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HR burnout

In the world of work, burnout is an issue.  I know, I've been there myself.

The problem is that most of the time you don't realise what's happening.  Your judgement goes, you doubt yourself, paralysis sets in and whereas normally you'd put things behind you, you find yourself dwelling on things. When you're burning out you're in survival mode and there are two responses - fight or flight.

Self awareness is the key, recognising the triggers and spotting the behaviour which results.  Easier said than done - when you're in the eye of the storm, do you realise there is a storm around you?

One of my current interests is HR burnout.  Why?  Because it is increasingly the reasons that clients are seeking coaching.  A good thing you might say.  And I'd say yes, and also no.

Yes it's always a good thing to have more clients.  And I am particularly happy to be coaching HR practitioners because it's a relative rarity and it's very rewarding to provide them with support to get back on track.  But no if the reason is that they are exhausted and at the end of their tether.  The ones who come to me are the lucky ones - they have spotted the signs and are getting some support.  But what about the ones that aren't? 

They are continuing to do their jobs, or are off sick.  How is that helping the people and organisations they are employed to support?  HR practitioners offer advice and support to managers on how to prevent and resolve burnout.  How can they do that effectively if they are not in a good place themselves?

And interestingly, my clients are funding the coaching themselves.  They don't want to be seen as weak for needing the support, or are worried about what their organisations (that's their HR bosses) would think if they knew they were having coaching.  The advice to managers about using coaching to encourage employees to develop their strengths and be at the top of their game seems to be forgotten.  Another case of HR not practising what it preaches. 

Where is the leadership and good example from HR?  Dave Ulrich gives some good advice to HR practitioners about looking after themselves here and here.

I am on a mission to encourage HR leaders to invest in and support themselves and their teams to avoid HR burnout.  But what will influence them to invest time, effort and even some cash in ensuring that their teams are in the right place to deliver the services their organisations want and need?


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