No Image Available

Hilary Jeanes

Read more about Hilary Jeanes

The elephant in the HR department?


Not a real one, but as good as…. The elephant I’m talking about is stress, overwhelm, burnout.

Here’s an example from a recent post on the dilemmas section of an HR jobs board:

"I have never been under more pressure at work. I’m an HR manager of a small firm. Two of my team members were made redundant last year so my team has been reduced from 7 to 5. I’m working all hours from 6am to 8pm at night and my boss is unsympathetic. She thinks I should be lucky to have a job, I’m at breaking point and struggling to maintain the morale of my team, what can I do?"

Perhaps one cause is the type of personalities who are attracted to working in HR, particularly operational roles.  They want to help, are empathetic, maybe take on too much in order to please the people they provide a service to.

The interesting thing to me is that the very people who are there to provide advice and support on addressing stress at work are not recognising when they are suffering from it themselves – and worse, are not taking action to resolve it.  So it’s a case of the cobbler’s children not having decent shoes to wear!

In my work as a coach with HR practitioners, the frequency of meeting clients who say things like “I feel like I’m drowning and I’m looking for some inspiration to get me back on track” is increasing.

Often they are in survival mode, feeling trapped, not performing as they know they can – having lost their way and completely at a loss to know what to do next.  These are the lucky ones – they decide to take action, which is the first step to changing their situation.  But what happens to those who don’t?

Recognising the signs is the first important step.  Here are some of them to look out for:
–    A feeling of overwhelm, inability to make decisions or need to check your work over and over again
–    Paralysis – feeling like a rabbit in the headlights
–    Short-temper, both at work and at home
–    Feeling listless and lacking the interest or motivation to do the things you normally enjoy
–    Waking up in the night worrying about work issues.

I believe that you need to be in a good place yourself to give good advice and support to others.
So what stops HR practitioners from admitting they need some help?

Can you admit when you need help?
Would you join or like to join a network which offers support particularly to HR practitioners? Please
email here.

Hilary Jeanes is a business coach, who focuses on providing support to HR practitioners.


Get the latest from HRZone.

Subscribe to expert insights on how to create a better workplace for both your business and its people.


Thank you.