YOUR OFFICE COACH: This is not the time to fight over working hours
Question: Management keeps pushing me to work longer hours, but I don't believe this is necessary. I think they just want to get more out of me. Our company has recently begun outsourcing work to other countries, so they apparently don't plan to ...
Question: Management keeps pushing me to work longer hours, but I don't believe this is necessary. I think they just want to get more out of me. Our company has recently begun outsourcing work to other countries, so they apparently don't plan to hire more people here. A few months ago, I finally refused to stay late anymore, citing the need to spend time with my family. Since then, I have been deliberately sidelined from important projects. My last performance review included negative comments about my unwillingness to work extra hours. Under normal circumstances, I would look for another position, but right now the job market for software engineers is very tight. I can't afford to lose my paycheck, so what should I do?
Answer: You appear to have a serious case of tunnel vision, so let me try to expand your view. Positions in your field are scarce, your company is sending work out of the country, and you can't afford to be unemployed.
Does this seem like a good time to battle with management about working hours? In the business world, professional people are typically expected to work more than their scheduled 40 hours per week. This is especially true in technology companies, which have always had a "do whatever it takes" culture. If you routinely head for home while everyone else is still plugging away, you will look like a slacker, even if you're not. And your personal "no overtime" rule will be viewed as a lack of team spirit. If software engineers were in short supply, you might have more leverage, but not in the current job market. That may not be fair, but it's a fact. Your exclusion from projects and negative performance review represent serious warning signs. These factors could easily put you at the top of a layoff list, so you might want to re-evaluate your position on working late.
And you might want to do it quickly.
Q: Our human resources manager frequently takes home confidential employee information. Recently, he left personnel files on the front seat of his car while it was being serviced at a garage. Given the risk of identity theft, this seems highly irresponsible. His boss doesn't seem to care, so what can we do?
A: Protection of confidential information should be a top priority of any human resources department. If personnel records must be removed from the office, they should never be left where others can have access to them.
Since management seems indifferent, try having a non-confrontational discussion with the HR manager. For example: "With all the reports of identity theft, I'm worried about the privacy of our personnel information. When you have to take files out of the office, how do you ensure that no one else will see them?" If you personally observed the garage incident, you might mention it to illustrate the risk. But if that was hearsay, use a hypothetical example instead.