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  1. #1
    Senior Member mustang1's Avatar
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    Wierd work ethics in corporate America

    I work at a large US company (tho I'm not based in USA nor am I a US-resident). I work a 9-10 hour day, my counterparts in America work 8-9 hours (this is for regular days, quite often we work more hours than this). Monday-Friday plus additional support work out of hours, including weekends.

    An email went out earlier this year saying "we are taking part in out of hours coverage" *ie: scheduled hours as opposed to "lets see who we can call tonight"). For example we are required to work monday to thursday and friday to sunday patterns for emergency work, and for this we get compensated half day in lieu (which I think is crap especially since we will get called all the time).

    Anyway, another email went out recently saying we must document the out of hours work we've done, including such things as emergencies, general enquiries, and scheduled maintenance.

    I dont agree with any of that. It's bad enough we have to participate (it was an order, no option to participate or not) but now they want us to do work on top of emergencies? It's just like working not additional hours, but additional days. And for that you have half day off in lieu. Furthermore, if you have a full day off as planned vacation, and your off-hours work falls on such a vacation, you get a full day in lieu (ie, half day for your original out-of-hours coverage plus another half day for the full day vacation you took - ps: YES I double checked that and YES you read that right).

    Well that's just crazy. Anyway, I noticed quite a down turn in team morale. That's behind the scenes but in front of everyone it's smiles as usual. What really bugs me is I dont think any one complained about it. Well one guy did but nothing came of it so he just accepted it. They just accepted these new conditions and that was pretty much it.

    Is this kind of thing considered normal in America? It's obviously come about as many large corporations are laying off staff, so the company knows people wont leave any time soon to get another job, so they impose this on us.

    Just wondering about your thoughts on this.

  2. #2
    Seņor Member USAZorro's Avatar
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    Update your resumes, and bolt the first chance you get.

    More constructively - propose an alternative that will not leave the company hanging, but which won't screw the employees. Run it by your co-workers, and present it as an alternative. If you get blown off - update the resumes.
    The search for inner peace continues...

  3. #3
    RacingBear UmneyDurak's Avatar
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    Yeah, corporate environment can be very oppressive. The best way companies keep their employees in check is through annual "performance" reviews. Which is basically combination of how much ass kissing you managed to do, plus how well you kept your mouth shut about all the BS that is going, with some actual performance evaluation thrown in mixed heavily with politics.

    P.S. I Like USAZorro suggestion.
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  4. #4
    Wood Licker Maelstrom's Avatar
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    hmmm...you work in IT?

    To me it sounds like a decent plan. Whoever implemented "random" on call people was stupid. It should be a set schedule. I spent a lot of time on call and I would rather know when I can't get drunk then get surprised because jackass number 1 turned his phone off, or even worse, clare dumbass prefers talking to me instead of you and pages me all the time because of preference. Set "on call" hours is the most logical direction. I would have quit with random hours.

    Documenting calls makes perfect sense, in fact, did the manager change. This is smart move as it allows for

    a) the creation of a manual to work with
    b) eliminating the generally stupid after hour calls with a FaQ, manual, etc.

    I did both of these things eons ago (24/7 coverage was required) and it helped eliminate 99.3% of after hour calls.

    Now, if being on call is generally what you dont like, then leave. Not all IT jobs have 24/7 coverage (a lot of network jobs are 24/7 even if it isn't explicite, who else can they call at 4am when the network switch goes down?). Heck my job, while on paper is 24/7, I don't do after hour calls. Many months of documenting, faqs and training people to help themselves has eliminated the need (wtf are you calling me to restart a printer/computer/interface)

    Sorry I don't see the problem, you sound like you job is support staff, maybe its time for a career directional change or moving up the tiers of support.

  5. #5
    BF's Level 12 Wizard SingingSabre's Avatar
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    Corporate America is crap. They ignore all complaints and suggestions, then blame workers, rather than policies, when it all hits the fan.
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  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maelstrom View Post
    hmmm...you work in IT?

    To me it sounds like a decent plan. Whoever implemented "random" on call people was stupid. It should be a set schedule. I spent a lot of time on call and I would rather know when I can't get drunk then get surprised because jackass number 1 turned his phone off, or even worse, clare dumbass prefers talking to me instead of you and pages me all the time because of preference. Set "on call" hours is the most logical direction. I would have quit with random hours.

    Documenting calls makes perfect sense, in fact, did the manager change. This is smart move as it allows for

    a) the creation of a manual to work with
    b) eliminating the generally stupid after hour calls with a FaQ, manual, etc.

    I did both of these things eons ago (24/7 coverage was required) and it helped eliminate 99.3% of after hour calls.

    Now, if being on call is generally what you dont like, then leave. Not all IT jobs have 24/7 coverage (a lot of network jobs are 24/7 even if it isn't explicite, who else can they call at 4am when the network switch goes down?). Heck my job, while on paper is 24/7, I don't do after hour calls. Many months of documenting, faqs and training people to help themselves has eliminated the need (wtf are you calling me to restart a printer/computer/interface)

    Sorry I don't see the problem, you sound like you job is support staff, maybe its time for a career directional change or moving up the tiers of support.
    Documenting calls is also good for CYA reasons, especially these days of Sarbanes Oxley.

    As for a random work schedule, I just consider that utter crap. The company should have a rotating schedule, so they know who will be a primary point of contact, who is backup, and who is the last guy standing should stuff in a server room land pointy end up.

    An employee manual online and an explicit note not to call people after hours unless they are the primary/secondary POC is a nice step in the right direction too. However, not many companies are that professional.

    I know exactly what you mean by Claire Dumbass. The person who calls you up on a Saturday night, on your work pager (or even worse, a home phone as she got your personal info from HR records), and demands you go to her home to fix her computer because her hubby, Johnny Porndrooler managed to get the machine crammed full of spyware again. Of course, Claire Dumbass doesn't like it when you rebuff her (because at the time, you are too drunk to even think of driving), so she starts spreading gossip the next day at work as revenge.

    *sigh* This is one of the things I dread about graduating. Having to trade the intelligence of problem solving and paper writing that works in the academic world for dealing with incompetent and/or malicious cow-orkers, not to mention clueless management in a company.

  7. #7
    Senior Member mustang1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maelstrom View Post
    hmmm...you work in IT?

    To me it sounds like a decent plan. Whoever implemented "random" on call people was stupid. It should be a set schedule. I spent a lot of time on call and I would rather know when I can't get drunk then get surprised because jackass number 1 turned his phone off, or even worse, clare dumbass prefers talking to me instead of you and pages me all the time because of preference. Set "on call" hours is the most logical direction. I would have quit with random hours.

    Documenting calls makes perfect sense, in fact, did the manager change. This is smart move as it allows for

    a) the creation of a manual to work with
    b) eliminating the generally stupid after hour calls with a FaQ, manual, etc.

    I did both of these things eons ago (24/7 coverage was required) and it helped eliminate 99.3% of after hour calls.

    Now, if being on call is generally what you dont like, then leave. Not all IT jobs have 24/7 coverage (a lot of network jobs are 24/7 even if it isn't explicite, who else can they call at 4am when the network switch goes down?). Heck my job, while on paper is 24/7, I don't do after hour calls. Many months of documenting, faqs and training people to help themselves has eliminated the need (wtf are you calling me to restart a printer/computer/interface)

    Sorry I don't see the problem, you sound like you job is support staff, maybe its time for a career directional change or moving up the tiers of support.
    I'm based in London (and therefore under UK employment law). In NY they implemented this on-call thing as described in OP, but I'm not sure why London guys (me) should be affected by American standards. If my counterparts in USA are under obligation to be pushed around, the same doesn't apply in the UK (though I guess realistically speaking, it probably does). The Unix SA team were requested to do the same thing, but they pretty much said no, and so it stands.

    Anyway, I managed to get a compromise as I no longer have to do weekend on-call work.

  8. #8
    Senior Member mustang1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mlts22 View Post
    Documenting calls is also good for CYA reasons, especially these days of Sarbanes Oxley.

    As for a random work schedule, I just consider that utter crap. The company should have a rotating schedule, so they know who will be a primary point of contact, who is backup, and who is the last guy standing should stuff in a server room land pointy end up.

    An employee manual online and an explicit note not to call people after hours unless they are the primary/secondary POC is a nice step in the right direction too. However, not many companies are that professional.

    I know exactly what you mean by Claire Dumbass. The person who calls you up on a Saturday night, on your work pager (or even worse, a home phone as she got your personal info from HR records), and demands you go to her home to fix her computer because her hubby, Johnny Porndrooler managed to get the machine crammed full of spyware again. Of course, Claire Dumbass doesn't like it when you rebuff her (because at the time, you are too drunk to even think of driving), so she starts spreading gossip the next day at work as revenge.

    *sigh* This is one of the things I dread about graduating. Having to trade the intelligence of problem solving and paper writing that works in the academic world for dealing with incompetent and/or malicious cow-orkers, not to mention clueless management in a company.
    I thought those who bullsiht the loudest get to become the managers.

  9. #9
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    Hate to let you in on this but..Being an operation manager the poor economy has led to a flood of job applicants in georgia. So we can pick and choose who we interview. I still am a firm believer in if you want to work you can find a job. Maybe not a cushee desk job but a job,and if your complaint is I can't afford that job then you need to cut your spending!!!

  10. #10
    J E R S E Y S B E S T Jerseysbest's Avatar
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    Update resume, apply, interview, and quit.
    Quote Originally Posted by SingingSabre View Post
    Cheating: a symptom of the problem.

  11. #11
    Wood Licker Maelstrom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mustang1 View Post
    I thought those who bullsiht the loudest get to become the managers.
    Not always, but I went through many...many...many bad managers before a good one came along. All of them had their specific idea to restructure and all of them had their heads shoved so far up their butts that they didn't understand the side affects of their sweeping changes.

  12. #12
    Senior Member hos13's Avatar
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    Where I work, I'm on-call 24/7 year around going on 10yrs now, on top of that every 6weeks I have to work the level 2 on-call shift which gets up to 100 pages a week. We do not get any on-call pay nor can we use our call hours to build our vacation time, for every forty hours of work get get 3hrs of vacation or something like that. Right now I'm just happy to have a job, go IT jobs are tough to come by and benefits are becoming increasingly rare. Things aren't much better on this side of the pond. I have a friend that works for a company based in England, everyone that works for them, even state side says they the base company they have every worked for .
    "Don't give up, don't ever give up" jimmyv

  13. #13
    Senior Member hos13's Avatar
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    One more thing, you can never document enough, both for personal and for corporate records.
    "Don't give up, don't ever give up" jimmyv

  14. #14
    Caustic Soccer Mom apclassic9's Avatar
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    copy and forward this series of posts to whoever is in charge of making the decisions - anonymously, of course!
    As with mud, life, too, slides by.

  15. #15
    Senior Member mustang1's Avatar
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    Some of you have mentioned that this shouldn't be a big deal. I assume that's coz you're based in USA and that's fine - but the thing is I'm based in the UK and we have different employment laws. It probably amounts to the same thing (they've get out the whip and make me work) but I could fight against this new 'rule' in a different way.

  16. #16
    Senior Member DannoXYZ's Avatar
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    I'm not even sure it's an issue with employment-law as opposed to employer-policy. Here, employers are not required to offer vacation although 2-weeks paid leave is fairly standard. But a lot of employees perfer to not vacation, but take the 2-weeks as cash instead.

    There's no law regarding scheduling; that's purely an internal policy issue. In a lot of low-end positions, such as food-service and retail, you're lucky to find out your schedule 1-week in advance. A lot of times, perhaps just days in advance. And sometimes, they change it on you overnight as well.

    Anyway, I guess I'm lucky in my company. I get a Blackberry with unlimited usage to be on call. However, most of the time, I can resolve the issue remotely without having to come into the office. For time-cards, I only have to document the hours I work off-site and that really doesn't take any more than 5-minutes/week. Much nicer than when I was working as a contractor for them, in which case I had to submit invoices with every single hour documented.

  17. #17
    Senior Member michaelalanjone's Avatar
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    Corporate America does this, why? - because they can. Do the smart thing, like I do. Document all of your time, and what you did. Document the good things you did, and what obstacles you faced. You don't have to show this to your employer, if you don't want to. Anyway, this will help you in three ways:
    1. If your company ever gets sued for hours violations, like Wal-Mart did, you can prove how many hours you worked, and get paid for it.
    2. When it comes time for raises (if ever), you have documented proof of your valiant efforts, and a valid reason for getting a raise. If your boss asks "Why do you deserve a raise?", you need to say: A, B, C and D, instead of "Uh, cuz', yeah."
    3. If they are going to lay people off sometime, they will first have you "re-apply" for your jobs. This is how they determine who to lay off first. See the movie "Office Space" for details. You can whip out your documentation and show how great you are, and everybody else will be laid off before you.

    I used to carry a PDA for this, but I switched back to paper. PDA's are crap for entering a lot of notes fast, and sometimes they lose your data. Plus, paper is great for courts of law.

    Even a simple steno pad will work, with the time you got in, what you did, when you went to lunch, and when you left for the day. Buy one at the store; don't get one from work free - this way, you own it, and they can't say: "the notebook belongs to us, so give it up, pal". But make sure you mark when you really got in; if your notes say 8:00am, and the time clock record says 8:15am, your notes will be considered BS and thus worthless.

    I had a back-stabbing SOB for a boss once, that tried to blame all the problems on me. Twice, my extensive documentation saved my bacon, and proved he was full of sh*t, to everyone around. And when I was late completing a task, because I was doing user support for two days straight, I had documented evidence of why, when and who.

    Plus, (and this is a big plus), it shows professionalism. It sets you apart from everybody else, when you are in a meeting, and you jot important stuff down in your journal, while everybody else is picking their nose. Some bosses like to see you write down (or, ahem, appear to write down) the BS they spew.

    Finally, if you are any good at what you do (I.T. work, I think?), you can always consult, if you get laid off or simply get fed up. I have been a software developer for 15 years. A few years ago, I quit a lucrative and safe job at a big international company to become a software consultant, for $18K or so more. I was working nights and weekends, and I figured, hey, if I am going to work that much, I might as well get paid for it.

    When you are a consultant, you must have good documentation skills, and be the best that you can be. You have to demonstrate your skills and ability, and account for all of the time you spent on a project. But it is nice to be able to consult if you need to or want to. It is easier if you are single/not dating anyone steady, because you can go anywhere in the world for 6 months on a contract, and then go somewhere else for 6 months.

    Say you want to try living in California. You can get a contract and possibly a per diem and live in sweet Southern Cali for 6 months, ride your bike to work, and hit the mountain trails after work.

    Plus, it is a great way to get a foot in the door at a place you only dreamed of working. You work as a consultant, do a great job, and people will notice. Usually, the company will hire you away from the consulting company. Companies love having consultants - it is a try-before-you-buy situation for them. Alternatively, if you suck, you either leave when your contract is up, or they just cancel your contract. So, don't suck.

    I was a consultant for several years and a company I was consulting for, hired me away from the agency, and now, I have been working for that company for 3 years.

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