I was recently interviewed by Stella Gray from Australian Recruitment Industry subscription news service Shortlist on recruiter burnout and why this was on the rise due to digital distraction.
Here is an extract of the article by Stella.
Perpetual digital distraction is causing staff burnout to rise, making the work of agency leaders harder than ever, says Ambition co-founder and long-time recruitment executive Paul Lyons.
Increased business competition, and a focus on speed and responsiveness, coupled with distractions presented by mobile devices and social media, are all worsening mental health among recruitment professionals, says Lyons, now the CEO of Mental Toughness Partners.
Recruitment is generally a tougher environment now than it was 10–20 years ago, with far more potential for distractions for recruiters, also presenting a real challenge for managers overseeing productivity, he says.
These conditions are driving a greater need for resilience among recruitment leaders as well, he notes. “People who are mentally tougher are just much more focused and disciplined about achieving their outcomes without being distracted or diverted.”
Managers are understandably focused on achieving operational results, but it doesn’t make commercial sense to drive people into the ground and risk higher staff attrition and reduced productivity, says Lyons.
Drawing from studies such as The Australian Psychological Society‘s annual wellness survey, which consistently finds one-third of workers across the board are reporting above-normal levels of stress and anxiety, he estimates between 2,000–4,000 recruitment professionals in Australia are experiencing burnout at any given time.
Lyons notes turnover in the industry remains high, and his own clients are seeing between 30–60% attrition every year among their consulting staff.
The recruitment industry requires resilience and mental toughness in particular because it has so many “moving parts” and variables that can’t be controlled, creating a huge variation in emotions.
“You’ve got three sets of humans: clients, candidates and consultants”, all with their own priorities, and all likely to change their minds in ways that will affect the recruiter’s own work, Lyons says.
Tackling consultant burnout
Implementing a practical strategy for addressing these issues starts with leaders developing greater “sensitivities” around staff wellbeing, says Lyons.
Learning to work with different mindsets is essential for managers, he says, and they can get more involved with individual team members to discover how they each deal with their daily workloads.
Some individuals are better than others at dealing with setbacks and failures; others excel at organising their daily routines, for example, and managers should be able to work out where one recruiter is better suited to working at a temp desk because they enjoy a faster pace and get bored easily, Lyons says.
“The most important thing is to make [mental wellbeing] a topic for conversation. Make it a safe environment for people to have a conversation around whether or not they’re struggling, and how they’re struggling with what’s happening day-to-day,” he says.
Fostering a culture of health and assistance, rather than “people fearing for their jobs by just mentioning that they’re struggling”, is the simplest approach but also one that can produce the best outcome.
Not all companies are prepared to initiate a cultural change in this way, as some work with an older-fashioned mindset of emphasising KPIs and one-size-fits-all management approaches, “and I’m not sure that’s relevant anymore”, says Lyons.
He also notes brain research has shown the most productive employees work for 30–45 minutes at a time, followed by a 15 minute “refresh” period.
For more on burnout and building mental toughness contact us.