Rinse and repeat
I'm burned out. Tremendously. I am very far from a frontline worker. But am I part of a workforce that has been impacted as a result much like everyone else.
Human resources is an interesting space to be in right now. Behind every workplace that has to be made safe, there is an HR professional that is likely contributing to that in a big way. Shifting into an unknown territory means that your employer has likely had to get familiar with things they never thought about. How can we set up people for remote work if that was never an option before? How do we do it quickly? What if people don't actually work while they're at home? What will the procedure be for people who test positive? What financial assistance will be given to employees that have to be put out on furlough? How do we determine which employees should be furloughed? What metrics should be used to determine if they should be recalled to work? How do we modify workspaces to prepare for a return to the office?
All of the above isn't even within my specialty, but impact is felt throughout the entire department. The answers to these questions inform how we serve employees and I've only touched on the procedural aspect.
The emotional toll is heavy. What do you say to someone that already makes so little and doesn't live in a state with a rich unemployment benefit program? How will they make ends meet? What do you say to the pregnant woman that has been deemed essential but is afraid of being exposed? How do you sit there on the phone letting someone cry for any number of reasons?
The one thing you don't do is fall apart. People rely on you to reassure them about different aspects of their employment. There is no space to respond from a place of emotional vulnerability. In that moment, the conversation isn't about you. The employee expects you to have answers.
I'm tired. I log off for the day and the enormity of my own experience of the pandemic starts to set in. Throughout the day, I obsess over my dog. I worry that he has cold water, treats, entertainment, cuddles, and everything he could possibly want. I obsess over the well-being of friends and their pets. Has everyone had food? Is someone caring for them? Once I've made the rounds, I can relax a little bit. But when I log off from work and I've taken myself to bed, I think about how I missed taking a shower or brushing my teeth. I try to recall the last time I had skin to skin contact with someone. There is suddenly so much space in my brain and heart for a world of despair. The despair deepens up until the moment I fall asleep when I remember that I have to wake up the next day that will eventually lead to another night of despair.