HR Managers Under Pressure – Tips & Tricks 2019

May 14, 2020 • JOHN WALTON

HR managers make the worst clients for stress therapists—they sometimes leave therapy rooms with their therapists needing therapy themselves. A recent survey found that HR managers ran a risk of more stress complications than shop floor workers, IT managers, and even doctors. The reason for this is not far-fetched. HR management is a tasking job. It is also one that exposes the HR manager to many vulnerabilities.

HR Manager working with team

Occurrences that could cause the mental imbalance of the average HR manager are countless—from unsatisfied colleagues and employees to uneasy bosses to unrealistic deadlines to fear of missing targets, and the work-overload, in general, could wear them out. The HR manager job description comes with a lot of roles. The burden of the strategic positioning for the organization to remain relevant and competition rests heavily on their shoulders. This is why, most often, the underperformance of an HR manager is inextricably linked to the overall underperformance of an organization. This makes a case for why there must always be stress management measures in place to guide effectively against stress for HR managers.

Signs of a stressed HR manager

It is equally important to be able to recognize the signs when they do occur. Common signs of your HR manager burning our due to mental stress include working overtime, mood swings, irritability, laxity in the performance of his/her duties, less socialization and more isolation than usual, spells of fatigue, and a resultant increase in sick/personal days.

Tips for HR Managers to manage stress

The rule of thumb in stress-management and stress avoidance is to acknowledge that the HR management job isn't an easy task to perform. This helps prepare HR managers mentally and enable them to grow a thick skin, so they are not defeated by the overwhelming nature of the job even before they commence dealing with it. HR managers and also employers can prevent increasing pressure on HR managers in the workplace using a few methods:

  • For HR managers, since the bulk of mental stress comes from the heavy workload often associated with having to deal with employees—manage different personality types, different passion levels, and enthusiasm, which they usually try to keep on a high for maximum productivity. It would be considered particularly helpful to decrease workload by using different working models for employees and involving them in a participatory way that would not seem an outright delegation of HR management duties.
  • As a personal measure, HR managers should seek to be actively involved in company health promotion like active breaks, yoga, and massages. They should also take conscious breaks—this does not mean that they goof around in the office during these breaks, but that they dedicate these breaks to blowing off steam where necessary and take their foot off the proverbial pedal.
  • HR managers should also attend to their basic personal needs as that weighs more considerably than their work at the office. Failure to sort of their personal needs often accompanies under-delivery at work.
  • The HR management job should also entail HR managers taking courses for leadership and managers. For instance, courses on appreciative dialogues.
  • Reaching out to specialists and consultants is also a major hack to scaling through whatever overwhelming phase of the job the HR manager might be going through, whether it is a significant lay-off, furloughing of staff, or upgrading of systems for optimal efficiency. Consultants and experts in a certain field are usually the best in solving certain problems. It could prove to be very helpful to reach out to an Employee Assistance Program Counsellor to solve employee grievances. For cases where the grievances are widespread or on a departmental scale, you might also want to consider using a corporate change or critical intervention consultant.
  • To avoid cases of stress arising from friction with employees, an HR manager might also want to be more objective with issues bothering on employee relations. Although this is far from easy to do, it yields far better results. This is because considering the situation from a holistic view or the point-of-view of a third party increases the chances of giving a more considerate assessment, and there is often no need to fault the employer in this case.
  • HR managers might want to re-think their management strategy. Management styles like an autocratic approach to management yield negative patterns of behaviour that could largely influence stress levels—for instance, micro-management. Apart from stress, negative management styles cause a collapse in the pyramid of trust, and a resultant lack of synergy between the HR manager and the employees—effective leadership is based on trust.


In summary, the HR manager's job is one that requires HR managers to be highly people-skilled. However, HR managers can do with some help from an HR peer, HR employer (usually a direct manager), and any other member of the senior management. HR managers should understand that sourcing advice from the afore-mentioned people is not a sign of weakness. Rather, it is a display of reasonable judgment.