How to manage pressure on employees at work

A quick summary:

  • What is workplace pressure?
  • Heka's workplace pressure definition
  • Set realistic KPIs and workloads
  • Check-in regularly with employees
  • Encourage health behaviours and habits outside of work
  • Final thoughts on workplace pressure

Pressure on employees at work can drastically impact everything from wellbeing to performance. In fact, pressure leads to overworking, and overworking can equate to burnout. It’s a downward spiral that doesn’t just hinder your people but negatively impacts your business too. 

The answer? Senior leaders must learn to handle workplace pressure. Only by becoming a better manager can this be achieved. It all starts by learning to listen and act on the concerns of employees. 

Employees who suffer from poor mental health, whether it’s stress or another area of emotional wellbeing, are more likely to underperform and be less engaged at work. Today, we’re diving into pressure on employees, and how leaders can better manage it.

A meeting in an office with a group of employees
What is workplace pressure?

What is workplace pressure?

Pressure on employees in the workplace typically arises from a number of things: 

  • Short deadlines
  • Negative feedback 
  • A toxic work environment
  • Excessive workloads
  • Confusing and unclear goal-setting
  • Pushy management teams

Really, the list goes on. However, these six points above best describe the causes of workplace pressure. Leaders should assess these points against their own work culture and workforce.

In most cases, these can all be avoided, and without burning bridges with employees. Over at Indeed, workplace pressure is described as, “the urge you get to complete work-related tasks within a specific period to appropriate and acceptable levels”. 

Similar read: What is ‘leavism’ and does it impact my employees?

Heka’s workplace pressure definition

Indeed’s definition fails to include the negative consequences that pressure on employees often carries. So, here’s our best attempt to define pressure in the workplace…

“Workplace pressure is the urge (and sometimes burden) to complete work-related tasks to a satisfactory level, even if that means neglecting personal wellbeing. It’s the unhealthy prioritisation of tasks and projects – those that managers should revise, as opposed to letting it dictate and weigh down on employees emotionally.”

As you can see, we openly believe pressure on employees is preventable, and its causes should be negotiated and/or revised. The best managers will help employees avoid these kinds of pressure, instead of threatening them with disciplinary actions.

Now, let’s take a look at how to become one of those best managers. The following steps will arm you with the tools and techniques to create a pressure-free work environment. It’s the holy grail of a healthier, happier workforce.

Four employees looking at a laptop in an office setting
How to manage workplace pressure for employees

How to manage pressure on employees at work

Managing pressure in the workplace is no easy feat. There are numerous factors at play, both internally and externally.

In an ideal world, leaders should support their team regardless of whether these causes of stress, anxiety and pressure are from within or outside the working environment – with that in mind, let’s jump right in.

Set realistic KPIs and workloads to tackle pressures

To kick things off, let’s discuss the idea of setting unrealistic expectations for employees. Unfortunately, too many employers set goals their people just won’t hit. 

As a leader, it’s recommended that you really grasp the work required and the skill involved to achieve KPIs. That way, employees won’t feel under extreme pressure or deflated with the progress they make. 

One common problem is asking for too much. If you believe work is likely going to go incomplete, it may be better to have two employees work on the project. Doing so will most definitely prevent workplace pressure. 

Check in regularly with employees on their wellbeing 

Regular check-ins are a powerful tactic to reduce pressure on employees. In many work environments, check-ins only happen on a yearly basis and are often driven by conversations around performance. 

By checking in regularly, not only can you help employees solve issues preventing them from underperforming, but you can get a better idea as to why. We all face obstacles and hurdles throughout the year, and annual performance reviews do little to address or recognise these. 

It’s solely about projects achieved, and deadlines missed. Disregarding any bad days or life events that inevitably creep into our lives. We would even go as far as to say that annual performance reviews are a recipe for increased workplace pressure. 

Instead, leaders should consider regular 1-2-1 employee wellbeing meetings with their teams. These discussions should address problems both in and outside of the workplace. And although employees may not be happy to share personal information, inviting the conversation shows that leaders care.

Regular meetings help leaders address problems more frequently before they erupt into large-scale issues that are brought up in a annual review.

Encourage healthy behaviours and habits outside of work

Finally, let’s discuss healthy behaviours and habits. If leaders want their team to feel more at ease in the workplace and less pressured, behaviours and habits must be highlighted. 

Think about it, when we fall into a bad pattern of sleeping, we’re unable to perform at our best. This lack in performance causes us to slip behind deadlines and produce work that lacks quality. 

Therefore, promoting healthier sleeping habits is a great idea to reduce workplace pressure. Other habits that can have a direct impact on our wellbeing, and ultimately land us in a heap of workplace pressure is unhealthy eating, a lack of exercise and not resting (i.e taking appropriate breaks during the work day).

A group of employees working in an office
Final thoughts on workplace pressure

Final thoughts on workplace pressure

Ultimately, leaders should keep a close eye on the habits and behaviours of employees. Regular meetings should be conducted and wellbeing surveys should be carried out. It’s by digging into the data that HR teams and leaders can minimise pressure on employees. 

Similar read: 3 ways to detect absenteeism in the workplace

Meet Heka

Ever wondered how to best support employee wellbeing? How to relieve some of the stress and pressure your team experience throughout the working week? 

Meet Heka! Our employee wellbeing platform is home to more than 3,000 experiences, products and services, spanning more than 50+ wellbeing categories. 

Why not find out what our customers think? And if you’re ready, why not book a demo with our employee wellbeing experts?