manager waits until the last minute to assign work, refusing to work night shifts, and more

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

1. Manager waits until the last minute to assign work

I was hoping you could weigh in about whether this particular management habit is actually bad, or if my judgment is clouded by other unprofessional behavior by my boss (I won’t go into detail, but includes a lot of emotional manipulation … kind of like the work equivalent of “love bombing” and then icing me out when she’s upset).

My boss tends to assign most things with a one-day turnaround (review this doc, create this slide deck, etc.) in addition to our regular workload/projects. Some of the tasks are small, but sometimes they are more involved. I’ve read enough of your blog to know that a boss has the authority to say, “I need you to reprioritize XYZ and work on this other thing.” However, I think what really bothers me is that none of these tasks are “surprises” — this was work that she knew would need to happen weeks ago, and she just waited until the last minute to delegate it. If it were me and I was asking for same-day turnaround, I would lead with something like, “Sorry to throw this at you last-minute, but could you help me out today by editing the llama report?” Is this just a distinction without a difference?

It’s not a distinction without a difference! What your boss is doing is bad management. By waiting until the last minute to assign things that she had plenty of advance notice of, she’s creating unneeded stress and urgency in your work, as well as risking that something important will end up not getting done on time. (What if you were out sick that day? What if something else urgent comes up that also needs your attention?) Mostly, though, it’s the stress — it sucks to plan how to allot your time that day and then have it blown up for no real reason. It’s natural that things will sometimes come up at the last minute and people need to roll with that, but when your manager is causing that to happen when she could have avoided it, it’s reasonable to feel aggravated and like she’s not on top of her own job. (I think I’ve told this story here before, but early in my career a coworker and I were so frustrated by a manager who did this that we created a whole official workaround — we installed an inbox outside her office door and announced that other departments who wanted to send us assignments needed to fill out a work order and put it in the box … and then we just took incoming work orders out of the box and assigned them to ourselves, thus cutting her out of the process entirely. She was so hands-off that she didn’t care.)

You’re also right that your boss should be acknowledging it when this happens. Even if she were to say, “I’m sorry this is last-minute; I’ve been so tied up with X that I missed that they needed Y by today,” I think you would feel better than when she doesn’t acknowledge it at all.

2. Do I have to say yes to giving presentations?

I (they/them) am an individual contributor whose role is in operations and written communication like website design and content creation. I am also currently the chair of our organization’s Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI) committee.

I see a lot of opportunities for staff to better support our members by improving written communication. So, I volunteered to do a short internal training on the topic during a standing professional development slot our department has. It was well received.

I was also asked to give a presentation on cultural competence and implicit bias for a program we run for our members. I asked a few other people if they would be interested in doing it, but none took me up on it. So, as the committee chair, I felt obligated and gave the presentation.

I also created a training on using people’s correct pronouns that I presented for our JEDI committee, mostly because I couldn’t find a pre-existing training that adequately covered the topic. It was also in part selfishly motivated: I am the only non-binary person at work and felt like the staff needed training in this area.

Here’s the sticking point: I don’t like giving presentations. I only recently found some workarounds that let me get through them without having a panic attack, and 90% of the reason I think I do okay is because these are virtual.

While there are some times I must do public speaking in my role, these projects are extras. Coworkers are asking because they need speakers for their deliverables, which is obviously a big task, but there’s no reason I must be the one to do them. I have done them because it felt like they were needed and wouldn’t happen if I didn’t do them.

Now I’m getting asked to do presentations left and right. I was asked to speak on a panel at our annual conference, I’ve been asked back to do the cultural competence training again, and I just got another email asking me to do it for another audience entirely.

I feel like people are asking me as a first choice, not a last resort. I’m glad they have found my presentations valuable, but I don’t want to give them all the time. My supervisor would support me however I wanted to handle this, and I have been candid with my close coworkers about my dislike for public speaking (they have responded by telling me I am a good presenter). Is there a way to say “I will help if you are down to the wire and absolutely don’t have anyone else but please don’t ask me otherwise?” or am I stuck just saying yes now that it seems like I’ve set that precedent? Do I need to just start saying blanket no without throwing a lifeline?

You’re not stuck doing it because you did a few and people liked them! You can switch to a blanket no if you want to (“I was willing to do a few earlier but I don’t have the bandwidth to keep doing them”) but if you’re willing to do it if they try other people first and only come to you as a last resort, you can say that too. For example, you could say, “I prefer not to present and don’t have the bandwidth for all the requests I’ve been getting, so would you look for someone else? If you absolutely can’t find someone, let me know — but even then I can’t make any promises.” Include that last part because otherwise some people will just come back to you without having put in any real effort to find alternatives.

Obviously this would be different if presentations were part of your job, but they’re not and your boss sounds like she’ll back you up on whatever boundaries you set.

3. Can you refuse to work night shifts if you have kids?

A few years ago, I worked at a company that needed coverage 24 hours a day. We worked in three eight-hour shifts: day, evening, and night. Scheduling was always a bit of a mess at this job: shifts canceled at the last minute, being called in at the last minute, time off suddenly rejected days before it was due to be taken after being approved months earlier, etc.

The biggest thing that I’m still curious about is how they determined who worked evenings and nights. One coworker who refused to work evenings or nights because they had a kid. I understand it’s hard to manage childcare and emergencies/unexpected things come up, but it felt a bit unfair to be constantly expected to work evenings/nights in their place.

I just wanted to know in jobs where it’s expected you’re going to have to work nights, is it normal for employees to flat-out refuse? Is it more acceptable to refuse if you have children? Can an employer penalize you for refusing?

It’s reasonable for an employee to have some schedule restrictions, and it’s really common not to be able to work nights for a whole variety of reasons (kids are a big one, but not the only one). However, if working some night shifts is a core responsibility of the job, that should be discussed explicitly during the hiring process — and if a potential employee can’t work that part of the schedule, that needs to be worked out before they’re brought on board.

Of course, other times something might change after they’re already on the job — maybe they suddenly have a kid when they didn’t before or their scheduling needs change. In that case, the employee should raise the issue (“I’m not able to work nights because X”) and the manager should figure out what makes sense for the team. In some cases they’ll be able to work around that schedule restriction and in other cases they can’t. I wouldn’t look at it as an employee flatly refusing, though; it should be a process of “here’s what I can/can’t do” and “here’s what we, the employer, need” and figuring out if there’s a way to make those things work together. Sometimes you can and sometimes you can’t.

In your case, it sounds like working some nights was a job requirement, and your coworker not being able to do that meant that other people got stuck with more than their share. That’s on your management; the onus was on them to either figure out a way to make it work without unreasonably burdening other people or, if they couldn’t, to explain that to her and even to part ways if it was insurmountable. Telling everyone else it was a job requirement while excusing one person because she had kids — and then, crucially, not taking openly about how this all worked and what accommodations might be available for others if they ever needed them — was a recipe for resentment.

(To really give you a full answer, I’d want to know how it was handled if someone without kids ever said they couldn’t work nights. If your employer was really deciding based solely on kids/no kids and turning down any non-parents who needed an accommodation — without having hired with the explicit plan that X number of people out of Y were being hired for day shifts only — that’s much more of a problem.)

4. Does it mean anything if companies keep not filling my job after I leave?

I have noticed that over the last six years, my role has not been filled after I left at at least three jobs. I had a series of unfortunate career detours: one time the new department boss blew up our entire organization and most of the people quit within six months (I was one of them), once I was contracting with a company that was going to convert me to full-time but then Covid happened so they rescinded my perm offer, and one time a major organizational shift led to me looking for something new and then that new thing ended up being a complete mismatch on both sides.

I’ve kept in touch with coworkers from each of these roles (even the disaster) so I’ve heard all the gossip and goings-on from them. And at least three of these roles have not filled my role even years later. I don’t have any insight into what’s behind this so I’m left to wonder if I did such a bad job in those roles that they felt it wasn’t worth it to fill with someone else?

Very unlikely! Typically when companies don’t refill a role it’s because they’ve decided the workload isn’t there to support it, or there’s a financial crunch, or priorities have changed, or they’re distributing the work of that role across multiple people’s plates. If the issue was that your work sucked, they’d still want the work done after you left. So what you’re seeing is something about their own internal set-up, not a response to your performance. (For it to be about your performance, you’d have to be doing bad work and have somehow demonstrated that there was no point in someone more competent doing it either.)

5. Giving notice when my boss is going on vacation

I’ve been in my job for two years and I’ve grown increasingly unhappy here. A couple months ago, I saw an opportunity to do similar work for an employer more aligned with my values and interests so I applied.

I’m pretty sure I’m going to get the job. (Don’t worry, I’m not giving notice until I’ve received and accepted an offer.) I’ll find out either way by late next week, which will give me just enough time to work out two weeks before I go on vacation. The problem is that my boss will be on vacation for those two weeks. If I give her my notice on Friday that will be the last time we see each other.

We don’t really have a management structure (she would hate to be called my boss in the first place; one of the reasons I’m trying to leave) so there’s no one above her to go to in her absence and no one to facilitate a smooth transition of my duties.

I don’t particularly like it here and I don’t particularly like her, but I do like my coworkers and I don’t want to leave them in the lurch with my departure. Is there a way around it or do I just have to bite the bullet?

If that’s the way the timing works out, that’s the way it works out. It’s not ideal, but sometimes that’s just how it happens and people deal with it.

If you want to, given the timing, you could offer to be available for one (only one!) transition-related call after you leave. You don’t have to, but sometimes offering that can make you feel better about things.

You could also start an outline of transition items now, so that you have it ready to discuss with your boss on the one day of overlap the two of you will have after you resign; having that ready to go could help make the most of that time.

By the way: Make sure you’ll still be able to take those two weeks of paid vacation that you’re counting on! Some employers would have your last day be your last day in the office and not cover the paid vacation if you’re not coming back afterwards. If you’re in a state that requires them to pay out your unused vacation time when you leave, this won’t matter. But if you’re not, be aware there’s a risk that they’ll end your employment earlier.

{ 230 comments… read them below }

  1. NoMoreFirstTimeCommenter*

    #3: Did they pay you extra for the night shifts? In my part of the world, this is common. It creates a situation where some people volunteer for night shifts to get more money, and this means that it’s less of a problem that some people aren’t able to do them. It’s also reasonable because night work is a known health risk.

    1. amoeba*

      Also, depending on the type of job there might be people who can only do late/night shifts, like students who have class during the day or people with multiple jobs? In that case, I can see hiring a good mix would work, although it might get complicated once somebody quits or their hours change…
      But either way, giving more night shifts to people who actually want them – great. Forcing them on the others who don’t like them either – not so great.

      1. Vampire Healthcare Worker*

        I think it depends on why/how often someone is being forced to work the night shift. I work in a hospital and was specifically hired for the night shift (and wanted that shift). But I still get PTO just like everyone else and people on the day shift have to cover my shift when I am gone. In general, if you (the generic you) are hired at a place that is open 24/7 (and your job is performed 24/7) you should realize that you will need to work the night shift at times – even if it is just 1-2 times per year.
        In a perfect world everyone would have the perfect shift and never have to work at times they don’t want to/can’t work. But we don’t live in a perfect world and unless you are ok with 24/7 jobs shutting down, then someone has to be there.
        In my job (healthcare) it is not normal/allowed to totally refuse the night shift and this person would be fired, not be allowed to only work the day shift.

        1. Boof*

          usually they would put out increasing pay incentives to take the night shift at the hospital I worked at – sometimes the rate could as much as double. Again increasing the payments until someone takes it will usually be much better on morale (whether it’s economically feasible, I guess if the price is so high that it’s not may have to reexamine what is going on with the whole situation?)

          1. Vampire Healthcare Worker*

            Shift differential is common enough at hospitals that I would really question any hospital (or really any place open 24/7) that did not offer it. My hospital is not as flexible as yours seems to be, but I can’t complain about my shift diff at all.

            1. Clear*

              Yes, “shift differential” is the concept, and often is found in retail, as well, e.g. convenience stores that have third-shift work.

              It’s a good practice, IMO.

              1. Grizabella the Glamour Cat*

                It’s common in manufacturing also. My husband has worked the night shift for years for that extra bit of money.

    2. WellRed*

      Agreed. It’s also just unhealthy and impractical to ask people to switch off completely different shifts all the time. People need to acclimate. They needed a different structure then one general pool of workers.

      1. Kara*

        It’s unhealthy and common enough that there’s a name for it: shift work disorder.

      2. TootsNYC*

        My company doesn’t pay out vacation, and a friend of mine recently announced her resignation with a three-month lead time.
        She was immediately not allowed to take any vacation between now and then. Not at all. She lost three weeks.

        I’ve also worked at places where your last day, you had to be in the office. I don’t know what they’d have done to you if you hadn’t showed up, but the pressure was pretty fierce.

          1. Clear*

            …and a great state it is. I wish the whole other US were as progressive, especially where worker protections are concerned.

  2. GladImNotThereNow*

    #5 – That’s basically what happened to me, although shifted the other direction. I accepted a new position and when I was to give notice saw that my supervisor had left on a two week vacation so I delivered it elsewhere. Turned out the day he returned to the office was my last actual working day. A surprise, but no hard feelings. Now in my 18th year of the job I had left my previous one for – no regrets!

  3. Chris too*

    Re Letter 3 – In my twenties I worked at something that needed twenty four hour coverage and what I think employers often miss is that some people – a fair number – WANT to do straight nights or straight afternoons. It makes me twitch when I see employers automatically rotating people around because they “want to be fair to everyone,” when in reality they’re just messing up *everybody’s* life. I happily worked straight graveyard shift for several years.

    If it’s part of the job to need 24/7 coverage it is what it is – but employers should look to see if somebody actively wants night shifts before they make decisions. If they’d bother looking they might find out they actually don’t have an issue at all.

    1. Coin Purse*

      I worked over a decade on straight night shifts as a nurse. I could make that work for me but rotating killed me.

      1. Bilateralrope*

        Yes. I work security, meaning 24/7 coverage. Everything I’ve seen says that rotating is the worst option for employee health. The few times I had to cover a day shift and every piece of research I’ve seen.

        I’m on permanent nights for a few reasons, including a medication that requires me to avoid sunlight.

        1. Mister_L*

          Former security here, also 24/7 coverage. Our shift plan was 12 hours day alternating with 12 hours night for 3 weeks straight, then one week late afternoon to middle of the night and weekend off. I had to quit when I developed nebulous pain in multiple joints.

          1. Bilateralrope*

            What thinking led to that mess ?

            Here the default is 12 hour shifts and a 4 on, 4 off rotation. Some on permanent nights, some on permanent days. When the client wants a single guard position covered 24/7, that’s the least bad option.

            Predictable shifts for everyone and less work for whoever does the scheduling.

            1. Mister_L*

              Can’t go too much into detail, but basically they had 4 people and wanted somebody to check all the doors and windows after office hours in addition to the 24/7 guard.

              1. Bilateralrope*

                Ah. I can see how that might be a client requirement.

                Though checking the doors and windows has been the responsibility of the 24/7 guard where I’ve worked. Except one place that had two guards 24/7 so that there would always be one at the entrance.

          2. Spero*

            I did two jobs one summer, night shift at a hotel and then a swing shift at a gift store so either I’d work from 10 pm to noon or 2 pm to 6 am depending on the schedule at the gift store. I developed an autoimmune disease within a year and am convinced it was brought on by that schedule (I had a family history of it, but got it about 30 years before anyone else in the family ever had)

      2. Dog momma*

        Me too. However what the OP seems to fail to realize, is that depending on the job, 24 hr coverage is required..nurses, docs depending on their specialty, first responders, some manufacturing. a lot of people with kids do it either for the shift diff or so they don’t have to pay for child care. You just can’t work in these occupations, have kids at some point, and then decide you aren’t ever working off shift.

        I mean, Really!
        I did 3 12s for yrs and found out quickly that I couldn’t do 3 in a row when working nights. I just didn’t sleep. For a while did 11a-7pm, bc there was always a hole from 3-7p. & they considered that my off shift..until they didn’t. So I worked 8 hr day/ eve til I went to UM. OP needs to grow up.

        1. WellRed*

          I don’t think the OP doesn’t realize it’s needed. I also think people in health care and first responders go into it understanding the hours. Even then, the employer can still offer set shifts not rando assignments. Perhaps your lack of sleep is making you unkind?

        2. Ccbac*

          I think maybe you need to re-read as nothing op wrote would make a reasonable (well-rested) person think OP needs to “grow up”!

            1. MCMonkeyBean*

              (Though even if they were, I don’t think someone refusing night shifts needs to grow up–they just might need to find a different job. It’s okay to have things you’re not willing to do at work! But if your employer says they are a requirement then that’s just not a good match)

        3. Antilles*

          Where are you getting that OP doesn’t recognize it’s a requirement?
          To me, it reads more like OP saw this particular company generally stunk at handling the 24-hour coverage requirement and was wondering how good management *should* be handling people who can’t work certain shifts.

          1. Sloanicota*

            Also, I have worked in a place that required 24 shift coverage, and they had “night shift” and “day shift” people, plus swing workers and some backups. They didn’t just require that their people suffer – they handled it from the staffing side.

        4. Boof*

          Am in health care, have at times done overnight shifts (in training, and at times for extra $$), have done q3 day shifts (that’s where you work for 24-28 hrs straight; my least favorite). I will attest that there are way better ways of handling 24/7 coverage than “suck it up buttercup” – that leads to burn out, medical errors, high staff turnover, etc.

        5. DJ Hymnotic*

          I work in healthcare, in a position that requires overnight and weekend coverage, and I find this sort of outlook really counterproductive. As another commenter noted, it leads to more turnover and burnout and lower quality care, but more broadly, lots of us already work for massive corporations or networks that don’t know us from Adam and we don’t need to add to that by expecting our colleagues to check their humanity at the door. I get that working in healthcare–especially post-2020–can require some emotional armor, that armor doesn’t need to have spikes on it.

    2. Shakti*

      Yes this! I’ve dealt with my husband’s job that has at different times had hours 8am-8:30pm and different shifts within those hours and it’s fine if the schedule is consistent, but sometimes it would be different shifts every week or daily and it was a total nightmare everyone was exhausted and frustrated. Consistency with scheduling is key. Thankfully don’t have to deal with it anymore though

    3. April*


      My job is like this: 24-hour coverage, split into three shifts.

      I started doing only overnights, and now I primarily do swing shift. I’m a night owl, so this works out fine for me!

      What I hate is when I have to come in for an AM shift. UGH. I’ve been tempted to tell my supervisors that I cannot do them. At all. I would in facts rather do overnights.

    4. CityMouse*

      I used to work a Jin that occasionally ended at 3 or 4 AM. and what was killer was the irregularity. Having a shift that ended at 4 and then a shift that started at 11 the end day was just impossible. It’s the irregular scheduling that’s killer.

    5. PotteryYarn*

      This!! My husband has done shift work, and overnights have always always always been on their own schedule (usually 7 on/7 off). Most of the time, everyone else does a mix of first and second shift (including weekends), but the best schedule he had before getting a M-F 8-5 was 7 on/7-off second shift. No more having to “flip” to days on his off weeks like when he worked nights, and he still got seven whole days in a row to manage things around the house and have fun every other week. We were both so mad when the company got bought out and the new company made everyone switch to a rotating (and random) mix of first and second shifts.

    6. LifeBeforeCorona*

      I worked an 4-11 baking shift for several years. I was going to school at the time and the manager gave me leeway on the days that I needed to come in an hour later. After I left they went through 3 or 4 people trying to find someone to work that shift. If you find someone willing to work non-traditional hours, keep them.

      1. Sloanicota*

        Yep! I was a lifeguard in high school. I had the 4:30AM shift in the summers. I was used to being up that early because of the swim team, so I didn’t mind it really. Then they started being a jerk to me and I quit. Good luck finding someone else to take that shift guys.

    7. Kaiko*

      Yup, people often want straight shifts; when they don’t, they need time between shifts to acclimate. Like 2-3 full days off between shift changeover times.

      And some people will never want a certain shift at all – I had a friend whose sibling was cleared to never take night shifts while in medical school, because they had a mental health condition that would be triggered by lack of or unpredictable sleep. It’s important that your staff corps has enough flexibility that equity, not exacting equality, is the focus.

      1. negligent apparitions*

        When I scheduled retail workers in college, I always started with the same schedule I’d done the week before and made adjustments for time off, etc. Even teenagers working 4 hour shifts a few days a week like predictable schedules.

        1. Starbuck*

          My college food service job just set our schedules for the whole quarter at once, same way classes were set. It was great – you could still cancel/swap as needed, but you knew for 2-3 months at a time when you were working.

      2. MigraineMonth*

        Not to in any way minimize your acquaintance’s health condition, but lack of/unpredictable sleep seems like it would also be a problem for… anyone. It terrifies me that we used to have medical professionals do brutal residency shifts; I don’t want my doctor to be exhausted and unable to focus.

        I usually take a sick day when I’ve slept poorly, since I would both do a terrible job that day and subject my poor coworkers to general drama llama-ing. I need at least 6 hours of sleep to be professional.

      3. PhyllisB*

        I was a long distance operator for years. When I was in college I worked nights shift 10p-7a. It worked out great because I could take night classes that ended at 9 and had plenty of time to get to work. When I got off I could sleep until 2 or 3 in the afternoon and feel well rested. (No husband or kids then.) One of the women with more seniority decided she wanted to work nights so I had to switch to 3-11 and try to get my professors to let me switch to day classes. I was…not happy. The kicker is, after about three weeks she decided she didn’t like nights and started calling out. She finally got fired but it was too late for me to switch again. And no, she didn’t want to work days, either. For years she worked 8p-2a. they eliminated that shift and this was the closest thing.

    8. JSPA*

      yes! The studies showing health risks associated with night work generally find higher risks with rotating shifts (and they rarely control for pre-existing conditions or life stresses that can make people more likely to choose a night shift…or for whether or not the person on night shift is comfortable there, or is pounding back diet cola, candy bars and fried pork rinds to stay awake and energized).

    9. Clisby*

      Yeah, my sister was a hospital nurse who only worked 3rd shift – precisely because she had kids. She and her husband both lived close to their jobs, so she could get off at 7 a.m. and be at home before he had to leave for his job – they never needed daycare. She wouldn’t have taken a job with rotating shifts.

    10. Charlotte Lucas*

      My dad worked night shift when I was a kid. Not only did he make more money, but it made it easier for my parents to both work while raising kids (70s & 80s).

      He was famously grumpy when he had to work days.

    11. PDB*

      I preferred nights, as we called it in the music recording world, starting at 5pm and lasting until ?

    12. Orange You Glad*

      Yea, I was thinking especially since they have set “shifts” that they need to stop managing this as shift work. Hire a group that works mornings, a group that works evenings, and a group overnight. Then everyone has a set schedule and they can plan their lives around it.

    13. Reluctant Mezzo*

      Rotating shifts killed my friend’s husband after a couple of decades of it (high blood pressure, stroke while driving, eek!). Her sleep schedule has never really adjusted either, though it’s been a long time since he was gone.

  4. Heidi*

    For Letter 2: If the OP doesn’t have to give presentations for career advancement, then it’s fine to decline. I can understand why they don’t necessarily want to, though; these are important subjects and not everyone teaches them well. If there is a colleague who loves public speaking, the OP could send them their presentation materials to help them develop their own version of the presentation. There are also a variety of techniques people use to manage the anxiety around public speaking, which could be helpful for the times the OP does have to do it as part of their role.

      1. Christine*

        The content could include recorded AV snippets by OP (since people obviously like her style) that a live presenter could work into the presentation. It never hurts to keep ones name and face out there plus padding the resume.

        1. JSPA*


          which (given the topic) is part of the issue.

          The company wants someone who’s “of the community,” cares personally, has skin in the game, as well as gives a good presentation.

          And to some degree, that’s legit! We don’t normally have [people not in group] lead trainings on [issues affecting that group].

          (Though to some degree it may be the gender equivalent of saying “no gay!” if other people are vaguely uncomfortable making presentations and leading training because they might be presumed trans or gender-non-conforming???)

          Solutions would be,

          a) record it

          b) be visibly open to hiring more people with non-standard pronouns

          c) hire someone from outside

          d) pay the LW extra for the extra job they’re taking on (if they’re willing)

          e) make it clear that they’re shifting to an, “each one teach one” philosophy, where the goal is for participants to get fluent enough in parsing and presenting pronoun use, so that they can teach future sessions

          f) point out to HR that presentations such as this are firmly in their wheelhouse, and any one person can do a broad introduction to, “corporate expectations on cultural sensitivity and basic office politeness and protocol.”

          1. Over It*

            I second recording the presentations if OP is open to it. It sounds like sometimes people just want a speaker for their events, so a recording won’t work 100% of the time. But if people just want the info and there’s no specific event planned, it gives OP an easy out to say I don’t have bandwidth to do these trainings for the foreseeable future, but here’s a link to the last one.

            1. LW #2*

              Thanks for the suggestions and discussion! Since these asks are for events. rather than “because we want the training on hand” recording isn’t feasible for most of them.

              We offer a lot of educational services to our members, including webinars, career development, etc. Most people who have been asking are doing these types of programs.

              I am definitely working on upskilling our organization around DEI issues – that is the work of the committee I chair. I hope that as we continue to press leadership, I won’t be the only person with non-standard pronouns at work. but alas, that it is a ways off (and won’t be very effective if they come to work here under the premise that it’s okay and then get misgendered constantly. It’s an org that isn’t hostile, but is definitely full of folks who feel like their heart is in the right place and that’s enough.

          2. MigraineMonth*

            Of course, requiring someone in a disadvantaged group to spent their time, energy and peace of mind trying to educate people about that group is both common and shitty. Particularly because that responsibility is usually layered on top of a full-time job, and people in disadvantaged groups are often treated as “biased” about facts of their own lives.

            I think people within a disadvantaged group should always have right of first refusal for these talks/training, but if they aren’t interested there can be advantages to tapping someone outside the group to do the education.

          3. LW #2*

            Thanks for your thoughts! For the DEI parts of the question, I just wanted to share the context that for broader training on DEI issues we have hired someone to come in and train our full staff. This is ongoing.

            The pronoun training was because the JEDI committee had just successfully gotten leadership to allow us to start listing our pronouns in our signatures. my goal was to upskill the committee members so that they could be effective go-to’s for staff who might have questions/not understand. I’ve thought about delivering it to staff and I know committee members have asked for that. However, I go a little back and forth about being the only out trans person at work in our current climate (who is not a professional facilitator or trainer) trying to upskill people and potentially being put in a situation where folks are debating pronouns/their validity/trans people, etc. My low capacity to be in those spaces is a big reason why I don’t do this professionally.

            I really like the each one teach one idea. This is something I’d like the committee members to develop regardless – currently there is aot of leaning on me because people feel like they don’t know enough about DEI work to lead so I am constantly trying to encourage them to upskill themselves and learn new topics and that I am not some kind of DEI master just as a fluke or nature of because of my lived experience.

            1. Goldie*

              I was thinking this too. Often there isn’t as much to “do” on a committee like this. It would be great if the committee itself or organization’s leadership requested committee members learn the content and be available to provide the training.

              That would be a valuable contribution that would make a difference.

              I appreciate that you stepped out of your comfort zone to develop it and offer it.

      2. Ama*

        I work with a lot of very busy people that we sometimes ask to give presentations, and it is very common for someone who has already presented on a certain topic for us to say “oh, I can’t commit to another speaking engagement right now but I’m happy to share my slides from the last time if you find another speaker.” (And that in turn makes it easier for us to recruit a replacement because we can actually say “Jane did this last year and has offered to share her slides as a starting point” — with our group the thing that seems to scare everyone the most about presentations is having to make a set of slides from scratch.)

    1. Smithy*

      Absolutely this – as someone who has a lot of anxiety with public speaking but also wants to progress professionally and be seen as an individual contributing expert – I have a few suggestions on what I’ve found helpful.
      – Set a limit on how many presentations you can give a month/quarter in your head. If you’ve already committed to one presentation and get asked again to do something you’d like to speak on but would feel overwhelmed by it – ask if it can move to a month or two later. No one else has to know those limits, so you can set your own pace based on your workload and headspace.
      – Figure out what kind of presentations are easier/harder. For me, giving them digitally is easier than in person. But taking the time to sit with yourself and figure out if its the number of people, internal vs external, type of topic, etc etc. Knowing what you like more/like less can help you better negotiate with the person asking what you find easiest (i.e. splitting into two groups and doing the presentation twice would help me, but maybe not you).
      – Is there something hardest about a presentation you can ask for help on? Again, for me, it’s PowerPoint design. Not my strength, but if someone else can help with slide design or even give me some nicer looking templates to fill in – that also alleviates stress.

      If after thinking about these three things, the OP still feels wildly drained by the last presentations and truly never wants to do another again – that’s one course of action. But if the feelings are more along the lines of not liking presentations and not wanting to do them often

      1. Smithy*

        Oops – not liking presentations and not wanting to do them often, these were the tips that helped me set personal boundaries and make clear requests for support that my boss or colleagues could assist with.

    2. ferrina*

      Agree with this technique- this is actually something that I do as part of my job. I work with a lot of really busy subject matter experts. They don’t have time to put together their own slides, so I’ll often put together the presentation deck for them. They’ll adjust it to fit their style, then give the presentation.

    3. Spero*

      Also for OP 2: they mention they are the only non-binary person at their company, but what about other underrepresented groups? One thing that I did was maintain a list of other presenters in my organization and outside of it who I knew did a good job on the subject, and I’d often steer requests to agencies that were not a first thought but did great work or POC/women who would break up the ‘panel of 5 W men discussing diversity’ that would otherwise result. A few times this meant I saw a great speaker and then called and said ‘I get requests to speak on x that I can’t take, would you be interested if I sent them your way? If so do you have your own materials on that or would you be interested in me sharing what I have?’

      You can be a resource by referring them to others as much as by being their own speaker, and boost those other voices at the same time.

  5. Gyne*

    A lot of the night shifters I know work nights BECAUSE they have kids – partner works days, they take nights. That way they don’t have to pay for childcare (which can be expensive enough as to be out of their budget.)

    1. Magpie*

      That works for a lot of people, but single parents might have a harder time making overnights work. It’s hard to find overnight childcare and if you’re paying someone to stay overnight with the kids that’s way more expensive than daytime child care.

      1. mlem*

        Yeah, my first thought was a single parent (or similar dynamic, like they have a partner who is a first responder and might get called out at any hour), who MIGHT have arranged “no nights” when hiring on but they/the boss isn’t being clear about that.

      2. Gyne*

        Yes, My point was (supposed to be) that having children *alone* isn’t necessarily a hard and fast reason why someone couldn’t work nights.

        1. doreen*

          Yes, my sister was a single parent who worked night shifts by choice for a few years – working that shift she could get free childcare that wasn’t available during the day.

  6. Sure, Jan, Thanks*

    Re #1, I can relate. I have a manager who does this constantly. I’ll have my entire day or the next several planned out and get “but I need this now!” This pushes everything in my desk back a day. Then another day when he’ll does it again and another day, then another. Next thing I know I’m a week behind on all that stuff and extremely stressed out. How does it get resolved? By staying overtime to catch up. Then I hear from upper management that I need to say no more and leave on time but then they’ll tell me he’s never going to change. So… Sure, Jan. Thanks.

      1. Mister_L*

        Had a manager at my first job (who wanted to get rid of me ) who waited till I had started my shift and he was off for the evening.
        There was an overlap of 15 minutes with both of us in the office.
        He wrote me an e-mail from his phone that 1. thing that lazy coworker could have cleaned in the last 2 hours needed to be cleaned NOW and 2. other cowork was sick so I’d have to come in the next day for late shift.

        I returned the favor by writing him back right before closing (roughly 1 in the morning) that I had plans for the next day so no.

        To be fair, I wanted to get out of there anyway.

      2. Sure, Jan, Thanks*

        Yes. It rarely makes a difference. He still needs it. It still needs to be done. So do it. My favorite is when, then, you hear on the bumped back tasks, “isn’t that done yet? That needed to be done by now.” Lol. I do push back, it is just either met with a shrug or silence.

    1. John Smith*

      A response I use is “what work do you want me to skip / delay in order to do this?”. This creates a look of confusion on my boss who doesn’t seem to understand I can’t be in two different places or do two separate things at once. When the inevitable “discussion” (i.e argument devoid of logic and reason) ensues, it’s usually the case that there’s not enough time to do anything at all. I literally have days where I do nothing but respond to my manager’s emails because he has to have the last word and has to be right, and he seems happy enough for me to spend the day arguing the toss with him, so I do. It’s quite amusing!

      1. Office Lobster DJ*

        I think this phrasing is key, at least in reasonable environments: “I cannot do X, Y, and now Z” vs “Given that I can’t do X, Y, and now Z, what would you like me to prioritize?” It’s the difference between “Uh, well, do your best, I guess?” and making it your boss’s issue to solve.

    2. rebelwithmouseyhair*

      Yeah. A boss from long ago would have a five-minute standing meeting every morning to give me his orders. I’d see something n his desk and think, ah that’ll be for me, then he won’t mention it. Then five minutes before I was due to leave, he’d come rushing into my office asking if I could handle it because it’s urgent. He was flabbergasted when I said no. I actually started putting my coat on ten minutes before I left so that it was obvious I was leaving. And the colleague I shared the work with, who didn’t have kids to pick up, would agree to stay late but wouldn’t get paid. He ended up taking the boss to the labour court to be paid for all the overtime he did.

      1. Sure, Jan, Thanks*

        Oh, this! I used to see work for me his desk and think the same, oh, that’s for me… and then I wouldn’t get it for the whole day (sometimes even the next or longer) and then suddenly, end of the day, it would appear and be urgently needs now.

    3. Kelly*

      My last toxic boss would just keep all the salaried staff in the office until he thought we should leave. Usually that meant a 10-12 hour day for us because he was throw a massive tantrum and increase his abuse if we left before we were dismissed. He always had something he “needed” us to look at, but would sit in his office for an hour after closing and refuse to tell us what it was. Teapot despot.

    4. Area Woman*

      I had a very manipulative boss who would do this stuff as a power trip. She wanted to control everything, but could not possibly do it herself. So she would control the timeline and make us jump. She would call me during doctor’s appts. She texted me about work while I was in the ER.. I had left work because my doctor told me to go to the ER! She knew where I was!

      OP1 I would be very wary of this since you mentioned other emotional manipulation.

    5. Kayem*

      I’ve got a similar situation, though it’s not intentional on my boss’s part. She’s just pulled in a thousand directions by her bosses.

      It drives me bonkers when I get scolded by the great-grandboss for working overtime (I’m non-exempt). I can complete my work or I can abstain from working overtime, I can’t do both when a big load is dropped on me last minute because someone higher up dropped a whole circus of balls.

  7. Coin Purse*

    Re: #2….most of my career was spent in public speaking. I know this from my experience….once you establish yourself as a public speaker, everyone else assumes you’ll do all of it. You’ll probably have to be very assertive to not end up as the public speaking go-to. Even if it means other people have to do it, don’t volunteer more than your job requires.

    1. BubbleTea*

      I’ve found this in my personal life (although it’s now edging towards becoming part of my self-employment). I’ve been surprised to discover I like it but many people don’t so when someone does, others pounce and make the most of it!

    2. Helvetica*

      I was going to say something very similar. At the beginning of my career, I feared public speaking a lot but since I started doing it, I got asked again and again and as a result, I became very good at it and can now talk with no undue anxiety. Granted, not everyone will find that about themselves, but if you’ve done it already, and since you are the chair, I think people may presume that of course you will want to continue doing it, so you should assert or re-draw those boundaries asap.

      1. Hazel*

        A similar thing to OP happened to me because I saw the need and made the slide deck. Requests increased and I had to say I can’t do this all the time, we have to train others (moderating and / or doing part of it, then doing all). Part of my reasoning was because I turned into an automaton – so it wasn’t a good presentation. If there is a committee perhaps the place or start is there – see if others already committed to the idea will learn it. If not, the committee can request management or hr help to deliver what is now clearly a business need, not a hobby for OP!

  8. Dover*

    I’d love to know how LW1 is handling these requests and if Alison has advice for addressing the behavior. Better to address the behavior directly (“hey, when you do this it causes stress?”) or situationally (“okay, I have these other items due soon, which one does the new request bump?”), or some other way?

    1. Zoe*

      Yes, I was wondering this, I was surprised that Alison didn’t include advice in her answer (although I appreciate that the LW didn’t explicitly ask for advice on how to manage it)

    2. Foley*

      My sense from the ‘manipulative’ boss comments is that push back will end up in some mind bending game playing. I think #2 (documented by a zillion emails) would be the best bet.

    3. Enai*

      Yes, I too would like to know how to handle the string of manufactured emergencies. “Find a new job” is one way, of course, but what else is there to try first?

    4. JayNay*

      I agree! knowing that it’s not a great management strategy is one thing, knowing how to push back / change the dynamic is another.

    5. Antilles*

      I’d start by focusing on the situation (e.g., “I also have X and Y, if you’re adding Z, I’m going to have to bump X and Y”). Get the boss to prioritize and address the immediate situation.
      Then, afterwards at the end of the day when it’s dealt with, *that’s* when I’d try to have the bigger picture discussion. So it’s less of an in-the-moment “this is a problem” and more of a forward-looking discussion to improve the process and make things smoother for everyone.

    6. MicroGreen*

      I have a manager just like #1. I have tried:
      — Addressing it directly every time (what would you like me to not do so I can do this)
      — Getting ahead of it (doing work he hasn’t asked me to do yet because I can see it coming)
      — “Managing up” and basically doing his job (creating schedules, agendas, deadlines, etc. for all projects for the whole team), which he loved- and then he used his now free time to take on new projects and throw a whole new set of random last minute requests at us
      — Talking to his boss about it

      Sometimes things get better for a little bit but then he goes right back to it. At this point I cannot see him changing because there are fundamental issues: he believes administrative work is beneath him (he’s actually said that out loud); he thinks generating work/new projects is his job, with no consideration of capacity or scheduling, because that’s lowly admin work; he thinks our team’s job is to execute everything exactly as he wants it done when he decides he wants it, like an army of psychic personal assistants; and he absolutely thrives on stress and cultivates a persona of looking super busy/overwhelmed with important work and deadlines.

      If LW1’s manager is like mine there’s nothing they can do that will have a lasting impact except try to skip levels and have it addressed by higher ups. In my case, the big boss 100% agreed with my concerns and added some of her own, but she’s not equipped to manage my manager or make a change (think nepotism, but it’s not exactly that) so that nuclear option didn’t work. I’m now actively looking for a new job despite being really good at my job and loving the work itself. (What we do is very niche so I have to change fields, unfortunately.) I hope LW1 is in a different situation and some of the techniques work for them!

      Oh yeah I also tried talking about the stress with him. It wasn’t landing so finally I scheduled a meeting and used scripts from this site (which is such an amazing resource!) to see if a focused convo would help. After listening to me for a few minutes he turned the conversation into how stressed he is and how everyone is always attacking him and blaming him for things. That went on for about 45 minutes. Really hope LW1 does not have a manager like mine. :(

    7. Letter Writer #1*

      Yeah, it’s a tricky situation! I’ve definitely tried “I’m working on this other thing which I need to wrap up now, but I’ll switch to [last-minute task] as soon as I’m done” and her response will always be to minimize the request–“this shouldn’t be a problem, this is an easy task”–even when the task is *not* easy!

      The other issue is that my boss is a “work around the clock” type (sending messages and emails at 4 or 5 in the morning, etc.) so my resistance to work into the wee hours because of her poor planning is perceived as fundamental laziness. I don’t think that I could bring up, “hey, this is stressful to me!” because I think she believes that work is *supposed* to be stressful??

      1. MicroGreen*

        LW1, I swear you are describing my manager!

        Does your boss also assign you something super urgent, and then when you finish it, ask if you’ve finished a completely unrelated other task that you clearly could not have completed because you were working on the super urgent thing? And acts surprised that you haven’t?

        Seriously, I’ve been working with my manager for years- he’s smart, can be kind and thoughtful, has interesting ideas, and often *says* the right things about work/life balance (but fails to back it up in action). But I’ve finally had to accept that this is just how he works and what he thinks it means to manage people. Given what you’ve shared I think you might want to consider your options.

      2. MigraineMonth*

        Hmm, I’m not sure if I’d say “I’m working on this other thing now, I’ll get to that after”, because it is a manager’s prerogative to reprioritize work. I’d stick to Alison’s script and say something like “I can do X, but that would mean that A isn’t done until Friday. Is that what you want, or should I finish A first and get to X next week?”

        Of course, that really only works with a reasonable manager. Sorry, sounds like your boss sucks.

    8. fhqwhgads*

      I think the nature of the boss in question was already determined to be unreasonable, so there’s not much point in trying to change that person to do something reasonable. Hence the lack of advice to try to.

  9. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

    OP4 (not filling the job after someone leaves) – in all the instances mentioned here, the reason for leaving was part of the same thing that caused the jobs to not be refilled, so in that sense it isn’t surprising. 1. major change and turmoil in the company 2. not converting OP to perm (budget issues / planned change of direction?) and 3. “major organizational shift”.

    Often when someone leaves it prompts a discussion of whether it makes sense to refill that role as it is, or whether they have now been handed an opportunity to reconfigure it / cut back without laying people off / go in a different direction and recruit for something different. Sometimes that is a response to the specific person who had the role and sometimes not. I do think it’s better to do this rather than just automatically post their job (of course for some roles, it is obvious that a direct replacement is needed, or where there are a lot of people with the same role such as call centre and then they are constantly hiring or always have x number of people in that position so they will recruit).

    1. Bit o' Brit*

      Exactly. At my workplace we have “llama groomers” who have well-defined roles and metrics, but the rest of the company has very fluid job descriptions and duties, and roles shift and change by personal interest and/or organisational need. By the time a long-term employee leaves their job duties often make no sense together, so it becomes an exercise in who should logically take on what tasks (e.g. we just had a guy leave the communications team who managed our SharePoint library and built PowerApps, so maybe the IT department should take those) and what gaps are left at the end.

      It does lead to issues like a data/systems analyst covering financial and vendor communications for nearly two years while HR work out what the new job description will be (yes I’m still bitter 2.5 years later) but the fluidity of job progression is a decent trade-off.

      1. BubbleTea*

        Sometimes employers also take the opportunity to ensure that other staff who might otherwise need to leave can stay. My previous employer did this – they would recruit externally too, but if someone’s role had run out of funding or a project had closed, they’d try and redeploy that person rather than laying them off. I held six different roles during four years for that reason (and it was great for my career development, though not always progression financially).

      2. Phryne*

        It’s a double edged sword, isn’t it? In a functioning organisation it makes it possible to have people do the tasks they like and are comfortable with doing, which is great. But it can lead to competent people becoming the drainhole that catches all the spillover too.
        All in all, I prefer the flexibility to co-design my own function but it means you have to be able and willing to push back firmly and respectfully.

    2. amoeba*

      Yup. If it’s not a firing, but a lay-off, in many cases that’s because the position was eliminated! I’d actually be rather reassured – they let you go because they didn’t need a llama groomer, not because they didn’t need you specifically.

    3. Barry*

      And most importantly to the company, is this an opportunity to divvy up the departing person’s work among everybody else?

    4. Fearless freelancer*

      Yep. In fact, I’ve experienced a role not being refilled BECAUSE the former person was so good (aka not easy to replace and already had half worked themselves out of a job). For example, a jack-of-all-trades marketing person left, but they left a ton of systems, and improved website etc in their wake. The person was hard to replace, so they outsourced the creative stuff and moved the campaign planning to the sales manager (which they were now able to tackle due tot the templates and processes the former employee created). You never do know, but I think the fact that LW is still in touch with former colleagues is a good sign that they were decent to work with. Hopefully their string of bad luck in jobs ends soon!

  10. Cheshire Cat*

    OP2, can you give the presentations again but record them this time? That will help out anyone who wanted to watch the live session but couldn’t, as well as anyone else wanting to watch it later.

    I did this with a training session I had to do for some new p/t contractors. They were being hired irregularly, and there was one two-week period when I gave the training 3 times. After that, I went to my boss and suggested recording. The contractors all had f/t jobs, so this allowed them to watch the training at a time that was convenient to them. And they all had my email address, so they could all ask questions if they needed to do so.

    This may not work for you, but it worked really well for me.

    1. Magenta*

      We do this at my work, when we used Zoom it was great. We switched to Teams at work and have just recently found out that all our recordings have expired. Now we need to re-do them and work out a way to ensure they stay available.

      1. Christine*

        Don’t trust another company to keep your stuff. Always use universal software and store it within your corporate IT system, with backups.

      2. amoeba*

        Oh no, this sucks! You can just download the recordings though and store them indefinitely. But yes, would do that directly, because if you forget, they do expire quite quickly (a few weeks/months, I guess?)

      3. Over It*

        Teams defaults to all recordings to expire after 60 days, but if you are the person who recorded (and it must be the person who hit record) you can go into the recording link and change it so the recording never expires. They don’t make it easy to find, but it can be done. I too learned this lesson the hard way :/

    2. Lady_Lessa*

      They started doing that for election workers training during Covid, and have kept up the practice. I like it because I can do it at my convenience (we get trained before every election). We still have hands on, but it is shorter (and we have to bring our completed quizzes to our class.

    3. LW #2*

      Thanks for the suggestion! Unfortunately, these asks are for events like webinars and training that we offer our members mostly. So recording isn’t possible in this case/wouldn’t be in line with the value we are trying to offer.

  11. TechWorker*

    #2 – are the presentations already in a slide deck format? Actually creating the training is way more work than giving it. If you are chair of the committee hopefully there are others on the committee… can you just assert that you can’t keep giving them and ask someone else to take it over? (On committees at my work you could basically just assign it to someone more junior, especially if you had checked with their manager before that a) they don’t hate public speaking and b) they have a little bandwidth). Or can you manager suggest someone else to take it on?

    1. bamcheeks*

      Yes, I was going to suggest this. One approach could be to say that part of your role as chair of the committee is to collate a list of people who can / want to do presentations, and to send out an email to them saying, “Tuesday 15th at 3pm, IT service wants some training/feedback on best practice around name and pronoun changes– anyone free?”

      This kind of stuff is also a great way of giving opportunities for more visibility / stretch tasks for members of minoritised groups. I got to present to the C-suite because of being a member of the LGBT staff network, which would never have been part of my substantive role. There might well be people in your networks who would *love* that kind of opportunity.

    2. WellRed*

      Yes it sounds like she’s turning into some sort of corporate trainer when that’s not the role at all. If that’s it the path they want to take best to stem it now. They focus on the public speaking part but I’m wondering how much time all this takes.

    3. LW #2*

      Thanks for the suggestion. I have offered up my slide decks and notes wholesale for others to present – I’m more worried about getting the information out there than I am about maintaining intellectual property. Unfortunately, no one has taken me up on the offer.

      And, I’m afraid I don’t have any delegation power. The committee is compromised of volunteers and specific cannot delegate to folks via management.

  12. Bilateralrope*

    LW3, is there any good reason why scheduling is such a mess ?

    Working security, the only times shifts have ever been canceled at the last minute are when the client suddenly doesn’t want security*. Though last minute shifts do pop up due to sickness or a client suddenly needing security for things like a door that won’t lock.

    *All but one examples I can think of were related to covid and our lockdowns.

    1. Barry*

      What I saw when doing corporate security was no-shows, physical problems requiring an extra guard, and people not requesting what they actually needed. For example, one group asked for a guard for an alumni event on the game day (Saturday), and at the end of the event said that the tent and equipment was being picked up Monday morning, so that it needed to have a guard for the next 36 hours.

    2. Cat Tree*

      Yeah, it sounds like the management is overall bad at scheduling shifts, and OP’s frustration is misplaced and directed towards one non-manager who has made it work for them.

  13. Jasmine Tea*

    #4 Your former employers not filling your positions when you left may not mean that you were a bad employee, but that they are bad employers!
    My sister works for a very large company for many years. She was one of seven Admins in a large department. Over the course of several years the Admins, transferred to other departments, quit, or retired. None of them were replaced. Finally, it was down to two. They were terribly overworked, and my sister received a bad review. Her boss said she was not accomplishing her work. She said yes I know. After that, she decided to retire from the company. She did not want to be fired and lose some of her benefits. She worked for that company more than 25 years with positive feedback and raises until they made it impossible for her to do her job.

    1. EvilQueenRegina*

      My ex-boss was always very reluctant to fill vacancies, and said that this was because if there was ever a need to lose a post, she would rather be able to cut a vacant post than actually go through the redundancy process and lose a person. I don’t know whether layoffs had ever been a contingency plan that she knew about that just never ended up coming to anything, or whether this was something that stemmed from experience in a previous job/the restructure that had happened with us previously where she had been appointed to that post in the first place, but it never happened while she was our manager. It caused a lot of frustration when the we were all overworked and she would hold on to the vacancy for ages.

      When she left and her replacement took over, her replacement did fully staff the team and layoffs were never mentioned again.

    2. Sloanicota*

      This was my exact thought. “Yes, it means you have worked for disorganized workplaces” – as have I. You could examine if there’s a reason that’s happening – is it characteristic of your field, are you drawn to chaos, is your track record making you only eligible for these types of jobs, are you prone to making career decisions – but I wouldn’t say it means anything about your performance. The place I’m at now is completely reconfigured everytime someone comes or leaves because it’s extremely small and generally scrambling.

    3. negligent apparitions*

      This is a very plausible explanation. I work in higher ed and we love attrition because we’re always facing (real or perceived) budget concerns. We just had someone in the main departmental office leave and instead of rehiring, the actual spoken plan was, “Let’s just wait awhile and see what people complain the most about not having” before posting the position. Meanwhile, all of the hidden work they did to keep things running are not being done and when that inevitably comes to a head, it will cost a lot of money to fix. But, you know, no one is complaining about that yet.

  14. Carrot*

    LW4 – in my case the work had been redistributed, but it was specifically because it turned out most folks found the tasks I was doing very draining, and they were having a hard time finding someone willing to do them full time! I didn’t realise I’d had a particular tolerance until I found that out. Whatever the reason, it’s normally much more about the company or the work than it is about you OP.

  15. Teekanne aus Schokolade*

    Am I the only one loving that the acronym is JEDI? I had never seen it before and its brilliant.

    1. bamcheeks*

      I think it’s clever, BUT it would also make me think that the EDI committee was full of the kind of people who thought putting “Jedi” down as their religion in the census was a hilarious gag, which would not necessarily inspire me to get involved. So a bit of a double-edged, um, lightsabre.

      1. ecnaseener*

        That feels like a bit of a stretch – naming a committee is not at all the same as pretending it’s your real-life religion.

      2. Mittens*

        It’s very, very commonly used in my field (academia-adjacent) and has been for at least a few years. Leaving aside whether or not it’s the best choice of acronym, after hearing it once or twice people seem to stop associating it with the film franchise and it becomes just another piece of jargon.

        1. Sloanicota*

          Yes it’s common in my field and has been for a while. I didn’t care for it the first time I encountered it – it seemed a bit silly, almost dismissive to me – but now it’s just another acronym.

    2. RC*

      There‘s also BeAJEDI with the extra two letters for belonging and accessibility.

      Yeah some people really love acronyms (especially Star Wars ones…)

    3. Analyst*

      Yeah, if it’s real, it’s a bad, bad idea- makes it look like a joke and that the real issues aren’t being taken seriously. As someone who does DEI work, I really cringed….

      1. Sloanicota*

        I do like the inclusion of “justice” into DEI – as a way to go beyond merely “inclusion” or “equity” which are a bit milk-toast – but I prefer DEIJ as the acronym.

        1. allathian*

          How do you pronounce that? The advantage of JEDI is that it can be read like a word, not letter by letter.

          1. Sloanicota*

            Wait, are people pronouncing DEI as a word? I’ve always heard it “Dee-Ee-Eyeee” – so “Dee-ee-eye-jay” is not much more work.

    4. Tasha*

      Missed opportunity to call it the JEDI Council, though. JEDI committee doesn’t have the same ring to it.

      1. No Tribble At All*

        I’d hope that this office’s JEDI committee is more useful than the Jedi Council….

    5. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      I would get it confused with the massive Pentagon cloud computing contract that was highly contested and eventually got cancelled after multiple complaints & lawsuits were filed. “Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure” = JEDI

  16. CityMouse*

    For #3, I think an important thing to keep perspective on is that this is not your coworker’s issue. If everyone taking night shifts is important to your employer, it’s on them to enforce the policy. It’s perfectly reasonable for an employee to say no for whatever reason and for the employer to decide if they want to accommodate it (absent, of course, when they must reasonable accommodation for legal protections).

    So it’s important to not view what is a management issue as a coworker issue. If the night work and irregular schedules are an issue for you, you need to set your own boundary with your employer or decide if this job is really worth it.

    1. WS*

      This! It’s a management issue which they try to make a coworker problem so that other workers will not blame management. They know Jenny won’t work night shift but instead of hiring adequately, they try to say that everyone else’s life has to suck now because Jenny has childcare responsibilities. Let’s all blame Jenny, who was perfectly clear about what she can and can’t do, not management who knew this and chose not to do anything about it.

      1. rebelwithmouseyhair*

        Yes this! I was blamed for all sorts of things within my remit that happened while I was off duty. It was my fault for not being there to deal with it. But I wasn’t paid to work any more hours than that. If they needed someone full time, they should have hired someone full time, not a mother who said that she needed to pick her kids up after school.

    2. Jennifer Strange*

      This. The employee has set their terms and management can respond how they see fit. If the terms won’t work they can let the employee know and either allow them to find an alternative or find another job. It sounds like management has decided they’ll accept the employee’s terms, which is ultimately on them.

    3. Also-ADHD*

      Yeah, and in most cases I’ve seen, rotating shifts like this is often bad management and hiring to start. The coworker isn’t the issue. For all we know, they expressed this restriction when interviewing and were hired anyway. I had that happen in college with a job — I had clear availability and restrictions and was hired, and then I had coworkers get annoyed sometimes I couldn’t work outside my availability. The reasons don’t matter in cases like that, frankly.

  17. annoyed analyst*

    #1 I left a job for this exact reason. I found out about my part in everything last minute even though I could see on the email chain that my manager had known about the task for weeks. And he was surprised when I resigned!

  18. Turingtested*

    #3 I used to work at a place that required coverage from 5:30 AM to 11 P.M. and was closed two days per year. Management made a big fuss about everyone having to work early mornings, late nights and weekends but in practice some people got better schedules.

    In my opinion the problem was that management said one thing and did another and that seniority played no role in scheduling, not that some people were allowed flexibility.

  19. JohnWatson*

    For LW#2, it sounds like their organisation could benefit from hiring or contracting a presenter.

    1. DEI volunteer*

      Yeah this is an unfortunate side effect of running a volunteer DEI group. You are suddenly expected to do a lot of free labour that really should be handled by hiring someone.

      1. LW #2*

        Yes, absolutely – I agree and this is something I am trying to steer the committee away from. We have hired someone to train our staff on broader DEI issues. These requests are more for things line webinars and training for our orgs members – 30 minutes or so for an SME to present on a topic.

  20. 653-CXK*

    OP#1: I’m thinking this boss used to do everything at the last minute in school, so they’ve carried it over to the workplace, thriving on panic to get things done. Sooner or later, that festers into having your own work so far behind you can’t catch up, and then you burn out. To wit, they’re expecting you to relieve their panic.

    If this boss were organized, anything that would be a priority would be swapped with something else on the workload. “I know you’re working on Veruca Salt’s annual Vernicious Knid inventory review, but Augustus Gloop’s presentation on our new chocolate range is tomorrow and he needs some help with charts; Mike Teevee usually does it but he’s sick. I can help out on the Snozzberry report while you do that.”

  21. Meghan*

    For LW 3 I wonder if the company asked availability when hiring. I worked places where I specified certain hours I couldn’t work and they still hired me. I had coworkers taking the “crappy” rotating shifts and they seemed annoyed but I asked frankly if they had put open availability on their application and they had. So their agreement (job requirement) was open availability, whereas I had drawn hard lines of availability and the employer still hired me. I wasn’t alone, but there were only a few of us. The other 3 with hard lines for their schedule had kids.

    If that’s the situation for LW 3 company then it might seem “unfair” but it was actually pretty upfront and straightforward.

  22. Knitting Cat Lady*

    We had something like #1 happen at the business unit level.
    PM from section 1 of BU 1 completely forgot that someone from my team from BU 2 had to do A Thing for the project.
    The thing they needed was a typo of computer simulation, where 5 minutes of problem time means 2 weeks of server time.
    PM remembered 3 days before all reports were due.
    And since this wasn’t the first catastrophic gaffe of said PM he was offered the option to resign…

  23. Melissa*

    #3, I love Alison’s answer. In these cases, it is typical to be annoyed with the coworkers— “They think they don’t have to work because they have kids!”— but in reality, it was management’s decision. Your coworker must have said, at some point, “I can’t / don’t want to work nights”. That is a fair thing for her to ask for, no matter what her reason was! Then management had the chance to either say okay, or to reject that proposal. They accepted it, so your beef is with them, not your coworker.

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

      yes this! Plus there could be a lot of reasons besides kids that someone cannot work nights. There is no public transportation, you have one car and your SO has a higher paying job overnights elsewhere and they need the car. You have medical issues that cause working at night to be problematic.

  24. Ruby*

    At my job, they explicitly hire people for each shift, and they stay on that shift. Also, second shift gets a 5% bump and third gets 10%.

    Rotating is truly the worst of all worlds. LW, you should be focusing your ire on your workplace’s crappy system rather than on parents.

  25. Junior Assistant Peon*

    #2 – Many years ago, my dad arm-twisted a reluctant employee into giving a presentation at a conference. The guy turned out to be an unusually talented public speaker, and ended up building a very successful career out of it.

    1. Jennifer Strange*

      But LW has already done multiple presentations and knows they don’t want to make a career out of it. It isn’t always about talent but also inclination and interest.

  26. Keymaster of Gozer*

    OP2: I feel that pain. Being on a diversity committee shouldn’t necessitate being the ‘friendly educational face of (insert here)’ but often it gets shunted to the first person who is willing to stand up.

    I have no fear of public speaking and can do hour long sessions off the top of my head – it however doesn’t mean I want that to be my job. My actual job is keeping the IT department running.

    One tactic I’ve used with some minor success when asked to do training session number 300 this year is to redirect the work – ‘I’ve done that X times now, I think another person’s perspective/way of explaining would be more beneficial in terms of variety as people tend to zone out when they hear the same person over and over again’.

    Then I offer links to Tech Expert training company X/Diversity training company Y/or if there’s someone else in the firm I know wants more experience in speaking and knows the subject then Z.

    1. LW #2*

      Thank you! I will definitely make note of this suggestion. Unfortunately, we deal with pretty much all staff being at capacity pretty much all of the time (and are a non-profit), so I don’t know that there are other folks available – but (to the point of this letter) – that’s not really my problem to solve.

  27. Gary Patterson’s Cat*

    #3 struck a nerve for me because I was once one of those young, single people with no kids who got stuck on a permanent graveyard shift because of “people with kids” who refused to rotate the swing shift as we were supposed to. I ended up immediately quitting a company I’d been at for 10 years over it because of it.

  28. Emily*

    #3: Allison puts it really well here. It’s the employee’s job to make their boundaries clear on this, and then the employer gets to decide if it works for them. Like, you can refuse whatever you want for whatever reason you want — the question is, does your employer accept it or do they part ways with you?

  29. 15PiecesofFlair*

    LW#5- Even if your employer pays out your vacation time, your health insurance (assuming you’re in the US and get insurance through your job) could be affected if they terminate you on your last day worked. Most commonly insurance runs through the last day of the calendar month you leave the employer. If your vacation spans two different months, having your employment terminated before the vacation would likely leave you without coverage for the second month.

    1. Zzzzzz*

      There is no “most commonly” with health insurance coverage and end of employment. In the majority of jobs I have worked, health ins ends at midnight on your last day as an employee. You can then apply for COBRA up to 60 days after that date, and if any medical needs arise in that coverage gap time, they will be retroactively covered once you pay/sign up. And you can pay for as little as a few days of COBRA or up to 18 months if you need it and/or it is cheaper than the ACA/”marketplace” in your state.

      1. doreen*

        I think the only thing you say regarding “most commonly” and health insurance is that how long you have health insurance depends on when you are considered to have stopped being an employee. My last job , your health insurance coverage was in effect until something like 28 days from the end of the last payroll period in which you worked. This job also required you to actually be at work on your last day. The job before that, your coverage lasted as long as you were on the payroll – which in my case was three months after the last day I actually showed up. (they didn’t pay out leave in a lump sum, they kept you on payroll until it was exhausted).

  30. Things to consider*

    #2 – Tbose that continue to develop and work outside of their jobs are the ones most recognized with promotions and compensation. I have observed it my entire career. Yes, there is a line for everything and there is a time where we can’t keep taking on things or perhaps we are doing it more and not getting paid fairly but these are the exceptions.

    People too often wait until they want a promotion to work towards it. These little things along the way help you develop and make a positive impression around the organization.

    Now, if it is too much where it is making you that unhappy or to the point you would consider looking for a new job, then talk to your manager. If you can’t get your other work done, talks to your manager.

    If it’s just uncomfortable and not preferred, talk to your manager but approach from a perspective of helping but you don’t prefer it.

    1. Generic Name*

      On the first paragraph, that’s true at functioning workplaces. One of the reasons I’m leaving my current job is it recently became clear to me that all of the extra things I do (presentations, subject matter expert, running an entire program) are not considered at review time, so my ratings are “meh” at best. My contributions in those areas just aren’t recognized.

    2. kiki*

      In general this is true, but I think it’s also important to evaluate whether this work is cultivating the career growth LW wants. If LW is spending a lot of time on giving presentations and not as much time doing some other parts of their job, there’s some likeliness LW’s career will grow towards doing more presentations– is that what they want?

      It’s also important to consider whether all this work is actually considered “promotable” at the company LW works for. I had a coworker who was deeply involved in one of their company’s ERGs. They displayed real leadership and talent. But when it came time for promotions, that work wasn’t really considered, so they were passed over in favor of someone who had done less work overall, but focused it more on different things than my friend.

    3. Nina*

      Eh, in my experience those who continue to develop and work outside their jobs are recognized with a) more work outside their jobs and b) eventually effectively an entire nother job and c) definitely not any pay increase and d) no chance of ever getting promoted because why would they promote you and pay you more when they’d have to hire two people to backfill your role?

  31. Analyst*

    OP5: let me tell you the story of quitting my last job. I was basically a contract worker who worked X weeks a year and that meant not summer (academia, so it was also part time and poorly paid). I decided I’d had enough and wasn’t going to come back in the fall, so I went to give notice. I needed to give it when I did causes I wanted to give 2 weeks notice and I absolutely didn’t want to have to start the work for the new semester.

    Because it was a off time, I emailed my supervisor…and she was on vacation for 6 of the 10 weekdays of my notice. Same with my grandboss, and no one else to email (except HR, who I also notified). And remember, I wasn’t working during this time anyhow, so we’d have to arrange any notice/wrap up stuff (and so no way of knowing about their vacations either). I shrugged and waited for a response, which didn’t come until they got back from vacation.

    They’ll manage and it’s really not your responsibility to figure it out….

  32. It Takes T to Tango*

    3# – just because someone has kids doesn’t mean their lives are more important than those who don’t have kids. I’m sympathetic up to a point but my life shouldn’t revolve around someone else’s kids. I’m fine with parents needing a few extra sick days because kids are germ factories, covering for doctor’s appointments and so on but I shouldn’t be considered less important and assigned all the bad shifts just because I don’t have kids.

    We hired a guy to work nights – it was literally part of the job description – and as newest person at the company, he was lowest priority for holidays (24/7/365 operation). He was hired in late November. He insisted he be put on days and refused to work the Christmas/New Years week because he had kids. Management said the one person currently on nights could make do since there was also an oncall. Well, the one guy already on nights was expecting his first baby around Dec 24, so he would be out on paternity leave. Management then said the oncall (me) could just cover everything. I was already working day shift that week so others could spend time with their families. Management wanted me to literally work 24/7 to cover for everyone else because they had families and I didn’t. Umm … no.

    1. CityMouse*

      The important thing is not to view it as you againstbyour coworkers, but your management’s failure to schedule and hire appropriately. If third shift was needed, they needed to make that clear in postings/interviews and enforce that.

      I’ve covered for maternity/paternity leaves. I’ve also covered for surgeries and someone who took an extended leave to visit his family back in his home country. Why this isn’t a problem is my management distributes the work appropriately and gives financial compensation for those who volunteer.

      Making it parents vs non parents is a distraction.

      1. Cat's Paw for Cats*

        I would argue that the man who agreed to work nights when he was hired and now refuses is exhibiting a profound lack of integrity, and this is on him as well. I do totally agree, however, that this is the manager’s problem to solve, and if I were the manager, it likely be solved by replacing the new employee with someone who can keep his word.

        1. Dahlia*

          Who is “the man who agreed to work nights when he was hired and now refuses”? Because nothing in the story says that. That’s… borderline making up a guy to be mad at.

          1. Hlao-roo*

            From It Takes T to Tango’s comment:

            We hired a guy to work nights – it was literally part of the job description … He insisted he be put on days and refused to work the Christmas/New Years week because he had kids.

            This is “the man who agreed to work nights when he was hired and now refuses” Cat’s Paw for Cats is referring to. He’s not part of letter #3, he’s from It Takes T to Tango’s old workplace.

          2. Gyne*

            The man in Cat’s Paw’s second paragraph? Sounds like a former coworker to me…

  33. Phony Genius*

    I like Alison’s inbox story from #1. I actually could have used something like this last year. (That boss has moved on.) Boss workaround stories seem like the type of thing that could be their own post.

  34. Risha*

    LW2, I don’t have any advice but just want to let you know I feel your pain! I suffer from really bad social anxiety and dyslexia so I cannot speak to groups of people. If I have to speak to more than 4 people, I start stuttering, I forget what I was trying to say, I make errors. My dyslexia and social anxiety feed off each other, the more anxious I feel, the worse my dyslexia is. I actually had to get an accommodation from HR at my last job so that I did not have to present to large groups of people (which wasn’t even part of the job initially, they just added it later on).
    Definitely take Alison’s advice and push back on these requests to present. If you keep agreeing to it, more and more people will ask you instead of doing it themselves or finding someone else to do it.

    1. LW #2*

      That sounds so tough, Risha! Thank you for sharing, and I’m glad you were able to get the accomodations you needed at your last position!

  35. Cat's Paw for Cats*

    As a manager I would never have allowed someone to shirk (and I use that word deliberately) their obligation to share the less than stellar parts of a job with their coworkers because they had children. We would certainly have worked with someone short term while they made arrangements to find childcare or something like that, but they would be expected to find a way to make it work. I do not count covid, in this of course. Everyone was just trying to do the best they could. But on a regular basis, our schedules either work for you or they don’t. I say this as someone who worked in a predominately female field. Our parents did a stellar job of meeting their work obligations. It can be done.

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

      The thing is we don’t know that the person who cannot do nights is shirking anything. They could have been hired to only work days. Or they could have a reasonable accommodation for a health issue that means they cannot work nights. And they don’t want to tell their coworkers because its no one else’s business. This just sounds like bad management.

      What gets me about this LW’s former employer is that they had rotating shifts. So you’re never going to be able to have a consistent sleep pattern, which is really unhealthy and depending on the work, dangerous.

      This is why specific shifts exist. you hire people for specific hours. You can roate their days, such as everyone has to work 1 weekend a month or something, but the hours should stay the same. This way you get those people who can and want to work overnight and those who cannot work nights can work during the day. You insetivize the night shift with extra pay (or whatever). By doing this rotating shift work you will burn out your employees and

    2. Cat Tree*

      Eh, I’d be willing to make exceptions for stellar employees. If the choice was between losing a high performer and having restrictions on her shifts, I would work with her needs.

      Of course, I wouldn’t have swing shifts in the first place, and non-routine coverage would be as voluntary and as incentivized as possible.

  36. Elizabeth*

    To Letter Write #4, I strongly advised my last employer to not fill my role when I departed, and to use the funds to hire someone more focused/granular. I had been on the job market long enough to realize that my triage frankenrole (it was basically smashing two vacant roles into one after mass layoffs) didn’t exist anywhere else. I was gratified when they didn’t fill it because it meant that I was listened to, for once.

  37. Geekpride*

    Regarding #3, I had a similar situation come up at my work. I found I was constantly being put on the rota for an early shift (6 a.m. start), despite both myself and another member of staff theoretically both having this as part of our duties. On talking to the scheduler, I was told this was because the other member of staff found it difficult to sort out their childcare if they had to work that shift. Amazingly enough, I was pretty annoyed that this had just been decided without even bothering to ask me, so I ended up emailing my actual manager over this. Among other things, I asked if I was able to unilaterally decide there were shifts I wasn’t willing to do, as well as asking if it was official policy to treat the childless less favourably than those with children. This got things sorted out and the shifts back to a more equitable distribution (it probably helped that the manager could save face as they weren’t the one who’d come up with the problematic schedule).
    It’s good when organisations try to give flexibility to parents, but that doesn’t mean the childless should be assumed to be constantly available and willing to fill in. At the end of the day, someone else’s decision to have children is not my responsibility to manage.

  38. Temperance*

    LW2: do you have a colleague who enjoys doing presentations and giving talks? If so, why not connect with them, share you dilemma, and ask if they would like to be recommended once someone approaches you?

    1. LW #2*

      This would absolutely be my ideal, but alas if they exist I have not found them yet. Our committee co-chair is usually up for them but is well over capacity most of the time.

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

    night shift letter: This is why when a business needs 24/7 coverage they should hire specifically for shifts. That way there’s not any resentment because some people absolutely cannot do night shifts. I mean, there might be some resentment because someone can’t pick up an extra shift, but that’s common.
    Also, it can be problematic for people not to have specific schedules. When you work and you can’t keep a similar sleep schedule it can be really unhealthy. I sure hope they give people at least a day off between shifting their work schedules from day to night.

  40. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

    LW2, because you sound like maybe a people pleaser, I’d like to point out the ways that you doing all the DEI presentations are not supporting that cause. First, if this organization is actually dedicated to DEI, they should have a budget for it, including speakers (preferably those in the oppressed groups in question) or licensing videos (or at a minimum, videoing your presentation!). People in oppressed groups providing free and undervalued labor is part of the system continuing oppression. Obviously, there is a gray area, because you are on the JEDI committee and thus are volunteering to take some actions, so once in a while, or training other people to deliver the presentations you have already put together would be ok, but relying on you and only/mostly you to give these presentations is allowing the leadership the comfort of not having to address it.

    1. TootsNYC*

      “training other people to deliver the presentations you have already put together”

      This is important.

      the Llama’s points about “making all this effort be the responsibility of the very people whose oppression is supposed to be relieved by it” is powerful.

      But even if you set this aside, it’s bad for the organization for them to put all their eggs in one basket. Public speaking is an opportunity for other people to grow.

    2. LW #2*

      Thank you for your thoughts. Our organization has a very long way to go and is, in this moment, making the shift from “our hearts are in the right places” to actually doing the work. We have been able to get a budget from leadership and have hired someone to do all-staff training on anti-oppression/DEI topics starting this week.

      The presentations I am being asked for are directed outside of our organization (except the pronoun one which I volunteered myself for) for members that our non-profit supports.

  41. Michelle Smith*

    #5 Stuff like that happens literally all the time. I understand how you’re feeling about it, but yes, push past that feeling and move forward with your plans on your schedule as you see fit.

    I left a job while my boss was on vacation. I was very thorough in preparing all of my files for transfer, creating detailed one to two page memos for each one explaining the exact status of the case and what the immediate next steps should be for about 30 different matters. I organized them all by priority and put them neatly on his conference table for him to deal with when he got back. I actually worked that weekend between my first and last week to make sure I got it all done in time, because I liked him and wanted to have him as a reference moving forward AND because I knew my work was getting sent to other people who I also didn’t want to feel screwed by me. I had personal experience of getting unprepared, disorganized, mishandled files transferred to me and I didn’t want to leave anyone with the impression that that was the kind of worker *I* am.

    I say all this to say, you should do whatever you feel is right in preparing your work related matters for easier transfer to your coworkers. Do what you can to leave your work in the best possible position for someone to pick up your things and know exactly where you left off and they should start. And then do your best to let go of any lingering negative feelings about the timing of your departure. It will absolutely get easier for you in time, so remember that.

  42. TootsNYC*

    re: resigning before your vacation period:

    My company doesn’t pay out vacation, and a friend of mine recently announced her resignation with a three-month lead time.
    She was immediately not allowed to take any vacation between now and then. Not at all. She lost three weeks.

    I’ve also worked at places where your last day, you had to be in the office. I don’t know what they’d have done to you if you hadn’t showed up, but the pressure was pretty fierce.

    1. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Wow, yeah. What are they going to do, fire you on your last day?? Textbook way to encourage minimal or no notice from your employees.

      1. doreen*

        That kind of depends on the specifics – I had a job where you were required to be at work on the last day you were on payroll but it was only that last day. If you put in your notice on June 25 saying your last day was July 10 and you were on vacation from June 26 to July 7 , that would have been fine as long as you showed up June 10. In fact, I know a few people who put in notice while they were on vacation that their last day would be the day they returned from vacation. I assume they would have enforced it by not paying unused vacation time – in my state employers don’t have to pay it out unless they have a policy of doing so , and then they have to follow the policy which can include exceptions.

  43. Olive*

    With #3, I think it makes a difference whether the coworker was hired for 24 hour support, but then refused to work nights and the manager didn’t penalize them for refusing vs. whether they negotiated a day-only job originally.

    A few jobs ago, I negotiated to only travel 4 weeks per year in a position that was usually 25-50% travel because I had a specialized skillset that could be done remotely. There were probably coworkers who thought it was unfair that I didn’t have to pick up travel assignments at the same rate as everyone else. If someone had asked me directly, I’d have explained the situation, but I didn’t see it as my problem to convince everyone else that it was fair. Since this was all in the past for the OP, it would might serve them best now to look for areas where they can be assertive in negotiating their own hours and think about how much chaos indicates that they should be looking for a new job.

  44. Industry Behemoth*

    LW4: A past job of mine was eliminated simply because my departure was a convenient opportunity for the firm to cut overhead.

    My field office was newish when I joined, and never grew the way management envisioned. I didn’t realize till much later that there were much bigger problems at the top, which ultimately sank the firm. I also heard that a colleague said they should have started looking when I left.

  45. ClassicMe*

    LW#5: I’d also check to make sure your lady working day is *after* your job has paid your insurance premium. I’ve had three different employers change my last day so that they could get out of paying my insurance leaving me uninsured for a few weeks to a month between jobs. Sure, there’s COBRA but that packet never arrived until I was already at my new job for six months and it really puts a damper on your vacation if you’re worried about it.

  46. Lobsterman*

    LW5: notice is a courtesy to your boss, not help for your coworkers. They’re not gonna replace you in 2 weeks. In general, I believe that American workers should not give notice as a default, since retaliation is so common and positive references from bosses are so rare.

  47. Zarniwoop*

    #3 Now that one of your cow-orkers isn’t available for night shifts, that means you have to cover more night shifts, which means your working conditions have changed, which means you can reasonably request that your compensation should change.

  48. Former Retail Lifer*

    #3: This happened all the time in retail. The rule in retail was generally that you can have schedule restrictions as a part-time employee and we’ll hire you if they happen to work with what we currently need. For full-time employees, open availability was expected (except for, say, one consistent night a week when you had class, a morning or two when you had a childcare gap, a few hours on Sunday morning for church, etc.). I was always very, very explicit during the hiring process that nights and weekends and some holidays were expected and required, and applicants that couldn’t meet those requirements should bow out of the hiring process. Retail is bad enough. The least I could do for my staff was ensure that scheduling was fair for everyone.

  49. Nay*

    #1: “kind of like the work equivalent of “love bombing” and then icing me out when she’s upset” …this is part of the Narcissist “Hoovering” Cycle if looking that up might help you deal with your terrible boss?

  50. Art of the Spiel*

    #5 – that’s exactly why it isn’t always necessary to give the full two weeks’ notice. Although, the one time I was asked to make my notice day be my last day, I was able to claim unemployment for those two weeks.

  51. irritable vowel*

    In response to LW4, I’ve had that experience, and I have to say, it feels really demoralizing to see that happen. But for me, it wasn’t so much that I thought it was a commentary on my work quality, it was that the org seemed to clearly feel that the work I had been doing wasn’t important enough to keep on doing. I already had the feeling in that role that I was the only person who cared about what I was doing (which sucks), and seeing that my role wasn’t re-filled afterwards just felt like that was confirmed. I would take it as that – you got out for the right reason.

  52. Britt*

    I had a coworker last year leave with only a weeks notice (she had a family health issue she needed to attend to). Our boss was on PTO for her last week so the next step up (a c-suite member) was supposed to handle her off boarding. This exec was not very hands on and did nothing to facilitate the transfer of work. I work closest to my colleague so she ended up transitioning all her work to me (despite me being lower on the tier at the time). It was totally brutal and I ended up incredibly stressed. I never once blamed my co-worker. A poor management structure isn’t your fault and your coworkers know that. In fact, when my coworker ended up coming back months later I held no resentment at all (except for the exec who is gone by this point anyways).

  53. LW3 Here*

    Hi Everyone,

    Just wanted to respond to some of the comments and clarify some details a bit!

    I totally see now that this is a management problem and not my co-workers issue. I think I was just colored by some other issues I had with them (cutting corners, unfriendly).

    A few more details that might help. No one asked me my availability when I was hired or there after, I was just expected to tell them if I needed a day off in advance (and sometimes they would approve it and then deny it a day before). I didn’t really think about it at the time as it was my first job out of school. I don’t know if my co-worker was asked about their availability and what their agreement was with management. However, there was definitely no open discussion about scheduling, accommodations, or certain employees being hired to work certain shifts.

    I have no idea what my employer would have done with a request not to work nights from someone without children. It just never happened.

    All in all, there was so much more going on at this job that showed bad management. In the future, I’ll make sure my beef is with the correct person! Sometimes it just takes someone else’s viewpoint to see the situation clearly. Thank you Alison and commenters for that. I’m just glad I’ve moved on from this job.

  54. Beware the Robots*

    #4: While your employers definitely didn’t think you were too awful to replace, you might want to ask yourself whether your skillset is in high demand in your industry. Some jobs become redundant, either due to automation or outsourcing. Job security is important, so you might want to evaluate yourself critically to ensure your skillset is vital to a company’s ongoing operations.

    One example I see all the time is in HR administration. A person is needed for hiring and firing employees, but processing payroll can be automated rather easily– and third party servicers are getting cheaper and cheaper. When companies reorganize or go through audits, they realize that paying a full-time administrator to manually input salary information just isn’t necessary. If this at all applies to you, training programs and expanding your area of expertise can be a big help!

  55. Addison DeWitt*

    I’ve never paid attention to whether a company replaced me, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they did not since in advertising, you tend to get hired when things are good and they’re staffing up, and let go or decide it’s time to move on when things go bad. So often I’m sure they simply didn’t need the additional staff at that point. Someday they hired another copywriter, unless they simply went out of business– and I could point to examples of both.

  56. unpopular opinion*

    I’m going to invent a child so I don’t have to work late or go to after hours work events.

  57. Johannes Bols*

    As far as giving notice before your boss goes on vacation. It’s hard to do, but you must remember your company will throw you under the bus quite without warning. It’s your life, it’s your job. Too bad if the timing’s off for them.

  58. ABCDE*

    When I was managing rosters it was not uncommon for some unscrupulous people to accept a job that required a certain amount of night shifts or weekend shifts then once they started, claim that their circumstances have changed & they can no longer work anything other than Monday to Friday day shifts & expect us to accommodate them.

    As night & weekend shifts attract a higher rate of pay I could usually find people to fill those shifts, but I refused to give the people pulling this garbage the shifts they wanted. I just dropped off the night & weekend shifts & left them with the two day shifts on their roster & let them figure out how to pay their bills.

  59. rebelwithmouseyhair*

    OP1, I have had this kind of manager. I would try to ask for more visibility. Ask about all recurring tasks, like monthly reports due on the 15th of each month. Tell her you work better when you can plan ahead. Tell her if you know that something is due in two weeks, you can already start gathering data and thinking about how best to present it, that you like keeping on top of your to-do list.
    Are some of the tasks things that she might be wanting to do herself, but can’t because of her own boss dumping things on her last minute (and if that’s happening might she be able to discuss it with grandboss like you’re discussing it with her?)? You might want to tell her that you’d rather know about everything that could possibly land on your desk, you’d rather she tell you “there’s the monthly report due on the 15th” then later “OK I’ll be able to handle the monthly report myself, you can get ahead on the llama grooming project instead”, than to be happily getting ahead with the llamas then have the monthly report dumped on you at the last minute. Show her that it’s not just a quirk of yours, that it can lead to better-quality work, because you’ll deal with stuff better when you’ve had time to prepare mentally. Tell her about bread rising better when it rises slowly overnight in the fridge rather than quickly in a warm place.
    Sometimes it’s better to just let something be late. Once a manager was working on a video project, usually I was the one to do the recording for her videos. She always made a lot of noise so I was perfectly aware that she was coordination a new video. She never mentioned it to me though. I quietly accepted other projects from head office, including one that was for a friend of the boss (and thus very important to not screw up on the deadline). Then she turned to me and asked whether I could do the recording that afternoon: sorry I can’t. I showed her my schedule, I told her I couldn’t stay late because I had a class, and she ended up having to find someone else, who screwed up the recording, then I redid the recording a week later. She always asked me asap after that fiasco.

  60. Green rose*

    LW3 in my country it is illegal to assign someone less favourable shifts because of their parental status. This means you cannot give people without children to care for more night shifts than those with children without appropriate compensation (and even with there’s limits).

    There haven’t been many court cases around people without children being discriminated against – but it is the law, and there have been some successful through our courts.

    I have argued successfully in work places that my own life priorities are equally important to those who prioritise child focused stuff – much of which is optional (sports games, clubs, family dinners etc).

    Even things that have a legal aspect (supervision of children) is something I’m not willing to take on additional work because of as a routine (but work on the help your colleagues / what goes around comes around approach in general – we all benefit from helping each other out)

  61. Posilutely*

    LW3: My organisation makes it very clear from initial post advertisement all the way through that you have to be able to work any day or night in the week, regardless of personal circumstances (parent or non-parent related). If you already work there and then become unable to do nights, it depends on the reason. Recently a colleague found she was missing out on family events so she applied to work in a different department that is only open Mon-Fri daytimes. She applied from scratch as if she was new to the organisation, as you can’t transfer, we all wished her well and she’s much happier. A few years ago a different colleague became unable to work nights for medical reasons and that was not at all the same situation – they took a shared daytime task that everyone was struggling to get done and amalgamated it into one role, which was then given to the person who could no longer work nights. In terms of parenting reasons, we do have to have childcare in place and ideally a backup plan too, so special no-nights arrangements can’t be a regular thing, but equally life happens and they are understanding of last minute emergencies.

  62. allhailtheboi*

    In my job people are hired specifically for night shifts, and if they need / want to change, conversations can be had. A lot of my ‘day colleagues’ used to work nights but took a day shift role when one opened up. Night shifts have enhancements of £10-15 too. I’m early in my career so don’t have much experience, but that seems like a fairer way to organise it.

  63. Daisy Jones*

    OP1, I had/ have a boss like this. He is just so forgetful! Myself and others have raised this issue with him and he improves for a few weeks and then goes back to his old habits. It’s very frustrating.

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