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Saturday, June 30, 2007

Of Foundering Ships and Lifeboats


This blog has been silent for a few days, because I've been working on a huge decision. A life-changing decision. A fearful decision, but one that comes due. I can't say I have "peace" with it because I don't understand what true "peace" happens to be; it is not in my nature to do anything other than agonize over everything, especially the big stuff. But I am as close to peace as one with my temperment can get.

I have stated I hate my job, I am struggling in my work, etc etc, but I have never stated what I do, and for a reason. But I will tell that tale now; I work for a major insurance company, and I handle specialized claims involving a high risk of fraud. I've been at this company for nearly five years; when I began, I had a certain goal, a position to be obtained, and the path to that position was very clear and very obvious. So I worked very hard and even though I was constantly stressed out and overwhelmed, I kept my eye on the prize, and I was rewarded with a promotion to step one of my goal exactly one year from the date I was fully operational in my first position. For approximately six months to a year, I enjoyed my work, and I would go so far as to say I loved my job and it was a "dream job", although there were parts I really disliked.

Then the trouble began...things really began to change, both in management and company policy, and to top it off, in my faith. I was becoming a different person, the company was becoming a different company, and I hit my first low point.

I won't go into the details, but suffice to say I never came back from that low point; rather, I got deeper and deeper into my dissatisfaction. They made decisions that negatively affected my unit, and the other reps in the same position abandoned ship leaving me alone to handle the workload for months...when we were already behind. I had to absorb their workload and my own, and then take on the new stuff every single day. Additionally, the way things are structured and the way the numbers were measured for "productivity", meant there was no relief because I was REQUIRED to do the work of 2.5 or more people in order to meet the numbers for my UNIT, not for my own productivity.

This happened sometime in July/August two years ago, and I was not able to take vacation until late October because there wasn't another rep up and running yet to take on some of the workload.

My week off wasn't enough and I have never fully recovered from that first burnout, the first truly crushing load. Things got "better" only in comparison to the worst, but I would not call my job manageable, and let's just fast forward to present times; the company has restructured a few times and they've come out with a new method of determining what we have to do within what period of time. Some of this workload structure is logical and they should have done it long ago....but overall, for my unit, it doesn't make sense. We can't meet our numbers the majority of the time, and my unit has another issue...half of my unit in my specific job is in another part of the state, while the two of us in the Metro area, predicatably, must both do our own work and the work of those outstate because stolen vehicles are more often stolen and recovered from our area. People come to visit the Metro from outstate and their cars get stolen in Minneapolis...guess who has to deal with the cars and repairs in spite of our existing workloads??

Right.

I've become less and less motivated over time. I can't keep up with the demands. I can't keep up with the unrealistic schedule the company has set or the advertising campaigns that throw us all under the bus. Every day I have to work hard to get up to go to work. I can get up for everything else in life; but ask me to open my eyes and roll out of bed for work? That's the equivalent of asking me to get up and descend into Hell for eternity. The only thing that makes me go to work every day is my obedience to God and a form of praise for what He has given me...a house, a car, a certain amount of the same illusion of financial security everyone has.

But I can't do it anymore. On Friday at 4 pm I got a new claim, a recovered theft, in a suburb at the extent of my territory (which means it's an all-day or two affair to deal with the car alone, never mind the investigation), and I nearly got up and left at that moment. I've had too many moments like that.

I nearly left my job in March, requested a leave of absence, thinking to live on savings (which are meager but could have lasted me a month), but my leave was denied. My Manager, a good guy with a good heart, who understands that I'm burned out, gave me permission to take an immediate vacation if it would help. I gave a week or two for notice, actually wondering if I would just not come back. But I did go back, and two weeks after my return I was placed on a form of "probation" for performance. My management, both my Manager and my new direct Supervisor acknowledge that I'm burned out, but they have to follow what the Company says; the only answer is "work harder or we'll shoot your managment team!".

End of the line

Last week, my immediate co-worker, the other person suffering with me in the Metro area told me that she has a couple options lined up and she is giving notice this week. Neither of us wants to shoot the other in the back. She knows if I leave, she gets my work on top of her own. If she leaves...well, I've detailed this above....I can't do that again. If that happens, I will simply walk away because it's TOO MUCH. I will walk to my Manager's office, verbally state my purpose, box of my belongings in hand, and I will walk away.

I actually don't feel that's the best way to do things.

My feelings are not new, so I've come to my decision very methodically, and admittedly, affected by my co-worker's plans. I know what's coming.

1. I'm on probation, and right now, I'm behind. My file reviews are complete crap, both because we are overworked due to an unbalance in workload and being just plain worn out as a result of this Company's business plan. I have not had a goal here in years; I know I actually have no future here because my own personal goals have changed and due to an unjust accusation made a couple years ago...let's just say there's no redemption for me, either available or wanted. It's really hard to go a job day after day knowing there is no career path, knowing that the only road is doom. And after "that meeting" knowing that one is about to be fired.

2. I've considered being fired, and nearly prayed for it, only so that I can collect unemployment. If I walk away, I get nothing. Sure, I could go to a doctor and talk about how every time I see a car with damage (which is a lot....most cars on the road have some kind of damage and I have this ability to see it ALL), my stomach churns and my blood pressure rises. Every time I see a car with ground effects or a spinner kit (as an aside...these things are so tacky...don't buy them), I feel the need to vomit and then immediately go on a diatribe against any idiot out there buying aftermarket equipment with which to trick out their cars, because it only makes them a target for thieves, and they're not getting paid for the stuff when that happens, anyway. And it's not my fault so quit yelling at me for your ignorance.

You see?

But if I go to a doctor and relate all that, and they diagnose me with some sort of "anxiety disorder", guess what? Now I have a mental health label. I'd rather not have that on my record especially as that anxiety does not exist apart from my job. The rest of my life is fine; I love the rest of my life! Getting a mental health label for the purpose of arguing for unemployment benefits is, in my estimation, dishonest and fraudulent.

3. If I give notice now, I can leave on good terms; I can give sufficient notice for them to post the position and get someone in to it, and since no one will be able to step into it for about two months or so, it will also teach them not to hire someone outstate when the need is in the Metro. So my quitting is a learning experience for them. Additionally, I can leave with references.

I have been with this company for nearly 5 years...I'm quitting just short of my anniversary. Because of this, I simply cannot afford to sit there and get fired, leaving both with nothing there and nothing to show for my work. If I leave on my time, I take my dignity, I take references (already promised by my Manager), and I buy time both with the timeframe I give and my week of vacation time left for me.


*
So there it is. I simply cannot do this job anymore. I fight every day to go in, and those powers that be over my head have acknowledged my burnout. I can barely do each task, and I just don't care anymore. It's weird...I care about my customers, but not about the work. I don't dislike the people...I loathe the circumstances that bring them to me and the work I'm required to do for them. I like helping them...but I hate the way in which I have to help them.

And too often, as I have to investigate, I also feel I am defaming the innocent and rewarding the guilty.

I cannot live out that dichotomy anymore.

I've given this company nearly five years of my life and I will concede one more month...and that's it. I can't go on any further.

I am praying to our wonderful God that if He deigns that I should remain, that he keep me there. I still pray to be doing this according to His will. As a friend of mine told me yesterday, "God can work with decision...he cannot work with indecision."

So I make a decision to quit, and I give sufficient time.

Sinking ship



The ship I'm on is sinking, and it's obvious. This Company is losing people from the higest local levels, and my own immediate team is completely miserable. All of us plan to leave soon because we can't stand being robots anymore. We've all been in the workforce for a long time, and what we have experienced here is not typical of other fields, or even other companies. We know better, and we know that when the leaders flee the ship, we should have fled long before.

I don't have another job to fall upon, but it seems to me that it's far better for a beggar to dive into the ocean of God's mercy and providence than to remain in the hold of a sinking behemoth and be sucked down with no chance of survival.

My resume has been posted and I have cover letters to send out. Grad school is not an issue because I can't pay for it anyway. Some friends of mine will have soem benefitless part time work for me this fall if worst comes to worst, and I just learned there may be some mortgage assistance.

God will make his will known. All I have to do is turn in my resignation letter and allow God to act. I'm already doing all I can for now.

Please pray for me, my co-workers, and our immediate management; there are no personal problems as everything comes from above.

I need a new job, I am a highly qualified person in several fields, and I am a good and loyal employee. May God bring me to a position in which my natural gifts and obtained knowledge/experience are utilized in such a way as to glorify God.

And if not...well, I'd still rather lose my house than my mind. In all liklihood, my resignation will be turned in on Monday, although I may put it off if my Manager comes back soon, extending my last day into August. He's very ill and they don't know what's wrong with him. Please keep him in your prayers.

21 comments:

Rob said...

Strange. I have never had a "goal" in my career. I became a teacher just to support my family (dumb idea). I have always just survived (I am very good at survival but not at excelling).

Recently, I left teaching and went full time into the housecleaning business I started with my wife. We have employees and I fill out paperwork and pay bills and talk on the phone and clean the occasional office when hands are short.

Still, I just do it to live. It is impossible for me to imagine other people's ambition (like your former goal to have a certain position in you company). Consequently, it is hard for me to sympathize with your loss. I am not belittling your loss! I am just saying that it is hard for me to imagine such an attachment to a career (No tears shed for teaching here!).

But I will pray for you. You are obviously struggling and, while the context of your struggle seems odd to me, the note of desperation is something I am familiar with. God bless you.

Adoro te Devote said...

Rob, ~ I haven't had a "goal" in years. I used to be very driven, and that's what got me to my current job. What a waste.

My only goal now is to be able to do a job that uses my gifts...which this job does not. In fact, this job is the antithesis of my real gifts.

The context of my struggle is actually not "goals" as you seem to assume. It is anything BUT goals. I don't know what God wants of me, and actually, I am leaving this job because of both the misery of every single day (which you can't barely begin to understand as no words describe it) and because I am letting go of my attachment not to the JOB but to the financial security it provides. I'm attached to my house...NOT ANYMORE! God can have it. I don't care anymore.

As long as I don't have to suffer what I've been through during the last 5 years, I don't care if I lose everything. You can have it, if you want it.

Adoro te Devote said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Melody said...

Unfortunately, what you describe in your company is far from unusual. I wonder when corporations are going to understand that running "lean" (read that "pared to the bone") has bad consequences for everybody but the CEO's who reap huge salaries (I've never quite figured out how they justify it). It sound like you have thought things through, and made the only logical decision you could. I'm sure God has something better in mind for you. I'll keep praying for you.

Jennifer F. said...

Ugh. Having a job you hate is the worst. I've been in that position twice and it was just so terrible.

You are certainly in my prayers.

Also, this sounds crazy, but...you do have a lot of readers. Have you considered revealing what city you're in and what type of job you're looking for? Maybe somebody knows of an opening somewhere. :)

Adoro te Devote said...

melody ~ Yeah, upper management makes a boatload of money, and in the meantime they justify working people to the bone and not hiring enough to really take on the workload, even as they shorten deadlines and rate us negatively when we can't live up to the standards they set. This job wears people out.

I have been thinking about this for a long time and the only reason I stay is the paycheck. I don't care about the paycheck anymore. Buh-bye!

Other employers offer paychecks, too, hopefully enough to pay my mortgage.

Jennifer F. ~ reveling where I am really won't help...I am perusig several job websites and have my resume posted in multiple locations, so I already know what's out there, and what isn't. Unfortunately, I don't think anyone can really help me. The local readers do know where I live...it's a large metro area so everything within driving distance is fair game. (Almost...there are limits!) LOL!

Thank you for your prayers, all.

Anonymous said...

Adoro, I feel for you. I've been there. I am a CPA so I think in financial terms.

Can you stay long enough to be vested? I think the vested length is 5 years, but you need to check that out. Then you will get a little something at retirement and your 5 years will not be wasted.

We lurkers love you and will pray for you.

Potamiaena

The Wanderer said...

But if I go to a doctor and relate all that, and they diagnose me with some sort of "anxiety disorder", guess what? Now I have a mental health label. I'd rather not have that on my record

After the Virginia Tech shooting by the Korean immigrant,, Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, (D-NY) got one of her agenda's goals approved.
The government, the FBI in this case, will use such information as you describe to deny you not just the right to BUY a firearm but to POSSESS a firearm. You do well to be cautious.

I might add that America isn't what it used to be and the workplace seems more hellish than ever.

May God watch over and protect you as you seek proper employment.

UltraCrepidarian said...

I hope your manager, if he cares at all about you, would be willing to do something good for you, at last. Like fire you, and give you six months severance pay. That would work out just great.

Warren

Adoro te Devote said...

Potamiaena ~ No, I won't be vested, I can't make it until the end of August - I will quite literally walk off the job before then leaving with no notice, and no vacation, and no references. I'll take what I got an run.

the wanderer ~ Good point. The psychological community is all too willing to hand out labels these days, to the detriment of the individuals. There's no integrity - by the way, I've WORKED in mental health extensively. I do actually own a gun, I enjoy shooting, etc., and there are already laws on MN's book with regard to certain mental illness diagnoses. And since I'm not mentally ill, just burned out from a job that overworked me and sucked the life out of me, well...that's easily rectified without a label, even if it means I don't get unemployment.

Ultra ~ I don't know how it works in Canada, but here in MN, at least, there's no such things as 6 month's "seveance" unless one happens to be at the top of the company making 6 figures. Severence here means that, if you given enough notice, or, I think, under certain firing conditions, you walk away with watever you have in your vacation account. I will have about 45 hours.

They can't just fire me because that's a very careful process to avoid their getting sued. Besides, that's why I'm quitting. I WILL get fired if I remain because I simply can't do my job anymore. If that happens, I will also not get my references, and I put too much into this job and lost too much of myself in the process to not leave with a letter of recommendation in hand.

Monte from SC said...

You are most assuredly in my prayers, and I will ask others tonight at our evening mass to pray for you also.

Adoro te Devote said...

Thank you, Monte. As you know, your prayers always mean a lot to me. You remain in my prayers, also.

Tiber Jumper said...

My prayers are with you.
You are correct about a "mental health diagnosis" unless the physician can state the stress is only job related, and not a primary diagnosis. Still, it would possibly keep u from getting health insurance down the road.

What does your spiritual director/confessor think? (I am not asking you to divulge) but perhaps they know more about you and your weaknessess/strengths than even yourself?

Much prayers for you are said

Adoro te Devote said...

Tiber Jumper ~ Thanks for your comment. I am not blessed with a Spiritual Director, although I've been seeking one for years.

If I did, I would have gone to him long before with this issue.

I have no one but the Lord...and as he has been silent the only option I have is to quit and place everything I have in His hands. I was all only a gift to begin with.

The last priests I spoke with, however, agreed with me in that this job is doing nothing but sucking the life out of me.

I'd rather be dead than to remain where I am.

Ma Beck said...

You're in my thoughts and prayers.
:(

tara said...

adoro:
I feel your pain, your making me cry here!
God feeds the sparrows, are you not worth more than many sparrows? God knows every hair that falls from your head--He will take care of you!

On the scope of eternity a house is what? Nothing. God loves you, and it is NOT His will for you to remain in this painful job.

Your life task is to become who God wants you to be--Trust Him--I am continuing to pray for you.

Mrs Jackie Parkes MJ said...

Well i personally would go down the mental health route. But then i'm biased & not looking for a job. You are right to take action though because my mental ill-health was basically triggered by burnout..& once one hits the wall it's a long way back.
i would go & see a Priest for spiritual direction; a psychologist for psychological support & a doctor for medical advice..

i will pray for you..look after yourself..

God bless

Anonymous said...

I don't think a psychologist is warranted. What would he/she say? "Get a different job. Pay me $150 on your way out."

Riight.

Funny...I actually mentioned this to one of our priests on Saturday. He's been where I am, and was thrilled to quit his job when he entered the seminary. But he ddin't tell me not to do it because he's been where I am.


~ Adoro

Theocoid said...

I'll offer a rosary for you today.

Terry Nelson said...

Adoro, you know you are in my prayers. I just want to say one thing about the mental health issue - well maybe a couple of things.

1) I have hired a few people who have been in the same situation as you, who also had seen a Dr. for job-related issues, etc. An employer has no right to know this, I only found out as I got to know the employees, and it was never an issue. (Well one went off her meds, and couldn't function - but that is another story.)

2) Patient information is confidential, and even though a health insurer will know one's medical history, they cannot deny coverage because of this - none of my employees ever had a problem getting insurance, even when it meant they were still under Dr.'s care for episodic/situational depression. One person was diagnosed schizophrenic and still received benefits.

3) Job related stress and depression is a very common situation, it is not mental illness - even if one is prescribed anti-depressants - a large share of the population is on some sort of anti-depressant. I'm not saying at all that this is the route you should go - just trying to emphsize that it is neither an impediment to future employment nor an obstacle access to health insurance. (In my experience with employees.)

I've had people work for me who have been diagnosed bi-polar, and were institutionalized for a time. It was not an obstacle to employment nor health insurance, 3 companies who insured at least 3 different people were, Medica, Health Partners, and Blue Cross Blue Sheild.

That is all - I just wanted to clear up any misconceptions about this fact.

As I said - you are in my prayers big time.

Hidden One said...

*praying for you, Adoro.