#MentalHealth #FirstWorldProblem & other issues

 

I’ve had one of my “flip-outs” again after a long time of improvement. I’ve hurt some people on Twitter and don’t expect my apology to be taken serious. It’s a circle of trauma, anxiety, anger, and when mixed with alcohol it’s explosive in words.

I really am sorry, but I understand for it to not be taken serious!

I fought on my own, it seems, for so long now since my brother died. And yes, I’ve had support in whatever capacity people can help. And I had plenty a back stabbing. My odyssey through the UK NHS mental health system will be a book in itself. I have been sent away two times from hospital while seeking help, and only people with mental health issues in the UK will understand the challenge to find help. I’m not “fighting” for my own sanity anymore, and maybe shouldn’t fight for others so much. I am waiting for someone to take the “baton” and not rely on my public writing so much. There are groups out there that could do something, but their priorities are in other places.

When you present information like on a silver platter, people seem to rely on you or they fight their own battles. I have to be honest without sounding too gloomy, I have no confidence that there will ever be any investigation into staff deaths in Pret A Manger. Low-wage workers are not worth the effort in this society. And they themselves are too conditioned in fear management to stand up for themselves. They have kids to feed and often left their home country to find a better life. But they find themselves being exploited by millionaires, who smile to the front and ruin lives behind the scenes. And those who do stand up, do so loudly, fight for a while, and then retrieve.

And then there are the silent readers in the background who will take the credit one day, collecting material for their own gain. It’s a selfish society. Prove me wrong if I’m too pessimistic.

People complain to Pret on Twitter about their coffee not having enough milk, or plastic forks stored behind the counter having to ask for it. Then they complain why the plastic cutlery and straws are within reach of customers in this environmental crisis. Others can’t handle that a popular cookie is off sale … and a lot of these complaints have one thing in common, they call this #FirstWorldProblems.

But most people don’t care to know that one #FirstWorldProblem among other issues is exploitation of low-wage employees. And at the same time, customers who spend over £1500+ a year on coffee and snacks, are lulled in to believe this company is an ethical and caring employer. Humans have always been easily bribed with cheap products, as long as it’s occasionally free. Free things make people feel special, not realizing how easily they fall for the cheap marketing and aim too low. And then the company raise prices as someone needs to pay for all the freebies.

Customers are equally exploited. They are treated nice, especially on social media, for their continued custom. Yet, when even customers die due to the neglect and plain complacency of the company, even they don’t get justice.

Years ago a clever feisty man invoiced Pret A Manger and EAT (which is now purchased by JAB via Pret) for time spent waiting in shops. He posted the invoices and email correspondence on his website. He successfully charged Pret, EAT and other companies almost triple of what a sandwich maker earns per hour. He received compensation in cash and vouchers for waiting in shops: “He charged them £25.50 an hour.” And it seems that Pret, EAT & Co. went along for the ride. These millionaires must have had a laugh, throwing around with pennies that low-wage workers slaved for.

2009 Man Invoices Pret

From Telegraph.co.uk article 2009

I’m sure this stint won’t succeed now, but it would be worth a try. If all the customers, that post #FirstWorldProblems of missing cookies and cold coffees, would actually send invoices to Pret & Co. combined as a group, it may be interesting to see how Pret would deal with it now in 2019.

And it’s futile to think that customers, staff, Unions and the press would combined demand answers on why customer deaths where not acted on until it became public, and why staff deaths, especially suicides, are not investigated.

What IS a first world problem? Anything that is supposed to be of less suffering than people dying in other crisis-ridden places?

People die here, too.

Customers from unlabelled products.

Staff by suicide.

Systemic workplace bullying under a toxic HR department and CEO in their profit-driven “leadership” style.

Excruciating work conditions for prolonged times in 40°C heat!

As long as we keep distinguishing between worlds we won’t care for our immediate neighbour!

We will only stand up if we ourselves or our loved ones are affected, and at times if we FEEL first hand what others go through. Other than that we keep separating worlds and peoples, and occasionally give some spare change into far away places, while closing our eyes to the issues right in front of us. Only hindsight will teach us again, often when it’s too late.

 


 

I worked at Pret A Manger for almost 10 years and survived systemic workplace bullying during bereavement that involved HR, the top leadership, HQ and even the CEO Clive Schlee. I declined 4 settlement offers if I am silent about my ordeal. But I rather starve and speak out to help others. For an overview of important blog entries of my experience with Pret, please visit “My Ordeal with Pret A Manger”. The little arrow to the right next to each heading will lead directly to the post.
I also tell my story for the first time verbally in this >>>
podcast interview based in California, and wrote an article in the Scottish Left Review.
Thank you for reading/listening.

Interview:

 

©2019 expret.org

Unless otherwise stated or linked to, this website and all writings within this site are the property of expret.org, poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org and are protected by copyright and other intellectual property laws. Reproduction and distribution of my writings without written permission is prohibited.

©2017 – Present: expret.org, poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org unless otherwise stated. All Rights reserved. Disclaimer.

 

Open Letter to the “Misery” Shopper

 

Dear Mystery Shopper,

I hope you forgive me for calling you the “Misery” Shopper. That is how I often experienced you: merciless, unrealistic, arrogant and plainly non-caring. You gave us often very good comments, recognizing my hard working teams and with it also my hard work with my teams. Thank you for that. But many times I suffered deeply under your unfair comments, especially while going through bereavement with equally merciless bosses who only cared about their bonuses and reputation.

I can forgive you as you didn’t know what I and colleagues were going through, but my bosses knew and had no consideration nor care. The Mystery Shopper results count for the biggest chunk of management and OPs Manager’s bonuses, so this was the greatest pressure as well as torture, and the rewards were just too little for us teams. One manager said to me once when I was new in his shop that he closes his eyes to anything but the Mystery Shopper. In other words, he was happy for any mistakes or shortcomings, be it in the finances, health & safety etc. but was not willing to accept poor MS results. I just came from a branch where I was bullied for tiny things, and I responded to him that he should not close his eyes to anything! Of course that did not make me favourable towards bosses like him, but I wasn’t concerned! I had the loss of my brother on my mind.

And yet, even if Pret would have canceled the Mystery Shopper scheme, I would have worked exactly the same, as I love quality and giving customers the best service they deserve, not just because they pay money, but because I love people. Full stop!

 

 

Face off man-845847__340

 

 

You can only be a Mystery Shopper if you have never worked in retail or the food industry, so you would not empathize with the staff, but judge as a “proper” customer not understanding the pressures of the business. You are being instructed to be fair but firm, whereas I often looked at it hoping you would be firm but fair. You often choose to be firm. I have had outstanding comments throughout the years, including twice being commented on as having the best team yous have ever experienced. That was very kind for you to write, it didn’t help with my bosses, though, as it was never good enough, what we as the teams achieved. But that aside, it is about you in this open letter.

 

2012-10-12 MS 1

2012-10-12 MS 2

I and my teams received many comments like this throughout the years, but they have not helped me against the harshness of my line managers. It was never good enough. Towards the end of my employment in Pret I would even submit 4 pages of ideas on how to improve the Mystery Shopper and passed it on to my OPs manager. I had another 4 pages of ideas, but never submitted those as that OPs manager promised me as the Team Leader extra incentives if the Mystery Shopper results would improve (as if we needed improvement with almost always perfect scores!), but she never lived up to her promise. I delivered, but as usual left empty handed with broken promises. Another typical Pret “behaviour”, suck everything out of your staff and leave them stranded.

As with any other job, every Mystery Shopper is different, there are those who really take it serious at the same time have an eye on fairness. Others of you don’t really care too much, you come in and out so fast to just finish that job and within minutes you decide for the team to not get the bonus for whatever wasn’t right for you. Never mind them working and toiling since 5am or earlier with an angry manager giving them a good telling off later, because their bonus got even a bigger dip down.

Your job is to judge, no matter how long or short your visit. I hope you forgive me when I re-name you as the Misery Shopper as many times when the scores weren’t so good, even when we still had the bonus, the manager would give us a harsh telling off, because the managers and OPs rely on the scores to increase their bonus and competition in the areas. The Misery Shopper contributes most to their bonus and the ranking, that is why the teams get the most pressure from it.

It was particularly hard when I served you and your feedback was that I didn’t smile or that team members should not work while sick because I coughed during service. I am sure you are under the impression that the teams get paid when they are sick at home. But they aren’t paid sick-leave for the first 2 -3 days depending on age regardless if they have a sick note. Thus forcing them to go to work, cough, receive negative ratings for it and the manager gives them a hard time.

It’s a complete 100% lose-lose situation. If you stay at home because you are sick, you won’t get paid after your “well-being days” are used at the sole discretion of your manager. Also, your manager doesn’t like you being off sick, especially if you are a leader, like I was. They doubt your illness, I had that even while depressed and with a panic attack on sick leave, my manager didn’t believe me, but that’s another blog entry in itself.

If you do go to work because you need to pay your bills, the danger of serving you and receiving a bad report, and with it a telling off from your boss in the office, nothing is ever in your favour, no matter what you do.

 

2014-12-01 MS cough

Quote: “Team members should smile at customers and may not work when ill, as team member was coughing whilst serving me and was therefore not feeling cheerful to smile that day.”

I didn’t feel cheerful to smile as well after the telling off from my line manager afterwards. You got told off in the office because you didn’t smile, and while the boss is telling you off (who by the way does not smile themselves, just as a side-note!) and then the non-smiling boss orders you to smile! You go out extremely humiliated, discouraged, with low motivation, and yet forced to smile if you don’t want to find yourself penalized or losing your job.

Another example of a Team Leader who complained on Twitter about being sick:

 

2018-09-13-59-staff-tweet-e1536844434384.jpg

 

 

In detail:

 

2018-09-13 #59 Staff Tweet2

Link to tweet plus, I responded to Pret’s saying sorry, but my tweet has been deleted or is hidden somehow. But it is still on my Twitter as well as a screenshot in one of the “Quotes of the Day“. Pret of course keeps any of my tweets they may use later against me. That’s fine with me.

 

 

But I can more than relate to this Team Leader’s “review”. You are made to feel guilty when you call sick, because when you are off sick as a leader, the manager has to pull up their sleeves and work instead of just sitting in the office!

So, dear Misery Shopper, what exactly would be a cheerful occasion to smile? And you probably think that this is an exception and that surely if a team member goes through bereavement there would be empathy and understanding. Wrong again. Having to smile NON-STOP especially for 8 – 10 or more hours a day, in an intensely, excruciating and brutal work environment, and on top of that just having buried a loved one…

 

This is nothing short of developing either superhuman abilities or mental illness!

 

 

Pret Uniform2

 

I wrote it to the real Pret customers already, that I wished sometimes I would have been able to wear a badge like a pregnant woman does with the “Baby on Board” badge, or a disabled person with a “Please offer me a seat” badge. I would have needed a “Please bear with my grief” badge, as my manager was merciless when I didn’t smile, even during bereavement. When I did smile and this feedback was given in your report, my manager never acknowledged it either. Never a word of, “I know you are going through a terrible time with the loss of your brother, and you still come to work and even smiled, well done, I don’t know how you do it, but you are doing good, if you need anything, a little break to take a breath, just let me know.” … Nothing of the like. Just a telling off and you go home later wanting to end your life.

I would do this with my team members once I was aware of problems in their lives. I’d encourage them, offer them some extra break or if they need to disappear for a few minutes when I saw them in tears. But for some reason I did not receive this common human kindness from my line managers, except from only one I worked only for a few weeks when she then went on maternity leave.

I wonder, dear Mystery Shopper, if you would also be so harsh with a team member if you knew they had a loss in their life preventing them from smiling. Would you be as merciless as the managers?

I survived the bullying and harshness, I became ill and at times suicidal when I couldn’t take this brutal treatment anymore. And I know of others who became depressed, ill, suicidal. But I survived and live to tell my story, and I tell it so bluntly because the thought that I may be dead now, jumping of a bridge because of the turmoil I went through, my body still freezes when I think of the close call I’ve had!

 

Bullying can kill

 

You will continue to do your job trying to be fair but firm, I would just want to ask you to rather be firm but fair, or better even, kind and fair. The people in HQ who come up with these rules and penalties don’t care about the stress on the shop floor and in the kitchens. They know very well how difficult and cold it is, but it is not of their concern.

Your job is to feed back if the team smiled amongst other things you check on, no matter what hell they are going through. I hope you won’t be judged so hard when you go through tragedies.

Thank you for reading.

Kind regards,

Ex-Employee of Pret, or as I call us “Ex-Prets” 🙂 ( <<< now that’s a real smile!)

Late Night Girl2

 

A compiled list of staff complaints from various review sites, YouTube and Twitter. Selected reviews as Quotes of the Day.

 

©2018 LateNightGirl.org

 

Unless otherwise stated or linked to, this website and all writings within this site are the property of poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org and are protected by copyright and other intellectual property laws. Reproduction and distribution of my writings without written permission are prohibited.

©2017 – 2019 poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org unless otherwise stated. All Rights reserved. Disclaimer.

 

An IMAGINARY but Honest Interview with Pret

 

Pixabay_interview-2071228__340

 

LNG: Thank you for your time and agreeing to do an imaginary but honest and transparent interview, this has been a long time in the making and I am grateful you finally agree to give us an unprecedented look into your business, especially staff treatment, and what makes you stand out on the high street.

PAM: Oh, no problem at all. Sorry it took so long to agree to an imaginary yet open and honest interview, but we’ve been really busy with our success as you know.

LNG: Yes, well done! May I call you Pret?

PAM: Sure, we love to be on first name basis here. We are family.

LNG: Thank you, you can call me what your CEO calls me.

PAM: Great! Okay Late Night Girl, what do you want to know about our company?

LNG: My first question….

PAM: (interrupts) Oh, would you like a coffee? On the house? The first hit is always free! 😉

LNG: No, thank you, I got my own! 🙂

 

Coffee paper cups

 

 

LNG: So, my first question is, what is the secret ingredient to your success?

PAM: Well, if we stay on the first name we have a secret spelling system here, we love to work with acronyms to really emphasize that we mean business when it comes to motivating our staff. Pret is French for “ready”. So, Pret A Manger means “ready to eat”. Fast food, from already cooked and processed products that arrive daily and are then assembled in the kitchens on the premises. But it is not just food ready to eat, we want our staff to always be “ready to work” come rain come shine, in good days and in bad days, till FS do us part.

L: What’s FS?

P: That’s another meaning, “FS” is the Firing Squad, but officially they are called “HR”, meaning Human Resources, of course. Our HR department have a really great slogan to sell their mission as, “Doing the right thing naturally”, and people buy into this slogan without questioning it, as PC is too common. It sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it? HR don’t do the dismissing themselves, no, they like others to execute this nitty-gritty muddy business. They…

L: (interrupts) What’s PC now?

P: Oh, common’?!

L: Ah, yeah, right. Sorry.

P: Tztz, you didn’t do your homework when preparing for this interview?! You don’t know our 6 P’s?!

L: No, no, yes, uhm, I know them all! (nods, while getting a first glimpse into the intimidation tactics) It’s just a lot to remember what you give your staff to memorize.

P: Yes, that is how brainwashing works, repeated bombardment of silly word games.

L: Sure.

P: So, where were we?

L: With HR not doing the dirty work.

 

ronald-mcdonald-you-re-fired-meme

 

P: Ah yeah, so they fire indirectly using their operational side of the business, managers who are tasked to hold hearings that are “fundamentally flawed” as one Tribunal Judge called it, they are unfair and only impartial if we need to cover ourselves.

L: Ah! So, it’s a lot to do with fear management?

P: You got it.

 

L: And how does the fear management work exactly? Talk me through a typical day in a Pret shop.

P: No problem. First of all, we don’t like to be known as a sandwich “factory”, even though we are hundreds of little sandwich factories. So, we put intensive incentives in place, pay a little bit more here, give a little more holidays there, put on elaborate parties, let the kitchens play loud and fast music to speed up their work pace and avoid them talking too much with each other wasting our precious time, no matter if they get a head ache or a tinnitus etc. etc.

In reality we have no choice but give a little here and there as the job is way too harsh, stressful and non-rewarding. So we apply psychology where we call our sandwich makers “chefs”, let them go through patronizing “graduation” so they assume they achieved something and won’t leave as easily.

 

L: Ah, clever!

P: Yes, it’s all psychology. We have slogans on our packaging saying “Lovingly made in this kitchen today”, we’re having a laugh with our staff because in this high-paced and stressful environment making something “lovingly” would only be to resign!

But our real main ingredient and the real spelling behind our acronym as already hinted early on is, Pret really is a four letter F-word spelled F E A R. It means Fire Early At Request or with the nickname of “Fret” to make it more appealing. Fear management is the main motivator for our lovely and hard working people, but we facade this in the perfect packaging of “Good Jobs for Good People”. We have a lot of good people, but after a while they get so burned out, feel devalued and dehumanized that they are not “good” anymore, and there are plenty of young people lining up for the job. We give out disciplinaries like napkins, we make sure that our staff always worry about their job security, and we don’t tolerate people being vulnerable (takes a sip from the organic coffee).

L: What do you mean by “vulnerable”?

P: Well, simply inconvenient occasions like bereavement or even mental illness of our staff. We feel that especially bereavement is “imposed” on us. That’s not nice.

L: (looking confused) So, it would be best to not be vulnerable, as staff wouldn’t be safe in their jobs?

P: That’s right.

 

L: So, if staff are bereaved, or suffer from a mental illness or disability that might affect their day-to-day work, and even if they work still really good while in bereavement, there is no policy in place to protect them from potentially being bullied by superiors?

P: Yes, something like that. We have a large HR department, larger than the IT or even food team. But it isn’t large enough yet, as one of our former employees has exhausted our HR department after being bullied during bereavement and being held low in shops. So we want to expand our HR staff to not let this happen again.

L: Wow! Must have been hard work. But at least you learned from this and won’t let the bullying happen again. That’s great.

P: No, we won’t let it happen again that anyone approaches HR with their concern about bereavement and bullying like this anymore, even though we advised that person (whom the CEO called his “late night girl”) to raise grievances, as we didn’t want to interfere with how the managers were mistreating her. As we don’t have an anti-bullying policy in place to protect the bereaved, we aim to divert to the grievance procedure as we don’t want to admit that we have a huge problem. A grievance procedure often deters the employee to raise the issue formally, as this is quite stressful to have to come up with all the evidence, not to mention becoming a target after speaking up.

For other issues like sexual orientation, pregnant women, physical disabilities, religious beliefs, equal opportunities etc. we have a strong and clear zero tolerance policy on discrimination, because there are laws in place and we would get into trouble if we’d let those groups be bullied. Sometimes we even use any of the above groups in discrimination to get rid of other inconvenient employees, the laws for the protection of the above groups really come in handy here, even if we have to tweak our reason for dismissal a little.

And our luck is that there are no laws to protect the bereaved, we can openly and even in writing express that this is “imposed” on us without any problems. We just don’t really want to bother with grief and mental issues, even while we know that we all will die, and 1 in 4 of us will at one point or another suffer from a mental health condition. Death and illness can happen to any person at any time for any reason. But we don’t want to think about it and want to just concentrate on the material world with all the money that can be made. If you work for us, your mind needs to be of steel and you better have “Metal” Health.

L: Just like a machine or a robot?

P: Exactly!

L: I see. Hm…

P: You’re catching on fast, I like that.

L: Oh, thank you, I feel honoured! *blushing*

 

flick2

 

P: So, to finish the thought, we pride ourselves in our HR department. They are super busy with all the grievances raised and disciplinaries issued, and of course the firing squad, ready to fire anytime for any and no reason (checking the phone as a text message comes in).

L: Sounds quite efficient. I’m impressed.

P: Thank you. Yes, could we speed this up a little? I have to attend to some business.

L: Sure, just finally I’d like to throw some questions out that you cannot skip, but have to answer honestly.

P: Uuuh, I’m intrigued, fire away!

 

L: Who was the first one you ever kissed?

P: Oh, I’ll never forget my first kiss! It was McDonald’s. We even got married so I can get a green card to the U.S. But we are divorced now, as I gotten my green card and dual citizenship now and won’t need McD anymore. But we are still friends.

L: Any kids?

P: Naa, we were always married more to our jobs, and our different tastes in food finally split us up! Career is more important, and as soon as I had my foot in the door to the U.S. our divorce was imminent.

L: It was a “marriage of convenience” then?

P: You got it!

L: I see. Okay, while on the subject of super mergers, what super powers would you like to have?

P: To fire all the shop staff in one go and exchange them with perfect smiley robots that are so real looking to customers unlike the current prototypes, fooling them, and so increase our profits even more. That way we won’t have to deal with staff not being as productive when they go through personal issues like bereavement or illness. We also won’t have to deal with any human being thinking for themselves. But mostly that way we can truly “man” all the tills at all times and have enough staff, almost more than customers. We could even place a human looking robot with each and every customer, raising sales going through the roof. We would also scrap the Misery Shopper, as we won’t need them anymore since we have perfect robots. Can you imagine the amount this would slice off our labour costs and bring out the maximum? (sigh, what a dream!) But it also means that we would need to rethink the HR department, maybe turning them into mechanics fixing the robots when they break. (ponder ponder)

 

L: Sorry, what did you say, the what? The “Misery” Shopper?? What’s that?

P: Did I say that??

L: Uhm, that’s what I heard.

P: Sorry, I meant the Mystery Shopper *smile*

L: Maybe I just misheard as I had a miserable coffee this morning! The competition hey. Should have gone to Pret instead!

P: Yes, that’s it, it’s all your fault! You misheard, it was your mistake, not mine! It’s one of our important Pret attributes, always blame downwards, never take responsibility. As long as we can smile, we’re fine!

 

robot-916284__340

 

L: Okay back to my questions. What time period would you like to visit, past, present or future?

P: The future, always the future as the present is a blur and the past is done with and not worth keeping fond memories of. We move on quickly, whoever can’t keep up with the pace will be left behind.

L: No regrets then, huh?

P: Hello? We are Pret we don’t regret!

L: I see. Who would you like to collaborate with in business?

P: Anyone and No one. Anyone who could pour more money into us, so that we can squeeze even more out of our workers to repay the investors. We don’t like to share the spoils except only with our HQ people and high up leaders. But if we do have a moment of generosity with our shops, it is mainly to try and keep them before they leave or our aim to win new ones (whispers: Brexit’s advancing fast now).

 

L: What is your greatest accomplishment?

P: Okay, that’s another tough one, as we have so many. But I would say… (looking up at the ceiling, tapping with the fingers on the coffee cup) I’d say it really is our HR department with that ever impressive slogan of “Doing the right thing naturally”.

L: What do you value so much that you would put your money where your mouth is, so-to-speak?

P: Again, investing in our HR department, making them bigger, even though they are already bigger than any of the other departments. We’d like them to give more disciplinaries, neglecting the bereaved and mentally ill, and fire faster. Any support that is in place, most are just Pret-ense for our own fear of the Tribunal, as we like to live up to our name.

L: Which was what again?

P: F E A R.

L: Ah yeah, that’s right.

 

L: What was the moment when you felt you’ve made it?

P: When our staff bought into fear management and unnecessary pressure.

 

robot-3486900__340

 

L: What was the scariest encounter you’ve ever had?

P: Tribunal Judges at first, but when we lose our case in court, we just pay the peanuts the Judges order us to pay in compensation and then go back to business as usual. Our most scariest encounter will always be the customers and public pressure, not to mention the Unions!

L: And the greatest?

P: All our hard working people in the shops, especially those with integrity and longevity during hard times. We really feel intimidated by them, as they show real passion which we only Pret-end to have for them. But don’t tell them, they need to think that they are not valued and their work is never good enough, so they work harder until they burn out and are exchanged with “fresh blood”. It’s like one of our main acronyms: FIFO, First In First Out or our internal acronym BPOFBI: Black Pudding Out Fresh Blood In. If they find out our tactics, it would also be the most embarrassing encounter, but that’s between us.

L: Of course! You do love your acronyms and slogans, don’t you?

P: (Smiling) It’s what makes Pret PRet!

L: Yes, Pret is next to nothing when it comes to PR.

P: That’s right, we are especially successful in this by employing former homeless people to confirm this when the pressure on us gets high to explain why we treat our staff so poorly. The CEO invites a group once a year to his private Austrian property, and that way we win them for our reputation to speak up for us should we reap criticism from the public regarding staff treatment. We also aim to not integrate them too much into regular Pret shops, but are working on having shops run entirely by former homeless people, as they won’t cope in the long-run in a regular mainstream Pret shop, with all the bullying and high stress environment. It wouldn’t look good on our PR.

 

L: Makes sense. To continue with the questions, which food item are you currently working on to be the best selling of all time, not only in Pret but in the world.

P: Well, now you want to know some secrets here, what food item our food team is working on. I can’t let you in on that one, even though I agreed to do an open and honest interview. But I will say this much: it has to do with the Hearts of our staff.

L: Interesting! Similar to dishes like Liver Mousse or Kidney Pâté, but only with Hearts? Like Hearts on a Platter? Are some Minds part of the new stew as well? Oooh, I can’t wait for the new product launch!!

P: (motions with a gesture of sealed lips)

L: What, if any, is your hidden talent?

P: Doing the wrong thing naturally.

 

People-who-are-dishonest-are-perceived-as-incompetent-

 

L: On a personal level, which instrument would you like to play?

P: Hearts and Minds.

L: You can only choose one!

P: That’s not fair! I can’t choose! *biting on the coffee lid*

L: Well, strive for perfection here, a little extra mile will go a long way.

P: Okay Minds, as Hearts are often broken already and useless therefor. The Mind still needs tuning and somewhat breaking like a wild horse that is thinking on its feet too much. We are not in the horse whispering business, we break them!

 

L: Starbucks or Caffee Nero?

P: Pret!

L: Prosciutto or Posh Cheddar?

P: Well, since we go towards more Vegan, it would be Hearts. Organic Hearts of course!

L: Of course!

L: Mystery Shopper visits or Senior Management visits.

P: (regaining posture after the Heart vs Mind decision) Senior Management visits of course, we love to see the nervousness and fear on the faces of our managers and teams when we walk into shops.

L: Makes sense, that F E A R thing again, I really get to know you now and how consistent you are, very reliable.

P: (lifting the head with pride) Thank you. Now I am almost blushing.

L: Comedy or Drama?

P: Since we have too much Drama already, I’d choose Comedy, although they both go very close together in our company.

 

stressed-woman-3309731__340

 

L: Which micromanaging rule are you most proud of and why?

P: Letting our staff sign countless training rules without having the time to really train. We just like to cover our backs.

L: Which other countries would you like to conquer for Pret?

P: The whole world of course, even jungles where the monkeys live.

 

L: While on the subject of monkeys, if you were an animal, what would you be?

P: A Pret-Bull.

L: Why?

P: We like to look intimidating to our staff, but they don’t know that barking dogs don’t bite. We only bite together in groups and when we smell fear, which brings us back to fear management.

L: All well thought out then.

P: Yes. Are you sure you don’t want that coffee? It’s free!

L: No, thank you.

 

L: Final question, what was the best advise you’ve ever received?

P: Hire fast and fire even faster. Made today, gone today.

L: Thank you.

P: Well, that was fun!

L: Yeah, wasn’t that bad, was it? It must feel good to be honest.

P: Absolutely, never thought it would feel so relieving. I’ve learned a lot about myself today. Well, unfortunately, since it is lunch time I have to get back to the pub with my OPs managers for a few pints while our good and hard working people make it happen for us.

L: Of course, thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule. And thank you for this imaginary but honest and open interview.

P: Any time! And let me know whenever you want that free coffee 😉

L: Thank you. But no thank you. I am on my way to interview Sainsbury’s, one of the big ones to have signed up for the Disability Confident employer scheme, I want to avoid too many toilet breaks during this important interview.

P: Disability what?

 

L: Never mind, you wouldn’t be interested in that.

P: I guess you’re right. We need to keep that fear thing going.

L: That’s what I meant. Thanks again. See you again soon. *not*

P: Yes, oh while you are with them, could you ask them if they would be keen to have a Pret shop inside their supermarkets, like Costa does with Tesco with those rather unhygienic automates? That way at least we could Pret-end again to be part of this Disability thing you talk about without really being part of it of course. 😉

L: I see what I can do… *not*

 

Late Night Girl2

 

©2018 LateNightGirl.org

 

Unless otherwise stated or linked to, this website and all writings within this site are the property of poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org and are protected by copyright and other intellectual property laws. Reproduction and distribution of my writings without written permission are prohibited.

©2017 – 2019 poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org unless otherwise stated. All Rights reserved. Disclaimer.

 

 

THE Song for Times Like These

 

Chapman

 

Timeless as history keeps repeating itself.

 

 

Talkin’ ’bout a Revolution

 

Don’t you know
They’re talkin’ ’bout a revolution
It sounds like a whisper
Don’t you know
They’re talkin’ about a revolution
It sounds like a whisper

While they’re standing in the welfare lines
Crying at the doorsteps of those armies of salvation
Wasting time in the unemployment lines
Sitting around waiting for a promotion

Don’t you know
Talkin’ ’bout a revolution
It sounds like a whisper
Poor people gonna rise up
And get their share
Poor people gonna rise up
And take what’s theirs

Don’t you know
You better run, run, run, run, run, run, run, run, run, run, run, run
Oh I said you better
Run, run, run, run, run, run, run, run, run, run, run, run

‘Cause finally the tables are starting to turn
Talkin’ bout a revolution
Yes, finally the tables are starting to turn
Talkin’ bout a revolution, going on
Talkin’ bout a revolution, going on

While they’re standing in the welfare lines
Crying at the doorsteps of those armies of salvation
Wasting time in the unemployment lines
Sitting around waiting for a promotion

 

— Tracy Chapman

 

 

PRet A Manger

 

What makes Pret being Pret? Not doing the right thing “naturally” as their slogan says. What does Pret do next to nothing that makes them unmistakably Pret?

 

Word PR.Isolated on white background.3d rendered illustration.

 

I was awaiting an open retaliation or “tangible” trouble for going public with my traumatic experience in Pret, but no, I have to be disappointed again! I should have learned by now!

Pret’s done it again, the PR thing. This blog entry is for them of course a welcome contribution to their PR. I am feeling generous today and will explain why below.

Usually on Pret’s and the CEO’s Twitter there is something about a new product or a scheme like new cutlery, bottles etc. pinned to their pages, but since recently Pret’s pinned tweets are about all the good deeds Pret loves to advertise to the public, how Pret gives jobs to people who were homeless etc. So far so good.

So, the Tweet goes: Look at what lovely things we’re doing! Braaaaggg:

Btw, as an “Ex-Pret” I suggest to run from Pret before the stars fall from the sky!

Twitter Pret

 

and then:

 

Twitter Pret2

… while other staff members are unfairly dismissed and made homeless.

And on the CEO Twitter the pin is about the £1000 for every employee.

This sudden generosity, where it used to take 10 years of service in Pret to receive £1K now is “thrown” at all new and long-term staff, which to me looks like Pret is desperate to recruit and retain their staff, while making others redundant in HQ. Just shifting the money a bit in the midst of this Brexit angst.

 

Twitter Clive

 

So, what’s my problem with these? No problem at all, looks all very sweet and lovely, except to say that I crinch at this hypocrisy!

And I can’t help but think also of age-discrimination. All the former homeless people in the photo seem in their 20s or no older than 30s, as well as the apprenticeship scheme with young people who are paid less per hour, means that the “investment” in them will pay out longer than taking over 40 or 50 year old former homeless people. Young people don’t know their workplace rights yet, they are easily to be brainwashed and molded into a system whereas an older person comes with a lot of life experience and a zero tolerance for bullshit.

One review from a former employee has put it in more “krass” words, that even I find a bit too strong, but the reviewer, a former Assistant Manager who has a little more insights into upper level management and tactics than I have, wrote, quote:

“now the company is just about the profit also it is run like mafia organisation where it is about who you know, the team member are over worked and managers are always working with fear … Get back to basic, care about the team and always listen to the little people, also be open and get rid of some top management who are so corrupt.”

I can certainly verify about the favouritism in Pret where you can work your butt off but are never promoted while an incapable and bullying team member sleeps their way through the ranks. But I just don’t have the courage to say the “M*fia” word and rather quote it, but the PR stunt is certainly a close relative to how Mafia organisations work. They “rampage” their way through a region and town, and in-between they give money to the little people and make substantial donations to charity.

Of course with the Mafia it is a mix of bribery, money laundering and “investing” in the little people, so when they need a boost in their reputation, the small folk will stand up and say what great deed this organisation has done for them! Super duper clever PR in a nutshell.

And a former IT Analyst of 8 years in Pret giving a review on HQ, quote:

“Manipulative and exploitative approach to employees as owners and senior management concerned about profit margin only. People are taken into account only if it makes good PR. Genuinely fake and dishonest company.”

 

2018-07-06 Head Office PR

 

To pin ones photo with ex-homeless staff on ones Twitter feed and try to buy current and new staff with £1000 incentives, while the atmosphere in shops show a different story, is what my problem is with this.

Now, I am really glad for these and other ex-homeless people to not only get a shot at work and a new life again, visiting the CEO’s Austrian PRoperty, and also for the apPRentices, who are all treated a little “softer” then the rest of the workforce, but if this is the only response to my public outcry, I am really disappointment. And if I was a former homeless person, I would be really ticked off in being used for a PR stunt like this.

You may say as some have that I am very passionate about my Pret-rants, or you may think that I am too angry. Yes, both true, and if you have followed my story with Pret you will know why, if you agree with my public outcry not, but you will know why.

For any new reader, in a nutshell, I worked in Pret for almost 10 years. After 7 years of service I was bereaved as my brother died and the circumstances around his death and how I received the news were extremely shocking and traumatic. But regardless how his death was or how I received the news, bereavement is bereavement, and instead of being supported, I was bullied, targeted, excluded, shouted at by line manager after line manager, tricked and trapped by Pret’s corrupt HR department and patronized by the CEO who labeled me his “late night girl”. The support that I then received was a lot to cover up their tracks and a Pret-ense in many ways.

Because the managers in shops are not trained in how to deal with a bereaved staff member, the Head of HR met with me after I contacted the CEO for help when the bullying became unbearable. At the first meeting the Head of HR asked me how meeting with him was for me on a scale of 1 – 10. Confused at this weird question but in hindsight understanding that he had the need to get his ego scratched, falsely assuming I was “star struck” in having met with a big gun. Nope, I wasn’t impressed, especially after I approached HR for almost a year with suggestions for support, hitting a brick wall! I needed to meet with and the support from my line managers who were at a loss, frustrated and angry with me, belittling and offensive, and as one bullying line manager wrote in an email to his boss that my situation was “imposed” on him.

And another time the Head of HR met with me again while I was in the middle of a 3-months sick leave, but then not knowing it would turn into 3 months, a sick leave that was kick-started by my line manager shouting at us leaders again for no apparent reason and my anxiety level couldn’t handle this anymore. In this sick-leave I had my first massive panic attack in my sleep, waking up from or with a panic attack I didn’t know one can have in ones sleep. Dragging myself to A&E at 5am in the morning thinking I’m in the middle of a heart attack and the fear of death in me.

The Head of HR met with me again then and made the first of four settlement offers if I resign and be quiet about my ordeal as well as not go to court. Of course I refused as I don’t prostitute my values, nor am I willing to suffer in and “of” silence for the rest of my life. And then he had the audacity to want a “cuddle” when we finished the meeting where we met in a Cafe Nero. Not quite the professional end of meeting I would have respected as such. He put his arms around me and I remember ducking down confused, and later thinking to myself, that he should make up his mind if he wants me to leave or if he wants to cuddle! You can’t have both, sir! But then I heard a few things about him later, and again a lot made sense.

 

 

images.washingtonpost.com

A tutorial

 

Before my brother died, I had a normal life, friends, projects, hobbies, normal problems, bills, just a plain life. Now, Pret was always hard, rude, bullying, but I was able to see through and resist the fear management style most of the time and not take the stress home too much. But when I was thrust into traumatic grief and still working really well, even making the effort to bring suggestions to Pret, I was then drenched in great fear and anxiety that bereavement and trauma brings with it as a default. But this extreme fear was intensified by the bullying culture in Pret. I was like a zombie stumbling around and still don’t know how I even survived this.

So, now where I am publishing openly about my and other people’s experience, having been scared so much by and of Pret, intimidated, confused, angered, now where I am openly confronting this bullying system of Pret, Pret does not have the “balls” so-to-speak to not only apologize, but to respond in a way that would give them a chance to “safe face” and even more, to truly make a difference for their workers as this system is hurting them, and with it Pret in the long-run.

 

YT_JamesHoffmann_Reply2

 

And as it is with everything in life, the truth always comes out, prolonged fear leads to anger and people eventually start to speak out, like in this unprecedented example of sexual violence in Hollywood and the outcry that was kick-started by a little hashtag #metoo that has brought and is still bringing rapists, bullies and abusers to justice. The same it is with systemic workplace bullying, a system like this cannot hide forever behind a PRet smile.

So, posting sweet little photos with former homeless people, using their stories for great PR, and advertising on the rooftops what good deed they’re doing now with the £1000 sudden generosity to each employee, I will refrain from saying what word comes to mind!

 

A former staff member, Andrej Stopa, who was fired for starting a Pret Union is a little more lucky than I to have none other then Andrea Wareham, Director of HR following him on Twitter, which might just be Pret’s way to signal to Andrej that they’re having an eye on him. Keeping him nicely tucked in as long as he doesn’t rock the boat too much.

 

 

Twitter Wareham PAMSU

 

Up until recently I was honoured to have a “Mystery Shopper” on my Twitter following. I had some followers but 1 was invisible, which gave me a good dose of confirmation that when someone has to hide their page, I might be doing something that troubles them.

Unfortunately the Mystery Shopper from my Twitter following has left, or maybe made themselves visible. And as I am customer focused, everyone is welcome!

 

©2018 LateNightGirl.org

 

Unless otherwise stated or linked to, this website and all writings within this site are the property of poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org and are protected by copyright and other intellectual property laws. Reproduction and distribution of my writings without written permission are prohibited.

©2017 – Present poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org unless otherwise stated. All Rights reserved. Disclaimer.

 

The Cost of Systemic Workplace Bullying – 2

 

As I tend to not want to waste time as life is short and no-one is guaranteed another second on this earth, I went straight into the ultimate cost of systemic workplace bullying in my first post, the cost of life. Death by suicide.

In this second post I want to highlight a precursor to suicide: mental health, mental illness in all its forms.

What bullying does to mental health and how I am experiencing it in my struggle to recover is very simple.

 

pexels-photo-278303

 

Systemic bullying sends a distorted and twisted message to the mind.

In a nutshell, if you are in a room with 10 people and 1 person is treating you disrespectfully or attacks you, while 9 people treat you kindly and respectfully, you think to yourself ‘What’s wrong with that person?’

If you are in a room with ten people and 1 person is treating you respectfully and kind, while 9 people treat you with contempt, disrespectfully, attack or exclude you, you think to yourself ‘What’s wrong with me?’

That is what systemic bullying does to the mind and mental health.

Systemic bullying from a group is like democracy gone wrong!

It is not always the majority that is right! It is the majority that is set up of individuals who have their own set of “values”. They have little to no values and principles that are universal and that robs them of courage, blinding them to opportunities to make a positive, and sometimes even life-saving difference.

 

pexels-photo-568021

 

One of my favourite poems by Emily Dickinson, which I interpret in my own way and a favourite poem in general, always reminds me to chose my crowd carefully:

 

The Soul selects her own Society —
Then — shuts the Door —
To her divine Majority —
Present no more —

Unmoved — she notes the Chariots — pausing —
At her low Gate —
Unmoved — an Emperor be kneeling
Upon her Mat —

I’ve known her — from an ample nation —
Choose One —
Then — close the Valves of her attention —
Like Stone — 

 --- Emily Dickinson

 

I choose my society based on the values that I have. And if a majority chooses to bully an individual or a certain people group, then there is something wrong at the foundation of the values and principles of that majority.

If a company does not have a clear zero tolerance on workplace bullying, than I question the foundation on which this company builds their “values” on.

Mental illness is the cost of systemic bullying and is the precursor to suicide.

Is this really the legacy and the cost a company is willing to have on their record, as I believe things will always come to light sooner or later, unless it is dealt with from the root at top levels.

 

Bullying at work

 

©2018 LateNightGirl.org

 

Unless otherwise stated or linked to, this website and all writings within this site are the property of poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org and are protected by copyright and other intellectual property laws. Reproduction and distribution of my writings without written permission are prohibited.

©2017 – 2019 poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org unless otherwise stated. All Rights reserved. Disclaimer.