Who takes care of HR?

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Who takes care of HR?

One of the most impactful webinars I attended last year was a fellow HR professional taking the time to do something many of us don’t do: talk about ourselves! She reminded the audience that HR team members are people too, so who takes care of HR?

As HR professionals, we pride ourselves on the care we extend to our employees, sometimes even referring to employees as customers to further demonstrate our service orientation and commitment to employee satisfaction. This care for others makes us prime for the byproduct of not caring for ourselves and experiencing emotional overload.

Let’s be honest, the work of HR, which is caring for others, can take a toll. This toll has a name, it’s called compassion fatigue. Compassion fatigue is a broadly defined concept that can include emotional, physical, and spiritual distress in those providing care to another.[1] It is also described as the emotional residue or strain of exposure to working with those suffering from the consequences of traumatic events. It differs from burnout but can coexist. Compassion Fatigue can occur due to exposure on one case or can be due to a “cumulative” level of trauma. [2] It’s an occupational hazard of any professionals who use their emotions and their heart.[3]

Here are some ways to avoid or address burnout and compassion fatigue[4]:

  1. Make self-care a part of your routine: It’s the timeless saying of, if you can’t take care of yourself, you’re not going to be able to take care of others. As yourself, what have I don’t for me today?
  2. Take a break (a real break!): In a society that takes pride in overwork, it can be difficult to unplug. It’s not selfish and we should not feel guilty for taking time away from our work. Your coworkers know how hard you work and how hard the job can be. Let them do the emotional labor on your day off.
  3. Practice self-compassion: You’re not superhuman, and no one, especially you, should expect you to be.
  4. Create community: Connect with peers and other HR professionals. It helps that we are a people profession and so there are lots of organizations centered around bringing people together across the professional. Join a network and find others with shared experiences.
  5. Help colleagues: This I know we can all be good at! We are helpers by nature, so help your fellow HR friends by asking how they are doing, really, how are they doing.

We are at a transition point. Many have been working from home and are starting to transition back into the office. How can we make this transition about more than just being physically back in the office? Is there trauma that you need to process? Where do you see an opportunity to revise your routine and add some of these self-help tips?

Wherever you are, know that WE care and want the best for you! If you need community, reach out to us!

It’s important to note that while Human Resources is definitely a form of caregiving, and we may be supporting employees that experience trauma at work, we are not life or death caregivers such as nurses, doctors, paramedics, aids, etc. Compassion fatigue is truly felt by those professions and this discussion is in no way saying the experiences are the same across professions.


[1] http://compassionfatigue.org/index.html

[2] https://www.stress.org/military/for-practitionersleaders/compassion-fatigue

[3] https://www.apa.org/topics/covid-19/compassion-fatigue

[4] https://www.apa.org/topics/covid-19/compassion-fatigue