it’s your Friday good news

It’s your Friday good news, with more accounts of success even in this weird time.

1. Earlier in 2020, I returned from maternity leave into a health professional role in a hospital. Both my partner and I are keyworkers who have to be around the public (and in my case, COVID positive patients) and we felt our risk of catching COVID is already pretty high. Due to this we didn’t want to send our daughter to nursery where she would potentially expose other kids, as well as increase our own risk. So, for the first time ever, I negotiated for part-time work. Using ideas I had in part picked up on AAM I imagined some of the problems that me being part-time would cause and offered ways of mitigating them. My manager was amazing and I have been able to go back three days a week but with much longer shifts, meaning that I am working about 80% of full time but over three days rather than four. It’s really good in terms of pay as well as allowing my partner and I to share childcare.

In even better news, I applied and interviewed for a promotion, with a pay rise, which I prepared for using your guide (thank you!) and found out today I got it! And I get to keep my shift pattern! After a really hard year of having a baby in a pandemic I hope that 2021 will be easier, at least financially, for my family!

2. I came into 2020 having just started to get some control over an ongoing health issue and also processing a breakup in October 2019. I had also been assigned a new supervisor and additional job responsibilities in June of 2019 — for which I was not trained in or prepared for — and did not realize how much I was struggling until I had a performance review in February 2020 and it was really, really negative. I was put on a performance improvement plan and advised I had 90 days to improve or most likely would be terminated.

I was devastated but knew I really wanted to stay, so I started working very closely with my supervisor on improvement and changing some of the processes to make the work more efficient. I had finally begun to make a little progress…then COVID happened.

Ironically, it might have been the impetus that actually helped me save my position. I had to completely shift my prioritization of tasks and assume new ones. I worked tirelessly at creating processes for myself that made it easier to get things done while also learning how to navigate a paid COVID leave policy. I even lost my supervisor during that period and still managed to forge onward.

It has been the hardest 10 months of my HR career, but also the most satisfying and rewarding I’ve ever experienced at any place of employment. For context, I work at a state agency and the turnover is terrible (which is why I’m on my 5th supervisor in only a little over 2 years!), but I truly believe that our response to COVID has been AMAZING and that includes the efforts of the HR division. My team is small but very competent and we’ve done some great work.

I think it also benefited me to gain a new supervisor with a different personality than mine. I can get overwhelmed but he is very calm and rational and that helps ratchet down my tendency to get a little too intense.

As additional positive news, I’ve also been doing better financially and even found time to acquire a part-time job so I can save money to buy a house!

Thank you so much for all your wisdom and practical advice. I’ve become an avid reader and even use some of your feedback in my own conversations with management in other divisions. Here’s to a better, safer and kinder 2021!

3. The week before Thanksgiving I was unceremoniously laid off along with a huge chunk of the department I’d worked in, at a company I had been so excited to work for. The whole thing was frustrating and demoralizing but I had been through the job search wringer in early 2017 and was determined to hit the ground running. I had all your good advice in mind and knew it was just a matter of time, but I was prepared for it to take a while.

I was laid off on a Wednesday. That Friday I applied to a job I’d seen advertised for a few weeks, at the urging of a former coworker. About 40 minutes after I applied I heard from the recruiter wanting to do a phone interview.

I’ve rarely seen a big company move so quickly, but four weeks to the day after I was laid off I got an offer from the new company. I asked lots of questions, did my research and got the top end of the range I’d given the recruiter. It seems like a good place to work and has been very stable and even growing this past year, and they truly seem to be invested in their employees. The office is very close to home so the commute will be short even when I do need to go back. I feel astonished at how well it turned out.

4. This may not sound like good news at first, but it is. On Black Friday, I learned that I have breast cancer. Thanks to years of reading your site, I spent almost no time worrying about how I would handle this news at work. I understood that I had full control over what I shared with my manager and my team. I did take some time to think about what I wanted to share and when. I’m on a small all-female team with excellent relationships with my manager and colleagues. Before reading your site, I probably would have blurted it out in our round robin updates and over shared. I told my manager first thing after the standing Monday staff meeting, and then spoke with both of my teammates. I also let a couple of other people on my broader team know that I work closely with.

The response from my management and team has been astounding. I just joined this team in June 2020 after 3 years of being a team of one in another part of the company. They have done everything right. I’ve been provided with complete flexibility and support to manage my workload and an avalanche of medical appointments. My grandboss called me within minutes of hearing the news to assure me of his support and to make sure I knew about our short term disability, EAP, and did I need him to HR started on any of this. I’m half convinced all of my management chain also reads your site! I’ve received heartfelt messages of support without any prying questions or crackpot suggestions.

Thank you so much for prepping me for a situation I never anticipated I would need. Also, we caught my cancer extremely early and I have a great prognosis. Please get your mammograms – we found this on my very first screening.

5. I’ve really been struggling with my workload over the last few months due to COVID-19. I work in a field that’s best described as support for front-line workers, so the workload has increased, I lost my grandfather during the first UK lockdown in the spring, and I’m dealing with various chronic health issues, including anxiety with a side order of situational depression.

This week, I met with my manager for my annual review. Not only were they understanding and accommodating when I brought these issues up, but they had already decided that they were going to reduce my workload. The difference in my mood has already been extremely noticeable!

I wanted to thank you for publishing letters about how much personal stuff we can or should share and what counts as good or bad management when dealing with an employee’s medical problems. I went into the review prepared for multiple scenarios and was able to successfully argue for not just the reduced workload, but additional flexibility in my work timetable to accommodate my medical needs.

{ 25 comments… read them below }

    1. TearyEyed*

      Op4: I’m tearing up too. I got my negative biopsy results last month, 3 days before my boss announced her diagnosis. Rooting for you and glad to hear there are awesome companies doing the right thing.

      1. Jack Russell Terrier*

        I definitely had a moment and wish you well OP. In addition to making sure you get your mammograms, ask for a thyroid guard. It’s almost certainly not needed – but why not use it anyway?

    2. NotAnotherManager!*

      Same! If only all companies reacted this way.

      Honestly, I just love the Friday good news. It’s such a pickup to hear that good things are still happening, and I make note of the employers who do it right so I can put that in my management toolkit.

      1. Process Geek*

        OP #4 here: Thank you all so much. I’m doing really well. I have 4 more radiation treatments left and then I will officially kicked cancer’s ass!

        My management and my team have continued to be incredibly thoughtful and supportive. Example: Radiation appointments are every day M-F for 4 weeks. It takes 90 minutes door to door for me. I have never once been asked to take PTO for these appointments or to work outside my normal hours.

        My company is in no way perfect (OMG the weirdness we have in certain areas), but they actually do support their employees.

        1. FourWayCrimp*

          Hey there! This is so great to hear—congrats on being so close to done with your treatments!

          Your letter really resonated with me. I was also diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer in November, and my workplace has been so, so accommodating. My manager explicitly told me not to take PTO for any of my chemo/radiation treatments because she doesn’t want me worrying about my balances. My colleagues have been incredibly supportive… I shared with my whole team via email almost immediately after my diagnosis because we’ve been working together for years and I truly trust them. Plus, I’m only 33, and I wanted to give a gentle plug for folks to take charge of their own health. (I found my tumor during a casual self-exam… I wouldn’t have gotten a mammogram for seven years!)

          Anyway, so glad you too have a supportive environment. I can’t imagine going through this while worrying about my job security or anything like that. Wishing you the best!

  1. Scott*

    Always nice to read some good news stories on the job front. Thanks to all of you for sharing.

  2. ThatGirl*

    No 3 is me, and I wrote that back in December – I started in early January and just want to say it’s been really good so far. I continue to be astonished at my luck, but I am also glad I was prepared when the right thing came along.

    1. NotAnotherManager!*

      Congratulations, and well-done being prepared to move that quickly! Glad your new job is working out well.

    2. Joan Rivers*

      Had to look up the famous quote to get it right:

      “Luck Is What Happens When Preparation Meets Opportunity”

      This quote, attributed to Roman philosopher Seneca, reminds us that we make our own luck.

  3. River*

    LW4, tearing up to hear that there are people and teams out there who actually care for their people. Cheers to your good health and your team, thanks for sharing your story.

  4. Former Employee*

    OP4: Thank you for sharing such a lovely story. I’m so glad that your cancer was caught early and your prognosis is good.

    And I appreciated the laugh from this sentence: “I’ve received heartfelt messages of support without any prying questions or crackpot suggestions.”

    Word to whoever is reading this: When someone shares that they they have been diagnosed with a serious and/or chronic illness, hold the crackpot suggestions.

  5. Gail Davidson-Durst*

    LW4: I’m so glad your company was good. I had a similar experience and it was a huge help – working actually helped keep me sane by giving me something else to focus on, but I also had complete flexibility.

    If it helps, I was diagnosed in 2014 and last year I “graduated” from quarterly checkups – I’m healthy and my risk is around average again now! I hope everything goes well for you. <3

  6. LW1*

    LW1 is me and I got redeployed in the UK lockdown from January to intensive care. I am still waiting to start my new role but at least they’ve been paying me my new salary!

    1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      Yay to an employer who honors the pay promises even if because of an emergency situation can’t transition the day to day role yet.

      That to me is a sign that as soon as possible will keep the rest of its promises.

      Stay safe as possible OP1.

      1. LW1*

        Yes they’ve been pretty great and things are getting better in the UK so hopefully I will be able to transition to my new role pretty soon!

  7. Message in a Bottle*

    Thank you, OPs who wrote in. I see a bit of my own situation in yours. I wish my workplace was as accommodating as yours, though you guys certainly worked and negotiated for it! Hope things continue to go well.

  8. Liz*

    OP #4 – wishing you a smooth course of treatment and a speedy recovery.
    If you’re comfortable sharing an update sometime, I hope you will!

  9. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

    #3 – happy for you. Hey – this reminds me of something we discussed in here around three weeks ago. Employers who see a great candidate/fit, they tend to do better filling that position, rather than dragging it out, hemming and hawing for months….. so — knowing how quickly they did this and “got it done”… you’re likely in a well-run, well-managed place, and congratulations.

    #4 – it’s the way a company SHOULD act when one of their employees has the challenges you’re facing. Good luck, Godspeed.

  10. LW5*

    Final LW here- I actually got a new diagnosis the day this was published, which is both good and bad news (it’s endometriosis, but at least now I know). I’m hoping that having that confirmed will help me to maintain the flexibility that’s been given to me on a longer-term basis.

  11. cat lady*

    Indeed, it’s probably best to hold all suggestions! At most, maybe a “if it’s helpful to hear what worked for me/my family member/etc., let me know.”

    1. cat lady*

      nesting fail– this was supposed to be about holding crackpot suggestions when someone tells you about their cancer diagnosis

  12. Process Geek*

    OP #4 here! Thank to all of you who have sent good wishes. A bit more detail:

    My diagnosis was Stage 0 Ductal Carcinoma In Situ, grade 3. That means the best possible prognosis, but the cancer was the most aggressive. My oncologist says that if I’d waited a year, it would have been invasive and much more serious.

    I had a lumpectomy on 12/30 (maximizing have hit my out of pocket maximum on my health insurance!). That went extremely well and I recovered quickly. I’m currently doing radiation treatment – 4 more treatments left!

    Once I’m done with radiation, I will have officially kicked cancer’s ass!

    I have one family member who had breast cancer in her 70s. By the usual rules, I didn’t “need” to get a mammogram for 2 more years. Last September, I just got a feeling “I should get that mammogram.” I made the appointment. Three weeks after my first mammogram, I got the diagnosis. Listen to your body!

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