I was scrolling through my LinkedIn feed earlier this week when I saw a devastating post by a former Virgin Airlines employee.
He had shared an article from The Australian about his former boss resigning.
She quit her job after less than a year, following an internal review of her workplace behaviour.
He bravely wrote: “Earlier this year a colleague asked me if I was okay. I welled up with tears, and I froze – I couldn’t answer, because I knew I would start crying and wouldn’t be able to pull myself together.
“I’ve never really been someone to have a work day less than a 6/10. I got to work in aviation! I got to help make a positive impact on the world! Everything was great!
“A new chief of the division started, and I was suddenly having a lot of 1/10 days. I was constantly feeling defeated and stressed, and I couldn’t switch off.
“The stress took a huge toll on me physically and mentally, and it wasn’t until I was asked if I was okay that I realised I really wasn’t.
“You’ve got to pick your battles, and I ultimately decided that even my dream job at my dream company wasn’t worth the toll. Across the division, the stories were the same – or much worse. Almost every staff member across our three departments left.”
Among the 15 staff who quit were the airline’s sustainability manager, a social media manager, two corporate communications staff and a government relations adviser.
I imagine those 15 people are pretty scarred by the experience, but many of them are unable to speak out due to clauses in their contracts.
I hope The Great Resignation is putting toxic bosses and gaslighting managers on notice.
All too often, those who have been victimised are too frightened to speak out. It took a lot of courage for that former employee to reveal the terrible toll the situation had taken on him.
Virgin Australia chief executive Jayne Hrdlicka said the airline aimed to be “a safe and positive workplace for everyone … Grievances of any nature will be taken seriously and we follow due process in investigating in order to be fair to everyone involved.”
It’s disappointing that some managers don’t try to create a safe and positive workplace for everyone.
I hope the publicity that the situation at Virgin has received makes those managers – and their superiors – understand how poorly toxic behaviour reflects on organisations.
I feel deeply for that whistle blower. I’ve walked in his shoes and been blistered by them.
I will never forget, for example, being off-handedly told by a manager just before I went on holidays that the person who’d been organised to replace me had cancelled. As my face fell, she laughed and said it didn’t matter because “nobody would notice I was gone”.
I was crushed that my work was regarded as being so insignificant and dispensable. Unlike the ex Virgin employee, I stayed in my role and the damaging behaviour continued.
I hope he heals and has found a job where his work is appreciated.