Articles by Smart Recruit Online

Why is Recruitment one of the Most Stressful Industries?

Managing stress in recruitment

By Oliver Bourton

Stress plagues the recruitment industry, but why is that? The Stroke Association charity identifies that the recruitment sector is the most stressful environment with 82% of consultants suffering from chronic stress and fatigue at work. Many in the industry resort to self-deprecating coping methods that only wear them down more. The uncertainty of markets make for much more work pressure says the Chief Executive of recruitment company Major Players, Greg Orme, while competitive and time-sensitive jobs result in highly unsociable hours and psychological damage. So how do you prevent stress from setting in? How can you reclaim your life from the grips of depressive work schemes?

Firstly, it’s crucial that you’re able to spot the signs of burnout in its earliest stages. In an interview with Recruitment Grapevine, Managing Director of PMP Recruitment Jamie Reynolds shared his five tell-tale signs of stress in consultants: “Attention starts to waiver; the consultant may start to become late for work…there is often a change in the quality of work and productivity; confidence levels start to drop and finally, there generally seems to be a lack of enthusiasm.”

Spotting early signs of stress can help you engage with colleagues and employees alike in tackling the problems that are plaguing them and relax their approach to work, increasing the wellbeing in the job and productivity as a by-product of that. Burnout is very hard to spot in the workplace and sometimes these tell-tale signs aren’t clear enough for people to pick up on until it’s too late. James Calder, CEO of Distinct Recruitment, added: “I would suggest rather waiting for signs of burnout to become apparent, employers should focus on creating an environment which doesn’t lead to burnout in the first place, for example, unlimited holiday time with a caveat that staff must take minimum 25 days a year – consultants are notorious for not taking enough holiday.”

Making the workplace environment stress-free is the fundamental goal and while this may seem obvious, people fail to pick up on when they’re creating the toxic stress-inducing environment. Leadership teams need to be aware of people’s stress and regularly check on their health, not their work. By looking after your colleagues and yourself, you can build the team up together and reduce burnout in the workplace.

Forth with Life, a health tracking service, found in a survey of 2,000 workers that 39% of adults are too stressed in their day-to-day lives to function to their maximum potential. In the recruitment industry, it’s an even higher number.

“Unlike some sectors where the hours can peak at certain times of the month or year, the hours in recruitment are consistently high due to the need to speak to or meet candidates outside of traditional working hours,” Calder shared.

The job market is so quickly evolving and with an employment rate of 75.6% according to Government employment rates, the lack of skilled workers on the job market is adding further stress to recruitment consultant’s lives. Reynolds told Recruitment Grapevine it’s ‘an industry that doesn’t stop – it’s fast-paced and very competitive’, and this means consultants are spending longer hours at work to maintain their performance record. This desperation to keep up with the high volume of recruitment that goes through every day essentially breaks workers. The industry needs change, so what can recruitment bosses do to help change this high-intensity field and help consultants cope with stress? Kelly Kendall, Managing Director of Cordant People, explained: “It has to be as simple as just listening and hearing. Speaking to people will help enormously when it comes to planning and mapping their own time.”

6Q, an employee survey website, found that nearly 50% of workers say they need help in learning how to cope with and manage stress. The recruitment industry professionals seem to all agree on one thing – communication is vital. As Calder puts it: “Give consultants time to talk to you and for you to listen; have an open-door policy. Relationships are key – it is important to make consultants feel they can come to managers and ask for support and review their workload.”

By adding a personable element to working with recruiters while still maintaining the professional environment, you will reduce the stress of your colleagues and through communication help them to develop ways of dealing with the stresses of the industry. What’s interesting to note, is sometimes there’s a culture of making-it-on-your-own’, not admitting when you need help in the task even if there are people on hand ready to be there. For that, Reynolds suggests that businesses ‘offer an Employee Support Hub which includes a phone line to connect staff with qualified therapists for in-the-moment support’. This ‘in-the-moment’ support can make a massive difference in preventing panicking and rapid burnout, without the possibility of the embarrassment of talking to a manager or colleague, an embarrassment that frankly shouldn’t exist but sadly does.

Stress levels don’t need to be so high in recruitment, there are ways of tackling burnout before it happens and creating a culture of openness and readiness to support. This is a problem that everyone suffers with, so don’t stress out alone, talk to people at work and together take steps to combat burning out in the UK’s most stressful industry.

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