We’ve all worked with one; the office bully, the control freak, the first-gear worker. Those staff who are just unmanageable – I’m sure most of you can relate.
I picked up my very first job at 16, after leaving school, and things have certainly come on a long way since then (*cough cough*, almost 20 years ago). I remember in my very first week, the company MD pointed to me in front of the whole factory and said, “look at her big boobs!” We were told not to wear trousers, only skirts, as we worked in the office…. and that’s what the ladies did.
I have also managed expenses for sales reps and been made to process claims for strip clubs and whiskey. I was always told to keep this discreet and that it was simply a ‘bonding exercise’ for the team’.
At various stages in my career, I have suffered verbal bullying in office, I have felt intimidated by chauvinistic men, jealously from older women and suffered unnecessary antagonistic behaviour from people who coveted my management position in the company. Believe me I’m no wall flower, I can stand up for myself, but these situations have been very stressful to say the least. And anyone who has been in industry for more than 20 years may well relate to one or most of these scenarios.
As a nation, we are making strides to identify and eradicate this type of behaviour in industry. The public sector is leading the way, but many forward-thinking corporates are beginning to recognise that a happy working environment is a big contributor to success.
So when I decided to return to work after the birth of my son, I was still a little apprehensive as to what type of office environment I would encounter. The isolation of being a new mum had also knocked my confidence, so returning to work was a very daunting prospect.
Luckily, I’m almost two years in to my new job and I couldn’t be happier. I have a great working environment, I love my job and the people I work with. Companies continue to improve HR and working conditions but ultimately the type of people you’re thrown together with will always be a lottery. If you’re fortune enough to love your job, then you are one of the lucky ones – like me.