As most of my close friends and family will already know; sadly and heart-breakingly I lost an amazing friend this week after she spent the past 4 years kicking cancer’s ass and doing a bloody fantastic job of it.
Lucy was more than a friend to me. She was the big sister I never had (along with Analie, obv). She was awesome. She was brilliant. She was hilarious, inspiring, brave, courageous, lovely. Frigging great. My writing abilities will never be good enough to capture that awesomeness in one blog, let alone one sentence. There aren’t enough words. Anyone that had the absolute pleasure of knowing Lucy will know exactly what I mean. For the people who didn’t know Lucy, I think my Dad probably quantified her in the best way possible last night when we were re-living memories over a glass of wine and missing her already. He said that he’ll always remember her as the lady with the quickest wit, the driest sense of humour and an absolutely fantastic way with words. And he wasn’t wrong.
All in all, it’s been a difficult week. But I’m lucky enough to have fantastic friends and family around me who have picked me up, dusted me down and put a smile back on my face. And the same goes for my work friends. I work with a great team, who looked after me when I got the news on Tuesday and have been looking after me ever since. I was given chocolate. I was sent flowers. They’re a lovely, lovely bunch.
But it got me thinking… What if I didn’t feel appreciated and valued by my team? What if I felt like I couldn’t turn to them and tell them what was going on with me? What if I couldn’t be open and honest about my feelings? What would happen if HR needed HR?
The CIPD are doing some great work around mental health at the moment and last week I took time to read over some of the stories directly from HR people’s mouths/ keyboards, talking about their own struggles with mental health. Thankfully, most people felt supported in the workplace and were able to be open about mental health. After all, if you work in HR you’d be pretty bloody disappointed if you felt like your boss wasn’t ready and able to take on mental health challenges, given the rest of the business rely on you for that exact advice. But sadly, some people did have bad experiences and the CIPD want to publish these stories to raise awareness and help people realise they aren’t alone. If you’re interested in reading some of the stories, you can find them here:
So for the people who didn’t feel supported by their HR team, what happened to them? I’m not sure. The purpose of the stories are to raise mental health awareness, not give advice on how to make a HR complaint to a team and about a team you work with. I can only imagine how horrendous that position would be. And sadly, those individuals probably did nothing and left.
Is it worth considering an external or internal body within the business that HR can off-load to, confide in and seek advice from? Or is it worth assigning HR employees to mentors who aren’t directly on their team? What would that look like and would it be do-able? In terms of personal problems – maybe so. But when it comes to discussing things like work related stress, how could someone in HR possibly explain the true picture without divulging potentially highly sensitive or confidential information. The lines become blurred at that point. And that’s a real shame. After all, HR are just humans after all and some days can be pretty damn emotional.
The business I work for generously offer an EAP service, free of charge to all employees. That’s certainly a start but understandably, not all businesses can afford the associated costs. So what then? If you have any suggestions, please feel free to shout up. A seperate ‘go-to’ person or body for HR is an interesting thought but sadly, not one I can see taking off any time soon. I imagine employers would be far too nervous about it.
On a final note, if you read anything else today, please let it be this:
Lucifer’s Boob is my friend Lucy’s blog and it’s freaking brilliant. How one little lady could have that much positivity all of the time is behind me and she will continue to inspire me every day.
Oh… and here’s her giving Jeremy Hunt an ear-full a few months ago before she joined the picket line with the rest of the Junior Doctors in London:
See what I mean? Completely frigging awesome. Love and miss you, Luce XxX