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I got a job at a big name Managed Service Provider (basically IT mercenaries). I was skeptical of MSP work at first but my buddy works on a different team at this office and really likes it, so he put in a good word for me. My position has huge turnover so the company made a 90-day eval to figure out why no one sticks.

First my boss and I were supposed to update the job description to make sure it is accurate to my job experience. The job description says "scheduled on-call rotation", which is not unusual, but in reality the position is unpaid 24/7 on-call. When I pointed this out my boss said "we can't afford to be honest in the job description or no one will apply to 24/7 on-call, we're not changing the job description, let's move on."

Finally we were supposed to discuss ways to improve the position. I said we should clarify on-call expectations (response time, etc.) then set up an on-call schedule. She sighed and said "you're on-call 24/7, end of discussion", got up from the table and walked out. I waited a minute, picked up the eval sheet and went back to my desk.

This was a couple weeks ago, we usually get along and her attitude towards me hasn't changed or anything. But she added an "EVAL DUE" event to my calendar for this coming Wednesday and mentioned HR is still waiting on her to turn in the eval. How can I explain to my boss that I feel deceived, not confident the job will improve and that it needs better work/life balance? Failing that, what can I do about it?

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  • Can you clarify, do you get personal one-on-one time with HR when doing the evaluation? Mar 29 at 2:36
  • @GregoryCurrie No, it's just my boss and I. I haven't spoken to anyone at HR since I was onboarded. Mar 29 at 2:38
  • 108
    So HR want to understand why the job has high turnover, but any potential feedback on why has to go through the manager of the job. Doesn't seem like they'll actually get accurate feedback. Mar 29 at 2:39
  • 27
    What is "MSP"? I can guess it is <something> Service Provider, but I have no clue as to what that M stands for. Mar 29 at 13:16
  • 5
    @MarkRotteveel I believe it's Managed Service Provider.
    – Sam Hanley
    Mar 29 at 18:44
159

They've admitted that they're lying to you, to every other employee, and to every potential job candidate, and have admitted to you that they intend to continue lying. My advice would be to forego any further conversations regarding this and start looking for a new position somewhere else.

I know "Look for another job" is a pat answer, and is easier said than done, but I don't see you affecting any real change here. Best to cut your losses now then continue on, becoming frustrated and disgruntled, and have that affect your work and your attitude.

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  • 22
    To be fair, it sounds like the issue is with the manager. Looks like HR know something is not right. Mar 29 at 2:43
  • 55
    IMO, management doesn't occur in a vacuum. It's seems more likely to me that a culture of dishonesty exists company wide, and if it's not outright encouraged it's implicitly accepted and expected.
    – joeqwerty
    Mar 29 at 2:47
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    @GregoryCurrie I second that. I would - on hazard of job security, which seems scant already - possibly have filled in the evaluation and handed to HR personally without managers interference. Now, HR is not ever your friend, but they are interested in figuring out why there is a high turnaround. Voice the report not as a complaint but as a neutral pov "improvement potential" and one might see results. Boss will still be pissy so perhaps not a win overall. Mar 29 at 6:32
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    Well, if you'll be quitting anyways, you can just as well be honest in the evaluation and see what happens.
    – DonQuiKong
    Mar 29 at 19:24
  • 3
    In your final sentence, both "than" and "then" are grammatical, but with opposite results... surely you mean "than"!
    – Théophile
    Mar 30 at 13:54
66

My position has huge turnover so the company made a 90-day eval to figure out why no one sticks.

The problematic piece here is the manager, and they are the reason for the turnover. It doesn't make sense that the evaluations go through them.

You tried to do the evaluation with the manager, and they walked out on the meeting. You have attempted to be cooperative with the process and give the manager a chance to rectify the situation.

I get that they may be under budgetary pressure, but that doesn't mean they should falsify the evaluation. If HR want to know the reasons, they should get the reasons. It would be then up to HR to figure out what can be done. HR may also like to know if there are potentially illegal policies in place, which 24/365 support would be in some places.

I normally wouldn't recommend employees go over their bosses head. It certainly can be a career limiting move. However HR are interested in a truthful evaluation, and to be honest, it doesn't sound like you have much to lose.

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  • 3
    +1 well said! Transparent and forthright
    – Anthony
    Mar 29 at 16:40
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    I think "HR are interested in a truthful evaluation" is a questionable assumption. If HR really doesn't know what's going on they must be complete idiots. It's IMO more likely that they are also under pressure to keep things the way they are.
    – Hilmar
    Mar 29 at 16:56
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    @Hilmar If they wanted to keep things as they are, they wouldn't have asked for an evaluation. I mean, they may not like the result of the evaluation, but effectively lying to keep them happy (at personal expense) doesn't help things. Mar 29 at 17:19
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    OP can submit the incomplete report to satisfy the manager, and approach HR about the unpaid on-call time as a separate matter. Maybe HR will put 2 and 2 together on their own Mar 30 at 0:27
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    @user3067860 That's a reasonably cynical take. The OP has a buddy at the same company who seems to enjoy the work, so I don't think you can make sweeping assumptions about the company as a whole. The false sense of agency argument doesn't work because the manager is trying to block honest feedback. If there was some giant company-wide conspiracy to confuse the OP, the manager probably needs to get on the same page. Mar 30 at 12:14
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So, the company wants to know why the position has high turnover, you pointed out a valid, concrete, reasonable reason why the job might have high turnover, and they basically told you to shove it? Yeah, this seems like a successful company, I can't possibly imagine why they have high turnover...

I'm not sure I understand the process here or what's expected of you. It seems like you are supposed to evaluate your treatment at the company and submit that to your boss, who submits it to HR? Except most of the content of the evaluation is evaluating your boss, so your boss can simply reject any evaluation that they don't like.

If this is the situation, here's what you do:

  1. Start looking for a new job (I'll get to this in a moment, it's not what you think it is)

  2. Submit to your boss some kind of non-answer, something that basically says "I don't know why people are leaving this position, everything is awesome I'm having a great time lol". That's obviously what your boss wants to see, and she'll get mad at you unless you give her that, so massage her ego.

  3. Reach out directly to HR and schedule a meeting. When you schedule the meeting, mention to them the following:

  • That you are not comfortable with your boss knowing about the meeting
  • That the analysis of your job that HR will receive from your boss is not truthful, and that this meeting is to provide the truth of the situation
  • That you honestly want to help the company and provide honest, actionable feedback to help the company but your boss is getting in the way

If you have a public calendar that your boss can see, try not to put this meeting on your calendar if you can so your boss can't see it. If you are working from home due to Covid, this makes things much easier. Perhaps schedule it as a "lunch break" and mention to HR that you'll be bringing your lunch to the meeting, and bring something you can eat quickly.

After you're done all of this, attend the meeting and tell HR exactly the same thing you told your boss, that you feel like the 24/7 on-call is pushing people away from the company, that you feel underappreciated/undercompensated/etc relative to what you expected, and so on. Repeat that when you mentioned these things to your boss, she was uncooperative with even acknowledging that these things are issues; you may want to mention that your boss specifically said that she doesn't want to change the JD because she knows if she did then people would be scared off. Basically, dump all the facts on their lap and let them sort out what to do.

Now, it may be the case that "what to do" is to either fire you for being "not a good culture fit", or to bring these issues to your boss in such a way that your boss brings it back to you. In this case, you may come into a position where you are unable to keep the job. This is why, before you do anything, start looking for a new job, so you have a way out if things go south. From what you've said so far, there doesn't seem to be that big of a reason to jump ship now, but the situation may escalate and you should be prepared for that.

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  • 17
    It's dangerously naïve to assume that HR will not involve the manager right away. That's standard procedure in many companies and they probably don't care whether you are. "comfortable" with this or not.
    – Hilmar
    Mar 29 at 16:51
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    @Hilmar Simply put, a company worthy of OP's respect should not do that: They should neither involve OP's manager if OP has explicitly requested not to, nor should they do so without warning OP first. If they do either of these things, then OP should simply leave the job immediately. The company already knows they have a retention problem, and if they want to solve it, they need to work on respecting employees, and not doing things like that. Hence why I began my action plan with "start looking for a new job".
    – Ertai87
    Mar 29 at 17:00
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    @Ertai87 I'm not sure if it's reasonable to assume that a company where a manager deliberately lies with intent to maliciously deceive on a job description is going to have more integrity in the HR department.
    – Nzall
    Mar 30 at 8:24
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    From what little we know about that company's HR (we only know they requested said evaluation) we can't really make assumptions about their integrity or lack thereof one way or the other, @Nzall. But one can generally assume HR acts in the interest of the company (that's their job) and not of individual managers. That interest might or might not be aligned with that of employees/the OP or with that of a manager.
    – das-g
    Mar 30 at 9:58
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    @xxbbcc I don't see this as "trusting HR," but as a calculated risk. Clearly the manger has no intention of allowing the on-call situation to be brought up as a potential contributor to the employee turnover, so without going around the manager, that's never going to change. Your choices are either to accept that it won't change and won't be brought to the attention of those ostensibly trying to find out about just this sort of thing, or to take a risk in going around your direct manager. (And it' made clear by the answer, which starts by suggesting you set up an exit strategy.)
    – cjs
    Mar 30 at 17:19
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Quite some number of years ago I worked for an American company operating in the UK, and it turned out that the boss of the facility was misrepresenting the salary grades of his staff to make his figures look better. When I got a better job and everybody else realised that they didn't have to put up with it there was something that approached a "sit-down strike", and the aftermath of a visit from senior management was that one member of the staff got his salary almost doubled.

The bottom line in OP's case is whether the relevant bits of HR- who might be nowhere near the action- really do understand what's going on. I think my suggestion would be to find out whether there's anybody in a different part of the company with a confidential "counsellor" role who could advise on whether this practice is standard or if it's just one rogue department or location.

In the UK this would almost certainly be something that would interest an industrial tribunal, irrespective of the length of OP's service. But whatever is to be done must be done quickly and decisively: making a row because a new job was described misleadingly won't look bad on OP's employment record, while making waves and stirring discontent after a few months might.

1
  • And of course, deliberately withholding information from HR about the nature of any grievances won't look that good in front of the tribunal. As you say, you gotta make sure HR knows about the issue, and then it's on them to act. Mar 30 at 12:26
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I would advise rotating how you and your manager think about the evaluation to a different perspective.

The purpose of this evaluation isn't to change your work environment personally, it is to identify why they can't keep employees.

The goal of the eval isn't "I demand to match the job description", but rather "one of the reasons why you can't keep employees is because the job description doesn't describe what employees are required to do". And the manager is right, maybe describing the job accurately would also make finding employees harder.

But is hiring an employee who leaves after 2 months a better move than not hiring them? I don't have that information, and your manager might not either.

Take the perspective that you aren't trying to fix your job, you are trying to inform the stakeholders at the company what the cause for the turnover is. Sure, your manager might know about this issue, but others in the company who don't should be informed as well.

Then, someone can decide "is the 24/7 unpaid on-call requirement worth the cost of turnover". That person might not be your manager, as they might not have all of the information.

Maybe the 24/7 unpaid on-call requirement is only boosting profits by 10%, while the turnover problem is costing 30%. Or maybe it is the other way around.

But without that information, that the unpaid on-call 24/7 undocumented requirement is causing turnover, there are going to be people without the information needed to best make the company work.

Your manager appears to be looking at this as if you are disgruntled employee demanding better treatment, and is asserting dominance. But the eval isn't about that. See if you can express that to your manager; the eval isn't about your demands, it is about getting information about a potential problem to the right stakeholders.

Also, you might also need to understand that. The eval doesn't appear to be about fixing your issues, it is about fixing issues for the company. You might have been framing your description of the problem as something unfair to you; reframe it as a problem for the company. I mean, you can always get another job and that policy is no longer your problem; meanwhile the company is stuck with the employee churn so long as the policy holds, or they figure out another way to avoid the churn.

0

A stupid manager. You won't get anything done by dealing with her.

Ask your mate elsewhere in the business if they know somebody in HR or management who would listen.

I'd go for simple confrontation where it is their problem. When the on-call phone rings say "I'm not on the schedule." and put the phone down. The manager will be furious. Do not answer any follow-up calls. This needs to be played-out in office hours on-site. (Make sure you have HR on instant dial on your phone...) She will 'try to reason with you with a big stick'. If she mentions disciplinary action then say "OK. That's fine by me. Let's get HR involved." Press that button. "Hi HR. My manager is threatening me for not being on-call when she refuses to publish a schedule. How do we sort this out? I'm sitting in their office now."

Get it over and dealt with. Catch your manager when they're angry. Save yourself worry. You're causing them problems of their own making. You need to have a figure for how much on-call you're willing to do and how the roster will rotate. eg 1-in-7 but not always on the same day. You need this because you're going to end up negotiating. Also you need to be friendly with HR and ask to see your record if there's any chance of malicious information from your boss. Invented customer complaints etc.

Good luck. (In the UK) you're on solid legal ground, but that's a last resort when the employer loses their sanity.

0

I think that you should talk immediately with their HR Department. You are entitled to do this without the manager being notified.

The manager – or whoever defined this position – is most definitely the "bad apple" here. And no, you don't have to put up with it. There are plenty of ways to set up an "on-call rotation," even at the busiest of IT situations, and if they can't find one that's not your problem.

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    -1 HR will likely tell the manager and make an already bad situation worse. We found out the problem - the company lies about what the job entails, and nobody wants to do it. Mar 30 at 19:57
-1

Write up the eval with the issues you see and submit it to your manager by the “eval due” date.

Do NOT go over their heads to HR, you’ll be out of there at their next opportunity.

But also do not accede to any requests to change the feedback. “This is the big problem I see. You may be willing to change it or not, that’s not my problem, but this is why people quit the job, they get bait and switched into an unacceptable work-life balance due to the oncall.”

Then it is your manager’s job to pass it on or redact it or whatever, you’ve done your job.

If there is follow up where HR or anyone asks you, be honest and say “it’s the oncall.” If it gets to “why want they mentioned in the eval sent to us and/or why has nothing been done about it” you say “I’m sure I wouldn’t know.”

The trick here is to do your job responsibly without either becoming a collaborator in your boss’ misguided attempt to hide a problem or deliberately usurping their authority. Be honest but stay in your lane. You can always choose to leave a job, but much of the advice here will necessitate it for no better outcome.

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    The manager is clearly at least partially to blame here. They straight-up said that they knew they were lying in the job description, ad that they were doing so because they couldn't get anyone to actually hire on with the accurate job description, and that they expected the OP to work in an environment that was not as initially described, that they knew that they wouldn't have been able to get OP to hire on for. Trying to go through the manager won't fix anything. Its most likely results are harassment from the manager and falsification of the feedback.
    – Ben Barden
    Mar 30 at 19:08
  • It’s still the best option in a bad situation. Going over their head will end up worse, and not having any spine at all certainly won’t help. Be honest but respect the chain of command. If the boss falsifies the feedback that’s on them.
    – mxyzplk
    Mar 30 at 19:12
  • going over their head might fix things. Letting the manager control the information that goes to HR won't. They're already knowingly lying to prospectives. Nothign will stop them from lying to HR... and if they do so successfully, it is highly unlikely that HR will follow-up with further questions for the employee.
    – Ben Barden
    Mar 30 at 19:16
  • Going over a managers head to HR almost never fixes anything, and is a toss-up even when there is blatant harassment.
    – mxyzplk
    Mar 30 at 19:18
  • There's that "almost". That's the point. Going over his head might salvage something. Not going over his head... won't.
    – Ben Barden
    Mar 30 at 21:14
-3

It's too late for you now, but for you later, and for anyone whoever lands on that page always read your contract before signing!

It doesn't matter what your job description is, it doesn't matter what your job title is, it doesn't matter what is written in the ad or what is babbled on the interview. The only thing that matter is your job contract.

All your obligations and priviledges, including your working hours, overtime working, on-call schedule etc. must be written in your contract. Anything that is not written in your contract defaults to the labour laws of the country where you're employed. If your contract allows your employeer to require from you unpaid on-call, then you can't refuse. You can only negotiate, but they are allowed to require from you everything, that the contract allows.

If you're unhappy with your current working situation, the only realistic solution is to change your job. And next time, read the contract!

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