loading...

How do you stand up to these issues at work?

arximughal profile image Muhammad Arslan Aslam ・3 min read

This has nothing to do with the post

My previous post might be a little harsh. I probably just got carried away with all that's been going on at work. With that said, I have a few questions.

But before that, a little bit about me. I am in my senior year at the university. I've been working as a Software Engineer full-time for the past 3+ years. I have worked in services based companies. I have worked on some great products and also had a chance to work on a silicon valley startup recently and I am 22 (21 and 8 months actually) years old.

Now, how do you manage to stay positive through all these issues that you may or may not be facing at your work

  1. Putting in extra hours day and not being paid for those extra hours? (Which might sound weird but that's how it's been going with me for the past year and a half)
  2. Putting in holidays and even weekends (like two/three weekends every month)?
  3. Unrealistic timelines (like build a freaking lib in a half day and don't say a word)?
  4. Not-so-competitive salary?
  5. Constant mental pressure without even a break?

These among a few other things have been a constant nightmare of my career for the past year and half. I tried to talk to my manager about this and he seems to just gimme a πŸ–• every time I say something!

The thing about un-compensated extra hours? So, these hours come in quiet a few different forms. Being asked to sit late every day, monitor the site logs and error reporting over night every other week and weekend, cut lunch breaks. So basically just don't take your head-off your laptop screen.

I mentioned not-so-competitive salary because when I used to work as a freelancer, I'd usually make more money, a lot more than I make now, while I have a full-time job! When I talked to my manager after I completed my probation, the thing he told me was that I need to complete my degree first to get a raise! Whatttt??? That was not in the contract?

I go to office everyday, complete the work that I've been assigned, code review changes from a couple of junior developers on my way out everyday. Pretty much do more than my JD. But what does it have to do with my degree?

Un-realistic timelines is something that drive me crazy. My manager, as he says, used to work as a "bad-ass" developer back in his days. Now imagine such a guy, coming up to you and asking you to mirror a functionality from another product that took the other product, months to develop, in a single day? Sounds crazy, right? That's exactly what happened to me a couple of times!

I am posting this here as I see a lot of experienced developers around here. People who have more experience than my age practically!

I'd like to ask if

  • This is how tech companies work?
  • Or it might just be me having a bad experience?
  • Does this happen a lot?
  • If yes, how do you manage to stay positive at work everyday?
  • Should I just compromise on all this stuff that's been driving me crazy and I even feel depressed?
  • Or shall I just leave it behind like a bad dream and move on?

What would be your take on this?

Posted on Aug 6 '18 by:

arximughal profile

Muhammad Arslan Aslam

@arximughal

React, React-native, Angular, PHP, Laravel, WordPress, Foundation, Material Design, Bootstrap and in-betweens.

Discussion

markdown guide
 

What I've found is that companies that care about talent-retention don't do many of the things you're complaining about. These are companies that figure "throwing more, cheap, replaceable bodies at a problem is easier." Measured quarter-to-quarter, it's probably an ok strategy. When qualitatively measured over time... There's a reason that there are also companies that focus on keeping their people happy.

You have to figure out what you are and what you want to be, then find the company that best aligns to that. Sometimes, you have to "pay dues" to make what you are better align with what you want to be. Until then your options may be limited. The only way to know, however, is to explore your options.

 

Well, my company seems to do talent-retention, but they are only words.
I've been offered paid extra hours one too many times, but they never seem to pay it!

 

I'm probably too used to contractor-land. We typically have to fill out time-sheets, usually broken down by customer/project, so that customers can be billed. Side-effect is is that every hour worked is auditable ...and, therefore, both you and your employer know "person 'X' should be getting paid for 'Y' hours this week/month".

I suggested that we should be using some kind of time tracking app, may be Toggl. But it's never been done!
Though, I do track my personal time πŸ˜›

If you're already using tools like git or Slack, you already have time-tracking capabilities available.

  • With git, your commit-history is also time-tracking
  • With Slack (and a few other chat tools), you can use webhooks or other integration-methods to aggregate your usage of other tools into a "time-keeping" channel.

Yes. And a lot of other options are available too. And free ones too!
They just don't wanna log time, for some reason πŸ€”

Gee... "Wonder why". Not to get too dramatic or too far off topic, but, someone might want to drop an anonymous note to the HR and/or payroll departments pointing out that several companies have lost litigation around uncompensated time and that failure to set up formal time-tracking didn't insulate them from having to pay claims for back-wages and legal costs. That info like commit-history and the like exists simply makes it easier for developers to prove that the financial liability/obligation exists (actually, I wouldn't be surprised if some jurisdictions don't eventually start placing some tools' time-history capabilities under existing data-retention mandates).

That'd be great. But unfortunately, IT industry is not yet that strong in my country 😞
A huge number of such companies exist and they don't even pay their employees via cheque or bank account, just straight cash and authorities have absolutely no idea what goes in those companies! 😒

When I got my firs job, my salary got delayed, like 10 days. I was a bit worried and needy at that time. But also afraid to ask my boss and when I asked my boss on the 11th day, he said he had completely "forgotten about me".
Now this is the kind of thing that should not happen. But unfortunately it is the sad reality of industry in my country.

Oof. Yeah. As anti-labor as the laws in the US tend to be when compared to some countries, the laws aren't nearly as stacked in the employers' favor as they are in other parts of the world.

Here in Italy, the average time to get paid starts from β€œ30 days forward”, when you’re lucky.
The worst client (a VERY famous italian fashion brand), took 13 (yes, I wrote thirteen!) months to pay the bill. And even if we have barely decent laws about it, the reality is sadly different.

In the US:

  • If you're on a W2 basis ("salaried"), it's decently-common for employers to have a "first check held" policy. Inconvenient if you wanted to take a break between jobs. Freaking awful if you moved to a job with a "once-a-month" pay-schedule and had no meaningful savings (or PTO cashout) left from a prior job. On the plus side, if your prior employer was a "first check held" employer, it generally means you have one more check after you do the final walk out the door.
  • If you're working on a 1099 basis (pure contractor or B2B), things are a lot more hit-or-miss on when you can expect compensation to arrive. While 13 months would be quite unusual (bean-counters hate carrying things across to the next fiscal-period - especially if the term in longer than a fiscal-year), 1-3 months behind wouldn't be unexpected. If you're pure 1099 with multiple contracts/customers, you might have multiple payment terms to deal with. Makes managing personal finances "fun".

I don't think we have a "first check held" policy here. One to three months notice prior resignation is a common thing though!

Even though I had an "at will" sort of contract with this company, I had to notify them before I leave, at least a month prior to my resignation.

In my previous job, when I resigned, I did file a notice and stuff! But they never paid me my last salary. So, that's a pretty common thing (I hope it doesn't happen this time)!

I don't think we have a "first check held" policy here. One to three months notice prior resignation is a common thing though!

Oof. In the US, two weeks is customary. However, in the technology field, it's not unusual to find that, the day you submit your resignation is the day they walk you out the door. This is especially so if you have privileged access to anything.

The whole basis for "notice" is the idea that you're doing them the courtesy of letting them hire someone in before you leave (so as to reduce the impact of that departure). That said, given the timetables behind finding suitable replacements (and the prior not about treatment of personnel with privileged access), that custom is starting to fade in some places.

But they never paid me my last salary. So, that's a pretty common thing (I hope it doesn't happen this time)!

Oof... In the US, an employer doing that with anything approaching regularity would set them up for a non-trivial penalty via litigative loss.

 

This is probably an extremely unpopular opinion but in my personal experience:

Putting in extra hours day and not being paid for those extra hours? (Which might sound weird but that's how it's been going with me for the past year and a half)

I hate this so i clock in and out at the exact minute (give or take a few minutes to get to the punch clock). idk about extra hours but i've experience not being paid 45 min to an hour because "40 hours is standard, anything over must be approved" but in our line of work, we usually need to stay after to clean up some code, tickets, emails etc. It could only be 10 min extra per day but doing that for 5 days straight is nearly an hour of not being paid. Some people don't mind this and that's fine but I have a kid at home and would much rather be with him then working for free at an employers. I clock in and out on the dot. If they don't like it they can fire me. I know what my time is worth and if they won't pay me for it then they can't have it. Maybe i will change this opinion as I get older but for now this is my world view. If i was an employer I would expect the same from my employees. We are not slaves. Working for free at any level is not ok.

I've talked about this issue with other developers and they disagree so my opinions are my own.

Unrealistic timelines (like build a freaking lib in a half day and don't say a word)?

no not all companies are like this. It depends on where they are in their product lifecycle. If they are in a maintaining role then it will be more lenient on deadlines. If they are smack in the middle of product development then yes there may be some pretty harsh deadlines. Unrealistic deadlines need to be vocalized to your employer though. If he says "I need X done by the end of today" but you know for a fact it will take you a week then just say no. Again, we are not slaves. Being vocal about deadlines you cannot achieve is ok. The last thing you want is to be a "yes-man" and then never hit your expected deadlines. It's better to say something like "yeah that's not possible, can we set this deadline to 5 days from now? It will allow much more reliable code since nothing will be rushed and I can properly do QA testing on surrounding features."

Not-so-competitive salary?

find a new job. Not much to say here. The pay raises in any field do not come from staying at a job for 40 years. They come from finding new jobs that pay better with better positions. Strategically done I wouldn't be surprised if you got a job at year 1 at $40,000 and could land a job by year 5 at $80,000 if done correctly.

Constant mental pressure without even a break?

take breaks. Express that you need a break. take a few 5 minute breaks as you need. If they don't like it they can fire you.


In conclusion, I mention a lot about quitting and being fired. You are not enslaved to your employer. You can quit at any time and for any reason. You don't owe your employer anything. Don't feel locked into working for your employer because you feel some kind of obligation to stay there. If your skillset is good and you are a good developer you have tremendous job mobility. It's extremely expensive to find new employees if you include the job search, the possible time without an employee and the amount of time required to get that employee up to speed and at your level.

Most employers will not fire you unless you truly fuck up or they find someone better than you and need to cut costs.

If they are going to fire you for speaking your mind about unrealistic expectations and taking a break to recuperate from developer fatigue then they are nuts and if they catch you taking a 5 minute break and threaten to fire you then they are bluffing. Call the bluff. They won't spend the thousands it takes to hire a new developer and train them because you're taking a few breaks a day.

 

This is really great. It feels like this is all I wanted.
I didn't even knew until know that I feel, kind-of, obligation to stay here. Every time I think of quitting, I just can't or I shouldn't. And I end up more frustrated!

I know they wouldn't fire me at all. I had a couple of problems back in the very early days and that was the time when I realized that at least, I won't be fired. I might not be a bad-ass ninja programmer, but I do know a handful things that no one else does, or at least not a single person in the company!

I guess, this is what I should consider. Quitting! Or at least speaking up! Thanks.

 

This is how tech companies work?

This is how a lot of tech companies work, but good news: not all of them

Or it might just be me having a bad experience?

No, I think quite a lot of developers have some bad experience

Does this happen a lot?

At some places, yes

If yes, how do you manage to stay positive at work everyday?

You need to find your motivation, it's always up to you, I'm normally motivated by challenging technical tasks.

Should I just compromise on all this stuff that's been driving me crazy and I even feel depressed?
Or shall I just leave it behind like a bad dream and move on?

Ok, and now my really honest answer: it is not how it should work, it can cause burn out on long term.
First: talk about these issues with your boss, really honestly! If there's no change search for a new job. It's all about how you can sell yourself. But: don't expect to have a working place without any issues. There are always some negative issues, the question is just the amount of them.

 

I don't really mind work place issues. I've very little experience yet, but I've worked in 4 different companies during my experience. Different teams, different environment and different challenges.

But not being paid is something I cannot stand.

I talked to my boss, really, honestly, but that didn't work out so I stopped sitting extra-late. I try to finish my stuff before EOD and if someone needs help from me or something is really stuck, I still put an hour or so without worrying.
But for some reason, now, my boss thinks I am demotivated and I don't take my job seriously!

 

I don't think it's your fault in the situation, of course it is demotivating.
There are two posts on my blog regarding such issues, maybe they can help you:
howtosurviveasaprogrammer.blogspot...

howtosurviveasaprogrammer.blogspot...

 

It's time to find another job. Your company is terrible and you shouldn't work there. Start interviewing elsewhere as soon as possible.

Lots of companies are much better and don't require this. I've never had to deal with long hours, in part because I made sure to screen out bad companies in advance. I talk about my process here - codewithoutrules.com/2016/10/14/jo...

 

Yup! Resigned yesterday 😌
I was planning on resigning for quiet some time. Posting here gave me confidence that I'll be doing the right thing.

 

This is how tech companies work?

No, but a lot of them work like this :-|

Or it might just be me having a bad experience?

Not just you for sure. Unfortunately, you listed common issues

Does this happen a lot?

Yes, quite frequently. But not 100% of the times, otherwise many of us would already gave up with IT-stuff :-P

If yes, how do you manage to stay positive at work everyday?

When it happens/happened, I usually look for another job as soon as possible :-)

Should I just compromise on all this stuff that's been driving me crazy and I even feel depressed?

Well, there isn't a correct answer for this. Sometimes it might be worth to look for compromise IF you consider that job/position has some short/medium term advantage. Otherwise, you're wasting your time, health and passion.

Or shall I just leave it behind like a bad dream and move on?

You're (very) young (I'm 41, just to give you a different perspective about age), that means you have a potentially brighter future in front of you. From today up to 5 years forward you might change several jobs/positions/companies and that's fine too. The key should be at least one of these points:

  • personal/professional growth
  • a bit of satisfaction at the end of the day (sure, you'll have bad days anyway, that's why you should focus on the average day)
  • your time/skill/person at work is an investment that has more value than raw money: so think about it :-)

my 2 cents, I hope they'll help you finding your way. Good luck!

 

Thank you so much. This surely gives another perspective! πŸ‘πŸ™‚

 

Putting in extra hours a day and not being paid for those extra hours? (Which might sound weird but that's how it's been going with me for the past year and a half)

I get paid for mine, so I don't know what that's like. I know for a fact that my next level may be a pay rise, but I won't get paid overtime anymore. It would be part of my job role to get the job done, even if it was past my contracted hours.

Unrealistic timelines (like build a freaking lib in a half day and don't say a word)?

This is where you have to be very careful. You need to slowly build up an aura of trust. Eventually when you say "This isn't possible in the time you have provided me, I need x amount of time" they will believe you. But again, it comes down to proving your trust. Don't give yourself not enough time, but also not way too much time. Your timeframe needs to be feasible for them too.

Not-so-competitive salary?

Personally, I don't know how much I'm worth. Looking around, I'm paid what I should be expected. But the work I actually do requires so much effort, skill, and time that I do feel like I should be getting paid more. I can't advise anything on this, unfortunately.

Constant mental pressure without even a break?

Take breaks. If they tell you not to, tell them you need to recharge. I take 2 15 minute breaks and 1 30 minute lunch break every day. In those times I am 100% away from my desk and anything remotely work, i.e. looking at memes on my phone. I do wander around talking to people for a few minutes, but when it comes to crunch time, I'm always at my desk getting everything done to the best of my ability.

 

I try my best to do the same. But it just keeps getting worse and worse.