Does it feel like everyone in your organisation is looking to you for guidance and support right now?  Are you busier than ever navigating your way through rapidly evolving practices, policies and new legislation?

This has without a doubt been a stressful time for many payroll and HR professionals. In this blog series we talk to some of our clients to find out how they have been adjusting and taking care of themselves, while looking after everyone else’s wellbeing along the way…

First up to share some of his experiences is Nicholas Gribben, Human Resource Director, DB Group.

How has your role changed?

Working in Human Resources comes with the assurance that rarely are any two days the same and the Coronavirus crisis has just reaffirmed that particular adage. My role as HR Director encompasses a broad remit that includes People, Payroll, Safety, Compliance and Legal, and each of these areas have been pushed to the forefront of organisations the world over.

I’m largely spending my time liaising with the other directors and line managers to ensure that our people are coping with our new ways of working, as we adopted remote working practices in the very early stages of our response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Video calls are now the most common form of communication and meetings in place of our face-to-face discussions and the technology we have available has made keeping in touch with our team much simpler – something that’s hugely important. Yes, many of us are working in isolation but, that shouldn’t mean that people feel isolated from their colleagues (not to mention their friends, family and loved ones), so I am incredibly grateful for the likes of Microsoft Teams and Zoom.

How do you look after your own wellbeing?

It’s very easy for people who work in or with the HR function to focus on the welfare and wellbeing of those in our team, fulfilling our duty of care (which is a privilege and honour to have such responsibility) but potentially neglecting ourselves in the process.

I’ve done a few things to try and combat this particular challenge including taking some time off that I already had scheduled in. Granted I never got to go to the concert I had booked but, I used the time to decompress, read, do some bits around the house and get to grips with my new slow cooker.

I was also delighted to see that the CIPD are now offering their members access to an Employee Assistance Programme – including access to trained mental health professionals, financial and legal advice, which is fantastic. We’re an SME and don’t currently have an EAP (though it’s now been moved up the priority list given our situation as a nation) so I’m aware I have that to use if I need it.

Finally, I’ve been keeping in touch with people more frequently than I might have before. Phone calls, video calls, messages and social media have been a lifeline for communication personally as well as professionally. Simple but effective.

What has been uplifting about this experience that has kept you going?

While some people might be forgiven for only seeing the tragedy and sadness that the Coronavirus has brought to the world, I have managed to recognise some of the instances of communities pulling together and the resilience of the human spirit.

I’m shielding under the Government’s guidance and will likely be doing so for some time and I live by myself, so I was apprehensive about managing to get supplies and such like; however, I needn’t have worried – I have been overwhelmed by the support of my friends, colleagues and so many more. I’ve been moved by the gestures of people who have reached out, including some of our customers and suppliers that we work with as a business. It’s truly inspiring that people can be so considerate and caring, especially during such a cataclysmic situation like the Coronavirus.

I’ve also been amazed by the Clap for NHS, Carers and Key Workers on Thursdays each week since this all began. The first Thursday, I stood at my doorstep and the cynic in me expected that I would be alone in my efforts to thank these amazing individuals for their hard work and sacrifices to look after us as a nation but, again, I needn’t have worried. The sound of so many people across our town and the feeling of being part of something so positive was something that I’ll never forget for the rest of my life. I’m not ashamed to say that I had a few tears in my eyes that night.