The consequences of too much work pressure: how to deal with it
By Kirsten van Enk | 11/01/2023
Do you ever suffer from stress at work? Then you’re not alone. Most employees have had to deal with busy periods, tight deadlines and at the same time customers or colleagues who demand a lot of time. But busy periods also pass. Well, they are supposed to. If you suffer from pressure at work for a long time, there may be work pressure. But what exactly is that? And what are the consequences of excessive work pressure for employees?
What is work pressure?
Excessive work pressure does not arise without showing a few signs. If work is busy for a few weeks, that does not mean that work pressure has consequences for the mental or physical health of employees. But if this continues for a long time and the balance between the (emotional) load of the work and the employee’s capacity is disturbed, you can speak of excessive work pressure. And this has unpleasant consequences.
Firstly, if the workload is too high, employees may resign to find a quieter job. This is not convenient in the current tight labor market. In addition, high and long-term work pressure can cause psychological and physical complaints and work stress. This in turn leads to absenteeism, the loss of employees and, if you do not address the cause, even to burnout. And of course you want to avoid that.
Work pressure: the causes and consequences
Work pressure can arise from various causes. It is important to know the cause of the work pressure of your employees, so that you can address it. A high workload occurs when the demands of the tasks are too high for what the employee can handle at that moment. According to the Dutch trade union federation, this could be for various reasons.
1. The content of the work
Firstly, work pressure can be related to the content of the work that has to be done. It may be that the employee does not have enough time to perform certain tasks, that there are responsibilities that exceed the level of the position or that it is not clear what is expected of the employee. Even if there is little autonomy, this can cause work pressure and have consequences. This cause is difficult to pinpoint, but fortunately it can be tackled very well with the help of the employer.
2. Circumstances at work
There may also be certain circumstances that make the work more difficult or less enjoyable. This can result in a higher workload. Does the employee have a good relationship with the manager, or are tensions lurking? Does the employee get along well with colleagues? Are there enough development opportunities? These are all factors that contribute to workload. Not coincidentally: these factors also have a clear influence on employee happiness at work, as we see in the Employee Happiness Model.
3. Personal circumstances
Not all stress arises at work. Personal circumstances also play a major role in how employees feel. If they have personal difficulties, they have less room for work mentally. Think of financial stress, a divorce or a family member who is ill for a long time. Even if the employee sets high standards for themselves and is therefore a perfectionist, this can lead to high work pressure.
What can you do against a high workload and consequences?
As an employer, team leader or HR manager, you can make more of a difference in some areas than others. This makes it easier to deal with workload consequences if they are caused by too much work, too much responsibility or unclear instructions. Other causes are more difficult to detect. For example, how employees are doing, how they feel and how strong they are.
Make excessive work pressure negotiable
To be able to tackle a high workload, you have to signal it early. This is the best way to prevent work pressure and its consequences and to ensure that your employees take the right measures in time.
It is therefore extra important to regularly have an open conversation with employees. This can be one on one or in a group. Ask your employees how they are doing and whether they are experiencing work pressure. How does that manifest itself? What consequences do they notice? How does this affect their motivation and performance?
Identify work pressure and the consequences at an early stage
Discussing work pressure is a good first step. But in order to really anticipate trends and developments among employees, it is necessary to make work pressure measurable. If you do this, you can recognize trends, respond to them and suppress work pressure before it becomes too high and leads to failure, burnout and dismissal.
With the 2DAYSMOOD tool you ask your employees weekly (or as often as you want) how they are doing and where their mood comes from. Do you want to go in depth? Then there are various modules available for you to further investigate specific topics such as workload. This way you know what is going on, you can zoom out on trends and you can anticipate the future. And you ensure healthy, happy and resilient employees!