A recent survey conducted by JobsCentral has revealed that nearly 40 per cent of Singapore workers were assigned tasks from their bosses that were unrelated to their job scope. And out of those surveys, 21 per cent were asked to do things that were “downright absurd.” One person had to dress up as Batman to meet with a client. Another was asked to deliver a TV to his boss’s home. Yet another was instructed to help her boss wash her cup because she was allergic to detergent. Yikes! And here you thought that being asked to help dabao lunch for your boss (a fairly common and reasonable request, mind you) was annoying.
While some of these favours sound ridiculous, we wouldn’t advise rejecting every request outside of your job scope. After all, being willing to help reflects well on your attitude. But if your boss frequently asks you to do any of the following things, then he probably sees you more as an indentured servant than as a respectable employee.
1. Help him queue for an hour at a popular eatery during lunch
“Can you help me queue at Tim Ho Wan/Krispy Kreme/Jollibee?” is a request that should be ignored 100 per cent of the time. Unless your boss offers you and your colleagues S$50 to treat yourselves to lunch afterward, you should make up an excuse about not having enough time because of project deadlines. Even then, what kind of boss would rather their employees waste two to three hours queuing and eating than on doing actual work?
2. Help him park his car
Are you a valet? A chauffeur? A car dealer? Then your boss’ car keys should stay in his own pocket. Believe it or not, one of the people surveyed said that her boss made her wait in the car and look out for the summons officer as the car was illegally parked. The only exception to this is if your boss is a newbie driver who cannot parallel park without hitting the surrounding vehicles.
3. Babysit her children while she works overtime
There’s “Bring Your Children to Work Day,” and then there’s “leave my children in the office till 110 pm because I’m a workaholic.” Terrible parenting or not, you should draw the line at having to stay in the office to watch his children while he finishes up his Transatlantic conference calls. Don’t take it too hard if your boss guilt-trips you over leaving early – she’s probably projecting her own guilt at dragging the kids to the office at such a late hour.
4. Get drunk with him
Going to Happy Hour together is one thing. Grab a couple of beers, play some darts, and leave. But asking an employee to drink more than he can take is pushing the lines of professionalism. Don’t worry so much about hurting your boss’s feelings if he pushes one too many shots of tequila in your direction. You can always soften the blow by saying that you’d like to get some work done the next day. But if you’re ever asked to down shots of tequila on your boss’s behalf during the office holiday party, then swallow your pride, declare yourself a lightweight, and get out as quickly as possible.
5. Come over this his house on the weekend to help him fix his work computer
If you actually comply with this request, we’re sorry, but…you’re a sucker. Or a brown-noser. Or just entirely too free on the weekends. Your boss might try to justify the task as a “work responsibility,” but you can always justify backing out by claiming that you’re computer illiterate and don’t know how to fix the problem without calling the company’s IT department.
6. Go on a date with one of his children
On the one hand, this is pretty awkward. On the other hand, you can rest assured knowing that your boss likes you enough to consider you as a future in-law. But in all seriousness, you should turn him down as the relationship could stir up gossip in the company, thus staining your reputation should you ever get promoted. If the boss’s kid is truly a catch, you could offer to help by setting him up with one of your single friends.
7. Marry her to help her stay in the country
Sorry guys, there’s only one occasion where this ends well, and that’s in Hollywood. Only in the movies do executive assistants look like Ryan Reynolds, and only in one’s wildest fantasies will a guy that handsome agree to marry his older, tyrannical boss to get promoted.
8. Help him book appointments at the doctor’s office, the spa, or at the hair-cutting salon
Are you and your boss husband and wife? Do you have “full-time spouse” listed under your employee history on Facebook? Then it is no way appropriate to help your boss book an appointment to the gynecologist. If your boss can’t understand why this makes you uncomfortable, perhaps you should bring it up in a casual chat with upper management.
9. Take care of the boss’s pets while he’s overseas
As ridiculous as this request sounds, it actually turned up on the JobsCentral survey of absurd assignments. It’s one thing if your boss kindly asks, and you volunteer – and it’s even better if he pays you! But it’s another for him to act entitled to your services simply because it’s “your job” to assist him. If saying no doesn’t work, you can either claim to have allergies or help him research pet-sitters in your spare time.
10. When you are working overtime, to retrieve something in the office and bring it to his house
The only thing worse than working late is receiving a call from your boss that he needs you to retrieve something from his desk and deliver it to his house. Bosses, if you forget something, it’s your responsibility to dash back. “But it’s late at night, my kids are asleep, and no one else is home!” you whine. If it really can’t be helped, offer your employee a profuse apology the next day and leave it as a one-off incident. Maybe you can even let him go home early to make up for the favour.
11. Lie to the boss’s spouse about his or her affair
One person surveyed said that his boss not only asked him to book a hotel room using his own name and credit card, but to lie to the boss’s wife when she called the office. As sad as this is to admit, we’re not at all surprised that someone was asked to cover up for his boss’s misdeeds. Office affairs are complicated enough with two people involved. Become an accomplice in their secrecy, and your boss might just blame you when he gets caught with his pants down.