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Looking after HR – Looking after yourself during the Covid Winter

by  Peter Rydingis the global CEO of multi international award winning “VIC – your Virtual Interactive Coach” and Founder of the HRD PathFinder Club.

Business leaders and HR professionals have faced an abundance of challenges this year, from having to make tough staffing decisions, furlough schemes to working from home and navigating remote communication. HR Professionals have been thrown in at the deep end, having to keep teams together and dealing with both the short and long term business challenges and changing employee legislation. It is therefore of no surprise that recent research has shown that 93% of HR professionals feel more pressure than ever before. 

In non – COVID times the question of who provides support to HR is ignored. As the Covid crisis has shown the HR team and its leaders are arguably the most important part of any business but they to need support and nurturing to handle the ever-increasing pressures of their role.

So how can HR professionals help themselves stay resilient and productive over the next few months?

  • Look after yourself – with others 


Traditionally the HRD provides counselling and empathetic caring and emotional support for others, including directors, and yet has no one else to support them in the same way. Meaning they take their problems home with them.

Since COVID I am seeing a significant increase in HRDs reporting fatigue, exhaustion and early signs of burn out. I always say that if they are feeling lonely at the top – they ain’t doing their job right! All senior leaders must create a support bubble around them of coaches, advisors, peers, ex bosses, mentors and friends who they can turn to for emotional support and a listening ear. 

Whenever I help members of the HRD Pathfinder Club I always explain that this is NOT a luxury – it is a critical part of being a senior executive.  Especially female senior executives, because statistics show they are more likely to give energy to others, leaving less for their own physical and mental wellbeing. This is another reason why HRDs must allocate more time for networking and developing a support network to make them more knowledgeable and effective in their work and more connected and resilient in their career and life.

2) Strengthen your relationship with your CEO

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Covid has shone a spotlight on the work that the HRD professional is doing and the sterling achievements made during this crisis. Interestingly, the HRD PathFinder Club is seeing an increase in HRDs being elevated to more senior levels within their business and a strengthening in relationship with the CEO. HRDs now have a direct line to the CEO and are seeing a virtuous circle of cause and effect.  They are given more respect and airtime at the C-Suite level and in some cases, especially where they have linked training and support to productivity and ROI, they have won   increased budget to put into practice people initiatives that deliver improved commercial results.

  • Upskill and reskill

HRDs are always correctly telling their boards they must upskill their employees, and telling employees they must keep learning to keep earning. Because both are true!

However classic “Cobblers child being the worst shod”, HRDs often fail to equip themselves personally with the new skills they need to operate effectively at board level. Because what got you here – won’t get you there. Two of our most popular webinars in the HRD Pathfinder Club are “How to become your CEOs most trusted advisor” and “How to escape Imposter Syndrome and other self limiting beliefs.”  It is also increasingly important that HRDs recognise the signs of mental illness, stress or burn out in themselves and others and know how this can be addressed. We have seen a 50% increase of HR specialists researching and using to help understand mental health and be equipped with the right tools to manage it.

  • CIA (Control, Impact, Aware)

In our hectic Covid world it’s critical for all leaders , especially HRDs to recognize what things you can be aware of, what you can influence and what you can control, and then focus 80% of your resources, time, talents and energy on the most important things that you can control. No one has time to waste on things that don’t have a significant impact.

  • Keep something in reserve 

Everyone is exhausted after 2020 and yet more challenges will arise through 2021 and HRDs need to be ready to respond. So don’t deplete your reserves so much that you have nothing left. Schedule time to reflect and for you. Walk every lunchtime, even if just 30 minutes. Do mindfulness and future visualisation. And with fewer foreign holidays, take some time off to suit your natural rhythm and pace – that might be the occasional half day off, maybe 4 day weekends or a full week.  Whatever works for you.

You owe it to your family, your employees, your fellow directors and most importantly yourself.

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