HR Support

Apologies for the lengthy post.

In April 2014 I commenced work as a HR & HS Manager for a family run business which now employees 280 staff across 5 sites in the North West.  I was employed as a standalone as the person before me literally dipped in and out for 2-3 days a week covering both roles and they wanted someone full time as they were, and are continuing to, acquire further businesses.  Before I joined HR was more of an after thought and seen as not important, this has changed dramatically since I began but I have put a lot of work in to ensure they see not only the value of HR but also me and I am now part of the Senior Leadership Team with 3 others.

As you can imagine my role is very varied and I love my role for this reason but lately the workload is becoming more and more unmanageable and I dread coming in to work.  I have spoken to my Manager (who is one of the MDs that owns the business) to see if there is the possibility of getting me some help in the form of an Admin.  He has confirmed he would be happy to do this on a temporary basis but sees no need for a permanent solution.  

I am completely at a loss now.  I am struggling, the admin side of my role is very heavy particularly as we have a lot of new starters and leavers and there is a lot of recruitment to do (mainly Milk Roundspersons its not a job for everyone given the hours and weather conditions).  I am concerned that come April when Contracts have to be issued on day one that I will start to fall flat on my face and I have no idea how I am going to cope, I sometimes don't even know about starters until they are not paid the following week!  Appreciate this is getting the managers to keep me informed but the admin that comes with a new starter or leaver is huge 

I am now covering HR, H&S - which includes a manufacturing site, and being asked to undertake long term strategic projects and the stress is now affecting me quite badly, particularly in my home life.  I feel unable to declare this as one of the MD's is aware I have a mental health problem and whilst I have not had an episode in over 6 years - way before I started work here - they are not very accommodating or sensitive to those employees who do go off or find themselves needing time to self heal.  Before Christmas I contemplated finding another role but I really like the business and the people here and given my mental health don't really feel strong enough to find another role.

Does anyone have any experience of asking for extra assistance?  Should I gamble and tell them about my mental health?  As an aside I was diagnosed 16 years ago and have for the most part kept it under control with drugs and a wonderful GP who continues to support me.

  • They have offered you a temporary resource. Why not grab that and then use that to demonstrate what added value you can add when freed up.

    Its likely to be a step by step process to gain the additional resources.
  • Nicki, as Keith says I would take the temporary support. Once the temporary resource is in place and you are able to better manage things, you will hopefully have a better argument for the need for ongoing admin support, especially if it means you are more responsive to other issues.
    I might have a conversation with the MD re your condition. The reason for this is that they are obliged to make reasonable adjustments under the Equality Act to assist you and the admin support would potentially be a reasonable adjustment.
  • Hi Nicki, firstly I would accept the offer of temporary assistance and like said once that is in place and things get better you can put a viable plan together in order to show that the support is one that is ongoing and not that of a temporary solution. I to have mental health issues (Bipolar), it's a personal choice if you want to share this with your employer, I take medication as well daily, luckily I've been able to disclose to my firm but in saying that I've been with them for 15 years. You can if you are comfortable have an off the record conversation if you feel they will not accept or understand however you being in the role of HR know what your rights are and you would be fully protected, disclosing mental health issues will always be a tricky subject but you also have to put yourself first above anything else, your own mental health shouldn't suffer because you need extra support with admin given the turnover of staff and paperwork that comes with it. You've got this, work it to your advantage, get the help and show what a value it adds to the company and not just you, freeing up your time will allow you to focus on your current projects but also allow you some time to manage how your feeling. You can do this!!
  • Find another job. They won’t change and NOTHING is worth risking your health.

    I’m sorry if that sounds blunt, but I’ve been there and it’s just not worth it. Sending (((Big hugs))), you sound like you need them.
  • In reply to Sarah:

    Sarah thank you for sharing. I too am Bipolar (type 2) - never said that on here before!! It was a struggle to accept but over the years I have had it more under control. This just seems to be tipping the delicate balance at the moment.
    I really appreciate the sentiment in your reply it helps immensely - THANK YOU!
  • Hi Nicki

    Well done on being brave enough to open up to people here. I understand your reticence in opening up to your boss, and maybe that's your answer already?

    On top of some of the excellent feedback you've had from colleagues here, I'd also recommend taking advantage of the offer of a temporary resource. Supporting 280 people across 5 sites, when it includes all the admin, seems like too large a burden for one people. If they are growing, and wish to continue to grow, then part of the cost of that growth will be additional staff - and it very much sounds like one of those bodies should be in HR.

    Good luck!

  • Hi Nicki

    Teresa may or may not be right about the possibility of change, but I wanted to add my voice to the others advising you to take up the offer of help while you find out.

    Once you have someone in and have caught up a bit, it sounds as if the directors need a report from you setting out what resource will be needed from HR to support their growth programme. How are your working relationships with the heads of other support functions? The FD must also be thinking about what resource his team will need to keep on absorbing these acquisitions in terms of both staff and technology. Have you got a decent HRIS? How about an L&D and performance management platform? With multiple sites, automation will be your friend. But you need headspace to be able to start thinking about this and write a proper business plan for HR that shows how you can set up a smoothly-running machine to support the business which the board can sign off. And if they don't sign it off, you will know where you stand.

    I think I would also be anxious about sharing personal health information. This might not be a popular view on here, but if sharing this information did cause the board to react badly, it won't do you any good to have the right on your side and know you could win a tribunal. Going through a tribunal is a tonne of work and very stressful whether you win or not. What is your relationship with your manager like? How have they reacted in the past if you have shared anything about yourself?

  • In reply to Elizabeth:

    Hi Elizabeth

    thank you for your reply.

    I have already agreed to the temp, however, I have to come up with a justification for them in a written form, explaining what they they will be doing and what level of expertise I require. I can do this but it just takes time away from something else.

    I have a great relationship with the Depot Managers and other Senior Team Members, bar one, the Finance Manager. His team has been underachieving for several years, sadly he only has to say he needs more resource and gets it, no written justification for him. His own performance is now under review.

    To get this into context, my Manager is a Finance Director by definition so he understands the amount of work that is involved in Finance I think this is why the Manager is so successful in getting people.

    All of our systems are manual or use spreadsheets. I worked hard to convince my Manager last year about a system which would really assist with the way I work and the way we complete payroll. It fell by the wayside as they decided to go with an Engagement Survey, which don't get me wrong was needed but it didn't tell me anything I didn't already know.

    My Manager is aware of my mental health issue. He was told by someone I trust with my blessing, although I don't think he went into much detail which is fine. I was told my Manager's reply was "You would never know".

    My Manager is a lovely man but I do not share. He is a very clever, well educated man and I always feel like I am being tested on my knowledge and just can't open up.

    As I am typing this I realise I am getting my answers and I really don't like where it is leading.

    Thank you for you response

  • In reply to Nicki:

    So sorry that your going through this Nicki, if your bosses think its okay for you to oversee the HR + HS of 280 people across 5 sites with no assistance then sadly I think you are fighting a losing battle. Especially with no help in terms of a HR system. I've just implemented one here and I thought I had a lot on managing 70 staff on my own.

    Make sure you think of your health, because that is the most important thing :)
  • As a suggestion maybe an Apprentice would be beneficial, lower costs and some one you can mould into your culture and way of working.
  • In reply to Nicki:

    The reason I asked about your working relationships with other heads of support departments (which, looking back, I see I did not explain) was because I wondered whether there could be a joint paper covering the infrastructure that will be needed to support the business during and after its expansion. IMO it is not unusual for Finance to get as many people as they say they need and super-duper software. If you can get the FD on board, you are usually in a much better position to convince the rest of the board, although it sounds as if your FD's credibility has been dented.

    If you are doing payroll as well as H&S on top of HR, you have a very busy job. Could you make a case for hiving off both of those? Getting your payroll done externally doesn't have to cost too much. On the H&S front, are you Nebosh qualified? Do you have the skills, experience and knowledge to be the organisation's H&S competent person? As it is a legal requirement to have a H&S competent person (see the HSE website for more on this) if you haven't got one you ought to be able to convince the board that they have no choice but to recruit one or engage a consultant to provide the expertise.
  • In reply to Elizabeth:

    Like Elizabeth I was also thinking about the H&S requirements of your role - which frankly must be a full time role without any HR aspects if you're running 5 sites including manufacturing. Would an approach be to deal with this on a risk management basis - set out for your MD what the risks are if you get the health and safety wrong (ie he goes to prison) because the service you're trying to offer is stretched too thin.

    While I appreciate the context of your mental health (and the way that your organisation is damaging it), in fact it's almost a red herring here. The scale of the job is just too big for one person, and it needs proper resourcing if it is going to be done well and safely.

    Good luck - and I'm sorry you're having to argue for what should be recognised as a basic requirement.
  • Hi Nicki, your more than welcome, I'm very open with my mental health, its not something I can hide easily and I've worked with my team for such a long time, they have seen me prior to being diagnosed and meds, all through the hurricanes and storms, hiding who I am just didnt suite me, I'm a crazy person with extreme highs but I'm at my best when I'm like that, I relate a lot to mental health in the workplace, my dad has dementia and parkinsons too so for me I'm always checking in on employees to make sure they are ok, my door is always open so if ever you need a pick me up just give me a shout. You know in your heart what's best for you and you totally got this!! Take care