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Our Experts
Workplace Engagement

Putting Your Oxygen Mask on First

The mental impact of pandemic burnout and the importance of self-care for HR leaders.

We sat down with Sheryl Simmons, CEO of 3Flights HR, to discuss the role HR leaders are playing to support their people—and the burnout and exhaustion many are currently facing.

By its very nature, HR is about people. HR leaders and practitioners have a vested interest in the care of the people that care for our businesses. But who’s caring for the caregivers?

For months I’ve been speaking with HR folks all over the country. Their innovation, leadership of heart, and dedication to the well-being of the business has been nothing short of inspiring. They share their success stories with me. I hear the pride in their voices. But I also hear the fatigue. The utter exhaustion. I hear the trauma they’ve lived as they’ve led layoffs and exhausting recruiting efforts. I’ve heard their voices crack as they recount the death of employees and processing seemingly endless FFCRA leaves.

Who is caring for HR?

Not only are HR folks charged with the journey of their employees, but they’re also guiding the lives of those in their family circle. Many are spouses, partners, parents, parental caregivers, next door neighbors that watch out for those in need. I hear them when they quietly speak their guilt for not having enough left in their emotional tank to care for the very people that they cherish the most. I see the worry on their faces and the fatigue in their eyes with the unspoken question, “When will this ever end?”

None of us will walk away from this pandemic unscathed. The degree of our physical and emotional trauma will vary but we’ll all bear scars. If you’re in HR, I see you. You’re going to be okay but it’s time to take care of you. We’re amazing human beings, fantastically created, but we can’t keep doing this forever on our own.

So, start somewhere, even if it’s small. Acknowledge that your physical and mental health is just as important as everyone’s that you’re caring for. Give yourself permission to eat a little healthier, take a walk, practice some meditation. Seek out help for your body and your spirit. It’s not selfish—it’s wise.

You fought hard to get a competitive benefits package in place for your employees. Now lead by example and utilize those benefits for self-care. When leadership normalizes mental healthcare, they empower their employees to get help. When leadership acknowledges their own struggles with pandemic weight gain, delayed preventative physical care, or trouble sleeping, they powerfully connect with their employees. 

For years, HR has asked for that proverbial seat at the table. The pandemic pulled out the chair and invited HR to have a seat. A wise HR leader knows that pushing back the chair to take a break and practice self-care is good for everyone. 

Take care of HR. Take care of you.

Sheryl Simmons, CEO at 3Flights HR

Interested in additional resources? Feel free to download Wondr Health’s most recent white paper for HR leaders: “Baggage Handling: They psychological impact of quarantine and strategies to help you and your people.”

Better health awaits,
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