For human resources departments, getting through a peak hiring season can feel like running a mental marathon. Without the right preparation, it's easy to fall behind.
From posting jobs and reviewing résumés to making screening calls and sitting in on interviews, the list of to-dos is seemingly infinite. And with no end in sight, it's easy for HR pros to fall into a state of chronic stress. To be sure, new technologies have streamlined the hiring process, but sifting through 100 digital résumés isn't any less groan-worthy than having those 100 piled on top of your desk.
HR departments under time-sensitive workloads are in a tough spot. If you're not actively trying to prevent burnout, you're risking its consequences: fatigue, detachment, and general feelings of incompetence. But like marathon runners, you and your team can adopt burnout-prevention tactics to ramp up efficiency and avoid mental exhaustion.
Quick Burnout Prevention Tips for Busy HR Pros
When you're in a crunch (like those days with 100 applications in your inbox), you need a fast fix to alleviate stress.
• Share skills. Rotating tasks and cross-training employees helps HR departments run more smoothly while also increasing employees’ professional development opportunities. When you cross-train, your staff will all be on the same page and can fill in for one another when needed.
• Have a manager step in. Although it's not always feasible, involving hiring managers in the recruiting process can help take some of the load off of HR staff. Simply integrating them into the screening process can be a huge help, and many managers appreciate being involved. Yes, they’re busy, but they recognize that hiring good people is vitally important.
• Take five. Of course, don’t forget this de-stressor that is tried-and-true: periodic breaks. At least once an hour, get up and walk around. It’s good for your body, sharpens your mind, and will lower your stress hormones. Stroll around the office or step outside for fresh air after a period of heads-down work or when you're stuck on a tough problem.
• Get some serious R&R. Longer breaks are necessary, too. Although the deadlines associated with HR goals can make taking days off challenging, getting a dose of extended rest is essential. It’s amazing what taking a Friday off can do for your mental health. Time away from the office is proven to reduce work-related anxiety and even physical issues caused by stress. Without those breaks, you're likely not reaching your productivity potential.
Long-Term Solutions for Alleviating Recruiting Stressors
In addition to these quick-fix techniques to de-stress during peak hiring periods, you can also make some process changes that may have profound impacts on keeping stress in check.
• Establish an SLA. A service level agreement is an expectation contract. In the technology world, it’s usually related to system uptime or problem resolution time frames. However, HR departments also can use SLAs to set and manage clear expectations for hiring managers, job candidates, and internal staff members.
For example, your SLA could state that the team will respond to any job applicant within 48 hours or that candidate emails will receive a response within a day. By putting an SLA in place, it's easier to manage expectations. That can prevent confusion, reduce duplicate work, and minimize other time sucks that inevitably accompany muddled communication.
• Schedule appointments online. Why not let candidates take over some of your workload by using a software-as-a-service interview scheduling platform?
Manual appointment booking is tedious. It forces you to go back and forth with candidates to find a slot that works for everyone. Get those moments back by giving candidates access to real-time online scheduling software that syncs with Google or Outlook calendars.
Simply send an email with an embedded link to candidates, and they'll book themselves on the basis of your availability. Plus, online booking software will improve your vetting process without added work on your end — only serious contenders will respond, helping you weed out apathetic parties.
• Initiate daily roundups. Good communication is essential during pressure-filled moments. Unfortunately, that's also when it most commonly breaks down.
And unclear communication in the workplace only leads to frustrated employees (not to mention lower-quality work). Prevent grievances before they start by instituting a daily roundup meeting among HR, hiring managers, and interviewers.
These planned discussions allow time for sharing feedback and making key decisions. They aren’t for extensive conversations — think 10 to 15 minutes — but can help home in on crucial hiring criteria and decisive actions. Plus, they keep everyone in the loop at every stage.
Like runners at the starting gate, HR professionals can’t make it through the long haul without preparation. Focus on keeping stress in check and making sure you have efficient processes in place. Before you know it, you’ll spot the finish line with energy to spare.
Bob La Loggia is the founder and CEO of AppointmentPlus, a fast-growing SaaS business based in Scottsdale, Arizona. His company has won a number of awards, including CareerBuilder’s Best Places to Work award. Bob is a serial entrepreneur who’s passionate about his business and helping Arizona develop a world-class startup ecosystem.