Employers Group Blog Connection

How to Ward Off HR Depression

Posted by Nicole Vierzba on Fri, Aug 5, 2011

I recently stumbled upon an article that highlighted the Health.Com list of 10 Careers with High Rates of Depression.
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It made me wonder if anyone had ever considered adding a career in HR to that list.

Sure, we’re not doctors delivering the news to someone that their loved one did not make it, and we don’t have to smile through gritted teeth at a rude customer so we can earn a tip.

In my experience though, I’ve faced times in my HR career that were downright depressing,
• Advising employees of a layoff. No matter how many times you go through it, it never gets easier. Knowing that people will be without an income is hard to think about. What will happen to them and to their families? How will they make ends meet? What if it takes them months to find another job and they are without insurance?  Survivor guilt comes into play.
• Being the unwitting confidante. I’ve had situations where employees have come to get information on the EAP or paperwork for FMLA and they ended up breaking down and divulging details of the hard times they were going through. Whether it is dealing with the death of a loved one, a serious illness or financial troubles, we can become privy to sad circumstances in an employee’s life – and not be in a position to make it right for them.
• Being viewed as the (HR) enemy.  Whether they don’t trust management as a whole, or they view HR as the proverbial ax, it can be difficult to gain the trust of some of your workforce. Every bit of change or every unpopular decision put forth by the company can be viewed as HR’s fault.  It can make communication and/or efforts to garner employee participation exhausting. 

When the job starts to take a mental toll on me, I stop and think, ”is it something I can fix?” If it is, I’ll work on a resolution such as providing an employee with further resources or working on a new communication strategy for the workforce.

If it is not, I will encourage the employee to seek the appropriate outside assistance, perhaps referring them to professionals in the Employee Assistance Program who may be better equipped to deal with certain situations.  Another option is to check in with other professionals in my department. Have they have seen this issue before and what have they done to address it?  Other HR professionals can provide a wealth of knowledge and experience that may be just what I need.

It’s important to realize that we aren’t going to be able to solve all of life’s problems for everyone.  As long as we maintain the utmost level of professionalism and utilize the resources we have available to us, we can rest assured that we are doing what we can to be a champion for others.

By Heather Rose
Heather Rose is a contributor to “Women of HR”.  Women of HR is a site dedicated to the development of women in business through community, collaboration and conversation. To read more articles and to learn more about the Women of HR, visit:  http://womenofhr.com

Topics: workplace, human resources, employee relationship