Health and Safety

HR Professionals: Taking Care of Yourself, Too

May 29, 2020

HR plays an important role in resolving disputes, addressing concerns and complaints, liaising between employees and management, promoting employee engagement, and disciplining misconduct, among many other tasks. All of these tasks require emotional sensitivity and understanding, and can take a toll on you. While taking care of the mental health and wellness of your employees is a rewarding part of any HR professional’s job, you may forget you need to take care of yourself, too.

As an HR professional, you are often asked to deal with stressful and mentally taxing problems, which can lead to burnout. Adding to the mix lately, HR professionals have had to maintain composure when dealing with very stressed out and concerned employees on top of implementing many new processes. Empathy and compassion are two valuable traits an HR person can have, but we need to take steps to avoid exhausting our capacities for them.

Your employees come to you with issues and look for information and support. Maybe they are worried they’ll be laid off or maybe they are dealing with stressors outside of work.

Over time, you may be feeling like their stress is piling
onto your shoulders. What should you do?

Our first recommendation is to remind yourself to use the resources and services you share with your team. You have access to them, too, so use them! You can’t take care of someone else unless you take care of yourself.

Second, get some time away. One of the simplest and most effective means for reducing compassion fatigue or burnout is to take time away from the sources of your stress. Paid vacation or unpaid, job-protected leaves are good options—though only if your time off is actually relaxing. It’s important that when you take time off for stress relief, you don’t inadvertently make things worse for yourself when you return. Take steps beforehand to ensure that essential work will be completed in your absence.

Finally, if the source of your stress cannot be removed, eliminated, or substantially reduced, you still have options for resisting burnout or compassion fatigue. Another effective strategy is to maintain a strong separation between your life at work and your life outside work. Having close friendships with non-colleagues or having hobbies unrelated to your job can help create the psychological distance needed to maintain resilience.

Support for positive mental health in the workplace for both HR professionals and employees is becoming more important than ever. We have webinars and a variety of other resources to help you better understand ways to support your team and yourself.

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