Regular readers will know my ‘career’ has had its ups and downs in recent months. We were restructured and I was in serious fear of losing my job, then I found out I had a job and felt an overwhelming sense of relief. Then, to be honest, I slightly started wishing I’d lost it…
And now it’s changing again. It’s not the first time and it won’t be the last. My years at the council have had more ups and downs than Alton Towers.
I joined in 1999, fresh-faced, naive and enthusiastic. I was a communications officer for Social Services. My job was half internal communications and half press office and ALL Social Services. I was liked and respected and I enjoyed my job.
In 2003 we were restructured. I was plucked out of the safety of Social Services and moved to the central press office. I became a press officer. I was also essentially demoted. I was still the lead on Social Services press and I still did some internal publications for Social Services (even though my job wasn’t supposed to be internal any more), so in many ways it didn’t change much.
What I got though was a great team of people to work with. One of whom is still with me – hooray! We’ve been together through thick and thin. Always at the bottom of the pile together – slightly smaller hooray.
2003 was also the year when the powers that be decided we were paid too much. Apparently our job wasn’t that responsible. (Yeah, right.) So following (of course) a very transparent and above-board process we had our salaries cut. We were pay-protected for three years, but it went by in the blink of an eye.
So in 2006, already struggling financially with a new baby, maternity leave and two other small children, I had my pay cut. Onwards and upwards. Well, not so much upwards.
While I was on maternity leave my beloved Social Services ceased to exist. I was forced to choose between specialising in adult social care (liked the director, not so keen on the subject) and children’s social care (loved the subject, not so keen on the director). It was a tough choice, but I went with the children. The advantage of this was I worked more closely with my good friend who did all the other children’s stuff. The disadvantage was I lost my final tie with all my old colleagues in Social Services who had believed in me and supported me in a way no-one else ever had.
Because by this time I was no longer someone to be respected. I was a part-timer. A mum. People were being recruited and within weeks they were seen to be somehow better at the job than me. Because they worked full-time. And didn’t have children. My self-confidence and self-esteem were fading fast, but I hung on in there. I didn’t believe I could find anything different or better with three children.
After a few more rocky years, taking in the worst natural disaster and peacetime emergency in living memory aka The Floods, and plenty more tweaks to the team, we arrive in 2011.
I apply for my own job. But it’s not my own job any more. I, along with a lot of other people, get very stressed and upset by the whole situation. I get a job. It’s not the same.
Now I am a communications officer again. And my pay has been cut again. This time it’s only pay protected for two years. I don’t fool myself in any way that two years is ‘ages’. It’s not, it’s nothing.
The job, the big plan was to get lots of people working generically. Get people who had previously worked on web answering the phone to the press! Get people who write press releases and talk to journalists editing the web!
Every week we have one day on press and half a day on web. The remainder of the week (just a day for me) is spent on the ‘real job’. My real job is to do with adult social care. I am still finding my way, trying to work out exactly what it is after two months.
I live for my press day and feel I’m dying inside on the other days. I miss the camaraderie of the team and the buzz of the work. I hate the silence and trying to concentrate on one thing rather than the constant interruption of the phone.
Above all, I hate the web. I can’t do it. I don’t get it. My brain just can’t make the links. It makes no sense to me. So far I have learned how to take people’s ‘for sale’ adverts off the intranet. Not really that big a deal. Everything else I need to get one of the ‘old web team’ to help me. It’s a bad use of their time and a bad use of mine.
A couple of weeks ago I was so depressed I was seriously considering leaving. Rationally I knew it was only half a day, but it cast a dark shadow over my whole week and my whole family. I didn’t want to spend the weekend crying and snapping at my family because of something that was happening at work.
Being crap at the web made me feel crap at the rest of my job. Then it made me feel like a crap mother, a crap wife and a crap daughter. With no friends.
Thank the Lord, then, that the managers saw sense. After a disastrous day on Monday, they finally realised they had to do something about it. It wasn’t just me that was struggling, most people were. Our customers were getting a poor service and staff morale was seriously low.
So we are being reshuffled! Temporarily. There’s going to be a static press team and a static web team and some people doing the other bit of the job. Sadly I’m not on the press team. BUT I’M NOT ON THE WEB TEAM EITHER! It’s like a huge weight has been lifted from my shoulders.
Now I just have to work out what the ‘real job’ is. Because I’m going to be doing it for three days a week.