Johnny C. Taylor Jr., a human resources professional, answers your questions as part of a series for USA TODAY. Taylor is President and CEO of the Society for Human Resource Management, the world’s largest HR specialist society.
Questions are submitted by readers, and Taylor’s answers below have been edited for length and clarity.
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Question: I work for a technology startup. The last year has been incredibly stressful and I feel totally burned out. I don’t want to act as a team player, but how can I talk to my manager about it? It’s not sustainable. – Anonymous
Johnny C. Taylor Jr .: There is currently no shortage of challenges in our workplaces – the COVID-19 pandemic and the events of the past year and a half have profoundly influenced our private and professional lives.
First, I would like to acknowledge and praise your honesty. It is understandable that feelings of stress and burnout can show up at our workplaces. In fact, many Americans report feeling mentally and physically exhausted at the end of the work day, and 41% of working Americans feel burned out from their jobs.
The first and most important step, however, is an open and respectful conversation with your HR manager. Before you meet, I encourage you to find out what is causing your burnout. Is it because of the volume of your work or the nature of the work itself? The rapidly blurring boundaries between work and private life can also take their toll. Are there any sensible changes that could help reduce your stress levels?
I also encourage you to be empathetic with your hiring manager – he or she might be as stressed as you – if not more – so be careful about managing the conversation as your stress alone.
I can’t comment on the dynamics of your relationship, but I can imagine your boss will be willing to work with you to make sure you get the support you need. Because when employees feel valued and healthy, engagement, productivity and collaboration often increase, which improves a company’s bottom line.
In addition, I recommend that you get in touch with your HR team. You may be able to offer resources such as: B. an employee support program that often offers mental health services such as counseling.
And I’ll add, don’t forget to take time out of the office to recharge – every employee has to take their time, even when they’re at home. Whether a walk, a personal day or a vacation, the investment in yourself and your well-being pays off.
The challenges you faced over the past year have been daunting. I hope you can work with your HR manager and find solutions to create more balance in your work. Be good!
Q: I recently had a job interview and felt that the interviewer was asking inappropriate questions about my personal life that made me feel uncomfortable. Can I share my experiences with HR? Should I? – Anonymous
Taylor: I’m sorry to hear that you felt uncomfortable during your interview. The interview alone can be nerve-wracking enough, and inappropriate questions about your private life have no place in a professional environment.
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Here’s what I say: HR may not always be aware of the details of an interview, including the specific questions that are asked. And while it is not illegal for an employer to ask personal questions about things like religion, ethnicity, or your personal life, it is illegal for them to decide whether or not to hire you based on these factors.
However, it is important that you feel able to share your experience with Human Resources. Because a smooth and professional hiring process – with or without a job offer – is an essential part of your job function. It doesn’t work without feedback, be it from employees or external candidates.
It is common for interviewers to ask you to share some information about yourself – including your professional background, background, skills, and experience. Most of the time, this is a harmless and friendly conversation.
However, if you feel a question is intrusive or inappropriate, I recommend trying to focus the conversation back on your skills, work experience, or job responsibilities. You are under no obligation to respond when you feel uncomfortable, but you can respectfully ask for more clarity about how a particular question fits into the task at hand.
Ultimately, interviews are two-way opportunities. You should interview and rate them as well as they are. The bottom line is this: an interviewer should evaluate you based on the assets you bring into the position, not your personal life. Good luck with your career search!