Joining a union when you're an administrator(12 Posts)
We're currently going through an organisational restructure at work and there will be lots of changes. In addition to that I've been having a huge heap of trouble with the start of the menopause - forgetfulness, feeling overwhelmed, finding it hard to prioritise, procrastinating because I don't know where to start etc. I had a difficult conversation with my boss where I was told that the standard of my work had slipped. I'd just started HRT and it's only just starting to kick in, but it was really upsetting to be told this when I've always been a bloody good PA. She's been in post less than a year and is radically different from my previous boss so I've struggled to adapt the way I work a bit but I thought I was getting there.
Today I had a random conversation with our head of HR who twisted the conversation round to ask how long I'd been in the role, what my dream job was, and did I not fancy going somewhere with a bit more job satisfaction. I told her that I was actually in my dream job, but she kept pushing, and saying this job satisfaction stuff.
I may be paranoid but I can't help feeling that I might be pushed out of my job as part of this restructure. I've already lost some nice bits of my job to another PA who came back from mat leave with no job who wanted to do part time - her boss left and wasn't replaced. My job title is exec assistant but all I do is diary, travel, expenses, when I used to do more projects that I could get my teeth into.
I feel that I should have someone on my side should the worst come to the worst. We don't have any kind of union at our place - can I join a union independently and if so, which one? I work in a not for profit organisation.
How has your job changed since the new boss came in?
Are you busy?
More importantly, do they think you are busy?
I can't advise on unions but you probably need to be very careful what you say. Companies only seem to be happy these days if their Admins/PAs are working for huge teams and have a crippling workload.
Honestly, I'm not so sure a union membership would help in this particular situation, your gut feeling may be right. Do they (particularly HR) know you've just started HRT and have you discussed any particular tools or aid you could start using which would help you get more organized? Programs, timers such as the time timer, etc.
stressedoutpa - I am busy, although they think I should be working more quickly than I am and not building up a backlog of work. She says she's "low maintenance" when she's anything but - always asking me to print stuff so I have to stop what I'm doing to help etc. The role has changed in that there's a lot more of the minutiae and none of the report writing, research, briefing papers that I used to do.
mixture - they do know I've started it and haven't suggested anything apart from saying no to stuff that comes in - I'm kind of the office oracle as I've been here a while and I'm one of the few people who has a view of the whole operation, so anything that falls through the cracks comes to me.
I feel that I'd be on a losing battle if I was on some sort of exit list - our HR manager hides behind a "caring" persona but is extremely cut-throat and I know if push came to shove that I'd only get statutory redundancy, and a friend from a former employer who was in a similar position got her union in to make sure she got better terms.
I was once in a workplace with a stressed and overworked administrator. When the new manager had gone over her job task, it was discovered it was enough for two persons but she had managed to juggle it along all alone. She said "I thought I was supposed to fix it". Have you done a list of your job tasks, how much time they take and how many times a day you're interrupted? Just a thought.
Yes you can join a union and the earlier you do it the more likely they are to be able to help. Most unions will not provide legal cover for issues that come to a head before you join, or in the first few weeks. Try Unison if you are in the public sector (if your employer does work that would once have been done by nhs/council etc) or GMB.
Menopause issues can be covered by equalities law, up to a point.
I think this is a bit of a common problem for PAs now.
I started a long and ranty thread about it the other week:-
No one wants to do the 'minutiae'
because it is time consuming and boring but the expectation is it will take you no time whatsoever and it now constitutes the bulk an PA job which is supposedly interesting and enjoyable.
Is there anything else internally you could apply for?
No other advice, suffice to say, I am leaving my job and going on to do something completely as I find the whole PA offering these days utterly demoralising.
Thanks for the link stressedoutpa, I've just read it from start to finish - I'm glad it's not just me who thinks like that. Being a PA has the potential to be a great job, (including my role, which is in sport) but can also be such a catch-all for every crappy thing that needs doing.
Announcements of changes start next week so will find out if I am at risk or not. There isn't really anything else I could apply for although I guess if they are doing it because they are unhappy with the standard of my work they may move me to a less challenging admin role.
Even if I'm not at risk, I suspect the tuts, eyerolls and comments of frustration from my boss when I forget something will continue, until I get so sick of it that I look for something else. It's shame, as apart from the role changing, it's a vibrant place to work, close to home, in a sport that I love, and I don't want to leave. I don't forget much, and I don't get a lot wrong, I just feel utterly overwhelmed with the amount of work coming in and sometimes miss something.
Yes, it can be a great job and I've had a fair few but not in the last few years. It just seems to be the catch all for everything now. You just seem to be fair game for any random task 'because your the PA'.
How does your boss want you to work? Does she want you to be proactive and tackling things/answering things on her behalf/pulling stuff together before being asked or is it a continual stream of 'print this', 'put this in an envelope', 'arrange this meeting', 'bind this', 'get me 10 copies of this'
and other random and boring tasks?
If you go on the TUC website, they've got a union-finder tool, which will help you find the most appropriate union(s). Whether they'd be able to assist in this case is a different matter. Be aware that some unions will not take on an issue until you've been a member for at least 3 months or similar.
You can join a union even if your company doesn't formally recognise one. They will be able to advise on your situation and help you get the best out of a bad situation.
You have told HR you are in your dream job but have spent time on here complaining about it and your boss. Why do you want to stay in it? HR shouldn’t be talking to you about a possible move, but I don’t see what you have got to lose by applying for something better in the new structure.
For what it’s worth, I don’t think a union will really help one employee in the workplace. If it’s non union, they won’t take much notice. You would be better off embracing the idea of a new job and going for it!!!
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