Job Exhaustion


Here is another letter from a reader.

I love letters, but I’ve been referring most readers to Jennifer McClure, Sharlyn Lauby, Alison Green, or Lisa Rosendahl. Good women with diverse backgrounds who give me great advice. They are the women for you.

But this letter? I’ve got some thoughts.

Hi Laurie, I have read your blog(s) for a few years now and enjoy your approach to HR. I am a mid-twenty professional who has worked in HR for a few years now. I am finding that I am now getting burned out over explaining (again!) how important performance appraisals are, dealing with a variety worker’s comp issues, and of course, Did you ask your dentist if you teeth whiting would be covered before you said ‘sure’? The day-to-day HR tasks are making me crazy. I am at the point where I am trying to decide if this field is even for me anymore. Any ideas how NOT to suffer from job burnout? Or to determine if maybe this career is not for me anymore?

Schwoo. This note hits close to home because this reader is suffering from both job burnout and HR exhaustion. I know both worlds. I left Human Resources in 2007 because I just couldn’t. take. another. flippin. day.

Now I blog.

I am not sure if I have any great insights of stress reduction because I’m a pretty high-strung woman. Anyone can google “job burnout” and learn about stress reducing tips. What I can offer is some perspective.

  • It’s time to accept that Human Resources isn’t very fun. Come to think of it, most jobs aren’t fun. Franny Oxford once told me that people in HR get paid to solve problems. No problems? No paycheck. That resonates with me and applies to HR, customer service, marketing, sales, IT, retail jobs, etc. When I go to the Waffle House, I’m hungry. That’s a problem. My waitress brings me food and solves my problems. That’s life. I want to spend my day cuddling with kittens, but that doesn’t pay the mortgage.
  • It’s just a job. Really. Honestly. I know everyone says it. But when I say it, I mean it. It’s very trendy to link “identity” to a job, but your job doesn’t define you. Your job pays the bills.
  • Stop trying to solve the wrong problems. Is it really your responsibility to impart the wisdom of performance appraisals on your management team? (No.) Or respond to a stupid question about dental benefits? (No.) I learned something back in 2002: you only have to kick one person out of your office to make a statement.
  • Take control of your life, your job, and your time. You could probably work 45% less and no one would notice the difference. And if Human Resources is wholly unrewarding, use the extra time to take a class or do something new. I took that time and started a blog called HCPR (hard core punk rock). Then I wrote a blog called HCPR 2.0. Then I killed those blogs and started writing The Cynical Girl (where you are today). Then I quit my job and started PunkRockHR and made money on it — but I believe the success of PunkRockHR was rooted in the earlier blogs that I wrote while I had a job.

I used to joke around that I care too much and it’s too hard for me to let go. Then I realized it wasn’t a joke — and I was an idiot. I tried to get some perspective and set my life straight. I learned that I can do some interesting stuff when I solve the right problems, I care a little less, and I focus on the things that matter to me.

I hope that helps. If not, come and get some smothered & covered hashbrowns with me at the Waffle House. That’ll do ya just fine when you are feeling blue.

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