I wish my manager knew….
This August we are re-launching the ‘I wish my manager knew…’ campaign to bring attention to all of that tricky stuff outside of work that can have a real impact on us at work. Whilst we may not initially feel comfortable bringing the difficult stuff in life to work; being able to share, make adjustments and seek support are all really important parts of your journey to make sure the challenges in life don’t drag you down.
We’re setting out to highlight a key theme each week this month to share stories from staff, highlight what support is available and, hopefully, facilitate some conversations between staff and managers to make sure everyone feels supported at work.
Last time we ran the campaign there was a great response with a multitude of encouraging examples of positive changes that were made following a simple conversation.
You can find out more about the campaign on the intranet pages - click here - and we encourage you to check out the campaign video too.
If you are a manager then we have produced a guide to support you in having these conversations with plenty of useful resources for signposting.
I wish my manager knew…. about my financial worries
My name is Kate and I’m a community physio. I’m slowly recovering from a pretty awful time, caused by my financial situation, that I wanted to share with others in the hope it inspires them to get support if they’re also struggling.
My journey started with a relationship breakdown which left me suddenly having to support the family off just my income. We hadn’t been very careful with money in the past as we’d prioritised trying to get our little family the best life we could, this meant I already had some credit card debts and a big mortgage. I was devastated with losing my marriage and I think I just buried my head when it came to the finances so just borrowed more when I needed it. I’d never been taught how to budget or make sense of borrowing rates and it all felt too much to get my head around with how low I was feeling.
Soon I’d quickly maxed out my 2 credit cards and needed other ways of supporting ourselves. That’s when the payday lenders came in and things got really difficult. I realised I needed some extra income so started taking bank shifts and looked for weekend work at a local pub. It got to the stage where I was using food banks, parking my car away from the house in fear of baliffs and I even slept in my car at work a few times, when the children were with my family, to save petrol.
I hadn’t let anyone else in on how difficult things had got until my manager asked for a chat. She’d noticed how tired and burnt out I seemed and asked if there was anything she could help with. I broke down and shared my situation. I felt so ashamed at first but quickly realised there was nothing to be ashamed of. There was no magic fix but through a combination of Citizens Advice Bureau, Neyber and my Union I slowly got things back on track. The big breakthrough was getting rid of the payday lenders. I’ve been able to consolidate some debts and am even starting to look at savings plans. Things are still tight and I imagine they will be for a while but having others in my corner that understand and can offer advice has taken away the emotional weight of it.
For anyone else that has concerns I’d urge them to act now. It only took a few short months for my situation to spiral and I now know that with a few little tweaks that could have been prevented.
If this story resonates with you then don’t worry, you aren’t alone. Financial worries are the leading cause of stress for employees across the UK. The good news is that help is out there.
For more information on how to access this please check out our Finances poster. If you are a manager looking to support your staff then check out our ‘I wish my manager knew’ guide for tips, signposting and advice.
I wish my manager knew about my caring responsibilities…
My name is Sarah* and I work on one of our wards. I’ve been with the trust for five years now which has been great, however things started to get difficult about 18 months ago when I noticed my mum starting to forget things. I have a busy family life with two young children and it can be hard to balance my life outside work with my life inside work. In all that busyness I didn’t initially notice that mum was starting to deteriorate, we’d come round with the children and she would have forgotten that we’d arranged to visit, little things like that which I just attributed to a bit of old age, like we all do.
It was only when she forgot one of the boy’s birthdays that we realised something was really up. We got her seen quickly and it confirmed our worst fears, that she had dementia, which was starting to progress rapidly. Mum was the rock of the family and did everything for my dad too. Starting to lose her hit me really hard emotionally. It wasn’t long before she started to need caring for, first just little bits like shopping but after a few months she needed more intensive care. My dad was in no shape to look after her and we couldn’t afford to pay for care, so I took on the responsibility. I would typically pop in before work to get them up and make breakfast and leave lunch out for them and then after work to sort tea and bedtime. It was really difficult to balance this around my shifts but I didn’t want tell anyone at work. We already struggle with staffing so I didn’t want to put more pressure on the team and, besides, I just felt that we all had our stuff outside of work and that’s where it should stay.
It was only a few months ago when everything came crashing down and I realised things had to change. We lost my dad suddenly and it all quickly became too much. I had a week off sick when he passed and I realised that I was burning myself to a crisp and spending my entire life worrying. I had barely seen my husband and children and had completely forgotten what self-care even meant. I knew something had to change so in my return to work meeting I discussed it with my manager.
Whilst I was apprehensive, and I wasn’t sure what work would be able to offer anyway, it did feel like a weight had lifted. We were able to look at using some carers leave for appointments, I started to research what benefits and support I would be eligible for and I started some counselling through Resolve. Most importantly my manager now knew what I had going on and was able to be sensitive to this. I no longer felt I was on my own with it. Whilst we weren’t able to solve the situation we’ve now got a plan in place that makes it sustainable. Without this I know I’d have burnt myself out completely and ended up off for some time.
Whilst there’s no one size fits all answer I’d strongly urge anyone that is in a similar position to me to just talk to someone they trust about it. Realise that there is support out there and things will get better as a result.
Sarah’s story is one of many similar ones we here through the staff wellbeing team. We want to make sure that all our carers are supported at work.
*Sarah is not the real name of this staff member.
If you are a carer then please check out our carers poster here. It has some quick tips for useful support options and information for you. We also recommend you discuss your responsibilities with your manager so you can work together to find support and solutions that work for your context. Completing a Wellness Action Plan together may be a helpful start. You can also get in touch with the staff wellbeing team to discuss your situation and get impartial support and advice.
More resources and information can also be found at: