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I have been witness to thefts of office supplies, and illegal drug thefts, and have been helpless against all of them...
I have been working for a health-care organization for almost 3 years now. This company had only been in operation for 2 months when I was hired. With the exception of one manager, I have the highest-ranking seniority in the office, as over the course of a couple of years, everyone else has quit (intelligently). This job is incredibly stressful and has put everyone on stress-leave at least once.
My problem is this: The recent higher management that has hired all of our staff is recruiting solely from a sister company of ours. Once within our office, all of the staff members (who are all female, by the way) are instant bosom-buddies. I was hired "off the street", so I did not know anybody there before being hired. I managed to survive my first 6 months at this company as a full time administrative staff... however, when the gossip, laziness and favoritism took over, I requested to be moved to the afternoon shift, which is after everyone else goes home. I am very meek and polite, and do not let myself become involved with such office politics.
It seems that lately however, all of the "day staff" are viewing me as nothing more than vermin. I get blamed for every single thing that goes wrong at the office, because I work alone and have no witnesses to my job performance. Despite being much more skilled and experienced than they are, they continue to perceive me as stupid for actually wanting to work alone during the afternoons when there is no other staff around. I make more money than they do, get more work done, and have a higher satisfaction rate among outside work-acquaintances than everyone in the office. Working alone also means that I have to know every single worker's jobs when they leave, whereas they only focus on one tiny aspect of the company each. Our affiliate companies adore me because I am always pleasant, and always efficient. Medical staffs that report to me tell me repeatedly that I am the only one in the office who does my job effectively. My fellow internal staff members however, who are not actually present during my shifts, treat me as though I do not exist.
I do not get invited to crucial meetings or training sessions, because they chose to ignore my vital role in the business. I do not get considered for promotions above newer (and less qualified) employees because I do not buy the boss lunch every day (I don't even work then!), I am forced to work every single holiday (we operate daily, year-round), every weekend, and do not get to attend any luncheons or office parties. I am, however, of crucial importance when they were too lazy to complete their workload during the day. By 4:30pm, when they are all rushing out the door, I get piles of paperwork many inches high to be completed for them. Often I stay 2-3 hours past my scheduled shift to complete this work, and have never been paid for it. When I complained to management, they disregarded my complaint, as nobody was present to prove my claim. As the work was done flawlessly, they cannot view it as a "problem".
They also could not care less about my safety. We operate a clinic after hours, and quite often have violent schizophrenics and drug abusers coming for their appointments when all of the "day staff" is safely at home, leaving me completely alone with the client and the clinic nurse. I have repeatedly voiced my concern about this, and have been met with fingers plugged firmly in their ears. I am 5'0 and about 120lbs, there is no way I can defend myself against a violent man 3 times my size. My purse has been stolen by such a client, my throat has been squeezed, I have been witness to thefts of office supplies, and illegal drug thefts, and have been helpless against all of them.
When I begged management to at least install a security system (like a camera, an alarm, a flood-light above the main door to see who's coming... /anything/), they told me that it wasn't in the budget. However, when one of the accountant's mugs went missing, they replaced all of the locks in the office. Then they bought brand new custom-made cabinets for the boss's office.
I feel as though they see me as worthless, because I don't brown-nose to the bosses, or verbalize my angst louder than everyone else. I actually feel sick to my stomach every day before a shift. I don't know what to do anymore.
Please, please, please help.
Whether you want to be called a feminist or not, it seems to me that it is time to ‘express sentiments that differentiate you from a doormat.” If you don’t do so, and soon, it sounds as if either your mental or physical health will be compromised.
Perhaps the place to start is to consider whether you want to engage in the struggle to change the way you are treated in this job. According to what you say you have good relations with many organizations outside this firm. Perhaps you can turn those good relations into a new job. It sounds as if the firm that you work for now either has a completely different perception of your value to the operation, or they realize that for some reason you feel obliged to continue working for them under very stressful conditions and they need not address your concerns because they know you will not leave. I don’t have enough information to make a judgment, but if you feel a strong reluctance to leave, I urge you to think about why and to look to ways to overcome whatever barriers there are to that.
If there is a human resources department or person in this firm, I suggest you talk with them. If your supervisor is not responding it is fair at this point to go over that person’s head and speak to his or her supervisor, or to the chief executive officer. It sounds, however, as if you have taken reasonable steps to make your concerns knowing to your superiors and that they have not responded. This gives me all the more reason to think that leaving is the only option in this case.
I am particularly concerned about the dangers that you face being alone with patients in a situation where violent incidents have already occurred. That issue should be addressed immediately. You may get some help from the Ministry of Labour in your jurisdiction. Often there is legislation that provides for protection in situations of danger. I wish you well in dealing with this difficult situation.
Thanks for writing to Office-Politics.
Dr. John Burton
Burton LL.B. M.B.A. M.Div. Ph.D. is an ethicist, mediator, lawyer
and theologian whose passion is helping people and organizations create
better relationships and stronger communities by being clear, committed
and collaborative in their approach to ethics and conflict. John is
currently located in Prince Rupert, B.C., Canada, working with Canada's
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