employee doesn’t check his email when he arrives, I yelled at our company cameras, and more

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

1. My employee doesn’t look at his email when he arrives at work

I’m struggling to determine whether it’s my expectations that are unreasonable or my employee’s communication habits that are not meeting reasonable expectations. He and I work slightly different hours. I come in at 8:30 and he comes in (ostensibly) at 10. We are not collocated and while I can check in on his arrival time occasionally, I can’t be outside his door checking the clock regularly.

It’s not uncommon for me to send an email that requires a response in the morning. He routinely answers well after his start time. For example, an email sent at 9 with a direct request for information is typically answered after noon. I can’t tell if I’m being unrealistic in expecting an answer within an hour of arrival (say, by 11), nor can I tell if this is because of his work habits or if he is arriving later than expected. For what it’s worth, our organization uses Slack as well as email for communication, but he refuses to use Slack. Since it’s not required, I can’t enforce its use even though it’s my preferred way of interacting for quick questions. Including a request for a response by a certain time isn’t effective since he doesn’t seem to review email in the morning.

Should I relax my expectation that emails be reviewed and answered if necessary upon arrival in the morning? What’s the best way to approach this? For what it’s worth, every managerial decision I make is met with a challenge about why I’m making the request and feet dragging to the very edge of acceptability if he disagrees with the request.

You’re the manager; you can simply tell him you need him to check his email immediately upon arriving in the morning and respond to anything time-sensitive right away. You’re getting focused on whether this means he’s coming in late, but that’s a separate issue; the main issue is that you need him looking at his emails first thing, he’s not, and you have standing to tell him that he has to. If he demands to know why, the reason is, “Because you’re missing time-sensitive requests, and this is the only way a 10 am arrival time will work for our team.” (By the way, you also have standing to tell him he needs to use Slack. The fact that your organization doesn’t require it org-wide doesn’t mean you can’t require your team to use it. You can require your team to use whatever tools you determine best serve the work.)

But I think you’ve got bigger problems with this guy and need to start managing him a lot more assertively. He needs to meet the requirements of his job, as laid out by you, his manager, and not drag his feet when he disagrees with a request. By all means, hear him out with an open mind when he has a different perspective on something, but your job is to make the final determination … and you can and should require him to do his job once you make those calls.

2. Will I get in trouble for yelling at our company cameras?

Is it possible to get fired for yelling at the cameras about what corporate is doing wrong at the cameras? Will they actually take any advice or will they just fire you to get you out of the way?

There’s a pretty good chance no one is even going to see it/listen to it unless they have some specific reason to check the cameras at that time. (And even if they do, are you sure there’s sound?) But if they do see it … well, it depends on what you said. I doubt you’d be fired over it unless you yelled something really egregious, but it’s not a particularly good move for your career and how you’re perceived! (Companies aren’t usually, like, promoting the person filmed losing their shit at a camera.) They’re unlikely to take any advice from it seriously, in any case.

Save the yelling for off-camera and outside of work.

3. My manager reacted badly when I called in sick

I have a mother with terminal cancer. I’ve had to call off a couple days when she had to go to the hospital recently. And just today, I think stress has gotten to me and I had to call off sick for myself. My supervisor wasn’t happy when I did, she exclaimed “oh my god” and said I needed to “watch my call-offs.” I have the appropriate time saved but now I’m worried that I can’t call off again basically until something happens to my mom. (I get two weeks off per year, vacation and sick time combined, and I am within that allocated time.)

I don’t want to tarnish my reputation with work, but I also worry about working while sick and bringing in germs. What is the appropriate action to take here? Do I only call off for an absolute emergency? Do I come in with a mask if I’m sick? My work doesn’t have an official handbook but does mention calling off three consecutive days in a row constitutes a doctor’s note.

Your manager was way out of line. It sounds like she feels you’ve been out a lot recently, but you have a terminally ill mother. And frankly, two weeks for both vacation and sick leave is an incredibly small amount of PTO to offer, and the fact that you’re still within that meager allotment despite your family’s situation makes her comment even more outrageous.

I recommend saying this to her: “I was concerned by your response when I was sick last week. My mom is terminally ill and was hospitalized recently, and then I got sick myself, but I am within my allotted PTO for the year. It’s not clear to me how I could have done anything differently, but your response made me worry there’s a concern about my PTO that we should talk about.”

You might also consider talking to HR, especially if this conversation doesn’t go well. Your PTO, stingy as it is, is part of your compensation package, and your company shouldn’t want managers giving people a hard time about using it for sickness and seriously ill family members.

4. When you get injured during an extremely athletic work retreat

A relative of mine has a job at a firm that works within the athletic adventure industry (but the company is not an adventure company or organization — strictly office work, no retail). Several times a year, they hold wildly active retreats where activities could include ziplining, caving, rock climbing, white water rafting, extreme stuff.

On a recent trip, during an activity billed as quite extreme, my relative badly hurt their foot and then was forced to continue walking on it for an additional four hours on a challenging route. Everyone was quite blasé, but my relative did go to the emergency room (in a country that is not their home country) and it was a very bad injury. Their doctor at home has said they cannot walk on the foot for weeks and it will not heal for up to a year. My relative has young children and this is deeply impacting their quality of life. Is there any legal recourse here or any accommodations they should ask for? I believe their medical costs are being covered but this is so beyond just a medical issue, it’s a quality of life issue to me. I am angrier than my relative is, perhaps. Any advice?

Whether there’s any legal recourse will be really, really fact-specific. For example, did participants sign a safety waiver? Was the activity voluntary? Did the employer benefit from their participation in some way? In fact, it’s not even necessarily the case that workers’ comp would cover it (depending partly on what state they’re in).

That means that if it’s something your relative wants to pursue, they should talk to an employment lawyer. A lawyer could look at all the facts of the case and let them know if there’s anything there. But it also sounds like your relative might not be interested in doing that, which is their call to make.

But even if the law doesn’t offer any recourse, they should still ask for their medical bills to be paid, as well as for any accommodations that they need to do their job comfortably and safely while they’re healing.

my office loves expensive, physically demanding team-building activities

5. Explaining why I’m leaving a job after three months

I took an executive-level job earlier this year. I knew going in that the operations were in dire need of an overhaul, as the core product and how it is sold do not comply with industry standards and even violate certain regulations entirely.

My bosses are not industry experts by any means. This is essentially a vanity project for them, and some of the decisions they’ve made (including to be deliberately non-compliant around some really basic stuff) are super questionable to anyone who does know the field well. I’ve been an expert in the industry for a couple of decades and I took this job because I saw a lot of potential in their operation and thought I could help it thrive.

I have not been at this job for a super long time, but I am extremely frustrated. The changes I am trying to make keep getting walked back because the owners simply don’t understand this industry. There’s one specific change I made to comply with government guidelines that I get pushback for almost weekly, and today I was told that we are going to stop complying. I’ve been completely overruled and am frankly tired of having an argument that I have never had before in my career because this guideline is an industry standard everywhere else.

At this point, I feel like the practices here will reflect badly on me professionally if I stay, so I want to start job-hunting again. But what on earth do I say when a recruiter asks me why I’m leaving this job after three months?

“I took the job for the opportunity to do X, but I’ve learned they feel strongly about not following some government regulations in our field, and that’s not how I work.” That’s it! If they ask you to elaborate, you can give an example or two as long as you keep your tone plain-spoken and drama-free. (That’s a good tone whenever you’re discussing scandal of any kind, because you don’t want the conversation to spiral into discussing the ridiculousness of it all. Otherwise, because it it is ridiculous, you risk getting a recruiter who’s eager to hear all about it … but you want the focus to stay on you and what you can offer the new company.)

This is a very understandable reason to leave a job, and it’s not going to take much more explanation than that.

{ 407 comments… read them below }

  1. Ginger Cat Lady*

    Any yelling at work, at a camera or otherwise, is rarely a good idea. Not like the CEO watches the live feed anyway.

    1. Posilutely*

      And if they do, possibly with a white cat on their lap, you have a whole different level of problem.

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        The different problem being that Mittens the Wonder Cat is the power behind the throne. And Mittens does not care about your puny human yells.

        1. Kit*

          Would it be better to communicate with Mittens by, for example, sitting on an executive’s desk, making direct, prolonged eye contact with the camera, and then shoving something breakable off the desk? I feel like matching the preferred communication style of the decision-makers might be the correct approach here.

          1. Gingerbread Lady*

            No, no, you’ve got it all wrong!

            Forget the CEO! You need to communicate DIRECTLY with Mittens and provide an incentive to win them over. I suggest a toy mouse stuffed with catnip and an array of tempting treats – and no cheap-ass supermarket pet-care aisle stuff either. Remember, you’re dealing with the CEO’s boss here, and Mittens will expect (at the very least) salmon or filet mignon. This is your future we’re talking about, so never skimp on luxuries for Mittens!

        2. GythaOgden*

          You joke, but there’s that ancient Irish poem about how a monk views his cat as a co-worker. ‘I and Pangur Ban my cat/Tis a like task that we are at’.

          Plus ça change, plus ça même chose.

    2. Cat Tree*

      If anyone happens to see it, it would be a security guard who has exactly as much power to change things as LW does.

    3. Czhorat*

      I don’t suspect it’s because the employee wants something to change; it’s more letting off steam.

      The equivalent of giving the middle finger to the headquarters of your least favorite corporation, or one with the name of a politician you dislike. You KNOW that the president of Bank of America won’t see the one-finger salute you give the BoA tower as yuo walk past it, but YOU know and will feel a tiny bit better.

      That said, it’s not a great idea at your job.

      1. ecnaseener*

        Well, part of the question was “Will they actually take any advice or will they just fire you to get you out of the way?” so apparently LW was hoping for something to change based on their “advice.” Which, yeah, not gonna happen — the security guard watching the tapes isn’t going to forward your comments along as feedback lol!

        1. MigraineMonth*

          In general, screaming at someone (in person or via camera) is an ineffective way to give feedback, and especially to effect change. It takes someone with exceptional poise to look past the tone, spittle and profanity to address the content of a yelled complaint.

    4. That Coworker's Coworker*

      It would depend on the company, but I can tell you that in mine the camera footage is viewed maybe 4 times per year, and only to find specific incidents and use the for police or insurance purposes. Examples: a purse was stolen and the culprit was identified; graffiti showed up on a wall in the parking lot and the film of the kids who did it was sent to police; a contractor accidentally dropped a tool off the roof, damaging an employee’s car. Unless your yelling coincidentally occurred within the same few hours as something like this that gets looked for, there’s no way anybody would ever know about it (and if it did happen to coincide with something like an act of vandalism that happens out of camera reach, it might inadvertently cast suspicion on you.)

    5. starsaphire*

      Most workplaces have a good spot for yelling/crying, you just have to be creative. In restaurants, it’s always the walk-in. If your office has a gym, the showers or locker room might be a good place for letting off steam, assuming you’re in there by yourself.

      You can always go have a good cry in the ladies’, but it’s not the best place for primal screaming.

      Yes, this is something I’ve had to think about at multiple jobs. :)

    6. Elizabeth West*

      If they’re bog-standard security cameras, they might not even have sound. So the footage would just be the OP silently losing it. I agree, if they did this during work hours, someone probably heard them and that will be more of a problem than any footage.

      1. Burger Bob*

        This. Our cameras at work have no sound, and the only time anybody ever looks at any of the footage is to resolve specific incidents (investigations of fraud, theft, missing inventory, etc.). Randomly yelling at them would likely do exactly nothing, except make you look pretty ridiculous to anyone who happened to be there in person to witness it.

  2. Famous Amos*

    Re #1—Do not hang on to issues like this. If you’re their manager, then discuss issues immediately. “Hey, I need you check your email and respond to my messages BY 10 am daily.” That’s it. Collecting issues causes unnecessary tension and can blow up into more problems. Own your role and instruct your reports as to what you need.

    Also, some businesses work on a “please respond to emails asap” basis. Others on a “respond within 24 hours” basis, etc. They may be working on an assumption that you’re the same as where they worked before. It’s unlikely it’s intentional inattentivness.

    1. coffee*

      I also thought that about responding to emails as soon as they come in. I wouldn’t expect that an email would need a response in the morning vs the afternoon unless my manager explicitly told me. However, when I read the question again, the manager says that she puts deadlines on the email and her direct report doesn’t meet them.

      Alison’s advice that the manager needs to start managing him more assertively is spot on. The biggest issue isn’t the emails, it’s that he’s ignoring her directives to him.

      I would also suggest that the manager take some time to consider if she’s feeling so upset by the response time because she thinks he should be starting earlier, and mentally thinks he’s “already late” when he starts work at 10am. It sounds like he has an actual 10am start time, and if that’s the case then the manager needs to either accept it or, if there’s a legitimate business reason why it’s not working, then review the arrangement. If she needs information every day with a short timeframe, can she ask for it the day before? Can she get the information from another team member? Can the information be stored so she can easily self-service? Is answering questions by 11am a key job requirement, or is it just a preference based on her own start time?

      1. Awkwardness*

        I think this is a good point. I am not suggesting they are, but LW1 might check if they unconsciously set up their employee for failure because they are frustrated by his working hours. Do they only know about required information in the morning or could they send out the requests the day before so the answer is already there when LW1 arrives at work?

        I always arrive late at work, most of the time last of the team. The first thing in the morning is to check all communication in all channels available to make sure I am not missing anything for the day and to check off anything important happened in the morning hours. This is no big thing! It it’s beyond me that anybody would refuse to do that. Could it be possible that the employee reads the emails but just decides not to answer them on time because he thinks other things are more important?

        1. Hannah Lee*

          LW could focus first on what work activities aren’t getting done that should be getting done and then what needs to change to prevent that ball from getting dropped again.

          In this case: there have been several times recently that you failed to complete a task or even respond, acknowledge a request until after the clear deadline, causing extra last minute work/late deliveries to customers/missed government filing deadlines and fines etc etc

          Why didn’t you reply before the deadline you were given? What can be done differently to prevent that?

          Oh, it was because you didn’t see the request in time? It was sent with plenty of time for you to respond.

          That will lead naturally to LW reiterating that sometimes same day requirements do come in overnight/early in the day, checking for any new action items… including checking email, Slack, whatever communication tools the company uses when first clocking in case there are things that need an immediate response.

          And the LW can also review regular workflow to see if there is a way to flag at least some of these last-minute needs earlier in the process.

          While it may lead to discovery that a 10 am start time isn’t actually workable for this role, more likely telling the employee clearly that checking emails/messages and acting on time sensitive new messages are required daily activities. Just be careful to not be using these last minute work assignments and message timing as “gotchas” because LW is judgmental about ‘being at work earlier is better by default because everyone knows it’s the morally superior way to be”

      2. Also-ADHD*

        I am also unclear if they’re in different time zones? She mentioned they’re not located in the same place, so is it 10am manager’s time but not his or is his TZ the same? I do think it’s weird he won’t use Slack, but I don’t think it’s weird he doesn’t respond to emails immediately or even check them first thing (manager can say to, but expecting an immediate response is still sort of a lot in some cases and it sounds like manager also wants to use this to check he’s “On time” which is a whole different issue, as Alison mentions, and kind of off). If something is needed, I get it, and he should respond to Slack for that frankly or at least check his email and respond timely (“by 10am” isn’t reasonable for a 10am start time), even just with “working on answering this and will be with you soon” if the issue is he needs time (I also don’t know what the emails say/need). But also him responding at noon to things with a 10am start isn’t that wild—the other stuff like refusing to use Slack and questioning everything seem like bigger issues.

        1. That Coworker's Coworker*

          I cringed at the advice that the manager can make the employee use Slack. I absolutely hate Slack: it’s a constant distraction, information gets lost in a sea of messages, and a lot of the interruptions in my company were just team members sending jokes and emojis. I got official permission to not use Slack, as part of an accommodation for an ADA-covered issue.
          Of course the employee should check their email and communicate with their manager.

          1. Florp*

            Ayuup. I have well managed ADHD and Slack singlehandedly unmanaged it. I spent so much time customizing notifications and removing myself from channels I’d been auto-added to for no reason, and then explaining to people why I’d removed myself. And if I didn’t respond to a Slack message within 4 seconds people would call or text me right away. It was awful. I ended up with my boss and the CEO allowed to direct message me and I blocked everything else.

          2. OMG, Bees!*

            I think it’s more like a manager can require their employees to check specific Slack channels, not every channel. If someone needs exemptions, that’s something else to bring up, rather than not use an entire method of communication.

            But I also see that as part of the employee not checking email often enough to LW1’s taste. If he were on top of email, not using Slack would be fine. Not using either is no beuno.

          3. Michelle Smith*

            I cringed at the idea that he can just refuse to communicate with his manager on the platform they prefer. If he needs a medical accommodation, he should get one, not just outright refuse because he doesn’t wanna. The problem you’re describing isn’t Slack, it’s the users at your organization and the culture not fitting with what you need to be successful – hence why your approach made sense. My company culture is very different. I don’t think I’ve seen a single joke or random, unnecessary notification in over a year of using the program. We don’t send nonstop emojis and jokes and cat pictures, we actually do work.

            I too get derailed by distractions and notification bubbles, but that’s their purpose in many ways – my boss might need an immediate answer for something and it’s much faster for her to send a Slack than pretty much anything else. Especially since Outlook frequently disconnects and doesn’t immediately push emails to my computer the way Slack pushes notifications to my app. My boss and coworkers don’t all work in the same city, let alone the same building, and my boss starts work before I do just like in LW1’s situation (and some of my coworkers start work after me). I will often log on and see she sent a message in the hour before I get on or, like today, I worked for a few hours and scheduled a message that she’ll see tomorrow morning when I’m off but she’s working. Asynchronous communication is sometimes the only way to get things done and I can’t imagine both not using the preferred communication channels AND not checking my email for time sensitive requests. Like I am seriously flabbergasted by these comments.

          4. Also-ADHD*

            I find email harder to manage than Slack, but I also have pretty focused notifications settings and found that easier than creating email rules. I like Slack for messaging with individuals which is more what I was envisioning, not minding lots of random channels. In my org, following channels is very optional and I keep them muted/no notifications if I do follow. But I can see my boss or coworker contacting me easier than in a sea of email (where I get pings for so many things). At any rate, there needs to be an easy way for his boss to communicate with him if needed (assuming these asks are a real need).

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

          I think the OP just means their offices are not right next to each other. They say “We are not collocated and while I can check in on his arrival time occasionally, I can’t be outside his door checking the clock regularly.” If they were in a different time zone the OP wouldn’t be able to check the employee’s door at all.

          1. Rainy*

            Oh, interesting–I didn’t at all interpret that as “same building but not next door”. I interpreted that as “different locations”. I wouldn’t have any expectation ever that people were working next door to their reports; that doesn’t seem like a realistic assumption.

      3. A Poster Has No Name*

        Does the manager put a deadline on her emails, though? She said she sends an email with a direct request for information and “expects” an answer within an hour of arrival, but she doesn’t say if she’s communicated that expectation to the employee. Up until the last line of the email, which is kind of burying the lede, I’d have though the employee just had a routine or didn’t realize those requests were high priority or whatever and LW just needed to…give them a specific deadline. She’s not unreasonable to expect a response by a certain time, as long as she has communicated that clearly to the employee. Expecting it without saying so, or understanding the employees routine, might be.

        But then she said she gets a lot of pushback from this employee in general, which changes that picture a bit, but she still needs to be very clear about what she wants & when from her employee.

        1. Allonge*

          From what is in the letter, OP can put a deadline in the request but it does not help because the deadline passes by the time the employee checks email at all – this to me read like OP tried to put deadlines and it had no effect.

          I 100% agree on OP needing to be clear on how this is part of the job.

    2. EllenD*

      I once had a staff member in an office based job, who worked very different hours to me. He was 6.30am to 3.00pm while I worked 9.30am and left at 6pm. We were at least in the same building. Initially, I was frustrated that I would need to discuss stuff with him and find he’d already left for the day. Then we talked about best to work together. Anything he needed me to review/clear, would be sent before he left for the day and I would, where poss, respond before I left and in return I’d send requests before I left for the day or note that we needed to talk. Once we both adjusted expectations on working patterns, it became very effective, because he’d finish work on something and have my comments, etc by the time he arrived the following morning and similarly, and on my work requests, I frequently found a response by the time I arrived. It encouraged me to think about what I needed for the next day and request it then rather than waiting for my arrival. I realise the time pattern is different, but if LW is aware that the information is required Tues morning, could they ask the previous day. I agree though the LW does need to be explicit on expectations around e-mails.

      1. Irish Teacher*

        Yeah, my previous Advising Examiner (for correcting the State exams) was very much a morning person whereas when correcting, I tend to start around 1:30pm and work until in or around 10pm. We worked together for years and were both working from home, but we got to know each other’s working patterns so for the most part, she realised she wasn’t likely to get a response from me before 10am and I knew that if I messaged her after about 10pm, I was unlikely to get a response until the next morning. It worked fine once we both realised the situation.

      2. Sharon*

        Please do have a general discussion/brainstorming session with this person about the best way to handle time-sensitive issues. Is the expectation that all emails be answered within an hour? Would calling be better? Should you contact somebody else for early morning issues and view this guy as the person to handle the late afternoon emergencies that need to be done by EOD when others are headed out? I think you’re fixating on the email and the arrival time rather than solving the actual problem of how to get the information you need when you need it.

        1. Michelle Smith*

          I think this makes sense if he’s reasonable, but the letter states he pushes back and challenges everything she decides if he disagrees with it. Seems like if he doesn’t agree that it’s a problem, asking him to brainstorm on it is just going to create another headache for LW1.

          LW1 needs to directly state their expectations, without equivocation, name the pattern about the pushback and tell him to stop it, and then hold him to it. It doesn’t really matter if he checks his email exactly at 10:00 am, but if she needs information by 11 am and doesn’t have it, that’s actionable once he has been told the expectations.

    3. FloralWraith*

      It would be good to note any company-wide email policies as well. If the company has a specific policy (mine has a maximum three days before responding, which I use strategically when responding to non-urgent requests), it’s possible that the employee is using that as the measure. The OP might need to codify specifically their emails need answering ASAP, but others can be left.

    4. Ellis Bell*

      I got the impression that because this employee is a foot dragger, and questions OP on every request that OP has got into a habit of mentally crossing their t’s and dotting their i’s before saying anything to them, even when it’s a simple request. That doesn’t benefit either of them because clear needs are not spelled out. I think OP has gotten into a bad habit of believing this employee won’t do anything that isn’t a clear company policy that they could point to. I actually think the rules lawyering, and failing to meet OP’s requests more willingly, is a bigger issue than not checking their emails! OP should be very matter of fact that email needs to be checked when they get in, and any pushback should be met with “I do have a second request and that is for you to understand that when I ask for something there is always a clear business need behind it. If something is hard to implement, or if you really need a rationale to do the request, I will listen to your reasons, but it is not my job to defend the reasons behind everything I ask of you.”

        1. Zweisatz*

          While I wouldn’t go for the same conclusion I don’t see how that comment is too speculative.

        2. Ellis Bell*

          I should have clarified that this is based on the OP’s comment that: “every managerial decision I make is met with a challenge about why I’m making the request and feet dragging to the very edge of acceptability if he disagrees with the request”.

        3. MigraineMonth*

          I disagree; I think the kind of “dragging feet when employee disagrees” that the OP describes in their letter is at least as serious an issue as email response time.

          It’s not clear to me whether the focus on company guidelines comes from the OP or from the employee’s pushback, but having it coming from an employee’s rules-lawyering is one valid interpretation.

          As a reminder, if you think a comment violates a rule, the best way to get a comment removed (when Alison isn’t on vacation) is to respond to it with a comment explaining why you think it should be removed and a website link (since links always go to moderation).

    5. K*

      By 10 am seems unrealistic given that it’s his start time. OP will need to be a little more patient than that.

    6. goddessoftransitory*

      Yes! Clarity and reasonable requests are not the same as lashing a whip over a hapless employee. Right now the employee apparently isn’t aware that he’s doing anything “wrong,” and sees Slack as something he isn’t required to use. And the LW’s getting more and more frustrated, and their work is suffering.

      There’s nothing wrong with outlining “I need emails read and answered by X time” and “Slack is going to be required for quick questions and follow ups for the team.” It’s basic office stuff.

    7. Ellie Rose*

      This! I spent the entire letter mentally going “have you told him to check? have you asked him if he checks?”

      LW1, you talk about whether you should relax your expectation as a solution without ever actually telling him your expectation!

      The expectation that needs relaxing here is that he should know what you want without you ever saying it — not a good expectation for anyone, let alone for his manager.

  3. Freya*

    Re: question 4

    In Australia, if the activity is sponsored or promoted by the workplace, then that _may_ be enough to provide sufficient connection to the workplace to allow claims on the workplace’s worker’s compensation insurance. We’ve also got limitations on the ability of waivers to exclude things like negligence (and being forced to walk on an injured foot for hours instead of getting medevac sounds dodgy to me).

    1. MK*

      But it sounds as if there is insurance, OP mentions they think medical costs are covered, they just think the company should be doing more. More to the point, it doesn’t sound as if OP has all the information, and her outrage at the company may or may not be justified, e.g. it’s not clear to me if the relative asked for medical assistance and was pressured into walking with an injury, or if “everyone was quite blaze” includes the relative, and they only realized it was more serious later. Also, what kind of retreat was it, since the activity is actually the product the company sells? Was attendance a work requirement, or was it more of a perk to offer employees the expeirience they are selling?

      1. Barrie*

        100%! A friend of mine had a similar incident on a work sponsored “fun day” and the company fell over backwards to help her, which included full medical coverage, taxis for over a year so she wouldn’t have to use public transit (no way she could drive), and sent food and grocery deliveries to her house for 6 months, and paid for a cleaner! A decent company treats its employees well even if they did “sign a waiver”!

      2. Yellow cake*

        Yeah I’d want further information before “forced to walk” was taken seriously. Abuse happens. But I’ve also known medical people pressuring injured parties to accept a medical evacuation cause they don’t think it’s too bad…

        Your family member needs to speak with a lawyer – if that is what they want to do. The whole linked to work = work’s fault really killed off a lot of social stuff in past places. Nothing was permitted just in case someone was injured. Even simple things like sports teams coming from offices not allowed.

        Frankly none of those activities sound outrageous. They’re just stock standard adventure tourism. Likely done with an adventure tour company.

        I’m sorry your family member is injured. But injuries are always a risk – it doesn’t mean there was negligence, and it is likely that your family member was informed and aware that the activities have some risks and choose to participate anyway.

        1. MK*

          Exactly. What strikes me is that the relative has an office job in the athletic adventure industry, participated in a “quite extreme” activity that is a core product of her industry, was injured badly and arguably did not receive prompt care but had her medical expenses covered and seems uninterested in pursuing legal actions. There is an underlining assumption in OP’s letter that the relative was pressured into the trip and/or the activity and/or to ignore her injury, and is now not being compensated correctly. But the reason the industry exists is that people love these activities and pay outrageous sums to do them; it’s also possible the relative is interested in extreme sports or developed an interest after working in a supporting role in the industry, enjoys the retreats and took her injury as part of the deal.

          1. kalli*

            There’s nothing that says relative isn’t interested in pursuing legal action, just that they’re seemingly less angry than LW is – assumably in part because they have to expend a lot of focus on dealing with actually being injured and trying to do living stuff, and don’t have the bandwidth for Righteous Outrage At The Situation in a way that LW recognises. Additionally, being that workers comp is often statutory and prescriptive in nature, and perfectly manageable at the employer-insurer-employee level, it may even be that medical costs being covered indicates that relative has made a successful claim and it just didn’t go through a court, so from the outside it doesn’t look like they’re doing anything while in reality they may be receiving the max compensation allowable to them and if they claimed elsewhere they’d have to pay the medical costs back to the employer/insurer. We really don’t have the info in the letter to accurately judge the situation or ascertain whether relative is not receiving something they’re entitled to, regardless of how they are contextualising the injury as part of their coping mechanisms (workers comp and personal injury don’t pay out less for injuries where the injured person is mentally coping).

            1. MK*

              I have never in my life met a person who believed themselves wronged by their employer and didn’t vent to their family about it, but ok. Whatever the relative has done or is doing about being compensated for their injury, she isn’t talking to OP about it, which means OP’s righteous outrage is based on a lot of assumptions. I personally would find it a bit overbearing if a relative who didin’t know much about the circumstances of my injury or my employer’s response or how I was handling the situation, decided to write to an advice column about it; well-meaning, sure, but, well, why didn’t they talk to me about it first?

              1. OP Letter 4*

                She has talked to me quite a bit about it, I am not overbearing, you’re incorrect. It is in fact you making assumptions. Like laughable and wildly incorrect assumptions from two paragraphs.

          2. OP Letter 4*

            Hi! I wrote letter #4, you’re all making quite a lot of assumptions. She works at a market research firm – their clients are athletic organizations and they do not as a company sell or endorse extreme sports. My sister is NOT INTERESTED in extreme sports, hates the retreats, has always hated the retreats, and is heavily pressured to participate in the activities. This particular incident happened while canyoning. Even her boss said he was shocked the people planning the trip chose this activity and that it was very dangerous.

            It’s weird you all assume I don’t know what my own relative likes and dislikes.

        2. OP Letter 4*

          Forced to walk = there was literally no other way to get out of the canyon other than to walk. She was told the alternatives were more dangerous.

    2. Observer*

      In Australia, if the activity is sponsored or promoted by the workplace, then that _may_ be enough to provide sufficient connection to the workplace to allow claims on the workplace’s worker’s compensation insurance.

      Much the same is true in the US. Which is why Allison said that OP’s relative should talk to a lawyer.

    3. MCMonkeyBean*

      I am not a lawyer but my understandings is that even in the US waivers are often not really binding and most places have you sign them hoping it just makes you less likely to think you can sue them if something goes wrong, rather than actually being able to stop you from suing them.

      To me the “forced to walk for hours on the injured foot” seems definitely worth talking to a lawyer about. Though I’m sure they would need a lot more detail. Was there genuinely no way to extract an injured person from the situation? Because if so that seems extremely irresponsible to set it up that way. How much did the injured party say that they didn’t think they could do that or did they feel pressured to say they were fine in the moment, which would be understandable but might hurt their case legally.

      This sounds just awful, especially at a work-sponsored event where people might feel even more pressured to attempt things beyond what they are comfortable with. I hope OP’s relative is able to get some help for the situation.

    4. constant_craving*

      Perhaps different in Australia, but in the states this doesn’t sound like a medevac situation. As a wilderness first responder I was trained on when to self-evac vs. call for an evacuation and the latter is for situations with possible loss of life or limb. Something like an injury to a foot you’d check circulation/sensation/movement and if nothing was compromised you’d support the foot the best you could (splint, etc.) and walk the person out.

      Speaking as someone who did mountain search and rescue for a decade, if you did call in for an evac, you’d likely get a ground team to carry you out. I’ve never heard of someone getting a helicopter for a simple injured foot unless there was something extreme like a blizzard about to hit that would turn it back to a life-threatening scenario.

      1. Chris*

        This. I’m also a wilderness first responder. Getting someone who can’t walk out of the backcountry is very difficult. There are protocols to assess whether the injured leg is usable. If it is and they can walk out safely, having them walk out is the best bet.

    5. Jill Swinburne*

      Yeah, in New Zealand she’d be getting ACC for that (well, unless the injury happened outside NZ).

  4. Casey B*


    I’m going to take a stab and guess you are a QA/RA chief or director at a business where salespeople or investors call the shots. I wanted to piggyback on the advice and please recommend that you be as vague as possible about the specific compliance issue.

    If I were your next interviewer, my follow up question would be about your willingness to approve work in grey areas and defend some improving but non-compliant practices. That’s an important question and answering it without getting into specifics is probably important too.

    My credibility: Never been a QA/RA chief, worked for a couple who did short stints and an immediate walk-out.

    1. dragonfruit*

      “my follow up question would be about your willingness to approve work in grey areas and defend some improving but non-compliant practices.” — What would be some legitimate reasons that a QA/RA chief would feel comfortable doing this?

      I am someone with no experience in this arena whatsoever, but especially as we witness the collapse of some of these startups that have oversold what they can do in very dangerous ways that hurt people, compliance seems like a very bright line, yes/no question to me!

      1. 1-800-BrownCow*

        I’m going to agree with dragonfruit here. While I also do not have direct experience in QA/RA, I do work in a regulated industry and work closely with our QA/RA department. Compliance to government regulations is extremely critical. A previous company I worked at, we acquired a product from a company that was forced to sell due to failure to comply to regulations. There were deaths in the field because of it and the company went through a lengthy court battle. The head QA/RA person went to prison because they knew they were not being fully compliant. It is a big deal and not something one should be willing to work in “grey areas”.

        1. mountaingirl*

          OP here — to clarify, this is not a safety compliance issue. It’s more of an ethical violation, albeit one that is still regulated and considered *very* bad in my industry. I have big concerns now about the integrity of my supervisors, and I am extremely uncomfortable, and there is absolutely hard evidence that they are not complying, but I am not concerned that anyone will be hurt or killed because of their attitude (thankfully!).

          1. She of Many Hats*

            I would compile any documentation you have of your efforts to meet and enforce compliance with industry & gov’t requirements at this job AND the documentation of your owners & supervisors refusing to be compliant. Keep copies as a personal protection plan in case there is any possibility of you being implicated or called to court over their action/inaction.

            1. DJ Abbott*

              Be sure to keep copies away from work where you can get them if you’re not at work, or not allowed access to your work systems. I would keep printouts in my home. If you feel the need for electronic copies also, keep pdfs on your personal device, where work systems cannot access them.
              I suggest PDFs because they’re easy to use and send electronically, if necessary.

              1. Candi*

                And if it were me, I’d see about reporting them once I was in a new job. Retaliation is illegal, but these guys have already proven they view certain laws and regs as nonobligatory.

                Maybe this report won’t go anywhere. But it’ll be there in the records when the next report comes along or the investigation kicks off.

          2. Office Plant Queen*

            What are they doing, scraping social media and mailing unsolicited non-discreet flyers to relatives of IBD patients to try to recruit the relatives as new customers?

          3. There You Are*

            I am not a CPA but one of the things they drilled into us in my Accounting degree programs is that CPAs can lose their license if they are party to an ethical violation that goes against government regulations.

            And by “party to,” I mean “Knew about it, argued against it, was overruled, but ultimately did not quit.”

            I do have a few profession-specific certifications and I would be booted out of the issuing organizations if word got out that I stayed at a company even though I knew that they were willfully breaking regulatory laws.

            Which is to say, any interviewer will understand why you want to get out of there, and quickly, even if no one’s health or life is endangered by the violation.

        2. Green*

          Grey issues are ones where there is a rule, but there is something subjective about the rule — for example, whether it even applies in the situation, what “reasonable” means and whether the action you’re taking is reasonable, what method you use to comply if it isn’t laid out in the regulations, etc. Grey issues come up every day, and any executive needs to know the difference between a clear violation of law and something that could validly be a risk decision, and what is a safety issue/risk to people vs. other kinds of risk.

      2. Firecat*

        Compliance can be grey, especially since there are conflicting laws sometimes (I mean just look at the mess in Texas with abortion laws that contradict each other). other times the laws are in place before the technology to support the processes of compliance are and the amount of manual effort it would take for a process to to from 98% to 100% compliant before the tech is out is prohibitively expensive. other times no one yet knows how to be compliant because legalese is hard to read the law is new.

        So yes sometimes you have the best process that is the most compliant with a plan to address shortfalls overtime.

      3. Hillary*

        Compliance isn’t always (or even usually) black and white. There are often shades of gray and decisions have to be taken to comply with the company’s risk tolerance. A strict reading of some European privacy laws violates US know your customer requirements. So which country’s laws do you follow?

        Sometimes it’s just judgment. I used to do tariff classification. Imagine a steel box. It goes on the deck of a ship and holds chain as it’s winched in when an anchor is raised. Is it an article of steel? A vehicle part? I ultimately landed on a metal locker because it was finished and the closest fit to its use. But I could have successfully defended either of the other choices in a customs audit.

        When someone works in compliance (and I chose to pursue other paths) they have to work somewhere where their ethics and the company’s align.

      4. goddessoftransitory*

        My mind went immediately to that submersible that imploded–that CEO thought safety regulations were a hindrance, too.

        I don’t have patience with “disruptors” who seemingly want to reinvent the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory because caring about fire doors and windows that aren’t locked is such a drag on their shiny future vision. Yes, regulations can layer and become redundant, yes, they do need to be reviewed and updated as technology advances. But every safety regulation is written in blood.

        1. MigraineMonth*

          There is an invisible line between “industry disruptor” and “company that breaks legal regulations” and I’ve never been able to find it.

          I’m so glad I got out of that healthcare startup before the CEO got to test how flexible those HIPAA regulations are.

    2. I Have RBF*

      I have worked in areas that required regulatory compliance, with potential jail time for people in an authority position that did not assure the compliance.

      Run. Run now.

      If they refuse to comply with regulations, after having been informed multiple times about the regulations, they will only try to scapegoat you when they get caught. In fact, you need to put the reminders in writing to the management that is refusing, and then keep copies off site, time and date stamped. Because those type of scofflaws will try to say that you said they didn’t have to comply when they get caught.

      CYA, and drop a dime on your way out.

    3. TrixM*

      I thought Twitter, to be honest, and their lack of compliance with various EU regulations re social mesia content

  5. Polly Hedron*

    #3, I’m wondering if you told your supervisor you were calling out because of stress. I think that is perfectly reasonable (especially given your situation) but your supervisor might not think so, and she doesn’t deserve the truth. Next time just say you’re sick.
    I’m so sorry about your mother and your rotten supervisor and I think Alison’s advice is good.

    1. Kella*

      It wasn’t 100% clear but given OP asking about coming in sick and spreading germs, I think she meant that the stress of her mother’s illness *caused* her to get sick, not that she called off work because of stress.

      1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

        I thought this instance was stress related, but OP was thinking that in future, they’ll have to come in even when sick with (e.g.) an infectious illness, because of the boss’s comments.

      2. Cj*

        I think too that she got run down because of stress and got sick with a contagious illness because of it. but depending on how she worded it to her supervisor, they may have understood she were calling off due to stress. we’re a little confused here, so maybe the supervisor was too.

        I wonder if the letter writer is eligible for FMLA. even though she’s within her allowed days off, this sounds like a situation that would call for it since her supervisor is getting testy about her calling off so close together.

        1. Liane*

          I was approved for intermittent FMLA when my mother-in-law was in her final illness. We lived next door, she would often wake up agitated or disoriented, and the hospice caregiver would call Husband to help (he may have asked them to). He was exhausted and stressed out. I applied for FMLA so I could take some of the load and had no problems getting a quick approval even at a big retailer that still has a reputation of being a worse than average employer.

    2. Evens*

      We just need a little more information. is this the third time in two weeks that OP called off in a coveraged-based job? That’s a lot different for the supervisor than if OP is in a white-collar job. It doesn’t sound like the leave was denied, but that the supervisor expressed some frustration in the moment.

      I have a lot of sympathy for the OP, but I can see a supervisor saying something inappropriate in the moment if their job was made more difficult. We are all the main character in our own story.

      1. jasmine*

        Even in this case, I can’t sympathize with the supervisor reacting that way if they know OP has a terminally ill parent.

      2. MCMonkeyBean*

        Frankly it doesn’t matter if it’s the third time in two weeks. These are situations OP had no control over and they are using their (extremely stingy) company-allotted leave to take care of it.

      3. DJ Abbott*

        I was recently sick for nearly 2 weeks in a coverage based job, and my supervisors were supportive and encouraged me not to come back till I was completely well. We handle it our workplace and support our colleagues in their time off.
        That the supervisor exclaimed something inappropriate in the moment may be understandable, but the lack of support in terms of both how she’s treated and the small amount of sick time are not good signs.
        LW, look into FMLA or whatever else is necessary to get you the time you need and after that, maybe look for a job with better benefits. Good luck with everything!

      4. FrivYeti*

        I can’t agree.

        The initial “Oh my god”, sure, it’s bad management and not very empathetic but people are human and thinking about how someone else’s problems affect you in the moment is a thing that happens.

        But the follow-up telling LW3 that they need to “watch their call-outs” isn’t an in-the-moment response, it’s a cruel statement to a suffering person with no care for how it affects them, and it’s absolutely a threat about what might happen if they continue to take leave to help their dying mother (it may not be a *credible* threat, depending on the job and the supervisor, but it’s still a threat.)

      5. ErinWV*

        My mom works a retail job, and she covers for co-workers constantly, frequently because someone has ongoing things keeping them away from work. “I’m doing Tuesday afternoon shifts for the next six weeks because Abby’s husband is having cancer treatments,” or “I’m doing Saturday mornings while Lynn is on maternity leave,” that kind of thing. If OP is a good employee (no reason to believe they are not), a good manager should take some trouble to help them work this out.

    3. Momma Bear*

      I don’t know if LW qualifies, but if they do, they might want to ask HR about FMLA. It can be used in chunks and might simmer down the manager if there’s an HR request behind it.

  6. Ellis Hubtis*

    OP3- Its possible to get FMLA leave for a terminally ill parent and it’s worth it to protect yourself.
    What a terrible manager but I’ve been in those industries where 2 weeks for all time off is considered kind. Least of all should you be thinking about your job.

    I’m so sorry. I hope you have the life support you need during this difficult time.

    1. Also-ADHD*

      Yes this was going to be my recommendation. Intermittent FMLA is a life saver with the kind of manager LW3 has.

      1. Miette*


        I came here to say the same thing. If you work somewhere that must comply with your request for FMLA (iow: more than 50 employees, and you’ve been there at least a year), you should take it. Contrary to what many think (including me until recently), it can be taken intermittently to care for a sick relative as you have been doing.

        1. Also-ADHD*

          Yes, I learned early career and frankly keep it filed because I have disability issues that flare up (ADHD, autism, PTSD, endometriosis, and a migraine disorder—any one of those would flag for intermittent FMLA and I almost never use it but file the paperwork every year just in case I get a manager or my manager gets a manager who wants to police PTO).

    2. Anne of Green Gables*

      Yes, and to further emphasize Also-ADHD’s point, FMLA can be intermittent as opposed to one solid chunk of time. We are so used to FMLA being used for maternity leave or major surgery that some people don’t realize that it protects a certain number of hours of missed work in a calendar year, and those don’t have to be consecutive.

      Now, FMLA is not *paid* leave, which makes it not an option on a lot of cases. And you typically have to use your paid leave before you can take unpaid leave, so if you are saving your paid leave for other times, that becomes problematic. But there are options.

      I’m sorry you are having to deal with a crappy manager on top of everything else, OP.

      1. Kyrielle*

        Yeah, but it sounds like OP is already dedicating their unfortunately-small level of paid leave to this; having the additional job protection from FMLA would be well worth it here.

      2. jojo*

        FMLA is a different kitty than vacation time. You do not have to use your paid vacation before using FMLA.

    3. Art3mis*

      Came to say this, but just adding to the voices, look into intermittent FMLA, assuming you’re in the US, which I’m guessing you are given your low amount of PTO.

    4. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

      Agreed. With FMLA, LW will still need to use PTO, but the boss will not be able to deny requests or hassle her about it. Not legally, anyways!

  7. Heidi*

    I actually kind of love these letters where the OP just asks “Can someone be fired for doing this weird thing?” or “Is this weird thing legal?” without any additional context. It basically invites us to imagine the colorful back story behind it.

    1. coffee*

      Same! Are they sitting in a zoom meeting, yelling at the camera on mute but visible on camera? Are they shouting at security cameras in the car park? Do they work in a TV studio and keep bursting onto set and shouting into the camera?

      1. here for others drama*

        I assumed CCTV cameras inside their workplace but I really like the idea of OP screaming at their webcam while on mute.

        1. Irish Teacher*

          That was my assumption too, security cameras. And I just wondered why they would do that.

          1. Myrin*

            Yeah, I was very confused by that question. It sounds like OP actively wants to be heard – asking about the higher-ups getting “advice” that way – but this seems like possibly the most inefficient way ever to do that.

            1. coffee*

              “I’m not sure if the cameras record audio – how can I make it easier for people to lipread when I tell my higher-ups to go fuck themselves?”

        2. Miette*

          Same, but I am also delighted at the thought of a bemused security person looking forward to OP’s arrival daily, because their rants are so creative, and this leading to dating or a friendship.

          Forgive the fanfic, everyone–your OTP would never etc.

        3. Burger Bob*

          Yeah, I was thinking along the lines of the CCTV cameras we have at work (retail environment), which a) those don’t record sound and b) the footage doesn’t even get looked at unless a specific incident is under investigation (theft, etc.). Screaming at them would do nothing but make you look completely bonkers to anyone who happened to be there at the time.

      2. WishIWasATimeTraveller*

        I’m imagining a Nanny Diaries type scenario, where the employee reaches their limit and delivers a tirade to a surveillance camera. Bonus points if the camera is hidden in a stuffed bear.

        1. Satan’s Panties*

          Love that book. Hate the movie. There is no audio on those spy cameras. Hence, no horrifying playback of “People HATE you!” Which book-Nan did not say, FTR. Nor did she take a defiant swig of vodka before launching into her speech. She had been nipping, but that was so she could cope, not as a way of sticking it to her employers. And that’s just one change…

      3. Mister_L*

        Of course there are also the letters where they give us the backstory, except the additional information makes us question the LW’s sanity. Like the guy who asked if the company could actually force him to remove windshield lettering.

        1. Nobby Nobbs*

          Ooh, THAT guy. I remember that guy. The readership would’ve really lost out on some fun outrage if he’d withheld the backstory, but the world wouldn’t have missed a thing if he’d fallen into a bottomless pit.

    2. cabbagepants*

      In this vein: I choose to believe that the “advice” shouted into the camera was “go f yourself” and LW is wondering if Corporate will take this advice.

      1. English Rose*

        If there’s no sound on the cameras perhaps the company should provide lip-reading training for all senior managers so they can act accordingly on this crucial employee advice.

    3. NotRealAnonForThis*

      A million years ago, we did used to silently scream at, or otherwise low-key prank the CCTV cameras to see if LP was paying attention when it was super slow.

      Yes, we were teenagers. Yes it was mall based retail.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I used to work in a retail store in a mall, where I had to take a deposit to the bank in the mall regularly. There was a camera mounted at eye level near the teller stations. Every time I went to that station, I’d make a different face in the camera just to liven up the security people’s day, lol.

  8. yvve*

    My god– I never really thought about how the poorly planned structure of the teapot account system is seriously inconveniencing the account department untill I reviewed this security footage of someone yelling it at the cameras…!

    1. bamcheeks*

      really validates our decision to make lipreading an essential requirement for our security guards!

  9. Gemma*

    #1 If you’re going to hold people to standards (reasonable or not) they at least deserve to know what they are. I’ll admit I have a little trouble believing anything is that urgent — your letter isn’t clear on that — so the reasoning is essentially “because I said so.” I think it’s always best to give people latitude where you can and not pull rank unless necessary. Nonetheless, if you can’t get over it he deserves at least the chance to try to achieve what’s expected of him.

    1. nnn*

      i don’t know why you would have trouble believing that but it’s super normal in my job to get emails in the morning that need responses before noon.

      1. John Smith*

        I have a feeling that what Gemma is getting at – and I quite agree – is that the LW seems to be putting their personal requirements as policy, and it does come across as micromanagement, especially the bit about insisting Slack is used that isn’t policy to use. If the employee is coming in late, then that needs sorting, but its not clear that they are actually late. Is flexitime in operation and manager just prefers them to be in earlier? My manager thinks I should be available to answer work calls for the 14 hours a day we are open even though my contract is an 8 hour working day (and doesn’t include standby) – she can go and whistle. Either way, it sounds like the working environment is a mess.

        1. joanna*

          I read it as they’re supposed to be in at 10 but the manager thinks they’re getting in much later since they don’t seem to see their email until after noon.

        2. Kella*

          Huh? OP hasn’t insisted that their employee use Slack. OP specifically mentioned that contacting their employee by Slack isn’t currently an option because the employee doesn’t use it.

          Alison said that’s it’s reasonable to instruct their employee that they need to be in contact via Slack as part of the job if in-real-time communication is necessary to the work.

        3. Seeking Second Childhood*

          I suspect the Slack remark was to get ahead of people suggesting ‘if he’s not opening email just send him an OM.’

        4. Allonge*

          I have a feeling that what Gemma is getting at – and I quite agree – is that the LW seems to be putting their personal requirements as policy

          I am not sure where you are getting this from – in the letter I read, OP is too hesitant to say that they need answers by the time they need answers – to their actual direct report.

          Can we please agree that even if in your job everything has a deadline of ‘maybe in a month’, there are jobs that work differently? OP is undermanaging the situation, if anything.

          1. bamcheeks*

            I agree with you both, in that it’s ambiguous and the ambiguity is the problem. I can’t tell whether LW is hesitant to push this because it is a preference rather than a strict work requirement, or whether it is a strict work requirement and they’re hesitating for some other reason, but that’s the problem. They seem to be looking to external sources of authority like whether the company mandates Slack and whether Alison thinks a two-hour turnaround on email is reasonable rather than trusting in their own authority and judgement. That’s really fertile ground for the perception of micromanagement and pulling rank to take root– when your manager isn’t clear and doesn’t own their authority, it’s quite easy to feel like the things they are asking about are ridiculous or micromanagement or unnecessary because you never get clear communication from them and you’re more likely to question *why* they’re asking for these things.

            “because the work demands it” and “because I prefer it this way” are both perfectly legitimate reasons for a manager to ask for something– as a manager, you are completely within your rights to run things the way you prefer, without needing external justifications! IMO it’s easier to respect someone when they are clear both about the expectations and about which is driven by the work need and which is driven by their own preference than someone who doesn’t make that clear.

            1. Allonge*

              Just to say thank you for the idea of this kind of management creating the perception of micromanagement, it’s an interesting one I will have to ponder!

        5. Observer*

          I have a feeling that what Gemma is getting at – and I quite agree – is that the LW seems to be putting their personal requirements as policy, and it does come across as micromanagement, especially the bit about insisting Slack is used that isn’t policy to use

          The reverse is true. The OP most definitely has the standing to insist on Slack if that’s what works for them – but in fact, they specifically say that are NOT insisting on it, even though it works better for them.

          The OP is not in any way implying that their employee be available after hours, but that they should answer certain emails as the first order of business. That’s a perfectly legitimate expectation.

      2. Also-ADHD*

        If he started at 10 (his time or theirs/both), it’s not wild too often answer emails at noon, though. I think it’s off he won’t use Slack (though I also question if people should have to immediately answer every Slack message or if their boss should be pinging them first thing daily regularly—if he did use Slack, LW1 shouldn’t send pings before his start time at all or at it every day). But it’s not that odd he takes time to settle in unless the job duties make monitoring emails and answering questions his primary duty. LW asking about “lateness” as part of this and mentioning they can’t watch at the door and seeming frustrated with the 10am start (which is officially his start, he’s not late) sort of indicate it’s weirdly about control to some degree. How much I’m not sure, because it may be frustrating to need information and not have it too. Working these staggering shifts or time zones can also have frustrating waits but I don’t answer emails or check them first thing either and it would never occur to me that was an expectation (because it’s not in my job). So it does need to be clear and LW also needs to consider if there’s a reason (is this holding up work?) or if they’ve just become annoyed at the work time difference.

        1. Celeste*

          Two hours to settle in seems odd to me. I think most people check their emails when they arrive to see if there is anything time-sensitive. It doesn’t seem like a weird expectation for LW to have.

          1. Allonge*

            Yes, I am not sure it’s reasonable to have two hours to ‘settle in’, whatever that means (does not really sound like work?).

            Now, if employee needs to start the day with milking all llamas or something else not email-compatible, that’s different, but I would be surprised if OP would not know about that. Still, employee, especially considering the remote situation, should flag this as an issue to OP if it makes him miss deadlines.

          2. Miss Muffet*

            Totally agree. I think it’s reasonable for the manager to say, since your work hours start a while after everyone else’s, I need you to do at least a quick pass through your email more or less at the beginning of your day before starting anything else. The manager could also perhaps put something in the subject of an email that says like, ‘Response needed by Noon ET’ or something to help flag something especially urgent.
            But having worked in a variety of white collar/email-y type of jobs for a long time, I think the employee is not getting the basic cultural thing that your manager is telling you stuff is late so at a minimum you should be especially responsive to THEIR emails.

          3. Also-ADHD*

            I guess it depends on the job. If I’m not expecting an email, I’m working off the project board and often jump into deep work first thing when my brain is fresh. I check email after standup.

      3. K*

        Is OP making it clear that the information is needed? They say it’s their “expectation” but it’s not clear that expectation is being communicated. This guy might be checking his email but not responding because it hasn’t been communicated that this is time sensitive. OP should also make sure the information they’re requesting is as easy to come by as they believe. It’s possible it just takes this guy an hour or so to craft a response. Without details we just don’t know.

    2. Ink*

      Really? Especially when they don’t work in the same physical location, email’s going to be a big way tasks are communicated from a lot of managers. They might have a meeting where they’ll need fact x, and if the meeting’s at noon they’ll be going in unprepared. A genuine miscommunication earlier in the week might mean the lack of response is bottlenecking others’ work. An hour or two isn’t especially urgent, in general. Unless your workplace operates at DMV speeds, I guess, but LW would probably know if that were the case!

      1. Sleeve McQueen*

        At any rate, communicate your expectations around response times. You can’t be annoyed at someone for failing to hit a target they didn’t know they were aiming for.

        1. Allonge*

          I agree that OP needs to communicate – not just reponse times but checking email first thing – but I also don’t think that it’s a lot to expect that employee notices the pattern of ‘shit, I missed a deadline from boss’ happening frequently.

          Obviously it was not noticed so OP needs to say something now. But this is not some kind of big mystery either.

        2. Project Ma’amager*

          The emails have deadlines which sets those expectations I’d think! I would hope that any employee would say “wow I continuously miss deadlines because I don’t read my email as soon as I get to work. The best way to fix that would be to read my email as soon as I get to work.” Maybe this is a cultural thing (I’m American) but it would be straight up embarrassing to have your boss tell you to check email when you start your day because it’s just The Thing You Do when you have a desk job. I think that might be what is giving OP pause – this is so obvious that communicating it feels micromanagey… but the employee has made it obvious he is not connecting the dots here.

        3. Celeste*

          The question LW asked is whether those expectations are reasonable or not. If so, then they can be communicated to the employee — which, given the advice, is presumably what will happen now.

    3. joanna*

      Really? It’s normal in my job.

      — “I have a call with the big boss at 11, can you send me the latest on xyz”
      — “Can you touch base with Client this morning about xyz”
      — “Marla in marketing was looking for you, needs #s for xyz before noon”

      1. Emmy Noether*

        I agree this is normal. Important to note though that those examples all include deadlines, so the recipient does know there’s an expectation for response time.

        For quick questions from a superior that don’t include a deadline, it’s often fine to take longer (within a day is still quite reasonable in a lot of workplaces). Personally, I try to do those right away too – both because it’s more efficient to do quick answers immediately upon first read of an email, and because it makes a good impression – but not everyone does.

        Expecting someone to read emails first thing is also reasonable and common, in case there are urgent ones. It may need to be explicitly explained to this employee.

    4. Kella*

      That’s kind of a weird take. Time-sensitive deadlines are a real and normal thing. When completing a task impacts other people, the consequences of not doing it are higher. That doesn’t mean that everything has to be an emergency but it’s perfectly normal for meeting on-the-hour deadlines to be a necessary aspect of doing a job. OP’s reasoning is “because I said so” to the extent that any manager who decides something is necessary for the job is “because they said so.” That’s a huge part of a manager’s job, evaluating what is necessary.

      1. Daisy-dog*

        And in particular, a quick question: “Were the llamas brushed yesterday?” or “What is the shipping number for the teapot spouts?” should be a quick response. I prioritize questions from my manager. The “24-hour” rule does not apply to them. I highly doubt the reason for expecting a response within an hour of arrival is “because I said so” and it’s not the same reason for every question. The reason is because they need to know to prioritize llama brushing or to schedule a team to assemble teapots when the spouts are supposed to arrive. It’s about LW being able to actually work. (And really, LW’s employee doesn’t seem like the type to provide status updates proactively.)

    5. Fikly*

      This is a remote workplace, and the employee is refusing to use Slack. The OP most likely has no other way to communicate with their employee other than email, and given the disparity in working hours, is waiting 3-4 hours for a response to something that could have been handled via a Slack.

      It’s wildly unreasonable that 1) the employee is refusing to use Slack and 2) the employee is refusing to respond to the one method of communication he will use in a timely manner.

      It’s not about pulling rank, it’s about being able to communicate with someone you manage, who is refusing to communicate. The OP said “It’s not uncommon for me to send an email that requires a response in the morning.” That is not what “because I said so” means. What is actually missing from this letter is a reason the employee won’t use Slack, other than “because I don’t like it.”

      If you think it’s always better to give people latitude where you can, why are you giving none to the OP?

      1. Yellow cake*

        It’s perfectly reasonable to not use slack if slack isn’t a requirement of their position.

        I have no idea what role the employee had, and so minimal email contact and not slack could be perfectly reasonable.

        Some companies are moving away from everyone having IM, and everyone having email etc because they recognise how much of a complete time sync it is.

        It may not be refusing so much as choosing not to. Just because it is LW’s preferred approach doesn’t mean everyone else wants it. And while being the boss gives you some wiggle room to shape how things are done, depending on the company and role you might have next to no say.

        1. Allonge*

          Could be, but it obviously does not work. Ideally, the employee themselves would notice that they have missed deadlines from their boss several times now because of this choice, and follow up on this. As things stand, OP definitelty needs to tell employee that something needs to change.

          1. AngryOctopus*

            Yeah, I find it hard to be sympathetic to how the employee wants to work because, when they do get to email, they SHOULD be realizing that they have missed deadlines from the OP, and they SHOULD be revamping their work style so they aren’t doing so. But that isn’t happening. So really step one is a “come to Cthulhu” talk about restructuring their workday as to not miss these deadlines. It’s possible that employee makes themselves a task list that they want to sit down and bang out each AM before getting into email (and they don’t like Slack because it interrupts their focus), BUT, as always, work needs come before preference, and it needs to be made clear that needs with short deadlines happen, and employee has to be on top of them. If he can’t do this after a talk, it’s time to go PIP, because he’s not meeting basic job requirements.

            1. Snarktastic*

              Agreed. It feels like we’re missing context – because there are parts of this that do lead me to believe OP has been vague or non-communicative about her expectations – UNTIL they point out that they have put deadlines in these messages. That they definitely have standing to address as a clear pattern. “I’ve noticed that morning messages with stated time frames I’ve sent aren’t getting answered for several hours, and the deadlines are getting missed. Urgent needs often come up before your day starts, so going forward please review your emails first thing and prioritize accordingly.” Then you might find out that he’s got other urgent tasks he’s regularly called away for, or that you’re burying the deadlines in the middle of emails and he’s not catching them, that he’s just lazy, etc. But either way they need to communicate clearly with this guy.

              I wonder if OP is a new manager who doesn’t have a clear sense of how to state her needs, especially when they don’t exactly align with larger company standards? It’s perfectly reasonable to say “I know Slack isn’t normally required, but because we are remote and handle urgent cases it is required for this team,” unless you don’t feel you have the authority to do so, for whatever reason.

          1. bamcheeks*

            This is going a bit far. There are lots of workplaces where refusing to use IM systems would be unacceptable. There are others where it’s just fine. And given that LW says they can’t enforce its usage, it’s entirely possible that this is the latter.

            1. saskia*

              I mean, Alison says in her answer that OP can require her employees use Slack. Typically, if your direct manager asks you do something, you can’t just refuse because you don’t feel like doing that thing. If that was true, businesses would collapse lol. I’m not saying that most workplaces require employees use IM; I’m saying that most workplaces require that you do… what your manager wants you to do.

        1. Kella*

          OP says they are not collocated, which I think doesn’t mean remote but does mean they aren’t in frequent physical proximity to one another, so the impact is similar.

    6. bamcheeks*

      I’m sort of landing here, not because there’s anything inherently wrong with expecting an email response within a couple of hours, but because LW seems so ambivalent about it and I think this is very much a symptom of a much larger set of problems.

      LW, I would step away from this particular situation and this particular team member for a minute, and look at the bigger picture. You’ve got here your irritation and doubts that he’s actually getting to work on time, the fact that he won’t use Slack and you feel you have no power to enforce it, a reluctance to address issues with him because of his attitude, and the email thing. Set all that aside for a minute, and think about the role. What do you actually need here? If you need these emails answered by lunchtime, it’s not only reasonable but necessary to require that. If you don’t technically need them but it would make your work easier, it’s OK to require it UNLESS it conflicts with another duty your employee has— like that 10am start is when he’s teaching or on a public-facing desk or something. If it’s not necessary and just your preference, you can still require it but as a manager it would help if you could give flexibility and good will somewhere else. (And you need to *own* that decision, and be confident about enforcing it.) I would do the same calculations for Slack too.

      Spend some time thinking about how you’re going to deal with the attitude too. It sounds a pain! That said, it’s possible that this employee’s bad attitude is partly coming out of a bad feedback loop with your your general distrust of this employer— you’re suspicious of their timekeeping and (understandably!) unwilling to assert boundaries with them. I would dig into where that’s coming from on your side, and think about whether it’s possible to reset the whole relationship, with some clearer expectations, a more positive vibe but ALSO a lower tolerance for the bad attitude. And possibly some more support from your own managers.

      1. English Rose*

        Yes this is more or less where I’m landing as well.
        But I wish we had more information about this employee’s job. Is he coming in to emails from a lot of people, not only his boss, so struggling to prioritise? What other time critical duties does he have, or not (your examples like being on a public-facing desk)? Is he needing to finish off work from the previous evening?
        It’s difficult to tell without context how much of LW’s requests are actually time-critical or which can wait.
        But I agree some proper thinking and conversations are what’s needed.

    7. MK*

      Some of us prefer not to work in a state of urgency; and your boss can actually diactate the order you do your work tasks according to their own preference, even if they aren’t urgent. The only fault I find with OP is that it sounds she hasn’t been clear with him that she does in fact want him to check and answer his emails as soon as he comes in; once she does, it’s not really reasonable to demand that she justify her decision. By your logic, what is he doing during the couple of hours it takes him to answer that is so urgent? Does he have a reason for not answering emails first, other than his own preference? In my opinion, once he is told that his boss wants this task done first, it’s on him to make a case that he can’t; which can be because there is another urgent task that takes priority or because finding the answer takes him a while, but it can’t be “you haven’t given me a good enough reason to get back to you by eleven, so I won’t”.

      1. AngryOctopus*

        This is how I land as well. It’s possible that employee has a way they set up their day to work best for them. But it’s not working for OP, and OP is the boss! OP can absolutely sit him down and say “I need you to check emails first thing, because I often need things from you on a short deadline so we can complete things for other departments. When that’s late it has an impact on everyone’s day.” And as you say, if the employee thought “Oh, let me just complete this other high priority task first” or “wow, this data was supposed to be in X folder but it’s not so I have to search”, then they have to communicate back to OP (and maybe learn how they have to shift priority in this job).

      2. hbc*

        Seriously. Even people who have Very Important and Urgent Things to be doing off their computers at work almost always check at least one form of communication as the first part of their day. The customer called and cancelled their early morning service, there’s a surprise inspection on the factory floor so you need to push back the promised deliveries by a day, the payroll person called in sick so you need to run it before you go to the six hour fundraising meeting if everyone is going to get paid on time, etc..

        Maybe there are some jobs where nothing that changes your day could possibly be in your inbox/Slack channel/voicemail, but apparently, this one is not one of them.

      3. Not Totally Subclinical*

        Some people prefer to do a focused block of work on a task first thing in the morning because they know that once they open their inbox they’ll be juggling multiple tasks for the rest of the day and won’t be able to work effectively on that important project that needs focus.

        However, if this job has that kind of task, LW as the manager would presumably be aware of it. And if other folks’ tasks are being held up because the employee isn’t checking email early enough, then the employee needs to rework their schedule.

    8. PossumPrint*

      That’s my feeing too. I don’t feel an immediate urgency via email unless the email is marked as urgent or has directives for me to respond immediately. Also if they’re arriving by 10 and there are emails in their inbox from “after hours” it could be likely there are multiple items in their queue. It’s worth asking non-judge mentally how many emails they are responding to every morning.

      1. Rebecca*

        It’s impossible to say what’s really going on without context. I sometimes come into work and have multiple urgent emails. Some require a quick response that takes 30 seconds, and others require in-depth responses. I tend to immediately reply to the 30 second response emails and triage the rest. So an urgent email that requires an hour of follow-up might come before another urgent email that takes 15 minutes of follow-up, based on other deadlines. It’s just situational.

        And I’m sorting importance based on the facts available to me. There may be more information that I’m not privy to for whatever reason that means I should have prioritized differently, but I wouldn’t know that unless someone spelled it out.

        There’s a million explanations that don’t put the employee in the wrong and a million explanations that do. I’m honestly baffled the manager hasn’t just spoken to the employee to get to the bottom of it. It could be anything from “I’m actually getting coffee and a bagel and not really starting work until noon” to “I was specifically told by your predecessor to always reply to emails from executives first, even if they don’t appear urgent, and that usually takes an hour and a half when I come in”.

    9. Cat Tree*

      Wow, I get urgent emails all the time. I work in a manufacturing industry that is highly regulated so I’m always either trying to fix something unexpected to meet the manufacturing/supply schedule ot meeting a compliance due date, or both. Just because you don’t personally have a job like that doesn’t mean they don’t exist. I assure you that plenty of jobs are time sensitive and the site rules require us to take LW at their word.

    10. Falling Diphthong*

      I have a little trouble believing anything is that urgent.
      Why would you have trouble believing this?

      “Sometimes at work I need information or material by a certain time, so that other things can happen to the information or material before a deadline” is a really common workplace thing.

      1. Rebecca*

        I think the confusion is how something can be urgent, but there haven’t been any consequences to not responding. I handle truly urgent emails at work, and I’d definitely know if I missed one, because there would be genuine consequences to not responding.

        How can something be considered urgent if there’s zero consequence to replying late? That fundamentally doesn’t make sense. There’s a lot of missing context here.

    11. Ask A Manatee*


      Having the option to communicate with an employee in real time (or close to it) is a normal expectation, even if you only need to use that option sparingly. Let’s take LW at face value that there are time sensitive needs (also a perfectly normal thing at a workplace). She has clearly told the employee this is an issue, but she hasn’t followed through on ensuring it’s fixed. Slack or no Slack, that’s not the point. Not being able to reach the employee for information or rely on them to do tasks are the issues, and serious ones.

    12. umami*

      I don’t think most supervisors (at least I hope!) are sending their staff emails that don’t need a somewhat quick response, even just to acknowledge it was received and you’re on top of it. If I see an email from my boss, I’m going to open that pretty quickly to see if it’s something he needs urgently, so I wonder if this person opens emails in order rather than prioritizing by sender. And closing the loop is important, too. I had a particular direct report who would take care of things I emailed him, but he often wouldn’t let me know that he did. I had to let him know that he needs to close the loop with me so I don’t have to keep following up to see if X was done.

  10. John Smith*

    Re LW5, excellent advice that I’m going to use myself. My manager always disregarding rules, procedures, law etc when they become inconvenient to him and makes the most pathetic excuses to try and justify departure from them, yet at the same time howls like a banshee about how important following rules are when someone else makes a mistake. I’ve struggled thinking of a response beyond “my manager is a clown” to such a question.

    1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      I recently learned that this concept is called “protagonist centred morality”, and now I see it everywhere (and am also guilty of it myself). I work with programming code – someone else introduces a bug it was because they didn’t test it carefully enough, didn’t think about edge case X, etc. When ‘we’ introduce a bug it was an unexpected side-effect as a result of technical debt introduced years ago by The Other Team…

  11. Adam*

    LW2 has the same vibes as people who complain to a cop giving them a speeding ticket that they pay their salary. It’s never made the situation better, and frequently makes it worse, but somehow people keep thinking it’s a good idea?

  12. Jackalope*

    Regarding #5, are the broken regulations severe enough to report somewhere? I know that sometimes people think such regulations are just annoying hoops the govt has created, but I also know that they can exist for really good reasons. If the boss is breaking something that’s important and basic enough to be followed throughout the industry, it sounds like they should be reported to a regulating agency somewhere. This might be something to do after you leave the job (or before; you know your situation better than I do), but it’s something to think about.

    1. mountaingirl*

      Yes, they are severe enough to report, and there is a reporting structure. It’s a tiny team, and this is a scenario where they would absolutely 100% know that I reported them, though I am seriously considering filing an anonymous complaint after I am settled elsewhere.

      All of their competitors follow the appropriate guidelines, and the only thing (as far as I can tell) that has stopped someone else from flagging their behavior is the fact that they are not really llama grooming at any scale right now, so they aren’t on anybody’s radar. I feel like it’s just a matter of time before one of their competitors *does* notice and waves a flag at the appropriate government agency, and I’ve told my bosses that, but I think they think I am being dramatic and blowing the issue out of proportion,

      1. Shrimp Emplaced*

        Ugh, what a couple of disaster bosses! So sorry you’re dealing with this, mountaingirl. Hope you find somewhere new and ethical to work soonest, so you can actually enjoy your job and report the disaster bosses ASAP. We’re cheering you on!

      2. JustaTech*

        Oh, people who come from non-regulated industries.
        Regulations exist for a reason, and more often than not are written in blood (metaphorically).
        I don’t know about your industry, but in pharma we have training every year on all kinds of regulations, and frequently the training includes “this will shut down your facility” or “when this happened at Company X the CEO went to jail”.
        It seems unlikely at this point (given the behavior of the bosses) but if there’s been a case in your industry where CEOs have going to jail for violating regulations, it might be worth bringing that up once.

        But I would hope that any reasonable interviewer would understand “the board is new to doing business in a regulated industry and was unsupportive to my changes to get the company in compliance”.

      3. goddessoftransitory*

        Once they get fined into the dirt they might change their mind, but…probably not. That mindset seems permanently set to “aggrieved.”

  13. PhilG*

    I wonder if the people in #1 are in the same time zone? If not, a simple request like “I need XYZ by lunchtime” could be interpreted as before their time rather than the requesting person’s time. I work with professionals across 4 zones and support facilities in two. All communication is based on Eastern Time Zone, so we can be in sync.

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Good point–Even within one time zone it’s risky to set a hard deadline by “lunchtime” or “end of day” when you have such different schedules.

      OP’s lunchtime is going to be much earlier than that of someone whose day begins 3 hours later.

    2. anononon*

      Or just a misunderstanding. I routinely take my lunchbreak at 2pm, but ‘by lunchtime’ probably actually means ‘by 12 noon’.

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

      I think they are in the same timezone just that their offices are not together. Like Op’s is on another floor or in another building but they are at the same geographical area. I get this because they say “He and I work slightly different hours. I come in at 8:30 and he comes in (ostensibly) at 10. We are not collocated and while I can check in on his arrival time occasionally, I can’t be outside his door checking the clock regularly.”
      I’m taking Collocated to mean they are not joined or next door to each other but in the same general area/building.

  14. Irish Teacher*

    LW1, have you told your employee you need him to check e-mails first thing? I don’t think it’s unreasonable to want a quick response but I also think that if you haven’t told him, it wouldn’t be unreasonable for him to do other things first. It sounds like he should get it from the deadlines in the e-mails, but somebody people need to be told explicitly, “I will sometimes send you e-mails that need a very quick response so can you check your e-mail as soon as you get to work, please?”

    1. allathian*

      Yes, or even “I will sometimes send you e-mails that need a very quick response so I need you to check your e-mail as soon as you get to work.”

      The “can” and “please” make it sound like a request when it is in fact a direct order from a manager.

      Direct orders can sound a bit brusque, especially if you’re an experienced subject matter expert in a job where you have a lot of authority in prioritizing tasks. But in those cases, the difference between a direct order and a request can serve as an additional tool for prioritization. When it’s a request, the person making the request trusts you to assign it the appropriate priority. When it’s an order, it basically means that you have to drop everything else and do this now. Obviously, there’s a different problem if everything is urgent and important.

      Granted, in general managers can expect their employees to comply with a request, but some employees need to be told, and it sounds like this employee is one of them.

      1. Irish Teacher*

        Yeah, you’re right. It does sound like this employee might need the more direct language.

      1. Hlao-roo*

        It’s the last line of the second paragraph of the question:

        Including a request for a response by a certain time isn’t effective since he doesn’t seem to review email in the morning.

      2. Allonge*

        For me “Including a request for a response by a certain time isn’t effective since he doesn’t seem to review email in the morning.” implies that OP includes deadlines and it made no difference, but indeed it’s not spelled out like that.

        I would also hope that OP tried that before writing in :)

      3. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        There’s “Including a request for a response by a certain time isn’t effective since he doesn’t seem to review email in the morning.”

        But I do get the feeling that LW isn’t routinely including deadlines in their requests, thinking that it’s obvious that the task should be high priority, whereas the employee may need to be told explicitly “I need the llama comb numbers by 11am” or “the saucer team need to work on the document tomorrow so you must get it to me this afternoon”.

  15. Mary*

    #1. You have more than an email problem, you have an employee problem and you need to step up and manage it. You need to be crystal clear on your expectations.
    If you require certain emails answered by say 11am because you run a report to give to your boss before noon just tell your employee – any email with subject lines x y or z need answers by 11 am for x reason.
    If you want to use slack for urgent messages then – any slack messages I send you need to be answered within 15 mins whether you like using slack or not. This is a tool our company have provided us and is my preferred way of urgent communication and is a requirement of my direct reports to check for urgent time sensitive messages from me. I use slack because it spots up my work.
    If you get push back on issues continually then call it out, I notice when I ask you to do any task you spend an excessive time breaking it down into minutiae with me. This is disruptive of my work flow/time so unless there is an odd item which requires a more in depth discussion I need you to take my requests on board and proceed with the work. If you find that this is a difficulty for you then you should start to consider if this job is suitable for you going forward. And then call it out every single time. This is an example of what I was talking about, you need to stop doing this now.
    Be clear in your expectations, be consistent in your message, make sure your requests are for business purposes and not just personal preferences (like starting time). But also be aware that if the starting time does not suit the workflow then call it out and say, I thought the department could work with a 10 am start but I find we are always waiting for x each morning and y is not done when we come in at 8 so I need you to bring your start time forward to 9 am so we can assess it that helps. Be clear, give the business reason, don’t get into back and forth arguments.

    1. Final Girl*

      What does “spots up” mean? It’s not jargon I’ve heard before, and Googling it isn’t giving me anything.

        1. Final Girl*

          Ohhhhh, that could be it! Thank you. I didn’t even think of it being an autocorrect error as it looks so different to any other word that could go there, but it might be.

          1. Mary*

            Oh gosh – speeds up – not spots up.

            Either auto correct or thick fingers when I was typing.

    2. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      > You have more than an email problem, you have an employee problem

      I agree, but I think what OP actually has is an assertiveness / owning their (OPs) role problem. OP seems almost afraid to ask the employee about this, let alone give them a direct order like “please check your email first thing when you start work, because we often have requests that need a response by 11am because of reason x”.

    3. Green great dragon*

      I agree it’s an employee problem, but I think there’s scope to for a more problem-solving approach. LW is not getting timely responses from Report, they should be clear that’s not acceptable, but can ask him how he plans to improve. I’m suggesting that because it seems like there’s a couple of options LW’d be OK with – either using slack for urgent stuff, or Report responding more quickly to emails, possibly others – so give him the choice, and then hold him to it.

    4. Yellow cake*

      First LW needs to make sure that what she is asking is reasonable.

      LW doesn’t seem sure that checking emails first thing is a reasonable request. Many jobs don’t have people sitting at the end of an email waiting on a message – but rather they are doing what the core function of their job is. I’ve never had a job where quick response in email is expected (our rule is 2 full business days) so I’m quite likely very biased here.

      When you start making ultimatums – and threatening employment – you better be very sure you’re on solid ground to take that stance!

      This tone just reminds me of bosses I’ve had who are very big on doing things their way – but maybe aren’t willing to understand why things are done differently.

      The fact that they work different shifts in different locations does have me wondering how much understanding LW has of what the employee is doing on a day to day basis.

      1. Yellow cake*

        I should say I’ve also always worked in places where you cannot legally sack someone on a whim.

        And for the most part a manager can’t just decide to change someone’s shift on a whim. If I have contracted hours you need to work through a process to change my shift. If my workplace has flexible hours built in – that’s part of my remuneration package – and there’s a process to have that changed. Even if it’s not built in – in a unionised workplace if you want to change someone’s work hours there’s a process. Even non-union workplaces can have policies that mean there’s a process.

        In some cases, workplace flexibility may be a workplace response to a legal entitlement (you have the legal right to request flexible hours in certain cases). So a manger walking that back could land a company in trouble (legally and media).

        Hence why this comment just sounds really high handed to me. Instead of starting from working with the employee – this seems to jump to threats and whims.

      2. bamcheeks*

        First LW needs to make sure that what she is asking is reasonable.

        They do, but like you say, this is the kind of stuff that varies so much that asking Alison for a judgement without reference to the industry, sector, type of role etc isn’t a great way to do that!

        I’m always kind of surprised in both letters and in the comments section where people seem to assume there’s an objective or universal answer to stuff like this. There are so many variables– what the employee’s role is, what else they’re expected to do, how much autonomy they’re expected to have over their own prioritisation, what LW’s role is, how this fits in with their workflow, what the culture of the organisation is, and so on. I don’t think my experience is that broad or diverse, but I can think of at least half a dozen situations where this would be not only reasonable but necessary, half a dozen where it would be an appalling overstep, and half a dozen where it would be very much the manager’s judgment call. I’m kind of amazed by anyone who can confidently state who is clearly right or wrong in this situation with so little context!

        1. Expelliarmus*

          LW is trying to communicate time-sensitive deadlines; surely it’s reasonable to at least try to solution something here instead of just sucking it up and accepting the current workflow?

          1. bamcheeks*

            I’m not sure what you’re disagreeing with: I didn’t said anything about sucking it up and accepting the current workflow! LW seems to be undecided on whether it’s a critical requirement of the job or not: the question is “is this reasonable or should I adjust my expectations”. My answer is that there isn’t a universal answer to “is this reasonable” and is going to vary based on the type of work LW and their employee are doing, and that’s the first thing to figure out. I didn’t say, “nope, entirely unreasonable, adjust your expectations.”

            1. Expelliarmus*

              It initially sounded like you were saying that LW’s desire to change the workflow may not be reasonable in every workplace, and I was disagreeing with that general aspect. Of course, how the workflow should be changed will vary by circumstances pertaining to the workplace, but the general need to change the workflow is very reasonable because no matter the workplace, the manager needs a way to communicate time-sensitive deadlines.

      3. The Unspeakable Queen Lisa*

        I think it’s the opposite. I’m inferring that he’s a “well, it doesn’t say this in the employee handbook, therefore I don’t have to do it” kind of employee.

        LW has gotten so much pushback from this employee on everything that she is starting to question if maybe he is right and she is wrong. Instead of realizing that no other employee has ever had these issues and therefore it’s a him problem, she has started to doubt herself. So she wrote in to Alison for a reality check.

        1. QuietQuittingIsActuallyJustRepesctingTheAgreement*

          “no other employee has ever had these issues and therefore it’s a him problem”

          No. Pushing back against off-the-books increases in workload without commensurate increases in compensation is not a problem, regardless of how rare it is to push back.

      4. Daisy-dog*

        But LW is his manager. Even if he does feel like he should be running off to take care of X when he starts work, LW can tell him to please read AND RESPOND to email first. If that doesn’t work at his site (because the computer is unavailable or someone else confronts him to do something else when he walks in), then they can talk about it.

  16. Hmj*

    I am literally in the process of leaving a job after 3 months right now because I learned after I was hired that they were still excitedly minting NFTs, and pouring a lot of money into developing more. They are also on the side of the studios who want to capture talent likeness and reuse them in whatever they want…

    I told my interviewers that I wasn’t comfortable with that, and they all grimaced and said it was understandable. Except the one guy who didn’t know what NFTs were, but he got the context of “I don’t know if I can ethically work there”.

    OP, in my opinion you should get out before you are linked to something you’re not comfortable with long term.

    1. WestsideStory*

      That was my take as well. Get out, and resume your job hunt in peace. I’ve worked in book publishing – which is full of vanity organizations – and a lot of my gigs were to “fix” products and/or processes dreamed up by wealthy individuals or companies who tolerated failures because they could be used as a tax write-off against other business investments.
      Yes it is a shame when a potential good product or idea isn’t given the help needed to make it fly. But don’t let this be your shame. Don’t let yourself be tied to these irrational buffoons. Get out now, and leave this job off your resume. It’s only been 3 months after all.

    2. mountaingirl*

      I am the primary breadwinner in my household and am unfortunately not in a position financially where I can just tell them to pound sand as I walk out the door. I have documented all of my protests around this situation and am going to leave as soon as I possibly can, and I really wish I could, but I’m going to need the advice Alison gave me to find a new job before I tell them I am taking my ball and leaving.

      1. WestsideStory*

        I’m sorry you have this added stress and understand that in any industry, positions that come with higher responsibilities and higher pay are harder to replace.
        My only other advice then is to do the minimum- leave at 5, don’t go above and beyond, limit your exposure to this toxicity on a daily basis. You are going to need that time and energy to job search harder and be present to your family. Don’t care more about these work problems than your company does.

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        I agree with other posters who tell you to save hard copies of all evidence at your home. Make sure your ass is covered with the equivalent of Captain America’s shield!

  17. anyone else feel like the stress is unreal*

    The widespread expectation (perhaps predominantly in the US?) to reply to emails within, like, mere _minutes_, all day, every day is giving me shivers all over. It’s not a human way to work or live. I’m not saying no emails are important.

    Just saying that the expectation for everyone to always be on top of their inbox every minute of each day, lest they get a stern talking to by their boss, is off the walls.

    Please take care of each other and make time to breathe today.

    1. Allonge*

      Expecting a response from 10am till noon is not that extreme though? I mean, if the employee’s day starts with a physical walkthrough / meeting of some kind that’s something OP should be aware of, but other than that, you get in, check your email, take care of the urgent ones from the boss is not a huge imposition. Part of the deal when you start your workday relatively late is that you will get a bunch of emails by the time you get in.

      OP’s employee should notice a pattern at least (but him having failed to do it, OP should absolutely tell them now).

      By all means take a break from email during the day. But doing that first thing in the morning may lead to situations like this.

      1. anyone else feel like the stress is unreal*

        You are right about that, Allonge. Also, of course this LW/supervisor should make their expectations clear to their employee. And standards for time to reply varies from industry to industry, too.

        I just extrapolated from this question, and many other questions and comments about needing to reply immediately to emails, and felt like it’s an inhuman system, taken largely :-) The fact that I’m on sick leave for stress issues probably factors in to my reaction, too, lol.

        1. Allonge*

          I totally understand and I hope you feel better soon! Obviously if there is a workload issue, then that should also be discussed.

        2. Yellow cake*

          I completely agree! I got the same vibe and find myself saying – hang on nobody seems to have even spoken with the employee about this.

          To me it’s not about not taking the LW at her word – it’s questioning whether she has taken a work with employee to fix problem approach .

          It’s completely reasonable that sometimes short notice things come up. What might not be reasonable is expecting an employee on a later shift (which may or may not be a perk – it might just be their work hours for operational reasons) to respond in the time available alongside their other tasks. Or or might be that other tasks that are currently being prioritised can be dropped but employee is just following orders that had from the past.

        3. A. Nonymous*

          Inhuman? Really? That’s a massively over dramatic characterization of a very normal part of working life.

          1. bamcheeks*

            anyone else said that with the context that they’re currently on stress leave– I think they were acknowledging that it wasn’t necessarily a fair characterisation but that they’ve not necessarily thinking about work rationally at the moment, so it seems a bit unfair to pick them up on that!

          2. Heather*

            yeah, there are plenty of actually inhuman working conditions out there. having to stay on top of email doesn’t seem like that much of an imposition..

        4. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

          To be fair, OP is asking if her expectation is reasonable. It sounds like she does want a sanity check to make sure she is not making unreasonable demands that might lead her employee to the kind of burnout you are experiencing. I hope you recover soon!

      2. amoeba*

        Yup. Also, this is the trade-off for refusing (wtf?) to use Slack! I’m usually on top of my inbox, but I also have the Teams chat and if something is really time-sensitive, I’ll use that. Or drop by in person – which obviously isn’t a possibility when working remote, but there needs to be some way of real-time communication in the vast majority of jobs! And if you’re refusing anything but e-mail, that makes it more important to check those reasonably often.

        Replying to non-urgent ones is of course something else, but to decide which is which, they need to be read/scanned first!

      3. umami*

        Yes, if you know you are starting your day later than others (including your boss), you should expect to see if they or your boss needs something from you before you start whatever other tasks you planned for the morning. It feels like common sense, but OP needs to directly say this to the employee. Not doing so sounds like a good way to lose the privilege of a later start time.

      4. Gemma*

        Amen. Maybe I’m particularly sensitive to this issue since my day is packed with meetings and I have other time-sensitive duties to attend to outside of meetings and emails. It’s literally impossible to do everything timely and well.

    2. Bit o' Brit*

      In a culture that uses IM or phonecalls, email is indeed for slower or more time-consuming requests and it would be weird to expect a very fast response. But since the employee won’t use Slack and there was no mention of phonecalls, email is the most immediate method of communication so it has to be used for time-sensitive requests.

    3. kalli*

      Yeah, and if you get in to 100+ emails, it’s still going to take time to find the important ones, deal with them, and respond to them; sending ‘can you do this’ by Slack just means someone has to check two places and still then has to sort and prioritise.

      The only way out of this without reorganising the employee’s entire workflow to match the volume of emails that are waiting when they arrive is for LW1 to send things they need done as tasks or with the deadline in the subject, so the employee can see them easily without having to read every single email first to find the ‘can you quick send me your info on x asap’ after dealing with ‘hey can you jump up and down so i can check the soundproofing’ and ‘can you compile the last year’s reports for me by today’ and getting down that far.

      Depends how many emails they have and what their process is for prioritising them – I don’t think instant responses are as important as many people seem to and I don’t think two hours in this case is unreasonable on the letter, but there’s a lot of info that isn’t there which could change the equation.

      1. Allonge*

        If the issue is that employee comes in to see hundreds of emails, amongst which are dozens from boss, he should ask for a flag of ‘urgent’ of some kind – that word / deadline in the subject line or whatever else that allows them to prioritize correctly.

        Obviously OP should be much clearer, but employee does not seem to be trying to resolve this in any manner either.

        1. INTPLibrarian*

          Or just do it himself. (There’s still the question of whether or not the manager has told the employee this is an issue.) I get a ridiculously high number of emails; I have my Outlook to both flag ones from my supervisor as high importance and a specially designated alert sound for when I get an email from her.

    4. Observer*

      Just saying that the expectation for everyone to always be on top of their inbox every minute of each day, lest they get a stern talking to by their boss, is off the walls.

      Except that this not close to what the OP is looking for. It’s utterly unhelpful to take a reasonable expectation – either use the office provided IM client or check your email when you come into the office and answer the urgent one within an hour or two- and act as though it’s some sort of draconian and close to impossible demand.

      1. K*

        We don’t actually know that this guy isn’t checking his email. All we know is that responses aren’t fast enough for OP. The emails are getting responses to just an hour or so later than OP would like. This guy isn’t a mind reader. It actually needs to be communicated to him which emails are high priority.

        1. Rebecca*

          I’m really stuck on the fact that there don’t seem to be any consequences to his late responses. If the problem was “I have other employees waiting with nothing to do” or “payroll wasn’t sent on time” or whatever, that’s a concrete thing. But the letter doesn’t indicate that’s the case. It seems to be more “I expect him to answer my emails right when he gets in the office”. Which is fine, but how he is he supposed to know that if no one tells him? For all anyone knows, a 30 second conversation could easily solve this problem. And since the manager hasn’t even bothered with that, I’m confused as to how it’s so urgent that they haven’t already followed up before his typical noon reply. I deal with urgent emails, and I’d get a phone call or text (I don’t use a chat system) if it was truly urgent and I’d missed it.

          1. Celeste*

            I don’t think it’s that the manager hasn’t bothered to communicate the expectation – the main question posed in the letter is whether this expectation is reasonable. I think the LW has been reluctant to talk to the employee about it without being sure.

            1. Rebecca*

              The point is that the manager expects it, but it’s also completely understandable that the employee doesn’t know that. If it truly isn’t “you need to reply to this before 11AM or we miss a contract deadline” and more “I expect my employees to respond to my emails before other emails or tasks that could be considered just as important”, that’s at the manager’s discretion. And I suspect it’s the latter, because I can’t imagine the important context of “deadlines have been missed” being left out of the email. And that makes it a management problem and not an employee problem. A simple “please respond to emails from Jane, John and me before you begin other tasks” may solve the problem. Which is definitely a failure of management.

        2. Celeste*

          But the letter says, “Including a request for a response by a certain time isn’t effective since he doesn’t seem to review email in the morning.”

        3. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

          Most people would consider an email from their boss as something to look at and respond to quickly, even if it is just to verify that you are working on it. I do agree OP should communicate the expectation that he start his workday by looking at his emails and responding to anything that seems urgent or gives a timeline for response right away, but the expectation is reasonable and most of us do not need to have that communicated to us.

    5. Cat Tree*

      Some industries are more urgent than others. Is it really so hard to understand that some jobs aren’t exactly the same as yours? We’re supposed to take LWs at their word, so yes, those emails really do need to be answered in 2 hours (which isn’t *mere minutes* by any stretch of the imagination).

    6. AngryOctopus*

      If your inbox contains deadlines that you need to hit by a certain time of day, you most certainly do have to be on top of your inbox. It’s part of the job you signed up for.
      Not everyone works like this or has deadlines like this, but clearly OP and employee do.

    7. AvonLady Barksdale*

      This is really not that deep. In many jobs, it’s part of the daily routine to check your emails first thing and respond to ones with time-sensitive questions/issues. Sometimes people need responses to plan their days properly. Many times I need those emails so I can prioritize my own day. I realize some people get 1000s of emails a day but most of us get a pretty manageable amount. No one is asking for immediate replies– they’re asking for replies, period, and that is a totally reasonable thing to ask for. The time between 9am and noon is way longer than “mere minutes”.

    8. I should really pick a name*

      I’m not sure where you get the idea it’s a widespread expectation.

      There are specific industries and jobs with that expectation. There are some unreasonable managers with that expectation. But it isn’t a universal cultural expectation.

    9. The Unspeakable Queen Lisa*

      You’re being extremely melodramatic and exaggerating. No one is expecting a response within minutes.

      The boss gets in *hours* before the employee. She has already waited on him, and she continues to wait several more *hours* for a response. Not minutes.

      You seem to be projecting your own issues onto this letter. But please stop saying meaningless things like “this behavior I don’t personally like is *inhuman*” – it’s a gross way to talk about your fellow humans. I am not less human than you if I respond promptly to an email, for pete’s sake.

      1. MissElizaTudor*

        They didn’t say replying to things quickly is inhuman. They said living with an expectation of responses within minutes is not a human way to live. No one is saying you’re less human for your workflow, so no worries there!

        If the closeness to your own situation is mudding things, think of a different example. I say if we all lived under the expectation of only sleeping 4 hours a night, that would not be a very human way to live, but that doesn’t mean I’m calling someone who sleeps very little “less human.”

    10. GreenShoes*

      I think the expectation is that because the two aren’t located in the same building email is largely taking the place of ‘stick your head around the corner and ask a question’ this is especially true if IM isn’t in use. So I don’t think that faster than normal responses to email is too much to ask.

      The alternative would be calling for these things which I would assume most people would hate worse than lots of emails needing a quick response.

    11. Jennifer*

      I hate phone calls. I would rather do almost anything than talk on the phone if I can help it. If checking my emails first thing and answering urgent emails within an hour is wrong, I don’t want to be right if the phone is the alternative.

    12. NancyDrew*

      This is such a weird take. If your boss emails you, you prioritize a response. This is common sense.

    13. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

      Yeah, but who doesn’t check and respond to emails first thing upon getting to the office? And emails from your boss are usually top of the list to check and respond to, even if it is just to say that you will start working on that right away!

      OP hardly sounds like she is expecting him to respond to emails on days off or in the middle of the night!

  18. UK Girl*

    If I needed information from someone quickly I’d pick up the phone. “Hi Bob, I need an update on the brown teapot order before anything else.” I’d also check in with Bob to find out what’s in his workload.

    1. ClaireW*

      I’m not sure how this helps if Bob hasn’t started work at the time that you’re reviewing that task? You can’t just sit around and wait until Bob is online (especially since in the #1 letter the OP has reason to think the person isn’t starting even at 10am like they should), it’s reasonable that you should be able to send an email or DM as you review the thing and then you should be able to expect a prompt response from your employee. It’s not really the manager’s role to wait around for their employee to be available, and if I was Bob I’d not necesarily be ready with the info the second OP decides to phone anyway.

      1. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

        Agreed! UK Girl’s response is not very helpful and would be a really inefficient way to handle this situation, especially as it sounds frequent. I would be unwilling as a manager to go out of my way to call my employee over things that they are missing due to a refusal to check their emails immediately when they get into work (a pretty normal expectation and practice), especially if I had to wait until he was supposed to be in the office in order to make that phone call. That is not a reasonable use of my time, and I would see no reason to accommodate this employee in this way rather than to just instruct him that he needs to check all emails as soon as he gets in and reply promptly, with priority for anything that sets a specific early response time. I would also advise him that he is required to use and be active on slack from here on out.

    2. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

      It’s pretty normal to assume someone will check their email as soon as they get into work, and OP has said that requesting a specific response time is ineffective, which suggests that he is not checking it right away when he gets in. Otherwise, he could respond with the necessary information or he could respond and notify OP that he will need more time to get that information to her.

      It sounds right now like he is not checking email as soon as he gets in (which is really unreasonable if he starts his day significantly later than usual), or he is not even getting in on time.

      And honestly, most of us do not use the phone that much these days, as it is relatively inefficient as a means of communication. After all, she sends him the email at 9 am, he gets in at 10, she is expecting a response by 11. If she called him at 9, he wouldn’t be there, and it is unlikely he would check his voicemails earlier than his email. So what is she supposed to do? Not send the email when it occurs to her? Delay it to send at 10, which will do nothing since he is not checking the email? Or schedule herself a reminder to call him at exactly 10:05 for everything, regardless of whether that is a convenient time for her to stop what she is doing just to call him when he should just be checking his email like a normal person?

  19. Varthema*

    LW2 – maybe I’ve just been watching “Only Murders in the Building” too much, but I can’t help but think that since people only ever watch CCTV footage to figure out what happened during an incident of some sort (including theft and assault), the last thing you want is for them to *also* see a record of you being a disgruntled employee. I mean, it would have to be a massive coincidence (unless you plan on yelling at CCTV daily), and it’s circumstantial and would never hold up in court, but that doesn’t mean that it wouldn’t be a huge PITA for you while they try to work out whether the register being $500 short on Tuesday has anything to do with your flipping the camera the bird earlier that day.

    1. Elsewise*

      Hey, maybe it’ll be an alibi! “Dickie couldn’t have been the killer, he was screaming at the security cameras at the time!”

    2. Burger Bob*

      I have a fun story along those lines from retail pharmacy. At one pharmacy in my district, one of the pharmacists got majorly busted for generating fraudulent prescriptions (thousands of them). They were near a state border, and some of the prescriptions were being used across the state line, so it became a federal case. Whole big investigation. So it was one of those rare times when the CCTV footage gets reviewed on a large scale, because she was doing it on the job, so there was tons of evidence to collect. Soon after the footage review started, the overnight pharmacist at that location was fired too, so people initially assumed he had been in on the scheme. Nope. He was fired because the footage review revealed that he had been jacking off in the pharmacy during his overnight shifts.

  20. Grith*

    LW1 – If there’s a company culture of “quick questions via slack, detailed projects via email”, the employee doesn’t get to opt out of quick questions just by not using slack! It means they need to be more skilled at triaging their emails – and missing written deadlines in emails suggests he is not skilled enough to do that.

    Having said that, this does seem like it would massively benefit from a meeting to discuss the issues more generally. Responding to emails in a timeframe required by your boss is a basic job function that he seems to be failing at. If you regularly have work this employee needs to do for you by 10 the same day the work is generated, you need to have a discussion about the 10am start time.

    And you absolutely don’t need to get into an argument about this – telling him that when he gets in, he needs to identify and respond to urgent emails ASAP as a first job is well within your remit as his manager.

    1. londonedit*

      Yep. It’s reasonable for the employee not to respond to emails until after 10am, because that’s when he starts work. It’s also reasonable in a lot of situations for people to answer emails as and when they have time – I check my email as soon as I start work, and figure out which ones need an immediate response and which can wait (and, often, I make a conscious decision to wait before responding, because I don’t want certain people thinking they can always get an instant response from me).

      But it sounds like in this case it isn’t reasonable for him to never respond to anything until at least noon, and it sounds like the OP is giving him deadlines within the emails themselves. I’d absolutely leave aside the ‘is he even starting work at 10’ side of things, as that’s a different issue, but as his boss it’s perfectly reasonable to say ‘I often send you urgent requests by email, and I need you to check and respond to these as soon after 10am as possible. If there’s a deadline in the email, I need you to stick to that deadline or let me know as soon as possible if there’s a reason why that deadline can’t be met’. I don’t think it’s reasonable to have complete radio silence from this employee for the first two hours of his working day. I also think it’s totally reasonable to require him to use Slack if that’s what the rest of the team are using – it sounds like part of his job involves being available and able to react to immediate needs, and if Slack is part of that then it’s part of his job to use it.

      1. Cj*

        it is perfectly reasonable for the manager to tell the employee that they need to check the mails right away. that’s not clear to me that this has been done directly. it almost sounds like they are scared to have that conversation with the employee because they always get push back.

        wondering if they really get in at 10:00 because they don’t respond to emails until noon is going astray of the real problem.

  21. abca*

    ” For example, an email sent at 9 with a direct request for information is typically answered after noon. I can’t tell if I’m being unrealistic in expecting an answer within an hour of arrival (say, by 11)”
    You are unrealistic to expect this when there is not an explicit note that this particular email is time sensitive and needs immediate attention. I know you say it isn’t useful to include that if he doesn’t read it in time anyway, but that seems a separate issue. But from this sentence, you really seem to expect that people should just answer any email within the hour, and I want to push back against that.
    I read my email when I start my day, just to check if there’s anything urgent (there almost never is, but if there is an explicit time sensitive request I will indeed drop everything else and deal with that), but I do not start my days answering emails that are not time sensitive. If I did, I would never get any real work done (my job requires focus time). I block time to answer emails. I would hope my boss does not interpret my answers at a later time than I am starting work as me slacking off.

    1. I Live There*

      “If I did, I would never get any real work done (my job requires focus time). I block time to answer emails.”

      So, so much this. I have to block my time or I’ll never get anything done. I will announce to my office when I’m offline and not taking calls or emails, too, otherwise I spend an entire day doing nothing but email if I’m not mindful.

      1. I Have RBF*

        I block time at the start of my day, before I get stuck in on anything else, to read and respond to emails. Some of those emails are meeting invites, some of them are alerts/issue notifications. Others are just FYI or corporate news. Very few require answers, but the ones that do are of high importance to those that sent them.

        It is not unreasonable for a boss to expect this.

        Email time is not focus time. It’s better to triage emails first thing because certain things in them can reset the schedule for the entire day. For one, they often have meeting cancellations or rescheduling in them.

        I usually designate twice a day as email time. First thing, and then at around 1 pm. Also, I take a quick look at the end of my day to see if there’s anything urgent to schedule for the next day.

        Oh, and if your boss wants you to use Slack, Teams, Zoom chat, or even IRC, that’s what you use. “No” is not an acceptable response here. It is a perfectly legitimate request in a workplace context. Yes, in my personal life I decline to use certain chat platforms because I hate them. At work, I suck it up and deal. It’s work, not leisure, after all.

      2. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

        But it sounds like you notify everyone and like this is accepted in your workplace and by your manager.

    2. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      Sounds like he is not reading/responding to EMs from his boss that she indeed needs more promptly than he is delivering.
      This is probably tied in with his refusal to use Slack, which could be a much better medium than EM for flagging & discussing time-sensitive work.

      If you want a later start time, then it is implicit that this should not hinder the work of other people, especially your manager.
      She is not just “other people” since she assigns your work tasks and priorities. Even if this guy ignores everyone else, he should check promptly EMs from his manager.

      1. K*

        It doesn’t say that he doesn’t respond, just that it takes a few hours. It also doesn’t say that OP is flagging these emails as urgent. If feel like I’m reading a different letter than the rest of you. You’re inventing stuff that simply isn’t there in order to paint the OP in a more positive light. In my view, OP is not clearly explaining expectations.

        1. Cake or Death*

          “Including a request for a response by a certain time isn’t effective since he doesn’t seem to review email in the morning.”

        2. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

          Reread it. You are the one missing the key info here, not the rest of us (and when as many “rest of us” as you see here are all saying something, it is usually worthwhile to stop and consider why you are the odd man out).

    3. londonedit*

      I totally agree – I do the same, check my email first thing and decide how and when to respond from there. But if there are things that need doing immediately, and it sounds like that’s what the OP is talking about, then the employee should be able to recognise that and bump OP’s 9am email to the top of the list if the OP is saying ‘Please review this and let me have any revised figures by 11am’, for example. He can’t just ignore deadlines for two hours.

    4. Introvert girl*

      I totally agree. I only read e-mails 4 times a day. I need to block off periods to actually get work done. Some people start at 9 or 10, may department starts at 7-8. If someone needs something done asap, they write on Teams. Having your employee answer a non-urgent e-mail 2-3 hours after their workday has begun is really excellent behaviour.

      1. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

        Except that OP says that requesting a specific response time is ineffective, so he is missing urgent emails. He also refuses to use Slack, which is the way to communicate urgent requests, and if he refuses to do that, then he does need to triage his inbox more effectively. Also, he starts later, so he should most certainly be checking his inbox immediately on arrival at work and he should certainly prioritize his boss’s emails. That is not only a reasonable expectation, but it is unreasonable for him to assume that is not the expectation.

    5. 653-CXK*

      I read my email when I start my day, just to check if there’s anything urgent (there almost never is, but if there is an explicit time sensitive request I will indeed drop everything else and deal with that), but I do not start my days answering emails that are not time sensitive.

      Same here. On a normal day, if there’s something on an email with a tone of urgency, I will work on those first and then anything that’s not important I can either work on next or wait until later. If someone needs something urgent, I’ll get either a Teams text or a Teams call.

      1. 653-CXK*

        Arrgh…HTML fail…it got the blockquote right but it was off…

        Same here. On a normal day, if there’s something on an email with a tone of urgency, I will work on those first and then anything that’s not important I can either work on next or wait until later. If someone needs something urgent, I’ll get either a Teams text or a Teams call.

        1. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

          He refuses to use Slack, which is the way his boss would normally handle urgent messages, and he doesn’t respond with any urgency to emails where it is noted that she expects a response by a specific time.

          And if you refuse to use Slack, and that is the typical means by which urgent requests are made, then you are responsible for better triaging your inbox and checking it throughout the day. Honestly, I imagine this guy really is not showing up until well after 10.

    6. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

      OP has said that putting in a response deadline time is ineffective. Also, OP is expecting a response within an hour of his start time, 2 hours after her email, which is reasonable as one should check and respond to emails, especially from their boss, and really especially if the boss has requested an early response time, even if it is just to notify the boss that they cannot get the necessary info by that deadline, but will get on it asap!

  22. Ipsissima*

    LW2, is this something you did once and are now second-guessing? Or something you do regularly? Because doing it regularly will make a very distinct impression (if anyone is watching), but it’s probably not the impression you want to be making.

  23. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

    #1 Could be a problem employee who is trying to avoid work and resistant to being managed by the OP.
    Or just someone oblivious to remote working norms & requirements in this job.

    You need to actually manage him. He may not realise what he is doing, or he may be deliberately trying to stop you managing him.
    Schedule a 1-1 when you tell him clearly what work you require from him in the future. If this makes no difference, then PIP.

    Also, if his later start is a perk, consider changing this if he is abusing that perk or if a later response is hampering your workflow. But tell him first that you are considering these consequences to his behaviour

    he refuses to use Slack
    Exraordinary when working remotely (barring very unusual circumstances/accommodations which you should have already been informed about). Slack is likely much more suitable for urgent tasks than EM, ot at least be a heads-up that he needs to check a particular EM immediately.
    Most likely reason is he doesn’t want you to know how few hours he is working.
    Tell him he must use it.

    every managerial decision I make is met with a challenge about why I’m making the request and feet dragging to the very edge of acceptability if he disagrees with the request.
    Tiresome and timewasting. Tell him to stop doing this. It’s different if he asks for help/information to do a task, but it’s your job as manager to assign tasks.

    1. Rick Tq*

      Ending that obstructionism needs to be part of the PIP he goes on tomorrow along with not being logged in to Slack and answering emails in a timely manner.

    2. I Have RBF*

      At some places we had the “object and commit” idea. That is, you raise your objections, with reasons, when the matter is being mooted. But once the decision is made, even if you don’t agree, you still go ahead and do it. You gave your input, the decision was made otherwise, now get on with the work.

      The workplace is not a democracy, and does not excuse you from doing legal things that you disagree with. You may not like llamas sheared with a #4 guide, and prefer a #8, but if that is the procedure you are told to use, you do it.

      1. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

        Honestly, OP needs to be firmer, because right now, she may not be able to claim insubordination. But that is what it is. So she needs to tell him that he is expected to be signed onto Slack at 10 am and be actively reachable that way unless on break or in meetings, with the understanding that Slack is only to be used for appropriate and urgent work requests. And that he needs to check his email and respond to all emails from OP requiring a response within an hour of starting, by 11 am unless he is starting late due to authorized leave or he has a meeting right away. Even if the response is just to tell OP he needs additional time to fully respond to the request. And OP needs to tell him that while he is welcome to briefly discuss concerns about how a managerial decision negatively affects or might affect his work, he needs to understand that once a decision is made, it is not negotiable.

    3. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

      Yeah, that last part about his responses to managerial decisions needs to be nipped in the bud. OP needs to make it clear that when she makes a decision, it is non-negotiable for him to comply with it.

  24. I Live There*

    LW1: it’s interesting. I had a similar convo with my boss about email where I was told to ignore my email first thing and just get to work on projects because email is such a time hole.

    When I asked about emergency emails from staff that needed to be dealt with immediately, I was told staff should be calling me or coming to my desk first thing, not dropping it in my email inbox and hoping I see it first thing. Definitely different styles and expectations depending on who you talk to in our office.

    Re LW3: I’m very curious about this. What IS the standard vacation and sick leave time these days? Ignoring FMLA time, what does the “average” company now give? We get 5 sick days. You start at 2 weeks PTO until year 3, then 3 weeks until year 8 when you get kicked up to 4 weeks off. You don’t get 5 weeks for years and years after that.

    1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      That is low. And OP gets 2/3 of that. And a boss who’s annoyed when people use it. ugh.

    2. Melissa*

      I get 10 days. I’m new to this industry so I didn’t realize how low that is until I learned that 26 is standard in it!

    3. ClaireW*

      The comments here really show how workplace- and industry-specific this is. Even setting aside that I mostly WFH, I would find it unbearable to have people showing up at my desk in the morning when they want something from me. Mostly because some days, a lot of people want something lol, and if they’re standing there at my desk they aren’t going to appreciate “Well you’re 4th in the priority queue” whereas in email (or ideally slack), I know the priorities of each request based on what they say + my own job requirements and company polics, so I can do things in order without someone hovering because everything thinks their top priority should also be your top priority.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        This! And unexpected phone calls go to voicemail, which means they end up in Teams, anyway.

        My organization uses both Teams and Zoom, and we are expected to have both open. Otherwise, there are ways to indicate that an email is high priority.

        But it sounds like the OP has bigger problems with this employee than how they manage (or don’t manage) their email.

  25. Green great dragon*

    Sounds like LW4’s relative’s medical bill are already being paid. I’m not sure from the letter LW’s ire is entirely justified – if relative was pressured to walk on an injured leg rather than being driven/helicoptered out or safety rules were broken then yep, I get it. If relative thought they were fine to walk on it at the time (or even if they said they were because they were trying not to make a fuss) then I’m not sure the company’s been unreasonable – they laid on a clearly athletic activity related to their field, there was an accident, they’ve covered the medical costs, they don’t seem to have been asked for any more.

    Absolutely LW’s relative should follow the advice and see whether they are entitled to more. But as a very staid and non-sporty middle-aged person I would really like to try the activities listed, which they don’t appear on the face of it to be all that extreme? Depending on details in some cases – something like caving can vary a huge amount, from genuinely risky to an underground stroll. Possibly relative is less angry because they were happy to go to the activity, felt safety precautions were appropriate and it was an unforeseeable accident

    1. ABC*

      Maybe this is reading a bit too much between the lines, but I think LW4 is letting their own feelings about these types of activities influence the way they’re thinking here.

      1. OP Letter 4*

        I’m not – the activity was canyoning, it’s pretty dangerous. Neither of us enjoy the activities on the retreats, I know because she tells me all the time how much she dislikes them. It is true I also dislike them but I don’t think it’s influencing my thinking here – I think anyone would think canyoning is a fairly dangerous workplace activity. Even her boss said he was shocked it was planned as part of the program, and the tour company admitted injuries on this activity are FREQUENT.

  26. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

    #3 Your manager is a callous jerk, but with only 2 weeks combined PTO your while damn org is run by callous jerks. I’m so sorry you have this additional, totally unnecessary, stress from your boss when you are coping with your mum’s terminal illness.

  27. DinoGirl*

    #3 also ask HR about any leave you may qualify for. FMLA has a caretaking element. If you live in a state with any paid family leave, that may qualify as well.

  28. Richard Hershberger*

    LW1: There are several issues here, but the specific one of timely replies to emails seems odd to me. Email is not usually an immediate reply format. Were I to send one that did require an immediate replay, that would be prominently featured in the subject line. But more to the point, the LW seems not to have any other way to communicate with this employee, what with Slack being off the table. What about the telephone? I am given to understand that The Kidz are horrified by the idea of speaking with someone on the phone, but it has the advantage of immediacy. My boss mostly works from home, while I go into the office. We use various forms of communication. Prominent among them are multiple telephone calls a day for the immediate stuff. But neither of us are kidz.

      1. LawBee*

        Point re terminology but also there is a basis for the underlying statement. I work with a lot of younger people and the aversion to talking on the phone is real, and can be a problem.

        Yes, there are older people who don’t like it, but I see it more in the younger staff.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          My teams consist of 30 people, exactly two of whom are under 40 (by a gnat’s whisker), and we all universally hate talking on the phone for work. Age has nothing to do with it.

          1. Charlotte Lucas*

            I am over 50 and also hate it. (Be flattered if I ever accept an unexpected phone call from you!)

            Part of it is that the work I do often requires the sharing of documents or web links, and email or messaging systems are often faster and more effective for that kind of work Having a URL read aloud to you only to realize that the “broken” URL is inactive or was inaccurately transcribed (because cut and paste can’t be trusted, I guess) is a special kind of phone hell.

            I also once worked with someone who used phone calls as. “gotcha” experience to try to promote her own agenda. My entire department refused to answer her calls or respond to her messages unless she told us why she was calling. Then we would email the response. And cc each other.

        2. Burger Bob*

          There are people of all ages who hate it. The only difference is, people of a certain age HAD to practice it to some extent because text-based communication simply wasn’t an option back in the day. So yes, younger people can sometimes be even more put off by it because they haven’t had to get used to doing it anyway. But lots of us of all ages truly hate it and will use text-based alternatives when possible.

    1. Allonge*

      I think a phonecall would be a good idea if this were a one-off case. But as things are, OP gets to work an hour and half before their employee and OP having to call on top of emailing to flag a task is a bit too much. Much better to have the discussion on employee needing to check their email.

    2. MsSolo (UK)*

      It’s been a while since I worked somewhere that had separate phones (especially for staff that don’t need to make outbound calls). All work calls go through the email/chat software, and calling a personal number would only be acceptable in an emergency. Now, if employee isn’t logging on until 12, then calls will bounce until then, but if they’ve got an excuse to hand for avoiding slack and not checking emails first thing, I’m sure they’ll have one for not answering calls.

      1. anononon*

        There are plenty of reasons to not use the phone (hearing loss, time zone snafus, social anxiety, sensory processing disabilities, needing a written record of a task, noisy work environments, language issues, speech impairment…) but no real reasons not to use Slack. The employee needs to be told he’s required to use it.

    3. Also-ADHD*

      I’m middle aged and would be annoyed if someone phoned me unscheduled (also autistic and ADHD though so avoiding drop ins is a big benefit of remote work for me), but I think it’s weird the employee refused to use Slack. They do need some way for quick questions, though I also think LW should maybe consider why the job has so many quick questions they need first thing. Sometimes that’s the nature of the role, but it could be LW isn’t proactive enough and wanted people at their beck and call or even LW using email to check if the employee is “actually working”, both of which are kind of toxic reasons. To rise to the level of a phone call interrupting someone’s day out of nowhere, I feel like something would really need to be urgent. Otherwise, why not arrange a scheduled chat, so it’s effective for all.

      1. Richard Hershberger*

        That’s the thing. If we disallow phone calls, and don’t make this guy use Slack, and he doesn’t respond quickly to emails, then we have created a scenario in which his manager has no way to contact him in a timely manner. How is this even remotely reasonable?

    4. Dido*

      Eyeroll. It’s 2023. 99% of people don’t have work phones if they’re not in customer service. Internal work calls are done through Slack/Teams, which the employee refuses to use. And regardless, OP is sending out emails before the employee gets to work, so he wouldn’t be answering a call.

      1. Valancy Snaith*

        I’m sure lots of people have abandoned the tethered land line, but 99% of people? Really? That’s…a broad brush to paint with.

        1. ClaireW*

          I mean, it’s a high number but it’s really quite a rare thing. I’ve worked in tech for over a decade, and I have never had a desk phone nor have I ever known anyone below like C-Suite to have a desk phone. We’ll use zoom or slack to do a ‘call’ but not a phonecall, and the same is true in all the companies I’ve worked in and those that my peers in tech work in. I would be genuinely stunned if I started a new job and they told me I should expect to have a desk phone and get calls.

          1. Valancy Snaith*

            I think the fact that you work in tech is doing a lot of the influence here. I’ve never had a desk job without a desk phone in a couple different industries. “99% of people” means basically all working individuals, and I really don’t like the interpretation that comes up frequently on AAM that “everyone” means “white-collar employees in a knowledge-based industry.”

            1. ClaireW*

              I don’t think that’s what that 99% means though – maybe it’s a location thing, but never in my working in retail, my husband’s working in McDonalds, my dad as a plasterer, nor indeed any of my family who AREN’T sitting at a desk, have work desk phones been involved. So if you’re saying it’s more common than not maybe you’re the one not considered non-white collar jobs.

          2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

            Oh wow, I’ve worked in tech for a few decades and had a desk phone in every US job except my first two (very small companies, very long ago). I worked on distributed teams and we needed the phone to call into meetings in the Before Zoom times (GoToMeeting and such). Right now, we are remote and so there are obviously no desk phones, and if a teammate asks “can I call you?” this means “can I send you a Zoom link for a 1:1 call that would happen between us right now?” But I had a phone and a headset sitting on my desk all the way up until the day we were sent home in March 2020.

      2. Myrin*

        Citation needed, honestly. I know that the phone is much more prominently used in my country than in the US, but that seems like a very high estimate regardless; plenty of readers here talk about having a work phone, even if it’s a mobile.

      3. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

        That may be true of your particular field, but many non-customer service jobs still have work phones.
        I know FinalJob (large manufacturing engineeering multinational) still has desk phones and those out of the office a lot have work cell phones in addition. Same for other competitors I contracted with.

        1. Richard Hershberger*

          97.53% of all statistics on the internet are made up, so this one fits right in.

      4. Charlotte Lucas*

        I don’t have a desk phone, but I do have a phone number through Teams. All our calls are now through that system.

        Still better than when I had a VOiP phone. It ran through my PC, but when the phone had problems, I had to unplug it and restart my entire computer. Huge PITA.

      5. Daisy-dog*

        …but how do you communicate with people outside your organization? I have a soft phone that is set up through my computer. Now, I don’t answer it unless I’m expecting a call, but that’s because I use Teams for internal communication. I can understand saying 99% of people don’t use fax anymore, but I don’t even believe that is true because I have sent several faxes (via my computer) in the last few years.

      6. New Jack Karyn*

        “99% of people don’t have work phones if they’re not in customer service. Internal work calls are done through Slack/Teams”

        That’s demonstrably false.

    5. Glomarization, Esq.*

      Email is not usually an immediate reply format

      I mean, if this were true, then why were PDAs and smartphones invented?

      In any event, this must vary widely across industries, jobs within industries, individual people, and the circumstances of the e-mails themselves. And even if an e-mail isn’t urgent, the sooner I handle it, the sooner it’s out of my inbox and off my to-do list.

    6. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      The Kidz are also (as I am given to understand) not averse to IM/Slack to the point where they refuse to use it for work, so I think we can rule that one out.

      Agree about emails not being an immediate reply format – personally, I check mine when I log in every morning, but it is so I know what happened when I was out, what new to-do items I need to schedule for whenever they are due, etc. The more urgent requests come in through IM. No one ever does impromptu phone calls, if not for any other reason than, 99 times out of a hundred, if you call someone with a questions, the answer will be “I’ll have to find this information and get back to you”. But then, none of us eschew IM like this guy does.

    7. INTPLibrarian*

      I’m finding the assumptions being made about various ways to communicate interesting. I don’t know if the differences are specific workplace related or industry related. I work in higher ed and email is predominant. I have a phone. We use Teams. But the vast majority of communications are via email. Even my coworkers whose offices are next to mine, mere feet away, will email questions, etc.

  29. Irish Teacher*

    LW2, I can’t imagine any situation in which somebody would be likely to take advice from somebody yelling at the camera. Assuming the camera is something like CCTV, there is no reason to assume those with the power to change it will even be looking at the footage. As others have said, it’s most likely only going to be viewed if there is a problem and then most likely by a security guard or possibly by the police if there is a serious issue. Plus, there may not even be sound on it. If it is a security camera, I cannot imagine a situation where anybody in power would be watching a full day’s worth of footage and paying enough attention to listen to what is being said. That would be a complete waste of their time.

    But even if it is a camera the CEO or somebody similar is likely to see what is shown on and to listen to the sound, I don’t think most people would give much credence to advice given by shouting at a camera rather than speaking to somebody directly. If it is a security camera, then most people would probably assume anybody shouting at it is just having a random rant or honestly, they may well assume the person shouting is drunk or under the influence of drugs or something, because the behaviour seems so odd and therefore, they are unlikely to pay much attention to what is being said.

    If the people with the power to change anything are in the same building as the LW and the company is reasonably small, it would make more sense to arrange a meeting to discuss matters or to speak to the LW’s own manager and ask them to pass the message on. If the company is too large for this to be a possibility or if the manager is so unreasonable that talking to them is unlikely to be helpful, then…well, in the first case, they are very unlikely to see what is shown on the camera and in the second, they are even less likely to be responsive to that.

    I don’t think their main concern would be to “get you out of the way,” but they might feel you are a liability or be concerned that you are shouting out what may be private information or as I mentioned above, they may have concerns that you are using drink or drugs, none of which would do any good for your career.

    1. connie*

      Seriously. This behavior is unsettling to me, honestly. I wonder whether other employees ever have to overhear this crap. I think the LW would be better off finding another way to deal with their anger and finding another job. Big yikes.

  30. Cjo339*

    File for FMLA. It covers ailing parents/children. If they push back…..that’s a federal law.

  31. Yellow cake*

    LW1 have you had a conversation with your employee about why they don’t immediately check email?

    An old productivity hack was to not check emails first thing but to use that first hour or two to get essential tasks done that often get repeatedly delayed because of last minute requests via email.

    I can’t help wonder if your employee has a deliberate strategy to get the core tasks of their job done first thing before all the distractions come in.

    While your boss can redirect you towards things they prefer you doing, if you have performance KPIs that you are judged on separately to your boss, then managing up can often require figuring out how to work around your bosses priorities to get your actual job done first. If these last minute jobs aren’t core work – it might be deliberate so they can get their main job done. It’s worth reflecting on what you are asking them to do last minute and what they have to not do to fit these in.

    Naturally there are plenty of jobs where the last minute stuff IS the core part of the job. I’ve just mostly worked jobs where it isn’t. And anything genuinely urgent last minute comes with a phone call as emails are not constantly monitored in my work (neither is IM).

  32. Observer*

    #2 – Yelling at the cameras

    You can get fired fro anything. Acting like a caricature is a good way to get fired, and if not, to be put on the list of “most disposable” in the case of budget costs and of having your work and other behaviors monitored far more closely.

    If they fire you it won’t be to keep from having to take your advice – they can easily ignore it without firing you. But they may fire you because they concluded that your behavior or expectations are a problem.

    *Talking* to the cameras, even acknowledging that it’s a weird thing to do but you don’t have any other way to get your message out, would be weird enough, especially if the people you are trying to reach have email. But *yelling*? That’s just off the wall for most people are pretty much at odds with “advice”.

    OP, I don’t know what’s setting you off, but it sounds like you should really be looking for a new place to work. It’s clear that you see significant problems and no way to communicate with appropriate decision makers. It’s got to be really stressful. I know that it’s easier said than done, and I realize that this doesn’t happen at the drop of a hat. But the sooner you start, the sooner you will find something.

    Also, therapy. You’re in a bad situation, and it sounds like you need some better tools for dealing with it.

    1. Yoyoyo*

      “Acting like a caricature” is a great way to describe this behavior. On the off chance that someone actually viewed the footage, it would be…alarming. Honestly, if I saw one of my employees doing this I would be concerned about their mental health and also questioning whether their volatility is manageable in the workplace. Yelling does not have a place at work (unless you are shouting TO someone to alert them of a hazard).

  33. MsSolo (UK)*

    I get the vibe from the letter that OP is skirting around the fact that the employee has used “I didn’t check the emails as soon as I got in” as a way of obscuring the fact that they’re not getting in at 10, and also suspects their refusal to use Slack is because that would also give away that they’re not logging in at 10. I wonder if the 10am start time was negotiated specifically by this employee, rather than being part of an organisational standard flex time arrangement, and if LW is struggling to figure out how to handle the privilege being abused without rewarding what looks like bad behaviour.

    I’m going back and forth on whether it’s worth naming the underlying issue, at least in terms of how it’s affecting the perception of the employee. On the one hand, focusing on the impact on other people’s work – the need to respond promptly to requests – may solve the issue anyway, and feels less micro-managey. But on the other, if the employee suspects it’s a smoke screen it’s going to sour the relationship, and you may get a little flurry of activity at 10 on the dot before disappearing until 12 again anyway.

    Is the employee meeting all of their other targets? Do you get the impression they’re working as much as their peers, but just at different times; does the job need them to start at 10, or could it be a 12-8 shift? Are there other issues with compliance and performance? Are they exempt or non-exempt?

    1. Cj*

      it doesn’t sound like a later start time would work. that would mean the letter writer would get the information she needs even later in the day.

      it sure seems like there should be a way to check and see what time the employee is logging into their computer. the letter writer said they work at different locations, but not that the employee Works remotely. logging in logging in and going to do something else for a while wouldnt make sense, and they should be able to get a good idea of what time the employeeis really starting work.

    2. umami*

      Yeah, if it’s specifically that morning emails aren’t being answered in a timely manner, that sounds like an attendance issue. OP doesn’t mention that emails go unanswered for several hours during other times of the day. Bring it up matter-of-factly, that because they already come in later in the morning, that you need your morning emails addressed sooner than they have been.

  34. Delta Delta*

    #1 – I think we actually don’t have enough information here. If OP wants Employee to check email and respond to time-sensitive requests immediately, OP needs to clearly and directly say that to Employee. OP also seems to intimate they believe Employee is actually coming in far later than his permitted start-time. We don’t know, though, what Employee needs to do upon arrival, nor do we know the industry. If this is an “arrive and go to your desk and do desk stuff” kind of job, then this isn’t an unreasonable request. If this is a job where there are other things that happen first (in-person customers/clients, physical plant issues, team meetings with the people at that location, whatever), OP needs to factor in all those pieces.

  35. Nebula*

    Advice to LW1 is spot on – they need to tell this employee that he needs to answer his emails by a certain time and it’s not option. I personally tend to leave answering emails until about an hour after I’ve started work, so I’m settled in and thinking clearly and fully engaged before responding to anything – that’s how I’ve found I work best. However, if my manager told me I had to respond to emails at the start of the day, then I would do it. It’s not inherently unreasonable to not answer emails first thing, but that needs to be communicated.

  36. Blue*

    Is it possible to get fired for yelling at the cameras about what corporate is doing wrong at the cameras? Will they actually take any advice or will they just fire you to get you out of the way?

    #2: This suggests that yelling at the cameras (I assume like CCTV cameras) is the (main?) medium by which employees lodge complaints, akin to an anonymous hotline or an official contact form. I am confused.

    1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      Aaaa, I understand your interpretation. “when communicating with the cameras, is it ok to yell?”
      I don’t believe communicating through the cameras is standard operating procedure, talking calmly or not.

  37. Joseph*

    As someone who used to manage the person who had to respond to requests for camera footage from buildings and departments (10k employees, 50+ buildings) – no one will see it unless they ask for it. But if they do, say you were venting at someone and make the name up of an employee and say maybe they were a ghost

  38. HonorBox*

    OP1 – “Especially given different arrival times, I need you to check your email immediately upon arrival. There are often instances when there are time-sensitive requests that I send you, and if you’re not looking at them immediately, those time-sensitive items are not getting done as needed. If that can’t be done, I’m going to need to adjust your working hours so I can be in touch more easily when I’m in the office.”

    OP3 – Talk to your boss. Maybe their response was because there have been some things that were shuffled because of your absence, and while that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be able to take time, perhaps it was simply exasperation on their end. It doesn’t make the response to your sickness better, but might provide some context. You shouldn’t be working while ill, but maybe this particular situation and the response was about something else. My thoughts are with you and your mom.

  39. Turingtested*

    Was in a similar situation to LW 1. I tried explaining that a later start time meant things like meetings right at start time and a need to respond immediately on getting in. In my case the person felt I was holding them to unfair standards but didn’t see that starting later was a privilege that came with some downsides. As Allison said it was the least of the issues.

  40. Steph the Editor*

    I am living the scenario in #5, but I have stayed for five years. There has been some improvement, but the advice seems very sound. It’s hard to row upstream all the time. Exhausting, really. I think it will be easy to explain like that when I leave.

  41. Oof and Ouch*

    LW #3 is your boss aware of the situation with your mother? I’m wondering if they’re not, and acting on some kind of unspoken “policy” regarding your PTO usage.

    The company I used to work for also had a pathetically small amount of PTO in a shared bucket. When I started it was segregated sick and vacation time so there were 5 days you could call out, when they combined it you could technically call out whenever, and I was given a talking to from senior management once about the amount of call outs from a member of my team. I played dumb with the manager and asked if it was against the new policy and was told “no but they shouldn’t be calling out more than 5 times a year.” I asked why and was told that we got 5 sick days. I asked if I’d missed something and there was a separate sick time bucket and was told no that it was all one bank. So again I asked if I was missing something because it sounded to me like this person had 10 days for the whole year to use as they needed. The manager was annoyed, but eventually conceded that I was correct.

    1. Still trying to adult*

      Just a general complaint about similar managers: I sometimes wonder if 1st line supervisors are specifically trained to react like this, in the most heartless manner possible, even when employees have plenty of PTO available. Can anyone offer another explanation?

  42. Pink Candyfloss*

    LW#5: “The company’s decision to do X was not in line with my core values and not a strategy I felt I could support in good conscience, so it was time to part ways.”

    1. DJ Abbott*

      I think it would be good to include that their company was not in line with industry and regulatory standards. It’s not just in the OPs judgment, it’s by external defined standards.

  43. LawBee*

    I don’t check my email first thing. Emails feel immediate these days, like “I emailed you and it’s 30 minutes later why aren’t you answering” for every email, not just ones that are time-sensitive. I agree that if LW, as the boss, is saying to do it, then the employee should do it, but I got a little anxiety spike just reading the letter.

    1. Allonge*

      Obviously up to you but I really wonder why checking first thing is not a good way to manage this.

      Fair enough not to want to have email open all the time, and in a lot of places it should not be an issue. But – unless of course there is another task to perform first thing – I would think that first thing, mid-day and an hour before leaving is not a bad way to schedule when to look at email as a matter of habit, especially if other channels are not used.

    2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      I have a bunch of automated stuff that shows up in email: alerts about systems, customer feedback, support requests, industry news. So email and Slack are always first for me, then project planning tool alerts.

      It’s really gonna depend on the industry and role, and it’s OP’s job to make that decision for the problem employee.

    3. Daisy-dog*

      I did get an email at 4:40 on a Friday and a follow-up email on *SUNDAY* saying, “Just checking in on this item that I asked about last week.” But that’s a weird one.

      I think LW’s employee could set up a folder for all emails from LW if looking at all email is too overwhelming upon first arriving.

    4. Michelle Smith*

      This is baffling to me. How do you know whether something urgent came in before you started working? How do you know if someone responded to a request you sent the day before? How do you plan your day if you don’t even know who might be trying to reach you? Respectfully, I got a little bit of an anxiety spike reading your comment.

  44. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

    OP5: I was in your shoes once (alcohol industry), but not as bad. One of the owners suggested going across state lines for some purchases a couple of times. They never directly ordered me to do that, but after the first time they mused about it, I put together an ultimatum response in my head.

    I would have walked if they insisted, since I would have had civil liability (and maybe even criminal) that couldn’t be waved off just because they signed a memo telling me to violate the terms of the liquor license. Anybody who knows what it’s like to work in a heavily-regulated industry would be just fine with Alison’s wording.

  45. somehow*

    “…our organization uses Slack as well as email for communication, but he refuses to use Slack. Since it’s not required, I can’t enforce its use even though it’s my preferred way of interacting for quick questions.”

    Sure you can enforce the use of Slack among the people you manage. It’s part of how you manage. If he doesn’t like it, he can go elsewhere.

    We use Teams chat where I work, and my boss has made it clear, in a reasonable and indifferent way, that all of us need to have our Teams app open on all days we work. So we do.

    It’s just that straightforward. Stop letting the tail wag the dog.

    1. I Have RBF*


      If your group uses Slack to communicate, then you can, and should, require that they have Slack open on their desktop when working.

      I’m not usually a “boss is always right” person, but in this instance, yeah, the boss can dictate the communication methods for their team. If he doesn’t like it, he needs to leave.

  46. Esprit de l'escalier*

    #1 – I wonder if Employee refuses to use slack because he knows that his lack of timely responses in that mode would make Boss suspicious (or even more suspicious) about his actual arrival time. He’s supposed to start work at 10:00, Boss often messages him between 10:15 and 10:30, he often responds after noon ….

  47. Sara without an H*

    Hi, LW#1 — I’m still working on my first cup of coffee, and I haven’t looked at all the comments yet, so this may have come up before. But I have to ask: Is this your first management position? Because you sound very, very tentative in a situation that doesn’t call for it at all.

    You are this guy’s manager. It’s part of your role to set performance expectations for him. If you want him to check and respond to email first thing in the morning, you have the right to require that. If you want him to use Slack, you have the right to require that, too.

    It sounds to me as though this guy has been resisting you for some time and you’re trying to avoid yet another tiresome conversation. (…every managerial decision I make is met with a challenge about why I’m making the request and feet dragging to the very edge of acceptability if he disagrees with the request.) You need to deal with this now, OR IT WILL GET WORSE.

    Start documenting. Talk with other managers — has this employee’s failure to respond quickly to emails caused trouble in other departments? Talk with your HR person about how your firm handles performance problems. (That’s what this is.) Know your employee handbook by heart. You should also check out the AAM archives under the “being the boss” tag.

    But you need to get ahead of this problem now, before it starts to degrade your own reputation as a manager in your organization.

  48. K*

    Hold on. OP no 1 doesn’t know that he isn’t checking his email, just that he isn’t responding fast enough. It’s possible that he’s checking them but not responding right away.

    1. pally*

      I wondered if the delays are due to needing a bit of time to find the necessary info to formulate the response. But that can’t be the case for every email that needs a prompt reply.

      1. I Have RBF*

        If you don’t have the info, you say “I’m working on this, I should have the information by…” But you need to acknowledge having received the email and started work.

    2. Observer*

      OP no 1 doesn’t know that he isn’t checking his email, just that he isn’t responding fast enough. It’s possible that he’s checking them but not responding right away.

      In this context this is a distinction without a difference. It doesn’t really matter why he’s not responding. When your boss sends you something time sensitive, you respond accordingly.

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

        Unless it’s getting buried under 20 other emails that all say they are urgent. If it wasn’t for some of the other stuff (refusing to use slack, draggin his feet, etc) I would say that the OP’s employee just has a problem prioritizing or is unclear that the emails need to be done first.

        1. somehow*

          I would say it depends on his other work habits. I manage a team of 4 employees, and I know from experience with them that they respond after collecting info., usually within a 2-hour window (due in part to sometimes having to wait for replies from other people relevant to my ‘parent’ email).

          So I expect to not hear from them right away, unless it’s the kind of email where I can say “let me know ASAP” and expect them to do so – which they will.

          But if routinely I found that one or more people on my team let a ‘let me know ASAP’ email sit for hours without a responding, yeah, something is going on, and it isn’t likely that they’re buried under a mountain of messages. What they’re likely buried under are a mountain of excuses for effing off while on the clock.

    3. fhqwhgads*

      If you check an email at 10am that says “I need X before noon” and don’t do it til 2pm, it doesn’t matter that you checked right away.
      The assumption that he’s not checking is because he’s missing deadlines that he’d have seen had he looked at them promptly.

  49. Green*

    I was in almost the exact situation for LW #5, with some aggravating factors. I left after 3 weeks and dropped it from my resume.

    I don’t mind clean-up work *when I am empowered to fix the mess.* But if you’re not empowered as an executive to fix the mess, you’re not the clean up crew, you’re the fall guy. As an executive, you need to be extremely concerned about liability for noncompliance and your reputation in an industry could be forever damaged through association with deliberate noncompliance. More than that, nobody at a company has the authority to authorize clear violations of law. That’s a tremendous red flag. For some laws, we may disagree about interpretation, etc. but if it’s clear, you have to follow it, and I won’t work for anyone who knows that and makes a deliberate choice not to. You did the right thing, and the only thing you did wrong was not leaving as soon as you realized you couldn’t change anything.

  50. Daisy-dog*

    LW1 – have you tried sending “gentle reminders”? /s

    Really, I think setting expectations and enforcing them. I had a past manager who would email me small projects – think creating a new report or researching a process or working with our vendor on setting something up. Something that could reasonably take 1-2 days, but sometimes a little more/less. She expected me to respond to that email, “Received, I am working on this” (or equivalent language). I thought I would just respond after I completed the task or after I had an update. Now, I learned about this expectation through her scolding me which wasn’t ideal, but I then knew what the expectation was. She told me that she just didn’t know that I was working on it and would have other stakeholders who needed an update. It did feel unnecessary if I responded to say I was working on it and then had an update an hour later and then finished it 3 hours later. (Or if she’d ask me something when I was working on a very time-sensitive other project that she was well aware of, so I wouldn’t be even looking at it until the next day.)

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

    #1. If it wasn’t for the other stuff going on with your employee I would say maybe there are more tasks in the morning that he has to complete that you don’t realize, or he is bad at prioritizing emails. But being that he has problems with your authority as well as not wanting to use Slack when that’s a preference I think there is more going on here with him. Unless you know for sure I don’t think you can say that he’s not at work.
    #2 I mean, you might get in trouble, but more than likely some security guard or IT person is going to get a chuckle.
    #3. I’m surprised that Alsion didn’t mention it, unless there was more info in the letter not included here. But the OP should also look into FMLA for caring for her mother. This way the boss can’t count it against them. And then the 3 sick day thing with a doctors note shouldn”t come up too, because if 2 of the 3 days are for your mom than the doctors note rule shouldn’t apply.
    #4: Regardless of the signed waiver (if there is one) if they did not get the employee medical attention and the hike for 4 hours exasperated the injuries I would think that they (or whoever was in charge) would be partially liable. IANAL Yes, you can sign a waiver saying that you won’t hold the company liable if you get hurt. But isn’t that with the stipulation that if you do get hurt someone will get medical attention?
    I also want to know why it was another 4 hours. Does that mean that it took 4 hours for them to get to safety or did they require the injured person to keep going instead of turning back?

    1. OP Letter 4*

      They required her to keep going – turning back would have apparently taken longer and there was no other way out of the canyon that was less dangerous than walking according to their guide.

  52. Lobsterman*

    LW1: by far the most likely result is that you’re gonna have to fire the employee, so get your ducks in a row and start documenting.

  53. cactus lady*

    #3 – if you are in the US, look into whether you qualify for FMLA. When my mother went into hospice, the hospice provider wrote me a letter for work and all of my time off was covered under FMLA. I had a ton of sick time saved up because she had been sick for a long time, but I don’t believe you actually have to use it. It’s definitely worth looking into. If you mom isn’t in hospice, talk to her medical provider. They should be able to help.

  54. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

    LW1, as others have noted, you’ve got bundle of issues that you’d be well served to untangle.

    1st, I think you’re on solid footing to require him to participate in Slack. It may not be required for your organization but it can still be required for your team. No different than, say, software requirements that only apply to Accounting or dress standards that only apply to customer-facing positions.

    Then, if Slack is what works best for you and the rest of the team, the requirement would be that he check that first.

    2nd, you can require him to check email first. Email is asynchronous, but not arbitrarily so; that asynchrony is already built into his start time. It’s little different than saying “you must feed the chocolate teapots to the llamas as your first task of the day; at that point they haven’t eaten in about 12 hours and are getting hangry.”

    3rd, if you’re concerned about his punctuality, and it’s not a timecard position, just have him do something timestamped (e.g. an email or Slack) that acts a proxy timestamp. If he’s interested in being an asset, that side effect will be a feature, not a bug, and if he is taking advantage of the shift difference, then it becomes incentive to either cease or to find his life’s work.

    4th, pushback on every decision is a red flag. I would start by reevaluating his fit in the role. None of this sounds more like “solid contributor except for this quirk” than “a fount of misery.”

  55. Kate*

    #5–why did this make me think of that awful and totally preventable submarine disaster? LW, you know what you have to do and I hope you send us an update once you’re out.

  56. Jade*

    File for FMLA. Your time will be unpaid after you exhaust your PTO but if accepted your rude manager can’t do anything about it.

  57. Florp*

    LW1: I don’t know your employee and shouldn’t speculate about them, so I will only tell you about me. I have ADHD for which I am medicated, but I also have done a lot of coaching and therapy to figure out how to function. One very common piece of advice people like me get: The night before, or first thing in the morning, figure out one or two critical things that need to get done. When you get to work, do that deep work first. Avoid checking email and messaging apps like Slack so you don’t get pulled off in some other direction following a well-dressed bunny with a pocket watch down a rabbit hole. Only look at email after you’ve accomplished something you planned to do.

    Now, my situation is not apples to apples with your employee. I don’t have a job where my email is so time sensitive that I need to respond within an hour or two, so I know if I am getting a lot of requests for fast response it’s probably lack of planning on the requester’s part. I’m also upper management with political capital and hard to embarrass, so I don’t mind advocating for myself and telling people to ask sooner when a last-minute pattern develops. I check my email only once or twice a day, and people who need me faster just pick up the phone and call me.

    From his perspective, if he’s been responding in the afternoon and you’ve never said you needed it sooner, he may think he’s doing an appropriate job and also following good productivity practices for his personal work style.

    It sounds like his job requires some flexibility to shift priorities around on the fly, but you really have to communicate that to him, and it sounds like you are hoping he already knows “reasonable expectations” without being told. (And expectations can differ wildly between people, jobs, departments, and companies and still be reasonable.) As his manager, you get to say what you need when! You may need to find some compromise about how to get there, but you can still insist that you get there. If this is otherwise a good employee that you don’t want to spend time and energy replacing, it may be worth some creative thinking. BTW, these are all things you can do without even mentioning ADHD or any other medical/neurological issue. Just state your goals, and work together to find a process that achieves them.

    In one-on-one meetings, start with the goal–I need questions like A answered and data like Y reported sooner in the day. Present this as a problem to solve together and really listen to what he tells you. There’s a good email practice called BLUF–Bottom Line Up Front. When you send him requests, your key points go at the top of the email, as in “I need the total from the TPS report for client Y by 11:30 on 10/9/23 so I can present my recommendations at 1 PM.” If you put the word “priority” in the subject line and he does a quick skim, he can supply what you need without disrupting his plan too much. For email, I set a 10 minute timer to skim through and look for priority emails first thing. Or ask him to check email last thing before he leaves so he can put time sensitive things on that priority to do list for the next day.

    When I have been forced to use Slack-type apps, I set a reminder to check them once an hour rather than have a notification pop up every time there is a new post. You can allow him to mute all channels and only get notifications if you message him directly. There are probably a hundred other ways to customize it to work for you both.

  58. Sneaky Squirrel*

    #1 – Personally, I think it’s unreasonable to expect employees to be constantly be responding to emails at all hours of the day; my job is more than just responding to emails all day. In many situations, I think it’s even appropriate to disconnect from emails for awhile to get meaningful work done. I also think a lot of people thrive in the a.m. when they step back from their emails and just spend time getting their to-do lists organized first and tick off their most urgent tasks.

    But, the issue here is less about emails and more about access. But by not checking emails and not using slack, employee is effectively closing off any available communication channels (although I question here whether employee has a work phone during work hours). OP needs to establish a line of communication with employee to relay urgent requests and enforce it; that could be requiring the employee to use slack, or requiring more email response, or a phone call.

    I’d also step back and consider whether these asks are really urgent or if OP just doesn’t like waiting. If the work hours difference/delay in responding is really hurting the work, this needs to be addressed immediately. But 3 hours between requesting and receiving information seems rather reasonable for most tasks especially when we consider the employee’s working hours and that they probably have other work to do too.

  59. SometimesCharlotte*

    LW 3: If you work for a covered workplace, definitely look into FMLA! Many people think that taking FMLA is for an extended absence like a parental leave, but you can get approved for a recurring FMLA which allows you to take a day or two at a time as needed for the period covered. It won’t help with the pay but it will protect your job. And it should also help keep your boss off your back if they don’t want to get hit with an FMLA interference claim!

  60. SetExpectations*

    I frequently have work requiring a lot of concentration with hard, tight deadlines. While I will try to glance through emails to find essential stuff it’s not going to be often and, if I have an idea about my primary project du jour right when I start (which if often what precipitates my starting; I have flexible hours) I may not come up for air for hours.

    I am more likely to catch a Slack msg than an email and I remind people of that, but if I’m really into what I’m working on it may be hours after it’s sent there too. If it’s really time sensitive you need to call me. Period.

    If there’s something going on that requires more attention you need to tell me ahead of time and accept the tradeoff that I may get less done on my primary project(s), especially if it ends up being a 1-2-3 hour interruption.

    When in between the tight deadlines I do usually start my day checking email and try to do so every few hours throughout the day. I am likely to see and respond to Slack much more quickly.

    If I need something from my boss in a hurry I’ll usually call. If I get vm I’ll follow up on Slack too. If I need it by end of day or sometime soon but not immediately I’ll try Slack first and call later if he doesn’t respond (depends on how busy he us that day/the type of work he’s doing).

    I have a VOIP phone on my computer I use for work. I highly recommend it.

    I’ve never worked anywhere where people were expected to deal with email immediately as a matter if course. If I had a boss who expected that we’d likely have a talk about the tradeoffs and the, of course, I’d abide by their decision on priorities. But they’d have to be very clear about their timeframes and expectations, and telling me they want a response by noon in a mail sent to me at 9am wouldn’t work without a directive to check my mail by 11am outside of the mail.

    1. Allonge*

      I’ve never worked anywhere where people were expected to deal with email immediately as a matter if course.

      This is completely normal in the scenario you describe for your work. But the fewer comms channels a person is willing to use, the less reasonable it gets – if someone is not using Slack, they need to be more responsive on email and so on.

  61. Eng Girl*

    LW1 I wonder how much the difference in your start times in causing this to seem even worse than it is. I had a boss who used to start 2-3 hours earlier than I did (he was nuts and got into work at like 5 AM by his own choice). He would send emails when he first got in because that’s when he was thinking about it. These would usually be for something non urgent. I’d get in 2 hours later and settle in and start going through my inbox which would also include emails from other sites who were in different time zones. Without fail I’d get a call or a text from my boss about 3 minutes after I sat down asking for a response to his email, which I probably hadn’t even seen yet. I’d have to remind him that I’d just gotten there and then I’d read his email and sometimes have to tell him he’d have to wait for a response because I needed info from someone at another site, and they wouldn’t be in for another 2 hours. He didn’t like that.

  62. River*

    #3. First and foremost, I am deeply, deeply sorry for your mother. I hope the time you spend with her is most cherished and makes you both happy.

    I agree with the consensus in that the reaction and response that your supervisor gave you was inappropriate, unfair, and inconsiderate. If you’re like me and rarely take time off, you expect to be able to smoothly take time off when you ask for it, especially when it’s to take care of a terminally ill family member! Not to mention 2 weeks of combined sick/vacation time is slim pickings for a management position. Please speak to HR and see if you can get FMLA. I wonder if HR can speak to your supervisor in regards to your supervisor’s reaction. Being in a management position, I feel like you are given the autonomy and given the power to take time off when needed and it doesn’t sound like you’re taking advantage of or abusing your workplace time off policy. I’m sorry that your supervisor reacted the way they did. I like to tell people that initial reactions to situations can set the tone for future instances and can tarnish the image/reputation that person if they don’t exhibit an acceptable reaction/response.

    Much luck and love to you and your mom especially during this situation!!! <3 <3

    1. Goldenrod*

      I also thought about FMLA. That’s what it is for. And being there for your mom right now (and for yourself, and any mental health support you might need) is waaaaay more important than coddling an insensitive manager who feels that your mom’s terminal illness is inconvenient! I bet if it were happening to her, work would suddenly be a lot less important.

      I really hate your manager. I hope you take all the self-care that you need.

  63. MCMonkeyBean*

    I think an employee should get to opt out of putting Slack on their phone (we use Teams and I have refused to put it on my phone both because of the permissions the app wants and because I don’t want to be that accessible on my personal phone) but they should not be able to opt out of using it on their work computer if that is a common way for people at your company to communicate.

    1. Observer*

      but they should not be able to opt out of using it on their work computer if that is a common way for people at your company to communicate.

      This is the key. If the OP needs fast turn around on messages, their employee needs to cooperate – either use slack or do better with the emails.

  64. Coin Purse*

    Re: #4….I’ve worked in Workers Compensation medical management for 40 of the 50 states. In all of those states this would be an accepted WC claim *if* participation was mandatory. If the worker chose to go and it wasn’t required, that gets a lot murkier.

  65. DSC*

    Re:calling in sick. That’s what FMLA is for. You have a terminally I’ll family member. If you put in for Fmla, you can take 12 weeks and not lose your job. You may not get paid, but they can’t deny your time off.

  66. Fluffy Fish*

    #1 Email in general is an asynchronous communication method – ie unless other arrangements have been made one should never assume they are going to get an immediate or urgent response to an email. In general if there’s one thing I have learned being in the working world for so long is that brains work differently -to you it’s a priority to check emails first thing but ask 5 other people how they manage email and you’ll get 5 different answers.

    Related to this issue it sounds like you could benefit from some level of manager training. Not because you are a “bad” manager, but because it sounds like you are unsure or underestimating your own authority. It’s perfectly normal to direct your employee to check email by a certain time. It’s also perfectly normal to be able to require Slack (on work devices).

  67. Humpty Dumpty*

    LW 3, I’m so sorry about your mother being ill. I know this must be hard when you’re dependent on your job, but please try to prioritise spending time with your mother and instead of complying with your manager’s bizarre expectations.
    You’ll never regret spending time with your mother but you might regret not taking time off when you really need it for your mother and yourself!! Please make your case with HR.

    Btw, 2 weeks vacation+ sick time is extreme. I can imagine if you have zero energy to job search right now, but I hope that when you do you’ll check out the companies who do much better or even have unlimited PTO, and with a more sympathetic manager to boot.

  68. Pip*

    LW2 – I really doubt there was sound with those cameras, and its likely that the only person seeing the footage, if it was seen at all, was a security guard. However, as others have said, it’s not a good practice to lose it and yell at your employer’s security cameras. If you really feel something needs to be changed at your company and you don’t think there would be repercussions for saying something, you could try dicussing it in a reasoned tone with your manager. Otherwise you might want to find a different employer.

    1. Observer*

      I really doubt there was sound with those cameras,

      This is almost certainly true. In many locales, unless there are prominent signs letting people know that this is happening, it’s not even legal to record the sound.

      and its likely that the only person seeing the footage, if it was seen at all, was a security guard

      Also true. Which is just as well for the OP. Because if someone with decision making power sees it, its not likely to end well for them. Not because someone is trying to avoid taking good advice. But because the LW’s judgement would be under great questioning.

      If you really feel something needs to be changed at your company and you don’t think there would be repercussions for saying something, you could try dicussing it in a reasoned tone with your manager. Otherwise you might want to find a different employer.

      Yup. Either discuss this with your manager, HR, or some other relevant person. If that’s not possible start looking and making an exit plan.

  69. Judd*

    Regarding #1, I think that depends very heavily on the nature of the request. Is this something he can just answer on the fly, or does he have to contact someone else and wait for a response first, or look in several different shared databases, etc. for the answer? Plenty of times I’ve had people ask me questions they think I can answer quickly, but really I have to contact someone else or look up the info several different ways before I can answer.

  70. K*

    For #1 I’m gonna disagree a bit. Sure they have the standing as the boss to require replies by a certain time, but I think they should consider if they really need to. They don’t mention missing ahh deadlines or any time sensitive reasons that they need a reply before noon, it just seems like they prefer this. Unless there’s a specific reason they need a response by that time, I think it’s reasonable for the employee to respond by end of day, and mandating when they check their email is going to come off pretty micro managing.

    The lateness and the dragging heels are a separate issue.

    1. New Jack Karyn*

      “Including a request for a response by a certain time isn’t effective since he doesn’t seem to review email in the morning.” I think it’s implied that OP needs that info by noon. She shouldn’t have to explain to him why she needs it each time she sends such a request.

  71. Gingey24*

    Hi, I just wanted to correct a quick thing. For letter 4, the injured party would want to consult with a workers compensation/personal injury attorney. An employment attorney may be able to advise what their legal rights are, but the personal injury attorney is going to be the one to know how to get the money. They’ll also be the ones to analyze things like waivers and it’s relatedness to their job.

  72. BoopTheSnoot*

    The fact that there’s not an hour-long compilation on YouTube of the vacuum trying to fall apart and suctioning my shirt while I just try to do a quick tidy before leaving work for the day is probably sufficient evidence that nobody actually checks those cameras except in the event of an incident.

    But I’d probably not yell at the cameras, seems like a good way to make the people who work around you very uncomfortable.

  73. WorkerAlias*

    I’m an American living and working in Germany, and sentences like “I get two weeks off per year, vacation and sick time combined” are one of the main reasons I’m not moving my family back.

  74. Mmm.*

    LW1: Why the heck is Slack optional? It’s presumably on a work computer and not a personal device. Talk to upper management about having it be optional affects productivity and get them to mandate it.

    LW 4: Ugh, been there. Whatever the recourse is, be sure it’s done during employment. I was fired shortly after a retreat that required a lot of physical activity, and I have a very bad back. They refused to accommodate (I asked long beforehand if I could be a timekeeper or whatever during the activities that didn’t have an alternative option, and I was told to just deal with it). I have a feeling going to one of the less strenuous options each time played a role in my termination.

  75. Kenneth*

    LW1 – Today I learned that there are managers who use email for urgent or time-sensitive matters when instant messaging options have been available for over… 15 years…

    So…. why is Slack optional? When I started with my (now-former) employer, we first had Skype for Business, which eventually got integrated and replaced by Teams. Teams use was… mandatory across the entire company. You couldn’t get away with not using it.

    Now if you expect your direct report to respond to emails first thing in the morning, then that obviously needs to be communicated. Any change in expectations needs to be clearly communicated. Since a lot of people don’t treat email with the kind of urgency you feel they should be.

    Given how much my inbox got flooded with all kinds of stuff from all kinds of different directions (with filtering rules helping only… not much), I never treated email with any sort of urgency and ignored most of it. My managers and team were also aware of this because… I wasn’t the only one experiencing that. So I suspect much the same might be happening here. Expecting your emails to get a quick turnaround when he isn’t being effectively made aware of that expectation and you’re just one of… who knows how many emails he has to wade through while also trying to fulfill his responsibilities…. Do you see the issue? Even with filtering rules enabled to help make some sense of all of that, it’s still a matter of wading through emails to figure out what’s important and what isn’t.

    And if you’re using Outlook, I think you can mark an email as having a response deadline, which then creates a task in Outlook. So if I’m not mistaken on that, use that feature. But don’t abuse it by then marking EVERY email like that.

    Because here’s the thing: when IM platforms became commonplace at the workplace, email was seen as lesser-priority or used when short-form (i.e. instant messaging) wasn’t going to be appropriate, since IM means you can have discussions without needing to call someone or flood their inbox.

    And if you don’t have a morning standup meeting you can use to communicate those kind of expectations to your entire team, consider adding one. Especially if you want your direct report to be in by a particular time. I had a morning standup at 9am my time, which was the perfect start to the day for me. My manager was in New Jersey (all of us worked remote), so being an hour ahead of me, there were plenty of mornings where she had something that needed my response and so could tell me about it first. thing. in the morning:

    Manager: “And Ken, I included you on an email from Jill in Operations. They’re needing some clarification on some functionality. Can you make that your priority this morning?”

    Me: “One sec, let me make sure I have that email…. Okay I see it. I’ll get on it after the call.”

Comments are closed.