December 2, 2021

Remarkable Mate

Remarkable business & finance

Putting The ‘Human’ In Human Resources

People Manager MEA and Special Projects at Dura-Line.

Human — resources, personnel, talent, staff, employees, capital, etc, — the descriptor is quite widely varying.

If you’ve ever had the privilege (and to me, yes, it still is a privilege) to take a flight, one of the first things you do is watch the in-flight safety demonstration. The flight attendants position themselves visible to all and commence with the hand gestures accompanying the safety briefing. They stand in the aisles pointing us to the nearest exit and how to use the oxygen mask. Mostly due to the lack of something better to do, our focus is on them. They tell us to put the oxygen mask on ourselves before helping others.

Packed away in a forgotten suitcase, I found my in-flight training certificate from long ago. I can speak to the experience as I used to stand up there and point at said exits. During our training, we were taught that the first thing you do as a flight attendant in an emergency is to place the oxygen mask over your own nose and mouth. 

So, what exactly is the point of this story?

Irrespective of your title, experience, salary or position in the org chart, one thing is certain. With the evolution of our position in organizations, only one constant continues to be our most valuable asset — humans. While extremely important, your first concern shouldn’t be your KPIs, goals and achievables that you need to implement on an annual basis. First and foremost, what matters is you and the people you serve.  

In the rush to look after others we forget that we are also an employee, an asset, capital and a resource. As an HR leader, you are “the sponge” in your organization — the one that needs to keep on absorbing various matters from management, directors, employees, third-party suppliers’ feedback, comments, complaints and so on. What happens when the sponge cannot take in any more? You cannot continue to absorb ad infinitum.

For most, our reality is that we have families, obligations, spouses, parents, children, home and car loans, work-from-home-life balance and so much more. How do we balance?

This brings me back to that inflight safety demonstration: You are a priority, the first one to receive the oxygen.

I recommend that my fellow HR leaders find an outlet, whatever that may look like. Speak to a counselor, attend support group meetings, work out at the gym or take a walk in the park with your dog. Turn to nature — look out over the ocean or undulating grass or desert plains. For a start, use that daily lunch meeting time that you blocked out on your calendar (the one you ignore every day because something more important comes up) to take an actual lunch break. At first, you may feel guilty but you may be surprised to realize you feel so much more recharged after the fact.

At the end of the day, if we do not listen to our own wisdom, insight and lessons, we tend to continue to put the oxygen mask on others first. While this is done out of caring, we run the risk of getting burnt out ourselves. We are the main source of support for the people who keep our organizations going. We can only be a true resource and guiding force when we’re well-supported and grounded. For your — and your employees’ — sanity and survival, take a step back and breathe.


Forbes Human Resources Council is an invitation-only organization for HR executives across all industries. Do I qualify?


https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbeshumanresourcescouncil/2021/10/27/putting-the-human-in-human-resources/