Etiquette Hell

General Etiquette => All In A Day's Work => Topic started by: Cebollita on November 28, 2012, 07:06:11 PM

Title: My work's holiday plans
Post by: Cebollita on November 28, 2012, 07:06:11 PM
I'm kind of upset about this. The Big Boss (BB)of our non-profit is unbelievably cheap. If he doesn't want to spend money, fine. But, he wants to always have these holiday parties for every event, and makes the employees pay for them.  He wants to have his cake and eat it too.

Case in point - he sent an email about the holiday plans. I'm paraphrasing, but "The holiday party will be held on December 17th at 2PM. It will be a potluck lunch with everyone bringing an item. Then, we'll have our gift giving! It's a steal-or exchange game (details omitted for boringness). Everyone is expected to purchase a gift for 10-15 dollars. Blah blah blah"

My beef is - first, it's cheap - how is this a treat for us - commanding us to spend money? None of us earn a lot - but BB does!  There is nothing about it being optional "If you'd like to participate".
AND, he went even further. My Immediate Boss (IB) and the Big Boss clash sometimes (my department is just me and IB). So today,  BB calls IB and says, "By the way - I want BOTH you AND Cebollita at that holiday party. No arguments." (My IM is not very social, but is very good at his job).

Are any of my gripes legit?!
Title: Re: My work's holiday plans
Post by: Sharnita on November 28, 2012, 07:16:26 PM
So this is during work hours which means you can't opt out?
Title: Re: My work's holiday plans
Post by: Luci on November 28, 2012, 07:22:52 PM
The only legitimate complaint that I see is that you feel forced to participate. Why? Just don't buy a gift, don't take a dish to pass, and if it is on paid time, stay and clean your desk or catch up on filing and computer work.

Don't gripe at the boss or make a big deal. Just tell him, 'No, thank you,' if you feel you need to.

If there is a way to advance in the office.........well, that's another deal and you must make nice-nice and cooperate.
Title: Re: My work's holiday plans
Post by: Cebollita on November 28, 2012, 07:32:39 PM

If there is a way to advance in the office.........well, that's another deal and you must make nice-nice and cooperate.

Yep - that's one of the problems - the biggest one. There are things they can make you do legally, and there are things that just mark you out as a 'non-team player', so you must do.  Obviously, I have to do it. But I just think it's unfair and tacky and poor etiquette on his behalf.
Title: Re: My work's holiday plans
Post by: LeveeWoman on November 28, 2012, 07:45:39 PM
It'd be just terrible if you started sneezing and had a  runny and  red nose  somewhere  around 11:00 that morning.
Title: Re: My work's holiday plans
Post by: Deetee on November 28, 2012, 08:22:16 PM
If it is during work hours, I would go. I'd tell myself that the company was paying for me to slack off for a few hours and eat food and exchange gifts. I'd bring in the dish and wrap up a box of chocolates and just enjoy myself.

Yeah, it's not the most generous Christmas party ever, but for the sake of a decent job, I'd  just smile and bear it.

(However if others wanted to stage a boycott, I would be interested in following that...)
Title: Re: My work's holiday plans
Post by: doodlemor on November 28, 2012, 10:45:58 PM
The guy sounds like a jerk, Cebollita, but I think that you need to paste on a big smile and go.

Being the wayward person that I am, I'd be trying to think of a funny and creative way to deal with the party.  Get some goofy thing going with your co-workers so that the party is actually fun.   The goal would be to get people to laugh themselves silly, and enjoy every minute.

Title: Re: My work's holiday plans
Post by: cicero on November 29, 2012, 01:32:57 AM
I also work for a non profit. My boss tries to not spend money that he doesn't have to - which sometimes means "no we are not turning on the heat before Dec 1 no matter how cold it is". or "i understand your chair broke, we will fix it/find a used one/etc".

The reason my boss does things this way is because he believes that we spend a lot of effort in trying to get people to donate money for our causes and projects around the world.  he feels it is unethical to spend money on 'non essentials'. of course, then there are different ways to interpret what essentials and non essentials are. we make low to decent salaries, my boss and a few higher uppers make higher salaries but no where near what they could make elsewhere (and they work 24/7)

We've had holiday events where we've asked people to bring a dish and there is a lot of grumbling about it, a lot of "why can't the organization pay for it"... we dont' do gift exchanges, but we get a gift from the organization (it is a lwell engrained custom in israel to get gifts from your company/organization). about 100$, twice a year, before the major holidays.

I think that one is ok - e.g., have a pot luck and let the organization buy gifts or vice versa but not both.
Title: Re: My work's holiday plans
Post by: WillyNilly on November 29, 2012, 08:02:03 AM
My mentality on work parties is employers need to provide "time or dime" - its great when they offer both, but IMO they are OK if they offer at least one.  Your employer is offering "time" - the party isn't after hours, its during work hours.  Its annoying the food is on your "dime" but hey its better then my bosses who try to get us to do a potluck after hours!
Title: Re: My work's holiday plans
Post by: MamaMootz on November 29, 2012, 09:41:42 AM
See, this is what I have an issue with. BB is asking you to kick in your own money to attend a mandatory party. That's not right.

And it's potentially embarrassing for people who live paycheck to paycheck and may not have the extra money to spend on what the BB wants. He set a gift limit and he's instructing them to bring food. What if for some people that means the difference between gas for their car or attending the party?

I don't mean to be all dramatic, but it's insensitive of him to expect this. And how can an employee decline due to lack of funds? And no matter what the reason for declining, they will be branded as "not a team player". Not a good choice for anyone to have to make.

He is putting his employees in a bad position. He should not be doing that. If he wants to set up a potluck, fine. But he should NOT be making attendance mandatory for anyone. It's a distinct but little difference.

I don't suppose anyone can bring this to his attention in a subtle yet factual way?
Title: Re: My work's holiday plans
Post by: O'Dell on November 29, 2012, 10:02:07 AM
Are there any other employees unhappy about this? Maybe if a group goes to him to protest or sends a spokeperson you'd have some luck.

See, this is what I have an issue with. BB is asking you to kick in your own money to attend a mandatory party. That's not right.

And it's potentially embarrassing for people who live paycheck to paycheck and may not have the extra money to spend on what the BB wants. He set a gift limit and he's instructing them to bring food. What if for some people that means the difference between gas for their car or attending the party?

I don't mean to be all dramatic, but it's insensitive of him to expect this. And how can an employee decline due to lack of funds? And no matter what the reason for declining, they will be branded as "not a team player". Not a good choice for anyone to have to make.

He is putting his employees in a bad position. He should not be doing that. If he wants to set up a potluck, fine. But he should NOT be making attendance mandatory for anyone. It's a distinct but little difference.

I don't suppose anyone can bring this to his attention in a subtle yet factual way?

I'm assuming that you don't have a good rapport with BB? Because I've known people that could go to a *reasonable* big boss and have a discussion about these concerns and for things to change based on that. It would be good if that person could mention that there are some employees that object due to this. And have some suggestions ready for how to scale back. Maybe ask that the non-profit pay for some cookies and drinks and the gift exchange be voluntary.
Title: Re: My work's holiday plans
Post by: bah12 on November 29, 2012, 10:04:08 AM
I think that the only thing about this that would put me off is the mandatory gift exchange.  Other than that, I think that a potluck party during regular work hours (where I assume you still get paid) is a treat.  Things don't have to be expensive to be rewarding.  I would imagine that you have coworkers that would much rather spend the afternoon at a potluck than doing whatever they normally do for work.

That being said, there is something in leadership ensuring that those they are treating appreciate the treat.  If most of you don't feel like spending mandatory time socializing with each other, than this party probably isn't a great idea.  And while I get that some people may be stressed by the idea of providing something for the party, I would give more leeway for a non-profit that probably doesn't have a budget to fund holiday parties out of overhead.  The only other option would be for your boss to foot the entire bill himself.

If you feel you must address this with him, then I'd approach it this way:  First, see if you can't take some sort of quick informal poll to make sure that you aren't the only one who feels this way.  Then ask for some time to speak to your boss about the party.  You could suggest that some employees feel overwhelmed by mandatory gift giving and suggest that this is optional.  Also, suggest that the party itself be optional.  He can make a "rule" that basically says that if employees want to participate, they can sign up and the party will be their place of duty...otherwise everyone else will be at work, unless they have some excused time off.
Title: Re: My work's holiday plans
Post by: Outdoor Girl on November 29, 2012, 10:28:44 AM
I don't have an issue with the potluck or with the gift exchange.  That's just how it works in non-profit/government - you can't be seen spending money earmarked for the agency or collected from tax revenue.

I do have an issue with it being mandatory.  In our office, you can choose to participate in the potluck but not the gift exchange or vice versa or both.  But it is entirely optional.  If you don't participate, you are working at your desk and don't get the time off (except for your normal lunch period).

One of my coworkers is a bit of a 'Scrooge' and not much of a joiner.  He volunteers to man the phones so the Admin. staff can participate, if they so choose.  He gets to make himself a plate without having to contribute - there is always lots of food so it works out great.

OP, is this something you could do to get out of it, if you really don't want to participate?  If not, I agree with the others that you and your IB need to suck it up as best you can and participate.  A suggestion for a potluck item that is relatively cheap and well received, at least in my office?  A case of mandarin oranges - they are on sale for $4 this week where I am.  We had a ton of rich main courses and sugary desserts.  One person brought the mandarins.  I don't think there were any left - everyone was in for something light to finish off the meal.
Title: Re: My work's holiday plans
Post by: Bookgirl on November 29, 2012, 11:21:45 AM
This is how my company handles Christmas and we're not a non-profit!  In my almost 12 years, we've only had 1 fancy company paid party.  Every other year it's been potluck.  There were some years with a lot of raffle prizes, some years with a few raffle prizes and the last few years, there's also been a white elephant exchange. 

But, it's not mandatory.  Most people participate and we have a lot of fun.  Well, except for last year.  When it was decided that the potluck would be after work, at someone's house.  Not many people showed up for that.  I'm hoping that we go back to the normal party during work this year. 
Title: Re: My work's holiday plans
Post by: Raintree on November 30, 2012, 12:25:55 AM
Ugh, I feel for you. I used to work at a place that announced "We're having a Christmas lunch" (at a restaurant, everyone pays for themselves) "and doing a gift exchange, $20 limit per person." And in case anyone was thinking of claiming prior commitments "here's a list of dates. Everyone check off which ones they are free." (You couldn't exactly say you were busy each and every suggested date). I hate forced money spending. I'd rather spend that money on family.
Title: Re: My work's holiday plans
Post by: TootsNYC on November 30, 2012, 06:30:25 AM
Why can't you simply say, "I'm going to have to skip the gift exchange; I can't afford it"?

Frankly, I'm not sure I'd assume that the gift exchange is mandatory, even if nothing was specifically said about it. Don't buy a gift, and don't take one--that's really the only important thing. Say something quietly to the person putting the names in the hat (you don't even have to give a reason)--"I'm not going to do the gift exchange, so be sure to leave my name out."
   If there's no name-in-the-hat, then just don't bring one, and when it comes time, say quietly, "Oh, I didn't do the gift exchange," and position yourself to not take a gift.
Title: Re: My work's holiday plans
Post by: MamaMootz on November 30, 2012, 06:37:50 AM
Why can't you simply say, "I'm going to have to skip the gift exchange; I can't afford it"?

Frankly, I'm not sure I'd assume that the gift exchange is mandatory, even if nothing was specifically said about it. Don't buy a gift, and don't take one--that's really the only important thing. Say something quietly to the person putting the names in the hat (you don't even have to give a reason)--"I'm not going to do the gift exchange, so be sure to leave my name out."
   If there's no name-in-the-hat, then just don't bring one, and when it comes time, say quietly, "Oh, I didn't do the gift exchange," and position yourself to not take a gift.

I usually agree with you, Toots, but not in this case. I would be embarrassed by having to decline due to lack of funds and I'm sure I'm not the only one who would be. It's none of my employer's business what my financial situation is, and I would not want to share this info with them. Honestly, BB should not be putting his employees in this position in the first place by making this mandatory. I would probably be "sick" the day of the party, if he forced the issue with me.
Title: Re: My work's holiday plans
Post by: TootsNYC on November 30, 2012, 11:50:09 AM
so skip the "i can't afford it" and just say, quietly, "Oh, I'm not going to do the gift exchange."
Title: Re: My work's holiday plans
Post by: MamaMootz on November 30, 2012, 12:23:35 PM
To which he will ask "why not?"
Title: Re: My work's holiday plans
Post by: Kiara on November 30, 2012, 12:36:24 PM
To which you reply again "I'm not going to do the gift exchange."

No need to JADE with the boss, either.
Title: Re: My work's holiday plans
Post by: kudeebee on November 30, 2012, 12:45:01 PM
I don't see the big deal with the potluck.  A lot of offices/schools celebrate the holidays this way.  Not every office/company has a dinner provided for them free of charge.  Everyone is bringing a dish to share and you are being given company time to enjoy the meal.  It doesn't have to be anything fancy.

Now the mandatory gift exchange is another thing.  That should have been made optional, but it wasn't stated that way.  You can find a lot of gifts at a big discount this time of year, you can probably pick up a $10 retail value gift for $4 or 5, maybe less.  If you don't participate, you could be labeled as not being a team player.

I guess you will have to decide how far you are willing to push this issue and what the future ramifications will be.  Only you can decide what the course of action you choose--participate or not, try to boycott or not, etc--is worth to you and your future job stability.
Title: Re: My work's holiday plans
Post by: Kaypeep on November 30, 2012, 12:53:13 PM
To which he will ask "why not?"

"I"m afraid it's not possible.  Now if you'll excuse me, I see Betty over there with pics of her grandkids and I'd love to see them!"
Title: Re: My work's holiday plans
Post by: CakeBeret on November 30, 2012, 01:04:28 PM
I wouldn't have a problem with the potluck. If money is tight, it's easy to whip up a loaf of nice French or ciabatta bread for under $1.

I would contribute something small to the gift exchange. Get a holiday mug from the thrift store or $1 store and add some candy.

I think that being seen as a team player and a contributor can be important, even if your employer is wrong to ask it of you.
Title: Re: My work's holiday plans
Post by: MamaMootz on November 30, 2012, 01:51:34 PM
I don't have a real issue with the potluck, either - but I do with everything being mandatory.
Title: Re: My work's holiday plans
Post by: magicdomino on November 30, 2012, 04:07:53 PM
I don't see the big deal with the potluck.  A lot of offices/schools celebrate the holidays this way.  Not every office/company has a dinner provided for them free of charge.  Everyone is bringing a dish to share and you are being given company time to enjoy the meal.  It doesn't have to be anything fancy.

Now the mandatory gift exchange is another thing.  That should have been made optional, but it wasn't stated that way.  You can find a lot of gifts at a big discount this time of year, you can probably pick up a $10 retail value gift for $4 or 5, maybe less.  If you don't participate, you could be labeled as not being a team player.

I guess you will have to decide how far you are willing to push this issue and what the future ramifications will be.  Only you can decide what the course of action you choose--participate or not, try to boycott or not, etc--is worth to you and your future job stability.

I miss my division's holiday potlucks.  The last couple of years, we've had to pay $25 or more per person for hor d'oerves at a sports bar.  At least it is optional.  (I work for a federal agency in the U.S. Parties cannot be funded out of our workplan.  Come to think of it, it wouldn't surprise me if manatory gift exchanges were expressly forbidden as well.)

Title: Re: My work's holiday plans
Post by: DavidH on November 30, 2012, 04:32:31 PM
I think your gripes are legitimate, but I don't think there's too much you can do other than participate.  If your boss wants to make this his hill to die on, that's one thing, but I wouldn't pick this. 

The challenge is that it's during working hours, so unless you take the day off, you'd be at work anyway, so why not have a potluck vs. do what you'd ordinarily be doing. Its hard to complain about the time required if it is on the company's time so to speak. 

The cost can be annoying, but you can make an inexpensive dish for a few dollars if you plan, and $10 for a gift isn't that much.  I think it's hard to complain about the cost without coming across as petty since it isn't that much money and you won't need to plan a separate lunch. 
Title: Re: My work's holiday plans
Post by: AnnaJ on November 30, 2012, 06:05:59 PM
I wouldn't have a problem with the potluck. If money is tight, it's easy to whip up a loaf of nice French or ciabatta bread for under $1.

I would contribute something small to the gift exchange. Get a holiday mug from the thrift store or $1 store and add some candy.

I think that being seen as a team player and a contributor can be important, even if your employer is wrong to ask it of you.

I agree with the first sentence but not the gift exchange suggestion.  The suggested range was $10-15 and if I spent that for a gift to put in I'd be disappointed/irritated to get a thrift store coffee mug with candy in exchange.  I think this is an all or nothing thing - either spend the suggested amount of money or don't participate; I would go the 'not participate' route myself if OP can figure out a sufficiently political way to do so.