Why Recruiter Burnout Happens in Retail Recruiting (and How To Address It)

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High-volume hiring

Burnout seems to be an epidemic in today’s global workforce. Recruiters in frontline recruitment are not exempt from this dilemma. According to the 2023 Employ Recruiter Nation Report by Jobvite, 53% of recruiters indicate that their jobs are stressful. These levels of stress and anxiety directly contribute to burnout. To resolve this issue, companies must identify burnout, understand it, and address it. 

Identifying Frontline Recruiter Burnout

To fully understand how burnout affects high-volume recruiters, a company must recognize the signs of burnout. Burnout can sometimes appear obvious, but at other times, it can go under the radar. Here are a few symptoms to keep an eye on when looking for warning signs of burnout:

Sick days: A clear indicator of a recruiter feeling overwhelmed or under-motivated is an increased frequency of sick days. An employee who is frequently calling off, especially on seemingly random days, may be experiencing burnout. 

Inefficiency: Another evident sign is inefficiency at work. When a recruiter suddenly stops performing well, especially if any tasks or job pressures have been introduced, they could be feeling stressed and overwhelmed. 

Invisible signs: Some less noticeable suggestions of burnout are shorter attention spans, emotional detachment, and foggy thinking. While not easily observed, these signals are often detectable over time. 

Causes of Burnout in Retail Recruiting

What causes the stress that eventually leads to burnout? While causes may vary depending on each individual and their specific situation, here are a few of the most common struggles among retail recruiters:

Too many openings and not enough recruiters

In high-volume hiring, there is a large number of open roles across multiple positions that need to be filled in a short period of time. This can lead to recruiters feeling overwhelmed and overworked. When recruiters experience this pressure, they are more likely to consider leaving the field. Additionally, with a constantly variable hiring team, those dedicated to their jobs may also lose their drive. 

Retail turnover rates

High turnover rates in retail exacerbate the workload for recruiters, especially during peak seasons such as the holidays. These seasonal surges require recruiters to boost their efforts quickly, making an already challenging recruiting environment nearly impossible to keep up with.

Tedious task

Retail recruiters are responsible for screening applications, conducting interviews, and evaluating best-fit candidates. With such a high volume of applicants, these seemingly simple operational elements pile into a mountain of low-value, tedious tasks. 

So, recruiters often get caught up in a monotonous cycle of sorting through countless applications and playing phone tag with candidates. This repetitive work can feel unfulfilling and lead to a sense of insignificance, contributing to both overload and boredom, ultimately leading to burnout. 

Recruiters often spend an excessive amount of time and resources compensating for the poorly matched tech stack rather than on value-creating strategies.

Emotional exhaustion

In addition to the operational responsibilities of a retail recruiter, the job requires emotional labor. Recruiters are the face of their company to candidates. They represent the company’s culture and are accustomed to maintaining a positive and engaging presence to attract talent. 

Additionally, recruiters make difficult decisions that affect the applicants’ personal lives and the broader operations of their company. Constantly keeping a smile on their face and being optimistic can become tiresome, especially for those who may not know how to maintain a work-life balance or attempt to communicate with candidates 24/7. 

Limited technology

Many high-volume recruiters work for companies that are not equipped with technology and tools for frontline recruiting. Recruiters often spend an excessive amount of time and resources compensating for the poorly matched tech stack rather than on value-creating strategies. Lack of proper infrastructure extends the hiring process, which only compounds the hiring team’s stress and workload.

Feeling a lack of support from leadership

Recruiters can feel overlooked by company leadership, who may perceive HR as an expense rather than a strategic investment. Talent acquisition teams may feel that their needs are not accounted for when bringing recommendations to leadership, particularly when these conversations regard resourcing. Feeling unseen and unvalued leads to a lack of motivation, shortening the path to burnout.

Ramifications of Burnout for Employers

Knowing the causes of burnout for high-volume hiring recruiters is vital for any business leader. However, it is equally important to understand the price of employee burnout. The ramifications of employees being overworked, unmotivated, or unengaged include:

  1. Diminished quality of work: When recruiters are overtasked, they won’t be able to exert the same amount of effort into relationship-building or strategic planning as they would with a manageable workload. Therefore, rather than putting their best into the most important elements of their role, they simply do what they must to survive.
  1. Financial consequences: If a recruiter struggles to keep up with their workload, they will likely hire fewer employees, leading to a longer time to fill and reduced revenue for the business. Less engaged recruiters can also lead to a damaged employer brand, poor candidate experiences, and a greater loss of talent. Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace: 2023 Report found that unengaged employees cost the world $8.8 trillion in productivity. 
  1. Impact on company culture: A workplace filled with dissatisfied, anxious, and overwhelmed employees seriously impacts the company culture and atmosphere. A 2023 report from Gallup found that only 33% of employees were engaged at work. If a recruiter feels discouraged or disengaged, they may unintentionally reveal their dissatisfaction in an interview. The applicant may pick up on these emotions, which could deter them from wanting to work for the company. As you can see, these issues impact more than just the HR team and must be addressed. 

Addressing Recruiter Burnout

The risks that recruiter burnout poses to an organization should motivate leaders to actively address and prevent it. When a company supervisor sees some of these warning signs among their employees, they must act quickly. Here are a few ways that organizations can stop burnout before there’s no turning back:

Set attainable goals

Unattainable, unrealistic goals in the high-volume recruiting field can lead to feelings of stress, frustration, or lack of motivation. To avoid this, companies and supervisors must set achievable goals for their employees. The primary element of an employee’s well-being is knowing what they are expected to do. Each recruiter’s job expectations and measurement of success should be clearly expressed. Yet, Gallup found that only about 50% of employees agree that they know what is required of them at work.

By setting these realistic goals, hiring teams can work confidently toward what they want to achieve instead of being crushed by the pressure of it. 

Detailed, attainable goals that play to recruiters’ strengths can help them feel accomplished and, therefore, more driven. If recruiters struggle with burnout, managers can set up meetings to reevaluate and communicate goals. By setting these realistic goals, hiring teams can work confidently toward what they want to achieve instead of being crushed by the pressure of it. 

Support the employees

Without professional and personal support from management, recruiters have higher chances of feeling overworked. According to a study, workers who feel supported by their managers are 70% less likely to suffer from burnout.

  • Flexible scheduling: Managers can support their employees in numerous ways, one of which is by offering flexible schedules. Flexibility and freedom in the workplace can alleviate some of the pressures retail recruiters face. Although this is not always possible, when it is, it helps reduce employee stress and allows the employee to have days away from the chaos of the floor. 
  • Work-life balance: Another way to encourage employees is to promote work-life balance. Many businesses’ hiring teams do not maintain a balance of work and home life because there is always something that needs to be done. However, one way to help add healthy boundaries is to set precedents in leadership and organizational policies. This might look like setting the expectation that employees truly unplug during PTO. Or trying to minimize messages sent outside of time boundaries within the organization so team members can focus on their personal lives after business hours. Balance can also happen during the workday itself. Leaders might choose to bring some of the teams’ personal interests into work. Create competitions for key sporting events (we held one for the World Cup and March Madness at Emi) or encourage team members to hang up family photos in their office space. This begins with leadership–everyone must support helping the teams keep a healthy balance for the sake of the individual and the organization. 
  • Listening and learning: Managers can also support their employees by listening to and accepting feedback. When an employee brings up an issue or concern, supervisors should be attentive and work to resolve the matter. These encouragements directly from managers to recruiters will help ease the emotional causes of burnout.

Integrate proper technology 

Social and personal support, while helpful, does not alone provide a remedy to burnout. If the high-volume recruiters still have an unmanageable workload, the stress will outweigh even the best manager relationships. Additionally, the answer can’t always be just to hire more recruiters–especially when the economy is in flux. The best solution is one that can scale up or down regardless of recruiter team size and can alleviate the tasks that most often contribute to burnout. 

Automation platforms like Emi directly address the root causes of recruiter burnout. Emi, the platform built for high-volume hiring, eliminates manual, repetitive recruiting tasks like https://www.emilabs.ai/screen, interview scheduling, and candidate communications. By offloading these operational elements of the role, recruiters can reclaim their time and allocate it to the parts of the job they enjoy the most.

For example, Team Honey Badger (THB), a Domino’s Pizza franchise, saw this impact in their organization. The team saved 2,750 recruiter hours with 100% automated interview scheduling. Now, THB can focus on building relationships and elevating their employer brand. 

Importance of Preventing Burnout

Organizations that prioritize the well-being and support of hiring teams invest not only in the individuals but also in the business's long-term success. Recruiters, especially those in the retail sector, are essential in maintaining revenue-generating activity throughout all locations. Talent acquisition professionals ensure a business's future in its hiring and onboarding processes. 

By implementing new strategies, companies can effectively alleviate recruiter burnout by creating a healthier, more stable work environment. Burnout does not have to continue to be a constant and frequent ailment of employees in retail companies when the proper solutions are in place.

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