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"We all have problems" - I was told today
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TheGlossy · 18/05/2022 20:02

Hi all,

4 months ago, I unexpectedly lost my dad (right before New Year's Eve). He was 64 and died of a sudden heart attack. I live overseas, so I was not able to see him before his death. Following his death, I only took 4 days of bereavement leave which was nowhere near enough. As soon as I returned to work, I was expected to pick up my work as if nothing happened (I was already overworked compared to some peers). I was not offered any support or even a quick catch-up with a manager (to this day, no one has checked on me). It went on for a few weeks until I went on sick leave for two weeks because they kept piling work on me. I came back from my sick leave and once again, no catch-up. I came back to more and more work getting piled on me behind my back in addition to my core responsibilities.

These past few months have been extremely tough on me as I've been helping my family with estate related processes (my siblings are very young, so they can't manage on their own and my mom is completely illiterate). My anxiety levels have reached an ultimate high combined with grief.

Today, someone decided to book their annual leave right when they were assigned their first project in two years (coincidence, I think not). I politely explained to a colleague (not the person dodging their work or the manager), that I worked on back to back projects the whole of last year leading to excessive overtime, but I've now been dealing with a lot of grief-related stress and I cannot take any additional workload (especially when it is obvious someone is trying to offload their work on me). This person told me "we all have problems".

I'm really hurt. I've never asked for time off or flexible hours. I came back working as normal despite their lack of support and even bent over and backwards wrapping up late at night to get projects to the finish line. In return, I've only been met with the worst kind of behaviour I've ever experienced. I refuse to believe this is normal. Yes, we all have problems, but there is a way to phrase things even if that's what you think deep down inside.

I'm honestly really hurt. People say people's kindness comes from unexpected places when you deal with grief, but the amount of inhumanity I experienced at work is something else.

How do I navigate this?

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DrBrennerFan · 18/05/2022 20:11

Handhold hugs lots of them. It’s awful isn’t it? Like the “there are people worse of than you crap” spouted I feel for you, I really do.

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ZenNudist · 18/05/2022 20:34

I'm sorry you lost your dad and your colleague wasn't sympathetic. Its not relevant to workload or project assignments is it?

Your post come across as whiney. Be careful not to take that attitude into work.

You could have said to colleague that you found them insensitive and left it at that.

Overwork is a separate issue to grief. The professional thing to do is to make your concerns about your workload to your manager without dragging other colleagues into it and without linking it to personal issues.

A straight forward "I do x hours overtime a week and this is disproportionate to my peers" request a redistribution of workload. Make your attitude positive helpful and set boundaries.

It may also be that there are other reasons for you doing overtime which result from your own inefficiencies. If you have the same workload as everyone else but do way more work you need to ascertain if the projects are larger or if there is something you could be working on to improve you productivity.

It's good to show give and take. You offer to address time management and productivity and they address workload distribution.

If issues aren't addressed leave and tell them why.

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Tillsforthrills · 18/05/2022 20:39

@ZenNudist

Your post is so insensitive. I would hate to work for a person with your attitude to mental health and grief. The OP has struggled enough and has vented to then be given this response?!

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Tillsforthrills · 18/05/2022 20:41

I do think that @ZenNudist is right in that you should leave this job. It looks like they’re taking advantage of you.

Also, it sounds like you haven’t had time to grieve and that’s harmful. When your mental health is suffering, take the initiative to do what’s best for you not them.

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Tillsforthrills · 18/05/2022 20:42

I do think that @ZenNudist is right in that you should leave this job. It looks like they’re taking advantage of you.

Also, it sounds like you haven’t had time to grieve and that’s harmful. When your mental health is suffering, take the initiative to do what’s best for you not them.

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TheGlossy · 18/05/2022 20:47

ZenNudist · 18/05/2022 20:34

I'm sorry you lost your dad and your colleague wasn't sympathetic. Its not relevant to workload or project assignments is it?

Your post come across as whiney. Be careful not to take that attitude into work.

You could have said to colleague that you found them insensitive and left it at that.

Overwork is a separate issue to grief. The professional thing to do is to make your concerns about your workload to your manager without dragging other colleagues into it and without linking it to personal issues.

A straight forward "I do x hours overtime a week and this is disproportionate to my peers" request a redistribution of workload. Make your attitude positive helpful and set boundaries.

It may also be that there are other reasons for you doing overtime which result from your own inefficiencies. If you have the same workload as everyone else but do way more work you need to ascertain if the projects are larger or if there is something you could be working on to improve you productivity.

It's good to show give and take. You offer to address time management and productivity and they address workload distribution.

If issues aren't addressed leave and tell them why.

To clarify, the reason why I mentioned it to another colleague is because this colleague was involved in the situation (not by me, but by the other colleague dodging their work upon us). They are not a third party to the situation. Both myself and the person I spoke to had this work forced upon us despite our respective limitations. We both discussed the situation because we are used to talking about different things and I mentioned this in passing. I was not dragging a colleague into anything. It was a confidential conversation between two colleagues.

I am a top performer, so overtime is not resulting from my inefficiencies. I know my limitations, but overtime is not related to the way I perform my tasks or how long it takes me to perform certain tasks. It is related to our processes where we need to stay late to cater to some stakeholders in different time-zones and project milestones.

I honestly posted the above thread to let things off my chest, not to get a performance review from a strange. This is not the time nor the place for it.

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BeenToldComputerSaysNo · 18/05/2022 20:52

Sorry for your loss OP. I'm not surprised you're hurt. It does sound like you are being taken advantage of at work too- maybe you need a conversation with your boss to say that you need to cut down on the extended hours they have come to expect from you.

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TheGlossy · 18/05/2022 20:53

Workload distribution is a big issue as well. It has been highlighted, but there is no real solution offered. No one has ever covered for me while I was away, while I was always happy to cover for everyone and their mother. That is where my issue lies. Others are always too busy to cover for me, but I am forced to cover for others.

Additionally, this person trying to dodge their work on me did not work on a single project for two years while I was staffed on simultaneous projects back to back and could not take any annual leave. Yet, this person is allowed to book annual leave right at the same time they're due to work on their first project in two years. Something isn't right here and I as much as I want to support people (which I have done on countless occasions), this is the tip of the iceberg for me.

In any case, grief does affect performance regardless of whether you agree to it or not. It does affect how one copes with their workload and their capacity to concentrate and handle high pressure assignments.

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TheGlossy · 18/05/2022 20:59

@Tillsforthrills @BeenToldComputerSaysNo @DrBrennerFan Thank you for the kind words. I really appreciate it.

The comment really hurt my feelings not because I'm looking for a free-pass or charity (I never asked for help to anyone, ever), but because even in the worst of circumstances, these people still show you they have no humanity and kick you when you're at your lowest. I never thought I'd ever experience this.

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Blanketpolicy · 18/05/2022 21:08

You need to speak to your manager and be factual. Ask how much of your time you are to allocate to this new project. If they say 20% then ask them what can be dropped/reprioritised or postponed with your current commitments that are currently already consuming 100% of your time and include working more hours over than you are happy doing. Something has to give and they need to decide what it is.

Additional hours are expected from time to time in some roles, and flexibility on business priorities, but you need to draw your own line in the sand of how much you are prepared to take on.

Yes, your colleague was insensitive. She sounds stressed too.

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Aquamarine1029 · 18/05/2022 21:13

How do I navigate this?

You find a new job, that's how you navigate this. The culture at this work doesn't suit you and you don't need them. If you are a top preformer like you say you are, you can find another job.

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Lollypop701 · 18/05/2022 21:29

Response is … yes We all have problems, well her going on holiday ( that you have agreed too) is yours not mine. I’m at capacity.

you need to move on, they’ve pidgeon holed you as the person who will take on all extra work. Doesn’t matter wether you have capacity, you’ll do the extra. Hopefully you can do this soon… at the time the new contract starts????

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BoDerek · 29/05/2022 02:06

A lot of people say incredibly stupid and insensitive things. I’m so sorry you were so hurt by your colleague’s comment, it’s so unnecessary.

I think there are wider issues at play.

Firstly, you are sacrificing your well-being to your workplace, that is unsustainable.

Secondly, most employers don’t care, they want maximum output for minimum investment, and when they achieve it they feel proud. They actually bask in dehumanising employees. This is a great sickness of western society.

In your shoes, I would bide my time while I looked for a new job then, in the new job establish myself as rather more assertive and unwilling to be taken advantage of. Your employer does not and will not care for you, you have to do that part.

When you need a break, take it. Don’t hesitate. Neo liberalism does not reward martyrs.

And perhaps invest more in your well-being, say grief counselling and something just for you like yoga. You are worth it.

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TequilaShot · 29/05/2022 04:57

I am so sorry OP. I would advise like the other posters to start looking for another job where you and your time are valued. They don't deserve you. In the meantime if it were me I would cover the leave but as soon as they return to work you take your leave on compassionate grounds and if you can't do that go to your Dr and get a sick note. Take this time to grieve your beloved Dad and make it clear that someone will have to cover for you and absolutely do not work.

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WindyKnickers · 29/05/2022 05:35

Does your contract state that you require a back to work interview after sick leave? If your employers aren't doing their share to support you then raise it with them. As for the insensitive comment, it does sound harsh but I guess we don't know what is going on in other people's lives. You are grieving, someone else might be coping with illness, divorce or caring responsibilities. Try not to take it to heart.

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miraveile · 29/05/2022 05:37

I'm very sorry about your dad.
Put yourself first and find a new job. Jobs aren't worth this amount of stress

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Moonface123 · 29/05/2022 05:56

Complete lack of empathy is whats wrong with the workforce today, managers want robotic humans, simple as that. Its why mental health health issues are at an all time high, "Keep up and shut up" is the attitude we're faced with.
l think this is a wake up call that you are in the wrong job, with the wrong people, time to move direction.
l am so sorry for the loss of your Dad, sometimes writing your feelings out helps, l used to keep a journal for years it helped me alot, your free then to say whatever you want without judgement. We live in a society where the prefered method of dealing with deep grief is by sweeping it under the carpet, because that method makes other people feel more comfortable.

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Andromachehadabadday · 29/05/2022 06:07

Op I am so sorry for your loss. My mum died in similar circumstances in early December. I only live 30 mins away, I still didn’t make it. The paramedics were still working on her in mum and dads bedroom. But one had been down to tell my dad they believed they was little they could do.

I did the same as you. Took very little bereavement leave. It’s only now I wish I could take it. It’s nearly 6 months and now I am really struggling.

I am sorry that your colleague was unsympathetic. I know I would have been pissed off too, if I were you. And hurt.

However, trying to look at it from the outside, I would assume that colleague either has something big (to them) going on or they know the one going on leave does. Sometimes it’s hard to listen to someone else list their problems and barriers when you have something big going on.

i also think the fact that we took very little leave shouldn’t impact what others do. Sometimes bringing in ‘well I did this’ isn’t received well by some people.

I am really sorry it’s so difficult for you at the moment. It’s understandable how you feel.

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shandon14 · 29/05/2022 06:29

You definitely need a new job. And you need in the meantime and in the future to think about you first rather than work. You need annual leave and you should be saying no to some projects if it requires you to work beyond your hours. You'll still be a good employee.

Your colleagues words were completely insensitive- but there is a possibility they have something in their personal life you don't know about.

An old boss of mine had a mantra which was that you will get the treatment you accept. Stop accepting some of this. Demand your annual leave, say 'I can't take that on right now' if it's insisted on and you have a crazy workload, let the odd thing slide. Look around you at how other people behave and cut yourself some slack. The way you describe your workload- I'd only say it was fair enough if you were paid tortures or running your own company. Stop knocking yourself out to the detriment of your health when there's no benefit to you.

And it sounds like your colleagues and bosses aren't sympathetic- so keep it factual and strictly business - just say no to more work or negotiate what you will give up to take on more, say you are not coping with current workload and ask to give up some - if you benchmark well compared to others you're still ahead.

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BookWorm45 · 29/05/2022 06:55

Hi Op. I'm sorry to hear about your loss and the difficulties you're going through.

It sounds as if there are 2 issues happening at the same time; 1 is your grief and need for time to process your loss; the 2nd issue is that your work seems to be exploiting you.

There is something about how you describe your work which comes across as if you don't feel you have the right / the ability to ask for what you need and to call out where there is a problem.

Only you can know whether this is to do with the specific job / project / manager / as a one off or whether it's behaviour which is typical of you normally, with or without bereavement.

How do you escalate / call out concerns about workload / project resourcing to your manager or other senior stakeholders ?

How do you proactively raise topics with your manager or relevant people (e.g. I'd like to go through workload across the team and understand who can assist with project xxx) - rather than wait for them to call it out or for someone else to notice?

Why are you working so hard for this company, when they don't seem to be treating you even to the basic level for any ordinary employee (still less in sync with a high performer) ?

Working very hard for a company can be a way to escape other issues, or it can become something that is taken for granted. Are you working this hard for them because you wish to (e.g. maybe you have plans for promotion / career development) or because you feel it is forced on you ?

I wish you all the best with sorting out the work issue, and also hope you'll feel you can take the time you need to prioritise your bereavement.

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