I attended a networking event yesterday and was asked what’s your WHY??? My WHY‚  what do you mean my WHY???

The WHY are you in business, WHY do you do Human Resources.

My WHY ———- to give back and not let this happen to another, to be the role model, to be the believer in another to give what once was nearly taken from me.

Let me explain

I was once a victim of HR, and then a player in HR, the deliverer of policies and procedures, with the best interest of the organisation in mind, no longer human in delivery but a delivery of business objectives. I believed that treating situations as problems can only be negative in result, as all you can do then is either try to fight to remove the problems or lodge complaints or protests against them. On the other hand, if you take such situations as challenges, you can positively and constructively work to overcome them yourself. In my early HR Career my reality became being bullied, belittled, demoralized, harassed and sexually discriminated against, on the grounds of my flexible working; leaving me feeling isolated, stressed, and nervous; contemplating leaving a job I enjoyed. We experience reality only through the meaning we ascribe to it; not as a thing in itself, but as something interpreted. Surely the company grievance procedure and code of conduct would provide the resolution and provision for me to be in a professional working environment where I was treated fairly and consistently. Sadly not.

Surely the company grievance procedure and code of conduct would provide the resolution and provision for me to be in a professional working environment where I was treated fairly and consistently.

Sadly not.

Historically no-one had ever raised a grievance within company X, the turnover rate of forty seven per cent (2007/2008 statistics), suggested maybe employees were taking the quietest approach Quietists turn away from the world‚ π (Schopenhauer). A grievance will expose them personally to the risk of some form of managerial reprisal that will make it difficult for them to remain in the job‚ π. (Lewin and Peterson, 1988,cited in Bacharach and Bamberger, 2004, pg 523). Maybe as Schopenhauer claimed woman is by nature meant to obey‚ π I should have taken the quietest approach too and beat a hasty retreat. As a believer in justice will always prevail‚ π I set forth to unknown territory and filed a formal grievance against my own HR Manager. Lewin and Peterson (1999, p555) suggested that the gap in the grievance literature means that we know relatively little about what happens to those who are directly involved in grievance cases, especially the extent to which employees who file grievances are punished for doing so‚ π

Standing up for what I believed was a wrong against my fundamental employee right as well as my human right to be treated fairly and consistently within my place of work; I entered the first meeting to state my case to a Senior Manager. The Senior Manager a Dionysus god in the organisation, purely there for his own benefit, dismissed my claims and evidence I presented. Interestingly a day later having an off the record‚ π chat with me asking me to name a price and he would ensure I got it and I could go quietly. Reading between the lines, it was easy to see they needed this cleared up and swept under the rug quickly. Call me a fool but what role model would I be to my children if I did, as by doing so I would be saying it’s ok to bully, harasses and discriminate against someone‚ π, not me, I needed to stand tall, and fight on following a rational, calculative process in which to weigh the attractiveness of initiating the grievance against the relative attractiveness of alternative forms of action or inaction‚ π (Klaas, 1989, cited in Bacharach & Bamberger, 2004, pg 522), I filed an appeal.

Stage 3 of Company X Grievance and Discipline process: The Managing Director was to hear my case; his decision was to be final. Lewin and Peterson (1999, pg 572) found that employees who won their grievance cases were significantly more likely to leave their employer in the year following grievance settlement than employees whose cases were settled at the lower steps of the grievance procedure and employees who lost their grievance cases, respectively‚ π. Sleepless nights later and days of thicker than thick air in the HR office the meeting started. He listened, I spoke, he tried to crush my allegations but I fought back calmly, clearly and with no emotion although I twisted and turned inside, then it was over, all I could do was wait.

The impact to an organisation in times of grievance, everyone talks about it, production declines, money is lost through lowered working time. The impact on the organisation to dismiss the claim, an acknowledgement by the organisation that bullying and harassment of someone was acceptable behaviour, the result, the quietest approach by employees, a rising turnover rate, increasing recruitment and training costs. Lewin and Peterson (1999, p 572) found that those who are involved directly in grievance activity are subject to deterioration of their employment relationships and to retribution by their employers‚ π.

A decision could not be reached, the implications of any decision were costly, I bowed down and agreed to face the HR Manager in a meeting with the MD to put the matter behind, the outcome of non-compliance He would fire both of us and face the consequences‚ π. Being ever positive I agreed and put the matter, although unresolved behind and worked professionally and loyally with my HR Manager. When the HR Fox (Steers, or in my case the MD fox, said watch your chickens, I should have watched my geese as what Lewin and Peterson found in their research proved to be the end to my story. With a knife firmly in my back each day unbeknownst to me I was watched, tracked, set up and undermined till they put disciplinary hearing on me for poor performance among other things. I took the quietest approach and left under a deed of release agreement, hence renaming under the terms of the agreement to company X. I could have fought but sometimes you just need to walk away. And learn to enjoy the small things in life.

Lady Thatcher when asked what gave her the greatest satisfaction in life, replied,

Taking the fluff out of the tumble dryer‚ 

cited in Haran (2008)