Soapbox: ‘I only wished I’d quit earlier’

Sometimes, the only way escape from a bad employer is to walk away

Sometimes, the only way escape from a bad employer is to walk away, write an anonymous social worker 

For the first time in too long I have thoroughly enjoyed a complete holiday with my wife and children. This holiday was unique in not being spoiled by me thinking about being back at work in a week in some soul-destroying performance management meeting or pushing cases onto already-struggling staff.

I have now left my position as manager of a care team for adults with no clear idea of what I will do next. This has not been an easy journey.

Before I resigned, I regularly arranged holidays a year in advance in order to have them approved before someone else’s sickness could prevent me taking approved holiday. Our care management team had the dubious honour of having an average sickness absence rate of 34 days per year, per team member.

Rightly, morale was an area that senior management wished to address as a priority. However, their approach to resolving this endemic problem was wrong. Calls to increase staff numbers to deal with excessive caseloads and the backlog of allocations were ignored. Instead, senior management roadshows were arranged for middle managers like myself with all the confidence and flamboyance of a poor Elvis impersonator and the sincerity of a used car salesman.

Morale was not to be addressed with much needed resources but with psychology. As middle managers we were to ensure that all negative comments made by staff were challenged and all managers were to exude positivity at all times.

The final straw came when a manager was reported to senior management for expressing negative comments in front of others when he found out his position had been deleted in yet another management remodelling (we were not allowed to call it reduction).

This person was given a severe talking to about expressing his understandable upset. To crown it all he was specifically questioned about his commitment to “corporate loyalty”. Both George Orwell, when writing 1984, and Joseph Stalin would have found this example inspiring.

I could not, and still cannot, see a healthy future for anyone in a similar position in my previous organisation. My decision to resign was the correct one. My only regret is that I did not do it sooner.

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