Work Colleagues or Friends, Employer or Family?

Business exists to make money. When all is well employees have work, but if the business loses contracts, or work runs out, job redundancies can occur, even to long-term employees.

Some companies promote a culture of belonging to a family, and some employees form relationships  they perceive as friendship with colleagues.

What does an employee experience when he or she is made redundant? Some see it as an opportunity, a new chapter or new beginning, while others experience emotional distress. For employees who see themselves as valued, loyal members of a company family, the level of distress can be quite high. If they also perceive work colleagues as friends, and those relationships drop away following redundancy, distress worsens.

Consider your job and the culture of the company you work for. Have you misinterpreted what being part of the company family means, or made a flawed interpretation of what constitutes friendship in the workplace? Do you socialise with management and peers on a regular basis outside of work? Will you continue to be part of the company family once you are made redundant? If the answer is no, then they’re not and never were family or friends in the normal sense. Quite simply they always were employer and work colleagues; respected, liked and valued, but still work based only. The true meaning of family and friends lies at the heart of your life, those 24/7 relationships with people who are there in good times and the not so good, year in year out.

Referee Details in Short Term Employment

If you are person who is working shutdowns, contract or project roles, often your referees are supervisors from each position worked. These supervisors are usually in the same situation as you, on a shutdown, contract or project, and just like you they move on when the job is complete. Some of them have company email addresses or mobile phones issued just for the duration of the gig. If you are not keeping in touch and checking details of your referees in this environment, then you are probably sabotaging your job applications as a prospective employer / recruiter will be unable to contact your referee. For each job you apply for, check that your referees are still working where you last had contact with them. If they have moved on to a new role and you want to show how you are linked to them, you can add a line to your resume that states they were (formerly the …….), so the employer /recruiter will be able to map the connection.

Our values vs company values

When we find ourselves in the position of being unhappy in our job, often we can’t work out just why we are unhappy.  We trawl through the tasks we do and find that we enjoy most of them.  We mostly like the people we work with and the hours we work. So where does the problem lie?

The answer may be found in values. Our values vs company values. In drilling down to the core of the problem, quite often we find a lack of alignment between what we value and what our employer values. Try asking yourself this question. What behaviours tick me off at work?  Make a list. Then ask yourself this question.  Are these the same behaviours that tick me off in my personal life?  The answers to these questions give us a pretty good indication of the values we hold.

Sometimes, when we analyse the reasons for our unhappiness, the results are such that we are in a position to make changes that improve the situation. However, if a misalignment of values is the problem, and we have no control over employer values, it may be time to accept that the relationship is a mismatch, and it is time to move on. In moving on, we have learned a valuable lesson, to make sure as far as we can, that a potential employer’s values sit comfortably with our own.

Showing up for work

Show up for work on time, that’s important.  Show up for work with a smile on your face too, no-one wants a grump on board.  Most important though, is to show up with the right attitude.  The right attitude is premium.

Returning to work following a bereavement

candles-209157_640One of the challenges in life most people experience is returning to work when recently bereaved.   A loss can come in many forms, the physical loss of a loved one including miscarriage, breakdown in a relationship or loss of home or property in difficult circumstances.  Sometimes, you, the bereaved person, feel naturally vulnerable and experience anxiety or stress about facing colleagues.  Much of the reason for this lies in worrying you will be asked questions about what has occurred with fears it may trigger a loss of emotional control.

Some of our colleagues will respond to our loss with a simple touch of the hand on our shoulder, others with quiet words of condolence.  But then there is the person who will want to know every detail, whether or not you want to talk about it.

One way to handle unwanted questions about your loss on your return to work is to prepare a simple response, a polite line that will set a boundary and deflect any further questions.   The night before you return to work, choose and practise your words. Use your prepared response where necessary and repeat if needed.

Grief is an individual and often private experience. Take care of yourself at this time by setting your chosen boundaries.

Registered with Labour Hire?

If you are registered with a labour hire firm, it pays to touch base consistently and regularly (perhaps once a week) to keep yourself and your details up front and centre.  You only have to worry about one person but they have many, many people on their books so keep reminding them you exist and are keen to work.

We are all made of data…

To paraphrase a song by Moby: “We are all made of data.”  All of those bits and bytes of information trail that we leave behind on Google and Facebook can paint a picture for potential employers to follow.

I have worked in the alcohol and other drugs treatment sector since 1998.  In more recent years I have become interested in how social networks can be used by the alcohol and other drugs treatment sector to support learning and advocacy.  My forays into the world of internet and drugs has lead me to a very important conclusion: that people buy and sell drugs online, they talk about alcohol and other drugs online and they take pictures and movies of themselves while intoxicated and post them online.

Drugs and employment has been a contentious issue since the introduction of workplace drug testing.  While ideally any such programs are designed to ensure that an individual’s use of alcohol and/or other drugs does not interfere with workplace safety, testing programs do not measure impairment,  they instead measure whether somebody has been exposed to a drug or not over a period of time.  This last statement may be the most important part of the picture.  While most employers primary concern is about workplace safety, there are many who are unwilling to employ somebody who uses drugs regardless of whether this impacts upon work performance or not.

Drug testing is an expensive process and is done at the cost of employers.  It should not be surprising then to find that some employers are seeking to screen potential employees through cheaper methods.  One such way that they can do this is by spending a little time investigating a potential employee’s social media footprint.

Have you ever done a Google search on yourself?  What about a Google image search?  If a prospective employer was to do the same what would they find?

Some Tips

So what can you do?  I’ve listed below 5 tips for protecting the privacy of your online identity

  1. The golden rule – Don’t post anything online that you wouldn’t be prepared to say or do in public.
  2. Be mindful of friend requests from unknown people.  There are two reasons for this.  The first is that the person requesting may be a prospective employer undertaking some research.  Secondly some people use social media to promote products that you may not wish to be associated with.  (Think of a Facebook timeline filled with spam selling Viagra).
  3. Be aware that it may not be content that you have posted that could potentially foul up a job application.  (E.g. Do any of your friends love to take photos at a party and then post them to Facebook?)  If some does post something that may be damaging, then ask them to take it down.  Preferably approach the person offline or via email, after all you don’t want to create a larger footprint regarding the offending media.
  4. Unless it is specific to the job, providing details of your Facebook and/or other social network accounts as part of your CV is not recommended.
  5. When using social networks like Facebook, Twitter, or Google+ make sure that you understand how the privacy settings work.

Finding out about privacy settings

If you want to find out more about how you can change the privacy settings on Facebook, Twitter or Google+, I have provided some links below.

Facebook Privacy

Privacy on Twitter

Google+ Privacy

Matt Gleeson has worked in the alcohol and other drugs sector since 1998 in a variety of roles. An advocate of life-long learning, consumer participation and harm reduction, Matt currently writes the blog Stonetree Harm Reduction, a website about the intersection of harm reduction and social media.