Don’t Do Drugs – Unless You Work in HR…

Kathy Rapp Driving Productivity, Kathy Rapp, Outplacement

Another one of my favorite movies is “Dazed and Confused” which depicts high school life in the 70’s (great soundtrack too).  There are classic characters and the typical alcohol and drug undertones – which made me think of corporate America and a recent Workforce Management poll.  It was reported that 23% of HR pros have occasionally used a “substance” to cope with layoffs and general HR yuckiness.

Surprised?  I was.  I would have said AT LEAST 75% of us have partaken in various substances over the course of a HR career.  If you hang around me, that percentage might be slightly higher (all legal substances of course).

The article was directly related to the economic cycle we’re in and mass layoffs.  I must say, that was the absolute worst part of my corporate career.  I joke now that the outplacement professionals in Houston loved me and would follow me from job to job as invariably I’d end up doing layoffs.  Picture me in a grim reaper costume with heels.

So – no wonder other HR types, who perhaps are not as “experienced” as I am in conducting reductions, have sleepless nights or turn to alcohol.  What should be more concerning to all of us is a large percentage of HR folks are considering changing careers!  And guess what – it’s the good ones who have those thoughts!  Those not considering something so drastic are still burned out because they are being asked to do 2 or 3 jobs.  Even newly minted business majors are steering away from HR given what they are hearing.  Not stellar news for the HR profession.

As advice, the article talks about HR taking some of “their own medicine” and seeking out EAP assistance.  Now, I think an EAP is a must-have benefit, but there is NO WAY I would have called a hot-line to talk about my sleep issues or the fact that a bottle of bubbly was an appetizer.  I was much more likely to put in a DVD of “The Big Lebowski” and veg – hoping that by the time the movie was over, I’d laughed enough to relax and forget about work stuff momentarily.

What to do if you don’t drink, don’t smoke and hate movies that promote both?  I think, as HR professionals, we have to take stock of what we love and hate about our roles.  Reflecting on what jazzes you can be a light at the end of the layoff tunnel.  The realization that we bear a lot during times like these and acknowledging that we’ve had a sucky day/week/year is OK.  If you’re in a leadership role, take stock of your team’s emotions.  Teach them how to talk about the extreme stress of knowing who is on “the list” and be open to how they choose to deal with it.  Put aside the performance goals for the time being and just congratulate them on coming back to work each day!  Incredible bonding can occur in periods like this, but you have to know how to manage and communicate through the extra burden on others and yourself.

And, if all else fails, do as “Dazed and Confused” football player Randall “Pink” Floyd suggests, “Put some ice on it.  After that, there’s nothing a few beers won’t take care of”.

Kathy Rapp

Kathy Rapp is the CEO of hrQ where she helps companies find groovy HR Talent for permanent or project roles across the country. Prior to joining hrQ Kathy booked more than 15 years of diverse HR leadership experience working in F500s and start-up organizations. A connoisseur of the intersection between pop culture and business, Kathy believes many talent insights can be gleamed from the succession planning lessons experienced by Van Halen and AC/DC.