My summer started off relatively shit.
I came home from Uni excited to be back home in my little seaside paradise, to see my family and friends again and earn some money to cover my rent for the following year of flatting. I’ve worked in the same checkout job for about four years, and there’s nothing too exciting about it at all, just a few lovely regulars and co-workers amongst shitty customers and miserable staff. The hours are long although breaks are consistent, pay is minimal and I could never understand how adults there on that wage could actually afford to live.
I’d clock day in and day out, and it didn’t matter what I did in those eight-and-a-half hours; I could work extra hard, efficiently and productively, and be smiley to even the rudest of customers. Or I could work slowly and carelessly, not giving a fuck and barely acknowledging customers as they came through the checkout.
The truth is, it didn’t matter what I did, either way I was not valued or appreciated for my time and efforts, I was just another number on the payroll. I worked hard because the time passed more quickly when you had your head down working, as well being in a good mood towards the customers, and because I believe I’m a good natured person.
But I soon became tired of this bullshit everyday. I was never ungrateful for having a job as I know a lot of people struggle to find them, but a part of me thought that even just a small thanks after the end of my shift would go a long way. Or even a thank you for the past four years of working there. But still, nothing. I became so unmotivated that it crept into my life outside of work – for those of you who know me you’ll know I’m a very sleepy person but I do love a good adventure or trip to the beach – but I found myself barely able to get out of bed and just slobbing around at home after work.
My moods were very low and I could barely make it through entire shifts, while the stress of saving money and thinking about all the other awful shifts I would have to do in order to earn this money would make me upset and even more low. To put it frankly, openly and honestly, this job was deteriorating my mental health, and I had to remove myself from there, for me.
One day after a shitty day at work, I went to a little restaurant where my friend Marie worked. The whole time I had been home she told me I should just get a job at the same place too, but I sighed and just said I was already in too deep with my job already. They fed me and we had a yarn out the back, the bosses have always been so lovely to me whenever I came in. We got talking about my job which only got me more stressed and upset which led me to blurting out – “When can I start?!”
It may sound a bit dramatic, however I quit my job for the reasons above as well as other personal reasons which I don’t exactly want to disclose on here, but soon after I started work at the restaurant. Everyone was so kind and eager for me to learn, I was soon learning table settings, meals, how to make coffee, everything. Every time I walked in they would ask how my day was, what I had been doing, how I was feeling. While this just sounds normal everyday talk, I had never experienced a workplace (except mum’s shop) where my bosses genuinely wanted to know how I was and what I’d been up to.
And to be completely honest, my bosses are so lovely they don’t even feel like bosses. And not one day working at that restaurant has felt like work. I wake up looking forward to going there, I have a renewed sense of energy and I am valued for the work that I do. Even the little things get noticed – I dusted a shelf the other day because it looked a bit grotty and later on I couldn’t believe it when I got thanked for doing it. Even wiping down menus, sweeping around – every bit counts and every bit is appreciated. I was even given a Christmas gift having only worked there for a couple of weeks (which was way too much!). My moods have lifted and I feel excited for planning ahead for my second year of uni – something I couldn’t even begin to think about in my old job.
I’m so excited as I’ve made new friends out of this, lovely people who care about me and who I can talk to, and I’ve even got the job lined up for next summer – which is so much to look forward to.
Perhaps this all doesn’t affect everyone the same but being valued where I work has had a big impact on me, especially as it’s full time work.
It’s amazing how appreciation can make such a big difference in performance at work, moods, activities outside of work and mental health. Its also amazing how far appreciation goes for me personally.
If you’re reading this as an employee, maybe have a think about it for yourself and how you feel, and I hope you are being appreciated for your hard work. If you’re reading this as an employer, take serious note. Appreciate your staff and they will appreciate you back. They’ll more likely work harder and I mean come on, wake up. It is essential for mental health too. You have to create an environment in which people can work in, and not be miserable and/or surrounded by many other miserable employees. Take the extra time out to say thank you or tune in with your staff – and if you can’t even manage that, maybe you shouldn’t be in business at all.