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HR Managers under pressure – How they deal with it and what they can do about it

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As middle managers, HR professionals often find themselves trapped between two different worlds. Unsatisfied employees exert pressure from below, from above the management style of the boss does not leave much room to breathe. HR managers in their position on the middle management level thus belong to the high-risk group with regard to burnout illnesses, as confirmed by the DGFP study "Psychic stress on employees and managers" from 2011. But why is this so? And what can they do about it as HRM (Human Resources Managers)? 

Mental illnesses such as depression, addiction or burnout are becoming more and more important in times of demographic change and increasing work density. At around 34 days a year, absenteeism due to mental illness is disproportionately high. In comparison, musculoskeletal disorders last on average only half as long (Bptk 2014). Diseases cause direct and indirect costs, which can mean a decline in the competitiveness of the company with an above-average illness rate.

Managers and their behavior are a constant role model for their employees. 

Among other things, they are responsible for work processes, the division of tasks and the amount of work to be done. They thus have a direct influence on psychological stress at the workplace and thus represent either a risk factor or a resource for employee health. This reinforces the importance of the healthy self-management of managers in order to be able to provide effective external care for employees.

Human Resource Management (HRM) has the task of accompanying companies in the course of economic development, through digitalization, automation and globalization and the associated competitive and adjustment pressure on companies. According to the study "People Management 2025" from 2019, 37% of the companies see themselves poorly positioned for the HR tasks of the future. In addition to data and technology management, talent management and employee qualification, these tasks also include company health management. On the positive side, BGM (Workplace Health Management) is a quickly implementable measure that can have a lasting positive effect on your employees and HR staff.

HR managers are an important part of the company

HR employees are themselves employees who are particularly challenged by their role and are often particularly burdened. In a constantly changing world of work, the employees of a company represent the most important performance potential of a company and its success. 

In order to reach all employees, health must be an integral part of the company and must be reflected in the actions, philosophy, and goals of their company. The HRM often decides whether health-promoting measures/projects should be introduced or not. They are also jointly responsible for their organization and execution.

Therefore it is important for the success of a successful BGM that they stand behind it one hundred percent. In addition, their exemplary effect in terms of health behavior should not be underestimated for the health of the company. According to Cherniss (2007: 171), a bad management style influences burnout more than a high workload. In the best case, they use the established BGF measures for workplace health promotion themselves! You can find more ideas in the ideas box below.

What HR managers can do about increasing pressure?

For yourself?

  • introduction and participation in company health promotion, e.g. active break, yoga, massages!
  • take conscious breaks, e.g. with a walk outside
  • attend to your basic needs
  • training courses for leadership and managers e.g. on appreciative dialogues

For your employees?

  • discussions during the annual review interviews - show appreciation and interest 
  • work situation analysis/risk assessment
  • involving employees in a participatory way
  • use different working time models

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About the author:

Enno Kuntze

Enno Kuntze

Enno Kuntze is passionate about topics like corporate health and happiness management. He is the Managing Director at Wellnow, a service platform that helps companies to establish massages, business yoga or backfit workshops directly at the office.

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