Imposter Syndrome in HR

Imposter Syndrome is becoming an increasingly recognised concept, and to be frank: it’s an HR issue. Employers need to ensure that their workforce are empowered, motivated and well-adjusted in their work lives if they are to be of tangible benefit to the company and its mission and goals. Combatting imposter syndrome amongst employees is just one part of achieving this, but it too is something that those working in HR can suffer from as they put the wellbeing and career needs of others ahead of themselves (after all, HR are the ‘people people’!). 

Thankfully, as imposter syndrome becomes better known and acknowledged, there are methods HR departments can use to help defeat it amongst staff; and themselves.

What is Imposter Syndrome?

Imposter syndrome is the anxious belief that the individual is undeserving of the success, role, situation or progression they find themselves in. It is deep-rooted self-doubt that convinces the person affected that their achievements have been obtained as a result of luck rather than qualification and hard work – no matter how much the latter may be the case. 

There are many different types of imposter syndrome and it can be experienced by anyone. It is not limited to those already living with mental illness. 

Why is Imposter Syndrome an issue for HR departments?

Imposter syndrome is an issue for HR departments as it loosens company culture, can create an unhealthy working environment and can isolate employees from one another. As those living with imposter syndrome are likely to be afraid of failure, they may also be less likely to raise new ideas, innovate or try things differently, which can stifle business growth and development.

Anyone working in HR will already know how easy it is to lose track of their own wellbeing at work as they focus on that of others, but imposter syndrome in particular can make it difficult for them to effectively manage the empowerment and wellbeing of others; and can get in the way of difficult employment conversations and decisions.

What can HR do to tackle Imposter Syndrome?

Imposter syndrome may be suffered by individuals, but it can be tackled through company culture as a whole. 

  • Foster a culture of diversity and inclusion. Every employee must feel valued and that they belong in their role. ‘Othering’ or differentiating employees from one another unnecessary can leave them feeling singled out and undeserving. Studies of BAME employees indicate that being physically visibly different from their colleagues and from a different background can be a risk factor for developing imposter syndrome, based on both underrepresentation and disrespect;
  • Communicate clearly on expectations. Every employee in an organisation should be able to tell anyone else exactly what it is they do, why they do it, and how it works – and perhaps most importantly of all, tell them in layman’s terms. This helps validate their position and solidify their objectives;
  • Celebrate successes. All too often a hard project will be completed and once the work is done, the effort forgotten. Celebrating successes and attributing credit correctly can help reward staff for their hard work whilst raising their profile amongst others;
  • Don’t panic pay. Needing to hire someone quickly to fill a critical role is often achieved in business by simply stumping up a big pay packet – but this can fast burden the individual with hefty expectations and high pressure. Whilst everyone deserves to be paid fairly, and in like-for-like roles equally, this can be done at the appropriate industry rate and not overcompensating for a rapid hire or golden handshake;
  • Educate. Many people still don’t know what imposter syndrome is, even if they’re suffering from it, and so discussing it with staff can help lead to healthier thought patterns and working habits;
  • Strive to continuously improve. If the whole workforce is working to always get better, there cannot be a staff member left behind on the journey. Working collaboratively with one another and each playing a part validates an individual’s contribution and helps boost their self-esteem.

Finally, of course, HR professionals must be encouraged to include themselves in all of these measures! As frequently as they encourage others to take a break, maintain a healthy work-life balance and celebrate a job well done, they must do so too. It is far too easy to get caught up in the issues of others and not focus on yourself. 

A culture of clarity is really key to tackling imposter syndrome, and this should start at the top down through every level of the organisation. Doing away with the outdated ‘never let them see you sweat’ adage in favour of admitting hard work and bad days and convoluted processes is imperative and ensures that no one is attempting to live up to unrealistic and untrue expectations. Every industry has its own nuances in this respect. It’s important to remember that work isn’t a social media feed – and there is much more admiration to be received in working hard for something than not working at all!

Spread kindness like confetti – HR acts of kindness is back!

After a lot of reflection time and given all that we have been through in recent months, now more than ever, kindness is an essential element needed in our workplaces and our every day lives.

Kindness is the key component to a healthy, successful, and well-balanced life. These elements are all essential to our overall wellbeing and kindness is something that we do because we can, not because we should or are obligated to.

For many of you HR acts of kindness will be a new concept but it was actually founded in 2016 after the Brexit result brought so much divide and upset. Since then HR acts of kindness has appeared in Be Kind Magazine, has influenced behaviours at work all over the world and all through simple acts of kindness and there’s plenty of opportunity to get everyone involved!

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How the BLM ‘Fed-Up-rising’ Can Spark A More Inclusive, Happier, Healthier Workplace

As businesses worldwide move for the first time to set out properly and publicly how they recruit, retain and professionally develop BAME staff, more employers than ever are considering their own business practices around diversity, inclusion and wellbeing. To those unfamiliar with the Black Lives Matter movement, which originated in 2013 following the acquittal of George Zimmerman for shooting Trayvon Martin, it can seem a tough and uncompromising movement demanding rights and levels of equality that many organisations haven’t considered or had the facilities to offer before. However, it need not: now is the time to embrace the movement and learn from it, bettering your company, and your workforce, in the process.

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How do you handle employee sickness over the bank holidays?

Christmas may seem like a distant memory but as we draw closer to the long Easter weekend, a lot of employees like to take annual leave to extend this further and take time out to unwind. This shouldn’t be a problem but throw some ‘suspicious’ sickness absence into the mix and things can quickly get out of hand.

To help you be fully prepared, I have put together some handy guidance to help take the pain out of bank holiday headaches!

What happens when an employee requests holiday?

All holiday has to be approved through your established booking system, in line with your company’s holiday policy and minimum cover required. If you don’t have a policy in place, contact me and I’ll help you get one suited to your business requirements. It may be an opportunity for you to once again draw your employees attention to the authorisation process and make sure it is clear. As a responsible employer you also need to encourage your employees to take their holiday on a regular basis, to ensure they are having adequate breaks and leisure time away from the work environment. It is good practice to manage and monitor holidays that have been taken, to avoid a surge of holiday requests at the end of your company’s holiday year.

What happens when an employee calls in sick over the long weekend?

All sickness needs to be dealt with consistently. The employee has the obligation to notify you within the specified time in line with your absence procedure. The timing of their absence cannot be questioned, and whilst unfortunate you will need to source cover last minute to account for the additional person not working for you during this time. If the sickness absence day happens to be the day before the bank holiday (which they were not scheduled to work) you would record the absence for the one day, and then the bank holiday in the usual way. Meaning that the employee would get paid for the bank holiday as normal. It is illegal to withhold this payment of wages.

The important part of managing any absence is the return to work interview on the morning back to work. This helps you to gather information and discuss the absence in more detail. You should also take the opportunity to examine the employee’s absence record to see if there are any patterns or if their absence is becoming too high. This could then trigger the requirement for a further, potentially more formal conversation with them.

What to do if an employee takes the bank holiday weekend as sickness, having been refused a holiday request?

Whilst this doesn’t occur on a frequent basis, it can happen. We have a really useful letter template available for our clients to take control of this situation. If you issue this letter to the employee prior to the ‘time off’ in question, you have made it crystal clear that if they take the time off it will be unauthorised unpaid leave and could lead to disciplinary action taking place.

What does a HR consultant do?

Having been an HR consultant for a number of years, for businesses, an HR consultant is an expensive investment, therefore it is crucial that they work with the right consultant for them and what their business needs.

If you are considering hiring an HR Consultant for your business, I’ve put together a handy guide to break down some of the tasks that a consultant could assist you and your business with.

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