open thread – August 26-27, 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.

{ 1,200 comments… read them below }

  1. Alexis Carrington Colby*

    I had an intro call with a recruiter yesterday for an open role and she said their company emphasized “total rewards” which meant base salary + bonus + incentive, how common is that compared to a salary in a non-sales role (particularly for a marketing job in tech)? 
    I currently have a salary, which has no bonus but it’s reliable. What’s interesting is that the recruiter’s demeanor changed a bit when I told her my salary requirements and said it might be out of budget, which is fair. 

    That company also just got acquired two weeks ago, so it makes me nervous about the “bonus structure”, who’s to say that won’t change? Several years ago the company I worked at also changed their bonus structure, which people weren’t happy about. That just makes me nervous how it’s not 100% reliable.

    They are also hiring a director who this open rec would be reporting to, and the recruiter mentioned how that director role would be hands-on and “in the weeds”, which I also don’t want. I need something where there are boundaries between the levels.
    I’m thinking about taking myself out of consideration, but I feel bad because I had reached out to a former coworker who currently works there and she put in a good word for me with the recruiter. 

    1. ThatGirl*

      I’m in marketing (not tech) and my company actually does offer bonuses to basically everyone, but they’re relatively small (mine is 3% of salary) and it was not discussed at all as part of my compensation when I was hired, so it was a nice surprise on top of the agreed-upon pay. In your case I would be a bit suspicious between the potential weirdness for your bonus to go away and the fact that the company was just acquired.

    2. Eldritch Office Worker*

      For something like marketing it can be common to tie some compensation to metrics – how well is the marketing doing, basically. I’d definitely want more details about the “incentives” piece. So to the “common” piece of your question, not so out of the ordinary, you might come across it elsewhere.

      Now here’s my two cents: trust your gut. Bonuses and incentives are just those – extra compensation to reward and incentivize excellent performance. Your base salary still reflects your inherent worth to the company, and it is the compensation you can depend on to budget your life. I am strongly against the “total compensation” argument because it ties what should be extra benefits for exceeding expectations to the base and tries to force you to view them as one benefit. A lot of companies use this strategy to avoid paying raises and it would be a yellow flag for me – possibly a red flag if the recruiter is saying something is “emphasized”.

      Don’t worry about your friend. Sometimes referrals don’t work out and “we were too far apart on compensation” is a very low impact reason for a conversation to fall through. I would recommend you withdraw, I think your instincts are good and they’re being clear with you.

      1. 867-5309*

        THIS – Bonuses and incentives are just those – extra compensation to reward and incentivize excellent performance. Your base salary still reflects your inherent worth to the company, and it is the compensation you can depend on to budget your life.

      2. The Real Fran Fine*

        Bonuses and incentives are just those – extra compensation to reward and incentivize excellent performance. Your base salary still reflects your inherent worth to the company, and it is the compensation you can depend on to budget your life.

        Yup, that’s why if you have a company that offers these total compensation packages, you should still negotiate your base salary as high as they can go because bonuses aren’t guaranteed.

        I’m not in marketing, but I’m in tech (started in a content development role and am now in comms), and my company offers everyone – regardless of job function – quarterly bonuses. I have consistently received all of my quarterly bonuses for all three plus years I’m been here. However, midway through 2020, the company cut our bonus structures by 10% due to COVID and concerns about whether we’d meet revenue goals, so a lot of people ended up with no bonuses that year. I still received 5% of my bonus amounts since my bonus structure was at 15% at the time.

        It sucked, but because I negotiated my base pay almost up to the ceiling when I began, the cut to my bonuses didn’t negatively impact my life – I could still pay all my bills, my rent, buy tons of groceries and PPE, and still save a sizable amount of my income. In fact, during this pandemic, I was finally able to put aside 7 months worth of living expenses in an emergency fund and catch up my 401K to where it should have been had I been saving in one all along (there were many years early in my career where I just didn’t make enough to contribute to one without ending up homeless).

    3. Not a Real Giraffe*

      Don’t feel bad! An interview is an opportunity for both parties to learn if it’s a right fit. You’ve learned this isn’t a right fit for you, and the recruiter is better off spending their time on candidates who would enjoy the role and the environment.

    4. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I mean, salary isn’t 100% reliable either. It’s probably more reliable than bonuses overall, but it’s highly contextual. Our bonus structure has been the same in the decades I’ve been at this company. But you need to balance the risk against the higher probable compensation. It wouldn’t be a turn-off to me, as when I was actively hunting I figured out our total compensation package in order to compare it to Federal jobs, which are supposed to have better benefits, and it turns out it was closer than I thought. If yours is based on a bonus, can you ask some people who would be your peers how consistent the bonuses and incentives have been? If the hiring manager can quote you your expected total compensation/rewards, they probably have a formula.

      Working for a brand new manager would be much more of a concern to me, though.

    5. Snow Globe*

      I work in an industry that has a lot of jobs with performance-based incentives. When I was last interviewing for jobs, several places were pretty upfront about how many people on their team got the full reward in the last two years or what the average award actually was for the person who had that position previously. I’d ask questions around that to get a feel for what has actually been paid out previously as opposed to what the potential payout could be. Also, of course, find out what the key metrics are for award.

    6. Lady_Lessa*

      I would be nervous, just because the company was acquired. That would be a good enough reason to remove yourself from consideration.

      I once started job hunting just because I knew that the company was up for sale and knew that any potential buyers probably had enough chemists

      1. Pass the Just-For-Men*

        I wish I had taken this lesson. Same boat (different role), I believed the owners saying nothing would change. “We’re family”. Right before the acquisition was finalized, multiple layoffs which my role was a victim of.

      2. Glitsy Gus*

        Agreed. The structure you mentioned may be great, it depends on the set up. But given that they were just acquired, PLUS the structure does sound a little murky, PLUS a new director coming in that you have no information on is a LOT of uncertainty.

        Only one of those I may say if it otherwise sounds good it would probably be worth the risk, but all of that? Listen to your gut.

    7. Rain's Small Hands*

      I don’t know how common it is, but its my husband’s pay structure. His base salary is decent and dependable and we can completely live off of it. The bonus which is based on how the company does as well as how he does against his metrics is another 25% or more – generally. But your right, it isn’t dependable – its always been paid, but if the company has a bad year, they aren’t obligated to pay it. But you have to be comfortable and if the base salary won’t pay the bills and the incentive and bonus isn’t dependable, that probably won’t work.

      1. RussianInTexas*

        That is my partner – the salary is good in it’s own, and an annual bonus is built in to the pay structure – he WILL get it, but the size depends on the performance of the whole tech center, not just him.
        It varies between 10% and 20% annually.
        He also just got a long term incentive – 1800 of the RSU of the company, vested over the course of 3 years.
        He is in tech, has nothing to do with sales.

      2. LIZZIE*

        This sounds like my job. My salary pays for all my expenses with a decent amount left over. I also get an annual bonus; base is 15% of my salary, but the last 10 years or so, its been closer to 25%. But I never ever count on it, even though we’ve gotten it every year for the 20+ years I’ve been there, until we get the email saying yes bonuses are coming and will be paid on such and such date.

    8. Decidedly Me*

      I know a lot of sales folks and they think of compensation in terms of OTE (on target earnings) – they even list their salary requirements in OTE. However, I’ve never seen that in a non-sales(ish) role.

    9. Anonymous Educator*

      Anything like a bonus or incentive is not something you can count on.

      That said, it’s also okay to ask how often bonuses and incentives happen and what the average size is for the team for each of the last few years.

      If they get dicey about the details, that’s a big, red flag.

    10. Parenthesis Dude*

      In general, value salary more than incentive and bonuses. Be more worried if they tell you that you can have a bonus up to a certain percentage. Be less worried if they tell you that the target bonus is x%.

      But sure, $120k with a 10% target bonus and $5000 in incentives if you hit certain performance metrics should be considered a better offer than say $125k.

    11. mreasy*

      My current company HR person was put off when I asked for a higher base salary rather than combining base + bonus to get to my desired number. I did so for exactly that reason! If they can’t go up on the base, don’t do something you will worry about.

    12. Ann Ominous*

      Would you still be pursuing this if you didn’t feel bad about the coworker putting in a good word for you?

      This struck a chord with me because I have done a lot of things that I didn’t truly want to do, just because I felt guilty/obligated.

      Your coworker connected a candidate and a recruiter. Your obligation was to follow up and evaluate whether the company was a good fit for you and give the company a chance to evaluate whether you’re a good fit for them (and other things like not being a jerk, being reasonably professional, etc). You have fulfilled your obligation to the coworker at this point!

      Any other decisions are separate from the social obligation you have in response to your coworker connecting you, just like you wouldn’t feel resentful of your coworker if the company wasn’t a good fit for you.

    13. CPA in Canada*

      When my husband took a promotion and his salary didn’t change much but his bonus structure did significantly – he was told not to worry to much because the bonus had never not paid out in the 25 years his boss had been with the company.

      Dear reader, you may have already guessed – the company didn’t pay out the bonus that year for the first time in 25 years – nothing. Now, it has paid out, often quite well, in all other years since and was still a good move – but the point is you never really know.

      1. Endorable*

        One of my favourite movies is “Christmas Vacation”, when Clark’s bonus turned out to be “It’s a one-year membership in the Jelly-of-the-Month-Club.” Never rely on bonuses!

    14. Triumphant Fox*

      I am in a director marketing role in tech and would say that emphasizing total rewards is not common and would make me nervous. I just moved companies and this company barely talked about bonuses and incentives, adding them at the end as part of the package but definitely not how they benchmark compensation. I worry that your company isn’t being competitive salary-wise with others in the field. My company was super clear about what I could expect from extras but that nothing was guaranteed on that front.

    15. An Australian In London*

      You say this is in tech, even though the role isn’t a tech role.

      This sort of structure is common in Big Tech (Facebook/Amazon/Apple/Microsoft/Google, and other tech unicorns that use their job grade levels), although there it’s usually more base + stock + signing bonus. You’ll hear the term “total comp” a lot in companies headquartered in the USA.

      I worked for a software company where my structure was base + bonus + employee share plan.

      As other say the catch is the bonus and incentive payments. It’s fine when that’s based on your individual performance and achievements; it’s less good when it’s group, division, or company-wide performance. I’ve been in the position where I personally achieved 167% of the targets for my (non-sales) role, but because my group, country, and overall company did not, I received perhaps 10% of the bonus that my individual performance would normally have been rewarded with.

      The devil is always in the details. Variable comp is a complex topic.

    16. Gary Patterson’s Cat*

      I work in tech and marketing. My bonus is on top of my salary. It can vary from year to year, but has generally been pretty good and adds roughly another $5-8k to my yearly income. But also be aware this bonus is taxed at a much higher tax rate. If your bonus is $10k, you will actually only get about $7k of that bonus. Still that’s better than no bonus so I’m not complaining! I just don’t COUNT on it being a given, but more like a welcome surprise. Thus, negotiate for your base salary first.

      1. L.H. Puttgrass*

        “But also be aware this bonus is taxed at a much higher tax rate.”

        Well…sort of.

        A bonus isn’t actually taxed at a higher rate than base salary. For the most part, income is income. The withholding might be higher, though, since (1) withholding for bonuses is calculated differently than withholding for regular pay, and (2) the effective tax rate for regular pay is lower than the marginal rate.

        1. KatEnigma*

          Yep and if you aren’t in that 28% tax bracket, you will get it back when you file your tax return.

    17. KatEnigma*

      My husband has had that conversation MANY times with hiring managers and recruiters, and he’s in Software Engineering. It’s totally normal. And he refuses to budge on it EVER. They have to meet his base salary, period. “We paid 8% of total salary even during the recession” at a Fortune 500 was true, and they didn’t meet metrics to pay anything the first year after they hired him. Bonuses are just that- bonuses.

    18. Miette*

      I work in marketing and have been at tech companies in the past. My base salary was always competitive for the market, with bonuses being just that: a bonus. There was always some % of it tied to my goal achievement, and some other % based on how well the company did, and if the company did 110% of its revenue target, that would be reflected, which was nice. The level of job determined the % of base that the bonus would be based on (e.g. managers’ bonuses may be 5%, directors 7%, etc.) and/or the amount of company performance bonus (e.g. managers might be entitled to $10k and directors $20k).

      Other places I worked there would be a bonus pool that would be doled out by your manager, who decided who got what (which I am sure opens things up to lots of unfairness, I mean I am shuddering thinking about it, though thankfully not in my experience as my boss was very transparent about it).

      I always think of bonuses as something not to be counted on, and that’s how it was seen by most of my colleagues. So if I am evaluating a competitive salary for myself, I would only look at base and not bonuses. In other words, I would never count the bonus as core compensation because there are so many factors surrounding whether you will get it, many of which are out of your control.

      So if a competitive salary for your level in your industry is like $100k, but the way they are getting there is something like $80k base +$20k bonus, just walk away.

      Regarding the acquisition, I would also question the recruiter hard about it. Many places will practice “last hired first fired” when it comes to identifying redundancies in staffing, and depending on the new structure, many jobs in marketing (typically in the comms/promotion/advertising areas) are among the first on the chopping block. Proceed with caution.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        This has been useful to read. I received an offer from a company, doing similar work to what I am now, but with more senior duties.

        In the offer, the bonuses were highlighted, but when I did the calculations, I would be earning a bit less than what I am now. So I have asked for more money, but no response yet.

  2. Weird interview format*

    I have an upcoming panel interview but there is a weird aspect that they conveyed to me:

    “As part of the interview, candidates lead a 10-minute conversation with the panel on the role’s priorities, key contacts, areas of focus, summarising the main areas of discussion back to the panel.”

    Weird right? Like the role has a focus on collaboration with stakeholders so I know my communication skills will be under scrutiny. I’ll also review the job description too.

    But this directive makes it seem that I need to have prior in-depth knowledge of the role. Is it perhaps an interview process meant for an internal candidate who is slated for the role? Has anyone else had a panel interview like this? I am a bit thrown for a loop here, and appreciate any insight.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I would think that maybe this is after they’ve given you some info, that you’re basically taking new info, synthesizing it together with what you already know, and summarizing it back to the group on the fly to demonstrate your ability to speak off the cuff to some extent?

      1. Elle*

        And also engaging the group in discussion questions to initiate a conversation, keep them interested and clarify what you need more info on.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        If the point is to come in already knowing the answer, it’s weird. But if the assessment is on the ability to synthesize and summarize, and the role is the topic you would obviously have been talking about for the past hour, it makes sense. Rather than drag in some sort of test topic and have someone explain, say, the history of time keeping for 20 minutes.

        1. No Longer Gig-less Data Analyst*

          Flashback to my Fortune 500 company job where part of the interview was to give a 15 minute presentation on the history of EFT payments.

    2. Sassenach*

      It sounds like they might have implemented this step in response to prior candidates not really understanding the role and this is their odd way to make sure you have been paying attention. I might ask them what the objective of the exercise is so you know what to focus on. Otherwise this seems odd.

    3. Llellayena*

      It sounds more like they’re expecting a 10 min “presentation” at the end of the interview where you summarize everything you just learned (“summarizing the main areas of discussion”). I think this would get them: your presentation skills, your ability to retain information presented verbally, your ability to engage and apply that retained information in later communication. It’s also saying “lead a conversation” for that 10 min so it sounds like they want to measure your ability to keep OTHERS engaged in the topic, asking questions of the “participants” or facilitating and focusing a round table discussion.

      1. Anna Badger*

        yeah this is how I read it too – seems like a great way to allow you to get a bunch of information and to allow them to get a sense of your facilitation and summary skills.

      2. Manchmal*

        It does not read like a presentation to me, mostly because they call it a conversation rather than a presentation. Conversation implies back-and-forth. IF you go in and talk for 10 min straight, they may not like that at all. I would treat it as an opportunity to summarize what you’ve heard but also to ask questions and get feedback.

    4. BellyButton*

      You may also approach it as how would you discover those things.
      For example –
      Priorities – speak to stakeholder and management to asses first 90 days of goals
      Key Contacts- vendors, leaders in such and such areas,

      I would put together a PPT and attempt to draw on your previous experience as to how you would tackle each of these areas.

    5. Smithy*

      So not exactly like that, but I did have a panel interview where part of it was I was supposed to give a presentation on trends in our sector (private institutional fundraising) and how it would apply to the job and then answer questions.

      Initially it was a little awkward feeling like I didn’t really know the new organization in a lot of detail to specifically connect them to larger sector trends in the way someone hired or even a consultant would. But it ended up feeling a lot more natural, as it was largely talking about stuff I already understood (i.e. the trends), and then flagging how they might or might not best relate to the role/organization as I understood it.

      Therefore, if this job has a project management component, talking about how you’d bring together X and Y technical teams, with Communications/Legal/Compliance/Procurement or whatever other teams feel potentially appropriate. As it’s meant to be a conversation, asking questions like “in previous jobs legal was only involved at the end – does your process work similarly or have a different connection point”. Basically questions along the way that confirm whether or not processes are similar or different.

    6. Churpairs*

      I essentially do this in interviews without telling them ahead of time. One of my final questions is:

      Based on what we’ve talked about today, and what you understand about the role, can you please tell me what your priorities would be in the first three months, six months, and first year?

      I mean, I don’t expect 10 minutes, but it’s the same concept. The answer to that question gives me a better understanding of whether or not we’re on the same page. (And to be fair – it’s not a test – it’s a discussion point.)

    7. cleo*

      I read it more as you’d be expected to lead the meeting for 10 minutes – you’d ask the panel questions about the role etc, listen to the answers, maybe make sure everyone on the panel spoke, and then summarize what you heard from them.

      My interpretation is they want to see how you gather information from a group in a meeting setting.

    8. Gnome*

      I think they are looking to see how you approach getting information, how well you synthesize it, and communicate it back. I read that they want you to lead the discussion as warning that they are evaluating your questions, probably looking for things like follow-up questions for items that might not make sense on the surface.

      Either that or they have had a bunch of folks not seem interested at all or don’t have a better idea on how to try and see how candidates approach problems and think.

    9. Willow Pillow*

      I don’t think I would call it weird per se, but I would call it unfriendly to a neurodivergent person like me who needs time to process things like job interviews and absorbs material better in writing. I’m good at interviewing now because I’ve used Alison’s suggestions and I know how to prepare, but I basically need to write everything down if I want to recall it in detail and that’s not really conducive to this type of conversation.

  3. Strange Share Fridays*

    What’s the strangest thing someone shared with you at work this week? I’ll go first.

    A new coworker told me that she’s getting a new tattoo this week and her tattoo artist accepts teeth as payment so she’s bringing him one of her extracted wisdom teeth.

        1. Tooth Fairy*

          Yeah for sure! I thought I had the monopoly on all things dental…but….here we are…..

          Hold my teeth — I’m going to round up the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus for a nice visit to the tattoo parlour.

          We ride at dawn.

          1. JelloStapler*

            Take Cupid with you, he keeps saying he feels left out and is going to start randomly shooting arrows.

    1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

      Oh wow. I have the coworker who uses swears in meetings and is all Imma leave this job but nothing like that

      1. kicking_k*

        Almost certainly! I’d be worried about that tattoo. It may compel you to dance in the woods all night.

        1. KoiFeeder*

          There are some people who would prefer the fae realm, but I’m not quite sure this is the way to go about it!

    2. Ano Nymous*

      I’m honestly not sure anyone can top this. But a coworker opened a new donation today (we’re archivists) and paused, before coming over and wordlessly showing it to me.

      I don’t know if the donor just….didn’t look in the box before mailing it to us or what, but there was an extremely mummified rat in the box. And no, it had absolutely nothing to do with the contents of what were supposed to be in the box.

      1. Sangamo Girl*

        Formerly a curator of a historic house museum belonging to an important dead white dude. We had mummified mice in the collection. Some poor grad student had to comb through the mouse nest, pulled from the wall of said important dead white dude’s house, for diagnostic materials. That little sucker had been in there since the early 1870s.

      2. kicking_k*

        No, can’t top it. Worst thing that shouldn’t have been there that I’ve ever found in an archives box is an extremely old rusty pistol. This is in the UK; we absolutely did not expect to find any firearms.

      3. Librarian of SHIELD*

        My best donation story is the time someone accidentally donated their underpants in a box of cookbooks, but you’ve just surpassed that one.

      4. AnonArchivist*

        Had this happen with a mouse once. It was buried under some papers. My student assistant started screaming. It was… a lot. Hazards of our field.

        1. Ano Nymous*

          We also found someone’s ashes in a collection once, that we definitely did not know were there.

          Yeah, building facilities ended up calling out the SWAT team, because it technically WAS a found “body”….so they had to legally make sure that we were not the reason that the person was deceased.

          Add that to the list of many things they don’t teach you in grad school about working in GLAM fields.

          1. AnonArchivist*

            Wow, never had that one. I did work with a collection that had human bones in it, but it was an Archeologist’s collection and we knew they were there from the get go. So, our museum helped us get them repatriated to the right folks. Super happy I got to make that the museum’s problem, not mine. You’re right- people don’t warn you about those ones.

            1. MigraineMonth*

              I’m so happy to hear the ancestral remains were returned! I assumed that was standard practice, until I learned a little too much about natural history museums.

              *side-eyes the Smithsonian*

          2. Database Developer Dude*

            That is completely and totally devoid of common sense. I’m just glad none of you were persons of color because it could have gone way south very easily.

            If it’s truly cremated remains, the person was already long since dead before the collection got to you. There was no need to call out the SWAT team. Your building facilities personnel are idiots.

    3. Anon today*

      I certainly can’t top that, but I do have a middle-aged coworker who, for reasons unknown, wanted to show off that she still remembered her patter from when she was a waitress in her youth. She walked around trying to take people’s “order” and pushing to upsell appetizers. One targeted “customer” had no idea how to respond so she just awkwardly clapped.

      1. Churpairs*

        Wait, like, hypothetically taking your order? She wasn’t actually collecting orders for a group lunch?

      2. Irish Teacher*

        Was this a one-off after she’d been talking about having been a waitress or something she did regularly? Either is weird, but I can JUST ABOUT imagine somebody telling people about when they’d been a waitress and saying “wait, I remember the patter” and then doing it, whereas if this were something she did on a daily basis, it would be extra-weird.

    4. Dust Bunny*

      We inherited a bunch of weird stuff from one of my dad’s uncles, including a small packet of teeth. The names on the packet were not those of relatives.

      He was a watchmaker/repairman so my best guess is that maybe he wanted the gold? It was still a bit creepy.

      (Having spent a lot of time surfing Etsy, though, I wonder if the teeth are going to some kind of artwork or jewelry.)

      1. Shhhh*

        Yeah, I saw some things on Etsy when I was looking for options for preserving my dog’s puppy teeth. Which I realize is also weird.

    5. Radish Queen*

      my deskmate told us that she pees in her own pool. we then had a discussion about who pees in their pools and who does not.

        1. Radish Queen*

          Somehow the topic of pools came up, others were like “I don’t like going to pools because little kids pee in them” and she was like “oh I pee in my own pool – I know how much chlorine I put in there”

    6. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      A couple of weeks ago, I was pulling things out of the washing machine and I heard the tiny click of an item falling back in, and thought “well, that sounds like a tooth.” (I previously would not have known that I know what a tooth falling into a washer sounds like, but there you go.)
      And, sure enough, a teeny tiny baby tooth.

      My kid is 24. He reports not having a lost tooth recently.

      All I can think of is a) it got trapped all this time in a zip up pillow protector that I washed recently, or b) time portal.

      Apparently there is also an option for c) tattoo coupon.

      1. PollyQ*

        Given that we know for a fact that dryers are portals to the Lost Sock Dimension, it’s perfectly logical for washers to be portals from the Lost Tooth Dimension.

    7. SweetestCin*

      I had a ridiculous meeting where a meeting attendee informed me that I was “so and so’s (blood relative)”.

      No. No I am not. I’m pretty sure I would know if I was. I politely indicated that he was mistaken, and that though I am friendly with that person and have worked with them on and off for years, I am not their (blood relative).

      He proceeded to say that “yes, you are.” and changed the subject.

      ::blinks:: It was a touch bizarre.

      1. Churpairs*

        Do you live (or have a unique last name to a family that lives in) a smaller town? I moved to my spouse’s hometown (800 people) and get volunteered genealogy lessons all the time.

        1. SweetestCin*

          Likely due to our age difference, people assume a familial relationship as opposed to mentor/mentee, with me being the mentee. The comment has cycled in our local industry over the years, with both of us chuckling and explaining. Our local industry does frequently have instances of familial relationships within it.

          The fact that he insisted that *I didn’t know I was related to my mentor though*, that was really really weird.

      2. JB (not in Houston)*

        I once had a woman at Sbux insist that I and the friend I was with must be identical twins, while my actual identical twin was sitting right there with us. She did not see any resemblance between my actual twin and I. My friend and I don’t even look like we could be distant cousins.

      3. MigraineMonth*

        I generally believe what people tell me. Maybe that makes me “gullible”, but at least I’m not like the person who kept insisting that my sister was not really my sister. Why would they think I was lying about their own family members?

    8. Amerikanka*

      A co-worker and my husband (who was meeting me for lunch) once got into a conversation of how when playing the “build your own roller coaster” computer game, they both like to make roller coasters where the track suddenly ends and the roller coaster cars fly off the track.

      I just don’t understand these guys (eye roll)!

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        This was a theme of many a Scooby Doo roller coaster in the secret tunnel underneath the haunted mansion.

    9. Anastatia Beaverhousen*

      I had a coworker leave the office mad when they were told they cannot leave their pet in the car in the parking lot all day after yelling “if someone doesn’t like it tell them to talk to me like a MAN about it”

    10. Mid*

      Is it bad that I really want to know the artists name? Because they seem like my kind of artist.

      Also, I am fairly certain I’m the weird coworker. Actually, I know I am. I recently had a hysterectomy (yay!), and have to take an hour off work next week to pick up my uterus from the hospital, so I can keep it, in a jar, on my mantle. Why? I don’t know, but I also collect bones, so it just seemed like something worth keeping.

      1. CatWoman*

        Both my Mother and my Grandmother kept their gallstones in little jars of rubbing alcohol…

        1. Sam Yao*

          Oh my gosh, they wouldn’t let my friend keep her uterus recently and she was so mad. And I am mad on her behalf. If you take an organ outta me, I want it back! That’s mine, I grew it! Nothing biohazardous about it.

          1. LunaLena*

            I *totally* wanted to keep my appendix in a jar after it was removed. I was very indignant after I was told that they couldn’t because it was a biohazard and that it had already been discarded.

            I just wanted it so I could put it on a shelf and be able to point to it and say “that used to be one of my internal organs.”

          2. Mid*

            I had to jump through a lot of hoops to get permission, and I’m also like 70% sure they’re going to bill me for the privilege. But I’m still very excited. I want to show it off. Apparently I had “unusually asymmetrical fallopian tubes”

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Apparently at one point University of Connecticut Medical Center had in its standard admission forms a provision that if they removed something from you in surgery they kept it. That was funny before I learned about Henrietta Lacks & HeLa cells…

      3. Not-that-grim-oire*

        I once had a significant amount of loose skin removed from my body several years ago. I am still kicking myself that I didn’t ask to have it given to me. (At the time, I was more than happy to have it gone GONE gone, and didn’t think beyond that.)

        But yeah. Should have kept it, tanned it and used it to bind a book.

    11. MissGirl*

      In a past role, a coworker lost an earring. She looked everywhere and asked around but no luck. She took the other earring out, obviously, and put it in her pocket. A few days later, I come in for my shift and she tells me she found her missing earring–in the EAR OF ANOTHER FEMALE COWORKER. Yes, this coworker found a random single earring and put it in her ear. As far as I know, my coworker never brought it up.

      1. squeakrad*

        I work on the job years ago at an insurance company that ‘ll remain nameless. I left my promise ring in the restroom and put up a sign offering “reward” if it was found. Not more than two minutes after I posted a sign a woman came up to my desk wearing the ring saying “oh is this yours?” I said “yes that’s the ring I left in the restroom thank you so much.” She looked PO’d and said “wasn’t there a reward?” I said “yes the reward is knowledgethat you’ve done a good deed for the day. Good for you!”

        1. HBJ*

          I’m sorry, but that seems crappy to me. If you weren’t going to offer a reward, don’t say you’ll offer a reward. I don’t think she’s at all out of line to expect she would receive one since you literally said there would be a reward.

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

            The thing is people are more likely to return something if it has a reward. Its not like she said she would give a certain amount. Honestly I would have just said here’s $5 bucks, or I will buy you lunch tomorrow.

            1. HBJ*

              Exactly! It doesn’t have to be $500. It could be $5 or a couple candy bars or lunch. But if something says reward, it’s not out of line to expect a tangible reward.

    12. Anonymous for this*

      This is definitely hard to top, but I did have a call with a client where he told me about why he doesn’t wear seatbelts and also that he thinks his ex’s family has put a black magic curse on his family and also the pandemic was created by the government to separate people so we don’t talk to each other.

      1. Also anon*

        Oh goodness, I’m not allowed to talk about some of the things we hear, but I can say that untreated paranoid schizophrenia is way more common that I thought before starting here.

    13. No Longer Gig-less Data Analyst*

      A co-worker told me about how, when her dad got prostate cancer and had to have it removed, his sister who was a nurse paid for him to get a penile implant so that he could get erections post-surgery.

      Holy TMI Batman. I get that we were talking about my own bout with colon cancer, but I don’t need to know that level of detail about your dad. Not to mention how odd it seemed to me that his *sister* was so concerned with making sure he could still get it up.

      1. pcake*

        That reminds me.

        Years ago, my boss (and the owner of the club I managed) was in the hospital. His GF invited me to see him, so I went with her. It turned out he had a severely curved penis (I could have lived without knowing that about my boss, who wasn’t at all a personal friend), and they gave him that implant so he could get erections after the corrective surgery.

        He pulled it out and showed it to me. It was in what appeared to be a tiny cast. Soon after, I found an excuse to leave…

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

          The pitch and volume of my screaming gradually increased with every single sentence of this story– I think you win even over the teeth.

      2. The Person from the Resume*

        I actually find the TMI less shocking (people don’t know when to stop) than the detail about the sister for the exact reason you said.

        But I guess the fact that it happened and your coworker is happy to talk about it shows that the family’s boundaries might be far less than my own.

    14. Robin Ellacott*

      I read a great fantasy series once which starts with the heroine travelling the world collecting different kinds of teeth. You don’t know why for quite a while, but it’s a less horrible reason than Mr. Teatime.

      Did you ask what they do with the teeth? Because inquiring minds want to know!

      1. CatWoman*

        I once worked with a woman who trained search and rescue (think cadaver recovery) dogs. She would ask anyone having dental surgery for their teeth, as they were used in training the dogs.

      2. Despachito*

        I once met a couple who collected TOOTHMARKS of different people and maybe animals too, and actually the guy made me bite his arm to have mine. They already had things like a half-eaten apple.

        They were very nice and helped me out of an unpleasant situation, and this thing was for a game they were participating in, so it was not as weird as it sounds. I remember his arm was really tough and difficult to bite.

    15. talos*

      I just moved from the Denver area to a different state, and when I mentioned this to one new coworker, his first resoonse was “oh, mushrooms are legal there, right?”

      Which they are, at least in Denver proper. But it’s a weird first thing to say.

      1. Irish Teacher*

        That reminds me of a mildly funny comment from a few years ago in my workplace. One of my colleagues was talking about teaching a class about drug awareness to his students and somebody must have made some joke about him telling them his own experiences or something because he said he had never done drugs. Then another colleague put in that she had never done acid. Which…just sounded a little specific.

        Not really weird compared to the examples above, but it amused me at the time.

    16. Maya*

      I work with little kids, so I get a lot of interesting oversharing.

      “Mommy looks fat cause she has a baby in her tummy.”

      “I pooped two whole times yesterday!”

      Kids are interesting, man.

      1. Jora Malli*

        I used to teach preschool, and one day one of my kiddos marched into the room and announced “Mama has two babies in her uterus!”

    17. beep beep*

      That Coworker who doesn’t stop talking got me trapped on an office hours I was leading (no other people on the call, but I had to wait in case they did show up) and talked for about half an hour about “vampire bars” in New Orleans and how the people there actually drink each other’s blood. (No judgement from me, but there was an undertone of kink that I was a little uncomfortable with.) I did not get the chance to cut in that I don’t drink at all in the first place.

      1. The Person from the Resume*

        Hmmm … I’m from New Orleans and I can’t say I’ve heard of these bars. It’s not entirely impossible there’s a bar that allows it, but I’m sure there’s not multiple bars.

    18. New Mom*

      This was not from this week but it reminded me.
      B/G: When I was a teacher there was this really mean, eccentric and awful manager that wreaked havoc on the teaching staff at the school. She was very obsessed with people being in relationships and I never shared personal information with her.

      At the start of our second year we had a few new teachers and were doing an orientation and everyone was introducing themselves and giving a “fun fact”. One of the new teachers stood up and introduced herself and then shared that she had recently become engaged.

      Awful Manager dramatically started squealing in excitement (think very over the top and not appropriate for the situation) and then points at me and exclaims “How exciting! New Mom just got engaged too!” The new teacher congratulated me but it wasn’t true, at all. I did have a boyfriend but I had never said anything about being engaged or alluded to it even. Then I had to awkwardly correct her. I still don’t know her motivation for making that up. So bizarre!

  4. Panda*

    My new job has unlimited sick time. Can I use this for a mental health day like I would have used sick time in my previous job? How many days per year are reasonable?

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      My housemate has unlimited PTO, including holidays. I get 33 days of PTO a year, including holidays. We’ve been at our respective workplaces about the same length of time, so he uses me as a benchmark and aims for about 30 days a year including holidays.

      1. KatEnigma*

        30 days PTO is the number a VP shared with my husband that you can take before they send your manager to have a “discussion” with you.

    2. Katie Porter's Whiteboard*

      I would absolutely use a day for mental health as you would for a cold or migraine. You don’t have to say “I’m taking a mental health day,” just say “I’m under the weather” or something similar. When it comes to how many days is too many, I would personally keep it under one a month and if I need more than that, it would be time for a reevaluation of my work and its impact on my mental health.

      1. ferrina*

        I was going to say this! It’s totally reasonable to use a mental health day as sick time, but I wouldn’t frame it as such. “under the weather” is great.
        I’d say one day every other month, if that, until you are more familiar with what the expectations are around sick time. And only take it when you need it- some years you may need more, some you may need less.

        1. Amerikanka*

          I would use the “under the weather” phrase too for mental health days. I have also been very general “I don’t feel well.” The nature of your situation is not their business.

          My work does not recognize mental health days, so I am vague with them when using sick days for mental health. I really do treat it like a cold or passing migraine (something that cannot be planned). I usually take one every 2 months or so but know everyone has different situations.

          I snap at people when I am extremely stressed and frazzled, so it is to everyone’s benefit that I stay home and rest.

          1. EdgarAllanCat*

            Same with the snapping when I have inadequate time off. I work in a satellite location and it’s like pulling teeth (pun intended) to arrange main office staff to fill in when needed. So I have to work 6-9 days/row sometimes.

            Then I hear complaints that I’m too blunt, direct, intimidating, etc. I told grand boss that my cohorts need to step up if they want to avoid CrankyEdgarAllanCat (CEAC). There’s a clear line between inadequate time away from work and CEAC.

        2. Green Tea*

          12 a year is way too high in most workplaces without an accommodation in place, especially since you’d be presumably taking additional sick days for physical ailments.

          I feel like 8-10 days of total sick leave per year would be the max I could take at my overall very work/life balance-friendly office without raising issues with my manager.

          1. The Person from the Resume*

            I think that’s too little overall. Lots of people take sick days because of a family member’s illness so parents will often use more than that.

            It just sounds like you’re very healthy.

            I mean I caught COVID and was out a week (5 days). I’ve been out for that much or more when I had the flu about 6 years back. And the stomach flu took me out for 3 or 4 days. Plus less memorable other 1 off days and appointments.

            1. Green Tea*

              That is fair. It would have been better if I had said ‘accommodation or for a specific explained situation’ as a manager is going to treat someone being OOO for Covid or family caretaking differently than 12 separate vague-reason absences. And the person asking is specifically talking about mental health days so they’re still going to need to take appointments, or might get the flu or Covid as well.

              I know that am very lucky to be healthy enough that I only need to take 2 or 3 sick days a year – but I’d say 90+% of the people at my organization don’t take more than 8-10 sick days per year unless it’s for situations like caretaking and approved in advance by HR.

        3. The Person from the Resume*

          I agree. 6 a year max for a “mental health day” is what I’d limit it to. I might even say 4. You will get sick with other stuff and (for me) take sick leave for medical appointment.

          Also I’d say keep an eye out for needing it. I use sick leave for unexpectedly being out. For me it’s more a terrible night’s sleep and knowing if I tried to work I just wouldn’t be able to focus and get my normal amount done. I totally say “I’m under the weather” or “ not feeling well.” If I know I’m burning out, but can make it through a few days, I take regular PTO which I schedule in advance.

        4. Minimal Pear*

          I love saying “under the weather”, especially when I’m using it for migraines that were probably caused by the weather. I sure AM under its oppressive weight!

      2. Mid*

        I like this benchmark–if I need more than one mental health day per month, I likely need to see what’s up with my mental health.

      3. Anonymous Koala*

        One a month sounds like a lot of mental health days to me…3-4 a year sounds more in line with what I’d expect in the average job.

        But that said, mental health days should be taken when they are needed. One person might need three in a row, and another person might not need any at all in a year. I think there’s a common misconception that mental health days are just leave days for when you don’t feel like working. In my book, mental health days are leave days that you take when working would interfere with your own mental well-being. It’s a much higher bar than just “I could use a day to relax”.

        1. Irish Teacher*

          I agree. Mental health is just as real as physical health and taking a day off for mental health reasons is different from “there’s a concert that day I really want to go to/my SO has the day off and I’d like to go on a day trip with him/her but don’t want to use my vacation time.”

          Not saying Panda would use it the latter way, but there does seems to be an idea out there that “mental health day” just means “day off” rather than “I need to take a day off BEFORE I start heading for burn out” or “I’m under a lot of pressure that is affecting my concentration at work and need a break.”

    3. Anonymous Educator*

      For a single mental health day? Yes, especially if it’s unlimited. In terms of what’s “reasonable,” I think that’d be between you and your manager to discuss.

    4. University Schlep*

      Yes, but sparingly. I probably wouldn’t do it more than 1 or 2 days a year unless there was a particularly bad crisis in my life. If it is status quo, then either my life or job probably need reassessing if it is needed more than that.

      Agree you don’t need to disclose that it is a mental health day vs. a physical health day. But I would try to make sure it doesn’t impinge the team too much e.g. holding off until Jane is back from vacation

    5. Anonymous Pygmy Possum*

      My first thought is yes, you definitely can use it for a mental health day. That being said, try to get a feel for the team and company culture. I also work at a company with unlimited PTO, and I am actively encouraged to take as much time as I need for whatever I might need it for. Though I imagine if I took more than a quarter of my work time off (say, 60 days without a very very good reason) it might be a problem, I feel like I have a great amount of flexibility and can pretty much use my PTO for whatever I want as long as my work gets done! But I could understand if there were companies or teams out there who didn’t look favorably on taking way too much time, so you really have to take a look at how other people are using it. I’ve noticed that my team members are pretty liberal about taking time, or at least more liberal than my last job without unlimited PTO – at least once or twice a month someone will take a day or an afternoon for themselves – which is why I feel pretty comfortable about taking time for whatever I need to.

    6. kiki*

      I have a similar set-up for work. I struggle with depression and usually end up taking 4-6 mental health days a year, though as I’ve gotten better at managing my depression, I’ve both needed fewer and can earlier identify when I’ll need a break and plan vacation time instead.

      1. kiki*

        I also have a job where I mostly work alone and don’t have many meetings. My job is very output based– people don’t really care when I do something as long as it gets done. On days I’m really struggling with depression, my output is at 15% or below whereas a day or two of recovery is restorative enough that my next days back in office will have me at 150% productivity. I think my manager understands it’s better to have me take the time out than to have me online but barely functional.

      2. Betty*

        I know Alison has made the point in the past that “time to manage a diagnosed mental health condition” is legitimately, unambiguously sick time, versus a “mental health day” as most people mean it (needing rest and recuperation for general well being).

      3. The Person from the Resume*

        It’s not the same thing. Depression is an illness ie sick leave totally appropriate.

        “Mental health day” is used somewhat jokingly as a day to relax because work/life is getting to you. I suspect it’s often tiredness or a lack of time to relax and chill. It’s the kind of thing that shouldn’t take multiple days to recovery from.

        If you have to take multiple days in a row then it’s more likely a mental health issue that requires a doctor’s treatment and not just a relaxing day off.

    7. Beth*

      My current job has unlimited PTO, but they can be iffy about how much time you can actually take (other than for being visibly sick). I aim for about 4 weeks total vacation time per year, spread out around the year.

      Since you’re new at your job, I would say: definitely take mental health days, but don’t spell it out that you’re doing so; be cautious over the frequency, especially in the first year; pay close attention, especially during your first year, to what the norms are in your new company. I would not take more than one such day in my first three months, and none at all in my first month.

    8. Rain's Small Hands*

      Absolutely, just be discrete (i.e. not posting to social media if part of your destress mental health care is getting a massage for instance, and I wouldn’t say “mental health day” just “I don’t feel well today and will not be in”)

      As to how many days, that’s going to depend on the environment and your own capital. But with unlimited sick days at my longest job I did try and keep sick days to an average of one a month or so in total – and I had little kids who were sick from daycare at that time. That was a really understanding job that it took a LOT to get fired from – but it was an environment where layoffs would happen every few years and that was their opportunity to get rid of the underperformers in a non-confrontational way.

      The other thing with that job was that “unlimited sick time” also translated to “if you come in late/leave early for a doctors/dentist appointment that’s fine.” I didn’t count those days towards how much time I’d taken, but I was aware of when I was scheduling those things – e.g. not over standing meetings when I’d be missed.

      1. Smithy*

        I do think that the reason so much of the advice is around figuring out how a workplace runs – is that a lot of these dynamics aren’t written down explicitly. I’ve had jobs where leaving in the middle of the day for an appointments but being there in the morning/late afternoon won’t count against your counted PTO/sick time – but late arrival/early departure would. And then I’ve had jobs where it’s the reverse.

        At some of those workplaces, my boss would tell me directly and at others I learned either from watching or being clued in by others. For people who appreciate or need more direct communication, I get how frustrating this is. So I mostly make this a plea for supervisors – please do not assume new staff can just pick this up. Some will, some won’t. And it just does not hurt to articulate what is the situation where you are. Too many people have too much past experience with weird work environments, that their normal may not be typical in any other context.

    9. Dasein9*

      Take one each month that does not have a 3-day weekend observed by your company in it.
      Every month should have at least one 3-day weekend, and DIY is just as good as official.

      1. Green Tea*

        If all of the person’s sick days just so happen to extend a weekend, their manager is going to notice. Plus, in my opinion, mental health days work best if you take them when you need them most, which might be a random Wednesday in a month that has a three-day weekend already.

      2. Chaordic One*

        Also, be aware that if you take them all of your sick days on the one day of the week that you are required to work in the office (as opposed to WFH), it might also look a bit suspicious and your manager might notice. (A good manager would recognize the folly of arbitrarily having workers come into the office when WFH works, but that’s a different subject.)

    10. HR Exec Popping In*

      My company has unlimited sick days as well on top of generous vacation and holidays. For us, with unlimited sick days we don’t really track them. We treat colleagues like grown-ups and ask them to not work if they are sick – and yes that would include mental health days. Rarely does anyone abuse this. But if they do, then the manager starts tracking and gives the employee feedback and discusses how excessive time off is hurting overall performance with it generally being dealt with through the performance process. Unless someone just stops works (very rare but it has happened).

    11. The Real Fran Fine*

      Go for it. And since it’s unlimited, use however many days you need for your mental health (just don’t take off every week, lol).

    12. WantonSeedStitch*

      I think it’s important to keep in mind the difference between a mental health day of “my mental health isn’t allowing me to function today for work” and “my mental health is better when I have more time off work.” If your reasoning is the former, that’s fine. For the latter, though, that’s what vacation days are for. If someone’s depression is making it hard to impossible for them to get out of bed, I don’t see that as any different from, say, a cold doing the same thing. Take the sick day. But “Boy, it’s been a rough week at the office–I think I’ll take Friday off?” Not really a sick day, IMO. Take the hit to your vacation for something like that.

      1. Velociraptor Attack*

        I think this is a really good point, especially if OP has unlimited sick time but not unlimited vacation because in that case, the unlimited sick time is to keep people from working when sick, which absolutely applies to your first example but not so much the second.

        As for how much, I feel like that’s something you really need to look at the norms in your office. I recently was deciding between two jobs, one with unlimited PTO and one with a total of 5.5 weeks between sick and vacation and I went with the specified time because, in addition to needing a number to incentivize me to actually take PTO, I was more comfortable managing that then trying to play the game of how much unlimited PTO is too much to take.

    13. Waiting on the bus*

      How often do you get sick overall? That would heavily influence how many days if feel comfortable taking for mental health reasons. As in, if you know that you tend to get sick multiple times a year I would limit myself to just 2-3 mental health days. If you’re generally physically healthy and unlikely to need to call out for more than two or three times a year, I’d say it’s fine to take more.

      But that’s mostly because personally, I wouldn’t want a reputation as the sick person of the office. I had a health scare a while back and while everyone in the company was amazing and very kind, it also made me deeply uncomfortable that everyone knew that I was sick. I was out for almost 10 consecutive weeks, so it was very obvious that something was wrong.

      So personally, I would shoot for something that will allow me to fly under the radar overall. Which depends on how often you tend to get sick overall and the general culture of your office. But hardly anyone is going to notice if you take 2-3 sick days a year for your mental health.

  5. Alexis Carrington Colby*

    My department structure has title levels of: Jr. Teapot Maker > Teapot Maker > Sr. Teapot Maker > Teapot Director. The titles are the same but the teapots involved are different. So I’m currently a Teapot Maker for all types of teapots (more complex and higher spend) and a teammate is a Teapot Maker for electric kettles (low spend). The Teapot kettle maker was recently promoted to a Sr. Teapot Maker because everyone left and she now manages the relationship with the outside vendors, whereas with my type of teapots, I don’t have the opportunity to move to the Sr. Teapot Maker role because the Teapot Director is more involved with my type of teapots so I don’t have the opportunity to manage the relationship with outside vendors.

    How do I go about talking to my director about how it’s not fair that there is no opportunity to move up to a senior role when I’m taking on the most spend and complex projects, even if the other Sr. is managing a relationship with the outside vendor? It seems like my position is capped, even though I manage the largest chunk of Teapot spend.

    1. Crazy Plant Lady*

      I think that a more productive conversation would be about what opportunities *do* exist for someone in your role/on your team to advance to a more senior role vs. framing it as “not fair that there is no opportunity”. There could be other ways that are specific to your team that you can advance or take on additional responsibilities that could lead to a promotion or advancement within your career.

      1. Smithy*

        Absolutely this. It may be that the way to advance is to show interest/openness in a less technical/complex Teapot category. It may also be that at for the OP’s specific teapot skill set there are larger employers who do hire Sr. Teapot Makers in that specialty that offers more of a bridge role reflective of the complex nature of the work. However, it would mean seeking opportunities at larger competitors.

        The answers may not feel fair compared to what happened to the peer, however it’s good insight the OP’s industry and will help them better prepare for next steps.

    2. I should really pick a name*

      I wouldn’t frame it in terms of fairness. I’d suggest asking what opportunities are available to you, and describing what you’d like to be doing and ask how to get there.

    3. Alex*

      Yeah definitely don’t frame it in terms of fairness. You can say that you’d really like to grow in vendor management and ask if there is a pathway for you to do that.

      1. Cringing 24/7*

        Absolutely this. The other department is irrelevant because (generally) department heads are usually allowed to run their departments differently and with different structures based on their individual needs. Approach it with the basic fact of the matter: you desire growth. Don’t bring a ton of emotion into it by comparing yourself to another person or talking about fairness, because it detracts from the main goal you want out of this conversation.

    4. Observer*

      How do I go about talking to my director about how it’s not fair that there is no opportunity to move up to a senior role when I’m taking on the most spend and complex projects, even if the other Sr. is managing a relationship with the outside vendor?

      You don’t. This is not school. If you approach the matter this way, you won’t get what you want, but you will get tagged as a “problem”.

      What you want is progression – salary, recognition, perks, title, autonomy or whatever else it is. So you think about what you want, then go to your director and point out that you are managing high spend, complex projects and you would like to be able to advance and this is what you would like that to look like. How can we make this happen?

    5. Bagpuss*

      I think you need to talk about your skills and resposnibilities which are different to / greater than those normally needed for the Teapot Maker role, and what, other than managing an outside vendor, would the firm need to see in order to be able togive yout the title bump.

      Also think about your skills – if managing the outside vendor is the only way to get that promotion, are you willing to move to a different department or role to get it.

      Ask about what you need to do ./ what skills are required to get the promotion

    6. Mockingjay*

      Businesses are usually pyramids. Openings above you may not coincide with the time that you are ready to move up. And roles fulfill business needs, not career needs. Your department is functioning fine as is – it’s larger and has a corresponding org hierarchy. Your coworker’s department is small and she can manage all the functions. As you said, your role is likely capped. So, options:

      1) As Crazy Plant Lady suggested, talk to boss about other opportunities. Training, transfers, what do you need to do to move up? And talk about timelines. As I noted, you might have to wait for an opening. What can you do in the interim for job satisfaction? Volunteer for a stretch assignment, take a online course…

      2) Consider that you might have to leave for growth. Sometimes you have to leave a very good company and job to move up, because growth just won’t happen for your role – it’s not needed from a business perspective. Your current company has sufficient teapot makers and managers and that may not change.

    7. My Useless 2 Cents*

      Is there any way to argue that you have enough experience and responsibility that you should also be a Sr. Teapot Maker? Just because you don’t have the relationship with outside vendor doesn’t mean your role hasn’t evolved to a Sr. position.

    8. JoeyJoeJoe*

      Agree with all the comments. Fairness doesn’t come into it – in the work world, luck plays a huge part. A colleague of mine (Cher) got a primo opportunity because the director of their team left. Cher had less experience than others, but knew that project inside out so got to be an acting director. She did well and was kept on as director. Others (including me) probably would have also done well but everyone understood the decision — it really did make the most sense. But I did reach out and ask about director opportunities and my boss clearly laid out a timeline and we went from there.

    9. HR Exec Popping In*

      This is not about “fairness”. Jobs exist to get work done and job level is based on the work that is needed to be done. Not everyone can or should advance to a higher level. That isn’t unfair – it is reality. Not everyone can become CEO – organizations only have one of those. Is it unfair that their direct reports don’t have an opportunity to become CEO as long as the CEO stays?

    10. Anonymous today*

      So I was thinking of asking for a retroa-active bonus. But I think this group has talked me off the ledge and convinced me that would be stupid. I think I have more growth left in this role and company, and I do want to set up myself up for future growth and not look like a green idiot in front of my manager (who is c-level)

  6. Anonymous today*

    I’d love some help with scripts to talk to my boss about being underpaid.

    I’ve been a team lead with dotted line reports for the last 6 months, and I just got officially promoted to manager with the team reporting directly to me (yay!). I can now see my team’s salary history, and I found one of my reports has been getting paid more than I was. We do have role levels that are aligned to performance, but they’re not aligned to salary. So my employee was a level 5 (making 95K), while I was a level 10 (making 90K). Now that we’re promoted my employee is at 100K, and I’m at 105…. which is fine with me for now. The employee’s a high performer and I want to retain them, and I wish I had their negotiating skills when I started this job. Also, I made those salary numbers up for anonymity and easy math.

    Clearly, my company needs to align the levels to salary structure, and it’s on my list of things to do now that I’m running the team. We have a decent HR team, and I’m pretty confident I can solve this for future hires.

    But I’d also need to address the fact that I’ve been underpaid for the last few months, and I’m trying to figure out how to approach that conversation. Right now I’m thinking the best route is to ask for a bonus….

    As background, everyone on the team is a generalist, so it’s not like I’m an engineering manager, and my top engineer is paid more than the manager due to technical skills. I’ve also been told repeatedly by my management that I’m the team’s top performer.

    1. Anecdata*

      Is your goal that the company basically make your raise retroactive/pay you back for the time you were underpaid?

      Unfortunately I think that’s pretty uncommon – would love to hear from commentators who’ve seen different, but ime when a company realizes they need to relevel, there’s no retroactive component (even when it’s eg. we realized our male teapot engineers systematically earn more than female teapot engineers)

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      So you want to tell your boss that you think you should’ve been making more than Sally for the last six months and they should give you a retroactive raise or something to make up for it? I don’t think that’s likely to get you anywhere, to be honest, especially if it comes out of “so I was digging through Sally’s salary history and I noticed…”

      1. JoeyJoeJoe*

        I agree with the earlier comments. I think you can make a push for a further raise (if you think you deserve it) but you aren’t going to get anything retroactively unless there was an admin error. I’d love to hear if others managed it, but it certainly didn’t happen in my case after I got a nice (20%-25%) raise after an audit discovered I was being underpaid relative to others in my role with my level of performance.

    3. My Useless 2 Cents*

      So am I understanding correctly:
      You were a level 10 making $90K and have been promoted to manager making $105K
      Coworker was a level 9 making $95K and has since been promoted (level 10?) to $100K
      You are both high performers and doing the same job until recently when you were promoted to manager?

      I guess my questions are 1) now that you are manager, how have your responsibilities changed? 2) do you have any idea what the current market rate for your current position is?/is the 105K similar to the wages being offered if you were to leave companies?

      Leave coworker and their salary out of the equation you are presenting unless you have a *very solid* historical imbalance argument at the ready. (ie. women typically paid less for same role as white cis male and that is very clearly what has influenced the pay discrepancy between you and coworker.)

      1. Anonymous today*

        I was a level 10 making 90K. Coworker was a level 5 making 95k. Our levels are basically unrelated to our salary. (new-ish company, we’re still establishing processes).

    4. HR Exec Popping In*

      While it isn’t common, sometime managers actually make less than their employees for a number of reasons.
      1) the employee is a long term high performer
      2) the new manager advanced quickly so they are actually less experienced and don’t have as many years of “raises” under their belt
      3) the employee may have previously been at a higher level and took a demotion which may have resulted in no pay cut or a cut to the maximum level of the new lower level position

      I’m not sure this is a “problem”. I understand being surprised that your employee was making more than you were when you were peers, but that really isn’t a bad thing.

      1. Anonymous today*

        So what I think happened is that my colleague was working in higher paid industries than I was for a good chunk of their career. Think 10 years in finance for them vs. 15 year in non-profits for me. The company needed to give them more to come over to us.

      2. JelloStapler*

        it can also be due to salary compression if the person is long term high performer but the company has had budget issues and raises/COLA is non-existent but they hire at a higher rate to get new people.

  7. Not Your Admin Ass(t)*

    I think I need to balance out the week I’ve had with some humor. So…workplace shenanigans thread time! Got any good ones?

    Sometimes, my sleep-deprived brain will swap out keyboard keys in my muscle memory. Recently, it decided to switch “P” and “F.” I work for a manufacturing facility where the majority of our business deals with our new and used parts service department, so there’s lots of informal text-chatting and emails with both customers and the parts people. You can see where this is going.

    A few samples I saved from that day:

    “The farts defartment will take care of that for you.”
    “He says the farts he just got are ‘all kinds of janky.'”
    “Are you wanting new farts, or are you trying to get rid of old farts?”

    And, my favorite of the bunch:
    “He says he didn’t oil before running, and he wants to know if it’s normal for new farts to smell like something’s burning.”

    Thankfully, the spellchecker squigglies alerted me to the grievous (but hilarious) errors I was about to commit, so none of them went out into the world. Though, now I’m wondering why spellchecker doesn’t recognize “fart” as a word, considering some of the other far more “creative” letter combos it does. Was there a previous farts defartment-related incident, before my time here, that got the word stricken from the dictionary? I can only hope so. New headcanon acquired. XD

    1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

      Embarking on career exploration is hard especially with the gap between what is achievable for me and what the job market wants. Is anyone else rethinking things? ( my dr is like ugh get a different job although this job is nice and I did get 2 grand extra for no reason)

    2. Lady_Lessa*

      I had something similar last week. My dyslexic brain read multiple times “rainbow free unicorns” as “unicorn free” and I actually spent more time looking at the technical information because it was clear that it contained unicorns.

      1. Nathalie*

        Part of my old job involved confirming press release details with clients over the phone, and once I blithely said to a client, “And the headline is ‘XYZ Corp and Unicorn Announce Joint Venture'” (or something to that effect) because at that point in my life I had never heard of Unicom and my brain did not interpret the kerning correctly. The client was nice enough not to laugh at or correct me but I was so embarrassed when I realized it later.

        1. WantonSeedStitch*

          Part of my job involves looking at people’s wealth, and some of those people work at start-ups. A start-up company valued at $1B+ is colloquially referred to as a “unicorn.” So I have read various articles with titles like “China Now Has More Unicorns Than U.S.” and “Acme Rockets to Unicorn Status with Latest Funding Round.”

      2. Squeebird*

        A member of our upper management (think assistant Director level) broke her arm years ago and had to use speech-to-text for her emails for some weeks. This led to some hilarity when it interpreted an email opening as, “Hello Sweetheart”, and she didn’t notice until it had already been sent.

        It’s been years and we haven’t let her live it down.

    3. installing updates (17%)...*

      “He says he didn’t oil before running, and he wants to know if it’s normal for new farts to smell like something’s burning.”

      Okay but is it normal? Please respond. It’s urgent.

      1. Not Your Admin Ass(t)*

        Given that my partner frequently refers to his as smelling like “burning electrical wire*” I want to know the answer to this, too.

        *I refuse to verify for him.

    4. Mid*

      A document that I was supposed to file in court, that had been reviewed by no less than 3 people, and myself twice, missed a very important letter in the word “count” and I only caught it right as I was going to file it. It was a PDF, so no squiggles, but apparently we need to alter our Word dictionary to ensure that misspellings of count aren’t missed again.

      1. Not Your Admin Ass(t)*

        I am rolling, and also remembering the number of people here who’ve had to flag similar words so that their releases *actually* say “public” and not…something else.

        1. Chapeau*

          I once had a coworker send a letter to a number of outside contacts where she listed her title as the manager of (not public) outreach.

          We worked at a Catholic institution.

      2. Dragon*

        Somebody filed a court document that said “stipulation of the panties,” instead of stipulation of the parties.”

      3. Puggie Mom*

        So, I was driving through a small Southern city a while ago. I was not familiar with this city and Google Maps was directing me. Then, out of the corner of my eye I saw a fairly large sign in front of a nice house down a side street on my left. I could have sworn the sign said “Rapist Association.” So, obviously, my brain went, “What…?!?!” I thought, well maybe that’s a place that offers counseling for offenders, or something?? Right, RIGHT?? But, what the actual..??? But, I was really looking for my destination and I had to keep driving on by. Later that day I made a point of checking the place out because, “Hey, I had to investigate what I had seen.” That’s when I found that city’s **Baptist** Association. So…. mystery solved and also, Whew!!

    5. Nathalie*

      In my office everybody has a name plate on the outside of their cubicle, and I was walking by someone’s desk and could have sworn it said their first name was “Eldritch” (it was Elizabeth). Very disappointing.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Eldred would have been a possibility. (Apparently the medieval name became popular around World War I… but the old man I met who had that name did used a nickname his entire life!)

    6. My Useless 2 Cents*

      ManagerA was off on vacation Monday this week. ManagerA rarely takes a day off and worries constantly about things going wrong when they aren’t in the office. Last Friday another manager(B) was teasing ManagerA about computers going down while she is off so no work could be done. Come in on Monday and a program that 90% of the office use for their job was down and not going to be up and running for most of the day. ManagerB had to call/send almost everyone home for the day. I was one of the unlucky 10% that can do my job without program. ManagerB thought it was hilarious and was laughing all day about jinxing the company.

    7. Environmental Compliance*

      In a similar vein….

      I was trying to send a message regarding filter *socks* to a higher up. With people chattering outside my door, all I kept hearing was hard “k” sounds and somehow socks became cocks. Several times.

      I did catch it before I sent it but I did chuckle far too much at it.

    8. Chaordic One*

      Also similarly, I have an unfortunate habit of skimming and only reading the first part of a sentence or heading.

      Recently I came across a sentence which I misread as “Jane floats,” and I thought to myself, “Of course she does. This merely confirms that she’s a witch.” The entire sentence was actually, “Jane floats idea that blah, blah, blah…” Still, I’m certain that if placed in a body of water, Jane would float.

    9. The Jobless Wonder*

      It seems very fortunate that your employer isn’t, say, an equipment supplier to the NHL….

    10. Jelizabug*

      I went through a period of typing “results” as “resluts.” So grateful for the red squiggly lines!

  8. Need a Change*

    I’m currently an accountant who works for a local government. I would love to find a new role, preferably outside of government accounting. My entire career has been in government accounting and I’ve learned a lot of what I do on the job. I’m worried that I won’t know what I’m doing at a non-government role because I’m not sure how different the accounting rules are (GASB vs. FASB). I would be looking for Senior Accountant roles so presumably I’d be expected to work without a lot of assistance. Is there anyone who has worked in both types of accounting who can give me some insight into how different or similar they are?

    1. Tex*

      Not an accountant. But maybe look for companies that do government contracting work and need your experience as a stepping stone to other roles.

      1. Generic Name*

        That’s what I was going to say. I work for a consulting company that works on government contracts, and having an accountant with experience “on the other side” would be seen as a huge plus.

      2. KatEnigma*

        This. Contractors are forced to do their accounting the government way. As I hear my SO complain about weekly…

    2. nanscatsmama*

      I’m a manager in a local government accounting office. We have hired several accountants that have had non-governmental accounting experience that have worked out well. We have had accountants (even those with only governmental experience) leave for private sector jobs and appear to be successful (we keep in touch).

    3. Ann Furthermore*

      The biggest difference is that there’s no fund accounting (General Fund, Special Revenue Fund, etc) in the private sector. If you’re working for a company that does government work, or has gotten some kind of federal grant (or something similar) there might be some requirements around tracking how that specific pot of money is being used, but in general, it doesn’t apply. The basic concepts of debits, credits, balance sheets, and P&L statements are basically the same. Publicly traded companies also have to do a statement of cash flows as part of their statutory reporting (10-Q and 10-K), and I don’t know if there’s the equivalent of that on the government side.

    4. Accounting Gal*

      I’ve worked in industry as a staff accountant and now in government as a staff accountant, so I can offer a little insight. There are definitely differences and I think you will find that you’re “learning on the job” again similar to when you first started in accounting and were learning the difference between how it is taught in classes and how it is actually used in real life. I think whether taking the leap to industry in a Senior role will be a stretch depends more on what type of industry you go to (manufacturing? etc) as well as the company structure (are you going to be the only Sr Accountant in your department or will there be a large department of accountants who can help guide you some?). If it were me, I would likely aim for larger companies for that reason, but it also depends how quick of a learner you are! That being said if you’re a good accountant, once you’ll get up to speed I think you’ll like it more. I’m looking to move back to the private sector soon.

  9. Wifi out again*

    What’s everybody’s take on the power going out, VPN or wifi going out? How much should you be expected to accomplish in any situation and are you responsible for more if the issue is in your own wfh office?

    1. Taura*

      My company expects that if our (home) power or wifi goes out, that we come into the office and work the rest of our day from there. They control the VPN though, and the last few times it’s had issues it’s been ALL the VPN connections down at once, so they’ve not said anything about people not working for an hour or so while they got it running again. They would probably demand that we come into the office if it went down for longer than that though.

      Storm outages etc are a bit different in that if we start the day at home and power/wifi goes out due to weather and that weather would make it unsafe to come to the office, we don’t usually have to come in anyway and just discuss with our manager how to record the time.

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I mean, these things have happened at our office, too, in a 10+ story office building. I think it is your responsibility to check email via cell phone, and if it’s more than temporary, work at a library or coffee shop, or at home with your cell phone as a hot spot. But then, I’ve worked remotely some of the time (a couple of days a week, and a solid week+ here and there) even before the pandemic

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        I think it depends. I don’t have a work cell & we are told not to use private equipment for work (government job with records requirements). Cell phones can be used as hotspots, but if the power is out, that can only last so long.

        A few years ago, my office lost power, as did much of our downtown area. I couldn’t WFH because I wasn’t set up with VPN yet (pre-pandemic) & I had no power at home. You can do your best, but sometimes things happen.

        1. The Cosmic Avenger*

          Very true. Even when I had VPN with credentials and PIV card, I didn’t need it for 99% of my work. But, being in IT and enjoying my gadgets, I do have enough backup batteries to power my phone and laptop for at least a full day…if I went out to my car and got the one that has jumper cables! But we’re contractors, if I am not doing billable work, I need to take leave unless our company says they approve overhead (which they will do in exigent circumstances, unlike many Beltway bandits).

    3. Llellayena*

      Enough to explore what the cause is and flag it for whoever is supposed to handle it (if that’s you because it’s a home issue, then make the calls to arrange to get it fixed). After that, unless it’s easy to pick up and go somewhere that does have access, have a nice day off! At least until you’re informed that it’s fixed.

      In my work, if the power is out at the office (which is…not infrequent), no one is working since the server is down too. Not my problem to fix at that point.

      1. Observer*

        The common power outages are kind of mind blowing for me.

        Like, why can they be fixed? And if you really can’t fix the power, have your folks never heard of backup power?

        1. Charlotte Lucas*

          We had backup power in my building! I’m talking about a complete shutdown that even turned off the traffic lights.

          We could see some explosions from our office windows.

          1. Charlotte Lucas*

            And when we’re on backup power, our servers are still down. The power is meant for safety purposes alone.

        2. Llellayena*

          We’re in a town with lots of older trees and not fantastic power structures. Larger storms have a tendency to knock down branches/wires and take out power to half the town.

        3. Starfox*

          If you live somewhere with old infrastructure, a lot of old trees, and less-than-stellar tree trimming service, power outages are unfortunately very common.

          1. Observer*

            Yes, but backup is also pretty common.

            We’ve always had UPS’s for our servers, but that generally won’t work for longer outages. For that, we just had a generator put in – it won’t cover the entire building, but our server room will stay up.

        4. J*

          A previous job pretty much shut down if there wasn’t power. Our backup power was used to 1) keep the server running since it needed to be accessed by people outside our building, 2) keep the courtrooms in the building safe including members of the public, prisoners, judges and employees, 3) focusing on accessibility and exits (tall building with elevators and minimal staircases who couldn’t remain in the building unless they worked there). We didn’t want to burn out generators as we sometimes had shelter in place rules, like the time an inmate stabbed someone using a pen he found on a jury table. If that had happened during a storm but we limited our generator so my office could operate, it would have been very bad to end up in the pitch black 2 hours later with SWAT on hand. So it was a prioritization of resources – our computers being off kept the rest of the building powered longer.

          We had frequent outages because we were an old building in a historic neighborhood, had lots of trees, and actually a lot of flooding in the area that could take out the entire neighborhood’s power. We couldn’t just move the courthouse and the jail actually got more attention across the street.

    4. Sandra Dee*

      I think this is very job and situation dependent. A couple years ago, during financial close, which I have a critical role in the process, a tornado struck within a mile of my home. I did not have any damage, but also did not have power or wifi for almost a week. Everyone was very understanding, and I was aware of the critical nature of my position. I was able to get to a coffee shop that had power and wifi (and the coffee was critical for my brain functionality). If it was not a critical time from a work process perspective, I would have not worried about it until the infrastructure was more stable. After that round of storms, I bought a generator, so that I can stay home, take care of what needs to be taken care of, and can utilize my phone as a hot spot if needed.

    5. Decidedly Me*

      The reasoning matters, but the expectation is to find an alternate internet source (everyone is remote). There is no restriction on where someone works from so a coffee shop, library, friend’s house are all fine. It’s not an expectation that the second it goes down you should be running off to find something else, but if it’s more than a short term blip – find something else. Some folks with frequent outages (due to location) have back up internet sources at home (we do have an internet stipend).

      Reasoning definitely matters, as I said though! Snow storm take down the power/internet and roads are dangerous to drive? Please don’t go out – stay safe.

    6. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      For us (fully remote team, even pre-Covid), the rule is, if you can’t work, you have to log/clock out. Specifically, our limit for “being on the clock with technical work-stopping issues that isn’t actively spent on the phone with our help desk trying to resolve the problem” is 30 minutes – after that you have to clock out and either make up the time or take PTO, no exceptions.

      If your power or internet is out at home, you can go somewhere else to work, like you can go to a work site if possible, and that’s fine. If you were located onsite and the power or internet went out, the managers have the option to have people wait to see if it comes back on in which case people stay on the clock because they’re engaged to wait – but the general notion is, that’s a risk that folks WFH take. Because we’re remote, my team also has 24-7 flexibility which the onsite folks don’t have, so if they lose half a day because of a power outage, they have the opportunity to make up those hours at another point in the week rather than using PTO.

    7. Admin of Sys*

      Our job treats it as snow days, assuming you can’t come into the hybrid work location for some reason. By which I mean – no expectation of work, but if you’re not working, then you burn a PTO day for it.

    8. Generic Name*

      I think it really depends on your role and what the situation is. If you have an in-person role, like receptionist or working on a factory line, if the phones or power goes out, then yeah, you can’t do anything. I’m guessing most places would send folks home (and if you wanted to get paid, you’d have to take vacation time, which really sucks, but some employers suck). If you are a salaried professional with a laptop, I think it’s reasonable to expect that the worker would go to a location that has power/wifi. VPN is a bit trickier. I work from home a lot, so if the VPN goes out, I could go in to the office without too much hassle. If I were fully remote, I might ask a coworker who is in the office to email me needed documents or ask them to upload to the cloud and work that way. If the whole server is down, meaning nobody can access anything regardless of location, the expectation would be that you try to find something productive that doesn’t require server files. Is there training you could do or maybe reach out to a client or clean your office or something.

    9. Nesprin*

      One of the few things my company does well is leave for unavoidable things- we have power outages whenever fire risk is elevated and my work considers that to be leave due to unavoidable circumstances and pays for my time.

    10. WellRed*

      I am in the office today because my WiFi was particularly craptastic yesterday and I knew I had a lot of website stuff to do today. If I just needed to write, not a problem.

    11. Dragonfly7*

      Depends on what’s causing it, like if it is a widespread outage (especially weather related). If it is just my stuff at home, it’s either drive to the office or take PTO.

    12. Hermione Danger*

      As long as my laptop and phone batteries work, I can work from home using my phone as a hotspot (which is why I have unlimited data). And if the juice level on my devices runs low, I can head to a coffee shop to work. This means my employer expects me to put in a full day, regardless of the power situation. Though if it was due to a natural disaster, those expectations would probably change.

    13. Green great dragon*

      If you can reasonably do work by going into the office or doing something offline/off VPN such as background reading, do that. Obviously if you find out at 9am that your wifi’s down and can’t get into the office until 10.30 that’s fine. If there’s genuinely no alternative, you get a free day.

      Quite a lot of people though will just take PTO/flexitime to cover it rather than trekking into the office when they didn’t plan to or doing low-priority work.

    14. MurpMaureep*

      My personal view as the manager of a mostly remote team is that staff should make a reasonable effort to get as much work done as makes sense, while also taking care of what they need to take care of. So if the power is out for a short time, don’t sweat it, but for a muti-day outage, make arrangements to come into the office or work elsewhere (we still have ample office space, it’s just not used). If there’s a connectivity issue that’s not on them, e.g. hardware/software/VPN problems, that’s our employer’s problem and I don’t expect people to work if they are being precluded from doing so. Sometimes I’ll suggest doing some professional development or reading up on a topic that’s at least work-adjacent, but I don’t police that.

      My institution’s policy is open to interpretation and “manager discretion”, but I also don’t expect staff to take PTO in these circumstances (others have disagreed with me…but that’s the beauty of “manager discretion”). Then again I think that people are more productive when they are not stressing about making up a couple hours when their internet was out.

      I used to work for a woman who was pretty unreasonable in this area, and what I observed is that we all spent more time complaining about her rules than the actual time we lost due to some glitch. For example, if the power went out in the office, she’d try to make people take an hour of PTO…and of course the complaints about this spanned multiple days and made everyone more bitter!

    15. beach read*

      My provider had an unbeknownst ”scheduled ” maintenance that kicked me offline for 8 hours, but I was able to drive to a friend’s house to work. Wound up losing about 2 hours for which I was required to use my own time. Understandable.

  10. ThatGirl*

    My company merged this year with a slightly larger company — well, that’s what it said on paper; in reality they acquired us. But whatever. The point is, we’ve been told that now that we’re twice the size we used to be (roughly 7000 employees), our benefits will get better. I would expect things like “an extra floating holiday” and “insurance premiums go down a bit” but has anyone been through something similar, and did they actually improve markedly?

    alternately, one of my coworkers joked that we’d all get Mustangs so what are some truly wild things that won’t happen? :)

    1. Snow Globe*

      I went through similar a few years ago. Our overall benets didn’t change significantly—we were a pretty large company even before the merger, so most benefits are fairly “standard” for a corporate job. What I liked though is that they went through all the benefits and generally whichever company offered the best benefit in any one category, that’s what the cobined company went with. So acquiring company A had more sick time, we went with that. Acquired company B had more parental leave, we got that. I guess they didn’t want anyone to feel like they were losing a benefit that was important to them.

      1. ThatGirl*

        Yeah, it’s not like any of our benefits are terrible – 3 weeks of PTO + 2 personal days and a floating holiday, unlimited sick time, fairly standard health insurance options etc – so I expect this process to go similarly. I definitely don’t expect anything to get worse, but I’m wondering if the hype is a little much :)

    2. mreasy*

      My husband’s company got bought by a much larger one and they pay for employee, spouse, and kids’ benefits. So I no longer have a personal health insurance bill! The coverage is also awesome.

    3. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      Can you check out reviews etc on sites like GlassDoor or Salary.com to see if you can sort out what the bigger company was offering for benefits?

      My guess is that you’d end up with whatever is easiest for the HR dept to manage, which is probably what Bigger Company has been doing all along.

      1. ThatGirl*

        We’ll find out soon enough anyway, there’s a meeting next week, but I suspect you’re right. BiggerCompany has taken over most of the corporate HR functions anyway (another reason it feels more like an acquisition).

    4. Super Duper Anon*

      I work in a Canadian office of a global company that acquires a lot of smaller companies. Last year they bought a company with its HQ in a different Canadian city. We didn’t switch benefit providers, but they went through the benefits of the purchased company and got all of the Canadian offices aligned on benefits, matching what the best options are from the different plans, so we all have the same amount of coverage. It worked in my favor as the the new company actually had better benefits than we did, so my coverage for some items went up.

    5. A Simple Narwhal*

      My husband’s company got acquired, and his benefits improved significantly. Granted the size differential was very different from yours – he worked for a start-up that had about 100 people when they were acquired by a 5,000 person international company.

      It was your standard startup situation – great pay, lousy insurance (low coverage, high deductible, etc). With the new company the insurance is fantastic – inexpensive, full coverage, also inexpensive to add family members. And best of all, he now gets fully paid paternity leave, which was definitely not a thing pre-acquisition. There’s a quarterly bonus structure the new company has that he’s now a part of, which is definitely a plus. The only “loss” was going from unlimited vacation (that my husband was encouraged and able to take advantage of) to a set amount, but the amount is pretty generous so between that and the extra paid holidays the acquirer offers that the startup didn’t, it’s honestly not going to be a noticeable amount, it’s more of a change in how he thinks about it and the extra step of logging the time off in a system. Though he’d actually get paid out for those days if/when he leaves, so it evens out for the most part.

      So it is possible to have a noticeably positive change in benefits, but I’m sure experiences vary wildly. I’m rooting for you to get your Mustangs!

    6. Ama*

      This happened when my husband’s company was acquired last year (they were very small, only about 15 full time employees and the new company is already about 100 employees). I do think his insurance covers a bit more than it used to and for employees themselves they cover 100% of the premiums (you do pay part of the premium for spouses/dependents). They also covered some upgrades to his home office equipment because they are primarily a work from home company so he got a very nice new monitor and docking station, and their bonus structure is extremely generous. The original company already had one of those unlimited PTO structures so there wasn’t any change there although they were told that if they don’t take at least three weeks of their time each year they get emails from HR reminding them to take more time off — don’t know if that’s actually true since my husband is not shy about using his PTO.

    7. installing updates (17%)...*

      Something really similar happened to a couple of my friends this year… Their benefits actually got worse, but they tried to frame it as if they’d gotten better.

      e.g. before acquisition they had offered something like 8 weeks of paid maternity leave, another 4 weeks unpaid (basically, FMLA, but 8 weeks of it were paid). After acquisition, it was reduced to 2 weeks/80 hours paid… but it was extended to non-birthing parents, too, and they laid really heavily on that latter fact while basically ignoring the 75% reduction in paid time.

      Their health insurance plans also switched to a higher deductible option… and premiums went up, too, at least for people with spouse/family coverage. One of the friends did mention she got a raise as her role expanded with the merger. However, the hike in premiums and out of pocket medical expenses wiped out the gains.

      I have no way of knowing this will or won’t happen to you, though.

    8. Hillary*

      when my employer acquires companies (although that’s usually a much larger size differential) a couple things happen immediately. 1) Immediate safety assessments and remediation if needed. 2) New employees go on our benefits. 10,000+ employees = reasonably inexpensive, good health insurance. Dental, company paid life & disability insurance, EAP access, 401k match and ESPP, all of that. It’s much easier for the employees on day one when they find out that their health insurance bill just dropped by half or more. They also get our parental leave etc on day one. 3) wage assessments. hourly pay is immediately raised to the company minimum wage for that geography (not legal minimum). More adjustments up come as they assess salaries and bring people up to our value assessment for their area.

      it’s pretty rare that the acquired company has better benefits than us, but if they do the better benefits stick around for at least a couple years. That’s mostly been around vacation amounts & carryover for extremely tenured employees.

      I would expect health insurance to get less expensive and better for 2023 or 2024 (depending on when the merger happened the 2023 agreements may have already been negotiated). I’d also watch my paychecks because mistakes happen during these transitions.

    9. HR Exec Popping In*

      Unless one company has a substantially different benefits package than the other I would not expect much change. If this was an acquisition – one company bought the other company – and if the buying company is fully integrating the new company into their existing company (they don’t have to) your package will become whatever they currently have. You can likely google their benefits to get an understanding of any differences. If it is a true merger and they are again integrating the two companies they might start from scratch and look at the total rewards for both companies, compare and contrast and either go with one plan over the other or develop a new package for all employees. But again, if these are similarly sized companies chances are the changes will be small. A change in health care insurance company and premiums a little. Maybe a new vacation schedule or holiday schedule. Possibly moving everyone to a similar retirement plan. But generally not much more. UNLESS, one company has a significantly lower total rewards plan. If they do, the company needs to determine if it makes sense to fully integrate everyone to a single plan as doing so will increase overall costs significantly. They would have determined that during due diligence before closing the deal.

      1. ThatGirl*

        Legally… it was described as a merger. But the culture aspects and leadership feel like an acquisition. Regardless, nothing changed for us this year, but we’ve been told there will be changes coming. I agree that it’s likely go be small stuff, but we shall see.

    10. Ann Furthermore*

      I’m going through this now. My small company was just acquired by a larger one. Dollar for dollar, the insurance premiums are about the same, but what I think will be better is that I don’t think the plans will change as often. Because the company I worked for originally only had about 50 people, they shopped around for better insurance plans each year, so sometimes the plan would change annually, which was really a pain. I get why they did it, but it was still such a hassle. One year it was a plan that was great for the local people, but for remote employees (like me) they sub-contracted with some other company and the network wasn’t very good. My husband had to change doctors. I’m hoping a larger company with more purchasing power will have some more leverage.

      What’s definitely better is that there are more vacation days accrued each year, a 401(k) match, and a company shut-down between Christmas and New Year’s. I absolutely love taking that week off and have always tried to do it every year, so I’m glad it’s a company standard, even if you have to use PTO to do it.

    11. Gnome*

      My company acquired a few last year and said similar things – benefits would be as good or better regardless of which company you had been at. They just announced a bunch of it. Some are getting a new floating holiday (nobody lost any), there’s new parental leave, slight improvement to the vacation time accrual (a bit faster to get more days). Not sure yet on insurance and such… But that doesn’t re-up for a bit yet.

    12. kiki*

      I went through something similar and the biggest net positive was the health insurance. Since we were larger, we were able to get a plan with more coverage and less expensive premiums. Otherwise, I didn’t notice much of a difference. I think we gained one holiday we didn’t have before.

    13. Hermione Danger*

      I went through that once. Our benefits got measurably worse. Less PTO, AND they made us burn a week of it when it came time to match our pay schedule (twice a month) to theirs (every other week). So we all either got paid for only one week’s work at the end of the calendar year, or we burned a week of PTO because of the way the adjustment needed to happen. On top of that, the 401(k) match was worse, we lost profit sharing, and our insurance got worse as well.

      Bigger companies often don’t have better benefits, so I wouldn’t hold my breath.

    14. J*

      My husband and I have both been few a few mergers. I’ve seen times where I got a better insurance system, so suddenly I had the Rally benefits (which gets me $20/month if I work out + free Peloton for a year) or lower co-pays on certain medicines. The other company in my last merger had volunteer time built into worker plans so my workplace got that. I also got half days before holidays. I don’t think I’ve ever seen cheaper insurance rates long-term, sometimes for year one but after things stabilize that goes away. My husband’s work did an entire audit on all the staff globally and gave everyone new titles and pay that landed him $15,000 more a year, but they’d also held off on raises beyond cost of living the previous year while the merger was being worked out so it may have been more related to that. I think our maternity/paternity policy got a review with our new handbook and that got made better than either original policy was too.

      Generally what I’ve actually noticed is that after an annoying period, they change software across the company that can make your work day easier. I got a new expense reimbursement system last time that upgraded our archaic one so I could use an app and get paid in days instead of months, which felt like a perk. We also all got new chairs because our merged company had a chair client that was not totally on board with sticking with our new giant sized company, so we bought chairs and they kept us. That was very exciting. The new firm was also more radical than we were and they taught my firm’s teams to fight for more and within 2 years they all had work at home stations in place in December 2019, paid for by the firm. That paid for itself in the end but they didn’t know it then.

  11. J*

    Happy Friday Team AAM! I’d love some advice. I graduated in 2017 with a bachelors in psychology and 2021 with an MS in Organizational Psych. I have one HR internship under my belt (admittedly a few years old) and transferable skills from other work I’ve done. I’ve been trying to break into HR for a while now, but with no luck. For the past few years I’ve been working a finance job to pay the bills and I’m worried that people won’t look past that experience. Recruiters keep contacting me regarding finance roles and when I try to pivot the conversations/emails to HR roles, nothing pans out. Any advice? Are there any roles for someone with my background that you would suggest? Finance makes me miserable (the words quarter/month end close makes me want to scream) and I’m willing to do anything at this point. Thanks for the help and solidarity this community always provides!

    1. ABK*

      Is your cover letter clear that you are looking for an HR role? If not, that’s the first place to start and I would also revise the resume towards HR skills, etc. It’s not clear if you are actually applying for HR roles, but if you are, maybe an HR role at a financial company would be a good start?

    2. El*

      I highly recommend trying to find Compensation Analyst or Compensation-adjacent positions to start out. I work in Compensation right now, and it’s a pretty even split between people that started in finance and people that started in HR. I’ve also seen a large portion of our team use this as a network to move into the other side of the business [either HR going more finance by getting into Payroll or finance-types moving into the technical recruiter or HR business partner space]. It might not be where you end up full-time, but it really is that bridge I think you could use to more easily make that change.

    3. Snow Globe*

      In some small businesses, HR is a generalist that also handles payroll, administering insurance plans, etc. Maybe look for something along those lines, where there is overlap with financial duties?

    4. Toasty*

      Are recruiters contacting you via LinkedIn? It might be helpful to change your headline to something that highlights your qualifications in HR and finance (not just HR if you’re concerned about optics with your current employer). That way your HR qualifications will be visible in searches when recruiters are looking for candidates.

    5. Panicked*

      I was in a similar situation; my BS is Psych, my MS is in I/O Psych. My suggestions are to get HR-related certifications. I got my aPHR and a few other free/low-cost certs (Second chance hiring, employing veterans, a few ADA related ones) to pump up my resume a bit. A tailored cover letter that explains your relatable and transferrable skills is also really key. Don’t underestimate the power of networking. Join your local HR groups- I have had a lot of luck with my local SHRM chapter, but there’s a lot of professional organizations you can get involved in. Power up your LinkedIn profile and be active and engaged on it. Connect with people in HR-related spaces.

      In the end, I worked as an HR Department of 1 for a year in a start-up, then used that experience to move to bigger employers. You may have to take an HR assistant role for awhile to get your foot in the door and get experience, but once you have a year or so in, apply for generalist jobs. Good luck!

      1. Career Witch*

        Fellow I/O psych person and I second the point about certifications. HR as a field is obsessed with them.

    6. HR Exec Popping In*

      Depending on what you do in Finance, some options would include targeting roles in:
      – Compensation
      – Benefits
      – HR Services
      – People Analytics

      Once you get into HR and prove yourself you would be better positioned to then gain broader HR opportunities.

      HR is a hard field to break into without direct experience so play your internship up and lean in toward Finance-like HR jobs as hiring managers will be able to understand how your skills will apply. A compensation or benefits analyst are likely your best bet unless you are a reporting wiz with strong statistical and systems knowledge. Then I would recommend People Analytics as that is a quickly growing area and I truly believe is the future of HR.

    7. Policy Wonk*

      You could try government – go to USAJobs and use Human Resources or Personnel as your search terms.

    8. Jackie Daytona*

      I worked in finance for years and then ended up working in employee benefits. This was partly because in finance I handled payroll and some of the benefit administration, but also because I showed that I had incredible attention to detail and ability to reconcile, audit, and troubleshoot around that, which was something my next employer really needed in building systems that would allow for smoother enrollments and reporting after renewals, etc. Depending on the type of employer, a lot of HR professionals work very closely with their finance teams, so find some common ground there and you might find potential interviewers really understand where you’re coming from or what you’re capable of. Taking a class or two, especially towards getting certified in HR, is a great idea and would demonstrate your interest. But you can also play up/play to the areas in finance where you did have exposure to HR issues or concerns – compensation, how business decisions are made with regards to people and talent, maybe you utilized HRIS or CRM systems and can go that route, etc.

    9. J*

      Thanks for the advice everyone! I really appreciate it. I’m definitely going to start looking into additional certifications and revamping my job search!

  12. Renee Remains the Same*

    I’ve recently been interviewing for jobs and have come across an interesting phenomena where HR folks call my cell during the day to apparently talk about the job or schedule an interview. The voicemail message is usually general:

    Hi, I’m so-and-so from Company X calling about your application for Position. Please call me back.

    When I submit my resume, it has my email on it. And yet twice, I’ve had HR repeatedly call me, even after I’ve told them that it’s hard for me to talk on the phone during the day and give them my email again.

    Is this a new development or just a random occurrence? I find it kind of irritating and while I know I shouldn’t fault an entire company for weird practices of individual people, if HR doesn’t recognize that a candidate with a current job is unable to talk on the phone, I do kinda question the organization’s culture.

    1. Renee Remains the Same*

      To clarify – It wasn’t one person calling twice. Two different organizations are calling my cell rather than emailing me directly.

    2. Katie Porter's Whiteboard*

      From the HR perspective, I wonder if those phone calls help speed the process up by letting them speak to an applicant directly rather than wait on an emailed reply. That said, I think it would be fair to follow up by email and say “My current schedule makes it difficult to be available by phone but I’m able to quickly respond to emails. Would it be possible to be in touch by email on future correspondence?” If they ignore the request, it would tell me the HR person on the other end isn’t the most thoughtful or competent but I would hold off on painting the whole company with that brush.

      1. Renee Remains the Same*

        They certainly might… except the strategy seems to be to call and then wait for me to return the call. They don’t follow-up with an email after not catching me on the phone. So I would argue it only slows down the process. I could respond via email to one of them — for the other, the initial contact was made by phone so I don’t have the representative’s email address

    3. Eldritch Office Worker*

      I wouldn’t read too much into it. Ability to take a quick phone call during the work day varies greatly (especially with the boom of remote work) and they may just find it easier to talk through details in real time if possible.

      It’s annoying that they still call you after you say you prefer email. That could be lack of organization – which isn’t uncommon in a hiring process and isn’t necessarily indicative of the whole company culture – or it could be something else you’re not going to be able to guess at from the outside.

      I totally get it as a pet peeve, that would bother me two, but I wouldn’t take it as a red flag unless you have other indications in the hiring process they’re especially inconsiderate or rigid. Just take it as another piece of information to the greater context, basically.

    4. FashionablyEvil*

      I think you might be expecting a bit much this early in the process in terms of expecting them to follow your communication preferences.

      When you call back, can you offer them some times you ARE available? Our recruiters do an initial phone screen (usually about 15 minutes) to ask some general questions about interest, location, and salary requirements and for the candidate to ask some initial questions. They just don’t do email for this.

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        My only caveat to that is if there has been communication that OP has a hard time taking phone calls during the work day, they should specify that’s what they’re looking for and indicate the amount of time it will take so that it can be scheduled during a lunch or something.

        1. Renee Remains the Same*

          I usually get their voicemail when I return the call and let them know it’s hard to talk on the phone during the day and give them my email again.

          1. Eldritch Office Worker*

            I realize I might have used too many pronouns and confused my sentence – that’s exactly what you should do, and the the HR representative should respond to you and tell you they are trying to schedule a phone screen and ask for some times that might work for you. Those might be before or after work, or on a break, but it will be much easier to coordinate if they tell you what they’re looking for and how much time they need.

      2. Lucy*

        Most employers do a phone screen, but can’t they schedule the phone screen by email? I get that it’s faster for HR to call and schedule it over the phone (if the person answers), but a lot of people aren’t available even for a quick call during the day because they are working. It’s not so much about communication preferences as it is about availability and practicality.

    5. Anonymous Educator*

      Unless you’re desperate for a position, I’d just ignore those. No point in rewarding that sort of behavior.

    6. Librarian of SHIELD*

      I think this is just an example of some people being phone people, and some jobs/companies doing more business by phone than by email. I’m not a phone person and I’m in customer service so I’m frequently in a position where taking a phone call won’t work for me, so I get why you’re annoyed. But as long as they’re not annoyed with you for not taking their call immediately and they’re not continuing to call after you’ve expressed a preference for email, there’s no major lines being crossed here.

      1. Renee Remains the Same*

        They’re continuing to call. One of the organizations called and left a voicemail to say they would try me again at another time (a few hours later). Email exists, it’s useful, and can accommodate all manner of schedules and situations – why not use it to establish initial contact and set up parameters. Especially in this day and age of spam, where unknown numbers are more likely to be ignored. It just feels incredibly antiquated to me.

        1. The Prettiest Curse*

          Emails can also end up in people’s spam folders, especially if the sender uses a vague subject line, which many recruiters tend to do. Also, remember that recruiters and HR people are dealing with many, many candidates at the same time. So the odds of their remembering your specific communication preference at an early stage in the process are low, because they probably are communicating with many people in the same way.

          Of course, they should communicate via your preferred method, but if they ask for a phone number, you can assume that they might use it – even if you don’t want them to do that.

    7. Toxic Workplace Survivor*

      I work at a place that really really really emphasizes the phone for conversations about hiring, even at the interview stage, to the point where I am specifically asked if I have called. I prefer to send someone an email letting them know I would like to talk today if/when they can and let them know to call me back so they can suck into a conference room or whatever.

      Just thought it was worth context that despite Alison’s advice to use email there are enough “phone people” or old school senior managers that you’ll sometimes get the phone instead.

    8. Anon today*

      This has happened to me multiple times in the last month as well. Recruiters/hiring managers call me, without warning, in the middle of the workday, and act like it’s completely normal and not at all an inconvenience. Very rude and definitely makes me think a little less of the orgs.

      1. Roland*

        I mean, it IS completely normal. I understand it not being someone’s preference but they’re not doing it to spite you, it’s just how many workflows are set up.

        1. The Prettiest Curse*

          I used to sit next to someone who coordinated all the temporary tellers for a large bank. She was on the phone talking to recruitment agencies for at least 6-7 hours a day, and the sheer volume of work she had to do made me think there was no way she could have done that job primarily by email.

          Recruiters talk on the phone so much because, in a lot of cases, it’s just more efficient for them, as opposed to the people they’re calling.

        2. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Yes! Y’all, this is a completely normal part of hiring. You might not like it but it’s not going away, tons of orgs do it, and it’s because at that stage with lots of candidates to talk to, they’re doing it the way that’s most convenient for them. There’s really nothing more to it than that.

    9. I should really pick a name*

      It could be a case of the person who viewed your resume passed your number on to HR, but didn’t pass on your preference for email.

      A phone screen is very common, so I don’t think you can read anything about the organization’s culture into that.

      That being said, if they’re calling you during the day again after that first call, they don’t really have an excuse anymore.

    10. M*

      When I first started scheduling interviews in my career, I was taught to call first as I’m likely to get a faster response. Some people aren’t checking their emails regularly or the email could go to spam. Also, often I was trying to schedule 3-5 interviews for an interview panel and the faster I could fill one spot in for the panels calendar the easier it would be to schedule the rest of the interviews. I wouldn’t hold it against someone if they couldn’t pick up though for the reasons listed here (working, not able to talk etc) and I would always leave a voicemail with suggested interview times and follow up with email.

      For the record I am *not* a phone person, I am terrified of calling people! I was just trying to prioritize speed. If someone had told me they preferred email then I would be relieved heh.

      1. Ali + Nino*

        Re: being terrified of calling people, at least in this situation people are presumably happy to be hearing from you and scheduling an interview!

    11. Sundial*

      My experience has been that a recruiter
      /HR rep who insists on phone conversations is often doing that so you won’t have a paper trail of them making promises to you. This usually means the pay is subpar.

    12. Gnome*

      I wouldn’t look too much into it. They have your number just as much as your email and they are using it. Nothing weird about that, especially since there are lots of people who can’t check their email at work, just as there are ones who can’t take calls. Also, lots of people don’t want to check their personal email from a work computer (or can’t) or otherwise give an opportunity to tip of the employer.

      Also, I have seen email just not make it to the sender enough times that I can understand wanting to at least know they got the message (and hearing “you have reached…” Is usually confirmation that you at least got the right person).

      Still, they should say more than “call me back” – like when they will be there, what sort of timeframe they are looking for (next week, Tuesday or Thursday, the next two weeks), and the like.

      You might want to have a voicemail that says something like, “I generally can’t return calls until after 5PM, so for urgent messages, it’s best to follow your voicemail up with an email.”. That will make it clear.

  13. Amber Rose*

    I’ve been tasked with organizing some kind of celebratory event for the company’s 20th anniversary next summer. And now you have exactly as much knowledge about what they want as I do.

    Where do I even start? Organizing a Christmas party or a team building event is easy because I already know what’s expected. What does one do for a business anniversary?

    I was just feeling good about the party planning and then this landed on my lap. D:

    1. Not a Real Giraffe*

      I am also planning a 20th anniversary party for my firm! Is this for employees or for clients? Ours is mostly for clients, and will likely be just a really upscale cocktail party and a nice venue in the city. We may hire a jazz trio or something. We send out physical invitations (like you would for say, a wedding) in addition to emailed invitation. Other than that, it’s a corporate party like any other for us ;)

      1. Amber Rose*

        I’m going to assume mostly staff. Our customers are worldwide, so the odds of any of them showing are pretty low. We have done open house events before though, so maybe I’ll run that by management and see what they want.

        Otherwise I’m thinking of booking out a restaurant somewhere, taking everyone out for lunch and letting top give speeches.

    2. Policy Wonk*

      I haven’t had to plan any myself, but have attended them. This is different from an internal event. I’d guess you’d want a big reception of sorts, with branded 20th anniversary swag. I’d assume there is a public affairs aspect so if you have press people rope them in early. I’ve seen people design modified logos to incorporate the number 20, have photo displays (either real or on line) showing then and now – essentially a retrospective. Some sort of honoring of employees that have been with the company since the beginning. That kind of thing.

      It’s a big undertaking – good luck!

    3. enough*

      The basics would be the same. Food, drink, location, possible entertainment. After that how do you want to acknowledge the last 20 years? Banner, pictures, speeches/stories from higher ups, long time employees? Whatever shows the growth, progression of the company. Do you invite selected past employees? Ask the higher ups what they would like? Do not recommend a barber shop quartet but a special cake with related decoration displayed and served as dessert might be nice. (90th anniversary a long time ago).

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

      Pretty much the same stuff you do for holiday parties — food and decoration, maybe music and dancing if that’s in your culture, a few speeches/toast from the top people. If your company has an archivist or someone who’s been around all 20 years, you could interview them for some historical facts, personal stories, or see if folks have photos from things like a ribbon cutting or grand opening — make a printed program with the information. If there are any well-liked retirees from the company, you could invite them back for the celebration. If your business is a BIG DEAL in your city, you could invite dignitaries like the mayor or Chamber of Commerce.

    5. Llellayena*

      Depending on company size: gifts are good. Our company did bottles of champagne and wine bottle openers. Something that’s a little unusual/more upscale than a standard christmas party makes it a little more special like a nicer/more unusual venue (museum? boat?), live music, 3-ring circus…depends on your budget (which I HOPE they shared with you). Spouses/partners included unless it’s a daytime/during work hours thing. Ask if there will be a “This is how far we got” power point presentation and who is giving/creating it. And then make sure the venue has the ability to do that….

    6. RisRose*

      My first step would be to try to get a budget for the event. The size of the budget can help you determine how large or small an event they have in mind.

    7. Brrrrr*

      I’ve been with my company long enough to go through a few anniversary parties, the 3 that stand out in my mind, in order of my most to least favorite:
      1) Dinner theatre – rented the whole venue, watched a fun play while eating 3-course meal, and the company handed out engraved watches to all employees (we had a choice of styles to pick from). No speeches from the upper brass, just a fun night out.
      2) Rented a super fancy beautiful theatre venue, had cocktail party (drinks & appetizers) followed by a comedian show. He was actually really funny and totally not edgy (i.e. safe for work). A few speeches from company leaders.
      3) Rented a banquet room in a conference centre, basically a fancy cocktail party – had lots of displays and photos set up for people to look at, interspersed with appetizer and drink stations. To me this one was on the boring side but a lot of our customers seemed to enjoy it.

      1. Westsidestory*

        There should be a second thread about all the great parties of the before times.

        I worked in publishing and experienced everything from a local park that was fully taken over, massive food (think beer garden but with wine too) and even a soccer tournament between the international divisions – and a blowout that took five ballroom floors in the New York Hilton – each floor themed with food and drink and entertainment for each of the five continents the company had offices in. Those were the days!

    8. WantonSeedStitch*

      I was on the board of an organization that celebrated its 30th anniversary while I was there. Some of the highlights of our celebrations included some relics of the time when we were founded (“and this was called a TYPEWRITER!”), some old newsletters from that time, timelines of all the cool stuff we’d done over the years with photos, and of course just plenty of good food and drinks with a slightly fancier/more celebratory air than we usually had at our conference.

    9. Westsidestory*

      If it’s a summer event, consider outdoors (with a backup for bad weather. You will need to ask for a budget and see whether the attendance will be staff only, staff and families/spouses, clients, etc.

    10. J*

      Do you know your target attendees (internal only or clients/family too)? I did an anniversary party with external client guests and what went over really well was interviewing them about their growth as a company, not fishing for stories about us, and making big giant posters about their success. The guests loved them, it ensured attendance, but even for internal only the business team loved seeing the clients they didn’t work with and what they did. We also had a product demo.

      We kept ours super informal, more of a drop in event and literally across the street. We invited alumni from our team so it was a semi-reunion to see old friends/coworkers again. Every half hour the restaurant we were hosting it in brought out a new theme of snacks so people stuck around for that. We wanted to make it more about the people behind the business than the business itself, but featuring our location since we were in a super hip part of town. It wasn’t a total success since it turned out to be ridiculously hot that day but it was better than I’d expected in the end.

  14. PostalMixup*

    There was a discussion on r/labrats Reddit this week about notice periods for low-level academic lab staff, and I was surprised how many people were strongly of the opinion that two weeks was unacceptably short. Those of you who are academic scientists, what’s your take on this? Should a lab tech be expected to give 4+ weeks of notice?

    1. Golden*

      Interesting, I hadn’t seen that! In my PhD lab, it was pretty well understood that lab techs were going to be there for 1-3 years to gain experience before grad school. Their timeline was pretty well established, plus we helped them with personal statements and interview prep, so there were no surprises about their departure date.

      However in other labs, the lab ‘tech’ was more of a lab ‘manager’ (or ‘parent’ tbh) and knew way more than the PI or anyone else about the running of their lab. I could see how 2 weeks would be devastatingly short to lose that, but I’d say if the lab sinks based on one person’s departure, it’s kind of on the PI. There’s ways to mitigate that such as having the tech keep meticulous documentation of their duties, open lines of communication and actively helping them with their next steps and goals, etc.

      1. Golden*

        I didn’t actually answer the question. As a former academic scientist, I’d say no, a job is a job and the business standard is 2 weeks notice. But academia is a strange beast and pissing off the wrong person can be unfairly consequential, so I’d personally recommend that someone give a longer notice.

        1. kicking_k*

          I’ve had very non-academic jobs in universities and the notice periods did seem to assume that anyone at a certain pay grade was most likely to be teaching staff. The official notice period was 3 months (or a term), which made sense for lecturers, but it was understood that administrative staff could negotiate a shorter one if the boss agreed.

      2. darlingpants*

        I wonder if the disconnect is that people are usually leaving to go to grad school, at which point you have a 6-11 month notice period (start working on applications in September, apply in November, get accepted in February, decide which school in april and actually leave in July or august). Vs if they’re going to another job that job will want them to start with a “normal” 2-3 week notice period.

    2. Churpairs*

      I’m curious about the responses to this because while I’ve been in academia for 10 years, I just started a research admin job where the lab staff report to me on paper. We are in the process of hiring an entry level scientist and it’s all new to me (my BS and MS are in science adjacent fields so I never worked in a lab).

      On that note, what can I do to make life better for the lab staff? They are still getting their direction from the PI, who is also my boss, and I’m just here to support and champion the big picture project (think like a program manager for a large grant – it’s not quite that role but similar). We’ve had one lab meeting and I just told them where my office is and that I always have snacks.

      1. Alice*

        Make life better for lab staff? Some suggestions:
        Write down (or get someone to write down) research data management stuff — the naming conventions, how your ELN is organized, where data is stored, and for how long, how data is cleaned….
        Make sure people are aware of the pathway to report potential research integrity issues or bullying.
        Discuss authorship and author order early.
        :)

        1. Churpairs*

          These are all great things! As mentioned below I’ll be hands off in the lab but much of this is culture stuff that can be influenced from all areas of the project. I also want to make sure they know I who can help navigate all of the systems (procurement, HR, EO, information dissemination/publishing) if that is useful to them. If not, I can step back and let them do their thing.

      2. Anonymous Koala*

        I’m assuming you’re working in some sort of lab manager / staff supervisory role. If that’s the case:
        *Arrange formal procedures for training and formalise all your lab protocols (it’s amazing how many different ways people will do *the exact same thing* in the same lab, and tiny changes can lead to big reproducibility problems when they’re caught late).
        *establish SEMs for all your lab’s general research projects and key equipment, set out specific competencies for those positions, and make it known throughout the lab that “Fergus is formally in charge of the LCMS, if you want to learn/use/take it apart go to him”. This will help you maintain accountability too!
        *get your lab on an equipment maintenance and calibration schedule. It’s amazing how many academic labs are working with equipment that hasn’t been serviced since 1980

        1. Churpairs*

          I’m not, it’s actually further removed than that – we have an awesome lab manager in charge of these things (so I think after I’ve been here awhile I can ask her how I can support her doing these things).

          Your calibration comment made me laugh because I was a calibration tech for a federal lab in college and the equipment we had coming in was Big Yike.

    3. Too Much Soup*

      I work in a different part of academia, and the standard for staff in my area is 2 weeks for hourly employees, a month for salaried employees, and ideally longer for high-level positions. I’ve worked at a handful of institutions (but all in my region of the U.S.) that all shared this as a policy, so it “feels” standard to me whether it is or not. With some entry-level lab positions, I can see where someone leaving on only 2 weeks notice causes a scramble to ensure proper coverage, but it seems like it’s more “the higher you’re paid, the more time we need to replace you.”

    4. EngineerGradStudent*

      Honestly I could see how this would be tough. I am a senior PhD student, and our lab techs often have years worth of knowledge for processes, equipment, safety resources, university contacts, etc. And I am sure I am only scratching the surface with that list. Even “low level” techs often have deep institutional knowledge, turning that all over takes time. A lot of times our techs “own” certain resources or equipment, so we would need to set up a new chain of custody and get other folks trained. I know don’t think a longer notice should be required, but if it is not an acrimonious departure a longer notice can really prevent problems down the line for folks left at the institution.

    5. Anonymous Koala*

      When I was a postdoc 4-6 weeks was expected for advanced lab staff (postdocs, lab managers, anyone running a research program within the lab), grad students were expected to give 2-4 weeks (but almost always gave longer than that because of the academic schedule) and 2 weeks was totally normal for lab techs, admin staff, and undergrads. In general more responsibility = more notice period, just like in other fields.

    6. tessa*

      It really depends. I work in academia, and gave 2 weeks’ notice because my apartment lease ended for that year two weeks before I was extended a job offer elsewhere. I let my employer know about the situation, including that I would have had to pay an extra few hundred dollars to stay an extra month to accommodate a 3- or 4-week notice.

      Sometimes, you just have to do what you have to do, regardless of norms.

  15. Sassenach*

    I would like to hear personal experiences with retentions bonuses. Have you requested one? How did it go and how was it set up. Has your employer ever offered one proactively? Draw backs? Typical amounts?

    1. Snow Globe*

      Our company occasionally will provide what is called “long term incentive” bonuses. The amount of the bonus is generally paid out over three years, 1/3 each year, starting 12 months after you are told about the award. If you leave the company you don’t get the remaining bonus. Amounts? $10k on up, depending on your role in the company. Typically these are awarded when the company doesn’t have room for salary increases but they want to reward certain people.

    2. University Schlep*

      The only experience I have was proactively when they were actively looking to sell the company and they were selling the expertise along with it so they offered a retention bonus if you stayed through the transition. The transition was expected to be anywhere from 1-2 years so it was not small.

      It was I believe a combination of fixed and years of service (e.g. something like 8 weeks salary + 1 week per year). It was designed to get just about the amount of attrition they desired while maintaining the core intellectual property they were using as a selling point. (some had as much as 18 years so it was significant)

      I’ve never known anyone to request a retention bonus, there would have to be some really good reason.

    3. hamsterpants*

      My company gave retention bonuses when there were set to be massive changes that would involve months of uncertainty and out-of-state relocation but, in theory, an eventual return to normal business at the new location. They added up to around 25% of a year’s salary, paid out as restricted stock vesting over three years. In hindsight, it wasn’t enough to make the upheaval to my life worth it. I left before it finished vesting.

        1. Roland*

          Not that person, but RSUs are very common in my field. The benefit is having RSUs you can sell for money. They say “the target is X dollars”, a date is chosen, they calculate X dollars is Y RSUs at that day’s price, those are awarded to you and generally vest on a quarterly schedule.

    4. Queen Ruby*

      I was given a retention bonus when my employer bought a competitor and moved HQ, where I was working, to another state. For the last year I worked there, for each month, I would receive 2 weeks pay towards the bonus, plus my usual salary. It was offered proactively by my employer because they understood how important it was to properly transition everything to our replacements.
      No drawbacks from my perspective. It was like getting a 50% raise for a year.

    5. Adequate Archaeologist*

      I received a retention/relocation bonus of $1,450 at my last job. It was paid with my second paycheck, but I could have asked them to postpone the payout if I wanted. Two of us were hired at the same time and my counterpart negotiated for it, so they offered it to me as well (I didn’t find this out until after my first week or so. I thought they just offered it because they were requiring me to move closer to the office.). Theoretically it was supposed to be paid back if I left before 1 year was up, but when I left before a year no one said a word about it. Same with my co-hire who actually negotiated it. I’m not sure if they forgot or they’re banking on building a tiny bit of good will that might lure us back. The wording was super vauge, but it also sounded like they wouldn’t force me to pay it back if they fired me, which I thought was strange.

    6. HR Exec Popping In*

      I’ve never heard of an employee requesting a retention bonus. These are tools companies use with employees that they have deemed are critical to retain for a specific business purpose. For example, being in a job that is working on a critical business priority, they have unique skills that would be hard or impossible to replace which would put the priority in jeopardy.

      1. The Real Fran Fine*

        That’s typically my understanding of them. I know I was given a pretty sizable SPOT bonus this year that was intended to be part of my “retention bonus” (they also threw a ton of RSUs at me) and that’s because I’m the only person on my team who does what I do and can manage my programs.

    7. HR Exec Popping In*

      Unless you mean a sign-on bonus (which has a retention hook). For that, during the offer stage, you should first ask for a higher salary. If they can’t meet your request, ask if they could bridge you with a sign-on bonus. This is very normal and generally companies are eager to do this as a one time payout is much easier than committed higher compensation.

    8. RussianInTexas*

      Partner’s company has the “long term incentive” for very select people.
      He just received one – 1800 of the company’s RSU, vested over the next 3 years. Current value is at $60k.

      1. RussianInTexas*

        I call it “diamond encrusted handcuffs”, aka “please please please don’t go”.

    9. MurpMaureep*

      Prior to leaving my last position (in the same larger organization) I was offered a “retention agreement” because I was considered a flight risk and my boss’s boss pushed for it.

      It was structured as $10k over the course of a year in three installments – $1,500 up front, $3,000 after 6 months, and $5,500 after a year.

      Because I was, in fact, in the late stages of interviewing for another position, I didn’t feel I could in good conscious take the first payment so I simply didn’t sign. I also was wary because even though HR said it didn’t matter, the agreement contained language stating that I would be in violation of the agreement if I did leave, with somewhat nebulous consequences.

      I don’t regret a thing. My new job gave me a larger raise (which of course is now part of my base salary, on which all future raises are calculated) and I don’t have to feel like I’ve been bribed to stay or am taking money under false or unclear premises.

    10. quality teas*

      I would never ask for a retention bonus, I would just ask for a higher salary. A retention bonus is a carrot/stick from the company to stop you from leaving, and it feels weird to ask for that proactively.

      I received two at my previous job – it was a bonus you got immediately but would be clawed back if you left within a year, and I got this 2 years in a row. The downside is if you leave within the year, you have to have the cash to pay it back! Basically, be prudent and consider it not “your” money until the time limit is up or you are stuck. I did manage to leverage my retention “bonus” into a sign on bonus when I changed jobs which covered most of the cash I needed to pay back the “bonus”.

      1. The Real Fran Fine*

        I’m glad the clawback thing isn’t standard across the board. I once worked for a company that gave me one each year, and the second time I received the bonus, I left a few months later to move to another company, lol. It was a nice sized bonus, too – I did not have the coins to pay that back.

        1. quality teas*

          Luckily I got other bonuses from this company without the retention clause that were mine to keep!

    11. Anonanon*

      I was offered one ahead of our bidding on renewal of the contract I was on. Got 40 percent up front and the rest if we win. I have to stay 12 months after award or have to pay it back. If we don’t win then I keep what I already got but don’t get the rest. It’s used to prevent people from jumping to competitors. It comes out to about 1-2 months salary. It was taxed like a bonus.

    12. BadCultureFit*

      I was offered a healthy one when my boss retired and I was the most senior person in the department. It took a while to hire my boss’s replacement so they offered me one. I actually negotiated it (I asked for double what they offer, they came back with an extra 80%). It worked out well and I ended up staying a full year after my must-stay-until date.

    13. New Mom*

      We offered them this year in two installments and a lump of people quit right after the second one came through, which was pretty stressful for those of us who stayed.

    14. Sandy*

      My husband has received one and is promised (?) two more for the next two years. The business hasn’t been doing well and a lot of people are leaving and he’s probably one of the best in his area at this point. We were a little skeptical of whether the first one would come through – with all of them he was asked to keep them quiet and nothing was said about them after the paper was signed – but it did. No real downsides!

  16. Job seeker*

    I come seeking the wisdom of the commentariat for what is probably an incredibly stupid question, but I’ll risk it.

    What is the etiquette surrounding contacting a recruiter (is it even allowed)?

    I’ve been working for a small company for the past 5 years (entirely remote). I’ve never received a review or a raise in spite of having taken on greater responsibility over the years, and even though I’ve been told my work is excellent. My coworkers who have been here longer than me have told me it’s the same for them. I have evidence that approaching the leadership regarding this would result in negative consequences. There are intangibles that have kept me here in spite of a low-end salary and no raises, but it’s clear that things are not going to change, and I need to find other employment.

    I’ve never used a recruiter, and know nothing about how the process works. How do I get on their radar? Is it acceptable for me to contact them and send them my resume? Are they supposed to find you instead (the comments I’ve seen here at AAM about recruiters involves being contacted by them, not the other way around)? I contacted one and now I’m wondering if I committed a faux pas or breach of ettiquette in doing so. If it makes a difference, I’m in the legal field (IANAL).

    TIA

    1. ThatGirl*

      You absolutely can contact recruiters, especially ones who work for third-party firms. While it’s generally in their job description to find you (candidates in general), no good recruiter would turn down a potential new contact!

      In case you’re wondering how recruiters find you – generally through LinkedIn or job-search sites such as Indeed, ZipRecruiter, etc. I get a lot of LinkedIn spam from recruiters, and occasionally useful job leads.

    2. Less Bread More Taxes*

      YMMV but I contacted about five recruiting companies during my last search, and none of them responded. My resume wasn’t that bad because I got four offers in the end, but it really stung at the time.

      1. Cookies For Breakfast*

        I had similar experiences. Never heard back from recruiters when I reached out to them first (even when they had contacted me for other roles before).

        It seems to me that they prefer to talk to candidates they themselves have found (even when their approach is to email tons of people for roles that are not a match and response rates are low), than keep a record of people who reached out and review them for their open positions. If I had to guess why, I’d wonder whether they’re heavily targeted on the volume of outgoing contact attempts. Or whether they think that reviewing incoming resumes and keeping in touch with people who showed interest is too much effort compared to sending hundreds of boilerplate messages and seeing what comes back.

        1. Chaordic One*

          I never really though about their motivations, but you’re probably right. Their work is probably primarily measured by their volume of outgoing contact attempts. I would also suspect that if you are contacting them they might assume that you are unemployed and desperate, and there is this unfortunate negative and blatantly false stereotype that if someone is unemployed there must something wrong with them. I’ve heard that some recruiter clients will refuse to interview someone who is unemployed.

    3. Recruiter*

      If it’s about a specific role, I’d say definitely reach out to recruiters. However, some recruiting/search firms work on behalf of the client instead of on behalf of the candidate. Reaching out about a specific role would be a better introduction than asking a recruiter to find you a role, if that makes sense.

      1. T. Boone Pickens*

        Yup, this. In almost all instances, recruiting/search firms find people for jobs, not jobs for people.

    4. NotRealAnonForThis*

      When OldJob hit the level of “nope.”, I called a recruiter who’d been in my LinkedIn inbox and said “nope, get me out of here.”

    5. MissGirl*

      Make sure you’re on LinkedIn and that your profile is updated with the keywords you’re looking for in a new job. Set your preferences to open to recruiting. Recruiters can see this but the general public can’t. I get significantly more attention when I have that set.

    6. T. Boone Pickens*

      You’ll get the most bang for your mythical buck if you focus on reaching out to recruiters within your specific niche and even moreso if it’s a niche within a niche (I know some legal recruiting firms only focus on certain subsets like private equity, BigLaw, etc). The more niched the recruiter, the better understanding of the space they’ll have.

    7. thelettermegan*

      I think the biggest thing to know is that YOU do NOT pay the recruiter! Your skills are THEIR product to SELL, so they get a commission from the company that hires you.

      What I’ve found works best for me is to keep my Linkedin profile up to date and as focused as a resume for anything I might ever want to do. Internal and external recruiters usually find me via Linkedin to match positions they have.

      When starting a job search, though, you don’t have to go through a 3rd party recruiter. Lots of companies still appreciate a good old fashioned application submission via linkedin Jobs/Indeed/zip recuiter. You are probably just as qualified as anybody else fills out the form, so don’t feel like you need the recruiter to get some attention from those dream companies.

      1. Job seeker*

        Thank you. I’m on linkedin, but I’ll have to make sure my profile is up to date, and my settings are correct (thank you, MissGirl!!).

    8. Job seeker*

      Thank you, everyone, for your comments and advice!

      I’ve always searched for jobs and applied for them, and never used a recruiter, but my circumstances have changed and I’m not in a city anymore, so my local options are very limited, and I’m looking for remote only work. I thought maybe touching base with a recruiter might help. I’m glad it’s not a faux pas to reach out to them! Thanks again!

  17. KoiFeeder*

    Shock of shocks, I actually got my TA contract renewed for this semester. I made a student cry (it was by accident and there is context, but I’m still really mad at myself that it happened at all because that’s inexcusable), so I genuinely was not expecting my contract to be renewed ever again. This is a little awkward because I took the data entry job figuring that I could maneuver part time grad school around it, but because of last semester I wasn’t expecting TA work on top of that. Now I have to touch base with the teacher and figure out what it involves- grading is easy and I could do that around the job, but if I’m having to tutor students again like last semester that’s not going to be logistically feasible (and, given last semester, a really bad idea). Fun times.

    1. Amerikanka*

      Wow, it sounds like you have been through a lot! Congratulations on getting your TA contract extended1

      I do not know your full situation, but would consider giving your two week’s notice to the job that pays less and has the least professional benefits for you a (am guessing this is likely the data entry job). Your needs come first. I see employment like business contracts, so will leave my current employer if I get a better offer elsewhere that benefits me.

      1. KoiFeeder*

        Ah, the TA thing is… I think it’s more of a perk of this particular grad school rather than an official Job Job. It’s a way to ensure that we’re getting work experience while in college, maybe? I know I don’t get Actually Paid, instead I get a tuition reimbursement- but that reimbursement has been the same whether I was handling one class or three of them. So that would be the one to go between the two. And, frankly, unless the TA contract was notably better than the data entry job, it’d probably be the one to go anyways. I’m not a good teacher, and that’s not fair to the students.

        1. Reba*

          It’s a perk/beneficial job experience, but also a way that the university functions on grad student labor… :) But actually tutoring students should not be in the job duties!
          I def wouldn’t pass on the tuition waiver (if it is full). You can also consider whether that teaching experience benefits your cv more than the other role or not.
          Sounds like it might be worth having a chat with the prof about the particular course, and also with the director of graduate studies or your adviser about expectations for TA duties and how TA-ships fit in to the overall grad school timeline.
          good luck with your decision!

          1. KoiFeeder*

            It’s not a full waiver, but it is pretty significant- about 1/8th of my tuition. Both roles are equally “beneficial” to my CV, although the classes I TA are at least relevant to what I want to do for a living. On the other hand, I’d need better reimbursement if they want me to tutor again, both for my sake and the students’.

            The tutoring thing is definitely why I want to touch base with the instructor- last semester it actually made it more difficult for me to do my actual coursework because I was having to tutor students on top of full-time graduate school. I’m part-time this year, but with a full-time job, so it just would be logistically impossible.

  18. Following a dream*

    I’m in my late 40s (gulp how did that happen). In college 25+years ago I took some marketing electives and ended up writing a fictional pipe dream business plan. At the time the internet was becoming common in everyday use. I always wanted to open a small mom n pop shop related to a hobby I enjoy. On occasion I’ve updated the plan over the years. Life happened and I never did anything about this dream. I recently found said business plan tucked away in a box. I don’t want to regret never giving it a shot.

    As a hobby I have enough advanced equipment to get started on a smaller scale. I always heard most businesses fail within the first 5 years… my business plan is for 8 starting as a 1 person show and slowly expanding with new equipment, office space and employees over the years.

    I feel like there is always going to be some reason not to start a business and am upset it’s taken me 25 years to say what do you have to lose? Financially if I take things slow over my 8 year plan I should be able to finance this adventure with minimal loans. I also don’t think this is a fad as Ive been thinking about this for years…. I’ve spoken to others in the industry for insight. I even had a potential “competitor” that I actually look up to, compliment me and even want to work with me on a few projects.

    I just keep second guessing myself. While friends and family know I enjoy this hobby, very few people know of my dream to do this professionally. I can’t shake this feeling that people will think I woke up one morning and decided to play “hobby-fun” all day. While I have a realistic budget I can’t wrap my head around how much I would need to spend in start up costs. I confess I’m overwhelmed about the big picture and all there is to do to get started. I’m concerned people will think this is a silly idea since the industry is looked at as a hobby.

    Any words of encouragement? Has anyone been in similar situations? I’d love to hear your stories!

    1. ABK*

      I doubt anyone will think you woke up one morning and decided to play all day. More likely, they’ll be impressed that you are taking the risk of turning your hobby into a business and will admire you for it!
      I haven’t done anything like that, but I say you should go for it!! Good luck!

    2. Chase your passion!*

      That’s wonderful!! You’ve clearly thought this through and know what you want, and are ready to take the leap! I hope you’re not too hard on yourself for waiting that time to start – everyone’s timelines look different and it’s never too late.

      I have a question about the fear that people will think you just decided to play “hobby-fun”, or that it’s silly. Certainly some people will think that. Not everyone, a lot of people will be proud of you and maybe even feel inspired! But if you do run across people who do think you took this step lightly or that it’s silly, how do you think you would feel in that moment? Would you be discouraged and decide it really was silly? Would you invite them to take a look at your business plan you started 25 years ago? Will you let naysayers sway you from this thing you really want to do in your life?

    3. MissGirl*

      You seem very concerned about what “people” will think. Why? Who are these people? Are they knowledgeable about your field? Are they experts in small businesses? Are they people whose insights you value? Or, are they just general people?

      I had a friend who started an independent bookstore during the great recession. Expert people told her it was a very bad idea, including booksellers, bookstore owners, publishers; but she pushed through. She was even shocked the bank refused to loan her more money. She didn’t last three months and blamed everyone else for her failure. She had to move back in with her parents and was in debt for years.

      She should’ve listened to the people.

      I have another friend starting a business this month. She has “people” telling her it’s a bad idea like her parents and such. They’re worried about her and, like many parents, hate the thought of their child struggling and want to minimize risk. She is walking away from a good-paying job for something that might take a few years to pay off. But I think she’s got a good chance of making it; she’s got a solid business plan, a strong network, and a plan B should things go wrong.

      So ask yourself who these people are whose opinions matter so much to you and if those opinions really matter.

    4. Rain's Small Hands*

      About ten years ago I had health problems and had to suddenly stop working. And then I fell into owning half a small business – I do the back office stuff my partner takes care of sales. It isn’t a “hobby” business – i.e. it isn’t photography or owning a game store.

      Know how you are going to live – in my case, my husband has the real job that can pay the bills and cover insurance (my job actually pays a living wage in very few hours a week – but we don’t use it for living). In small businesses, generally loans are personal, so if your business fails, you’ll be on the hook for the loans you take out – so make sure you aren’t taking on too much risk. And then, don’t worry about what people think – heck, many of my friends are convinced I don’t work at all, others are convinced I must be a slave to this business….it doesn’t change anything.

    5. Shhhh*

      If you have a small business development center nearby, it might be worth it to look at what they offer in terms of advising and educational programming. It sounds like you probably already know quite a bit about how to get this started, but it might be helpful for building confidence, figuring out what concrete steps you can take to get started, etc.

      1. Hermione Danger*

        This. If you live in an urban area, there are organizations available to help you get started. I live in Chicago, and at city hall, there is an entire department devoted to small business development, including a whole series of free classes on how to effectively launch a business and lawyers who come in once a week to offer free legal advice. We also have a really active Women’s Business Development Center that’s city-sponsored. You might also check with the business departments of any colleges or universities in your area. They often offer business mentorships and incubators.

    6. Pool Noodle Barnacle Pen0s*

      Are you really going to let a feeling about what others might think hold you back from this opportunity? That would be incredibly sad. It’s your life. Those hypothetical people and their hypothetical opinions don’t pay your bills or shoulder any of your responsibilities. Go for it.

    7. MJ*

      I’ve seen it recommended to have an exit plan along with the business plan. i.e. at what point does it make sense to throw in the towel?

      Thinking it through logically BEFORE you start the business means you can make plans without being caught in the emotional ‘sunk cost’ trap of ‘I’ve put in xxx (money/time) and if I just keep going a bit longer it will all work out.’ You can also plan in advance what steps would need to be taken to exit the business, so you don’t need to decide at an emotional time.

      And by planning for worst case scenarios, you are prepared for whatever comes your way.

      Good luck.

    8. Irish Teacher*

      I know this is easier said than done, but I really don’t think what other people think should be a consideration. The questions should be what YOU want and whether or not you think you can make it work and are willing to take the risk. I doubt people WILL think it a silly idea, but if they do, so what? If it succeeds, you’ll prove them wrong.

      And honestly, whatever you do, there will be people that will judge you for it. I’m a teacher, in a “permanent pensionable supposedly ‘respectable’ job” and yet during the pandemic, we had people complaining that teachers were being “precious” because schools closed when supermarkets and healthcare facilities didn’t. Anybody who starts their own business will have some people frowning and saying they should just go and get a job working for an established company, it’s safer. Anybody who chooses an apprenticeship or any other path other than college will have some people who think college is the only way. People who go to college will have those who think they are wasting money and should go straight into the workplace.

      That’s not to say you should never take advice. Missgirl gave a good comparison of valid advice and advice that is less valid but if your only worry is that people might think you silly and not that you feel they have valid concerns about the viability of your business, then I think some people thinking you silly much less of an issue than regretting you never followed your dream.

    9. I don't mean to be rude, I'm just good at it*

      Is it something you can do on weekends. Perhaps start slowly at a flea market/swap meet environment and slowly build up.

      It is something I did while teaching and now, I am a forced retired teacher with a very successful business.

  19. Tactical Desk Job*

    Hi all, I may be overthinking this but I’m currently updating my resume and am looking for some advice.
    I currently work full time in a government adjacent position. Last year I took an employer sponsored course that allows me to act in a certain secondary position during critical incidents. This secondary position is not required or related to my primary job. I volunteered for the training/position but since I get paid when I respond and act in this secondary position, I don’t believe it should go under volunteer experience. The hours for the secondary position are infrequent and unpredictable.
    What would be the best way to show this secondary position on my resume? Another entry in the work experience section? Just mention it in the cover letter? There are some skills from the position I especially want to highlight for a job I’m thinking of applying for.

    1. Amerikanka*

      I would probably list it under my current job on my resume, but know that others may have valid different opinions. I would also consider include “part time” in parenthesis next to the secondary position so they know you are not working two full-time jobs.

      You could maybe list the course you completed under “certifications” on your resume as well since it is relevant to the job you would like to have.

    2. Fabulous*

      My first thought was under Certifications as Amerikanka suggested, but I think it should go under your current company with (part time) or (ad hoc) clarified. As the first bullet, I’d list the certification you achieved and then your skills/accomplishments for the role.

      Now that I’m thinking on it more too, though, this sounds like something from my job history – I took a class and was certified to present new hire orientation at my current company where I only did it a few times before changing roles. I just ended up listing it as a bullet on my resume under the job I was in during that time though, instead of something more substantially calling it out.

      Since you want to highlight it more for your application, I’d definitely list it separately though :)

  20. Anon pour ce poste*

    Any advice on how to handle it when your boss wants you to write an “angry” email to a vendor… But you’re not angry and you know that your boss is somewhat at fault?

    We’re in the midst of license renewal discussions with our vendor. A couple of months ago, we got a new account executive and there has been some confusion over licenses. (E.g. the license numbers she gave us were wrong, she didn’t have background on some of the “deals” my boss struck, and then we discovered that a request for an extra 600 licenses went astray and were never invoiced/issued to us.)

    My boss is getting irritated, and explicitly told me, “Tell them we’re mad with the lack of communication and unclarity,” etc. But… I’m not mad. The account executive is new. The “deals” my boss struck aren’t in writing anywhere. I don’t have access to the original contracts to validate any of this. The 600 missing licenses are an unfortunate mistake, but we didn’t notice that we weren’t invoiced either, so fault lies on both sides.

    For context, when dealing with this company, my boss sometimes acts like she’s a bigwig and sometimes gets cranky if we aren’t treated like royalty. FIFTEEN years ago, she worked for the company. We are one of the company’s biggest customers in a new field they’re expanding into… But we’re also small fry in terms of their other customers. Maybe I’m wrong and we SHOULD be treated like royalty… But I doubt it.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      My boss is like this. I usually pin it to her instead of “us” if possible. “Boss is feeling frustrated by the lack of clarity and I’d really like to help us all get on the same page.” If I can have that conversation in person (or zoom or phone) vs by email I usually do. A) Boss can’t judge if I’m being ‘angry’ enough if she’s not there while she could ask to see the email and B) it’s a LOT easier to convey through tone that you’re doing what you’re told and don’t agree.

      Solution orientation is also really helpful here. “These are the issues we’re seeing. I understand xyz happened, but we need to get this rectified as soon as possible. Can we please [proposed next steps].”

      Sorry you’re in this position! It’s awkward, but everyone has bosses, usually the people on the other side understand when you’re being put in the middle.

    2. WantonSeedStitch*

      Is your boss the kind of person who will get upset if you get the results she wants without doing it the way she said? I think if you set some guidelines for communication and say things like “we need to get X, Y, and Z in writing, and set up processes to touch base at X times,” that might help. Then you can tell the boss, “vendor says they’re sorry and from now on, we’re going to have X, Y, and Z in writing, and they will touch base with us at X times.”

      As for the licenses, I think the fact that you didn’t realize you didn’t get them and weren’t invoiced is your company’s problem, yes, BUT it’s a much bigger problem that the vendor failed to provide them and invoice you in the first place. I would approach that with “in light of the fact that we’ve now missed out on being able to use those licenses for a couple of months, I think it would make sense to prorate the cost to [percentage of the original], don’t you?” That way you aren’t paying for the time you weren’t able to use them.

    3. Binky*

      I think your boss isn’t out of line to be frustrated that the hand-off between the old account exec and the new one has been handled poorly. I don’t know that you need to express anger in the email, but it does sound like a number of balls were dropped by your vendor. In your position I’d want to get the new and old exec together (if possible) with your boss to get everyone on the same page.

    4. Katie*

      I would just communicate with the vendor the issues and the need to rectify. You don’t have to be angry to talk about issues.

  21. Anon Techie*

    Hopefully my last post on this – I think I’m close to having my firing reclassified as a resignation. My question is what to say to my former coworkers?

    It was a high profile termination due to how well liked I was and how I’d formed connections both official and unofficial with most teams/departments (HR followed secret processes usually reserved for a VP despite me being mid-level). We do happy hours regularly and people are very kind and checking on me. Once this all gets wrapped up I’m going to start job searching and obviously I only want future employers to hear about the new status of it being a resignation. My understanding is that any paperwork that gets signed with old job will include a clause where I can’t acknowledge such an agreement exists.

    What’s a good script? Can I just say “it’s been reclassified as a resignation” and just say I can’t go into details? These are people who I am decently friendly with and will very likely be continuing friendships as well as networking with/through them for jobs, so I don’t want to be cold or stand off-ish. My undignified treatment has already been a contributing factor to a couple resignations.

      1. HR Exec Popping In*

        This. You don’t have to say that you received a legal contract or what it contained. I would frankly just say that you resigned because of a disagreement over whatever and if they ask a follow up question hinting that they heard you got fired just reply that it is technically a resignation or that both parties agreed it was time for a change and that you resigned. Generally people don’t push on this stuff too much.

        1. Anon Techie*

          It’s been over a month since the termination – maybe this process doesn’t normally take that long? I’ve already seen a lot of my former coworkers, so its not like they heard a rumor about being fired – they heard it either from me (before I got a lawyer) or someone close to me (a few people were…rather loudly opinionated the week it happened. One person tried to reverse the decision. Some people panicked about their own job security. Apparently the aftermath was a little dramatic).

    1. Colette*

      Are you concerned about what you tell people you know, or people you will be interviewing with who you don’t know?

      Do you understand why they fired you? It would be good to get that clear in your own mind.

      With people you don’t know, I definitely wouldn’t say it has been reclassified as a resignation – that makes me wonder what happened. You could say you resigned, but that’s likely to raise more questions about why you resigned without a job lined up, so give some thought to how you’d answer them.

      1. Rain's Small Hands*

        Resigning without another job lined up is easy “I was fortunate that I was in a position to be able to take a small sabbatical before I needed to find another role.” People won’t pry over whether that was savings, a partner willing to support you, a sudden inheritance, you won the lottery.

        1. Colette*

          I don’t like the idea of lying, especially if there has not been a large gap since the last job.

      2. Anon Techie*

        I’m asking what to say to my former coworkers – these are people I know and am work friends with (some of them are partway between work friend and real friend). The company is small (150-200) and I worked with a large percentage of them. The settlement process has taken a few weeks and I didn’t think it was actually going to go through, so we’ve talked and they definitely know it was originally a termination. Several coworkers want to connect me to jobs within their network and I don’t want former coworker Bob to tell future employer Sally that I was let go from our company. Please trust that I know my friends enough to know this a real risk. I’m not worried about what to say in interviews.

        As for understanding the why – it was a wrongful termination for reporting harassment and safety issues, the reclassification is part of a settlement. My coworkers don’t know the real details, but the popular theories are all that it was for shady reasons, as I was publicly praised as being essential and a high performer then suddenly gone. Plus the company is doing some other shady stuff right now.

        1. Hillary*

          Late replying to this, but I hope this helps.

          Your lawyer can help you with a neutral script here. I usually say something along the lines of “it was complicated, but it gave me the push I needed” when I talk about the time I was fired. I’m not bound by any legal agreements so sometimes I go on to talk about the people and what led up to it. My big piece of advice is to practice telling people. I was very upset about it for the first couple months. It took a while before I could be dispassionate about it.

          I suspect your lawyer will say to tell Bob that the company will verify it as a resignation. You can privately say you can’t say more, but it was complicated and you’re glad to be moving on to new things, and you appreciate his support. Tech folks are used to settlements/NDAs and they should read between the lines to keep their mouths shut.

  22. Prospect Gone Bad*

    I have an employee who is often mildly unhappy. I think they are going through one of their periods again. TBH I am getting burnt out from dealing with it and it’s much harder to gauge what is going on when we are WFH.

    Some of their complaints have been valid but as they’ve earned more, the expectation was that they accept some of the issues or get more active in fixing them, but I don’t know if they are fully doing this. It still feels like they have too many “deal breakers” and TBH I am sort of tired of it. Ten things will go well, the complain about the eleventh. Then we fix the eleventh and they low key complain about a fourteenth thing that broke, making me feel like the fix we just did on the other thing didn’t happen or wasn’t enough.

    I’m wondering if they are job hunting. At this point, I wouldn’t be depressed if they left (though it would temporarily screw me). But I’m also afraid of a situation where they keep looking and don’t get offers. And I’m also concerned that they’re going to have the same issues at their future job.

    Anyone else deal with this? We have a few employees who are positive and nice but useless and would have been fired at other companies, so I’ve put up with lackluster attitudes elsewhere in exchange for good work for years but I am getting tired of it. I hate the feeling that someone is doing me a favor by doing work for a good salary. I feel like the media and online commentators have been vehemently pro-employee lately but it’s making my work life worse and making me question the point of having people around.

    1. Colette*

      Why is them being mildly unhappy your problem?

      When they complain about things, have you been clear that their choice is to accept the issue or come up with a solution?

      You say you’ve been putting up with “lackluster attitudes” in exchange for good work, but … work is what you’re paying them for, so I wonder about your expectations there. Is their attitude stopping them from doing their job (i.e. stopping them from building relationships with teammates or clients), or are they just not as outwardly enthusiastic as you think they should be.

      1. Prospect Gone Bad*

        let me think about this. Am I reasonable?

        “Why is them being mildly unhappy your problem?” – well, I want a lighter positive more proactive environment and also people to not act like everything in general is hard or unfair. I feel like it brings down some meetings and people are hesitant ask follow up questions/requests because they assume the complaint is 100% fact and not subjective.

        “When they complain about things, have you been clear that their choice is to accept the issue or come up with a solution?” – for the most part but not every time. I mean, I am not going to put everything on their shoulder.

        I think their attitude is making all of us more hesitant to ask for more stuff or to loop them into newer projects. It feels like they’re doing us a huge favor instead of of work at a similar intensity as the rest of us.

        1. FashionablyEvil*

          So, I think you have a slightly different problem than you think you do: the problem is not that the employee is/may be unhappy, but that their actions and behaviors are directly affecting their team—the fact that people are reluctant to ask about new projects concerns me because it points to the employee poisoning the culture.
          Have you considered naming the behaviors and talking about the environment you want to cultivate? Or having a broader conversation about how their work is going, what they view as the expectations of the role, and what kinds of projects they see the team as being able to contribute to? Basically, think much bigger about the culture you want to cultivate and the behaviors that you want to work on with this employee to get there.

          1. Prospect Gone Bad*

            I guess this is all true. So I have had those talks a few times before. Now I’m at the wall where I had the talk, but it didn’t do much. I feel like I’m trying to re-steer the Titanic. I also feel like they feel I sort of abandoned them by stopping to indulge in their complaints. I don’t think they’re fully grasping that their grips when they made $60K that were valid are now things they need to ignore or fix at $100K. And some of the stuff is subjective, like “push back on other person and don’t just delegate it to me everytime” that seems much harder to change because the behavior is ingrained.

            So TLDR I am having trouble getting people to change and accept change, and the first few talks didn’t help.

            Thoughts appreciated

            1. LizB*

              If you’ve named these issues in your talks, have you then followed through with pushing back when the behaviors repeat themselves?

              If you said in your talk, “Now that you’re a X level, I expect you to come up with solutions for Y types of issues without involving me, or to decide that the issues aren’t worth pursuing. You have the authority to do that.”
              Then next time they complained about a Y type of issue, did you say, “I hear that you’re frustrated, but as we’ve discussed, this is the kind of thing I expect you to solve on your own as an X level person”?

              If you said in your talk, “If you get an unreasonable request from Jane, I expect you to push back on her without involving me. You have the authority to do so. If it escalates to A or B situation, then loop me in, but otherwise I know you’re able to handle that.”
              Then next time they forwarded Jane’s unreasonable email to you, did you respond to them, “You have the authority to push back on this, please don’t delegate to me unless it reaches the level of A or B situation”?

              Getting people to change can be exhausting and thankless work, and big picture Talks only do so much, as you’ve found. How you respond in the moment when your expectations aren’t being met will have a much bigger impact.

              1. Prospect Gone Bad*

                This is where I am having trouble managing remotely. In fact, I would love AAM to do a whole tips thing or interview with a manager who’s managed remote for years. Just a thought. But yeah, I’m finding it harder to get stuff done remotely and it feels dramatic to call meetings to discuss stuff like this.

                1. WantonSeedStitch*

                  I think you need to let go of it “feeling dramatic.” Sure, it might feel dramatic, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t necessary. Part of managing remotely is making sure that you’re communicating effectively with your team, and giving feedback effectively. If that means you have to face-to-face them on Zoom to talk about performance issues (and let’s be clear, lowering team morale IS a performance issue), then that’s what you have to do. Do you meet regularly with your report 1:1?

                2. LizB*

                  I’ve never managed remote so I can’t speak to that personally, but – your employee is coming to you with these complaints/issues via some kind of communication channel, right? It’s fine to respond via that same communication channel with corrections after you’ve had that original Talk! If it’s an email or chat, respond to it that way, if they bring it up on a call or video meeting, talk about it in the moment. (And if the complaints are usually in a text-based medium, you could even had a virtual sticky note/word doc with some copy-paste-able text for a few very common complaints.) I guess I’m not seeing what feedback opportunities you’d have if you were managing in-person that you’re missing because you’re managing remote.

                3. FashionablyEvil*

                  Do you have a regular 1:1 meeting with the employee? Those can help a lot towards helping you understand what’s going on with them and short circuit some of the complaining. It can also help build general rapport.

                  It also sounds like this is an opportunity for you to level up in your management skills—do you have options for training or coaching at your organization that might help? A trusted boss, senior colleague, or HR business partner to talk this through with?

                4. Prospect Gone Bad*

                  thank you for comments below. I mentioned work remotely because one issue I see is people not wanting to come into office ever, saying they love WFH, but they definitely seem more miserable. I can guess why it is (maybe they are stewing over small stuff more often while being home?) but it’s a constant struggle to convince people to come in when they don’t 100% have to but it would be helpful, and I myself am getting burnt out with their “I’m so productive WFH, I love WFH” when productivity is down (though not that far) and they seem generally unhappy.

                5. LizB*

                  (We’re out of nesting – this response is to Prospect Gone Bad @ 3:18pm)

                  I’m going to push back a little on your idea that having them come into the office would help. I’m currently hybrid (alternating two weeks in office and two weeks wfh), and I am more productive when I’m at home. I also am wildly burnt out from *gestures vaguely around at the state of the world*, so my productivity is not 100% in either of my work locations. I was doing pretty well for the first two years of the pandemic, but I finally hit the wall on my ability to just keep going, and I know I’m not the only one in this country or world who’s had that experience. So, it could be that your employee is generally more miserable than before, and their productivity is down compared to previous years, but it has very little to do with their work location and they’d be struggling even more if they had to be in the office.

                6. Two Dog Night*

                  Speaking as someone who’s worked remotely for years… it’s not overly dramatic. You can put a 15-minute meeting on their calendar, or just wait till they show available and ask if you can give them a call. It doesn’t have to be a big deal. And if you occasionally do things like this for positive/neutral conversations, it’s even easier.

            2. Colette*

              I think you need to have a serious conversation with them, outlining what you need from them.
              For example:
              – You raise a lot of issues. I’d like you to think through how to solve the issues and let me know how you think we should solve them before you mention them, unless it is a health and safety issue that needs to be addressed urgently.
              – When someone asks you to do something that’s not something you should handle, I need you to push back and let them know that that’s out of your scope.

    2. HR Exec Popping In*

      If someone is continuously unhappy it is exhausting as a manager. When I’ve had people like this I have a very frank conversation with them. Basically I ask them if they think they can be happy at the company knowing that XYZ (whatever their complaints are) are not likely to change. If they come back with “but….” then you say, you need to make a decision. Can you be happy here. I’m not expecting an answer right now, but I do need you to think about this and we can follow up on it during our next check-in.

    3. JustMyImagination*

      When they come to you with a complaint and it’s something they are supposed to fox are you pushing them to do the fixing or just doing it yourself? Maybe asking “I hear your concern, what steps have you taken to fox XYZ?” Or “when this has happened before I’ve done ABC. Why don’t you try that and let me know how it goes.”

    4. MurpMaureep*

      I’ve had these kinds of employees and they really are exhausting, so I empathize! I also struggled with how to handle them, in part because I used to think it was my job to make them happy. At some point I had an epiphany/paradigm shift where I realized that really my job was to make sure that our work got done and that reasonable frustrations were addressed. So I started being painfully honest with the unhappy people about what I could change, what I couldn’t change, and what – and this is key – it wasn’t reasonable for them to expect me to change *even if I could*.

      Take the example of “you need to push back on Sally when she tries to delegate something to me”. Could I push back on Sally? Perhaps…but should I? No. I shouldn’t because Unhappy Employee should be doing the push-back themselves or even because Sally is right to ask them to do the task. And in a case like this I’d say that. And I might even say (depending on the overall tone of the conversation) “your manager’s job is not to remove every frustration or difficulty, those will invariably crop up as part of any job. You are welcome to bring them to me, but at some point you have to accept that I can’t clear every road block, nor should I”.

      This worked with some people and some people decided they didn’t like that I stopped trying to fix everything and left and we were all the better for it.

    5. The Real Fran Fine*

      Everyone has given really good advice here, but I wanted to address just this part of your post:

      And I’m also concerned that they’re going to have the same issues at their future job.

      This really isn’t your problem to be concerned about. You should only be concerned with their performance while working for you because that’s the only thing that impacts you directly. Give yourself permission to not care so much about things you have no control over and then maybe you’ll have greater bandwidth to deal with the things you do.

    6. LoPay*

      Tell us more about the few employees who are positive and nice, but useless. Your worker bee could be suffering from their lackluster performance.

      1. Tired*

        As a burnt out grumpy employee who is still somehow delivering the work I’m asked for, I’ve lost the band width to pretend to be happy and perky in front of my manager. Commuting on top of the current workload is going to make me more stressed – COVID is not gone. I don’t enjoy driving, I’m an introvert, most meetings are still online. In my case it’s very unclear what authority I have or who is responsible for many tasks which come to me because of my experience/skill but aren’t really mine – and other coworkers being cheerful and “it’s all back to normal” whilst pushing those tasks my way or doing their own work in ways that create problems down the road which I gave to fix do not help my mood.

        All of which to say – I’m possibly projecting, but have you tried empathising? Make sure they know what tools they have to solve problems, especially if those changed, and put them in writing – if they’re burnt out ir forgetful that will help them, & you can just keep copy pasting when they do a thing eg they email to complain that Joe asked them to do X, copy paste the bit that says tell Jie that’s Bobs job and I’ve told you not to do it, or tell joe it’s low priority or send Joe that how to document I asked you to write for everyone…

  23. Amerikanka*

    Is it worth applying to jobs that have less vacation time than my current job for career advancement purposes? I get great vacation time at the university I work at full-time, but am unable to advance so far (I have applied for a lot of job postings at my university but have to compete with external applicants).

    I LOVE international travel and am loathe to give it up (I tool a month long trip to Europe last Summer which is rare for American jobs to allow). However I am worried I will stagnate if I stay in my current job (and be trapped in my current wage). I have already been at my current job for 7 years and am bored and not challenged.

    I am in grad school part time at the university I work at, so wonder if I should just be patient and stick it out until I get my degree (I am 1.5 years away from graduation). On the other hand, I may be setting myself short if I stay at the same university long term (I have heard there are consequences of working at the same place for years).

    I REALLY hope another job opens up for me at my university soon, but know nothing is guaranteed. To make matters more complicated, my university pays for my grad school tuition too.

    Thank you for any thoughts you have!

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      I think so, yes, but that’s personal calculus. It’s really common for jobs to offer extra vacation time if you don’t have a competitive salary or career advancement to keep employees happy. That means it’s a tradeoff if you leave, sure, but if career advancement is important to you that might be a choice you have to consider.

    2. Taura*

      I think it wouldn’t hurt for you to start applying elsewhere, just to see what kind of responses you get. I also think if you start that now, you have 1.5 years to be picky about what you take, since you’re working on your degree and that will change things by itself. Almost 10 years at a place IS a long stay (in my field anyway, idk about yours) but I think it’s perfectly reasonable since you’re also getting your degree there.

    3. Two Chairs, One to Go*

      I just accepted a contract job with no vacation to advance my career. The salary is great, it’s short-term, and it will help me gain experience so I can get back into a job with good benefits again in my new field.

      The biggest perk you have now is that your employer is paying for your education. Factor that in, but it never hurts to look!

    4. KoiFeeder*

      I’d stick it out until you get your tuition paid for. But that’s how the calculus would work out for me. You’re the expert on what’s best for you and your life.

      1. the cat's ass*

        came here to say that, because it’s an excellent perk. 1.5 years is not that long-i’d stick it out and get your tuition paid and then start looking.

        1. Loulou*

          Same, and presumably once OP has that degree they may have better luck with job searching! Just keep in mind they may be obligated to stay for a certain length of time after getting the degree.

          1. KoiFeeder*

            I mean, that’s the calculus thing. A cheap grad school can still be nearly $10k per semester for in-state students, and it’s not going to get better with inflation. I personally would still take being tied to the school for another few years over being out $30k+. OP might not. They’re the expert on their situation.

    5. Pivotttt!*

      As someone who just left academia and debated a 30% pay increase for exactly the same reason – lengthy international travel – I get it. In fact, all of my questions post-offer had to do with PTO, culture in taking time off, etc. However, when I took into consideration how long it would take me in my previous role to get to the new salary, I knew I had to leave. Thankfully, I can already tell that the new place has people take off a couple weeks at a time, so I’m less concerned than I was.

      I’ve been where you are, hoping for a job (and being encouraged by admin!) that never appears.

      Of course, depending on how much your tuition costs, I’d probably do the math and stay for the length of the program if I couldn’t make up the funds with a higher salary.

    6. Decidedly Me*

      There’s no easy answer here – it really depends on your priorities. Personally, I would take more vacation over more immediate career advancement or money. BUT – that’s me. There is no right or wrong here.

    7. DEJ*

      Agree with others there isn’t a right or wrong answer here. My former University employer had amazing benefits, and I knew people willing to take a smaller salary for those benefits. But I got a 25% raise when I left and that obviously has its perks too. Personally, I would probably stick it out until I finished graduate school and then reevaluate from there.

    8. University Schlep*

      I would stay for the tuition. It is unlikely you would find a job that would pay college expenses right away (most have a waiting period) or pay high enough to cover the difference unless you are severely underpaid. And consider whether a new job might make it difficult not just financially but have time constraints to finishing the degree.

      I wouldn’t worry about staying 7 years vs. staying 9 years in terms of consequences to your career, the biggest one is likely that you are underpaid.

      Vacation is always negotiable if you are bringing the skills they are looking for. If it is in a different field then you may need to decide what matters more to you.

      1. Loulou*

        Vacation is not always negotiable! This is one of those AAM truisms that does not apply to every field.

        1. The Real Fran Fine*

          Yup. It’s very company/industry dependent. I was able to negotiate my vacation time at my current employer so I wouldn’t go backwards in terms of time off, but I’ve also worked for employers in other industries in the past who had a take it or leave it PTO policy.

      2. Area Woman*

        Vacation is not negotiable at my company. We lost a candidate who preferred her current PTO situation (with even lower pay, worse benefits, no stock options, and more hours per week) over ours. We have separate vacation/sick leave. I didn’t understand it but I guess this is a thing.

    9. Pam Adams*

      The consequence of staying at my university for years is a collection of service pins and a damn good pension.

    10. AnonyMouse*

      1.5 years is not very long in the scheme of things. If your only concern is lack of advancement and feeling unchallenged, I would personally wait to finish your degree – if you’re ever asked in an interview why you stayed in your current role so long, “they were paying for my graduate degree” is an excellent reason! Once you finish your degree, you may be a more desirable candidate for different roles anyway. So personally I would wait and use these 1.5 years to take advantage of the vacation time you do have. And I agree with other posters that unfortunately you may need to trade off less vacation time for more pay/advancement down the road – vacation is not always negotiable, and depending on your field, taking a full month at a time may be impossible at this stage in your career.

    11. Churpairs*

      I would finish the degree. I worked my first position at my university for 8 years before moving on (and got my masters in that time). My first move was a lateral move that still came with a raise, and my most recent move was a promotion with a much bigger raise.

      Have you reached out to the hiring managers of those internal postings to see why you’ve been passed up? Do you network much at work? It might help to join committees so you can meet people in other departments. Seems to me like when we hire internal candidates, we try to find someone who knows them and can give us a reference outside of the formal reference process.

      FWIW, I’ve looked at other employers and really can’t convince myself to give up the benefits that I get here. As others said, that’s how the calculus works out for me.

    12. cactus lady*

      Reminder that vacation is something you can negotiate at non-university employers! However, I personally would not want to accept a job with less vacation time. If I were in your position I would stick it out to have school paid for and then leave.

    13. New Mom*

      SO relate to this question. I think it comes down to what is most important for you. Half of my family lives in Europe (including my husband’s entire family) and it is essential that we visit for 2-3 weeks at least once every other year, but preferably once a year. I’ve been getting a bit fed up with my current job, but everywhere else just has such paltry time off. We went to Europe for three weeks over Christmas so my husband could actually spend time with his family and that wouldn’t be possible if I were working elsewhere. Our daycare also closes five weeks out of the year so I need a job with lots of time off to accommodate that.

      Going to Europe for a month every summer sounds pretty great, and if advancing your career isn’t the most important thing (and it doesn’t have to be) then I’d lean towards sticking where you know you can get that time off. But again, it’s really up to you and what is most important for your own life and own happiness.

    14. N.J.*

      I work at a university. I don’t adore my job, but I like it and the people a lot and there are benefits to the work-life balance, PTO etc. Especially if they are paying for your tuition, just stick it out until you graduate. In the meantime, apply for other jobs at the university. I’ve been in my position for four years with one raise. I apply to jobs at my university that look up my alley, give more responsibility/are more senior and likely pay more. Is the field you are studying vastly different from your current job? Are you hoping to work private sector after or stay with the university but move up etc?

  24. KofSharp*

    I’m at a contracting company, and we just lost the client I was working with for the past year due to being outbid. (I am still employed at my company and not worried about my job, I’m on a new client team starting today.)
    Is it OK to reach out to my contact there are tell him it was great working with him? What kind of phrasing should I use?

    1. Mid*

      I can’t see why you *shouldn’t* reach out. And I wouldn’t overthink what you say–a simple “I enjoyed working with you over the last [timeframe], and wish you the best on [new contract.]”

  25. Macaroni Penguin*

    The short version: Will leaving my current company two months after returning from a maternity leave ruin my references?
    Longer Version: My industry (social services) has major problems and isn’t going to change. This was my realization during my six month Canadian maternity leave. I’ve been back at work for two months now, and I’ve been looking for a better job outside my company. Well, my last interview went really well and there’s a chance that I could be offered a new position with the government. More pay, better benefits and I’d be Doing Good for Society. If I take a the (possible) new position, will that torch my positive reference at my current company? I’m well liked where I am, and my supervisor is a reasonable and fantastic person. But me leaving now would be seriously inconvenient for the company. There are no financial consequences to possibly leaving my position. It’s just that I’m concerned about damaging my reputation and not being able to use my supervisor as a future reference.

    1. Disco Janet*

      I honestly think it depends on your supervisor. I did something similar and it didn’t damage my reference – but my supervisor was big on the idea of loving to see good people moving onto bigger and better positions and didn’t mind dealing with the inconvenience part, simply saw it as part of his job. It still wasn’t fun to tell him I was leaving because I had guilt, but he was great about it. How does your boss typically respond when people leave or get promoted?

      1. Macaroni Penguin*

        This boss is a good and supportive employer. People are generally cheered on when they move to better things. To be honest, I am feeling some guilt because I don’t like inconveniencing others. And yes, my possible departure would be an inconvenience. It’s part of the employment world, I know but….feelings!

    2. Colette*

      How long were you in the job before maternity leave? If it was long enough for them to know your work, I don’t think it should matter. (And, depending on what form of government you’d be moving to, the reference checking might not give them an opening to complain anyway.)

      1. Macaroni Penguin*

        I’ve been around for almost nine years. So, I’m known for my above average quality of work. I think that things would work out reference wise.

        1. Gracely*

          You definitely paid your dues to the company in that case.* If you’d only been there a year or two, it might not be as easy/forgivable in some people’s eyes, but no one reasonable should be mad you’d go somewhere new after nearly a decade.

          *If it were up to me, “paying your dues” would not be a thing, but it often is to some people, so it is worth factoring in.

          1. Colette*

            It’s not that you need to pay your dues, IMO, it’s that it’s not likely that someone who has worked with you for, say, 4 months could speak to your work – you’re still being trained. My team once had someone join us 4 months before maternity leave, take a year off (which is normal), and extend it for another year. None of those things were a problem – but she hadn’t actually started doing the job independently, so she wouldn’t have had effective references.

    3. Snow Globe*

      It shouldn’t impact any reference if your current boss is a halfway decent manager; people leave jobs all the time, frequently at inconvenient times. Your maternity leave was a company benefit and there is no reason to penalize you for taking the benefit. You have to do what is best for your family.

    4. HR Exec Popping In*

      Not at all and this is actually somewhat common. Being out on leave and going through a significant life change are both predictors of a resignation. Will your manager love that you are leaving? No, but they will get over it. Especially if you had a good relationship and are not difficult on your way out.

    5. ABK*

      I wouldn’t think it would affect your reputation, especially if you present it to your supervisor as an opportunity you weren’t looking for, but is too good to turn down.

    6. Macaroni Penguin*

      Thanks for the assurances my references would probably be fine and that this is a Relatively Normal Inconvenience that Supervisors Deal With!

  26. Disco Janet*

    Curious how this would be handled in different workplaces, because I’m about to find out what happens in mind.

    I have four coworkers who work in the same role as me, and there are certain processes/aspects of the job that we are required to all do the same way for consistency. However, we get to decide as a team what that process should look like. We are planning out our processes and keep running into roadblocks where three of us agree on what the process should be, but that one final person doesn’t. In general, they’re a “we don’t need to compromise/collaborate because my way is clearly better” type person. Granted, some things can’t be compromised on, like the order we complete the process in – it’s option A or B and there are no other choices.

    The rest of us are getting frustrated and wanting to basically say “sorry, but you’re outvoted here – we’re doing it this way.” Or saying we can do some of it her way, but other parts the way the rest of us like. But I have a feeling from how the last year has gone (also her first year with the company) that she’s going to say, “Well no, we can’t make a decision until we all agree.” But she will never agree with anything that isn’t being done exactly the way she wants with no compromises or changes. And we have a new boss who I would love to not bring this drama to when they’re still getting to know everyone.

    Thoughts? Suggestions? The rest of us bounce ideas around, point out strengths and weaknesses, find ways to make them better, toss it if it’s not going to work, find a way to mix our ideas together, etc. She just won’t, and I’m frustrated. (There are other weird things about the dynamic but I’ve already written a bunch. Trying to stick to the parts relevant to this problem, but happy to answer questions.)

    Oh, and I was trying to make this generic so people from different jobs could picture the scenario in their workplace, but because context does matter – we are high school English teachers, and the processes we need to agree on are the order we teach the texts/novels, and what assessments we are using (tests, projects, essays, etc.) to grade students. Our school requires us to teach the same texts in the same order, and use common assessments/grading rubrics.

    1. KofSharp*

      3 beats 1, draft out the way that the 3 agree the process needs to be done and have 1 identify “pain points” in your process that can be streamlined.

    2. Bagpuss*

      You say that you want to say “sorry, but you’re outvoted here – we’re doing it this way.” – I wonder whether actually saying that is the way to go.

      aybe not quite so bluntly but maybe “We hear what you are saying, but it’s reasonable to go with a majority decision so we can move on to the next issue. So we’ll reord that we will be teaching Hamlet, The Metaphysical Poets and ‘Waiting for Godot’, in that order.
      Next lets talk about the plan for the 20th C literature module.

      If she says that you can’t prceed unless you all agree then the response may be ‘it’s clear that we aren’t all going to be able to agree, so we will need to vote to break the deadlock.’

      but if she won’t budge then I think you will need to speak to your boss and expalin that you have discussed the options at legth and unfortuantely while 3 of you have been able to agree, the 4th is not willing either to comprmise, or to accept a majority decidion, or to negotiatate, so youwill need the boss to be invoklved. It may be helpful to ask NewBoss to sit in on your next meeting, and then if you hit a deadlock you can ask for their input, nboth on the specifc issue in question and on how o resolve any further issues where you are not able to reach a consensus. It doesn’t have to be in depth, maybe just ‘we’ve had a few situations where 3 of us have agreedand one one of us has ben unhappy with that and unwilling to accept a majority decison – are you happy for us to resolve that by avote or re there other optisn you’d like us to try if we aren’t able to negotiate an agreed plan?” That way it isn’t suggesting that its always the same person being awkward, but more flagging an issue and asking boss to approve a method of resolution. (and if they say they want you to refer any dead locks to them then do that. )

    3. Snow Globe*

      It may help to have a general procedural discussion, where you state that if, after sufficient discussion where each person can present their point of view, if all aren’t in agreement, then you’ll need to go with a vote and majority rules. You simply can’t discuss round and round endlessly to reach 100% agreement on every topic.

    4. STEM Prof*

      I’ve been a high school teacher and I currently am a professor. Even though I’ve been in education for quite a while, and have had a ton of positive feedback from administrators, peers, and students, I know that there are things I can do to improve. And the best way to improve is to talk to my peers and hear new ideas. In education there is no One Right Way, and anyone who insists there is, in my opinion, needs to change their mindset or find a different career.

      Given what you’ve written here, I think it is reasonable to say, “Sorry, you’re outvoted, this is how we’re doing it.” The main reason I think it’s reasonable is because three of you are actively engaging in a dialogue about how to proceed and your coworker refuses to participate in that. If she insists that her way is always best, then she: 1. is wrong; 2. is doing a disservice to her school, her students, and herself in terms of her own professional development; 3. is acting like an immature jerk; and 4. deserves to be outvoted. You and your two other reasonable colleagues are trying to create the best learning environment for students.

      I know you don’t want to bring “drama” to your new dean/assistant principal/principal, but I don’t think this counts as “drama”. This isn’t petty social stuff, this is a serious work-related issue that is impacting a major part of your job. If the obstinate teacher refuses to accept a “you’re outvoted” decision, then I think you will need to escalate this. You could phrase it something like this: “[Boss], the English department is working on finalizing the curriculum for [semester/year]. We have reached a stalemate, and I was hoping to get your advice on the situation. Myself and [helpful colleagues] have workshopped some ideas and developed a plan. We are open to changes and willing to compromise to create a learning environment that will benefit all students and meet [district/state requirements]. However, [obstinate colleague] has drawn a line in the sand and refuses to collaborate or compromise. She also is unwilling to proceed with a plan if there is not unanimous agreement. What are your thoughts on the best way to resolve this situation?”

      I don’t think that script is necessarily perfect, but hopefully it can give you some ideas about how you would approach the conversation. Focus on the work impact for this specific situation. Don’t try to convince your boss that your colleague is, overall, a difficult person, even though it sounds like she is. A neutral tone of voice and facial expression will also probably help a lot in this conversation, too.

      1. Observer*

        know you don’t want to bring “drama” to your new dean/assistant principal/principal, but I don’t think this counts as “drama”. This isn’t petty social stuff, this is a serious work-related issue that is impacting a major part of your job.

        I think that this is the key issue. OP, this is very useful framing.

    5. Irish Teacher*

      I was going to say could you just do different texts, but it sounds like that’s not an option? Though are you sure it isn’t? For the Junior Cert. and Leaving Cert. here, every kid in the country does the same test, obviously, and they have not done the same texts. Exam questions are asked like “compare two poems on the theme of war” or “imagine you are stranded on a desert island. Which character from the novel you have studied would you most like to be stranded with and which would you least like to be stranded with? Explain why” or “Compare the social structure in two texts you have studied.”

      Would it be possible to do something like that? For each teacher to choose their own texts but give a common exam.

      Though you’d still have to agree the rubrics, etc.

      In general, with a reasonable person, I would say there should be some compromise. It is difficult and annoying to teach a text that you either have no interest in yourself or that you know will not engage your students. When subbing, I had to teach the texts chosen by the teacher I was covering for, obviously, and in some cases, I would not have agreed with their choices.

      However, it doesn’t sound like your colleague IS reasonable. From what you have said, it doesn’t sound like “let’s each choose one text and the assignment for that text and agree we will use those chosen by the others” would work either.

    6. My Useless 2 Cents*

      I think “Sorry, you’re outvoted” is the way to go but pull in the new manager. Especially if there are going to be problems with the state when Oddman-Out starts doing things her own way, because she will and manager is going to need to be in the loop to get her to conform.

      I’ve worked with plenty of people like this and compromise will never work. Giving in to her way on one point will only encourage more stubbornness on doing everything her way so be careful what you concede on and how. Frame it as “As a group, we think X will work fine” not “Well, we are doing AB&C our way so we can do X on that”. If she thinks her behavior got the group to give on X, then more of the same will wear them down on AB&C.

    7. Kez*

      I wonder if it’ll help (especially with a teacher who is newer and might feel justified in their need to “shake things up”) to phrase it something like this:

      “We’re going in circles on how to manage this, and since we need to move on to other things, I’d like us all to agree to the majority consensus of X, Y, Z. We can always regroup and discuss our experiences at the end of the year.” and if the other teacher pushes back or says there needs to be total consensus, you could say, “Well since we need to get this done soon and you want a clearer directive, let’s just pull in Manager to make the call for us.” That way it’s clear the initiation of Manager involvement is a choice this teacher is making, and they have the option to back down and say “nah, let’s just do what you suggested and evaluate as the year goes on” if they’ve just been arguing for the sake of it.

    8. Gnome*

      Maybe give her a couple if you don’t feel strongly about them, and for ones you feel more strongly about, you could try “since most of us feel X is better for Y reasons, let’s try that this year and make a note to see how it goes and revisit it next year” or whatever makes sense time wise.

      But also, you could set a time limit on discussion – have to know the order before school starts – and vote on everything at the end. Then it’s not voting only where she’s being difficult.

    9. Observer*

      And we have a new boss who I would love to not bring this drama to when they’re still getting to know everyone.

      You have 2 choices. Either you tell her she’s outvoted or you go to your boss.

      If you keep it factual and outline what you’ve done to come to a compromise, I think your boss should understand the issue, unless they are not too competent.

      You have my sympathies. Unless she has a specific area of expertise that none of the others have, she sounds mighty unreasonable.

    10. Flower necklace*

      As a high school teacher, it sounds like you’re talking about a CLT (that’s what I would call it, although I’m not sure how common the term is). Our CLTs have a lead, and it would be the responsibility of the team lead to send out an email saying something like, “Okay, as we discussed in the meeting, we’re going to teach standards X, Y, and Z using novel A. I’ve attached some activities and the summative assessment. Let’s plan to test by X date.”

      If you don’t have a lead, maybe that’s something you could discuss trying out to streamline the decision-making process.

  27. Pass the Just-For-Men*

    Hi everyone. I need some clarity and opinions from a more diverse opinion than the voice in my head.

    BACKSTORY: Laid off two months ago, applying like mad, and for the last 3 weeks, have been interviewing very steadily. I’m waiting to hear back on a final interview with the federal government and “should” hear yay-or-nay by this time next week. Beyond that, I have gone through multiple video interviews with two other very large private employers that would only have 1-2 more rounds of interviews tops. The fed and these other employers are my top choices based on multiple factors, with one being they are closer to the industry I would like to stay in. I have other second (of multiple rounds) interviews scheduled, as well as phone screens on the books. All of these are for the same industry, or an industry I would like to get into.

    During all these interviews, I met with another large company in an unrelated industry that I have experience with (working for vendors) and applied for roles to cast a wider net. After one video meeting with an employer in that industry, I determined this wasn’t for me and from there I stopped applying for roles related to them. In fact, after that one and only video meeting, I actually hung up zoom and immediately said “nope, nope, nope, nope, nope, nope”. There were so many red flags for me. I told my wife that if they called to do a second interview (which would be in-person which they said meeting the person live was paramount to them), I would decline the meeting.

    Well, they did call; but not to schedule another interview, they called to make an offer (bypassing the in-person round). So now I have a dilemma, I do not want to accept the role, but an offer is an offer, and should be considered (especially since I’m not working). It’s a pay cut (about 13%), the benefits are meh, although the retirement is better than my last place, and it’s mostly virtual (so they say, I don’t trust that). When I do have to go in, it’s pretty close (and physically closer to any of the places I’ve interviewed with).

    So, my options are (A) protect my mental health, decline it and hope against hope that one of the other things come through relatively soon, or (B) accept it with a foot out the door from the start. I thought about reaching out to the other places (not the federal), and seeing if I can get a feeler on where I stand, or if they can speed up the process, but they are VERY large organizations and I’m concerned they can’t and would write me off since I mentioned the other offer.

    FWIW, I can go a few more months, but really don’t want to because of employment gap concerns, possible recession, and REALLY missing having income coming in.

    I know others have been in this position, I’ve seen similar posts from Alison regarding it. What are your thoughts? For those in this boat, what did you do, and would you do it again?

    1. BellyButton*

      I just dealt with the same thing! My number one choice was delayed by a big event they were hosting and several key leaders being out with Covid. I kept interviewing and got an offer from a company I did not want to work for, but after 3 months without a job, my panic started to set in. I told them I would need a week to consider their offer. I reached out to my number one choice and let them know that I was entering the final interview stages with a couple of other organizations and didn’t want to miss out on the opportunity with them. I asked if they could give an update on their timeline. That sped them up and I was able to have the final interview and got the written job offer yesterday.

      I knew I wouldn’t be happy at the company that gave me the first offer, but if I hadn’t gotten an offer this week I was going to take it with a start date of 9/12 and hope for an offer for something I actually wanted before that date.

      I don’t know if this helps, but it is what I’ve been going through.

      1. Pass the Just-For-Men*

        That’s great you got a week. My offer came in yesterday and I have to push just to have the weekend. They wanted to know by now. Happy to hear that it worked out for you. I’m thinking of reaching out to one place to test the waters.

        1. Observer*

          It sounds to me like this job could really backfire on you. You already found a bazillion issues, and now they are trying to steam roll you into giving them an answer. I would worry that not only will your mental health suffer (and that’s not a minor issue!) but you might find yourself leaving that job under less than positive circumstances. That’s not going to be good for your resume, either.

    2. Alice*

      Difficult situation. From the outside, it sounds like you have a lot of irons in the fire, and I bet another offer will come pretty soon, even if you decline this one. I get how it’s nervewracking though!

    3. Mid*

      I’d decline. Your first reaction to them was “nope, nope, nope, nope, nope, nope.” You also don’t trust them, and you say that declining them would “protect your mental health.” I know it’s scary to be unemployed, but I really wouldn’t take a position that you have this many negative feelings about before you even start it.

      1. Ins mom*

        Go with your gut reaction- nope nope nope. If they offered so quickly they are in a pinch- and you don’t want to be there with them

      2. My Useless 2 Cents*

        Agree. There was something about this company that had you saying nope immediately. Trust that.

      3. The New Wanderer*

        Absolutely – you mentioned red flags and your immediate reaction was “nope” and that says it all.

        When I was unemployed after a layoff, I had an interview at a company where I came out thinking “eh, maybe?” but they called the same day with an offer and wouldn’t give me more than 24 hours to consider. That, plus some pending interviews at other places, was enough to push me to decline. I ended up not getting another offer for a while, so that is a significant financial risk, but I also think I would have continued to job hunt while in the role I turned down.

    4. SomebodyElse*

      Honestly, if it were me I’d take it, but continue looking and actively interviewing. Best case scenario you take the job and get a better offer quickly. Worst case scenario you don’t take the job and don’t get an offer quickly.

      I’m totally risk adverse when it comes to employment though :)

      1. Pass the Just-For-Men*

        Same! As much as I do not want this job, I am leaning towards taking it just because, but I know I would be hating life, and let’s face it, looking for a job is practically a full-time job. I spend 8:30 – 4p every day in my desk chair searching, applying, writing cover letters, on calls/zooms, and tailoring thank you notes and it’s exhausting.

        So I know if I take this job, I won’t have the energy to keep that up (or the time) and I’ll feel stuck if this offer stinks. On the flip, it’s a blessing to be in this situation and am very grateful for the offer, but if it could have been for virtually anything else I was going for.

        1. Jora Malli*

          This feels like even more reason not to take the job. If taking it means you’re less likely to have enough bandwidth to keep searching, you may end up trapped in a horrible situation for a very long time.

        2. A Girl Named Fred*

          I can only speak to my own situation, and of course your mileage may vary, but I was in a similar situation back in February and ended up taking the job despite all of its red flags. I wish I had declined it. I’m exactly where you say you worry you’d be -spending so much energy just keeping myself and my mental health afloat at the day job that I can barely muster the energy to apply to jobs, much less do anything else. If you have other options in the interview phase and your gut reaction to this company was NOPE, I’d advocate for declining it. But I recognize that the financial considerations are often harder than that.

          Best of luck to you with whatever you decide!

    5. Policy Wonk*

      Does the federal job require a security clearance? If so, and you don’t have one, that can take awhile and I’d recommend taking the job now, and keeping your federal candidacy active. If not, I think I’d reach out and ask about the timing of an offer.

      Good luck!

      1. Pass the Just-For-Men*

        They never mentioned if it needs clearance. I don’t think it does. If it does, I think there is some flexibility on that. At the agency my wife works at (which is not the one that I’m hoping for an offer from (or anywhere related to it)), she started working while awaiting the clearance. So if it is needed, hopefully it can be a situation like that.

        1. Policy Wonk*

          You would know – it would normally be listed in the job announcement – so I’d assume you do not need one.

          Hope it all works out.

    6. Westsidestory*

      Decline. Listen to your gut!

      On a practical level, pay cut and meh benefits mean you’ll be unhappy when you work there.

      I’m guessing you grew up with the old “any job is better than no job” and if so you need to discard the desperation script and hang in there. You are getting interviews so clearly you are employable.

    7. LS*

      What if you told them you had more questions and wanted to get a better feel for their culture? Ask them to do the second interview with the team before you make a decision.

      That gives you some more time and gives you a chance to see if your first gut reaction was correct. Their response to that request might give you some good information too.

      1. beach read*

        This. Meet in person at the office. Remember, YOU are interviewing THEM as well. I’m sure you are a great candidate. If they are really interested, invested in you, they should be ok with you requesting to keep the in-person interview after all.

    8. Pass the Just-For-Men*

      Thank you everyone. You confirmed what I was thinking. I gave it a ton of thought over the weekend and decided that while this offer is a blessing, so is my intuition, and I should listen to it.

      This Friday forum is so amazing to have. Thank you Alison!

  28. bennie*

    covering for my boss on her maternity leave through the rest of the year aka basically doing her entire job; they didn’t REALLY need to hire me and i didn’t have enough to do when we were both working here, by in large. i’m now managing some semi major projects and liasing with people across the org etc. can i ask for a raise now or should i wait till the end of the year? family and friends say ask now, my instinct is to ask later. for clarity december will be my 1 year anniversary, and i am pretty underpaid with a low level title. yes, i do intend on finding a new job at some point soon.

    1. Prospect Gone Bad*

      “family and friends say ask now” family and friends often give bad advice in the name of “helping.”

      I had an employee with a larger tight family she often talked about and boy, they convinced her to say and do really stupid things at times. They always took her side and every thing they said becuase the biggest thing ever that must be resolved now.

      Your case isn’t as bad, but you did say yourself that you wouldn’t have much work if it were not for this covering your boss.

      This all being said, if you are generally underpaid, asking for a raise is a normal response even if you aren’t covering for your boss

    2. ABK*

      I’d recommend waiting until your one year anniversary. December will be here before you know it and by then you will have a few months of experience covering for your boss and will be more valuable to your company.

    3. Anonymous for this*

      If you’re in an interim role, it’s not unusual to get an interim salary bump to cover that so I think that’s totally worth asking about at the very least.

    4. Not A Capital Offense*

      Sorry to be pedantic, but your lack of capital letters at the beginning of sentences bothers me. This would not be acceptable in most work contexts. Why do you write like his? Low-stakes issue, LOL.

  29. Third or Nothing!*

    Just put in my notice at the job I’ve had for 11 years. I’m leaving for a new job that pays 38% more, has even better benefits than the good ones I already have, is permanently remote, and gives me more opportunities to grow and clear career advancement paths. This blog has been a huge help to me over the years with learning more about workplace norms (plus reading highly interesting stories), and now I used the info I learned from y’all to get a better job! Thanks Alison and commenters.

  30. Less Bread More Taxes*

    This is a very low-stakes question. My workplace provides free lunch on Wednesdays. I’m fully remote, but I appreciate that the company is trying to bribe people back and most of my team goes in for it, so I’d like to make the effort to go in as well for the relationship part.

    However, the food is AWFUL for me. I don’t eat meat, and every Wednesday except last week, they’ve only had salad wraps available consisting of tortillas, hummus, and lettuce. Not even other vegetables or a cheese option. Last Wednesday, they offered a chicken curry and a vegetable curry. The chicken curry had chicken (obviously), peppers, onions, and peas. The vegetable curry had… green beans. My partner thinks the chef specifically hates vegetarians.

    Anyway, I start at 10am, and lunch is 12-1. Most people on my team leave around 2 to work from home, otherwise I’d plan to just work the afternoon from the office. Is it appropriate to come in 10-12? How should I explain why I’m leaving and not doing lunch?

    I don’t feel comfortable complaining because it’s free food. I could bring my own food, but I think I’d be singling myself out even more than if I didn’t go at all (it’s a smallish office with about 70 people showing up on Wednesdays). On that note, from what I can see, I am the only vegetarian. I also don’t like the idea of not showing up at all, because it’s the only time I get to see my coworkers face-to-face

    1. ThatGirl*

      Would it be possible to explain this to your manager? Just casually like … explaining that you want the face time, but the food is awful for vegetarians, so unless something gets better you’re going to bring your own food? They can decide whether to run it up the food chain, so to speak.

      FWIW, I am not a vegetarian but I often eat vegetarian options, so if I were at your office I would definitely appreciate having more healthy options.

    2. Prospect Gone Bad*

      I don’t think it’s complaining. I am a manager and am more concerned about free stuff getting used than my feelings being hurt when they tell me they hate the free stuff!

    3. Dr. Laboratoria*

      This is a toughy – I have a similar issue. I can’t eat dairy (I love dairy, but it does not love me, lol).
      Our bosses love to bring in pizza, pasta covered in cheeses, ice cream, etc. I wish they would order more healthy options, honestly.

      One thing I would do is figure out who is actually ordering the food and request that they also offer a good, vegetarian option. Butter them up a bit, right? “Thank you so much for ordering food for all of us! If I could make a request…”.

      You’re not the only one with dietary needs, so I imagine they will be accommodating.

    4. DisneyChannelThis*

      Bring your own food. Sit with the team. Just a breezy “Oh I’m trying a new diet and want to make my own stuff” will work but honestly, just saying a simple “I’m vegetarian and I need to eat something with more protein so I brought my own” is fine. Plenty of people have celiacs etc where cross contamination is a concern, or religious restrictions on how the food is prepared, or just enough allergies that shared food isn’t great for them. People are used to people needing to opt out of food being offered.

    5. Fluffy Fish*

      If I were paying a caterer to provide a perk for my staff, I would 100000000% want to know of any issues.

      Not personally liking a given option – not something to complain about.

      Consistently subpar options for vegetarians? Absolutely – it’s not just a you problem in any case. There are people who opt for non-meat options for reasons other that vegetarianism including religious and medical.

      Please say something to your boss or the person whos coordinating the catering. Just keep it matter of fact and provide examples (the curry one is very illustrative).

      If it doesn’t change, then I agree with the poster who suggested bringing your own lunch.

    6. Llellayena*

      I’m not vegetarian and I would complain about those vegetarian options. I eat meat but I’m more likely to select a vegetarian option when something is catered. So I’d just talk to the person ordering the food to see if they can come up with some better vegetarian options.

    7. Charlotte Lucas*

      Fellow vegetarian here, & I feel your pain. I now work somewhere with a vegan in a high-level position, & there is definitely more effort put into having better options (these are for potlucks – government work generally doesn’t lead to free lunches).

      It is not unreasonable to ask for better options for those on a restricted diet. I love green beans, but a green bean curry is not a full lunch. If the point is to get people back in the office, they should be providing something that makes you want to be there.

    8. HR Exec Popping In*

      This isn’t a big deal. You don’t have to eat provided food. Bring your own food and simply explain that you don’t eat XYZ. People won’t care. I have a very restrictive diet and often attend all day meetings where breakfast and lunch are provided and I almost never eat anything provided. I bring my own. Sometimes someone comments but normally no one says a word. It is your body and you get to eat what you want.

    9. AnonyMouse*

      So just to clarify, you want to go to in-person team meetings from 10am – noon and then leave to work from home for the rest of the day? Or are you just working on your own, but saying hi to people while at the office? I think this matters because it dictates how important the social time at lunch is. If you’re already getting face time with coworkers from 10-12pm, I think you can just leave, and if your manager asks, I would be honest and in a matter of fact way say that you’re a vegetarian and the free food options aren’t great for you. As long as you aren’t demanding that they provide something different, it’s just the truth!

      1. Less Bread More Taxes*

        No, my work is very individual, so really eating lunch and a morning coffee break is the only time I get with coworkers. I think just casually bringing my own food and not making it a big deal is the best option – I’m not confrontation-avoidant, but I agree that this doesn’t seem like a good use of capital. If someone asks, I’ll let them know about the poor options, but I’ll try not to make it a thing. I didn’t mention that I’m very new to this company, just less than two months in.

        1. AnonyMouse*

          With those details, I totally agree with this plan! If you’re new and don’t know people well, bringing your own lunch seems like the way to go. And that wrap sounds awful!

    10. WellRed*

      For heaven’s sake, please speak up. Vegetarianism is hardly new and unusual in this day and age.

      1. My Useless 2 Cents*

        Agree. There are a LOT of good options for vegetarians. Offering up options that are popular with everyone not just vegetarians could be a huge plus (I’m thinking something like Mac&Cheese).

        Just a thought, are they trying to make sure the vegetarian options are also vegan (just-in-case). While there are plenty of vegan options out there, vegan options can be very limiting and harder to provide in larger/catering type situations.

      2. Reba*

        Yes, you can straightforwardly mention to your manager or ideally, the lunch-arranger, that the veg option is generally inadequate.

        This is not like a social situation where you want to delicately avoid criticizing someone’s cooking. This is a business situation where a vendor isn’t meeting the company’s needs.

    11. Chaordic One*

      I’m in this situation. (Allergic to tomatoes, dairy and soy and my workplace thinks pizza parties are a great way to motivate us on the days we have to work in the office. My work unit was the most productive 2 quarters in a row.) I ignore the pizza and bring my own lunch. But yeah, it sucks.

    12. polka-dotted giraffe*

      I would go 10-1 or 10-2, and either eat your own food or eat lunch at your desk before hand and pick at the food that’s there. You can specifically call-out that the vegetarian option sucks. My experience has been that a lot of the important face-time happens at lunch.

  31. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

    My grand boss introduced an idea to my team this month that I have come to love. Internally, we are going to set our own individual “core hours”. These are to indicate the time when we are 100% available for meetings/calls/interaction/response and indicate when we would prefer folks schedule/contact us. We all need to ID 3 hrs a day minimum, with at least one full hour block. We already have Tuesdays scheduled as our group meeting/HQ folks come to office if needed day, so this is more for scheduling smaller meetings and knowing the best time for getting in touch with someone immediately. At first I was skeptical and thought it would be an added complication to our already complicated cat herding, but it really works nicely. There are about 10 hours a week where we all have core hours and there is something lovely about knowing those are the hours where when you reach out to someone you know it is a good time. And it makes the whole time zone thing easier because I just plug other folks availability into my calendar in my time zone.

    Anyone else work somewhere that does something similar? What other ways do places try and manage this kind of thing?

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      Every Monday I have 3 hours of scheduled regular (weekly) meetings. I’m not sure I could carve out 3hrs on top of that and still get much work done in my day. How frequently do you end up needing all 3 hrs for additional meetings with people? What happens if you are in your open hours and having an unscheduled meeting with Jane’s group and then Bob’s group comes up and also wants to use this time block to meet? You’re back to square 0 for finding a time to meet Bob’s group. 3 hrs also just seems like a massive amount of time to have open office hours to me.

      1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

        Ah, I see I didn’t explain myself very well. Our group doesn’t do spontaneous meetings unless there is an epic crisis (hasn’t happened yet). Our core hours are more for “If you need to book anything with me, these are the times I have” or “If you need to call me for some reason/need a fast response, these are the best hours.”

        Thus far I have been using the schedule to put my “must concentrate without interruption” to-do items outside of my “core hours” so I know that I can put my head down and ignore the world. During my core hours (I have 10am -12pm M and Th as core), I do more interruptible tasks. I never thought it would actually work, but it really seems to work with my team.

  32. Need sleep*

    How much pain can you be in and still go to work, or at what point does it simply get ridiculous?
    I was crying on the couch in the quiet room today because of leg pain and exhaustion (Got so many cups of tea from my coworkers!) Finally after taking 600 mg Ibuprofen the fog lifted and I could get back downstairs to slowly do the work I could do sitting down. I am off all work that requires standing/walking. Waiting to hear back from blood results. I should just call in sick but so many of my coworkers are either on holiday or are on extended illness leave and I am the second backup so the only one left to do a lot of the administrative tasks (has to be done at work).

    1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

      I’d simply not come in if I was in so much pain I was crying. I can’t do a good job that way anyway

      1. Need sleep*

        I wasn’t crying when I got to work but walking up the stairs to the staff rooms is at this point a no-go. It destroys me every single time.

    2. KoiFeeder*

      For me personally, it depends on whether or not I can do the job without having to go over everything again the next day. If I’m fixing about a quarter or more of what I accomplished the day before, or only completing half or less of the workload, it’s not worth it.

      Also, this is one of those nebulous social skills things that I am notoriously bad at so take me with a grain of salt, but how are your coworkers feeling about the crying thing? If you’re crying every week, that might be getting uncomfortable for them.

      1. Need sleep*

        I honestly hadn’t thought about my colleagues… They seem very worried and one has strongly hinted that I should call in sick. This is the first time I’ve cried that hard, it’s just been a few tears a couple of times the last two weeks.
        It’s sounding more and more ridiculous that I’m not calling in sick. I guess I needed to write it down to see it.

        1. KoiFeeder*

          I don’t blame you for not thinking about them. When you’re in pain, especially to that level, the pain itself takes up so much of a mental load that a lot of things just fall through the cracks.

    3. Mbarr*

      Oof, that’s rough. When I was going through a 2 month pain period (undiagnosed herniated disc), I wish someone had told me to just go on short term disability sooner rather than later.

      That being said, I DID power through the pain and show up at work every day… But in retrospect, my brain was NOT working right due to the amount of pain I was in.

      I hope you feel better soon!

      1. Need sleep*

        Thanks! Yes, I guess I’m just waiting for someone else’s “permission” to do it. But I don’t need anyone else’s “permission”, I can just do it. The things one’s brain wants to power through…

        1. WantonSeedStitch*

          I hereby grant you permission. If you need to feel like you’re doing the right thing by other people if you call in sick, I guarantee any coworkers who are newer or less-senior than you are wondering, “damn, do I have to keep working if I ever feel that crappy? Is this place really that unreasonable?” Show them that’s not true and take off sick.

    4. Anonymous Educator*

      Unless it’s chronic pain you have every day for the rest of your life that can’t be helped, I’d say any pain you have would warrant not going to work.

      1. PurplePenguin*

        As someone who has a chronic pain condition, that just sounds nuts to me – the world doesn’t stop turning just because someone is in pain. If I rested and took it easy every time I was in pain, I’d be able to work maybe 10-15 hours a week. Unfortunately, I haven’t found any job that pays enough to live off of that has such short and flexible hours, so I spend most of my time at work with a moderate level of pain.

        To OP – recognize that your work is NOT more important that your health. I recognize you likely need to keep your job, but you should be doing the bare minimum required in order to keep your job and not make your life harder down the road. Like KoiFeeder said, if you’re making a lot of mistakes then you’re likely just making more work for yourself, so you should stop. Work slowly, take as many breaks as you need, and recognize that the world won’t end if the tasks you’re working on are delayed. Also, use those breaks to do things that will make you hurt less, if you have any idea what that is.
        If this is something that’s likely going to last a while, I think investigating short-term disability is a great choice – I ended up having to use FMLA for a couple months while I was getting my footing after my diagnosis and it was invaluable time to recover physically (to some degree – I’ve still got a chronic illness, but it gave a breather to recover from stress of constantly pushing through the pain) and figure out how to move forward.

        1. Anonymous Educator*

          I wasn’t suggesting that if you have chronic pain you should never take a day off. I’m just saying the threshold is not likely “any pain means a day off” if you’re in pain constantly.

          1. Jora Malli*

            This is a good way of putting it. I have chronic pain, and I go to work as long as the pain’s not higher than a 4. When it crosses that threshold, I take some time off to rest and get things under control. But if the threshold was “if you’re in any pain at all, don’t go to work,” I’d never be at work.

    5. Annie*

      I burned out badly working through pain and it led me to quit my job when I shouldn’t have. I could have handled it all way better, in retrospect. I had the option to work from home and didn’t take it because it was the early days of the pandemic and other people who wanted to work from home weren’t allowed to, so I told my boss I wasn’t going to work from home and then tell others they weren’t allowed to do the same thing. I was in so much pain, I should have worked from home. It was an awful situation and awful timing. I had a 7 cm endometrioma (ovarian cyst) that kept rupturing and putting me in the hospital at risk for sepsis. I was instructed by my doctor not to exercise or leave the state. My surgery to remove it got cancelled because of covid and I had to wait 3 extra months. I took a bunch of unpaid time off that practically ruined me after the surgery, and still had to go back before I was ready. I just remember creeping sllowwwlllyyy up the stairs, step by step by step. (There was an elevator but it was just one floor so I felt like I shouldn’t use it. I was a stubborn dumbass.) I was so burned out I quit and later regretted it. I’m actually back at the same company now and would handle the situation differently in the future – I would have worked from home, not tried to do everything, taken the elevator, and pushed to take more time off and use our short term disability. I felt so trapped at the time and like I would be in that much pain forever so there was no point in making accommodations for myself because I’d better just get used to it. But the pain ended and I’m usually not in any pain now.

    6. Just stoppin' by to chat*

      Take care of yourself! You are not your employer’s solution for lack of proper resource planning. Go home and rest! Your body is telling you something serious is going on. I know it will seem strange to not push yourself to work…that used to be me. But it’s not worth your health. Feel better soon!

  33. Golden*

    I’m not sure if this is better suited for the weekend thread, but are any nurses here that can help me (a patient) out with a question?

    I recently had a baby, and both my delivery nurse and the baby’s nurse were fantastic in every sense of the word. I’d like to write a letter to someone at the hospital letting them know what a great job the two nurses did. How can I maximize how helpful this will be to the nurses? (Who to address the letter to, what details to include, etc.)

    Side question: a doctor involved in my care was pretty rude to my delivery nurse the whole time, but she handled it with utmost professionalism and didn’t seem to let it ruffle her. Any language I can use to convey that without throwing the doctor under the bus or taking away from the main point of the nurses’ awesomeness?

    1. Dr. Laboratoria*

      There is a national award called The Daisy Award that would be a great way to say thank you to your nurses – https://www.daisyfoundation.org/daisy-award. The hospital should also have a form to fill out. When you go to your next well baby for the kiddo or for an appointment for yourself, ask about it.

      As for the doctor – the hospital should send you a survey and I would put down that you found the attending physician rather rude and did not have good bedside manner. The nurses know that that doctor is an A$$, but hearing directly from a patient gets notice. I had a horrible on call physician who landed me an extra day in the hospital due to their incompetence. I was honest about that in the survey. They were quietly retired after that.

      1. Golden*

        Thank you! I wasn’t aware of that award, but the hospital actually has a DAISY award online form on their website. There’s plenty of details and nomination timelines too, so it doesn’t look like it gets dumped into the ether like some online forms.

        Sorry about your experience, that sounds awful. Looks like you speaking up led to positive change though.

    2. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      [Not a nurse, so what do I know … but … ]
      You could address it to the Director of Nursing or some similar title if you can’t find an actual name on the hospital online directory. I would also send copies directly to the nurses. And copies to the HR dept or the Hospital CEO would be just fine too.

      As far as the whole doctor thing, I guess I’d ask if the doc’s behavior impacted your experience as a patient, and honestly, I wouldn’t be afraid (especially if the doc was a negative experience to you too) to say something like “Nurse Jane’s amazingly unflappable demeanor kept me calm during a stressful time, not just in how she helped me through the labor process. Even when being treated brusquely by Dr X, which could have increased my anxiety, she remained cool and professional.”

      1. Golden*

        Thanks! The doctor wasn’t warm and fuzzy with me (which is fine), but not rude either. She was to the nurse though, and it just felt unprofessional of her to act that way in front of a patient. Brusque is a good word, I think I’ll borrow it.

    3. Dr. Laboratoria*

      There is a national award called The Daisy Award for recognizing amazing nurses. Your hospital/clinic should have a form to fill out, so ask at your or your kiddo’s next appointment.

      You probably will get a survey about your experience. Talk up the nurses big time. And put in that you found the attending physician rude to staff and had poor bedside manner. I guarantee the nurses already know that physician is rude. When a patient says it, the hospitals tend to take action.

    4. Jay*

      Write a letter to her direct supervisor and cc the Director of Nursing. I’m a doctor and I think you should mention the unprofessional doc – by name if possible. That behavior that been tolerated for far too long and many institutions are now taking it seriously. You can do it without taking away from the main point of the letter: “I was particularly impressed with her professional attitude despite Dr. Jerk’s rudeness.” I strongly suspect they know about Dr. Jerk and a documented patient comment may be what they need to take action.

      And congrats!

      1. Angstrom*

        It sounds like two letters might be better here. One to praise the nurses, and the other to describe the doctor’s behavior. That way one doesn’t dilute the impact of the other.

    5. The teapots are on fire*

      Why not throw the doctor under the bus? If they are so stressed that are rude to nurses, either they need help and support or they need to be told not to act like jerks. It is very possible this doctor is rude to nurses at other times when patients aren’t watching.

    6. Observer*

      Any language I can use to convey that without throwing the doctor under the bus or taking away from the main point of the nurses’ awesomeness?

      Why would you consider a factual description of the Doctor’s behavior “throwing him under the bus”? You are not making stuff up, blaming him for someone else’s behavior or focusing on him when others were equally guilty.

  34. ferrina*

    When should a company communicate that an employee is laid off/fired? My company is 150-200 people, and three people were just terminated in the last couple weeks (I don’t know the details- I think one was fired, and I’m pretty sure that none of the cases were related). My company didn’t relay this until over a week later in an general email, and didn’t mention that the most junior person had left. It was frustrating because I had recently collaborated with one of the people and was giving him credit for his work in conversations, including after he was gone! (because I had no idea he was gone!). Another person was someone I was trying to schedule a meeting with. My position is unique the company in that I communicate with almost everyone, so maybe I’m biased by the inconvenience.

    Is this normal for a company this size?

    1. HR Exec Popping In*

      Normally if people leave very quickly they were fired or laid off. Sometimes they resigned and the company walks them out for some reason but that is unusual. In large companies unless the person is very senior nothing is said except your boss to the dept if it was a coworker. Think of it this way, if you were fired, would you want a communication going out to the company telling them that? I know it is frustrating but it happens.

    2. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      Hm…in my opinion, I’d say up to two weeks (10 business days) seems reasonable for a large company to send out a company wide announcement. They may have been scrambling to take care of things like knowledge transfer, closing down their account access, handling the paperwork, etc. I would expect IT to setup an automessage, at least internally, to let people know they aren’t around if you try to schedule a meeting with them.

      I think it’s normal and even good that you were still crediting your former coworker for the work he did. That work is still valuable, so he deserves credit for it. At my current job, a senior person left last year and we’re still crediting his work on a project that’s still ongoing.

    3. kiki*

      My current company is small (50) and departures are announced within the day. At my last job that was larger (500) departure announcements weren’t made to the whole company, but they were made to the specific department or team somebody worked in pretty immediately.

      I might try to find out if the departure was announced to specific teams or departments earlier. If so, I would try to ask your boss or HR if you can be notified of departures earlier, since you work with everyone but wouldn’t receive the notices that are going to departments or teams.

    4. WantonSeedStitch*

      Immediate coworkers should know…immediately. I’ve seen e-mails going out to my office when someone was fired that said “as of today, Wakeen is no longer employed at LlamaCorp. Please address any questions about alpaca shearing to Tangerina instead.” I don’t think a (large) department-wide announcement ever went out, but the communication happened organically. Wakeen’s colleague who was taking over on various projects contacted the others involved in the projects to say “Wakeen’s last day at LlamaCorp was Friday, and I’m going to be taking his place on Project X. Can you please add me to the meetings for that project going forward?”

    5. Agile Phalanges*

      My current company never officially announces someone’s departure, which is weird to me.

      A prior company I worked in had multiple locations, so it was kind of important to know that sending an e-mail to so-and-so wasn’t going to get you an answer, so they would announce departures the day they were effective, and the announcement if you weren’t a close co-worker to them and know whether they gave notice or not, didn’t specify. “Today is ____’s last day with the company. If you need assistance with X, contact Y, or for issues with A, contact B.”

      Of course, if you knew they’d given notice, or they also sent a separate good-bye e-mail themselves, you knew it likely wasn’t a firing, but if you didn’t work closely with the person and just heard the official announcement on their last day, you wouldn’t ever really know for sure. Seems like the best solution–folks need to know, but they don’t need to know the surrounding details if they don’t already have some idea themselves…

    6. Chaordic One*

      Unfortunately, it is normal and (IMHO) not very professional. Simply from the perspective of logistics (your trying to set up a meeting with someone who no longer works there). You may have considered your praising the former co-worker who no longer works there as a bit awkward but it wasn’t your fault and, even if he no longer works there, he may well deserve a few kudos.

      IMHO it is best to get these kinds of things out in the open right away, lest they fester and lead to even more gossip. The notice, usually emailed, doesn’t have to go into detail, but should just say something terse like, Effective today, Wakeem will no longer be filling the position of Head Llama Groomer. Please forward all Llama Grooming requests to Assistant Llama Groomer, Fergus, until further notice.” Probably not a hill to die on. You probably work for jerks.

      1. Angstrom*

        My current company never announces departures. It is frustrating and leads to rumors and confusion. HR claims some sort of legal issue with sending a notice.

        A previous employer would do a same-day generic “Fergus has left the company. We thank them for their contributions and wish them well” notice for departures for any reason. That was helpful.

    7. polka-dotted giraffe*

      my company of ~200 people does not inform us if someone is fired unless they are at the c-suite level.

    8. AHH! The mediocrity!*

      I once worked as a front desk admin for an international company, answering phones and directing calls across the world. I was never told when people left and the company took forever disconnecting voicemail boxes. Repeated calls would come in for x person now gone and the caller couldn’t understand why they weren’t getting a call back. I would finally find out x person left the company. I don’t need the reason a person left, but I would’ve appreciated knowing they were gone.

  35. Kitano*

    I need help telling if I’m too sensitive or if a senior staffer is actually being unprofessional.

    On a scale of 1-10, how rude is it for an exec to say the following:

    “No, your opinion is not required.” in an all-company meeting when a junior staffer with subject matter expertise raised their hand to ask if they can offer relevant information that might change the exec’s proposed approach

    “Oh my god, you haven’t even gotten the listing up yet? You were approved to do that two weeks ago!” In response to a supremely overworked Comms staffer saying that they haven’t had time to put a new announcement on the website because of XYZ other emergent issues.

    Publicly removing a staffer from a task in an all-hands meeting because she kept asking the exec tough questions about upcoming projects that the exec didn’t have answers to.

    I’m trying to calibrate how I should bring this issue up with our Big Boss, as the exec in question who says these things only brings out this behavior when Big Boss is gone. Thanks in advance for any help you can provide!

      1. CharlieBrown*

        Agreed. What struck me about the first one is that there is a huge difference between information and opinion. It sounds like the exec values their own opinion over other people’s knowledge. Ugh.

    1. Bagpuss*

      I think it is appropriate to rias the issues because they are all things which will have an effect on morale – plus if the exec only behaves this way when Boss is not there, it suggests that they are awareBoss would not be OK with it .

      I think I would raise it as a concern – e.g. flag that you are concerned that exec comes across as dismissive and critical and this is discouraging other staff members from participating and having an negative impace on moral

      1. The Real Fran Fine*

        plus if the exec only behaves this way when Boss is not there, it suggests that they are awareBoss would not be OK with it .

        Precisely. Big Boss needs to know this is happening so it can be shut down. The exec is out of control.

    2. Prospect Gone Bad*

      These execs sound like a disaster! I always love talking to “lower level” people since they are in the weeds and see so many issues and solutions execs don’t see.

    3. Lady Wobbleworth*

      Nope, you’re not being sensitive.

      The lack of professionalism and the Exec’s behaviour towards staff is appalling. There is never a reason to dismiss rudely, be condescending, or be generally rude to anyone you work with.

      So, yes, please bring it up to your Big Boss, but not in a “Exec is a flipping jerk” way, but rather how their communication style, the dismissal of collaboratives processes, the lack of understanding of competing priorities amongst the team, and public dismissal of individual staff contributions are affecting X,Y,Z in your work and the teams work.

      The Exec knows this is wrong or unacceptable as he only brings out these behaviours when the Big Boss is not there.

    4. FashionablyEvil*

      In particular, the fact that all of these things are happening in public is a serious problem—I’m a firm believer in praising in public and correcting in private. Who would be motivated by someone who they know might lambaste them in public?

    5. Nesprin*

      9/10 for “your opinion not required” if opinion is informed, timely, and valuable and not just Steve Who Has An Opinion On Everything. For Steve, still pretty rude- 4/10.
      5/10 for rudeness when a overworked staffer didn’t do the thing for 2 weeks, 7/10 if staffer has asked for help getting thing done and not received it.
      3/10 for pulling someone who would be disruptive to an all hands from that meeting. 6/10 for publicly announcing that person is being pulled. 9/10 for pulling someone who is asking tough but fair questions in the correct setting.

    6. Can’t Decide on a Screen Name*

      I generally agree with the other commenters thus far. I just want to add that you should be prepared for the possibility that the Big Boss will not believe what you report and see you as a troublemaker or some such. This happened to me earlier this year despite having backup from my manager who witnessed one such blatantly rude incident. Hopefully your Big Boss has stronger management and people skills, but if you have any reason to believe the Big Boss will automatically jump to the Exec’s defense, proceed with caution.

  36. Conferences*

    I’m going to my first in person conference pretty soon (yay!) and am wondering if I made a mistake when picking my hotel roommate? I’m a guy, but am sharing a room with a female coworker that I’m good friends with. We are in a decently progressive field and my boss/team didn’t bat an eye at this, but the hotel will be full of people going to the conference and I’m wondering if it could come across weirdly/inappropriately?

    1. Kitano*

      I think as long as you are normal about it (ex: not going out of your way to bring it up, answering matter-of-factly “oh yea, that’s just how the dice fell with the allocations, did you see that guy’s cool presentation?”) it won’t be weird. Though if you’re super worried, you could make a point of leaving for the conference separately and being seen apart from her for portions of the day so you don’t look too glued-at-the-hip.

    2. Mid*

      I would hope that in 2022 people are mature enough to not make silly assumptions. And that people aren’t so bored as to pay attention to roommates. If anyone does comment, just react blandly, as if it’s a normal unremarkable thing, because it is a normal, unremarkable thing.

      1. CharlieBrown*

        This.

        If anyone thinks it’s weird, that’s a huge reflection on them, and not on this situation.

    3. CheeryO*

      Honestly, I’d probably find it a little odd, but I’ve also never had to share a room for work travel. If that’s the norm for your company, it might be less weird.

      1. The Real Fran Fine*

        This is where I’m at. I’ve never shared accommodations, but I know that for organizations/companies with smaller budgets for things like this, having coworkers room together is the norm. I couldn’t do it though, regardless of gender.

    4. AnonArchivist*

      I don’t think anyone will notice or care. If this is an academic conference, I am going to give you the best advice about conferences I ever got which is- don’t skip a single social event. The whole point of these things is to network if you can, so try to make sure you go to every cocktail party, brown bag lunch, dinner night, etc. that you can. Skip a talk or two if you need too, but try not to skip any of the social stuff. Have fun. Good luck.

      1. Conferences*

        Thanks, I will keep that in mind! Not totally sure what to expect, but excited to hopefully hear about some cool research and meet people from other institutions that are doing exciting work :)

    5. Conferences*

      Thanks everyone, this is pretty much what I figured (something between no one will notice/care to someone may think to themselves “huh that’s a little odd” and then move on), but im new to professional travel and wanted to make sure! Fwiw, same gender rooming is definitely the norm (including for my team). There is some additional context that my team is aware of that makes this sensible, but others won’t have that so I got a little nervous.

    6. PollyQ*

      I don’t think you’re doing anything wrong or weird, but be aware that many people are going to assume that you’re a romantic couple based on this.

    7. Jo*

      Wanted to chime in that I’m a woman who has shared a hotel room with a male colleague at a conference before–we were comfortable with each other and wanted to save money on hotel costs. Most people we met at the conference would have no way of knowing we were sharing a room. For people who did know, as far as I could tell nobody gave it a second thought.

  37. Hotdesking problems*

    We are back in person for 1 day every 2 weeks. This is to do things that cannot be done remotely. During the pandemic it was fine not to do them because the whole world was shut down but they can’t be stopped permanently or the company would go out of business.

    My company downsized to a smaller space. The desks are all exactly the same. Each one has a monitor and laptop docking station. There are lockers for us to store our bags and stuff. Each employee has an assigned chair that is adjusted how they want. The desks are not assigned though and you grab your assigned chair from the far wall and pick a desk. There are no offices or meetings rooms. Just the bathrooms, the mail room and the office room. The in person day is meant only to complete the tasks you can’t do remotely. That day is automatically blocked on everyone’s calendar to show they aren’t available for meetings or calls. We don’t have a lot of them anyways but the in person day isn’t meant for doing work that can be done remotely.

    The problem I’m having is that one of my employees gets upset if someone else uses the desk she wants. Even if that’s on the days she is working from home. If anyone else uses it she badgers them and tells them to move She says she likes that desk the best. But they are all the exact same. The office room has no windows. Every desk has walkways in front of and behind it. They can be adjusted to any height for sitting and standing.

    It’s escalated because now if someone else takes “her” desk she has twice moved their laptop and chair to another desk when they are in the mail room or the bathroom. I have told her desks are not assigned and she can’t expect no one to use the desk on days she is not in, or to not take it if they were there first.

    She started in the summer of 2020 right after she graduated from college. From my understanding she has had two other jobs both in clothing stores while she was in school, but this is first full time job and first one in our industry. I see potential in her but this desk issue is threatening to derail it.

    1. Not a hustler, don't play one on t.v.*

      This isn’t kindergarten where she can hog the toys. Maybe she has a phobia and you can ask if that’s influencing her behavior? Is she worried about germs? I’d hope that everyone is wiping desks down between uses – maybe that upsets her? She needs your guidance on appropriate office and inter-personal behavior in which she doesn’t place herself front and center. Her moving other peoples items is a complete lack of disrespect for others/things and their working relationship.

      Nip it in the bud.

      We’re a fundraising team of 5 that has 2x in office/3x WFH. Four of us share (2) desks and if we all are in at the same time, and it’s not our day, we find another desk (we have a flex/volunteer desk and a conference table in our boss’ office). We’ve made it work and we love our in office and our work from home time. I think we’re getting to be a better team, too.

      1. Hotdesking problems*

        I don’t believe it is an issue with germs, as hand sanitizer and wipes are provided by the company for us to wipe down the desks and mail room equipment. Additionally she had to be reminded to put her mask on before coming inside the building back when we first returned to in person work. I’ve never her seen her wipe down the desk or anything in the mail room or heard her express alarm about germs.

        1. Lindy's Homemade*

          It doesn’t really matter *why* she’s doing it, even if it were a COVID-related concern. She is way out of line and the longer you don’t do anything about it, the lower your colleagues’ opinion of you will sink. Next thing you know, they’re all getting jobs elsewhere because their boss won’t stand up to a weird bully.

          “I have told her desks are not assigned and she can’t expect no one to use the desk on days she is not in, or to not take it if they were there first.”
          Time to enforce actual consequences (i.e. termination) and stick to them.

          Also, her job history doesn’t really matter here. Lots of people get office jobs shortly out of college, with retail being their only previous experience, and somehow manage to not be a weirdo like your employee. She’s just being a butt-head and you need to act like a manager and put a stop to it already.

          1. tessa*

            As a former co-worker of a similarly rude employee, I can say this is spot on. The only thing worse than such a co-worker is the boss who ignores the hostility and rudeness.

        2. Philosophia*

          Once in the Before Times I bought a drink & pastry at a coffee shop and sat down at a clean, empty table to enjoy the treats and read. Someone came in and claimed that I was at her table. I inquired, “Oh, were you sitting here?” preparatory to apologizing and moving to another spot—there were plenty of tables open—but no, she had not been sitting there; she merely asserted it was her table, no reason given. I stayed put. Fortunately she did the same and merely glared. I see no reason you should indulge your employee’s high-handedness either, and plenty of reasons you shouldn’t.

      2. KoiFeeder*

        You aren’t allowed to hog the toys in kindergarten, either.

        Admittedly, I’m curious as to what about this desk makes her like it so much, but I agree that it should be stopped. Moving other peoples’ stuff (?!) is out of line.

        1. Observer*

          You aren’t allowed to hog the toys in kindergarten, either.

          True. But in kindergarten, you explain and are gentle and act with a lot of patience because you need to teach kids how to manage this. By the time you’re in second grade or so, though, that’s no longer the case.

      3. Observer*

        This isn’t kindergarten where she can hog the toys.

        Yup.

        Maybe she has a phobia and you can ask if that’s influencing her behavior?

        Nope. I’m with the others who say it doesn’t matter why she’s doing this. And it’s really inappropriate for a manager to start trying to diagnose and / or ask about potential mental health issues because someone is misbehaving.

        Nip it in the bud.

        100% And do it regardless of possible reasons.

    2. Kitano*

      Sounds like it’s time for a more serious conversation where you tell her point blank to stop. Something like “I might not have been clear about this up until now, so I wanted to set the record straight – you have a lot of potential for growth at this company, but your unprofessional approach to our shared office space has become a major problem. No one at this company has assigned seating, so you can’t expect others to avoid using your favorite desk just because you laid “dibs”. I find it especially egregious that you’ve been moving people’s belongings without permission and badgering other employees about the desk even when you’re not in the office, and both of those behaviors have to stop right now. Can you tell me why the desk has become such a sticking point for you?”

      And then see what she says. If it’s immature and territorial, then handle it like a professionalism problem and tell her point-blank that a PIP will be needed if she can’t stop. But maybe there’s some legit reason for why she’s doing this, so you should try to sus that out first.

      1. Bagpuss*

        This. I think you need to have a direct conversation.

        I agree that it is reasonableto ask her why she has such strong feelings about thae desk and why she feels it is acceptable to move other people’s belongings, but also to expressly tell her that she is not to move other people’s things and that while she is free to use her preferred desk on the days she is in the office, provided that it is not already in use when she arrives, it is not her desk and she is not to interfere with others use of it, and has no authority to tell anyone else not to use it.

        As she is so junior and new to this type of work environment, I would also be very clear that she is beahving in a way which makes her look very unprofessional and is likely to be having an negative impact on her working relationships with her colleagues, and tht being able to work well with others is importnat in most workplaces .

        To me, the moving other people’s stuff would actually be a much bigger issue than her making comments to others, although I think it’s reasonable to talk to her about both. That’s the one which I think I would be making clear puts her well into PIP and potenttial dismissal territory.

        1. Books and Cooks*

          Yes. Ask why! Talk to her about it!

          I actually sympathize with the girl. (I remember once in fourth grade someone took my chair, and I was very upset about it and tried to get it back, to the point that my teacher had to come deal with it. Yes, I was only nine, but I still remember how helpless I felt, and feeling stupid about feeling helpless and knowing nobody else thought it was a big deal–my teacher didn’t even make the thief give it back, which still kind of amazes me–made it worse.) I’ve gotten promotions at jobs that I regretted for weeks afterward because change is often very difficult for me. Of course, I eventually settled in and was happy, but again, it’s that feeling of helplessness and change. Knowing where you will sit each time you come in is comforting, and can make you feel like you have some control. Situations like this one seem almost designed to make employees feel like they don’t matter–whatever, just fill a desk, nobody cares, you are expendable, nothing here is yours or for you, deal with it.

          So my guess is that your employee wants to have her personal desk, and feel that it is hers, because she wants to feel that she has a place and that she matters, and that she has at least some control.

          I am of course not saying that her behavior is appropriate, because it is absolutely not. I’m just saying that I sympathize. For people with even minor control issues, or issues with change, or problems feeling like they belong, this kind of set-up can be difficult. (I would never, ever touch another person’s things, though!)

          But it is possible that if she feels understood, she’ll feel better about the whole thing. Or maybe she can figure out a way to make her chair the focus of her “belonging,” since no one can take or use that.

          Either way, yes, it needs to be made clear to her that she can’t behave like this, and hopefully if you can present that to her with a little understanding and compassion as well as directness about consequences, the problem will stop.

          I hope that helps.

          (But FTR, I think this set-up sucks.)

          1. Friday, get your Friday here*

            You say the setup sucks, but it makes no sense for OP’s company to keep a larger building just so everyone can have an assigned desk when workers are only in for a day every other week. Also OP points out there are no offices at all so even the management and higher ups are hotdesking when they come in.

            1. Books and Cooks*

              “You say the setup sucks, but it makes no sense for OP’s company to keep a larger building just so everyone can have an assigned desk when workers are only in for a day every other week.”

              Of course that doesn’t make sense. Did someone suggest that?

              At the same time, though, there’s nothing that says each desk can’t be “assigned” to several people (and thus shared), so each can sit at their particular desk on their particular in-office day, at least, and know who will be sitting it at on the days they’re not there–/if/ that’s something the employees would like, or prefer. So they can keep a photo in a drawer, or a spare notepad, or something, and have a spot that at least feels like it’s theirs to some degree. (Who knows, maybe the managers and higher-ups who are also hotdesking might like that, too, since you brought them up.)

              Maybe that’s workable in this office. Maybe it’s not. Maybe every other employee there *loves* hotdesking and thinks it’s super duper fun and just like working in a John Lennon song, so there’s no reason to consider doing anything else. I don’t know. I apologize; I honestly didn’t think that by saying, “I think this set-up/hotdesking sucks,” I would be required to analyze all the reasons for it and potential problems and solutions, rather than just mentioning that I dislike it, too, so I understand why the employee in question dislikes it, though that doesn’t excuse her behavior. (And I’m pretty sure that employee and myself are not the only people in the world who feel that way, especially given that whenever the topic has come up on this site in the past, almost everyone else hated it, too.)

              1. Jojo*

                “At the same time, though, there’s nothing that says each desk can’t be “assigned” to several people”

                The commenter says she gets upset that people use it on the days she isn’t there. Rearranging things so that she always gets it is not going to help the situation.

          2. Tabby Baltimore*

            I think you could be on to something. It’s possible that the desk possessiveness is a proxy for something else altogether. Maybe she is so desperate to feel valued, she has latched on to an inappropriate yardstick (in this case, the willingness of others to give her her preferred desk) with which to measure how other employees value her.
            As several posters said above, though, the why doesn’t really matter; you don’t need her emotional buy-in, you just need her behavior to change.

        2. Observer*

          she is beahving in a way which makes her look very unprofessional and is likely to be having an negative impact on her working relationships with her colleagues, and tht being able to work well with others is importnat in most workplaces .

          Very much this, with one edit. It’s not “likely” that it’s having a negative impact. It’s certain. No one who has dealt with this is going to think well of her.

          To me, the moving other people’s stuff would actually be a much bigger issue than her making comments to others,

          Yes, the badgering of others is very bad in a lot of ways, but actually moving other’s stuff is bad in a way that makes me question whether you should even try to keep her past a stern warning. Because I can kind understand how an inexperienced and slightly immature person might miss the fact that she’s expecting the company to maintain extra space for her and that she’s being seriously rude to her coworkers. But she’s AT least a decade too old to not understand that you DO NOT TOUCH OTHER PEOPLE’S STUFF.

      2. GythaOgden*

        This is a brilliant way of phrasing it. Understanding of issues but firm and telegraphing to her that she’s on thin ice.

    3. WorkerBee*

      This employee would probably benefit from some introspection about why this is such an issue for her. Honestly, I would feel exactly the same way as she does about the situation (in my case, from ND issues around boundaries and being more comfortable when everything is the same) — I’m feeling it right now!

      But I know *why* I feel that way and what’s an appropriate way to address it. When I was younger, I might not have understood my reaction. If I were in this situation today, I’d make an effort to get into work early on desk days to get the space I wanted. And know that it was unreasonable to expect the desk to be vacant otherwise. But I would probably still feel uncomfortable about it.

    4. WantonSeedStitch*

      You have to tell her “moving someone else’s things from the desk they chose is unacceptable and you need to stop doing it right away.” End of story. And you also need to tell her flat out that not only can she not expect others to avoid taking the desk, but that WHEN others take the desk, she is not to complain about it or pressure them to switch. If she’s really new to workplace norms, you should probably add, “that kind of behavior is very unprofessional, and comes across as selfish and off-putting to your colleagues.”