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COVID-19 and burnout: Here’s how the pandemic affected HR leaders

61% said they were unable to switch off from work in Q1 2021.

Allie Nawrat

HR burnout
Credit: Nata Bene via Twenty20.

HR professionals are struggling too. Unleash Your People

  • The pandemic has had a negative impact on stress and burnout in the workplace.
  • HR professionals are also suffering, according to research by Culture Amp and Thrive Global.
  • How can employers tackle this as the world opens up and offices begin to reopen?

Stress and burnout reached an all-time high during the pandemic. Employees have been struggling with staying motivated and productive, and have failed to switch off from work while working from home.

However, it is important to recognize that the HR professionals and leaders – who have been working hard to try and support employees through the pandemic – are also struggling themselves.

Research by Culture Amp and Thrive Global has found that 40% of global HR professionals felt unable to cope with the demands of their role in Q1 2021. This represents a 4% decline in Q2 2020 when the COVID-19 crisis was in its early stages.

In addition, of the 4,800 HR professionals across the world surveyed, 61% said they were unable to switch off from work in Q1 2021. Also, 7% experienced a decline in productivity between Q2 2020 and Q1 2021 and 60% of global HR professionals did not feel like their work was meaningful.

[Read more: Employees must have the right to disconnect from work, says UK union]

It seems that the UK has been particularly badly hit by pandemic burnout. Culture Amp surveyed 683 UK HR professionals and 39% said they felt unable to cope, 69% noted they were unable to switch off from work, and 18% experienced a drop in productivity over the past year.

In addition, in the UK, over the year, there was a drop of 13% in those who felt their work was making a positive difference to the company and its employees.

Culture Amp EMEA general manager and vice-president Nick Matthews commented: “At the height of COVID-19, HR was powering through – looking after everyone else in the company.

“As the UK sizes up a return to the workplace or evolves into a hybrid world, this data makes concerning reading. 

“Business leaders need to be proactive in supporting HR teams as they recover from their heroic pandemic efforts and recognize that their roles have evolved and will be even more relevant in this new world. 

“It’s imperative that HR should be taking the time to check-in on their own wellbeing and calibrate their work/life boundaries if necessary.” 

[Read more: The dawn of the employee-centric business]

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