office is too drinking-focused, can I complain about a bad interview a year ago, and more

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

1. How can we be less drinking-focused when we socialize?

I’ve read a few of your old posts about drinking culture and none of them seemed to get at this thing exactly. Socializing with coworkers is a big part of corporate culture at my workplace, but it’s always been happy hour or drinks-focused. We’re growing and our team is getting more diverse in terms of religion, sobriety, and ability to attend after work social hours due to children, but leadership hasn’t really changed their approach to team building beyond “drinks at the pub.”

I’d like to push back on this attitude but also offer resources to solve this problem or ideas on how to make team-building more attainable. We’re also in a nationally distributed remote/hybrid situation with most people being able to get to a few centralized locations during the week for work, but able to work from home. When folks fly in for meetings or workshops and there is an opportunity to connect, the go-to meet-and-greet suggestion is happy hour and I’m just looking for more options to propose but am wary of leaning into the sorts of team gathering that is heavily sports-focused. Any ideas?

Yep, happy hours can exclude a lot of people — people who don’t drink for health or religious reasons, recovering alcoholics, people who need to get home to care for kids, and people who just don’t like it. You want activities that (a) aren’t so alcohol-focused and (b) take place during work hours. What about a late afternoon in-office mixer with snacks and beverages (including non-alcoholic ones)? Ice cream social? Lunchtime taco truck? Coffee and tea tasting? You still may have people who can’t or don’t want to eat ice cream, tacos, or coffee, but mixing it up and using a bunch of different options over the course of the year will be a lot more inclusive than just drinks every time.

You can also look at non-food options too, but those depend on what the majority of your employees would enjoy. Silly talent show? Video game challenge? Pictionary tournament? There’s no one idea that everyone is guaranteed to like (and with any single activity, you will almost certainly have some people who don’t like it) but, again, if you’re mixing it up and not using the same activity every time — and not making any of this mandatory, officially or unofficially — you’ll be more inclusive over time than you are right now with everything centered around drinking.

2. Can I complain about a bad interview a year ago?

About one year ago, I had an interview with a very disrespectful hiring manager. He started with lies, continued with belittlement and ended with insult. Of course I didn’t want the job and half assed the interview (I did not think I could leave an interview).

Now I want to complain about him to the higher-ups. I don’t want anything, I just want to stand up for myself, because I felt that I let him walk all over me. Disrespect does not have expiration dates. What do you think?

It’s going to come off strangely if you contact them a year later. Job applicants are already at a disadvantage in complaining about interviewers even right after the fact (you’re an unknown quantity with no capital with them, rejected candidates sometimes complain simply because they were rejected so you’re associated with a weird group, etc.). When it’s a year later, you’re going to have even less influence.

Instead, use this as resolve to cut short any interview in the future where you’re treated that way. You can walk out of an interview where you’re being mistreated — for that matter, you can politely cut short an interview where you’re not being mistreated but just know the job isn’t for you — and if you use this situation as impetus to do that next time, it won’t be a wasted experience.

3. Can my job applications somehow convey “I’m better in person”?

I’m doing the digital application slog that precedes the interview portion. In a subversion of the usual interview woes, I am actually very good at interviews! Is there any way to convey in the “tell us more” section of the online applications that I pop more in person and that even a brief chat would help them see the benefit I can bring? Obviously it won’t get me in anywhere I’m not qualified, but for positions where I’m mostly qualified, I can often count on my charisma and interviewing skills to carry me to a “yes.” I want capitalize on that if I can, but I can’t think of a way to relay this information without coming off as a braggart. (It’s hard enough not sounding like it now!)

Not really. A ton of job applicants try to convey some version of “if we could just meet, I think you’d want to hire me” (and often, although not always, the people saying this are not especially strong candidates) so even if it’s more-than-typically true in your case, there’s no way to say it that is more credible than the rest. That’s especially the case because your reason for wanting to meet in person is about charisma and interviewing skills — things employers don’t like to think of themselves as being swayed by, even when they are.

Focus on writing a resume that shows a track record of achievement and an engaging cover letter that explains why you’d excel at this particular job.

4. Why do gift cards feel better than cash for a teacher gift?

A question came up at work today that I wanted your perspective on. One of my coworkers recently transitioned his son from family childcare to a daycare center. He was asking today if it would be appropriate to give a cash tip for teacher appreciation week (and in the future for Christmas) and if so how much? The general consensus was that he should give a gift card, rather than cash, but none of us could quite put a finger on why giving cash to a daycare or preschool teacher felt wrong. We generally agreed that if he had a nanny, a cash bonus would be the best option. He compared it to leaving a cash bonus at Christmas for the mailman or the garbage collector and was struggling to explain why this felt different.

For reference, we are teachers ourselves, and felt that while we appreciate gift cards, getting a cash tip from a parent would feel weird. While he accepted our answer, none of us were really able to explain why it felt wrong to give daycare workers or teachers cash as a thank you. Is there some actual reason we’re missing?

Hmmm! I think it’s a combination of (a) the difference between a gift and a tip, and (b) tradition. We don’t typically tip teachers, but we do give them gifts — so while a gift card is ultimately money, it doesn’t say “tip” the way pure cash does.

I think your use of the word “bonus” might also be tripping you up — a bonus is something added on to your salary by the person who pays for your work. So your employer can give you a bonus, but when you give cash to the mail carrier that’s a tip, not a bonus.

5. Do our hourly employees need to be paid for this?

I work at a clinic that is corporate-owned. We recently hired a new full-time doctor. This doctor is not getting enough clients to keep them busy. As a result, we were trying to come up with ways to get clients in the door. One of those ideas was to have a table, representing the clinic, at the local dog expo. The dog expo was held on a Saturday and Sunday, during non-office hours. The table was manned, in shifts, by the new doctor, the office manager, and two technicians. The new doctor and the office manager are salaried, whereas the technicians are paid by the hour. One of the technicians asked to be paid for her time at the expo. Corporate said it would not be fair to pay the techs and not the doctor or the office manager. The compromise was to buy a nice dinner for the office manager, new doctor, and the two techs.

Is it legal not to pay hourly staff for working on their weekend to try to drum up business for the new doctor? I get not paying salaried staff, but what about the hourly staff?

Nope, it’s not legal. Unlike exempt staff (which definitely includes your doctor and may or may not include the office manager, depending on their job duties), hourly/non-exempt staff are required to be paid for all hours they work, including overtime (time and a half) for any hours over 40 that week. And they have to be paid in money, not dinner.

{ 540 comments… read them below }

  1. Usurper Cranberries*

    #3 – Consider sitting down with a friend, having them ask “why would you be great at this job” and having them write down your answer (or record yourself). Use that as the basis of your cover letter! I’ve done this for my brother who comes across much better in person than in written materials, and tweaking his spoken, in person response to that question made for a much stronger cover letter than he was writing.

    1. Name goes here*

      Love this idea! I think through verbalizing as well and sometimes it is through an interaction like this that things start to click for me. Other verbal processors may gain insight too.

    2. Princess Trachea-Aurelia Belaroth*

      I just did this for both my sister and my friend, who have trouble starting cover letters to the point that they put off applying to things. I basically asked them the “why did you apply for this job?” interview question, transcribed their answer in bullet points, gave them the bullet points along with the cover letter template someone recently sent Alison, and told them to write that up in paragraph form and back it up with some concrete examples.

    3. aubrey*

      Yes this! Sometimes people get so stuffy and self-conscious in writing, but if they write how they speak it comes across so much better.

    4. Jack Russell Terrier*

      When you do this, you can use to transcribe it for you.

  2. SB*

    Every Christmas Eve the company I work at closes early & provides beer & prawns for the workforce to sit around & enjoy. Most do actually enjoy this ritual, however for people like me who have to drive home & am allergic to shellfish & bivalves it is annoying. Last year I decided it wasn’t useful for me to participate & I asked my manager if I could just leave early instead of watching everyone else eat & drink. The answer was yes & when I returned from the Xmas NY break there was an email asking if I could please suggest some ways they could make changes to accommodate the people who do not enjoy beer & prawns…if my very male dominated, very blue collar workplace can make changes, there’s no excuse for other more progressive workplaces to not do the same!!!!

    BTW, this year they are still doing the Xmas Eve thing but will have a grazing table & soft drinks (pop/soda for you Americans) available in addition to the beer & prawns.

    1. BasketcaseNZ*

      The last company I worked at that had a Christmas tradition, it was berries and bubbles (so strawberries and sparkling wine).
      But, being that company, that also meant fizz, excellent coffee, and a range of teas for the drinks, with crackers and cheese, fruit platters etc for the nibbles.
      Genuine inclusivity was something they did super well – as a coeliac I always had a food option, and when we had other dietary needs in the catered event, they had something specific too.
      It makes such a difference and I am so glad your company is expanding its offering!

    2. Dreamlikecheese*

      Christmas Eve beer and prawns is the most Australian thing I have ever heard!

        1. KatEnigma*

          They are pretty common in the US too. We’d call them shrimp, of course, instead of prawns, but the large bags of them go on sale and tray after tray of them appear in the grocery deli section ahead of Christmas. They are a staple of the Italian-American “7 fishes” dinner, but it’s pretty popular outside of that too.

          1. Jack Russell Terrier*

            Funnily enough, to be pedantic, shrimp and prawns are actually different crustaceans.

          2. coffee*

            Actually I wonder if it came across here from Italy too? Seems likely, we have a lot of Italian-Australians.

    3. D*

      My company goes all out for the Christmas party (to the extent that there’s no special dress code and it’s in our [very fancy] office), but it’s big enough that no one is required to do any one thing or drink/eat something specific/etc.

      I’m the sole non-drinker in my department and am sooo sick of happy hours and lunches out (once to a winery; seriously?). I wish we could have a couple hours to play board games. I have so many cool ones to bring and no one to play with

      1. Anon for this*

        Re: the winery work outing. The year I got sober (the triggering event for which was being found out at work), I returned to work after prolonged treatment. Shortly thereafter I received an invitation for the annual department PD day, which was being held at a microbrewery. Needless to say HR, who had been involved in the discussion about what was required of me if I were to keep my job, were horrified when they realized why I was asking for an exemption. That exemption was granted.

        Not every work event can be planned around every possible reason an employee might be unable (or not want) to attend, but this was definitely proof in the pudding that employers need to be flexible and accommodating if an employee asks for an out. Many years later, I’d be fine going into a microbrewery for a work event but less than a year into sobriety was not the time for that.

        1. Punk*

          The winery/brewery thing is going to become a problem for workplace outings. Some states are cracking down on breweries that are trying to operate as bars (the manufacturing license is wayyyyyyyy cheaper than a liquor license) and part of that is making it hard for breweries to offer things that are conductive to long stretches of socializing. Sometimes no bottled water, just tap. So no food, juice or soda for non-drinkers, and the tours are mandatory. There truly won’t be anything for non-drinkers, or even people who don’t like the particular types of bitter ale that these places produce (because it’s easier and cheaper to cover up an iffy ale – you just pack it full of hops – than to make a decent lager).

      2. OtterB*

        We talked just recently about having some board games over lunch. We’ll see how it works.

        1. Board Gamer*

          Board games are my favorite hobby. There was a group the meet at lunch once a week, but I enjoy the longer games and people don’t want to take 2+ hours at lunch to play a game. My suggestions of fun shorter games

          The Crew: Mission Deep Sea
          Deception: Murder in Hong Kong

      1. Emac*

        Massachusetts born & raised here. I was born in the late 70’s so mostly grew up in the 80’s. I called it “tonic” as a kid, but it seems like that shifted to “soda” sometime in the 90’s.

    4. Liz*

      Champagne and lobster is the Christmas standard in my extremely white collar industry, but they include vegetarian and non-seafood food and plenty of non-alco drinks.

    1. Armchair Analyst*

      came here for this.

      “not fair” ?!

      It’s not fair to NOT pay any worker… and the people with salaries ARE getting paid!

      1. MEH Squared*

        That was my immediate thought. The doctor and the office manager ARE getting paid. That’s the whole point of being salaried! I would like to think the uppers are just misinformed (and not deliberately breaknig the law), but it doesn’t matter either way. The techs need to be paid.

        1. Wilbur*

          I mean, I doubt the office manager took the job thinking they would have to give up an entire Saturday occasionally. There are too many people that think it’s ok to have salaried employees work 60+ hours a week every week.

          Everyone should get a nice dinner, hourly employees should get overtime, and the salaried employees should get straight time or something. I feel like there’s some leeway with the doctor, as there might be some expectation for on call/weekend work but honestly veterinarians don’t make that much money.

          1. Dr. Vibrissae*

            Most veterinary clinics are open at least part of the day on Saturdays, so depending on the role of the office manager (i.e. do they also serve as front desk staff), there very well could have been an expectation of working the occasional Saturday.

            1. Dog momma*

              Dr V. not in SC or GA . We are fairly close to the state line and there is no ER in GA which is a 40 min ride on the interstate. I’ve been to the other closest one in SC and its just over an hr away. We are a small city, somewhat rural but easy interstate access. No vets are open here on Saturday. and they’ve cut WAY back on seeing people after hours during the week. You have to go to Columbia. Big shortage.

          2. KateM*

            For doctor, as they don’t have many patients yet and sit without work, it could be seen as their patient-time being replaced by patient-wooing-time. It is their own interest to get more patients, so I can see the logic of not paying the doctor for that time. Everybody else should be paid though, if not overtime money then free time some other day.

      2. Malarkey01*

        And you know if you think it’s “unfair” that the others aren’t paid for working weekends then the answer is PAY THEM A BONUS TOO, not pay no one. I supervise people on salary and every once in an awhile they have to work some harder/very undesirable hours. Even though my employer doesn’t have to pay extra, they do throw in an extra bonus as a way of rewarding the people who worked at 1 am on Sunday or the day after Christmas.

        1. Observer*

          And you know if you think it’s “unfair” that the others aren’t paid for working weekends then the answer is PAY THEM A BONUS TOO, not pay no one.

          Makes you wonder if fairness was really the issue here…

          Not the OP, but corporate.

          1. Properlike*

            Corporate takeover of healthcare is what’s led to this malarkey. Betcha dollars to donuts that new doctor is not going to be able to make their own treatment decisions if they run contrary to corporate’s cost-saving mandates.

            Same for vet hospitals. I think NPR’s FREAKONOMICS has been reporting in the VC takeover of niche industries in the name of “economy of scale” but imposing bad business practices on non-business services.

        2. A Simple Narwhal*

          Yes please! One of my first post-college jobs made me work evening and weekend events specifically because they didn’t want to pay the hourly workers that should have been working the events and me being salaried meant I was “free”.

          That job paid horribly already and they wouldn’t even offer me comp time for all those extra hours I had to put in. Heck I would have taken a longer lunch or late start/early release one day, literally anything. I wish I would have just refused but I was young and naive and afraid to stand up for myself.

          1. CommanderBanana*

            Yep, I’m a salaried meeting planner and my job by its nature requires evening/weekend/travel work, but I’ve found that one of the easier ways to weed out a bad employer is to ask if they offer comp time for weekends/evenings that you’re working or traveling. If they don’t, it’s a nonstarter for me.

      3. Totally Minnie*

        When I had to do weekend events as an exempt worker, I was allowed to take time off on a weekday to compensate. That might not work for the doctor, but it could definitely work for the office manager.

        1. The Cosmic Avenger*

          Yes, this. When I work late or weekends, my employer wants us to take comp time off during the week, even though we’re exempt. Because my employer is not a butthead. And what kind of “corporate” office doesn’t know the basics of hourly wage law??

          1. Sunshine Gremlin*

            My boss would say something like this.

            I’m prefacing this by saying my work environment is horribly dysfunctional and I’m job searching so I can get out of it.

            We butted heads last week because he wants to ask someone who is salaried and working 50+ hours a week to also work Saturdays… he has her categorized as exempt and her salary doesn’t meet the minimum required for an exempt employee (neither does mine, though my role would 100% be exempt if I was being paid appropriately). He claimed that since he has under 50 employees, those laws don’t apply to him. Another gem from that convo was him saying “since you’re salaried, technically both of you are my bitch.”

        2. Rebecca*

          Exactly. I worked in a place where I was a low level, hourly wage employee and my boss was salaried – except she worked so much that her hourly wage would have been much lower than mine. It wasn’t worth it, and she did that math and left very quickly. Even if you’re salaried, it still has to be worth it to work extra hours or at inconvenient times in the long run, or you won’t be able to keep good employees.

        3. Third or Nothing!*

          That’s what I did at an internship I had one summer in college. There was a weekend festival that the company wanted to have a presence at and asked for my help. Since the internship had a set budget and I wasn’t allowed to use OT, I just went home at noon on Friday.

        4. zuzu*

          The doctor’s out there on the weekend trying to bring in patients to pay everyone’s salary/wages. They’re a revenue generator. The office manager has a direct role in helping with the revenue generation. Those two really have to be out there drumming up business, weekend or no, if they don’t have enough, because they get paid regardless if there’s enough money coming in.

          The techs are service providers — they don’t have anything to do with bringing in revenue, but they do have a role in patient care once those patients are brought in. So they were not necessary except as extra sets of hands/decoration/moral support. But they don’t get paid if they don’t work, and they don’t work if there aren’t enough patients. They didn’t volunteer their time, and they can’t pay the rent with dinner. Pay. Them.

      4. Not Tom, Just Petty*

        Wow, they want the lowest paid or lowest level (honestly, don’t care if the techs earn twice as much as the doctor, the point is their place in the hierarchy) not to be paid for their work because it wouldn’t be fair to the higher level people (who are being paid a salary.)
        Please follow up with clear rules from the labor board about how fair the judge will be when the staff files labor violations.
        This is disgusting.

    2. Artemesia*

      I am shocked that a company would think you cannot pay the hourly workers for working on Sat Sun because the high salaried doctor would be unfairly affected (as they drum up business for him). Talk about clueless.

      1. Lydia*

        This really surprised me, too. Their corporate HR people are very bad at knowing the law and makes me wonder what else they don’t know is illegal. Yikes.

    3. Well...*

      Wage theft is theft. If stealing from an employee carried the same penalty as stealing from an employer, people would do it way less and often. They also wouldn’t be so ignorant (or pretend to be so ignorant) of the law.

      1. Becky*

        THIS! Wage theft should be criminally prosecuted. Wage theft is the largest type of theft in the United States, with more economic losses than all other types of theft COMBINED.

      1. Princess Trachea-Aurelia Belaroth*

        I guess they think since it’s not the normal duties of the position, it doesn’t count as work? Like it’s a volunteer activity that’s mandatory and furthers the needs of the business? But if you think about it for even one second, you’ll realize that’s nonsense.

        I do find that, working in a school, where teachers are automatically exempt (which is nonsense), administration often forgets how “classified” staff are supposed to be treated in regard to time tracking, breaks, and other labor rules (whether legal or from the district). I could see a medical facility with a limited amount of non-medical staff doing the same. It’s not acceptable, but people get caught up in their own weird bubbles.

        1. Minerva*

          LOLOLOLOL at that!

          If you are hourly your hours are your hours.

          I can get having an informal understanding that *maybe* you keep an extra hour open on certain days or during some busy times if you are salaried. I’m going through a “OK I’m working 50 hours a week for the next month” period myself.

          People who expect people to work for no money good lawd.

    4. Lady Blerd*

      I was shocked by that response. I’m paid for 24/7 availability which means if I’m asked to work on a Saturday, I won’t be paid extra, it’s part of the deal as it should be for the doctor. WTF “Not fair”!!!???

      1. IDIC believer*

        Hope you’re joking. The hourly employees are NOT paid for 24/7 availability, but rather designated hours. Sure work a booth on Saturday for 4 hours, so you earn OT or comp depending. And even salaried employees, like the doctor, has limitations – 24/7 availability doesn’t mean unlimited time.

        1. MigraineMonth*

          I think Lady Blerd was just saying that they are exempt and are paid a premium to be available on-call, so (like the doctor) they don’t expect to be paid extra for occasionally working on Saturday. It’s not “unfair” (and is legally obligated) to pay hourly workers who don’t have that arrangement for their overtime and availability.

      2. Not Tom, Just Petty*

        I’m paid for 24/7 availability = salaried.
        Which you agreed to. OK.
        Paid for the hours you work = Hourly wages

        The doctor doesn’t have enough work to justify his salary. They don’t give a rip if he’s bored. They want their money’s worth. So he works additional hours to bring in more clients, to add to the business and justify his job.

        If the techs don’t have enough work, they will just be sent home early without pay.

        It can’t work both ways.

        1. MassMatt*

          Few even of all salaried jobs require or expect 24/7 availability, and generally people know about them before they go into the profession.

          Also, are we not confusing “salaried” with “exempt”? The latter is exempt from overtime rules.

        2. Lydia*

          This isn’t true of the majority of vet clinics in my area. All of them have a voicemail message that says if they are calling after hours for an emergency, they need to go to the emergency vet hospital.

      3. Three Cats in a Trenchcoat*

        I’d like to point out that even physicians don’t necessarily sign up for 24/7 duty, especially when working in an outpatient / clinic setting.

        There are a lot of clinics / hospital systems where you make extra as a physician for call (weekend / night/ holiday duty) to encourage opting-in rather than being scheduled by fiat. There’s nothing wrong with offering financial incentives for people to do less desirable work if it keeps the call schedule full and your employees happy.

    5. Some words*

      I’m sincerely baffled that an employer could possibly be this ignorant of wage laws. Or hoping their staff is.

      Yes, people are entitled to pay for their work. Not paying is not an option for the employer. It’s just not.

      1. Anne Elliot*

        A doctor-employer is not so baffling, in my experience. The profound ignorance of many doctors on matters that are not medical, has long since ceased to surprise me.

    6. Looper*

      I can’t believe this is even being questioned. And the fact that “corporate” can’t see the difference between a salaried doctor and an hourly tech??? This entire company sucks, no wonder they can’t get patients.

      1. vet tech depresso*

        I’m pretty sure it’s the veterinary industry based on the job titles, and I can confirm: you get exploited for your passion a LOT, especially as a technician. This is a real F you, Pay me type of scenario. I hope the vet tech got their money. Also, considering the massive shortages and quitting in this field, any hospital with empty books is doing something wrong.

    7. SimonTheGreyWarden*

      This. At my work I get comp time when I work a weekend event, and that’s just as valuable to me, but you HAVE to pay people.

  3. Jo*

    While I don’t wish to discourage you, have you thought about what it means to get a yes based on a charismatic interview without the skills and experience to back it up? I have worked with several people who have been poor performers in the workplace, but have sufficient self-confidence that I can see how they got through the interview. It often takes a while for managers to notice the underperformance as they continued to self-promote, but their peers were quickly left picking up the slack. (With a risk of resentment from the quieter high performing team members)
    I am very aware this may not apply to you, but please, for the sake of your future colleagues, make sure you continue to develop the skills you need to be successful. If you do this then you will genuinely have the goods to add to your resume.

    1. bamcheeks*

      Yeah this is kind of the point of written applications! They want to be able to make a dispassionate judgement of your skills and accomplishments without being swayed by your charisma and interview skills.

      Written applications don’t succeed at this, of course, because knowing how to write a good CV and cover letter are also skills. But it’s still a step closer to an objective assessment than just going on how good a person is at talking themselves up!

    2. JF*

      It seems unnecessary to assume this person is incompetent just because they are better at talking through things in person. Sometimes it can be hard to convey what you’ve done in a few bullet points, or maybe some previous roles haven’t given them chances to be successful!

    3. I should really pick a name*

      I think you missed this part of the letter.

      Obviously it won’t get me in anywhere I’m not qualified, but for positions where I’m mostly qualified, I can often count on my charisma and interviewing skills to carry me to a “yes.”

      1. rebelwithmouseyhair*

        Yeah, well as an interviewer I’d be looking for “fully qualified” rather than “mostly qualified”. This person is applying to jobs they are not fully qualified for and probably hoping to coast by on charm rather than put the hard work in.

        1. L-squared*

          Many people apply to jobs they are “mostly qualified” for. Alison even says you don’t have to meet 100% of the job requirements to apply for things, they are more of a wish list.

        2. Just Another Cog in the Machine*

          I assume they mean “meet most, rather than all, the listed qualifications.” Most of the time, the person hired doesn’t meet ALL the listed qualifications, which doesn’t mean they can’t do the job. There have been articles written that suggest that men often apply for – and are hired for – jobs where they only meet most listed qualifications, while women more often wait until they meet all of them. And then women end up in lower-paying jobs than they might otherwise have.

          1. Armchair Analyst*

            I’ll assume kindly they can do the job functions and have ability to learn more.
            and can also earn to look better on paper (resume, focus on achievements not tasks) and explain gaps and potential (cover letter, conveyed enthusiastically yet professionally)
            you’ll get there LW

            1. LW3*

              Thanks for the encouragement! I’m looking for entry-level proofreading/transcription roles and am new to the field, so using my interpersonal communication skills felt like the best way to convey competence other than listing “75+ WPM” and “PLEASE” on my resume, haha!

              Unfortunately, I had a hunch that there wasn’t going to be a great way to say “just talk to me in person; I swear you won’t regret it.” I sent in the question hoping that Alison would have some kind of secret code that would make it work, but I get it–if it worked like that, everyone would do it. I’ll just have to keep my fingers crossed that my cover letters have done the job.

              1. Corporate groupie*

                I mange proofreaders and accuracy and attention to detail matter more than personality, so I’d include anything you can speaking to your experience checking for errors.

                1. LW3*

                  Thanks! I’m doing a lot of proofreading in my internship right now–I was actually moved into the role because my supervisor noticed a knack for it, and the material desperately needed it. I tried to quantify the work in my cover letter, but I worry that my page-per-hour rate may be artificially depressed because the content is riddled with errors (grammatically, syntactically, and in the content itself). I can’t think of a way to address that without appearing to place the blame on someone else, though. If you’ve got recommendations, I’m all ears!

              2. coffee*

                Re conveying that the work is full of errors – I think you can just say that. “XX WPM on work that required significant corrections for content, grammar and syntax.”

              3. Anonymous Tech Writer*

                75wpm+ is a worthy skill to mention, as is your comfort in presenting yourself in person.

                I’m reversing what you said–instead of saying you’re awkward on paper, I’m saying you’re good in person.

                I’m late reading this, so I hope you come back once more.

            2. LW3*

              Thank you for the encouragement! I’m applying for entry-level proofreading/transcription work but I’m new to the field and don’t have a ton of experience. I was hoping an interview would showcase my communication skills in a way that “75+ WPM” and “PLEASE” on a resume don’t, haha!

              In all seriousness, though, I had a hunch that Alison’s response would be a no. I wrote in hoping she would have a secret code that would guarantee an interview–but if that existed, we’d all be using it! I’ll just have to keep my fingers crossed that my voice comes through on my cover letter in a personable and professional way.

              1. LW3*

                (this comment is a poor rewrite of my better-worded thoughts above. please ignore or delete!)

          2. Antilles*

            For your last point, the logic which I’ve always used is basically this:
            If I am 100% qualified for job X, then by definition, I’m at least 85-90% qualified for the next higher tier up (X+1). Being in an industry where demand for workers is pretty steady, why would I limit myself to only applying for X when there’s a good chance that I can get X+1 if I’m willing to suffer a few rejections along the one?

        3. Myrin*

          We’ve had whole posts here about how people shouldn’t feel discouraged if they don’t meet 100% of the criteria in a job description, how they should throw their hat in the ring regardless, and how it’s incredibly rare to find a unicorn who is literally “fully qualified”.
          Like, I get what you’re saying in regards to this specific letter but it’s not like the advice of “don’t feel intimidated if the description doesn’t fit you to a t and just try your best” suddenly doesn’t hold anymore just because a letter writer who is confident in their charisma rubs you (general you, not you specifically, rebel) the wrong way.

        4. kiki*

          Maybe this varies by field/position, but in my industry no real human is actually fully qualified for the jobs posted based on the criteria in the listing. Being “mostly qualified” would be a huge win for the hiring manager and the applicant would be well-suited for the role. I’ve seen this in other industries too– nearly every hiring manager would prefer to find someone who had basically been doing the same job before with all the same technologies and and techniques. That’s not common to find, though. Mostly qualified with a great attitude goes a long way in my observation.

        5. Well...*

          What?? That’s such a leap, and it’s also damaging.

          There are studies that show men get further in their careers because they are more likely to apply for positions they are mostly qualified for, whereas women select themselves out if they don’t match 100% of the criteria. From the outside, it’s difficult to tell what’s a necessary criteria for a job and what’s a wish list. The attitude in this comment worsens that gap.

          Also like, every prof job I applied for wanted me to have an excellent, internationally recognized research program of the highest calibre. Do I have that? I don’t know! I don’t think so? I also recently go hired at a position that requested exactly that. Imagine if I hadn’t even applied….

        6. MCMonkeyBean*

          It’s very common for job listings to post a number of “nice to haves” and not really expecting a candidate to hit every single bullet. Applying for jobs where you are “mostly” qualified is totally normal and reasonable. It’s the interviewer’s job to decide if the qualifications they do have are enough.

      2. Jo*

        I’ve just seen too many people get in because they think they are qualified, they smooth talk the interviewer into thinking they are qualified, then turn up to the job and don’t have a clue.

        1. I should really pick a name*

          That sounds like an error on the part of the interviewer.

          1. Lydia*

            For reals. At that point it’s the job of the interviewer to weed out the ones without the qualifications and are all charisma and not much else. Don’t blame the person who got hired if the interviewer failed at their basic job.

    4. L-squared*

      While you aren’t wrong, this is one of those things that just seems like a way to rag on the charismatic people, which tends to happen on this site. At no point did it say they didn’t have the skills for the job, all it said was that they are better at articulating those things in person than via a resume or cover letter. It would be like a date being more interesting in person than on their online dating profile.

      Sometimes managers get it wrong. Period. Its not just the charismatic people who get through, its others too. I’ve had some very bland coworkers who also sucked. Blame your manager if they made a bad hire, not a person who was able to convince them.

      Also, lets be real, many people aren’t 100% knowledgable about the job and how to do it when they start. That’s why most jobs have a learning curve. So yeah, I don’t want a surgeon who is learning as they go, but for other things, cut people some slack.

      1. Mockingjay*

        Charisma can be an asset. I had a coworker with a very confident, sometimes brash attitude. While he was challenging to work with on routine tasks, he was absolute MAGIC in presenting difficult concepts and complex engineering solutions to the client agency. He was also an excellent trainer in how to run the systems, especially when the client agency didn’t fund an actual course, so he had to teach on the fly during site visits. He distilled the most important parts into quickly digestible bits.

        So there are plenty of jobs in which OP3’s public communication skills would be a definite asset, perhaps the deciding factor in hiring.

      2. JB (not in Houston)*

        I don’t remember people saying bad things about people who were charismatic except in circumstances when people were using that charisma to get jobs they couldn’t do, get away with treating people badly, or some other form of bad behavior. It’s not the charisma itself that people around here rag on.

      3. Well...*

        This. There’s no such thing as “conservation of personality.” Just because someone is charismatic, doesn’t mean they are lacking other hard skills. Just because someone talks a lot, doesn’t mean they have a lower density of meaning/word. They might just think faster and have more interesting things to say than you do.

        Also, this line of thinking gets sexist real quick. What counts as a meaningless soft skill that isn’t really important for the job tends to be interpreted differently based on one’s gender. If you are a woman who happens to have those soft skills, not only are you not getting enough credit for them in and of themselves, now you’re being targeted as necessarily not having the hard skills because how could you? You’re so charismatic.

    5. Generic Name*

      Yep. I have two charismatic folks in my office who talk big. But they can’t deliver, and other (including me) are left to pick up the pieces when they fail. I’ve had it and am looking for another job.

    6. Sloanicota*

      I had the same thought. Employers generally aren’t looking to hire charismatic people who don’t have all the necessary skills and experience, and they often regret it when they do. For many roles, perhaps the vast majority, someone with the skills and experience will do the job better. So the point of the application process is to try to weed out the “nice, bright, but lacking in skills” applicants that might otherwise influence the process. You wouldn’t want someone to be hired as a coder because they’re attractive, tall, or have good grooming, right? Charisma has more in common with those attributes than with coding experience.

      1. Lydia*

        Except that it cuts both ways. Studies have shown people who are tall, attractive, and have good grooming are frequently hired with less skills than those who are deemed less attractive but with more skills. The flip side is if you have the skills and you’re attractive/charismatic, people tend to think you got your job based on your looks and not on your skills. Basically, humans are terrible at judging objectively and we have to be constantly aware of our biases.

      2. Bleh*

        “Nice, bright, but lacking in skills” also encompasses interviewees who could be valuable, competent employees but are just starting work in a certain field and don’t have a wealth of experience and industry knowledge yet. For those individuals, soft skills are all that’s available. Maybe that’s the boat LW3 is in?(In which case, they are presumably applying for entry-level work and trying to find an edge.)

        Also, while there isn’t a direct correlation between coding and charisma, there might be more of a correlation between charisma and, say, writing skills–both are forms of communication that demand you know how to play to an audience.

        1. Sloanicota*

          I’m just saying, making the first cut on skills and experience is generally a feature, not a bug. OP’s hope to circumvent it isn’t going to serve them very well IMO.

          1. Lydia*

            OP isn’t “hoping to circumvent it,” they are trying to figure out how to improve themselves on paper enough to get to the in-person.

    7. Anonymousaurus Rex*

      Yes, this. I am a new manager and one of the employees I inherited is a poor performer, but he is very gregarious and charismatic and I can see exactly how he sold himself in the interview. Unfortunately, his hard skills are severely lacking.

  4. Louisiana Jones*

    # 4: Before any teachers, other faculty, or staff members accept gift cards/certificates or even cash (ugh – I hope that doesn’t happen), check your school and district rule books and guidelines about accepting gifts from parents, students, vendors, etc. Some districts have rules against accepting any gifts from anyone and some have caps on the amounts.

    1. Double A*

      This question is about daycare centers which are private so this comment wouldn’t apply. And I think a lot of times the gift rules apply to teachers is because they’re public employees, but yes, they do have limits on gifts.

      1. Peanut Hamper*

        Daycare centers could also have rules about this in their employee handbooks, because this could lead to all sorts of troublesome situations.

        And teachers are public employees, but not in the sense that government employees are. In all my years of teaching, there was nothing stipulated in our contracts or employee handbooks about this.

        1. Yorick*

          But the parents won’t have employee handbooks. So parents can just try to give the gift they want and then the worker can turn them down if necessary.

        2. SpaceySteph*

          Personally I’ve always given our daycare teachers cash, but my oldest started public school this year and we gave a gift card. It does feel more appropriate to give a GC as cash although its a silly distinction. I always give a gift card to Target or the local grocery chain figuring those are the ones most likely to have something for everyone (vs like Starbucks or a restaurant which depends on personal tastes)

          As a rule of thumb, I’d say if your daycare does not have a policy against hiring the teachers as babysitters outside of school hours (our corporate daycare chain does not) then it probably also does not have a policy against gifting cash.

    2. onetimethishappened*

      I am from the Northeast Ohio area. Here it is VERY common to give teachers an end of year gift. Alot of the gifts are gift cards. Not sure if this varies by area of the country.

    3. Armchair Analyst*

      why is cash ugh? we all need it and use it. it never expires. it always fits.

      1. sundae funday*

        right, I would prefer cash to a gift card pretty much 100% of the time. I can use it for whatever I need it… I don’t need another gift card to Starbucks… I make coffee at home. The only exception is a gift card to a book store. I always have a running list of books I want to buy but books are expensive, so I try to pace myself. Anyway, off topic….

        But I also see how it feels weird to hand over a wad of cash to a teacher. I wish we could change the culture around it to make cash gifts more acceptable!

        1. Ionlywearclogs*

          Preschool teacher here and yes to this, 100%. I posted a little more about why in another comment but you are right on. especially because I once received $85 to Starbucks split between eight or so physical cards at Christmas that I ended up regifting I think. (Also I’m Jewish but that’s another issue lol)

      2. Rebecca*

        Because in some situations, it can give the appearance of a quid pro quo arrangement, and teachers have to avoid even the appearance of that. If you give your teacher cash and then your child aces the exam, some other parents might start to have questions. Or a teacher could be concerned that if she accepts cash, and then the student fails the exam, she might be concerned that she had set up an expectation with the parents that the student would pass. It gets complicated in a way it doesn’t in some other professions.

    4. Pogo*

      Generally our school actually arranges weeks where you give gifts – to include gift cards. Given that public education is in such terrible condition, teachers also have amazon wishlists with 100s of dollars worth of items to just outfit their classrooms. I can’t imagine someone putting the kabosh on this, that would be terrible!

    5. AlsoADHD*

      Yeah, I’ve actually gotten cash (not a current teacher) but rarely. In my previous district, cash had a smaller limit than gift cards (because in theory gift cards could be for supplies? No idea why). So cash had a max of $50 but other gifts $100. I used to work in a college prep magnet so I’d actually net a lot of gifts and cards (I still have hundreds in Starbucks unused, because I hate Starbucks). I liked cash but I liked an Amazon or Visa gift card better.

    6. ferrina*

      Former daycare worker here!
      You won’t see guidelines in your parent handbook about gifts for daycare, and even if you do, double check with your teachers. Daycare teachers get paid very, very little for a very, very hard job.

      And cash is fine! I actually preferred it to gift cards- gift cards don’t pay rent and while I could try to sell it, don’t make me work extra to have a decent gift (I have ADHD, so any extra steps can be prohibitive. I have a graveyard of unused gift cards). I don’t know what Louisiana Jones has against cash, but it’s a very kind and appreciated gift (at least in the daycare world)

      1. Double A*

        Thank you for this perspective from someone who actually does this work! I’m trying to figure out the best way to approach this as we’re about to leave our current daycare (kids aging out), so this is truly a “goodbye” thank you gift.

        I have pretty good executive function skills and I still have a Visa gift card sitting in my wallet from a least 2 birthdays ago because I have never remembered to use it.

        1. Dahlia*

          If you use amazon, you can use visa giftcards to buy amazon giftcards, and then just add them to your account balance.

        2. Neurodivergent in Germany*

          Could you maybe go in with other parents to give a bigger gift from all of you?
          That way, there is no chance of it looking like paying for a favor.
          Here, daycare workers are actually city employees and are not allowed to accept individual gifts over 10€, so that’s what we do

    7. Ann O'Nemity*

      It’s good advice to check the rules of your particular school/center. Our daycare didn’t have a gifts policy, but our elementary does. For the daycare, we gave cash gifts. For the elementary, we Venmo the classroom parents and they gift the teacher and buy supplies in accordance with the policies.

    8. Phony Genius*

      In junior high school (public), I had the cool science teacher. Well, he was cool except for the one time near Christmas when one student tried to give him a gift. I don’t know what it was, but it was in a small box. The teacher proceeded to give the class a 10 minute lecture on how teachers cannot accept gifts and why. (Fairness to the rest of the class, fairness to other teachers, etc.) He seemed pretty upset about it. And my guess is that the kid’s parent gave the student the gift to give to the teacher, so he really needed to direct his message to the parents. (He might have said “tell your parents” at the end of his lecture, I’m not sure.)

    9. Momma Bear*

      It somewhat depends on the norms for your district but I think the gift card could be more easily seen as a “gift” vs a bribe. We give gift cards to Amazon, Target, etc. because not everybody drinks coffee and I think being more generic is easier on the teacher. The art teacher used to get craft store cards.

    10. lin*

      What did our parents do, back in the dark ages before gift cards were really a thing?

      (I’m pretty sure mine never gifted the teachers anything. I don’t know if the school district had a policy or not.)

  5. Happy*

    It’s “not fair” to pay hourly techs and but not a salaried doctor for after hours work? Now I’ve heard everything.

    1. I should really pick a name*

      If they think it’s unfair, they’re welcome to pay the salaried people overtime.
      Not paying the hourly people though, that’s garbage.

    2. Slow Gin Lizz*

      That whole situation is completely bizarre to me. Since when do doctors need to go to an expo to drum up business? Last I checked, doctors were in extremely high demand pretty much everywhere. Ok, I know the letter said that the doctor wasn’t getting enough business to keep busy but still…having the doctor go to an expo to promote themselves? What??

      1. Slow Gin Lizz*

        Oh, and of *course* you need to pay the techs for their time! Forgot to mention that. OP, it sounds like whoever runs your clinic needs a lot more training in how to run a clinic. For instance, they might find out some examples of best practices of what to do when you have a new doctor who doesn’t have a lot of patients yet. And definitely learn what is and isn’t legal WRT salaries and paying employees.

      2. rebelwithmouseyhair*

        And a dog expo at that? I mean, maybe if it was a vet, but this person treats humans. Surely it would be more appropriate to have a stand at an exhibition focussing on human health?

        1. Slow Gin Lizz*

          Yeah, that only makes it even MORE bizarre. I’ve seen physical therapy/sports medicine clinics at race expos and town day-type things, which makes some sense to me because PT and sports medicine are, arguably, more elective than primary care, but I cannot recall any time when I’ve ever seen an actual primary care medical clinic/doctor at any kind of expo whatsoever. And yeah, why would they be at an event focused on animals and not humans? So weird.

        2. Chief Bottle Washer*

          I actually think the LW was referring to a vet clinic, so the dog expo makes relative sense.

          1. Slow Gin Lizz*

            Oh wow, it doesn’t say that at ALL in the letter but if that’s true then it does make sense that the doc/clinic were trying to drum up business at a dog expo. Thanks for clearing that up for me.

          2. Her name was Joanne*

            I thought the same thing. I assumed the doctor was a veterinarian.

            1. Lydia*

              I did not and thought it was a fun place to do some outreach.

              Them: Want to hang out at a dog expo and introduce people to our human clinic?
              Me: Can I pet dogs?
              Them: Yes.
              Me: Then absolutely!

        3. wtaf machine*

          I think it is a vet’s office. Vets are doctors too so I think the letter writer used that language.

          1. Random Bystander*

            And the set up (dr + office manager + techs) also matches with the way my vet’s office is set up. Although in my town, one vet closed shop leaving us with only two and now the two are so over-booked that you have to make appointments months in advance or call first thing in the morning for the same-day slots.

            1. Slow Gin Lizz*

              Yeah, I am constantly seeing people posting questions on FB about where to find a local vet because all the clinics around here are so full they can’t accept new patients. But perhaps this particular clinic is located somewhere where people don’t have a lot of money to spend on vet bills so that might also explain why this doctor doesn’t have a lot of patients yet.

            2. Siege*

              Which weirdly could be why they’re not getting enough business yet – it was so hard to get an appointment at my local vet in 2020 and 2021 because of the boom in pet ownership, increased awareness of pet illness, and staff shortages, I had to pretty often decide whether my medically-complex cat’s need could wait long enough for the vet they knows his history or if it was bad enough to make an appointment at another clinic. I did end up transferring my chinchilla’s care to an exotic pet specialist clinic that’s an enormous pain in the butt to get to because my vet practice lost their only exotic vet. So I can see where folks would not think that they could get an appointment at this practice and it’s slow to build a clientele.

              Regardless, pay people for their work! Pay your salary folks comp time and pay your hourly folks money, and recognise that it doesn’t have to be fair because salary and hourly are very different pay structures and each has benefits and drawbacks the other doesn’t, so they’re already “not fair”. Taking MORE of your hourly staff’s time with a dinner isn’t the right call.

          2. DLW*

            But aren’t vets in crazy demand too? I know my vet office had a heck of a time hiring a new vet.

      3. Nightengale*

        I literally got an e-mail yesterday asking the doctors (and other staff) in our department to table at upcoming farmers markets and health fairs to drum up business. They phrase it as increasing visibility for our health system – our city has two very competitive health systems – but it boils down to the same thing. So even for people doctors, yeah, it happens.

        1. Clisby*

          I don’t think this seems odd for a health fair, but a farmers market? Our farmers market does have occasional tables staffed by nonprofits, but they’re usually something to do with gardening. Like a couple of people certified by a university extension service as Master Gardeners will answer your questions about fertilizer and how to get rid of tomato worms. (I don’t know whether Master Gardeners exist outside of the US, but you can get the designation by attending educational sessions, and part of it requires you to do volunteer work related to gardening.) Or some group will be handing out literature extolling the value of organic gardening, or urban gardening, or whatever. When I’m in the mood to wander around the farmers market, the chance that I’m going to stop at a table promoting a health care system is about zero.

    3. Richard Hershberger*

      I would go so far as to say that this is a huge red flag. The corporate owner hires a doctor, then at some point realizes there aren’t enough patients to keep him busy. Their response is to turn the clinic staff into unpaid marketers on their days off, then wave their hands around while spouting obvious BS as justification. What about this is at all OK? Good for that one tech who hasn’t bought into the BS.

      1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

        I don’t think this expo attendance was initiated by corporate but rather by the “local” (branch/unit or whatever) staff. That’s why corporate didn’t know what to do with it when one of the people asked for extra pay, because I presumed they (the company) don’t normally do things like this, and probably classified it in their mind as “going to a dog show” rather than “marketing”. It crossed my mind to wonder whether ‘corporate’ are aware of the difficulty in getting enough business in or whether that’s been kept from them.

        1. Richard Hershberger*

          Fair point, but it moves the flag from the corporate level to the local level: not an improvement. And it doesn’t leave corporate off the hook entirely, as it suggests that they are not paying attention.

    4. AlsoADHD*

      Honestly they should’ve paid the office manager too at least (not sure on doctor’s compensation package and if bringing in more patients naturally enhances that/if doctor is part of the practice) or given comp time.

    5. Annony*

      Yep. If it “not fair” to pay them then I think it is “not fair” to ask them to work the event at all. Don’t ask hourly employees to work extra hours unpaid.

  6. Detective Rosa Diaz*

    #4 – what about something like a Visa gift card? That way the recipient isn’t beholden to shop at a place they might not normally shop at, but it avoids the cash tip perception. I also don’t know that I see this as a tip, so much as a nice gift given at appropriate times!

    1. AcademiaNut*

      Visa gift cards tend to be hard to actually spend – lots of restrictions.

      A gift card to a local stationary store like Staples can work well. Teachers spend a lot their on money on classroom supplies, so a gift card removes some of that burden.

      1. KateM*

        Unless teacher will feel it’s like “here, now go buy stuff for my kid with this”.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          I think the idea is that you transfer $20 from “money the teacher would pay out of their salary for classroom supplies” to “money the teacher can spend on other stuff.”

          (I do think, at this point, $20 in cash is just easier all around. But the example is more like a gift card to a grocery store, where you can use it for a special treat (e.g. spend the $100 in the wine section) or for normal groceries (freeing up $100 in that month’s budget to spend on something else).)

        2. theletter*

          It might end up being more like ‘buy stuff for the kid who won’t be able to bring their own folders and notebooks next fall’. Or even ‘buy yourself that sparkly bullet journal you’ve been eyeing.’

        3. Northern Teacher*

          Staples, bookstore or similar places would probably not come across that way to teachers who spend money on supplies. For me, it is an acknowledgement that parents recognize that I go beyond the limited supplies of the school. Plus, many of us buy items for ourselves or our families at those places as well. I could see an education-based specialty store might raise an eyebrows, but for me, it would be because they are expensive and most gift cards are $10 to $20.
          Food-based gifts are kind, but parents are not aware of health concerns etc. So, candies may end up in the pile of food in the staffroom. I ended up regifting a food gift card because the closest shop was 20+ minute drive away, and I didn’t want it to go to waste.
          The most uncomfortable gift I’ve received was a voucher to attend a yoga session with the student. A kind gesture, but very problematic. I gently declined and instead set up a yoga event in the gym over a recess that was open to all students and staff.
          Best gifts were…1. small crochet Christmas tree made by the student and her mother that I still put out every year 2. Candles fir Diwalii (student’s celebration) 3. Traditional Lebanese sweets made by the family. But every person is different and children often notice teachers habits that can help identify a gift. All three were tied to something the students noticed about me. Like the Diwalii candles…the student had noticed I like to decorate, and thought I would enjoy decorating for a holiday she celebrates. I display them every year along with books about Diwalii. It encourages other students to start talking about their family celebrations as well.

          1. Ann O'Nemity*

            I never liked Visa gift cards. It seems like I always need to call customer service to get the card to work, and I HATE calling customer services.

      2. AngryOctopus*

        Use the Visa gift card to buy a gift card to something you specifically want. Uses the whole thing in one go and avoids the (deliberate) issue of it being a huge pain to use a small remaining amount.

      3. Totally Minnie*

        Visa gift cards are especially hard to spend if you do most of your shopping online. Not many online stores are set up to take payment from multiple cards, so if you have a $30 Visa gift card and you want to buy something for $40, the system isn’t set up for you to do that. If it’s a store specific gift card, the store’s website is usually set up to apply the gift card to your balance and let you pay for any additional charges the same way you ordinarily would.

      4. AlsoADHD*

        As a former teacher, Visa or Amazon were preferred. Or Walmart/Target maybe but I never had trouble with a Visa gift card. Some parents who knew me would do Xbox because I game but I’d be offended by a stationary/office supply store honestly. That’s really odd and suggests it’s for supplies not a gift.

      5. I'm Just Here For The Cats!*

        Really? I haven’t ever had any issues with Visa gift cards.

    2. Earlk*

      To add to this, speak to the other parents and see if anyone else is considering a gift card and join forces: one large gift card is often more useful than 5 small ones.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Flip side: Where I am, sharp limits on the dollar value of gifts to teachers mean they can’t do this. Even though it’s “$300 gift card to a local business you use” from the whole class, with the organizers not listing who gave how much, that’s forbidden by the rules while a bunch of $10 gift cards from separate people is not.

    3. Philly suburbs*

      Here the default gift for teachers, bus drivers, and support staff is a Wawa gift card. Wawa is a gas station/coffee house/quick stop/hoagie shop with a lot of social cachet. Almost everyone drives here, so if nothing else it goes toward gas.

      1. Lexie*

        I live in Sheetz territory and that’s my go to teacher gift for the same reasons. Also even if it isn’t enough to fill up their tank they were going have to pay for gas regardless so it at least saves them some money.

          1. Queen Ruby*

            Hahahaha! As someone living in Wawa AND Sheetz territory, I can appreciate the Sheetz out of this comment!

        1. I edit everything*

          It’s crazy how good Sheetz’s food is. I avoided it for the longest time when I moved to Sheetz-land, and now it’s like “How can I justify swinging by Sheetz for some mozzarella sticks and a chicken wrap?”

    4. Rock Prof*

      This is a bit over the top but effective: another parent of a kid in my son’s class just organized a slew of gifts for teacher appreciation, but before that she sent a questionnaireto the teacher asking about likes and dislikes. She got a bunch of various gift cards, to coffee shops and restaurants based on that. But one parent (hopefully with ties to a local winery?) got the teacher multiple CASES of wine (36 bottles)! She indicated on the questionnaire that she likes wine, but that is SO MUCH wine.

    5. onetimethishappened*

      I try and do a gift card to Target, Amazon or Walmart. That typically covers most of the bases when it comes to shopping preferences. Most people in my area shop at target so its usually well received. These leave options open so that teachers can use it on themselves or for their class next year.

    6. Green Mug*

      If you are on the East Coast, give a Wawa gift card. They can be practical with gas or treat themselves to sandwiches & coffee. It’s ideal.

  7. Emily*

    LW # 5, I’m worried about how uninformed your corporate people are, or they do know and just don’t want to pay people what they are supposed to. I hope you are in a position where you can point out to them the advice Alison gave (and perhaps point out the legal trouble they will be in if they don’t pay people what they are supposed to).

    1. Julia*

      Really! These are supposed to be corporate professionals, yet they want the hourly techs to give up some of their weekend off time but it’s not fair to pay them? That is a complete rubbish.

    2. kiki*

      Yeah, this is truly worrisome coming from corporate. I feel like this is covered in the first semester of business school. What other completely illegal things are they recommending?

      1. Middle of HR*

        Not even business school, just like Payroll 101: everyone needs to be paid for time worked, and hourly employees get paid for every hour.
        I learned this working retail as a teen, not even as a manager. I wonder if HR/payroll even was looped in on this or if some random manager suggested dinner instead of money.

    3. Lydia*

      I feel like that position is Employed by That Company, So Knows the HR Email Address.

    1. CityMouse*

      As a parent (my kid is in preschool), I just give cash to my kids teachers. I don’t want to risk them being locked into a store they can’t use and as discussed above those preloaded cards can have transaction fees.

      1. Crooked Bird*

        I affirm this! I worked as a preschool assistant for a fancy little French immersion preschool in the U.S. for awhile. Our clientele was well-off and after a few gifts of body products I wouldn’t particularly use (I’m pretty minimal on that stuff) I was excited to get a nice gift card to a store I’d never heard of… which turned out to be a high-end body products store. I found my way to the clearance section where they actually had a few non-body products and walked out with a little handful of nice stuff, thankfully, including a barely-damaged gold-leaf frame that still sits on my bedside table with my favorite wedding picture in it.

        But, like… I’d have 100% taken cash. I could tell they thought they weren’t supposed to, but… 100%.

        1. Em*

          I shared an apartment with a teacher for about five years, and in all that time we never had to pay for soap. We’d just hit up her hall closet stash.

      2. Lomster*

        Same. These teachers get paid crap wages, I’m going supplement with straight cash money when I can.

    2. happybat*

      That’s so interesting! As a teacher, I was always excruciatingly embarrassed with gifts – the best thing I ever got was a handshake from a pupil who came in on the last day to finish off a piece of work. I know it’s a ‘thing’ for some staff in some contexts but it just makes me feel so deprofessionalised! And so awkward too for families/young people who would like to join in and can’t afford to.

      That said, I may be particularly sour on this because of colleagues who would work hard to induce a gifting culture in their classrooms, and then show off about how beloved they were when pupils brought them presents at the end of the year. Ew, ew, ew.

    3. Spouse of Teacher*

      Hard agree, from the spouse of a teacher!

      We never expect gifts, but they are always very sweet. The whole process of using a gift card, though, (particularly if it’s for a place we normally don’t go) means that there are inevitably some that just don’t get used.

      It’s truly not a thing for families to stress about, though. Most people don’t give gifts, and that is totally fine and expected.

    4. L-squared*

      Right. I used to teach. I would have much preferred cash instead of the cheap Walgreens cologne I got every year. Give me the cash lol. It would’ve been far more useful.

    5. Rebecca*

      I am a teacher in France, and I get money all the time. It’s often in the form of a visa gift card, but it’s sometimes stuffed in an envelope with a card signed by all the kids.

      I think the difference is that in France, the parents of a class often get together to pitch in for one big gift instead of lots of little ones, so it doesn’t feel as awkward.

      I think we feel awkward about cash with teachers in a way that we are not with mail carriers because we want to avoid even the appearance of quid pro quo – that the gift is tied to expectations around grades or treatment.

  8. Observer*

    #5 – Pay for time

    I’m kind of boggled that your corporate headquarters said that it would not be “fair” to pay the techs but not the doctor. Do they really not know that paying the techs is absolutely required by law? Or do they really think that it’s somehow unfair to *follow the law*? Either one is pretty bizarre.

    But if they really couldn’t get past this “fairness” thing, they had two other options. One was to pay the doctor and admin for their time as well, despite it not being legally required. The other option was to not require the techs to work these tables. Either one would have been FAR more “fair” and also in compliance with the law.

    1. Certaintroublemaker*

      Corporate is highly uninformed! (And likely did not check with HR or a lawyer.) ABSOLUTELY the techs need to either be paid or not sent to the expo!

      Another fair alternative, common for salaried people working extra, is to give them comp hours off (time or time and a half) in exchange for the extra hours worked. It avoids the weirdness of giving hourly pay to salaried employees, but compensates them for the extra work.

      1. Dorks*

        please check your national and local labor laws before offering comp time! I can’t speak for everywhere, but my state only allows for payment of additional hours worked above 40 hours unless the comp time was taken in the same week as the extra work completed. That way the work week would still balance out to the same number of hours worked just on different days.

        1. doreen*

          Depends on whether the employee is exempt or not – the doctor is certainly exempt and absolutely could be given comp time for working extra hours. The doctor doesn’t have to be compensated at all for working extra hours.

          1. amoeba*

            Yeah, the system is different here but I’d actually absolutely expect to get comp time for having to work on the weekend.

            1. Some words*

              I wouldn’t trust comp time. There’s too much a possibility of having it offered and then mysteriously never getting an opportunity to use it. The business was so busy staff has to work a huge amount of OT. Guess what? They were also too busy to let people use that comp time. I’ve seen this happen to friends.

              I’m a lot less trusting than I used to be.

    2. Language Lover*

      I’m wondering if someone, somewhere framed it as “volunteering in the community” and think that gets them off the hook.

      It was work and it doesn’t.

      1. JM60*

        Yup. If it serves the interest of the employer OR the employer mandates it, it’s work. It’s unclear whether or not this was voluntary for the technicians, but representing your employer at an event in order to bring in business is very much serving the interest your employer.

    3. Well...*

      Sounds like a BS reason to be cheap to me. I hear about pay equity a lot when it’s not giving someone a raise/not being able to negotiate higher, but when it’s giving someone a raise for equity reasons, suddenly everyone’s hands are tied.

    4. EPLawyer*

      I don’t think corporate thought it through. It’s a health clinic. The techs were not doing health things, they were doing promotion, therefore its not work. The doctor was not treating people, she was doing promotion. That means it is separate from work, so everyone is on the same level, not slalaried and hourly as they are at work.

      EXCEPT — that is not how it works. The techs were ONLY there because of their jobs. Therefore it was work and they need to be piad. The doctor does not need to be paid because she is salaried and is paid a set amount each week regardless of hours worked.

  9. Weaponized Pumpkin*

    I wish I had #3’s problem lol.

    I am okay (not great) on paper. I am okay (not great) in interviews. Where I’m stellar is on the job! Pretty much everyone who’s ever hired me has said I vastly exceeded expectations — they wouldn’t have hired me if they didn’t think I’d be good, but no one thought I’d be great. There’s unfortunately no way to leverage this except referrals and recommendations, so I do best looking for work through my network. Regular job ads and applications don’t serve me well. (Now that I know I’m autistic, this all makes more sense and maybe I’ll figure out what to change to come across better in the future.)

    1. Mockingbird*

      I have their problem, am also autistic, and have worked with a really good career coach… and still can’t really fix it. I’m great in an interview because I can mirror and adjust and present the version of myself they’ll like, but there’s no interaction in a resume and cover letter really. You can get some idea, sometimes, of corporate culture from research but I never find enough to overcome my default very professional business tone my brain goes to to be sure we won’t offend anyone. And come off weirdly stiff, instead of “delightful” as I’ve been told in interviews. Like you, I do better if people know me so trying to build up that network.

    2. Jellyfish Catcher*

      I hired my best ever employee due to their recommendations, which were uniformly “don’t worry about a quiet interview, just hire this person, you’ll never regret it.”

      Maybe talk to one of the hiring managers where you work or worked and have them make suggestions to improve your resume and cover letter. Your first 3 sentences above sum you up and should provoke some thought.

    3. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

      I have several times received the feedback that I am more impressive in interviews than I am on paper.

      HOWEVER, with some time and digging, that statement turns out to more be: a lot of canidates who look really impressive on paper are not that great in person. My academic record is fine but not especially WOW or prestigious. So at my current job, for example, those canidates with really stellar records were lined up for interviews first and kind of fell flat. Then I looked especially good by comparison.

      At least in my line of work, the skills that allow people to excel academically don’t neatly align to the skills that allow people to excel in the field. So early on you get these mismatches where people will seem excellent on paper but not actually bring much.

      1. Bleh*

        I have a decent resume and academic background… for my field. As I’m trying to break into a new field, I’m hoping my interview skills will convey things that you can’t bullet point on a resume but can intuit in person (work ethic, passion for the subject, ability to learn quickly, and eloquence–which is relevant in this new field.) I can definitely see why LW3 is hoping for a magic wand to convince the hiring team to give them an interview; I wouldn’t mind one myself.

    4. Princess Trachea-Aurelia Belaroth*

      Depending on how that feedback was received, you can leverage it in your resume (depending on how your industry and position hires). You can have a bullet point under a job like “received highest rating on reviews every year” or “recognized for highest rate of productivity/accuracy among x position” or “most requested admin by individual contributors” or “granted a unique level of autonomy among x position/in x task.” Or whatever it is that you were able to do that impressed your supervisors/the result of them recognizing your abilities.

    5. marvin*

      I have exactly the same problem and I’m autistic as well. It’s really frustrating. I am a good writer but I still struggle to convey that I am just good at working. Maybe because I only know I’m an unusually good employee because bosses and clients tell me.

    6. Budgie Buddy*

      Referrals and recommendations are gold. I get that it’s frustrating trying to reach the point you actually have them, but if you can consistently get good word of mouth from your network that will carry more weight than any interview or resume.

    7. Jessica*

      I sympathize so much with everyone joining in this comment! I am an outstanding employee (if I do say so myself) but am terrible at interviewing. Temping was the secret for me–I went on a random temp gig, impressed the people at this workplace, they kept in touch, and a year and a half later they recruited me when they had a vacancy. I’ve since been promoted to managing this department and it’s been nearly 20 years. I doubt very much they’d have wanted to hire me based on an interview.

  10. Louisiana Jones*

    Re: #4: Be aware that some schools and districts have rules/guidelines for teachers, other faculty, and staff members accepting gifts.
    Definitely don’t do cash.
    Gift cards are appreciated (unless it’s the third S’bucks card for someone who never goes there).
    Just make sure gift cards and gifts in general are allowed by the school and/or district.

    1. Waiting on the bus*

      Can you explain the reason why they shouldn’t gift cash? Personally, I’d much rather receive cash than a random gift card that, experience shows, I will probably never use.

      (I’m not somewhere where visa gift cards are a thing, so I understand gift cards to be for specific shops like Starbucks or Amazon, etc.)

      1. Evergreen*

        I think cash has the appearance of a bribe in the way a gift card doesn’t (fairly or unfairly). Since public school (US) teachers are public employees, there are rules about gifts (that vary state to state. A neighboring state has a much higher limit than the state I’m in).

        Also teachers are a profession that is over analyzed by the public and I agree with those who say there is something intangibly off putting about a cash gift. I think there is a way in which a gift feels like a thank you while a cash gift feels like a ‘we know teachers aren’t paid enough’

        1. Grace*

          This is what I was coming to the comments to point out–public school teachers (and other public employees, like postal workers and garbage collectors) are sometimes beholden to state or federal laws about cash gifts; either they’re not supposed to accept cash, or the amount they can accept is very small. A gift card–while functionally almost the same as cash–is technically different, and usually not as restricted.

          It’s usually a non-issue for teachers at private schools/daycares/etc., but it’s definitely something to be aware of for public employees–and they might not even be aware of it themselves.

      2. doreen*

        I think it’s the same as other gifts – it’s OK to give the nanny cash, because that’s a bonus. It’s OK to give the doorman cash, because that’s a tip. But there are lots of people who would contribute a gift card to a Secret Santa/ grab bag sort of thing who would never stick some cash in an envelope or who would give their daughter’s scout leader a gift card but feel strange giving her cash and of course, there are also people who would feel strange getting cash. . I think a lot of people consider the teacher to be on the “gift” side rather than the “tip” or “bonus” side

  11. Katie*

    The interview happened a year ago. Yes, it was a bad experience. But let it go. Release it from your mind as well.

    1. Lucky Meas*

      “Disrespect does not have expiration dates” is a catchy phrase but I’m not sure it’s helpful. Sure you can choose to be mad about it as long as you like, and you can choose to not work for that person/company ever again. But it’s pretty impractical to stand up for yourself days/months/a year(!) later.

      Write a scathing letter with all your clever comebacks and most ruthless put-downs, then file it in your journal/ritually burn it/shred it while laughing triumphantly. Then move on.

      1. MK*

        I would argue that it’s also simply not true. Actual crimes have statutes of limitation; in my jurisdiction you cannot prosecute someone for manslaughter if more than 8 years have passed since the incident. By that standard, I would say your window to complain about disrespect in an interview is a few weeks.

        1. Well...*

          I don’t know if the criminal justice system is a good model for navigating your interpersonal problems. If someone killed one of my loved ones via manslaughter I wouldn’t be chill with them if I found out about it 8.1 years later.

          I also cringe at advice telling people to let thing go before they’re ready. I agree with Allison that complaining is bad look professionally, but if personally LW still feels upset, that’s valid. Pushing people to let go of emotions before they’re ready is unhelpful and it’s straight out of the enabler’s handbook. “Be the bigger person”, “don’t let them have so much control over you”, etc. aren’t bad advice necessarily, but they are so convenient to use when you’re real message is, “beeee quieeetttt I don’t want to deal with it or hold myself/anyone accountable for what happened to you.”

          1. MK*

            English isn’t my native language, but sometimes I think people use “valid” too broadly. Feelings are real and they are outisede a person’s control, so no one should be blamed for having them. But by their very nature they aren’t always reasonable, and it’s not beneficial to validate unreasonable feelings or impulses. In this case, it’s reasonable for the OP to feel upset that they were disrespected, to hold a bad opinion of this person or even the company. It is not reasonable to expect anyone else to treat this as an actionable offense, nor is it good for them to continue to let it pray on their mind.

            Also, that “real message” you mention? It is 100% true sometimes; life is stressful enough and I don’t want to hold anyone accountable (whatever that even means) for what happened to you, if “what happened to you” was an unpleasant half hour a year ago. Aren’t my feelings “valid”?

            1. Courageous cat*

              Agreed. Just because a feeling is “valid” doesn’t mean you should let your feelings run you ragged. I wish we had more of a narrative of taking some responsibility for our feelings, and PUSHING OURSELVES to feel differently when it benefits both us and everyone around us. Not just accepting “oh I’m upset and will be forever” but really challenging and analyzing that notion.

              Part of therapy is just that – your feelings are valid, but that doesn’t mean you don’t take some responsibility in working towards feeling better, or feeling differently.

              1. Well...*

                Wow that is… very different than what I took out of therapy. The goal was never to make myself, or anyone else for that matter “feel” anything. You can’t make feelings go away in the moment, you can’t force them to change, and you can’t argue them out of existence.

                You can take steps to ensure your feelings don’t control your life, and you can work to break yourself out of cycles that increase the probability of having certain feelings longterm. But everything I learned was that trying to turn off your feelings or bury them isn’t helpful long term.

            2. Well...*

              I think when people say a feeling is valid, it means that the experience of having the feeling is being validated, regardless of whether it’s rational/reasonable or not. You’re drawing a very quick connection (really, jumping to a conclusion) between feeling -> impulse -> action, which is what most people do when they try to minimize/shut down other people’s feelings. Just because I’m validating LW’s feeling, doesn’t mean I’m validating their interest in acting on those feelings or impulses.

              Focusing on action frees you up to objectively evaluate whether someone needs to be held accountable. In this case, no. In some cases, the answer is a screaming, absolute YES, but someone doesn’t want to, and in order to avoid cognitive dissonance, they try to shut down the feelings. That lets them avoid having to consider the action (“I just want you not to care so I don’t have to think about consequences” is different than, “actually, consequences aren’t warranted here.”)

            3. Allonge*

              I totally agree. Feelings are valid in this case can mean that OP should not be told things like ‘oh, you never should have been upset at all, experiences like this build the soul’.

              Being upset at being mistreated is valid. Being upset a year later is also valid, but very unproductive. Questioning whether or not OP is doing themselves any good by being still so upset that they want to do something about it is not out of line.

        2. Falling Diphthong*

          This! For a one-off interaction I think 24 hours is a perfectly good expiration date for fuming over the disrespect. You can still then hold to never working for the company that would employ this jerk, never going to this coffee shop again, etc. But don’t keep pulling the memory out to fume over.

        3. ferrina*

          Eh, I think it’s fine to be reluctant to interact with that person again, but taking things personally a year later is….a lot.

          1. Lydia*

            It really isn’t if the person is just angry but isn’t acting on it. Emotions don’t have an expiration date and them asking is a way to find appropriate ways to purge their feelings. Complaining to the company might not be the way, but there probably is a way to do it and feel like they’re getting what they need.

              1. Lydia*

                The person is checking in on their feelings, which we all should do. Have they written the letter? No. It’s really not that weird to feel that way and try to figure out how to handle it. The OP wrote in on whether or not this is the right way, which is actually what we want people to do. We should encourage people to check in on their reactions before they do things they’ll end up regretting.

                1. Lucky Meas*

                  I guess it’s good that OP is checking themselves, but honestly, if they are still so upset about a conversation from a year ago that they want to do something about it–it is weird to feel that way! OP’s reactions are really miscalibrated and they shouldn’t need an advice column to tell them to move on from a rude conversation from a year ago.

                  I hope OP can find more effective ways of processing their feelings so they’re not holding onto things strangers said to them so long.

        4. Ace in the Hole*

          Statutes of limitations are, in part, because evidence gets less reliable the longer you wait to collect it. Personal feelings based on direct experiences shouldn’t be held to the same time limit or standard of proof as a jury trial.

          I don’t think LW should expect any external resolution. And I agree it would probably be healthier to let it go and move on. But I don’t think they ought to just ignore feelings because an arbitrary time limit has passed.

      2. Always a Corncob*

        Yeah, it sounds pithy but it doesn’t actually mean anything. *Can* you write a sternly-worded email to HR a year later? Sure. *Should* you? Very much no.

        1. Antilles*

          Especially given that the complaints seem to be him being just rude. If your email mentioned something that violates the law (e.g., sexual harassment), HR or the higher-ups would at least make a tiny show of paying attention for legal reasons.

          But just being a garden-variety jerk is getting an eye-roll. If they already think he’s a jerk, they’ll shrug and meh, Andy gonna Andy. If they don’t think he’s a jerk, they’ll just assume you’re the problem because really what does it say about you that 12 months later you’re still hung up on this.

        2. Some words*

          Yes one can. And then delete it. Sometimes a purge can be helpful as part of the letting go process.

      3. Observer*

        I’d say that it’s both not entirely true, as @MK notes, and actively unhelpful.

        I mean, yes, it’s fine to have this affect your opinion of the company in the long term. But stewing about it? Actually trying to take action?

        All of the negative fall out from this is going to come to the OP.

        1. Lydia*

          I think you’re missing the part where the OP is reaching out to ask if this is appropriate before they do anything. They’re checking in to make sure they don’t do something inappropriate and have received feedback that it wouldn’t be.

          I feel like sometimes the commenters confuse healthy ways OPs check themselves with unhealthy ways other OPs don’t. OP didn’t write the letter, which would have been not good. OP wrote in to ask if they should, which is good.

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            This specific subthread is about the OP’s framing as disrespect can have no expiration date. Which a lot of people are saying is both untrue and not helpful to OP.

            It’s separate from whether to send the email at all.

          2. Observer*

            Oh, I think it’s a REALLY good thing that the OP is checking first. But I think it’s useful for them to realize that their framing of the problem is not helpful to them. The fact that it lead them to seriously contemplate this step is an example of why it’s unhelpful.

            It’s going to be much easier for the OP to move on in ways that work for them if they let this go. Not to say that it was ok, but to let it go.

    2. umami*

      This is really the best option. This event is living rent-free in OP’s mind; it’s actually a bit troubling that they haven’t gotten over the perceived disrespect already. Better to just forget about it and move on. I don’t quite know what I would think if someone called me a year later to complain that they had been treated poorly in an interview, but I would definitely think it was weird they were still dwelling on it!

  12. Jen Deppeler*

    I have given a gift card for a chain of stores that the recipient could use for gas, groceries, home improvement, or liquor- whatever floats their boat!

    1. ferrina*

      I had a friend that would give “the gift card good at any store at any time and it never expires–cash!” I loved that phrase, and it’s so true. And I get to choose what business I support with it (which is usually my local independent book store and/or coffee shop)

  13. Not A Manager*

    LW2 – I understand the urge to share your story. Post a Glassdoor review.

    1. EPLawyer*

      a year later? The person might not even still be there. From a job candidate? Anyone reading that will wonder why it was posted now. As well as wonder if the person is just mad they didn’t get the job.

      The best advice is what others are saying — make like Elsa and Let It Go.

      1. Not A Manager*

        Sure, people can discount it if they want to, just like any other online review, but it’s not going to have professional repercussions for the LW or make them look weird. And if the guy is still there and doing the same thing, it could be useful. LW wants to share their story, and a professional review site is a perfect place to do that. Feeling belittled and bullied is horrible, and LW is trying to regain some agency.

        1. Observer*

          Feeling belittled and bullied is horrible, and LW is trying to regain some agency.

          There are plenty of healthier ways to regain agency. In fact, I’m not sure that this will do anything to help the OP.

          1. Antilles*

            Especially since the most likely responses are either (a) literally nothing, (b) company PR replies with some meaningless generic “we’re sorry” post, or (c) someone posts a positive review shortly afterwards.
            None of those seem likely to really make OP feel better.

          2. Lydia*

            Except you don’t get to decide what will or will not help someone regain agency. What works for you will not be what works for someone else. For all we know, maybe writing to Alison and asking about it is enough for them to find closure. Or maybe posting that Glassdoor review will do it. Either way, the OP didn’t write the letter and suggesting them checking in with themselves by getting some outside advice is not healthy is not actually helpful.

        2. Firecat*

          I really don’t see a problem with this. Glasdor literally has an interview review section. As a candidate I find it helpful when people post about interview experiences. You also don’t have to put the date of the interview in so there wia no reason to specify it’s a year later.

      2. amoeba*

        Eh, I don’t think anybody would wonder why it was posted now – as far as I know, Glassdoor actually makes you post reviews first before you’re allowed to read others, so loads of people rate places a long time after the fact just for that reason alone!

        And I agree, in general – it’s the perfect compromise to get it out of your system while actually being professional and potentially helpful to others. I say go for it.

      3. human-woman*

        “Make like Elsa and Let It Go.”

        Gonna print this out and frame it for my desk.

    2. ferrina*

      Great idea! Glassdoor has a section for interview reviews. I know our HR team reads those so they can make sure they are providing a good experience when wooing candidates. And you can make sure folks know this is an older review. (as another commenter pointed out, the interviewer may or may not still work there, so worth noting the time period when the interview happened)

  14. learnedthehardway*

    OP#2 – there’s really no point registering a complaint about an interview a year ago. And you won’t have a whole lot of credibility as a candidate, in any case.

    That said, if the interviewer was a jerk to you, odds are they are a jerk to their team as well. So a) at least they showed their stripes and you didn’t go all out in your efforts to get hired, and b) you know their company likely already knows and hasn’t done anything about them, so no great loss that you didn’t get hired to a dysfunctional culture.

    Don’t let the jerk live rent-free in your head.

    1. Other Alice*

      You don’t know that the hiring manager is still with the company. It could be that the company was aware of the issues and they were let go. Or maybe they quit on their own, a year is a long time.

      (I’m assuming LW2 has no way of knowing if the hiring manager is still there. It would be concerning of they’ve been keeping tabs on this person for a year. Let it go.)

      1. Lydia*

        Stop telling people to let it go as if that’s the best for all cases. The OP should write the Glassdoor review and let people decide for themselves if, after a year, it’s worth it.

        1. Chutney Jitney*

          Stop fishing through the comments telling people to stop commenting.

          The OP has been thinking about this for a year with no action taken – that is not useful or healthy. Feeling the need to “do something” to clear it out of their head is totally normal and understandable, but it’s something they need to do for themselves, not for others.

          Letting go of things *is* the best for all cases – it’s the only way to move forward.

      2. Kelvin*

        Perhaps LW2 can do a Google search. The hiring manager may have a LinkedIn or other social media stating where they work.

        But yeah, I would just move on. Easier said than done, but just move on. If he’s a jerk to one candidate, he’s likely a jerk to other candidates too. And if they happen to find the manager is working elsewhere via LinkedIn/online, then avoid applying there too.

  15. nodramalama*

    #LW1 oof as someone who is on my work social club, a lot of alison’s suggestions sound burdensome and annoying to organise. We not long ago did an Easter holiday bbq and even that was quite hard to organise. One of the reasons why workplaces do happy hours or drinks isn’t just because of the social nature of drinking, but also because all you have to do is book a table, and maybe organise a tab. It’s also easy to attend- people pop in for a drink on their way home, leave when they want, don’t have to pay more than whatever they want to buy.

    If you want to do different things that’s fair but I would suggest (1) you take on the organisational burden and (2) don’t be surprised if you don’t get a lot of by in from people who don’t want to commit to a talent show

    1. Moose*

      The final paragraph has higher-effort events, but the earlier stuff suggested—just having snacks, coffee, lunch, whatever to hang out—are hardly labor-intensive to plan and also allow people to pop in and out as they please. One employee should not have the job of making sure the company has events that include the most people possible. (Unless it’s literally that person’s job to plan office events.)

      1. nodramalama*

        Organising any kind of food IS more intensive than booking a drinks because unless you do a potluck or a morning tea where everyone brings in food, you immediately you have to figure out dietary requirements. Organising a food track is quite a big undertaking, as is doing a tea and coffee tasting. Additionally, at my job, you need to figure out who is paying for it, and if its individuals when you also have to make sure everyone pays before you organise it or you risk being out of pocket.

        It’s a lot of work organising work social functions. If someone else is responsible for it and OP wants to change it in a way that is going to require more work by them, then yes, I expect OP to take on that burden.

        1. WoodswomanWrites*

          This suggestion, however unintentional, continues the pattern of the company not being inclusive. The person pointing out that events centering alcohol exclude some people should not be tasked with fixing the problem and taking on an additional burden.

          Good management would take that to heart and look for ways to create inclusive events. That could include asking the group in general for suggestions, which is what a couple of my employers have done, and then the company responds to what people have requested. This is not the responsibility of the person who points out that they’re being left out.

          1. L-squared*

            I get what you are saying. And if events are organized by a specific department, like operations, then great. I think its fair if that is a part of your job description to make it more labor intensive. But at many companies, its really just volunteers doing this stuff on top of their existing jobs. No one likes dealing with the people with a million “suggestions” who won’t also join the committee to put in the work

            1. DisgruntledPelican*

              If you don’t want to be inclusive or do the work to make activities inclusive, I suggest you don’t volunteer for the committee.

              1. L-squared*

                Sure. That is a fine way to look at it. But when no one wants to deal with that stuff, and events stop, well you then have a different issue. If I was asked to be on this committee, then I saw a list of “requirements” in order to plan it, I’d probably decline.

                I’d also argue this is the “don’t let prefect be the enemy of good”. If you want there to be socialization, isn’t it better to have SOME social activities, even if they aren’t all varied and totally inclusive than none?

                I just feel, in my experience, the most critical people never want to actually take on the work required to make things happen in the way they’d prefer.

                1. Princess Trachea-Aurelia Belaroth*

                  It’s actually worse to have activities that totally exclude one person all the time, because you can alienate that person, which is a net negative.

                  By your own logic, isn’t it better to have a few different activities, none of them perfect, rather than one type of activity that is always flawed in the exact same way?

                  I just don’t see why the line on “good enough” is “happy hour every single time” rather than even “happy hour usually, and one food truck/coffee hour/game night/event during work hours even just one single time a year, possibly not perfectly planned but at least Sarah from marketing can attend instead of feeling specifically excluded 100% of the time.”

                  No one is saying that the varied events have to be more or even as frequent as the happy hours, and no one is saying they need to be complex. Also, no one is saying that EVERYONE reading here has to do a game night if that is difficult to plan in your circumstances.

                  I AM saying that consistently excluding the same people over and over again from optional fun things is a great way to alienate them and could be one factor in their choice to move on from your workplace.

                  If a workplace chooses to make this tradeoff, that’s on them. That doesn’t mean varied events isn’t a good or workable idea, or that the tradeoff will disappear if you can make a good enough argument why it shouldn’t exist.

          2. Expiring Cat Memes*

            While I agree with the need to find more inclusive activities, the reality is that most orgs do not have a person whose sole job it is to organise social events. It’s usually someone (female) who has been tasked with organising it all, on top of all her regular work. And once she’s done it once, she’s usually stuck doing it forevermore whether she wants to or not.

            Unless you have been that person or worked closely with that person, you have no idea how utterly soul-draining it is to try to regularly organise these events (which are always more work than they sound like) on top of your normal workload, while also trying to please everyone and getting no thanks – just complaints from staff about what they would have preferred – while management take all the glory for the event. Eventually there will be a path of least resistance followed. Not saying that’s right, just that erosion of discretionary effort is a natural consequence of unpleasant voluntold work.

            I totally agree with nodramalama that if that’s the situation, if someone wants to complain or change things, it’s fair to expect them to come to the table with better alternatives and be willing to help take on some of the burden.

            Management don’t magically “take things to heart”, they just delegate complaints to someone lower down pole to figure out. And crowd-sourcing ideas and forming committees sounds great in theory… until you realise you now have surveys and a committee to organise on top of the event on top of your job.

            A change to more inclusive practices at OP’s company is warranted, but it’s fair to point out the practical implications of doing that, because idealism alone won’t fix it.

        2. bamcheeks*

          Organising drinks is only less work than “figuring out dietary preferences” becAuse you’re explicitly not doing that! You’re just ignoring all the people whose dietary preferences don’t include drinking.

          I mean, yes, it is more work to organise social events for all 20 work colleagues who are diverse than for the 12 people who all like going to the pub. That’s why it’s work.

          1. L-squared*

            Is there a reason why someone going to a happy hour just can’t drink? I’m not trying to be insensitive here. But Going to a bar/pub/restaurant with drinks, doesn’t require drinking.

            1. Colette*

              Some people can just not drink. Others (recovering alcoholics, people with religious beliefs against alcohol) may no be comfortable being around alcohol at all – or at least being in a place whose primary function is to serve alcohol.

            2. Observer*

              Some people cannot go to bars / pubs for any reason. Some people cannot do events after hours outside of rare events. Neither group is a tiny minority. The odds of having any level of diversity in a larger group where this is not going to be an issue are about NIL.

              The OP explicitly says that these events are posing a problem. The response to a person who says “I cannot do this” is NOT to tell them that, in fact they CAN do that thing. And the solution to the person who says “I can technically do this thing but is will be deeply uncomfortable and may even have the opposite effect of what you want” is NOT to tell that person “You need to not be uncomfortable and you need to make sure it has the effect *we* want it to have, no matter what.”

              1. L-squared*

                Well, I guess my question is, can they not do that because of the time, or the venue, because those are very different problems to solve.

                Doing something doing work hours is absolutely the ideal situation. But unless its pre planned far in advance, likely there are some people (whether its a coverage issue or meetings) who can’t go. So it makes those far more difficult.

                And if you don’t serve alcohol, I’m betting you’d get a lot less people going in general. So I don’t know that its really solving the problem you are looking to solve, as in more people going.

                1. Princess Trachea-Aurelia Belaroth*

                  Probably both of those factors are barriers to someone. Thus, as Alison says, vary it up to cover all bases. There will not be any single activity that does not exclude any person that might conceivably ever work at a workplace. The solution is to do a variety of things so that no single person is excluded all the time, and be willing to continue to change if you find that someone ends up working there who is, in fact, excluded all of the time.

            3. Emmy Noether*

              Two personal reasons: (1) am currently pregnant with gestational diabetes, so things I can drink in a pub (no alcohol, no sugar) is usually limited to: water. Choice of still or sparkling if I’m lucky. It gets old fast.
              Combine that with (2) most tipsy people typically becoming very tiresome very quickly when one is sober, it’s fine once or twice for team spirit’s sake, but not exactly a good time.

        3. Colette*

          You really don’t. You can do something with snacks (i.e. veggie tray & chips) and beverages (soft drinks, beer, juice) and an activity – people can participate in as much or as little as they’d like.

          Yes, it’s a little easier to say “we’re all going to X”, but you do that at the cost of making people feel unwelcome.

        4. bighairnoheart*

          I’m not sure why you’re getting such hostile responses to this, it’s very accurate, and a concern the company needs to think about when planning events.

          The reason drinks are such a common office social activity is because they just happen. Someone picks a date and time and people show up. That’s it. You can make them more complicated, but most people don’t.

          All the suggestions provided above sound potentially fun, but they require an organizer, prep work, and for a lot of them–a budget. If the workplace already has an organizer, process, and budget in place for these kinds of things, OP might have luck talking to the right people and implementing some of these ideas. But if not, then it’s likely going to be a huge uphill battle to get any of it done (or, as you said, OP could take on this work, but they should go into it with clear eyes about how much work it’s going to take).

          I’ve become the employee activity event planner for my workplace, not really by choice, and it takes up so much of my time and mental energy to do. I think it’s worth it to have inclusive food offerings/activities for our staff, but boy is it a nightmare to do. And it’s a formal part of my job that I’m paid for. If it’s not that for OP, and it’s not that for anyone else at their org, this might be really hard to do. I think it’s useful to make that clear.

          1. Environmental Compliance*

            I don’t see though that selecting a café or other lowkey spot for coffee/tea/drinks is any more work than selecting a bar for alcoholic drinks. Date, time, location, boom.

            1. Chick (on laptop)*

              Removed. You cannot be rude to people here; this is your final warning. – Alison

              1. My Useless 2 Cents*

                Well that wasn’t called for. Environmental Compliance is right. Selecting a local cafe or coffee spot is just as easy as selecting a bar for an after-work get together.

              2. Critical Rolls*

                How is it more work to say, “Open tab at Local Smoothies 2 to 4 this Thursday” or “Open tab at Sandwich Central 11 to 2 next Tuesday” than it is to say “Open tab at Some Pub 5:30-7:30 this Friday”? As someone who has organized both, I don’t find the daytime ones any more difficult.

                You have personal experiences, which are certainly valid, but you are not a broad subject matter expert and you have no idea of the knowledge and experiences of those you are addressing.

                1. Critical Rolls*

                  Having read some further comments, I’m just going to expand here. First, I’m wondering about the scale of events various people are envisioning, and if maybe that’s contributing to the clashes. I’ve seen enough low-key daytime events to be absolutely bewildered by the insistence that they are approaching the “wedding” end of the planning scale. Second, the more variety of events you have, the less you have to worry about getting everything right every single event, because all your eggs aren’t in a single basket. “You going to the happy hour thing?” “Nah, I’ll catch you at the taco truck next month.” Third, establish a protocol around RSVPs and people will learn. Fourth, having all social events take place outside working hours is sufficiently problematically exclusive that extra work to avoid it is necessary. Fifth, having all social events centered around alcohol is sufficiently problematic that extra work to avoid it is necessary.

                  I get being frustrated by the idea of someone having to do more work around these events, especially if you are someone who does that kind of thing and feels underpaid and unappreciated. But that doesn’t mean that it isn’t important that it get done. It just means the company you work for underpays and doesn’t appreciate you.

            2. lilsheba*

              a cafe or a place that does happy hour but also has a killer food array and some good drinks besides alcohol, like good coffee and sparkling water and stuff, that would be awesome. And I don’t see either why it would take that much more time to plan. It really is terrible how everything revolves around drinking, we aren’t in the 1950s anymore.

              1. Heather*

                “a place that does happy hour but also has a killer food array and some good drinks besides alcohol, like good coffee and sparkling water and stuff, that would be awesome”

                So a pub, then.

              2. JustaTech*

                Exactly. My work group used to sometimes head down to the coffee shop down the block that had primarily coffee drinks, but also sold pitchers of beer in the aftrenoon. If you didn’t want a beer, you could get a coffee.

                Part of the difference between a coffee shop with beer and a pub with coffee is the vibe of the place – is it primarily an alcohol place, a food place or a coffee place? People who aren’t comfortable with alcohol (for whatever reason) may (may) be more comfortable with a food/coffee place. Also, they tend to be open earlier, so part of the event could be during work hours.

              3. LilPinkSock*

                My city has a really strong taproom patio culture, which is great for a lot of people on weekends because it’s a nice place to hang out for a few hours with family and pets. But for folks who can’t be around alcohol, or really don’t like it, the lack of zero-proof options definitely limits their social venues. I’ve been glad to see a sober/sober-curious culture building within the last 3-5 years…all the fun vibes with friends, none of the limitations a boozy brunch brings!

          2. YetAnotherAnalyst*

            I get that happy hour is really low effort, and can be as simple as an email – “Hey, we’re doing drinks at Local Place after work on Friday. We’ll be there between five and seven, feel free to drop by!”. But there are other options that can be just as low effort:
            “Hey, we’ll be at Coffeehouse this Thursday between five and seven, feel free to drop by!”
            “Hey, we’re doing boardgames in the break room this Wednesday between four and six – feel free to bring a game, or come play one of ours! I’ll be bringing Catan and Monopoly. Snacks welcome!”
            “Hey, we’re doing crafting hour in the break room Tuesday five to six – bring a project to work on, or just sit and talk!”
            “Hey, it’s potluck tea tasting Monday, noon to one. Bring a tea to try and vote for your favorites! Winning tea will be added to the break room stash, and the donator’s tea club fee for the month will be covered!”

            1. Chick (on laptop)*

              ….do you have any idea how much additional effort is required for your suggestions? I am already overworked and underpaid, I’m not adding this to my list.

              1. YetAnotherAnalyst*

                I’ve arranged board games and craft hours but not drinks, so maybe I don’t. I’m also in the US, which might be a consideration. Can you explain what you need to do for, say, a board game night that you don’t need to do for drinks?

                1. Chick (on laptop)*

                  I’m also in the US; I’m an exec. assistant in NYC.

                  You need to make sure there are enough board games (ergo, you need to delegate specific people to bring games, or take time out of your day to do it yourself), enough attendees to justify the event existing (meaning emails, ticklers, outlook invites, in-person reminders), you need space (do you even have it? how long will you need it?).

                  Does anyone have allergies? If there’s food, you now need to check that for every attendee. Will they all respond? You bet they won’t! But they’ll definitely complain when whatever they need isn’t there.

                  Who is going to set up this board game? The entitled employees? Nope! You’ll be doing it yourself, while ALSO doing the more important tasks of the day.

                  It’s not as simple as calling a bar & confirming they have space, and sending out an address.

                2. LilPinkSock*

                  Not the person you asked, but for crafternoons and board game parties you have to get a headcount, supplies, and maybe even a space big enough to accommodate the activity. Gotta make sure you have enough materials or games for everyone who might show up. Factor in set-up and clean-up time, and it’s much easier to run a tab at a place with some good non-alcoholic options.

                3. YetAnotherAnalyst*

                  I’m not sure I understand, LilPinkSock. You do need an idea how much space you’ll need, but wouldn’t that be true for a pub, too? You shouldn’t need any materials for a craft hour – the whole idea is folks are bringing whatever they’re currently working on. For a board game night, I am assuming whoever arranges it is bringing a couple games, but it’s mostly relying on interested participants bringing something they’d like to play (and you only need maybe 1/6 of them to do so). There’s no set-up required if you’ve got a meeting room or a break room with a table and chairs, and no clean up unless someone brought something messy for snacks.

                4. YetAnotherAnalyst*

                  I see your comment now, Chick. Perhaps we’re talking about different scales, or maybe just different types of offices? When I’ve arranged board games, it’s been as easy as:
                  – book a meeting room or plan to commandeer the break room
                  – send out an email inviting folks to come hang out and bring their games
                  – bring a few games myself that could be played in the allotted time

                  Snacks and drinks were generally whatever was supplied in the break room already, and maybe a third of the participants brought games. We did get a lot of duplicates, but we had more games to choose from than time to play, and everyone seemed to have a good time.

                5. Colette*

                  @YetAnotherAnalyst – I agree. A lot of these ideas are low-effort – so even if they don’t get a great turn out, there’s little cost. And if those participating are bringing their own crafts/board games/food, all you need is a space and a time.

                  I’d definitely suggest making sure that there were at least a few interested people before planning them, but it’s the pretty much same work as a happy hour.

                6. bamcheeks*

                  Does anyone have allergies? If there’s food, you now need to check that for every attendee.

                  It’s really bizarre that people are arguing “but if I organise an event around food I have to figure out who might be excluded by that and that’s extra work, but if I organise an event around alcohol I don’t have to do that”.

                7. LilPinkSock*

                  We’re out of nesting, so I’m going to try and reply to your second comment here :-) I think we are indeed talking past each other about scale and “vibe” of activities. In my experience, the organizer(s) have provided materials and games and beverages and snacks–it hasn’t been a potluck-style operation, and so the time and effort really adds up for the organizer(s)!

                  As for finding space, there’s only so many rooms at my office that I can easily co-opt. Our go-to food-and-drink spot is far simpler to call three days out and plunk down a minimum to reserve a section of the patio. But that’s all my specific deal, so I think I’ve veered in to the classic AAM sandwiches territory :-)

                  In a perfect world, the time and effort to do a game afternoon/night would be the same as “Dinner and drinks at [that patio down the street], on company dime!”. Yours sounds fun and simple for everyone, can I come work with you??

                8. YetAnotherAnalyst*

                  …can I come work with you??
                  If it were up to me, @LilPinksock, absolutely! Thanks for the thoughtful explanation.

              2. Colette*

                Almost none? Looking at the list, we have:
                – calling a coffee house instead of a pub
                – booking a room & bringing in 2 board games
                – booking a room
                – booking a room, maybe bringing in some tea

          3. bamcheeks*

            OP did say that they’re trying to influence the organisation’s leadership, and that socialising is part of the company culture. So yes, it’s true that it takes more resources to organise, but that’s information and an argument for LW to take to the leadership, to convince them that if the outcome they want is to keep that socialising culture as they grow, they need to assign more resources to it. Where people are disagreeing is that because it’s more work to be inclusive it shouldn’t be done or that LW should offer to do it themselves.

          4. Observer*

            I’m not sure why you’re getting such hostile responses to this, it’s very accurate, and a concern the company needs to think about when planning events.

            They are getting such a hostile response because the only way it is “accurate” is if you explicitly refuse to “figure out the needs” of people who cannot drink / participate in happy hours.

            It is not easier to figure out how to accommodate people’s needs around alcohol and after work events. In fact it is HARDER. But what you and @Melodrama are proposing is not actually figuring out how to accommodate people’s needs. Rather you are proposing that the company continue to not accommodate anyone. And camouflage it by “this is what we do”, which would be harder to do if you actually revealed that you’d actually thought about it.

            And, yes, the company needs to think about this – including the fact that insistence on exclusionary events like this could create some significant problems that will NOT be mitigated by the fact that they were alcohol related.

        5. Observer*

          Organising any kind of food IS more intensive than booking a drinks because unless you do a potluck or a morning tea where everyone brings in food, you immediately you have to figure out dietary requirements.

          Oh, and when it comes to drinks you do NOT need to figure out requirements? But you can just ignore the requirements of people who can’t join the happy hour for some reason? Why is that?

          Or did you just skip the whole part of the letter where the OP explains that in fact happy hours *are* ignoring people’s requirements.

    2. MsM*

      If you can’t even put in enough effort to type “bars with good mocktails” into Google instead of just defaulting to the place around the corner, I submit you’re not putting in remotely enough effort to warrant complaining about how much harder it’s going to be to accommodate non-drinking colleagues.

      1. Earlk*

        Some people who don’t drink aren’t comfortable being in places that serve alcohol so that’s still not inclusive.

      2. amoeba*

        Yeah, I mean, choosing a place that has good non-alcoholic options is easy, sure. And I’d definitely do that as a first step for all drinks-related activities. It’s also not *that* inclusive – for people who aren’t free on the evenings or people who don’t like to be around drinkers at all.

        I think the problem with especially the first is that it would by definition need to happen during the work day, which automatically requires some level of “official involvement”. You cannot just informally set up a café visit at 3 pm the same way you’d go to the pub after work…

    3. L-squared*

      Yep. As someone who in the past was on these committees I totally agree.

      no one has to drink at a happy hour. Usually bars also have some kind of food you can eat.

      And these days, the line between “restaurant that serves alcohol” and “bar that serves food” is very thin. Is going for tacos at a place that serves margaritas and letting people get them, really any different than going to a bar and ordering margaritas and an app of tacos?

      1. CR*

        Agreed. OP’s workplace could avoid calling it “happy hour” if they truly want to remove any connotation with drinking and call it an “after-work social” or something. Nobody has to drink.

        1. bamcheeks*

          This is an incredibly counter-productive attitude if your goal is to create a culture that’s diverse and welcoming to all.

          1. L-squared*

            Can you explain how this is counter productive? I’m being serious. A difference in framing of the event can make all the difference in the world.

            After work social at X restaurant, really does come off different as “happy hour”. Just like “alumni networking event” has a different connotation than “alumni happy hour”.

            1. YetAnotherAnalyst*

              For folks who have problems being around alcohol, changing the name but not the venue just makes things more difficult (the problem is still there, but is more likely to come as a surprise).

              1. L-squared*

                So is your suggestion something that there is no alcohol being served at all? Because I can tell you from personal experience, if the company isn’t buying me a couple of drinks, I’m likely not going, especially if its something outside of work hours. I have MANY colleagues that are the same way. You want to do a catered work lunch? Great, I’m in. But once you start encroaching on my out of work time, I need incentive.

                1. YetAnotherAnalyst*

                  Yes, my suggestion (and I think Allison’s?) is have a few different options, at least some of which have no alcohol and happen during the workday. None of the options are going to work for everyone, but having a variety means nobody is excluded from all of them, either.

                2. Kara*

                  As a non-drinker (can’t stand the taste of alcohol) could you help me understand what the difference is between the company buying you food vs the company buying you drinks is?

                3. bamcheeks*

                  I’m likely not going, especially if its something outside of work hours

                  So the question is, is the goal, “something that always includes L-squared & the other folk who like drinking, but never includes Sam, Tom or Ali, who all don’t got to places which serve alcohol for a variety of reasons” or “a variety of things that sometimes include L-Squared, sometimes include Sam, sometimes include Tom and sometimes include Ali”. That’s the question for leadership.

            2. Princess Trachea-Aurelia Belaroth*

              For some people, being in a bar at all is not inclusive.

              As Alison says, there is no single activity that will be inclusive to everyone. That’s why you need to vary it up, so that no single person will be excluded all of the time.

              Renaming the same activity, while it might include a couple more people, is not the solution. People in recovery, people who are religiously or morally opposed to alcohol and bars, and in many cases still people who don’t drink (depending on the atmosphere those who do drink create) will still be excluded in any bar, winery, microbrewery, distillery, or pub. Some people simply don’t like to be around people who are drinking.

              That might be a valid addition to a more expanded offering, but if it’s the only change, it is in fact counterproductive, as it just sends the message that the only compromise possible is to add some bar food and soda to the offerings while everyone else carries on as usual.

            3. SometimesCharlotte*

              “No one has to drink” is a true statement. For someone in recovery however, the desire to drink is strong. And being around people who are drinking, in an atmosphere where drinking is centralized (and no matter how much food the bar has, it is a BAR) is extremely difficult and potentially triggering and deleterious to their sobriety. So immediately those people are either excluded from the event or risking themselves to be there.

            4. bamcheeks*

              It’s the “nobody has to drink” framing that’s counter-productive. It’s just incredibly dismissive of anyone who a) is perfectly capable of not drinking, doesn’t want to drink, but also doesn’t want to be in an environment where other people are drinking or b) really struggles with not drinking if they’re in an environment where other people are drinking. “You should just be the thing that’s convenient to the majority and less work for us” is the exact opposite of a diverse and welcoming atmosphere.

              1. bamcheeks*

                And like, the “welcoming” part is pretty key here. You’re basically asking, “do these people have a GOOD ENOUGH reason to be weird and create a lot of work for everyone else by refusing to do the easy thing???”

                1. Princess Trachea-Aurelia Belaroth*

                  Right? The point of a mixer is that you want employees to mix. If employees are not incentivized to go, you can’t tell them they’re wrong. If the bar-proponents here are satisfied with certain people not going to the event designed to have them mix collegially, that’s their choice (though I think it’s the wrong one from an inclusivity perspective). You can’t comment-argue your own or OP’s coworkers into being happy with a bar when they’re not. If you want people to go, you have to appeal to them.

    4. Manders*

      Free lunch for employees is always enjoyed and fairly easy to organize. You can state something like “vegetarian options will be included, please email so-an-so for other dietary needs” in the email or flyer, and just make sure that you accommodate the few people who may be vegan or gluten free, even if it’s from a different place.

      1. Can Can Cannot*

        One of the challenges I have found with team lunches, especially ones held in the office, is that most of the conversation is simply an extension of work discussions about work tasks. If the goal is to expand the dialogue beyond work, it often helps to distance things from work locations and hours. I have found that cutting work short a couple hours and heading out to an activity (pastries, beers, miniature golf, etc.) can help.

    5. Malarkey01*

      This is one of those- the answer stinks but the reality is the more work this requires the more likely it is they’ll just stop doing them.

      We moved from happy hours to inclusive social events before Covid and attendance dropped like a rock, events were less regular until they stopped. We’re back to after work socials that are at a restaurant with a bar and attendance shot back up. I’d say a good 10% don’t actually have an alcoholic beverage either but grab some apps and a soda.

      Office social events are a black hole where it’s hard to get agreement but lots of people have opinions on what they don’t like.

      1. L-squared*


        Some companies have people employed whose job this is. Many do not. So its a company without a person being paid to do this, the more difficult you make this “extra” voluntary task, the less will happen. Similarly, the more difficult you make it for people to join, the less likely they are to do so. I’ll happily go to the bar on the corner for drinks after work. I’m much less likely to do anything that is out of my way.

        1. DisgruntledPelican*

          You keep positing that like it’s a bad thing. If your options are “do things that will always alienate certain people on staff” or “don’t do things”, you’re better off not doing things.

      2. JustaTech*

        We used to (and still do) have in-office happy hours, but as a group decided we needed to branch out for 1) the people who don’t drink and don’t want to be around alcohol (or have to drive home straight after), and 2) the people who can’t attend at the end of the day because they have other commitments.

        So we hired in an espresso cart for a few hours in the morning. Yes, this was *different* work for the person who is usually in charge of getting the food (more calling around, less going to the store). It was also hugely popular (there were decaf and non-coffee options), and was really appreciated by the department that needs phone coverage because everyone in their group was able to go.

        I firmly agree with Alison, there’s no activity that everyone will love, so have a variety so there’s a greater chance that everyone will find *something* they like. Also, make sure that the planning/set up/clean up is recognized as work (whether it’s the social committee or an individual).

      3. Becky*

        It was 9 years into working at my current job when I first encountered a work social event that included alcohol; yet somehow attendance was always high at those events for 9 years.

    6. I'm Just Here For The Cats!*

      Ok you can reserve a table at a restaurant or coffee shop just as easily as a bar.

      1. amoeba*

        Sure, although if the OP’s actually from the UK, I’d assume a “pub” means food is actually already served there as well! (And if everybody’s having full dinner, it creates different problems, such as budget… but you could certainly opt to have a burger or something instead of drinks!)

        Café is hard to do after hours usually, I guess? Most things here are closed by the time I get off work and either way, I wouldn’t be too keen on coffee at 6.30 p.m. or whatever…

        1. I'm Just Here For The Cats!*

          Could do something in the morning. We used to go to a local coffee shop in the morning in leu of a meeting

        2. FloralWraith*

          In the UK particularly, a lot of cafes are closed by 4-5pm, even places like Starbucks, even in London. Very jarring coming from Canada where coffee shops are open until super late.

      2. Chick (on laptop)*

        I can only speak for NYC, but there’s a radically different deposit difference between a bar and a restaurant. A coffee shop wouldn’t be open in most places past 3-4 and thus isn’t a workable alternate.

        1. Dahlia*

          …coffeeshops in new york close at 3pm??? I live in a 1400 people town and our coffeeshop is open until 8pm. What??

    7. N*

      Totally agree with this. It’s a societal problem, really. It’s very hard to find a free hangout spot (i.e. “third place”) anymore. I think a different activity would be worth the effort but it will be a LOT more effort and it’s important to take that into account.

      1. Nomic*

        Thanks for bringing up “third spaces”. I think the real problem we are seeing here is that there just AREN’T may options (in the US especially) that don’t center around spending money somewhere.

        I haven’t seen anyone suggest a park outing (BYO), or similar. It’s all looking at going somewhere, and of course that costs money, so what’s the best bang for the buck. That’s almost always alcohol.

    8. umami*

      I was thinking that, too – happy hour is low stakes, no one is required to drink, but I can see how not everyone would like the vibe. Meeting at a coffee/tea shop could be an interesting alternative after work, especially if they also have wine/other beverages. Some of these have card games and other types of table entertainment that could be fun. I don’t know about gaming or talent show stuff, though, that would be a hard pass for me.

    9. ferrina*

      We have a lot of hybrid/remote workers, and we do a lot of virtual events. Usually it’s around a theme, like someone showing us how to make one of their favorite dishes or talking about their culture for an awareness event. Sometimes it’s been virtual trivia, which is really fun. And since it’s virtual, you can participate as much or as little as you want. It’s pretty popular. (Organizational lift is minimal- send an invite and prep your presentation/trivia)

      1. amoeba*

        Yeah, we had a few quite nice virtual “pub” quizzes and and online escape room during lockdown – not quite the same as in person, but easy to organise, fun, and low barrier. Would certainly be among the easier activities to throw into the mix every now and then!

      2. YetAnotherAnalyst*

        I’m in the very unusual situation of working somewhere with a big computer game culture, but I’ve had success with a monthly drop-in dungeon raid for team building. Definitely not something for all workplaces, but low-effort, remote-friendly, inclusive, and fun with this team!

    10. Ccbac*

      I agree– it’s a bit unclear if leadership in letter 1 is currently organizing (more importantly paying) much of anything in the official sense or if it’s more one person saying “hey, since there’s a bunch of us here today, let’s hang post work” and maybe if someone senior shows up they buy a round.

      so many of the comments feel out of touch in a “but actually is super easy to organize and pay for a food truck!” way (also, seeing a lot of “just go out to eat instead” and, as someone who doesn’t drink, I would still prefer an alcohol based happy hour to having to sit down to eat and pay for an entire meal with my coworkers. harder just to pass through for a few minutes and also a lot more $$. people who have families will also likely be less into a meal ).

      the non-alcoholic equivalent of casual office happy hours isn’t an office organized food fest or volunteer event. a closer alternative would be a coffee or soda shop (but these aren’t always widely available options). also keep in mind a formally organized event will be less chill and casual chat and people will probably feel that they have to be more “on” in a professional sense than a casual hang with coworkers for an hour at the end of the day.

    11. amoeba*

      Simple idea I actually just remembered we do in our department – once a month, we have a department breakfast. (The cost is covered by the company and our secretary takes care of organising though, if that weren’t the case, it would be much harder!)

      We just have some simple baked goods/supermarket sweet spreads, nothing fancy, and sit together in the break room for an hour. Food is brought in by the organiser on the way to work in the morning. (We don’t have any gluten free people in the department, but if we did, I’m sure they’d buy something alternative for them to eat!)
      It’s quite flexible as well, if you don’t have much time, you’re free to just drop in for 10 minutes and have a snack, or you can stay the whole hour.

    12. Grace*

      You could do the same thing with an ice cream shop, or a smoothie bar, juice bar, cafe…at the very least, it would provide a locale that isn’t alcohol-centered.

    13. Engineering Life*

      An easy one which has been done in one of our regional offices – a jigsaw puzzle. It’s set up in the lunchroom, where people come and go. It seems to be the location where most colleagues stop to chat while they grab their lunch/snack/drink.
      People are free to work on the puzzle or to ignore it and just chat. It doesn’t require much to organize.
      This was started a few years ago by someone who has since retired. People bring in puzzles just to keep the tradition going.

  16. Can't believe people are like this.*

    Buying them a nice dinner for doing work for you?? Seriously??

    1. Elsewise*

      I always ask my bosses to buy me dinner in exchange for my work! Dinner can be bought at the grocery store or at a restaurant of my choice. I take check or direct deposit.

    2. D*

      Once my management decided that because I was a contract permalancer they couldn’t give me the bonus they gave to employees, so I got a cheap lunch out alone with my managers.


    3. CityMouse*

      I mean also, when I do a nice dinner I want to share it with my family. or friends, not necessarily colleagues. So give me the money I earned so I can buy people of my choosing that dinner.

      1. House On The Rock*

        Exactly! I’ve always hated the idea of “rewarding” staff with more work/social obligations. Obviously they were required to pay their staff, but this would have been very slightly better if they’d given the techs gift certificates to a restaurant of their choosing to use when, and with whom, they wished.

        1. Always a Corncob*

          Yes! “Thanks for giving up your weekend day to work. As a reward we’ll take up more of your free time with a mandatory work dinner.”

    4. Random Bystander*

      Yeah–that is just … I mean, for a dinner that is worth 3 hours of my time, I can get food at the grocery that will cover meals for breakfast for the week and two days of lunch and dinner. I don’t want one fancy meal in place of that. For 8 hours of my time, you’re getting close to my weekly food budget.

      Just mind boggling that the idea actually got all the way to implementation.

    5. Never The Twain*

      I’m picturing a worker with a board ‘Will work for food’ from the depths of the Depression. Let’s not go back there.

  17. Fran*

    My mom just retired from teaching here in Ontario, Canada and her favourite gift cards were for Indigo. It’s the bookstore (like Barnes and Nobles I think) and she could buy special books for her class or other great things. You can never go wrong with a bookstore gift card.

    1. Harper the Other One*

      I was going to say, Indigo is my go-to here in Canada and I don’t think you can go wrong with most bookstore gift cards for teachers!

    2. ferrina*

      I recommend asking your teacher for their favorite store- you want to make sure you get them something they’d like and will use!

    3. CorgiDoc*

      Indigo also has a wide selection of homewares and other gifts and accessories which is nice if they don’t want another book. Obviously YMMV and it’s good to know your teacher at least a bit but it’s definitely a store that I think would go over well with a lot of teachers. I have mugs, candles, plant pots, scarves, socks, wall decor, even pajamas from there. And books and stationery of course.

    4. Dahlia*

      I got an Indigo giftcard as a nanny once and I was over the moon! It’s so good.

  18. Brain the Brian*

    I’d like to reiterate Alison’s suggestion for non-food-focused social activities. Many religious traditions include fasting days (or daily hours of fasting for a whole month, in the case of Islam), and if you’re looking for inclusive activities, avoiding food altogether is a safe bet. What about museum outings? Or group trips to a local concert-in-a-park? Or a trip to a sporting event, with tickets paid for by the company? (People can eat or not there at their preference.) Just a few suggestions.

      1. Earlk*

        Food based are often the easiest to be inclusive on- and it’s very easy to avoid fasting days to do it.

        Things my very multicultural workplaces have done (all voluntary to join in and all during work hours):
        Bake off competition- the winner was our tummies
        Bring a food from your culture lunch
        Quizzes during team meetings
        Walking clubs
        Coffee clubs

        All v low effort for the majority of people who want to take part. We also have an anonymous suggestion box so people can float ideas to the group that they’re unsure of

      2. Greige*

        Seconding this. It avoids bringing airborne food allergens into the office. And it gives people who aren’t small talkers something to talk about. Just make sure there’s a range of different kinds of games, depending on the size of the group.

    1. L-squared*

      As someone who actually typically doesn’t mind participating in social activities, I’ll say the problem with this is they involve a much bigger time committment. Happy hours are easy because people can pop in, get what they want (alcoholic or not) and slip out. Concerts in a park, sporting events, etc are all much more of a time investment.

      1. Maree*

        Agree. I want to do some light networking, buy a soda water disguised as a gin and tonic and get the hell out of there within the hour. All these other suggestions require way too much investment in both time and effort!

        1. L*

          Also agree, as a non-drinker. As long as everyone’s not doing shots nonstop, I am comfortable at a happy hour just getting a soda and maybe some nachos or something.

          I appreciate some diversity in activities sometimes but sometimes that turns into potlucks where someone expects me to make or bring food (no thanks, I am a terrible cook!) or they end up being cheesy activities no one enjoys or they are a huge time commitment. I say just mix up happy hours with lunches (where people are more likely to get food and you’re less likely to feel out of place not drinking).

      2. MsSolo (UK)*

        Mm, agree. There’s a big difference between ‘going out for drinks’, where people can stay for 20 minutes or three hours, everyone pays for themselves, and moving into the realms of Organised Fun, which usually involves much longer time commitments and much more complicated financials, and, honestly, much less talking to each other (I love boardgames, but it’s very easy to end up spending the whole session getting to know the rules of the game and walking away knowing no more about your colleagues than you did to start with).

        I understand the challenge, because in the UK at least it’s still pretty rare for cafes to stay open after five, and most other venues open after work require firm numbers and firm time commitments, which excludes people who would otherwise drop in (as a parent, me). Events in working hours seem like a solution, but I’ve never known one to really work – most people are back at their desks within ten minutes because they’ve got meetings and deadlines (and you’ve got to rotate days and times to make sure you don’t leave out part-timers). I know people in this thread are looking for non-eating options, but really, free food is the only thing I’ve seen ever really work in an office. Tea and a selection of cakes at 4, followed by wandering down to a venue afterwards for those who fancy it.

        1. MsSolo (UK)*

          Looking at responses, I think there’s also a bit of a divide between what you’d do as a team, and what you’d do as an office. Organised Fun as a team – escape rooms, scavenger hunts, trivia games – just light touch team building, they make sense. But getting to know people that you share a kettle with but almost never interact in a work context, that’s something that needs to be a lot more free-flowing and low effort.

      3. umami*

        Yes, I agree. Going to an event feels burdensome, even if it’s something I think I will enjoy! I would much rather attend an activity that doesn’t involve being there at a particular time, and where I can easily sneak off after a short bit of socializing if I want to.

    2. Colette*

      Things I’ve done with work teams:
      – axe throwing
      – escape room
      – curling
      – rock climbing
      – museum
      – BBQ
      – hockey game (watching, not playing)
      – pumpkin carving
      – movie
      – costume contest

      1. Colette*

        Obviously, not all of these would work for everyone and every situation, but there are lots of non-food options.

        Personally, I’m a fan of an in-office event that involves a self-paced activity (trivia questions, pumpkin carving, etc.) that people can do or not do, but that gives people something to talk about.

      2. ferrina*

        I would love to go axe throwing with my colleagues.

        Of course, the trick is also finding times when people can participate. I’ve got small kids, and as much as I love axes, I am obligated to go pick up my children after work.

  19. Extra anony*

    If people are flying in, maybe an activity that takes advantage of a nearby local attraction could be a more inclusive alternative while also having a “reason” behind it – like going to or ordering into the office from the most famous local coffee/donut/whatever joint.

  20. Morning Flowers*

    LW #4 — Putting aside what the “done thing” *should* be, my take on why it would “feel weird” to give cash comes down to this: In our society, *all* cash payments are patronizing.

    This can be denotatively patronizing, in that you are a patron of an establishment and therefore give a tip.

    Or it can be connotatively patronizing, in that you are in some way *looking down on* someone.

    But that social programming runs deep: If you *aren’t* in a denotatively patronizing situation — like with a service worker or your own employee whom you’d pay a bonus just like you pay their wages — giving cash is going to feel connotatively patronizing instead. That’s why it feels “wrong.”

    Gift cards, on the other hand, are given between peers. They aren’t patronizing because they come with the implicit premise that the recipient is getting something “extra,” something they don’t “need,” which in turn implies all their needs are covered. Nobody uses a gift card to Macy’s to pay the heating bill — it’s not wages. You’re not coming from a place of power, paying wages.

    In my experience, giving cash gifts never happens between peers who aren’t intimate friends (and even rarely then), because the way we give cash vs. gift cards is well, fundamentally classist. You can only “cash down” in good social standing the same way comedians are supposed to only “punch up.” It’s all about class and standing.

    1. Double A*

      This is true. I participating in tipping, because I live in a tipping culture, but I would much rather every have their basic needs met through social programs and decent wages so that tipping was unnecessary and became a thing that was not done.

    2. Snowbert*

      Yes, this really very neatly puts into words the thoughts I was trying to articulate to myself as I read the letter

      1. Katydid*

        Yes! First thing I thought was, “this is about class.” Most Americans’ awareness of class is not on a conscious level, hence feeling something was wrong but not being able to name it. Teachers are professionals, and giving cash would be denying them their proper rank. Not that Americans admit to having social ranking; we just have it while pretending it doesn’t exist.

    3. WellRed*

      Yes, teachers are educated professionals and should be treated and paid as such but they are not. Can you imagine giving cash to your doctor?

    4. Falling Diphthong*

      This is a really interesting insight. And reflects things like the faux pas of “You aren’t changing my tire out of the goodness of your heart, ’cause I’m giving you this $20” or if a friend helps you move you are expected to provide them with dinner, but handing out $50s would be weird. Yet if you told your teenager “Hey, I’ll pay $50 to any of your friends who can come over for 2 hours to load that truck” that’s a totally normal exchange of cash for services.

    5. The Person from the Resume*

      Eh, I don’t know. The phrasing of the gift as “tip” for services rendered instead of a teacher appreciation gift is a bit odd and transforms it a bit. Most people would call it a gift – teacher apprecation gift/end of school year thank you gift. When I give my nephews a Christmas gift of cash or a graduation gift of cash, it doesn’t feel patronizing. Graduation gifts of cash for students don’t seem patronizing to me either.

      Now … has expectations and competitions for the best gift for teachers at expensive private schools with wealthy private parents transformed this into an expectation rather than a freely given gift, quite possibly.

      1. 1,000 Snails in a Lady Skin*

        Right but giving a young person a cash gift for Christmas or graduation is because it’s implied that they’re in a worse off financial situation than you are, and you’re supporting them / treating them by giving a gift.

        While it’s very normal to give a younger cousin a cash gift, would you give your aunt/uncle or mother or grandparent a cash gift? (In my family that would be a huge NO!)

        That’s because of power dynamics! which is what MorningFlowers was saying

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        But if your nephew or the high school graduate came to your birthday and gave you $10 in cash, would that feel weird? I think Morning’s insight matches well with the tendency of cash gifts to flow downward in age (and thus loosely with age’s associated standing/power/independence) within a social group.

    6. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      I’m trying to think of a cultural context where money is given between equals or upwards and I can’t think of one. Your grandma might slip a crisp $20 bill in your birthday card, but you wouldn’t give one to her. Even the Asian cultures where red packets (money) are exceedingly common gifts, they always flow downstream. Old people to young people, older relatives to the kids, bosses to employees.

      You can pay somebody back for something, if you asked them to buy something for you.

      If you are family or basically family, you can offer to help out with specific things-a wedding or baby stuff or a new house. Even then it’s usually downhill. If not it usually requires a certain amount of tact: emotional labor to show that you aren’t actually being patronizing.

    7. Emmy Noether*

      Ah, this may explain it, because, as the suggestions for “buy anything” type of gift cards (thos really are equivalent to cash, come on) suggests, it’s clearly not a logical reason, so cultural it must be.

      There are also cultural variations: here (Germany), cash gifts are acceptable as wedding or baptism gifts, and generally within families, but then only towards younger family members. It’s acceptable to do something cute with cash (banknote origami on a card, or a pot full of coins with a succulent on top,…) and treat that as a gift. Other kind of this-is-not-a-cash-payment dressup. It’d probably be fine that way as a daycare teacher gift here – not a school teacher though, they’re public servants and can’t accept gifts that go beyond a card or maybe a cookie.

      It’s my understanding that it’s even more normal in some some other cultures to gift cash with no negative connotations.

    8. ferrina*

      Counter point: In the U.S., daycare teachers make about $14/hr. That’s comparable to or less than trash collectors.

      As a former daycare worker who struggled to make ends meet, just give me the money. I was already putting up with being patronized by helicopter parents and administrators, and “appreciation weeks” that consisted of donuts and scribble art (yeah, I saw enough of that in my classroom) so I might as well get the perks of being patronized by getting the cash.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Why would trash collectors be the lowest paid/ranked of all jobs?

        I believe in many places it’s a job with good pay and benefits.

        1. ferrina*

          OP compared a cash gift for preschool teachers as different from leaving a cash gift for trash collectors- that’s why I went for that particular comparison

    9. metadata minion*

      Yeah, I always feel deeply weird when tipping someone who I’m not otherwise directly paying (e.g. bellhops). It either feels like a bribe or like I’m insultingly underpaying them.

    10. Rebecca*

      This is true! It’s also true that we shouldn’t HAVE to feel that cash would help a teacher out.

      But there is also a second layer having to do with ethics with teachers. You have to avoid all appearance or perception that you’ve paid for grades or exam results. Teachers are often not allowed to accept cash gifts or gifts above a certain value to maintain that integrity – a school can say with absolute certainty that no grades were bought if no gifts could be accepted.

  21. Jo*

    If you need more to convince you outside the legalities, try thinking about ‘what is in it for them’.
    The doctor gets more patients which are needed to justify their continued salary/position.
    The office manager gets a healthy sustainable practice, justifying their salary.
    The techs get to help the doctor keep their job/get paid more

    Which of these is not like the others?

    If it helps the business, but not the individual, then you definitely should be paying them for their time.

    1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      I wad wondering if there isn’t enough business (= money) coming in, is that branch/unit in financial trouble? I think as the technician I would be asking bosses whether I should be concerned about the viability of the business and of my job.

      In that sense it does benefit the individual – I think the interests of companies and individuals are ultimately aligned more than people often think.

      Yes, they should be paid for the work but they should also be asking about the broader circumstances.

      1. House On The Rock*

        Unfortunately the techs may feel like their jobs are in danger and agreed to this uncompensated work for that

      2. Tedious Cat*

        I’ve got some serious questions about this workplace in addition to the egregious wage theft. For example, why doesn’t the new doctor have clients? Every vet’s office I know of is slammed. If the problem is bad beside manner, I don’t see how these weekend events are going to help.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          Ah, it being a vet’s office makes sense.

          In that case, yeah, when I call our vet practice I’m told “Okay, we can do a 2:00 with Dr. Smith” and I say “Great, thanks.”

          If people are refusing to see Dr. Smith because he has a poor bedside manner (and this is something where I have just looked for a new vet practice) then that’s one problem. If the office actively tries to get all patients to be assigned to only one vet apiece and the new guy is supposed to just pick up brand new clients, that’s not a good way to set up your practice.

          1. Kara*

            It can wind up that way even if the vet’s office doesn’t do it on purpose. One vet has seen my (autoimmune disorder) cat since he was a year or two old. A different vet at the same clinic has turned into our dogs’ vet. Much like a human doctor, there are distinct advantages to having a vet who already knows their overall health, full health history, what’s going on/been done at home, and that the cat is harder than usual to pill and needs to be prescribed a medication that can be crushed and mixed with food instead.

    2. Kella*

      The doctor and office manager *get paid their salary*. That’s what’s in it for them. They get paid.

      1. UrsulaD*

        Right? I’m salaried and if I participated in this kind of event I would absolutely expect to leave early some other day because I worked in the evening.

        1. Gyne*

          I would bet good money that the doctor and practice manager don’t get any comp time for the weekend event at this place- “salaried” probably means “works unlimited hours for set pay” here.

  22. Double A*

    I am struggling with EXACTLY issue the issue #4 is writing about; people commenting about district rules are missing that part where they question relates to day cares, which are usually small businesses with extremely underpaid workers.

    I would like to give the three main teachers at our kids’ daycare essentially a bonus when we leave. I like cash because, well… it’s cash. There’s not fees or limits. Yeah, a Visa gift card “feels” different but I’d rather give the whole amount to my kids’ teachers, not to Visa! Visa takes a decent cut of those prepaid cards. I’ve thought about just paying for an extra month of day care, but I would like the money to specifically go to each teacher… I’ve been struggling with it. I’ve also been struggling with how much.

    But I actually think the word “Bonus” IS more accurate for a daycare center, because the workers’ salaries are entirely funded by parent fees. I’m actually considering writing a note a specifically calling it a “Thank you bonus.” Because I’d like to give them more than you would in a typical teacher gift.

    1. Lucky Meas*

      I think it’s fine if YOU call it a bonus because of the nuance that “bonuses” are bigger than “tips”. But technically it’s not a bonus because bonuses come from the employer, not the customer. Unless you are paying the workers’ salaries directly, you are paying the daycare, and the daycare pays the workers’ salaries.

    2. Spouse of a teacher*

      For a substantial gift like you’re talking about, you probably do want to check the policies of your daycare center.

      But otherwise, for the extremely underpaid workers that you’re talking about, I really do think cash would be the most useful. When we were in that very underpaid demographic, cash was always deeply appreciated.

      I’m not sure if you need to explicitly label it a bonus or a tip or a gift! You can simply put it in a thank you card, with a note that you deeply appreciate the care they’ve given your children over the years.

    3. The Person from the Resume*

      I will add here that to me the “visa” gift card doesn’t feel better than cash because it is well known that there’s often problems with it. Expiring, fees taken out, not being able to use the final few bucks left on it easily – cash is easier and a Visa gift card doesn’t feel better than giving cash to me.

  23. Storm in a teacup*

    LW1 are you British?
    My work also has a similar model of remote / hybrid workers and the ‘go to’ for work dos is drinks post work.
    We’ve been trying to broaden this now, so instead of drinks in a bar with the company picking up the tab we’ve had grazing boards or afternoon tea starting at 4pm in the office break room. When we meet offsite (2-3 x annually) our meeting agendas will include some form of team building /networking activity. Recent examples: walking tour of location with tourist attractions, boat trip, split into teams for a scavenger hunt, pub-style quiz and wreath making at Christmas.
    Pub drinks are just a lot easier to do and we still do these but if they are for the team we will start 30-45 mins before the end of the day so those with work commitments can still join for one and all of those in the team either drink or happy to go to a pub for non alcoholic beverages. If we get a new team member who isn’t able to go to the pub, we’ll probably switch to team lunches.

    1. Agent Diane*

      Yes, I spotted LW1 sounded British. I’ve worked with that remote model and the pub is the default. However, it isn’t inclusive for some colleagues.

      At one job we’d organise our get-together a around when there was a weekly street food market nearby, so people could pick food based on dietary needs and the socialising came in the queues and in eating in the park after. We also did things like bowling, where it’s less noticeable if someone has lemonade etc. Late night dessert bars are a thing and have sorbet as well as ice-cream.

      When you take some ideas from here to management, if you are in the UK, then you can express concern that pub-only socialising runs the risk of being discrimination against colleagues whose religion forbids alcohol.

    2. Ellis Bell*

      I got a strong British vibe from OP1! If so, it doesn’t the “we have a family friendly pub culture suitable for kids/non drinkers” messaging we frequently get is not helpful. I definitely think it’s worth speaking up for other people who might feel awkward. What are the lunch options like at these centralised locations? Cinema nights? Bowling?

      1. Clara*

        Thursday night around the City pubs is definitely not ‘family friendly’ pub culture! I don’t think a cinema night would work, as you don’t get to chat with the people who you’ve come to hang out with. Maybe bowling, but you usually have to travel to get there – and pubs are everywhere, and whenever I’ve done bowling socials, they’ve probably been just as boozy as pubs anyway. Where non-drinking activities have gone well, it’s usually doing an activity and then going for drinks after. That’s more expensive, but tends to work for everyone.

        1. Ellis Bell*

          I think that depends which city, or even if you’re in a city. If you mean London, there probably are other activities to do and that would be the answer in a nutshell. As a teetotal northerner I keep an eye out for non drinking activities in my (relatively large) city all the time, and they aren’t that common, unless by activities you mean eating or coffee drinking. My sister’s company used to do go karting, but that was a) expensive and b) out of the way. You’re right about considering how people are to get there – if you’re in London and dealing with non drivers, you probably want central, but if it’s the area near me, something like a retail or leisure park with parking is going to be better for a non drinking event (not always of course though).

    3. MsSolo (UK)*

      As I commented further up, there’s a real issue in Britain of what’s open after work, as well. Most cafes still shut at 5 (or earlier), most restaurants don’t open until later, and everything else still open, like the cinema, bowling etc usually requires booking and paying for in advance, which means people can’t just drop in for a short time and then head home. There’s been a big shift in the last decade in terms of non-alcoholic options in pubs – it’s not just mixers any more! – but it’s still excluding people who can’t go to a place that primarily serves alcohol.

  24. Bowserkitty*

    LW2’s answer:

    I’d never seen that blog post of Alison’s where she shared responses to her rejection emails. That’s wild people respond like that! I hope those applicants in the post, at least, have changed over the last 15 years.

    1. rebelwithmouseyhair*

      Oh yeah, I remember rejecting a candidate for a job because they did not apply common sense during their translation test. They were given a text to translate, with the name of the client in it. Normally you’d check the client’s website so you can use the same terminology as them. The candidate did his own research and came up with some rather obscure terms. I went with the person who cribbed off the company website and produced a text in much the same vein as the previous (excellent) translations. OwnResearch guy asked why he didn’t get the job, then proceeded to argue with me, giving me links to justify his choices, and mansplaining my job to me.
      I wrote back saying “even if you were right, I would never want to work with someone that argumentive. This is my last word, thank you” and told the project manager that I would be receiving no further communications from this person. He still sent at least three more emails to her.

      1. Bowserkitty*

        Well, that is quite horrible indeed!!!
        (Also, as a translator myself, how you described the more accurate way is exactly how I would have done the test but I suppose some people are very set in other ways…)

  25. Irish Teacher.*

    LW1, our staff parties generally consist of a meal in the late afternoon/early evening and then going on to a pub afterwards. Some people go home after the meal – people whom don’t like situations with a lot of alcohol or those with family commitments – some just go to the pub, some go to the entire thing, some sometimes go on to a nightclub afterwards.

    While that might still be difficult for those with young children, I am very much in favour of mixing things up and allowing people to come and go, for example by doing one of the activities Alison suggested and having ice cream/taco truck/whatever afterwards and letting people choose how much they want to be involved, take part in the activity without eating anything, just come for the food, whatever.

    We also celebrate things like major birthdays – 30th, 40th, 50th, etc – weddings, retirements, new babies, with celebrations in the staffroom at lunchtime. Working in a school, these can’t really involve alcohol, but we have cake and usually treats and we often decorate the staffroom and give the person a gift from everybody – usually money. How all out we go depends on the person. If they are somebody who likes parties, etc, we often do confetti and cheer when they come into the staffroom and maybe put on the radio and dance. If they are quieter, we might just have party food and give a gift.

    We are having smooties in the staffroom next week and we’ve also done raffles and we do a pick-a-horse thing before the Grand National, where everybody pays €5 and is given a horse’s name at random and the person whose horse wins, wins the money.

    1. Ellis Bell*

      We have a bar at our school. It’s in the main school hall. I realise it sounds like I’m making it up, but on an average day it’s locked up with those pull down metal shutters and it just looks like a storage cabinet. On the last day of term, or the night of the Christmas party, the shutters go up and you see the under counter fridges and the bar optics. I think historically it’s probably saved us money on caterers or party venues. But an outgoing leader described us a “very boozy school” in her speech.

      1. Irish Teacher*

        To be fair, we’ve had alcohol in the school – staff members giving each other gifts, etc – but staff drinking in the staffroom at lunchbreak and then going back to class afterwards probably wouldn’t be a great idea!

    2. Irish Teacher*

      I’m also a fan of keeping things simple. I feel that once things start getting organised and/or competitive, they can start to feel like an obligation and they often tend to exclude a larger number of people (while not everybody can/wants to go for coffee or take part in an ice cream social, the number who can is probably higher than the number who can take part in a sport or who will enjoy a specific film or show, for example).

      You want it to keep the relaxed, “just chilling with colleagues” feel, just without the drinks.

      I also think the simpler things tend to allow more opportunity for people to interact as opposed to an organised activity where people are often more focused on the activity. This may be personal preference, but I tend to favour activities that allow people to interact naturally.

      1. allathian*

        Yes, I agree. The activity should never be more important than interacting with other people. However, some people may find it easier to interact with people if they’re doing something with their hands at the same time that doesn’t require all their focus.

        I’m happy that our teenager still wants to do jigsaw puzzles with me. It’s great for bonding and we talk a lot about things he might find awkward to talk about under other circumstances. One of my friends tells me that she mostly talks to her teenager when she’s driving him somewhere. For many adults, it’s also easier to converse with other people when all the focus isn’t on talking. This is partly why we have a jigsaw table in the break room at the office, and it’s very popular, lots of employees enjoy working on the current puzzle on their breaks.

        1. Myrin*

          I never would’ve thought of a work puzzle but it sounds like an absolutely delightful idea!

  26. SPB*

    I was once interviewing for a very entry level job – part time receptionist at this place. Throughout the interview, the interviewer kept asking me how can he be sure I will not quit after a few weeks like the previous receptionist(s) had. Again and again. Think “but she also promised that she really needs this job but still quit after 3 week.” At some point I just said “It’s clear there is nothing I can say that will make you take me at my word, and frankly this attitude may be the reason they quit, and it’s definitely the reason I will never work here, so I think we’re done here.” And left. It wasn’t in an industry I had any desire to work in ever, and I was looking for something part time and not demanding as I was going back to school and wanted to focus on that, so I had the privilege of being able to just tell it like it is and leaving. I also had a lot more experience in the workforce and in job interviews, since I’d been working office jobs since I was 16, and already had a few jobs post college before that, whereas for most candidates it would have probably been their first adult job ever.

    1. Slow Gin Lizz*

      Nice! Good for you for giving your interviewer the brutal honesty she obviously needed. Wonder if she actually learned anything from it?

    2. Bleh*

      I had a similar interview and wish I had said this–Lord knows I was thinking it the entire time.

    3. Observer*

      I’m so glad you said that!

      As I was reading this I was thinking “I wonder what’s so terrible about this place that the interviewer needs to be this worried?” Then I got to your response and it was “YES!!!”

  27. Nonprofitty*

    I’m interested in Allison’s (and other readers) take on the nonprofit practice of “voluntelling” where nonprofits get out of paying their staff for extra work by saying they aren’t technically required to work extra hours or at organizational events, they’re “volunteering.” Seen this plenty of times in my decade of nonprofit life. It’s a great workaround (for at least one sector) to avoid paying people for extra work.

    Anyway, pay the techs.

    1. Avery*

      Pretty sure it’s legally required for nonprofits to pay for those things if the staff members working them are doing things comparable to their regular jobs. So an IT staff member for an animal shelter might be able to volunteer by caring for the animals, since that’s very different from their paid IT work, but not by monitoring IT needs at a shelter event.

      1. JM60*

        I am not a lawyer, but I’m pretty sure that an activity that if an activity serves the interest of the employer*, it must count as work for the sake of compensation regardless of the employee’s usual job duties and regardless of whether or not it’s voluntary. Work is work, regardless of whether it’s optional and not their usual work.

        *If it’s something that very tangentially helps the employer, such as wearing a shirt that serves as an advertisement for the employer, then that’s a different story.

  28. Fun enough sober*

    @OP1 – I have the same mixed office of genders, ages, backgrounds, drinkers / non-drinkers and multi-location team. I’m the director. I don’t drink and I’m veggie and will have an introvert break at some point before doing a french exit later on.

    When we have an all-team meeting and need a social, everyone likes;
    – time made for it in the working day, either an extra long lunch or an early knock-off so it’s covered by work hours.
    – nothing sit down or enforced fun so people can turn up and leave when suits the rest of their schedule. They don’t see each other a lot, they just want to talk, not play miniature golf. Do an icebreaker in the team meeting, that gives them enough to talk about later.
    – platters of food they can serve themselves from, with plenty of veggie, vegan, and other options.
    – buckets and pitchers of drink to serve themselves. Loads of non-alcoholic beers (peronis are really nice) and mocktails.

    Good luck!

    1. birch*

      +1000 All of this! The food and drink options are not as hard to organize as people seem to think. But the most important part–having it during the workday and making it something it’s easy to join or extricate yourself from. There are lots of people like us who do not want to spend our personal time on forced professional socializing, especially if it sounds like something we’ll get stuck in the middle of with no way out.

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        Yes if I’m spending the work day on a singing contest when the work day is over I’m probably not going to do anything extra…

    2. MissMeghan*

      Yes! There are reasons why happy hour is the default: people can float in an out, it’s easy to chat with no structured activity, it’s away from the office, if the company isn’t paying for it you can control how much money you have to spend. This sounds like a great way to get those same benefits out of an activity that doesn’t revolve around alcohol.

  29. Hapax Legomenon*

    I think there are a few good reasons LW4 would be leaning towards gift cards instead of cash. For one, the daycare employees may have rules against receiving cash from parents, especially if they’re part of a larger daycare system. When I worked in (government-adjacent) childcare we couldn’t take gifts over a certain value anyway, and cash was probably completely off-limits. A cash gift also feels like tipping in a non-tipping environment, and that raises some further awkwardness (like should you be sharing the cash with the person who makes the kid’s meals and the teacher from the other classroom who helps in your classroom all the time) where a gift card can’t be easily shared that way and is supposed to be for the recipient only. A gift card also just “feels” more personal, even if it’s to an all-purpose vendor like Amazon, because it suggests you thought enough about it to go get one instead of just being like “What do I already have in my wallet?” (Which, yes, there’s minimal extra effort, but we’ve also agreed that preprinted birthday cards have meaning too and they can require the same amount of effort.)

  30. Irish Teacher*

    LW4, I think part of it is the amount of money in question. Gifts for teachers often tend to be very small – at secondary school, they aren’t the norm, but I did some work experience in a primary and chocolates featured heavily. You can give a €10 or a €20 gift card, but handing €10 to an adult seems different. With a gift card, the emphasis is on “I don’t know what coffee/books/whatever you like, so I’m giving you a gift card to a place that sells them so you can pick out your own,” whereas with money, the emphasis is more on the amount and I think many teachers would be uncomfortable being handed money by parents, many of whom will be earning less than they are.

    Even the way it is phrased in the letter, a cash tip, gives a different impression to “a thank-you gift,” which is what it really is.

    There may also be some snobbery involved as tips are often associated with low-paid work (correctly or incorrectly).

    LW2, I would ask what “standing up for yourself” means to you? I don’t mean this in any kind of negative way, just that it’s a pretty vague phrase and sometimes it’s something people feel like it’s something they “should do” without really having a reason why.

    The guy showed you who he was, somebody you didn’t want to work for and while the interview probably was an unpleasant experience for you, it’s not like he can do anything to you in the future, so it’s not like you have to make it clear to him you are no longer going to accept such treatment.

    And honestly, it’s quite likely he has caused difficulty for himself/his company as you are quite likely not the only person to get a bad impression as a result of his attitude.

  31. Kate*

    #1 Our office has done some fun social events like painting mini canvases, trivia, and video games on the Nintendo in the lunch room :-)

    1. allathian*

      Yes! Just a couple weeks ago, our work organized a session of intuitive painting with acrylic paint on canvas. We had a great instructor.

  32. This Old House*

    I don’t know, I wrote checks to my kids’ daycare teachers every year at Christmas, as generous as I felt I could reasonably be. I kind of adapted the nanny bonus guidelines I’d heard – a week’s pay – and divided a week’s tuition between the classroom teachers. It wasn’t huge, but it was something. Maybe it did reinforce class/power dynamics – but I’m not sure the polite fiction that those dynamics don’t exist really helps anyone. I had a little insight into what those teachers were paid, and damn. A Starbucks gift card doesn’t put presents under the Christmas tree. There’s a real inherent ethical tension in using childcare, because parents know how underpaid daycare teachers are (most people know in theory, I knew in fact due to my role), but tuition is still enough to bleed you dry and you’re getting this essential service and quality care for your kids on the backs of low-paid, (often) minority women who can barely keep food on their own table – and you’re complicit in the system but also can’t get by without it. Writing a check is a thank you – and it acknowledges reality.

    My kids’ public school teachers make more than I do. They get $10-25 gift cards to local stores as a much less ethically fraught “thanks for a good year!”

    1. Moths*

      I really like this solution you came up with and the rational around it. I gave cash gifts to my infant child’s daycare teachers last year as well, but wasn’t sure how much to go with before it felt like too much (less because I didn’t think they could use it but more because it felt uncomfortable to give too much cash). I’ll rethink it a little this year and consider giving a little more to approach a divided 1-week’s wages. Tuition is insane, but nearly all of the staff are, as you pointed out, minority women. They are fabulous caretakers, but I saw a job posting at one point online and it was starting at $13/hour. As a single parent, I don’t know how to get around the system since I need to be able to work as well, but if I’m part of the system, I would like to be better about acknowledging it rather than assuming a polite fiction that we all know isn’t true.

  33. A person*

    Our most popular team building activity is grilling at lunch time. Obviously this only works for on-site people and only if you have a grill and someone willing to grill… but at our office we have all those things! Sometimes we potluck it… but most of the time we just get some sides from the grocery store (think like potato salad and chips and salsa). It’s usually company sponsored but participation is totally optional (sometimes people just don’t have it in them to have lunch with the group… we get it). Our group is small, but we usually invite some of our non-resident colleagues when we grill too and usually they show! Cuz people love it!

    Oddly enough… I’d say axe throwing is our second most popular team event… which I agree is weird but I love it too soooo…. Even those that don’t throw seem to get a kick out of watching others do it while eating chicken strips and fries.

    At my last job… we watched cat videos and similar for like 15 min like maybe monthly with each other. Haha. It was usually when the group was having a tough day and needed a break. It was effective at resetting everyone with a little laughter before jumping back into work.

    1. JSPA*

      I’m going to be contrarian and say that there’s a big difference between a bad interview and a slew of lies / insults / attacks.

      If you’re absolutely certain that this was not a particularly quirky sense of humor on display…and especially if any of the process seemed pointed at a trait like gender, race, creed, nationality… you might be doing the company a favor, letting them know.

      (Whether you think the company deserves the favor is a separate question entirely.)

      I also tend to think that if someone is like that to you they may be just as vile to the people already hired, And your input may be useful corroborative evidence.

      On the other hand, if bizarre Mr Tweedy started the accounting manager interview by saying, “ah-hah, Here to be our new rat catcher are you? Well you won’t catch many rats here, my boy, I bet that makes your inquisitive little heart sink”… chalk those “lies and insults” up to eccentricity and failed dry humor, and put it out of your head.

      But if he used actual slurs, accused you of lying in your CV, when there was not a single burnished fact, called you fat, stupid or smelly? Then yes, I think you might be a public service by warning them how he acted. Especially if you think he had the power to put anyone on a “do not ever hire” list, and it’s a big company in a small field.

    2. Clara*

      We like axe throwing too! I’m pretty sure – location dependent, you can’t drink when you do it, but everyone has something fun to talk about when they go for a bev together afterwards.

  34. Keymaster of Gozer*

    We do tea house/coffee house meet-ups as our firm has a very strict no alcohol rule. Most of the local places are fine with us booking a table. My favourite is one in the town centre that has an amazing range of teas.

    Yes I’m British.

    However, as we’re an IT department we tend more toward gaming out of hours. This can be Jackbox party games, building something in Minecraft (server was built by a member of staff), puttering around in a free-to-play MMO (Star Wars was popular as none of us had played it) for a bit, Tabletop Simulator, or just running around in Unreal Tournament et al taking pot shots at each other.

  35. Applesauce*

    Cash gifts are absolutely fine for daycare teachers! At my child’s, we pool them among the parents so each teacher gets an equal amount amd the amount feels substantial. For Christmas we do just cash, and for teacher appreciation week we do a smaller cash gift and a catered lunch.

  36. matt*

    LW5 – the “no, but we’ll buy you dinner for your time” thing just completely evades me. no thanks, i’ve managed to learn how to feed myself, thanks. this isn’t a social engagement, it’s a job. pay me.

    1. matt*

      also, LW1 – i’m a recovering alcoholic, and, while i’m not comfortable being around alcohol, and am totally fine with nursing a soda for an hour or two, i have absolutely missed out on opportunities because i wasn’t willing to “keep the night going.” it’s a bummer, and i wish companies wouldn’t do it.

  37. lism.*

    Interestingly, the BBC reported on changing attitudes to alcohol at work parties this morning – spotted right after I read this:

    Survey data always comes with qualifiers, obviously, but I was particularly heartened to see younger people calling for alternatives.

  38. I should really pick a name*

    For #1

    What about going to the pub and just having food and pop (or other non-alcoholic beverage)?
    That’s what I’ve typically done when my office has had pub nights.

    1. The Person from the Resume*

      I do not like the taste of alcohol so rarely drink (even I can be peer pressured a tiny bit). I have no problem refusing, but others might not want to be somewhere where they feel pressured to drink.

      Also it’s still after work where people who have other obliglations are put in a bind either to spend their private time on work or miss a networking opportunity.

    2. JSPA*

      Pubs can smell pretty beer-y, which may be hard for an ex-drinker; and even being in a place where alcohol is the main draw can be counter to someone’s religious edicts (or how they’ll be looked at, if members of their community see them exiting a pub). “Pub during working hours” is a bit odd (especially if some people have to drive home) and “expecting people to do work-related gatherings as a celebration outside of work hours” is a bit demanding.

      I don’t mind the stale beer and sawdust and I don’t have kids to rush home to, and I still don’t find it a great “always” option. Or really, having an “always” thing is generally less-inclusive than having more than one sort of thing.

      I would not want to have board games and pizza every friday afternoon, either.

      Board games and pizza one time; shuffleboard and virgin fruit drinks another time [or weather-and-season-appropriate local equivalent–craft n.a.heritage apple ciders and root beers with low-key games of Mölkky skittles?]; pub; “inner child” day (pedalboats on the lake or bumpercars and premium ice cream bars); bingo and craft session (or whatever).

      You know your teammates, and what would make them roll their eyes (or develop a look of fear and consternation).

      “could someone age 8 to 88 comfortably participate” isn’t too bad a way to do a first cut on activities, as far as accessability and potentially wide appeal.

    3. Irish Teacher*

      I don’t drink and this is what I do too (we are having our end-of- year party Friday week and my plan is to go to the restaurant for the meal, then go to the pub for say an hour and have a drink of orange or something), but I’m not sure it works for everybody, as JSPA said.

      Somebody who is in early recovery from an alcohol addiction or who had a parent or spouse who was abusive when drunk and is triggered by being around drunk people might find being in pub quite difficult, even if they weren’t drinking. Some people might have religious objections to alcohol that might make them feel uncomfortable being in a place that exists mainly to sell it. Parents with young children might find the timing of the event difficult and might be more easily able to participate in a lunchtime event.

      I can also imagine reasons why people who have stopped drinking for various reasons might not feel comfortable going to a drinking event and just having a soft drink, in case they might be asked questions they aren’t comfortable asking. This wouldn’t even have to be a big deal, just something like a person who is pregnant not wanting people to ask why she isn’t drinking at this event when she did at previous ones as she’s not yet ready to let people know.

      As well as that, I think there is a subtler thing about the indication of culture. If you don’t drink and don’t particularly like pubs and all the team building, socialising and possibly even some of the work is taking place over drinks, it could feel a little as if you don’t quite fit in. Especially if you are the only non-drinker on the team or if there are other things that make you different. Yeah, this applies to some extent to anything – if your team had a culture of going to ballgames together and you hated sport, it could also make you feel excluded – which is another reason it’s good to have a variety of different events. So nobody is made to feel like they don’t really fit in the culture.

    4. Cyndi*

      I’m really surprised how many people, judging by the comments on this post, seem to think this idea has simply never occurred to sober people before. Or already been suggested to them, ad nauseam. People are aware that bars serve food and pop, I promise!

      1. I should really pick a name*

        Since this is my solution as someone who doesn’t drink, I’m actually curious as to what people’s problem with this approach is.
        I’ve personally never felt pressured, so I don’t know if I’m just in a different office culture, or am maybe just unusually clueless as to when I’m being pressured.

        1. Cordelia*

          I think it maybe depends on your reason for not drinking? Some Muslim people – and maybe other non-drinking religions too, I’m not sure – won’t go to a place where alcohol is served. Someone who has had problems with alcohol use in the past and is trying to stay sober won’t want to go to a pub. It’s not really about feeling pressured by others, it’s about the choices they themselves are making.

        2. Cyndi*

          I don’t drink either, and I often like to go to bars and have a mocktail and a burger! But I don’t want to be around if people really start getting drunk and loose and rowdy–that’s not fun for me. And even though my reason for being sober isn’t addiction I don’t have any trouble understanding why someone who DOES have issues with addiction, or even a history being around addicts, wouldn’t want to be in an environment where others are drinking. It isn’t fun or relaxing to be in an environment where you have to be constantly, actively, resisting the temptation to do something you desperately want to do, while everyone around you is having a great time doing it.

      2. I'm Just Here For The Cats!*

        SOME bars serve food, but not all. I was sadly disappointed when my friend chose a bar for her birthday that did not even have potato chips (crisps in UK). And some bartenders ignore the ones who are only drinking soda to serve those who are drinking because the alcohol drinks are much more expensive and people are more likely to tip big if they are tipsy. Also, at a bar you have to deal with the smell of alcohol and the other people who are not part of the work group who may be rude and/or rowdy from their drinking.

    5. Siege*

      Because it’s not fun to spend time with people who are drinking and getting tipsy. Because it’s not fun feeling like for the thousandth time you don’t matter so you need to suck it up and go to a bar but your coworkers never need to suck it up and do something other than drink. Because most sober people have at least one coworker who will harass them about not drinking. Because “drinking culture”, whatever that means for your society, can range from “annoying” to “actively dangerous” and no one should be required to build team relationships through endangerment. Because it’s not the sober person’s problem that a lot of people don’t have personalities without booze (this comes up A LOT in wedding forums, with a shocking number of people saying they would refuse to go to a wedding that didn’t have booze, much more than would go to a wedding that didn’t serve food). Because it’s boring doing the same thing every time your team goes out. Because drinking is often antithetical to American work culture, where a lot of people drive to and from work. Because every sober person already knows this, and why is it so hard for some teams to not drink?

    6. AnonPi*

      These are the kind of places almost all of our ERGs (employee resource groups) want to meet. And a lot of general work outings. Thing for me is when a venue is alcohol focused, inevitably I’m 20 questioned why I’m not drinking. Or sometimes someone just assumes I’m a recovering alcoholic and makes a big deal about me being there. Because too many people cannot comprehend that someone just don’t like alcohol and it breaks their tiny brains. It gets old after dealing with this repeatedly for many years, so I avoid going to these types of gatherings.

      And I know we have staff that cannot go to places like that due to various reasons. One former coworker had PTSD due to her abusive alcoholic father for instance and couldn’t stand to go to any restaurant that alcohol was prevalent. Not to mention those who may be recovering alcoholics who are not ready to enter such an establishment. I tend to think of people in these situations more than myself, and feel bad they don’t get to participate.

      I’ve tried asking just like, twice a year can we go somewhere else and I’m blown off and told I’m a party pooper. And given the excuse that ‘hey they don’t just serve booze here!’ as if I don’t know that. Ironically two erg’s I belong to (not to mention the workplace overall) have been going on about inclusion lately, yet stuff like this leaves people out and they don’t want to see it.

      1. Siege*

        I am both a mostly-sober ex-alcoholic and also have an alcohol intolerance, so when we had a leaving do at a local winery my boss was very surprised I was drinking (I joke that I am allergic to or intolerant of alcohol, coffee, chocolate, cigarettes, AND weed, so I have no way to have any fun, but none of them are anaphylactic and only weed is the really strong reaction) and I got several questions as to why I was drinking. You really can’t win, with drinking culture.

    7. Glomarization, Esq.*

      As part of their recovery process, many people in recovery will not go to establishments that sell alcohol, even if they could just get water, coffee, etc., there. It’s not universal, but it’s definitely something that has been pointed out to me.

    8. I have RBF*

      In pubs the food is too greasy, so I end up with an IBS flare-up, so that’s out too. Ending up spending an hour in a grubby pub bathroom shitting my guts out is not fun.

      Yes, I drink. But I do not drink when I have to drive. So workplace “after work” drinking things are very tricky to navigate – I have to make sure that I have enough time not drinking to eliminate the alcohol in my bloodstream before I drive. If I drove in taking a cab home is not an option – it’s expensive and I would also have to take a cab back. So “drinks after work” is often a non-starter, because I can’t actually drink if I want to be able to leave before midnight without incurring a massive expense. Sure, I could “just not drink”. But then why am I there? To watch my coworkers drink? To get cajoled with “just have one?”

      Drinks at lunch I can handle – one or two, then the whole afternoon is mellow but the alcohol is out of my system by the time I have to drive home.

    9. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

      Pubs are loud and not-fun for people who have issues with loudness (either reacting to the sound levels OR having hearing loss). Places like this tend to be crowded (also not-fun for people who dislike crowds or being crowded). And are bars still smoky? I know that there are laws about it in at least some states but I don’t know what’s actually happening on the ground.

  39. Beth*

    LW1: Try suggesting doing a volunteer activity as a team building activity, ideally for a few hours during the workday so that people with kids/after work commitments can join in. People who really want to get drinks could still do so afterward.

    1. I'm Just Here For The Cats!*

      Yes but be considerate of where you are volunteering. At my old company, they made this big deal about volunteering at the food bank. For the food banks big monthly distributions a group of folx would volunteer to hand out packages. How it works would be the volunteers would line up and put items in peoples bags/boxes. It would be a long line and there was no way to avoid any particular person.

      It was awkward to have my coworkers and bosses hand me the food. I’m not embarrassed that I had to use the food pantry, it literally kept me from starving when we were on a single income. But I didn’t appreciate the invasion of my privacy. So just be cautious because you never know what your employees may rely on.

  40. Ms. Chanandeler Bong*

    #1 – the best version of an in-person social event that I’ve personally experienced was a group outing to an indoor adventure park. Think arcade games, VR arcade, trampolines and highlines and a “ninja warrior” course, but also a bar and snack bars and a big area for socializing.

    I won’t say that it had something for everyone, but as an introvert and a non athletic person, it was nice to have options that I could do alone, but still feel included, even if it was just sitting down with a slice of pizza and watching my more daring colleagues try the highline course.

  41. AnonRN*

    Related to #5: What about volunteering at an event while being directed to wear company apparel, sit behind a table with a big company banner, and hand out info about the company? My hospital asks people to volunteer at the state fair…not as healthcare providers (the infirmary has a separate staff) but representing different departments of the hospital and all the services we provide. Volunteers get free admission to the fair and free parking, usually do a 2-3 hour shift at the table, and have the rest of the day at the fair if they choose. But we are explicitly told it’s voluntary. It’s always seemed a little weird to me. (I would have fewer questions about, say, volunteering to repaint rooms at the Hospice house in a company T-shirt as a part of our outreach to the community. But the fair event is a publicity event like the one in #5, not a service.)

    1. The Person from the Resume*

      “Representing different departments of the hospital and all the services we provide” sounds like marketing. Even if it isn;t your normal duties that sure sounds like work to me and hourly employees must legally be paid, I think. It is different for non-exempt (usually salaried) employees; extra duties as assigned can include marketing and they are non-exempt so aren’t paid extra or overtime for the hours.

    2. Observer*

      But we are explicitly told it’s voluntary.

      That only works if two things are true.

      1. The stuff you are doing has NOTHING to do with your day job. Generally, think stuff like “manning the food bank once a month” if your job is in payroll.

      2. It’s TRULY *completely* voluntary. Not “encouraged”, much less “strongly encouraged” or noted in your reviews as “(not) a team player” etc.

  42. Jo*

    Tangential PSA: USPS mail carriers can’t accept cash or gift cards! If you want to give yours something, they can accept gifts worth less than $20 but are supposed to refuse cash and cash equivalence.

    1. Chief Bottle Washer*

      Strangely enough, neither of the two letter carriers that have served my route over the last 15 years have refused the $10 Target GC I’ve gotten them each year.

      1. Driven to deliver*

        It’s kind of you to think of your carriers! But you really are putting them in a bad spot by doing this, even if a gift card is their normal preference (if you talk to the carrier about gifts and they tell you they’d rather have the gift card, well, that’s on them when the Postal Inspectors come knocking). Many USPS employees want to be polite. They also know that most people are unaware of the gift regulations and decide it’s not worth having the conversation 100 times every December. But they’re taking a big risk every time they take your gift cards in hand.

        Luckily, there’s an infinity of other options. I definitely prefer cash as the ultimate gift, but when I was on the route and knew I wasn’t supposed to accept it, I was so grateful for all the other things people would give me. You (often) never know when your route’s being inspected by the USPS, which typically involves someone sneakily following your vehicle and observing that you’re obeying all USPS regulations.

    2. Driven to deliver*

      Former USPS carrier who was coming here to say just this! USPS employees get in huge trouble if they’re caught accepting large gifts, tips/cash, or equivalent. Has to do with the fact that the USPS falls under federal government regulations, which have very strict policies about gifts. I’m not saying people don’t look the other way all the time because they need the money/don’t want to appear rude by saying, “I’m sorry, I can’t keep this $20 bill” but it really is putting the USPS employee in a bad spot when you do this.

    3. JSPA*

      I’ve rarely had a problem (but I hand it to them in a sealed blank envelope, which makes it harder to return; or in a blank thank you card in a blank envelope). I figure that if their conscience troubles them, they can share it with the other mail carriers, or donate it to the charity of their choice.

      1. Driven to deliver*

        It doesn’t matter if it’s concealed; you’re still putting them and their jobs at risk by giving them gifts that go against USPS regulations.

        which makes it harder to return

        Why would “makes it harder to return” be a factor? I’m genuinely confused by this. I can’t tell from your comment if you already knew these kinds of gifts aren’t allowed, but if you did, why would you want to make it more difficult for them to return the gift once they open it and realize it’s not allowed for them to keep it?

      2. Cat Lady*

        This doesn’t absolve them — under the rules, they are supposed to give it back to you. Just a note for what would help them! They can accept gift cards under $20 so long as it’s not a prepaid check card.

  43. Michelle Smith*

    “Corporate said it would not be fair to pay the techs and not the doctor or the office manager.”

    Alison already addressed the legalities, but as someone who has been a salaried exempt worker for many years now, it’s very fair. An hourly employee who doesn’t have enough work to do gets sent home and loses pay that week. A salaried employee doesn’t have that problem. Yesterday was a slow day for me because some things I had on my plate got cancelled. I’m still getting paid as if I worked a full 7 hours (1 hour for lunch is considered unpaid at my nonprofit) even though I definitely didn’t come anywhere close to that, sat in my chair, and did other things like reading this blog. Our tradeoff as salaried exempt employees for stability of pay and (generally) more flexible hours (i.e. not having to track down to the minute how much we work, not having a pay cut for dipping out early, etc.) is that “overtime” doesn’t exist for us. That tradeoff is perfectly fair IMO.

  44. YM*

    #4-I don’t know why, but for some reason a gift card says “thank you” while a card with cash in it for someone you don’t directly employ seems to say “I know you don’t make enough money” to me. I’m still trying to figure out why, but giving cash in this situation doesn’t sit right with me either.

    1. Observer*

      I’m curious, though. Why is it a problem to say “I know you don’t make enough money”? It’s true and it is NOT a reflection on the person.

      1. SpaceySteph*

        Also, idk, I’m not gifting these teachers like paycheck cash, I’m giving them like $25. That’s not really reaching income replacement/fortification levels.

  45. Cat Lady*

    Not sure if covered earlier but if you’re in the US, please do NOT give your mail carrier cash! They aren’t allowed to accept it under federal law and you put them in a super awkward position. Gifts under $20 (not cash) or homebaked goods are a better option for them!

  46. I love to paint*

    OP #1 – the default socialization with my team was always birthday lunches, until we re-orged and joined another team and went mostly remote. Then the default became happy hours because that is how the old team did it. Whenever the entire team came in to the office, we always had a happy hour after work and it was always awkward and hard (especially with public transit schedules in a covid world.) However, our new team lead noticed it was awkward, and noticed a few people on the team don’t drink (me included) and just stood around with water. The last time we were all in the office, she did something that was great! We all met and had coffee and tea for an hour (her treat from a local coffee bar) and just chatted from 9-10am during work time. I also don’t drink coffee or tea, but it was so much better because it was removed from a bar, it was super casual, there wasn’t pressure to drink coffee or tea (like there always is with alcohol), and it was during *work hours.* (Seriously, no one asked invasive questions or made comments like: “why don’t you drink coffee? why don’t you drink tea? do you not drink caffeine? come on, just have a coffee! you’ll love it, if you try it! you just haven’t found the right coffee to drink.” And it was just delightful for me!) I felt like I actually got to know people on my new team and I’m just so impressed that she read the room and found a way to adjust for her team.

    1. I'm Just Here For The Cats!*

      YES THIS!! I once mistakinly told a coworker that I don’t really drink because of a medical issue. She then said that at the next happy hour for a coworkers goodbye party that she would sneak me ‘shrooms to see how I would act under the influence. Even if she was joking it was such a weird thing to say, especially for someone who was in a leadership role (she was a mentor and a senior support member of our team).

      1. Jessica*

        UGH yes, this is like the people who are always like “I want to get you drunk, let’s see what you would be like.” I don’t care about people’s drinking but their stupid defensiveness about it is so tiresome. Yeah #notalldrinkers but it’s common enough that most people who never drink have run into some of it.

  47. kiki*

    I think the biggest thing for work group events is to have variety. Having a happy hour once in a while for the folks who like happy hours is fine, but make sure happy hours aren’t the only type of event. Have catered lunches during work hours, have a crafternoon, plan a scavenger hunt, have a board game session, go to Top Golf, etc. I think what irks most people is when they can never attend company functions or the company functions are never something they would like to do. Having a variety means that, even though some people will skip some things, there will probably be at least one social event that they’re excited for (or at very least willing to attend).

    1. Chick (on laptop)*

      There is a finite number of ideas, and those alternate ideas take WAY more planning, prep, and effort than anyone wants to consider.

      If you don’t like the happy hour… don’t go.

      1. kiki*

        I’m not saying that one team should have an infinite variety of events, just some variety that corresponds to interests and availability of teammates. Not every team has enough time to plan big, extravagant outings or intricate crafts, but catering lunch isn’t that much more of an effort than planning a happy hour. Having a craft time in the afternoon where folks can bring in their craft projects to work on and chat for an hour over tea and cookies isn’t planning-intensive.

        Yes, folks who don’t like happy hour can always sit out but it sounds like an increasing number of folks at LW’s company aren’t able to attend the happy hours or aren’t getting much out of them. Changing things up does take some effort, but insisting on going forth with a happy hour with a small fraction of the staff isn’t necessarily a wise investment of effort either.

      2. Observer*

        and those alternate ideas take WAY more planning, prep, and effort than anyone wants to consider.

        No they don’t. The reason it looks that way is because in the case of a bar, you just ignore the people who have issues. Once you actually start looking at people’s needs, you suddenly have more planning to do.

        TLDR; the ONLY reason that the pub requires less work is because you are explicitly ignoring everyone outside a single demographic.

        If you don’t like the happy hour… don’t go.

        In other words, if you can’t join the happy hour, you don’t need to be part of the core team that you are supposedly trying to build up.

      3. I'm Just Here For The Cats!*

        That is really callous and what’s wrong with the whole “Happy hour after work” thing. It excludes people who cannot or do not want to be in that environment. For one thing, some people just do not like to be in bars. There are some people who cannot go after work because they have to go home for family obligations. Or people who have problems with alcohol and even being in that environment can be triggering.

        No one is saying that they have to plan elaborate ideas. Heck move the happy hour to in the morning, during the first hour or so of work, and reserve a table at a coffee shop. The price would be about the same for drinks, etc. And it doesn’t exclude people. Order lunch occasionally. Heck have a few minutes before a meeting where people can play a fun game like hangman or Pictionary. Those take almost zero planning. You can download a list of pictionary words or phrases and cut them out in less than 10 minutes (I’ve done it for my own team building).

      4. Ask a Manager* Post author

        These are work events, not social ones. There are presumably business reasons why the business is organizing them, and why they’d like them to be as inclusive and appealing as possible. “If you don’t like it, don’t go” is appropriate for a social context but not to someone who is trying to figure out what will best achieve business goals.

  48. FrogEngineer*

    This isn’t specifically about teachers, but my feeling about gift cards as gifts is that they’re better than cash, primarily because you’re forced to actually spend them on something specific. I know whenever I’ve received cash as a gift it tends to go into the general funds and be spent on something lame and boring like bills. Gift cards are more “gift-y” because they encourage you to do something nice for yourself.

    1. I should really pick a name*

      Sometimes having the option to put it into general funds can be a gift.
      Not having to worry about that next bill can be more satisfying than anything you could buy with a gift card.

    2. kiki*

      I personally agree with your sentiments, but I’ve come to learn that not everyone agrees. Especially if the recipient doesn’t have a lot of money for general funds, having money but only in gift cards for specific stores can be frustrating. There’s also the risk the recipient may not like the store you got the gift card to or may not be interested in anything currently for sale at the store.

      I think the happy medium I have found for teachers and other folks I don’t know terribly well is Target gift cards. That way the recipient cant buy something fun OR something boring, like groceries, toiletries, or household supplies. The only downside I’ve seen is that some teachers end up buying school supplies for their kids with the money that was supposed to be a gift for them.

  49. LilPinkSock*

    #5, I would like to know which corporate clinic this is so I don’t take my pets to a business that thinks it’s unfair to pay employees.

  50. Accidental Manager*

    Give your child’s preschool teacher a cash gift along with a handwritten note of appreciation. All of the reasons of why you shouldn’t give cash here in the comments sound really pretentious to me.

  51. DeeDee*

    Absolutely give cash to teachers, daycare workers, afterschool providers, etc! It’s immediately useful, people don’t have to plan to visit a store or whatever, and there’s no danger that it goes unused. The only counterpoint is that when the families in my kid’s class pool money for end of year gifts or whatever, it’s usually Venmo to one parent and then a purchase of a Target or Visa gift card…I think that makes sense because cash wasn’t changing hands among parents.

    But in situations where I’m giving directly: always cash.

  52. Lauren19*

    LW1 – we’ve done team events that tie into our charitable giving to kids who are sick or have a family member deploying. Things like stuffing stuffed animals, building toys (bikes, skateboards, etc.), making care packages, etc. The company works with a charity partner to define what the need is, then purchases the materials. When you put a bunch of people in a room with some good music and snacks it can be a lot of fun. Some people get competitive, some people get creative, it’s a great equalizer.

  53. Book lover*

    If corporate doesn’t know that you must pay hourly workers for time worked, then you should be wondering what else corporate doesn’t know. The list is probably long.

  54. Chick (on laptop)*

    This site often asks what we can do for admins. Letter 1 is a great example: either accept that your overworked, underpaid admin is doing what they can to cast the widest net for the least effort (see again: overworked, underpaid). If you want to complain, roll up your sleeves and take on some of the planning effort.

    Would also help teach some who think events just…. happen.

    1. RagingADHD*


      Magic fairies are not doing any of this stuff. If people want more effort put into casual get togethers, they need to volunteer to put in the effort themselves.

    2. I'm Just Here For The Cats!*

      Who says it has to be up to the admin? We don’t have that information. Yes it might fall to the admin but I don’t see anything that says that the OP is going to ask an overworked admin to do more and that they themselves wouldn’t plan the events.

    3. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Again, if your work activity isn’t meeting its goals, it’s a reasonable work endeavor to figure out how to change it. “But someone will have to do the work of that” is not a reason not to refine activities so they better achieve what the business needs. And it’s not always reasonable for the person who’s pointing out the problem and brainstorming solutions to be the one who implements those solutions. Sometimes it might be, but that’s not universally true.

      1. Princess Trachea-Aurelia Belaroth*

        I had to cancel a reply to a comment lower down to someone continually insisting “you guys just don’t understand that bars are the only thing that isn’t a burdensome level of work” because I could tell I was getting unkind. But especially when it’s a matter of inclusivity, we need to put in some effort. And it’s simply not true.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Right? “If you want a workplace that doesn’t discriminate, you’ll have to be the one to do all the work to make that happen” is not an okay response.

          1. HR Friend*

            No, sorry, this is a bad take. Tossing out ideas that aren’t fully formed with no offer of support to the events planner is disrespectful of their time and work, and just wholly unhelpful.

            Option 1: “Happy hours aren’t accessible to everyone. Can you plan a craft night instead?”

            Option 2: “Happy hours aren’t accessible to everyone. Would you be on board if I organized a craft activity in the break room instead? I can email everyone on your distribution list, and maybe you can pick up the snacks?”

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Sure, that’s one option. But it’s also perfectly acceptable — and good organizations welcome it — for someone to say, “I’m concerned that activity X, which we’re organizing to team build, is discriminating against Y and Z. I don’t have a good answer but I know it’s something we’d care about so I want to flag it.”

              Just like it’s also OK to say, “Our hiring practices pose higher barriers to X” or “we’re not getting much attendance from women at X” or “huh, our applicant pools are really light on X — can we look at that?” without coming in with the answer or being the person who would be appropriate to do the work.

              (That said, I agree that “can you plan a craft night instead?” isn’t the way to go, unless you are that person’s boss. But you can flag a problem to be looked at.)

              1. HR Friend*

                Hm agree to disagree. Addressing inclusion problems in hiring practices or career pathing is not at all the same work as addressing preferences for optional social outings. Leadership and HR devote tons of time to one, and the other is usually delegated to admins and not part of their core job duties.

                Of course as an HR leader, I wouldn’t expect Manager to come to me with solutions for their unexpectedly homogenous candidate pool. That’s literally my job and my recruiter’s job to address, with thought & expertise. But when I plan a team building exercise at our offsite and 10 people “helpfully” point out to me that not everyone can have caffeine/build a bike/be outside in the pollen… yeah, I’m going to expect them to come to me with some idea of what to do and how to execute.

                1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  I think you’re talking about 2 different things in this comment though — at the start of this comment, it sounds like you’re talking about optional social outings that leadership isn’t involved with (except the LW says these are leadership-organized events) and at the end it sounds like you’re talking about official team-building exercises. With the latter, it’s certainly helpful and welcome if someone can suggest specific activities that would be more inclusive … but if someone comes to you and says “the team-building exercise you’re planning for our retreat isn’t something several of us are physically able to participate in,” you absolutely do need to at least try to address that even if they don’t suggest something to substitute for it. I would be horrified if my org’s HR team were alerted to something like that and said, essentially, “fix it yourself or nothing changes.” Part of the job of the person planning official company team-builders is to try to solve these issues even when it’s hard and even when the person flagging the problem doesn’t know what solution to suggest (and it’s especially important when the entire point is to team build).

                2. Observer*

                  Addressing inclusion problems in hiring practices or career pathing is not at all the same work as addressing preferences for optional social outings.

                  That’s only true if those “optional social” outings are TRULY optional, and there are truly no negative results from failure to participate.

                  Most businesses do these events to accomplish something. If some of your staff can not participate in the those events as a whole, it’s kind of unrealistic to claim that there is no fall out – either to the staff that can’t participate or to the business that is not getting what it wants / needs out of these events.

            2. owl*

              AAM: ““If you want a workplace that doesn’t discriminate, you’ll have to be the one to do all the work to make that happen” is not an okay response.”

              HR Friend: “No, sorry, this is a bad take.”

              Uh, what?

              Thanks for fighting the good fight here AAM.

      2. Glomarization, Esq.*

        “But someone will have to do the work of that” is not a reason not to refine activities so they better achieve what the business needs.

        Maybe I’m misunderstanding you, but isn’t this absolutely a reason? Person-hours may have to be arranged within the constraints of work schedules and budgets. Someone should analyze what kind of activity will successfully achieve the goal and choose among options; someone will have to approve a budget for the activity; someone will have to plan the activity; someone might do the post-mortem analysis on cost-benefit and goal achievement; and so on.

        If the activity is going to be substantively changed in such a way that it requires more behind-the-scenes work than previously, then, yes, “but someone will have to do the work of that” can absolutely be a concern that blocks the change, at least until some other parts have been moved around.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Sorry, I should have said “is not on its own a reason not to refine activities.” You might look at everything you said and conclude it’s not practical, but in other cases it would be.

      3. DomaneSL5*

        Honestly, this feels a lot like, it is up the admin asst or office admin (or similar title) to make sure events are inclusive. I don’t know, it seems like to me that should come from a higher up in most organizations. DEI should not be dumped on the lowest folks in a organization.

        Maybe I am misreading you and that is definitely a possiblity.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Yeah, you wouldn’t just dump this on the admin! It’s feedback you’d give to whoever is charge of overseeing this stuff, the person whose job it is to be invested in whatever the business purpose of the events is.

    4. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      LW1 is explicitly asking for suggestions of more inclusive options that they can bring to the people who are planning things. Crowdsourcing their part of the effort, if you like.

      Telling someone who is looking for solutions that they shouldn’t want to solve the problem unless they can do it single-handed while walking uphill both ways in the snow isn’t helpful.

  55. CommanderBanana*

    LW#2, Glassdoor added a review feature where you can review your interviewing experience at an organization, even if you don’t end up working there. You could definitely add a review about your experience.

  56. RagingADHD*

    #5 Corporate said it’s “not fair?”

    If there’s a corporate legal department, I imagine they’d want to know who told you that. Because whoever it was, is an ignoramus who is creating legal liability for the organization.

  57. It's finally sunny in Ontario*

    One possible issue with cash is that if not given at the end of the year, it could be seen as “I’m giving you this so that you will treat my child better…” like a bribe. When the gifts are on the last day of school, it’s can’t be mistaken for anything other than a thank you gift.

    From what little I know about the IRS, I guess gift cards and cash are not taxable in this context?

    Oh, I know why it might feel weird – because teachers and daycare providers are not a cash business. They are paid salaries by cheque or direct deposit. My friend who is a self-employed cleaning lady is paid by cash (or by EFT) and a cash bonus makes complete sense for her business; she vastly prefers the cash vs a tangible gift because she is self-employed with no benefits plan. But for a teacher or daycare provider, that feels weird because that’s not the business model they work under (just my opinion! I could be wrong on this!).

    I live in Ontario, Canada and here, teachers are deservedly well paid and have a very good pension plan. (As do the garbage collectors in my town and for sure, so do the mail carriers. I’m not tipping either one of those. I wouldn’t even know how to tip my mail carrier since we now have the community mailbox unless I laid in wait for them and I don’t even know if it’s the same person every day!)

    When my kids were little, I rarely gave the teachers a gift because at the time, it was very much not financially possible. Bottles of wine, home baking and gift cards were standard I believe. I could not imagine giving a teacher or a daycare provider cash!

  58. Marketing Ninja Unicorn*

    I work in education and I have two children in private school/private daycare.

    For Teacher Appreciation Week, I usually (a) buy something off the teachers’ Amazon wish lists; (b) write a heart-felt card thanking them for their work; and (c) give them a generic-enough gift card to somewhere (Target, Amazon).

    My son is an infant, so for his teachers, I have observed what they use in his classroom (really nice hand lotion because they wash their hands a million times a day! really nice soap to wash their hands a million times a day!) and have tailored the gift accordingly.

    I tend to lean toward gift cards in part because I know the teachers can use their tax ID number to buy things and be tax-exempt, so the money goes (slightly) further than if I just give them straight cash.

  59. Doctor is In*

    Ignorin labor laws is so pervasive. I have a medical practice in a small town, and when interviewing recently for a nurse, found that all of the big employers here routinely require staff to answer phones and take care of walkins during an unpaid 30 minute lunch break! And do not pay overtime! Makes me mad. The employees are afraid to push back.

  60. 15 Pieces of Flair*

    LW3- Apply through a referral if possible. Recruiters and hiring managers often consider an employee’s description of a candidate but rarely care about a candidate’s self-evaluation. Subjective qualities like charisma, high EQ, and motivation carry weight when communicated by someone the decision maker trusts.

    1. LW3*

      Good thinking! I’m new to the field so I’m not sure who in my professional network would have those connections, but I suppose that’s what LinkedIn is for! Always willing to give it a shot. Thanks!

  61. Lydia*

    Gosh, maybe it’s because they aren’t being provided and teachers have had to rely on alternative means to supply their classrooms for decades? It’s great they sent this out proving it’s all about appearances. Someone might wonder. The teachers probably wonder daily why they have to put up an Amazon Wishlist and supplies aren’t being provided for them.

    1. Sssssssssssssss*

      I’ve been living under a rock – I didn’t know that teachers had Amazon wish lists.

      Knowing how undervalued and underpaid many American teachers are, I’m not surprised.

      But I live in Canada – do Canadian teachers have Amazon wish lists?

      1. Peanut Hamper*

        There are numerous sites for teachers to get funding for their classes. Donors Choose and Classful come to mind.

        Schools are criminally underfunded in the United States. This is not by accident.

      1. Princess Trachea-Aurelia Belaroth*

        I asked Alison to delete the original because I accidentally included the district’s initials.

        Here it is again:

        “Second, if you create an “Amazon wish list”, this is considered a fundraiser, and needs to be submitted and approved by the district before you post it. Reason being, the district gets tax money for curriculum supplies. If you are posting a list on Amazon stating you’re a [district] teacher and need student supplies, someone might wonder why they’re not being provided for you.”

        I had sympathy for the treasurer who posted it, they’ve been doing a lot to un-muck the process for accessing curriculum funds, which administration had not been bothering to inform teachers about for several years. This was annoying phrasing though.

  62. Kalros, the mother of all thresher maws*

    Disrespect may not have expiration dates but your window for addressing it without looking unhinged does and it’s way less than a year. Sorry, LW. It sucks that you had a bad experience with a rude interviewer but if you said anything to the higher-ups now it would not have the effect you’re hoping for.

  63. Scooby Snax*

    We have never had an issues with happy hours. We have a handful of people who don’t drink, but they happily join and enjoy the food and conversation. Drinking alcohol is not mandatory during happy hour, and no one has ever said anything or acted differently toward to those choosing a Coke instead. Additionally, we usually start them earlier, say at 4:00 as opposed to 5 when most people would normally be leaving the office, allowing folks an hour to hang out if they do in fact need to leave right at 5.

    I would personally never participate in something like a talent show or board games, but maybe that is appealing to some people.

    1. Colette*

      And there are people who will never participate in a happy hour – even if drinking isn’t required – which is why it’s good to have a variety of events so no one is always left out.

    2. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

      You don’t actually know how people are treated who get soda — unless you ask them specifically.

      And it’s not even about alcohol sometimes. I don’t like bars because they tend to be loud, which frazzles my nerves. And I dislike cigarette smoke (which I think is less of a problem than it used to be but I wouldn’t know because see above about noise levels).

      1. Scooby Snax*

        Yeah there is no smoking allowed in any bars or restaurants in my state. We also never go to a “bar.” It’s always a restaurant which, of course, offers alcohol. And we get a bunch of appetizers to share. And if you’re sitting next to someone it’s hard not to notice what they order, hence knowing who orders soda as opposed to an alcoholic drink.

  64. Lily Potter*

    I’m trying to figure out LW #1’s situation. Is this “team building” a formal thing that’s organized and paid for by the company? Or is it a matter of someone saying “Hey, Julius is in the office this week. Let’s grab drinks with him at the pub tonight” (and everyone pays their own way)? In other words, are the pub trips something that’s just happening after work, organically, and leadership is calling it team building? That’s how it’s reading to me, and I don’t see how leadership stops that from happening. It’s people choosing what to do with their own time, and socializing with the people that they work with.

    Pre-covid, I was in-office but about 25% of the staff worked remotely from around the country. If everyone was brought in for an all-hands/in-person event, the company would sponsor several social events, both during and after work hours, so that everyone could get together. Some involved alcohol, some not. However, when just one person was in town for the week and they wanted to socialize after hours, it was almost always drinks and dinner at our own expense for the locals, out-of-towners were paid for dinner (but not booze) on their expense report. The company certainly wasn’t going to sponsor an axe-throwing event just because Lucca was in town – they let Lucca decide what she wanted to do in her off hours and with whom. They certainly didn’t think of the dinner and drinks as “team building”.

  65. Bruce*

    The best team building events in my experience have some activity but are not just for jocks… “silly talent contest” is a good one, I found myself karaoke singing a girl group song from the 60s in falsetto wearing a blonde wig :-) Bowling is fun, you can have some lanes with gutter bumpers and some without for the people who know how to bowl. Agree that they should be during the work day, maybe let people leave a bit early at the end too :-)

  66. yala*

    For gift cards, I think it’s just that they come off more as a *gift.* If I get a $25 Starbucks card, I’m going to treat myself to some ridiculously sugary drinks. If I get $25 cash, it’s probably just going to regular groceries.

  67. umami*

    Last semester was our first fully back post-COVID, and we were tasked with hosting monthly events to allow people to reconnect. We chose locations throughout campus to make it convenient for folks who couldn’t always take time to go to a building not near their work space, and we did different days and times with different types of food (always with vegan, vegetarian and meat options, all labeled) and activities each time. Bingo turned out to be very popular, and people loved being able to visit with colleagues. It was open-ended for about 3 hours so folks could come and go. We had over 100 people at each one; folks loved it. And it … wasn’t that hard. If you truly care about being inclusive, you don’t think about it being ‘extra’ work, it’s just necessary work, and it went a long way toward rebuilding morale.

  68. this is Jack's liver*

    A vet hospital screwing its staff out of a paycheck? This is my shocked face.

  69. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

    LW5: you said that “Corporate said it would not be fair to pay the techs and not the doctor or the office manager.” But was it HR or payroll that said that? I’m thinking it was not, because those are specialties where people generally understand the difference between exempt and non-exempt (which is often expressed as salary vs hourly). Some random person in Corporate should know the difference but was probably not thinking it thru properly.

    All of which is to say: if it wasn’t HR specifically, take it back to them so they can educate their employees.

  70. Cat's Paw for Cats*

    It disturbs me that the people running OP#5’s company don’t have even a basic knowledge about labor laws. This can prove to be very, very expensive for a company.

  71. Ginny Weasley*

    I am part of the social committee at my work (coincidentally an elementary school; I agree cash would feel weird but gift cards are v common) and I have had people express discomfort to me with events that are just “sit at a bar and drink” and others who have said they “hate having an activity.” SO we have tried to make happy medium experiences with locations that have both a bar and an optional activity. We’ve had success with bowling alleys, our local arcade bar, trivia nights, and hanging out in a park with yard games, camp chairs, and BYOB.

  72. Dawn*

    LW4: I think cash can also (unconsciously, not saying this would be on purpose or that anyone would consciously think this) read as a bribe to some degree outside of situations where it’s been normalized.

  73. Ionlywearclogs*

    Oh, I’m so excited to actually have a question related to my field to answer from the preschool teacher perspective! And the answer is cash. Please, just give cash, we don’t think it’s awkward, it’s highly preferred (especially at schools that have the problematic low pay that plagues the industry)
    If you feel awkward giving cash directly, I have a pro-tip to circumvent the feeling of a “tip”.
    email the classroom parents email list and offer to coordinate a group gift of cash or Amazon card from all of the families. Let parents know that it is fully voluntary and that the card will come from everyone and I promise you, your teachers will appreciate it very much.
    I absolutely recommend cash over a gift card, every time- if you feel strongly otherwise, Amazon gift cards are a semi-distant second. I have a drawer of half used gift cards from Starbucks, Target and Dunkin Donuts gathering dust because using them means I have to physically go to a place AND remember to bring them. Also, I have up to 18 students, creating a situation where I get $85 to Starbucks split between ten physical cards.
    Background: I’m a career early childhood educator with ten years of experience and an advanced degree. I have worked in a somewhat niche area of my field as a lead teacher and mentor teacher at (this is the niche part) non-profit early ed centers supporting large, fancy-pants East Coast universities. My families are professors, admins, researchers etc at the university and we’re marketed as a benefit for parents employed at the university. My school is unionized and I make about 64k, but I am fully aware that this is very far from the norm.
    it’s likely that your childcare worker needs cash for groceries or rent more than they need a coffee. Go with a group gift and I promise they will appreciate you this Teacher Appreciation Week.

  74. Bill and Heather's Excellent Adventure*

    LW2, please follow Alison’s advice. I sympathise with you brooding over what happened and wanting to do something about it but a year afterwards is too late. The company won’t be thinking “oh, we should really make sure that guy isn’t interviewing people anymore”, they’ll be thinking “why is this person contacting us after all this time, that’s so weird”.

  75. Josie*

    Hourly staff must – MUST – be paid if they’re working. And yes drumming up customers for the business is work. Paying salaried workers for this time is optional but good business to offer at least something I.e. a couple of days of comp time vacation

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