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Why do I always manage to get screwed over at work?


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Old 22nd July 2016, 10:12 AM   #1
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Why do I always manage to get screwed over at work?

I've been at my current job for about nine months, now. Generally speaking, it's been fine. My coworkers are all pleasant and easy to work with. So, it's a small sort of store, and we're open 24 hours. We have two employees that exclusively work third shift overnight, and the rest of us are on during the day.

A few weeks ago, one of our third shift people had left for a new job, and we were transitioning between hiring someone new for the position. The manager asked me if I could work a week of third shift during that period, and while I absolutely did not want to work overnight, I also didn't want to be difficult and unhelpful, so I obliged. I worked overnight that week, and it really wrecked havoc on my sanity, because I just could not adjust my sleeping habits well, so I was constantly feeling drained and tired, and just generally not myself. In general, I'm not a "night" person. But I put up with it to help out, and that's the end of it.

A couple weeks later, the manager pulls me aside and says that they're expecting to have higher volume of work than usual due to a particular event, and that I'd be helping them out a lot if I worked another week of third shift. Once again, I absolutely did not want to do it, but I obliged, because it didn't really feel like I had much choice in the matter. I spent another week feeling drained and tired and not myself, and I was just glad it was over again.

Now, apparently one of our third shift people requested off next weekend, and without having even asked me about it (though in fairness, the manager and I haven't worked the same shifts since the time the schedule had to be made and posted), I've been scheduled to work third shift again for those two days, and I'm not feeling particularly happy about it.

I mean, I don't like being difficult with my employers, or coming off like a "complainer" to them, or anything like that. But it's frustrating, because when I applied for this job nine months ago, at no point was it indicated to me that I'd eventually become the go-to person that works third shift whenever one of them called off or was on vacation, or whatever. I put up with it the first time to help out, I put up with it the second time to help out, and now I feel like I've just been relegated to that role even though the manager knows I hate working third shift.

At this point, I don't really know what I can do. Aside from this recent development, I'm not particularly unhappy with my job, or anything like that. But I don't want to be the default go-to person that has to work third shift every single time we need someone to fill in. I don't want to work third shift any more than any of my other day time coworkers. So why do I get "punished" for helping out a couple times? That hardly seems fair to me.

It's extra frustrating to me, too, because before this current job, I worked my previous job for seven years, and at that last job, I constantly felt like I'd get similarly "punished" for helping out. I became very frustrated in those seven years, because it felt like I was constantly expected to do this and that while everyone else got a free pass, and my opinions and feelings on that didn't matter to management, because they'd "defaulted" me to those roles and that was that.

I don't want to get to that place with this current job. I don't want to become the "default" person that gets relegated to having to do all the stuff that no one wants to do, I don't want to feel like I don't have any say in that, I don't want to feel like I'm getting "punished" for helping out, I don't want to build up that bitterness and resentment and frustration. But I think it might already be too late. I'm already "locked in" to this third shift thing, and I don't feel like there's anything I can say or do to change that, at this point...
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Old 22nd July 2016, 10:36 AM   #2
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How does your manager know that you hate working third shift? Have you had a discussion where you told him that you do not like it and while you don't mind helping out with that shift once in a blue moon you do not feel it's fair for you to be the only one who does so? If you have had that conversation with him then I guess there isn't much you can do other than perhaps looking for a new job but before you do that make sure you have communicated clearly with your manager. Sometimes people think they have communicated their feelings just because they have made a few vague comments. You have to be clear in saying that you don't like the third shift and you don't want to be expected to work it more than any of your other coworkers do.
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Old 22nd July 2016, 12:01 PM   #3
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How does your manager know that you hate working third shift? Have you had a discussion where you told him that you do not like it and while you don't mind helping out with that shift once in a blue moon you do not feel it's fair for you to be the only one who does so? If you have had that conversation with him then I guess there isn't much you can do other than perhaps looking for a new job but before you do that make sure you have communicated clearly with your manager. Sometimes people think they have communicated their feelings just because they have made a few vague comments. You have to be clear in saying that you don't like the third shift and you don't want to be expected to work it more than any of your other coworkers do.
Yeah, I mean, I feel like I've made it pretty clear to my manager. Heck, the second time she asked me about doing it, she even started the conversation with "I know you didn't want to do third shift anymore, but...".

One issue is that I think the other day time workers are kind of "locked in" to their roles and their schedules, and we keep them in those roles for the sake of consistency. Whereas, my position is more... "tertiary", I guess, so it's much easier for them to throw me wherever, instead of disrupting everyone else's schedules and workflow.

I dunno. Aside from this thing, I feel like I generally have it pretty good with this job, so I'm hesitant to shop around for something else. It just bugs me that, wherever I end up, I always end up getting "punished" for doing the right thing and trying to help out. Even if I look for and find another job, I'm sure I'd eventually get pushed into a role that would make me unhappy and frustrated, as well, because that just seems to be who I am...
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Old 22nd July 2016, 12:28 PM   #4
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I get the impression you have not made yourself clear enough or asserted your boundaries enough. You made yourself available to help out, and now it's somewhat expected of you because it's easier for your manager to put you on third shift, than it is to put the other ones on third shift. This is probably because they will make a bigger stink about it.

If I were in your shoes, I would ask to speak to my manager privately and tell him what you wrote above, "I put up with it the first time to help out, I put up with it the second time to help out, and now I feel like I've just been relegated to that role even though the manager knows I hate working third shift."

Maybe read up on asserting boundaries at work. I know this sounds like I'm blaming you, but I've seen this a lot. Your manager is going to take the path of least resistance and that path is apparently you for the time being. I would worry less about ruffling feathers and speak up about this before it becomes a larger problem.
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Old 1st October 2016, 7:41 PM   #5
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Sigh. I know I'm bumping up an old thread, here, but once again, I'm roped into working third shift, against my wishes. I tried as best I could to politely ask if someone else could do it for a change, and I got a "We'll try to come up with something", only to later see that the result was just putting me on the shift, anyway.

It's frustrating, because I don't want to "hate" my job, and for the most part, it's an okay gig, even if it is low-paying, monotonous, and not very personally fulfilling. But it bugs me that I basically get punished for having helped out once a long time ago.

I just can't win. I try to be helpful in a time where we're in desperate need, and now it's suddenly my sole responsibility to always have to cover a shift that I abhor having to work.
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Old 1st October 2016, 7:54 PM   #6
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Do other staff also get roped into covering the 3rd shift if there's nobody else?
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Old 1st October 2016, 8:39 PM   #7
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Do other staff also get roped into covering the 3rd shift if there's nobody else?
No. Back when I first started working at the place I work at, some of the other staff would rotate covering third when need be. But then one of those workers left for a career change and the other got promoted.

I'd even be fine rotating and sharing the responsibility with others. But the other workers we have now don't want to work it, and I just get defaulted to it without much of a discussion even taking place anymore.
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Old 10th October 2016, 2:35 PM   #8
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Hey :)

a.)Ask for an extra bonus for working third shift, there must be money in it.

b.)Use a homoeopathic sleep remedy like 'Kalms' and ear plugs to get sleep through the day.

c.)State straight to the manager I will not work third shift no way until it is put on a rota.

d.)Go to the doctor, display your distressed mental state, explain working third shift is not contractual. Get a doctors note to say you can no longer do it on health grounds.

Stop being such a helpful Introvert, develop some boundaries, maintain them.
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Old 10th October 2016, 3:02 PM   #9
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The only sure way to get out of this sort of thing is to get upskilled to take jobs where you matter more to the employer.

I'm not being glib, I'm serious. As you work shifts, I'm assuming that your job is a relatively low skilled one - or at least one where many could take your place therefore they don't care how they treat you.

The only way to stop this happening is by becoming a specialist, highly skilled. Until then you will be treated badly.
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Old 12th October 2016, 8:40 AM   #10
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a.)Ask for an extra bonus for working third shift, there must be money in it.
Well, anyone that works third shift makes an extra dollar per hour for a third shift... shift. I'm not really one to ask for extra money.

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c.)State straight to the manager I will not work third shift no way until it is put on a rota.

d.)Go to the doctor, display your distressed mental state, explain working third shift is not contractual. Get a doctors note to say you can no longer do it on health grounds.
I've basically tried C, or at least something similar, but I'm not "aggressive" or "firm" enough to put a stop to it. That's just not who I am as a person, I'm afraid.

As for D, that sounds a tad extreme. I don't really want to be that guy.

I dunno. For now, there aren't any more third shifts in my future, but who knows how long that will last.

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The only sure way to get out of this sort of thing is to get upskilled to take jobs where you matter more to the employer.

I'm not being glib, I'm serious. As you work shifts, I'm assuming that your job is a relatively low skilled one - or at least one where many could take your place therefore they don't care how they treat you.

The only way to stop this happening is by becoming a specialist, highly skilled. Until then you will be treated badly.
Well, unfortunately, I have no potential beyond low skilled retail-ish jobs. The only career I felt like I had potential in and actually pursued my education in, turns out is impossibly hard to break into it, and I had no "plan B" because there's nothing else I have an affinity towards. So, this is the kind of work I'll be doing for the remainder of my life.
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Old 11th December 2016, 1:05 AM   #11
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I don't know if you're still having this shift problem but just my 2 cents: generally, I wouldn't offer or willingly accept to "help out just for a little while" with working alternate shifts when you know you do not want to do it and were not hired for it. I'd only be accepting and say it's fine to "help out" if it's a thing you can see yourself willingly doing regularly, or you absolutely trust your boss not to take advantage of the helpfulness. But if you are made to do it, or feel compelled to oblige anyway, make sure to express early on that working third shift can't be a regular thing. As others have said, it's best to set boundaries and expectations from the start. Although sometimes things like this happen anyway, and it's at no fault of your own.

Myself, I'd go up to the manager and have a casual chat (email if possible - written correspondence would be best) and say that while you've been happy to help with third shift temporarily, you want to give a heads up you have personal obligations that will keep you from it and would like to default back to the hours you were hired for. No need to go into detail or go into how it's distressing you, and I wouldn't throw in any "but sometimes is okay" talk. If you are told you are still needed to do third shift, I'd just be like "Okay, thanks for taking the time to talk. I will take that into consideration," and go looking for another job.

It's possible this manager was going to put you on third shift from the start anyway, regardless of you obliging. Some want to dress it up as asking a favor. Maybe they are under the impression you're fine with being flexible.

If you go looking for another job, could you aim for places where they don't have night shifts for anyone, or at least night shifts for the kind of job you'd be doing? That would help alleviate this situation from happening altogether.

Last edited by SummerSkies; 11th December 2016 at 1:38 AM..
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Old 11th December 2016, 1:43 AM   #12
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Well, unfortunately, I have no potential beyond low skilled retail-ish jobs. The only career I felt like I had potential in and actually pursued my education in, turns out is impossibly hard to break into it, and I had no "plan B" because there's nothing else I have an affinity towards. So, this is the kind of work I'll be doing for the remainder of my life.
Surely since you have an education, though, you do have potential for other kinds of work and to develop skills? Even if they are not your Plan A.
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