During these challenging times, it’s important that HR leaders remain physically and mentally healthy, and yet they are the first ones to forget to add themselves into the equation of corporate and personal wellness.
HR leaders face a variety of challenges throughout the day. Some of these are daily tasks common to most employees at every level within the company – from getting up in the morning, commuting to work, caring for children and/or elderly parents, to time demands, technology demands and balancing work and a personal life.
However, HR leaders face the additional challenges associated with managing constant uncertainty, attracting and engaging talented staff, handling the bombardment of information from various levels and maintaining a strong health and benefits program.
Bill Wilkerson, CEO of the Global Business and Economic Roundtable on Addiction and Mental Health, identified the following as the top ten sources of workplace stress.
These make HR self-care a priority
The treadmill syndrome – Often, HR leaders have too much to do, too many responsibilities, and feel that they should be even more productive. Learning to delegate appropriately, prioritizing and being more realistic about what they can and should be achieving, can help to tackle this syndrome.
Random interruptions – Telephone calls, walk-in visitors, and ‘emergencies’ from the teams that they support. Goal setting, time management and assertiveness strategies can increase productivity and alleviate the stress of incomplete projects.
Pervasive uncertainty – An HR leader has to have the emotional capacity to tolerate uncertainty and frustration. Their coping strategies through this uncertainty will allow them to be able to raise tough questions without getting anxious themself. Others will observe their verbal and non-verbal cues, and this will impact the rest of their team’s ability to effectively cope.
Mistrust, unfairness, unresolved conflict and vicious office politics – Addressing these situations head on through effective communication and conflict management skills, rather than avoiding them, is the only way to guarantee that these issues will not continue to poison them or their workplace.
No sense of clear direction within the company – When there is a sense of little direction in the company, an HR leader must work to bring the vision into clear focus.
Career and job ambiguity – Effective HR leaders tie what they do on a day-to-day basis to the vision and mission of the company.
No feedback – This prevents HR leaders from knowing how they are doing and whether they are meeting corporate expectations. A 360-degree feedback process can help HR leaders identify any gaps between perception (what they think) and behavior (what their team sees).
No appreciation – HR leaders are expected to give appreciation and are often not the recipients. Dr. Clifton and The Gallup Organization discovered that 65% of employees received no recognition in their workplace in the last year. However, we know that regular recognition and praise increase workplace engagement, productivity, safety, retention and customer satisfaction.
Lack of communication – Mixed or incomplete messages can lead to critical mistakes in problem solving. While problem solving, the HR leader needs to ask who needs to learn what in order to develop, understand, commit to and implement the strategy. The HR leader needs to listen to others to raise questions that may indicate an impending challenge.
HR leaders get caught up in the situations that are stressful and often forget about the simple techniques that can be used to restore their body’s natural rhythm and decrease the negative effects that stress can have on them.
Practicing these quick tips, below, can ensure their health and wellness. The great thing about them is that they are fast and simple.
Air is the primary ‘food’ of our body. Rapid, shallow breathing is a common involuntary reaction to stress and is part of our innate stress response. This shallow breathing causes us to feel tired and foggy headed. Deep breathing interrupts this stress response and can be a powerful means of recharging oneself and regaining a more natural rhythm. It can relieve headaches, relax shoulders, stop racing thoughts, increase energy and turn restlessness into calmness.
Tense muscles cause blood to be squeezed out of the body tissue resulting in oxygen and nutrient depletion. This can cause pain and even a lack of concentration. Desk-ercises or self-massage can be helpful in releasing tension and restoring the flow of blood. Desk-ercises can relax neck and shoulder muscles, increase focus for problem solving and can revitalize energy.
Some quick examples: Neck rolls, shoulder shrugs, stomach squeezes, hip twisters, wrist curls, quarter squats and hand massage. Focus on particularly tense muscles or create a whole-body stretching routine.
Nutrition, water, light
During high stress times we often compromise or completely forget about eating, drinking and getting outside. Taking lunch, drinking a glass of water or going outside for a stretch break are simple and necessary techniques that provide essential energy and can restore rhythm.
Safe space – beauty, sound, aroma
The space in which we work can have a profound effect on our mood, energy and comfort. It is a benefit to create a space that feels, sounds and smells great and to take a few moments after a stressful situation to become involved in the quiet of one’s surroundings.
An HR leader’s mood and behavior drive the moods and behaviors of everyone else – “Smile and the world smiles with you.” Moods are contagious – laughter is the most contagious of emotions and depression can have a definite negative impact on the work group.
An HR leader’s emotional maturity affects their performance and creates a certain culture or work environment. It creates climates where information sharing, trust, healthy risk taking and learning flourish.
Leaders can make sure that they are in an optimistic, authentic and high-energy mood, which will positively affect their own behavior, and the mood and behavior or those around them.
Though HR leaders frequently forget to add themselves into the equation of corporate and personal wellness, there are a variety of strategies that can assist them in remaining physically and mentally healthy.
Self-care in these chaotic and challenging times must be the new norm. HR leaders need to address their unique challenges, maintain their health through quick stress busters and build support and connectedness in their personal and professional lives.