Companies face constant financial and growth pressures and with issues such as the EU referendum, the weak pound and business confidence slipping to a three-year low, these pressures are only becoming more pronounced.
It’s almost inevitable that these pressures filter down to employees, but without the insight the board possesses, this pressure can turn into a negative attitude, complacency or disengagement. Jobs for life may now be the exception and not the norm, but employees are still a company’s most valuable commodity; creating a high performance environment where employees react positively to pressure but remain fulfilled and committed is essential.
The world of HR is almost full of talk about engagement but in order for employees to work effectively and thrive while the business performs to its best, engagement genuinely is key. Engaged employees are fully absorbed in their work, dedicated to company goals and vision and thereby work harder to benefit the organisation.
Pressure is key to this engagement; without a small, motivating amount employees can become bored or complacent and high levels of performance simply aren’t possible. In order for people to remain in a role, they need to be fulfilled which means creating a balance between a positive working environment and the right amount of pressure to succeed. If this balance isn’t forthcoming, employee retention drops, adding to the negative pressures felt by those who remain.
Creating the right environment
Workplace environments are the stuff of science these days, ensuring employees are comfortable, happy and healthy has become essential for HR departments. The right mental environment is also key; in order for employees to feel happy and fulfilled in their work they need a certain level of pressure â€“ positive pressure â€“ to instil meaning and importance in what they do. Conversely, too much pressure can have the exact opposite effect, whereby it results in employees making mistakes or becoming completely disengaged.
The role of leaders
Leaders, at a field level not just in the c-suite, play a key role in creating positive pressure in the workplace and driving performance. Understanding how pressure affects people, their performance and the businesses bottom line is fundamental in both creating the right environment and supporting staff to perform at their best.
The ability to actively apply and control positive pressure is key to leaders. Understanding how external factors may reduce employee tolerance to pressure and applying techniques such as red-to-blue head thinking (read more on this here) can be the difference between a high performance workplace, with happy and engaged employees and a high pressure workplace, with unhappy employees looking for work elsewhere.
Good pressure is a pre-requisite to drive performance, but leaders must carefully control the fine balance between giving employees motivation to complete tasks efficiently and overloading them to the point of disengagement. The space in between those two extremes makes up the ‘sweet-spot’ where employees â€“ and therefore businesses â€“ thrive.
Martin Fairn, CEO, Gazing Performance Systems