Addressing the Burnout of Human Resources & Talent Management

May 18, 2022

The Challenge - Burnout of Critical Resources

Recently, I was trying to fill an HR/TM Mastermind to talk about issues being faced in our workplaces today. I discovered how totally burned out and over-worked HR/TM (Human Resources & Talent Management) professionals are today. According to SHRM, 42% of HR teams are struggling under the weight of too many projects and responsibilities.

Think about it, HR & TM are responsible for literally thinking about all the people in the organization – what is best, what they need, communication, culture, performance, engagement, and more. The pandemic had a significant impact on these teams who had to deal with changes in corporate policies, legal issues, employee challenges, downsizing, and more.

HR had to figure out how to recruit, onboard, engage, and offboard employees remotely – they had to provide the resources, tools, and training to make this effective in their organizations. Now – with the labor shortages HR professionals are faced with an endless list of positions they can’t ever seem to fill or get head on filling. Why? Because there aren’t enough people.

It’s no wonder there is such high burnout and exhaustion.

Getting Perspective beyond the Hustle

I received an e-mail from Brene Brown this week going out to all those on her email list with the following quote:

“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and freedom.” —Viktor Frankl

She went on to say "The past couple of years have been hard—personally and professionally—and I’ve found that space closing in on itself again. My responses have started sliding too close to the stimuli. I’m tired, and the pause is suffering. I can’t let that happen to me or to our organization. We need breath and space." Then she shared she would be taking a 13-week sabbatical and encouraging her team members to do the same.

Now, I recognize we all can't afford to take 13, 4, or even a week off work to recharge, breath, and gain perspective. Nor can we give it to the people who work for us. But I do think we must remember the importance of gaining perspective. When we can step back and look at things from farther away, we see them differently and learn new things.

Have you ever considered what earth looks like from Mars?

When we aren't up close our perspective changes entirely. Just like as children things appear so big and when we grow up, we realize they weren't as big as they seemed. Really our perspectives just changed.

As HR/TM professionals, CEOs, and even executive leaders are you trapped in the hustle, the to do list, the execution of the million tasks and activities that need to get done?

Are you so busy being busy you no longer have any time to slow down and see the bigger picture?

We all know the world of work is changing faster than we have time to adapt to it. But if we stay in this mode of execution and exhaustion, we are never going to gain the perspective we need to solve the problems in a better way. Imagine a mess of crumbs on the floor, we can stay focused on cleaning up each individual crumb. Or we could stop, stand up, gain a new perspective and go get a broom to clean it up in one sweep.

As HR/TM professionals, CEOs, and leaders, if you don't stop long enough to gain new perspective you will struggle to discover the "broom" or the better solution to the challenges you are trying desperately to clean up and deal with! Maybe Brene Brown has it right, maybe we need to slow down, take a little break, make some space, and step back to see a different perspective. Even though we are busy blocking and tackling the challenges in front of us and maybe even especially because we are in this mode of operating - we need to slow down to see things differently.

I know not everyone has time to read all the books, topics, and articles on the new world of work. I know debating and discussing and seeing what other businesses do can seem like wasted effort at a time when you are already drowning. If this applies to you...I have a solution you might be interested in... so keep reading!

Aspects that Fuel Burnout & Tips

I wanted to provide what some of the key contributing factors are to burnout and how you might specifically address them for your HR/TM professionals!

Workload or Overload: A high demand with insufficient resources such as not enough time, people, or tools.

Everyone is always facing the ever-increasing demands of more work, less resources. I recently learned there are 360 nursing positions open at one hospital - and they will seek to fill more than 1000 this year! Can you imagine the load and stress that creates for those who are trying to fill them? These challenges can be even harder for small businesses who have fewer resources but faced with the equivalent size challenges.

Tip: Recognize given the current constraints you may need to expect less or adjust the number of projects given the current challenges.

Control or Autonomy: A feeling of having no control over the job

HR/TM resources are often subject to or responsible to the leaders in the business - President or other Executives. This can be especially difficult when they don't know what control or autonomy, they have over decision making. A lack of clarity in expectations of what they have control over can leave them feeling exhausted and overworked!

Tip: Clarify expectations and give as much control or autonomy and support to your HR/TM professionals as you can! Trust them!

Feedback: A lack of rewards or recognition for a job well done.

THIS ONE IS HUGE! Have you recognized your HR/TM resource recently? Oftentimes organizations forget to recognize these individuals who have a ton of responsibility but get little credit given they are not revenue producing.

Tip: THANK or Recognize an HR Professional every chance you get! AND MEAN IT!

Workplace Community: Employees not getting along or receiving needed support.

We know from Gallup's research that having relationships at work is important. When there is conflict and issues at work it has a huge impact on our well-being and experience. When there are integrity issues or honesty issues this is 10X the impact. HR/TM has to deal with all the employee relations issues which can get overwhelming.

Tip: Make sure your HR/TM resources has a community of support. If not in your workplace, then give them the ability to find a community outside it!

Fairness: Standards not being applied fairly or workers not receiving equitable treatment.

My parents taught me "life's not fair." And it's not! But we need to be considering this when we look at how we are treating people. I think this comes heavily into play when people don't feel included. When they see some individuals getting more attention and opportunities while they are held back or treated differently.

Tip: Treat your HR/TM resources as just as critical as your revenue generating resources, trust me they are!

Value or Meaning: not feeling as if work is valued.

When a person feels their work is not viewed as important - nothing creates more frustration. A sense of "Why am I doing this if no one cares?" can become overwhelming and lead the person to look elsewhere for meaning or value.

Tip: Recognize the work of your people focused teams - their work is incredibly important and often overlooked!

The Questions Leaders need to be asking

As a leader are you taking care of your HR & TM Professionals or are you expecting them to just keep taking care of you and everyone else?

How can you give them the support and space they need?

What can you do to allow them time to step back and see the big picture?

If you aren’t, then what can we do it about?

What do organizations need to do in order to ensure this precious resource doesn’t burnout completely?

The Action Plan

To help support all the leaders out there that are passionate about people, performance and evolving their workplaces in response to the changes and challenges occurring right now, I'm creating a special opportunity. I am going to offer a free series of interactive sessions this summer on Evolving Workplaces. (Keep a look out on our pages for these sessions!)

Each week, I will be reviewing a new strategy, way of thinking, or change to our people practices within workplaces. I will release an Evolving to Exceptional podcast episode on the topic, schedule a free session to go deeper with discussion and ideas, and provide follow-up resources.

Let's take the summer to explore new thinking, new perspectives, and new strategies. We don't need to take new actions yet, or even make changes. But just take some time each week to step back, think bigger, and get out from under our hustle. I hope taking this time will help invigorate those who are passionate about these topics and reduce the burnout everyone is experiencing.

Interested in Learning More?

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