How to support employees in times of high pressure

Pressure is a normal aspect of everyday work life and it is important for organisations to understand how it may affect employees to prevent the potential negative outcomes. Some may crumble easily under pressure while others enjoy working under such circumstances. And while some employees perform better under stress, continuous pressure over long periods of time can still lead to burnout and potential mental health problems.

Therefore, it is essential to take the necessary steps to deal with pressure appropriately and control the associated emotional reactions to maintain a healthy and productive workforce. The main goal is to help all employees perform well while under pressure and ensure they feel supported, which can be achieved in a number of ways.

Lead by example

Leading by example does not only apply in terms of performance, it also means consistently displaying high levels of resilience and a positive outlook. When managers buckle under pressure, so do their teams. Times of high stress in the workplace are crucial moments to remain calm, collected and open to impact positively on your team’s performance. Leaders’ moods and attitudes transpire through their whole team, therefore the way they respond to pressure greatly affects their counterparts, and in turn team performance and success.

Communicate and support your workforce

Open communication creates a healthy work environment and a more engaged, resilient and productive team. This can be accomplished through frequent informal check-ins in addition to more formal performance reviews to pick up on those who need more support. Giving employees the opportunity to talk about any concerns or problems helps tackle issues before they spiral out of control. Being accessible helps making your workforce feel supported and bounce back in difficult times. In fact, relieving pressure and negative emotions can be as simple as having someone to turn to, so you can keep a stable workforce simply by listening. Inspire, guide, give hope, and develop a sense of shared responsibility to assist those who are under too much pressure.

Recognise changes 

Monitoring changes in behaviour and attitudes can help spot and manage employees who may be struggling under pressure. Sudden changes in moods, productivity and absence levels may be early warning signs that someone is under too much stress. This can easily be dealt with when recognised early, so making a habit of constantly monitoring behavioural fluctuations is key to successfully manage pressure in the workplace and related emotions.

Implement workplace health strategies

Prevention is always better than cure – and having workplace health strategies in place can significantly reduce the chances of long-term problems associated with pressure and stress. No matter what level of stress your employees are under, everyone can benefit from wellbeing incentives. This can be achieved in the form of relaxation rooms at work, employee yoga and meditation sessions, mental health talks; and health checks encompassing mental, physical and medical tests. These can all help empower workers to effectively manage their emotions in times of pressure and minimise any potential negative outcomes.

Maintain a positive outlook

Remaining positive and maintaining composure through tough times is crucial to keep employees motivated and confident. It helps build positive momentum to sustain high levels of morale and keep enthusiasm going in moments of pressure. Aim to constantly remain positive and keep smiling to encourage your team and successfully tackle employee stress. Avoid any negative behaviours such as criticising and showing signs of panic or judgement. Moments of high pressure mean mistakes can be made, so be patient and understand that performance can be affected and simply needs to be closely managed.

Recognise good work

Giving praise and recognition is incredibly important to keep employees happy and motivated. In fact, commending your workforce will make them more willing to keep up the same level of work and help them maintain a positive attitude when under pressure. Acknowledging great work can be done by means of direct praise, encouragement and bonuses.

Be flexible

A corporate culture that supports flexible working and considers their employees’ situations and priorities can be extremely beneficial in terms of productivity and loyalty. This can be supported in a number of ways, including offering the opportunity to work from home when needed. You can also help employees maintain a balanced lifestyle by promoting healthy activities such as exercise classes and various socialising clubs. Emphasising the importance of switching off from work after hours is also essential as modern work life can make it difficult for employees who can check their emails after work or answer phone calls on holiday. Having adequate down time helps us perform better when we are at work.