Skip to content

Workplace & Hiring Norms That Need to Be Retired Like Yesterday

There are a lot of workplace & hiring norms that need to be retired… like yesterday. Current workplace & hiring practices make you wonder: What century are we living in?

Let me answer that. Companies & corporations, it seems, would like that we (the workforce) chronically stay in the 1950s. From 5 day, 40 hour work weeks to Kevin, John & Joe as your boss, to absolutely no improvements to family leave. If you take a look around, most companies are still operating like it’s the 50s.

The modern day workplace that we know was never meant to serve us; it was meant to exploit us. And that it’s done. And a damn good job of it.

The modern day workplace was never meant to serve us; it was meant to exploit us.

Those companies that want to retain at least a few members of their workforce have (begrudgingly) started to implement some very basic workplace norms. Like acknowledging that people may not want to be underpaid & may want to know that information up front. Or that your average employee indeed does NOT need their boss, Brian, looking over their shoulder for 8 hours to constantly try to “look busy” when you can actually get the job done in 4. 

Ok, before I give it away, let’s get this started. Here are 10 workplace & hiring norms that need to be retired like YESTERDAY.

Workplace & Hiring Norms That Need to Be Retired Like Yesterday 

  1. Salary secrecy
  2. Cover letters
  3. Providing 3 references
  4. 4-7 interviews (Am I it or not??)
  5. Unpaid family leave
  6. 8 hour work days 
  7. 5 day work weeks
  8. Getting rewarded for good work with more work
  9. Having to ask your boss for time off – I am an ADULT Kevin 
  10. Unpaid lunch breaks

Ohhhhh I could go on….

Let this be the first list of many. Sorry not sorry.

workplace & hiring norms that need to be retired like yesterday

1. Salary secrecy

It is unethical to not put the salary in the job description. BOOM. Someone had to say it.

It just is. It is how they (companies) are trying to wheel and deal us employees. And we’ve had quite enough of it. 

It is unethical to not put the salary in the job description

Remember when it used to be commonplace to ask candidates for their CURRENT SALARY? And now it’s largely illegal in many cities & states & considered extremely unethical for the inequities it causes… Well… not putting the salary in the job description is on that SAME level. 

We’re a few months or years (gawd I hope not) from realizing it but… it’s just another medium for companies to further create inequities. 

Not putting the salary in the job description is just another medium for companies to further create inequities.


We are so done. SOOOO done. Put the salary in the job description. Period. 

It's unethical to not put the salary in the job description. It's giving privilege & they should know vibes.

If the pay is secret, people are being underpaid. This definitely needs more attention. Pay transparency is so OBVIOUS. Asking people to price themselves & hoping they undersell themselves? Not uh. Nope. Not for me.

Transparency is transformational… duh

gains in higher education and more transparency help defy entrenched disparities

“Gains in higher education and more transparency about what people earn help defy entrenched disparities” (Gregg & Bogage, 2021).

Current strategy: Spend a lot of time applying… then play cat and mouse with a recruiter. No. No thank you.

Cannot wait for the day I can say: “When I was your age, they didn’t even have to put the salary in the job description… you just had to apply and hope for the best.” ??? Friendly reminder: This is so messed up! See how backwards this is?! What a bizarre way to figure out the pay. This is the best we can do?? No, it’s not. 

cannot wait for the day I can say: When I was your ge, they didn't even have to put the salary in the job description. You just had to apply and hope for the best"

We’re changing the game

We’re changing the game. We’re changing the rules. We’re demanding change. We have the power. This is how we make change. We talk about it and talk about and ask for change and demand change and legislate & make the system shift & talk about it some more & … we are creating change.

Demand the places you work for put make pay transparent. Talk about it with coworkers, bring it up in meetings, add it to the company culture surveys. We want more transparent and equitable workplaces. Make it known.

research shows that companies who are forthcoming can attract better talent

 “Research shows that companies who are forthcoming about their wages attract better, more diverse talent, making salary transparency an actionable way of creating a more equitable workplace.” – Mark Johanson, BBC

Let’s follow the research. Make pay transparency a norm. It’s so overdue. 

*If you find out you’re overpaid, read this article for what to do: 7 Steps to Take When You Find Out You’re Underpaid

Knowing the salary upfront saves everyone time

Furthermore, “Knowing the expected salary upfront lets a candidate understand whether a job will be financially viable for them. It also streamlines conversations later in the hiring process” (Johanson, 2021). Why wouldn’t we want the best for employees and candidates? It’s time we put corporate priorities second and worker priorities first. 

Knowing the expected salary upfront lets a candidate understand whether a job will be financially viable.

“Nevertheless, many employers still leave out compensation details in adverts, often out of fear it may put them at a competitive disadvantage, or cause resentment among existing staff” (Johanson, 2021). Which means…. Some of us are underpaid.

That “resentment among existing staff” says it all. If they can’t explain a pay difference… that likely means there shouldn’t be one. And if there is a good explanation… then explain it. Facts and data speak volumes. We’re all professionals. We can handle it. But the thing is… there probably isn’t a lot of logical reasoning Todd is making 16k more than you other than he’s part of Joe’s dad’s country club. 

a lack of pay transparency means Todd sitting next to you is making $16k more than you for no apparent reason

This is one of the (huge) workplace & hiring norms that need to be retired. Make pay transparency a norm. Put the salary in the job description. Not just in hiring, but beyond. It is overdue.

2. Cover letters

Stop. Just make it stop. Away with cover letters. This is a HUGE workplace & hiring norm that needs to be retired NOW. Recruiters tell us they don’t even read them…. So why. What gives? Why are we wasting our time?

First, we prep our resume for each individual job then prep a COVER LETTER essay that’s basically stroking the ego of that company, nonetheless for each job? No. Nope. You’re wasting my time, AGAIN!

I’ve already wasted time because you didn’t put the salary in the job description, and now you’re wasting more of my time by requiring a cover letter when you’re just going to hire someone internal and you already know that Jennifer from HR is getting the position. Spare me. 

Cover letters are mostly fake anyway: “Dear Selection Committee: It was with great enthusiasm that I read of the opportunity to apply for…” – Great enthusiasm for money, yes. Great enthusiasm for healthcare tied to my employment, also unfortunately yes (unfortunate that that’s the way our system “works”). Great enthusiasm for this job? … Is it my dream job? Highly unlikely.

Idea: You write ME a cover letter. You tell me why you are enthused about all my skills and why I should work for YOU. Times are changing. Maybe workers will require a cover letter from potential employers next. If you get asked for one – ask for one back. Let’s make this a thing.

Please, please retire this workplace norm for good. This is one of the workplace & hiring norms that needs to be retired to give us our precious time back.

3. Providing 3+ references

Stop with the games. In many, many situations, why would an employee tell their boss (who’s required to be a reference on a large majority of job forms – “current or previous manager”) – why would they tell their boss that they’re looking around……… Do you know what comes with a job? If you’re an employee you do. HEALTHCARE. We live in such a backwards society that we have to pretend to be pleased with a 9-5 just to LIVE. You think I want to lose (affordable) healthcare and let my boss know this job is sucking the life out of my soul? 

The design of hiring is laughable. It was done so poorly and in such utter contradiction to the employee. 

The references I do put will only sing my praises because we smack-talked management in the break room and they were the people who covered for me when I cried in the closet at work (this is fictional and also not…).

Let’s reverse this. You (companies) give ME 3 references. I want 3 happy employees in this same position. Why is this position even open? Are people quitting? Why is everyone quitting? Let me talk to the person who just quit…

This is one of the workplace & hiring norms that need to be retired because it’s ridiculous.

4. 4-7 interviews – Am I ‘IT’ or not??

Four is too many. Get a grip. Are you casting for an ER doctor reality show? What gives? I will not expand on this. If you have to have 4-7 interviews, you need to improve your hiring practices. You have an inefficient & failed business & hiring model. End.  

This is one of the workplace & hiring norms that need to be retired – don’t go overboard. Keep it simple. Have a concise process. And if you do have this many interviews and don’t hire the candidate… they should be eligible for compensation.

5. Unpaid family leave

Any country that makes as much money as the United States and can’t figure out required, paid, longer family leave, is in dire need of improvement. The fact that companies have to “scoop in to help” & have “generous paid family leave policies” that are disgustingly shorter than equivalent GDP country counterparts (and less GDP than us), is embarrassing. To say the least.

If you say you offer a “generous family leave policy” and it’s less than 6 months and anything less than 100% pay, just stop speaking. It’s average at best, but not generous. You just added hardship to someone who brought or is caring for life. You just reduced their pay.  

Leaders wrongly believe they have high moral values for “subsidizing” corporate family leave

If you’re a leader of a company and you consider yourself of high morals because you “generously” offer paid family leave because you make multi-millions with multiple homes… I’m going to let you in on a secret, you sound like a royal jerk and nobody thinks you’re generous.

You just sound foolish because the national failed family leave policy has led you to believe that you must save all your poor workers because the government & society decided to leave out very basic & universal rights like paid family leave. Meanwhile, you donate to legislators who vote against these very items. You’re not fooling anyone.

How a country treats mothers, parents and caregivers is a direct reflection of how it’s functioning. U.S. = not well. You’re in dire need of some improvements. 

Let’s talk about FMLA

Just so everyone knows, FMLA is not doing ANYONE any favors. The Family and Medical Leave Act is outdated and companies using that as their go-to are (way) behind. To even qualify for 12 weeks of UNPAID, protected family leave, a worker needs to “have worked for the employer for 12 months” (DOL, 2022). Wait. WHAT??? 

Can you even fathom how much this impacts a child-bearing or family-leaving person’s career? For example, if someone is going to have a child or take (unexpected) family leave, they need to think year(s) in advance to ensure they have UNPAID leave. And that’s only “at a location where the employer has 50 or more employees within 75 miles; and… have worked 1,250 hours during the 12 months prior to the start of leave” (DOL, 2022).

My head hurts. We need improvements on family leave ASAP. It’s way outdated & way overdue and is a disservice and slap in the face to employees everywhere. 


If you’re a company that follows FMLA requirements and nothing more – you’re doing the absolute minimum and you’re doing your employees a huge disservice.

Break this system. It never served us anyway. 

This is one of the highly unethical workplace & hiring norms that need to be retired / revamped. This is unacceptable in one of the richest countries of the world.

6. 8 hour work days

It’s too long. We don’t need that much time to complete our work (in the majority of cases). It’s also why we need to take so many breaks during the day just to stay motivated. 

I’m an adult. I can get my work done in 6 hours. Probably 4. Eight hours is like this old school childhood requirement where you had to be in school for 8 hours because adults had to be at work for that long so the hours need to correlate. 

If you have employees work for 8 hours (especially in an office), then they’re likely just filling their time with “busy work” and nonessential items. They’re likely trying to “look busy” when you walk by. And if they’re remote… that’s likely one of the reasons they don’t want to return.

Adults don’t need babysitters. Do not babysit us. Do not tell me how many hours I have to work. If I can get my work done… do not time me. I am not a child. 

“The 8 hour grind is excessive and outdated.”

– NegotiateThis

“In 1869, President Ulysses S. Grant enforced 8 hour work days, but just for government workers (Ward & Lebowitz, Business Insider, 2022). 1869. Yes, you read that right. Ulysses S. Grant. Dust off your history books, because we are living in the past. 

This is one of the workplace & hiring norms that need to be retired and revisited. We no longer need to follow Henry Ford’s vision of “work-life balance”.

September 25, 1926: Ford Motor Companies adopted a five-day, 40-hour workweek” (Ward, Lebowitz, 2022). Need I say more? 1926. That’s almost 100 years ago……. I cannot.

1926: Ford Motor Companies adopted a 5 day 40 hour work week

7. 5 day work weeks

Similar to 8 hours being too long… 5 days is excessive. I can get my work done in 4. Three-day weekends need to be a regular thing. Corporate profits are the highest they’ve been in 70 years (Gibson, CBS, 2022). And we aren’t reaping the benefits of that. So let’s start. 

“Real wages systematically undershot productivity growth for most of the last two decades, and the labor share of income fell notably as a consequence. Corporate profit margins were the prime beneficiaries of the falling labor share,” (via Morgan Stanley analysts, Gibson, CBS, 2022). 

We do not need to be spending so much time on or at work. Pay & wages have not met the profit increases. Productivity is through the roof and companies are exponentially benefiting off of us. Make “summer Fridays” an all year thing. Better yet, let your employees, who are ADULTS, choose which days/ times/ hours work best for them and their schedule. 

4 day work weeks are the new 5 day work weeks

*It can’t work in all workplace environments, that’s known. Some workplaces do not lend themselves as easily as others to flexibility. But there are definite improvements & more flexibilities that every workplace could implement.

We’ve improved in efficiency, profits & productivity. There’s no excuse to be working 5 days & 40 hours.


This is one of the workplace & hiring norms that need to be retired. It’s so easy to see it doesn’t make sense anymore. Unless you’re a corporation who is trying to hold onto (profits) and norms from a century ago.

Negotiate For Less

Want to read more about negotiating for less? Check out Unexpected Negotiation Tip: Negotiate for LESS – 3 Items to Negotiate

8. Getting rewarded for good work with… more work

You got your job done in an efficient amount of time because you’re good at it? Oh great. I have you here captive for 8 hours, so just do double the work as your coworker instead of getting a title change, pay increase, or even a valid form of recognition. 

Ewwwwwww. Who made these rules??? Well, it’s high time to break them. 

In corporate America you get rewarded for good work with... more work. Ewww.

Raise your hand if you’ve been personally victimized by this “rule”.

Someone in a nice high-rise office somewhere made these up and we’re all the chums still following them. So break those rules. 

No David, I’m not taking on even more work for all my hard work. I’m not doing double or triple the work because I’m damn good at my job. I take a job well done in the form of money.

Thanks, byeeee.

This is one of the workplace & hiring norms that need to be retired. Who invented this is in the first place? I want names.

9. Having to ask your boss for time off – I am an ADULT Kevin 

I will mark my calendar for my time off. If there’s a conflict, let’s address it. But I should not have to ask for time off to be approved or denied. The way that time off works in too many companies is too parental-child like. Asking for permission… just no.

If there are things that need to be checked on, create a system or alert if there’s a time or day that shows how many people, meetings/ items of high importance need to be considered. Simple. 

Now I don’t have to ask my boss for time off like I’m asking the teacher to use the bathroom. 

Coordinating schedules, fine. Asking for time off – NO. 

It has long been a norm that employees have to justify why they need time off, in effect discouraging them from taking it.

Career reminder: Take your vacation days. They're part of your total compensation.

This is one of the workplace & hiring norms that need to be retired. I’m not asking for a favor, just asking for what’s rightfully mine even though you try to make me feel guilty when we have some of the fewest vacation days in a society with astronomical profits.

10. Unpaid lunch breaks

Did you just say I have to “clock out” for my lunch break?… You do not have a viable business model then. Do you know how many employees have a “working lunch”? I feel like you do… 

Let your employees eat on the clock. It’s the least you can do for sucking 40 hours out of them for sky-high profits & productivity while wages have been stagnant for 2+ decades (Gibson, 2022). 

You can pay me for my lunch time. It’s not like people could even leave work for lunch in many cases pre-pandemic. So people had to be “off the clock” AT work…. So wrong. So, so wrong. 

This is one of the workplace & hiring norms that need to be retired. It’s just bad taste. Do better.

These workplace & hiring norms are not serving us

These norms don’t serve us. They never did. They serve the company. Which is why we are living in a backwards society where profits are put before people time and time again.

Break the rules. Rewrite them. They aren’t real anyway. The rules are fake. So let’s make them work for us.

I tend to bring a “we should all quit” vibe to work…

I tend to bring a we should all quit vibe to work that management doesn't really like...

I tend to bring a “we should all quit” vibe to work that management doesn’t really like…

It’s just my vibe. I can’t help it. 

I just kind of… evolved into it. It’s really not my fault. Actually… it’s YOURS [management] 😂. 

In my own defense (not that I need one!) … it’s not to say that we should all quit per se… but that we should get all we ever wanted (and all that’s been withheld from us for so long). And that our employers should give it to us. 

Sounds simple enough to me 🤷‍♀️

Make the workplace norms work for the employees… this is not hard. It’s pretty simple.

An open letters to employers - Negotiate This

Check out this post on toxic job descriptions to read more.

We are in the age of the employee. Let it have profound and lasting impacts.

Want to read more on workplace & hiring norms?

Want to read more on hiring norms that need to change? Check out Changes Are Way Overdue in Hiring: What’s Needed? Pay Transparency & New Norms For Starters

Want More on Negotiation?

If you want weekly motivation and negotiation tips, sign up for blog posts and be alerted about the latest career freebies. 


Article: “Younger women now earn at least as much as or more than men in 22 metro areas” (2022) @washingtonpost
Authors: By Aaron Gregg and Jacob Bogage 

*Article: “Why companies don’t post salaries in job adverts” (2021) @BBC
Author: Mark Johanson

*Article: Family and Medical Leave Act
Source: Department of Labor, https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/fmla

*Article: “U.S. companies just had their best year since before most of us were born” @CBS (March 31, 2022)
Author: Kate Gibson 

*Article: “More leaders are scrapping the 40-hour workweek. Here’s how it became so popular in the first place” | Business Insider (2022)
Author: Marguerite Ward and Shana Lebowitz 

Disclaimer: While the contents of this post and blog come from research and personal experience, each experience, situation and/or person has their own unique circumstances. This is not negotiation, financial or any other form of legitimate or official advice from an expert. Each individual should do their own independent, comprehensive research. Negotiation, career and all other decisions are the sole responsibility of each individual or party. Details found on the blog and in individual posts are opinions and should be treated as such for entertainment purposes only. Read further disclaimer information on the Disclaimer page.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

workplace & hiring norms that need to be retired