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My HR work is emotionally draining

Friday July 12 2019

quarter life crisis, stressed man

HR professionals are as susceptible to stressful workplace stimuli as their colleagues. PHOTO| FILE| NATION MEDIA GROUP 

I ‘ve been a HR professional for the last 10 years. As part of my job, I listen to colleagues who approach me with different personal problems. I always listen to them, but sometimes they leave me feeling emotionally depleted. I can’t approach my colleagues or my family with my psychological problems. Is this normal or should I consider therapy?

HR professionals are as susceptible to stressful workplace stimuli as their colleagues. Some have argued that HR’s share of emotional challenges might be greater, owing to the nature of the role. Whatever the case, HR professionals need emotional wellness just as much as everyone else. They are human.

It can be awkward to reach out to colleagues to share your workplace emotional load or take it home where people may have little or no bearing on your work experiences. It is possible, however, to join a network of HR professionals with whom you can share the challenges you face, and possibly glean insights on how to cope better. Such a network might provide a safe zone for you in your current state.

If you sense your situation is threatening your mental wellness, it is advisable to consult a psychotherapist for help. It is not possible to effectively carry out your role as a HR professional if your mental wellbeing is compromised. The aspect of listening to colleagues’ emotionally charged issues forms part of the vagaries of the HR profession and therefore, you need to be mentally and psychologically fit to handle such matters.

While you need to listen, you need not solve every colleague’s problem. Depending on the issue presented to you, you could refer a colleague to other professionals who may be better suited to help, for instance, a counsellor. In any event, listening to others does not have to take the form of personally participating in their dilemmas. It is possible to be empathetic to the circumstances of others, without resorting to despondency or depression.

Have you considered empowering your line managers to deal with some of the common grievances that their teams might have? This will be helpful to you because you will only deal specifically with those matters that require your attention. Have you taken any steps to bring awareness to your staff members on how to better handle their stressful experiences?


Remember that even amid great emotional distress, reviewing the positive things happening around you and considering how much there is to be grateful for might hold some cathartic value.

Fred Gituku, Human Resources Practitioner