Why HR Employees are Quitting and How to Retain Them

published10 months ago
4 min read

New data from LinkedIn reveals a troubling statistic — that HR has the highest turnover of all job functions, with a quit rate of 15% over the last 12 months. It’s a rather counterintuitive finding, given that HR professionals are usually the ones tasked with helping their companies attract and retain talent.

So why is this case? And what can business leaders do to keep these key team members from jumping ship? Let’s take a look.

What’s driving HR professionals to quit?

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, perhaps that makes them quicker to spot and step away from a dysfunctional company culture.”

However, an article from CNBC theorizes that the real cause could be burnout due to the pandemic. “Since March 2020, armies of HR workers have been key to helping companies shift to remote work,” the article notes. “They’ve been tasked with laying off tens of millions of workers, then trying to hire them back during a global health crisis. They’ve conducted survey after survey, drafted every type of business update and filtered down messages from the top, oftentimes bearing the brunt of negative feedback from employees.”

“The burnout many people are feeling well into 2021 — at work and in life — is especially acute for some in HR,” the article concludes. There’s certainly truth to this statement, and a new survey from AllVoices reveals just how concerning the situation might be. According to their research, not only are 53% of HR professionals burned out, but 48% are looking for a new job. And among those looking for a new job, a much higher percentage (73%) are burned out.

This means that last year’s 15% turnover rate could be just the tip of the iceberg. In fact, it’s likely that this number could be exponentially higher next year, especially with looming talent shortages and other factors contributing to burnout among HR staff.

The good news is that there are ways to reverse this worrying trend, and it starts with providing more support for your HR teams. Because when you consider that nearly 4 out of 10 HR professionals don’t feel fully supported by their company’s leadership, it’s clear that there’s room for improvement. So let’s take a look at 5 ideas to help you get started.

5 ways to help retain your HR staff

1. Improve your company culture and employee experience

LinkedIn’s point around HR being the first to spot a dysfunctional company culture is well-taken. So an important first step is to assess your company’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 from isolved reveals that most organizations have a long way to go here, with just 21% of HR leaders rating their company’s employee experience as “outstanding.” However, 83% are making it a priority in the year ahead. Not surprisingly, their top focus areas are addressing the fact that many employees — including HR staff — feel overworked, burned out, and stressed.

2. Prioritize your HR team’s mental health

As one HR leader told CNBC, “Part of the stress is that, by nature, HR professionals tend to take care of others before themselves. It’s how we’re hardwired.” With this in mind, companies should take extra steps to ensure that their HR teams can prioritize their own mental health.

The best way to accomplish this is by having senior leaders model these behaviors, for example by taking time off or making use of their company’s mental health benefits. Executives may also need to directly engage with HR staff to encourage them to focus more on their own well-being. And of course, organizations have to put the right mechanisms in place to better manage their HR team’s workload.

3. Give your HR team the technologies they need 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, from human capital management platforms and learning management systems, to tools that support applicant tracking, benefits enrollment, scheduling, performance reviews, and employee wellness.

Despite all of the excellent technologies that are available, isolved’s research finds that 54% of HR leaders say that HR’s digital maturity isn’t a priority for their organization. Moreover, 1 out of 5 HR leaders report a lack of executive buy-in around digital transformation for HR.

4. Outsource HR tasks to ease your team’s workload

Another way to better support your HR teams is by leveraging the expertise of partners. This can ease some of their workload, especially when it comes to properly managing compliance and other complexities. Right now, however, just 32% of HR leaders say they work with professional employer organizations (PEOs).

So what are the top tasks HR leaders would like their organizations to outsource? Benefits support, HR compliance & efficiency analysis, and employee relations support, to name a few. They’d also welcome assistance with developing policies, handbooks, and forms, as well as managing web-based training programs.

5. Offer AI virtual assistants to support your HR team

According to a study by G&A Partners, HR spends 73% of its time on administrative activities. That includes repetitive tasks like helping employees with benefits questions or enrollment, PTO requests and balance inquiries, and pay or tax information.

However, 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. And isolved’s research finds that employees are very much on-board with this — 71% said they’d be willing to use a virtual assistant to accomplish HR tasks.

It’s time to buoy up your support for HR

Amidst the ongoing Great Resignation, it’s clear that employees aren’t the only ones being driven to quit due to burnout and stress. HR professionals are also in the same boat, in fact, more so than other job function.

But 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 business could be immeasurable.

Thanks for reading — be sure to join the conversation on LinkedIn and let me know if your company is seeing higher turnover among your HR teams, and what steps you've taken to address this.

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