I awaken every morning with a heart full of love and gratitude. I always have, but now more than ever before. I am incredibly grateful for my good health and that of my family. I am so grateful to all of the first responders and medical professionals and healthcare staff bravely caring for patients each day. I have deep appreciation for all essential workers who leave their safe homes to go to work to keep businesses and the world moving forward. I am grateful to all CHROs across the world who are leading and making decisions about people in the most arduous business environments of our lifetimes.
I am currently in transition after recently leaving a very rewarding CHRO role in a fiercely challenged business. As I connect with my CHRO peers across the country, I recognized right away that they are working countless hours per day as well as all weekend. They are running ragged as they make and execute gut wrenching decisions to furlough employees, reduce pay, and permanently eliminate positions that force good and talented people to leave jobs they love, and add to the nation’s staggering unemployment statistics.
It is CHROs who are deciding how to best protect their employees and keep them safe while they continue to work onsite in their essential roles or establishing flexible work arrangements outside the office. While worrying about their own families and their own health, CHROs are also racing to stay current on new legislation regarding employee leaves, pay practices, employee privacy rights, crisis resources and financial relief for employee hardships, which all are constantly evolving and complex to navigate with minimal or no guidance. CHROs are front and center of this pandemic that impacts, more than anything, people and their lives both in and outside of work. These People Officers are working relentlessly to master and model how to lead with calm and compassion amidst a global health crisis and how to engage with their very anxious and worried employees. I started reflecting recently, how long can CHROs sustain at this pace? How many will choose a different path because their inability to cope or adapt is glaringly exposed? As the saying goes, you can’t pour from an empty cup. So, here’s some important self-care tips that CHROs are recommended to practice to preserve their energy and resolve.
Set boundaries. When working from home we tend to be even more productive, working endless hours in the day because the computer is right there looking at you. I’ve joked that during this quarantine, there is no time zone and we can’t even keep straight what day of the week it is. We’re all in such a heightened emotional state so it’s difficult to disconnect. It is far too common to send emails at 10pm or respond to messages at 2am or reach out to a coworker on Sunday morning, which once upon a time was coveted personal time. This will develop into a habit that is a very unhealthy practice. Draw boundaries by establishing reasonable work hours and not allowing unbridled access to you. Remember not every matter is an emergency – even when those involved often believe it is.
Timeout from Covid. Schedule at least one meeting or call during your workday that is not related to crisis management, or putting out a fire, or a stressful urgent matter. Take a networking call. Do a webinar or continuing education class. You deserve to take breaks, being under constant intense pressure is dangerous to your mental and physical health and is affecting your wellbeing long before you are even aware.
RED. Yes my favorite color is red, but RED used here is referring to an acronym I have as a reminder of key tips to maintain good physical and mental health.
Rest and relax: Take a nap or enjoy a relaxing activity once per day. Get ample sleep each night.
Exercise: Don’t stay chained to the computer or staring at the screen in back-to-back Zoom calls, especially without breaks. Move around. Go for a walk or jog. Run up and down your stairs at home. Ride a bike. Any movement is better than being sedentary and sitting in your increasingly uncomfortable chair in meetings and on urgent calls for the majority of the day.
Diet: Don’t fall victim of stress eating and mindless snacking. I have been wildly successful at gaining weight while in quarantine, and recently decided that enough is enough and I need to be able to fit in my work clothes when we all go back to the office. So, make healthy food choices throughout the day, and of course balance that with treats periodically. You deserve it!
I am a businesswoman who has dedicated my life to taking care of people by practicing Human Resources and leading HR teams, so of course I may be viewed as biased when it comes to evaluating the value and importance of the CHRO role. However, as we all think about the vital actions and decisions that will move businesses and employees on the other side of this pandemic, let us remember the HR leaders across the world who are responsible for making those tough and life altering decisions. These are also leaders who care about their employees, care about the health of the business, and grapple with the lasting impact of the adverse business and employment decisions precipitated by this pandemic. There is a long and uncertain road ahead to full recovery. CHROs must buckle up as your fortitude and resilience will continue to be tested.
Thank you to our CHRO heroes. I’m so proud of you. Go be great!