Monday, June 15, 2009

My HR nightmare

So I'm spending my summer doing full-time medical research at a leading downtown hospital, which I shall henceforth refer to as the Hospital for Unwell Muppets (HUMP). While HUMP may be world renowned for its groundbreaking medical expertise, it is possibly the worst organized hospital... ever. Let me explain.

My adventure with HUMP begins in December. I signed on for a year-long research programme, part-time during the school year and full-time during the summer from June to August. In order to get keycard access to my workspace as well as be paid, I needed to get my hire at HUMP completed as well as my hospital orientation. Orientations only took place on Mondays, most of which I had class during. I tried to organize orientation twice - once in December and once in March, sending the appropriate forms to the secretary twice (because she had apparently lost them after the first time). In a heartwarming show of ineptitude, my orientation slipped through the cracks.

Because I was not starting full-time until June, my supervisor proposed that we not worry about keycard access and my hire until then. This meant, of course, that I wouldn't be paid during the year and that I would need a lump sum to make up for this. That was fine with me, so we went along with that arrangement. Come May, I informed the secretary again in a timely manner that I would be starting full time on June 1st. In an uplifting demonstration of apathy, she booked me an orientation for June 15th. Additionally, when I did finally see my contract, I got a sinking suspicion that I would only be making about half of our agreed upon salary. I tried not to let this bog me down, however, since I'm in this for the prospect of publication, not the money.

Still, it was becoming irksome to have to solicit aid everytime I wanted to unlock a door. Could I possibly get a badge (with key access) before the orientation? No, replied the secretary. Meanwhile, my TB test, which was current during the period at which I had submitted my HR forms (December and March) had expired just as the secretary had finally gotten my hire sorted out. Occupational Health, being the charming chumps that they are gave me about two days notice that I needed to get a new TB test or face suspension. Jolly good.

Then, today my orientation arrived at last... except the secretary had not told me where to go. I showed up on the Main Floor of HUMP, where my contract had indicated orientation would occur at 9 AM. Another student from my lab met me there because she too was supposed to have orientation. No dice. After aggravating an Information Desk staffer who apparently didn't start work until somewhere in the order of 9:15, I managed to get the phone number of my supervisor's secretary. Oh really? I didn't tell you where to go? My bad. It's in the building across the street.

My friend and I barrelled across the street and took the elevator up to our supposed training location. Nope, training is back in the hospital on the First Floor. Curse you all! My friend blitzed back across the street, almost getting us run over in the process. A black SUV screeched to a halt just like in the movies. I hate being the retard that doesn't look.

And so we arrived at the proper orientation location almost thirty minutes late. I hate being late. I got dirty looks from the instructors, meanwhile my friend's name was not even on the list (another win for our secretary) and couldn't participate. Did it matter that I was late, though? Not really. The orientation was the waste of so many hours of my life that I will never get back.

It began with an hour and a half of hospital intro: We pay you competitively. We have competitive benefits. We're world leaders. Welcome to the family. Yadda yadda. Then there was an hour for a pointless self-guided tour where we walked to random locations in the hospital and read out a little museum-guidebook-like transcript: This part of the building was constructed in 1985 at a cost of 25 million dollars yadda yadda. We spent another half hour talking about policy - namely how you can infringe them by not being honest or by calling your colleagues funny names. Whoop dee doo. After an hour's lunch, there were another two hours of listening to Occupational Health and Safety... which was actually pretty entertaining. Still, the training certainly could have been condensed into two solid hours. Instead it ran from 9 AM to 3 PM.

While the orientation was in progress, there were also sheets floating around for us to sign up for badging times and Occupational Health appointments (more time lost...). However, while the sheets were going from side to side, the douche beside me decided it might be a clever idea to send it backwards instead of back to the side. Those sheets went round and round and round the theatre before finally finding their way to me almost dead last.

What could only exacerbate my vexation was that plenty of students had gone to receive their badges prior to their orientation. That means (to my surprise) that the secretary had no idea what she was talking about and that I could have spent two weeks with lovely access to all the proper doors. Well, if we could just walk in and get a badge, I wasn't going to wait for days to get one at an inconvenient appointment time. So at 3 PM, I bolted for the badging office and got my badge done up post-haste.

All's well that ends well, right? I wish. Not only did my badge bear the uninspiring title of "Research Institute Volunteer" (which apparently requires another damn form to be fixed) but it also has zero access to any doors, rendering it thereby useless.

Conclusion? I wasted an entire day at a pointless orientation so that I could finally get my badge that actually didn't require the orientation. Meanwhile my badge was mislabelled and useless and Occupational Health is breathing down my neck for immunizations that were fully valid at the time when I submitted my forms and threatening me with suspension.

Oh, and did I mention that Occupational Health also said that as long as I don't have a badge number that they don't actually have a file for all the forms that I sent over already? HUMP, my friends, is an HR nightmare.


Michael said...

Yeah, I'm kind of facing this problem as well. I have a key to get into the imaging area, including access to MRI machines, but for whatever reason, the research laboratory area itself is totally locked. Because I guess it's okay if I break a few million dollars' worth of equipment, but if I tipped over someone's test tube and ruined a few days work.... DOOMSDAY?!?

IDGI. In fact, none of the clinical clerks who work near the door (except one mysterious lady, who let us call Butterella (not because she's fat, I've never met her)) even have the key... even my supervisor doesn't and he's been trying to get one for a month, which doesn't bode well for me!

To add injury to insult, because I didn't get CREMS funding, I technically wouldn't be getting paid full-time... though I'm fine with working part-time and volunteering for the rest. Unfortunately, administration/HR is not so fine with it, which is becoming kind of a hassle with my supervisor. Apparently, he should have told someone about me like 2 weeks before I started, and I need to work full time and all that jazz, and only then can I even apply for the stupid key.

On the bright side, my old university has a VPN service (used to access their ejournals) which nicely bypasses blocks of Facebook and MSN...

Come on, I can only be so productive on my tiny slow 10.2' laptop!!! *innocent look*

shirls said...

Dude, that sucks! You must tell me more when I see you again!