Give Me A Break On Time

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about breaks:

I’ve set my break and lunch times with the belief this would make it “more efficient” to be covered for.

Well it turns out close to 50 percent of the time, I still have to call or ask someone to cover my breaks and lunch. This sounds minor, but I feel disrespected and frustrated when I have to call, because often folks aren’t at their desks, or they say ask someone else, or I’ll be right out, but its five minutes later.I feel many of my fellow co-workers are selfish as they operate in a “flex time’ most of the time, taking their breaks and lunch when it’s most convenient for them. I am not in this position to do that with my job responsibilities.I’ve suggested to the supervisor to “assign” some one each week for my breaks, so I would only have one person to deal with. She basically said she does not want to waste time and staff “assigning someone”. I think mostly she didn’t like a fair solution to the problem but what to do? Suggestions, thoughts? One other thing regarding breaks and long breakers: Should I care that others on a consistent basis take routinely five to fifteen minutes longer on their breaks than others and I do. Sure I have taken a long break before, but not on a consistent basis. Thanks as always.

Signed, Give Me A Break

DearĀ Give Me A Break:

You don’t say how long you have been in this job. Nor do you say if you have good working relationships with coworkers and your supervisor. Are they doing any thing good? Are you working together as a collaborative unit? Do you have a sense of teamwork? From what you say I would guess that your work group could use a good dose of team training. Short of that, is there anything you might do to work out this minor scheduling problem? Should you care? Whether you should or not, you do. You resent those who are not available to cover for you and come go according to their self-appointed flextime hours. You dislike having to hunt for someone and that your supervisor was not willing to prepare a list of your coworkers to take turns to cover for you.

You are annoyed by those who take their own good time to return after a break. So should you just fume within, bite your tongue and suck it up? That is what you will have to do unless you can make a persuasive case to your coworkers and boss. If you are disgusted enough to become a squeaky wheel, I predict that you can get results in your favor. So, assuming that you want action, prepare a brief written case for what you think would make your job more effective. Then tell your supervisor that you think the current situation is not fair and that you want her to reconsider her failure to post a schedule to coworkers to cover for you. Also state that you have had interruption after interruption because no one is assigned to cover. Present her a schedule that you would have posted if you were the supervisor. Firmly state you are unhappy and request her cooperation. If she shrugs you off, suggest that you would like this matter be placed at the head of the agenda of a staff meeting.

Using both a written and oral channel should emphasize how serious you are. I would not raise the topic of extended break time, but I think you might want to state that flex time for taking breaks is good and that you are pleased that such appears to be an acceptable practice.Approach this scheduling problem in a professional manner. Explain that you don’t want to place an unreasonable burden on her, your supervisor, but be firm in stating that working out such minor problems is why a workplace has supervisors.If I am correct that your work unit does not function as a team, does not this lack of cooperation signal that is past time for team building? If it does, this is an opportunity to express your thoughts that it is needed and challenge your supervisor to be a team coach and offer your willingness to help transform your work group to really work as a team. Give it an honest “can do”. And after a couple of weeks, let us know what you did and how it is going. Working together with hands, head and heart takes and makes big WEGOS.

William Gorden