HR burnout: 6 steps HR and People leaders can take to support their team to avoid it

Sairish Chechi
Published on 21st October 2020
3 min read

What a year it’s been for HR.

HR and People teams have guided their organizations through constant changes in the world of work, as a result of the global pandemic. Around the globe, HR teams have been busier than ever moving teams to remote working, closing and re-opening offices, managing employee wellbeing and much more.

Yet, in the midst of HR teams supporting employee wellbeing across their organizations, it’s all too easy to forget that burnout isn’t just something that happens to other employees – it can happen to them too.

Here’s six tailored ways for HR leaders to support their HR team to avoid burnout:

1. Look out for warning signs

In order to tackle the issue of burnout, firstly you need to be able to identify it.  HR and People teams are experts at spotting signs of stress that can lead to burnout but, as a reminder, some things to look out for include:

  • Working a lot more overtime hours than usual
  • Working weekends
  • Struggling to concentrate
  • Taking more sick days
  • Decreased performance and quality of work
  • Disengagement from work or lack of concentration
  • Fatigue

By keeping these signs top of mind, you can then discuss with your employees experiencing them how you can help. 

2. Check in regularly

According to Mind, work is by far the most stressful factor in people’s lives, with one in three people saying their work life was either very or quite stressful. However, knowing what’s causing the stress makes it much easier to manage the issue, so check in regularly with your team.

Due to the sensitive nature of their role, people within your team may find themselves unable to share with other work colleagues what’s causing their stress. This makes it even more important for you to have regular catch ups and chat about workload.

By speaking to them, this then provides them with the opportunity to share if they’re experiencing stress and you’ll be able to get a better idea of how you can support them to tackle it.

3. Understand employees’ workloads

Unreasonable workload is a top cause of burnout and it’s easy for employees’ workloads to suddenly creep up.

If your HR employee is experiencing stress related to their workload, there are plenty of things you can do to support them. You might be able to predict when the team are likely to have busier periods and adjust to make sure everyone has the support they need.

If there’s simply too much on their plate, suggest some options that may either make the task easier, or you may be able to move the task to someone else with a lighter workload.

Also, if they’re bogged down in admin, you could look into getting a tool or system that can support them to automate some of those tasks so they can focus more on their other, more strategic tasks.

4. Diversify employee skills

How many people within your HR team can perform the same tasks?

Preventing siloes by cross-training staff means several HR and People employees can pick up various jobs. As a result, if someone is ill, on holiday, or needs to take a day to de-stress, their work doesn’t pile up for their return.

Sharing skills and responsibilities can significantly reduce the pressure on any one employee, and means there’s a workload support system in place. HR employees may feel more comfortable to take well-deserved time off and relax, or even feel able to ask others for help if their workload seems unmanageable.

5. Take flexible working to the next level

With many employees working from home now, it can make juggling the work-life balance easier for some, but be mindful that it can make it harder for others and cause added stress.

In fact, nearly half of employees said that their work-life balance has deteriorated since working from home since the start of the global pandemic. Now is a great time to consider what flexible working could do to support your employees and how it can help them to avoid burnout.

Whether it’s allowing your people to start later or finish earlier, compressing hours into longer but less days, or having bigger breaks in the day – flexible schedules can take away some of the stress by allowing employees to get the balance they need.

6. Lead by example

Making your own wellbeing a priority as an HR and People leader is essential.

Take time to switch off – literally. By turning off your laptop on time, you’re signaling to the rest of the team that it’s fine to do the same.

HR and People teams are known for spinning many plates. However, it’s important to stress to your team that taking time for themselves and maintaining a work-life balance has never been so important to keep them happy, well and productive.

Stay up to date with the changing world of work. Discover the future of HR and People teams by downloading our research report, ‘The changing face of HR’.

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