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Burnout in HR – how to spot the warning signs and keep your wellbeing in check



Burnout is rife in many industries, particularly those where it’s hard to measure performance or there’s a big skills shortage. For this reason, it may come as a surprise that HR professionals are now the ones suffering from exhaustion and burnout – 98% of those surveyed in fact. The cause? The pandemic and the immense pressure that came with dealing with furlough, as well as the remote and hybrid working transitions.


A key responsibility of HR is to oversee and support the wellbeing and effectiveness of employees but as the new research shows, it’s time HR professionals took better care of themselves too. This article will explore why burnout can be so damaging and what you can do to look after yourself.


What is burnout?


Quite a slang term, it may not be one you are familiar with but burnout means feeling unmotivated, exhausted, and unwell.


Burnout can happen at any time and it doesn't always have to do with being busy.


What are the warning signs?


It’s often far easier to spot changes in behaviour in other people rather than in ourselves but if any of the following feel familiar to you, you need to take action:


  • You work all the hours you can, without breaks

  • It’s common for you to get annoyed or angry at work about trivial things

  • You feel overwhelmed by the workload and each task feels excessively complicated

  • You're not eating or sleeping properly


Why does burnout matter?


You may feel like the long hours you and your team are putting in are only temporary but they could be causing real damage to your health.


Burnout has been linked to a number of health concerns including:


  • cardiovascular disease

  • type 2 diabetes

  • gastrointestinal problems

  • depression

  • anxiety

  • sleep disorders


In addition to the physical effects, burnout can also lead to poorer work performance. Employees who are burned out are more likely to make mistakes, have lower productivity levels, and take more sick days.


The potential impact is concerning—and should compel you to act. Here’s what can do as an HR professional to help prevent yourself or others getting burnout….


How to prevent burnout


Take control of your workload


While we said above that burnout isn’t always related to how busy you are; it’s a big factor for most people which is why taking some time to manage your tasklist could do wonders for your mental health.


Sort your to do list into several groups: the tasks that are a Priority; the tasks that you can Defer to a later date; the tasks you can Delegate; and those that you can Delete from your list altogether because they are not necessary. This will provide you with a much more manageable list of actions that you’ll be able to work through in no time.


Recruit more staff to help you


It’s no good creating a Delegate list of tasks if you have no one to pass them on to. Look at whether it’s possible to recruit some new team members to support you. If not, why not look at outsourcing? Get in touch with us at Lodge Court and we’ll be happy to talk you through how we can help you.


Automate


Another way to delegate tasks is to give them to a machine to do. Automation could cover many of your administrative tasks such as managing employee records, leave requests, benefits and onboarding. You can even use chatbots as a triage platform for employees with simple HR needs, funnelling enquiries through a pre-set range of Q&As.


For a full list of the ways HR can embrace technology check out our guide.


Talk to someone


It may have been your advice to employees that if they’re struggling, they can come to you or another member of the HR department for advice and counselling. The challenge is who do you go to for a confidential chat? Look at sourcing a counsellor or a mentor that you can call on when things get a little tough.


Practice self-care


One of the best ways to avoid burnout is to practice self-care. This may include taking time for activities that you enjoy, spending time with friends and family, getting enough exercise, or trying relaxation techniques like meditation or deep breathing.


Keep work and home life separate


Although setting boundaries may seem hard if you spend most of your week working from home and therefore don’t have the luxury of a commute to separate work and life but it’s important to do what you can. For example, you may want to set a rule that you will not check work email after 6pm. Or, you may want to create a designated space in your home that is for work only. This can help you to avoid feeling like you are always on the clock and prevent work from spilling into your personal life.


Set an example to your workforce and take steps now to keep the threat of burnout at bay. By taking time for yourself each day, setting boundaries between work and home life, delegating or automating tasks whenever possible, you can better manage your stress levels and avoid burnout.


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