HR and People Operations professionals are, without a doubt, the backbone of a company. While they manage the obvious tasks in their job description, such as talent acquisition, training, compensation, and benefits, they also do so much more. As a People Operations team member or manager, you serve as the impromptu best friend for a new employee, a conflict manager, a financial advisor for compensation questions, and quite often, as a counselor and coach for personnel issues. To put it simply, you do a lot of work outside of your job description, and most of that work involves a ton of emotional labor.
You were doing all of that before the pandemic hit. Now, HR professionals still do all of the things mentioned above while completely transitionitioning to a remote environment. Not only are they dealing with their own worries, but they are definitely hearing pandemic worries from their employees. According to an April 2020 survey conducted by Josh Bersin, MIT Sloan Management Review, and Culture X, the top two issues an HR professional is worried about are their employee’s health and wellbeing and the transition to remote work.
As an HR and People Operations professional, or even as a manager, it’s clear that you face an added layer of stress both at work and at home as the pandemic continues with no end in sight. So while you take care of your employees, you aren’t exactly carving out time to take care of yourself. Last week was Mental Health Awareness Week, and we wanted to share some tips for HR Professionals, People Operations employees, and managers who also need to look out for themselves.
Remember: There Are Still Only 24 Hours in a Day.
There are still only 24 hours in a day, yet your tasks have nearly doubled. You are managing remote work challenges, team bonding challenges, and potentially lay-offs. Some companies are working on “return to work plans,” which have consistently changed as the pandemic continues. There are a few ways you can manage your new responsibilities and keep your stress level to a minimum:
- Start by prioritizing the most critical tasks—the ones with urgent deadlines, the ones that impact other people or the company’s overall health, etc.
- Delegate to your team when possible—and do so using employee strengths. For example, if your co-worker Renee is really good at working under pressure, delegate her a task with an upcoming deadline.
- If you need help prioritizing and are still feeling overwhelmed, engage in an honest conversation with your manager—they likely don’t want you feeling burnt out either.
On the topic of doing what you can—forgive yourself if you don’t feel like you are performing to your max potential. Everyone knows these times are difficult. Your managers and other employees are likely dealing with many of the same feelings you are—don’t feel like just because you are HR means that you are extra resilient and built differently.
Everyone knows that working from home has blurred work-life balance. While this article provides some tips to manage work-life balance, you should also focus on setting emotional boundaries. Set aside dedicated time for self-care, and make that time non-negotiable. Maybe that means taking 10 minutes every hour to recharge and watch funny videos on YouTube or a micro meditation in the middle of the day. Or perhaps it means extending your lunch break to an hour and a half so you can get a good workout in. Self-care doesn’t have to be in long chunks of time, but taking time to recharge emotionally can be incredibly valuable to “fill back up your cup.”
Let The Little Things Go and Focus on What You Can Control
Let’s face it—there are very few things we can control these days. Every time we think we have a plan, something changes—government regulations, CDC guidance, or internally from management. Let the little things go—changes that you can easily adjust to, and focus on what you can control.how you handle these changes, what you can do to make them easier on you and others, etc. Unless you have a magic wand to stop the pandemic, you’re going to need to get good at letting things go (and if you do have that wand, please wave it).
Talk to Someone
Lastly, if you are struggling, talk to someone. You take care of a lot of people, and that emotional labor can be draining. If you feel like you could benefit from talking to a “you,” try talking to a mental health professional who can help you navigate these uncharted waters and help you help others. If you don’t feel like you necessarily need a counselor but want someone to bounce HR ideas off of, consider talking to a leadership coach or fellow HR professional who knows exactly what you are going through.
Remember: You can’t pour from an empty cup.