HR leaders are the lynchpin of an organisation – they hold the team together, they set an example and are a great benchmark for staff mood and morale.
The pandemic has been an excruciatingly difficult time for leaders in all fields. Switching overnight to remote working, workplace testing, negotiating the various coronavirus support schemes and dealing with illness are just a few of the challenges business leaders have faced over the past 15 months or so.
Many HR leaders in particular have had to find new levels of agility to deal with the issues that fell under their remit.
Whereas for many, the number one issue they faced was staff retention, in 2021 this has shifted dramatically to employee wellness and mental health. While the need to protect employees’ physical health was obvious, with remote working and social distancing policies requiring an immediate introduction, mental wellbeing has also been a major concern.
The effects of working from home have been widely catalogued, with employees feeling cut off from their colleagues and suffering from anxiety. Employees have struggled to adjust their work-life balance – particularly those also grappling with home schooling – as well as the blurring of boundaries and even burnout.
The challenges of inspiring a team, living the company culture and training or staff development have all fallen by the wayside somewhat, with even the most efficient HR leaders losing focus amid the whirl of Covid-related challenges.
It’s little wonder that many HR managers in 2021 feel undervalued. A recent survey found that the impact of the pandemic was one of the biggest challenges leaders faced, including making workplaces Covid secure, staggering start and finish times and adhering to social distancing guidelines.
Many reported that the impact of Covid had placed an enormous amount of administrative pressure on HR leaders while one in three said their business had made redundancies during the pandemic.
Almost a third said employee engagement would be a further challenge, despite finding innovative and quirky ways to combat this.
Diagnose Before You Solve
So, with the number of challenges HR directors are currently dealing with, it’s no surprise that some are finding it difficult to remain motivated. Dealing with furlough and redundancy alone throughout the pandemic can be incredibly draining and will test the motivation of even the most established leaders.
It’s absolutely vital that anyone who does feel as though they are stuck in a rut to establish exactly why they feel the way they do.
This applies to anyone in a leadership role but is particularly relevant for HR directors, given that they are often regarded as a benchmark for staff morale within a business.
Any director who feels as though they’re at an impasse needs to take time to diagnose what’s making them feel that way and to pinpoint how to motivate themselves.
If a leader – and an HR leader in particular – starts to feel down, this can have a knock-on effect on the workforce as a whole. Your HR director is the backbone of the business in many cases, a sounding board for other people, so recognising something is wrong as soon as it feels wrong is vital.
In the current climate, when many HR directors have spent the past 12 months placing people on furlough or even making staff redundant, it’s no wonder this can begin to impact their mental health.
However, if it’s not as a result of this, then more often than not, feeling down is a result of a relationship issue with the business. This could be something as simple as working in an unsuitable building; however, it could be something more problematic, such as an issue with other members of the leadership team.
Whatever the cause, it is vital that you take time to diagnose and pinpoint the cause of the problem before moving on. You can’t solve an issue before you understand why it exists in the first place.