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Dishing out bad news? 6 tips for your emotional survival

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in Employee Benefits Program,HR Management,Human Resources

Announcing layoffs and cuts in pay, health care coverage, 401(k) plans and other benefits can exact a personal toll on you, too. The price is higher for solo practitioners in small organizations who know many employees personally and lack HR co-workers for moral support.

Here are six tips from psychologists and HR experts to help you cope with the stress that results from telling employees things that cause them anguish:

1. Take a short break
after delivering bad news to employees. Meet with HR co-workers to share feelings and reactions. Talk to HR friends and acquaintances at other organizations. Solo practitioners should link up with an informal support network of HR pros at other companies. 

2. Look after each other. Watch for the following warning signs that could trigger more serious health problems among HR staff or other leaders bearing the burden of the cutbacks (see box for symptoms).

3. Don’t allow friendships with employees
to rule your emotions. That’s a danger especially for solo practitioners, who tend to have closer relationships with employees.

Closeness can increase stress because, in part, employees who are your friends will feel more comfortable expressing their pain and disappointment, and literally cry on your shoulder. All of this adds to your stress level.

4. Try to separate the organization’s strategy and the job from your personal feelings. Focus on the good you can do to help employees understand their options and make the best of them. Remember that thousands of other HR professionals are performing the same unpleasant tasks as you.

5. Take a break when you feel overwhelmed.
Get a drink or a snack, go to the bathroom and wash your face. Breathe deeply and organize your thoughts. Leave work early or take a day off to collect yourself.

6. Listen to friends who insist that it’s time to take care of yourself. And consider talking to a counselor through the employee assistance program.

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