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Seething with pandemic resentment
I spent three years as a legal counsel to the president and founder of a growing company of approximately 100 people. I’m the liberal book nerd in what feels like a sea of Fox News fans, but in the past we’ve shied away from politics and got along well. While none of my co-workers would become my BFF, I admired them for their skills and lack of pretension.
Enter Covid and I see now seething with resentment towards most people in the office. Mask mandates have disappeared and were never really enforced. People show up every day with “colds” without wondering if that cough might be the virus. I’ve had my boss’s ear, but he’s tired of talking about Covid (unlike the rest of us, who love it!), dismissing concerns because the pandemic is “politicized”, and calling me to meetings with him when he can barely talk through his stuffy nose.
None of our conversations about Covid have gone well. I thought I would be retiring from this company in five years. Should I hold out and watch Covid develop? At the moment my negative feelings towards my colleagues are really leading to very long days.
Your outrage is understandable. As we enter the third year of life with Covid-19, it’s hard not to be absolutely outraged at the significant number of Americans who have chosen not to vaccinate or wear masks, and otherwise refuse to do the bare minimum to protect public health. support. Working with people who are actively or passively defiant while managing pandemic fatigue is incredibly difficult.
Their actions endanger you and everyone you come in contact with, no matter how careful you are. But quitting your job isn’t necessarily the answer. There is no guarantee that you will find a workplace where everyone shares your values. And that you’ve been pushed to this point leads me to believe that you are more frustrated with the general state of things in the world than your colleagues, no matter how deliberately ignorant they seem to be.
If you quit your job for this reason, something else will replace your coworkers as the target of your understandable frustration. If you can afford to stop and it will give you peace of mind, treat yourself. But if you can’t, it’s time to develop some coping mechanisms. Can you sometimes or always work from home? Can you set limits on the way you treat your colleagues? There are no easy answers here. This is part of why the pandemic is so stressful. Americans now live in two different countries and the border between those countries is impenetrable.
Consent to double dip
I’m the entire human resources department of a global tech start-up. Honestly the place is a mess but I like a challenge and I learned a lot while feeling effective in my position and seeing satisfying results. However, I have no formal HR background and decided to solve this with a certified certificate program in the field. My company has generously offered to reimburse me for tuition and other related expenses. Would it be ethical to bill my standard hourly rate – I’m a contractor – for hours spent in the classroom? In fact, I feel greedy considering this, but I’ve billed similarly for independent research required for my position.
If you’ve chosen to develop a formal HR background that isn’t mandated by your employer and your company has offered to cover the cost of that professional development, my instinct is that no, you can’t get your standard hourly rate. invoice. I’d love to hear what others think.
I also note that because this is voluntary, tuition fees over $5,250 are generally taxed as income.
I work for a small company (less than 50 employees). We recently lost a major account and had to lay off three of our employees, all of them people of color.
I know the rest of the staff can’t get any details about the decision – and I hope there were many considerations – but it still bothers me that these three people were chosen. Because we are such a small organization, this really impacts our representation. Our company preaches inclusion and justice, but this seems like a major setback.
I don’t think this was done on purpose or on purpose. But there should have been questions along the way to confront possible unconscious biases. Maybe they were there and I don’t know them. Is it wrong for me to feel uncomfortable about this?
It is important to be aware of unconscious biases and how they can manifest themselves in the workplace. It’s not wrong to feel uncomfortable about this. If nothing else, the optics are absolutely terrible. But there’s a lot more to such situations than just optics. Were these three people the newest employees? Were there any performance issues? Were they seen as disposable items by managers? Have people used that old canard of “cultural fit” to let them go?
You need more information and it’s a shame that your employer chose not to explain why these three people were fired, given the context. If the opportunity arises, I would discuss your concerns with your manager, not because it will change what has already been done, but so that those responsible in the future will be more aware of how they make such decisions.
Sick of being silent
I worked for a professional services company for three years. The work is satisfying and the pay and benefits are great. However, I am a woman in my forties; my boss, teammate and a contractor we work with are all men in their sixties who have been working together for years. On many occasions I feel rejected. I am talked over or cut off; my emails are unread; my ideas are often ignored unless someone else repeats them. Others outside the team have noticed this and told me. My boss is a nice man but seems somewhat oblivious when other people are having problems unless explicitly mentioned to him. I’ve started documenting the behavior and scheduled some time to discuss it with him.
Another colleague with similar issues told me she went to HR and was given strategies to deal with these unpleasant interactions. I’m thinking about doing the same. Should I tell my boss? I don’t want him to find out and think I’m sneaking around, but I’m afraid it seems like a threat to tell him. I recently got a PhD, so despite these inconveniences, it doesn’t seem to stop me from moving on. But it also feels disrespectful and generally makes me less happy at work.
You don’t sneak around seeking advice from human resources. You advocate for yourself. That this dynamic is so persistent and visible that your colleagues have raised concerns is reason enough to address the issue. I’m glad to hear you can get ahead within this organization, but it can be incredibly depressing to always be silenced and spoken to. Unfortunately, this is a fairly common experience in some workplace cultures.
You want to develop some strategies to deal with this. For example, explicitly point out this dynamic to your boss. Keep documenting it. If your coworkers are talking about you or interrupting you, keep talking. Keep talking until they stop talking and start listening. Maintain eye contact. Do not give the impression that you are defeated. Whenever you can, just point out what’s going on. “Excuse me, Cliff, but I was talking.” Or, “Excuse me, Biff, I’m not done with my thought. Please keep your comments until I’m done.” And look for colleagues who can be allies in these situations, who can evoke these dynamics for or with you and create space to speak and be heard.
Having said all this, please know that you are not the problem here. You should not use any of these strategies. Your older male co-workers need to adjust their behavior and learn how to be better communicators who respect the people they’re talking to.
Roxane Gay is the author, most recently, of “Hunger” and a contributing opinion writer. Write her down workfriend..