There is a growing body of knowledge that shows exhaustion and burnout among HR professionals have reached staggering levels through the pandemic. A recent study by Workvio reported that 98% of HR professionals have experienced burnout in the last six months. Among HR leaders, 53% of employees are burned out, and 48% are looking for a new job.
All but 2% of HR leaders who responded to a Paychex survey said that the pandemic has transformed their role. Changes to HR regulations, benefits, and employee safety needs along with added responsibilities of effectively managing remote and hybrid workforces have contributed to this. These changes have caused a significant increase in the work on HR leaders’ plates without a corresponding increase in staff. This is compounded by the Great Resignation, which leaves HR departments with less staff while simultaneously demanding a greater allocation of HR resources to increased recruiting needs.
More than two-thirds of HR leaders who have experienced emotional exhaustion blamed it on being overworked, and more than 40% said they needed additional staff to meet their goals.
Another challenge being faced by HR leaders is that they don’t feel supported by their organization. They feel overlooked, undervalued, and often see their work being deprioritized. And because of the confidentiality requirements for certain information, they may not have anyone to talk to.
One of the more impactful challenges driving HR burnout is HR leaders tend to put themselves last. They often work to ensure everyone else is taken care of, and then—if they have time—they will see to their own needs. HR leaders are also typically bearing the brunt of responsibility for the more unpleasant tasks along with the negative feedback across the organization.
What HR Leaders Can Do
Fortunately, the plethora of data about the stress and burnout being experienced by HR leaders have increased awareness of these problems. There are a number of steps HR leaders can take to help manage the stress they face. Companies are also implementing new and expanded workplace wellness programs that HR leaders can utilize. In addition, there is a welcomed focus on prioritizing self-care.
Don’t Go It Alone
For all the articles and resources available on topics like self-care, accessing mental health care, and general workplace wellness programs, there is relatively little about joining with other HR leaders so they don’t have to tackle the burdens alone. There is tremendous comfort in knowing you’re not alone with the challenges and frustration. Having a way of reaching out to other HR leaders is a game changer.
Among the solutions recommended to HR leaders for reducing burnout are networking, joining HR organizations and groups, and a strong support system. Each of these solutions offer relief to overburdened HR leaders by providing paths to information and support from others who “get it.” According to 2021 employment data there were almost 275,000 HR leaders and 871,000 HR workers in the US. That’s an incredible pool of knowledgeable professionals to tap into!
HR communities provide:
- Access to information and resources about HR topics, issues, legislative changes, trends, and more.
- Access to other members of the HR community with expertise in all areas of HR (or close to it!).
- Opportunities for members to ask and respond to questions, collaborate on projects, attend and participate in events and activities sponsored by the HR community.
- A safe place to talk about your challenges or vent. (Remember to maintain confidentiality as required.)
- Career development support and resources; some have job boards.
- Up-to-date information about emerging issues and trends.
- The benefit of knowing you don’t have to go it alone; the chances are good that someone else has faced an issue you have and can offer suggestions or support to help you through it.
The communities and groups are varied in their structure and practices. A few of the more common structures and practices include:
- Membership may or may not be required to participate in the HR community.
- Membership may be limited to certain roles or functional expertise within the HR profession (such as Total Rewards professionals, Talent Acquisition professionals, HR leaders).
- Some communities can be joined without cost; some require payment of membership fees to join.
- Events and activities are virtual, in-person, and hybrid, depending on the community.
- Many communities offer online resources and access to articles or other information.
- Many communities offer periodic informational emails or newsletters with relevant updates and information.
- Some communities offer formal training programs on different HR topics.
Where to Find HR Communities
- Browse online by typing a topic into your search engine and start exploring to learn more details about the groups and communities returned.
- Ask colleagues about the communities and groups they have joined.
- Search LinkedIn groups—at the time of writing this article, there are 940+ different Linkedin HR groups!
To get you started, here is a link to an index of HR communities by area of focus and links to a few HR communities that may be of interest.
A comprehensive list of HR communities by area of focus.
Online panel discussions, workshops, summits, podcasts, and more.
A free HR community established to help each other.
A national network of HR leaders that offers online learning, access to a vetted network of industry leaders, group-based executive coaching, and world-class networking.
One of the largest HR free communities for HR leaders offering virtual & in-person events, speaking panel participation, email newsletters, job board, and more.
The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) is one of the largest global HR organizations with over 300,000 members world-wide. Communities can be found in the “Membership” tab from the home page.
A community that provides a place for peer-to-peer facilitated discussions between HR professionals to share struggles and support each other.
The Executive Brain Trust is a forum for broad HR discussions for HR Executives; it is limited to VP and CHRO only.
All HR leaders should add joining and actively participating in at least one HR community to their self-care list!
Read more about HR leader stress here.
Learn About the Power of Self-Care
Download the Mental Health Tool Kit to learn about mental health in the workplace – what it is, why it matters, and how you can start supporting employee mental health!
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