How to avoid recruiter burnout

Burnout can be a problem in the recruitment sector, particularly right now.

It was a rough few years for recruiters, with both staffing and inhouse recruiters, being furloughed or let go, and then suddenly rehired to fill big numbers of positions as companies raced to make up for lost time. Now, things have calmed down to a more normal state. It’s a rollercoaster of a career choice and it’s been an extreme ride, testing boundaries.

According to data from iCIMS, job openings in North America were up 44% in spring 2022, while job applications were flat compared to January 2021. There are fewer candidates available to fill open positions, which is stressful for recruiting and hiring professionals. People need talented and qualified people more than ever and are being faced with an inability to hire at scale. At any time, recruiters may have upwards of 20 open job requisitions to fill.

And this can lead to burnout. What is burnout, specifically job burnout?

What is recruiter burnout?

The Mayo Clinic defines burnout like this: “Job burnout is a special type of work-related stress — a state of physical or emotional exhaustion that also involves a sense of reduced accomplishment and loss of personal identity.” While it isn’t a medical diagnosis, job burnout can severely impact a person’s physical and mental health. It also affects the workplace as a whole. Sometimes, managers might overwork their teams, thinking if they can just get through a crunch, or push people to get that many more positions filled, it will be worth it later. But it never is, and burning out your employees will always cost you more in the long run than it saves. This topic got some heightened attention during the pandemic but it has been an issue since long before that and continues to be.

Recruiters have been under a lot of new pressure lately, and burnout can be exacerbated by heavy workloads due to massive hiring waves, lack of qualified candidates for roles, and work-from-home isolation.

The problem isn’t specific to recruiters. A report from Advanced recently found that more than half of UK based employees would leave their current job for another organisation offering better support for stress and burnout. Nearly half of workers don’t feel their managers take any steps to help them avoid the problem of burnout while 97% of managers say they are equipped to recognise stressed and unengaged members of their team, and 89% claim that they are equipped to support said employees. That is a concerning disconnect.

Your organisation has one job: finding that capable talent. If your recruiters are not at their best, they will not do the job properly and everyone loses, including your recruiters, your clients, and you.

Leaders need to take this responsibility seriously and if you’ve seen burnout among your teams and haven’t acted on it already, you should. Here are a few simple strategies for avoiding recruiter burnout.

Provide proper supports to your teams

Ensure that your recruiters have everything they need to do their jobs. This means up-to-date technology and access to required information. Check in regularly to make sure nothing is missing. Some new recruiters will benefit from being matched with a mentor – and the mentor will benefit from having someone to guide and support. Most companies have health and wellness benefit programs in place and some in the UK even have “mental health first aiders” trained with the knowledge to identify those who require mental health support and the confidence to offer assistance when required.

Provide comprehensive training and onboarding

At no point should your staff not know what is expected of them. Uncertainty breeds low confidence and low confidence leads to bad decisions. Walk your new team members through everything they should know and allow them the opportunity to ask questions.

Maintain open communication lines

If you run a staffing or recruitment agency or are in the talent acquisition business, you probably already consider yourself a people person who is a good listener and great at reading the room. These skills should be utilised in every interaction with your team. They are the most important people that you will communicate with daily. Be open to ideas and suggestions and always be willing to listen.

Learn to say no

You can’t possibly work with every business that approaches you, so it’s important to recognise the profiles of the businesses you want to work with and those that are not a good fit. Don’t accept new clients if you don’t have the bandwidth to meet (and exceed) their needs. That’s just a waste of your time and theirs. Be clear on who you want to recruit for. If you are working in house and the volume of requirements is increasing beyond a manageable point for the existing team, you must have a Plan B, like adding additional team members or outsourcing some positions to agencies. Overloading your existing team will eventually overwhelm them.

Streamline processes

We know the frustration that comes with a client who isn’t able to make up their mind quickly enough and loses a candidate. You can’t do anything about that but you can ensure that everything on your end is clean and streamlined and makes everything as easy as possible for everyone. When things go smoothly and time to hire is fast, your recruiters can move on to the next hire and the next….

Offer flex work options

Some people like to work from home and others need the company of peers. It’s great if you can make both of these options available and allow employees to choose the setup that best suits them.

The signs of recruiter burnout in your team

Be aware of the signs of burnout in your team. According to Workplace Strategies for Mental Health these include:

Reduced efficiency and energy
Lowered levels of motivation
Increased errors
Increased frustration
More time spent working with less being accomplished

Address it when you see it and make sure your people feel supported. It will lead to successful outcomes for all.

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