Unmasking HR Burnout
HR professionals face lots of tasks every day. They’re responsible for recruitment, onboarding, training, creating and maintaining a culture, and even dealing with employees’ issues. All this can be overwhelming, making them feel like they’re drowning in work. This phenomenon is called HR burnout, and it can be a threat to organizational success. However, it’s not just the heavy workload that is making HR professionals struggle. Constant changes in policies and regulations require them to stay on top of things all the time, which can be mentally exhausting. Additionally, emotional labor arising from dealing with conflict resolution, in combination with a lack of support and resources, can be burdensome. But how can you help your HR department deal with all this? Let’s delve into HR burnout and see the signs to look out for and how to overcome it.
Signs And Symptoms
Human resources deals with people day in and day out. While it’s important that they deal with employee concerns, conflicts, and other challenges they may face, it can be emotionally draining. HR professionals are expected to be there for everyone, but what happens when they forget to take care of their own mental health? Emotional exhaustion can hide behind a lack of understanding. For example, if an employee turns to HR to report a problem in the workplace, a burned-out HR professional may not show genuine concern and pay attention to the issue. Similarly, they may not be able to control their emotions, thus being angry or annoyed and reacting inappropriately.
Decreased Job Satisfaction
Job satisfaction is what motivates us to perform at our best in the workplace. A burned-out HR professional, though, gradually relates less to this. In fact, they start dreading their job and no longer find a purpose in what they do. They may even feel that their work isn’t appreciated enough, so they stop trying. For instance, there might be a persistent issue, like high turnover rates, and they will not be motivated to find a solution because they believe that their contributions are worthless. Additionally, you may start receiving complaints about your HR professional’s behavior since they can be indifferent and spread negativity, thus jeopardizing the company culture.
Exhaustion can be presented physically, too, with chronic fatigue and other similar conditions. HR professionals tend to work long hours and deal with multiple requests and tasks at the same time. If they spend every day feeling tired, this will result in chronic fatigue, which is a lingering feeling of exhaustion. This can cause physical problems, such as headaches, body aches, or a weakened immune system, which will lead to more illnesses. However, even if they get sick, their responsibilities stay there, putting more pressure on them. This creates a toxic cycle where they get sick due to their workload but continue working, worsening their condition.
An exhausted HR employee loses their focus almost immediately, which can be a telltale sign of HR burnout. They may find themselves easily distracted and overwhelmed by their workload, hence underperforming. As a result, their productivity levels suffer, and the work they do is of low quality. This can be caused by exhaustion or cognitive overload. Burned-out people may find it harder to think creatively or problem-solve because they reach their mental capacity quite early due to workload and stress. This results in hasty decisions, missed deadlines, and slow processes, therefore putting organizational success at risk. The HR department is the backbone of company culture, so any issues that occur there spread across the organization, too.
Impact On The Organization
Decreased Employee Morale
How can HR professionals engage employees when they’ve lost their own motivation? One of the first things that suffers when there’s HR burnout in a workplace is employee morale. Since HR is responsible for positive work culture, neglecting their duties because of burnout can cause problems among employees. They will feel that their voices aren’t heard and that workplace problems aren’t solved, therefore feeling unmotivated to contribute to a company that has abandoned them.
Higher Turnover Rates
Recruitment and employee retention fall under the responsibilities of the HR department. But when people working there are burned out, their performance on those tasks is compromised. For example, they don’t meet new recruits with enthusiasm and fail to onboard or train them effectively, leaving them confused and unsupported in an unfamiliar work environment. This leaves a bad impression on new hires, causing them to seek jobs elsewhere. Similarly, they can’t support existing employees either, neglecting their requests or concerns. Creating a negative work environment like this causes people to leave the company, increasing turnover rates.
Imagine that there’s a recurring issue in the workplace, such as conflict among departments or a lack of communication. It’s HR’s job to help with resolving these incidents. However, this becomes harder if HR employees are struggling or feel exhausted. This lets problems spread further and creates a welcoming environment for other issues, like toxicity or problematic behaviors. If your workforce can’t report injustices or turn to HR for help, this can lead to a variety of far-reaching issues.
How To Prevent HR Burnout
You should encourage people working in your HR department to find the sweet spot where work and personal life are in perfect balance. You can start creating a culture where after-work hours are respected. It’s important to highlight that HR employees don’t need to check work emails at home or on vacation and that their personal time is vital. In addition, set flexible work hours and remote work opportunities to help employees manage their personal time better and have space in their schedule for their hobbies and things that make them happy. Additional days off and vacation time are equally important, and you should prompt people to leverage them as frequently as possible.
Supportive Work Environment
HR professionals need to feel supported when going to work, and that can be achieved in a collaborative environment where everyone has each other’s backs. It would be helpful for them to relieve some stress, knowing that their peers can take over some of the workload and care for them when they’re feeling overwhelmed. Open communication is the key to this, and you should encourage employees to voice their concerns and be there for each other. You can also organize team-building activities that will bring everyone closer. Most importantly, though, make sure that everyone in the workplace has access to mental health resources and can find help when needed.
Resources And Training
It’s important for your HR team to have the right tools and knowledge to excel in their roles and finish tasks faster; otherwise, they will struggle and get tired more easily. Software, tools, and training will help HR professionals be more efficient and stay up-to-date with new regulations or policies, a process that’s stressful for them. Moreover, well-trained HR employees will feel more knowledgeable and confident in dealing with work matters and giving advice. So what does your HR team need the most? You can prioritize offering them programs that will automate some of their tasks, training sessions, workshops, networking opportunities, and other resources for them to thrive in their job.
HR burnout is a real and dangerous phenomenon that can’t be swept under the rug. It’s harmful not only to the HR professionals themselves but also to the organization as a whole. You need to understand the causes, stay alert for common symptoms, and try your best to prevent this from jeopardizing your people’s mental and physical health. Leaders and upper management need to take drastic measures to overcome this issue and, most of all, support their HR team.