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I work at a hospital, under a union. About a year ago, management approached me and asked me I I'd like take on an inventory position, since I have a fair amount of seniority, and the previous inventory person had left the hospital. Because I have difficulty saying "no", we eventually agreed that I'd trial the position for a while (though no time-span was set, and it was all verbal). The inventory position pays the same as my other current position, and there's currently 2 other people in rotation for inventory.

It's a year later now, and it's clear to me that I can't continue doing this job if I want to retain my sanity. I won't go into details, but not long after I joined the position, the work-load doubled due to new regulations, and the job became completely impractical for one person to be able to handle on a daily basis. Our team (the 3 of us) have been accumulating months of backlogged work, and it's only getting worse by the day. We've approached management and told them that we cant see how we're expected to get everything done everyday (but didn't mention that extent of the mess), and were told to get someone to help us when we need help; which is impractical on a daily basis since they're spreading everyone thin, and few of my co-workers even have the knowledge required to help with most aspects of the job.

Because of the constant stress that the daily mess provides, along with the accumulating backlogged work (and the fact that as a 6'2'' guy, my back is constantly sore from being forced to sit at a cramped desk), I want out.

The problems are though:

  • We now have a new manager, and I'm not sure what was communicated to them.

  • Even if they were told it's temporary, it's been almost a year, so they may have assumed that that's sufficient for trialing.

  • Most importantly: to properly justify my wanting to leaving, I'll likely need to mention the months of backlogged work, which management doesn't know about. I'd rather not open that can of worms, then turn to my co-workers (who I still have to work with), and say "good luck dealing with management, I'm out".

My questions:

  • How can I approach this scenario without "jumping ship", and screwing over my coworkers in the process?

  • I figured that after I adjusted to the job, it may begin to become easier. After a year though, it's become clear that this job is only going downhill. Without a set time-span, is a year implicitly too long to consider a position for? Have a burned my escape by taking so long to decide?

To be clear though, I'm not intending to leave the company. I'm currently in 2 rotations: the inventory rotation, and the rest of my job. I'm intending to only leave the inventory aspect. I'll still be working in the same department, with the same people, just doing different tasks. This isn't me giving my 2-weeks, so I can't just shrug when management asks why I want to abandon that rotation.

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    Management not knowing about your backlog is a very bad thing. How do you expect them to solve problems when they don't know they exist? Sure, when they are bad managers, then the only solution they can come up with might be to shout at you to work harder, but you need to at least give them a chance to find a real solution. – Philipp Jan 2 '18 at 12:39
  • @Philipp Yep. And had I had the balls to bring this up when it was a smaller issue, this would be less of a problem. The 3 of us have decided to sit on it though, and now it's a problem. – Carcigenicate Jan 2 '18 at 12:43
  • I'm not sure we can really answer this question (I didn't vote-to-close as duplicate) - it seems like you want to bring something up without bringing it up, i.e. do the impossible. Find other reasons why you want to move back to where you were, but either way it seems unlikely to happen if the workload is already too much for all of you (so find another job if you really want things to change). Or find other ways to improve the situation in that position. – Dukeling Jan 2 '18 at 14:43
  • Voting to reopen as this question is not about leaving the company, but about possibly stepping away from a current role that is in bad shape. – Kent A. Jan 2 '18 at 15:30
  • Does the hospital never under go any certifications/inspections/audits? I would assume that inventory backlog would be a huge red flag. Maybe bring that up with management. – mkennedy Jan 2 '18 at 20:59
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It is highly unlikely that you will be able to simply drop the extra duties and go back to the way things were a year ago. Because of the experience and training you now have, you will always be pulled back into that work as long as you work there.

If you’d like to find a way to improve the situation, then you need to quit “hiding in the corner” and be honest with management about the situation. Get together with your team and come up with a solution you would like to propose to management. (A proposed solution is so much better than just complaining about how bad things are.) Put past agreements and understandings aside and candidly explain how things really are, and let them know the things that need to change. Present your proposal as a starting point for discussing how to make it better. Don’t make it about you, but instead make it about the negative impact on the business and operations of the hospital, and to the team, and then explain how your proposal will help make things better.

  • The other 2 are going to hate discussing it, but it may be the only option at this point. The problem is, I've discussed this with another co-worker who's "in the know" extensively, and the only solution we've come up with is having 2 people in there on a daily basis. Because of the budget situation though, management has made it clear that they won't be hiring anyone else, and certainly won't be adding any new lines into the rotation. Bringing it up may be the only option at this point unfortunately. Thanks. – Carcigenicate Jan 2 '18 at 13:29
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    It’s good you’re aware of the business realities. I’ll bet there are other options that are more compatible with those business realities, but it may take work to find them. If your other two team members are reluctant to do anything to improve things, then you can have more of a clear conscience if you decide to leave. It seems like there might be a maturity problem within your team: nobody wants to tell management any bad news, and at least two of them don’t want to work to make things better. – Kent A. Jan 2 '18 at 13:35
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It's a year later now, and it's clear to me that I can't continue doing this job if I want to retain my sanity.

At this point, it may be time to polish up your resume and move on. Since the job is such a big mental drain on you, also realize it is also draining you physically as well. Remember, your health is the single biggest asset you have.

Even though it is human nature to care about your co-workers, as you spend a lot of time with them and typically build relationships, remember why you ultimately do almost any job: To Make Money

I would urge you to find a way to ditch the part of the job that is driving you crazy or find a new one.

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Before attempting to leave the position inform your manager immediately about the real situation. If a team in consistently overworked ands still has months of work to do beyond what the manager expects, it is a serious situation - if i calculate right, we talk about 0.5-1 man years of work (cost) hidden from management, which is a budget-relevant quantity.

Management needs to know, management needs to deal with it. If they do, it may be very good for you (and possibly your colleagues). If they don't, then nothing which do you do or don't do will keep your coworkers from being thrown under the bus, since they will see a high fluctuation, a growing backlog, quality problems etc. The only chance that something changes if that management is being made aware.

When presenting the facts, make sure that you reach a common conclusion in the team. Make an estimation of how much the team believes that it is beyond schedule, then present it as a common estimation to your manager.

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