New data finds that 53% of HR leaders are burned out, and 48% of HR leaders are looking for a new job, according to a survey of 400 HR respondents from AllVoices, an employee feedback management platform. Another survey by Human Resource Executive, “What’s Keeping HR Up at Night”, found that 86% of human resources executives say their stress has increased in the last year—44% say their stress levels have increased “dramatically.” 11% say their stress has stayed the same, and just 3% say stress has decreased in the past year.
Not surprisingly, the biggest challenge to all HR is retaining and recruiting employees.
What does that mean? It means HR is at its limits. HR is struggling and many times doesn’t realize it because their focus is on the organization and in particular the employees’ well-being. The domino effect hits HR as they fail to take care of their needs because they are prioritizing the employer’s needs. Teachers and healthcare workers are others who prioritize the needs under their care first and who are also experiencing burnout at record numbers.
Yet, for many who fly, it is most important in a depressurized cabin to have passengers put on their masks first before putting on the masks for those who need help.
“I think the most important thing we can do for ourselves and our employees is to set and stick to boundaries,” says Kimberly Paris, director of human resources at Penn State Erie, the Behrend College. You have to have a time to take a break at some point, particularly now because we are always connected to our technology. Clear, consistent communication is the key to this being successful. Whether it is blocking your calendar for a lunch workout, meditation time or setting aside two nights per week where everyone knows you don’t check and won’t respond to messages—unapologetically set boundaries and stick to them to ensure you are recharging,” continues Paris.
How many in HR prioritize their needs before others? That’s what makes HR a very attractive profession: service before self. But the HR professional needs to ask the following questions to help themselves.
- Who takes care of you?
- Who gives you the space to have a voice of your own?
- Who asks how you’ve been doing?
- Who worries about how you’ve been struggling through these chaotic times?
If these questions cannot be answered, the HR professional is likely spiraling down an unescapable abyss.
The following are some suggestions made for HR that could get them back on track.
First, take a mental health day. Totally unplug and do not respond to any requests by phone, email, Teams, or Zoom. You may feel guilty, but it is a guilty pleasure. Go to the zoo, a spa, or just a movie. Take time for yourself. It can be really refreshing.
Second, make sure HR leaders recognize HR employees’ work. HR is good at recognizing non-HR employees, but it’s time to recognize themselves as well. From a simple thank you to some kind of award, it does make a difference.
Next, make sure work goals are clear and achievable. Unclear goals or priorities create a situation where people feel overwhelmed. Also, fires at workplaces are generally repetitive and HR can predict what will arise. HR needs to develop plans to have a more harmonious workplace given their institutional knowledge. It will help alleviate the day-to-day stress of being pulled in many directions.
Finally, do wellness checks on a consistent basis. HR and benefits professionals are so busy that they may lose perspective. This is why building a supportive community is so important, especially for small HR and benefits teams. Take a breath and ask yourself, do you need a break? If the answer is yes, go take a mental health day(s).
HR needs to take care of themselves to take care of the organization’s employees. By prioritizing HR professionals’ mental health needs, they can be more effective assisting others. It’s a tough time with the pandemic (hopefully) winding down. It’s also a new world no one ever expected.
Additional ASE Resources
Workplace Wellness Resources – ASE’s Wellness Resources webpage offers many mental health resources and several pre-recorded webinars regarding burnout and mental health.
Peer-to-Peer Discussion - Are you in the first six years of your HR career and feeling burnt out? This month’s Peer-to-Peer Discussion is for human resources professionals that are in the early stages of their career with 6 years or less experience on the job. HR is an exciting field and critical to an organization’s success. At this stage of an HR professional’s career you have the drive, education, experience, and mindset to be an asset to your organization/department. Network with fellow ASE members to discuss best practices and challenges facing HR professionals just starting out in their HR career. Join us March 24th at noon. Register here.
Peer to Peer Discussions give members an opportunity to meet and interact with fellow members in a confidential and mutually supportive environment. In this one-hour discussion, attendees are expected to participate with cameras on and be engaged in the discussion moderated by ASE staff.
Source: HR Executive 2/24/22, Jellyvision 2/10/22