Health & Wellness

Burnout is Wreaking Havoc in HR

By Kandy Cantwell on April, 20 2022
3 minute read

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If you’re reading this and are part of your business’s HR department, chances are good that either you or someone on your team is burnt out. In fact, chances are good that several people on your team are. HR Executive’s survey found that 86% of human resource executives report an increase in stress levels compared to last year, of which 44% said their job is significantly more stressful than before. 

While burnout has affected everyone these last few years, HR professionals have faced a number of unique, work-specific challenges. They managed the sudden transition to fully remote workplaces. They implemented strategies to onboard new employees in this new environment. They drafted return-to-office COVID policies. Now they need a break. 

This blog explores the primary causes of HR burnout.


Increased Workload and Lack of Resources

The start of COVID changed what it meant to work in HR. In the early days of the pandemic, many businesses attempted to operate as lean as possible. Anyone who wasn’t absolutely essential to the day-to-day operations was either laid-off or furloughed. This meant that HR departments, already lean to begin with, saw their numbers dwindle. Furthermore, they were often the ones in charge of laying off other employees. 


Many HR professionals report that their job transformed over the course of the pandemic. They were tasked with more work than usual, and much of it was things they’d never worked on before. Return-to-work statements, vaccination policies, rules about wearing masks. Nobody knew how to approach these problems. It fell onto HR to craft and communicate these policies, as well as deal with any feedback. 

As the workload piled up, so too did the stress. Even at the best of times, working in HR can be difficult. And the past two years have not been the best of times. Having an ever-growing to-do list is hard enough, but doing it without feeling the support of your business adds another layer of difficulty. In many organizations, HR carries the responsibility of caring for employee wellbeing. Yet when they look around, they see few people curious about how they’re handling the pressure. 

Many HR professionals believe their department is understaffed to handle the large volume of work that needs to be done. There’s never enough downtime for them to take time-off. Some employees have gone more than 18-months without a break. That isn’t sustainable. Businesses need to find a way to allow their employees to take breaks. HR departments can’t be where everyone’s stress gets silo’d. They need breaks too. 


The Challenge of Attracting and Retaining Talent

A lot of employees are quitting their jobs. Right now is one of the strongest candidate markets we’ve seen in a long time, and they have certain expectations around what their next position will look like. Better benefits, more time off, full remote privileges. These are just some of the things employees are asking for while searching for a new job.

That places a lot of pressure on HR teams to come up with solutions to attract these potential employees. They have to draft remote work policies and revamp their benefits offerings. Not easy tasks. It involves a lot of benchmarking and strategy, not to mention getting approval to increase spending limits or to offer more vacation. 

All the while, they learned how to onboard new employees in remote work environments. That half-day, in-office, orientation isn’t going to work anymore. What systems are in place for new employees to ask for help or guidance? How are check-ins going to work? Before COVID, few businesses had answers to these questions. Most remote-first policies were drafted in the last year. 

It’s not easy finding the right fit for a job opening these days. HR needs the support of executives in drafting postings that will attract the right type of talent, which might mean seriously re-tooling your offerings. 



Final Thoughts

Burnout has been a difficult problem for businesses to tackle. Layoffs, increased workload, and difficulty finding new employees makes it impossible for there to be a one-size-fits-all solution. The key to improving the morale among your HR team is to take small steps towards reducing their workload. Let them know that you hear their concerns and are working to alleviate them. This could mean hiring more people, or simply encouraging them to take time off—even if that causes project delays.

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