In this paper we consider the role of the HR manager in managing their own self-care (Malloy, 2013) while working with hospice volunteers (Alfes, Antunes, Shantz et al., 2017). Carvalho & Sampaio (2017) argue that there has been a lack of a strategic approach to challenges associated with the human resource management of volunteers. How does the HR practitioner regulate their own emotional labour and professional boundaries while being responsible for volunteers who support medical and nursing and other staff who care for patients and their families? How does the HR practitioner demonstrate their own engagement with the organisation without becoming over-committed? How can the HR professional devise policies and practices to optimise the benefits of volunteering (Thoits & Hewitt, 2001) while mitigating the potential for over-commitment in hospice volunteers?
We explore theoretical concepts on boundary work and over-commitment in supporting wellbeing within an end of life care setting. Drawing on one-to-one qualitative interviews and insights from the ability, motivation, opportunity (AMO) framework and literature on SMEs (small and medium size enterprises), we highlight policy and practices to support individual wellbeing and performance management. Specifically, we focus on the concept of ‘flow’ (Csikszentmihalyi, 1997) in delineating boundaries between professional and personal identities.
We discuss practical implications for the career development and wellbeing of HR practitioners in UK hospices and the risks of over-commitment (Earnshaw-Smith, 1987). We also reflect on the impact of performance management and recovery time for both HR managers and volunteers. Initial findings suggest the importance of deliberate and regular interventions in the workplace to buffer work and personal space; outsourcing employee assistance for rapid responses to symptoms of distress and overload; frequent audits and appraisals to identify over-commitment; strict application of rest and recovery policies; co-mentoring support within HR managers’ networks in the hospice sector.
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