“Well, That Escalated Quickly”

Posted on March 9, 2016.

Yelp! may be underpaying some of their employees, but there are better ways of making your voice heard thanwriting an open letter to your CEO. If you haven’t heard about Talia Jane and the now viral open letter she wrote to Yelp! CEO Jeremy Stoppleman in protest of her situation, you can read the whole thing here. The net-net is that Talia Jane felt she wasn’t making enough to cover minimum living expenses as well as duped by Yelp!’s policies of switching departments. Both of these things made her miserable enough to write an essay and share it on Medium.

Unsurprisingly, it got a lot of traction on social media, soon became a hot topic, and  got Talia Jane fired from her job at Yelp!.  Though I’m all for speaking up to effect change at work (or anywhere else), Talia’s approach was way off.  That is, if her intention was to improve things for herself at Yelp!. Not only did she lose her job, but I’d be hesitant to hire her if I were CEO at another company, and I am sure I’m not alone.  Those things might not matter to Talia - I suspect the true intention of her letter may have been to launch her writing career.  But the action she took set a really poor example of how to effectively handle these issues in the workplace.

If you are unhappy with your compensation, promotion, work-life balance or transfer policies at work, please don’t write an open letter.  Instead, proactively approach the problem by addressing your situation with your boss. 

During the conversation:

1.     Inquire about ways improve your income  (other other issues) within your current role, such as overtime, different shifts or telecommuting.

2.     Discuss your company’s policies on posting into new positions. How can you make yourself an exception? What are your options?

3.     Share results of what similar employers are paying for your same job. You might get this information just checking within your own network or your alumni network.

4.     Explain why you want to stay at the company instead of looking for work elsewhere.

If all else fails, a company that does not care about its employees is no place to work.  Find a job that pays more, but do so before you quit!