Employee of the Year

At first this job was a dream solely because of the dramatically improved hours. I had been working the graveyard shift for five years and had had enough. I found a mid-level job with a local insurance company to be perfect for me as did the person who hired me. Three people including me were doing the same job which allowed us to split up the work in a manageable fashion. I quickly excelled in the job and was even awarded employee of the year!  Then things went bad. My boss went on maternity leave. The three of us were expected to pitch in to cover her workload. With the help of a temp, we were able to get it all done with four people. Apparently, we did so good of a job that when my boss came back from leave, it was decided that one of my fellow worker’s positions was no longer necessary and he was fired.

The “ghost work” that was left behind was split up between the remaining two people. From then on, there was never enough time to get our daily tasks done. And to make matters worse, they no longer approved overtime hours.  So it was either work until your 40 hours are up and get written up for not finishing or work overtime to finish the work and not get paid for it. My boss began making comments when we left to go out for lunch too so I began working through lunch in my cubicle. That year, my week long vacation request was rejected. My boss said they needed me there and that I shouldn’t ask for that much time off. Instead, I requested a few Fridays off a month until my vacation time was exhausted. I got yelled at for ruining everyone’s weekends because no one else could take long weekends.

During this time, my coworker’s position was a revolving door. Since the third coworker position was eliminated, I saw three people leave me and I was tasked with training the new person. It was hard not to warn them of things to come. No one stayed longer than four months except me. I was closing in on two years with the company. I had become accustomed to heading into work two hours before my boss or coworker did, so that I could put in an 11 hour day (eight hours paid)  and still be able to leave in time for the night classes I was taking. I would leave each day thinking that my boss’s audacity could not be topped. She was pregnant again and preparing for maternity leave. Surely, she’d hire some temps to help. We waited.

Two days before my boss went out on leave, she strolled into my cubicle to formally tell me that they were not hiring a temp while she was away. I couldn’t even tell you what my face looked like, but my boss must have noticed my discouragement. In her best management speech to date, she told me, “You won’t need a temp!  I was on maternity leave over a year ago. In that time, I’m sure you learned how to do your job even quicker!” She was serious. I put in my two week notice the next morning.

Comments (12)

LisaApril 30th, 2010 at 8:19 am

It’s sometimes dangerous for an employee to be too competent & conscientious. A ruthless boss who discovers this quality will take brazen advantage.

My first long term boss was a cagey old bastard who recognized the goldmine he’d found in me, and I was rewarded by handling the workload formerly handled by three separate people, working six days a week , year round. He also tried to instill guilt in me for taking a yearly one-week vacation— for weeks afterward he’d point out how business had suffered because of my folly. (What a desperate-to-please, eager-beaver schmuck I was, at age 22!)

Hope you’ve since found a job worthy of your virtuous work ethic, OP!

Frau BlucherApril 30th, 2010 at 8:09 pm

It reminds me of an interview I went on, replacing an assistant at a dr’s office who was leaving…she was there for the group interview and waxed poetic about how fulfilling it was to work 11 hour days (in an office filled with screaming kids)…and no overtime. Uhh no…

Call 911April 30th, 2010 at 10:30 pm

I’m with Lisa on this one. The same thing happened with me at my current job.

I’m the administrator of 3 different programs and I’m (unofficially) being trained to take over another major program because they’re anticipating the person currently doing it getting a job elsewhere (lucky girl). It’s hard though because the work ethic I was taught doesn’t really allow me to be lazy or bad at my job – I’m always striving to do my best. But it’s really hard when I collect the same paycheck as the other people I work with but do 4 times as much work.

It seems like – when you’re good at your job, you aren’t rewarded for it with praise or benefits, you’re rewarded with more work being lumped on you. Then, your fellow coworkers (or mine, in this situation) purposefully do everything half-assed, poorly, or take forever to do it so that they don’t ever get extra assignments or tasks and they never get called out for it! Sorry – turned into a vent for my own crappy job, lmao!

SoloReflexMay 1st, 2010 at 1:42 am

I will never understand why people stick around when they are not getting paid for all the hours they put in but I’m glad to see that you left the boss with only 1 person to work 4 people’s jobs! That’s hilarious because you know pregnant boss was wishing she had hired a temp when that happened.

Frau BlucherMay 2nd, 2010 at 5:09 am

Same here. If you’re not being paid for the work you do or hours you put in, you’re being screwed. There’s an old saying you pay peanuts, you get monkeys. I would just do what’s expected and no more. You’re not going to get personal fulfillment if you’re being taken advantage of.

Huh?May 3rd, 2010 at 9:19 am

I don’t understand why anyone would work without being paid. It’s not your business and you won’t be benefiting at all from those three hours a day, why do it? A weekend here, a night there, fine, but every day? Especially if the boss isn’t doing the same, anytime I’ve worked overtime my manager has sat in the office with me, even if there’s nothing for them to do.

I also really want to hear how the boss reacted when you quit!

AndrewMay 3rd, 2010 at 10:08 am

Isn’t it against most Labor Board regulations to require people to work without being paid like that?

Scot HerrickMay 3rd, 2010 at 11:16 am

The lesson here is that you need to know when a job will end – either there will be a layoff or the level of BS is so high that you won’t stand it any more (or work 11 hours a day and get paid for eight…).

You have to have that date in mind and consistently re-evaluate the date every month. There are enough warning signs out there (like all those co-workers leaving after four months) that you should be able to gauge where the work is going.

It’s OK to want to do wonderful work, but companies are in business to meet their business goals (including costs) and not interested in your goals. So you have to take this unemotional, hard-nosed look at what is happening on your job.

When the time of finding a job matches up with how long you expect the job to last, you need to start looking for another position.

This is not to bash this really crappy circumstance here; this happens all the time. The lesson is to not put up with it in the future.

How long will your position last?

laurenMay 3rd, 2010 at 12:35 pm

I want to know what her [email protected] boss said!

AndrewMay 3rd, 2010 at 12:52 pm

I like what Scot says.

Jade LynnMay 5th, 2010 at 10:07 am

With decent jobs hard to come by I’ve seen people put up with a lot of BS just to keep their job lest they not have any job. I know someone in a toxic work environment whose been desperate for anything comparable, he’ll even take a pay cut but its been almost 6 months and no luck yet.

dubucSeptember 13th, 2010 at 3:52 am

‘… work tends to flow to the competent person until he/she submerges’

one of the by-laws of Murphy’s

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