How can HR people build personal resilience?

Working in HR can require a lot of resilience, especially at such a confusing time. You need to develop a tough exterior to cope with the ups and downs of daily working life.

Some people are naturally more resilient and better able to cope during difficult times – but the good news is that anyone can strengthen their ‘mental toughness’ and improve their ability to deal with challenging situations.

employee wellbeing meditate

So, what attitudes and behaviours will help you improve your personal resilience?

1. Know your stress triggers

At the beginning of this year, Human Resource Executive found in their annual survey that stress has gone up for 90% of surveyed HR professionals.

We know stress is not only detrimental to our wellbeing, but also to our motivation and productivity at work. That’s why HR people are always on the lookout for signs of stress in the workforce. Yet, HR professionals are just as prone to succumbing to stress as anyone else. So, it’s important to understand your own stress ‘pattern’ and to have strategies in place to deal with it.

Everyone will have different ‘triggers’ that push them over the edge. For some, it is an unmanageable workload or pressing deadlines, while for others it may be equipment that constantly breaks down or uncooperative colleagues. We all react differently, too – some people become quiet and withdrawn when stressed, while others may become angry and aggressive. Learn how to monitor your own stress levels so that you know when things are getting too much, and when you need to take action.

2. Manage your emotions

Negative emotions affect not just how we feel about ourselves but also how we perform at work. It’s hard to do a good job if inside you’re simmering with rage and resentment, finding it hard to ‘move on’ from a difficult interaction with a colleague, or are feeling upset because you’ve had to make someone redundant.

Learning how to manage your emotions effectively can help you to become more resilient and to bounce back from difficult situations. Try to identify situations you know are going to have an emotional impact on you in advance so that you can prepare to manage them. Be realistic about what is likely to happen and what you can achieve, and avoid comparing yourself negatively with others (differentiate, don’t compete). When the heat is on, try to control your response by keeping calm and taking deep breaths.

3. Nurture a growth mindset

The past year and a half have shown the need for us to adapt and grow with the constant changes happening around us. Psychologist Carol Dweck talks about the benefits of developing a ‘growth mindset’.

With HR taking the lead in tackling some key challenges, it’s important to see them as an opportunity to learn, grow and develop. People with a growth mindset are more likely to persist in the face of obstacles, see effort as the route to success and learn from criticism.

Dweck believes that the meaning of ‘effort and difficulty’ can be transformed. If we concentrate more on improvement and progress rather than pass/fail, we can further equip ourselves for new challenges.

4. Accept input from others

We can often feel embarrassment or failure when asking for help, but there is also power in asking for support. Don’t be afraid to use your professional or social networks when you need help, advice or just a listening ear. Willingness to seek help is a strength, not a weakness.

Colleagues can often add a valuable perspective or help you see things in a new light. But as an HR person, it can sometimes be difficult to find people to confide in or approach inhouse – often for reasons of confidentiality or conflicting interests. If this is the case, seek peers from outside the organisation (again, being mindful about not disclosing confidential information) who can share their experiences of dealing with difficult situations and help you find a way through challenging times. HR forums, like the CIPD community, are great platforms to find other HR professionals to seek advice and guidance from.

5. Take time to refresh

Your day is packed with wall-to-wall meetings, your inbox is overflowing and there’s a queue of people outside the door waiting to see you. Sound familiar? HR people are typically expected to achieve more and more with less time and resources – and it’s all too easy to get overwhelmed and exhausted.

Taking time to refresh is a vital part of building your personal resilience to cope with a challenging role. It’s the small things that make the biggest difference. So, take a proper break for lunch rather than grabbing food on the go and, whenever possible, step outside and get a breath of fresh air. Factor time in outside of work to do the things that sustain and refresh you – whether that’s going for a run or chilling on the sofa. Take holidays, make sure you get plenty of sleep, and get adequate time to wind down and relax.

6. Make sure to switch off

With many organisations resorting to long-term homeworking during COVID-19, we have become very reliant on our technology. Stories of ‘Zoom fatigue’ and ‘always-on culture’ are in constant circulation these days.

While technology plays a crucial role in ensuring business agility, connection and collaboration with colleagues, it’s important to disengage with your tech tools outside of work hours.

Establishing boundaries with your technology ensures you don’t get drained from the ‘always on’ culture and minimises overexertion. By having more control over when to switch ‘on/off’, you can better manage your energy and time.

For more tips on building resilience, read ‘8 tips on building personal resilience’.

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