From tight deadlines to dealing with urgent dilemmas or disruptions, every employee may find themselves having to work under pressure from time to time.
However, working under pressure may not come easy to some employees, and employers should seek to establish good policies and provide resources to not only mitigate high-pressure environments but help employees cope with high-pressure situations.
Here are 7 practical tips for helping employees work under pressure that may be useful for your organization.
Helping Your Employees Work Under Pressure: 7 Practical Tips for Managers
Tip #1: Clarify job roles, duties, and expectations.
When employees take on too many responsibilities outside of what is required from them, they can easily feel pressured, become stressed, and even experience burnout. One of the most basic ways to mitigate this is to make sure that job roles and expectations are clearly established. A great time to establish this is during the onboarding process with new employees and then again during annual evaluations.
If you do notice that an employee is experiencing extreme pressure at work, encourage them to revisit their job description and take stock of what they currently do that may be outside of what is required from them. After some reflection together with their manager, they may be able to identify tasks to let go of or pass along to other departments.
Tip #2: Involve employees early on with planning processes.
Oftentimes the most stressful work is only stressful because it comes at the last minute or as a surprise to employees.
To prevent this from happening, try to make sure that employees are involved with any planning processes related to their role. Only your employees will know when their schedules are the busiest, so make use of their input during planning phases to structure their workload in a way that is reasonably achievable.
If it’s not possible to involve them in the planning process, make sure to communicate clearly any changes to their role or tasks well ahead of time. This can help to prevent last-minute stressful situations for your staff.
Tip #3: Empower employees with task prioritization tools, training, and techniques.
Learning how to work well under pressure is a skill that employees can learn on the job with the help of their employers. This can be done in a number of ways including empowering teams with tools like Asana or Trello for project management, providing training on task prioritization, and promoting a culture of positivity and resilience.
Managers and top leadership should take it upon themselves to set a good example of how projects are run and how high-stress problems can be solved. When staff sees management working well under pressure, they will be empowered to manage pressure successfully within their own team.
Tip #4: Don’t be afraid to get to the root of the problem.
It is not sustainable for employees to work under pressure for an extended period of time. If you find that one particular employee or team continues to struggle with an unreasonable workload, it may be time for a manager to step in, investigate, and get to the real root of the problem.
Once you’ve taken some time to get feedback from your team and evaluate the situation, you may find that there is a need to implement some changes. This could be anything from making staffing adjustments or tweaking processes or procedures.
While this may take some time and resources for managers in the short term, the long-term payoff is worth it in the form of positive morale, decreased turnover, and increased productivity.
Tip #5: Provide employees with access to mental health, wellbeing, and counseling services.
Another great way to help employees grow in their ability to work under pressure is to provide them with access to quality mental health and wellbeing resources. Oftentimes this is in the form of access to webinars and training on how to manage workplace stress, pressure, and anxiety.
Alternatively, many employees may even find it helpful to have access to an on-call counselor or life coach that is available to speak with employees when they feel that they are struggling. By having access to professional mental health support, employees are not only better able to endure and manage high-pressure work environments, but they will also feel supported and encouraged by their employer.
Tip #6: Provide time for plenty of breaks – away from the workspace.
Employees will never be able to work under pressure if they are not allowed to take breaks and spend some meaningful time away from their desks.
In addition to regular lunch and dinner breaks, employees should also be encouraged to get up from their desks frequently throughout the day to get some fresh air, grab a drink of water, and stretch out their legs. Vacation days should also be utilized throughout the year, and employees should never feel as if they have to be ‘on-call’ or available via email while away on vacation.
Frequent breaks play a crucial role in helping us all reset and recharge – and if you want your employees to be able to handle the daily pressure of their roles, they must be able to have time to rest.
Tip #7: Never forget the power of a simple check-in.
In high-pressure work environments, it can be very easy for employees to feel anxious, exhausted, and isolated within their job role. Over time, these feelings can develop into more serious issues for your company including widespread burnout or staff turnover.
If you sense that your employees are under too much pressure, it is important for you to do everything you can to make them feel supported and appreciated for all of the work that they do on a daily basis. Simple but frequent check-ins can be extremely powerful in not only helping staff feel seen and heard but in helping to expose problems requiring immediate managerial action.
For larger organizations, mid-level managers should receive adequate training on how to be supportive, caring, and empathetic leaders to their teams.