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 before they can get to all of their professional and personal responsibilities.
It’s easy to forget HR is also impacted by stressful situations just like everyone else, only they 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. During a crisis, HR needs to fit their own mask on 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.
Why HR needs to check-in
HR practitioners have a direct line into how people in an organization feel. Because of this, it can be easy to feel like the team's needs 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 due to the ongoing pressure of dealing with change at such a scale. According to Culture Amp data, only 50% of employees feel 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 wellbeing checkup reveal that only 34% of respondents can 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 stress levels are manageable.
While this data is enough to highlight the importance of wellbeing 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 wellbeing of your organization.
Ways to prioritize HR wellbeing (and still support teams)
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 HR find a sense of community, support, and wellbeing despite the stressors of a crisis.
Connect with an internal support crew
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.
Build an external support group
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 can empathize and support one another on HR matters.
Walk the talk of self-care
Most HR teams have likely been encouraging employees to take time off, make time for their wellbeing, 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. This not only sets a confusing example for employees but is a fast track to burnout. HR must 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.
Commit to three daily rituals
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 a "phones down" rule during family time. Support these rituals by blocking time on the calendar, removing work communications from personal devices, or setting alarm reminders.
Stick to boundaries
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. An individual can’t handle every single problem during a crisis alone.
Ensure conversations start with what support is required. People may need to feel listened to, come up with a solution, bounce ideas around, or receive 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 or other leaders and tap into external support with trained professionals. In conversations with the team, be clear on personal boundaries, including the type of support and amount of time available, and encourage them to take responsibility for their next actions.
Make time for wellbeing as an HR professional
The suggestions above are an excellent springboard of how HR representatives can nurture themselves. While these tips may seem obvious, they’re crucial.
Culture Amp has partnered with Thrive Global APAC at Monash Business School to craft an HR wellbeing checkup, a short 13-question wellbeing check-in that provides inspiration and strategies from industry experts to help all HR practitioners. It provides confidential results and ideas to support HR wellbeing so that every professional can perform to their greatest ability – both during a crisis and beyond it.