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Recently, my boss announced a decision to no longer allow me and my coworkers to swap or drop shifts using the When I Work app. Their alternative has been that all parties must physically be present to fill out paperwork to allow for time off or a shift change. Though this option has been available for the duration of the time I have worked here since the arrival of the app in our workplace, myself and many of the other younger employees have found it to be much easier and a lot faster to make these changes. The main issue I take with this change is that it requires the signing off of both parties, which may not always be possible due to differences in schedules or emergencies in which someone covers for someone else at the last minute. The app is even set up to require consent for time off and notifications of any changes made.

The reason cited by my boss is that too many changes are being made at one time and that some associates are not following through on their commitments. While the latter I can very well see being true, that does not mean the rest of us should be rendered unable to utilize the easiest avenue for change as need be. The former, however, I believe to be more deeply rooted in a desire to prevent employees from obtaining too many hours, which would cause the system to pay out overtime. I have observed my boss talking to a coworker about trading shifts with another coworker, a swap that occurred on the day of the shift. Both are capable of carrying out the tasks necessary throughout the day, and neither was obviously absent, so a failure to carry out one's duties was not the case at hand here.

All in all, I do think that this comes down to a need to control the employees on the behalf of my boss, and to their credit, they are still rather new and establishing authority. Admittedly, this is a bit of motive-guessing on my behalf. However, I sincerely do not believe this is the best path they could have taken, and would like to propose the restoration of permissions to swap and drop shifts on the app. On the contrary, I am not entirely certain this is appropriate for me. While I have been there much longer, I feel this could be perceived as challenging my boss' authority when my only real intention is to be able to easily change shifts (I do not feel like making an unnecessary 20-minute drive out to my workplace only to sign off on a shift change with someone else). My question then is this: should I push back on this decision, and if so, how?


Side Note: I am fairly certain this could have been posted to IPS as well, but I chose to ask the question here to better garner responses that deal with the workplace side of this issue rather than the interpersonal aspects that will likely play a role in whatever decision I ultimately make. If you believe this decision to be in error, please let me know and I will appeal to have this moved to the appropriate Stack.

closed as off-topic by gnat, DarkCygnus, mcknz, OldPadawan, gazzz0x2z Jul 17 '18 at 7:56

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

  • "Questions asking for advice on a specific choice, such as what job to take or what skills to learn, are difficult to answer objectively and are rarely useful for anyone else. Instead of asking which decision to make, try asking how to make the decision, or for more specific details about one element of the decision. (More information)" – DarkCygnus, mcknz
If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • 10
    To clarify: you're using an external (not officially approved in company's procedures) app, your boss has not any control over it (to accept/reject a specific swap) and he'll know about it only when someone else will come up at work? Someone may work part time while someone else may work (and be paid for) overtime? Don't complain, you've been "lucky" before but it's not how things should be and (maybe) someone ABUSED this (and obviously now everyone pays for that) – Adriano Repetti Jul 15 '18 at 11:04
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    Could you try and rewrite the following passage: I have observed my boss giving a talk to an employee who traded with another coworker of mine for trading positions after they arrived due to the fact that the one wanted the position more and was more experienced to carry out the tasks necessary for the duration of the workday. It's not at all clear what you're trying to say. (Though I think it might be that some "swaps" might leave a shift short of certain skills.) – Grimm The Opiner Jul 16 '18 at 8:32
  • @GrimmTheOpiner In all honesty, I did write this rather quickly so some of my original intent with that statement was lost. My boss' concern was more with the difference in hours than the capabilities of the people working. Both coworkers are able to handle the positions, but one of them is more experienced because they carry out these tasks more often. I'll edit this for better clarity. – Pleiades Jul 17 '18 at 4:25
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You need to provide your boss an alternative which will address the reasons he is making this change.

He wants to

  1. Limit overtime costs.
  2. Ensure that employees will show up for work.
  3. He may have other reasons you need to learn from talking to him.

You need to show him how the current app or an alternative app has the following features:

  1. The app prevents people from swapping shifts if it will put them in an overtime situation.
  2. The app allows your boss to easily turn off the ability to swap shifts for employees who miss shifts.
  3. Address any other concerns he has.
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    If the OP decides to do this, I think they should phrase it as a continuing improvement rather than "pushing back" on the decision. So, instead of "Can we go back to using the app because xyz," phrase it as "I understand that we need to change to a manual system for now, but are you open to looking at an online solution in the future?" This way you aren't "questioning authority." – IllusiveBrian Jul 15 '18 at 19:03
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    This is a very good answer. Our company uses ScheduleSource.com to manage contractors (a competing tool), and it has these features. Also - @IllusiveBrian - questioning authority is a "good thing." Question them to find out what the actual issue is and address it. – Wesley Long Jul 15 '18 at 19:21
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    Yes, this is a good answer. A key part of 'influencing' skills is being able to highlight the benefits to the other person of the solution that you are proposing. – Time4Tea Jul 15 '18 at 19:31
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    @WesleyLong I agree, but the OP says that they are worried the manager is partly doing this to establish authority, so they may have an insecure manager. That's why I put it in quotes. I also think the phrasing helps emphasize that the point isn't to decide between old way and manual way, but to find a solution that fulfills the management requirements and the user requirements. – IllusiveBrian Jul 15 '18 at 19:46
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should I push back on this decision

No, at the moment you're just second guessing motivations and it's not your decision to make.

New bosses may just stir the pot to see if anyone wants to volunteer for disciplinary action in order to establish their authority. Not the most likely scenario, but I have seen it happen more than once.

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First you can try to tell your boss why this feature is necessary to be there and how much does it help you and your teammates. I encountered this situation many times in my career and with a good motivation about why you want to do in your own way you can change the mind of your boss.

If your boss is smart and open-minded he doesn't have to be upset on you if you disagree with him. But just speak in a professional way, be objective, not subjective to avoid bad interpretations.

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Maybe it goes without saying, but since nobody else said it yet: Keep any such conversation private, between you and him. If he's trying to establish authority, the last thing he needs is a respected employee questioning his decision in front of others. On the other hand, sharing your suggestions privately might actually build trust.

Similarly, if you do discuss it with him, base it only on your interests and his. Ask for the flexibility you want/need, but don't try to advocate for your co-workers directly. His decision to stop allowing the old system indicates that some of your co-workers were using it in a way that's a problem for him. If you're more reliable than them, he might be willing to treat you more flexibly, especially if you have a specific reason.

One other approach, again in private conversation, would be to offer your ideas on flexible scheduling, as suggestions to help him be successful in his role. For this to work, you have to sincerely want to help him be successful, and open-minded that he may take your ideas or leave them. He may or may not agree that allowing such flexible scheduling helps him be successful.

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