Many office professionals take money out of their own pockets to pay for work-related expenses. Whether it’s spending money on office supplies or contributing money for a co-worker’s birthday, giving a little here and there can add up to a lot.
Is this really something employees should be expected to do?
That’s what one reader asked recently on the Admin Pro Forum: “I don’t make a lot of money as an admin, and I find myself shelling out a little cash here and there just to keep my job running smoothly—mostly buying office supplies, software and apps, but also pitching in for birthday gifts, supplementing potlucks, and even paying to participate in all our football pools and guess-the-baby’s-birth-date contests. Do I have reason to be a little resentful that my job isn’t exactly free to do?” —Tammy, documentation coordinator
Readers offered their take on the issue.
“If there are office supplies, software or apps that will make you more effective at your job, ask your boss to provide them,” Betsy wrote. “If the boss says no, then you need to accept that it may not really be needed to do your job.”
“I buy Post-it Notes myself because I like them, but if it was too expensive, the official company practice of paperclips and scrap paper works just fine,” Mark wrote.
Other readers focused on the importance of showing why you need something.
“As for office supplies, make your case for your needs to the person you support the most. Show your manager how these supplies will increase your efficiency and help manage projects,” Karen wrote. “It is all in how you present your case.”
“The football pools and contests are easily turned down with a good-natured and pleasant ‘No, thank you, I’d rather not.’ “For gifts, I contribute what I can, when I can, again with no explanation and no attitude,” Tara wrote.
“The way gift collections are usually taken up at my workplace is that the envelope is passed from one office to the next as opposed to an individual taking the envelope around,” Lisa wrote. “This way, no one knows who did or did not contribute or how much anyone else contributed.”