Burnout is finally receiving the attention it deserves now that the World Health Organization (WHO) declared it an official diagnosis. Hopefully, organizations and companies will recognize the importance of this epidemic and empower their human resources departments to create initiatives to prevent it. That being said, I think it is important for those who work in human resources or employee relations — departments that exist to promote employee well-being — to remember take care of themselves as well.
I work for the New York City Police Department (NYPD) in the office of Employee Relations, which prides itself on creating initiatives to increase employee engagement and promote well-being. I have worked on numerous events and conferences, which seek to improve the morale of all members of the service. I love all the projects I’ve worked on but my pride and joy is working on the annual women’s conference. This conference is the department’s effort to celebrate Women’s History Month by honoring the many contributions made by women to the NYPD. In addition, we strive to provide women with the tools to grow personally and professionally. The goal is to reach the 17% of officers who identify as female and to empower and encourage them to advance in a traditionally male-dominated field. This year we decided turn this full day event into a two-day event filled with giveaways, prizes and wisdom from speakers who are leaders in their fields. I always anticipate the long hours that come with putting together a conference, but the extension to two days meant I was working non-stop and through my lunch break.
I was thrilled to find out that we would have members from Thrive Global present a workshop at the conference. During the Thrive session, the presenters provided excellent tips on how to put yourself first and prevent burnout. At the end, we were asked what one thing we vowed to do for ourselves. I replied that I would make more time for reading, which is my favorite thing to do but something I rarely make time for. I was working so hard to provide the women of the NYPD with a great experience, I had forgotten that I was also a woman of the NYPD and needed to take care of myself. The conference that was supposed to prevent burnout was burning me out! I knew I had to prioritize my own well-being and make time for things that bring me joy, but I did not know how I was going to fit reading into my schedule. Then I realized that I needed to get up from my desk and take a proper lunch break. Since prioritizing my lunch break, I’ve 6 read books and have started to practice meditation. I used to believe that if I did not work through lunch everything would fall apart, but instead the opposite happened. I have received praise regarding my focus and work ethic and as a result earned a raise.
So yes, work hard to ensure that employees receive all the support they require to reduce stress and prevent burnout. But don’t forget about you!