Before lockdown, I was hearing from and speaking to a lot of HR pros who felt undervalued and unappreciated with very little recognition from their peers and colleagues for a job well done. One particular client had gone over and above in some project work and yet the Customer Service, the IT and the Procurement teams were the ones praised publicly for their work on the project and HR didn't get a look in.
This isn't uncommon, this isn't a one off, this isn't an isolated event, so what's the issue?
Since lockdown, I have seen HR work tirelessly, waiting until the Friday updates to then set to work at 5:30pm to have calls, write comms, and change policies and working practices for their people. The hours are longer, the stress is increased, and still many feel undervalued and unappreciated.
And I wonder if this is in anyway linked to how we see ourselves.
Back in 2011 I was asked if I would take on a new role, the salary was between £70k and £90k. I said yes. My boss asked me what salary I'd like. I said £70k. It was a touch more than I was on already, realised I'd have to grow into the role and felt it was fair. My boss told me that if she had offered this to a man they would have said £90k and negotiated down to £80k. She paid me the top salary because she said from the minute I walked into that role, I would be expected to do it. Nobody else would care whether I was new, or what I was being paid, I would be expected to do the job and I needed to be seen to be doing it. That was a moment of realising my value and worth and by the time I left corporate I had increased my salary by another £30k.
When I started Chrysalis in 2014, I set my rates based on my previous full time salary - business was slow, but surely to be expected. I was new in the consultancy arena and my prices reflected that. In one of my coaching sessions I talked to my coach about a pitch I had tomorrow for my first big project. She told me to double my rates and we talked through the reasons why. People weren't paying for the 'new consultant who didn't value her experience', they were paying for the value I could add, and all of my experience to date. I doubled my rates, money didn't even come to that meeting and when I sent the final proposal with start dates and prices it was approved - no questions asked.
Since then, I've been asked a few times why I price the way I price, and it's simple. I know my value. I have 22 years experience, I have spent over £250,000 on my own personal development and put in hours and hours of learning and development time. I get the results I get because of everything I've done up to now.
I've learned over the years that if we don't see our value, nobody else will. That if we don't see our worth, nobody else will. That if we aren't kind to ourselves, nobody else will be. That if we don't look after ourselves, nobody else will. Whatever we do starts with us.
So as HR, when we really want people to see our value, do we see this value in ourselves? And I don't mean all of the tasks and to-do lists we've completed - but the value we've created and the value we've added?
Over the last six and half years, I've worked with Finance teams, Leadership teams, Management teams, Exec teams, Boards and of course HR teams. The HR teams are the only ones that need to 'double check' if it's ok that they engage me. The HR teams are the ones who need to double check the budget and see if there's enough for them in there. And from the work I've done and the people I've done it with, I know that no other teams are having those conversations. And if you don't think you're worth the investment, guess what - nobody else will!
I met an HRD back in 2016 who told me should go to anything that was free but her company would never pay for HR development - are you kidding me?!? She's still there, in the same role, feeling undervalued and unappreciated, but she's brought into the fact that HR don't get investment and she's ok with that. If that were me, I'd have been off like a shot as soon as that conversation had taken place.
I truly believe that lockdown has shown the value and worth of HR. I believe that this is an incredible time for HR to step up, to shine and to be able to drive real change to change the world of work - but if HR don't see their value, then nobody else will. Don't let this opportunity pass you by. Know your worth, know your value and believe in yourself.
Kelly is an Executive Coach and Global Empowerment Coach for Leaders and HR Professionals at kellyswingler.com. She leads and coaches with an open heart, an open mind and has the courage to challenge the status quo and do things differently so that we can all love our roles, find balance in our lives and so that we can all change the world of work for the better.