When I was in the middle of dark grief being bullied and excluded, avoided and blamed for people’s mistakes, I approached HR and my line managers in vain to find out why I am being treated the way I was.
I was sent away, no matter how much I tried to get to a table to clear the air, to try and find out how to solve any issues if there were any. I always hit a wall, I was told that they didn’t know what I was talking about, I was patronized as if I was just imagining things because of my bereavement…
After back and forth situations like this, grievance hearings, I applied for my file to understand what is happening and if maybe a former line manager wrote something detrimental about me that got the new line managers assuming I was a bad employee.
But there was nothing any former line manager wrote. What I found was much worse. Countless emails between HR and line managers and their bosses as well as my emails which they sent to each other increasing the volume of the file with all the repeats.
On a funny note, when a manager for example wrote something negative about me, but didn’t include their email for my file request, the recipient of that email did send it. It gave me a lot of insight how Pret’s HR dept. works. They certainly had a laugh but didn’t expect me to actually sieve through it and ending up raising grievances based on some emails. Of course the really nitty gritty conversation they had in person or over phone, not leaving a paper trail. You feel like you are in a spy movie learning after a while who the traitor is.
One email (below) was from an interim HR advisor replying to the boss of my line manager who did not know what to do when I ask for a meeting with the line manager and his boss. I emailed the boss to ask for an appointment, but she only forwarded my email to HR and no meeting ever took place. This boss kick-started my nightmare under the guidance of HR.
This is one of the emails that is part of my file that distressed me and had me slide deeper into illness and intense emailing.
The HR advisor had a “few ideas of how to proceed” but thought that “this is going to be a very complicated case” and that she would get back with a “plan”… Yes, grief and trauma is complicated, but I approached HR since May 2015 giving suggestions and ideas on HOW to “proceed” and how to support employees who are bereaved or find themselves in any kind of tragedy. This plan as I learned later reading the email correspondence between HR and the managers, involved in me being potentially put on targets which means that I would be scrutinized to improve my work, even though the mistake I made were far less than my peers who were NOT in trauma!
Dear Prince William, the 2% will shrink now, as approaching HR that just plans and schemes on how to get rid of bereaved employees is useless, especially if you approach HR naively like I did, not knowing what I got myself into.
I was “only” a bereaved employee, but I was avoided, excluded from meetings, bullied, put on prolonged (5 months) late shifts, blamed, moved around to different shops in a short period of time……. and all I did was I wanted an open and transparent meeting with my then line manager and his boss about this.
These are professional people, most of which have been to college, have degrees, many who are from upper class or at least middle class backgrounds. And they had no clue how to treat a person whose only “crime” was that her brother died and she went into traumatic grief. All they could come up with is trying to get rid of me.
The boss of the line manager asked several managers to email her (to put into writing) on what their perception of me was. Everything negative about me was kept, any positive or neutral email disappeared. I know, because people have told me that they wrote either neutral if they didn’t know me well, or positive about me, but these emails were not included in my file. Only the negative ones are kept.
So, they tried to come up with a plan. They stumbled around like headless chickens, incapable or unwilling to find a way to support ONE person. And if they can’t help one person, how many people are working there with similar problems being treated the same way. If went through it, other go through it. If I became ill, others will become ill. If I became suicidal, others become suicidal and God forbid, act out of this dark turmoil.
Whatever plan the HR advisor came up with, it backfired once she heard MY SIDE of the story for once! But by then I was already emotionally damaged, confused and didn’t know who to trust. And all the grievance hearings that followed were flawed anyway. No matter how much evidence you bring, an HR dept. that tricks and traps their way through the business is like going to a crook asking for a fair deal.