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My company used to have an amazing work week schedule. We worked 4 x 10 hour days instead of 5 x 8 hour days. This was amazing, and definitely a deciding factor when me and my wife were deciding where to move. We had every Friday off. They skimped our vacation time allotment because they argued that we got a vacation day every week. At the end of the year last year they gave us less than a month notice that the policy was changing.

At the first of the year the change happened, I had to take vacation days for planned travel. Where I normally would have had the benefit of Friday off and not had to take days, or only take a Thursday off and have a 4 day weekend. So now I've burned almost a 1/4 of my vacation time for the year.

We also suffer from terrible traffic because now we get out right during the traffic rush from the rest of the city.

Lastly, I feel it destroyed the culture of the company. This used to be the thing that we had - Fridays off. Now we have nothing special.

Sure I'm still grateful to have a job, but at this point I can just get another job. How do I let them know I'm unhappy? I want to ask for them to allow a work from home day once a month, or give us a few extra vacation days. I don't know. They took without giving and I kinda want to just leave but still would like to give them a chance to make it right. How to proceed?

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What country are you in? In many places an employer could not make this kind of change without your consent. (Not in the US of course) – DJClayworth Feb 23 at 16:19
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"They skimped our vacation time allotment because they argued that we got a vacation day every week." Not that it matters much, but no you didn't. They paid you for 40 hours and you worked 40 hours. Taking away vacation because of a perk they offer you is a little ridiculous. – GJK Feb 23 at 21:39
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In what way did they "skimp" your vacation time? By reducing the number of days vacation per year, or actually reduce the total hours vacation time per year? – HorusKol Feb 23 at 23:54
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If you do talk to your boss with the goal of getting back to your original schedule, maybe you could suggest a 9/80 schedule (9 days, 80 hours) as a compromise. With that schedule, you work 9 hours a day (8 on Friday), and then have every other Friday off. If the office is split so that only half the people are gone any given Friday, it might eliminate coverage problems, if that's an issue. – Matt Feb 24 at 8:17
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It should be obvious that if you got 16 days holidays (16 days times 10 hours) that needs to be changed to 20 days holidays (20 days times 8 hours). Obviously you needed only 4 days for a week holiday, so it was right that you had fewer holidays, but now you need 5 days for a week holiday, so your holidays should go up. – gnasher729 Feb 24 at 9:36
up vote 64 down vote accepted

How do I let them know I'm unhappy? I want to ask for them to allow a work from home day once a month, or give us a few extra vacation days. Idk. They took without giving and I kinda want to just leave but still would like to give them a chance to make it right? How to proceed.

First, separate the "let them know I'm unhappy" from "permission to work from home". They are two different things.

If you just want to express your unhappiness in order to vent, then sit down with your boss and say something like "I'm unhappy with the new policy." And as @DJClayworth indicates, explain to them why you are unhappy. Explain what benefit it had to you. Explain that it was a significant reason you took the job.

If you want permission to work from home once per month, then sit down with your boss and say something like "I'd like permission to work from home once per month. How can I make that happen?"

You could view it as they "took" something away from you, or you could view it as you had something unusual/special for a while, and now you are back to the more normal situation.

It's unlikely that you expressing your unhappiness will revert the policy that was changed at the start of the year, but one never knows. Perhaps if enough employees feel similarly, you can all get together and express your unhappiness at the same time. The company could presumably rethink the policy change (although it's unfortunate that these feelings weren't expressed during the few weeks notice at the end of last year).

Before you talk with your boss, get it straight in your own mind what you really want to happen here. Going in with "idk" isn't going to help you be very effective.

And if you have already concluded that you must leave, then don't bother venting or asking for anything. Just find a new job (that presumably permits a 4-day work week, or something else that you consider "special"), give your notice, and leave.

Benefits and perks are typically reviewed annually by most companies. While it may be disappointing that this one perk you liked was changed, you should expect that in business things do tend to change over time. You need to decide which perks are significant for you, and which are not. It's understandable that this one was very significant.

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Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – Jane S Feb 26 at 5:16
    
I agree that when going to talk to management, tact is needed, but I wouldn't consider a work week consisting of four 10 hr days as something special and that five 8 hour days are normal. It's all relative. Working hours aren't a "perk" to be changed on a whim. Imagine being told that instead of five 8hr days Mon - Fri, now you have to work six 8 hour days on 3rd shift and that instead of a weekend, you'll have just Thursdays off. – DLS3141 Feb 26 at 19:43

If you like working for this company I would just let them know it is a deal breaker for you.

The fact is, it wasn't a perk. Your work schedule is your job not a perk. So you were employed to work 4x10 and that changed to 5x8. They in effect changed the job that you thought you had. A lot of time when this happens it is negligible. Not so in your case. Not even factoring in the vacation time.

I would simply have a talk with your boss and say that one of the biggest reasons that you haven't looked for another job is because you like the company and the 4x10 work week. Tell him that you have found the traffic/commute exhausting and let him know it is a big factor in looking for another job.

I would be perfectly fine with this as a manager. It is a huge thing that you lost. As a manager you have to accept that you will lose the employee or compensate them somehow. They have done nothing for you.

On a side note, offer the boss an alternative. I had 8 guys who were engineers that I put on 4x10 - they loved it so much that many of them passed over promotions to keep it (so I know the drug you were on and now you have been cut off). We had coverage issues on Fridays. I am thinking your boss has gone through coverage issues. I sat them down and told them if you want to do the 4x10 that is fine, but under no circumstance will we have less than 4 guys in on Fridays - even accounting for sick/vacation days. So they worked out a scheduling system where they basically bumped their day off every week. Not saying it would work for your workplace but I am sure there might be alternatives.

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Perks, like beauty, are very much in the eye of the beholder. A 4x10 work schedule is very much a perk, if for no other reason than some (a lot of) people feel that it is. Otherwise, totally agreed. – HopelessN00b Feb 23 at 19:48
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@HopelessN00b - I get what you are saying but there are many jobs (like nursing) that the schedule is part of the job. It is one thing to say to an employee you can work 4x10 for a few months or if you do X you can work 4x10s. But when that is your job, that is your job. They effectively changed his job, increased his commute, increased his costs, decreased his vacation and told him to deal with it. – blankip Feb 23 at 19:51
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@HopelessN00b: sure, in an at-will employment jurisdiction "perks" includes any contractual term that the employee likes. Hours, health insurance, salary, whatever. It seems the questioner's employee had the ability to unilaterally change the terms (with whatever notice period), so it was a perk in that sense. But that doesn't mean the questioner should think of it as just a perk, since for them it was an important part of the working conditions. – Steve Jessop Feb 24 at 0:38
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+1 for working towards an acceptable compromise – DCShannon Feb 24 at 1:00
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@blankip Not to get overly pedantic, but I don't think that whether something is inherent to the job or not impacts whether it's a perk or not. A "perk" of a career as a firefighter is their schedule that affords them many calendar days off, as well as getting paid to sleep. A perk of being an Airborne Ranger is getting paid to play with guns and jump out of planes. A perk of any white collar job is air conditioning (or at least, generally that you're not going to find yourself outside when the weather's bad)... and so on. – HopelessN00b Feb 24 at 1:54

First of all, the excuse that "you get Friday's off, so you get less vacation" seems fundamentally flawed to me. You put in the same number of work hours as a Monday to Friday employee.

That aside, however, it sounds to me like these guys got burned by the four day work week arrangement.

The way they handled the situation clearly leaves a lot to be desired, however there's nothing to be gained by complaining, or "showing dissatisfaction". What's done is done, and your opinion is not going to change their minds - although it could get you in trouble.

At this point I'd start looking for a new job. These guys are clearly running into some kind of difficulties (probably of a financial nature, since their change of policy was so extreme), and you're unhappy about the new nature of the job anyway.

Start looking for a new job which offers more generous vacation packages, or the opportunity to work from home!

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If they specifically said that you got less vacation because you had the four-day work week, I might bring that up and ask for more vacation. – HLGEM Feb 23 at 16:25
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@HLGEM - more vacation might improve the situation, however, if one of the major "perks" of the job was not dealing with traffic, the 3 day weekends, etc. then simply getting another week of vacation will not offset the day to day aggravation, as well as the loss of free time. – AndreiROM Feb 23 at 16:27
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@AndreiROM if you work 48 weeks a year a day a week of break comes out to almost 7 work weeks (at 5 days per week) a year! – Snakes and Coffee Feb 23 at 19:31
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To keep parity of hours, you'd say: "we'd normally give you N days leave per year, but you're working 4x10 instead of 5x8, so we will instead give you 0.8N days leave per year". So, on switching from 4x10 to 5x8 the employees should expect a 25% increase in the number of (8-hour) vacation days they get, compared with the number of (10-hour) vacation days they used to get. Otherwise they've had their vacation reduced, in addition to now working a schedule they don't like so much. – Steve Jessop Feb 24 at 0:45
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(And note that as well as parity of hours, that provides parity of actual weeks you can spend on the beach. Spending a week away used to require 4 days vacation: now it requires 5). – Steve Jessop Feb 24 at 0:55

It's sad, but many employers simply don't want to be "given a chance to make it right". Other than any negotiation when you first join, they want to dictate the terms and then they want you to take it or leave it. Most employer do not want your conditions of employment to be a conversation or a negotiation, and by sticking this change on you without consultation they've acted precisely in order to avoid it becoming one. This is a strong indicator that your employer holds to that approach.

Only if your employer genuinely doesn't realise that you care, and wrongly thinks it was an insignificant change for you, is raising the issue likely to result in them hustling to make it right. If they knew in advance they were making it wrong, then most likely they're already braced for impact.

If your employer is expecting dissent, then literally the only meaningful way for you to express that you're unhappy with the change is to leave (at least, I assume you aren't unionized or you'd mention it: if you were then collective bargaining provides alternative strategies). You can explain to your boss, or anyone else you like, that you now consider the job+conditions+benefits is less good than the job+conditions+benefits used to be. But it won't signify anything because it's the only job they're offering.

If you feel that for some reason your employer is open to negotiating over whether you leave or not, they you could go to them and say "I don't like this, either fix it (and here's my proposal of what I would consider a fix) or else this job is no longer a good one for me and I will leave". But not many employers want to get into this with employees, so unless you know something we don't, the likelihood is that they'll respond, "that's fine, leave". Apart from any other concerns, once they negotiate with you they'll have to negotiate with everyone.

And if they're going to tell you to leave if you can't accept the change, many employers believe that they might well sack you on the spot. So your basic situation (and this is your employer's choice to make it your situation, by doing this without consulting you), is that there's no point bringing it up until you have a new job offer in hand. And once you have a new job offer in hand there's usually no point bringing it up because you're almost always better off just taking the new job than asking them to beat your new offer.

Still, if you're confident that you can get another job, and you don't mind risking a period of unemployment while you look for it, there might be no real harm in giving them a chance. Tell your boss that you're having difficulty with the new arrangements, explain that some extra days vacation or remote-working (or whatever it takes) would solve your difficulty, and see where the conversation goes. Best case they pleasantly surprise you, either by seeing that they've made a mistake or by seeing that you're serious and acting to keep you. Worst case they escort you from the building.

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I wish I could downvote this, but it's spot on. All to often - companies aren't interested in employee grumbling, because they know that grumbles aren't the same as actually leaving. This makes 'voting with your feet' really about the only way to accomplish a meaningful change. (Technically - there's the legal option, but practically that rarely does more than get you a reputation as a troublemaker). Of course, by the time several employees do it's far too late to fix. – Sobrique Feb 24 at 12:30

Business needs change. I got to work that schedule for awhile too. It was great for me personally, but the organization had trouble with people not being available when they were needed (it was really only 1-2 teams who didn't plan correctly) and so they stopped it with no notice at all. These things happen. Benefits are always changeable. I'd rather have this change than the one where they dumped our good health insurance for a one with a high deductible (that has happened to me as well).

If this is important to you, then look for another job as it is unlikely this policy is changing back. You can tell them that it is the reason why you left in your exit interview. You can also bring it up to your boss right now but really what are you going to gain from that? There is roughly a 0% chance they will change this. They knew when they made the decision that people would be unhappy, they are simply betting that they won't be unhappy enough to leave or that the change will fix whatever problem the 4-day schedule was causing (generally things like this don't change unless there is a problem).

I would separate the working from home request as far from any discussion of your unhappiness as possible. The reason why is it would appear that you want to use the work from home option as a way to slack off on those Fridays you are working if you tie it to the discussion about losing the Fridays off. That would seriously reduce the chances of getting it approved.

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What's funny is you generally lose your best people first when you start cutting back on benefits/perks like this. Every company I've worked for has done this (and none of them were struggling, just not hitting their "growth targets"). – James Adam Feb 23 at 19:10
    
@JamesAdam, yes growth targets are just stupid metrics and cause lots of poor decision making. Can't have perpetual growth and a certain level of profitability should be acceptable even if it isn't growing. Same with stock prices. Only a fool bases business decisions on whether the stock price will go up or not. – HLGEM Feb 23 at 21:06
    
Working from home allows me to travel on a Thursday, be at destination and work remotely. When Friday ends, bam I am where I want to be. That I think would be a huge step in the right direction since I am so use to traveling Thursdays (to avoid the masses) and having a 3 day weekend. – markokstate Feb 23 at 21:43
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I am just pointing out that it looks bad when you present them together, management perception is what you have to consider. – HLGEM Feb 23 at 21:50

How do you let them know you're unhappy?

You don't. Your feelings are irrelevant in their equation. Sorry, but that's the truth.

Here's what you do instead: Consider your options and the reality of your situation. Can you get another job in your local area that's better than the current deal? Not the job you thought you were getting, but the one you have now.

If so, take the offer. Quit, and mention the change as part of your exit process. Hey, they might even reverse the policy to keep you, but don't hold your breath.

If not, or at least not right now, deal with the current situation.

In reality, those are your choices without negative outcomes. Letting them know you're unhappy is not good for you.

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at what point does an employee's opinion matter? If they are critical to a process/team/product? If the company is more than X people? There has to be some tipping point. – markokstate Feb 23 at 21:45
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@markokstate: when it comes right down to it, your unhappiness matters if it serves to help convince them that if they don't fix this you're actually going to leave, and if they don't want you to leave. There's more than one thing that can help convince them of that, expressing unhappiness is only one. And they know that sometimes people fake unhappiness as a negotiating tactic. And they also know that sometimes unhappy people stay, so expressing it doesn't guarantee they'll believe they need to do anything about it. – Steve Jessop Feb 24 at 0:49
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Downvoted after reading the first non-bold line. Immediately. – DCShannon Feb 24 at 1:02
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@user1122069, why do you think he got demoted? – HLGEM Feb 24 at 16:06
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@CPerkins My company just remodeled a large cube farm into a wellness center with on staff dietitian because they want us to be happier and healthier. I've never gone to management with something that made me unhappy and been ignored, whether it was something big like workload and stress levels or small like the foot traffic is distracting. This has been the case in every place I've worked, US and Canada. Happy employees are productive employees. Research has shown this time and time again. – corsiKa Feb 24 at 23:03

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