Self-care for HR professionals

During this time of the COVID-19 pandemic, many HR professionals feel as if they have an additional full-time job, on top of their already high demanding workload. With changing furlough rules, redundancies, sickness absence, bereavements, shielding employees and changes to childcare and other caring responsibilities, the last few months have resulted in high pressure and increased workload. HR Managers and Advisors are perceived as the ones who can ‘fix’ problems in the workplace or the ones who can ‘steer’ the ship in times of turbulence. They are the ‘go-to’ people for anything that relates to, well, people! As well as fire-fighting the daily issues which are arising, they are busy adapting policies to reflect remote working, inclusivity and employment law considerations.

HR teams provide a strategic, operational and administrative role often with very few members of staff, which results in long hours and increased pressure. HR professionals can feel that they have to be ‘available’ at any given time to deal with urgent situations, and this leads to presenteeism and leavism. Never getting an opportunity to look at the ‘to do’ list because of constant interruptions to deal with urgent matters can lead to people feeling overwhelmed and struggling to meet increasing demands from all angles. The risk of ‘burnout’ is very real for people facing these challenges and high demands on a daily basis with no let-up.

Self-care tips

Given these increased pressures, it is important for HR professionals to consider self-care and put routines in place to stay healthy and productive. It’s time for them to put themselves at the top of their wellbeing agenda. Here are some self-care tips which we hope would be particularly useful for HR professionals:

  • Boundaries – remember it is okay to say ‘no’ or ‘I might need some help with this.’ Remember to pause and reflect before taking on any further demands. Employee emergencies can be upsetting to deal with, so take time to manage your own emotions. View our tips for setting boundaries at work.
  • Work routine – take regular breaks. Set an alarm for breaks to exercise and eat/drink sensibly. Try to avoid working long hours continuously as this can lead to exhaustion and possible burnout. Consider communicating the best times to contact HR, rather than feeling that you have to be ‘available’ at all times.
  • Switching off – try to separate your work and home life so that you are not always at the end of a phone or email. Try mindfulness practice to help you relax, unwind and sleep better – click here to view our article about the benefits of mindfulness techniques. 
  • Support network – identify who you can go to for support, whether they be work colleagues, friends, family or professional help. HR Managers and Advisors often work without a team or colleagues, so make sure that you build relationships with others with whom you can have supportive conversations.
  • Remember the acronym FACTS, to keep mentally well during stressful times:
    F – Focus on the present moment at set points every day
    A – Articulate your feelings
    C – Connect with family, friends and colleagues
    T – Take time for self-care
    S – Stick to good sleep etiquette
    View the full FACTS article here
  • Make one change – when you are overwhelmed with demands, it’s hard to know where to start. Just focus on making one change a week to your work routine, which could alleviate some pressure. Take the time to write down that change and consider who or what would help you make that change.

Above all, remember that self-care is not an indulgence, but a necessity to protect your own wellbeing and resilience. Remember to ‘put your own oxygen mask on first’ i.e. make your own wellbeing a priority before helping others. View our article here on self-care and resilience

Take time to reflect on what attracted you to a role in HR and the value you bring to the organisation. Here are some quotes for inspiration:

“One of the things I love about HR is that it’s constantly growing and changing. From compliance with new laws and legislation, to technology and employee expectations. It’s never boring and always challenging.” Founder of HR Bartender blog Sharlyn Lauby

“I like the fact that no day is ever the same and that I truly learn constantly. HR pros help a lot of people, from management, to employees and peers every day. If it’s reading blogs, taking part in a Twitter chat, or attending an industry event, be sure to find ways to take that time for you.” Jon Thurmond, Regional Human Resources Manager at Team Fishel, and Co-host of Twitter chat #HRSocialHour

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