As a human resources professional, you’re at the forefront of the struggle to find and keep top talent. So you understand the importance of prioritizing employee wellbeing for today’s workers.
Ironically, this increased focus on a positive employee experience can contribute to HR burnout. As you strive to create a healthy work environment, you may neglect your own well-being.
Your burnout can affect the entire company’s health. So it’s important for you (and your company) to understand the causes and impact of HR burnout. Then you can implement effective strategies for preventing it.
Why is HR a stressful job these days?
Recent efforts to improve employee wellbeing are overloading human resources employees’ work lives. And they’re taking a mental and emotional toll.
Because this new priority, while worthy, is often added to HR professionals’ already full plates without a look at rebalancing workloads.
In a recent study by SHRM, HR professionals cited maintaining employee morale and engagement as their top priority for 2023. This is on top of their regular tasks of recruiting and screening job candidates, managing employee benefits, and handling employee relations.
How burnout hurts you and your organization
HR professionals play a critical role in shaping the office culture. You are the advocates for employee well-being, engagement, and satisfaction. And when the weight of your responsibilities leads to exhaustion, both you and the company suffer.
If you’re mentally burned out and stressed, you may struggle to do your work effectively. You’ll be less satisfied with and engaged in your job.
Your lack of energy can, in turn, cause lower employee morale, higher turnover, and decreased productivity.
The signs and causes of HR burnout
If you want to avoid the effects above, you need to recognize and address burnout.
So what should you look for? What exactly does burnout look like?
People experiencing burnout often become emotionally drained and detached from their work. They may also display signs of physical and mental exhaustion.
Watch for these common indicators:
- Persistent fatigue
- Decreased job satisfaction
- Increased cynicism
- A decline in productivity
Several factors can cause burnout among HR professionals.
It may stem from excessive workloads and unrealistic expectations.
A lack of work-life balance or inadequate support can also contribute. You may find yourself working outside regular office hours if you have employees in different time zones. Feeling you have to be available at all hours can blur the line between work and personal life. It also leaves little time for relaxation and self-care.
Finally, exhaustion often results from dealing with workplace conflicts and challenges. The responsibility of maintaining a positive work environment while enforcing policies can create a sense of conflict. It can be challenging to find a balance between being empathetic and upholding company guidelines.
When you understand the causes, you can take steps to prevent or eliminate potential burnout.
6 strategies for preventing and addressing HR burnout
Taking care of your wellbeing goes beyond simply implementing employee wellness programs. It requires a comprehensive approach by both you and your employer.
The following six strategies are a great place to start.
1. Set boundaries
Establish boundaries to keep work from encroaching on your personal life. Make clear distinctions for when and how you’ll be available, and make sure your expectations of your own workload are reasonable.
For instance, set specific hours for work vs. home life.
Turn off notifications and create contingency plans for your colleagues when you go on vacation. (Without boundaries and a solid plan for delegation, even time off can create stress.)
Prioritize your workload and learn to delegate when possible. Recognizing that you don’t have to take on every task yourself can really ease your burdens.
The key is to set realistic expectations, and then communicate your boundaries with colleagues.
How your employer can help: Companies should establish reasonable work policies and support employees by upholding them. Leadership can set an example by respecting work hours and working with you to offload heavy tasks. The right kind of company support will let you step away from work without guilt and return refreshed.
2. Practice self-care
Make time for activities such as regular exercise, mindfulness practices, and hobbies. These can help you recharge and reduce stress levels.
Also, pay attention to your own physical and mental health needs. For instance, by getting regular check-ups, maintaining a balanced diet, and ensuring adequate sleep.
How your employer can help: Organizations can help by providing resources like wellness programs and access to mental health support. They should also promote a healthy work-life balance in policy and in practice.
3. Seek support within the HR community
Find a network within the HR community to connect with peers who understand the unique challenges you face. Connecting with others in the field can provide a sense of camaraderie. It offers validation and support.
You can build a support system by going to networking events. Or by taking part in industry associations and attending conferences or seminars. These all provide opportunities to build relationships, share experiences, and exchange best practices.
How your employer can help: Companies can encourage participation and pay for memberships to peer support networks. Or budget for HR employees to attend industry events.
In addition to external support, organizations can also offer internal support systems. For instance, with mentorship programs or buddy systems. These give more experienced HR professionals the chance to offer guidance and support to their newer colleagues.
4. Foster open communication and transparency
You can improve your own well-being by sharing your concerns and ideas with leadership. Starting candid, productive conversations will help you resolve issues before they become overwhelming.
You can also support policies that encourage open communication and transparency across the organization. Good communication fosters trust and collaboration. Both of which are key to a healthy work environment.
How your employer can help: Companies can provide a platform for HR professionals to express concerns, share ideas, and receive support. These might be regular check-ins, team meetings, or anonymous feedback opportunities.
Leadership should also include HR in decisions that impact their roles and responsibilities. Ensuring that they have a voice in shaping HR policies and practices can enhance job satisfaction.
5. Build resilience
Learning to manage stress and bounce back from setbacks will keep your energy and engagement levels high.
Do some self-guided learning by seeking out conferences or training. Look for support groups within your industry (more on that in the next section). Or seek counseling from professionals trained in stress management techniques.
How your employer can help. Organizations can offer training programs on specific skills like:
- stress management
- emotional intelligence
6. Seek continuous learning and development
Upskilling and reskilling opportunities are crucial to retaining top talent in today’s competitive job market. And that applies to HR employees too.
You need to stay updated on evolving practices and industry trends. You also need to acquire the skills that will help you effectively combat burnout.
How your employer can help: Encouraging a growth mindset within the HR department can foster a sense of empowerment. An organization can offer training programs, workshops, and conferences that focus on enhancing HR skills. These may include topics like conflict resolution, effective communication, and stress management.
A healthy workplace starts with you
Most HR professionals chose this job because they care about helping others. Prioritizing self-care and managing work-related stress make it easier to provide the best possible support—to employees and the organization as a whole.
Recognizing and addressing HR burnout creates a healthier work environment and allows you to excel in your role. So take these efforts seriously.
Remember, a well-supported HR team translates into a healthier, happier workforce.