New research reveals that almost half of HR managers (45%) have considered leaving their current roles due to the pressure of dealing with employee mental health and burnout. Concerningly, the research shows that 90% of HR managers are currently noticing signs of burnout in their workforces.
The survey of 200 UK HR managers* reveals that when handling rising burnout and mental health concerns, HR is struggling to set boundaries for their own psychological safety.
Thirty-eight percent of HR managers admit to having conversations with employees about their mental health outside of working hours, nearly a third (31%) look at emails outside of work and over a quarter (27%) regularly have to complete tasks outside of working hours due to the volume of mental health issues they’re facing.
On top of this, more than 1 in 4 (26%) feel they can become overly involved in employees’ personal lives and/or mental health issues and 23% have compassion fatigue from supporting struggling employees.
A lack of boundaries surrounding mental health support is contributing to high numbers of HR professionals contemplating leaving their organisations, according to an expert.
Lou Campbell, Programmes Director at Wellbeing Partners, states: “While HR has a duty of care to support employees suffering with their mental health, they often neglect to look after themselves. For people in supporting roles, it’s useful to know what the appropriate boundaries are when discussing mental health issues with colleagues, to avoid becoming enmeshed or overly involved. Appropriate boundaries ensure that the conversation stays psychologically safe for the employee, and avoids compassion fatigue for HR.
“Knowing the skills around setting boundaries and signposting to appropriate support is even more vital in a time when attracting and retaining staff is highly competitive; organisations must support HR to reduce the risk of key HR talent leaving their organisation as they deal with surging levels of employee burnout”.
Indeed, the study supports wider research revealing increasing symptoms of burnout HR needs to respond to. In the Wellbeing Partners survey nearly half of HR (49%) say their employees are struggling to find motivation and stay focused, over 4 in 10 (42%) agree that employees appear regularly tired or drained, a third (33%) say that employees seem to care less about work and over a quarter (28%) feel that employees are finding tasks overwhelming or uninteresting. As well as this, 26% state that employees appear resentful or cynical towards work or their own colleagues.
Campbell summarises: “It’s clear there is mounting pressure for HR, but there are some initial actions they can take to support employees while setting boundaries for their own wellbeing. Ensure that supportive conversations with employees follow a framework, and schedule these conversations at a time when you have the energy and capacity to be supportive. Aim to finish work on time most days and give permission to switch off to avoid compassion fatigue.
“Knowing when to signpost employees onto wellbeing counsellors and EAPs is also a technique that HR professionals can learn, affording them more time and energy for their wider role, and ensuring that employees get appropriate professional support”.
*Survey by Wellbeing Partners