Benefits and Compensation, Learning & Development

Strategies to Prevent HR Burnout

HR professionals play a critical role in supporting and managing employees’ well-being within organizations. However, a recent study highlighted in Forbes has revealed a distressing reality: An overwhelming 98% of HR professionals are currently grappling with burnout and chronic fatigue. This alarming statistic sheds light on the significant toll the demanding nature of their work is taking on their mental health. Given the stresses of the economy and current job market, the stress placed on HR professionals has been exacerbated. 

HR involves a multitude of responsibilities, including managing employee relations, recruitment, training, performance evaluation, and conflict resolution. The demanding nature of these roles, coupled with the ever-increasing complexity of workplace dynamics, has led to a surge in stress levels among those in the profession. They face constant pressure to balance the needs of both employees and management, often acting as mediators in challenging situations.

The Toll on HR Teams’ Well-Being

Several factors contribute to the high prevalence of burnout among HR professionals. First, the continuous exposure to employee grievances, disputes, and personal challenges can take an emotional toll. Constantly dealing with others’ problems without adequate self-care can lead to psychological exhaustion and reduced job satisfaction. Additionally, HR professionals often face tight deadlines, intense workloads, and the need to maintain strict confidentiality, adding to their anxiety levels. The digital era has further exacerbated the situation, blurring the boundaries between work and personal life and increasing the pressure to be constantly available.

The burden of overwork, stress, and fatigue on HR professionals’ mental health is concerning. Prolonged exposure to high-strain environments can result in depression and feelings of hopelessness, and chronic fatigue is often a symptom, too, that can lead to decreased productivity, impaired decision-making, and increased absenteeism. Furthermore, their own mental health struggles can hinder their ability to effectively support employees, exacerbating the negative impact within the organization.

Addressing the Issue to Prevent, Not Cure

Recognizing the challenges HR professionals face and taking proactive steps to address their well-being is crucial. Organizations must create supportive environments that foster work/life balance, promote self-care, and provide resources for mental health support.

Encouraging regular breaks, offering stress management programs, and implementing flexible work arrangements can help mitigate the risk of burnout. Moreover, providing HR professionals with opportunities for professional development, mentorship, and peer support can enhance their resilience and job satisfaction.

Collaborative Efforts for Change

  • Stress awareness training: This is a great way to help HR pros recognize signs of fatigue in themselves and others. It’s also an opportunity to offer practical strategies for combating burnout and reducing stress and anxiety.
  • Distribute the workload: It’s essential to avoid contributing added stress by dumping another task on top of an HR team’s already busy workload. Instead, see if the workload can be distributed across different departments or broken down into smaller tasks spread between multiple people to make them more manageable.
  • Encourage HR teams to accept and ask for help: Sharing burdens is one of the easiest ways to reduce stress and anxiety. That’s why it’s so important for HR and business leaders, all the way up to the C-suite, to provide HR teams with high levels of support.
  • Promote healthy lifestyles: Aim to offer benefits that apply to all areas of wellness, including exercise, mindfulness, and nutrition. Again, be careful not to give HR professionals the burden of easing their own stress. Instead, try to spread the work of planning and executing these programs across the HR team so no one person is overwhelmed by the workload.
  • Provide more paid time off (PTO) and schedule flexibility: Work/life balance is vital to reducing work stress. Whatever flexibility you can offer to give HR teams more free time and control over their personal schedules will go a long way toward boosting morale. This can include both remote and hybrid work models but also flexible office hours.
  • Show appreciation: Even with all they’ve taken on in recent years and the expanded importance of the HR function, only 29% of HR professionals feel their organization values their work.

With HR professionals dedicating themselves to employees’ well-being, it’s crucial to have advocates who acknowledge and address the issue of burnout within HR departments. By recognizing the challenges they face and demonstrating a commitment to prevention and reduction of these triggers, organizations can proactively tackle this problem before it leads to attrition.

Taking a proactive approach to address the challenges experienced by HR departments not only benefits the HR team but also has a positive impact on the entire company. In fact,  95% of HR leaders say employee burnout sabotages workforce retention, resulting in a loss of $322 billion globally.

It’s imperative, then, for HR professionals, their colleagues, and organizational leaders to work collaboratively to address this issue in order to create a culture that values mental health and encourages open dialogue. Only by implementing supportive strategies, promoting self-care, and fostering a culture of well-being can businesses empower HR professionals to thrive in their roles and continue to provide the vital support needed within companies.

Annie Rosencrans is the Director of People and Culture at HiBob. She oversees all things HR for HiBob’s North American team while serving as a strategic business partner to the global sales function. She loves HR tech and has led people operations for several high-growth organizations, including New York-based start-ups Namely and Knotel. She also brings a breadth of experience across the HR field, focusing on HR transformation and change management.

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