Original Article By Culture Amp The People & Culture Platform
In times of crisis, stress, and uncertainty, employees know they can turn to HR for support and guidance. But who can HR turn to? HR teams go above and beyond to support their people during challenging times, all while being drained from their own professional and personal responsibilities.
It’s easy to forget that they are impacted by stressful situations – just like everyone else – but often lack a designated support system. Though it’s well-known that in an emergency we can’t help others fit an oxygen mask until after we put our own on, we forget that the same goes during crises at work. In the midst of crisis, HR needs to fit their mask first.
Culture Amp recognizes that many HR professionals are still in the thick of it, so we want to support HR teams and individuals to take a moment to check on themselves.
HR practitioners have a direct line into how people in an organization feel. Because of this, it can be easy to feel like the needs of the team come before their own. Balancing personal and professional challenges becomes increasingly blurred during periods of crisis.
HR practitioners are at increased risk of burnout, disconnect, and decreased engagement as a result of the ongoing pressure of dealing with change at such a scale. According to Culture Amp data, only 50% of employees feel that they can effectively switch off from work and rest during this time. 34% are finding it hard to take breaks to recharge and 36% report their stress levels are unmanageable.
Unsurprisingly, HR is feeling it too. The initial results from our HR for HR survey reveals that only 34% of respondents feel able to switch off from work to make time for rest. Just 41% of respondents feel able to bounce back as quickly as they usually would, and only 43% feel that their levels of stress are manageable.
While this data is enough to highlight the importance of well being for all working professionals, HR teams can’t afford to neglect their own. HR burnout can be detrimental to an individual’s mental health as well as the overall well being of your organization.
HR practitioners may not have a designated point of contact to go to for support. Still, there is a wealth of resources available to help find a sense of community, support, and well being despite the stressors of a crisis.
All employees should have a designated manager to go to with concerns and questions. A manager ideally acts as a mentor, but regardless of reporting lines, other leaders can help find solutions and hold space for vulnerability. HR teams can identify and connect with their manager and other leaders in the company to get support. Remember, we’re all humans first and there’s no playbook for dealing with a crisis.
While a manager is a great resource to help provide guidance, backup, and overall support, they may not understand the intricacies of the HR field or have answers for some of the questions HR faces. For this reason, it’s critical to seek out communities of industry peers and thought leaders. Many individuals are already discussing topics that are top-of-mind for HR practitioners. Reach out to individuals within these communities to build a more intimate support group. Whether it’s merely checking in with one another, bouncing ideas off each other, sharing templates resources, or holding each other accountable, these peers are equipped to empathize and support one another on HR matters.
Most HR teams have likely been encouraging employees to take time off, make time for their well being, and disconnect at the end of their day. However, there’s a good chance that HR practitioners have been working long hours and neglecting their self-care. Modeling this not only sets a confusing example for employees but is a fast track to burnout. HR needs to follow their own advice and walk the talk of best practice self-care. This will enable a better connection with the team, and provide realistic ways to look after themselves.
When working from home it can be easy to skip lunch, stay inside, or even forget to use the restroom. Commit to three daily rituals to build healthy self-care habits. These could include making time for exercise, mindful moments and breathing, enough hydration, short 10-15 minute breaks, or ‘phones down’ rules during family time. Support these rituals by blocking out time on the calendar, removing work communications from personal devices, or setting alarm reminders.
It’s crucial to know personal limits and commit to them. It isn’t uncommon for employees to bring their personal and professional problems directly to HR to solve or to use the meeting as an avenue to vent. It’s impossible for an individual to handle every single problem that comes up during a crisis on their own. Ensure conversations start with what support is required. People may need to feel listened to, come up with a solution, bounce ideas, or guidance. It’s crucial to give people clarity on the amount of time available to them and which challenges they can assist with. Use coaching techniques to help people develop their own solutions. Encourage people to seek additional help from their manager, other leaders, or tap into external support with trained professionals. In conversations with the team, be clear on personal boundaries, including the type of support available, the amount of time, and encourage them to take responsibility for their next actions.
The suggestions above are an excellent springboard of the ways HR representatives can nurture themselves. While these tips may seem obvious, they’re crucial. Culture Amp has partnered with Thrive Global to craft HR for HR, a short 10 question well being check-in that provides inspiration and strategies from industry experts to help all HR practitioners. It provides confidential results and ideas to support HR well being so they can perform as best they can in their role both during a crisis and ongoing.