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Yes, this is a rant post. One that’s brought me out of a blogging hiatus this year (not unironically, in my efforts to attain paid work).

I’ve always believed in a healthy work ethic and have much to give. I thrive in a productive environment, being part of a team, being able to make a difference, learn or advise, gain self-confidence and purpose and be paid for it.

I’m excited to return to formal employment. Still I struggle with the downsides and I do believe I’ve encountered quite a few…

310315 Employment

First, there’s the imbalance of what an employer is prepared to offer, in return for what it’s prepared to take. Just today I read an ad for a position classified as “Part-time”- listing “35-40 hours per week” as its definition. Um, right. This doesn’t sound very part-time to me.

Many post-maternity leavers or stay at home parents will be familiar with the vast disconnect of a position described as “part time” and the practical reality. Often it is either a very reduced-status role or the same full-time position disguised as part time. I understand it can be complicated to provide but many employers who could otherwise make it happen have no interest in accommodating any flexibility for staff. Some mat leave returners are told “full-time or nothing”.

Some of us return to or begin agreed arrangements that turn out to be pure spin. The pressure leads to unreasonably high personal cost and often the desired result for the employer, when that inconvenient employee leaves. It’s happened to me twice. I’ve been offered roles for my experience and versatility, told my availability was fine and been promised the world…only to be used up and burnt. Criticised when expected to be available outside of pre-agreed hours; had many near misses for childcare pick up; been paid minimum legal rate under a questionably-related award; had to plead to be paid. I can’t say it’s great for one’s confidence. Moreover it means many of us with so much to offer are overlooked or give up hope in attaining work at our expected level.

Like many of you, I have an interest and background in written (and visual) communications. I’ve met and befriended some of the finest, most socially aware, engaging and generous people I know- and love- via employment or social media. Then there are those at the other end.

I don’t know if there’s something in particular about Advertising, Media, PR and communications that brings out the greedy, the overbearing or extreme dickwad in people? Perhaps I’ve just been unlucky in my workplace cultures to date, to see things take place not only exasperating or infuriating but plainly rule-breaking. Corporate environments that should be professional and outcome focused instead devolving into the most despicable of human nature.

There’s been workplace bullying, threats, sexism, racism, homophobia, intra office email smear campaigns. I know of covered-up legal settlements paid for by the employer over sexual advances of superiors. Backbiting. Intimidation.

Some examples:
– I account managed in a marketing and promotions firm where I was outright sabotaged. One morning I arrived at my desk to find my main job bag files and notes missing. Nowhere to be found, likely binned or gleefully shredded. I knew what had happened, there had been other signs. A co-worker, jealous of my (contract, fill-in) role and wanting the promotion for herself, hid my active files- but nothing could be proven or done about it.

– I temped in another office where a personal assistant I sat alongside was being bullied by her female boss into going to the gym with her every morning before work!

– Worked on a top secret TV pitch and advised in a menacing tone, “If this is leaked, we’ll know it was you and you’re fired.” After years at the company.

– I took a role (directly, not via an agent/headhunter) in a small ad agency that finally paid me after I worked there for eight weeks. Eight weeks after a few repeated requests. Believe me, they made me feel like a pest about it too.

– I enjoyed the enthusiasm of both an Insurance MD and a licensing CEO who regularly shouted in the faces, or snuck up behind seated workers to explode like raging bulls, for no good reason. This licensing CEO would abuse his staff regularly at the top of his lungs, then lead clients on office tours and in a sweet voice, arms outstretched toward us, declared us his “family”.

There have been too many cultures inexplicably toxic or with pressure to take the Last to Leave Trophy and have no life outside  the office. Where only the pre-parental, full-time-plus-available need apply: breakfast meetings at 7.30am, events on weekends. We could barely see our partners in daylight, grocery shop, cook or do our own laundry without considerable difficulty. I’ve seen the majority of 35+ women disappear after starting families, never to return to their former industry because part time? What’s THAT? Bye bye.

Yes, I am job hunting again. I’d dearly love to jump back in with enthusiasm. I’d give my reasonable all back to the creative world. Can I please ask for a workplace that is work focused? Has no need to prove itself through foul means or vile political agendas? With no sociopaths or grossly un-PC heathens in management? Could I please have a pleasant (or at the very least neutral) culture with a balanced time-for-pay ethic? I hope so. I really, desperately hope so.

Working should be a professional undertaking; giving service, not giving more than you have. Do I ask too much?

{ 10 comments }

2014 Annual Brain Leave

by Twitchy on December 23, 2014

HOW do months whizz by ever more swiftly with each new calendar? 2014 is all but over. School has ended, kids are home for the extended Summer break and my disbelief sets in. I’m always like: “but, but… really??”

This is not a TwitchyCorner highlights or 2014 wrap post. (That would require research, compilation and effort.) In the past I’ve written stupid poems about how quickly the time flies. Fear not dear reader- for that  also, would require some effort.

This is merely a musing post about year’s ends; when I take stock (moved house, kept everyone alive, didn’t leave anyone behind at the bottle shop) then undertake my sacred annual rituals. As the mercury rises, my brain, care-factor and heat-affected life forces plummet to sloth-like levels, threatening to remain there for a number of weeks. I may choose to get a little house-proud, socialise some. That’s it.

SEVEN WEEKS of non-stop noise plus mess plus searing heat? WHY THANK YOU! Too generous…really you shouldn’t have. The very idea renders me senseless. Below is a dramatic approximation of my Summer-rate enthusiasm. Also pretty much literally what I will be doing: wilting like an Autumn petal but with a couch and a jug of home-made iced espresso mocha.

Sloth gif

2014 has seen us FINALLY in our built new home. My kids have grown and developed in a kind of time lapse before my very eyes. The girl, at very-almost-eight has consolidated her reading, beautiful handwriting and class skills in a sudden leap. She’s musical, acrobatic, cluey, observant. The boy, at now fifteen started a new school in February*. It was the single best move for him ever and the greatest step toward a better future. I see glimpses of his potential, the young man he’s becoming (with giant feet). He’s eaten everything in his path (a locust swarm and upstairs-overhead-stampede of one) and grown so much taller!

It’s been a big year. We all deserve some chill time. So I won’t be looking to do too much cooking or rigorous decision-making and what I do have left I’ll be using to bribe/crowbar young eyes and bodies away from screens and shove them outdoors.

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“Beach weather!” I hear? But I only go when it’s cool, or late and half deserted. High heat signals the Twitchy version of air-conned hibernation. So just redirect my mail to the couch or back verandah where I shall be watching movies (and grazing) or reading (and grazing), barely bothered to change out of my Summer robe unless I really like you. Mentally I’m so there already I can’t be arsed crafting a proper ending to this post.

What’s your brain doing this Summer?

(* One of my most read and shared posts.)

{ 17 comments }

In The Wake of Tragedy, Australia Has Heart: #Illridewithyou

December 16, 2014

On this Tuesday morning, Australia- particularly Sydney- has already been through a harrowing day and night, most of us having gone to bed wary of what we might wake to this morning. As an armed siege unfolded from yesterday morning in a busy Sydney CBD café, we saw five hostages escape and were heartened. People […]

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School Fair, Dance Concert and Local MP Verbal Smackdown Day

December 9, 2014

One Sunday last month, up popped the dreaded, nasty little square on our calendar with too much writing in it. My girl’s two most exciting days of the year had most cruelly, been timetabled concurrently. Rather than having full enjoyment of each (preferably different weekends), we had to split our day between the biennial school fair […]

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What Did Cats Do Before The Internet?

December 2, 2014

Like it or not, few marriages have been made in heaven such as that of the feline persuasion and the Interwebz. Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, I Can Has Cheezburger, Lolcats, Youtube, Twitter. You name it, cats are ALL OVER IT. They’ve gone from objects of worship to ridicule and laugh bait and back again. Funny cat […]

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Tom’s Diner

November 28, 2014

On my first ever visit to New York in 2012 (a lifelong dream), this awestruck tourist was taken to Tom’s famous restaurant. Naturally it had rightfully made it onto the list of must-see cultural landmarks of the city (and no, I did not do the Carrie/ Sex and the City tour.) Tom’s is widely known as the inspiration […]

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The Mug That Stayed

October 31, 2014

In my kitchen cupboard sits a battered old mug, no longer white. With a small chip on its lip and my name printed below a dated floral posy, it continues to justify itself among the prettier vessels more fit for common use. Along with me for the ride through every home and house move since […]

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Storm Shadows

September 8, 2014

“Mummy, lie with me. I can’t sleep, I’m scared.” The wind howls outside her windows, whispering things she does not wish to hear. I am here. She joins me as I place my head at the foot of the bed. For the next little while we are too smart to try to trick sleep over […]

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Challenge Accepted, Walking the Walk

September 2, 2014

Wisdom: The things in life you regret most are the ones you never did. A truth that resonates with me enormously. Confession: I was born a creative, musical type but also an anxious one, conundrum. I love participating; hate the idea of being watched. I love nothing better than live music shows but crowds make me so edgy, I […]

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There Is Always Art

August 19, 2014

You know those mornings you wake up and the Fuck You Bird is already singing? “Those” mornings. The ones that don’t behave, you can’t put a foot right and just want to go back and start over? Yeah, those. Last week was all about sick kids so I’ve been keen to get them back into routine. I […]

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