Meet our guest blogger Abbey Smith. Abbey is living and working in Townsville as a journalist/ newsreader and has worked in the hospitality industry for many years.
Everyone, at one point in their life, has been made to feel like they’ve had to quit a job. You may have been bullied, or you’ve had your hours cut, or you just don’t know why.
You’ve been told, ‘It’s not busy enough" and you’ve been made to feel as if you’re not good enough to be an employee in that business. Sometimes the vibe just changes with the people you are working with and it no longer feels like a place you want to be anymore.
Rewind over seven years ago, and there I was starting a casual job in a pub that I had no idea would be so influential in my adult life. As a young adult, it was all fun and games, until it just wasn't anymore.
I worked my way up from being just a bar chick to a duty manager to the functions and marketing girl and then to the office human resources person. I also helped to open and run their new steakhouse.
My employer was a family owned and run business, and when it comes to family-run businesses, everyone likes to have their say and wants it done their way. Understandable given it's their money and their livelihood.
The problem? Sometimes when a lot of people are involved in decision making, and when there are too many chiefs and not enough Indians, it doesn’t end well. Staff can receive mixed messages or there can be a struggle for ultimate power.
Work had become my life. Which looking back now, I realise how stupid that sounds, but everyone who's worked in the hospitality industry knows what it’s like. You don’t get attached to the work as such, you get attached to the people you work with. Work becomes a home away from home. Some of my best friends are the people I met in that pub.
My employers at the time had a management structure with a few owners. The primary owner's daughters were involved in the hotel as well; when they wanted to be... I knew they didn’t like me, but they usually were bearable to deal with.
We anticipated that every six months, or so they'd be there on a daily basis for a few weeks at a time and then they’d be gone again.
One day, I got my pay slip and was surprised to see I was now on a lower rate of pay. I had been given a pay rise years earlier by another owner because of my hard work and dedication and was assured this wouldn't change.
Questioning this, I went to see one of the owners daughters in her office and was shoved out of the room, with an "Oh well, it is what it is" response.
I was devastated and left feeling undervalued and like I had no choice but to go.
I was being forced out like many other workers who had put their heart and soul into that pub. I called my parents, I called Fair Work Australia, I asked my other managers for help but unless I wanted to kill myself with the stress of trying to take it further - there was nothing I could do.
I cried every night for a week. I remember going to work and staring at the wall's wondering what I was going to do, how I was going to get out of working there. I had this horrible feeling in my stomach all the time.
The owner's daughter stayed well away from me. Refused to speak to me and refused to try and come and work out what exactly we could do. My pay went down over ten dollars an hour and to fight it would have cost me my mental health, my sanity and my time.
Around this time I went to dinner with one of my friends, who had just lost her job but was the happiest I'd ever seen her. She was glowing, and I knew what I had to do for myself.
I got in my car, cried so hard I had to pull over and went home and wrote my resignation letter. As luck would have it, the very next day before starting my final week of work, I was offered a job elsewhere. The saying is true; when one door closes, another one will open.
Bullying in the workplace has become so routine and the personal toll is quite often your mental health suffers from it; we become sick from stress. Bullying isn’t always verbal or physical but it’s emotional too. Sometimes you are made to feel like you just don't belong somewhere you thought you did... You work so hard, you put in everything you’ve got and because you’re seen as a threat, or you know too much, you get hours ripped from you, a wage decrease without any warning and a ‘Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.’
I held onto this for a long time but now as the years roll on and I get into the career that I've gone to University for, I realise it was the best thing to happen to me. It got me out of a dead end job, out of a toxic relationship and workplace and it made me a stronger woman, who won't stand to be treated so poorly ever again.
Kate Bickford MD & Owner - BK AGENCY: