Why HR Managers Burnout?
The question may seem confrontational but many elements indicate that HR managers could be more prone to burnout than other professions.
Born in the 1970s, the term “burnout” corresponds to the complete depletion of one’s mental and physical resources. This psychological state generally leads to a combination of exhaustion, loss of motivation, and feelings of frustration and inefficacy.
So what could cause HR managers to be more likely to suffer from burnout than others?
They are caught in a double bind
Put simply, a double bind can be associated with a situation where someone has to deal with obligations containing opposing constraints. When applied to logic, a double bind expresses a paradox resulting in the impossibility to solve an issue. Social scientist Gregory Bateson first developed this theory in the fifties to explain the causes of schizophrenia.
In practise, HR managers have to juggle between two major constraints: their organisation’s constant drive for performance and the nature of their own function driven by employee motivation and workplace life quality. An example of this is when HR leaders have to manage redundancy programs. They are subject to cornelian dilemma where they have to compromise their own values. Even more so when management exclude them from the decision making process and do not provide a global vision of the strategic stakes in play. That’s when HR take the risk to take actions that go against their personal values which, on the long run, can be exhausting.
They manage multiple projects
Training managers, employer branding, maintaining a social dialogue and ensuring that payroll is completed right and on time are just a few examples. How should HR managers prioritise their workload when stretched between a sea of important projects? When devotion and perfectionism are traits that often characterise HR leaders, it’s obvious that multitasking HR operations can be the cause of work-related stress – especially when things go wrong! In the event that their business is going through a rough patch, HR leaders are expected to keep their heads up to avoid affecting morale and create concerns within the organisation.
They are empathic by nature
As indicated by its name, the function is all about People and working in HR is rarely the result of random error. Listening, understanding, bringing confidence and supporting employees are just a few ways HR managers humanise the relationship to the organisation. If sales or finance people are often compared to sharks, HR would certainly be closer to dolphins. Working in HR can be potentially dangerous for an individual who is truly passionate and selfless. Being constantly focused on others means they can forget themselves which is why the practise of mindfulness is really important. To be able to listen to others means that we first need to be mentally healthy too and HR are most often the last to benefit from the help they provide to others such as training and coaching.
They manage crisis
HR managers are most very often involved in internal crisis management. They guarantee the respect of the corporate social environment and are responsible for regulating communications. In time of crisis, HR managers are confronted to the concerns and anxiety of their co-workers and must find solutions to complex issues. How do we communicate? What do we say? Crisis management can be even more challenging when employees themselves are affected.
Here again, HR managers are at the forefront to guide, listen and advise employees.
Their central function within the organisation positions them at the crossroad of global organisational challenges they have to solve. All of these elements makes them more incline to a potential burnout. That’s why it’s important for HR managers to maintain and healthy lifestyle and grow their personal life on solid foundations.