Why HR Professionals Are Burned Out, According to Reddit
According to a 2022 survey by Workvivo, 98% of HR professionals have recently felt burned out. These rates are higher than those of other divisions, such as sales, which record a burnout rate of under 90%, according to Gartner.
HR team members are feeling the stress for a number of reasons. The same Workvivo survey found that:
- 88% of HR professionals dreaded their work.
- 97% of HR team members are emotionally exhausted.
- 73% don’t believe they have the tools or resources to do their job.
- 29% of HR employees feel valued by their company.
Granted, these are just a few data points provided by one survey. But a quick look at Reddit finds HR professionals openly discussing why they are feeling the strain. Here's what they're saying.
1. Unsupportive Leadership
One of the significant challenges facing HR employees is senior leadership. Workvivo's survey found that fewer than one in three employees felt valued by their employers.
Without support, work will inevitably be unrewarding. "As an HR professional, I can invest a great deal of effort over months or even years to accomplish a change I believe in, and all that time, I see no evidence that I’m making a difference," said Jennifer E. Sigler, Ph.D., head of research at FOUNT Global, Inc. Sigler's sentiment was repeated numerous times across Reddit.
Sigler believes the problem persists because companies are still using the 200-year-old lessons from the Industrial Revolution in today’s modern workplace. She said managers need to stop working to these principles and instead break down the assembly line style still in use by too many HR teams.
Some suggest that leaders are not prioritizing the human elements of the business. Alexis Robin, co-founder of pLink Leadership, said, “A large percentage of HR professionals are experiencing burnout due to overworked and overwhelmed internal customers struggling to prioritize time for recruiting, leadership development, and people projects.”
To rectify this, allow HR professionals to exercise the full spectrum of their creative and problem-solving skills, suggested Sigler. When HR teams can utilize their humanity positively, there will be a positive impact on others in the business, and results will be seen early, not years later.
Related Podcast: What Organizations Can Do About Burnout
2. Reporting on Metrics that Don’t Matter
At a time when data-driven everything is the holy grail, HR teams are often responsible for creating reports with metrics that don’t work, don't matter or don't exist. The frustration is only compounded when those reports are never followed up on or lead to action.
As Sigler noted, the bureaucratic set up of many current businesses result in siloed programmatic divisions that are over-layered and connected with numerous processes. These cumbersome and impractical systems are unrewarding and prompt HR professionals to feel like they're diverting attention from their primary focus: the people.
HR teams need to be allowed to decide what metrics are essential and report on those. And senior leaders need to take the reports seriously.
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3. Recruitment Issues
Another issue for HR teams is recruitment. The Reddit comments showed many reporting that recruitment was one of the most challenging aspects of HR.
"Hiring and recruiting has been turned on its head, and it’s perhaps tougher than it’s ever been, leading to rampant burnout,” said Findem CEO Hari Kolam. As a result, he continued, many HR teams aren't meeting recruitment goals.
The great resignation only exacerbated the issue, placing higher pressure on HR teams to find new staff. Although the layoffs in tech companies are grabbing the headlines, the demand hasn't really slowed.
Robin said a major pain point is the lack of alignment between HR teams and hiring managers, a problem that can only be rectified when communications between the two improves.
And the problem is spreading into the talent teams themselves. Kolam noted the high turnover rates talent teams are experiencing. When an already struggling HR department loses a key member, imagine the impact on both efforts and morale.
Making Improvements Require a Top-Down Approach
HR teams need more support — that was the common thread across the Reddit conversations and the feedback from experts. Without receiving the financial, strategic and staffing support they need, not to mention emotional, HR teams will continue to swim upstream.
But as Sigler states, Leaders also need to take HR out of the process assembly line, said Sigler, and allow them more flexibility and autonomy. When given the opportunity to explore new solutions to ongoing problems, HR teams will be more engaged in their work and the business will reap the rewards.
About the Author
Kaya Ismail is a business software journalist and commentator with years of experience in the CMS industry.