Being in human resources during a pandemic is a bit of trial by fire.  That said, being in human resources is always a touchy position. We guard the castle, keep the secrets, announce and enforce policy, pay employees, handle medical benefits, listen to grievances, and sometimes even grab lunch for everyone.  We hire, fire, promote, demote, discipline, and uplift.

This is a lot, no matter what is happening in the outside world.

So, how can we take care of ourselves?  You cannot pour from an empty vessel, but you cannot always tell if your vessel is empty.  We often recognize burnout in others, but not always in ourselves. 

the role of human resources in a company

Here are some ways to recognize burnout:

  • Becoming overly cynical
  • A feeling of incompetence or being unproductive, even when performing simple tasks
  • Being chronically exhausted

The danger is, some people keep going, even when they have these signs of burnout.  In some cases, it just becomes too late and they find ourselves overwhelmed and disgruntled.  

If this resonates with you, take heart. We have some solutions.

Look to your peer groups.  This can be time spent with other HR professionals, such as local group chapters of national organizations or employer associations like NAE. Also, look to online resources — from social media to websites that offer message boards and helpful articles.

It is also important to advocate for yourself and there are many ways to do this. Take time off – you have earned it and that is what it is there for. Focus on being sympathetic versus empathetic. While it is a wonderful attribute to have sympathy for the people and situations you navigate, feeling too much of that burden will wear you down. Make sure you utilize your breaks and lunches. It’s okay to get out for a minute.  Go for a walk. Get something to eat. Breathe the fresh air. Exercise, fresh air, and even meditation can do so much to improve your mental and physical state.

Ask for help if you need it.  There is no shame in assistance. Cross train and delegate to others in your company. You may be surprised who can help with some of the minutia with just a little bit of training and time.

Here are some basic tips and tricks:

  • Have a ritual to start your day in the office (arrive, grab a beverage, boot up the computer, etc.). Save your first hour for uninterrupted catch up time.  Arrive early if you need to.
  • Allow transition time between tasks (a quick walk, step outside, a few deep breaths, etc.).
  • Remember your peer groups (lunches, coffees, walks, etc.).
  • Stay hydrated – drink as much water as you can stand.
  • Limit the number of times you check your email. Create “email windows” and remember don’t let the urgent crowd out the important.

Take some time each day to manage and maintain your own personal well-being. You will be glad you did!