Insensitive workplace environment

Recently, a colleague of mine lost his father due to an illness for which his father had been hospitalized a few weeks prior. The week before his father’s demise, he was required by his manager to work until 3 AM to complete a supposedly “critical” project. I am pretty sure he had notified his manager about his father’s illness since he used to leave work early on a few days after the hospitalization. I’m also pretty sure that the “critical” project could have been managed without him. The project wouldn’t have been “critical” in the first place if everybody weren’t in the mindset that “anyway I’m going to be asked to work long hours towards the end; I might as well do my work then”.

It just sickens me that our priorities are so far out of whack that it has become the norm.

What would you have done if you were is such a scenario? Say f*** it and leave to be with your family and loved ones because that is the right thing to do? Or give in to the work pressure because you don’t want to be on the wrong side of your manager and colleagues when you come back to work and are more vulnerable due to your recent loss?

I hear you and that is a hard scenario to be placed in. I don’t have any advice since it’s so dependent on individuals’ situations with work, family life, etc. I can only share a similar experience I had years ago around the birth of my first child.

Lots of details of varying relevance, but the short is: I didn’t “officially” have time off to cover my absence despite being very upfront about the deadlines throughout the hiring process. I took off the day of my kids birth, plus a few more days before going back to work while we were still in the hospital due to minor complications. I spent the next week going between work and the hospital each day. Oh, and I was written up for my unexcused absence without time off available. I had to speak to my manager and he even had the audacity to give me the “domino effect” speech about missing work rather than a “Yeah, I know, my hands are tied due to corporate policy”.

It was total bullshit and the beginning of the end with that company but if anything my takeaway was this: I need to do what is right for me and my family first. A job can change and if they don’t value me enough to let me take care of my family’s needs, then they’re not worth worrying about. Likely, one incident of saying “F- it!” won’t be enough for catastrophic consequences, and I should have time to make whatever changes I need to in order to realign with my own needs.

So for me, I’d say, “Sorry, not sorry, I need to be with my family,” but I also recognize this isn’t a real possibility for everyone. Some folks really can’t risk that income, or health insurance or… whatever. And a message for anyone in that managerial position: a cared for employee is a better employee. I’d rather lose someone who takes care of themselves first, and have a whole human working for me, than burnout and stretch thin folks and get 25% effort at best.

Long ramble, lots of thoughts, close to home. TL;DR — There’s no easy answer. But you’re heard. Your frustrations are founded. “If the job isn’t critical to you, take care of yourself first” is my personal stance.

The funny thing is that people who are ready to work 18 hours a day in the week before the project goes live receive more recognition for their “heroics” than people who consistently get the job done working 8 hours a day.