Learning & Development

Don’t Assume Your HR Peers Are OK

This has been a tumultuous time for the entire world, let alone businesses around the country. A pandemic has forced offices to adapt the way they work. Debate surrounding vaccines and politics has created hostile environments for employees in every state. War has disrupted supply chains, creating shortages and driving up prices. We’re on the brink of a massive recession, as induced by the Federal Reserve in order to combat record inflation.

Each one of these earth-shaking disasters draws our attention to different parties and people. We show support to frontline and healthcare workers for good reason. We rage at some politicians and dote on others. We keep our eyes on CEOs as they navigate such a tumultuous economic moment. Our hearts go out to employees who survive on unlivable wages. One group of people, however, goes entirely unrecognized despite the importance of their work, especially now: HR.

HR professionals have quickly become the unsung heroes of businesses around the country, facing incredible obstacles and receiving little support or recognition in exchange. Hear this: Supply shortages, war, recession, and the pandemic all deeply impact the role of HR. Why? Because each one of these plagues impacts the psychological health of company culture, and HR is the frontline defense.

Let’s Break It Down

HR departments are responsible for the confidence and well-being of employees. They usually maintain company culture even though it should not rest with them. When supply chains are disrupted by wars, companies find themselves unable to efficiently produce products. Consumers are enraged, and employees begin to question if their work really reflects the company mission statement. It then falls on HR to revive dying morale.

We can do this with any example. When employees and management have disagreements about pay, company culture, and what the workday should look like, HR is tugged between them, acting as two cans connected by a thin string. Politics create hostile work environments, and HR has to ride in and resolve the conflicts. We could go on for days.

For all those responsibilities, HR gets shockingly little recognition. More pressingly, it receives even less support from companies. That’s a dangerous game. After 2-plus years of COVID and immense change, HR is not on the verge of burnout; it is burnt out. According to a recent study by Workvivo:

  • 94% of HR professionals say they feel overwhelmed.
  • 88% say they dread coming to work.
  • 71% do not feel valued at work.
  • 73% say they do not have the tools and resources to succeed.
  • 78% say they are open to new opportunities.

The Bottom Line

What would you do if your HR champion were not there? Have you thought about this person lately? What type of risk assessment have you done?

Think about this before it is too late. Maybe these small ideas are a beginning:

  • Complete STAY interviews on your HR department.
  • Send your HR team thank-you notes documenting how much you appreciate what they have done to help keep the ship (business) afloat over the last couple of years.
  • Hold an HR appreciation day.
  • Make sure you staffed HR appropriately.
  • Make sure you don’t put too many priorities on the HR team.
  • Invite your HR team to some key meetings, and include them strategically.

Let them know you know how tough it has been, share how much you appreciate them, and listen. Listen carefully. The situation is serious. Don’t assume HR is OK.  

Brad Federman is the CEO of PerformancePoint, LLC.

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