HR Insights 8 min

Burnout Prevention Tips Especially for HR

May 5, 2022

You’re in HR, which means the same passion that makes you good at your job also makes you vulnerable to burnout even in the best of times. Now the demands on your role are greater than ever and you deserve a break—a chance to realign, take care of yourself, and remember what led you on this HR journey to begin with.

Consider this your refuge from that claustrophobic space between a rock and a hard place, from the thankless space behind the scenes, or even that lonely space between your ears where imposter syndrome lies in wait like the world’s worst surprise party.

We’ve collected a few starting points, invitations to pause, and spaces to help you recenter and renew:

  • Wellbeing: Healing places designed to soothe empathetic minds like yours
  • Community: Supportive places filled with HR professionals just like you
  • Career inspiration: Places to inspire new career insights and ideas

Wellbeing: What About Yours?

Did you know the effects of loneliness on health and healthcare costs are almost as bad as smoking a pack of cigarettes a day? In fact, all the way back in the beforetimes of 2018, Harvard Business Review (HBR) called loneliness an epidemic that was threatening the health, wellbeing, and livelihoods of at least 40 percent of Americans. We’ve never heard a better justification for supporting communities in every profession. 

HBR’s report included solutions for the workplace—supportive leadership, peer-to-peer praise, shared purpose—with the onus of responsibility for these solutions landing, predictably, on the shoulders of HR. 

“According to a recent BambooHR survey, 87 percent of HR pros still report facing their own mental, physical, and financial wellbeing challenges…”

Even in 2018, intense pressure on HR to diagnose and mend organizational wellbeing was nothing new, and four years and a literal pandemic later, such herculean expectations as “solve loneliness” are merely par for the course for HR. 

These are mere drops in the ocean of ever-increasing HR responsibilities. Here’s a glimpse at what’s landed on HR’s plate in the last two years:

  • COVID-19-related layoffs
  • Managing remote work, masking, vaccines, and other COVID-19 responses
  • Coordinating return-to-office or hybrid work
  • Implementing new and targeted DEI initiatives
  • Dealing with staffing shortages and hiring in new geographies
  • Supporting the acute need for employee mental health and wellbeing intervention

In many ways, HR has been an unacknowledged frontline worker during the pandemic, and according to a recent BambooHR survey, 87 percent of HR pros still report facing their own mental, physical, and financial wellbeing challenges on top of continuing to help employees through the same thing. 

All of this can feel pretty grim, but we’re not just here to point out the hard stuff. We also want to give you solutions for when the strain of these additional, unexpected responsibilities gets to be too much. Here are a few resources for you to start with.

Ten Percent Happier App

Mindfulness meditation is proven to regulate stress hormones, but for many people, it’s a skill with a steep learning curve. The Ten Percent Happier app flattens the curve so that busy professionals like you can harness several moments of calm whenever and wherever. 

At last year’s annual HR Virtual Summit, a yearly virtual conference BambooHR hosts for HR pros, Ten Percent Happier’s Director of People Nadine Robinson presented a keynote on the impact of mindfulness meditation on workplace wellbeing. Her presentation included a five-minute guided meditation by one of her company’s meditation experts. 

We were moved when many attendees took to the comments afterward to share that the unexpected experience had brought them much-needed relief. That’s why we think the free Ten Percent Happier app is a convenient and powerful tool to add to your wellbeing belt.  

HR Wellbeing Week

Another route toward both community and self-care is HR Wellbeing Week. It’s an annual virtual conference devoted entirely to giving HR professionals the skills and information they need to self-advocate, manage crises with resilience, avoid burnout, and ultimately take better care of themselves. 

HR Wellbeing Week is sponsored in part by [email protected], which was founded by another wellbeing-focused HR Virtual Summit speaker, Julie Turney. A four-day conference with dozens of speakers, HR Wellbeing Week lets you pick and choose from in-depth sessions in these twelve categories:

  • Burnout
  • Parenting
  • Kindness
  • Health and wellbeing
  • Compassion fatigue
  • Psychological safety
  • Mindfulness
  • Activities
  • Imposter syndrome
  • Overcoming loneliness
  • Bullying
  • Work/life balance 
“The best way to reinvigorate your ‘why’ is not just to remember and treasure your HR wins, but to engage in the work of enhancing your HR practice so you can line up even more.”

Therapy & Mental Health Counseling

As the source for mental health information and providers, HR professionals frequently find themselves playing the role of counselor. But whether or not you have an EAP to direct employees to (or to use yourself), you’re still engaging in emotional labor (i.e., therapy work) pretty much on the daily—hence all the crying. 

Even therapists need therapy, and when HR is functioning as a therapist, well, you get the idea. Check out this list of top mental health resources, curated by Healthline, to get started finding your own dedicated counselor.

Community: Find Your People on the Outside 

HR deals with immense pressure from every direction. When the job entails caring for people who may distrust your intentions or advising decision-makers who won’t listen, it’s not clear who you’re supposed to turn to when the pressure gets to be too much. The good news is, there are others out there who are driven to change the narrative surrounding the purpose of HR and to realize the impact today’s HR can have on today’s issues. It’s time you met.

HR TikTok

TikTok can be disorienting at first, what with the lip-syncing, pantomime, dancing next to captions, and cut-together monologues, but when an important message gets through, all those visual and audio elements help it stick. 

The HR community on TikTok is super engaged, and HR TikTok is overflowing with great messages, whether it’s HR pros sharing a glimpse into their daily self-care routines, commiserating over the shared loneliness of HR, or dropping little-known employment law truths to educate the public. 

But are people listening? Yes! The hashtag #hrtiktok has over 117 million views.

The comments are stacked with variations of “I feel seen!” or “That got me!” One commenter, another HR professional, even admitted that she’d once gotten so flustered after a tear-provoking work experience that she’d left her work-from-home desk to cry in her own bathroom. 

“...HR TikTok is so important. This community is for us and our wellbeing.” @withkirsten, TikTok

Another TikTokker, @withkirsten, summarizes the need for an HR community best when she cuts together a response to the question, “Can you speak to the loneliness experienced by HR professionals?”

“…There are little to few people we can have as friends at work,” she says, “because there’s so much that we know that we can’t share with other people. That’s why HR TikTok is so important. This community is for us and our wellbeing.”

HR TikTok has gained such traction because it’s a place where like-minded people can share openly about their struggles and experiences while offering invaluable support to other HR pros. It’s also an effective tool for changing the narrative about the personal mission and intentions of those who choose a career in HR, but it’s not the only HR community available.

Want more HR goodness on Tiktok?

Other Online HR Communities

If TikTok just isn’t your scene, that’s okay! There are plenty of other online HR communities waiting for you, your voice, and your participation, including r/humanresources and r/askHR on the popular discussion site Reddit. And if you’d rather just be present and take it all in than step up to the mic (or your keyboard), nobody will judge you for it. There’s still a lot of value to be gained in reading others’ discussions. 

Use these starting points to help you find your people. Your new connections can even point you to other communities that may be a better fit.

Career Inspiration: It’s All About the “Why”

The best HR pros embrace the challenge to create a workplace where everyone can find happiness, engagement, and growth. Ideally, HR is a people-first position, but that’s not always how employees see HR or how leadership wants HR to function. This muddling of purpose can make it immensely more difficult to feel engaged in your job, so it’s all the more imperative for you to define your purpose for yourself. 

HR’s Dueling Responsibilities

As upper management and thought leaders begin to embrace the employee experience as a business imperative, you might feel you’ve been at least several paces ahead, tapping your metaphorical wristwatch and waiting for the decision-makers to catch up. 

Pretty much everything HR does is related to the employee experience, but that still doesn’t quiet the “HR isn’t your friend” refrain. On the one hand, this aptly describes a stark reality of HR pros, who have to remain objective and impartial in employment decisions, investigations, and disciplinary actions. But on the other hand, it’s a shorthand for a specific criticism: HR only appears to be a champion for their people while in reality, they’re just protecting the company.

As with all stereotypes, sometimes it’s warranted, but as with most, the view from the other side—HR’s side—is quite different, with employees being viewed as a crucial component of the company, and one worth protecting. Another HR TikTokker, @dan_from_hr, has some words to say about “not being a friend” to employees, which resonated deeply across the HR TikTok community. In short, he adamantly agrees that he is indeed not a friend of the employees—the ones he fired for harassing, degrading, and bullying other employees.

HR Conferences

The best way to reinvigorate your “why” is not just to remember and treasure your HR wins but to engage in the work of enhancing your HR practice, so you can keep making a positive impact. This means attending and participating in conferences and seminars, where you can keep up with the ongoing conversations about new technologies, best practices, and modern methods for helping employees and employers thrive and grow together. (You’ll also often earn HRCI and SHRM recertification credits to boot.)

Find our top recommendations for HR conferences here.

Podcasts

Listening to podcasts is a great self-care ritual. If there’s room in your rotation, here are a few you should definitely consider tuning into:

You’ve Got This

Your day-to-day concerns as an HR pro may revolve around the employee experience, but when the to-dos of the day flow into every single day on your calendar, it’s easy to forget a simple but important truth: you’re an employee, too, and you deserve all the care and attention you give your people. Just remember, when it feels like there’s nowhere to turn for that critical support, you’re not alone. There’s an entire community in your corner.

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Tyler King