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The One Where the HR Professional is “Fine”

Categories: General

We have made it through seven months of this unprecedented year of 2020, and I am sure we all have stories to tell! Stories of how we as HR professionals have navigated through the murkiest of waters, and are maybe just maybe starting to see a glimmer of hope in the far horizon. I as most of you did and as I chronicled in my first blog of 2020 had distinct goals I set for myself this year. As of August, I sadly have accomplished only one of those goals as life and career went in a completely different path once the novel coronavirus made its way to the natural state.

However, just making it through the constant flux and daily stresses and pressures is accomplishment enough for me in 2020.  As nearing the end of every day and week is a mini success! As I look back over the past few months, it all seems like a blur as I cannot pinpoint the precise moment when it all changed. I do vividly recall a day in late March when my Vice President was out of the office, and I was asked to take her place in a few meetings with senior leadership. As a reminder, I work in the largest healthcare organization in Northeast Arkansas so as you can imagine we were in the thick of it. I remember giving the HR update in one of the meetings, and then being questioned by my CEO on what HR’s solution was for one of the issues I mentioned. I admittedly stammered as right then and there I did not know what our solution was, but I assured him I would have an answer the following day. So, the next day I rolled out a new policy regarding COVID-19 resignations to my Vice President which later went into effect. 

Shortly thereafter came my introduction to the word “furlough” and the CARES Act, followed by webinar upon webinar, policy after policy, change after change. Oh and did I mention my city got hit by a tornado in the midst of the pandemic! After emerging from my closet that fateful day, I rushed to the hospital to assist in whatever way I could which resulted in managing lodging for our employees who were victims of the tornado damage. I remember going home that night to a home without power, but a home that was still standing nonetheless. It put so many things into perspective as it felt like having the weight of the world on my shoulders managing two crises simultaneously.

So I ask… how are you doing HR professionals of Arkansas? Are you truly “fine”, “good”, or any of the other proverbial answers that we oftentimes give? During these times, we have been called to elevate our profession and our organizations like never before. It is our time to shine, yet because of the state of our world it is also our time to experience heightened emotions. Steve Browne in the article A Good Cry found in the summer HR2020 magazine told us it is okay to express our emotions. He encourages us to uncork our emotions in a safe way, and that we cannot take care of others unless we first take care of ourselves. He even mentions several times how he himself has cried.

Being the strong, even tempered, and poker-faced HR professional that I am, I had not once cried in my workplace. Well of course that changed in the year 2020. The first time was late on a Friday night. I came into the office to work on a spreadsheet I had created for a COVID-19 related project I was working on. At about 10pm in pure exhaustion I noticed an error in the report which sent me into full breakdown mode. Another time was a Friday morning. I had come in early to again complete duties related to this project. I closed my office door, shed a few tears, and then mustered the strength to continue on with my duties and the day. Steve Browne stated that crying or expressing your emotions does not diminish your effectiveness to perform, make decisions or be rational. What it does is verify your humanity. 

Well said Steve Browne! Well said! As HR professionals, we oftentimes can have guards or walls up, yet it is okay to let these down. By me informing you as the reader that I have not completely and seemingly had it together these past few months, is an example of me doing just that (insert grimace emoji). And yes I literally made the grimace face while typing this out.

On July 30th my affinity group held an event titled LEAAPing into Mental Health: Shades of Survival in honor of Minority Mental Health Awareness month. In this event, we had physicians and mental health experts speak on COVID-19 and the alarming hospitalization and death statistics of African Americans. Furthermore, they spoke on warning signs and risk factors for those experiencing emotional stress and anxiety, and ways that we can stay safe both mentally and physically this year. The tips of continued self-care and discovering new routines can be taken by all. I personally never knew how much my personal life revolved around planning and taking trips until I did not have anything to plan for. We are all juggling many balls professionally and personally right now. It is okay to not be okay, and just think if we can make it through the first half of 2020 there is nothing we cannot conquer.

To end on a funny, have you all seen the HR meme that said “Pretty sure everyone got the answer wrong in 2015 to Where Do I See Myself in Five Years.” Although this was not something that any of us foresaw, it is something that I believe has forever changed our profession.

Oh, and the one goal I accomplished this year…being chosen as a member of SHRM’s Young Professionals Advisory Council (YPAC). I could not be more elated to have the opportunity to help shape the future of the HR profession through providing suggestions, identifying strategies, and advocating for and connecting with YP’s. So as always I welcome and encourage feedback from my fellow Arkansas YP’s.

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