Not interested in martyrdom
I recently started a new job at a medium-sized non-profit. Overall it was rewarding work, friendly co-workers, good pay and benefits. But I am increasingly aware of a “martyr culture” in which people regularly work well beyond their 40s, do not take the free time they are entitled to, work on vacations and other days off, and even work (remotely, at least ) while you are sick. The work we do is not life or death. This behavior appears to be the status quo. While I’ve never been told I’m expected to work extra hours on a regular basis while I’m sick, etc., that seems like an unspoken expectation and is modeled by top executives.
I am a hard worker who likes to go the extra mile when necessary, but I also attach great importance to a healthy work-life balance. I took my time and wasn’t told I couldn’t, but it was still uncomfortable as most people here don’t, and it was made clear to me how my absence would affect others. I’ve also held the line about not working on days off, with the same kind of message sent.
I’m not sure how to go about this; when I brought up the general topic of healthy balance with my colleagues and superiors, the response was usually along the lines of, Gosh, wouldn’t that be fun! Is there anything I can do besides maintaining my own boundaries?
The best thing you can do is maintain your reasonable and very healthy limits. Many companies have this unspoken culture of overtime, but overtime is rarely good work. It leaves people disillusioned and burned out. It doesn’t make you a better employee, not really. It’s a shame that your colleagues have adopted the idea that they have to sacrifice themselves for their jobs. You lead by example. I can imagine it must feel precarious to do something as normal as taking your own comp time.
Lubricate the wheels of meritocracy
I worked at NBCU and left the company 15 years ago under challenging circumstances. Recently I have seen several openings at NBCU that fit well with my experience and skills. I know someone in HR at NBCU and got in touch a few weeks ago to inquire about the position(s), as well as to see if it is worth my time and effort to apply for positions at the company as I may is on a NER (not suitable for re-hiring) list or a “thing” associated with my name.
I haven’t heard back from my friend. This is not a close friend but we have socialized many times. I struggle not to call them because they don’t even give a perfunctory answer. Everyone knows that jobs are earned on merit, but having a person at the company sometimes gives that little bit of “push” or insight. I am disappointed in their lack of politeness. Am I wrong to really say something?
Mike, Los Angeles
Yes, you are not aware to say anything. As you yourself point out, this person is not a good friend. Socializing together a few times doesn’t mean they owe you anything. It’s not clear to me what you would call your friend for. Not replying to an email is not a social crime. And why go to extremes instead of simply sending a follow-up email? Most people drown in email and perform inbox triage every day. There could be any number of reasons why they haven’t responded yet.
If this is indeed a friend, give them the benefit of the doubt. They may feel uncomfortable or uneasy about your question. Maybe they want to achieve it. Either way, this person is not the obstacle that stands between you and a job with your previous employer. I understand your frustration, but there is a lot you need to think about and reconsider. I’m also curious as to why you think jobs are earned on merit. Since when?
Too many false promises
I work for a mid-sized sales company in the Midwest. My boss has told me several times that I am being promoted, but when the time comes, he says he tried, but the management was not on board. Now he tells me it’s in 60 days, then 16 weeks, then in a year. He also does this in front of others. I asked him not to tell me again, but he won’t. He seems to think it will cheer me up and make me feel important, but it does the opposite. He makes me feel like I’m stupid, and it feels cruel. Other than reporting him to HR, do you have any advice for what I can say to him?
If you’ve told your boss to stop and he hasn’t, I doubt there’s any other combination of words that gets through to him. In situations like this, repetition is key. Every time he dangles this promotion for you, remind him to stop. Remind him how long he’s been doing this. Tell him what you told me: That this behavior isn’t motivational, it’s deflating. Sometimes it’s just hearing the truth over and over that makes people really listen. Also look for a new job. You deserve better.