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Get curious…helping your emotional wellbeing

Elle Elliott, HRBP Employee Engagement and Wellbeing, Hafod.
June 7, 2019

Despite being asked to write a few blogs for various things, I still get very nervous in doing so. It’s hard to know your audience, get the length and topic right, and write something that is possibly (and hopefully) quite informative and entertaining! As this is my first blog for Wales HR Network, I thought I would introduce myself.

My name is Elle, and I have been working in HR for almost 15 years now. I’m not quite sure where that time has gone…it seems to have intermingled itself with other milestones in my life, and somewhere along the way it’s what became my career. But I’m lucky, because I love my career – we had a falling out a couple of years ago, and for a while I got a new career BFF, but now HR and I are back on track.

My frustration with HR at that time led to some serious work/life-reaffirming questions. I don’t think it was quite a thirty-something-life crisis, but it was definitely a career crisis. I felt that I had become stuck in HR - where everything I was trying to work towards, (the good stuff I knew could and would make a difference), was at the bottom of other HR obligations and I felt suffocated by not being able to move, adapt and change.

I searched for understanding from my friends, peers and network but everyone seemed oblivious to my concerns, and instead offered words of consolation or recommended I get a new job.

Why don’t you move out of HR for a while…

I started to feel a bit lost, but also angry. I had worked very hard at my career in HR and the sense of not being able to understand what was going on was very difficult. After a while, my own mental health started to suffer, and I began to lose confidence in myself and my abilities. For a ‘people-person’ to not want to work with people…well that’s when I knew I had to do something.

I have always been fascinated with employee engagement – and in an attempt to kick start myself, I spent some time reading about engagement and wellbeing, and the intrinsic link between the two. That afternoon spent simply reading through the Engage for Success website and all the resources they had, awakened my curiosity.

I realised that I had lost the desire to be curious…and it was like an epiphany to me! I was no longer engaged with my career, or with HR, because I’d stopped being curious about why we do things the way we do. I had stopped learning, stopped asking questions and stopped tapping into that yearning to understand the complexities of people and business. And because I couldn’t understand that, my wellbeing was suffering.

It sounds so simple as I type it, but trust me, at the time I felt I was simply bobbing about in an endless sea of question marks.

Get curious…

I made changes in my career. I spent some time working with and learning from various amazing people; monks, teachers, yoga instructors, coaches, counsellors, sports professionals to name a few, and being curious about mental health, emotional wellbeing, mindfulness and me.

I discovered that when we aren’t curious we stop asking questions – about anything. I found that for me, that meant that I had stopped learning and developing, and this was having a toll on my own emotional wellbeing. We live in a world where life is busy and demands are made upon us, but we should never stop growing as a person, and because I had stopped being curious, I’d stopped my own growth.

Fast forward a couple of years and I’ve landed an amazing role with an organisation going through transformational change, and I’m proud to be in the thick of it. I’m passing on my HR advice and expertise, and ramping up my curiosity, helping my colleagues to explore ways of working that really help us in making lives better and creating great days at work.

So get curious. Go on, give it a go…stop what you’re doing for a few moments and have a think about the last time you were really hungry for knowledge, learning, understanding. Where did it lead you? What did you learn? What did you discover? And how did it make you feel?

Being engaged in what you do and developing yourself at the same time is such a powerful thing for any human to achieve, and your emotional wellbeing will thank you for it.

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