^^I reference this movie and this exact scene at least once a month… 

Working in HR from 2020 – now feels like one long fever dream. 

When the pandemic started more and more responsibilities were added to HR’s plate. In fact, I can’t name any other department whose responsibility and scope increased the way HR’s did. 

If felt like overnight we had to figure out:

✅ Managing remote work effectively (still a work in progress)

✅ Supporting employee wellbeing 

✅ Managing in a crisis 

✅ Implementing workplace safety standards 

✅ Handling all sorts of comms from quarantine procedures to policy updates

✅ Hiring global talent 

And it’s not like our teams increased… And over 4 years later I haven’t seen HR’s responsibilities scale back. 

Not that we would want that! 

🕷️With great responsibility comes great power. 

Maybe that should read: with great responsibility comes great burnout

(Not so) Fun Fact: 98% of HR professionals report being burned out. 

📋 And 50% of HR professionals cite that burnout as the reason they are on the verge of quitting!


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A lot of things can can contribute to that burnout but here my top 3:

  1. The emotional labor 
  2. Heavy workload 
  3. High expectations 

Let’s explore each! 

#1: The emotional labor 

❤️The emotional range of an HR leader is VAST. 

On any day, we could be dealing with emotionally CHARGED situations, like:

  • Disgruntled employees 
  • Employee grievances (we might actually be experiencing the same) 
  • Employee conflicts 
  • Terminations 

And don’t forget the happier situations like promotions, raises, and general excitement. 

My empathy cup runneth over. 

Continuously managing everyone’s emotions in the workplace can become easily overwhelming. 

If you’re finding yourself emotional overwhelmed: 

Set boundaries: you can’t be everything for everyone all at once. Setting boundaries can be tough when you care a lot about the people and the company. But everyone suffers if you are overextended. Find time to do things you love and don’t be afraid to tell folks about your boundaries. 

Find your crew: having a network of folks who understand what you are going through and can support you through difficult situations and potentially offer you simple solutions is a GAMECHANGER. 

📣My Safe Space community has over 300+ HR leaders dealing with what you’re going through. In the last year since the community launched my mental health has GREATLY improved. Having folks who can tell me what they would do and support me as I’m dealing with difficult situations is crucial when I’m feeling emotionally overwhelmed. 

📚Additional Reading:

#2: Heavy workload

“Make it happen” the HR motto???

Real talk: Why does it feel like HR is asked to accomplish more than any department?

Are we… superhumans?

Not to mention, it feels like we’re held to SUPER high standards. More on that in #3. 

Heavy workload can be a huge contributor to stress and if we don’t manage our workload well we will crash and burn… out. HAHA! 

3 things to do RIGHT NOW to fix your workload:

✅Prioritize your tasks. Everything on your list today, give it a priority. Curious on how to do that? This resource has a ton of different ways to accomplish prioritization. Pick your poison! 

✅Block your time. If you are in meetings all day long, when are you going to complete the work? I needed to write that for myself tbh. Last week I put an hour on my calendar and titled the event “silence” and made it clear to folks I needed to get some important things done. Go to your calendar right now and block yourself for at least 2 hours a day. NOW, please.  

✅Get comfy saying no. No is a whole ass sentence. Getting comfortable with saying no is a gamechanger. Be selective about where you spend your time, energy and GREATNESS. HR being focused can be the difference between and good company AND a GREAT company. So what are we saying no to today? 

High workload usually comes with high expectations…

#3: High expectations 

The expectations for HR have never been higher. Quote me!

TBH: Those high standards indicate the importance of HR. 

Yes, you! You and your team are super important! And I know it can feel somewhat unfair at times to be held to such a high standard when other departments… aren’t. 

But it’s because the work of HR is crucial to the success of any company. 

You didn’t need me to tell you that! 

Those high expectations can contribute to your burnout. 

Here’s how to manage those high expectations:

✅ Get aligned: everyone needs to understand the role of HR and what is AND isn’t our responsibility. 

Ex: it’s not my responsibility to have hard convos FOR managers. It’s my responsibility to prepare managers for these convos and ensure they understand our policies and procedures. 

An excellent way to do this: define your scope & responsibilities and outline HOW they contribute to the success of the organization. 

I worked with a brilliant CFO once who said HR’s role is so vast that it might be helpful to have a menu of all the things HR can do. At first, I rolled my eyes, but then I really stuck on to that idea. He was right! We do A LOT and employees don’t even realize so having a menu explaining all the facets of our teams could be helpful. 

🎂Icing on the cake: make sure your manager shares the same understanding of your scope and responsibilities. 

What we’ve learned: 

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned working in HR?

This role can be incredibly powerful but if I am exhausted, off my game and burned out the quality of my work AND the experience the employees will get suffer. 

That is an incredible burden to shoulder. 

Sometimes I have to remind folks, we’re not curing cancer (if you are, go you!) mostly we’re sending emails so MAYBE I don’t need to put all this extra pressure on myself. 

It’s okay to take breaks and it’s okay to make mistakes. 

In fact, next week I’m going to share the top 3 compensation mistakes I’ve personally made. 

Life is just one big learning journey, ya know?

Hebba Youssef
Hebba Youssef

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