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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

A rough day in the life...

When was your day? You know...that day...the one where you asked yourself, "Why did I choose this profession?"

It's not an easy one. It would be nice if HR was all about helping the company meet it's numbers, providing workers with all kinds of great benefits and hiring that super excited kid out of college into the job of her dreams. We live for those days. In fact, that's probably what keeps most of us going.

Unfortunately, we all have those days where we have to fire the single mom with three kids who can't meet the demands of her job, we can't solve the personal medical crisis of a family with a disabled child or we have to have that difficult conversation with the employee who (erroneously) thought that he or she was doing a fabulous job.

The thing that keeps me going after those days is knowing that 1) I did my best to preserve the dignity of the person on the other end of that bad news, 2) I probably gave that family more attention, help and compassion than anyone else ever has, and 3) that if I'm letting someone go, they're probably going to find themselves much happier fairly soon in a job they were truly suited for.

It's tough though and sometimes we just go home and cry - or drink - or cry and drink.

I remember a time where I had to let someone go after many, many performance warnings. Then, I had to fight her unemployment claim. And, a few weeks later I found out that she had died in a car accident. That was one of those "cry and drink" nights. I told myself that I had done my best. I had been kind, I had been forthright, I had done everything I could to save this person's job, but they weren't helping themselves. I didn't know what else I could do. Sometimes, there's nothing else that we can do.

Those are the days where we have to reach out and lean on someone. I've recently heard that companies are providing on-site counseling. I think that this is a service that HR people could definitely make use of. We deal with a lot of difficult situations, and often feel responsible for other people's issues.

Does your company offer on-site counseling? If so, do you take advantage of it to deal with work-related stress? If you have an EAP, do you reach out to them for work related stress? If not, how do you work through these issues when you find them weighing heavily on you?

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