Sticks & Stones/ITV - Effect on HR Depts

(14 Posts)
TheTruthAboutLove Sat 21-Dec-19 13:49:22

I watched the drama on ITV this week - Sticks & Stones which was centered around a character, Thomas, a manager in a sales firm and his team. It went down the route of subtle bullying and how it impacted his mental health, made him feel like he’s going crazy.

But here’s the part I can’t get on board with - the programme could in theory have done so much good, made people aware that they can come forward if they feel people are treating them that way and how subtle bullying can be. Yet it turned it into a pantomime of ridiculous behaviour, insinuated Thomas was out for money so created the scenario and as well, that your Manager and HR won’t believe you without proof.

Speaking to my colleagues (I work in Recruitment and work closely with HR as well as doing my CIPD), they think it could have such a negative impact on people who may be being bullied. And my sister, who is a HR Manager, said that it will be hard to get people to come forward.

Did anyone else watch it? And if so, what was your opinion from a HR point of view?

OP’s posts: |
CloudsCanLookLikeSheep Sat 21-Dec-19 15:40:46

I didn't watch it, but I work in HR and most grievances wont get far without evidence. Which is a good thing, or else anyone could raise a grievance when it wasn't true, to get someone else in trouble.

aggitatedstate Sat 21-Dec-19 17:35:19

I've just watched this, most disturbing TV I've watched in a LONG time.

stopthebussIwanttogetoff Mon 23-Dec-19 11:16:31

It was horrible to watch someone being bullied so subtly. I'm an HR Manager and felt very disappointed that HR was portrayed so badly as providing no support to the victim and seeming to side with the sales manager against the victim, which is how I saw it. Perhaps there were constraints that meant the HR element couldn't be elaborated on. Sadly that would have given anyone a very low expectation if they were suffering and thinking of voicing their difficulties.

Ffsseriously Mon 23-Dec-19 12:58:41

I agree with op all good until that last bit which did seem to suggest that he somehow engineered the whole thing for money. I was disappointed as it just adds to the perception that either no one will believe you or people make it up/make out its worse for compensation. I also thought using a black actor as the victim, who seemingly nailed the bullies for racist abuse for money wrong and undermining to the very real issue of racism in the workplace.

DiscardedTool Tue 24-Dec-19 01:23:24

Our hr have recently become much more corporate. I believe they would now behave the same way as in the programme unfortunately

WildUnknown Tue 24-Dec-19 01:38:39

As someone who was subtly bullied at work for nearly 6 months last year and it was completely swept under the carpet by my manager til I called in external support, I might be too scared to watch this...

I was afraid it would be my word against hers but she freely admitted it, and my manager had no idea how to handle it

There is very little you can do. She was disciplined and that was that but still an atmosphere. I am leaving in the New Year, there really is no way back from that kind of thing.


strictlymomdancing Sat 28-Dec-19 21:01:05

I've just finished watching it and found it very realistic.

I'm deaf and the comments about being 'normal' for example are exactly my experience.

I've had panic attacks at work and lots of comments thereafter about my ability to cope and should I let someone else do XYZ instead?

People deliberately witholding information from me.

HR wanting proof, telling me not to be so sensitive, even contributing to the nasty comments.

I have an HR qualification myself and I'm a member of several HR forums. The attitude to complaints of discrimination, and towards disabled people in particular, on these forums from so called HR professionals is appalling. The answer to many problems is nearly always "get rid" or "how long have they worked there?" (in other words, if under 2 years just get rid)

I started my HR qualification to maybe change careers away from my current job, but to also understand HR better. These forums completely put me off.

Don't assume the programme is an exaggeration. They are trying to buy my silence now too. Trying to find something to pin on me as retaliation. I have a tribunal claim submitted.

stopthebussIwanttogetoff Mon 30-Dec-19 08:53:56

@strictlymomdancing I'm really sorry that you are going through this and that the HR forums have put you off an alternative career choice. I previously worked in a corporate environment and often felt very uncomfortable with the attitudes of senior HR colleagues for their lack of compassion and empathy and at one point felt it really wasn't the role or function for me. I was lucky enough to work somewhere different with a much more positive and supportive culture.
I totally understand that as HR professionals we have to protect our business. I pride myself on protecting our business appropriately when it comes to HR matters but just as importantly the individual employee interests too. It's not easy but I liken it to driving two cars at once. I see it as my job to support our managers to understand this requirement. It's something I learnt from a senior HR colleague I really respected for their ability to do this.
I've been fortunate to work for a small business where being a bigger cog in a smaller wheel gives you so much more opportunities to positively influence the culture of your organisation through your HR work.
I would hate to think that any of our employees come to work feeling sick with worry (been there myself and know how awful that is). I would feel that I had failed if they couldn't come to our department for help. Equally, though the ability to see both sides objectively is not always easy!
Don't be put off working in HR, in the right organisation, you can make a difference and although it can be difficult at times it can be so rewarding to put your learning into practice and get positive outcomes.
I hope you find an organisation that is right for you so you don't have to feel as you do just because you're trying to earn a living.

strictlymomdancing Mon 30-Dec-19 10:09:20

Thank you. I do feel sick with worry at the thought of returning to work. been off sick and now that full pay is ending, I have to return for financial reasons and I'm terrified as to what people will say or do. I am actively looking for work but no one wants a disabled person and the 'disability confident' badge is just that - a badge. My own employer prides themselves on being 'disability confident' lol

IdblowJonSnow Mon 30-Dec-19 10:15:51

Not seen it but will look out for it now.
I worked in HR for about 4 years and was bullied terribly by the HR manager!
I left in the end. She denied it but I had evidence and witnesses ...
I think it's always worth reporting even without evidence as management can keep it in mind and need to know. I did nothing for ages as it made me feel like I was going mad. It's a truly horrible thing to go through.

Seemstress Sat 04-Jan-20 08:49:27

I've been experiencing bullying, dressed up as 'management' by a Senior Manager of the mental health charity I work for. I raised a grievance a year ago about bad practice/discrimination and an informal concern about an Equal Pay issue prior to that (never resolved) and since then my life has been hell - I have actively considered ending my own life due to the continued persecution. The Senior perpetrating this has made it very personal as my original grievance implicated her in certain, serious matters and she has been on a mission to manage me out ever since. Ive bern denied routine supervisions for over a year, denied an appraisal because I submitted the grievance, had my expence claims dissected to the tenth if a mile and last 2 claims have not been paid, other staff under her remit have followed me to my external appointments and just 'randomly' turned up where I happen to be in the County to check where I am. The level of scrutiny I am.under is bordering on stalking. I am now under investigation questioning my fitness to practice. In 20 years of work I have never had any part of my work questioned or been on performance plan. It has been truly horrific. I am currently off sick on the advice of my GP and Union Rep who is horrified by the lengths they are going to to force me out. HR have been useless, their brief is to support Management and limit the damage to their reputation.
I watched the programme but found it incredibly difficult - it gave rise to massive anxieties for me.

strictlymomdancing Sat 04-Jan-20 10:07:52

@seemstress you should take them to a tribunal for victimisation. Get your union to help you. You've already raised a grievance, which didn't help, its time now for a proper claim. Don't let them push you out without fighting back.

Seemstress Sat 04-Jan-20 18:27:24

@strictlymomdancing I've raised 2 grievances in fact, one relating to my treatment but only a couple of points were partially upheld, which then transversed into me being investigated for essentially minor admin issues. My Union Rep, whilst horrified, doesnt seem to agree that my treatment is victimisation and says there needs to be something sure what else they can possibly throw at me quite frankly. This is a national mental health charity that has also levied this treatment at other former colleagues. I have never been in a more toxic workplace, it's awful. There are huge numbers of staff off with stress, me included.

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