Why does working in HR feel so lonely?
By Hebba Youssef
Most people who meet me assume I went into HR because I am an extrovert who loves meeting and connecting with people.
That’s somewhat true. I’ll let you guess which part isn’t true. 😉
What most people don’t realize is that working in HR is actually incredibly lonely.
Well, there are quite a few reasons:
- We have access to confidential info
- We have to be seen as impartial and not like we’re playing favorites 🤷🏽♀️
- We hear grievances about the company and sometimes specific employees 😬
- We have the task of exiting employees
- We have the responsibility of administering tough decisions we might not necessarily agree with cough RTO cough
- Employees openly don’t trust HR and are on their guard around members of their HR team. I don’t blame ’em
Those reasons make it somewhat difficult to build strong connections at work when you are in HR.
Sure, we may seem like we KNOW everyone but sometimes it can feel surface level.
And is especially difficult in the remote world where connection is already suffering and HR’s to-do list keeps getting longer.
Is it possible to balance your role in HR with your need for connection? I think so!
How to build connections while working in HR:
Did you know that having a best friend at work positively impacts your engagement and satisfaction? 👯♀️
I’ve experienced it first hand! Some of my work besties have made me not want to leave certain jobs. 🤯
But sometimes building connections in this job can be hard, see all the reasons above!
Not to mention multiple employees have told me they don’t want to be friends with HR. No shade, I get it! There are bad HR teams out there.
But I’m just an HR person standing in front of employees asking for friendship.
Here are 2 tips for the HR person who is seeking connections at work:
1. Make your boundaries clear. There’s always that one person who thinks oooh if I’m friends with HR I’ll get access to confidential info. Wrong.
If you have someone like that in your circle please reconsider the friendship. Folks like that don’t respect your role!
If you find yourself in a situation where a work friend is asking to cross your boundaries you can try the following phrases:
- I wish I could but I can’t tell you that.
- I’m not interested in talking about this.
- I can’t comment on that because it’s confidential.
- I can’t share my thoughts about that.
One last note: Be mindful of your body language because even nodding along may seem like you’re agreeing to something you might not be!
2. Don’t be afraid to make friends with your HR team. As HR our easiest route to friendship might be making friends within your HR team.
Why? Because the team usually also has insights that other employees won’t. You won’t be crossing any boundaries by discussing sensitive matters with folks who are already aware.
BTW: One of my closest friends today is someone who was on an HR team with me.
Bonus tip: Don’t discredit finding an external community for connection. I met about 30 HR professionals at Transform and we all bonded over dealing with similar things despite working at different companies. The energy was 💯.
An external community can be amazing for problem-solving, getting a gut check on something, and even sharing resources!
While it’s different than internal friends it might be a better route for you!
One last thing: if you don’t want friends at work, you do you.