'Livid' Worker Debates Quitting As Boss Scraps Their Award From Noticeboard

An employee has taken to the internet to share her upset after an argument with her employer over a "virtual high five."

Samantha Russell, from Anne Arundel County, Maryland, shared the story on Reddit's popular r/antiwork forum on Wednesday where it has since received thousands of upvotes and hundreds of comments.

In the post, Russell explained how a colleague had left her a kind note on the workplace's "virtual high five" board where workers are encouraged to praise and thank each other for hard work.

Employee virtual praise "high five"
A picture of the written "high five" received by the employee before it was removed by her boss. The internet has sided with the employee after she shared her upset. Happen_Stance_Dance/Reddit

Working for a government agency, Russell is a receptionist and since September 2021, has been working two jobs after her colleague left and was not replaced.

She told Newsweek: "It has been mentally and physically exhausting. For months I've been having stress responses such as nightmares, I constantly hear the desk phone ring even when it isn't. It's been brutal doing two jobs and it's worn me down."

One day, another colleague left a note for Russell on the high five board. It read: "High five to Samantha, for continuing to be our frontline warrior of the office and continuing to [wear] the hats of two front desk workers in one. You are loved and appreciated greatly for all you do for us. Thanks."

"When I got the high five I felt great," said Russell. "It was amazing to feel noticed for my hard work and all I've been doing to keep the most important part of the office running."

​​Providing praise for workers is proven to have a positive impact on morale. A study from Harvard Business School asked participants to visit the Harvard Decision Science Laboratory to solve problems. Half of the participants were told to ask friends and family members to send them an email just prior to the participation which describes a time when they were at their best, while the others did not receive a message.

Those who received positive statements before completing the task were more creative in their approach, more successful problem solvers, and exhibited less stress than the others.

Researchers concluded that focusing on and reminding people of their strengths had an overwhelmingly positive impact on performance and health.

But when Russell arrived at work the next morning, the note was gone from the board. "I'm livid," she wrote on the Reddit post.

"I felt deflated and lower than low," said Russell. "Like I was never appreciated to begin with. I felt upset and very sad about it."

The next day, her boss confronted her about the high five note. She told Russell that what the co-worker had written was inappropriate and said: "The rest of the office doesn't need to know what's going on with this. You do not do two jobs."

Shocked and appalled by the story, Reddit users headed to the comments to share their thoughts and rally around the disheartened worker.

"Stop doing the extra work entirely, no matter the consequences," said one commenter. While another Redditor wrote: "People love to dismiss receptionists or front desk workers. I did that job a few months ago and I was always telling my boss about how I was stressed with all the work on my plate and that we needed to hire a second person. He just kept putting it off and putting it off."

"I think you are sick the rest of this week," said another comment. "While you take some personal time polish up your resume."

Another reply said: "You are being told by your boss, to your face, that you are not valued at that job. Never let yourself have more loyalty to a company than the company has to you."

After receiving the attention on Reddit, Russell said her eyes were opened. "It made me see that my boss was really in the wrong and that my company is taking advantage of me," she said. "There were so many different comments, but they all meant a lot to me. The reaction really inspired me to move on to another job."