Recently graduated and started working for a large organization.

The company provides training for new hires. Throughout the training, we are mentored by more senior employees. As a part of the training, we were split into smaller groups (teams) and given a bigger task/project to solve in the next few weeks. We were told that it's up to us how we manage our team and our tasks.

Yesterday at 5 pm one of our team members was told that we are not allowed to leave ("shouldn't" leave) till 6 pm even though on our contracts it's written that working hours are flexible and usually it is 9am-5pm.

Moreover, whenever any of the new hires is a little bit late for the training his late arrival is reported and he is welcome with "Are you all right?". The question might be interpreted in ambiguous way - as genuine question or as slightly passive aggressive question.

My questions are:

  • How can we let them know in a kind manner not to treat us as kids?
  • What to answer to the HR when he/she ask you on a 5-10 min late arrival "Are you all right?" (I was thinking about some friendly/humorous reply that would release the tension from the situation).

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    You might want to disclose the country where the company is located. Depending on the local circumstances and habits, 5-10 minutes might be a lot. (e. g. 5 minutes would be a big no-no in countries such as Japan) – Patrick Sep 19 at 9:20
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    How would you expect them to react when you arrive to a meeting or training late? "Are you alright?" seems to be a "assume best intentions" kind of approach; would you rather have a "How dare you not be on time" response? – Erik Sep 19 at 9:27
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    If you have a training schedule, of course you're expected to be on time. – pmf Sep 19 at 9:51
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    Could you elaborate more on the nature of the job and your geographic/legal and cultural contexts? For some, like for instance customer facing, roles being on time may be quite important other positions may be oriented on delivery. Depending your jurisdiction, requirement not leave before 6pm if you are explicitly contracted to work 9-5 may have legal implications. Assuming that you count working day to have 8 hours, doing one hour extra each day would amount to one working day every 8 working days. That's a lot to ask for. – Konrad Sep 19 at 11:51
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    Are there any examples of them treating you like kids you could post? I don't see any in the question. – user87779 Sep 19 at 15:50
up vote 145 down vote accepted

The way I see this is, You're acting like kids.

You're arriving late from break, people are turning up late in the morning. Simple job knowledge is, be on time, do your work.

The way they say "Are you alright?" shows me that in your locale the norm is to be early or on time as they're assuming that something may have happened to you...

If you're asked to stay late then you stay late unless you have a genuine reason that you can't.

Your contract states flexible hours usually between 9-5pm which means it isn't always. If there's work to be done, you have to do the work. That's the nature of working.

Trying to retaliate or saying don't treat us like children will not work, you're probably in probation and can be dropped at any point. Keep going, be on time, do your work. Simple.

When you prove you're capable of being on time and simply doing your job. They will respect you and stop treating you like a child and in fact give you more leniency (depending on location and role). You can't expect to turn up late when you've just started and get away with it

How to get them to stop?

Once you've thought about the things I've stated above and it continues?

Then you approach and say something like

Hey "x", I think I've shown I'm capable and can do my job. I just wanted to mention that I think the way you treat me is a bit childish and I would like if you showed a bit more trust and maturity towards me.

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    FWIW, depending on your locale, "None of this is important, I'll do it in the morning" could be considered a good reason to not stay late. – Erik Sep 19 at 9:28
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    @Twyxz agreed - this is a common courtesy thing. Senior employees are giving up their time to help bring new employees on board (their other work may even be suffering as a result), and this is the new employees' best opportunity to quickly get up to speed with things at the company, the least those employees can do is ensure they're punctual. Likely the flexibility will come once the role starts proper, but for now it's key to get everyone together and make the most of the time they have. People arriving late are making everyone's time less efficient. – delinear Sep 19 at 10:34
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    @JoeStrazzere depending on locale, yes. Even a graduate in training could challenge overtime here, assuming any would even assigned, which seems unlikely. I mean; they're freshmen in training, what could they possibly be doing that's so important it can't wait until the next day? – Erik Sep 19 at 10:39
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    This is exactly the issue, they are not treating you like children because you are arriving during flexi time hours. They are treating you like children because the number one rule of flexi-time is "when we do give you a time to be in, get in on time". Flexi only applies to a regular work day. NOT to meetings, training, anything involving other people where you are given a time. – J.Doe Sep 19 at 10:43
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    @red-shield So your manager tells you to stay or your temporary mentor, You say no bye? Whilst in training too? I stay back up to two hours on occasion and it is not all the time, if you sign up to a job you're expected to do it. No job is ever 9-5 unless you work in a shop or something like that and even then you can do overtime – Twyxz Sep 19 at 13:13

It sounds like they're treating people like responsible adults - expecting them to be on time, and asking if anything is wrong when they aren't. This is normal for the workplace. It may be that HR are making more of a point of it during the training exercise, but that seems to be good training - setting out company expectations early.

It also sounds like they're making good use of flexible hours by asking you to stay later than the normal contracted hours for the duration of the training period. Flexible hours could mean you don't have to be there when you're not needed, but it will also mean that you have to be there when you are - even if that's outside normal working hours. Sometimes, by arrangement with a manager, you'll be able to turn up later or leave earlier, but it will also work the other way - that's what flexible hours means.

As a 22 year seasoned professional in military and civilian settings, both as an individual contributor and management I have a few opinions on the matter...

Sounds like you are a kid in an adults environment were expectations have been established and expected. You might think it is old school, but those that are in charge of your future have the right to judge, until you too have been in their capacity as you grow and mature into the job. I feel like you expect a lot without having the benefit of building a solid track history.

If you have a meeting or start time established try showing up early! Think to yourself "If I'm not 15 mins early, I'm late" I have fired people for their inability to show up on time as expected multiple times after multiple formal and informal warnings, it is best to not have that hanging over your head shadowing doubts over everything you do.

You will find that they will stop asking you silly questions if they know they can depend on you.

If you are hourly, is the overtime really an issue for you? If you are salaried, the job is expected to be completed. If you have a reason for not being able to stay, communication is key! Legally they cannot ask too many questions, so the details you provide is completely up to you, but remember that everyone has a personal life and/or family, they should understand you do as well!

Lastly I'll state:

You work to live, not live to work

  • "22 year seasoned professional" I think its a generational thing. All your experience meets or exceeds the OP's age. They just don't understand how the world works. – SiXandSeven8ths Sep 19 at 21:19

During the training phase, you should conform to the expectations of the training mentors. You already know that means arriving on time, returning promptly from breaks, and being prepared to work late. The mentors may have decided that the tasks are not going fast enough, and think extra hours might help, at least in conveying a sense of urgency.

After you are assigned to a non-training position you can discuss with your manager that manager's expectations for working hours. However, I would assume you should arrive on time whenever your lateness could impact a colleague, for example by delaying the start of a meeting.

For you, there might not be much you can do other than bring up the situation with the seniors/line management. I don't agree with the above assertion your team is childish - working hours can work very differently in certain office jobs. As a developer, most companies have tolerated people being in late or taking longer breaks occasionally, as long as it isn't affecting "team operations" and you're not slacking.

It'd be up to your team leadership to discuss the situation with HR, and ask them to knock it off, with the trade of demonstrating your team is meeting metrics & hours worked. I wouldn't start trying to piss HR off - it's not going to end well.

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    You say 'most companies have tolerated people being in late or taking longer breaks occasionally, as long as it isn't affecting "team operations"' yet the OP is clearly involved in a team task and coming back from breaks solo so in fact they are affecting the entire team. – djsmiley2k Sep 19 at 14:51
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    @djsmiley2k It's not certain - if they're split into individual tasks after their break (or the team OK'd that someone was coming back late), it might not matter at all. If team members are sat there, twiddling their thumbs, then yeah, that isn't on. – Tharglet Asimis Sep 19 at 15:16
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    In the course of "normal" work I wouldn't really disagree with you - however I think the context here being one of curated training is significant. Even if their individual task isn't blocking other team members it's not a stretch to assume that they are being expected to be present to observe and learn what the rest of the team is doing. Also given that the timings, both of the start of the session and the start/duration of breaks has been articulated it's not unreasonable to assume that being present could be considered an implied "work task" in this situation. [cont] – motosubatsu Sep 19 at 15:33
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    When I've been in management meetings and they have started at 9am that doesn't mean "use your flexi to come in at 10am and just do the IT dept bit", no one would have to say that to me and I don't think I'd have gotten much sympathy if I'd assumed otherwise and turned up late! – motosubatsu Sep 19 at 15:33
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    @motosubatsu Though, in my experience, if it's affecting the team, it's the line management who will flag it up (then have a 3-way meeting with HR if things persist). Line management seem unbothered here, and HR doesn't seem to be treating this properly for a serious issue, if it was an issue? In my original incarnation before rewriting, I did mention turning up for mandatory meetings, but folded that into "team operations". I've had issues with people not turning up to standup - these issues were dealt with internally to the team. – Tharglet Asimis Sep 19 at 16:02

I'm of the opinion that there is nothing you can do in this situation, if you're saying that (being treated like a child) this is a behavior exhibited by multiple 'trainers' in the organization, what you're actually talking about is the company culture.

There's a huge range of thoughts on the matter of "stay late/work late", and honestly I don't think there's going to be a consensus on that matter. Generational differences, employer/employee loyalty, remuneration and investment all play a part in people perspective of "stay late/work late". so I'm not going to touch that part of the question, only the "I feel like I'm being treated like a child"

Company culture is not something that gets changed easily, a witty reply to their questions will most likely just get their backs up with you, making you a target or if you're not a target, you just won't be viewed 'positively'. It's not a good outcome overall.

If I was in your shoes, I would start looking for another job immediately. Since you have only just started at this place, you're in the position to say to interviewers that the workplace culture was not what you were lead to believe and as such you're searching for a better fit. If you leave it for a few months, then you're in the position of having to explain why you were there for 6~9 months.

Alternately, make sure you're always in the right, always on time, work the overtime if they ask. But if you're an average entry level employee, then it's not the strategy I would personally go with.

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    As of current, OP has not mentioned anything wrong with the job other than complaints at bad habits – Twyxz Sep 19 at 9:43
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    I'm honestly really confused about your answer. The OP said people are getting admonished for getting in late for training and you're suggesting them to jump ship? If they leave this job thinking that "getting late for training is OK and you shouldn't call me on this", I don't think they will ever learn about proper professional behavior. Can you elaborate why do you think this is the proper way to tackle this issue? – T. Sar Sep 19 at 11:12
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    I can't see how the OP has been the subject of anything particularly unusual in terms of workplace culture (expected to be on time for meetings, flexi time working both ways etc) so leaving will most likely put them in the same situation in another company. – motosubatsu Sep 19 at 11:30
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    This is particularly bad advice. The OP just graduated - they don't exactly have a lot of work in the corporate world. Now, if the company was doing something concrete and objectively bad - then maybe leaving might be right. But "They're treating us like kids!" is something the OP doesn't have the life experience to judge yet. Plus, "Just Leave" is a lot harder if you're just out of college. You don't have experience or job skills. If a new grad told me "The last company's culture wasn't a fit," my mental though would be, "Based on your extensive experience on company cultures?" – Kevin Sep 19 at 13:26
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    @TolMera OP seems to equate "being told off for being late" with "being treated like a child". That was their example of being treated like a child. I don't understand how you are separating the two. Honestly, I don't think they ARE being treated like kids, the OP just has unrealistic expectations of real work. – user87779 Sep 19 at 16:27

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