27 September 2023

Halting the HR brain drain

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Research shows increasing numbers of HR personnel are among those suffering burnout and quitting. Dan Schawbel* has some strategies to counter this.

New data from LinkedIn reveals a troubling statistic — human resources has the highest turnover of all job functions, with a quit rate of 15 per cent over the past 12 months.

It’s a rather counter-intuitive finding, given that HR professionals are usually the ones tasked with helping their organisations attract and retain talent.

So why is this the case? There are several possible reasons why HR employees are leaving at higher rates than other occupations.

LinkedIn speculates that since HR professionals get an inside perspective on how their company treats employees, that makes them quicker to step away from a dysfunctional culture.

Another article theorises that the real cause could be burnout due to the pandemic.

HR workers have been tasked with laying off workers, then trying to hire them back during the global health crisis, often bearing the brunt of negative feedback from employees.

There’s certainly truth to this statement, and a new survey from AllVoices reveals just how concerning the situation might be.

According to its research, not only are 53 per cent of HR professionals burned out, but 48 per cent are looking for a new job.

This means that last year’s 15 per cent turnover rate could be just the tip of the iceberg.

The good news is that there are ways to reverse this worrying trend, and it starts with providing more support for your HR teams.

Here are some ideas to help you get started.

Improve your organisation’s culture

LinkedIn’s point around HR being the first to spot a dysfunctional company culture is well taken.

An important first step is to assess your organisation’s culture and employee experience, both of which play a key role in retaining talent.

Then you’ll need to develop an improvement strategy, ideally focusing on areas that can help quickly move the needle on staff retention.

New research reveals that most organisations have a long way to go here, with just 21 per cent of HR leaders rating their organisation’s employee experience as “outstanding”.

Prioritise your HR team’s mental health

As one HR leader says: “Part of the stress is that, by nature, HR professionals tend to take care of others before themselves.”

With this in mind, organisations should take extra steps to ensure their HR teams can prioritise their own mental health.

The best way to accomplish this is by having senior leaders model good behaviour, for example by taking time off or making use of their organisation’s mental health benefits.

Executives may also need to directly engage with HR staff to encourage them to focus more on their own wellbeing.

Organisations have to put the right mechanisms in place to better manage their HR team’s workload.

Give your HR team the technologies it needs to succeed

Part of supporting your HR staff means ensuring they have access to tools that can help them work more efficiently.

There are many options on the market right now, including tools that support applicant tracking, benefits enrolment, scheduling, performance reviews, and employee wellness.

Offer AI virtual assistants

According to one study, HR spends 73 per cent of its time on administrative activities.

This includes repetitive tasks like helping employees with benefits questions or enrolment, pay or tax information.

Many of these tasks could easily be handled by conversational AI technologies, which would reduce some of the busy work for both HR staff and the workers they support.

Research finds that 71 per cent of HR employees say they would be willing to use a virtual assistant to accomplish HR tasks.

It should be immensely concerning to employers that the very team members tasked with attracting and retaining talent are themselves choosing to leave.

This doesn’t bode well for broader retention efforts, and it certainly paints a grim picture of the current state of the employee experience.

So take some time to understand how your HR teams are really doing right now, and put a plan in place to address the burnout and stress they’re most likely experiencing.

The benefits for your organisation could be immeasurable.

*Dan Schawbel is a bestselling author and Managing Partner of Workplace Intelligence, a research and advisory firm helping HR adapt to trends, drive performance and prepare for the future.

This article is part of his Workplace Intelligence Weekly series.

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