HR In a Crisis: How to Care for Yourself & Your Company

*As originally seen on Career Cooperative.*


Human Resources has always been a tough job that is not for the faint of heart. In today’s climate— navigating the complexities of police brutality and racial injustice against the ever-changing landscape of a global pandemic— the job is Herculean. If you’re an HR professional in 2020, there’s a high likelihood that your workload has intensified as you’ve flexed from one crisis to the next, creating an entirely new remote work policy one moment and providing safe space for discussion about racial inequities the next. You are asking and being asked tough questions on a daily basis: Are our employees safe, healthy and emotionally ok? What do they need? Is our current commitment to DEI enough? Will our offices open again and if so, when? Will we need to cut additional headcount? It’s not only mentally exhausting, but emotionally taxing as well.  

In order to get additional perspective, we talked to Maven Recruiting Group’s HR Community, who shared how they’ve been feeling the effects of it all. One individual said, “This has been the most challenging period of my life both physically and mentally.” Another said they were, “having a hard time planning for the uncertainty and putting on a brave face.” We understand. It’s a lot to hold for yourself, let alone an entire organization, and why it’s past time for HR professionals everywhere to take a second and focus those tough questions on themselves. What support do I need to continue to do my job well? What healing needs to happen for me to show up effectively? What is within my ability to influence?

Connect with Community

So, how do you do the work? First, take a few deep breaths. In. . . out. . . in. . . out. . . that feels better. Now, reach out to your Human Resources community. Connecting with your peers who have shared similar experiences will not only foster a support network, but will also create an educational forum to share best practices and expertise. HR professionals (and everyone, really) are navigating uncharted territory in real-time, so talking to professionals who are in the same boat will help you make more informed decisions. In addition to providing additional perspectives, your colleagues and friends in HR make the best accountability partners.

Another community to identify and connect with are your allies on the inside of your organization. We’ve talked about how impacted your workload has become, so leveraging partners inside of your organization will ultimately free up your time for tasks that require more specialized expertise. Consider calling on your Marketing team to draft internal communications, or partnering with Legal to develop an employee guide on how to navigate furlough and unemployment resources.

If you’re new to HR or you’re simply looking for new ways to build your HR community, here is a list of resources we recommend:



Hone Your Workplace Resilience Toolkit

As you are being stretched and challenged in new ways at work, developing and honing healthy workplace resilience practices will support your well-being and overall impact and effectiveness in your role. (Good news, these practices and benefits aren’t limited to just work). We spoke with mental health professional Alex Yannacone who is the Director of Education and Community Programs at the Helen and Arthur E. Johnson Depression Center in Colorado which provides programs and trainings to address mental health issues, to share a few best practices to help face times of uncertainty:

  • Create a resiliency plan. Take stock of past adversities and challenges to help you navigate what you are facing today. How have you successfully overcome challenges in the past? What tools and coping methods did you use? How did that feel? While it goes without saying that what we are facing right now is highly unique, we can use skills from those past experiences to help us cope now.
  • Shift the focus from what we can’t control to what we can. We are facing big questions that we just don’t have the answers to— no one does. Focusing on the uncertainty and what we can’t control is overwhelming and can feel really heavy. By recognizing what we can control, and taking things one day at a time, we can regain focus and take our power back.
  • Make plans and goals - for your organization and yourself. We all know the incredibly gratifying experience of checking a box on our to-do list. What we may not always recognize is the immediate and forward-thinking positive effects of that check. So make a goal, regardless of how small or obvious it seems, achieve it, and check it off. In that simple act you are able to focus on something you can control, and flex your resiliency muscle. You are going to need that muscle to face and effectively navigate the days and months ahead.

Self-Assess, then Self-Care

We know HR is being called on right now in unprecedented ways. You can’t show up in the way you want to unless you take care of yourself first. It’s the whole, “put on your safety/oxygen mask before you assist others” concept. Caring for yourself is vital, and we also recognize it can feel impossible to do so right now.    

Research shows that when we engage in self-care, we are more productive even during the most stressful of times. This means that if we feel guilty or like we don't have time, we are actually doing a disservice to ourselves and to our company because we’re not able to handle stressors well. It’s important to recognize that when you create space and commit to self-care, you are modeling self-care for your team, and in doing so, you will function better as a whole.

Self-care shouldn’t be a chore, rather it should be something you enjoy. It doesn't have to be big and overwhelming, it can be something as small taking five minutes a day to turn off all devices and just be. In partnership with Alex Yannacone, we adapted this self-care assessment tool to help you identify areas of self-care in your life that you are engaging in and areas you can improve.

There can be additional opportunities for your resiliency plan and self-care to serve your work, team and company. We’ve established that when you take care of yourself, you can show up to the various facets of your life, including work, in a more authentic, empathetic, and productive way. While you should engage in what makes the most sense for you personally, if learning or self-growth are things that give you energy, think about exploring topics that are top-of-mind and seeking out constructive articles, informative books, or easy-to-access online courses.

In addition, here some self-care ideas that have surfaced during Alex’s recent trainings. Remember, small things make a big impact when you’re short on time.

  • Set boundaries  
  • Set an alarm for bedtime
  • Create a grateful jar or happy jar (with happy jar put things in it that have brought you joy and read through them at the end of a week, month or year)
  • Journal 1x a week or when feeling really stressed
  • Make exercise a task (riding bike to grocery store, gardening)
  • Learn something new from your child (learn to skateboard from teenage son)
  • Have a safely distanced lunch with a coworker (meet in a parking lot and eat on the trunk of your cars)
  • Secret Chef (group of friends cook meals and eat them together on Zoom and try to guess who the chef is)
  • Have the motto: ‘If it’s not a “hell yes” I don’t have to do it.’ This is only for personal life but meaning that you don’t have to take on extra responsibilities that you aren’t passionate about

In a profession that asks you to serve others, turning the focus inward and asking the tough questions about what you need as an HR professional and human is hard work. And, creating that space to do so is vital in order to face what is being demanded of HR professionals right now. While there is no ‘one size fits all’ roadmap to successfully meeting the challenges of HR right now, our hope is that seeking support through community, resilience, and self-care can help you to show up to the tough work ahead of us all in the ways that make the most sense for you.

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Career Cooperative is an Oakland, CA–based boutique consulting firm that inspires clients to face career transitions, professional growth, and recruiting with confidence. We consult with companies to attract diverse talent through impactful recruiting and interview strategies, and support employees through career development and lay-offs. Through our combined 15-plus years in full-cycle recruiting and career development, we’ve worked with hundreds of candidates and companies and learned a lot in the process. When you have a focus, understand your value, master the magic of your story, and build a supportive and diverse community, the realm of possibilities is endless.

Maven Recruiting Group specializes in placing Executive Assistants, Administrative, Operations, and Human Resources professionals to the most prominent Executives and companies. A resource for both temporary and permanent hiring needs, we provide talent and staff augmentation services to Fortune 500 companies, Venture Capital firms and growing tech startups in San Francisco, Silicon Valley, and Silicon Beach. We are proud to be a woman-owned company and pride ourselves on partnership and service, quality of candidates, and quick, lasting results.

Link to Career Cooperative's Workplace Self-Care Assessment.

Posted on

June 20, 2020


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