A recent study from Sage titled “The changing face of HR” found that HR professionals are increasingly burned out at work despite still being passionate about their jobs. In fact, 62% of HR leaders are considering leaving the field entirely, even though 57% say they love their jobs.
How is this possible? Well, it’s interesting that this burnout is reaching its peak now, when HR is finally getting the C-suite recognition it’s been campaigning for. HR has been requesting that proverbial “seat at the table” for a long time—the chance to enter strategic discussions and impact the future direction of organizations. According to the Society for Human Resource Management’s (SHRM) article “A Time for HR to Lead,” we’ve made it: 80% of senior leaders believe HR is business-critical.
But this doesn’t solve the problem of burnout, which has been creeping up on HR professionals over time and came to a head during the pandemic. It may have exacerbated the burnout. Amid economic uncertainty, lockdowns, furloughs, and the Great Resignation, the business world turned desperately to its HR teams for help with figuring the whole mess out. With no more experience in leading businesses through a pandemic than anyone else, HR professionals had the weight of responsibility on their shoulders; a heavy, unpredictable workload; and mental strain.
Why Is HR Burnout So Bad, and Can We Fix It?
We’ve had a priority problem in HR. HR minds are getting stuck in a loop of recruiting and hiring, which is exhausting and frustrating, not to mention that it fails to take advantage of their brain power and creativity. The result? HR burnout.
Why are we stuck in this loop? Organizations tend to focus on tactical talent acquisition. The hiring manager reaches out to HR with a hiring requisition. HR posts the position, screens hundreds of résumés, talks to a handful of candidates, and forwards the top choices to the hiring manager. Sounds like a simple process. But too often, this cycle ends in candidates’ flaking, managers’ dragging their feet on decisions, employees’ resigning, and workloads’ increasing. Additional hiring requisitions are then needed, and the loop begins again.
The alternative to this Groundhog Day approach is to engage in more proactive strategic workforce planning processes. Looking ahead and thinking about your entire talent pool holistically will help you optimize the pieces of the process that are causing loops and backward steps.
How to Optimize Talent Without Getting Stuck in a Hiring Loop
How can a strategic workforce planning process help defend against HR burnout and combat the challenges of current trends in the HR industry? Start with these strategies:
1. Use that seat at the table.
Now that executives consider HR to be critical, HR teams should use that seat at the table to make change. To shift its patterns, HR must understand where the organization is heading and what new capabilities the organization will need in order to deliver services and products to the market. A road map can be empowering and provide a bird’s-eye view of the hiring landscape.
2. Consider new hiring patterns.
There’s more than one way of finding and growing talent. Hiring externally can be costly and limited by labor shortages, but there are ways to make it more sustainable, such as hiring contingent workers. Hiring internally is also a valuable alternative; 81% of hiring professionals see that internal hiring leads to greater retention. Training from within your existing network has the added benefit of lending a positive impact on workplace culture and engagement.
3. Conduct a talent review.
After identifying capabilities, you can work with leaders to conduct a talent review. This process will determine which employees have the potential to grow into different roles and should be the focus of training and development, which employees are likely to stay with a retention strategy, and which employees are at risk of leaving and why. You can then form workforce optimization strategiesto help make development programs or identify the gaps and attract talent to fill gaps in a more manageable way.
HR is about so much more than an endless cycle of job posting, interviewing, and reposting. At its best, HR is the art of human resources, covering team engagement, education, career development, and workplace culture. Empower HR teams to focus on these things holistically, and you’ll breathe new life into your organization.
Tania Fiero is the chief HR officer of Innovative Employee Solutions (IES), a provider of remote and contingent workforce solutions, specializing in global employer of record, agent of record, and independent contractor compliance services in 150+ countries. Founded in 1974, IES is a woman-owned business, is certified by the WBENC, and partners with companies to provide compliant employment solutions that empower people’s lives.