Is Your HR Department Overwhelmed?

Author: Eugenija Steponkute
Published: 20/02/2020
overwhelmed hr department

This article is for business owners and managers, urging them to take a closer look at their HR teams. The corporate world is so used to relying on human resources that we often take them for granted. This leads to not noticing danger-bearing signs of burnt-out staff. So, we will help you answer a vital question - is your HR department overwhelmed?

Of all the departments within a company, HR certainly takes the lion’s share of administrative tasks. It ranges from greeting the new employees to ensuring the safety and satisfaction of the existing teams. They are perceived to be the backbone of the organisation. But as a business owner or manager, you need to ensure their needs and limits are also being kept in check. With that said, it’s important to know when there’s too much for your team to handle. After all, it could be impacting their morale and productivity, not to mention their mental health. And with them being responsible for maintaining the well-being of the rest of the staff, negligence can lead to a disaster.

The problem is, we are very reliant on human resources and what they do. And so we don’t always notice the work and effort they put into ensuring everyone’s comfort. This leads to HR workers' burnout and overall disinterest in their work. Which then becomes the root of negligence or even a decline in work attendance. So today we are sharing some tell-tale signs HR is feeling overwhelmed. And how you can make sure workloads are manageable for your team.

HR is Recognised as the Most Stressful Job

From disciplinary talks to layoffs, from the pressure of filling the position to handling complaints. The HR department gets to wear many hats every day and their decisions carry consequences. It, therefore, isn’t too surprising that the Perkbox survey recognised HR to be the most stressful job. It reveals that 79% of employees report unhealthy work stress levels.

It is mostly related to the need to constantly balance on many fronts. From a legal standpoint, HR must always remain fair yet defend its company’s interests. When dealing with employees, it must be supportive yet disciplinary. They are to address awkward topics no one wants to touch but that need to be lifted. For example, such as poor hygiene, behavioural issues and similar issues. In other words, the HR department has a lot on its plate. But very often we don’t recognise it or the impact it has on them. 

7 Key Signs of an Overwhelmed HR Department

There are the top 7 telling signs your HR is overwhelmed. Check them out:

  1. They aren’t as compliance-driven as before

  2. They aren’t on top of their paperwork

  3. Their attitude is increasingly negative

  4. Their performance and productivity have declined

  5. They show signs of stress such as irritability 

  6. They often surrender to cutting corners

  7. They become hostile to other workers

The problem is that while these behavioural signs are easily spotted, they aren’t always connected to the source of the issue. This, naturally, attracts less attention and is given less priority. From the HR’s point of view, this may come out as negligence. So, are there any quicker ways to tell something is not going well?

Easily Identified Behaviour of Struggling HR

Have your staff suddenly become extremely short-tempered? Are emotions running high? Are you noticing that people are complaining a lot more? All of these may be a result of you asking too much of HR. Another sign is if there’s suddenly an influx of HR employees calling in sick and if absences are much higher among HR than in other departments. But let’s focus on some easiest-seen and most dangerous signs.

Increased Frequency of Mistakes

One of the loudest alarm bells is a decline in work accuracy. If you’ve noticed that your HR staff are making more mistakes, especially employees who are usually very precise, they’re swamped with work. While it’s true that everyone makes mistakes (we’re only human, after all), the increased frequency could have a detrimental impact on your business. Take a closer look at the tasks HR are dealing with. How do they manage their time in between them? Consider introducing time-tracking software to evaluate whether the department is struggling. While it may seem the volume of tasks isn’t as big, the issue may lie within their complexity.

If you’ve spotted no issues with the amount nor difficulty of HR work but the rate of mistakes is on the rise - your HR staff might simply be burnt out. This causes apathy and a lack of effort when addressing day-to-day tasks. In turn, leading to a higher probability of errors. Check when was the last time your workers had time off. If possible, nudge them to take a couple of days to rest and rejuvenate. 

Separation from the Team

HR should be involved in many positive aspects of employee management. For instance: training, onboarding, benefits, etc. If you’re mainly relying on them to do the ‘dirty work’ such as reinforcing company policies or issuing disciplines, it could create tensions among departments. And that could be impacting HR employees’ well-being and morale. After all, they are also people, and their job puts them in a position where hostility is aimed at them.

In the popular show ‘The Office’, there is an HR rep, Toby Flanderson. At first, he would always try and do his best to follow the rules. But, given he’s constantly faced with hostility for doing his job, mid-series he, as Oscar remarks, ‘checks out’. In other words, if you see your HR team being slowly outcasted or even openly ostracised by the rest of the team - you have a problem. And, if you don’t want them to ‘check out’, you need to act. Help them get involved in more positive experience-bound employee management activities as opposed to those that turn them into a villain.

Giving HR the Support it Needs

Giving your staff a TED talk is not the only way you can help your HR to cope with the stress. In fact, you are in a position to ensure they don’t get overwhelmed in the first place. As a rule, it’s always easier to prevent something from happening than it is to deal with the consequences. So, let’s discuss your options in supporting the HR department before they urgently need it. 

Bring It Up to Speed with Digital Transformation

As we covered in one of our previous articles, HR is often lagging behind in terms of digital transformation. All the while other departments are adopting automation and the use of digital tools, human resources remain married to spreadsheets and manual labour. This isn’t the case of lacking designated tools either.

Most companies are hesitant to introduce innovation to the HR department. Mostly because it is one of the pillars the business stands on. With most of the HR operations being core processes, many tread with caution when introducing changes. What it means, however, is subjecting your human resources to work under more pressure. Ultimately, they deal with increased demand yet the same old approach. It is evident at this point that companies need to undergo complete digital transformation to stand a competing chance in the future. The longer you hesitate, the more momentum your competitors gain. To summarise, digitalising your HR will make the life of the workers easier and the processes more efficient.

Ensure the HR Staff Takes Time off

It is easy to forget to rest when you are constantly working at high intensity. And this is what the HR department does. As covered before, their job has been recognised to be the most stressful which is attributed to both: never-ending tasks and their diversity. In other words, the HR personnel is particularly prone to ignoring the off time due to the seemingly infinite stream of work. It may not seem like a bad thing at the first glance. However, working with no cooldown times is the primary reason behind employee burnout.

As an employer or the manager, it is your responsibility to spot employees who might be showing signs of workaholism. Ultimately, it is as harmful to them personally as it is to your business. It is advised to gently nudge the HR who has worked a few months without a break to take annual leave. Just make sure you explain the reasoning behind your thought process. On some occasions, the employee may refuse to heed your advice. In this case, if there’s a need, you have the right to forcefully impose time off work on them. Alas with a reasonable notice period.

Streamline your HR Processes

Let’s go back to the key advice given in this piece. One of the best ways you can save time (and unnecessary headaches) for your HR team is to look to automate as many manual, time-consuming processes as possible. The market for solutions is big and wide. It’s filled with unique features catering to all sorts of businesses, facing all kinds of challenges. The major task for you is to identify what is that you need and find your perfect match. Since you’re already here, why not start with us?

Timesheet Portal to Carry the Burden

Timesheet Portal is a unique, all-in-one software solution. It will enable your HR department and business as a whole to run more smoothly through the streamlining of numerous tasks. Some of the many features and benefits include:

  • Online time tracking. Track worker hours and set up configurable options such as time limit rules and overtime calculations.

  • Expense management. Submit and approve expenses, upload receipts and export straight to your accounting software (saving time and avoiding potential errors when inputting numbers manually).

  • Employee record keeping. Store employee contracts, employment details, contact details and bank details.

  • Company policy distribution. Host your internal policies and provide the ability for employees to read and agree to policies online.

  • Contract signing. Automatically generate employment contracts and have your employees sign them digitally through Timesheet Portal

  • Absence management. Record and report absences and control sick pay variation according to sick days taken.

  • Reporting. Benefit from over 60 built-in reports that can provide valuable and actionable business insights.

Timesheet Portal is web-based and runs on your preferred browser. It means you and your staff can access it 24/7 and from anywhere in the world. You’ll also benefit from regular and free updates to the ever-evolving application.


Every day, the HR department faces huge volumes of challenges, all very diverse in their nature. The processes they run make the majority of those every business relies on. Such include recruiting, onboarding, conflict resolution, training and many others. Despite that, most organisations are guilty of taking these procedures for granted. They, therefore, don’t recognise the stress levels imposed on the HR personnel. This is the key reason behind the inability to recognise when the department is overwhelmed, which can lead to very costly consequences.

It is important you give your HR department as much support as possible. Do so through conversation, inclusiveness, and through digital transformation. Very often human resources are siloed from the rest of the company due to being slower in adopting new technology. Or due to being alienated by other departments for imposing disciplinary actions when required. This leads to lower morale, disinterest in the job and eventually errors. It is time you start seeing your HR for what they are and treat them accordingly - the pillar of your business.

Recognise when your employees struggle and take action. Support your HR.

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Timesheet Portal online software provided by Anfold Software Ltd, a registered company in the UK.