Many HR professionals are feeling exhausted, hopeless and helpless. They are experiencing compassion fatigue, not burnout. There’s a difference. Burnout is associated with general exhaustion and a lack of interest or motivation regarding one’s work. It builds over time. Compassion fatigue refers to the negative emotions that individuals feel from helping others at work. Compassion fatigue isn’t predictable. You can be harmed by the work that you do. People who choose or land in the HR world usually enjoy serving others. They are empathetic individuals who are aware of societal needs. Because they are aware of societal needs, they end up being exposed to events and even traumatic stories that affect individuals.

Professionals in this industry experience a lot of pressure to attract and retain top talent all while building strong, healthy cultures. The question seems to be, “What more can we do?” If you’re an HR professional, let’s first start by recognizing that the weight of today’s job market shouldn’t be on you. You are doing more than enough. There are people still benefiting from the work you do and will continue to do. Creating an incredible employee experience doesn’t have to be complicated.

Here are a few tips to help take the load off your HR people:
1. Build a culture of trust instead of mistrust. If this is consistent, then people will feel secure. Cultures of trust create hope for future crises and help eliminate fear.
2. Value autonomy. This will support people in feeling independent, confident and secure in their own abilities. Remove behavior that inflicts shame or doubt.
3. Ensure people feel comfortable driving new initiatives. When people feel confident in leading and making decisions, there is more opportunity for collaboration, teamwork and inclusivity. No space for inferiority.
4. Make sure all roles are clear. People should know what’s expected of them. Our identity is usually wrapped up in what we do. So if done successfully, people feel a sense of belonging.
5. Promote and appreciate generativity. Humans are meaning makers. Most of us want to leave a mark on this world. When people start to feel stagnant, they became unproductive and disengaged. HR supports by communicating a strong professional mission and values. HR should also have an outlet for people to focus on self where they can share raw thoughts and feelings, which supports future self-awareness and emotional intelligence.
6. Don’t forget about your HR people. While HR professionals heavily contribute to the items listed above, they are employees too. The stories and events that are happening have an impact on them as well. They want what others want, but often feel compelled to stuff their feelings away and keep doing business as usual.
7. Hire outside support. For example, you could hire professional coaches who are certified through the International Coaching Federation. The ICF is the governing body for professional coaches all over the world. They have processes in place to ensure high standards of practice within the industry.

In summary, it is important to remind yourself of why you started. Many HR professionals didn’t get into this industry to win people over but rather to serve. If you focus on serving people, you will probably never question whether you are doing enough.

RaQuel Hopkins
Forbes Councils Member

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