by Flex HR

HR Departments Need to Recover from Pandemic Burnout

CEO's Manage Employee Burnout

Stress levels among HR professionals dramatically increased during the pandemic as both corporate leadership and employees looked to HR for help in responding to workplace changes. More demands were placed on HR staff due to policy changes, employee safety concerns, and the uncertainty among corporate leadership.

One study reported that 90% of HR professionals had increased stress levels in the past year, and 60% of them felt emotional exhaustion.



Understandably, these factors have led to HR burnout and compassion fatigue. HR professionals were exposed to many different problems during the pandemic and had to respond on the job. Some had to put in overtime or deal with weightier issues, such as creating and implementing new DEI policies.

Now, many HR professionals are emotionally drained or numb, having endured extended anxiety. Some lack motivation and feel disconnected from others. Their focus may be waning, and they may feel too burnt out to keep doing their job well.

Part of the burnout originated at the top, as leadership scrambled to keep up with the increase in mental health needs and safety for their employees, the HR department bore more than their fair share of the workload.

Know the Signs of Burnout

  • Going forward, company leadership needs to be vigilant and watchful, aware of the signs of burnout in their HR departments to know when they are asking too much. Some of these signs include:
  • Working overtime more often
  • Working weekends
  • Showing signs of irritability and mood swings
  • Decrease in work quality
  • Looking or acting fatigued
  • Taking more sick or personal days
  • Less engagement than normal

**The above list is taken in part from Forbes:

Prevent HR Burnout in Your Organization

Companies need to learn how to help HR departments combat burnout by setting reasonable expectations and enforcing policies that protect their employees (including HR teams!). Here are a few things companies can do to help their HR employees who are feeling burnt out:

  1. Give Employees Paid Time Off.
    Closing down the office for at least a few days, especially during the holidays, can help encourage employees not to work. If you can’t do that, make sure you are providing support to help them take paid time off when needed.
  2. Establish Company-Wide Availability Rules
    Make employees feel that they don’t need to be available 24/7. Establish hours of contact and hours when employees are off the clock. This will help encourage a work-life balance and more rest.
  3. Make Them Take Breaks
    As the CDC has established, taking breaks as short as five minutes can increase focus and productivity and reduce stress.
  4. Train HR Professionals to Do Each Other’s Jobs
    Make sure each HR employee can handle multiple responsibilities so that more than one person can deal with a particular issue, should it arise. This will help employees feel they can take time off.
  5. Offer Flexible Scheduling
    Some HR employees may need the flexibility to work from home, especially if they encounter inclement weather, illness, or problems with their childcare plan. Offering more flexible hours and solutions can reduce stress.
  6. Reward Good Performance
    Appreciate employees by rewarding them for their hard work. Simply recognizing HR professionals for a job well done (not just for overextending themselves) will go a long way in preventing burnout.

Teach Strategies to Combat Burnout

There are also some things that HR professionals can do to advocate for themselves and combat burnout. Here are some suggestions from Dr. John Cascone, the Senior Vice President here at Flex HR:

  1. Acknowledge and Defuse Negative Thoughts
    One symptom of burnout is negative self-talk, which can increase stress levels. To combat this, employees must acknowledge their negative thoughts and evaluate their accuracy. When they take a step back, they should see that their perspective is skewed. They can talk to a friend or counselor and learn how to break their tasks into smaller, manageable parts to start breaking out of this cycle.
  2. Set Boundaries
    Continually being accessible to your colleagues can quickly lead to burnout and emotional exhaustion. HR Employees need to learn which issues need to be resolved later and guard their time off.
  3. Prioritize Healthy Habits
    Having a healthy diet, getting good sleep, exercising, and practicing stress management techniques such as breathing, mindfulness or yoga can all combat burnout. Encourage these practices and provide resources to teach them to your HR department.
  4. Ask for Help
    HR professionals need help, too. When they are overwhelmed, they should ask their supervisor for more time to complete their work or get additional help. If burnout, anxiety, or depression are impacting their physical and/or mental well-being, provide resources for them to meet with a mental health provider.

If your HR team is feeling burnt out or inundated, we can help! You can consider outsourcing some of your HR responsibilities to help reduce their load.

To Learn More about Flex HR Contact Us.