In addition to your regular HR tasks have you been asked to: Create new procedures around COVID and safety in the workplace; Determine the future of work and hybrid models; Incorporate DEI initiatives; Implement programs to prevent burnout and keep employees engaged; Find new ways to recruit and source talent?
The HR Department took the brunt of additional responsibilities companies have had to think about since last year, adding many unprecedented things to their [already full] plate. All of this, while trying to keep up with their original job description and their home life, while having a smile on their face….well, maybe the smile is optional.
Is your company taking care of you the way you are taking care of others? Last month I sat in a Resources for Humans Virtual Conference put on by Lattice. One main theme was that you cannot take care of others if you are not taking care of yourself. Similar to the airplane analogy of putting your oxygen mask on first before you help others. So, how do I take care of myself, you might wonder? Well here are a few things to consider in order to help your mental state so you are in a better position to help others.
1. Are you leading with empathy?
Too often when someone comes to us with a problem, we immediately respond with the policy for addressing that concern. While I can respect having policies and procedures in place for that very reason, people just want to be heard. Before giving them instruction, start by treating them like a human and empathizing with what they are telling you. Saying something such as “I’m sorry you are feeling that way and I do hope you are able to feel better soon” or “That must be so hard having to juggle that problem on top of your workload” will help people feel like their company (you) are treating them like a human and being empathetic to what they are saying, rather than strictly giving a robotic answer on standard company procedures. According to Microsoft Work Trend Index 2021 Annual Report, 82% of employees agree it is important their organization sees them as a person, not just an employee.
2. Are you showing too much empathy?
The flip side to what we just covered, is maybe being too empathetic. If we are taking on the problems of everyone else, that doesn’t give us much emotional energy to do other tasks, let alone be there for ourselves. As a leader in the company, you must help people navigate these things on their own. Start with empathy, then lead them where they need to go. For example, saying something like “That must be so tough trying to determine when you can fill out that paperwork before your next trip. What I think would help you is if you take the first hour when you come in tomorrow to really focus on that.” Empathize, then delegate back onto them.
3. Give your co-workers a chance to be empathetic back.
You may feel like you always have to be the fixer when facing outward, but then turn your back and complain to your fellow HR people, spouse, or even grumble to yourself under your breath or behind closed doors. Find a way to let people know what goes into what they are asking from your side, and give them a chance to be a human back to you. The key to this is TONE. Snapping back at someone that you don’t have time to do what they are asking because you have a million other things you’re working on, is just going to make them feel bad, or defensive. Instead, start with hearing them, and then letting them into a bit of your world. Perhaps you say something like- “That’s a really important document we’re working on that I’m glad you asked for and reminded me about. As you can imagine, Management has really had us focus on onboarding all of our new employees which took our full attention this week, but I can have that to you by the end of next week.
4. What’s your self care routine?
If something didn’t immediately come to mind when you read that, you may be in trouble. Allow me to offer some suggestions of what would fall into this category- reading a book, getting a massage, watching your favorite show (uninterrupted), having a glass of wine or cocktail, going for a walk…
How often should you be “self caring?” I would recommend at least one thing to look forward to each day. While all of these may not be something you can afford to do daily, building something into your regular routine will ensure you are scheduling time for it the same way you do your work tasks. It could be as simple as taking a 15 minute break at work to go for a walk or read your book. Put it in the calendar! You won’t regret it and it will mentally change the course of your day allowing you to be more patient with others, and also be more productive after having that break.
You are in charge of your calendar and your deliverables. If something cannot be done by a certain deadline, it’s on each of us to speak up and advocate for ourselves. So often do I hear someone say “Well my boss said I needed to do this by this date”…that’s what a boss should be doing is setting an expectation. However, if you have too much on your plate, let them know and ask them to help you re-prioritize things, or for an extension. They don’t know what they don’t know, so we all need to speak up on our own behalf to keep calm & mentally carry on!