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It’s time for HR to put its own wellbeing first

14 Aug 2019 By Chris Pinner

The people profession often takes a back seat when it comes to health at work, says Chris Pinner

‘In the unlikely event of a loss in cabin pressure, passengers are instructed to take care of their own oxygen mask before helping others.’ 

When I speak with HR professionals about their own health and wellbeing, this analogy often comes up. And in many ways, it makes perfect sense – they are caring people, but that must include caring for yourself first.

HR managers are pivotal to organisational success. Their typical day might include attracting and retaining talent, encouraging teamwork, monitoring attendance and sickness, and dealing with workplace issues. The impact of poor health on individual and business performance should not be underestimated.

Speaking with HR teams across the advertising, media and legal sectors, this is a common theme. As one HR professional explained: “One of the difficulties we face is separation; from other people’s issues and stresses and from your own. HR team members are often ‘people people’ so really want to help, often beyond professional requirements.”  Next time you are stressed and unwell, ask yourself: ‘Is this the message I want to send my team?’

For a healthy, happy and motivated workforce, HR managers have to put themselves first – for several reasons, not least performance: 96 per cent of employers see a direct correlation between health and wellbeing and performance, according to Aon. Wellbeing underpins performance  because a healthy and happy team is more effective – and that includes HR.

Stress is also an important consideration. The World Health Organization describes it as the “health epidemic of the 21st century”. According to Perkbox’s UK Workplace Stress Survey 2018, 91 per cent of us experience work-related stress. If you are stressed, your ability to think clearly and communicate effectively is impaired.

Wellbeing also builds positive relationships; if we are mentally well, we avoid misunderstandings and think clearly. Social eating and group exercise also build relationships and happiness.

Most of all, HR professionals should demonstrate to staff that they believe in wellbeing and practice it themselves to be a credible example. That could start by ensuring members of the HR team attend wellbeing workshops and actively take part in wellbeing initiatives.

Companies today are training employees to become mental health first aiders to combat stress and other mental health challenges. But whatever challenges you face, there are some easy practical steps you can take:

  • Prioritise exercise and eat well
  • Maintain stable blood-sugar levels throughout the day. Eat a healthy breakfast and snacks (nuts, seeds, fruit) to help manage energy levels and prevent overeating
  • Ask yourself regularly: ‘Am I putting my health first?’
  • Block time out for yourself and your health; schedule wellbeing into your week
  • Ask your workforce what they would like to see implemented
  • Book appropriate wellbeing sessions for you and your team
  • Review personal and professional progress, and continuously adapt to maximise top health and performance

Chris Pinner is the founder of Innerfit

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