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HR, Self-Neglect, and Covid-19

Can self-neglect be a form of abuse?



"Types of Abuse Neglect: e.g. Failure to provide food, clothing, shelter, or health care for an individual under one's care when the means to do so are available. Self-neglect: e.g. Failure to provide food, clothing, shelter, or health care for oneself. Mental suffering: e.g. Verbal assaults, threats, causing fear."


Today, we live in a world of true-crime docudramas as entertainment, manufactured drama of reality shows, and fake news.


Most everyone seems to have an attorney, a friend in HR who knows nothing about HR, a self-published book, and an undiagnosed mental illness to weaponize. What about the people who don't have any of these? The people that are trying to keep everything working. Have we forgotten them? Are we neglecting ourselves to ensure "most everyone" is happy?


A story of HR, Self-Neglect and Covid 19

Disclaimer: Characters and Events are dramatized for story-telling purposes.

**All doctors, nurses, medical personnel are not included. They are the heroes. This story is about the Corporate world capitalizing on the pandemic , not the millions of caregivers, helpers, scientists, therapists. You are amazing and this HR Lady appreciates you.


In February of 2020, I had an "unidentified influenza". I told my husband, "I guess I never had the flu before. I never felt like this." I continued working through coughing fits that resulted in bloodied tissues, vomiting an alien gel-like substance, and foggy thinking.

(Yes. It was Covid-19)


Another day. Another investigation. An employee was accused of stalking one cute employee while impregnating another. Just another day in HR.


I was hired five months prior to design and implement a formal HR Division. The leadership did not want HR. The employees did not want HR, and most importantly the workers comp administrator did not want a formal HR Division. The lawyers wanted an HR division.


I knew I had three strikes against me. I had been here before, I had to earn the trust while keeping employees and the



Company safe, and the CEO wanted it done yesterday. Per standard C-Suite behavior, HR concerns were routinely dismissed.


There's nothing like starting a job where no one wants you. It is not personal. It is human nature. If you can get past the gaslighting, the lies, and the insults: you may succeed. Who would not take on such an HR Challenge: The Mount Kilimanjaro of HR. Rock Steady. This was my 5th or 6th time implementing a formal HR Division. However, each climb takes a bit more out of you.


Shall we continue?


March 2020 - COVID-19. Who, What, Where, Am I getting paid? I sneezed. I'm dying, that's it. I'm dead.


You and the rest of the world were not dead - yet. It was scary for most of us. I had to transition three locations in two countries to remote working status. we had heart-wrenching lay-offs, and somehow, I was elected President of the World by my new employer.







"Where are the essential worker letters?! They are going to pull the team from the project if you don't have them NOW. It will be your fault. All the division leaders want me to fire you, Sharkey. Get it done." the CEO warned me.


Me, being the people pleaser that I am, shouted: "On it. We will have the platinum standard of an HR Covid Response. I'm designing an HR Covid Response Team now." I scrambled.


Why did I always do this to myself? Try and save the Titanic. I guess that is for my therapy sessions. Anyway. I rounded up my inherited unhappy worker's comp administrator and executive assistant who was now an HR Manager. Sure. No problem. 2500 employees and a mass of division leaders who wanted me fired. Sure. I got this.



The Band Played On

Side Note: "If you are a work alcoholic, it does not mean anyone else is."


Let's return to March 2020


My two cell phones are ringing, my Teams is pinging, and I'm binging on cola.


The CEO yelled that we would lose clients if I failed to have a policy NOW. If we lose clients, more lay-offs. The Division Leaders were taking turns throwing kidney punches at the HR Team while trying to skirt the law. Employees were aggressively passive, frightened, and wanted answers about pay.


Well, we all wanted answers. In the early days, there were no answers. POTUS coined Covid-19 the Kung Flu. Now. We had to add Asian discrimination to our HR to our hot-button list.


It was a cluster muck. Was the HR Covid Response Team just the band playing as the Titanic sank? Not on my watch.


The team was amazing. We designed international policies, completed contact tracing, and created an international listing of COVID-19 guidelines for Canadian Provinces as well as all the states in our Union. It wasn't enough.


Kinda like dirty laundry. It never ends. My team was burning out. I stopped brushing my teeth, missed doctor's appointments, and only talked to my husband in my sleep. I was neglecting myself, my family, my life.


It was never good enough for the Founder, CEO, Division Leaders, or employees. In hindsight, we were the platinum standard. clients based their Covid-Response policies on ours. We made it to the top of the CDC mountain, but no one cared. HR was dismissed as usual.


The point of this story.


Neglecting myself, my husband, family events, and friends was not healthy. I paid the price with various physical ailments. I cursed incessantly (out of earshot of any employees) I wept at the loss of humanity: The employees who lied to get sick pay, the Division leaders who used Covid so fiercely to burn HR to the ground, and the Big Wigs, who praised themselves and failed to empathize with employees, were not worth it.


However, I will say. We helped people. The HR Team was stronger and more connected. To the team - you know who you are. You are the Best of the Best. We forged the path up the mountain for others to follow. We made it first. Thereby, making it a bit easier for those who follow. Lest us not forget the people we helped. The pay advances (forgiven) for a portable oxygen mini tank, the hours of listening to everyone. Learning that many were acting out of fear, not intention to hurt, that simple kindness can connect us as well as teach us to be better humans. That means something. Something good.


There will always be the poopy pants who try to drag you down. It's nature. You can't ask a cat not to scratch.



But take a tip from the airlines. Place your oxygen mask on first. You can't take care of anyone else if you can't take care of yourself.


Can I have an Amen?


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