If HR are looking after your people, then who looks after the HR team?
Much of the time, it falls to HR departments to make sure an organisation’s moving parts are all in order, and to support employees throughout the business.
HR have a lot of responsibilities, and the fact that they work alongside business leaders to create and develop workplace policies, they’re often set slightly apart from other employees.
But, despite that, HR workers obviously still suffer from all the same stresses as their colleagues in other departments. So, today, we’re looking at the wellbeing of HR teams, and what we can do to support them.
HR teams are at real risk of burnout
Everybody knows frontline workers risked their health during the peak of the pandemic, and everyone (ourselves included) has been talking about just how important remote work has been for keeping businesses up and running.
But what’s been overlooked is just how vital HR teams were in that time.
While millions of people were put on furlough, HR workers had to support the remote work rollout while fielding difficult questions from understandably anxious employees. For a while, businesses everywhere were weighing up the prospect of cutbacks, and it’s hard to reassure someone who’s terrified of losing their job when you don’t know much more than they do.
That’s just what they’ve been dealing with in the wake of the pandemic. Even before then, HR work was no picnic. In 2019, Perkbox surveyed 16,000 respondents from fifty UK cities, and found that HR work was the most stressful career, with 79% of surveyed HR workers stating that they were negatively affected by their job, ahead of 63% of legal workers and 54% of retail, catering and leisure staff.
But, if the past year and a half has taught us anything, it’s that supporting employee wellbeing is more important than ever. And that includes workplace wellbeing for your HR staff.
Balancing the duty of care
The increased push for better employee wellbeing is absolutely a good thing. But, when the demands of the show increase, it’s the people behind the scenes who feel the strain. So, while it’s great that businesses took efforts to support their remote workers and furloughed staff, that will have only added to your HR personnel’s workload.
What managers and HR teams have in common is that both have a duty of care to support the wellbeing of everyone in the business. But this means that HR directors and the business’s senior leadership also have a duty of care to keep their human resources people from over-extending and burning out. Solid policy and support frameworks are great, but if they come at the cost of the wellbeing of the HR team, then they aren’t working.
CIPD’s Health and Wellbeing at Work 2021 report found that almost four-fifths of surveyed employees had taken a stress-related absence in the last year, so it’s unrealistic not to expect these issues to affect HR staff too. As an HR director, you should be working to guarantee that any workplace wellbeing policy you put in place is just as accessible by HR workers as it is for other staff.
Tips for supporting the wellbeing of HR teams
If you’re worried about overlooking the wellbeing of HR teams, then fret no more. Here are five ideas for effective HR wellbeing initiatives:
- Reassure them about job security: It’s unfortunate that HR workers have ended up in the position of talking to furloughed colleagues about their job security, because the HR staff may well be concerned about losing their job too. After all, if the business is cutting back on the number of employees, it follows that they could stand to have a smaller HR department.
Having to do an already stressful job with the threat of imminent joblessness is a recipe for a mental health disaster. So, if you as a business leader can be reasonably sure that you won’t need to let any of your HR personnel go any time soon, you should make that clear to them.
Even if the news is bad, being transparent with your employees cuts through the sense of ambiguity they’re probably feeling, allows them to make informed personal decisions, and shows you care about keeping them in the loop.
- Check-in with your HR personnel: A well-managed employee check-in is a quick and unobtrusive way offer guidance and track employee sentiment. Normally, when it comes to HR, we generally talk in terms of how the data from these check-ins benefits their work.
But it’s also important to remember that HR staff can benefit from these check-ins as much as any other employee. Any member of staff can struggle with barriers to performance and engagement, regardless of their role.
The pandemic has put a strain on everyone’s mental health. So, for the sake of the wellbeing of your HR team, check-in and see what issues are bothering them.
- Offer job flexibility: The right flexibility options can significantly improve the wellbeing of a HR team. Remote work can go hand-in-hand with wellbeing by cutting out the commute and giving HR staff more control over their day.
For obvious reasons, remote work is the one most people are interested in, but having the full range of flexibility options, such as job sharing, compressed hours and the like means that you’ll be able to cater to the needs of your hard-working HR personnel.
- Break down the walls between HR and other employees: HR departments often have a bit of a reputation problem. Otherwise, there wouldn’t be a list of ten reasons people hate them on Forbes. So, one of the biggest changes you can make to benefit the wellbeing of HR teams is to help them connect with and get recognition from other employees in your business. The fact that it’s less stressful for HR when people don’t hate them is only the beginning. Departments like IT can help make HR initiatives that much more successful.