Work grievances. We’ve all been there…

Hindsight is wonderful, isn’t it? Sometimes I look back at times in my career and I berate myself for not changing the way I addressed something. I’ll do that randomly in the middle of the night, or whilst i’m in the supermarket looking at the double cream. It happens all the time. It’s that voice in the back of my head reminding me of a particular moment, and I endlessly play out what I could have done or what I should have said. Through a lot of practice I’ve learnt to remind that voice that actually I wouldn’t have been able to do that, at all. I view the fact that I’ve realised how to deal with a situation I’ve encountered as a sign that I’ve grown.


Anything involving addressing an issue head-on puts us in this place. Here’s an example: you can prepare as much as possible to ask your boss for a pay rise, just to find all of that prep completely fly out of the window when the moment presents itself. When you’re in the moment you act in the best way you can, in those circumstances. No one trains you to deal with every single thing – that’s just impossible! Every situation that we go through is entirely unique, unique to the exact time, maybe the people involved, or the space that we are in at that very moment. Therefore there isn’t a rule that can apply to every single situation. But we can get informed and get prepared, to give ourselves the best possible chance to ace a situation. And if we don’t get it right the first time? Learning.


So let’s talk about grievances.


Looking back I know that I didn’t address grievances at work properly in parts of my career. Going through a tough situation at work is not easy. It can be crippling to your self confidence and have a knock on effect to the rest of your daily life. Trust me, I know. Because Iv’e been there, over and over again.


I remember a time where one of my colleagues would skive off whenever my boss wasn’t around and then continue to blame everyone for the lists not getting done. I raised it by sending an email to my boss. What did my boss do? He simply forwarded the email directly to the person who I was making a complaint against. It made for a real awkward time…


At Countertalk one of things we try to actively work on is sharing resources that could help just one person with something they need. And the grievance emails and messages that we get on a daily basis constantly remind us that more needs to be done and more importantly that we are all united by situations and circumstances that we find ourselves in.


Now we get practical, if you find yourself in a tough situation at work we wanted to lay down some pointers. Most recently we’ve heard from people who aren’t getting breaks, aren’t eating during the day and some who are facing conflict. If this is the case and you want to address it here are some practical pointers that could help:

  • Write it down, it may sound obvious or unnecessary but writing down your problem and then taking a step away from it before looking at it again can help. Once it’s really clear in your head, you will be more able to raise the issue in a clear way. Clear communication is key to resolution.
  • As a first step, if you feel that you can, try to speak to your boss/manager in a constructive way. Address the issue along with an idea of what could help to improve the situation. Explain how the situation is impacting or effecting you.  Sometimes when we humanise what something does to us it can help the other person understand.
  • Speak to a few friends who work outside of the world you work in. Sharing your problems with someone who is completely external can really help to look at something objectively. That friend could be simply an ear to listen and equally a voice of reason who could help to show you another perspective of how you can address the problem. Sometimes people who work in other fields can help us to see things differently and approach situations with another view.
  • Don’t let situations at work effect your mindset. When it does, and you have tried to address and change it, it might be time to find a new environment. We know that this is a very easy suggestion to make, and sometimes we need to stay in jobs for certain reasons. However if your work is starting to impact your life negatively it might be worth seeing what your other options are.
  • If the company has a HR department, ask to speak with them. We understand that a lot of restaurants and food businesses don’t always have this. An alternative is to approach an independent HR company for some advice.
  • If the company that you work for is part of Hospitality Action you can also call their helpline 24/7. They also have a lot of resources offering advice which can be found here
  • ACAS have some resources for employees and workers which can be found here
  • Citizens advice is also full of helpful resources on dealing with a problem at work

*Please note that we as a company cannot offer any legal/HR advice*, when we expand and have the means to grow financially one of the things we want to strive for is funding for this service for anyone who needs it. Bear with us, we will get there! Just know that you’re never alone. Sharing a problem is always a great first step.

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