Are any other HR people feeling a bit lonely in all this :(


Sorry its a self indulgent one.

Just wondering if anyone else is feeling a bit lonely?  I have streams of people coming in to my office concerned about it and asking what our plans are for WFH and sickness and about 101 other queries and being openly worried and I have to sit here and be the cabin crew and exude calmness.  Yet I am just as concerned as everyone else.

Managers and Directors etc look to us for calm, measured guidance and practical advice, and being so close to the 'inner circle' and hearing first hand the impact on the business etc.....very worrying, I'm feeling a bit forgotten about and just wondered if anyone else is feeling the same?  It just feels like sometimes people forget that we count as employees too?  

  • In reply to Gemma:

    Hi Gemma

    I am not going to waffle about how much I sympathise with your position, or quasi-lecture about how many others share it; these are things that others can do in abundance if you need them. What I will do, from personal experience, is make two, seemingly simple, suggestions: The first is to recognise that much of what you are feeling is not simply the loneliness of living apart from your family, but the loss of freedom to do anything about it. This is an important difference, because being apart is tolerable when we can change it; less so when we are "captive". The good news being that we can sneakily evade our captivity by thinking up ways around it, taking back control. So, for example, you know your parents are feeling "down" too and you cannot get to them, so maybe do something as simple as sending each of them some silly gift from "Amazon" that you know will bring a smile? Yes that might sound a silly idea, but try it (or something like that), or maybe next time you talk, start planning the family party you will have when this crisis turns into history?

    The second thing that might maybe help is to take back control of the discussions with other mangers. Instead of waiting for their year-1 student-level questions, Call them and ask if they have any problems? You might get the same requests, but it's your call, your control of the conversation, and believe it or not that makes a difference. You are not being chased, you are doing the chasing and setting the agenda. ...and if the conversations get too irritating can also say that since you were only calling to check up on their needs, you will call back later with a cohesive answer to what they've asked.... Then say a very rude word after you've put the phone down and invent a form of (polite) words that you can 'mail to answer their fatuous question in a way that shows home basic it really was.

    (The only really "silly" question being the one that isn't asked).

    While in "captivity", create yourself little victories, and celebrate them; then use them to plan for what you'll do to make things different when this corona-stuff is behind us and you can enjoy both freedom (living as independently as you want to) and your family, after five minutes drive, in balanced proportions, when you have control over that too.

    Meanwhile don't forget there is a person-to-person contact facility on this site, and if you need to discuss any of the professional challenges thrown up by the current situation person-to-person, there are many of the "regulars" here who are happy to do that.


  • In reply to Gemma:

    Hi Gemma, you're not on your own - sending you some virtual hugs. It's good you've reached out on this community as what you realize is there are loads of us working in a standalone function. Like everyone else at the moment we don't have all the answers or any past experience of a situation like this to draw upon. But, we will get through this, and every day we get one day closer to the other side of this situation. I'm happy to share some of the things I have put together so please feel free to contact me if that would help. Big hugs :-)
  • In reply to Peter:

    Hi Peter,

    Thank you for your reply. It's very true what you say regarding living apart. I think today everything from the last two weeks has just finally got on top of me and I'm used to being able to hop in the car and pop round to mum and dads for a cup of tea and a chat to offload or just switch off and that ability isn't there at the moment. Plus having an upset parent on the phone this morning has just brought this all home as well. I had been treating it as if they or I were just on "holiday" but today I realised that way of coping wouldn't work long term. I like your silly gift suggestion though and small victories idea. I will give that a try.

    I am always glad of the support of those on this site, especially the "regulars" as you put it. The input here is invaluable and it's always good to be able to reach out for some support when needed. So thank you. And i will definitely try to take back some control of the questions from managers and I'm stumped then i know where to come to seek some answers or advice.
  • I think a bit of self indulgence is quite appropriate at a time like this and only sorry I didn’t get to this thread earlier. I think what being an HR Manager has helped with is keeeping a focus on what we do know rather than what we don’t. As a school we very quickly took hold of our absence reporting and asked staff to clarify whether they were sick or fit to work when self isolation began and that we would support them in any decisions they needed to make. I learnt more in the last few weeks about people’s health and child care arrangements and consistently reminded staff that as a non-medical specialist I was not qualified to tell them whether to stay at home. That all changed with lockdown and other than a skeleton staff all are now WFH. The new challenge is keeping people occupied and with different groups of staff that brings new challenges about what is achievable. After Easter we will be looking at performance for support staff wanting to ensure that there is fairness and equity about what people are doing during this time. There still feels like a lot of plates to keep spinning but I think our biggest ability is our flexibility and adaptability to change. I am personally hoping to use any time I have (if it ever arrives) to complete the CIPD online courses. The sense of community has never been more needed and I for one am grateful to have the CIPD one to call on.
  • In reply to Lorraine:

    Hi Lorraine, I think today is the day that everything finally caught up with me and it got a bit too much. Thank you for the virtual hugs. I would be really grateful if you share some of the things you've put together. I will try and contact you via direct message. Thank you :-)
  • In reply to Gemma:

    Hi Gemma
    Having a little weep (or a big weep) is totally normal and natural, as is bringing out the 'blunt' messages sometimes at work when people - often far more senior - seem to be expect you to have all the answers. Each day at a time is the way I'm handling it at the moment, which of course is nowhere as easy as it sounds, when i blithely type it out on my keyboard .
    virtual hugs and high fives for keeping on keeping on
  • In reply to Ann Simpson:

    Hi Ann
    Yes, i had a good cry this morning and got out of my system. I'm sure this won't be the only day that I feel like this over the coming weeks. One day at a time is the best approach as you say. I think a lot of it for me was that the last two weeks have just been so manic I've not really had time to process things or think about much. Today is calmer and with that comes time to think and process. We can all only do our best at the moment and hopefully we can start getting back to a form of normality sooner rather than later. I think we all need a virtual hug and high five right now.
  • Johanna

    | 0 Posts

    Community Manager

    6 Apr, 2020 13:47

    In reply to Gemma:

    The next issue of People Management magazine will focus on all the amazing work the HR community has been doing in extremely challenging circumstances, during these very difficult times. We've also launched a campaign across social media called #HRtogether. This reflects how important the support of the wider community is as we all feel our way through new and unprecedented HR territory - whilst at the same time being worried about our own health and that of friends and family.

    In fact this Community thread has been a very important barometer for the CIPD team in understanding what is needed to try to help support our members. Thank you for using the Community and continuing to reach out - you are not alone! I thought you might also like to see this tweet from Peter Cheese, CIPD CEO last Friday:

  • Hi

    I am having a bad day today. Feeling worthless and useless. Normally I am upbeat and positive but having been looking for a new role since January, feeling it wont ever happen. I am doing proof reading for free for some of my LinkedIn conections and I have been inputting historical written weather data in a digital form online to help for free but still it is not enough. I am bored out of my head.

  • I had my big cry this weekend.

    As part of my role, I have been doing welfare check-in calls to people (been really well received, do recommend) and someone said this to me this morning:

    I realised I have been measuring time on what I haven't been able to do, rather than what I have done. 

    He told me about a sports event he was missing, a hobby that is a large part of his life he hasn't done activities for. But he then told me about he was able to eat 3 meals a day with his wife, invest in the future with some gardening and pick up his guitar for some online lessons. This really resonated with me as I was due to go on holiday Thursday and I have been in mourning already for weeks, rather that noticing that I have picked up my baking skills again* for example.

    Work stuff sucks too, but at least I am doing it in leggings, hair in a top knot and a cat on my lap. Not sure if that helps, but that mindset change is working for me.

    *Matcha and white chocolate cookies today

  • In reply to Cat Jones:

    That's a great outlook on it Cat. I like that, much like Peter's suggestion for celebrating the small victories. I too have been baking more since all this - 2 successful loaves of bread made over the last couple of weekends and a batch of the old faithful banana bread to salvage some overripe bananas.
  • In reply to Gemma:

    Gemma! A fellow bread-baker! I have made all my own bread for about the last two and a half years (I got fed up with eating white plastic) and have always made my own Christmas Cakes and Christmas puddings. I even made a wedding cake for one of the women at a company where I was HRM. I learned to bake bread at school (very unusual for boys to be taught to cook in those days of the late '50s ...and Yes, I am that old, but the school also taught girls carpentry and metalwork too).

    Apart from all the heath benefits of good fresh bread, and the pure magic of a sticky mess of flour, water, yeast and a little salt turning first into a smooth elastic dough, and then after half an hour or so in an oven becoming a light, crusty, delicious loaf; beating and strangling "seven bells" out of it in the process of kneading is the most therapeutic (and legal) way I know of dealing with frustrations caused by issues at work, other managers' HR-deafness, and similarly cross-making irritations.

    Another victory: The crosser I am, the better tomorrow-morning's toast will be!


  • In reply to Peter:

    Peter, yes I don't mind baking bread from time to time. My mum and my gran taught me to bake (although their method is the very traditional approach of "oh that looks about right"). The merits of bread baking are indeed many, nothing like taking some frustration out on a bit of dough! Although this weeks bread was made with treacle thanks to a recipe from the BBC's Saturday Kitchen which involved no proving or kneading, but still a rather nice loaf of bread.
  • In reply to Peter:

    Peter, off topic but I'd love to try making my own bread......any chance of a recipe?

    Plus, there are a lot of people I'd like to punch squarely in the face at the moment so taking it out on bread sounds like a good alternative.
  • In reply to Samantha:

    My take is that you find out at times of crisis who steps up and who doesn’t. For those staff that haven’t (and definitely a very small minority) it wasn’t surprising as there have been previous issues prior to this. I have had far more positives in the last few weeks than negatives and definitely holding onto that. Optimism is a great trait to have right now! Love the thought of kneading out your frustrations - go for it.