Talent Circles

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

How To Personally Manage Your Human Capital

By Jessica Miller-Merrell

We talk a lot about recruitment at large, focusing on organizational recruiting and hiring strategy. But let’s take an up-and-close personal view on ourselves, not as an employee, but as an individual.

As recruitment professionals, we understand the importance of creating a work life plan and personal strategy to be successful in not just our career but in our personal life too. The work-life balance is critical to a long fulfilling life.

I see a lot of professionals particularly woman who experience a pre-mid life crisis. At the early age of 30, they come to the realization that the hours they have invested in their career and focus on climbing the professional ladder has taken a front seat while the self-care for our personal life of family, friends, hobbies and passions ride shot gun, or, worse they’ve been left on the curb.

This is not just a woman-related issue, a lack of balance between work and life is a national problem too. According to the 2013 Better Life Index, compiled by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development that tracks economic and social data, the United States ranked 28th in a total of 36 countries with the best work life balance. From this research, 11% of Americans reported that they spend more than 50 hours a week working.

A new generation of over worked humans

This imbalance of work and life is a serious liability in our human capital. It is causing a void in leading a fulfilling life, putting us at risk to stress that leads to serious physical- and mental health concerns. More than a career plan, human capital must be fully invested in and managed properly. There are many challenges that we are faced with that require us to manage our own human capital.

We are faced with challenges that the older generations never had to deal with. Challenges that stem from globalization and technology are giving us the ability to be connected forcing us to be responsive 24/7, adapt to change at a faster pace and process gobs of content being delivered from multiple sources on multiple screens, all of the time.

These current trends that impact our lives professionally and personally, can be dangerous pitfalls when we are not fostering healthy habits for a thriving human capital in ourselves.

How to thrive as humans

Because we are all created as human beings, not human doers, or human workers, it is essential that we invest in our own lives to grow our human capital. I met up with a college friend the other night. I had not seen much of her for the past few months and as soon as we connected, she shared with me that she had just gotten a new job, the best title she could ask for at the best agency.

She’s been in advertising for 15 years and has grown up a steep career climb. She shared how she was working at two agencies at one time, investing in double the time of already a high-demand job. She used terms like, “I was building my team,” “I didn’t want to let my team down,” “I love my clients,” and “I couldn’t say no.”

She also was telling me that she was working around the clock. She had no life outside of her work. Going on her second year of marriage to the love of her life, she had not even taken her honeymoon yet. And, just as the teams were finally groomed and the pitches were all grand slams, she and her husband started to pack their bags and head to the airport for their long awaited honeymoon.

And then, it hit her. The stress. Coiled in a ball, screaming for help from the bathroom floor, pangs like she was giving birth to a new frazzled ball of madness shot up and down throughout her body. She passed out and instead of her husband carrying her through the door to their seaside suite along the French Rivera, he carried her limp and sick body into a taxi cab as they hustled to the emergency room.

She had to spent her human capital.

Three months later, she’s doing better. All of her clients are happy, her teams are stable and they are in a hiring spree. She did make it to the French Rivera with her husband.

However, as she shared the story with me, it was clear to me that she had burned out. Her human capital hit a level of bankruptcy and sometimes the only path of recovery is a complete change of occupation. She is now seeking to work at a non-profit, doing something, somewhere that is not at an agency.

It is easy to get caught up in the heroic mode of our profession. When we are talented and ambitious and we experience reward and progress, it is no wonder we don’t continue to invest in our careers. Self care and spending time and energy on our personal relationships and families can be difficult, especially after a hard day on the job.

As my friend shared, I realized that she needed to talk about something non-work-related. I asked her what she LOVES doing. And, instantly she lit up as she shared a weekend ritual of going to watch independent films by herself.

It’s your turn to invest in human capital

You spend everyday at the workplace, managing your organization’s workforce. How are you managing your own human capital? What do YOU LOVE doing? Are you doing it? Invest in yourself. Take that bubble bath. Go on the bike ride. Meet that college friend for dinner. Sing that song. Dance like you want. Go to the French Rivera. Go see that show. Do what you love. Don’t wait until you retire, burn out or die before you invest in your own human capital.

Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR is a workplace and technology strategist specializing in social media. She’s is the Chief Blogger & Founder of Blogging4Jobs. You can follow her on Twitter @jmillermerrell

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