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I have had a new job for about 8 months now. This is an office job in the purchase department. While it is not in our job description or contract, they ask all office staff to work in one of the company's retail stores a few times a year for ‘customer closeness’.

I suffer from quite bad anxiety and it has been really affecting my work and home life thinking about having to do this. I live miles away from other people in the team and therefore cannot even team up with people to do it together in a store that is close for everyone.

According to the people who make the policies it is not compulsory, it is a method to help us personally in our role and in our team in line with what ourselves and our line manager agrees would be beneficial. The team I work in has no products in the physical store, only online. Therefore I feel there is no benefit for me to do this.

This also affects my bonus, which is the other thing which makes me question the situation.


How can I best handle this situation? What are my options here? Ideally, I would like to avoid working in the store, while also keeping my bonus.


Editor's Note: The original Q asked: "Should people with anxiety disorder have to pick between being uncomfortable or missing out on a bonus??". I removed that part as it is not a suitable question for this site.

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    Your question does not fit the rules of the site, because you ask us how to choose between 3 choices: 1. Get professional help for your bad anxiety; 2. decline the participation, forfeiting the bonus; 3. Take the bonus by participating. We cannot know what fits best for you, it is only you who can decide. Additionally, we cannot help you with the rules internal to the company - we do not know them in their entirety. That is why I voted to close the question.
    – virolino
    Mar 21, 2023 at 6:20
  • "Should people with anxiety disorder" Have you been diagnosed by a doctor? Does your company know about this diagnosis? Where in the world are you, so we can give advice based on your juristictions labor laws concerning disabilities?
    – nvoigt
    Mar 21, 2023 at 8:16
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    You can weigh the pros of getting the bonus against the cons of the expected extra anxiety (you probably have already done this subconsciously) and formulate your own answer. Life and workplace policy isn't fair, obviously. Whether or not we should change the rules of office workplace so that they become more fair is a different question that I'm not sure is on topic on this site (maybe philosophy or politics .se is more suitable, but I'm not sure). Mar 21, 2023 at 11:22
  • Can you tag your location?
    – Abigail
    Mar 21, 2023 at 13:12
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    It seems to me that your workplace is unusually nice (and I'm glad it is!) to give you the choice between a bonus or not doing that task. I think the default for most companies would be to just mandate it. Mar 22, 2023 at 17:29

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According to the people who make the policies it is not compulsory

If this is true, then you don't need to "refuse" you just need to decline to participate.

Some folks find that going "outside their comfort zone" eventually becomes less anxiety provoking. But you know your condition best.

Should people with anxiety disorder have to pick between being uncomfortable or missing out on a bonus??

You are asking a fairness question, which is too much of an opinion to have a valid answer here. (Purely opinion-based questions/answers are considered off-topic here).

I suspect the company feels that having office folks see what it's like to work in the stores helps them become better employees, more in tune with company values, and thus worthy of a bonus. I can see how that would be particularly valuable for buyers and related roles.

It's your choice to participate and collect a bonus or opt out and miss the bonus.

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This is an interesting question.

I'm going to address this from the Company perspective firstly - I've dealt with too many companies in my lifetime where person A has no clue what department B is or does. Case in point, I recently had to send some Servers from one country to another - checked on a Courier company website - could see that it would require the premium service because of size/weight, no worries -it's being paid on the company CC.

Box everything up, go to the Courier depot - and get told it's oversize and overweight and they can't accept it. Have to then get them to call their own department and look at their own website to confirm they actually can do it.

As a customer - that's a really crappy and frustrating experience and so making sure everyone has some understanding of what the core business is, can be good - and the company likewise agrees.

Therefore I feel there is no benefit for me to do this.

This isn't your place to decide this - as above, the company thinks there's a benefit for all employees to do it and I think there is a good enough reason to have it as a policy.

I, myself, am somewhat skeptical of people who claim to have severe anxiety - this is to say - based on my personal experience, I think it's over-diagnosed and have seen it used as a crutch. So this may colour my next comment:

If it was a regular occurrence, and you have a clinical diagnosis for which you are receiving medication - I would say you have a good foundation to request being medically excused.

However, 'a few times a year' - let's say one day every 3 months to me doesn't meet that threshold - you can take your medication and bite the bullet for that one day.

You could enter into a discussion with your employer and make sure that you do it on a day where there is likely to be less foot traffic.

To finally answer the real kernel of the question:

A Bonus in almost always discretionary - you can do everything right to 'earn' your bonus and still not get it - and although I don't know your local law(s) - I'd be surprised if the local disabilities and workers protection law(s) would go far enough to cover this scenario.

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    Medical Anxiety and "I am uncomfortable" are two extremes of what people refer to as anxiety. Medical anxiety has measurable symptoms. Even if a doctor gave the diagnosis, you'll have to be honest about what's happening. It is possible that the anxiety can be addressed by having something like a life coach or a communication therapist look into the details instead of giving you drugs (medical treatment).
    – Nelson
    Mar 21, 2023 at 0:35
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    ... And being open about it won't get you the bonus, it'll just take some of the pressure off you to earn the bonus.
    – keshlam
    Mar 21, 2023 at 4:32
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Should people with anxiety disorder have to pick between being uncomfortable or missing out on a bonus??

One option is that you can talk to your manager about your anxiety disorder. If you have any official diagnosis from a doctor, you should also show that paper to your manager as it will help you even more.

Maybe, your manager will understand your situation and come up with a reasonable option for you.

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  • I'd certainly hope it would be more than a "maybe"! If they don't, it's almost certainly a violation of anti-discrimination legislation.
    – nick012000
    Mar 30, 2023 at 7:26
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Ideally, I would like to avoid working in the store, while also keeping my bonus.

Really!

I would like a job too where I don't have to work but get paid.

Think about that.

Why on Earth should you or anyone else be paid a bonus when you do not perform the task?

I would say that if I worked with someone who uses having anxiety as an out of doing work and getting paid for not doing it would therefore give me anxiety and therefore I would expect to get paid a bonus too.

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    That seems a bit harsh. The OP's day job does not involve shop work. I didn't read the question as saying they want to do nothing, more that they'd like to keep doing their regular job and decline the offer of some experience of a different role.
    – simonc
    Mar 22, 2023 at 12:45
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    @simonc It seems harsh to me that someone thinks it to be unfair that they would not get a bonus or a bigger bonus if they choose not to do the bonus work. If the bonus is tied to that store work then the work is expected to get the bonus.
    – edjm
    Mar 22, 2023 at 13:17
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    @simonc "they'd like keep doing their regular job and decline the offer of some experience of a different role" I imagine that's most people, hence the bonus. But most people can only say "but I don't wanna" rather than hiding behind "I have social anxiety". And yes, I knowingly say "hiding behind" due to the mention of concerns and mindset about the bonus. When I have a task at work that my OCD does not play well with, addressing that is the first thing on my mind, and pay is the last.
    – DKNguyen
    Mar 22, 2023 at 14:41
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    I think we're talking at cross-purposes. I agree that declining a temporary change in duties but still asking for a bonus associated with this is unreasonable. I was commenting on the part of the answer that says "I would like a job too where I don't have to work but get paid." - that sentence completely misrepresents the question
    – simonc
    Mar 22, 2023 at 15:00
  • @simonc Understood.
    – DKNguyen
    Mar 22, 2023 at 15:13

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