According to a new study from mental health company Intellect and Milieu Insight, an onslaught of organizational changes and an economic downturn is taking its toll on Human Resources (HR) professionals in the form of burnout, exhaustion, and poor mental health.
The study, which surveyed 150 HR professionals across Singapore, found that 75% say they experience ‘burnout’ at least once a month.
The report added that with employees globally experiencing heightened rates of burnout, it is unsurprising that 41% of HR professionals rated their mental health to be “fair,” “poor,” “very poor,” “extremely poor.”
Of those surveyed, many said they do not have access to the necessary tools to combat this emotional fallout and lack recognition for their work, resulting in increased levels of fatigue, the report said.
Addressing HR and employee burnout
While numerous factors have contributed to burnout and fatigue among the workforce – including financial and geopolitical uncertainties, Covid-19, and a potential global recession – the report highlights that “the glamourization of productivity and the ‘rise and grind’ mentality has taken its toll on the region’s workforce – especially HR teams and younger employees.”
While 59% of HR professionals described their mental health as ‘excellent’, ‘very good’ or ‘good,’ 75% feel burnt out at least once a month – and 41% of them say they are burnt out at least once a week.
Additionally, only one-third (32%) of HR respondents believe their company gives high or very high importance to employee mental health. In fact, while 51% of HR professionals say their employer provides them with mental health resources, less than half (44%) are satisfied with these.
In terms of how employers are reacting, and the importance of supporting employee mental wellbeing by normalizing conversations about mental health in the workplace, the study found that a majority of HR professionals do not openly broach this topic at work, with just 19% bringing it up once a month; 27% talking about it “a few times a year or less”, and 26% never discussing mental health.
Creating a supportive workplace environment
The report noted that ultimately, employers need to work to address the root cause of this worrying HR and employee burnout and stress, putting in place systematic solutions via organizational-level interventions.
However, this is easier said than done when HR professionals already feel overworked and unable to perform their best in their roles. While 59% of HR professionals described their workload as ‘heavy’, not all of them feel responsible for employees’ mental health (50%) – even though only 27% indicated that addressing this is one of their job responsibilities.
“With three out of four HR professionals in Singapore stating they experience burnout often, business leaders need to ensure they have the right mechanisms in place to support their HR team.”
There is also a general feeling of catching up to expectations among HR professionals, who claim they can’t effectively do their jobs.
When asked what they believe is expected of them at work, 83% indicated “performing their best,” 60% said “completing their tasks within working hours”, and 55% said “doing their best for employees”. However, of those who listed “performing their best” as a perceived expectation of them at work, only 61% were able to effectively do so, said the report.
Likewise, of those who said “completing their tasks within working hours, only 41% were able to do so and only 41% of those who believed they needed to “do their best for employees” were able to do so, reflecting the impact of burnout on business productivity. We also found that close to half of HR professionals who expected to get enough rest and leisure time were unable to do so (42%) and only half of those who expect to be able to personally practise wellbeing tips could do so effectively (50%).
“The results are telling – businesses must expand mental well-being support to HR teams to ensure they are able to become strategic partners tasked with taking care of employees and ensuring they remain engaged. An empowered HR workforce is more likely to realise their full potential at work and bring greater value to their team,” said Dr. Oliver Suendermann, Vice President, Clinical, of Intellect.
Stephen Tracy, Chief Operating Officer of Milieu Insight, added: “These findings serve as an important reminder that, when we think about mental health at the workplace, we can’t forget about the HR professionals who are on the frontlines. With three out of four HR professionals in Singapore stating they experience burnout often, business leaders need to ensure they have the right mechanisms in place to support their HR team.”
In response, Intellect has launched the #Canyouhearme Campaign which spotlights the state of mental well-being of HR professionals and “aims to find a common ground between HR and employees to raise awareness of their role, educate the workforce to shift mindsets, and empower a cultural shift in the workplace,” said a release.
You can learn more about the campaign here.
Featured image by Karolina Grabowska