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Managing Stress in High-Pressure Work Environments

  • Published
  • 27 September 2023
  • Category
  • General

Stress associated with high-pressure work environments like doing a physically demanding job, working on tight deadlines or completing a mentally challenging assignment can quickly take a toll on an employee’s health and productivity.

Common signs of stress include increased restlessness, irritability, and difficulty concentrating. Physical symptoms can range from headaches, muscle tension and fatigue to digestive issues like stomachaches and nausea. Sleep disturbances, such as insomnia or frequent waking, are also prevalent. Additionally, employees in high-pressure settings often experience a sense of time pressure and a constant need to meet demanding deadlines, leading to heightened levels of exhaustion and burnout.

Here are five tips for employers to help employees working in high-pressure work environments better manage stressors, reduce their risk for occupational injuries and work absences, and improve their overall well-being.

  1. Identify Stress Triggers: A stress trigger may be associated with deadlines, excessive workload, demanding clients or lack of autonomy. Employers can help employees manage stressors by being aware of root causes and taking steps to address them.
  1. Prioritize Tasks: Effective time management is crucial in high-pressure work environments. Tasks should be prioritized based on their urgency and importance to operations as a whole. When tasks are categorized as least to most urgent, it’s possible to allocate resources accordingly. Managers can delegate tasks to relieve pressure and promote efficient and timely completion of tasks.
  1. Set Realistic Goals: High-pressure work environments tend to produce unrealistic goals that lead to burnout and stress. It’s advisable to establish goals that are challenging yet achievable and reasonably based on employees’ capabilities. Rather than take on too much at once, breaking a complex project into smaller, manageable tasks with clear deadlines reduces stress and increases employees’ sense of accomplishment as each task is completed.
  1. Promote Stress-Relief Techniques: Incorporating stress-relief techniques into daily routines helps employees stay calm and focused. Encourage employees to get regular exercise, take short breaks during the workday and eat a healthy diet. In the high-pressure work environments, deep breathing exercises and mindfulness meditation have been shown to significantly reduce stress levels. Refer to our blog post on supporting remote and onsite employee health for valuable tips on incorporating mindfulness practices into daily life.
  1. Seek Support and Resources: Encourage employees with stress-related physical symptoms or behaviors to seek professional support. Discussing challenges and seeking advice can provide fresh perspectives and potential solutions. Read our blog post on Effective Workplace Communication for related insights.

Managing stress in high-pressure work environments is crucial for long-term well-being and success. By identifying stress triggers, prioritizing tasks, setting realistic goals, practicing stress-relief techniques, and seeking support and resources when needed, employees can thrive in demanding situations. Stress is unavoidable. With the right strategies, it’s possible to navigate high-pressure work environments with confidence and resilience.

Visit our blog and resource page for even more workplace tips and insights.