Why HR Can Feel Like the Loneliest Job in the Office

Written by Maliha Khan

June 13, 2024

When you think about lonely job, Human Resources (HR) might not be the first profession that comes to mind. However, for many HR professionals, the reality is quite different. Balancing the needs of both employees and the company, they often find themselves in a uniquely isolated position. They walk a tightrope of confidentiality, fairness, and empathy, which can result in a sense of professional loneliness.

From managing sensitive information to making tough decisions that aren’t always popular, the role of an HR professional requires a unique combination of skills and resilience. Yet, this often leaves them feeling disconnected from the very teams they support.

The Emotional Toll of Human Resources

It’s no secret that working in Human Resources often results in emotional exhaustion. Consider the daily responsibilities of an HR professional: handling sensitive matters like layoffs, terminations, disciplinary actions, investigations, performance evaluations, and payroll issues. 

HR professionals are frequently viewed as extensions of management, a perception that can create an invisible barrier between them and other employees. This distancing effect, coupled with the sensitive nature of their work, often means HR staff have limited social interactions within the workplace. It’s challenging to establish close connections when colleagues may fear that any conversation could be linked to disciplinary actions or other formal HR processes. 

The balance between maintaining organizational policies and providing a supportive environment for employees puts HR professionals in a tough spot, often leading to a sense of isolation. 

Strategies for Overcoming Loneliness in HR

Professional communities can be a game-changer. Whether it’s through online forums, LinkedIn groups, or local networking events, connecting with others in the HR field can provide valuable support and camaraderie. You’re not alone in your experiences, and sometimes, just sharing stories with someone who understands your challenges can be incredibly validating.  The Evolve People Network, isa vibrant community for HR professionals in the GCC. 

Another effective strategy is seeking out a mentor or coach. Personalized guidance from someone who has walked in your shoes can offer not only professional growth but also emotional support. It’s about building a relationship where you feel understood and guided, reducing the loneliness that can often accompany tough HR decisions. 

Prioritizing your own well-being is crucial. It’s easy to get lost in the needs of others, but ensuring you have a work-life balance and taking time for self-care is paramount. Engage in activities outside of work that bring you joy and relaxation. Remember, a well-rested and emotionally balanced HR professional is far more equipped to support others. 

Emma Davies is an HR professional with 25 years of HR experience across industries like FMCG, construction, real estate, investment banking, and more. She was named HR Leader of the Year for the Middle East in 2023 – check out what she has to say about HR and loneliness in the LVL Podcast!