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Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The Company Owns You 24/7

Dear Evil HR Lady,

I've got a good one for you. In preparation for our company's 20th anniversary, it was decided that we will hold a draw for our clients for a trip for 2 to Las Vegas. We are sending out colorful postcards and attached to the card will be a poker chip, dice, and a chocolate coin, all wrapped in metallic foil.

Our company president has now decided that it would be a waste of company time to make these up during the work day (and who knows why we aren't hiring a temp for 2 days @ $10 / hour). Instead, she's sending each member of the sales team home with a box to make up on our own time.

She's so determined that this is the way to go that I got a voicemail from a co-worker telling me about it (I'm on holidays this week) and that she is going to deliver my box to me to do on Saturday.

I'm pissed off to say the least because the last thing that I want to do during my own time, is do anything work related. In fact, my Friday off was ruined by the voice mail message that I received at 4:30 pm. Now, instead of 2 more work-free days of rest and relaxation, I'm expected to do arts and crafts.

So what's my HR question? Can a company expect you to do this on your own time, without warning? I don't know about you, but I tend to have plans when I'm not at work. I'm tempted to not do them and simply tell them when they ask me why not "I already had plans for the weekend".

Your thoughts?

I'm confused. How is this actually a problem? Don't you just live to do meaningless tasks like this? I mean my high school psychology teacher thought it was more important for us to build bridges out of straw then it was to learn actual psychology. And then there was the time that my English teacher made us make fish out of paper because we read a poem about fish. Clearly they understood something that you just cannot understand: Arts and Crafts are fun! It is not work. It is not a waste of time. It is FUN!

Your boss is in the same category as a bridezilla, if you ask me. (It's my daaaay and you'll do what I saaaaay! Let's fill little tulle bags with color coordinated M&Ms and plus you have to pay to get your nails done so we'll all match. And if you get pregnant you are out of the wedding party. Do you hear me? O-U-T Out!)

If I were you, I just flat out wouldn't do it. I'd play dumb as well. "Oh, you wanted me to do this on Saturday? Why? Oh, well, you should have given me advance notice, as I had plans. Sorry!" Then I'd put the box of materials on my boss's desk and walk out.

But, you have to ask yourself, is your manager crazy enough about this that you could be fired for not doing the "project"? Will you be branded as "not a team player" and docked at you next performance review?

The problem with being an at will employee is that as long as it's not illegal, they can ask you to do it and can fire you if you don't. But, I seriously doubt they would do so. Especially if you are in a large company with an HR department and termination policies.

Please let us know what you did do and how it turned out.

Hello Evil HR Lady,

Thank you to everyone who commented on my plight. This is what happened:

- I begrudgingly made up some of the packages late on Sunday night while watching television. I know - some of you might say that I caved in, or worse.

I finally calmed down from my anger, and realized that I do work for good people. It has been overly stressful at the office this summer and I think that the stressed breached my manager's limit on that day and this was her way of reducing her stress.

I've decided to try to be more calm and not react as quickly when something irks me. I think that will make our working environment ever so much better for everyone.

Thanks again!

PS - it turns out that the packages are too big to mail and stay within budget so we have to deliver about half of them ourselves *smiles to herself*


apu said...

lets look at the bright side. arts & crafts is physical work - you need to be there to do it, its not a call you can take, not a paper you can work out on the computer.

as such, it is easier to get out of! you could simply say that you have already booked a flight out of town somewhere...they dont expect you to lug it along, do they?

bruce said...

Really, this is pretty easy to dodge. Still can't fathom the boss who thinks this is a good way to get this particular task done. Oh wait, there was that time the picnic committee was supposed to make centerpieces over the weekend...

Evil HR Lady said...

I've stopped trying to fathom why people think things are a good idea.

Patrick Williams said...

If the boss is a big a weenie as it seems, $5 will get you $20 that "confused" gets bagged.... but DO go for it. When they can you, threaten to sue - if the boss is too stupid to know what a bad practice this is, she may be too stupid to know you have no real claim but may buy you off anyway. Fortune favors the brave!

Anonymous said...

2 things here:

1) Just wondering how much time it is needed to do that arts & craft?

2) The arts and craft work can be looked at positively, as a fun project to do with kids (if you are married with kids), or with your partner (for those who have a partner).

Attitude says it all.