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my office banned email — we can only use Slack and all messages disappear after a few days

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A reader writes: I’m one of several part-time workers for a growing start-up. We all work remotely, so I communicate with my managers and coworkers entirely electronically. I’m one of the higher performers in my department, so I’m trusted with more responsibility, but my position is pretty peripheral in the organization so I don’t really have any clout in the larger context.

how work changes when you’re a woman: an interview with a transgender woman

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In a recent discussion about how men need to get better at spotting talent in women (and people in general need to get better at spotting talent in people who are different from them), a long-time reader and commenter, Tammy, mentioned that, as a transgender woman, she’s seen stark differences in the way people treated her before and after her transition. She offered to talk more with me about it, and here’s our interview. Tell us a little about you.

to get an interview, I have to spend a week at a writing retreat at my own expense

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A reader writes: I recently saw an ad for a job that sounded great: reviewing creative writing manuscripts and giving the authors feedback. This is my field, I have the required degree and publications the posting asked for, and I’ve done work like this before. The money being offered was good, but not unbelievably, out-of-line-with-the-market good.

ATS 106

my employer took my overtime pay away (with an update already included!)

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I sometimes answer letters privately that I don’t publish here (just due to the volume of mail I receive), and I thought this exchange was worth sharing (with the writer’s permission). Last month I received this letter: I just found out my position is switching from hourly to salary. My rate of pay isn’t changing. But I will no longer be eligible for overtime or to earn extra vacation time (we can earn around an extra week a year for not calling in sick).

Candidate Screening Simplified

Speaker: Allen Samuel, Senior Sourcer & Serial Entrepreneur

When it comes to finding the right candidates for your company, you want to ensure that they are a good “fit.” By having an understanding of the job description, accurate skillset criteria and a short conversation with the hiring manager, you will be armed with the resources to quickly and effectively convert potential candidates to new hires. Join Senior Sourcer & Serial Entrepreneur Allen Samuel to learn the steps you should be taking in your candidate screening process.

coworkers keep asking about my girlfriend, asking job candidates how lucky they are, and more

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It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…. Older coworkers asking about my relationship with my girlfriend. My girlfriend and I (we’re both in our late 20s) have been dating for just about a year and things are going very well. She’s an elementary school teacher and during her summer vacation she came into my office to meet me for lunch a couple of times. On one occasion we bumped into a number of my coworkers, so I took the opportunity to introduce her to everyone.

someone is violating our bathrooms, coworker takes over my desk when I’m out, and more

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It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…. We have a building masturbator and don’t know who it is. I am a property manager at an office building and people have recently reported that there’s, well, a building masturbator. He apparently does his business several times a day while listening to music (?????) in a restroom that is open to everyone in the building. He has not been identified yet (and may never be).

Video 104

everyone got laid off except me, men who pretend to be scared of women now, and more

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It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…. Everyone got laid off except for me. I work for a small business (3-5 employees) and I had known the company was having some financial trouble for some time. Everyone in my office got laid off except for me.

when giving good news, my boss first pretends to be upset as a “joke”

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A reader writes: Recently, I was called into an “emergency” meeting with my grandboss, supposedly to discuss budget problems on a program I am leading. This worried me, because I hadn’t thought there were any budget problems, and I hardly ever talk to her (and, wouldn’t expect to, unless something was Very Wrong).

coworker tags our CEO on Twitter to point out my mistakes, office baby talk, and more

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It’s four answers to four questions. Here we go…. Coworker tags our CEO on Twitter to point out my mistakes. I’m part of an incredibly progressive, supportive team, where one of my responsibilities is my organization’s social media. In six months, I have made three errors within tweets, two of which were mixing up the dates that two very similar events were happening on, and one of which was just a formatting error.

5 Culture Trends for 2019

As we approach 2019, major shifts in the work environment will continue to affect the ways companies do business. Companies that are looking to attract, engage, and retain top talent should leverage these trends to create workplaces where employees thrive.

my coworker lied about her entire resume — should I tell anyone?

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A reader writes: I work at a small (fewer than 10 employees) firm as a mid-level associate. A few weeks ago, a close friend, Josie — who doesn’t work with me but lives in my city — showed me a photo of a woman while we were out to lunch and asked if she worked in my office. I said yes, it was our new (five months into the job) account coordinator, Larisa.

when my office lets us out early before a holiday, why don’t they tell us in advance?

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A reader writes: I’m hoping you can shed some light on the reasons behind this practice. Usually on the day before a holiday (Friday before Labor Day, Christmas Eve, etc), our office will let us out a few hours early (say, 2:00 or 3:00 PM). It’s a nice practice and meant as a sign of goodwill, but it doesn’t end up having that affect.

my coworker feels entitled to my time, expertise, car, and house

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A reader writes: I’ve been reading your site for a while, but I’ve not seen anything that will help me address this particular issue — when a coworker who’s your peer feels entitled to all your technical expertise, time, and other resources. Our department had about 20 of us PhD students start at the same time. I’m one of the oldest, having returned to academia after several years working in industry.

weekend free-for-all – September 14-15, 2019

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This comment section is open for any non-work-related discussion you’d like to have with other readers, by popular demand. This one is truly no work and no school.). Book recommendation of the week: The Lager Queen of Minnesota , by J. Ryan Stadal.

Why All the AI Research You’re Reading is Dead Wrong

Speaker: Ben Eubanks, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, Principal Analyst at Lighthouse Research & Advisory

While we may be “people” professionals, it is part of our job to understand AI and how this technology can enable us to make smarter decisions and develop more efficient processes. Join Lighthouse Research & Advisory Principal Analyst Ben Eubanks where he will discuss how AI can be used for HR and recruiting processes, including how to create more human interactions and engagement through the strategic application of technology.

new employee wants me to give him money, I wet myself during a board meeting, and more

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It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…. New employee is hinting he wants me to give him money. A new project manager started work on Thursday. On Friday, he spent most of the day telling me about his desperate financial situation and how he had exhausted all of his resources. He said he wouldn’t get paid until the next week and didn’t have enough money for gas to get to work the next week. He said his family was living on groceries donated by a neighbor who moved.

is it bad for managers to sound frustrated or impatient?

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A reader writes: I am relatively new to management and I have a question about a specific incident, which raises the issue of whether a good boss should ever show impatience. One of my direct reports, Jane, does a good job. I’ve given her a lot of (genuinely well-deserved) praise in public and private, and she’s said she’s happy in her work.

can you fire someone solely for being racist?

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In an interesting juxtaposition with a letter from earlier today, a reader writes: I know you have answered a few variations over this, but I am hoping for a more clear answer in reference to my situation. Recently, my company hired someone that was extremely racist. He worked with me on his first day, where he dropped the N-word six times.

can I ask my coworkers why they didn’t hire my daughter?

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A reader writes: My daughter applied for a job at the university where I’m currently employed, in a department supervised by three very good friends of mine. I’ve known them all for over 20 years. I consider them great coworkers and friends. My neighbor also applied for the job.

Strategic Recruitment Marketing Made Simple

Speaker: Andrew Levy, Employer Branding and Recruitment Marketing Senior Director, Employera

By streamlining your marketing efforts through simple mindset shifts and automation, you will be on your way to a more efficient talent acquisition process. Join Employera’s Employer Branding and Recruitment Marketing Senior Director Andrew Levy as he discusses how to analyze your current marketing practices and transform them to ensure your candidates turn into employees.

how to say “it’s not okay” at work

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A reader writes: Is there a professionally acceptable way to push back when someone apologizes for causing problems at work? For example, this morning, my coworker slept through a meeting we had scheduled. Since I’m on the west coast (we’re a remote team) this meeting required me to wake up at 5 am. She messaged me two hours later saying, “Whoops, I totally spaced on this meeting. Sorry!” My normal response would be to say something like, “It’s okay!

my company wants my police report, boss wants me to lie about a layoff, and more

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It’s four answers to four questions. Here we go…. My company wants to include personal info in our proposals. I work in an industry where getting work involves big, elaborate proposals. I’m not in the most prominent position, but I do have to submit resumes and information for these proposals on a pretty regular basis.

my boss wanted to go over my personal budget

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A reader writes: I’ve recently returned to the teaching field. While I know there are plenty of stories about the budget woes of teachers, my prior experience wasn’t so bad. The school year is approaching and I have been trying to get my class in order. My principal asked for a list of requested supplies and items, and I gave her what I thought was a modest list, the basics to get the year rolling.

is my employee taking advantage of the flexibility I give her?

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A reader writes: In my current position (where I’ve been for two years), I’m a first-time manager of two direct reports, both of whom are salaried, not hourly, employees. One of them — who’s younger, less experienced, more eager — rarely asks to adjust her work hours or work from home, and is generally happy to do anything I ask her to do.

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weekend free-for-all – August 31-September 1, 2019

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This comment section is open for any non-work-related discussion you’d like to have with other readers, by popular demand. This one is truly no work and no school.). Book recommendation of the week: The Dearly Beloved , by Cara Wall.


pranking coworkers by repeatedly falling down, is it bad to ask questions about an assignment, and more

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It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…. Friend is pranking coworkers by repeatedly falling down. I was having a chat with my friend the other day, and they told me that they were having fun at work by pretending to fall down in front of coworkers and dropping all their papers as a prank. They seemed to think it was all in good fun because they never let their coworkers in on the fact that it was a prank (although they did actually hurt their wrist doing this).

how do I tell our HR director she’s breaking the law?

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A reader writes: Our HR director sent a message to everyone today saying that due to many people failing to take their required lunch breaks every day, they are instituting a policy by which your time will be deducted automatically if you do not take a lunch. This is illegal in our state, but I am struggling finding a way to relay this to the HR manager without it sounding like I’m telling her how to do her job – I mean, this should be pretty elementary for an HR manager, right?

my boss pees in a cup and dumps it in the kitchen sink

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Warning: This is a really gross letter. A reader writes: What can we do with a boss who urinates in a cup in his office and then dumps it in the kitchen sink even when we (all women) are sitting there eating lunch? We are certain of what is in the cup because it smells, is yellow, and it sits right on his credenza in plain view. He’s even left it outside the office, forgetting to empty it. A few weeks ago I was washing my lunch dishes and he dumped it right on top of my stuff.

Stop Ghosting Your Candidates!

Speaker: Vanessa Raath, Freelance Sourcer & Sourcing Trainer, International Keynote Speaker

You will learn the best practices for maintaining constant communication between the recruiter and the candidate from the time they submit their job application, right up to their first few days as a new hire. Join international Keynote Speaker & Sourcing Trainer Vanessa Raath to learn how you can encourage your recruiters to provide feedback throughout the recruitment process.

how can I navigate office politics when I hate hierarchy and authority?

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It’s the Thursday “ask the readers” question. A reader writes: I recently left a long-term job that I was pretty happy in, but had very limited earning potential and no real opportunity for growth. I was offered an amazing opportunity in an industry I’d been trying to break into for a while and just finished my first week there. I really enjoyed my first week, and I really, really want to succeed in this job.

we’re supposed to share emotional baggage at meetings, managers calls to me whenever I pass his door, and more

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It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…. We’re supposed to share any emotional baggage at the start of meetings. I work in higher ed. My supervisor has recently adopted a “baggage-drop” activity, where we all go around the room and share what is on our minds, mostly personal stuff, supposedly to clear our heads and make the meeting more productive. (I I think it’s also referred to as a “ check-in ”.)

updates: the fake pregnancy rumor and more

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Here are three updates from people whose letters I answered here previously. My coworkers are joking that I’m pregnant when I’m not. Firstly, thank you so much for publishing my letter and for your thoughtful response. I was intensely frustrated when I wrote to you and worried I was overreacting, but your response along with the insight and stories of your commentators proved exactly why pregnancy isn’t something to joke about. Thankfully, I have a positive response!

our office may be haunted — how do I keep it from distracting from our work?

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A reader writes: I work for a small, conservation-based nonprofit with four full-time people, five contract employees, and a summer program of up to 16 young people. We work out of a tiny office located inside 20 beautiful acres of land with which we are creating a public park. The office is a 110-year-old private home that was a rental for decades before being converted into an office. It’s cramped, loud, and far from ideal, but the location is perfect for our work.

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