Q: One of our employees took an evening job at a downtown store to make extra Christmas money. I wouldn't mind this except she is exhausted every day. When I bring this up to her, she insists her other job doesn't conflict with ours.
Can I tell her that her evening job puts her job here at risk? Or, does she have a right to work two jobs?
A: Employees have the right to work two jobs or do whatever they want to do on their own time -- unless employers have moonlighting policies that set reasonable limits.
To be enforceable, a moonlighting policy can only restrict activities that damage the employer. Because an employee's loyalty belongs to the primary job, employers can restrict an employee's second job if it causes an employee to show up late, fail to meet performance standards, creates a conflict of interest or breaches employer confidentiality. For example, employers can prevent employees from working for a direct competitor or their vendors or clients if that creates a real or perceived conflict of interest.
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A sample policy might state, "Our employees have the right to hold outside jobs as long as they do not work for our competitors, vendors or clients; do not share our proprietary information; do meet expected performance criteria and do not let the second job interfere with work requirements and schedules, including business travel and overtime. To prevent problems, we ask all employees to require prior permission before taking any outside employment. If an employee's outside work causes problems in any of these areas, we will ask the employee to terminate the second job in order to remain employed by our company."
Thus while your employee's evening job doesn't put her day job at risk, her reduced performance because of exhaustion might.
Finally, employers can require that employees that work for themselves after hours may not use employer computers, phones, copiers, supplies and other property. If an employer allows this, the employer can be held liable for shoddy work done on their premises by employees working independently.
Q: One of my co-workers is always asking "got a minute"? I can't say "no" because of course I can spare a minute, except a minute isn't ever just one. She takes forever to get to the point and by the time I figure out what she wants and help her, I've wasted at least 20 minutes.
I'd like to tell her "no" the next time but don't want to be a jerk.
A: When your co-worker asks "got a minute?" answer "I've got four minutes." If your co-worker doesn't get to the point within a few minutes, let her know you'd like to help her but don't have unlimited time and need her to quickly outline how you can help her or reschedule for another day. In short, help her but set boundaries.
Q: I work in customer service and although this time of year most customers act like jerks, my boss is on a happiness kick, coming by my work station several times a day reminding me to "smile." I don't want to lose my job but I don't like having to smile like a monkey.
A: Then smile for real because you can't fake a successful smile. Those who force a smile concentrate their efforts on the muscle that runs from the jaw to the corner of the mouth. True smiles activate the muscles surrounding the eyes and the eyes only engage for smiles that come from the inside out.
This means you need to find something in your work life that allows you to smile easily and naturally -- or potentially bow out of customer service.
-- Lynne Curry is a management trainer, consultant and president of Alaska's The Growth Company Inc. in Anchorage. Email her at lynne@thegrowth company.net