I work as a programmer on a team that supports a group of enterprise applications. The team is so short-staffed and back logged that we currently suffer from an issue where we don't have time to create an error tracking / alerting system. All of our time is spent on supporting/fixing existing functionality, or building new functionality. We all work at the minimum 40 hour weeks, and we are all exempt / salaried. As a team we have discussed the dire need to get such a program in place because it will significantly reduce the time spent on break/fix and maintenance.

I would like to offer my manager additional time to create a solution for the team, but I feel like it would only benefit myself if I were to receive a bonus for this additional time spent.

The company regularly hires contractors to complete work that they are understaffed themselves to complete, so I feel like it isn't odd for them to shell out more to get what is needed.

Is it ethical to propose to my boss that I offer a project plan to create this new program in exchange for a pay bonus? Or would that be seen as a slap in the face and unprofessional?

This is not a request for a raise as I feel I am compensated for the average work week. I am requesting a one-time bonus for a one-time time-set project which would be solely worked on outside of usual duties.

  • 3
    Why create the program? There are plenty free error//issue tracking systems. Jira? Trello? Github? GitLab? BitBucket? And yes that's unprofessional. You earn bonuses, not sell services for it.
    – Sandra K
    Feb 15, 2018 at 15:34
  • 2
    Possible duplicate of How should I properly approach my boss if I'm feeling underpaid?
    – gnat
    Feb 15, 2018 at 16:30
  • 1
    Realistically just get another job.
    – Fattie
    Feb 15, 2018 at 19:01
  • 1
    (Exactly as @SandraK mentions, it would be madness to make your own tracking system. You might as well build your own email client start building office chairs from wood.)
    – Fattie
    Feb 15, 2018 at 19:04
  • 1
    There's plenty of application monitoring tools around as well; depending on your tech-stack of course. But something like Nagios is quite commonly used and works with a lot of tech. Seriously, don't make a tool like this yourself.
    – Erik
    Feb 15, 2018 at 19:37

3 Answers 3


I made this suggestion at a former software company once, it was flat out rejected, even though they had the money and needed the projects done.

The response was from Human Resources. Basically they said, if the company offers you projects on the side for cash, then they need to be fair and offer all employees the chance to do work on the side for cash. As this company was used to already getting people to work on extra projects for free in exchange for favors, "wink wink" come raise/bonus time, that would directly conflict in this case.

To answer your question though, I'd definitely ask, it's not going to hurt. After it was all said and done, I was not looked upon unfavorably. Actually, my company seriously considered it for a few weeks until the "lawyers" (HR) got involved!


I would not propose this. As an exempt, I am surprised that your boss has not already come and required unpaid overtime from the group. Secondly, there are off-the-shelf programs that perform these tasks - and they are far more robust than anything that could be created in house by one staff member under stress. If you have a good relationship with your boss, perhaps request some time each week to put forth a plan on differing off-the-shelf solutions. Yes, contractors make good $$$, something to strive for if that appeals to you - and the travel, and the uncertainty, and the taxes, and the healthcare.

  • Its also rather unprofessional in most circumstances - very few employers allow outside work especially for standard "enterprise" Feb 15, 2018 at 15:47
  • I believe the reason that hasn't happened is because they are worried of people leaving because they already have an issue with turnover. And many weeks we do work 50-60 hours working on different projects, fires, etc. The time it would take to integrate a off-the-shelf into all our different applications, services, etc. + the cost (if any) associated would likely outweigh the expense of in-house development. But I understand your point. Thanks for the input. Feb 15, 2018 at 15:51

Although this seems to be a bit of a controversial topic here, I have seen several occasions of such an arrangement.

If, for example you could free some of your weekends and there generally is budget to get such a solution why should this not be a win-win?

Now the problem is that you don´t want to come across as if you are not currently giving it you full effort and want to extort additional money.

I would suggest probing by casual chat an see if your boss takes you up on this. Something along the lines:

"Boy, we could really boost our efficiency if we got SystemX in place. Pity we don´t have time for this during normal work hours. I am already thinking how I could maybe free some weekends and just do it. Probably will have to get my girlfriend something nice to get her consent, though."

Adjust for culture/tone at your place...

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