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Tribepad & Wysa – The double burden of HR leadership – how to cope while supporting others

Tags: EDI, Employer Brand

When we first undertook research into the challenges that HR teams were facing, we weren’t expecting to see signs of overwork and burnout. But it soon became very apparent that our people finders were feeling less powerful than we’d hoped.

In our recent webinar Tribepad’s Chief Commercial Officer Neil Armstrong dug through the data from the State of the Recruitment Sector report, and was joined by Chief Psychologist Smriti Joshi from Wysa, to provide tools for dealing with conflict for moments when everyone is finding things too much.

HR teams are stretched and stressed

Research from our State of the Sector Report shows that our people teams are overstretched and burning out. Overall a quarter of people we spoke to are struggling to cope with their stress levels, with some (3%) admitting that the current situation is pushing them to the point of breakdown.

One in three (32%) of the 528 people surveyed believed that their work-related stress levels were manageable.

Only one in three (32%) of the 528 people surveyed believed that their work-related stress levels were manageable, with even fewer, 6% revealing that their careers aren’t stressful at all. Organisational pressure to recruit the right people (12%) and perform to tight deadlines (10%) were also among the most common stress triggers for respondents.

But committed to doing their job well

But those on the frontline are driven to do the right thing by their teams, passionate about driving positive change within their organisations and creating a better environment for candidates. In total a third (35%) of people felt that they were “highly valued” and seen as a “critical” part of the business’ success, while a further quarter (25%) believed that their work was viewed positively.

The overwhelming majority (90%) of people said that addressing bias was a priority for them right now, with women more focused on gender, race and disability than men. This is crucial, as our Stop The Bias Report found that less than a quarter of candidates (23.5%) trust that diversity information is actually being used to benefit their applications, and almost 8 out of 10 respondents (77%) feel that processes would be fairer if recruitment remained anonymous.

The End Ghosting Report explored the issue of candidate ghosting in recruitment – but HR and talent acquisition teams also have a view. After placing an industry-wide call to end the practice, the good news is that more than three quarters (77%) of people said that minimising ghosting was an important priority within their organisation. The issue was also important on a personal level with more than half of respondents (56%) admitting they were concerned or very concerned about ghosting.

Overwork, poor systems, and tackling bias and ghosting – all putting strains on our people teams. What do we do about this stress, and how can employers help?

Good employers provide support

Smriti Joshi from Wysa, says that it is not stress that hurts us but how we deal with it. In fact a little stress helps with productive action and spurs you on to problem solve and take next steps to fix something. So employers need to find ways to help employees manage their stress.

For a start, employers need to reduce the burden of expectation. Running too fast and fitting too much in makes people vulnerable to burnout. It’s ok to push work until tomorrow, or add to the next meeting’s agenda, when it’s not time critical. Set up tools to block time for deep thinking, and make sure everyone has time to have a break between meetings.

Compassion fatigue is a real burden. HR teams are working hard to support others with stress, overwork, grief, financial worries and more – but at the cost of taking care of themselves. Make available channels for people to offload and share any concerns, so they’re not taking work stresses home with them. Wysa caters to the full spectrum of employee mental health needs by making them feel heard without being seen as weak. It’s easy to open up to an AI penguin that asks just the right questions and never judges. Based on what would be most helpful, Wysa guides them to the right conversations.


HR managers in smaller organisations are often brought in to recruit and deal with processes – not be a therapist to people.

They need training and support to be the best people managers. Through effective onboarding and regular supervision, coupled with tools and techniques such as those provided through Wysa’s employer offering, our businesses can support those on the front line. Tribepad provide bespoke onboarding systems so you can provide the training and support needed to fully equip people for the job, helping them never feel ‘caught out.’

Smriti described eight ‘toxin handlers’ for those working in HR: practice self care; establish healthy boundaries; training on emotional intelligence and handling stress; empathy towards yourself; taking a break; recognising the work to be done; and work life balance. It’s crucial to support our teams to have these techniques and strategies in their toolbox.

One of the biggest challenges is crisis – and potential suicidal ideation. Smriti explained how to deal with such a challenge as an HR leader. If you believe someone might be at risk it is essential that you speak to them and ask the question, and are prepared to be an active listener, avoiding judgement and leading with compassion and empathy. Keep them safe, and connect them with the help they need, both on a personal and professional level. And don’t forget to check in again a few days and weeks down the line. This kind of feeling doesn’t go away immediately.

How can employees help themselves?

Smriti shared a number of tools and techniques for self help, many of which can be found in Wysa. There are three types of self care strategies – those for the mind, those for the body, and those for the soul. Ideas for the mind are to start a compliments file, documenting good feedback you get so you can look back when feeling low, or unplugging for an hour for some much needed tech downtime. Your body will benefit from deep breathing, and a power nap. For the soul, try writing down worries and tearing them up, and not being afraid to reach out for help.

Knowing when you need help is essential. Rating how you feel on a scale of 1 (peace, no distress, complete calm) through to mid 50 (moderate distress, uncomfortable but still functional) to 100 (unbearably upset, can’t function) is a good way to monitor where you are. As well as the signs of distress, it’s about frequency. Occasional worry and concern is normal – every day is not.

Supporting the people in our people teams

It’s about having the right tools for the job. Your job as a responsible employer, and their job supporting colleagues. Technology such as Tribepad’s people management tools and software and Wysa’s clinically validated easy access mental health support can alleviate the burden, and support our people teams to be at their best.


Tribepad is the trusted tech ally to smart(er) recruiters everywhere. Because we know that when people find the places they belong, we all flourish. 

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