The pandemic has caused a seismic shift in the way businesses function, and HR and business leaders are taking on a slew of new responsibilities.

MindEdge Learning and the HR Certification Institute (HRCI) recently surveyed 1,012 HR professionals on some of the biggest challenges facing organizations today. Their report, HR in the Age of Workplace Uncertainty, outlines an array of concerns, including rising employee burnout and turnover, ongoing COVID-19 safety concerns, and difficulties with remote processes.

Employee burnout isn't fizzling

Eighty percent of respondents reported an increase in employee burnout in the past year, including 37 percent who cited a major increase. While the report did not investigate the specific causes of burnout, other reports point to a plethora of factors, including the challenges of remote work, lack of work-life boundaries, and plain old exhaustion.

Burnout can lead to decreased productivity and engagement, and cause employees to resign, making it a major priority for business leaders to address. While more than a third of respondents' companies have not taken any steps to address the issue, 62 percent have introduced benefits to reduce stress and combat burnout (or plan to do so). 

One example of a progressive business reaping the benefits of supporting their employees' mental health and work-life balance is Bumble, the global dating-app company

Over the summer, Bumble shut down most operations for a full (paid) week to help employees unplug from the business. They tweeted the hashtag #APaidWeekOff to indicate the start of their mental health movement. The response was so positive that they have increased their companywide reset time to two full weeks, while also offering employees unlimited vacation. 

Turnover is gaining momentum 

Retaining talent is a priority for organizations, with 54 percent of respondents noting higher turnover than before the pandemic. Only 8 percent found that turnover has decreased since the pandemic.

Prospective and current employees have the upper hand in the job market, making it vital for employers to curate thoughtful benefits packages and workplace culture to entice and keep their best talent.

Ongoing safety concerns interfering with a return to the office

Thirty-six percent of respondents reported that the Delta variant interfered with their companies' reopening plans. While employers have been leaning on safety measures like mandatory masks (73 percent), limited people in conference rooms (72 percent), and mandatory social distancing (69 percent), decisions around in-person work have left many companies conflicted.

Fully 38 percent of respondents said their top concern about reopening is that employee health and safety may be at risk. On the bright side, among those whose organizations had already reopened, 81 percent said they felt safe when they returned to the office.

"COVID-19 has forced business leaders to stay abreast of new developments and sometimes change directions quickly," says Frank Connolly, director of communications and research at MindEdge and Skye Learning. "When leaders are transparent about the factors that go into these decisions and communicate directly to employees of all levels, it goes a long way toward building trust."

Adjusting for remote work training

Among respondents whose companies are hiring, some functions are more challenging to perform remotely-- notably recruiting (66 percent) and onboarding (40 percent). Even with remote hiring and working on the rise, the report found that most employers (61 percent) are not offering any remote-work training. In fact, remote work training has decreased since last year's report. This may be attributed to the belief that remote work skills are now well-ingrained, but upskilling, reskilling, and career development are mutually beneficial to employees and companies.

The pandemic has changed the way we conduct and prioritize work. Hybrid working is likely here to stay, and HR professionals -- in partnership with business leaders -- need to mitigate burnout and offer better remote processes to manage talent and provide them with training resources to succeed.