20 to nap, which is the longest recommended time for adults to nap without it affecting their ability to sleep at night.

    2. Emmie*

      I agree with you. People can do what they want over their breaks. Calling out napping feels odd – especially in light of some employer’s concerns about working from home.

    3. Pool Lounger*

      My partner does it a few times a week. It’s the type of wfh environment where you’re not expected to be available 9-5 at a moment’s notice. Naps definitely improve his mood and probably productivity too.

    4. Generic Name*

      If you’re working from home, I’d say nap away during your lunch hour/break time! I don’t know that I’d personally announce it. Maybe if I were the manager of a team and I wanted to promote work-life balance I might casually mention that I have a nap. But if I were a junior person, I wouldn’t announce it to the higher ups. But I’m in my 40s so it’s definitely possible that I’m old fashioned and out of touch.

      1. kiki*

        Yeah, I feel the same. I really have no issue with him napping– I nap! It improves my productivity on days where I would be groggily staring at my screen otherwise. But announcing it seemed odd to me! I’ve let some of my closer friend coworkers know I’d be napping, but this was a meeting with some more senior people.

    5. PsychNurse*

      When we lived in Japan, my husband’s office had a whole nap room with couches! I’m a fan.

    6. Elizabeth West*

      One of our engineers at OldExjob always went out to his car at lunchtime and slept. I guess he set a phone alarm because he was always back in his chair right on time. No one ever bothered him; he was on his lunch break.

      I think it would be less of an issue if it happens over breaks and lunch rather than on company time. I probably wouldn’t announce it, though.

    7. Kayem*

      My whole department is remote and we’ve all taken the occasional nap. We’re hourly, but have the flexibility to work whenever we want, so it’s not too much of an issue as long as we aren’t excessive or skip critical meetings. I usually tell my minion I’ll be unavailable or AFK for a block of time and they can call me if something is on fire.

      I wouldn’t announce a nap though. That’s just a bit odd. The only time one of us announced a nap is the coworker who was recovering from covid and we all threatened to break his keyboard if he DIDN’T go take a nap.

    8. RagingADHD*

      If you aren’t on the clock, napping is no different than using your lunch break to run errands, or taking a half day of PTO to go to the doctor.

      You aren’t on the clock. It’s your own time.

      Now, would I say that to a client or my boss? No. It’s too personal, and it would be weird. Just like I wouldn’t tell my boss or a client exactly what errands I ran on my lunch break, or what my doctor appointment was for.

    9. JustaTech*

      I had a coworker who would nap under her desk on days she wasn’t feeling well/having a flare (just a quick nap, there was no where else to go).
      She never announced it, and I wouldn’t announce it now if I was WFH and popped out for a 10 minute nap or something.

    10. BookMom*

      Absolutely pro nap. At OldJob we all had offices with doors and at least one person had a couch for the purpose of napping at lunch. I nap for 20 minutes mid afternoon occasionally when I’m working from home and I can tell my brain is not working efficiently.

    11. JelloStapler*

      I would not announce it but I have done it, especially when my kiddos were babies and I had no sleep. I kept my nursing pillow in a drawer and if I need a quick nap at lunch, it helps.

  37. Anon admin for today*

    Half rant/half a question of how do I say professionally “I don’t want this extra completely unnecessary duty added to my job description” ?

    We have a mass mailing list for our dept. I’ve only heard of one case where an intern seriously abused it and was talked to, but for having a few hundred people on it, uur dept uses it exactly for what it should be. Broad general announcements of new hires, interns, internal job postings, and people saying goodbyes.

    Now HR wants to restrict it to leadership (who actually use it the least) and if someone wants to send an email to the list, admins would have to add that person as an authorized sender, and then remove them after. Which also adds on an extra layer of admins checking with HR or higher ups if that person can have permission to send their email to list. And no one in dept is being informed of the change. So they are left trying to email a list, getting an error, emailing admins to find out, etc. Apparently it is due to 1 person who more recently announced the death of a colleague a few weeks after his passing. I can understand how that email could be upsetting to those who still didn’t know and should have come from HR. But instead of addressing that person it feels punitive to the rest and to admins. It would be just as easy to email managers and supervisors a reminder that personal information should not be sent over the mass mailing list and outline exactly what its for. And now the admins are left with unnecessary extra work. We already are overloaded with emails and requests from the dept that they could handle themselves through our ticketing service but choose not to.

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      Can they setup a more streamlined pipeline for doing this? Seems like a lot of extra emails the current way. Maybe like a new dedicated email address people can send stuff they want sent to the mailing list, with a required cc to the supervisor/HR who should approve it. Supervisor replies with approval then admin only has to forward that first message to the list. Puts the tracking down supervisors/HR on the writer instead of the admin, and makes a smooth paper trail. Also makes it easy if admins change or are on PTO. And keeps the messages for the list out of your general inbox.

    2. Green Beans*

      I think you can say “this seems like having me involved will add unnecessary and potentially harmful delays. Why don’t we make X an admin for the list and then they can handle all requests and additions/removals, as they are the person with the needed authority? Alternatively, they could email us with the window to open and close permission once things have been organized and approved on their end.”

      The other option is to just not do the work. At most, you can respond to requests with “all listserv requests need to be approved by X. I’m happy to open up access for an hour once I’ve received word from them that the content and timing of the email has been approved.”

    3. Gnome*

      “Hmm. This seems rather involved . Is there maybe a more streamlined way to prevent problems? If not, what should I/we set aside to make room for this task?”

    4. Not So NewReader*

      The emails should go to the nearest leader to the sender for the leader to forward to the group.

      You can point out with the x number of emails you get you may not see an important announcement in order to forward it in a timely manner. This could be detrimental to the company.

      The one way I see to get your points across is to show how it benefits them to rethink this. If you talk about your workload, hearing capacity may diminish.

  38. matcha123*

    If you complete a project for a person in another department and send them an email with the final project, and they email you back to thank you and acknowledge they received the files…do you send another email, or do you leave it?

    I’ve not been replying to their replies. But, it makes me nervous. I don’t want to flood their inboxes, but I also don’t want to seem rude.
    How about you all?

    1. Hlao-roo*

      The “thank you and acknowledge they received the files” email is the “close the loop” email, so it doesn’t need a response. The loop is now closed.

      If you want to take the edge off the nerves, watch the scene in “The Good Place” where Eleanor and Chidi find a bottle of Champagne that’s a “thank you for the thank you that you sent me for the thank you that I sent you for the…”

      1. matcha123*

        That is true, thank you.
        Every time I get a “thank you” email, I feel a bit stressed haha about the next step. With more and more “unanswered” replies to thank-yous adding up…

    2. Middle Name Jane*

      If they e-mailed you back to thank you and acknowledged receipt of the project, then that should be enough. I like to keep e-mails, though, just so I can have a trail later if needed. If you do frequent work for this person or their department, you could create a folder for them and move your sent message with the project and the message they sent acknowledging the project into this folder so you’ll have a record. Hope this helps!

      1. matcha123*

        This is not something I thought of before, regarding folders for specific people.
        I also tend to keep emails for a while, just in case.

    3. Ashloo*

      I would not email back either. There doesn’t seem to be a logical “close the loop” response you need to give here.

    4. ecnaseener*

      I agree that you don’t have to respond. But if it’s truly stressing you out, it’s okay to respond “you’re welcome.” A bit annoying for some people, but okay.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      They don’t expect you to answer. Of all the people I thank, there is one person who sends back “you’re welcome!”.

      They don’t expect an answer to “thank you”, yeah it’s email clutter.

  39. Be Gneiss*

    Any tips on making friendly chit-chat when you work in an open-plan office of cubicles? NewJob has a thing about being friendly in the office (in a way that comes across as very sincere, not “one of us” cult-ish and gross), and it’s been mentioned in 2 of my weekly 1-on-1s that I need to visit/say hi/make small talk/get to know people. I’m an introvert and generally not that great at that kind of thing anyway (although I’m polite and cheerful), but in this environment…. 1. I assume people in their cubes are working on things, and I would be interrupting and 2. it feels like some weird game of whack-a-mole to wander 2 rows over to pop into someone else’s conversation.
    Right now I’m located across the office from my department (a rearranging of space is coming in the next couple months), and I know it will get better then, but until then… do I just assume that because the friendly thing is such a big part of the culture that people *like* being interrupted, or think it’s totally normal to walk across the office to join in a conversation? I really like it here, and based on my 90-day review I’m exceeding expectations in everything…except being friendly.

    1. Do the small talk*

      I would make a point (to myself) of greeting people you see the first time you see them each day. But not popping over the cubicle wall to interrupt. So good morning in the break room, hi when you pass in the halls. Since you’re only 90 days in, it’s a great opportunity to say “hi, have we met? I’m X, I just started in Y department working on Z.” Then you’ll know some folks and tomorrow it’s easier to say “good morning, weather is crazy today!” Or “traffic was a nightmare, did you get stuck too?”

    2. Everything Bagel*

      You say this is very sincere, but to me this is ridiculous. However, I recently moved from a cubicle layout to an open office and I absolutely hate it for multiple reasons. I’m really curious why this was brought up to you more than once. Are you being monitored for whether or not you’re talking enough with your coworkers?
      Anyway, what if you make it a point on your way into the office in the morning to swing by and say good morning as you’re coming through and see if any conversations are struck up that way? That might be a subtle way of staying connected to people without barging in on their space and starting a conversation when they’re not expecting one. You could try it over lunch time and on the way out of the building as well. Good luck!

    3. kiki*

      As a fellow introvert who at times can come across as aloof, my hack for friendliness is sharing food. I used to live in New Orleans, so on Mardi Gras, I always bring in a king cake to share. I’ll ping everyone to swing by my desk to grab a slice if they want some. Or if I see cool/new/interesting snacks at the store, I grab a few bags and ask my coworkers if they want to try them.
      I hate the feeling of just kind of meandering over to other coworkers’ desks and risking interrupting their focus just to ask about their weekend or whatever. This way people can come to me on their own schedule and they can linger as long as they see fit.

    4. LittleMarshmallow*

      I’m an introvert and terrible at small talk but some people really value that. I don’t know that “you need to get to know your coworkers” necessarily translates to walking up to them in their cubes though. Some other things you could try:

      1. Message a coworker in the morning to ask if they’d like to join you for lunch later on then when eating lunch make with the small talk! I usually start with “do you have any pets?” People with pets usually love talking about them.
      2. Look for small opportunities to ask someone how their evening/weekend/etc was. Some examples: waiting for others to join a meeting, the line at the coffee maker, the line at the copy machine (but don’t talk too loud around the copier… they’re easily startled), lunchtime.
      3. If the culture at your workplace is to sorta wander and chat at cubicles you could try it occasionally. I know it’s awkward but some places are just like that.

      Good luck!

    5. Unum Hoc Scio*

      I’m a ‘friendly introvert’ but in all my jobs (including, later, as a teacher) I gave meself the task of at least one compliment per day for different coworkers/students, making sure not to overlap during each month. The compliment could include: personal appearance (not weight but things like accoutrements, interesting jewellery, colours, cut/style/source of clothing), accomplishments (“Good job on how you handled/your implementation of X.). They had to be real. They could inquire (“That looks interesting…where did you get it?) (How did you connect Y to the X variant?). Again, it has to be real to make connections and if you are open to the stories behind the objects/actions it gets easier to connect to the people around you. You can try this once or twice a week to start and be open to listening which is something introverts are better than extroverts at. Hope this helps.

      1. Unum Hoc Scio*

        Oooh. I forgot to add that I used to be really bad about saying nice things/compliments in the moment. So I would often write things/compliments down in my computer or on sticky notes to come back to later and use them then. It got better as I practiced

  40. Camera NO!*

    How do you get used to doing video meetings when you hate being on camera?

    I have been at my job for 2 months after finishing college last spring. This is my first time working in an office environment and only my second ever job.

    In meetings it is mandatory to have your camera on. The software makes it impossible to turn off and covering your camera with something like tape leads to a warning, followed by escalation if it happens again. I have tried asking and appealing and been told no. This rule applies to everyone and it’s not illegal where I live for the company to force everyone to be on camera during meetings. It doesn’t matter how many people are in the meeting, this applies even in one on ones.

    I have been considering quitting and finding another job but it took me so long to find this job after graduating and I don’t want to and can’t afford to go back to retail or part-time.

    I get a vicersal reaction to being on camera. I hate it but I need to adjust. Any ideas?

    1. Justin*

      That’s a bad policy (also what software prohibits this?), but as far as how, can you move your little box to where you aren’t looking at it?

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        This would be my suggestion. You probably won’t be able to move the needle, but you can control having to see it yourself.

      2. Hlao-roo*

        Yes, a lot of programs (I know Teams, Zoom, and Google Meet) have options where you can hide the “tile” that shows your own video. I use it all the time because otherwise I just watch myself and don’t look at anyone else’s video.

        If it’s helpful, you can also tell yourself that none of your coworkers are looking at you because they are all to busy watching themselves! It’s likely the truth for at least some of your coworkers.

    2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      We actually had a discussion about this with my team yesterday. Not a mandatory thing, but encouraging people to have their cameras on more.

      The boss said that for some meetings, being able to get non-verbal feedback is important (as opposed to dead air when a presenter says “ok, any questions before I move on to topic B?”, etc.).

      A few people said they find it draining to be on camera – they are really self-aware of how they look, for example, and so can’t give their full attention to what’s going on during the meeting. If this sounds like you, there might be some workarounds to reduce that. You can hide the show-back of your own camera in some of the video chat tools. If you have multiple monitors or a physically separate camera, you can position them so that the screen where you’re watching the video is not directly in line with the camera – so you’re broadcasting a profile view of yourself, instead of a frontal view.

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        I agree. If people need to contribute or give feedback, being off camera defeats the purpose. It’s the difference between a meeting and an email. I’ve found this is especially hard for new grads to adjust to because it’s more common to be off camera at school.

        I think there are times it matters and times it doesn’t, but I also have a higher up who is pushing it really hard right now and I know it’s rubbing some people the wrong way. I think these are great tips I’m going to steal some of them to help people cope.

      2. Camera NO!*

        Unfortunately we can’t be profile, it has to be from the front where we are looking into the camera. I am going to try the suggestion of hiding myself so I can’t see myself.

        1. Mac (I Wish All The Floors Were Lava)*

          If you have the ability to put whatever video-conferencing app you’re using onto your smartphone and use that, I find that then you can place it further away than you would otherwise have to if you were just using the camera in your laptop, plus, then everything is so miniaturized when you look at it that I find it’s a lot easier to ignore. If you are worried people will complain, you can check with your boss about it first and just explain that you feel like it will help with the eyestrain/zoom fatigue you’ve been experiencing or something. If they absolutely hate it after you try it once, well, at least you tried.

    3. SameSame*

      If you’re using Zoom, you can “hide self view” by right-clicking on your picture. That helps keep me from getting distracted by my own image.

    4. lime*

      If you’re using Zoom, there’s a setting to hide your face from yourself. That could at least help you be a little bit less self-conscious.

    5. Anonymous Educator*

      I wish I could give you some advice, but this is just terrible:

      In meetings it is mandatory to have your camera on.

      The way I deal is to turn my camera off. If it’s a one-on-one meeting with my manager or meeting with some people I’ve never met with before, I’ll turn my camera on, but most of the time I turn it off.

      I’m sorry you have to deal with this!

    6. Ditto*

      Being on camera isn’t my favorite either, but when required I remind myself that if we were in the office we’d all be looking at each other, just around a table.

      I avoid looking at my own video, but truthfully, since I WFH, it is helpful to be able to non verbal feedback.

      1. Weaponized Pumpkin*

        As someone who doesn’t mind being on video that’s a thing I find a bit confounding — if we were in the room together we would could see each other, so what makes video so much worse? That’s a genuine question, not being snide. My two theories: 1) Not wanting to see yourself, but that can be fixed on many platforms. 2) Our faces are much bigger/closer onscreen than IRL when we’re across a table. What else?

        I’m actually on the other end, where I like that on video people can focus on my face and not my (larger, fidgety, awkward) body. I’m much more self-conscious in person!

        1. SteveHolt!*

          Agree with this. Normally you’d be in a physical room with other people who can see you.

        2. Anonymous Educator*

          Even though everyone can see you in an in-person meeting, it doesn’t mean everyone is always looking at you. Think about it. Even if you’re sitting around a table in a circle, if someone talks, almost everyone would be looking at the person talking and not focusing on everyone else. But if you’re in a video meeting with all cameras on, you’re constantly looking at a thumbnail of every person’s face.

        3. LittleMarshmallow*

          Nope it’s awful. I also hate being on camera. I generally refuse and where I work that’s fine. For me it’s very distracting and I don’t like looking at myself. I also refuse a profile pic… but that’s a different rant. Haha. For me it stems from a lot of childhood trauma around appearance when I’m not traditionally attractive.

          For the person with the question: if I must use the camera, I do try to put my computer up higher on something as I find that angle less offensive than other angles. If possible put light behind you (I like to sit with my back to a window). It’ll hide you some while still having you on camera (of course your place sounds ridiculous enough that one may not fly). Try different backgrounds if they’re available and allowed… that way you can at least pretend you’re somewhere else. And of course, as others mentioned, hide your box if possible.

          I feel your pain. I think mandatory camera time is ridiculous.

    7. Annie*

      I think this is something you need to get used to if you want to work remote. I have to be on camera daily for a stand-up meeting and I always FaceTime my boss, not call her. I want people to know what I look like and know that I’m present. This remote role won’t work if I insist on not being on-camera and then I’ll be out of luck because I live out of state. Enthusiastic, cheerful camera use is like 60% of my good attitude. I do my hair, put on makeup, and wear a nice top with my pajama pants. I NEVER complain about it because that will make them question why they’re allowing me to work remote. They are paying for a certain subset of my labor, which includes being able to see my face. If you think and compare to the amount of time you’ll be physically observed if you lose the option to be remote, you realize being on camera is the tiniest of tiny tradeoffs for being able to work remotely.

      1. WellRed*

        Agreed. No one likes being on camera. Give it time to get used to it like any other part of the job. You aren’t going to be able to avoid this by changing jobs.

      2. LittleMarshmallow*

        I agree that they will probably have to get on board, but this level of camera participation requirement seems excessive. When they say they have a visceral response I get it. It’s a crappy feeling and to have to do it that much is tough. I get visceral reaction too. I’m fortunate that my work place doesn’t require it. I’m in office but I have many conference calls with people that work from home or other locations. We usually only have to camera when we are in a meeting with a “big boss”.

    8. Kayem*

      Is it just the meetings or is it the entire time you’re working? If it’s just the meetings, I understand how much it sucks and is draining (especially for an all day meeting), but as others suggested, hiding your own feed helps.

      If it’s the entire time, see if you can get off-camera breaks to recharge. Or if you can at least turn the camera off if you need to get up to go use the restroom so you can get some brief moments where it doesn’t feel like dozens of faces are staring at yours.

    9. RagingADHD*

      I don’t hate it like you do, but I find it extremely distracting. I minimize/hide my self-view, and often minimize or hide the video altogether. We are normally working on documents together, so I just look at that and occasionally look directly into the camera while they are talking, so they feel they are getting eye contact even when I can’t see them.

      Maybe you could somewhat forget about (or minimize the impact of) being on camera if you can’t see yourself.

    10. Not So NewReader*

      Kind of going in a different direction, do you have a friend or loved one who would zoom with you? I am just thinking that if you could experience a zoom in a positive context it might lower your level of upset in some manner?

      A friend hated zoom, but with Covid she found she could visit with her family and friends. Now she’s using zoom like she used to use the phone.

    11. AnonyMouse*

      Can you practice doing video calls when you talk to friends and family?

      I think this is a tradeoff of working remote – like a commute for going to the office. It’s just a not so pleasant part of the job. But as a last resort you could also find a job that is in person/ not remote that isn’t retail.

    12. allathian*

      Mmm, what system are you on? I absolutely detest watching myself on recorded video, but I don’t really mind being on camera in live meetings, because we’re on Teams, and on our system at least, it reverses your own image so you’re looking at yourself in the mirror. I have a *very* asymmetrical face, and looking at it the way others see it is distracting, but looking at it in the way I’m used to seeing myself is not.

  41. Middle Name Jane*

    I was recently fired just before the end of my 90-day probation period. Not a good culture fit. I worked hard and tried my best, but I couldn’t turn things around.

    I keep reading and hearing conflicting advice about whether I should keep this position on my resume and LinkedIn profile or take it off (currently it’s off). The experts seem divided. I see experts who are adamant you should leave the position on (to prevent a resume gap, to avoid any hint you’re trying to be deceitful, etc.).

    And then I see other experts equally adamant you should remove a job in this scenario (a resume should highlight your positive experience, not enough time to have had any accomplishments at the job, will be a red flag that invites questions about why you left).

    If it makes any difference, this job I was fired from is in my field and would be relevant to future positions I apply for. But–I was let go so soon that I didn’t really get to contribute much of anything to the role. I don’t have anything to show for it.

    I’m so confused that I’m now frozen and don’t know what to do or who to trust. Readers, any advice for me?

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      Leave it off. If they ask specifically about that 3month window which they probably wont you can lie “caring for a family member” or you can acknowledge it “Tried a new position, was not a good fit”

    2. ecnaseener*

      The “deceitful” thing is totally silly, so you can disregard anyone making that point. If you’re asked for a comprehensive list of every job you’ve ever held, include it – your resume is not what that’s for.

      1. Johanna Cabal*

        That’s more the application.

        I once filled out a job application literally a week after being hired. It required my work history going back seven years, which meant including a four-month job that fired me.

        I didn’t put it on my resume which worried me. Plus, it asked for my reason for leaving and asked for the contact info of that employer.

        Not wanting to lost my new job for lying, I put “mutual separation” in the box. And I waited.

        And waited and waited and waited.

        Nothing happened. No one from HR questioned me. In fact, I don’t think anyone called them to verify my employment (I also shouldn’t have been too concerned…knowing that employer, they would’ve been tightlipped about my departure…the head of company was terrified of being sued).

    3. Mockingjay*

      Your resume is a marketing document. Its job is to present your relevant qualifications in the best light. Leave off this job and focus on the preceding job. If asked about the gap, “After leaving the prior prior job [for reasons], I was focused on finding the right position to allow me to pursue [passion, goal, work with system X, etc.]. That’s why I’m excited about your process/customer base/whatever…”

    4. Gnome*

      Given the craziness of covid and that you are young, I would leave it off. Frankly, resume gaps are pretty common. In covid, they are more common. I don’t list every job I’ve ever had, nor do I list all my volunteer work. I have a near decade long resume gap… once I get a bit more on “this side” of it, I’m going to drop the old stuff. But be honest if people ask about that time – I started a Llama Grooming position, but it wasn’t a good fit because X. I’ve learned from that experience (fill in a specific or two briefly if you can – like “that I perform better in collaborative environment for creative aspects, but need dedicated blocks of time to write reports” or whatever makes sense).

    5. Not So NewReader*

      I sidestepped by having a section on my resume that was titled “Relevant Work History”. The message being “Of course there is other work, but I am just showing the relevant work.” I can live with myself.

      Four months is not relevant.

  42. MilSpouse*

    My spouse will be deployed in a few months. I work fulltime and we have small children. We do not live near a base so this is situation that would come up rarely. I want to ask for flexibility and accommodations at work but am nervous and unsure what to ask for.

    I have worked here for over 5 years and have a good reputation among coworkers and leadership. I’m an individual contributer and part of a larger team. We often help each other out with workloads.

    I want to ask for more wfh days and possibly lowering my work load, if needed. Corporate recently increased the in-office requirement from 2 to 3 days/week. I’d like to ask to stay at 2 days or even go down to 1 day in-office a week.

    Legally, I realize there isn’t much the company is required to do. It is a big corporation who likes to tout family friendly and supportive work environment etc. Anyone find themselves in this position? Any suggestions on how best to address this or what else I could ask for?

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Even if you don’t live near the base, his unit should still be able to provide you with advice & resources for dealing with your employer; especially if it’s a large one who *does* have locations near military bases. Tap into the military spouse network and family support resources!

    2. Goddess47*

      If your company has an EAP, you may want to reach out to them for suggestions… If you’re not familiar with an EAP, Allison had a great article by someone who works at an EAP that’s worth searching for and went into some detail about what they do. You may or may not need to be on your work health insurance to access the EAP… ask!

      And contact your HR department about what FMLA might entail. Family Leave can be taken a day at a time as needed… it can be an option to check out.

      Good luck! Hope your spouse stays safe!

    3. WellRed*

      It can’t hurt to ask. Have a plan for what you’d like to do and how you envision it working before you ask.

      1. Katiekins*

        From the fact sheet linked above: Fact Sheet #28M: The Military Family Leave Provisions under the Family and Medical Leave Act
        The military family leave provisions of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) entitle eligible employees of covered employers to take FMLA leave for any “qualifying exigency” arising from the foreign deployment of the employee’s spouse, son, daughter, or parent with the Armed Forces, or to care for a servicemember with a serious injury or illness if the employee is the servicemember’s spouse, son, daughter, parent or next of kin.

        Qualifying exigencies for which an employee may take FMLA leave include making alternative child care arrangements for a child of the deployed military member, attending certain military ceremonies and briefings, or making financial or legal arrangements to address the military member’s absence. See Fact Sheet 28M(c),
        Qualifying Exigency Leave, for additional information about qualifying exigencies under the FMLA.

    4. Policy Wonk*

      Definitely ask for the accommodations. You note this is a big corporation that touts family friendly – they probably also have made public statements about supporting our troops – look for that too, and use both in the request for flexibility. (In fact, I’d push the supporting our troops first, as they can’t counter with the old “if we do it for you we have to do it for everyone.) Good luck to you and your spouse.

    5. Twisted Lion*

      I found my employers to be gracious when my husband was deployed.

      And even though you dont live near a base, do reach out to the family support center as there are LOTS of programs for deployed spouses and kids. They do pillows with the parent’s picture and all sorts of things. I got discounted yard service and some other great things. It still stinks but the minor things to help a little.

    6. AnonyMouse*

      When asking to wfh, I would clarify that you will have childcare for the kids (I’m assuming this is true) in case that could be a concern for your manager.

  43. Remote Help*

    Help for switching to remote work? I can’t find any jobs that are local any more and slowly resigning myself to the realization that my only options are to go remote. I hate fully remote work. It’s not just that I have a vastly better experience when the team is on site half time (I’m a software dev, it’s been normal for people to WFH half time for a decade for their focus days and have meetings be on in office days). But also personally – I get my minimal social interactions from work, I love bonding with team members and I usually make friends in other departments from random in office interactions. I’m the office baker, happy hour planner, etc and am generally known as the glue between teams (which is also a big selling point when I’m job hunting, but those skills have not transferred to the virtual realm).

    Moving to a bigger space is not an option. When I was remote for the pandemic I felt trapped the whole time. When I’ve had fully remote weeks, I’m super lonely but don’t have the energy (or funds!) to go out so many evenings a week.

    I can’t be the only person who thinks this future of fully remote companies sounds miserable, so how have you gotten over that? I can’t afford a coworking space and my previous experience with those is that I’m just in an open office with strangers but still effectively remote, so it’s like the worst of both worlds. Even my cat would like me to please spend less time at home.

    1. Justin*

      Can you find a job that’s partially remote? I go in twice a week and it’s my ideal.

      And I think any mandatory set up is going to not work for some. WFH isn’t better for everyone, and we should all be able to choose.

      1. Remote Help*

        So far, no. I consider local to include hybrid work too – 2 days in the office would work fine for me if my team had the same in-office days. The few postings I’ve found that are legit (so many fake “on-site” job ads that are actually remote!) tend to be for junior positions or companies with bad reputations. I’ve had some former coworkers who have been searching for hybrid or on-site positions for a lot longer than me and say they haven’t found anything. Even if the company is based in my city, they’ve just moved the entire tech department to be fully remote.

    2. Remote Help*

      To clarify – I”m NOT criticizing those of you who love remote or hate in office work. I’m sure this is lovely for many people, I just wish there were more companies on both sides of the aisle.

    3. Hlao-roo*

      When my company went fully remote at the beginning of the pandemic, I gave myself a few “rules” to help my sanity:

      – schedule a phone/Zoom call with a friend or family member at least 5 days a week
      – go for a 20 min walk before work in the morning and a 20 min walk after work in the evening

      Like you, I use work for some social interaction and to get out of the house. When work stopped providing those things, I had to fill those holes in other areas of my life. So if you do end up working a fully remote job, figure out what you need to do to meet your social and not-be-in-the-house needs.

      There are also some things you can do “on the clock.” I was able to develop some warm relationships with colleagues through chit chatting on Teams calls before getting to the business part of the meeting. Phone/Teams/Zoom calls (even without video) are better for getting to know your coworkers than emails. It will depend on the culture of the company how your (potential) coworkers communicate, but just something to keep in mind.

    4. Ann Ominous*

      My job used to put on remote happy hours and games. The office social butterfly organized them and they were surprisingly fun. The fact that they weren’t mandatory made it work.

      Another option is to schedule something out of the house, like a weekly in-person volunteering event.

      If you live in the US, you can reach out to your local Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve state committee ( – they have really flexible and neat volunteer opportunities. You can go to units and give briefs, engage with employers and present awards, or serve as an ombudsman (though most ombudsman tasks are remote). You get paid mileage and lodging and meals, and can participate as much or as little as you want.

    5. CheeryO*

      Do you have any local co-working spaces? I have never used one (I’m 50% remote, which is perfect for me – I get not wanting to be fully remote), but I like the idea, just to get out of the house and see other humans.

      1. Remote Help*

        From my last paragraph:
        I can’t afford a coworking space and my previous experience with those is that I’m just in an open office with strangers but still effectively remote, so it’s like the worst of both worlds

        A previous job rented space at one for 4months during some office renovations. It was depressing and silent and no one would socialize even if you were in the shared kitchen together. Most of the people I know using them treat it as a meeting space for clients and don’t mingle with other renters. My coworkers who were sent there with me ended up opting for remote work because we all hated it.

        Plus those places are expensive and I don’t have a few hundred dollars to spend for what is a company expense. Especially when remote jobs pay less that those in my city used to.

    6. LittleMarshmallow*

      I don’t have much advice to offer. I also hate WFH. No issue with others doing it, but it’s not for me. I’m fortunate enough to have a job that really can’t be done remotely (think lab/equipment work) so I do get to go in. I can WFH if I have a day where I just need to write SOPs or something but honestly I still don’t because my home set up isn’t great – in that case I’m more likely to go sit at one of our other sites nearby (my company has 2 other locations that I have access to within 30 min of home besides the location I work at – and they are more “office-y”).

      One thing I have seen happen at my company is that people that struggle with WFH but are in full remote positions have asked if they can sit at one of our sites instead. They aren’t working directly with their own team but we’ve had a couple of people sit at my location because WFH didn’t work for them and our on-site team is always very friendly and accommodating of that need so they still are sorta part of the team. So if your company has locations that other depts use maybe try to sit with them?

    7. Nancy*

      I hate fully remote work and will never do it unless I am desperate. I also hate the idea of paying for an expensive shared workspace instead of being given a space to work by my employer. I work at home 1-2 days a week and those days I work at the library or go to a cafe for a few hours. I buy things at the cafe, but still much cheaper than those shared workspaces.

      Do any of the employers have space for other depts? If so, maybe you can ask if they can offer hybrid or onsite instead?

    8. Hillary*

      I also hate remote work a lot of the time – it’s so hard to connect with coworkers. But I also recognize my employer kind of sucks at remote. They haven’t built the support structure to set it up for success.

      There are ways for companies to build the kind of camaraderie you’re looking for remotely, it takes thoughtfulness and intention. Look for remote first companies and ask questions about culture. Does their slack have active social channels? Do they do the team happy hours that many people here dislike? How often does the team get together in person? Do they do in person on sites and all hands meetings?

    9. Silence*

      No advice for co worker relationships but most libraries have classes/ meetings for free or low cost so maybe try building relationships there

  44. The Prettiest Curse*

    Are there any event planners out there who have moved into managing an event venue? I have zero desire to work with people who are planning weddings, so I’m not sure whether this type of move is something I’d consider in the future, but I’m fascinated to hear what things are like on the other side of the fence.

  45. Some guy*

    Thoughts on inviting work people to weddings? I work on a small team (<10 people) and was thinking I will probably invite all my coworkers- I'm closer to some than others but they're all nice people and it seems too small to only invite some (inviting everyone seems to be fairly common in our field from what I've heard). But do I invite my boss? Is it weird to do that? Weird not to do it? Fine either way? I really like him and he's a great guy but it just feels kinda uncomfortable…

    1. Kimmy Schmidt*

      I don’t remember where I heard this or if it’s a real rule, but I remember something about “if you invite more than half, you should invite everyone”. So it’s fine to just invite 1 coworker, but if you invite 7 then it’s awkward for the people left out and you should invite all 10.

      The rules are a little different for bosses because of the power differential, and a good boss will get that. I think they should expect not to be invited but be pleasantly surprised if they are. I’d say it’s fine to invite your boss if you want to, but also fine to keep him off the guest list. Most weddings I’ve been to have had only a few minutes of interaction with the bride and groom, so you’ll hardly see your boss. Your coworkers will likely end up sitting with boss though, so keep that in mind!

    2. Prospect Gone Bad*

      Maybe ask around and see who wants to go, who doesn’t as well? If it’s weird to invite someone, it’s only going to get more weird and awkward once the invite goes out

    3. CheeryO*

      I think it’s fine to not invite your boss! I manage a small team and would completely understand if I was left out.

      Unsolicited advice, but I also want to put in a plug for no coworkers, if you can live with leaving out the few that you’re close with. I just got married, and we had a total of two coworkers on the invite list, and if we had to do it again, it would probably be zero. There’s always a level of pressure and potential awkwardness with coworker invites, and inviting spouses means that your table count and costs will add up fast. I think most people these days understand that a lot of people want to keep their weddings more intimate, especially with the pandemic and all.

    4. Coenobita*

      We had a smallish daytime wedding (around 60 guests) and I invited my then-boss, a senior coworker who had been my informal mentor for years, and my work bestie (who was in a different department from the rest of us), as well as a couple of former coworkers I was still close with. My then-boss was (and still is) a pretty important person in my life so it was meaningful to have her there. So I would say, if you want your boss at your wedding, invite him! But if he is a good boss he will 100% understand not being invited.

  46. Sara*

    I recently got visibly annoyed at a manager on another team during a zoom call. She was just being relentlessly passive aggressive over something she deemed as an oversight on my part and a hole in my skillset – both of which were untrue. Long story short – she pulled a brand new report and it was missing data from the system, which had never been entered prior to me taking the role so I also didn’t enter the data. It was a gap we didn’t know was missing, and honestly, unnecessary data. The report she pulled was a one-off for a client we no longer work with. But regardless, I did update the system per her request – I just got annoyed that she kept implying that I didn’t know how to do it and I should talk to my predecessor. We didn’t argue, I just talked coldly towards her to end the conversation and then meeting continued.

    She’s above me in hierarchy, but not to toot my own horn, I think I’m much better liked. We don’t interact often but she has been sending me compliments the last couple days, and I’m not sure how to handle it. I think she’s trying to get on my good side, but to what end? Should I just let it ride out?

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      Yeah let it ride out. She probably felt you get chilly towards her and she’s trying to smooth things over.

    2. RagingADHD*

      She knows she screwed up and is trying to placate you. Just respond in a normally civil way and ride it out.

    3. Irish Teacher*

      Sounds like she knows she was unfair to you and is trying to make up for it. I doubt there is any end; it’s likely her way of apologising. It’s something a lot of people do when they know they’ve treated somebody unfairly or upset them. It’s her way of saying “I don’t really think you didn’t know how to do it. I screwed up and I want you to see that I know the fault is on my side and you did nothing wrong.”

      Just respond in a friendly way to her, let her know you’re not annoyed and the whole thing has blown over and she’ll probably go back to acting normally in a short while.

  47. EvilQueenRegina*

    Anyone remember that old letter from years ago where someone tampered with some standard forms so they read “You are scheduled for this fuken procedure”? I think I may have come across someone along those lines because while enclosing a prepaid envelope with a letter this week I found some which had had rude words written on the back.

    I think any defaced ones have now been removed but just hoping there aren’t any that were sent out to anyone without noticing – let’s just say there have been a lot of issues involving the team these envelopes were produced for, a lot of angry parents have had reason to complain, and getting something like that in their correspondence is only going to inflame the issues. It would seem very out of character for anyone in my immediate team, but it would be possible for it to have happened at the supplier’s end – if those were stuck in the middle of a pile in the box, it would have been quite easy for it not to have been noticed for weeks. It’s been left with my manager to investigate now so awaiting the outcome.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      You’ll have to let us know how this one lands. Any disgruntled people in your work area?

  48. Flor*

    How to react when a team member gets fired? A coworker got fired yesterday VERY unexpectedly. Our boss let us know none of the rest of our jobs are in jeopardy but was very vague about what happened. (Which I understand he was doing out of respect/confidentiality, but it really raises more questions for me than it answers.) I’ve made a few mistakes in the past couple months so now I’m kind of concerned for myself. I’m probably just being anxious, but does anyone have advice for how to deal, whether practically or emotionally speaking, when someone one your team gets fired unexpectedly?

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      Was it unexpected for the coworker who got fired, too? Or just unexpected for you and your other team members?

      I’m hoping the coworker was on a PIP (performance improvement plan) before getting fired, and you all just didn’t know about the PIP.

      If it was genuinely unexpected for even the coworker, that’s definitely concerning.

          1. Prospect Gone Bad*

            yeah we’d need a tad more info on what’s going on to give a meaningful response here

      1. Other Alice*

        That was my thought as well. Firing should not be unexpected for the person involved, unless there was a serious incident like theft or sexual harassment.

        If your workplace is otherwise okay, I would assume your manager had all the required conversations about performance improvement with your coworker, and didn’t say anything to you out of respect for their privacy.

    2. DisneyChannelThis*

      So for them to fire without warning (which again , maybe he had warning you’re not aware of that he’s not sharing) it has to be pretty bad. Drug use onsite, nudity, sending nude images to coworkers, other extreme lapses in professionalism, like finding out he has active warrants for bad criminal activity (CSA etc). Could also be extreme lapse in judgement on a work task (cussing out a client or otherwise burning a bridge, theft of property or money, deleting large chunks of files etc). None of which you are likely to do accidentally, so you’re not at risk here. So just remind yourself of that, your job is not at risk. Try and avoid gossip. Do some self care when you get home.

    3. Admin of Sys*

      If there’s otherwise been no indication that vindictive firings are the norm for your company, I’d chalk it up to something both unexpected and major. Especially if the company has standard PIP procedures – if there’s a process that HR usually follows and was skipped out on, then probably the coworker did something egregious to warrant them being immediately terminated. I can understand wanting to know what it is, but also, if it’s worthy of immediate termination, it’s likely something that is sensitive in other ways.

    4. Warrior Princess Xena*

      I’d probably react based on how leadership had acted in the past. If there’s no history of unexpected firings and they’re historically good about keeping you on track, then I’d probably run under the assumption that Coworker had done something seriously wrong and that it had either only just been discovered or that it was being investigated extremely quietly.

      But it would have been helpful for your boss to add some sort of explanation – breach of company information security policy or something like that.

      1. The Real Fran Fine*

        I’d probably react based on how leadership had acted in the past. If there’s no history of unexpected firings and they’re historically good about keeping you on track, then I’d probably run under the assumption that Coworker had done something seriously wrong and that it had either only just been discovered or that it was being investigated extremely quietly.


    5. kiki*

      How do you feel about your boss in general? In your experience working with him, is he a reasonable person you trust? Have there been other sudden firings? If you trust your boss, it may be helpful to schedule a meeting and say, “I know I can’t know every detail behind Coworker’s firing, but I want to know if there’s anything I can do (or avoid doing) to ensure I keep my job here.”

      I’ve been struggling with this as well. In my case, there was a pattern of sudden firings. I’m still anxious about it, to be honest, but I’ve been channeling that extra energy into things that will be helpful If I were to be suddenly removed, like applying to new jobs, being more diligent about saving, and keeping my costs down.

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

      We had someone let go from my dept this year — it seemed sudden because he was simply doing the level of work he’s been doing for over a decade (next to nothing), but a new manager was no longer going to put up with it. I feel bad for the man on a personal level, because he’s not a bad person and he was unfortunately probably doing his best, but on a professional level, he really was bad at his job — maybe any job — and we all had just worked around him all these years like he was an actual elephant sitting in the middle of the room that no one wants to move out. Having him gone hasn’t really impacted anything in our dept work-wise, but his former job description is going to be reworked and we will eventually get a new person who will hopefully contribute to the team. I’m not sure if you were close to this coworker, but try focusing on a positive outcome. It’s possible there may have been an elephant in the room all along that you just got used to.

    7. JessicaTate*

      Your boss has to be vague. It is not to keep you in the dark, it is really to protect that person’s confidentiality. Even when we KNOW the rest of the team would feel better if they knew what we know about the fired person’s performance (because it’d be like, oh, I didn’t realize Fergus was falsifying his timesheet or lying to clients or whatever), we can’t share that information because it wouldn’t be fair to Fergus. Assuring you that your job is not in jeopardy and/or that there was a process followed and/or that it wasn’t as sudden as it may have seemed is about all we can do.

      If you’re feeling anxious, and assuming your boss is decent, please schedule or use your next 1:1 to ask about your own performance. Don’t ask about the other person, but say what you said here. “I was hoping we could talk a bit about my performance, and if there’s anything you think I should really be working to improve?” You could possibly even mention feeling a little shaken by Fergus’ departure and reflecting on your performance.
      When it comes to those mistakes you mentioned: Have you talked about them with your boss? Have you identified why they happened and what you are doing to prevent them in the future? Does your boss know you’ve done those things? Focus on yourself, your performance, and communicating with your boss.

    8. ThatGirl*

      A few jobs ago I had a team member fired abruptly. We were told he “violated company policy”. I never did find out how, but I feel like it had to be pretty serious. People don’t usually get fired out of nowhere for nothing, esp. at the white collar level.

    9. Super Anon*

      I concur with others here. I’ve been on the management side (not management, but think something like an EA/HR rep/etc.) and somebody was absolutely having performance problems. It was raised, documented, discussed… and they were FLOORED when they were told “if X and Y doesn’t happen by DATE, we will have to let you go.”

      Apparently, they didn’t let on (or it didn’t register) because others lobbied to have them moved to a position that didn’t involve so much of A (think something like handling work that requires a certification where everyone would know if you have that certification)… well the issues with A was one tiny part of the problem, but the position budgeted for was a person who could A — and we didn’t have one, so we had to let them go to have budget to hire a person who could A (we aren’t a jobs program!).

      Anyway, I’m sure there are folks out there who firmly believe that this person was let go out of the blue, but I promise they had 6 months of weekly meetings, a long period to turn things around, and they just didn’t get what the position needed and were probably incapable of doing the major duties.

      FWIW, they asked me to connect on LinkedIn and for recommendations/referrals I am not willing to give… so I really think they had no clue — nor did anyone on their team.

    10. Not So NewReader*

      I tend to be a bit confrontational in times like this.

      You can’t ask about the Fired Person. But you can ask about yourself. I’d schedule a meeting with the boss. Open the meeting with, “I am not here to talk about anyone but myself. I saw Bob get fired. I am worried about my own job security. Is there anything I should know/be aware of with my own work? How will I know if my job is on the line? I want to avoid any problems but if something comes up, will I be given chances to correct course?”

      And if you have any concerns about specific procedures now is the perfect time to ask those specific questions.
      “For X situation, I have been doing steps A, B and C. But I have been wondering lately if I also need to do D.”

      You can conclude with, “I really like my job here, I totally invested in doing a good job, so I absolutely want to know what I need to do so I do not end up being suddenly fired.”

    11. Girasol*

      There’s always the fear that a coworker was fired for some minor error like the one you just made yesterday. But Boss can do a lot to put your concerns to rest by talking policy without talking about the individual circumstances of the employee he fired. It could be helpful if he were to reiterate policy around how one gets fired: that there are few egregious things that can result in immediate firing, but those are cases where you’ll know it’s something very wrong that you should never do. There are many errors that, should they begin to pile up, you’ll be coached about and warned ahead of time if they’re becoming so serious that you’re skirting a firing. (Or something like that; whatever is true about your workplace.)

  49. Other Alice*

    Urgh, I’m so annoyed. My company just announced we’re migrating from using slack+zoom to teams. I used teams at my old job and I hate it!

    They said they’ll migrate all the channels/messages, but I’m more concerned about the loss of functionality. We’re fully remote, so to me it’s important to keep in touch with my team. I like how slack has a list of people I message frequently and I can see their status at a glance. My team uses those statuses a lot. Just looking at those statuses I know at a glance that Bob is out of office until next week, Charlie is at lunch, Emily is in a call, and the others are available. To my knowledge, teams doesn’t have anything like that. From the chat menu I can see if someone if busy or away, but I have to look at their profile to see if they are taking a coffee break and back soon or on holiday all week.

    Is there some functionality that I’m missing, that would do what I want? This is really bad for my workflow.

    1. Charlotte Lucas*

      My work uses both Zoom & Teams, & I feel for you! The one thing that you can do in Teams is share a document, work in it, then save it to the same place. That is the only advantage I’ve seen. (Setup might be different for others.)

      I run big meetings with external people, & the Zoom tools are much better for that. And I find Zoom visually more appealing, as well as more user friendly for users who might not spend a lot of time in virtual meetings.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        One slight advantage to Teams meetings: you can view chats after the meeting, even if you were scheduled but unable to attend all or part of the meeting. Unfortunately, it pops up on your feed randomly (often a day or two later) & can be distracting & confusing.

    2. Kimmy Schmidt*

      I sympathize. I have an irrational hatred for Teams.

      You can set a status in Teams, but I’m not sure if it shows up automatically or where it’s visible. I think it pops up if you go to message someone (Frederick is busy – in a call), but I don’t think it appears automatically at a glance anywhere.

    3. Eldritch Office Worker*

      Teams does have status functionality. And you can pin your most frequent contacts to the top of your chat list. It’s not that different.

      1. Other Alice*

        I didn’t know about pinning chats, that is VERY helpful. And I know teams has statuses, but I can only see them as dots indicating available/busy/away/offline. I don’t see the details of the statuses unless I try to message a coworker or view their profile. Slack has the option to use emojis that we use to indicate PTO, lunch, coffee break, in a call, with a line of text showing on mouse over. Nothing of the sort…?

        1. ecnaseener*

          No special emojis for those in teams, but you can enter a free text status if you hover over a person you should see their status (if they entered one – IME people don’t use it much)

          1. ecnaseener*

            * you can enter a free text status, AND if you hover over a person you should see their status

            1. Other Alice*

              Just tested and it doesn’t work, I have to click the name (not just hover) to see the status. Also it displays an entire pop up window and I have to hunt for the information among irrelevant stuff. I get that it’s minor, but now it takes me maybe a minute to find someone on the team who is free. Multiply that for however many times I do that every week, it’s a waste of time. :(

      2. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain*

        Our Teams status is wonky as hell lately, but it’s tied to Outlook, which is a bit useful…if a meeting or OOO is on my Outlook calendar, my availability in Teams automatically adjusts and my OOO message also displays in Teams.

    4. Prospect Gone Bad*

      I hate all of these, but what is particularly worse about teams? Not being able to see if someone is away from 2 minutes or a week has always been a feature of the work world, that didn’t start with teams :-)

      1. Other Alice*

        But that’s just it, I do have the option to see how long someone will be away in slack. :( And it’s really good for my job, saves me a lot of time. (Well… Saved, past tense.)

    5. Ness*

      Teams has gotten much better in the past couple years, so you may find you like it (or at least don’t hate it!). For example, IMO it’s better at filtering out background noise than any other video calling software. You can see whether someone is free, busy, idle, or away, which seems reasonably detailed to me. And like a PP said, you can pin contacts to the top.

      1. The Real Fran Fine*

        IMO it’s better at filtering out background noise than any other video calling software.

        This I’ll give them. I’ve been on video calls where the cleaning team in my building will suddenly decide that right that minute they needed to vacuum the carpet in the hallway right outside my apartment door. Apparently, no one but me hears it, and I have an amazing speaker connected to my laptop that usually picks up noises at a long range.

  50. Mary-Claire*

    Today is my last day of remote work :( as of Monday I’m back in person full time. I’ve known this was coming for 4 months but I am not ready. I don’t know why they brought everyone back when working remotely was going well. It’s an unpopular decision and people are leaving or looking but they just hire replacements. I have been looking for a remote job like mad but haven’t been able to find one. Some of us tried asking of we could get an exemption and we were told no. Unless a public health order shuts things down again working remotely is prohibited full stop. Legally I have no leg to stand on because under our laws this is allowed to not allow exemptions. I’m just really dreading next week because I don’t want to go back.

    1. Goddess47*

      One of the things you should plan to do is keep up *all* the Covid precautions. Wear at least a paper mask, carry and overtly use hand sanitizer, no hugging/handshaking, back away from anyone that comes close, eat lunch/take breaks in your car or outside (and never in a group), etc… if you can get anyone else to do the same, that may or may not make a point of that part of the issue.

      It doesn’t solve the other problems of back in the office but at the very least you’re protecting yourself.

      Sorry and good luck!

      1. allathian*

        That works if the reason why the OP doesn’t want to go to the office has anything to do with Covid, which isn’t necessarily true.

    2. LittleMarshmallow*

      What is making you dread it so? Commute? Having to wear pants? Secretly hating your coworkers? Uncomfortable office conditions? Fear of catching Covid? Office small talk? Not being able to do laundry and nap during work hours (I know that one’s a little snarky – but I see all the tik toks about WFH – I’m on to you! Ha!) Having to pack a lunch?

      Maybe if you can be specific about what it is you’re dreading you can take measures to lessen the pain? If it’s a crappy commute – find a good audiobook or make a new playlist to listen to in the car. If it’s wearing real clothes, maybe splurge on a new office appropriate comfy outfit. You get the idea…

      Good luck! Oh, and you can take my advice for what it’s worth… I hate working from home so I’m probably not best equipped to give advice on dreading going to the office.

      1. Librarian of SHIELD*

        I’m late with this comment so I don’t know if anybody’s going to see this.

        As a person with a long commute, audiobooks and podcasts do make the drive itself more enjoyable, but they do not give me back the two hours of leisure time that would exist in my day if I did not have to commute to and from work.

    3. The Other Dawn*

      “It’s an unpopular decision and people are leaving or looking but they just hire replacements.”

      Well, yeah, they have a business to run. They’re not going to just not replace people who leave. Something I learned many years ago is that everyone is replaceable. Sure, it might be painful for the business in the short term because it sometimes upends things, but then a new person is trained and things settle down again.

      I, too, dreaded having to go back last year. It took me a couple weeks to settle back in and then it was fine. Whenever I start thinking about how I wish I could still WFH, I remember that pretty much everyone I know was working in person throughout the pandeminc, including my husband and sisters (one of which has COPD), due to the types of jobs they have. They were either essential workers or their jobs were ones that just couldn’t be done from home. So, me being able to WFH for over a year was a massive privilege that many people didn’t have. I also know that if I don’t want to work in an office, then I need to find a new job and that’s on me to decide. My company has made it very clear that if someone wants full remote, this isn’t the place to be. Some people left, but a vast majority stayed.

      Monday will inevitably arrive, just as it always does, whether you want it to or not, so my suggestion is to do whatever you need to do to prepare for that, both in terms of getting your thoughts in order and also getting everything ready for the week, like lunches, clothing, etc. If you keep the mindset you have now, you’re likely to have a rough, exhausting week. Why put yourself through that?

    4. allathian*

      Good luck. I hope you’ll report back next Friday on how your first week went, I hope it won’t be as bad as you’re dreading. If it is that bad, the one option you have is looking for a job that allows at least partial WFH.

      Just as many people hate WFH as love it, so the new hires are going to be people who at the very least don’t mind working in an office full time, and may even prefer it to WFH.

  51. Not a manager for a reason*

    Any suggestions/recommendations on training a manager? They will be coming from the other side of my field, and my grandboss doesn’t have the expertise to do the appropriate training. The new person knows the rules and the big picture, but not the process and the day-to-day, since that varies by company. I want to make sure I strike the right balance of “This is what we’ve historically done and why” without overexplaining or seeming resistant to change.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      In cases like that I find on-the-job training most helpful – taking them through the process as it’s happening and explaining as you go. I would just be matter-of-fact about the way things go. You don’t need to go into the historical justification for everything, you can just say up front “I know these things vary from place-to-place so if you have any questions about why we do things a certain way I can give you the backstory.” And then if there are a lot of questions just explain without being defensive, be clear about not being married to the current ways of doing things (to the extent that’s true), and emphasize you’re open to hear feedback.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      I just got a new boss about a year ago.

      I have often found that is is best not to reference Old Boss by name. So I have a lot of substitute language ingrained in me. It’s easy to over mention the previous boss and that gets tiring to listen to for the new boss.

      To avoid over explaining make sure you are asking the exact question that is asked, not what you think they asked.

      You can also interrupt your own explanation to say, “Do you want me to talk more about this or are you ready to move on to the next section?”

      Make sure you are showing relevant resources where the boss can get info on their own. If you are showing how to work independently that really helps to counterbalance any slight missteps you might make.

      I have trained a lot of people. People have patterns, where they quickly pick up certain types of tasks or know-how. I watched my new boss with MS Office. She could probably teach ME. No need to help her with anything there. She does need help with our particular program that we use. But because she is super good with computers, she only needs a couple sentences and she’s all set. I don’t even have to get out of my chair, I just say click x then y then z. And she’s got it.

      She does need me to mention to her when she should see additional info on odd things that come up. I don’t have to explain every single thing- but there are one-offs that almost never happen and that is when she needs me to point out to her that extra steps are involved and here’s why. So you can look for patterns of strengths and gauge what you say accordingly.

    3. A Manager Being Trained*

      I am a manager in this position now. I find that I’d rather know what we are doing and why. I might decide that I want to change it (I’ve been at this company for a month and there are already processes that I would like to change). But I need to know what we are already doing/not doing and why so that I don’t inadvertently create more problems.

  52. Ivka*

    My friend had an odd work situation that is long resolved but stresses me out every time I think of it, and I am wondering if others would have also been weirded out by it! Several months ago, she switched jobs to an organization with her boyfriend’s recommendation – only the recommendation process wasn’t formal, and there was no official ask or place for him to disclose that she was his girlfriend, so he didn’t. Then the interview goes well and they’re about to offer her a position, and so the hiring manager IMs the boyfriend (different teams but small org) saying that they’re about to send an offer and wanted to check in “since you’re friends with her” – and he does not correct her! My friend is in the job a few weeks and still no one knows that they are LIVING TOGETHER. Another friend and were both super stressed by this situation, and agreed it was bonkers that the boyfriend had lied and that this would reflect poorly on both of them – him mostly, for straight up lying, but her also for not clearing it up. My friend was annoyed at her boyfriend but didn’t seem to think it was a big deal – or if it was, she was mostly worried that there was a rule against coworker relationships (there wasn’t). My other friend and I were of the opinion that it showed a significant and weird lapse of judgment on the boyfriend’s part – probably not fireable, but cause for concern.
    She ended up clearing it up with her supervisor in a casual check in call in a “lol, you know how spacey guys are!” way, and it wasn’t a big deal (I chalk this up to it being a very young, start-up-y culture, but idk) but were my other friend and I way off base for thinking this was super stressful and weird of both our friend and her boyfriend to do?? She’s done some other things that cause me to question her professional norms – but I concede I’m in a way more formal industry.

    1. Molly McGuire*

      Assuming you didn’t work there, why would something that has nothing to do with you stress you out?

    2. ecnaseener*

      From what you described, I don’t see a lie? He might have just figured it wasn’t their business whether this was a friend or girlfriend.

      Now, if he gave an actual recommendation of her professional skills and didn’t disclose his conflict of interest, I agree that’s shady. But if it was just a generic “I know Jane socially and can vouch that she’s a nice person but I’ve never worked with her” …eh.

    3. Admin of Sys*

      Assuming there’s not a chain of command issue, I don’t really see a problem. They are friends as well as romantic partners (I hope), and the workplace doesn’t need to know the exact details of the relationship. My general rule for such things is ‘would I update the company if my status changed to the one I currently have’. Since the company doesn’t need to know if a friendship evolved to a romantic relationship, then it doesn’t need to know that the romantic relationship currently exists. (once again, assuming there’s not a power dynamic at play in job duties).

    4. Elizabeth West*

      If the company had no ban on coworkers dating nor any disclosure requirements, then I don’t really see why they should have to say anything. But I’m wondering why you and your other friend are super stressed about it. She’s an adult and you’re not responsible for her work choices.

      It’s possible the norms in your industry are filtering your perception of the situation. Unless you’re concerned about her safety with this man, I’d let it go.

      1. Warrior Princess Xena*

        Yeah, I think this really depends on what disclosure requirements are standard for the company and industry. I know in mine (accounting) that would not fly because there are some professional ethics rules that depend on relationships, but for something like retail or IT I don’t think it would be a problem unless one was managing the other.

    5. Despachito*

      Why do you think it is a big deal?

      Provided your friend does not report to her boyfriend and vice versa, where is the lie? He did not say he did not know her, just did not disclose they are partners vs. friends. Why do you think it matters that the employer knows the true nature of their relationship, and why are YOU and your friends, as unrelated persons, stressed?

    6. Gabi F*

      You seem weirdly overinvested in all this. Why is this stressing you out? It’s not a big deal, there was no actual lying involved, and no policy was being broken. It’s literally nothing to worry about.

      You might want to investigate why you’re so uptight about something so trivial, though. That sounds unhelpful for your own wellbeing.

    7. PollyQ*

      It’s not lying, or even unprofessional, to keep your private life private when there’s no need to disclose it.

    8. RagingADHD*

      When she brought it up with her boss, it was fine. The boyfriend was correct in his attitude – it didn’t matter and nobody cared.

      If being “way off base” means that your reaction is completely disconnected from the reality of *what actually happened*, then yeah. You’re way off base.

      I have worked in some extremely formal industries. I can only think of one where this would matter, and even there they would just have to fill out a form.

    9. Not So NewReader*

      I am concerned that you and others are so concerned. How does this even effect you?

      I think it helps avoid real issues about the unprofessional norms you have seen other times. Tell yourself that this is a symptom but not the real problem.

      Years ago I had a family member who routinely told perspective employers that she was making a dollar an hour more than what she was. This would lead to increases of $2 per hour or more back when minimum wage was just under $3. I finally landed on, “I don’t wanna hear this stuff. Do as you wish, but I don’t need to know.”

      Here what I see is that it was assumed the BF did not know his own company and it turned out that he did.

    10. Katie*

      It’s a non issue. Unless they are in the same chain of command, it’s not even the company’s business.

  53. Avery*

    Trying to weigh whether to take a job offer I have…
    it pays a little more hourly than my current position and has a few more hours available (both are part-time), but still no benefits and requires a commute I didn’t have with my current remote position. The field isn’t one I have more than a peripheral interest in, and the organization is religious while I’m not (though they said it doesn’t come up that much), but the actual position sounds right up my alley and the team seems like nice people.
    My current position is pretty toxic so I want to get out, but I’ve also only been there for about a year so I don’t want to establish a pattern of job-hopping. I have/have had some other interviews, including for positions that are full-time (might be a stretch for me given certain disabilities, but also means more money and probably benefits) and ones that are in a field I’m more interested in pursuing, but no other offers thus far.
    I know it’s up to me in the end, and of course there’s only so much I can include in a post here anyway, but I’d be curious to hear the commentariat’s thoughts. Should I grab this job offer while I can even though it’s outside my preferred field(s) and see where it goes, or hold out and see if I get something with more money and more directly related to my interests?
    (I’ll probably negotiate the offer if I decide I want to pursue it, see if I can get a couple bucks more hourly to make up for the added commute, and I’ll make sure to use AAM tips to do so!)

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      the organization is religious while I’m not

      Do they express or endorse horrid views that you can’t stomach being associated with?

      Should I grab this job offer while I can even though it’s outside my preferred field(s) and see where it goes

      Could it lead somewhere you’re interested in? Does this field typically funnel into something you might be interested in?

      the team seems like nice people

      I know you’re in a toxic situation now, but you don’t know this new workplace won’t also be toxic, just because the people seem nice. Not saying you shouldn’t take the job—but I’ve definitely been in that place where I want to be optimistic about a new place because my current place is so toxic. I’m assuming you’ve already looked for red flags, but definitely look for those if you haven’t already.

      I guess, on a very practical level—since you are worried about “job hopping”—do you feel this new job is somewhere you can spend at least 2 years at (maybe 3) and that that would lead somewhere you actually are interested in?

    2. ABK*

      If your current position is toxic, then I’d take the offer. It’s more hours and more money and you don’t mention any red flags.

    3. Ins mom*

      Don’t forget to consider the expense and hassle and time of the commute in your thought process; you don’t want an hour commute and two bus transfers for a short work day.

  54. I don't want to get COVID*

    Jane, the head of the department and a semi-official second boss to me, asked me to go to a conference in town in a few weeks. It is uncommon for our neck of the woods to have such a conference, so Jane wants a bunch of us to be there to “represent.” The registration fee is expensive and paid for by the department.

    I don’t mind going; I will just mask up and keep my distance when possible. However, Jane made noises about a dinner during one evening of the conference. I estimate that about 15 people would be there, including some who flew in to the conference. I am healthy, vaxxed, and boosted, but still, I haven’t gotten COVID yet and I don’t want to get it now.

    The kicker: Jane is a doctor and has therefore been seeing patients this whole time. I, on the other hand, work remotely. Would it seem precious to decline the dinner, given that I haven’t had even a fraction of the risk that she’s had? Should I see the dinner as part of work and part of the conference. Or it would it be okay to decline, or at least ask if it will be held outside?

    1. Sarah*

      I think you definitely could suggest it being held outside. You could even mention your hesitance–“I know you’ve been at high risk for Covid this whole time so I don’t want to seem precious about it, but…”

    2. Irish Teacher*

      I don’t think it would seem precious. After all, she has no way of knowing what your risk factors are or who else in your life may be at high risk. For all she knows, somebody you live with may be at very high risk.

      I don’t really have any insight into whether you can decline or not as I don’t know anything about the norms of your industry.

      I will say that I have been teaching for much of the pandemic and have so far managed to avoid COVID. I do mask most of the time, but not when I am eating in the staffroom and I have been to a couple of staff meals out, with fairly large groups.

      But everybody’s situation is different. Sorry, this isn’t really much help.

    3. Prospect Gone Bad*

      I’m more concerned about what your long term plan is. Sure, you can keep turning down invitations, but will you be doing this indefinitely? Do you have a game plan? And anecdotally, the people at my job who hunkered down the most all got really sick this year with non-covid flus when they finally ventured out. I am not a doctor (but neither is anyone else here or TBH you, when you’re making this assessment, so we’re all on the same level playing field here) but I’m wondering if hiding out indefinitely may be hurting your immunity to a bunch of things.

      1. tessa*

        Huh. Anecdotally, most of my co-workers who went out and socialized got ill.

        Meanwhile, some of us see the world differently now and are taking precautions that work for us. That’s the long-term plan.

      2. Eyes Kiwami*

        Wow I got bingo from your comment:
        – “are you gonna stay inside forever?”
        – anecdotes that happen align with your perspective
        – “I’m not a doctor but…”
        – thinking of immunity like a muscle, if you don’t flex it by getting sick you’ll get weak!
        – all-or-nothing thinking regarding risk taking. Surely there are options in between “stay inside forever” and “take a risk that makes you uncomfortable”

        Is your comment actually helpful to OP?

    4. Kez*

      I can really relate to this, and I think it’s perfectly reasonable to ask if eating outdoors is a possibility. If you don’t want to seem too precious or make it “about you” then you could frame it more as a group convenience/logistic. Something along the lines of “I know we’ll be stuck inside all day, and some folks might prefer open-air eating for COVID-related concerns. Could we arrange our meal plans to prioritize options that would allow us to enjoy the fresh air and eat together outside?”

    5. RagingADHD*

      If you have no underlying conditions that put you at high risk, then yes. It will seem extremely precious to turn down a normal work event when your boss (and presumably many of your coworkers) have much higher day to day risk than you do.

      It’s your right to do so, of course. And if you feel that contracting Covid at this point would be worse for you than losing credibility at your job, or potentially being seen as expendable, then you should do what you believe to be in your own best interest.

      All decisions are about balancing one risk against another. Most people, apparently including the health professionals you work with, are at the point where they weigh the cost of staying isolated as worse than the risk of catching the current variants.

      With vaccinations, improvements in treatment, and the less-dangerous but more contagious variants circulating, it is not an unreasonable or capricious decision.

      1. LittleMarshmallow*

        I feel like I’m in a different part of the world than those writing in about being afraid to go to a work dinner (or back to work in general) when they are vaxxed and low risk. I’m not trying to downplay peoples concerns especially since I don’t know the reality of the geography they’re living in. But given that the area I’m living in is relatively “normal” now I’m curious if these people are just still holed up at home always? If you’re going out with friends and family to restaurants then I guess I have a hard time seeing how a work dinner would be any worse (I could see an argument for not wanting to risk for work vs pleasure though so again, not judging… just interested).

        I’ve been in office most of the pandemic and so have most of my direct colleagues so I feel like I just have a different risk aversion at this point (which may be why the dr colleague doesn’t see an issue… they’re used to it). Our office doesn’t mask anymore either other than some specific guidelines around exposure or positive test (no one by us cares if someone is more comfortable masking though and most will usually offer to also mask if someone is and they’re closely together, but it’s not super common).

        It’s just interesting.

        1. Mac (I Wish All The Floors Were Lava)*

          I live in a big city that was hit pretty hard and I’m still real uncomfortable with eating in restaurants and mask up when I go shopping/share a car/public transit. I definitely feel like I’m the anomaly, but if anyone asks, I explain that I did in fact get covid (twice! Once pre-vax, once after being vaxxed & boosted) and my lungs are still so messed up so I want to be extra cautious. My other urban-dwellers are like “yeah, that makes sense” but there’s definitely a bit of mutual culture shock when I talk with my more rural/suburban friends and family.

      2. Nena*

        The boss isn’t going to know if she’s high risk or not and she shouldn’t have to disclose that or her family’s health status at work. Lots of people haven’t resumed indoor dining, this really isn’t precious.

        1. RagingADHD*

          If the OP has ever had a conversation about vaccine and booster eligibility in the last *two and a half years* with their boss who *is a doctor* then yeah, their boss is going to have a pretty good idea that they have no high risk health conditions.

          The definition of precious is acting (without any rational reason) as if you are somehow more fragile or valuable than ordinary people, and that you need special protection from normal life.

          So yeah, in this context it is going to give the impression of being overly precious.

          1. Irish Teacher*

            The boss still probably won’t know if she has family members at high risk and as a doctor, I would hope she would realise that that can also be a concern. You really don’t know anybody’s full circumstances.

            And in a pandemic, I would say being more cautious than the average person is more of a good thing and a doctor who would decide an employee expendable because they take care in a pandemic…would concern me.

          2. Eyes Kiwami*

            Yeah what kind of crazy person would want to avoid unnecessary risks when a contagious disease is spreading around…

            We spent the last two years trying to get people to take precautions. Now some people want to continue to take precautions because **the pandemic is not over** and THEY are acting irrationally? Watching millions of people die because some people are willfully reckless was pretty traumatizing, so it’s not *irrational* to be nervous about taking unnecessary risks.

            Can we give people who are still being cautious at least as much patience and grace as we gave antivaxxers and people who were traveling and partying all through 2020? If you don’t care anymore if someone is vaccinated or not, why do you care if someone is being extra cautious?

    6. Dark Macadamia*

      It is completely reasonable to not want to eat in a restaurant during an ongoing pandemic, even if you’re relatively low risk.

      I just found myself in this same situation, someone had suggested a meeting that I would’ve liked to attend and then as plans moved forward decided to have it at a restaurant instead of our workplace. I hate to look like I’m not a team player or whatever (I’m new and haven’t met this person yet) but my whole family got Covid after two years of being extremely cautious, because we decided we felt okay with eating indoors. Not trying that again for awhile!

    7. Mary S*

      I think whether or not your boss finds it precious is really going to be unique to her. Some healthcare workers honestly don’t take COVID seriously or are desensitized to it or are frankly ableist and couldn’t care less about high risk people. I had a PA, before we had vaccines, take her mask off and sneeze at me when I was there to get tested for COVID.

      I think the risk depends on the case rates, hospitalization rates, and vaccination rates in your specific area which you can find on the CDC’s website (if you’re in the US?). Some areas of the US have low case rates right now but most have high. And the CDC recommends indoor masking for everyone regardless of vax status where case rates are high. And a conference will be bringing people from all over, right?

      But regardless of risk there are other reasons not to want to get sick. I have a chronic illness which doesn’t put me at high risk but does require fairly intensive treatment that eats up my PTO. Everyone i know who’s gotten COVID lately regardless of vax status has been out sick for 3-5 days with it and at my company we don’t have COVID leave so i would have to use my precious already almost gone pto for it. Which i already know i will need for my illness. It would also possibly set back my treatment if i have to quarantine.

      But if you think your boss will think you’re precious maybe you should just not be able to make the dinner due to being tired from the conference…? There’s no good answer i think. It’s a bummer

    8. Nightengale*

      I’m a doctor and have been seeing patients in person for most of the pandemic. Partly because of that increased risk is why I am absolutely not eating at indoor events right now and overall still generally trying to reduce my risk outside work. I don’t want to catch COVID nor put my patients at risk (nor put dining partners at risk if I contracted it at work.)

      However I clearly see the risk differently than Jane does if she is the one suggesting this dinner.

  55. Strategically Retreating*

    I work for a company providing services as a vendor to larger organizations in my industry, and I’m looking to move on (mostly for money-related reasons, though an uptick micromanagement is another factor). The larger organizations we work for have all praised my work, and I think one of them might consider hiring me. The problem is that my job is fully remote, and I need it to stay that way; I really can’t relocate. The organization I’m most interested in has a lot of jobs posted but lists only hybrid options at best (no fully remote positions at all, and most are listed as full time in office).

    If I want to reach out to my contacts at the larger organization to see whether they might ever hire fully remote, is that the kind of thing I can or should do from my current work email? Would it be better to email them from my personal account instead (even though I only have their information through my job)? Or should I just apply for the position that looks most appropriate, be upfront about my need to be remote in my cover letter, and cross my fingers that one of the contacts I’ve worked with sees my name on a list of potential hires? (Or some fourth option I haven’t thought of!)

    1. Goddess47*

      If you’re on good terms with your contact, you might try sending an email from your work email (mostly so they know who you are) but in your email, ask if they would talk to you on the phone about some of their openings. Leave it open ended enough that if someone from your employer was looking at it, it could mean you were just asking general questions… they can infer what they want.

      Asking your questions by phone should get you at least some of the information you need. Your contact may be able to tell you “don’t bother” to “can’t hurt to ask” about the remote work question.

      Good luck. Hope it works out for you!

  56. Sarah*

    When I was interviewing for my current job, I was told vacation accrues at 1 day a month for your first year, and then 2 days a month starting your second year. Apparently that’s not true–they changed the rules a while ago and now vacation accrual is dependent on promotions. Meaning it would take two to three years to start accruing 2 days a month.

    Never mind being kind of irritated that I was misled (I have other issues with this job, this is just another one for the pile), how does that PTO system seem to everyone else? Generous? Not? Average?

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      So 12 days a year, and then 24 days a year after 2-3 years (if you get promoted)?

      The 12 days a year doesn’t sound great, unless you also get federal holidays and some other PTO-related perks.

      But 24 days is pretty generous, at least for the U.S., and I’ve worked a ton of places that gave me 10 days (sad) that would have me work there 3-5 years to get up to 15, so having to wait 2-3 years to get 24 doesn’t sound awful. That said, you were definitely misled, which sucks.

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        I guess I should add that even though 12 days a year doesn’t sound terrible compared to 10 days a year, all the places I’ve gotten 10 days a year have pretty much given me those 10 days almost right away if not right away, whereas one day per end of the month means you’d have to wait at least 6 months to take a one-week vacation.

      2. Sarah*

        We do get holidays off, including a week off for Christmas–should’ve mentioned that. It doesn’t feel like 12/24 days off though, since we don’t get it all at once. So on the first day of Year 2, if you haven’t used anything yet, you have 12 days of vacation.

        1. Hlao-roo*

          I’ve worked at companies where technically vacation days accrue at a rate of X/12 per month (how many days you got depended on seniority), but that only came into play when people were joining/leaving the company. You could take a 5 day vacation in January, even if you had only accrued 1 day so far that year.

          If a person left the company in the middle of the year and had not taken 2 of their accrued vacation days, the company would pay them out for those days. If a person left and had taken 2 more vacation days than they had accrued up to that point in the year, the company would deduct 2 day’s pay from the final paycheck.

          If a person started in the middle of the year, their vacation days would be prorated for that first calendar year. So someone who started in June would (in this case) get six vacation days for 2022, then 12 vacation days for 2023.

    2. FashionablyEvil*

      1 day a month seems really stingy to me–that isn’t even 2 weeks a year. (That’s ESPECIALLY stingy if that’s all your PTO and you don’t get separate sick leave). All the more so if it takes 2-3 years to get more than that.

      1. CheeryO*

        12 days is more than two business weeks. That’s pretty standard for new employees at most companies, IME.

    3. Eldritch Office Worker*

      Average. I prefer longevity over promotions personally, but 2-3 years to get a promotion isn’t egregious and it is doubling the time offered so I can see the justification. It’s not my favorite setup but the fact you were given the wrong information up front is the bigger issue.

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        Reading the other comments I realized I’m making two assumptions: one that you still get federal holidays off and two that you have separate sick time. If those two things are not true then my needle moves to stingy.

    4. Hen in a Windstorm*

      So they made it stingier?! Weird. My company used to have seniority-based PTO accrual, which was BS for people who didn’t want to move into management. A few years ago they changed it to be time-in-job based instead, which is fairer.

    5. JelloStapler*

      I don’t like the promotion part, making time off dependant on things that you may not be interested in or may be out of your control.

  57. Anon this week*

    Ugh, just need to vent–we’re scheduled to re-org October 1 and I just found out that my current VP (who I loathe) is planning to try to take one of my favorite staff members with her during the re-org. Employee and VP worked together on a project at the beginning of the pandemic and I spent MONTHS gluing employee back together because she found working with the VP so stressful (she would be sobbing on Zoom literally every week during our one-on-ones.) VP also drove off my director (who I adored) yet somehow will be promoted to SVP in the upcoming re-org. And my employee thinks she should move to the VP’s new division! (Their relationship has improved, although I have seen none of that first-hand, so my perspective is really colored by all those months of helping the sobbing employee.)

    I’m trying to figure out how to not lose my shit because I know that will be profoundly unproductive, but, OMG, I just want to tell the VP that I hate her, she sucks, and that the only reason she should try to move my employee in the re-org is if she wants her to quit.

    1. JustMyImagination*

      You wrote “my employee thinks she should move to the VP’s new division”. Does she know she’d be working for the person that caused her so much stress before? If so, and she wants to move and the VP wants her, then you should have a valid business reason if you’re going to try and block that move.

  58. Magrat Garlick*

    I am a long-time business professional in the U.S. and am about 20 years from typical retirement age. For personal reasons I am planning to exit the formal workforce at the start of 2023. I don’t know yet if that will be permanent or temporary (my spouse and I are working out the finances right now). I may freelance / look for another job after a sabbatical / remain a homemaker. I want to figure that out after I’ve had a chance to disconnect.

    In the past, I have experienced colleagues looking down on peers who have left the office environment for other careers or for becoming stay-at-home parents or homemakers. I know I can’t manage other people’s reactions, but I CAN talk about the transition in a way that shows the value and respect of the work I’m moving toward (regardless of the work I end up doing).

    So my question is… How DOES one talk about this kind of significant career change with close colleagues or one’s boss (we’re on friendly terms) in a way that promotes respect and not criticism? Have any of you transitioned from office work to another type of career and have advice on how to talk about it? What worked? What didn’t work?

    1. Roland*

      I don’t think there are words that will cause people to respect homemakers and words that will make them criticize homemakers. They’ll think what they’ll think, all you can do is present it as a positive for you and not get dragged into conversations that you don’t want to have.

    2. searching for a new name*

      honestly if I had a coworker tell me they were doing this, I would be envious and very excited for them. I do think that if there are negative reactions, maybe you could frame it in your mind as just that, envy. :-)

    3. Hlao-roo*

      The best thing you can do is talk about your plans in a happy, upbeat tone. Hopefully your colleagues will take their cues from you and not be mean/snarky/condescending to your face. Maybe you can say something along the lines of “no firm plans right now, but I’m excited to take some time off to figure out my future!”

      Best of luck with your transition!

    4. Irish Teacher*

      Honestly, I don’t think what you say is going to make that much difference. If they are prejudiced against certain types of work, you probably aren’t going to change their prejudices.

      I think all you can do is be proud of it yourself. Strangely, often trying to speak positively about something can in itself come across as if you are compensating for something. If you are happy with your choice, that will probably naturally come out when you talk about it. Sure, people will have different views, but that’s really their issue.

      I’d say let them see your enthusiasm, but beyond that, I’m not sure there’s much you can do.

    5. WellRed*

      I don’t consider this a career change. It’s a lifestyle change and I’m a bit envious. Ignore the naysayers.

    6. Gnome*

      Two words: early retirement.

      I did that in my late 20s (and then went back to work later). I did it with a smile on my face.

      I knew I”d probably go back to the workforce, but I made it sound like I hit the jackpot and was going to enjoy not having to work.

      Good luck!

  59. serious black*

    This is a random question, but has anyone had a boss (VP level in this case) who just…makes stuff up? This is my bosses’ boss so I interact with him only occasionally, but every time I do it seems he says something that I strongly suspect isn’t true. Examples would be: 1) he told me another part of our industry was doing well, even though as I far as I can tell that isn’t the case, 2) he threw out a date for an new company office opening that seems highly unlikely given an update I later got from the person in charge of that, and 3) he claimed an athletic exploit that seems very improbable to me, given I know a bit about that particular form of athletics. It doesn’t really affect me but seems a bit odd.

    1. Hannahnannah*

      I had a boss who seemed to creatively fill knowledge gaps and steal credit. It’s so frustrating! That person was so unreliable that I refuse to use them as a reference when applying for other jobs. I have no idea what they’d say about me. Thankfully, they moved on from the company a couple years ago.

    2. Charlotte Lucas*

      I reported to someone like this. She was so dishonest that if she told me the sky was blue, I would be inclined to go to the window to check.

      And if the lies dragged others or built her up, so much the better.

    3. Irish Teacher*

      Yes, I had a boss when I was a work experience student who was basically a pathological liar. I was saying I would LOVE to see the report she gave my college on my work experience because the odds are it bore no resemblance to what I had done. It would be complimentary though; her lying wasn’t really malicious or anything. She lied about me on a report I was getting a copy of!

      The weird thing was she didn’t even bother to keep her lying consistent. As well as lying on that report I got a copy of, she’d lie to coworkers about phone calls she had right in front of me when I had been sitting in the office with her while she was on the phone and knew full well she hadn’t said that. She’d lie that she had a headache, then five minutes later be racing around the building, calling for people and slamming doors. She once informed us that she “thought she was getting a brain hemorrhage.”

      In my boss’s case, I suspect now that there were genuine mental health issues of some kind. She would also get really hyper some days, to the point that “hyper” seems an understatement because I am talking shouting over people when they were trying to talk about something important.

      It was frustrating because you couldn’t believe ANYTHING from her. Most of it didn’t matter but it literally was a case of if she got a new top in Dunnes and you said “that’s a nice top, where did you get it?” she’d say she got it in Marks and Spencer’s. Or vice versa. It wouldn’t be a case of trying to make out it was more expensive than it really was or anything. It was just…lying for the sake of lying. And if somebody else asked her where she got it, she’d tell THEM something completely different again, even if they asked right in front of you.

      It was like she was playing a game to see how much she could get away with before somebody called her out on it.

    4. Policy Wonk*

      Not a boss, but a co-worker. I even called him out on contradicting his own statements in a meeting but he still does it. Some people just want to sound like they know everything. Sigh.

    5. Specialized Skillets*

      I had a boss like this (who became a peer and then I was promoted past her; she ended up retiring shortly after, unrelated). She caused a large amount of trouble for me and everyone who interacted with her but as we are local government she just rode out her time with wrist slaps and is now pulling her hefty pension forever.

      I got around the trouble by conducting as much business as I could with her in writing and avoiding her as much as possible otherwise, and venting to my spouse as necessary. I’m sorry you have to deal with this type of person – it’s infuriating.

    6. irene adler*

      Oh yeah!
      My former boss would lie about things that I could easily verify myself.

      Examples would be what someone (like another dept. head) indicated was their preference with something pertaining to my project. Or, he would tell me that I was “doing it wrong” and had violated some gov’t regulation. Only he’d talk for 15 minutes about the ‘why’ and never produced a convincing explanation as to what I had done wrong.

      When I followed up with the dept head who had supposedly expressed a preference, he either preferred the exact opposite of what my boss told me or he had not been asked at all.

      I would look up the regulations and could not find any changes or issues with what I’d done.

      So I learned to NEVER trust what boss said, ALWAYS verify directly with the person involved, and bone up on regulations.

    7. k8orado*

      Oooh yes, I had one of these as my direct supervisor for a while! Turns out he was also doing QUITE a bit of financial fraud and ended up in federal prison. I wouldn’t say I necessarily saw that coming but also what with all the lying it wasn’t a total shock.

  60. Alex*

    At what point does an employee’s need for time off count as a hardship to the company? One of my colleagues–someone senior to me with more responsibilities–keeps having medical reasons to be out. He’s only worked here for six months, and has already had two full months of medical leave, not counting one-off days where he called in sick. This has caused a huge amount of disruption to our already understaffed department, and some people are starting to feel resentful. This is unfortunately especially true because some of this leave has been for mental health reasons, and a lot of my coworkers buy into the idea that such a reason isn’t “good enough” to be out. He returned from his one month long mental health leave only to have a panic attack and leave in the middle of the day on his second day back.

    I really want to be sympathetic to his medical situation, and unlike some of my colleagues I do understand that mental health challenges are real and can be debilitating. On the other hand, I’m sympathetic to my colleagues (and myself!) because we have had to bust our buns picking up the slack, which is especially hard when the leave is unexpected. Morale is low and everyone is snapping at each other and accusing each other of not working hard enough, when the reality is no matter how hard we all work we can’t get everything done.

    I’m wondering what is reasonable to expect from my employer? They seem to grant these leaves with no penalty (which is great!) but have no plan about coverage or how to reduce the burden of this on the rest of the department. I’m also interested in good scripts to use with my colleagues who are pooh-poohing this man’s mental health crises.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      I appreciate your perspective on the situation, first of all. You’re placing the blame where it belongs – with the employer not covering these absences that they’re granting – and still striving not to stigmatize your colleague. I hope you aren’t discouraged away from that perspective because it’s important.

      To your colleagues, I’d say something like “we never really have a line of sight into what’s going on with someone, and I appreciate that we work somewhere that’s accommodating someone who seems to be having a hard time.”

      But the coverage is a real issue. Is there someone you can raise it with? Your supervisor? Someone higher? “Bob’s absences are causing a real issue with things like [examples]. I think it’s great you’re giving him time to deal with whatever is going on, and I don’t need details, but we really do need more coverage than we have right now or [consequences]”

  61. Goddess47*

    Small problem but I promised a friend I’d ask here…

    I was RIF’d from a long term contracting job back in 2019. For a lot of reasons, that turned out to be a good thing for me; I decided to retire and 2020 hit and I was golden. But I have kept in touch with a small handful of the people I worked with. The woman who ran the department for the last 8 years of my employment, Lizzie, was our immediate supervisor and was actually good at her job, a decent person, and generally tried hard to do an awkward job (i.e. working for both the contracting company that paid us and the client that hired us). Lizzie and I weren’t friends-friends but we certainly were friendly.

    The RIF was purely business (the client needed to reduce the contract for financial reasons) and I was supposedly selected by whomever from the company was negotiating the contract renewal (who had no idea at all what I did), and someone semi-neutral from the client side (who also pretty much didn’t know what I did). My co-workers had to pick up the slack and some things I did just got left to the wayside. But, like I said, this was eventually a good thing for me. Lizzie was the ‘bad guy’ and had to deliver the news. She promised to be a good recommendation if I ever needed one and to reach out at any time.

    Forward to now and Lizzie is retiring from work. The folk from the company we worked for (not the client side) are hosting a dinner and I’ve been thoughtfully invited, and I plan to attend.

    My question comes with the ‘gift’… they are collecting funds to send Lizzie on a semi-local trip (call it 2-3 hours driving time, max) to overnight in a bed-and-breakfast and a live-theatre show.

    I know ‘gifting up’ isn’t one of Allison’s favorite things (and I understand that) but this is a one-time request, Lizzie was a good boss and a decent work-friend, and I’ll get to see some of the folk I’ve been keeping in touch with virtually. The money isn’t an issue, I can afford whatever I chose to give. And some of that financial freedom comes from Lizzie’s support while I was working; I got good evaluations and reasonable raises while working and am very comfortable in retirement. My question is how much should I give? The total cost of the trip is probably $500 and about 10 people have been asked to contribute. So I’m swinging between $50 (as my fair share) and $100 (because I do wish Lizzie well and can afford to contribute).

    Any suggestions? Thanks!

    1. ABCDEF*

      I don’t know what I personally would do in this situation. Shouldn’t the company be the one funding her farewell, and not her former employees? Since you don’t need work/a a recommendation from them, would you want to ask them that? Otherwise, if I gave anything, it would be less than what I estimated my share of the dinner cost, that’s for sure.

      1. Goddess47*

        The company will be paying for the dinner, and it’s someone who would have been a peer to me who is organizing the gift. But considering the cost of the dinner as a baseline is an idea.


    2. Fine to kick in*

      I think the gifting up prohibition applies to current folks up the management chain. Since you haven’t worked for her since 2019 and don’t mind contributing, I would. Even strict federal rules around gifting up (I can’t even get the coffee when I go with my boss to talk about non work stuff) have exceptions for one time things like birth of a baby, retirement, etc. You wish her well, can afford and want to contribute, go ahead IMO!

      1. Goddess47*

        Strictly non-government company here, so that’s not an issue, but a good point!

        Thanks for the encouragement!

    3. Policy Wonk*

      The government has rules prohibiting gifting up (nothing valued at over $5), but has exceptions for one-time events such as marriage, birth of a baby, or retirement. So this would definitely qualify. If this were me, I would kick in the $50 as your fair share to the organizer. In addition, I’d recommend you give Lizzie a personal card with a note about what she meant to you when you worked for her. You could add a gift card to that if you want to give her a little more.

      1. Goddess47*

        Oh! Thank you for prompting me to write my own note… I know she’ll appreciate it and I don’t always think of that.

        Great idea and thank you!

    4. PollyQ*

      Two thoughts:
      1) You no longer work for her, so I don’t believe “gifting up” still applies.
      2) I think that’s an outrageously large amount to ask people to contribute, unless they’re all in very highly paid roles. But if you’re comfortable giving $50-100, then sure, go ahead.

      1. Goddess47*

        1) Good point.

        2) There’s no specific ask, just an open request for donations. But it’s a well paid field so that’s not an unreasonable amount to consider.


  62. Weird*

    So, I had a really weird experience interviewing at a job earlier this week.

    It’s a little nicer than the job I’m at now, so I threw my hat into the ring. I got a call back a few days later, everything seemed completely normal. Came in for the interview, met with the woman who would be my supervisor, did all the polite small talk but then uh, well, right before our interview began told me that and I quote, “I didn’t find your resume all that impressive but (Director of the company) did, so here we are” and I not knowing how to respond to that just went, “Well, I hope I get the chance to impress you too!”

    And the rest of the interview was normal? It for sure made me more nervous and try a little harder to come across as impressive. The woman was… nice? Like not extremely friendly after that but also not very cold?

    The next day I mentioned it to a current co-worker who thought maybe it was a new tactic to see how someone reacts in that situation. I dunno, but whatever it was, I don’t think it brought out the best in me! If anything, it made me a little more nervous! And the job isn’t very high tension situations either, so it really doesn’t fit with the nature of the job.

    (If it helps, we’re both women and I’m probably about 5 or so years younger than her. What I was applying for is pretty much what I currently do and have the degree/experience for).

    1. ABCDEF*

      That’s definitely an odd comment to make, and not one I would ever think to say to a candidate. Maybe it was a moment of word vomit/awkwardness? But I don’t think I’d want to work for someone that socially awkward/obtuse. Or someone who would attempt to play weird mind games. And unless the job requires thinking well on your feet and dealing with hostile stakeholders (I’m thinking like those Parks and Rec town halls?), it’s a unnecessary thing to try to screen/test candidates.

      BTW, your response to that was really good. I would have froze up for sure.

      1. Weird*

        Oh yeah, as soon as the interview ended, I knew I wouldn’t accept it if they offered me the job.

        I thought maybe that’s what it was a “test” for, dealing with hostile people, but the job does not require it at all! The only thing I could think of was maybe it was a culture test too. To see if someone being rude to me, made me rude back?

        Ah, thanks. I thought it was really lame sounding, to be honest. But it was the only thing I could think to say (I had to bite my tongue not to say sorry instead!)

        1. WellRed*

          I think this has come up here frequently: employers are generally not “testing” or “tricking” you. They are more likely bad at interviewing, disorganized or something else. In this, my bet is there’s a power dynamic situation going on at this company and you are well clear of them. Your response was perfect btw.

      1. Cordelia*

        Your response was great, I doubt I’d have had that presence of mind! My guess would be that the interviewer has some kind of conflict with the director and you got caught in the middle – she was badmouthing the director’s decision to interview you, in the same way she probably complains about other decisions the director makes.

    2. Policy Wonk*

      I’d guess she has a preferred candidate and was letting you know she was interviewing you under duress. I think your answer was great, but she will probably hire her favorite anyway. If she does offer you the job, think really hard before accepting it.

    3. The New Wanderer*

      I probably wouldn’t have said anything in the moment, but my first thought was “What did she hope to accomplish by saying that?” I think your response was golden though.

      I don’t think she was testing you, especially if the rest of the interview was pleasant enough. Just a hopefully temporary lack of filter on her part. But it’s certainly off-putting when you expect basic respect from people in a professional setting and you don’t get it.

    4. fhqwhgads*

      It’s extremely rude of her, but if I wanted to get her to benefit of the doubt, maybe she blurted and later thought “why the hell did I say that outloud”. I don’t know that I want to though. That’s a crappy thing to say to someone.

  63. ABCDEF*

    I need a gut check on if this annoying thing is common and merely a product of working in teams, something I did wrong, or if it is a symptom of my not-super-functional workplace. (I know the team has issues because I have seen them on things I am not personally leading. But now that I am the one this type of issue is blowing back on, I am worried I did something wrong or could have done something better).

    I started a project, worked with boss and grandboss to determine the document’s outline, modeled off of an existing document. Wrote down and got sign-off about a skeleton outline from boss. (Granted, grandboss never saw the written outline, but I thought my instructions from grandboss were clear, based on the template we agreed to reference). I circulated said outline to other teams, got positive feedback. Met with boss and grandboss a few weeks later to review the draft document I created off of that outline. Instead of wordsmithing/talking about the next steps in document creation, they scrapped the outline and started over. I’m a bit ??. Because I thought I had their signoff and buy-in. But I can’t tell if this was my error/mistake or a symptom of the team’s frequent desire to start projects over at square one (surprising no one, very little progress ever gets made on document creation).

    1. ThatGirl*

      If your team frequently starts over, I would not assume it’s personal. But if I were in your shoes, I would ask for feedback on the first outline and what about it wasn’t working.

      (I’ve never had someone go back on full buy-in, I don’t think, but I’ve got plenty of “well…we like this but….we’re just not sure….”)

      1. ABCDEF*

        I was totally prepared for “change this to that, etc.” But scrapping everything was very unexpected. Asking for specific feedback is a good idea. Because they didn’t give any feedback other than 1) start over, ignoring what we told you before; and 2) but do what you did here (E.g., told me to use X and not Y, when I already was using X). Ugh. I was so confused I didn’t even know how to verbalize my confusion. Ultimately, it doesn’t really matter because I’m leaving the job, but it’s really bugging me.

    2. Prospect Gone Bad*

      I would change the question from “is it common” (because, does it matter if it is?) to “is it good or not in my case.”

      Very likely the first draft got their brains working and they realized the ideas just aren’t good enough. No reason to stick with a mediocre plan out of principle

    3. Policy Wonk*

      I had something similar happen to me years ago. When I went back to my boss and asked for clarification (OK, I really wanted an explanation!) he told me that when he saw what he had asked for, he realized it wasn’t what he needed – he really needed something else. It might be as simple as that. But I would ask for clarification.

  64. Excel help*

    I’m looking to advance my Excel skills. I know how to do pivot tables and vlookups and similar-level functions. Now, I’d like to be able to level-up by implementing them, and I’m looking for educational materials that will help. I’m imagining a series of projects that get progressively harder and force me to learn/practice more difficult tools. TIA!

    1. Warrior Princess Xena*

      So when I was pushing my excel skills I picked a project that I found interesting and then started googling ways to make it work. In my case I put together a budgeting spreadsheet which adjusted to different amounts of income, including prioritizing more important things and having some presets for potential future expenses (a different car, a house, kids, etc).

      For me starting with a project and then researching solutions was a more effective solution than walking through a specific course, so I don’t have any good course recommendations, but StackOverflow and Youtube are awesome resources for looking up how to do specific things and Microsoft’s Excel websites do a pretty decent job of walking through the syntax of formulae and providing examples.

    2. Sabine the Very Mean*

      I don’t know if you have TikTok but I’m telling you I have never learned as much about Excel as I have from experts on TikTok. I don’t know a specific name on there you can search for but searching Advanced Excel tips in the app would bring up so many.

      1. Try Index Matching*

        Also, look up Index Matching. It’s a more powerful versions of vlookup that allows you to match multiple unique identifiers. More people should know about it.

  65. Hiring Question for Feds*

    Question for Feds (U.S.) with hiring experience: what are the main differences between being hired via Schedule A, vs. regular? I am a long-time Federal contractor looking to apply for Federal jobs. I am disabled and have a Schedule A letter from my doctor, but I understand Schedule A hiring puts you on a different track, so I want to learn more before deciding which way to apply. I could also apply the regular way and then provide the letter if I get hired.

    Additional context: the main accommodation I currently need is full time telework, which I have been doing successfully for 10 years. I know remote jobs are much easier to find now (and my job is easy to do remote), but I want to ensure I don’t accidentally end up somewhere that requires in-person work that I cannot do. I’m considering Federal vs. private industry because they have a better track record of medical accommodations.

    1. Policy Wonk*

      Schedule A is a special hiring authority and gives us both a chance to see if something is a good fit. When I have hired using Schedule A, after a year of successful work we would then generally convert the person to a regular Civil Service position. I have had Schedule A hires decide not to continue working for us (sometimes leaving for other opportunities) but have never NOT converted to regular Civil Service one who wanted to stay.

      Hope this helps.

  66. A new chapter*

    Tips for starting a new job?

    After a year off (burnout) I will be starting a new role a week from Monday. I’m thrilled about it – it’s exactly what I want to be doing and the people at my new workplace seem amazing. I’m coming into a newly created position and will be building a program from scratch.

    This role is more senior than I’ve had before and I want to make a good impression from the beginning. What advice do folks have?

    1. kiki*

      I give this advice to anyone starting a new job, especially in the age of burnout: establish good routines with restorative habits before you start. Be mindful of stopping/adjusting those habits for your new job. In my experience, it’s really easy to start skipping out on habits that are good for you during the first couple weeks at a job. Maybe you’re overwhelmed by new info and decide to take some work home and skip your evening gym routine. Or you want to demonstrate that you’re working hard, so you don’t take a lunch break. Or you want to get ahead of things and skip your morning newspaper read to start working a half hour early.

      Those choices establish the new tone for the job and it’s really hard to get back in the hang of those things that prevent you from burning out. With a new job, it’s easy to be so excited that you don’t notice any negative side effects for months, but they’ll catch up to you.

    2. Policy Wonk*

      Since it is a new role, do a “listening tour” to understand what your co-workers do so you can figure out how you fit it. I’ve seen more than one person misunderstand a new role, and announce that they will take on duties that “no one is doing” only to find out that colleagues have that responsibility.

    3. The Real Fran Fine*

      I’m coming into a newly created position and will be building a program from scratch.

      I’ve done this twice now, and what I can say worked for me is being open to change. Take in as much information from the rest of your team as you can, get to know the shot-callers in your department/division/company, start documenting your processes and procedures – then keep an open mind as people start poking holes in all of them, lol. Your program will evolve, probably constantly, over time and you need to be flexible and not take anything personally. You’re learning as you go along, as is your team since this role is brand new, so there is no roadmap for excellence (which is the most exciting part of doing stuff like this for me because you get to define what excellence even is).

      Give yourself grace if you mess up (and you will mess up, at least once). If your role isn’t life or death, don’t take yourself or the job too seriously. This is a time for experimentation, so lean into that. Good luck!

  67. Internal*

    Is it ok to apply for internal roles during the work day? I have to use the company computer to apply, but I’m curious if it would be considered problematic to write up my cover letter during the day.

    Boss and everyone knows I’m looking and admit I’m too senior for the role.

    1. Temperance*

      I’m probably not the best person to ask, since I’ve been applying for outside jobs during the workday. It’s what I do to take a lunch break to keep myself motivated.

      I see no problem with applying to internal jobs while working.

      1. The Real Fran Fine*

        Same. I’ve done this at almost every company I’ve ever worked for and had no one give me shit for it.

    2. DisneyChannelThis*

      Generally I would say avoid it, it’s a bit unprofessional. Even if you are on break the random person walking by doesn’t know that, and the optics of applying to other jobs while supposed to be working this job is rough. If private office still the IT sees everything effect. Internal roles though maybe more of a gray area, you’re still working for the same company…

    3. Paris Geller*

      It probably depends on the workplace, but personally I think it’s fine (as long as you’re not neglecting urgent work, of course)

    4. Charlotte Lucas*

      I don’t see a problem with it. Many places share job postings internally first because they want to keep good employees by giving them opportunities.

    5. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      My department’s official rule is, you can’t update your resume or write your cover letter for an internal position on the clock unless the hiring manager specifically asked you to apply, but you can actually submit the application (which takes about two minutes, it’s like five questions and a document upload section for an internal app) and do internal interviews and any relevant testing on the clock.

      Unofficially, our folks are all remote, so as long as they’re still making their productivity metrics, we wouldn’t necessarily know whether they’re complying with that.

  68. Temperance*

    What do you do when you hit the “my job isn’t ever going to reward my hard work” wall to stay somewhat motivated? I’m angry about a few things at my job, including a nepotism hire that directly impacts me, and I’ve been more or less phoning it in.

    I’m applying for new positions, but I can’t just quit my current job, even though I desperately want to leave and screw them over. Any advice on how to proceed and not let my bitterness at this situation eat me alive would be awesome.

    1. Prospect Gone Bad*

      Just be grateful for what you have. You have a job, a paycheck, presumably medical coverage, are contributing to a retirement account, and are accruing items and longevity for your resume. One month of unemployment is a huge gap in your finances

      Concerned about the nepotism hire? You can absolutely push back on them if they’re a problem. Your manager can’t argue “but they’re a good employee” just because they’re related

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        I agree. If you’re applying, then you’re staying in your new job for a reason (I assume the reasons Prospect outlined). Focus on those pieces.

      2. Temperance*

        Thank you! I’m caught in a spiral where I just feel so stagnant and bored. The only reason that I’m staying while interviewing is for my health benefits, which my family needs. I’m going to focus on that while I move onward and upward. Fingers crossed that I start getting interviews!

    2. Dancethenightaway*

      Transferrable jobs/industries for communications/marketing folks?

      Ive been working in comms/marketing for 15 years – 12 of which has been in healthcare related roles (hospital and insurance). I am so burnt out and desperately need a change, but honestly – I am at a loss on what kind of roles I would be suited for. I have excellent written/verbal communications skills and love to write. TIA!

      1. The Real Fran Fine*

        Technical writing, UX writing, proposal writing are the things I can think of off the top of my head.

    3. PollyQ*

      Job-hunt hard, and tell yourself that in a little while, none of it will be your problem anymore. Also try reminding yourself that life is not fair, and with a little reflection, you can probably think of a bunch of ways it’s unfair in your favor.

  69. Dot*

    Two interview questions because it’s been years since I interviewed:

    1. you’re supposed to take a copy of your resume for your interviewers, right? That’s what I read at least. Do you just hand it to them? Or only if they don’t seem to have a copy or what? My brain has just gotten oddly stuck on this one detail.

    2. I have no idea what questions to ask in the interview. I’m interviewing for my exact same job, just at a different store. So all of the usual questions about what type of person succeeds in this role, or how a typical week is, or what the challenges are, or what the company culture is are out. I’ve looked at all of Allison’s posts on the topic, but I’m still coming up blank.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      1. I usually just say “would you like a copy of my resume?” at the beginning, very casually.
      2. Is this another store in the same chain? How about “what would you say differentiates this store from the other locations?” A lot of times geography or team can still make a difference in the experience.

    2. ThatGirl*

      I always take a few copies of my resume, but they almost always have one, so I’ve rarely handed it over. No need to give them one if they already have it.

      If it’s the same role, ask what’s different – what challenges does the store face? What do they do well? How can you best help them succeed? Things along those lines.

    3. Shuvon (Wakeen's sister)*

      I happen to have a text file of questions to ask in an interview as a job seeker, so I’m pasting them below. Don’t ask all of these, of course. I’d want to focus on how things are different at the new store from what you already know.

      What have been the biggest challenges for this role at this store?
      Is this a new role or are you backfilling?
      How far are you into the search for this role? … What seems to be missing from the candidate you’re speaking to?
      How does this role fit into the organization?

      What does the structure of the team look like? Please tell me a little about the people I’d be working with.
      What are the greatest challenges for your team right now?
      Are there any special initiatives or side projects the team is working on now?
      Who would I be reporting to? Is there more than one functional boss?
      How many people are you hiring into the department now?
      What are the top priorities you’re trying to accomplish in this department? How will the new hire help you reach these goals?

      The job:
      Why is the position open now? Is it a newly created role (and if so, what made it worth creating)?
      If there was someone in the role, did they get promoted, transfer to a